Tuesday, August 30, 2005
A shameless theft and crossposting!
An Interview with Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, Combat Commander
By Nathaniel R.Helms
Retired Lieutenant General Hal Moore is keeping his eye on the U.S. Army. Although he has been retired almost twenty years he is still a keen observer of combat and what he sees in Iraq and Afghanistan is deeply disturbing to him, he said. In the meantime he still shuttles between his Colorado mountain retreat and his Auburn, Alabama home keeping in touch with his family, his former soldiers, and the legions of admirers who still seek the wise counsel of the soldier who wrote the book on coolness under fire.
Lt. Gen. Hal Moore At 83. Moore is now a widower. His beloved wife Julie passed away in 2004 after a full and happy life together that included five children and 11 grandchildren. During Moore illustrious career and their devoted 33-year marriage they lived in 28 different houses on several continents while sharing the tremendous social and spiritual burdens that weigh so heavily on the backs of soldiers and their families. Then as now Moore says he relies heavily on his strong Catholic faith and his never-ending belief in America and its soldiers. Whatever problems the Army now faces, he says, it will ultimately overcome them.
Like many brave and resourceful military leaders, Ulysses S. Grant, George S. Patton, and the ill-fated George Armstrong Custer - with whom Moore's path would cross again in the 7th Cavalry - he struggled through the academics of West Point Military Academy while excelling in soldiering. West Point historian Col. Cole C. Kingseed wrote that in the academy yearbook "Howitzer" it was noted the Moore gaduated in 1945 "untouched by the machinations of the T.D. [Tactical Department] and Academic Departments." The same qualities would make Moore a brilliant combat soldier and an outspoken Pentagon politician during his star-studded career. Defense Watch talked with Moore during a 90-minute telephone interview last week while he was at his Colorado home. He retired from the Army in 1977 with over 32 years active service. Commissioned a 2nd Lt of Infantry in 1945, Moore served and commanded at all levels from platoon throughdivision. Before the Korean War Moore served in the 187th Airborne Regiment in Sendai, Japan and tested parachutes at Fort Bragg, N.C. Moore figures he made at least 150 jumps in three years between 1948 and 1952 after an inauspicious beginning. On his very first leap into the unknown his parachute hung on the tail of a Curtiss C-46 "Commando" cargo plane and Moore was dragged behind the plane before he could cut loose and use his reserve. Kingseed noted that Moore's ability "to take a few seconds to think under such hazardous conditions would become a hallmark of Moore's character for the remainder of his military career."
After his retirement from active duty in 1977 Moore became the Executive Vice President of the Crested Butte Ski Area in Crested Butte, CO. During the '80s and early '90s, he researched and wrote his famous book, We Were Soldiers Once...and Young with his co-author, Joe Galloway, a marvelous examination of the battle (LZ X-ray) at Ia Drang Valley, first major battle of the Vietnam War. At the time Moore was a Lt. Col. and Battalion Commander of the famed 1st Bn., 7th Cav., 1st Cav. Div. and Galloway was a UPI correspondent who was there. The book was later made into a must-see movie called We Were Soldiers Once starring Mel Gibson. DefenseWatch asked Moore to present his take on the condition of the U.S. Army as it enters its third year in the Global War on Terror. Moore knows far more about such things than ordinary observers. During the fierce battles on Pork Chop Hill during the Korean War and his famous stand with the 7th Cavalry in the I Drang Valley in central South Vietnam in 1965 reside permanently in the annals of military lore. Perhaps less known but applied with equal impact was the stamp Moore left on Army tactics and doctrine during his post-Vietnam years when he rose to be the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (Deputy G-1) of the Army. It is a true hot seat where social, economic and political pressures all collide over who is allowed into the Army and how the Army is allowed to deploy the soldiers it recruits. Many of the potential problems with "modern" personnel doctrine Moore was confronted with in the late 1970s is now coming home to roost.
"I am very concerned about the status of the Army right now. How it is being employed now. I am concerned about repeated tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan; concerned about the heavy usage of National Guard and Reserve forces, and I am fearful that if this is not rectified the Army is being - could become - broken," Moore began.
Moore has personal experience in the matter, he said. He has a son in the Army, a lieutenant colonel who has already been deployed to Afghanistan and expects to be deployed again if the war continues very long.
"They are gone for a year or so and then in a year or even six months they are gone again. It has a terrible affect on family life. We have all heard about the Army losing trained officers and sergeants because of this. The NCOs are the very heart and core of the Army, Moore said. " We lost a lot of experienced non-commissioned officers because of their commitment in Vietnam. Most served at least one and sometimes two tours in Vietnam. Then it was 'either the Army or me.' We lost a lot of great sergeants because they were vulnerable."
Even more alarming to Moore than the Army's rotation policy is the apparent trend toward deploying women in combat. (Skippy-san comment- AMen!) Moore said it is a trend that will ultimately harm's both the Army's morale and capabilities as women take on larger and more vulnerable combat roles.
Another unique event going on right now in Iraq, and probably to a lesser extent in Afghanistan, is the women we have in actual combat conditions. They are being killed or wounded in MP units, or logistics units, or driving trucks or handling equipment. The enemy in Iraq is just like the enemy in Vietnam. The terrorists are everywhere and nowhere. There is no true permanently safe area in Iraq, even the Green Zone," Moore said. "I definitely do not believe that women [should be] in combat conditions. I took that position when I was Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel when liberals were trying to get women in position to be killed or vulnerable. (Again from Skippy-AMEN!!!)
"I remember studying the Israeli experience. The report that I read said that when the women in the unit were killed it had a very, very deleterious effect on the males in the unit. The morale and combat efficiency declined when their fellow soldiers were women who became causalities. I just don't want them in combat conditions.
"Pregnancy, I would expect that to happen. The Almighty God gave young people the urges to produce and they will do it whenever they can." Moore added without endorsement. Editor's Note: Numerous studies by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) provide a myriad of reason why the Israelis do not allow women in combat except under the most extreme circumstances. One such study, Why Israel Doesn't Send Women Into Combat, by Martin Van Crevvland in Parameters (Spring 1993) discusses the fact that "Israel's experience is often used improperly to support the case for sending American women into combat." The author asserts that this analogy is flawed, however, because no Israeli woman has served in combat since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The author points out that even though the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has very often faced overwhelming odds, Israel is very proud of the fact that Israeli women have never deliberately been exposed to the risks of combat, not even in the most desperate situations. The article provides good background information on how women are drafted, trained, and employed in the IDF, but concludes that because most women are physically less capable of performing well in combat than men, experimenting with women in combat is a luxury Israel simply cannot afford. The information from Martin Van Crevvland is held in an annotated bibliography created for use as a esource document in the event the US Army is sued by a Plaintiff challenging the legality or constitutionality of the Army's policy excluding women from assignment to combat military occupational specialties (MOSs), according to the Combined Arms Research Library at the U.S. Army Command & Staff College. The bibliography was developed from esearch into books, theses, studies, articles, documents, and any other materials that "would be relevant to a Plaintiff's lawsuit, both in support of and in opposition thereto."
In Part II Moore talks about President George W. Bush's reason for waging war in Iraq, the political consequences of his policies, and the realities of war in the Middle East.
An excellent short biography of Moore was written by
COL. COLE C. KINGSEED, USA Ret., Ph.D., a former professor of history at the U.S. Military Academy.
An interesting anecdotal narrative history of the Battle at Ia Drang Valley can be found at http://www.lzxray.com
Army War College - Monograph of Battles of Ia
Drang Valley – PDF
DefenseWatch Editor Nathaniel R. "Nat" Helms is a Vietnam veteran, former police officer, long-time journalist and war correspondent living in Missouri. He is the author of two books, Numba One – Numba Ten and Journey Into Madness: A Hitchhiker's Account of the Bosnian Civil War, both available at www.ebooks-online.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send Feedback responses to email@example.com.
Nothing else to say. Amen and amen to his comments on the war and his ideas about women in any combat unit ( inlcuding aviation units). He was nicer than I am e.g. BITE ME Pat Schroeder!.