How does the military you served in compare with today's military?




 
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April 10th, 2011  
RealNavy
 

Topic: How does the military you served in compare with today's military?


I served in the Vietnam era when the once proud American military was in a sad state of disarray. After years of left-wing antiwar propaganda sponsored by our homegrown media (Ho Chi Minh said that the American news media was the most powerful ally the North had in the war) the military was in disarray and servicemen were demonized beyond belief as "baby killers." Racial strife was rampant in the military, conscription filled the ranks with the unwilling and disaffected. Draft dodgers were lionized as principled heroes and choosing to serve when called upon by your country was considered dishonorable. The military seemed to be exhausted and its readiness was at a low ebb. Then in 1975 when the Congress violated our treaty obligations to South Vietnam and the country fell the public reaction was, "What did we waste 58,760 American lives for?" Of course the politicians did their usual sidestep and blamed the failure on the military.

This was the environment when I joined the Navy in 1976. Military service still carried a public stigma and many problems still persisted. Nevertheless, we did the best we could with what little Jimmy Carter allowed us. I was proud to be in the armed forces, those who looked down on us in the civilian world were the losers. The cold war was still very much alive and we all knew that if the balloon went up we were it! We felt equal to the task. What we lacked in public admiration was made up for in determination. We knew that what we were doing was important and vital. We had pride if little else.

Having said that I am incredibly impressed with the young people in our armed forces today. I am admittedly biased as I have a Daughter in the Navy and a Son in the Marine Corps, but the fact remains that today's all-volunteer armed forces are hands down superior to the military in which I served. They are better trained, better led, better armed, more intelligent and have a level of flexibility that allows them to function effectively in any type of warfare environment.

The military--like any institution--has evolved over time. I like to think that the mistakes that were made when I was in have resulted in changes to doctrine and training that have made today's military so impressive. In my opinion we are stronger than ever.

I would like to hear everyone's comparisons of then vs. now, reflections of foriegn veterans are very welcome as are the perspectives of those on active duty. Thanks.
April 11th, 2011  
MikeP
 
 
Well unfortunate you bought into the poor me we were bums mentality that a lot of folks from that era have adopted.
F that.
I enlisted airborne infantryin 1966 and.did three years SFwith 2 tours in the bush in VN.

Admittedly everyone soldiered with was a multi level volunteer and had a positive attitude towards the military and the mission.

I do understand there were difficulties in some areas-a lot had to do with lack of cohesion-one year tours with constant rotation. Hard to function with that disorganization.
Most guys we had in the field were hard charging and effective.
A lot of the problems were with REMFs stuck in firebases and admin centers.
They had too much time on their hands and trouble found them.
This increased exponentially with the growing lack of support at home.

You're not entirely wrong, but it was better than you describe.

Being an "era" vet means you were not there?

Though today's folks are better in many ways, the PC Touchy Feelie stuff hobbles them.
The suicide rate, which baffles me is agood example.
Tough used to be an admired atribute.
I have seen many at VA centers-some see PTSD as some kind of entitlement.
So do a lot of VN vets who are feloniously riding it as well.
Vets and vet issues have been a primary interest for me for over40 years.
I'm proud of my opportunity to have done my time and to have passed the test.
I feel your brown paintbrush is a bit wide.
April 11th, 2011  
muscogeemike
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeP
A lot of the problems were with REMFs stuck in firebases and admin centers.
They had too much time on their hands and trouble found them.
This increased exponentially with the growing lack of support at home.

You're not entirely wrong, but it was better than you describe.

Though today's folks are better in many ways, the PC Touchy Feelie stuff hobbles them.
The suicide rate, which baffles me is agood example.
Tough used to be an admired atribute.
I have seen many at VA centers-some see PTSD as some kind of entitlement.
So do a lot of VN vets who are feloniously riding it as well.
Vets and vet issues have been a primary interest for me for over40 years.
I'm proud of my opportunity to have done my time and to have passed the test.
I feel your brown paintbrush is a bit wide.
I was drafted in 1966 and I was one of those REMF’s (Topographic Engineer, Map Maker) in Viet Nam (am I the only one who distrust guys that call it “the Nam“?). What you say is true, even working 12 hour shifts 6/7 days a week we still were bored on our down time. There was nothing to do and no where to go and as you said trouble was easy to find. I give credit to my folks, they raised me right and I avoided serious temptation, my service was clean and I got out after my two years.

I don’t doubt that returning vets had troubles with anti-war fools but I didn’t experience it. I went back to school (in S. CA) and there were lots of idiots to contend with, after a while I avoided telling anyone I was in VN. But again I never experienced any serious confrontations, I remember that often the professors were more of a problem than students.

After a couple of years I found civilian life was really boring and went back in. This time I went into Intelligence (still a REMF but not as much) and with a different attitude. This was my chosen career.

I saw first hand the racial turmoil, the end of the draft, VOLAR, and the increase of women in the Army.

I served in some units where discipline was slack and many where it was not (including two tours at Ft. Bragg with Special Ops and one with the 2nd ID in Korea). I served on Navy and Air Force bases and did a tour as an involuntary recruiter.

The transformation from the Army of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s to the Army of 1991 (when I retired) was incredible. The Army I left was (and still is) the best the modern world has ever seen. And I will say the same for the other Military Services as well. We learned some lessons from Viet Nam.

I fear however that we are using our military (especially Army and Marines) up. My nephew has been a Marine for just over 8 years and has been to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once. This is too much.
--
April 11th, 2011  
KJ
 
 
It is now what it was then.

Some people go out of their way to do the job, some people go out of their way to get out of doing the job they signed up for.

Nothing new under the sun.


3 deployments in 8 years is to some units a high operational tempo.
To some units that would almost be concidered a vacation.

We are really comparing apples and oranges here.

KJ sends..
April 12th, 2011  
Del Boy
 
Largely because the fact that I served in the desert, it would appear similar to today's scene when it comes to infantry; of course, through conscription the ranks had a wider mix. Brits were very 2-tier, officers held on a privileged pedestal, other ranks thought of as Wellington did.

At the time, compared with the rest of the army, I thought my regiment was like the Foreign Legion.

Early 1950's.
April 14th, 2011  
AZ_Infantry
 
 
I joined the Infantry in 1989, served 4 years active duty and 2 years reserves (plus 2 more IRR). I was in Germany (3rd ID, Schweinfurt) when The Wall came down and for involuntary extensions and PCS holds when Shield began and then evolved into Storm.

Obviously, I have no personal reference to hold an opinion on the Vietnam era - I only trust what I hear from the people that were actually there, in country, and even at that I question a lot of the information conveyed. The "politician's war" that was the historical national embarrassment of a completely mismanaged conflict has two very distinct sides, often blurred and occluded by biased journalism and military posers, that is both confusing and understandable.

So, with that said, thank you to all of you for your service. One thing I have made my mind up about is that the hype regarding soldiers of that genre is incredibly slanted and, for the most part, incorrect according to the statistics. I am very proud to have served after men of your caliber, regardless of your MOS, and stand with the greatest respect in my heart to call you brothers and sisters in arms. Again, thank you.

***

During my 6 years, I experienced both professionalism and slackers; kids seeking college money and patriots; enormous racial divide and brotherhoods devoid of color consideration; lifers and losers. Most, myself included, were somewhere in the middle of all those things. I joined for a myriad of reasons, the primary being that I was aware that if I failed to serve our all-volunteer military, someone else had to fill my boots. To this day, I tell everyone that we served for the man next to us.

My term of service was during a period of internal evolution for the Army. Raunchy cadences were being phased out in the name of political correctness, Drill Sergeants had to toe the line, and a massive RIF towards the end of my AD contract actually paid me not to reenlist. A decision I regret with all my heart, by the way. I was 23, recently divorced with 2 young kids, and had no self direction for my life. Getting back to AZ seemed like a good life decision - riiiiight. I had aspirations of sleeping around with all the pretty civilians, getting as drunk as I wanted every day, and actually having money in my pocket. I was tired of being in charge of a squad while my own family and personal life was unmanageable. I was a scared kid in a man's body hiding behind his chest cabbage, Rope and a single hash mark.

In some ways -- please don't take this as any offense to our current service members -- I am terribly disappointed in the way the Army has transformed. Stress free cards? Weight problems? 33% reduction in OSUT training? WTF? When I consider my OSUT, these kids these days have it easy. You Vietnam veterans would say the very same thing about me, and WWII vets would say the same thing regarding you. "When I was a kid, we walked ten miles to school, in the snow, barefoot, uphill both ways!" LOL.

PTSD is just the 80's ADD/ADHD revisited. The problem there is that resources are finite: many who really need services are at the tail end of the line of those who want a free ride because they know the system and exactly what to say to the VA. It sickens me. Most of the men I served with who had right arm patches were the types that hid pain, didn't brag, and didn't want special treatment. Their CIB said it all, to them. A BS social networking bravado hero would have been mocked and, most likely, beaten.

This does NOT mean I am not proud to call this new generation of troops my brothers and sisters in arms! We are a family, regardless of branch, MOS, combat experience, tabs, ropes, or rank. There is something we all share that no civilian will ever have. But like society as a whole, things have changed, my chagrin or dislike notwithstanding. No one asks me or cares about my personal opinion. And, really, who am I to say what the needs of today's Army are? How dare I have the audacity, even narcissism, to state that my training was superior? It was and it wasn't. It was different because, back in 1989, inspections, spit shined boots, pressed BDU's and earning your EIB were the training standards. We wouldn't be properly preparing our current soldier to deploy to two theaters of operations with D&C focus.

I never served with a homosexual that I know of. When my wife went to Basic in 2007 (88 Mike), she experienced girls in her class that actually had sex in the shower. How in the holy name of...? PT standards were only loosely enforced. They got days off for holidays and weekend passes. None of this was anything even remotely close to my experience in the Infantry OSUT. If a DS gave you a swift kick to the back of the knee, it wasn't proper to rat him out - you were a puzzy if you did. You took it, rucked up and drove on and thanked him for correcting your heathen self.

I don't understand how any 1st Sgt can adapt to the changes I know of. I don't believe I would be an effective leader in today's military. I was when I was in, but it was a different military. Perhaps that is the cringe of sadness I feel when I consider my time in service compared to today's standards. You Vietnam veterans likely feel the same way about your service versus mine.

I don't see it as any type of put down. Again, the needs of the military change, and training and standards change with it. Societal demands to evolve put pressure on our armed forces. In our current economy, military benefits far outweigh fighting 500 other applicants for a minimum wage job.

I am extremely proud to be a part of the uniform club. For every one bad media report regarding our military, hundreds of positive stories go unsaid, unnoticed. I will shake the hand of and thank them for their service any man or woman at the VA.

But, yes - it sure as hell has changed.
April 14th, 2011  
muscogeemike
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ_Infantry
I joined the Infantry in 1989, served 4 years active duty and 2 years reserves (plus 2 more IRR). I was in Germany (3rd ID, Schweinfurt) when The Wall came down and for involuntary extensions and PCS holds when Shield began and then evolved into Storm.

Obviously, I have no personal reference to hold an opinion on the Vietnam era - I only trust what I hear from the people that were actually there, in country, and even at that I question a lot of the information conveyed. The "politician's war" that was the historical national embarrassment of a completely mismanaged conflict has two very distinct sides, often blurred and occluded by biased journalism and military posers, that is both confusing and understandable.

So, with that said, thank you to all of you for your service. One thing I have made my mind up about is that the hype regarding soldiers of that genre is incredibly slanted and, for the most part, incorrect according to the statistics. I am very proud to have served after men of your caliber, regardless of your MOS, and stand with the greatest respect in my heart to call you brothers and sisters in arms. Again, thank you.

***

During my 6 years, I experienced both professionalism and slackers; kids seeking college money and patriots; enormous racial divide and brotherhoods devoid of color consideration; lifers and losers. Most, myself included, were somewhere in the middle of all those things. I joined for a myriad of reasons, the primary being that I was aware that if I failed to serve our all-volunteer military, someone else had to fill my boots. To this day, I tell everyone that we served for the man next to us.

My term of service was during a period of internal evolution for the Army. Raunchy cadences were being phased out in the name of political correctness, Drill Sergeants had to toe the line, and a massive RIF towards the end of my AD contract actually paid me not to reenlist. A decision I regret with all my heart, by the way. I was 23, recently divorced with 2 young kids, and had no self direction for my life. Getting back to AZ seemed like a good life decision - riiiiight. I had aspirations of sleeping around with all the pretty civilians, getting as drunk as I wanted every day, and actually having money in my pocket. I was tired of being in charge of a squad while my own family and personal life was unmanageable. I was a scared kid in a man's body hiding behind his chest cabbage, Rope and a single hash mark.

In some ways -- please don't take this as any offense to our current service members -- I am terribly disappointed in the way the Army has transformed. Stress free cards? Weight problems? 33% reduction in OSUT training? WTF? When I consider my OSUT, these kids these days have it easy. You Vietnam veterans would say the very same thing about me, and WWII vets would say the same thing regarding you. "When I was a kid, we walked ten miles to school, in the snow, barefoot, uphill both ways!" LOL.

PTSD is just the 80's ADD/ADHD revisited. The problem there is that resources are finite: many who really need services are at the tail end of the line of those who want a free ride because they know the system and exactly what to say to the VA. It sickens me. Most of the men I served with who had right arm patches were the types that hid pain, didn't brag, and didn't want special treatment. Their CIB said it all, to them. A BS social networking bravado hero would have been mocked and, most likely, beaten.

This does NOT mean I am not proud to call this new generation of troops my brothers and sisters in arms! We are a family, regardless of branch, MOS, combat experience, tabs, ropes, or rank. There is something we all share that no civilian will ever have. But like society as a whole, things have changed, my chagrin or dislike notwithstanding. No one asks me or cares about my personal opinion. And, really, who am I to say what the needs of today's Army are? How dare I have the audacity, even narcissism, to state that my training was superior? It was and it wasn't. It was different because, back in 1989, inspections, spit shined boots, pressed BDU's and earning your EIB were the training standards. We wouldn't be properly preparing our current soldier to deploy to two theaters of operations with D&C focus.

I never served with a homosexual that I know of. When my wife went to Basic in 2007 (88 Mike), she experienced girls in her class that actually had sex in the shower. How in the holy name of...? PT standards were only loosely enforced. They got days off for holidays and weekend passes. None of this was anything even remotely close to my experience in the Infantry OSUT. If a DS gave you a swift kick to the back of the knee, it wasn't proper to rat him out - you were a puzzy if you did. You took it, rucked up and drove on and thanked him for correcting your heathen self.

I don't understand how any 1st Sgt can adapt to the changes I know of. I don't believe I would be an effective leader in today's military. I was when I was in, but it was a different military. Perhaps that is the cringe of sadness I feel when I consider my time in service compared to today's standards. You Vietnam veterans likely feel the same way about your service versus mine.

I don't see it as any type of put down. Again, the needs of the military change, and training and standards change with it. Societal demands to evolve put pressure on our armed forces. In our current economy, military benefits far outweigh fighting 500 other applicants for a minimum wage job.

I am extremely proud to be a part of the uniform club. For every one bad media report regarding our military, hundreds of positive stories go unsaid, unnoticed. I will shake the hand of and thank them for their service any man or woman at the VA.

But, yes - it sure as hell has changed.
Amen brother, you’ve said a mouthful.

It has been 20 years since I retired, I know that things are very different now.

I have enormous respect for the job today’s military is doing, I have a nephew in the Marines who has been to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

A few months ago I read a letter to the Army Times from a Warrant Officer at Ft. Hood. He commented on how many troops did not salute him and were not aware he was due a salute. He also commented on the disrespect he was shown, by enlisted and NCO’s, when he made “on the spot corrections”.

I know that in the Army I retired from (and I was a First Sergeant) this would have been intolerable!

The Jr. EM aside where are the NCO’s, and what are they doing now, to allow incidents like this?
April 14th, 2011  
AZ_Infantry
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by muscogeemike
Amen brother, you’ve said a mouthful.

It has been 20 years since I retired, I know that things are very different now.

I have enormous respect for the job today’s military is doing, I have a nephew in the Marines who has been to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

A few months ago I read a letter to the Army Times from a Warrant Officer at Ft. Hood. He commented on how many troops did not salute him and were not aware he was due a salute. He also commented on the disrespect he was shown, by enlisted and NCO’s, when he made “on the spot corrections”.

I know that in the Army I retired from (and I was a First Sergeant) this would have been intolerable!

The Jr. EM aside where are the NCO’s, and what are they doing now, to allow incidents like this?
Saluting a WO was optional when I was in. But we all did it! They were the Med-evac pilots and the gunship pilots that saved our butts. Respect doesn't even begin to convey how we felt about those pilots and doctors. I didn't just salute them, I was proud to salute them.

But you know just as well as I do where these NCO's are: they have evolved or they haven't, the former becoming lifers and the latter accepting their ETS as little more than the dinosaur facing the asteroid. For all of the Hollyweird Hoopla, the phrase "overcome and adapt" is a basic tenet of military life; some get it, some do not.

As a squad leader, I did my very best to offer my squad all of me - the good and the bad. I didn't want to be looked up to, and I didn't want a lack of cohesion. I trained them according to the schedule, but I didn't train them any more or less than I trained myself. I appreciated the military decorum of being at parade rest when being spoken to, but I only demanded it as a means to initiate contact per the military rules of disciplinary standards. At Ease was always my order of the day, regardless of casual conversation or if I was correcting a troop. I didn't let the CIB'ers taunt those without one. I taught them to respect the chain of command, but I went to bat for them, when warranted, when they disagreed with it.

We had a bond. We could all go over to my house, drink and wrestle, and make passes at my wife until she told them all to execute an about face and unazz her AO AFTER they cleaned up their mess - and, usually, to take me with 'em, lol. The next day, though, the friendship was over when we had first formation. One of my Privates couldn't wait to get out and smoke dope for the rest of his hippy life. One wanted to be a lifer. Most didn't know what they wanted. They were my 6 best friends. And when my wife cheated on me with a REMF during an FTX and we divorced and I moved back into the barracks, they respected me during the day and consoled me in the evenings, got me drunk, and made me laugh.

When my truck broke down, my butterbar drove me every day until I could afford to get her fixed. When another soldier from another squad found his wife was cheating on him, we ALL went to Top and demanded action on his behalf. And when one PCS'd or ETS'd, we all felt like our dog had just died. We sweat, bled, laughed and cried together. Those are the memories of the camaraderie I hold dear and miss like nothing I can explain.

You were retiring when I enlisted, so I imagine we share similar experiences.

Thank you for your service, Top. And especially your guidance. Guys like you made me into the soldier, and the man, I became.
April 15th, 2011  
Del Boy
 
Those last posts reminded me of a couple of situations I was involved with.

As a new recruit in Maryhill Barracks , Glasgow, I was in trouble over the saluting rules - in reverse. I found myself in a face to face with the WO1, Regimental Sergeant Major, top soldier of the unit of course, and I sprang into a salute. That was my mistake, Brits do not salute WOs, only commmisssioned officers, and he made it plain to me that it was a very big mistake indeed.

At the other end of scale, when I was demobbed and left the military barracks in Wiltshire, I was in love with a beautiful girl who lived in town about 10 miles away. My home was in London, 100 or so miles off. Saturday nights were dance nights locally, so my squad drew a mattress etc from the company store, how I don't know, and would make me up a bed on their barrack room floor, about 30 beds and a mattress on the floor! So I would train down from London at weekends, in civvies of course and spend time back with my squad, but no longer in charge. Tea and bacon sandwich in bed, and the freedom of the camp; I guess I was missing them/it. As it happens, shortly after this the Cyprus emergency cropped up and the battalion had 48 hours to be off'. As soon as I heard the news I took a bus to the camp HQ and signed back on for a few years to go with them; but that's another story.

Oh, and I am still married to the beautiful girl , 55 years on.
April 15th, 2011  
AZ_Infantry
 
 
55 years. WOW! Congratulation to you both on what is truly an amazing blessing!
 


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