Article about recent US Army ranger school
John T. Reed’s review of The Cost of Loyalty by Tim Bakken
John T. Reed’s review of the book The Coveted Black and Gold [U.S. Army ranger tab]
Correcting the B.S. the Army-Navy Game announcers spout every year
The suicide or murder of Col. Ted Westhusing in Iraq
Nov 28, 2015
McChrystal’s request for 40,000 more troops;
comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam
Nov 28, 2015
The proper U.S. government response to IS attacks in France and elsewhere
Nov 20, 2015
‘West Point, oh yeah. I could have gone there.’
Nov 09, 2015
- The new Army Chief of Staff lied about Russia’s ability to destroy the U.S.
- Should there be a draft?
- The Rules of Engagement are the problem
- Duck and cover was, and is, good advice
- Reviews of military books
- Review of Nate Sassaman’s book Warrior King
- Are all U.S. military personnel really selfless servant warriors?
- Are U.S. Navy surface ships sitting ducks against modern weapons?
- Good intentions and occasional progress are not enough
- U.S. military personnel dying to impress V.I.P.s
- Comments on the Lone Survivor movie
- ‘Elite’ military units: Army Airborne (paratroopers)
- Yes, I am a West Point graduate airborne Ranger named Jack Reed but no, I’m not that Jack Reed
- Are helicopters too fragile and vulnerable to be within range of enemy fire?
- Agent Orange never hurt anyone
- Is the military’s “work hard play hard” ethos valid?
- The ‘Reed Doctrine’ for current and future counterinsurgencies
- Smart rebar and other non-explosive weapons by John T. Reed
- Is military integrity a contradiction in terms?
- The 2007 U.S. military ethics survey in Iraq
- Should you go to, or stay at, West Point?
- John T. Reed’s comments on Ltc. Paul Yingling’s essay ‘Failure of Generalship’
- The U.S. military’s 30-year, marathon, single-elimination, suck-up tournament (How America selects it generals)
- John T. Reed’s comments on summer of 2007 progress in the Iraq war
- A football coach’s analysis of U.S. military tactics and strategy
- John T. Reed’s comments on Scott Snook’s article Be, Know, Do
- Put C.C. Myers or someone like him in charge of Iraq
- Comments on Frederick Kagan’s Weekly Standard article on al Qaeda in Iraq
- Should the U.S. torture prisoners?
- Cutting through the announcer hype about the Army-Navy Game
- The background behind my being quoted in the USA Weekend magazine 11/25/07 article about the Army-Navy Game
- Suggestions for turning around the Army football team
- Is the U.S. military as good at producing leaders as it claims?
- Secretary of Defense Gates saying what I am saying
- Firings of top Air Force and Army chiefs
- Secretary of Defense Gates seems to be trying to win current wars
- Abstract generalities versus concrete specifics in Iraq
- Is Afghanistan Obama’s Vietnam?
- Rescue of Richard Phillips from pirates
- The general who lied about Pat Tillman gets promoted to military’s highest rank and made head of Afghanistan
- McChrystal’s policies on civilian casualties and specializing an Afghanistan
- Banning smoking in the U.S. military?
- The U.S. military’s overemphasis on physical fitness
- Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan now
- Onion News Network’s superrealistic military game
- Military suicides
- The Fort Hood massacre
- Commander in Chief Barack Obama is no leader
- Obama’s Afghanistan speech at West Point
- West Point punishes cadets who dozed on TV at Obama speech
- Combat poems and song
- Obama’s use of drones—a bright spot in our disastrous commander-in-chief’s military decisions
- Bad strategy, tactics, and equipment are killing Americans unnecessarily in Afghanistan.
- Email death threat against John T. Reed and his family signed “Marine KGB”
- Articles about the military, especially the Tillman incident, written by Stan Goff
- Elite military units: snipers
- How realistic is The Pacific HBO miniseries?
- Stop letting Taliban intimidate Afhgan cell phone operators at night
- Decision to abandon Korengal Valley in Afghanistan
- Review of Sebastian Junger’s book War
- Review of The Tillman Story movie
- Petraeus/Obama Koran burning denunciations
- Comments on the Front Sight 4-day handgun defense course
- Observations on the 2010 Army-Notre Dame game broadcast
- 2010 Army-Navy Game
- Tim Kane’s “Why Our Best Officers Are Leaving” article in the January/February 2011 Atlantic magazine
- Passage from the book Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card—sounds like it is describing service acadmemy graduates
- My Bin Laden celebration article blocked by some military computers
- My Bin Laden killing article blocked at West Point computers
- 38 Shot down in Afghanistan including 22 SEALs
- Brave Army captain so far denied medal for criticizing brass
- Army football Northwestern upset
- Army football defeat of Tulane
- Reuters 10/29/11 story “Jobless US vets say military experience not valued”
- What’s wrong with the defense cuts/strategy changes
- Article not blocked by USMA; Wordpress is blocked
- SEALs Somalia rescue of American woman and Danish man
- The Act of Valor SEAL movie
- Astonishment at Army Spring football game at Ft. Benning
- Fortune’s slobbering love affair with young vets 2.0
- General Mark Arnold’s AFJ article “Don’t Promote Mediocrity”
- Naval Academy professor Fleming atacks service academies again
- Veterans Day
- Ralph Peters’ column on Petraeus hypocrisy
- Petraeus was a mediocre general
- So was Schwarzkopf a great general?
- Zero Dark Thirty
- West Point’s claim to fame is STILL Lee, Grant, MacArthur, and Eisenhower!?
- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsey’s proposal to have 360-degree evaluations of officers integrity—Yeah right
- After 10,560 hours of leadership training, P&G CEO from West Point is fired
- Women in the U.S. military
- U.S. military no longer knows how to wear a hat
- Comments on the 1956-7 West Point TV series now available ot DVD
- Captain Phillips movie
- Review of the documentary Into Harm’s Way, the Story of the West Point Class of 1967
- On cutting COLAs for military retirees under 62
- What U.S. nuclear sub life is really like
- Marines having wet dreams about being able to roll their sleeves up
- You now can get the Medal of Honor for being a “minority” whose votes Obama wants to turn out in an election year
- A 30-year-old reader comments on my military articles generally
- Thoughts on attending my 50th high school reunion
- My Facebook posts on Shinseki and the VA
- My Facebook posts on Bergdahl
- So THAT’s why I was already in so much trouble the day I entered West Point
- Review of Killing Patton
- Looking at our recent wars with 20-20 hindsight and a willingness to reject the way it was always done
- Why I created these military Web pages
- Is peace better than war?
- Hollywood vs. real weapons sounds
- Should we go back to only fighting wars when Congress declares them?
- Should openly-gay persons be allowed to serve in the military?
- Comments on purported policies against never leaving a military comrade behind, dead or alive
- The key assumption on which all submarine effectiveness is based
- ‘Elite’ military units: Army Rangers
- Why have we not tried the KATUSA program in Iraq?
- Is there really any such thing as military expertise regarding winning Twenty-First Century wars?
- Terrorism is a publicity stunt
- No medals for moral courage
- Process-oriented versus results-oriented commanders
- The November, 1965 temporary show of moral courage by the Joint Chiefs in a meeting with President Johnson
- The death of Pat Tillman and its aftermath
- The PFC Jessica Lynch gun-jam story
- Intentional killing or endangering of U.S. military personnel and news media by other U.S. personnel
- Stuff that is Officially Voluntary but Unofficially Mandatory (OVUM) in the Army
- Did U.S. military personnel really earn all their medals?
- The Army tries to get away with yet another whitewash of the Tillman incident
- Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)
- The suicide or murder of Col. Ted Westhusing (West Point Class of 1983) in Iraq
- Unnecessary military training deaths
- Comments on Petraeus’s 9/10/07 report to Congress
- Emails from readers of these military Web pages
- Our current wars should be run by lieutenants and captains
- Should the U.S. be the policeman of the world?
- Leadership lessons for the military from the Deadliest Catch TV reality series
- Attacks on retired General Wes Clark for his comments about McCain
- RAND Corp. study on how to end terrorist activities
- The Class of the Gulf of Tonkin
- The morality of obeying stupid orders
- Volunteering for the most dangerous branches
- Is the U.S. Army’s armor branch a fraud?
- Email from guys connected to special ops about what happened in the pirate rescue
- Review of the book I Love a Man in Uniform by Lily Burana
- General Petraeus’ 7/9/09 speech in San Francisco
- Career U.S. military behave like radical leftists
- McChrystal’s request for 40,000 more troops; Comparison of Afghanistan versus Vietnam
- Review of the book The Unforgiving Minute by Craig Mullaney
- Iran has unclenched its fist—or at least one finger of it
- Career master sergeant uses his freedom of speech only to find he can defend it, but not exercise it
- Iranian invasion of Iraq
- 3/22/10 Fortune article “ Meet the new face of business leadership: Why companies like Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, and GE are recruiting the military’s elite”
- Active-duty military spending will be an early casualty of excessive federal deficit spending
- “Elite” military units: The Old Guard and marine White House Social aides
- Review of the book Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
- The McChrystal firing
- Can Israel destroy Iran’s nuclear bomb program?
- The Wikileak Papers
- Email from a U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School cadet-candidate who resigned from USMAPS and my response to it
- West Point versus other sources of commission
- Colonel Lawrence Sellin’s sarcastic description of U.S. Army staff in Afghanistan
- Article describing Colonel Lawrence’s Sellin’s being fired from his Afghanistan job
- Surprisingly cold reception for Obama 2010 commencement speech at West Point
- John T. Reed comments on Jon Krakauer’s book Where Men Win Glory about Pat Tillman’s life, death, and the Army cover-up of the circumstances of his death
- End of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
- U.S. Actions in Libya
- The celebrations outside the White House the night Osama bin Laden was killed
- On the killing of bin Laden
- Update on the killing of bin Laden
- Why ‘Thank you for your service’ doesn’t get you off the hook
- Army Lt. Ehren Watada resfusing orders to deploy to Iraq
- U.S. military has become a pension/health care operation 1st
- You want an example of a great leader? Look at Steve Jobs, not the U.S. military.
- A reformed ranger does a five-day “patrol” in the Grand Canyon
- 157 Air Force officers fired for budget reasons shortly before retirement
- U.S. Navy SEAL bloopers
- ‘Wounded warriors’
- Scathing J’accuse Armed Forces Journal article by Army Ltc Daniel Davis
- PBS TV interview with LTC Davis
- POW Bowe Bergdahl’s final email before letting himself get captured by the Taliban—severe indictment of the U.S. Army
- Petraeus resigns from CIA because of adultery
- Is Petraeus a man of honor?
- Death threat from SEAL wife/West Point cadet mom
- Racism in today’s U.S. military
- “How to fix the Army: Sack all the generals” article by McDuffee
- Capt. Swenson finally gets his Medal of Honor
- Review of the Pirate Alley book
- The TV documentary Marching On: 1963 Army-Navy
- 2013 Army-Navy Game
- West Point recruiting film from when I was a cadet surfaces on YouTube—with me in it
- WSJ headline: ‘Military Makes Ethics a Priority’—Yeah, right
- Research about the Battle of Gettysburg
- Young vets have higher unemployment rates—giving lie to all the recruiters who said your military training and experience would be valued by civilian employers
- These days, West Point seems more interested in defeating Princeton in college rankings than the Taliban in the war on terror
- Overly generous military pay and benefits
- The meaning of the Fourth of July to me
- James Fallows’ Atlantic article “The Tragedy of the American Military”
- Free the A-10 Warthog!
- Boots on the ground
- VA head McDonald, West Point class of 1975, apologizes for falsely claiming he was in Special Forces
- Charges against Bergdahl
- Trump comments about McCain being captured
- Crossing the Yellow River in Army Ranger School
- Using Army ranger School as a political-correctness, diversity exercise
- The three American heroes on the French train
- Thoughts on the west point pillow fight that resulted in serious injuries
I was a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division. I was in several units in Vietnam. I volunteered for the 82nd and Vietnam as well as a number of things I did not get like a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol unit in Vietnam (one of my West Point classmates with an identical resume arrived in Vietnam the day before me and got the LRRP slot I was sent to Vietnam to fill in D Company of the 75th Ranger Regiment), Special Forces (Green BeretsI volunteered for SF five times. While I was in Vietnam I was on orders to be transferred to the Fifth Special Forces Group, but the orders were changed for unknown reasons.) I also volunteered for Army Pathfinder School. Pathfinders are the guys who parachute in before the main body of paratroopers and set up beacons to guide the planes dropping the main body of troops later.
During cadet basic training, I qualified Expert, the highest rating, on the M-14 rifle. My military job specialty was radio officer. I was a communications platoon leader in a parachute infantry battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division and a mixed-heavy artillery battalion in Vietnam.
In October, 2009, I was surprised to learn that former VA head and U.S. Senator Max Cleland had more or less the same job that I did. He was a communications officer in an infantry battalion in the 1st Air Cav in Vietnam—same job I had in the 82nd Airborne and almost the same job I had in a mixed-heavy artillery battalion in Vietnam. He got a silver star in the Battle of Khe Sanh but received his famous injury—losing his right arm and both legs—at the hands of a stupid U.S. enlisted man who got the bright idea to loosen the pins on his grenades. (So he could throw them quicker?) One fell on the ground when they were getting out of a helicopter at a cold LZ (no enemy fighting go on) where he was to set up a radio relay station. The pin came out and the handle popped off starting the 4-second fuse burning. Cleland assumed it still had its pin in and bent over to pick it up. When his right hand was five inches from the grenade, it blew up.
My resume was relatively standard for my West Point class. That is, most of them would have Ranger, parachute training, top secret, Vietnam, expert rifleman’s badge, and so forth.
So was my not getting into Pathfinders or Special Forces. They only need a relative few pathfinders in the Army. And the Pentagon told me they did not want to let West Point graduates into Special Forces because the top brass did not like Special Forces. (They like it better now.)
Like most Vietnam vets, my time there was mostly boring and I had no significant involvement with the enemy. To state it in terms that Vietnam vets would use, I was never in a firefight. Like most vets, I was stationed at bases that were the targets of enemy rocket attacks.
My most exciting moment was driving through a North Vietnamese ambush near the Cambodian border. Why was I not killed? They held their fire. Why did they do that? Apparently to wait for a more lucrative target. I was a first lieutenant riding in a lone jeep with my platoon sergeant who was a sergeant first class. I presume the enemy flank lookout examined our rank insignia with binoculars and radioed to the commander of the ambush that it was just a 1st Lt. and a Sgt. How do I know the ambush was there if they did not shoot? They did trigger the ambush against an American convoy that was behind me about five minutes. I did not know the convoy was behind me. If I had, I probably would have stopped to wait and join them. When we arrived at Loc Ninh about 15 minutes later, the fire base personnel there were astonished that we had survived the ambush. “What ambush?” we asked. How do I know the ambush was in place when we drove by? Because we were trained in ambushes at Ranger School and it takes longer than five minutes to set them up.
All of the above has caused me to have more than normal interest in the military. As I see things about the military on TV and in the other media, I have ideas that I think are worth tossing into the Worldwide Web. So I added these pages to my Web site as a place to publish them.
I was no war hero. I did get most of the best junior officer training the Army offers. And I was “there” with regard to an airborne division and Vietnamtwo much-discussed military situations.
A visitor to these pages said in an email to me, “Like you, I would like to consult on the military.” I have no desire or qualifications to consult on the military. What do I know about the military that would qualify me to consult on it? I graduated from the above schools and spent four years as an Army officer including a tour in Vietnam. So did millions of other guys. All I am is a concerned citizen with a little bit more experience than the average person. My salient characteristic in military matters is my willingness to say what I think, ask questions, and make comments that almost all the other people with my military knowledge or more knowledge are, for some reason, afraid to make.
I suspect many in the military will be outraged at some of my comments about the military. Right back at you. I’m outraged at the way I was treated by the military and by the way the military fails to accomplish its missions and by the way the military gets people killed unnecessarily and by the way they waste taxpayers money and... (read my articles above).
After the first year of this collection of articles about the military, one word emerged repeatedly in feedback from current or former military personnel: “refreshing,” sometimes stated as “a breath of fresh air.” I guess I am not surprised. I do not recall anyone ever using that word to describe anything we heard or read about the military when I was on active duty. In my writing on the military and other topics, I often seem to have a monopoly on just calling a spade a spade. It is a mystery to me why that is so hard for others to do or why they are so afraid to do it.
The 8/13/09 Dilbert comic strip captured it. A salesman tells an obvious lie. Dilbert accuses him of lying to get the sale. The salesman says, “You’re not supposed to say that out loud.” Saying things out loud that you’re not supposed to say out loud is what I do for a living. It was also captured by Hans Christian Anderson in the little boy who pointed out the emperor’s nudity in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
I also suspect that most, even those who are angry at some of what I said, will be glad someone said many of the things I say because they need to be said and no one else is saying them. During my time at West Point and in the Army officer corps, and to a lesser extent since I got out of the Army, I have been in many bull sessions with fellow cadets, grads, and officers. In those bull sessions, we talked about what was wrong with the Army and how the Army could be improved. People who have been in the Army or other services will recognize much of what I say from the bull sessions they participated in.
My articles on the military go beyond the bull sessions in several ways. For one, I am now in my sixties. I have a much better understanding of how the world works than I and my peers did when we were young cadets and officers. For another, I have been a non-fiction, how-to book and article writer since 1976. In the course of researching those books and articles and working in various jobs, I have become an expert on useful knowledge and how to impart it to others. Finally, those bull sessions were and continue to be informal, just based on impressions. In my Web articles about the military, I research the various facts to make sure they are correct and run corrections when I find I made a mistake.
Here is a typical email I received in 2009:
John, please do not attribute these comments to me on your site. However, from one person to another, and as a Combat Veteran with two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device, I agree with much of what you say. I tell people over here who want "action" that they do not know anything about which they speak.
I can also tell you awards mean next to nothing. I spent a 15 months as a REDACTED Platoon Leader in one of the worst areas in Baghdad last deployment. I had to fight like a demon to get my Senior REDACTED awarded a Bronze Star. Now, I am in Corps HQ, and I see everyone (including staff workers and drivers) receiving them. It makes me pretty angry.
Thanks for your articles, I appreciate them. I graduated USMA in RECENT and will be transitioning out of the Army after I return from my current deployment.
In another sense, my Web articles tell less than the bull sessions I was in when I was a cadet and officer. That’s because when you say it in print, you have to be able to prove it. So there are many things I know that I would like to add to the web site. But they do not reach the being-able-to-prove-it-in-court level. I sometimes get emails saying it’s far worse than you say in the military. I know.