America’s military isn’t just bloated, it suffers from so many diseases they are countless. At the heart of the problem is a system based on a corrupt military culture. Many things can be blamed, certainly the Christian fundamentalism that rules the military, the hatred of education, inherent racism, political ignorance, extremism and “toadyism” are prominent.
For those who know real combat and real war, watching American units today makes our heads hurt. After Vietnam, combat veterans fled military service while the Pentagon embraced what they believed to be the new very highly paid “professional military.” The failure of Vietnam was blamed on those who fought. The military expunged all combat veterans at the end of the war, as it was explained to me by I Corps commander, General Herman Nickerson, who indicated he was willing to make an exception for me.
Today’s military is built out of those who served in Vietnam’s luxury real eschelon retreats, fine food, air conditioning, sexual deviance and cowardice, the building blocks of what Colonel David Hackworth called “the Perfumed Princes of the Pentagon.”
Back during the early days of World War II, generalized corruption and typical “military culture” forced US Army Chief of Staff General Marshall to clean out the army, firing thousands of officers and promoting an obscure Lt. Colonel named Eisenhower to overall command in Europe. Today there is no General Marshall though General Dempsey began the task before being forced out along with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, himself a Vietnam combat veteran.
War today is learned at school, taught to officers by other officers who read about war in books, saw it on television or who gained minutes or hours of combat experience during short lived staged theatrical “operations” or under the auspices of the phony War on Terror. Those who have done so have been proven useless, worthless, a danger to themselves and others, delusional in thought, fabricators of events, morally flexible war criminals who have been universally unrepentant. Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so.
War today is driven by glamor, mercenaries and profit. When it isn’t torture and drone assassination, it is special operations, where highly paid units following impossibly false intelligence generally either kill civilians or freedom fighters, now often as not, on behalf of terrorist operations of al Qaeda or ISIS.
Despite trillions spent and a bloated reserve of working weapons along with many, like the F35, that are useless “black hole” money-pits, America loses wars because it has no warrior spirit. By “losing wars” I am referring to Iraq 1, the “walk away” and the entirety of the fraudulent Bush-Blair phony war on terror.
The Forgotten Lesson of Vietnam
I fought in Vietnam, a war America won for a while after years of devastating casualties. Here is a key difference between Vietnam, the real war with real people, rather than the media version 50 years later, and the current debacles:
Those who went to Vietnam, initially at least, faced a draft. Those who fought in Vietnam were highly educated, compared to those in the military today. The key word here is “fought.” You see, the military trains and retains those who need institutional protections to live, who seek structure, subservience to authority and typically can’t make it in the real world.
Today they run the Pentagon, the War Colleges and service academies.
Those who came into the military as two-year draftees or as reservists with two years active duty, and I was one of those, don’t qualify for training programs and are, no matter qualifications, invariably assigned to combat roles.
For a 4 year enlistee with sub-normal intelligence, there was an equal chance of being assigned jobs of truck driver, cook, radar technician or intelligence analyst. As American humorist Jim W. Dean so often says, “You just can’t make stuff like this up.”
Moreover, with Vietnam, only those in top physical condition, acclimatized for extreme physical stress in jungle conditions, could survive in Vietnam combat. The only place this could occur was in Vietnam with a line unit, as I learned myself. Top athletic condition meant nothing in the real world of daily combat with the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army, fighters that lived on a cup of rice a day who could go days without sleep.
The 200 pound 9000 calorie a day American “Playstation army” type would drop dead rather quickly. You see, the high level of military corruption in the US kept food, supplies and even ammunition from troops, making Marine units, the “tip of the spear” in Vietnam, live off the land like the Viet Cong.
There was a reason that worked, though Marines lost more killed and wounded in Vietnam than in World War II with casualty levels between 300-400% of levels from that war. Here was the trick, one learned from the Wehrmacht in World War II:
Because of conditioning requirements, only low level enlisted ranks, the ones with the education and high IQs, spent enough time in the field to be able to survive the heat and lack of food and water. When an officer or senior enlisted went into the field with line personnel, they would get sick quickly. Typical operations with ranking personnel stayed close to home bases with air conditioning and good food “for the few” or quickly turned back.
When reports were written of these failed missions, however, medals were given out by the bucket, to “the few,” wild stories of heroism and fictional confrontations with an enemy busy elsewhere.
The result was a lean military of self-sufficient troops who chose their own leaders, as the Germans did, operating in small units. These units were made of seasoned veterans and replacements, always a mix, where “on the job” training assured real world skills and not the saluting and “behind kissing” of America’s service academies.
Eventually, as tens of thousands died and selling the war became impossible, America began drafting the incredibly unqualified which led to incidents like My Lai and a series of racially driven military mutinies which were never reported and are erased from the history books.
Commanding these units were officers from ROTC units from rural community colleges. The numbers relieved of command for having total meltdowns is one of the biggest secrets of the war, that and the number killed by their own men.
One more point about Vietnam, and this one is important. With educated draftees prominent in combat units, the political “bent” of these organizations wasn’t just “liberal” but often not only socialist but highly sympathetic to the enemy. Educated soldiers knew America had violated the Geneva Accords and any idiot could see the corruption and evil of the Saigon government. The Vietnamese people hated them.
Culture of Failure
Let’s move this on to today then. The military today is a trap. I was paid $200 a month in Vietnam as a Marine enlisted and later non-commissioned officer in a rifle squad that was part of a Special Landing Team, a “tip of the spear” unit. The pay was 20% of typical entry level civilian employment at the time.
Today, a non-commissioned officer serving in Afghanistan can be paid over $120,000 per year, 500% of the equivalent pay here in the US for the skill levels needed to protect narcotics production and delivery, which is the primary role America serves in Afghanistan as pretty much everyone knows.
The military uses this high pay, considerably higher than civilian pay, to recruit and retain but there is no kindness there. Those recruited and “trained” and even overfed, and irradiated, who drink poised water, are experimented on with dangerous vaccines, yes there is a dark side too, are likely to spend years “deployed” in support of American foreign policy.
American policy is permanent war, permanent occupation in support of narcotics, human trafficking and terrorism, truth be told. Saying anything else is giving voice to lies too long exposed.
The trap is this, yes the pay is high and the chances of being killed in combat are low. The problem is this, nobody survives. Families that fall into the trap, addicted to military life and military pay, become unwilling slaves to paternalism and control and continual deployment. They exist, and by they I mean military families, to support endless war and their own destruction. Few military families survive.
In the process, a style of what America calls “war” is embedded in the American soul, glamourous special operations for the media but never against an enemy that represents a legitimate threat against America. The real threat is and has been what the military represents, defacto martial law for nearly two decades, total surveillance, controlled press, plunging standards of living, hopeless and idiot political theatre and a culture of unreality, even fantasy, replacing coherent thought.
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”