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02 November 2006

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W. Patrick Lang

All

For all those who wish, oh so desperately, that the behavior of this platoon or Calley's platoon were typical, why is it that there not many more such stories reported in the media? pl

Dan

Not that it's important, but it was the Toledo Blade. They won the 2004 pulitzer for investigative reporting. The alleged crimes were said to have taken place between May and November of 1967.

different clue

I think it was the Toledo
Blade of Toledo, Ohio, which
ran the Tiger Force stories.
But that's just my memory....

different clue

I believe these stories
ran in the Toledo Blade of
Toledo Ohio, to the best of
my memory.

(I think I forgot to put
my name email on my just-earlier attempt to send this).

Walrus

Col. Lang,

Strange to be talking about Tiger Force today.

I would like to draw your attention to a speech made at McGill University by Sy Hersh on Monday.

I hope for once that Sy Hersh has got it wrong.

Quote: "There has never been an American army as violent and murderous as the one in Iraq"

"If Americans knew the full extent of U.S. criminal conduct, they would receive returning Iraqi veterans as they did Vietnam veterans, Hersh said."

url: [http://www.mcgilldaily.com/view.php?aid=5450

Wombat

For the same reason that it took decades for the Tiger Platoon story to come out?

"I do not know if the misdeeds of this recon platoon were ever reported to division. Both battalion and brigade commanders would have been reluctant to report this kind of thing if it they discovered it and it reflected on them. In particular, the brigade commander present after a battalion change of command would have been vulnerable to a charge of neglect of duty which would have ended his career."

As you write above, there are reasons why atrocities may be covered up.


W. Patrick Lang

Wombat

It has been 35 years. Do you seriously maintain that the people involved would have held their peace all this time? pl

W. Patrick Lang

Walrus

I happen to know Hersh well. He exagerates constantly, overstates his sources and is rather gullible. pl

wcw

All true -- but Hersh does have good sources now and again, and is able and willing to break stories others can't or won't. Abu Ghraib springs to mind. It did happen, as he reported, down to the rapes caught on video.

Feel free to delete this yet again, but do drop me a note: I get the impression that my comments never, ever get through. While often critical, you accept much more-critical ones. If you have something against my comments for whatever reason, please drop me a private email and ask nicely. I promise not only never to comment again, but also never to read your site again, if you prefer. All I ask is the favor of a polite, personal request.

oreo10

I may have witnessed one of these groups when I served as the fire team leader of helicopter gunships for the First Infantry Division. They were called the "First of the Ninth" and were based in the Phu Loi base camp in 1968.

This comment is only to reflect a personal story that may help illuminate some behaviors in such groups; I have no knowledge of, or wish to suggest knowledge of, the behavior of other such groups.

My company was on the east side of the airfield, theirs on the west, but I recall the patch they wore. They had groups called LRRPs, Long Range Recon Patrols, that went out and often got horribly engaged, which was where I came in, having to go rescue them when their own gun teams were not enough, which happened several times.

One of their adventures was to go into Saigon shortly after the Tet Offensive. The patrol was trapped in a creek in a relatively open area. Even after their own gun teams had expended, they were calling us for more fire. My team was asked to fire rockets and miniguns within 20 feet of the creek they were in. After an all-night mission using slicks and gunships we got most, or all, of them home. They later returned to the same sort of combat.

My enduring thought from that experience was that they were some seriously crazy guys. Then again, many of us over there were.

Walrus

With the greatest of respect WCW, the reason I keep visiting this website is because of the levels of trust I feel regarding what is posted here.

Most of it, if not all of it, stacks up with my (limited) experience, even to some of what others may regard as unimportant detail(which is really important and I'm not saying which bits either, Got a Watch).

It will be interesting to see if Mr. Hersh puts up or shuts up.

arbogast

I honestly wonder what people think happens in war.

Like most Americans I have been regaled with blow by blow descriptions of a great deal of what the Nazi's did to the Jews during WWII. Uniformed soldiers did it, so it comes under the heading of war.

But, if you have a moment, read La Nouvelle Justine by the Marquis de Sade. It's the Nazi's playbook.

My point is that war is war. Unimaginably bad things happen. The human propensity for cruelty is a constant, not a variable.

The goal is to not have wars. Sometimes that is impossible.

But, as Colonel Lang's posts have made absolutely, perfectly clear, Iraq is not one of those times. Everything else is irrelevant.

anna missed

Col Lang is (perhaps) right in the contention that events like the Tiger Force escapade or My Lai fall well outside the SOP of unit operations in Vietnam. And that they reflect grossly inaccurate as to the general conduct of the field troops in Vietnam -- In no way can these actions be construed as typical. However, judging from my own personal experience in Vietnam (as a grunt), I was witness to numerous particular Geneva violations, some of which I would consider egregious. These events happened for the most part, in the context of heavy combat, as opposed to normal AO operations. Which brings up a significant distinction in understanding the diferential between rogue behavior generally, and combat related rogue behavior. The former, as Col Lang points out, was indeed rogue and aberrant. The latter, I'm afraid, was if not somewhat typical, happened with enough frequency -- across the entire breath and depth of the war -- to have achieved a certain iconic status to the behavior of U.S. troops in that war. A pattern for which, can be seen repeating itself in the Iraq war. And should in this day and age, always and must, be pre-considered as the NORM for guerrilla type 4thGW military police action wars.

Cloned Poster

Great website here PL. The horror of war rings true.

different clue

I think a lot of what the
specialized Nazi Party organs did to the Jews during WWII was not done by
uniformed soldiers on the
front in battle, but rather
was done in Nazi Occupied
areas after the battles had
been won and the taken-areas
had been secured.
I think the Slave Labor
bureaucracy and the Gas
Chamber bureaucracy were
separate and apart from the
uniformed German army.
The Nazi Holocaust of Jews,
and Gypsies too, lets not
forget, was not a part of
the German combat operations. It was purely
art-for-art's-sake. So does
it really make a good example of bad things which
happen in war?

(I write as a civilian with
no military experience and
almost no knowledge of military history. Maybe
someone else here with the
knowledge can give examples
of atrocities happening on
a battlefront as part of
combat by way of showing the
bad things which happen in
war? Would the killing of
many Korean refugees at No
Gun Ri because American soldiers couldn't tell which
of them might be North Korean soldiers in refugee
disguise, be an example of
atrocious things done during combat itself?)

arbogast

I believe someone once said, "Brevity is the soul of wit."

[Which reminds me of the line from Elvis' Now and Then There's a Fool Such as I: "Someone once said, "All the world's a stage""]

In any case, Richard Fye is clearly the wittiest among us. However, I would prefer to see him elaborate on his remark, simply to illuminate it for the less witty.

arbogast

I sincerely don't think that "higher-ups" in the military give much of a damn about what goes on in the field as long as a) they have enough troops, b) they themselves don't have to go to the field, and c) they're winning.

Obviously, there are exceptions. I think of Eisenhower. But the military beauracracy is no different from any other.

But Cardona’s physical well-being was not the only issue of concern connected to his aborted transfer to Iraq. According to former senior U.S. military officers and others interviewed by TIME, sending a convicted abuser back to Iraq to train local police would have sent the wrong signal at a time when the U.S. is trying to bolster the beleaguered government in Baghdad, where the horrors of Abu Ghraib are far from forgotten.

Frank Durkee

Col. Would you please put in context the Editorial slated for Monday from the four services indepenednt newspapers callin for Rummy's [ we are classmates ] resignation? How does one 'read' this?
Thanks.

W. Patrick Lang

Frank

The four papers belong to the same company.

They are reflecting a general discontent with Rumsfeld among military people, but it signifies little since the decider still likes him.

To get rid of Rumsfeld would imply failure in the policy he has carried out... pl

JT Davis

I commend Col. Lang for addressing this subject now. This is a dialogue that we should be having at this time. Our nation desperately needs matters such as this aired. I respect the good Colonel's position. His is one of the best blogs on the net. I hope we can keep this civil. He has earned that.

JT Davis

And it was the Toledo Blade that did a Pulitzer prize winning series in 2004.

http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=SRTIGERFORCE

I was surprised to learn recently of two alleged incidents involving Patton's troops in Italy during WWII, one of which involved women and children.

The Canicatti Slaughter and the Biscari Massacre.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_war_crimes

W. Patrick Lang

Bigod

Your assumption about other large atrocities is just that. it has no more validity than my assumption. pl

David All

Thanks for the info on Tiger Force. I have not read the book, just the description of it on the front & end jacket. Had the feeling that it description of what Tiger Force did was exxagerated. Thanks, Col. Lang for confirming that.

Seymour Hersh has been pretty erratic in recent years. Sometimes accurate, a lot of times, not. If he has evidence of American atrocities in Iraq, why does not show them to Americans, instead of Canadians?

David All

Thanks for the info on Tiger Force. I have not read the book, just the description of it on the front & end jacket. Had the feeling that it description of what Tiger Force did was exxagerated. Thanks, Col. Lang for confirming that.

Seymour Hersh has been pretty erratic in recent years. Sometimes accurate, a lot of times, not. If he has evidence of American atrocities in Iraq, why does not show them to Americans, instead of Canadians?

canuck

Congratulations, it looks like Senator Webb has won in Virginia.

Veterans often don't talk about what they did in combat. It was only recently that I found out my Royal Marine stepfather hunted for scientists in Germany for MI5. I can count on one hand, the number of times he spoke about his contribution. To look at him, one would think there was nothing unusual about him...that would have been a mistake. We found pictures of him with his commanding officer, Ian Fleming. Not once did he mention it despite how popular 007 movies were.

A return to normality with a Democratic majority in the Legislature and a Republican President.

Topping the list of objectives should be the return of habeas corpus, then I'll know for sure that sanity has returned.

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