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Academy Cadets Cannot Marry

     I read your article and agree with you entirely.  I noticed however that you did not mention that all the military services ban service academy cadets from marrying before and during their cadet years.  These cadets range in age from 17 to 23 upon entrance and 21 to 27 by graduation and BY LAW ARE FORBIDDEN TO MARRY.  The same arguments you made as to why first term soldiers should not marry mimic the service academy policy (i.e. cannot fully commit themselves, family strife would distract, cost etc...).  By the way I served as an USMC Infantryman in the 80's and have never married.  Very few of my fellow junior enlisted were married and I can only imagine the hell they must have been going through.  Although I served in peace-time ('86-'90) I served in 10 different countries (no, not the popular one's) and saw action in the Gulf and Philippines.  If the people in the Palaces knew what life is like for a young grunt they would put a stop to first term marriages yesterday.

                                                                     Drew Bernier    

Moscow Defense Brief   

True so far as it goes.  So what?  When designing anything you have to choose what performance characteristics to maximize.  Design limits will always exist on cost, size, weight and material performance capabilities.  The masterkey is to: a) correctly forecast the future battle conditions and b) optimize the design equation to maximize performance under those conditions.  By this standard the M-1 series is the most successful tank design in history.

The M-1 was designed in the early 1970s to win in toe to toe combat with late generation Soviet tanks in high intensity mechanized warfare.  This meant maximizing the frontal armor array at the expense of side protection, which was only required to stop 23mm, fragments and bullets.  Accompanying mechanized infantry were supposed to suppress enemy infantry armed with short range RPG-7s and similar items.   It would have been irresponsible to have beefed up M1 side armor at the expense of the frontal array given the forecast conditions in 1974.  Which conditions still prevailed 17 years later in 1991 in Desert Storm.

To the extent we want to deploy M1s now in Iraq, it's the infantry who are failing in their mission of short range enemy suppression.  Existing proposals to redesign 'tanks' to meet short range threats imply we've accepted this mechanized infantry failure as a permanent condition.  Perhaps the entire concept of 'tanks' as tracked armored vehicles carrying direct fire cannon for a primary weapon are obsolete?  I've suggested this before, as well as the obsolescence of all forms of tube artillery firing dumb shells.


Wheeled LAVs

Thank you very much for the link to the Russian analysis on U.S. armor perspective in Iraq. Some Americans say we should not give a damn what the rest of the world thinks about anything, but outside perspectives can be enlightening. I was really surprised to read that the Stryker is performing fairly well. Then again, the Stryker’s cage armor should be adaptable to any other armored vehicle. I’ve read elsewhere that the Russians have had very negative experiences with wheeled APCs in Afghanistan and Chechnya. I also read somewhere that tires on wheeled APCs can be punctured when the APC tries to move junked cars out of its way, and that Molotov cocktails can ruin the tires. I don’t think the author is suggesting that all tracked vehicles be replaced with wheeled ones. I am not familiar with the urban infantry support vehicle mentioned towards the end of the article. He suggests its twin 30 mm guns be replaced with a 50-60 mm gun. I went and looked at your Spring 2006 editorial on G2mil and indeed, the CV-90 air-defense variant with its 40 mm gun seems to be ideal in this role.


Ed: Keep in mind that Strykers are not fighting a war in Iraq, they are part of an occupation force that chases around lightly armed insurgents supported by continual airpower.

Military Readiness

I suspect that the closer you are to the “Mark” the more people you will upset.  If my tenure in the USMC taught me anything, it was that new ideas are hard to sell and old ideas/uses die hard.  If it were not so, we would not always be training for the last war <BIG GRIN>. 

As a young Marine in 1954, I was sent to Pickle Meadows California for cold weather training.  We were taught all the skills necessary to survive a cold weather war such as the 1st Div. fought in Korea.  Where was the next war?  Why in Viet Nam and a climate distinguished by 110 degree heat And 99 to100% humidity. Immediately our utilities were changed to reflect this new climate and background (Camis of various shades of green and gray).  Of course the next major conflict was in the Desert…

I was under the impression that a General Staff was a planning organization that planned for each and every possible enemy/climate that might propose a threat to The USA.  Then when needed, we simply reached in, dusted off, modified as needed the appropriate plan, and put it to use. With Iraq and Afghanistan, I suspect that there were no plans and they have been played very badly by ear.

When I was a MGySgt, the Marine Corps sent me to an extension course on cultural acceptance.  It was unique in that it made the students, all of which were senior staff NCOs or Field Grade officers, look at the “liberating forces” as if we were local natives.  It was a very illuminating experience.  One of the things that has stayed with me for the last 30+ years was a statement by a Turk Farmer from the countryside who stated an obvious truth,  “I only want a better life for my children”.  That statement could have been made by any sane logical person of any race or any faith anywhere in the world.  

Support of the common man is the foundation of a successful insurgency.  If the common people have more to loose by assisting the insurgents, they will eventually join in any war to remove the source of their problem.  The British used this in Malaysia, the North Viet Namese in Viet Nam and the Central American Republics against US intervention in the 1970s.  The US cannot and must not take sides in a purely religious war and if sides are taken in a purely political war, then the US must own up to doing so for the US’ gain.  At least it is understandable if not liked by both friends and enemies.

As it is, our governmental policies are not trusted by friend and foe alike, we are seen as lying for our own gain (oil) while preaching a particular religion (Christianity).  No wonder even if ostensibly friends that are devout Muslims look with suspicion on our motives. It essentially boils down to, If you don’t belong here, are not helping me get what I want/need, get out of my country and let me settle my own problems.

Carlton, I don’t mean to preach but it seems to me that our current crop of leaders, both military and political, could use a little sensitivity training in what motivates people.   It might turn some of the better ones into real leaders.

                                                                           Bill Tharp

Ed:  A Marine Corps Major recently said the most profound comment in Iraq came from a local farmer.  When his interpreter asked the poor farmer if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area, the farmer said: "Yes, you."

Stick to your Knitting

Your last paragraph [about shifting air and missile defense from the Army to the Air Force] couldn't have tied it all together.  It not only goes to the military but to the civilian positions that support the military, DIA, CIA, NSA, and the rest.  It's the protection of their job and it's description is: don't tell me what to do I have been doing this for 25 years. 

I put 30 plus years in the government, retired from the govt and also had four active duty with and additional 18 in the guard where I have also retired, and it's everywhere. It's the attitude of " I don't care if it's not in my back yard" protect my position.  

We have lost the mission/goal/vision.  It took longer to fight about the WW2 memorial than to fight the war.  Now we have lost the focus because it was thought that the war could be won with our "superior military".  That is not a slap in the face of our fighting men and women, it's a slap in the face to those that don't supply/appropriate armored vehicles, body armor that's current, weapons systems that are proven to provide protection but are not "made in America".  I really got a kick out of a bird colonel replying to questions fielded by a ABC reporter in his nice and clean office with his ACU's on this past week.  My or my, what a show for TV.  I rest my case.  Let's send them all to Iraq/Afghanistan not knowing when their next shower will be, wearing the same clothing for weeks on end.  Let alone to judge the quality of the equipment their wearing/using.  

My hat and respect goes out to the American military family for the job they are doing with the resources and guidance they have been given.  But...I point a shaking finger for a poor job at the leaders, and some of those positions are within the military community as they seek to protect their personal turf.

I have attached something I read years ago, you may have seen it before but its worth rereading.  Thanks for letting me vent.  



·        Your not Superman

·        Keep it simple stupid

·        Automatic weapons…aren’t

·        Recoilless weapons…aren’t

·        Suppressive fire…won’t

·        Incoming fire has the right of way

·        If the enemy is in range…so are you

·        Don’t look conspicuous…it draws fire

·        If it’s stupid and it works, it ain’t stupid

·        When in doubt…empty your magazine

·        The easy way is always mined

·        Try to look unimportant…they may be low on ammo

·        Professionals are predictable…it’s the amateurs that are dangerous

·        Teamwork is essential…it gives them someone else to shoot at

·        Never draw fire…it irritates everyone around you

·        Anything you do can get you shot…including doing nothing

·        No combat ready unit ever passed inspection

·        No inspection ready unit ever passed combat

·        Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than you

·        If your attack is going really well…its an ambush

·        No battle plan survives contact with the enemy

·        Your weapon was made by the lowest bidder

·        The enemy diversion you're ignoring will turn out to be the main attack

·        The only thing more accurate than enemy incoming fire is friendly incoming fire

·        When you have secured an area…don’t forget to tell the enemy

·        Make it tough enough for the enemy to get in…and you won’t be able to get out

·        A sucking chest wound is natures way of telling you it is time to slow down

·        If you’re short on everything but the enemy…you’re in a combat zone

·        The enemy invariable attacks on only two occasions…when you’re ready for them and when you’re not.

Other Editor Comments