Monday, November 8, 2010

"Military Incompetence: Why the American Military Doesn't Win..."

"Gross Military Incompetence: Why the American Military Doesn't Win..."

The Iran hostages rescue operation in 1980....and the collisions of US helicopters with US transport and refueling aircraft in the Iranian desert is a prime example of Gross incompetence too....

Interesting article you cite on the performance of the US military in Grenada. I don't usually comment on military matters, but as I served in the 82nd during this time I thought I'd add my $.02. I have to say that the Washington Monthly article and your commentary on the US military is spot on in every detail, except that the original plan of attack involved the Rangers parachuting in to take the runway so the 82nd could then airland its troops in, with my battalion, the 2/325 AIF, being the first one in. I did not participate in the invasion as I was on emergency leave when it happened, but I heard all the stories after-wards and they corroborate much of what was in that article.

It was amazing the number of casualties my unit experienced considering how badly outnumbered and outgunned the Cubans were. A captain and platoon sergeant from my battalion were both killed when they foolishly walked solo up a hill to try and locate the enemy...and succeeded in doing so. Our brigade HQ was hit by an A-10 strike that was called in by a lieutenant to take out a sniper resulting in one dead and at least 11 injured—proving the old adage that there is nothing more dangerous than a 2nd Lt with a compass and a map. Despite their small number the Cubans seemed to be everywhere, and our Recon platoon alone was ambushed twice albeit with no casualties.

My jeep took a bullet during one of these ambushes, and given the huge numbers of medals they handed out afterwards, I'm surprised I didn't get a Purple Heart or Bronze Star for my jeep's ordeal, even though I wasn't there. As it was, they gave Bronze Stars to all the company kiss-asses who showed up for the party, and some other medal for everyone else.

I heard a lot of stories of objectionable behavior and outright war crimes just from my company alone. In one case, a Cuban prisoner was stripped bare-chested and tied face down to the hood of a jeep and driven around like a hunter's trophy. The hood of a jeep can get pretty hot even in winter let alone in the hot Caribbean sun. I heard reports of soldiers shooting cattle and stealing cars for sport, as well as blowing up houses with LAW rockets and killing fish with grenades—though some of these attacks were by request of locals hoping for compensation.

In my opinion, the 82nd at that time was just a dog and pony show where incompetent and disinterested careerist officers stopped to get their tickets punched with the necessary Airborne experience needed for future promotions to field grade officer positions. We spent most of our time cleaning the barracks and picking up cigarette butts rather than training for war, and most of our officers and NCOs were utterly clueless and incompetent. That there were always cigarette butts to pick up showed the general attitude of officers and NCOs to the men, as we never dropped our own butts knowing someone else would have to pick them up....
Typical of this breed was one of my captains who was a West Point grad and remarkable ass-kisser even by 82nd Airborne standards (or "cheesedog" as we called them, from the practice of eating the "from under cheese" from under their superior's foreskins). This clown would have us run by the commanding general's headquarters during our morning PT and demand we let the general know we were there by shouting with bogus enthusiasm. We finally broke him of the habit by laughing uproariously instead.

The captain was with the unit for 6 months when he requested a display of our weapons for inspection. I was a TOW anti-tank gunner in Combat Support Company which included the TOWs, 4.2 inch mortars and the Recon platoon. We lined up our TOWs "dress right dress" or in a neat row and this putz walks over to my TOW and asks his XO, "is this a TOW?"

Of course, let me not spare our Air Force friends, who routinely dropped us in the trees on jumps, or Marine Corps Anglico which called in a barrage of 155mm artillery fire during a training exercise just 300 yards from their position on the very edge of a fire zone just as we were driving by in our jeeps, How none of us were killed or injured is a mystery as the explosions were close enough and loud enough to cause me ear pain for a few weeks after-wards.

Based on my experience in an allegedly "elite" unit I'd have to say the US military is an overrated farce. Thank God we didn't have to say "Hooah" back in those days as I think I'd have gone postal if they forced me to mouth such a bloody moronic, mealy-mouthed affirmative. As it was our required "All the Way, Sir!" was bad enough....
Coming back to the 1983 invasion of Grenada, it would be a good idea to compare it with the 1979 taking of the Tadzh-Bek Palace by 520 lightly armed Soviet officers and soldiers against a defending force of 2500 heavily armed defenders. You can read all about this operation in this article:

And just in case anybody would suspect the author of this article of being some kind of commie-groupie, here is a short bio:

LESTER W. GRAU, a Vietnam War veteran and retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, is an analyst for the Foreign Military Studies Office at the Army's Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth. He is also the editor and translator of The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan and The Other Side of the Mountain: Mujaheddin Tactics in the Soviet-Afghan War....