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Author Topic: A look at Grunts - discussion thread  (Read 9752 times)
Mad_Russian
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« on: 8 August 2011, 02:06:54 »
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2nd installment. Listen carefully, you will hear a  grunt describe a common occurrence in my experience, 'Sandbagging a Patrol'. 


Listening to that all these years later it's no wonder that the US military was looked down on when they came home. Shooting officers in the back and skipping out on patrols and other military operations isn't the way to instill confidence in an organization. If a company's employees were to say things like that nobody would want to work there but the slackers.

Hard to imagine that the US military was ever that worthless. But the draft and the unpopular war didn't help any of those attitudes. Either of the soldiers or the civilians. It's been a long road back but at least the country is behind the military again.

Good Hunting.

MR
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« Reply #1 on: 11 August 2011, 00:22:59 »
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Quote
it's no wonder that the US military was looked down on when they came home

Quote
Hard to imagine that the US military was ever that worthless


You speak as if you had a clue as to why we were mistreated when we came home. Unfortunately, your grasp of the facts regarding our mistreatment upon our return home, appears to be anecdotal at best. Which doesn't surprise me, since you never served a day 'in country', but instead served a tour of duty in Germany. The fact that GIs were sandbagging patrols was not widely known, or written about in the press, nor do I ever recollect hearing anyone (other than you) disparage a veteran for doing so. Your response above,  is simplistic at best, since it in no way appears to consider the circumstances that would bring the GIs to take this course of action. Last I heard, we won every major battle of that war, and had they gotten rid of the cockamamie rules of engagement we operated under, we very well could have won that war. So I consider your 'worthless' statement an insult to those who gave their all, to accomplish the mission. Your knee jerk reaction, as exhibited by your statement above, is indicative of a lack of respect for those who have actually 'seen the elephant', by the REMFS who never had to worry about the '90 day wonder' that was leading them, possibly to their deaths. So while I respect your vast wealth of knowledge of military history, your extensive library, and your very good scenarios, I hope you will excuse my refusal to accept your statements above, as anything but the insult it comes across as. I would posit that the reason we were looked down upon, was more likely related to the wanton destruction we wrought and the killing of innocent women, children, elderly and POWs. I never heard anyone call us 'sandbaggers', but I did hear people call us baby killers.
« Last Edit: 11 August 2011, 00:29:52 by FACman » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: 11 August 2011, 17:30:40 »
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I didn't serve oversea
Didn't go to the Nam
wasn't involved in Nam fightings

but...

I doubt it that I would be a 'hero'

I am convinced that as long as you weren't in that hole you don't know how it was
I'm quite sure that most troops were scared at one point
that most would rather been home instead of being in a stinking hole fighting humidity, sickness, flu, ants and the enemy

We've seen enough heroes in movies and I'm convinced that all GI's were 100% soldier when they had to defend their comrades but it was more then that....

a couple of days ago I watched 'Kokoda' (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0481390/) ....not the biggest most spectacular warmovie but it was a movie that showed the desperation of soldiers in the Nam, fighting much more than the enemy

I have much respect for the soldiers in combat (excluding the ones that kill for pleasure and other horrifying stories....) but I don't expect them to be heroes.... lots of heroes were born in a flash, a moment in time... could well be that 1 minute before they were crying for their mother

but I don't know the truth... since I wasn't there

 standsalute
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Mad_Russian
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« Reply #3 on: 11 August 2011, 17:44:23 »
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Yes, I do speak as if I had a clue as to why "WE" were treated that way when we came home. Nobody every asked me if I served a "Day In-Country" or not. I wore the uniform and it was the same one.

I didn't give that interview. I wasn't the one saying I sandbagged a patrol or didn't do what I was told. I said that interview put every single legitimate action by soldiers trying to do their jobs in a bad light. It was these kinds of interviews by the "real" grunts...those who were out in the field that helped give such a bad impression.

You were the one who posted this interview. Not me.

You were the one that pointed out the sandbagging tendencies. Not me.

So, since I never stepped foot in Vietnam I don't know anything about it?

The 10 years I spent buying every book on the subject and going to the Texas Tech Vietnam Studies:

http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/general/

Or the discussions I personally had with countless Vietnam Vets and authors including Douglas Pike:

http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/resources/indochina_chronology/douglas_pike.htm

While I may well not know anything about being in combat in Vietnam I certainly think I'm qualified to have my opinion as to what happened there and why. Having served during that same time period I think I'm entitled to my own opinions of how "things were" as well.  You apparently don't think I have that right since it doesn't seem to fit your own opinion.

Vets attacking any opinion other than that the military did a GREAT job over there is unfortunately standard fare. The plain and simple truth of the matter is that the combat effectiveness of the United States was at it's lowest time in the entire history of this country. There are several reasons for that. Having the knee jerk defensive reaction of "it just ain't so" is your right. If, on the other hand, you would like to discuss the causes then I'd be willing to do that.

You and I often see things from different sides of the issue and it would be interesting to discuss the issues here with a Viet Vet. For the most part, I see things just like you do. With regards to ROE's, politicians, even "90 Day Wonders". Other things we don't agree so much about.

Good Hunting.

MR
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« Reply #4 on: 11 August 2011, 19:06:25 »
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MR, is 'studying' the issue the same as 'being there' to you?
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Mad_Russian
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« Reply #5 on: 11 August 2011, 19:36:15 »
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No.

But there are lots of parts to "being there". Vietnam was a war we fought over 10 years. Almost without exception each year of the war was very different from the year before it. The country was divided into 4 Corps operating areas. Each of those four areas had a different set of issues.

So then, if we are saying that only those that were "there" can have an opinion of how the war. Which of the service men/women in which time period and what part of the country has the only right to say "how things were"?

We study the past so that we don't repeat it in the future.

Jody has a very valid opinion for his part of the war. But this view point is far from the only one. Is his the only valid one? I don't think so.

As an American serviceman it cuts to the bone to watch an interview where a soldier says they shirked their duty and killed their leaders. That's my opinion. I served during that time too. I have an opinion of it too. And it's just as valid as Jody's.

Neither of us walked in the other's boots so we don't really "know" what it was like. We can make educated guesses and try to become more informed. That's as good as it gets.

Good Hunting.

MR

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« Reply #6 on: 12 August 2011, 13:16:07 »
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(for all mz posts: Read "z" for "y", dont have the time to find the latter on this chinese kezboard all the time (AltGr 7, 8 or nine + followed bz either Shift-7, Shift-8 or Shift-nine)...

Nothing to feel attacked as person about what any of zou two writes.

From mz POV the opinion of somebodz who "was there" at first sight has more value as of somebodz who "studied it" (that zou both wore the same uniform should, w/o doubt, make zou two more succetible to concilation, whatever opinions zou hold).

Now, having an opinion (and even an "educated" one) is one thing, doing an analysis "after the fact" is another. The results most probablz differ, and that is normal. Equallz normal is that the AAR analzsis - taking into concern more than just opinions - has a higher probabilitz of being factuallz correct.

From mz POV I can onlz saz that indeed we were in Germanz (in Frankfurt, probablz during zour service period, MR) attacking the returning and (manz) injured GIs in Wiesbaden for being "Baby Killers" and not for "lack of militarz" conduct.

If zou want mz opinion, mz guess is that shooting officers in the back or "sandbagging" was common in almost all wars that have been fought so far. As it - for me - is something thez all have in common, we dont need to discuss it from a POV of whether this changed treatment of certain vets or the outcome of a certain war (we might want to dedicate a thread to this kind of conduct, though).

Mz 2 EuroCents

Rattler
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« Reply #7 on: 12 August 2011, 15:55:51 »
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Quote
I do speak as if I had a clue as to why "WE" were treated that way when we came home

If you had a clue, and are concerned with the accuracy of your statements, how could you justify the following statement,
Quote
it's no wonder that the US military was looked down on when they came home

 which is grossly inaccurate. I don't question your right to an opinion, as you suggest here,
Quote
You apparently don't think I have that right since it doesn't seem to fit your own opinion

  I just question your factual basis for saying it. Can you name references in your vast bounty of knowledge regarding the Vietnam experience, where returning GIs were disparaged (looked down upon), by the American public, for sandbagging patrols?

Quote
Vets attacking any opinion other than that the military did a GREAT job over there is unfortunately standard fare. The plain and simple truth of the matter is that the combat effectiveness of the United States was at it's lowest time in the entire history of this country.


Once again, you accuse me of attacking your opinion, when all I am doing is questioning the factual basis for your statements. With your vast knowledge and education regarding the Vietnam war, give me the facts regarding our being ineffective. Tell me which major battles we lost? Which GIs were 'worthless'? I would say to you, that it was not the GIs failures which caused us to lose the war, but the failures of the politicians and leaders.

Quote
As an American serviceman it cuts to the bone to watch an interview where a soldier says they shirked their duty and killed their leaders


Yes, I can understand how that might be the case. However, once again, you weren't walking in their shoes. You didn't know what kind of danger their '90 day wonder' was putting them in.  I had officers that I would have followed to the gates of hell, then there were others I would gladly see precede me to that rendezvous because of their sheer stupidity. And it is this stupidity that got so many GIs killed or wounded for no good reason other than their desire for glory.  To spend 6-9 months in country, then get a new butterbar with only OCS behind him, who was so gung ho for fame or promotions that he disregarded the counsel of his NCOs, all of whom had been in country long enough to know the ropes, was the genesis of the fratricide. Once again, this was not an experience created in Vietnam, for officers had been dispatched since time immemorial for failing to win the confidence of the men under them and waste their lives for personal gain. But then, that goes against the general romantic notion of war as the realm of honor, where men blindly follow their leaders regardless of the consequences, so I understand your sense of shock at the thought. I think many non-combat Vets share that experience, regarding this subject.

Quote
But there are lots of parts to "being there". Vietnam was a war we fought over 10 years. Almost without exception each year of the war was very different from the year before it. The country was divided into 4 Corps operating areas. Each of those four areas had a different set of issues. So then, if we are saying that only those that were "there" can have an opinion of how the war. Which of the service men/women in which time period and what part of the country has the only right to say "how things were"? We study the past so that we don't repeat it in the future. Jody has a very valid opinion for his part of the war. But this view point is far from the only one. Is his the only valid one? I don't think so.


My initial reason for posting this series of interviews was to share some insight to the experience of war during the timeframe of my ToD. I don't recollect stating that my experience translated into anything but my personal experience, though you seem to think so, MR. I never postulated that I was speaking for the entire Vietnam Experience, though one would think so from your statement. You make an argument that is patently irrefutable, but is questionable as to why you bring it up, except to distract the conversation from responding to your initial overreaching statement that we were looked down upon because of our sandbagging.   
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« Reply #8 on: 15 August 2011, 19:06:26 »
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The direction and tone of this discussion has gone in a different direction than I originally intended.

I feel like I need to make a few clarifications and then see what we may want to do with the discussion this has started.

First, I was unaware of the interview that showed the soldiers openly talking about sand bagging patrols. While I've not seen that specific interview before now I've seen others like it. This is not something I brought to the site. I was responding to the video with my own personal feelings and opinions watching that interview. As an active duty US Army soldier at the time that interview was made I know how I'd have felt about then. The same that I feel about it now.

Second, the Vietnam War is without a doubt the most complex war the United States, and most other countries, has ever been involved in. There are few simple answers that cover the broad spectrum when discussing tactical combat operations. But for a set of orders and a birthday that put me a year later into the conflict there is a very good chance that I would have served there as well.

Third, I have nothing but the highest regard for those who served in country and did their duty. I have nothing but the lowest disdain for those who did not. I was not drafted. I joined the US Army in 1974. I served my country to the best of my ability. Having done that in what many consider the worst period of time in the US Army I expect others to have done the same.

Fourth, there was a comment made about REMF's and their opinions. I fully agree with that POV. I was in combat arms not a supporting element. As such was not a REMF. Combat engineers are routinely asked to carry out missions between the two sides positions and as such are often in a position to take fire from either side. Opinions and facts are fine to bring to the discussion. And this is an opinion. How you feel about REMF's is your business. Calling someone by that nomenclature without knowledge of their previous MOS or duties probably isn't the most productive way to get your point across.

Having said that, there are HUGE differences of opinion as to all things Vietnam War.

I think we should copy and paste FacMan's last reply to me to a new thread if we can and start a discussion. This thread is about the excellent video's that FacMan put on the site. The discussion is rapidly moving beyond just the videos and out into the general, and sometimes specific, conduct of the war.

I'll leave it to WaT and FacMan if we move the discussion or continue with it here.

Good Hunting.

MR

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stoffel
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« Reply #9 on: 15 August 2011, 19:53:27 »
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A big problem is the way the media deals with the issues.
In the Netherlands we have a very left winged media coverage.
Even our soldiers returning from Afghanistan were named children killers.......comparising showed that the Taliban killed 86% of the civilians in the last year our troops where there, the rest died during attacks on and fighting with NATO troops and some by accidental firing.
There are numerous accounts of eye wittnesses claiming the Taliban hide behind civilians ( which makes them responsible for the dead of a civiliang according to the Geneva convention, not the soldier defending )
This lead to overreacting by our troops, which lead to more casualties because HQ's were reluctant to ask for heavy fire support from artillery and F16's.
Many soldiers were called names after arrival back at the airport, in many places barracks are the subject of targeting by civilians wanting them to be closed.
Soldiers have to be carefull when using social media.
Even in Crete where troops can rest a few days before going home incidents happened.
A very nice example is the Danish soldier who killed 4 Talibans in Afghanistan, first he threw a grenade than shot the survivors.
He was comdemned for being a war criminal by the Danish media, whereas he would have been a hero in the second world war.
He had to fear for his job, and he had to fear the crowd back in Denmark(!)

Therefore the biggest problem are the media and the politicians, and in most cases (as usual) left winged politicians openly condemn the troops and the missions, giving the Taliban a legitimate reason to attack them.
And in some of the missions of the past, they were responsible for crappy equipment and weapons (like in Srebrenica).
Some said if you take heavy weapons you might provole agression, we all knew what happened, men only armed with rifles, a few Mags and a .50 cal had to stop Serbian tanks.....
In Kunduz the number of attacks grew by the day during the arguing here in the government..
As a people we have to support our troops no matter what, its our government who sends them away on wars wheather you voted for them or not.
People dont stop arguing and harrassing that decision when they dont want troops to be send abroad, where instead they have to support their fighting men.
IMHO you can do that during the discussion about sending them, not after the decision is taken.

I dont believe in soldiers being "heroes" I think most of them only wants to survive the day and return home safe.
At least that would certainly be the case for me.





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« Reply #10 on: 17 August 2011, 02:22:12 »
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Quote
I do speak as if I had a clue as to why "WE" were treated that way when we came home

If you had a clue, and are concerned with the accuracy of your statements, how could you justify the following statement,

Quote
it's no wonder that the US military was looked down on when they came home

 

which is grossly inaccurate. I don't question your right to an opinion, as you suggest here,
Quote
You apparently don't think I have that right since it doesn't seem to fit your own opinion

 

I just question your factual basis for saying it. Can you name references in your vast bounty of knowledge regarding the Vietnam experience, where returning GIs were disparaged (looked down upon), by the American public, for sandbagging patrols?



The video on sandbagging was your post not mine. I saw it and reacted with my opinion that those kinds of news media reports were damaging to the reputation of the US military. US Army and USMC in particular. But the world news media, with the US News media leading the way, put their own spin on the events. Add to that the social changes that were taking place in the United States at the time. US servicemen were, to a very large extent, looked down upon when returning to the US for a variety of reasons. Most of which were unjust, again because of the world media coverage of the war.

It was widely reported, again by the news media, the amount of displeasure shown to returning veterans of the war. The news media was on a witch hunt by the end of the war. To a certain extent MACV was to blame for that. MACV was caught massaging the numbers. Once the media found out that the story MACV was putting out wasn't the truth they started the witch hunt and it lasted the rest of the war.

Branding US Service personnel as "baby killers" is an interesting situation in it's own right. Where the basis for this comes from I'm not certain. It is a known fact that the VC didn't mind using babies and children of all ages as human bombs. Rarely did those countless incidents make it into the news. What did make the news instead was villages bombed, burned and destroyed and every civilian casualty they could find, report or create.

Dan Rather of CBS news was well known to the troops for his creative reporting. He would "create" a firefight and show it in the back ground to his "on the spot" reporting. He wasn't the only one, just the most well known.

If the news media had chosen to show the positive side of the war instead of the negative side the US/world civilian population might well have had a different view of the whole situation.

Good Hunting.

MR
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« Reply #11 on: 17 August 2011, 02:35:38 »
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MR, is 'studying' the issue the same as 'being there' to you?


When you discuss history vs "I was there" you have to be a bit careful. When I discuss the Vietnam War with Vietnam War vets, a lot of times, I just listen to their stories.

Because, often times, what a vet remembers isn't always historically accurate. That's not something that's unique to the Vietnam War but all wars and events.

If you have 10 people observe a car wreck, and have them write a report on what they saw later, you will often get 10 different versions of what happened. Some of the specifics won't match up.

In wartime, we see this as well. Take the US Army in Normandy for instance. Taking unit After Action Reports, the official ones, there were hundreds of Tiger tanks facing the American forces. Almost without fail every engagement by US Forces in Normandy that had German armor involved had at least one Tiger tank with them. I've seen somewhere, the actual number of Tiger tanks, that were deployed against US Forces in Normandy, was something on the order of 22. Talk to any US Army vet of Normandy and he'll be happy to tell you that it was his unit that faced all 22 of those Tigers.

All those American servicemen weren't falsifying their AAR's. They were reporting what they thought they were seeing on the battlefield to the best of their ability. Today, we have unit records from both sides that clear up the situation.

It's often hard to determine what the other side has, or even who they are, when they are shooting at you, have ambushed you, or have you pinned down.

So, do I think "being there" is more important that going through the unit histories of both sides? Sometimes, but not always. There are countless actions in the Vietnam War where the US Unit AAR's are simply incorrect about many of the facts. I'm not saying they were intentionally written with a US bias or towards falsification; for the most part. Though there were some officers that were on a career ladder that "enhanced" their battlefield results. Both, in how well they did against the enemy, in number of enemy killed and size of enemy units engaged.

It's hard to separate these "enhanced" AAR's from those that are legitimate from reading a single AAR. They are a frozen moment in time and it usually takes more than a single incident to identify an officer that is promoting his career.

I think a good historian, or even a person with a sincere interest in the subject, should do both. Read about it and talk with those that were there. Or, if you were there, to back up your personal impressions of what you remember happening with the unit records.

Good Hunting.

MR
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« Reply #12 on: 17 August 2011, 03:11:36 »
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Quote
My initial reason for posting this series of interviews was to share some insight to the experience of war during the timeframe of my ToD. I don't recollect stating that my experience translated into anything but my personal experience, though you seem to think so, MR. I never postulated that I was speaking for the entire Vietnam Experience, though one would think so from your statement. You make an argument that is patently irrefutable, but is questionable as to why you bring it up, except to distract the conversation from responding to your initial overreaching statement that we were looked down upon because of our sandbagging.  



Sorry, my response was to Koen's question about the difference between actually being there and studying the war after the fact.

I would go farther than what you stated. Your experiences are what they are. They are how you remember them and they are unique to you and the unit you served with.

The sandbagging issue has been answered elsewhere.

As to your experiences, and those that served in country with you, there's been few times in world history where such a wide diversity of experiences were shared by so many, in such a small place. South Vietnam was roughly the size of the state of New Mexico. With the four different Corps Area's of Operation they covered vastly different terrain types and combat operational issues. All branches of the US military served in country during the war including the US Coast Guard.

Far from putting down your experiences, I believe they are unique to the few that served in your Area of Operations (AO) and to some extent about the same time period you served in it. It's what makes the VW so difficult to understand for many. Talk to a US Marine in I Corps and listen to the fighting around Khe Sahn or Con Thein, then listen to the actions around Dak To, the Iron Triangle, or the Mekong Delta. Either in 1965 thru any of the years up through 1974.

Good Hunting.

MR
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« Reply #13 on: 17 August 2011, 18:14:34 »
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IMO, one of the major issues is something that FacMan brought up. Leadership and the length of tours of duty.

The US military and specifically the US Army used the Vietnam War to get as many small unit leaders, battalion level and below, as possible, combat experience.

To put into perspective how this was done consider that the average tour of duty for US servicemen/women was 12 months. Then they would be rotated back to a stateside unit. The 12 month tour was almost always with the same unit the entire time.

US Army junior grade officers were posted to a duty assignment for only 6 months during their 12 month in country stay. So a 2nd Lieutenant would only spend, at the most 6 months with a unit in a particular assignment. For example, 1st Platoon Leader, A Company, 299th Engineer Battalion Combat.

These 6 month tours were intended to get as many junior grade officers combat experience as possible in a short amount of time. After all, as the saying went "Vietnam was the only war we had going."

Of course, with tremendous influx of troops there was a shortage of Lieutenants in the Army. To rectify this Officer Candidate School was utilized. This was a 90 day course, which turned out 2nd Lieutenants at the end of the required 90 days. There were often referred to as "90 Day Wonders".
This was a complete stop gap measure and in many cases didn't produce quality leaders.

Good Hunting.

MR

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« Reply #14 on: 19 August 2011, 22:02:24 »
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One of the most controversial topics of the Vietnam War is fragging.

Here is the Wiki description which from my research is an accurate description:

In the U.S. military, fragging refers to the act of attacking a superior officer in one's chain of command with the intent to kill that officer. The term originated during the Vietnam War and was most commonly used to mean the assassination of an unpopular officer of one's own fighting unit. Killing was effected by means of a fragmentation grenade,[1] hence the term.

The most common motive for choosing a fragmentation grenade or similar device is a perpetrator's desire to avoid identification and the associated consequences at either the individual level (e.g., punishment by one's superiors) or the collective level (e.g., dishonor brought to one's unit): where a grenade is thrown in the heat of battle, soldiers can claim that the grenade landed too close to the person they "accidentally" killed, that another member of the unit threw the grenade, or that an enemy soldier threw it back. Unlike a firearm projectile, an exploded hand grenade cannot be readily traced to anyone, with ballistic forensics or other means. The grenade is destroyed in the explosion, and the characteristics of the shrapnel cannot be traced to a specific grenade or soldier.

Fragging most often involved the murder of a commanding officer (C.O.) or a senior noncommissioned officer perceived as unpopular, harsh, inept or overzealous. As the war became more unpopular, soldiers became less keen to go into harm's way and preferred leaders with a similar sense of self-preservation. If a C.O. was incompetent, fragging the officer was considered a means to the end of self-preservation for the men serving under him. Fragging might also occur if a commander freely took on dangerous or suicidal missions, especially if he was deemed to be seeking glory for himself. The motive of individual self-preservation was often obstructive to the goals of the overall war effort. Fragging in the military was not a secret in the lower enlisted-rank soldiers. Sometimes a warning would be given to the target by placing a grenade pin on his bed. Fragging would take place if his actions continued as before.

The very idea of fragging served to warn junior officers to avoid the ire of their enlisted men through recklessness, cowardice or lack of leadership. Junior officers in turn could arrange the murder of senior officers when finding them incompetent or wasting their men's lives needlessly. George Cantero, who served as a medic in Vietnam during the early 1970s, explained that incompetent officers who gave dangerous orders and refused to listen to reason or threats were fragged because that was the only way to get a new (presumably safer) commanding officer.

Throughout the course of the Vietnam War, fragging was reportedly common. There are documented cases of at least 230 American officers killed by their own troops, and as many as 1,400 other officers' deaths could not be explained.[4] Between 1970 and 1971 alone, there were 363 cases of "assault with explosive devices" against officers in Vietnam.


As FacMan said, the troops would take care of their own leadership problems. While it's been brought up that other wars also had this practice, incidents of fragging have been recorded as far back as the 18th century Battle of Blenheim, due to media attention this practice is very much associated with the Vietnam War for the US Military.

I think everyone that has served in any unit has had the same experience of the Great, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly leaders. I had know I had them. We didn't have many of the 90 Day Wonders though so that wasn't an issue for us. I think most of those went to Vietnam.



Good Hunting.

MR
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« Reply #15 on: 19 August 2011, 22:59:04 »
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Vets attacking any opinion other than that the military did a GREAT job over there is unfortunately standard fare. The plain and simple truth of the matter is that the combat effectiveness of the United States was at it's lowest time in the entire history of this country.


Once again, you accuse me of attacking your opinion, when all I am doing is questioning the factual basis for your statements. With your vast knowledge and education regarding the Vietnam war, give me the facts regarding our being ineffective. Tell me which major battles we lost? Which GIs were 'worthless'? I would say to you, that it was not the GIs failures which caused us to lose the war, but the failures of the politicians and leaders.



The facts about the US Military being ineffective. Where would you like to start?

Let's start with the term win/lose.

The US Military has put out a line of BS that they won every battle but lost the war. Over a 10 year period there is absolutely no way to do that.

As in most things there are only three results possible. You win, you get a draw or you lose.

The United States of America left South Vietnam and the Communists defeated the South Vietnamese Army in our absence. We did not win the Vietnam War. We did not win and we did not get a draw. WE LOST. Period. End of story. It's not a nice happy ending to the story. It's just the plain truth.

Did the United States military do what it was asked to do? In some aspects yes. In other aspects no.

Did the US Army/USMC Squads, Platoons, Companies and Battalions do what they were asked to accomplish? Yes, they did.

Did the US Airforce/ US Navy force North Vietnam into critical shortages and create a situation where they would come to the negotiation table? Yes, they did.

Did the US Navy and US Coast Guard stop North Vietnam from supplying their troops in South Vietnam by sea? For the most part, yes they did.

So, if everybody was doing the job they were asked to do, then how did we lose?

It goes back to the definition of what winning is.

The South Vietnamese people saw this huge influx of American and Free World troops, and often thought that if we were the ones fighting why did they need to? That was a really good question and one that could be applied in Afghanistan today. The South Vietnamese government had a policy of few/low/no casualties. Diem, and the rest, wanted the South Vietnamese casualties to be low. Keep their losses low and keep the SVN population happy. He/they didn't care what US/Free World casualties were.

With the US/Free World troops going after the communists but without the backing of the general population, to retain control of the area once the communists had been driven out of an area, how were US/Free World troops supposed to maintain control of that area once it had been cleared of communist units?

Without control of the actual land itself battlefield attrition was nothing more than a numbers game. US commanders soon learned to sand bag the numbers. They often reported inflated kill numbers to make themselves and their units look good. This happened in all levels of the MACV ground combat operations, from MACV down.

A most interesting finding, after the war was over, was the US/Free World troops killed far more communist troops than had been claimed. We were actually far more effective, even than those inflating the numbers showed. Even with that fact, the US policy makers lost the war. They thought that the Vietnam War was going to be easy to win. Just throw lots of troops and firepower at them and it should work.

It came with this close [ - ] to working. If the US News media hadn't gotten involved during, and after, Tet 1968 the policy would have worked. The VC, as a combat organization, was destroyed during Tet 68. The NVA were taking more casualties than they could replace. The war was being won.
The US news media didn't report that fact. They reported that if the communist forces were almost destroyed in South Vietnam, which MACV was claiming, then where did all these communists come from? US support for the war plummeted. So, the disastrous campaign of Tet 68 for the communists, was turned in a military victory for General Giap and the north. It was made a military victory by the news media. That was a falsehood. But it didn't matter. It was still reported across the world that the US was being driven back. People at home, and in Congress, believed that lie.

Add to that; the reports of fragging, drug use, soldiers coming home and joining the anti-war demonstrations, etc....etc....ect... and you have a loss of will to continue to wage the war from the American/Free World countries people. The news media showing women and children being killed by US/Free World forces, not by Communist forces as was far more often the case. Anything that was sensational to put on the Evening News broadcast. Put it altogether and after 1968 the US military began to lose it's fighting edge. By the US Army's own evaluations it was the least efficient in it's history from WWII through the end of the 1970's. The report quotes the ARTEP scores. These were later doctored so that we didn't give the Soviets an idea of just how far the efficiency of the US Army had fallen.

Add to that; ROE's (Rules of Engagment) that were created to protect civilians that gave the Communists an advantage, the fact that the communists were allowed to have free bases and logistical support from both Laos and Cambodia, that the US let the communists use any and all Ceasefires as free times for building up their infrastructures and replacing manpower and equipment losses, while at the same time US/Free World forces stood down from operations.

When you put it altogether the US Military did some things exceedingly well and other things exceedingly poorly.

My own personal experiences in Europe in the mid 1970's would reflect those reports. Our unit was without spare parts of any kind, had racial issues, drug issues, those given the choice of going into the Army or prison, as the soldiers to rely upon to do the fighting. Not the brightest period for the US Army in it's recent history.

The good news is, that today, the legacy of Vietnam has been worked through. Today's Army is in one of it's most efficient forms since WWII.

To answer the original question of if we won or lost, if we use the last man standing rule, the Communists won the war in Vietnam. Because, when the smoke cleared, we weren't standing there anymore. It's as simple as that. Anything else is smoke and mirrors.




Good Hunting.

MR



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