The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Sick....You Believe this Crap..?

 Well I got called into work on Saturday and pulled a shift, didn't mind it but noticed that I was feeling "puny" as the day went on, and by the time I got home I was just "Tired", so I took it easy on Sunday but the coughing I thought was allergies and body ache was more to it.  I actually got a cold and a good bout of it.  All I want to do is veg on the recliner, I called out of work for a couple of days because of my sneezing and hacking, they would have sent me home anyway so I just stayed home and beat the "middleman". 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Been Super Busy


  I have been super busy, I would get these great ideas at work for these blog post, but by the time I get home after work, and the gym, I am wiped out.  I didn't realized that it has been several days since I have last posted something on my blog, I really feel bad about that.  I don't like neglecting the blog because it does keep me sane when I want to rant about something that some politician has said, and apparently our president* Xiden had said a humdinger this week, something, something F15's and Nukes, and something, something....and directed it toward Middle America and the Trump Supporters.  So I have a rant stewing about that one percolating.  I will try to post something this evening, I am headed to work on my day off, got called it. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The M3 and M3A1 "Grease Gun"

 I remembered the first time I saw a "Grease Gun". We had gone to our sister division, the 1st Armored and their track people were issued the M3A1 "Grease Gun".  We all from the 1st Infantry Division (Fwd) in Germany all had the M16A1, Later A2 version but they had the "Grease Gun", and it was strange to see modern American Soldiers with a weapon from WWII, but hey we were using the M2 "Ma Deuce", can't improve perfection.


This article was first published in American Rifleman, September 2005

At the time of America’s entry into World War II, the standard U.S. military submachine gun was the famous Thompson M1928A1.While a reliable and effective submachine gun, the Thompson had several disadvantages as a military arm. Among its biggest drawbacks was the fact it was expensive and time-consuming to manufacture. To address that, the U.S. Army Ordnance Department initiated the development and adoption of a simplified version of the Thompson that featured many manufacturing shortcuts. The new variant, standardized as the “U.S. Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M1,” dispensed with the unnecessary and over-engineered Blish locking system of the M1928A1 Thompson. The Cutts compensator was also eliminated, and the cocking handle was moved from the top of the receiver to the right side. The M1 Thompson was followed by the even more simplified M1A1 variant, which featured a fixed firing pin instead of the separate hammer-actuated firing pin of its predecessor. 

While the M1 and M1A1 Thompsons could be manufactured much more cheaply and quickly than the M1928A1, they still required a substantial amount of machining work. The Ordnance Department recognized that the basic Thompson design had been simplified as much as possible, and a totally new type of submachine gun would be required to meet burgeoning wartime demand. Both our allies and adversaries had previously addressed that issue by developing and adopting submachine guns that made extensive use of stamped and welded sheet-metal parts rather than costly and time-consuming forged steel components. The German MP40 outwardly resembled its MP38 predecessor, but it was welded together from stamped sheet-metal components. The British developed and standardized the Sten submachine gun, which took the use of stamped and welded parts even further. While less aesthetically pleasing than traditional arms made of wood and forged steel, such submachine guns offered an attractive combination of reduced production time and lower manufacturing cost.

The U.S. Army Ordnance Department considered several designs for low-cost/high production-rate submachine guns fabricated from stamped and welded sheet metal. A design developed in large part by George Hyde, with the assistance of General Motors’ Inland Manufacturing Division, was given the prototype designation of T-15. It was chambered for the standard .45 ACP cartridge and featured a sliding wire stock, which substantially reduced its length when retracted. Army Ordnance Col. René Studler was an ardent proponent of the new submachine gun and was instrumental in its subsequent adoption. The T-15 prototype was refined and superseded by the T-20. Unlike the selective-fire T-15, the T-20 only fired in the full-automatic mode. 

The T-20 had number of advantages as compared to most other submachine guns, including the fact that its internal parts were fully enclosed, which reduced the possibility of the mechanism being clogged by dirt, mud or sand. In addition, it was designed with rather generous dimensional tolerances to allow functioning even when subjected to extreme dust or mud conditions. The bolt traveled along two steel guide rods, which prevented contact with the inside of the receiver and resulted in increased reliability and smoothness of operation. The gun could be quickly disassembled, and the barrel and bolt were easily removed. It did not have a conventional safety, but the ejection port cover prevented accidental firing when closed.

The T-20 prototype was extensively tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground and proved to be more reliable in the mud and dust tests than any other submachine gun ever tested by the U.S. Army. In addition to the Army’s Infantry Board, the new submachine gun was evaluated by the Airborne Command and Armored Forces Board. These latter two organizations were especially interested due to its compactness, which had obvious advantages for airborne use or in the cramped confines of a tank.

After conclusion of rigorous testing, the T-20 was recommended for adoption in December 1942 as the “U.S. Submachine Gun, Caliber .45, M3.” Official approval came on Jan. 11, 1943. Shortly after formal adoption, a contract was awarded to General Motors’ Guide Lamp Division for 300,000 M3 submachine guns. The Guide Lamp plant, located in Anderson, Ind., had extensive experience in the fabrication of stamped metal components, so it was a logical choice to manufacture the new submachine gun. 

Following initial price adjustments, the contract price for each M3 submachine gun, less the bolt assembly, was set at $18.36. Production of the bolt was subcontracted to the Buffalo Arms Co. at a price of $2.58, which brought the total per-unit cost of an M3 to $20.94. This was about half the cost of the simplified M1A1 Thompson. The M3 also had the great benefit of a much faster production rate than the Thompson. Other than the bolt, the only major component of the M3 that required any degree of machining was the barrel, which was rifled by the efficient cold swaging method. The exterior metal surfaces were Parkerized,  a provision was made for a cylindrical oiler on the left side of the receiver, and the sling swivels were welded on the gun. In order to keep costs down and simplify logistics, the same oiler and sling used with the M1 Carbine were standardized for use with the M3 as well. The front end of the wire stock was threaded to allow its use as a cleaning rod.

The M3 fired fully automatically at the rate of about 400 r.p.m. from a 30-round detachable box magazine. This relatively slow rate of fire aided in controlling it and permitted an experienced user to easily fire single shots with proper trigger manipulation.

The M3 and M3A1 submachine guns, also known as “grease guns” due to their similarity in appearance to the mechanic’s tool, served an important role not only in World War II, but in many later conflicts. Although troops often initially disliked them, the firearms’ performance soon won them over.

Less than six months after its adoption, the first M3 submachine guns  came off of Guide Lamp’s assembly line in May 1943. This was a very brief period of time as compared to most other military arms, which are typically in development for a number of years. Despite the simplicity of the stamped and welded sheet-metal construction, there were the normal production glitches. One of the most troubling problems was that the heat generated from welding together the two stamped receiver halves tended to warp the metal. This and other production difficulties were eventually corrected, but production lagged behind initial projections. It was envisioned that some 20,000 M3 submachine guns would be produced by July 1943, but the actual production was only 900 guns by that date. This delay in delivery of sufficient quantities resulted in contracts for additional M1A1 Thompsons until the supply of M3s could meet the demand.

When its production problems were solved, M3 manufacture rapidly increased, and the gun began to be issued to the using services. Among the first combat operations in which the M3 saw use was in the hands of some paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions during the Normandy drop as part of the D-Day invasion. Initially, many soldiers who were issued “grease guns” were not impressed with them and were reluctant to give up their trusted Thompsons. However, as the M3 began to see combat use, its reliability and lighter weight were seen as positive attributes, and most G.I.s, albeit grudgingly, came to accept the roughly hewn grease gun as a worthy successor to the finely crafted Thompson.

Another problem with some of the M3s became evident in early 1944 when complaints were forthcoming from training camps regarding the propensity of the side-mounted cocking handle to break. This was caused primarily by the use of low-grade steel and improper heat treatment. Other less serious problems were reported regarding the barrel ratchet pad and the durability of the rear sight. Also, the magazine release could be accidentally depressed, so a metal guard was developed to correct that problem. These various deficiencies were rectified as soon as they were identified, and later production versions of the M3 grease gun were quite reliable in service.

Even though the M3 was an uncomplicated design, it was believed that it could be simplified and improved even further. Guide Lamp was directed by the Ordnance Department to come up with an improved design. The firm developed an even more simplified grease gun, designated as the M3E1. Six prototype models were fabricated and tested in April 1944. The most significant changes to the M3E1 included:

  1. Elimination of the side-mounted cocking handle, to be replaced by a recess in the bolt that permitted the bolt to be withdrawn by merely inserting a finger and pulling it to the rear. This required an enlarged ejection port.

  2. Strengthening of the rear sight by welding support ribs to both sides. This feature had previously been added to later production M3 submachine guns.

  3. Elimination of the separate oiler on the left side to be replaced by a larger internal oil reservoir housed in the grip.

  4. Modification of the wire stock to allow its use as a wrench to remove the barrel and also permit it to be utilized as a magazine
    loading tool. 


After testing, the M3E1 was found satisfactory and it was standardized on Dec. 21, 1944, as the “Submachine Gun, Caliber . 45, M3A1.” Upon standardization of the M3A1, the M3 was reclassified as “Limited Standard.” This meant the M3 would no longer be manufactured, but those already in service would remain in use. Since the new M3A1 was adopted and put into production very late in the war, the M3 was the only variant to see any significant combat service in World War II. A total of 606,694 M3 and 15,469 M3A1 submachine guns were manufactured during World War II.

Several interesting accessories were developed for use with the grease gun. During World War II, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)—forerunner of today’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)—required a silenced or suppressed submachine gun for certain clandestine operations. A suppressor for the grease gun was developed by Bell Laboratories with High Standard Mfg. Co. and Guide Lamp as subcontractors. One thousand of these suppressors were reportedly produced and saw limited use during and after the Second World War.

There was also a request for a conversion kit to permit the grease gun to fire 9 mm rather than the standard .45 ACP round. This would allow it to be used by partisans and OSS operatives who had only British or captured German ammunition. The design of the grease gun made it easy to switch from .45 to 9 mm by simply replacing the barrel, bolt and inserting a magazine adapter to allow use of the British Sten magazine. It was originally envisioned that some 25,000 of the 9 mm conversion kits would be manufactured, but only about 500 are believed to have been made in late 1943 and early 1944. Virtually all of these 9 mm conversion kits were made for the M3 rather than for the M3A1.

A funnel-shaped flash hider that clamped on the end of the barrel was developed. The flash hider, designated as the T-34, was made only in prototype numbers during World War II, but it was put into production in the early 1950s and standardized as the “Hider, Flash, M9.”

Initially, the three-cell canvas magazine pouches made for the 30-round Thompson SMG magazines were used with the grease gun magazines. However, a slightly different three-cell pouch was subsequently manufactured and widely issued for the grease gun magazines.

In early 1945, it was recommended all Thompsons in use be replaced by the M3/M3A1, but this was not accomplished before the end of World War II. In fact, limited numbers of Thompsons remained in the U.S. military inventory until the late 1950s, although the number on hand was far exceeded by the number of grease guns. World War II ended with the M3/M3A1 firmly established as the U.S. military’s front-line submachine gun, and it saw extensive service during the Korean War. As was the case previously, the grease gun proved that production cost and cosmetic considerations had no bearing as to the utility or effectiveness of a combat arm.

In order to augment the supply of submachine guns, a contract was awarded to the Ithaca Gun Co. circa 1954 for the manufacture of 70,000 M3A1s. Production did not get under-way until 1955, by which time the pressing need for additional submachine guns had passed. The Ithaca contract was cancelled after 33,227 M3A1s had been manufactured. Except for markings, the Ithaca M3A1 was virtually identical to the World War II Guide Lamp M3A1.

Several foreign nations adopted submachine guns that were almost direct copies of the grease gun or were at least heavily based on it. These nations included China, Argentina and Portugal.

Following the Korean War, the M3 and M3A1 submachine guns remained a mainstay of the U.S. military arsenal. Grease guns saw some use by American troops in the early years of the Vietnam War, and large numbers were supplied to various friendly indigenous personnel during the course of the conflict. The grease gun continued as part of the U.S. military’s arsenal and has been used in virtually all U.S. military conflicts since World War II. Some silenced M3A1 submachine guns were utilized in several post-Vietnam military operations including Operation Eagle Claw, the ill-fated rescue attempt of the American hostages in Iran in the spring of 1980.

M3 and M3A1 submachine guns remained in service in the U.S. armed forces, mainly as armament for armored vehicle crewmen. They saw use during the Gulf War in the early 1990s, and limited numbers of grease guns are reportedly still being utilized in the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns even today.

Original M3 and M3A1 grease guns are surprisingly uncommon on the collector market today as compared to other U.S. submachine guns, such as the Thompson and Reising. Their long tenure of service meant that the vast majority remained in Uncle Sam’s inventory, thus, few were properly registered and available for sale on the civilian market. Today, an original registered and transferable grease gun will typical sell for as much as, or more than, a World War II Thompson.

From the time of its inception, the M3 submachine gun was often considered a cheaply made and inferior replacement for the finely crafted Thompson. However, the grease gun was a portent of things to come regarding military arms. The finely crafted designs of previous eras were correctly viewed as unnecessary extravagances in wartime, when cost, rate of production and reliability trumped aesthetic considerations. The grease gun may have been ugly in the eyes of some, but it was inexpensive to make and functioned very well. The fact that its venerable predecessor—the Thompson submachine gun—has been long relegated to being a museum piece while the ugly duckling grease gun is still seeing some use in combat zones today speaks volumes as to the excellence of its humble design.


Monday, June 21, 2021

Monday Music "Come Out and Play" By The OffSpring

 Man this theme is still rolling........LOL

 I am continuing my string of "bugaloo" songs.  This discussion was started in the "Monster Hunter Nation, Hunters Unite", back in November of 2019? it is a Facebook group with enthusiast of the ILOH "International Lord of Hate" A.K.A Larry Correia.  We were talking about what song would we use if we looked out of our window or glanced at our security camera and saw this.....

One of the alphabet bois lining up to take down your house...What would be your "Valhalla" song and you would set it up to play as you load up magazines set up the Tannerite Rover, turn on the water irrigation system and fill it with gasoline instead of water and prepare yourself.

 I figured it would scar the alphabet boys if they come busting in and hearing a song about people standing for their beliefs and willing to fight for them no matter the cost, Good Music  unlike that crap they listen to now.  What can I say, My humor is warped....just a bit. Next week will be "Ain't nothing but a House Party" by The J Giles Band...How Appropriate, LOL,  Now that should really cause some psych evals., hehehe, some poor ATF guy trying to explain the attraction to his mother because he is imaging himself as The savior of the American way rather than working for an agency that have the initials of a convenience store.  Now because we ain't gonna answer that door.  They can kick it in and start "the Dance"   Glypto Dropem made this song suggestion and I thought it was pretty cool.  I am very unhappy that the various .gov agencies have been weaponized by Obunger and continued to this day by the alphabet agencies because they don't like people that ain't on the democrat plantation.  Well I kinda like my freedom and stuff and that is anathema to the deep state and their operatives.

      I decided to roll with this song because one of my "Workwith's"  jammed on this and other metal and punk rock songs and I got used to the song and actually liked it.....after a while, LOL

Smash is the third studio album by American rock band The Offspring, released on April 8, 1994, by Epitaph Records. After touring in support of their previous album Ignition (1992), the band recorded their next album over two months at Track Record in North Hollywood, California. Smash was the band's final studio album to be produced by Thom Wilson, who had worked with them since their 1989 eponymous debut. This also marks the first album where Dexter Holland is credited with playing the guitar as opposed to vocals only.

Smash was the Offspring's introduction into worldwide popularity, and produced a number of hit singles, including "Come Out and Play", "Self Esteem", and "Gotta Get Away". Along with Green Day's Dookie, Smash was responsible for bringing punk rock into the mainstream, and helped pave the way for the emerging pop punk scene of the 1990s. As a fan favorite, the album received generally positive reviews from critics and garnered attention from major labels, including Columbia Records, with whom the band would sign in 1996.

Peaking at number four on the US Billboard 200, Smash has sold over eleven million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling album released by an independent record label; it was also the first Epitaph release to obtain gold and platinum status. In the United States, Smash has sold over six million copies and has been certified six times platinum by the RIAA

"Come Out and Play" (sometimes subtitled "Keep 'Em Separated") is a 1994 song by the Californian punk rock group the Offspring. It is the seventh track on their third album Smash (1994) and was released as the first single from that album. Written by frontman Dexter Holland, the song was the second single to be released by the band, after "I'll Be Waiting" (1986). It is considered the Offspring's breakthrough song, as it received widespread radio play, with first attention brought by Jed the Fish of KROQ-FM, and reached number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, bringing both the band and the punk rock genre to widespread attention.

The song also appears as the second track on their Greatest Hits album (2005). 


"Come Out and Play" was the first Offspring song for which a music video was created. The music video, directed by Darren Lavett, was shot in May 1994 and debuted on MTV in the summer of that year. The video is almost entirely in black-and-white with sepia tone segments, and features the band performing the song in the garage of a house with tinfoil covering the walls. There is also footage involving dogs fighting over a chew toy with a crowd watching, a horse race, a sword fight and some clips of several snakes and snake charmers, as well as some fencing scenes. The song is a nod to the Twisted Sister 1985 album Come Out and Play.  




Sunday, June 20, 2021

Happy Fathers Day

 I want to wish all the Dads out there that are doing all the things out there and being all the things for their kids a Happy Fathers Day, you know the guys, they are the ones that are involved with their kids from all the football practices, homework, baseball practices, taking the kids fishing, shooting, camping, and being involved.  that takes a special person to do all those things.  The job continued after the kids are grown and the Dads are still the ones that can help fix things or give advice because how matter how old you are, you still talk to your Dad, as I did until very recently when St Peter Cut Orders for my Dad to report to Fiddlers Green, this Fathers Day will be more difficult for it will be my first Fathers Day without my Dad and it feels strange, I am used to picking up the phone and "rattling his cage" as the saying went and talking to him about most anything from politics, to regular things to one of my blog post, I used him as an "unofficial" advisor on my Vietnam post because I tried to be accurate,( especially with those post to honor that generation that served and got shat upon by the Hippie scum and other democrats) to how my son is doing, both of them likes to fish, whereas I didn't see the attraction... I guess the fishing gene missed a generation it seems.

 I would also like to throw an "Attaboy" to the Moms out there that are doing the double duty because the "Dad" ain't in the picture, I see it because as part of my scout duties, there are a lot of single moms and they put their boys in Scouts because they want to see their boys have a positive role model in their lives and we guys try our best to provide one.


Again, I want to wish all my friend a "Happy Fathers Day".

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Tactical Air Mobility, The Birth of Air Cavalry

 I First heard of the Howze Board when I was reading the "W.E.B Griffin series of Books called the "Brotherhood of War" and the Board was mentioned with one of the main characters a Colonel Lowell and it was a really good backstory and it gave a good account of what had transpired and interjected his fictional characters into the real live storyline of an actual event and made the whole thing more real.  And the Character Colonel Lowell gave an excellent explanation saying that airmobile just gave Cavalry its traditional role back as the deep threat, they used to use horses, then they went to tanks, and how Helicopters. Airmobile is a mindset, not equipment. The book explained it quite well.


  Iconic Image from the Vietnam War involving Helicopters and the airmobile Doctrine.

Where is the prince who can afford so to cover his country with troops for its defense, as that ten thousand men descending from the clouds might not, in many places, do an infinite deal of mischief before a force could be brought together to repel them?” When Benjamin Franklin asked this question, he could not have envisioned modern air-assault concepts and weapons. It would be 200 years before Hamilton Hawkins Howze combined cavalry and paratrooper tactics, coupled them with a new “horse” (the helicopter), and produced a totally new product—airmobile. Many of the details were ironed out under fire, and the first field manuals were written in blood in Vietnam.

The United States Army Tactical Air Mobility Requirements Board was established in 1962 under a directive from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who asked the Army to “take a bold new look at land warfare mobility.” General Hamilton Howze was recognized as the officer with the necessary insight and experience to lead the effort. However, no innovative idea develops in a vacuum; existing or new concepts, tactics, and equipment are necessary components. Airmobile was no exception; some of the components were horse cavalry tactics, parachute infantry tactics, and the helicopter. Howze supplied the vision: battlefield mobility with a speed far superior to that of infantry, cavalry, or mechanized armor, although airmobile would be a mixture of all three


Howze was born into a military family in 1908. His father, cavalryman Robert L. Howze, had been awarded the Medal of Honor for action against the Sioux. His grandfather had been an infantry officer in the Confederate Army, and members of his family had served with Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in Cuba. His maternal great-grandfather and namesake, Hamilton S. Hawkins, had died in battle at Vera Cruz in the war with Mexico. With a warrior pedigree, Howze graduated from West Point in 1930 and was assigned to the 6th Cavalry at Fort Bliss, Texas. During World War II, Major Howze was operations officer for an armored division in North Africa and Italy.

Howze received a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Legion of Merit during his career, and at various times he commanded infantry and airborne divisions, corps, and armies. He was not, however, primarily a combat commander. Instead, Howze was a superb organizer and administrator. No obstinate bureaucratic pencil-pusher type of administrator, he was instead a problem-solver and innovator. He was not a by-the-book officer who knew only the Army way. Rather, he had fresh ideas and was willing to try them.

General Billy Mitchell, one of the best-known “air-power” rebels of all time, was a Howze family friend. Mitchell had often visited the home of Robert Howze when Hamilton was a boy. General Robert Howze had later been the presiding officer at Mitchell’s courts-martial.  Support for airpower fell with Mitchell, and Hamilton Howse learned to work within the system and advocated his initiatives in a nimble, agile, soft-spoken but ardent fashion. Airmobile was in many ways a revolutionary concept, but Howze used his personality and skills of persuasion to convince others of the utility and effectiveness of his approach.

Along the way, Howze was quick to adapt the ideas of others. Three examples were A.A. Vandergrift, Roy S. Geiger, and James Gavin. Vandergrift, a future Marine Corps commandant, had in 1909 written a thesis entitled “Aviation, the Cavalry of the Future.” It was deemed unsatisfactory. Roy S. Geiger, another Marine Corps general, witnessed the nuclear bomb test on Bikini Atoll in 1946 and recognized the need for something new to replace old-style amphibious landings. Possibly the most significant air-cavalry philosopher was General James Gavin. He commanded the 82nd Airborne during World War II and wrote an article for Harper’s in 1954 entitled “Cavalry, and I Don’t Mean Horses.” In it, Gavin lamented the lack of units able to fulfill a cavalry function and stated the philosophical foundation for airmobile. “Cavalry is the arm of mobility,” wrote Gavin. “It serves a useful purpose because of mobility differential—the contrast between its mobility and other land forces.”

Gavin’s article suggested that mobile forces be used to screen the infantry, scout enemy positions, exploit breakthroughs, and fight delaying actions. He also recommended that the new units be “lifted by helicopters or light aircraft armed with automatic and antitank weapons.” Without the new units, Gavin warned, road-bound mechanized units would be exposed to ambush similar to the Chinese surprise attacks in Korea in 1950. Gavin’s article provided a rough outline for the airmobile concept. When Gavin went looking for someone to appoint as the first director of Army Aviation in 1955, he found a man whose airmobile vision was coupled with an ability to implement and execute—Hamilton Howze.

As director, Howze pushed hard for aircraft procurement, both helicopters and fixed-wing support aircraft. He also authorized unorthodox tests of helicopter capabilities. Howze saw to it that every weapon imaginable was strapped onto a UH-1 (Huey). In these efforts, Howze had the assistance of another helicopter visionary, Jay D. Vanderpool, who worked nights and weekends to prove that the helicopter was a superior weapons platform. Vanderpool pioneered the “nap-of-the-earth” flying technique. In writing the first airmobile field manuals, he borrowed language from an old 1936 cavalry manual. Using cavalry tactics and helicopters was a vision that was rapidly becoming reality.

As early as 1957, Howze had a clear view of airmobile, as evidenced by a Pentagon briefing he delivered that year. In it, he presented a plan of defense against a hypothetical Soviet attack in Bavaria. Howze presented two scenarios. In the first, three Soviet divisions attacked one U.S. armored division. In the second scenario, Howze put the same three Soviet divisions against just one super-mobile U.S. Air Cavalry Brigade supported by combat engineers and artillery. Of course, such an air cavalry brigade did not yet exist. The U.S. armored division had hundreds of tanks and vehicles dependent on roads and intact bridges. The air cavalry brigade did not need roads or bridges. In fact, roads, bridges, and culverts could be destroyed or mined to frustrate the enemy. The Howze airmobile solution accomplished the delaying mission at a lower cost and with fewer casualties. In 1957 this was a unique, even revolutionary solution.

Hamilton Howze devised the Army’s airmobile concept to deliver troops swiftly to the battlefield. It is still in use today.
UH-D “Huey” helicopters extract 8th Cavalry troops during a mission in South Vietnam in October 1967.

Howze left the Pentagon to command the 82nd Airborne from 1958 through 1961. In 1962, he was appointed to head the Army Tactical Mobility Requirements Board. The evolution from the 1957 map solution to leadership of the group that would create airmobile was fairly rapid for the hurry-up-and-wait Army. The deficiencies and limitations of existing units were apparent to all. Parachute infantry was airmobile of a sort, but once out of the plane, the “air” part was gone, and once on the ground, the “mobile” part was gone as well. Resupply and reinforcement depended on subsequent air drops tied to the vagaries of weather and enemy resistance. Armored units were confined to roads or open ground; infantry units were either road-bound or too slow in cross-country movement. What was needed was some type of highly mobile air cavalry unit that could dismount quickly, fight, remount, attack from a different direction, create enemy confusion, cut off enemy retreat, and provide an element of hard-hitting surprise.

By 1960, the Army was beginning to see that a new approach might be necessary and created the Rodgers Board to review Army aircraft requirements. Howze was a member of the board and tried to have some airmobile tactics, doctrines, and units included in the final report.  However, the more radical Howze proposals were rejected and more modest proposals were made. The conservative-minded Rodgers Board recommended the procurement of more observation helicopters and suggested that further studies be undertaken.

In 1961, a new administration took over and the focus changed. At issue were the limitations of conventional units and the concept of massive nuclear retaliation. Conventional and nuclear forces were to be reevaluated. The new administration of President John F. Kennedy sought solutions presenting the possibility of a more flexible response. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara produced two memoranda in April 1962 addressing these issues. The first ordered the Secretary of the Army to review Army aviation requirements to “consider fresh, new concepts and give unorthodox ideas a hearing.” The second memorandum contained a short list of people whom McNamara suggested serve on the committee. The first name on the list was Hamilton Howze.

Howze convened the Army Tactical Mobility Requirements Board in May 1962. The Howze Board was composed of 294 individuals: 200 officers, 41 enlisted men (all Army), and 53 civilians. There was one Air Force general included as an observer only. There were seven working committees and eight working groups. The deadline was August 20. One copy of the report, addendum's included, was to fit in a standard Army footlocker. Howze instructed the board to “undertake a review of the application of army aircraft and the traditional cavalry role of mounted combat, reconnaissance, and security. Special attention was to be given to determine to what extent conventional surface vehicles could be replaced by aircraft, both tactical and support.”

The Howze Board effort was no half measure. Suggestions were solicited from every corner. Questionnaires were sent to 400 officers and 300 letters went to aircraft industry employees. Tests were scheduled for Fort Bragg to simulate conditions similar to those encountered at Pusan in 1950. Further testing was scheduled for the Georgia swamps to simulate the conditions of Indochina. The pace was frantic. One group recorded 11,000 flying hours in six weeks. Forty-six different tests were done in May alone. One test compared the capabilities of conventional and airmobile infantry. With a helicopter lift capacity of one platoon at a time, the airmobile company initiated an attack over hilly, wooded terrain in just one hour, while the conventional infantry company took 24 hours to achieve the same objective. The tests were only experimental, but as Howze noted, they showed what was possible and what could be accomplished with speed, precision, maneuver, and firepower.

The board also conducted war game experiments. One scenario scripted a Soviet invasion of Iran opposed by airmobile forces. The scenario had Soviet forces invading through passes in the Zagros Mountains. The airmobile units were able to engage Soviet forces more quickly and therefore much closer to points of entry. If the Soviet forces remained on the roads, they were severely degraded. If, on the other hand, the Soviet forces turned against the airmobile bases, U.S. armored units had time to move into line. At least in the game scenario, airmobile was able to execute maneuvers and tactics best described by the phrase “float like a butterfly—sting like a bee.”

Tests, war games, experiments, and reports were completed in a few months, and airmobile was scheduled for a full field demonstration in front of Secretary McNamara and other esteemed delegates. Howze narrated the action to the assembled grandstands as an enemy ridge was attacked 1,100 yards away. Howze explained that facing an enemy entrenched on high ground was the toughest field problem any army could confront. He explained that a conventional infantry attack, supported by armor, would take hours to mount and suffer many casualties. If the new airmobile units could do this, said Howze, they could do anything.

In the test, 105mm howitzers fired three rounds apiece in eight seconds, followed by four Mohawk aircraft dropping one 1,000-pound delayed-fuse bomb apiece. The fuse-delay bombs were designed to bounce over the ridge before exploding on the reverse slope. Air Force dive-bombers were to be included at this point, but low clouds deleted this element. That made this purely an Army show, which suited Howze just fine. After the Mohawks, four helicopter gunships attacked the fortifications with machine guns and 2.75-inch rockets. Then came the climax—flying low, from behind the grandstands, at 110 miles per hour roared 30 Hueys loaded with infantry. Flying straight into the dust and smoke, they dismounted and attacked. Howze turned to McNamara and said, “Sir, from the moment the enemy could have known an attack was coming to the time our infantry was dismounted and on top of him was exactly 120 seconds. That’s what we mean by air-mobility.”

The final report of the Howze Board was submitted in August 1962. Written by Howze himself, it contained some radical recommendations. Five air assault divisions were to replace three infantry and two airborne divisions. Each of the new divisions would have 459 aircraft and 1,000 vehicles. By contrast, a regulation 1962 division had 100 aircraft and 3,452 vehicles. Everything in the new air assault division was to have airlift capability, thereby eliminating the need for numerous vehicles. Similarly, division artillery was limited to 105s; 155s and 8-inch howitzers were eliminated. The heavier guns were to be replaced by 24 Mohawk (fixed-wing) bombers and 36 Huey gunships.

Everything revolved around the use of Army air assets—primarily helicopters, but also experimental fixed-wing aircraft like the Mohawk. The report was far reaching and cutting edge. It even included a description of areas where airmobile would be most effective. Prophetically, Southeast Asia was seen as a place where the new unconventional airmobile might excel.

Although Howze’s radical creation was later compared to the revolutionary formation of the first armored units, negative reaction, especially from the Air Force, was swift and abundant.  General Curtis LeMay said the Army was creating its own air force and convened an Air Force Board to refute the Howze Board findings and recommendations. The Air Force board, besides charging the Howze Board with ignorance of Air Force capabilities, flatly stated that the U.S. Army was not competent to judge air warfare.

Hamilton Howze devised the Army’s airmobile concept to deliver troops swiftly to the battlefield. It is still in use today.
Members of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade wait for Black Hawk helicopters to extract them following a mission in Iraq in 2009.

McNamara favored adoption of the Howze proposals, but his report to Congress contained this statement: “The Howze recommendations are so revolutionary in character they need to be tested before implementation.” In February 1963, the 11th Air Assault Division was activated at Fort Benning, Georgia, to begin conducting 18 months of new tests and exercises. The tests and exercises yielded a positive recommendation by the Army chief of staff that was then forwarded to the Joint Chiefs. With only one dissenting vote—Air Force General John McConnell—the Joint Chiefs endorsed the Army findings.

In June 1965, McNamara authorized the organization of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. It combined the test division resources with those of the 2nd Infantry Division to produce a unit with 15,787 men, 428 helicopters, and 1,600 vehicles. Of the 428 helicopters, most were troop transports, but 39 were Huey gunships. The fixed-wing Mohawks were no longer part of the equation, having been sacrificed to the animus of the Air Force. With the activation of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), Howze’s vision had become reality. Now it had to be tested in combat. The 1st Cavalry shipped out to Vietnam in August 1965.

Airmobile subsequently would win many victories in Vietnam, but the eventual U.S. strategic defeat left the airmobile concept bruised and bloodied as well. Helicopter warfare became associated with defeat. The helicopter was seen “an excellent carrier for the transportation and disposition of troops that could be modified into an excellent, if not indispensable support weapon. It permitted American forces to penetrate deeply into enemy-held territory [and it] provided rapid transport as well as combat readiness.” However, it could not win the war by itself. Many believed that in Vietnam the U.S. Army was locked into an attrition/body-count mentality, and to accomplish these goals, they had substituted a tactic—airmobile—for an overarching strategy.

Association with the Vietnam experience made helicopter warfare fall out of favor for a time. Slowly, however, the wisdom of the Howze vision became more apparent. By 1990, almost all of his recommendations had been implemented. The airmobile ideas of 1962 reemerged with a vengeance using 1990s technology and were used to great effect in the 1991 Gulf War. In it, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) was engaged for 60 of the 100 hours of ground combat. In the early hours of February 24, 1991, the 1st Brigade of the 101st, flying in 60 Blackhawks, seized a forward operations base 120 kilometers inside Iraq. The sudden appearance of the American troopers so completely surprised and unnerved the Iraqi defenders that they quickly surrendered. This unit was the first to supply the pictures of Iraqi soldiers trying to surrender to helicopters in flight. Certainly, even the imaginative Howze could not have envisioned such an eventuality.


The next day, the 3rd Brigade, lifted by 63 Blackhawks, moved 155 miles behind the retreating Iraqi Army and cut off its escape route out of Kuwait. Iraqi forces were trapped on a section of Highway 8—the Basra to Baghdad road—and totally annihilated. The extent of the destruction compared favorably to that of the German Army in the Falais Gap in 1944. The air-cavalry had been responsible for closing the back door and shortening the war.

The maneuvers of the 101st Airborne in the Gulf War were textbook examples of air-cavalry as envisioned by Hamilton Howze. Speed and maneuver had achieved surprise and tactical superiority, and a flawlessly executed blocking maneuver had ensured the total destruction of enemy forces—cavalry tactics perfected by Nathan Bedford Forrest almost 150 years earlier and resurrected by Howze in 1962. In doing so, Howze produced a totally new concept of 20th-century battlefield mobility that continues to flourish in the 21st century.


Friday, June 18, 2021

"Marxist Against CRT"

I am still very busy and ran across this from SSG, the Special Security group, the Next Generation Think Tank, I have used their material before on my blog and it is thought provoking. 

Voices on the right often object to Critical Race Theory as communist, but the true Communists object to it as much as the right does. Everyone including the right would benefit from understanding this debate as we try to figure out what sort of history to teach our children.

Why CRT Sounds Like Communism

CRT sounds communist to people on the right because the arguments sound similar in teaching that history is a story about the oppression of one group by another, and their solutions often sound similar as well. However, CRT differs sharply from true Communism in that it shifts its analysis of history from economic class to race.  This mode of analysis is the ‘critique’ that gives rise to name ‘Critical Theory.’ The various kinds of critical theory, of which CRT is only one, all take this basic mode of analysis from Marxism — which is why they sound similar to those listening from the outside of the dispute — but then shift the criterion for analysis from economic class conflict to something else. There is a feminist version that critiques society in terms of conflicts between the sexes, for example.

The World Socialist Web Site is a long-lived Communist publication in the West, and it has compiled a large collection of historians who are rejecting the 1619 Project. The historians sometimes object that 1619 is just bad history, in that it does not always even try to get the facts correct. Indeed the project’s founder agrees that it does not, explaining that the project was less about doing history than about a kind of activism: “I’ve always said that the 1619 Project is not a history. It is a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and, therefore, the national memory. The project has always been as much about the present as it is the past.” She went on that her project “never pretended to be a history.”

Historiography and How Marxism Differs from CRT

But the Marxists have a deeper objection, which goes beyond her failure to try to get the facts right. They also object to the way in which she, and others in CRT, interpret the facts.

Historians in training receive education in “historiography,” which is formally the methodology for doing history. In fact, is a debate about what the business of history is. One school says that the business of history is facts, not truth. By this they mean that historians should be working to establish exactly what really did happen, and leave off the question of just why it happened. George Washington definitely crossed the Delaware; there he killed a lot of Hessian mercenaries. He did this as part of a war that resulted in the departure of the American colonies from British control, and the establishment of a new nation. Those are all empirically verifiable facts, and on this school of thought a history would just say that. It would not try to interpret how deep Washington’s commitment to an ideal of freedom was, or just why the Hessians had joined the British side, or whether the result of the war was a good or a bad thing.

On this school you might write “Jefferson wrote a letter on the 16th of June 1781 that said such-and-so,” but not, “Jefferson intended such-and-so, as proven by his letter on the 16th of June 1781.” You can’t know the truth of Jefferson’s heart, so what he really intended is hidden forever. All you can really say, as a historian, is that he wrote such-and-so down and sent it in a letter. Maybe he was being deceptive; maybe he had a secret purpose. Whatever the truth, the fact is that he wrote the letter and it says such-and-so.

Other schools of thought think that you can find larger truths behind the facts, and that history should be about truth. Now, 1619 fails as a history here (if it had intended to be a history, which it claims it never did) because you still have to get the facts right. You can only do the interpretation of the facts once you are sure about the facts.

Once you get the facts right, though, you then have to apply a mode of interpreting those facts. This is where the conflict lies between Marxism and the various kinds of Critical Theory. One of the schools of historiography is that you should go beyond the facts and try to tell the truth of them — and this school is generally Marxist, because they have an interpretive tool they think will let them see the deeper truths behind the facts. This involves analysis of the facts in terms of the basic economic conflict between the people who control the means of production, and those forced to work upon the means of production.

According to Marx, this explains pretty much everything about every society in all of human history. Feudal societies had landlords who monopolized weapons and training in order to control the serfs; they had churches mostly to convince the serfs of their duty to work the land, and the nobility of their duty to maintain order. In the shift to industrial society, suddenly those who owned the means of production now owned machines more than land. They needed workers with enough education to work those machines, and they only needed them when they needed them. Thus, society changed away from ‘lords owning slaves/serfs’ to ‘factory owners free to hire and fire workers at will.’ The workers got a poor public education to give them enough knowledge to be useful, but not enough to be dangerous.

The Marxist school thus rejects CRT, not just the 1619 project. They do so because they object to the shift in interpretation from economic class to race. That’s bad history, they say, because the racism — which was real enough, and empirically verifiable — was just another means of control exercised by the powerful on the weak. If you want to tell the true story, you have to go deeper than race. Shifting the focus to race ends up hiding the real conflicts in society.

The Marxists Have a Stronger Criticism than the CRT Advocates

An example of the difference would be in telling the story of the Jim Crow laws in the South. Those laws definitely existed — that’s verifiable fact. It is also true that the racism itself ended up dividing the poor whites from the poor blacks. In fact those two groups often had nearly exactly the same problems. If they’d been able to think of themselves as allies and friends, rather than enemies who had to be mutually suspicious at all times, they’d have been able to challenge the power structure. Instead, the racism encouraged by the powerful people who wrote the Jim Crow laws ended up being a tool of the powerful — just another means of control. The Klan kept the blacks repressed through fear and violence, but it also taught the whites who joined it to fear the blacks so much they would enact violence. It stoked division and prevented a common front against the wealthy and powerful (who often hid at the very top of the Klan).

Indeed, the World Socialist recently published an argument that the Central Intelligence Agency’s embrace of ‘woke’ (i.e. critical theory) recruiting makes a lot of sense because the CIA has always used racial, ethnic, and religious distinctions as a tool to break up populations they’d like to control. (It should be noted that the USSR also used these techniques, which they called “active measures.”) As the American right wakes up to the threat posed to traditional American self-governance by its own security systems, these Marxist criticisms of organizations like the CIA and FBI hold a new interest.

The Marxists are actually on much stronger ground in this debate between themselves and CRT. There hasn’t actually been a lot of progress on economics, and there’s been significant backsliding since the 1970s or so. But there has been on race, and CRT ends up obscuring that by baking racism into its analysis. In 1865 there were racist militias like the Klan regularly murdering people over racism. In the 1920s the Klan had four million members eventually including at least one Senator. By the 1980s, though, the Klan was already complaining that it had shrunk to a tiny fraction of itself, and could no longer recruit easily among the general population. Today they barely exist — perhaps 3,000 people in a nation of 330,000,000. Americans talk about “white supremacy” quite a lot, but now mostly in terms of things like academic admissions programs, historic housing development issues, and so forth. These turn out to be chiefly economic issues, just as the Marxists claim.

SSG’s View of the Way Forward

That said, the Marxists are not in our view correct. My own critique of critical theory in general (and not just CRT in particular) also applies to Marxism. Any mode of historical analysis that attempts one of these critiques ends up baking its problem into its answers. Thus, if you practice CRT, of course you always find racism wherever you look — the whole project was to look for ways to explain things in terms of racial conflict. If you practice Marxist analysis, of course everything ends up being explicable in terms of economic conflict; the whole project of the analysis was to find a way to explain it that way.

The real issue with historical analysis on these models, to me, is that you can’t actually solve the problems they’re raising using them. These modes of analysis have to be transcended before you can fix things. As long as you continue to analyze in this way, you’ll always find the same problems no matter how much progress has been made.

If we want to fix the economic issues, we should work to transcend the mode of analysis that breaks us into hostile racial groups. It is our position that Americans should pull together to help Americans per se — a position the Marxists reject too, because they aim to build an international society based on international revolution against capitalism. That is where we differ from them, rejecting both sub-national politics and the idea that all of humanity should be embraced under one overarching global order. Our view is that Americans should see each other as brothers, and try to pull together for our common good.

In terms of the history, these debates between schools of thoughts are useful but only belong in college and grad school where there is time to understand fully what the different positions are. In primary and secondary school, history should stick to the verifiable facts. There is not time in high school history class to understand the debate about what the facts mean, but there is value in the debate for those who devote the additional years to study.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

How the Vietnam War has Defined Us....

 My Apologies for not posting for several days, I got inundated in Real Life and was unable to post like I wanted to.

I saw this several days ago show up in my email and it was well written, and I remember the cynicism that was America after Vietnam.  We didn't trust our government anymore....Unless you are a leftie then you worship .gov, but everyone else distrust the government and the most feared words you can hear uttered is "Hi I am from the Government and I am here to help you..."...that usually means that you are going to get it good and hard.

What did the Vietnam war do to us as Americans? There were some great lessons that we failed to act upon. But it's not too late to remember. This article by Karl Marlantes was well received in 2017.

By Karl Marlantes

This article, an opinion by Karl Marlantes, was originally published in the New York Times on January 7, 2017. Mr. Marlantes is best known as the author of two books: "Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War" and "What is it Like to go to War." He received the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten air medals for his service as a lieutenant with the Marine Corps in Vietnam.

The legacy of the war still shapes America, even if most of us are too young to remember it.

In the early spring of 1967, I was in the middle of a heated 2 a.m. hallway discussion with fellow students at Yale about the Vietnam War. I was from a small town in Oregon, and I had already joined the Marine Corps Reserve. My friends were mostly from East Coast prep schools. One said that Lyndon B. Johnson was lying to us about the war. I blurted out, “But … but an American president wouldn’t lie to Americans!” They all burst out laughing.

When I told that story to my children, they all burst out laughing, too. Of course presidents lie. All politicians lie. God, Dad, what planet are you from?

American soldiers watching helicopters landing as part of Operation Pershing in South Vietnam in 1967.
Credit Patrick Christain/Getty Images 

Before the Vietnam War, most Americans were like me. After the Vietnam War, most Americans are like my children.

America didn’t just lose the war, and the lives of 58,000 young men and women; Vietnam changed us as a country. In many ways, for the worse: It made us cynical and distrustful of our institutions, especially of government. For many people, it eroded the notion, once nearly universal, that part of being an American was serving your country.

But not everything about the war was negative. As a Marine lieutenant in Vietnam, I saw how it threw together young men from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and forced them to trust one another with their lives. It was a racial crucible that played an enormous, if often unappreciated, role in moving America toward real integration.

And yet even as Vietnam continues to shape our country, its place in our national consciousness is slipping. Some 65 percent of Americans are under 45 and so unable to even remember the war. Meanwhile, our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our involvement in Syria, our struggle with terrorism — these conflicts are pushing Vietnam further into the background.

All the more reason, then, for us to revisit the war and its consequences for today. This essay inaugurates a new series by The Times, Vietnam ’67, that will examine how the events of 1967 and early 1968 shaped Vietnam, America and the world. Hopefully, it will generate renewed conversation around that history, now half a century past.

What readers take away from that conversation is another matter. If all we do is debate why we lost, or why we were there at all, we will miss the truly important question: What did the war do to us as Americans?


Vietnam changed the way we looked at politics. We became inured to our leaders lying in the war: the fabricated Gulf of Tonkin incident, the number of “pacified provinces” (and what did “pacified” mean, anyway?), the inflated body counts.

People talked about Johnson’s “credibility gap.” This was a genteel way of saying that the president was lying. Then, however, a credibility gap was considered unusual and bad. By the end of the war, it was still considered bad, but it was no longer unusual. When politicians lie today, fact checkers might point out what is true, but then everyone moves on.

We have switched from naïveté to cynicism. One could argue that they are opposites, but I think not. With naïveté you risk disillusionment, which is what happened to me and many of my generation. Cynicism, however, stops you before you start. It alienates us from “the government,” a phrase that today connotes bureaucratic quagmire. It threatens democracy, because it destroys the power of the people to even want to make change.

You don’t finish the world’s largest highway system, build huge numbers of public schools and universities, institute the Great Society, fight a major war, and go to the moon, which we did in the 1960s — simultaneously — if you’re cynical about government and politicians.

I live near Seattle, hardly Donald J. Trump territory. Most of my friends cynically deride Mr. Trump’s slogan, Make America Great Again, citing all that was wrong in the olden days. Indeed, it wasn’t paradise, particularly for minorities. But there’s some truth to it. We were greater then. It was the war — not liberalism, not immigration, not globalization — that changed us.


In December 1968, I was on a blasted and remote jungle hilltop about a kilometer from the demilitarized zone. A chopper dropped off about three weeks of sodden mail and crumpled care packages. In that pile was a package for Ray Delgado, an 18-year-old Hispanic kid from Texas. I watched Ray tear into the aluminum foil wrapping and, smiling broadly, hold something up for me to see.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s tamales. From my mother.”

“What are tamales?”

“You want to try one?” he asked.

“Sure.” I looked at it, turned it over, then stuck it in my mouth and started chewing. Ray and his other Hispanic friends were barely containing themselves as I was gamely chewing away and thinking, “No wonder these Mexicans have such great teeth.”

Karl Marlantes at home in Oregon just before shipping out to Vietnam in 1968.

“Lieutenant,” Ray finally said. “You take the corn husk off.”

I was from a logging town on the Oregon coast. I’d heard of tamales, but I’d never seen one. Until I joined my company of Marines in Vietnam, I’d never even talked to a Mexican. Yes, people like me called people like Ray “Mexicans,” even though they were as American as apple pie — and tamales. Racial tension where I grew up was the Swedes and Norwegians squaring off against the Finns every Saturday night in the parking lot outside the dance at the Labor Temple.

President Harry Truman ordered the integration of the military in 1948. By the time of the Vietnam War, the races were serving together. But putting everyone the same units is very different than having them work together as a unit.

Our national memory of integration is mostly about the brave people of the civil rights movement. Imagine arming all those high school students from Birmingham, Ala. — white and black — with automatic weapons in an environment where using these weapons was as common as having lunch and they are all jacked up on testosterone. racial tension.

During the war there were over 200 fraggings in the American military — murders carried out by fragmentation grenades, which made it impossible to identify the killer. Almost all fraggings, at least when the perpetrator was caught, were found to be racially motivated.

And yet the more common experience in combat was cooperation and respect. If I was pinned down by enemy fire and I needed an M-79 man, I’d scream for Thompson, because he was the best. I didn’t even think about what color Thompson was.

White guys had to listen to soul music and black guys had to listen to country music. We didn’t fear one another. And the experience stuck with us. Hundreds of thousands of young men came home from Vietnam with different ideas about race — some for the worse, but most for the better. Racism wasn’t solved in Vietnam, but I believe it was where our country finally learned that it just might be possible for us all to get along.


I was at a reading recently in Fayetteville, N.C., when a young couple appeared at the signing table. He was standing straight and tall in Army fatigues. She was holding a baby in one arm and hauling a toddler with the other. They both looked to be about two years out of high school. The woman started to cry. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, “My husband is shipping out again, tomorrow.” I turned to him and said, “Wow, your second tour?”

“No, sir,” he replied. “My seventh.”

My heart sank. Is this a republic?

Katy Gillen, left, and husband Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Gillen prepare to say goodbye at Camp Pendleton before deploying to Afghanistan.

The Vietnam War ushered in the end of the draft, and the creation of what the Pentagon calls the “all-volunteer military.” But I don’t. I call it the all-recruited military. Volunteers are people who rush down to the post office to sign up after Pearl Harbor or the World Trade Center gets bombed. Recruits, well, it’s more complicated.

When I was growing up, almost every friend’s father or uncle had served in World War II. All the women in town knew that a destroyer was smaller than a cruiser and a platoon was smaller than a company, because their husbands had all been on destroyers or in platoons. Back then it was called “the service.” Today, we call it “the military.”

That shift in language indicates a profound shift in the attitudes of the republic toward its armed forces. The draft was unfair. Only males got drafted. And men who could afford to go to college did not get drafted until late in the war, when the fighting had fallen off.

But getting rid of the draft did not solve unfairness.

America’s elites have mostly dropped out of military service. Engraved on the walls of Woolsey Hall at Yale are the names of hundreds of Yalies who died in World Wars I and II. Thirty-five died in Vietnam, and none since.

Instead, the American working class has increasingly borne the burden of death and casualties since World War II. In a study in The University of Memphis Law Review, Douglas Kriner and Francis Shen looked at the income casualty gap, the difference between the median household incomes (in constant 2000 dollars) of communities with the highest casualties (the top 25 percent) and all the other communities. Starting from almost dead-even in World War II, the casualty gap was $5,000 in the Korean War, $8,200 in the Vietnam War, and is now more than $11,000 in Iraq and Afghanistan. Put another way, the lowest three income deciles have suffered 50 percent more casualties than the highest three.

If these inequities continue to grow, resentment will grow with it. With growing resentment, the already wide divide between the military and civilians will also widen. This is how republics fall, with armies and parts of the country more loyal to their commander than their country.

We need to return to the spirit of the military draft, and how people felt about service to their country. The military draft was viewed by most of us the same way we view income tax. I wouldn’t pay my taxes if there wasn’t the threat of jail. But as a responsible citizen, I also see that paying taxes is necessary to fund the government — my government.

Karl Marlantes discusses the legacy of the Vietnam War in a clip from "The Vietnam War," a 10-part documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Video by PBS

People would still grumble. We grumble about taxes. People would still try to pull strings to get more pleasant assignments. But everyone would serve. They’d work for “the government,” and maybe start to see it as “our government.” It’s a lot harder to be cynical about your country if you devoted two years of your life making it a better place.

Let the armed services be just one of many ways young people can serve their country. With universal service, some boy from Seattle could find himself sharing a tamale with some Hispanic girl from El Paso. Conservatives and liberals would learn to work together for a common cause. We could return to the spirit of people of different races learning to work together in combat during the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War continues to define us, even if we have forgotten how. But it’s not too late to remember, and to do something about it.

"Originally published at:

Thank you, Brother, for your sacrifice and service. Welcome Home!