Friday, June 17, 2011

A while back I posted one of the circus

situations I found myself in while I was in the army in the early 70s.

It was a bad time to serve because as the Vietnam mess was winding down the fickle Armerican public was very anti-military. Things were so bad that we were ordered NOT to were uniforms in public. I had to once to get a decent fare on a flight once and I got spit on at Logan International as I was getting off of the airplane.

As a result the standards dropped and I'd have to say that about 1/3 to 1/2 of my basic platoon were mental catagory 4s. Read: Special Olympic candidates.

Of course, because I could cloud a mirror held under my nose I was considered one of the best and brightest and was actually offered a shot at OCS fresh out of basic. I had a high school diploma.

That has to tell you something.

It also explains my meteoric rise to E-5 in well under 2 years total service.

I didn't plan on being a soldier, I planned on joining the Marines. What stopped me is that when I saw the recruiter taping up an arm that had needle marks on it I decided I wanted no part of that so I went down the hall and talked to the army recruiter.

Relax, Marines. Keep your shirt on. I found the same sort of thing in the army. At that time both services were scraping the very bottom of the barrel.

Every Marine I have told this to goes straight into denial except for a damned few. I was telling a Gunnery Sergeant about this once several years ago. The Gunny was denying it and saying that it wasn't possible when a voice behind us spoke up and said, "Believe him, Gunny. I was there."

The voice belonged to a mustang Marine major that was an LtC designee. He had been an enlisted man right around the time I was mentioning.

The reason for this in my opinion is that the services tolorated it. They thought they were so desperate for bodies that they took just about everyone that walked in the door.

General Norman Schwartzkoff mentions this in the book he wrote about his career after Desert Storm.

I have to give the Marines credit, though. They recovered from the post Viet slump a lot faster than the other services because thet simply decided not to tolorate it any more and simply threw out substandard Marines.

It was quite some time before the army decided to do the same thing and boot out the jerks.

Before they started getting rid of the jerks it seemed like an awful lot of good people were getting out and an awful lot of deadbeats were staying in.

For the most part I remember that company level leadership wasn't too bad. As one looked up the chain it was more hit or miss the further up you went.

I had a BnCO that was a jerk, he was replace by a pretty good leader when he got relieved.

I served under a total of 4 BnCOs during my enlistment and this man that took over for the jerk that got relieved I'd rate as tied for the top two BnCOs I served under.

Todays GIs have it a lot different. Leadership has improved and the very caliber of people has gone through the roof. The average GI of today is a whole lot better trained than we were, and is led and fed better, too. Led, anyway. I don't imagine the food has gotten a whole lot better.

Of course, they are nowhere as good looking as we were back in the day, but let's just save that for another post.

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