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Remembering Windy Two Five

Enough of the Inter-Service Rivalry

I'm a fan of Ralph Peters.  I've studied some of his products back when I was a Intel Officer.  I've read his books.  Almost always, he's deadly accurate with his analysis.

He recently published a opinion piece about the Marines and Air Force that has caused my In-box to become full of an ongoing debate amongst the services.  The emails started as pro-ground forces but quickly became a Marine vesus Army debate.  Here's Peters' editorial about the Air Force and Marines:



Last month, I sat in the of fice of Col. Jon "Dog" Davis, a veteran Marine aviator. While at war, the Corps' pilots had seen a rise in their accident rate. Davis was determined to do something about it.

I wanted to be sympathetic, so I said, "Well, you're flying some very old aircraft." Davis, a taut, no-nonsense Marine, looked me in the eye and said, "They may be old, but they're good. That's no excuse."

As commander of the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 out in Yuma, Ariz., Davis could have nodded and gone along, blaming the jets and helicopters. But he's a Marine. And Marines don't make excuses. They do their best with what the taxpayers give them. And their best is pretty damn good.

Contrast that with a recent conversation I had with two Air Force generals. I had written columns critical of the platinum-plated F/A-22, the most expensive fighter in history and an aircraft without a mission. So the Air Force decided to lobby me.

Those two generals spun the numbers until the stone-cold truth was buried under a mantra of "air dominance," imaginary combat roles and financial slight-of-hand. Still, I wanted to be fair. I took them seriously and investigated their claims.

Not one thing they said held up under scrutiny...

LTC (ret) Peters' piece also caused the In-Box of a Marine friend of mine to become full with Marines versus Army, Marines versus AF, Marines versus Navy emails.  However, a retired Army Colonel put a stop to all of the Army vs. Marine BS with the letter below:

From August 1967 to September 1968, I served as an Infanrty advisor with Military Assistance Command-Vietnam (MACV) Advisory Team 63, Ba Xuyen Province, the Mekong Delta (Province Capital -Soc Trang). Our Province Senior Advisor was a State Department Foreign Service Officer,  Nicholas G. W. Thorne (Colonel, US Marine Corps, Retired). If you read the USMC Official History of the Inchon Landing (The Blue Book Series), you'll see Captain Nick Thorne's name mentioned in "dispatches" as he heroically led his weapons company in that key battle.

Our advisory team was composed of Army personnel of just about every MOS; an Air Force forward air controller element; a Navy Military Hospital Advisory Detachment, headed by a medical doctor Commander with a full complement of doctors and corpsmen; a Navy Construction Battalion Detachment(Seabees) of 30 engineers commanded by a LT(j.g) and an "old salt"CPO; our MACCORDS element, spell that "Charlie India Alpha", which had some of the toughest special operators from across every one of our four Services, plus two Aussie sergeants major ("Mutt" and "Jeff").

When we'd go on operations with our RVN counterparts, the USAF forward air controller (FAC) flying his flimsy L-19 (I think we in the Army called it the O-1 "Bird Dog") would be up there with a Naval Intelligence Liaison Officer (NILO) serving as "back seat". When our rear ends would get in a crack on the ground, we could rely on both the FAC and the NILO to get us fire support. Whether it was USAF or Marine F-4s, Navy fighter/bombers, or naval gunfire (we were right on the South China Sea) we really didn't give a rat's rump. When the LST-based Navy "Sea Wolves" gunships (Huey B-models) came over the horizon like John Wayne and the Seventh Cavalry, and gave us covering and suppressing fire, we made damn well sure that they got steaks and beers when they'd rearm and refuel at Soc Trang Army Airfield. When the B-52s delivered "Arc Light" support and the Air Force C-123s and C-130s delivered supplies and ammo, or the C-130 and C-47 "Spookies" or "Puff the Magic Dragons" unloaded their 105 howitzer and mini-gun ordnance, we were happy as pigs in....well you know.

When Tet of '68 came along, we lost many in our Advisory Team...among them a number of Army Medics and Navy Corpsmen. Our Seabees became infantry and kicked butt "six ways to Sunday." Our Air Force FAC was wounded in his cockpit but kept that "kite" he was flying airborne bringing in close air support until he needed fuel (the cockpit was soaked with his blood when he landed.). We were led by our Marine Colonel/Foreign Service Officer who did things during the entire shebang that motivated us in more ways than I can explain here.

OK sports fans, do you get the message? We were a combined arms team back then in 'Nam, in the truest tradition of our great country's Armed Forces (along with our two comabt savvy Australian comrades-in-arms).

All of this "tit-for-a-tat" BS that I've read in this exchange of E-mail broadsides is just that....bull s__t!!! My greatest fear is that the civilian population (especially the Congress, with very few exceptions) doesn't have a clue regarding what military service entails. Many of them are too damned naive to understand that the bad guys will always be out there in some strange shape or form. Why should they worry? They have us. Do you notice that every time their derriere's get in a sling, who they call?.......And it ain't "Ghostbusters".

Soooooo folks, let's take 'er easy as we try to play "my dog's better than yours", and remember what we've accomplished in the past, what we're doing now, and what we'll have to do in the future. My daughter's husband is in Afghanistan as I type this. He's an airborne MP who has led MPs (who are traditionally mounted out as infantry) for a good number of years now. He's a "Great American", as are all of you guys and gals on active duty.  His senior HQ over in that AOR has all Services represented. That's the way it work's - and should work.  Thus endeth the lesson.

Thanks for your time.

May God Bless!

Joel Leson, Colonel, US Army, Retired

I wrote COL (ret) Leson to tell him that, when I enlisted in the Army in the early 80's, that the guys in MAC-V were our heroes...the guys we wanted to emulate. 

There are problems with all of the services, and we do need to address some of the issues brough forth by LTC (ret) Peters.  But we also need to remember that we are ALL at war and we will only win if we fight as one combined arms force (Coasties, that goes for you, too!).