Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

This is coolbert: One of the survivors of the Ia Drang battle in 1965 made this comment about NCO's. "All NCO's need to be able to do three things. One is organize a defensive perimeter. Secondly, operate a radio in two different nets. And third, employ indirect fire.". Well this advice is as pertinent now as it was thirty eight years ago. In the Ia Drang battle, in the first ten seconds or so, the officers and NCO's were all cut down by automatic weapons fire. Fighting the battle was left to specialists and privates. The company commanders had all joined a commander's call at the head of the column and were cut off from their commands. At the time, the officers and NCO's all still wore insignia that was visible from a distance. Made them tempting and obvious targets. Without leadership, a vacuum existed that was filled only partially by the specialists and privates left on the battlefield. And no real coordination with support or adjacent survivors. That was a difficult fight that was almost lost. Such a course of instruction should not be difficult to put together. And should be mandatory for any NCO going to Iraq or Afghan, regardless of MOS, or type unit. This stuff needs to be learned now, not OJT. How to do form a defensive perimeter, linear or 360 degree in nature. How to operate the unit radio in two nets [PRC-77 radios years ago were designed with this feature built in, two pre-set frequencies that could be readily switched]. And employing indirect fire could be better termed, employ supporting fire. Not only indirect [mortar and artillery], but also direct [helicopter gunships or AC-130 aircraft]. And none of this should be thought of as easy either. Operating the radio in two different nets requires an ability to authenticate, locate the freqs and callsigns, etc. And employing supporting fires is not a 1-2-3 thing either. But must be learned. Can be learned. Do it now!!



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