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ON CONTRACTORS

That was one of the best articles I‘ve read, although I might be biased. Kudos on printing this piece. The author is a much needed voice of the current and former employees. Not a single lie was printed. Judging by the meticulously written article, it was well documented. The outline of his day was pretty much how it is; I would only add a note to the chow break. Not only do the guards have 30 minutes to leave post, grab chow to go and hurry back to post, but the article failed to state that eating while on post is not allowed, thus meaning that you have 30 minutes to leave post, grab food, eat the food, and hurry back to post. Although the rule was seldom enforced (thank heavens), “eating while on post” was in the post books.

 

Thanks again for printing this.

 

Action Stations

 

Thanks for the additional details. – Ed.

 

THE DUTY OF AMERICAN CITIZENS TO THE TROOPS

Over the past 8 years the highly publicized Stryker brigades have led news stories as the next step in upgrading US deployment capabilities. Today a near disappearance or nonchalance veils the 3,600-man Stryker brigades. The most peculiar aspect of the Stryker’s short history is they were never used as proposed.

 

According to a 2002 Rand report, the Stryker Brigades were to be deployable in 96 hours. But they sailed into Iraq the first time they deployed. The 4th Division sailed around the Mediterranean, serving no greater purpose than did Patton scoping Calais through binoculars. Additional delays were attributed to the Stryker’s large frame for the air transports.

 

Finally the Strykers appeared in Iraq, but were relegated to patrolling narrow streets in urban centers, their large frames serving as excellent targets. Numerous GIs expressed satisfaction with the fighting vehicle. With the “skirts” they did prove to be resistant to RPG rockets. But skirts could be mounted on anything, and Strykers are not more resistant to IEDs.

 

We are now fielding, at great cost, the MRAP in large numbers. The new generation of LMTVs, the up-armored

HMMWVs and MRAPs are now the work horses of the Army. Strykers, Bradleys and Abrams tanks are ever fewer in number. The exorbitant cost of fielding this concept has never been fully explored. Is it the vehicle that should not have been?

 

Part of the answer is found in the ability of our enemies to devise low-cost tactics and weapons to defeat the defenses of our high-tech machines. We are on the cusp of a new era that is characterized by cost overruns, deployment delays, products that when conceptualized may become obsolete before full production and deployment, and embarrassing leadership that is held accountable. Today’s Army deploys in plain view of the media.

 

The test has not arisen that will prove the case of the Stryker brigades. The last great air drop of WWII, consisting of the 17th Airborne Division (US) and 6th Airborne (UK), was a costly mistake, as was “The Bridge Too Far.” That did not dissuade the US from keeping the 82nd Airborne active and near the runway ready to respond to a fire somewhere in the world for most of the Cold War. No one can fail to recognize the import airborne operations have in upgrading troop readiness and capability. However in the new command structure, in which brigades are assigned in packets to spread the frequency of rotation, the probability of a division drop somewhere in the world seems less and less likely, as does the necessity of assigning a rapid deployment to a Stryker brigade simply because it is a Stryker brigade.

 

Sound fiscal management requires our leaders to forego pork barrel strategies when procuring weapons for the future. We should especially be concerned when leaders advocate programs for the sake of keeping factories open and voters employed. Premature procurements that ignore the cost of future contingencies and ever-advancing technologies require new political, economic, and military templates. But there is another element at work, and our leaders must be careful in selecting which programs should be approved for immediate procurement or shelved for

a better weapons program in the next decade. For SOF readers who get up to date information on these technological weapons program paradoxes, it is a duty to stay informed to better advocate the future of American defense strategies.

 

Terry Staub

 

Indeed, it is important to consider procurement decisions for the troops. However, it should be noted that the Obama administration is trying to spend lots of money for a lot of other things, rather than on the troops. – Ed.

 

Dear Sir

I have been a subscriber to Soldier of Fortune for three or four years. I have a few questions. I am a widow. My husband, Donald E. McGlensey, was a welder on the destroyer USS McCaffrey in the Korean War. In the January 2010 issue you mentioned “Remember the Hmong, the Vietnamese are killing these people, babies, girls, etc. Is this North or South Vietnam? Why is this happening?

 

Are these people like the Montagnards—mountain people.

 

Very truly yours

Constance McGlensey

 

Just a brief overview of the Hmong. They are hill tribe people who migrated to Laos from China in the 1800s to  escape Chinese persecution. They hid out in the mountains, living off the land as farmers and hunters in small villages. The CIA recruited them in Laos during the Vietnam War to fight the North Vietnamese and the Communist Pathet Lao forces. Long Cheng, a secret military base established by the CIA, became the center of Hmong–CIA activities, including guerrilla raids and providing intelligence.

 

The U.S. promised to lift them out but those promises were not kept. One-third perished and the remainder is still being persecuted by the Communists in Laos.

 

An excellent coverage of the history of the Hmong is provided by Hmongstudies.com. We also maintain an update on our website www.sofmag.com. The latest coverage has been about the trial of Gen. Vang Pao here in the United States. Gen. Vang Pao was indicted on unsubstantiated charges involving an alleged attempt to foment an insurgency in Laos by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

 

VIETNAM VETS FROM FINLAND

Vietnam Veterans in America had their service ignored for a long time. However, it also has been very rarely noted that people from other countries joined the United States military to serve in Vietnam. This included some Finns. Jari Salo provided us some photos taken at a gathering arranged by the Larry Thorne Memorial Guild, and information about these heroes from Scandinavia who volunteered to fight for freedom in Southeast Asia. – Ed.

 

Seppo Hurme flew a chopper in Vietnam; he was there 22 October, 1967, with HMM-361, the “Flying Tigers.” They flew from USMC base Marble Mountain in Da Nang. Later he flew from USS Iwo Jima.

 

Later he was wounded in action during an operation while flying a UH-1E, and giving fire support to Marines near the village of Hoi An. Hume was shot in his leg. Markku Kanervikkoaho was in Di An 1969–70, he secured transportation.

 

Dave Heikkila was born in Duluth, MN. In December 1969 he was at Long Than with the 56th Transportation company. He was a UH-1 Huey crew chief. His service ended 15 February, 1972.

 

Timo Peltomaa was a medic in Vietnam.

 

There is also a book, Sinivihreat Baretit (Bluegreen Berets), 2006, written by Kari Kallonen. I helped in gathering info about Finns in Vietnam. The book was a huge success. I am also a member in the Air Commando Association, the only Finn ever!

 

Jari Salo

Finland

 

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