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01 May 2012

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The Twisted Genius

I have no doubt that infantry units are now predominantly white and rural in background. Tyler's description of his airborne battalion is an eye opener. I didn't think it was that exclusive. This was definitely not the case in the 25th ID in the late 70s. Blacks were heavily represented in the infantry units. My rifle platoon was over half black. I also had quite a few hispanic soldiers. Us whites were a distinct minority. When I took over the weapons platoon, Mexicans were heavily represented, but that was a unique aberration. I also ran the 25th Division RECONDO School. We had plenty of black students go through.

10th Group was a different story. Mostly white with a smattering of blacks and hispanics in the 80s. Given our geographic orientation, that made perfect sense to me. I don't know what it was like in the other groups. A friend of mine said that the Ranger battalions were predominantly white MAG (Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia) in the 90s. I'll have to dig up picture of my jump school class from 73 to see what the student mixture was. (I was a brand new ROTC cadet back then.) I do remember the black hats were predominantly black at that time. This was when the 82nd was nicknamed the African Airborne.

I'd love to see a study examining this whole thing, but I guess that wouldn't be politically correct.

turcopolier

TTG et al

Over the almost 50 years of my intimate association with the Army the demography of the force has changed several times. when I was a kid Lt. in the early 60's the 82nd was jokingly called the "All African" division because the enlisted men were so heavily Black and the division shoulder patch had 2 A's. The officers were much as today, heavily White. In VN, Blacks were represented in the infantry in numbers only just a little above their representation in the general US population. The draft distribution of people caused that. After the draft was abolished in a peacetime environment the military was not a popular occupation and it tended to fill up with Blacks in the ground combat enlisted specialties. Once the voluntary system fully matured the desire of the Army to prevent over representation of Blacks in the part of the Army where most of the fighting, killing and dying takes place and the desire of a lot of Black enlistees to "learn a trade" have resulted in the situation that now exists in which the infantry and SF are very heavily White. As I said, just look at the photos of the dead in the newspapers. Typically, soldiers who are people of color who were KIA were; the victims of IEDs, were from the National Guard or were Navy medical corpsmen serving with the marines. pl

turcopolier

tyler

"pogue" is a marine usage adopted frm them like the "hoowa" crap. pl

Matthew

Col: Can you recommend a good history of the US Army?

turcopolier

Matthew

Russell Weigley's "History of the US Army" would be a good place to start as would his "The American Way of War." These were part of a grand series published way back by Macmillan called something like "The Wars of the United States." pl

Tyler

TTG,

To be fair, this was not the 82nd, but the 501st PIR up in Alaska, so perhaps that had something to do with it. Maybe most of the black troops went back home to Carolina? Full disclosure: We had enough Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in the battalion to fill out a company solely based on people from the islands.

Now the 4/23rd on the other hand had its fair share of black infantrymen, but the majority were by and large white.

Tyler

Sir,

Well that's a kick in the junk. : /

turcopolier

tyler

Sorry. pl

HankP

I am a liberal. I didn't like it when Bush used members of the armed forces as a backdrop, I felt that due to their situation they were restricted from expressing what they really felt and were being used as props in a propaganda piece. I feel the same way when Obama does it.

Mj

So I'm not clear on what you are aiming at in the post. If whites are over-represented in the infantry and a middle of the night, impromptu visit from the CIC at the largest facility in the theater is populated with a demographic more representative of the rear why is that surprising? The "combat force" is as you describe but you also hit the nail on the head in terms of how that has happened over time. Are you upset with Obama for the makeup of the crowd (I still don't think it's that "chocked" full)? I know it wasn't possible to send out a call to the bush and have a bunch of grunts flown in was it?

turcopolier

mj

It was political deception using the troops as "props." Are you so partisan that you are not offended by that? pl

Tyler

Sir,

No need. I never understood the obsession with 'hooah/hoo-rah' either.

I guess when you're sent out to die in LAVs that an RPK can chew through while the Army is rolling around in VBIED resistant Strykers, you have to reach for whatever little light there is.

Mj

Hmm, I guess I must be. I went to FT Stewart with a group of educators this fall to see how we might help serve active duty folks. They had a day-long dog an pony show set up for us. I was very impressed with the troops we met with but I didn't think they were necessarily representative of the entire 3rd Bde, 3th ID. Any visit by anyone is going to be tailored to that person or group. But I see your point.

Neil Richardson

Tyler:

That is not accurate. First, only after a congressional legislation could the Corps assign women to combat arms units. Second, from what my son tells me this is a "research" using gender neutral physical standards.

turcopolier

mj

I suppose that means you are educated. The Army is very good at "snowing" visitors. Generals got to be generals by being good at that kind of thing. In my time we called that sort of "show" a "trained monkey act." Were there white rocks lining the paths and rake marks arranging the dirt neatly? pl

Mj

Yea, I got my GED in Korea in 1967. Actually they had teams of troops on a Bradley, Abrams and whatever the APC with the big ass mortar is and a maintenance vehicle . Each crew member explained their responsibility and showed us as much as they could. The Brigade commander met with us and explained the emphasis on education in the service now and, with the rif coming, it will matter even more to those who want to stay. Finally we met with about 20 troopers, officers, nco's enlisted and some spouses. They obviously had an interest in furthering their education and talked with us about some of the barriers they experience.

Tyler

You think they would say that then, no?

I mean it says right there "female infantry officers", but again: byzantine protocol I reckon.

Neil Richardson

Tyler:

Well I have no idea what that source is. What I do know for a fact is that female officers who do undergo advanced infantry training will not be classified as infantry MOS (0302). That has to be authorized by Congress. Female officers probably will be TDY'd to S-2, S-3 shops with infantry BNs first. Given that Webb is looking at this with both eyes peeled, they are long way off from assigning female infantry officers as PLs.

Neil Richardson

Tyler:

Here you go. Today's Marine Corps Times:

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2012/05/marine-women-infantry-officer-course-richard-mills-combat-050212/

Marine officials have emphasized that women who successfully complete IOC will not receive the Corps’ 0302 infantry officer designation. Defense Department policy still bars the services from assigning women to jobs whose primary mission is direct ground combat, such as infantry and special operations.


The Marine Corps’ research plan also calls for sending enlisted volunteers to its Infantry Training Battalions, expected to occur after the IOC experiment, and conducting a two-day fitness test aimed at establishing “gender-neutral” physical standards. Additionally, in the coming weeks, a number of female company-grade officers and staff noncommissioned officers will be assigned for the first time to billets previously open only to men within six types of ground combat battalions.


“It’s part of the commandant’s experiment to take a look at what those recommendations should be,” Mills said of the plan to enroll women at IOC. “We’ll take a look at how our female officers do, the physical demands that are placed on them, and go from there. The commandant will develop whatever recommendations he thinks are appropriate.”

Tyler

Interesting. Thank you for the clarification. This sounds more like when the Army tried to run females through Ranger School (abysmal failure, btw).

I thought that Marines had already tried to integrate the PT standards before and it was a rousing failure. 'Gender neutral', as if there are no differences between the sexes.

steve g

Tyler,
Actually, it a deep guttural urr-rah
not hoo-rah, if it makes any difference.
It evolved from the Devil Dog moniker
from WWI. Sometime followed by a barking
tag. Silliness, of course. I am sure all
services have their idiosyncracies, heavy
on the idio. Have seen Army and Navy units
use this tag. Probably remfs, pogues,
fobbitts or whatever terms to describe rear
in the gear types.

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