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What is the first thing that blew your mind when you joined the military?

I was raised on a small (180 acre) farm in Missouri, we lived 10 miles from Rosebud, Mo. population 305. There were six kids, we had chores, so our life was somewhat regimented.In 1981 I enlisted in the US Army Infantry, I left for basic training right after I graduated HS. My transition from regimented farm life, to regimented military life went pretty smooth. I was young, healthy, in good shape (what people at home called work strong) I was 5′ 8″, 145 pounds. I didn’t find any of the training to be overly difficult, I figured out quickly that 80% was where you wanted to be. Performance below that was quickly noticed and the Drills were in your ass, performance above that drew attention for OCS (officer cadet school) candidates.The thing that blew my mind was the amount of trainees that were young (like myself) that were not physically fit. The number of trainees that lacked either education, or just no common sense. Especially the inability to keep their mouth shut, and their ears open and learn what a rhetorical question was. When a Drill Sgt. asks “Do I look like a fucking idiot”? you don’t answer. We also had a few individuals who were never taught how to take a shower, or they had an aversion to soap. That was quickly remedied, it was mentioned to the Senior Drill. He just said “It sounds to me like you have a situation that requires corrective action, assemble your squad, assess the situation, establish a plan of action, assign duties, execute your plan, follow up”. Essentially this was my introduction of an OP Order. Situation - Mission -Execution - Command and Signal -Service and Support.I suppose that’s enough rambling on. I went on to do 20 years as an Infantryman, Retired as a 1SG. For the last 18 years I have worked as a Commercial carpenter, welder, and Mill Wright. I also live on and run a small 60 acre farm.That is all, Carry on.

How did US helicopter pilots in Vietnam become so amazing? How much was by training versus through experience?

Prior to becoming a Marine, I served in the U.S. Army and eventually became an Army Aviator. As such, I served as an attack helicopter commander in both air cavalry and attack helicopter units during, and post, the “Vietnam-era,” and having served, and flown, with many, many outstanding fellow Army Aviators, warrant and commissioned, I offer the following analysis:It was a combination of the two (training and experience) coupled with the unique way the Army prepared and integrated its aviation assets into the ground combat environment.First, was a rigorous, and intense, very by-the-book (procedures, checklists, briefings, etc. verbatim) initial entry flight training which specialized from “Day 1” into producing a competent tactical helicopter pilot right out of flight school. While different aircraft (the Hiller TH-23 and the Hughes TH-55) were used for “Primary Helicopter School” at Ft. Wolters, TX, all initial entry rotary-wing Army Aviators were trained in the UH-1 (during most of the war) at the “Army Aviation School” at Ft. Rucker, AL. Instrument training was in the UH-1B with the “Contact” and “Tactics” phases being in the UH-1D or later UH-1H. A distinguishing feature of Army flight training over Naval and Air Force initial pilot training was that whenever an Army Aviator graduated from the Army Aviation School and received his “silver wings” as an Army Aviator, he was fully qualified as a “combat ready” UH-1D/H pilot and proceeded directly to an operating Army Aviation unit.In contrast Naval (Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) Aviators and Air Force Pilots receive their “wings” at the end of their “advanced” training phases of pilot training but then must still proceed to “Replacement Air Group (RAG)/Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) for Navy and Marine Corps Aviators, or equivalent “follow-on” post-graduate pilot training for the Coast Guard and Air Force to become qualified in the specific aircraft they would/will fly in the “fleet,” or Coast Guard or Air Force operating forces, respectively. So, the Army had the “luxury” of focusing only on helicopter flight training, and specifically in the advanced phases of Instruments, Contact, and Tactics training, its new pilots trained in the same type of aircraft they would fly in combat. (Other types of Army aircraft, specifically attack and cargo helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft, such as the OV-1 and CV-2, were considered “advanced” aircraft and generally a pilot had to complete at least one “tour” in a UH-1D/H unit before selection for transition to the AH-1, CH-47, or CH-54, or the fixed-wing qualification, “Q” course.)Secondly, Army Aviation tactically was integrated into the ground battle plan and Army Aviation units (particularly UH-1D/H “Assault Helicopter Companies/Battalions”) were often organic to the Army divisions and brigades they supported. Tactically, Army helicopters were operated more as “flying tactical vehicles” rather than as purely “aircraft.” Meaning that they were generally operating from forward airfields and the crews were living in very austere conditions, very similar to their Army ground combat brothers. This lent itself to a very loose style of somewhat individually-tailored tactical flying and procedures that was extremely adaptable to the ground situation and flexibly responsive to the ground commander’s needs and requirements.A third factor was the Army, realizing that modern “helicopter warfare” would require literally thousands of more pilots than its traditional commissioned officer structure could support, made the “strategic” decision to massively increase its already existing “Warrant Officer Flight Training” (WOFT) program. While the Army and the other services had warrant officer pilots before the Vietnam-era (famously beginning with the Army Air Forces “Flight Officer” program during the Second World War), they were the “exception rather than the rule.” So, the Army began enlisting highly-qualified civilians (as well as accepting current and prior-service enlisted members) into its WOFT program. Many successful applicants were new 17 and 18-year old, high school graduates who displayed (confirmed by stringent testing and screening evaluations) an aptitude for flying as well as a potential for appointment as an officer. Essentially, these “high school to flight school” applicants had to meet, or even exceed, the same basic intellectual and aptitude scores (again as verified by testing) as well as meet the same physical/medical/psychological standards and moral/legal/security background requirements as did commissioned officer/bachelor’s degree holding flight school applicants. (A program very reminiscent of the former Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force “Aviation Cadet” programs.)After completion of Army Basic Combat Training (for those who had not already done so) the new WOFT applicants proceeded to Ft. Wolters, TX to enter Primary Helicopter School (PHS) along with their commissioned officer fellow flight students. At the formal beginning of the program enlisted students, who were not already E-5s or above (some were already as high as E-8), were administratively promoted to Specialist Five (E-5) as a “Warrant Officer Candidate” (WOC) and began the six weeks of “Warrant Officer Preflight Training,” (WOPT) which was the first phase of what was then the equivalent of the Warrant Officer Candidate School. After successfully completing WOPT, the students (still WOCs) entered flight training, side-by-side, with their officer cohorts. Primary Helicopter School had two main phases; Phase I taught the new helicopter pilots the basics of helicopter flight up to roughly the same level of proficiency as required for an FAA Private Pilot Certificate with a Rotorcraft-Helicopter rating, Phase II increased that skill level to approximately that of a Commercial Pilot. Transferring to the Army Aviation School, meant Phase III – Helicopter Instrument Rating, and culminated with Phase IV – “Contact” (Pilot qualification in the UH-1D or H) and “Tactics” practical application of employing the UH-1D/H in simulated combat/tactical conditions and missions.Approximately nine months after beginning WOPT, the WOCs received Honorable Discharges from the Regular Army as enlisted soldiers and the next day received warrants appointing them as a Warrant Officer One (W-1) in the U.S. Army Reserve with immediate orders to active duty in the Army of the United States to fulfill a three-year active duty officer service obligation. The following day the new warrant officers, as well as their commissioned officer fellow graduates, were all awarded their Army Aviator wings, picked up their FAA Commercial Pilot Certificates, with Rotorcraft Helicopter and Helicopter Instrument Ratings (as long as they had taken and passed the optional FAA competency examination to earn one—most people did, a few didn’t care since FAA certificates are not required for military pilots), and then proceeded to their next duty station—most often, but not always, the Republic of Vietnam, viz, South Vietnam.In operational units most of the pilots were warrant officers (WO)/chief warrant officers (CWOs) (i.e., upon promotion to W-2, the warrant officers became “chief” warrant officers, CW2, and were “commissioned”), which at the time, ranged from CW2 up to CW4. (There is now CW5.) The CWOs served as aircraft commanders, flight leaders, instructor pilots, standardization instructor pilots, instrument flight examiners, post-maintenance check pilots, aircraft maintenance officers, etc. while the “traditional” commissioned officers (lieutenants and above) filled “normal” command and staff officer positions as section leaders, platoon commanders, and company operations, executive, and commanding officers, and as battalion staff officers, etc.This meant that the average Army UH-1D/H helicopter in the Vietnam-era was being piloted by perhaps a 21 to 23-year-old CW2 as the aircraft commander with a 19-21-year-old WO1 as his co-pilot. This is very young, especially considering that the average operational pilot in the other services is an O-3 (there being more Air Force and Marine Corps captains and Navy and Coast Guard lieutenants in their services’ operational flying units than there are O-1s and O-2s), who is typically going to be at least 25 to 26 years old before promotion to O-3, and in a two-pilot aircraft, such as are most military helicopters, it is not unusual for the senior pilot to be an O-4, or even an O-5.So, the highly programmed nature of Army initial entry rotary wing pilot training, specializing in the UH-1D/H, coupled with the rather adaptive and flexible nature of Army tactical helicopter operations, as being doctrinally employed more as “flying tactical vehicles” than as “traditional aircraft,” and the comparatively quite young and less highly formally educated (BA/BS degrees not required) warrant officers, less traditionally trained as military officers (no service academy, ROTC, or OCS/Officer Branch Basic Course qualification or training), made significant differences between Army Aviation and the aviation of the other services, These young warrant officer aviators were not as “rigid” in their attitudes and thinking as were their commissioned officer counterparts. Resulting in a somewhat “Wild West” culture among Army Aviators perhaps not unlike what one may imagine was true of service in the horse cavalry regiments serving in the American West during the “Indian Wars” of the 1800s.“Above the Best” (motto of Army Aviation) and “This We’ll Defend” (motto of the U.S. Army)

Why is the US Army practicing destroying ships with artillery?

It’s all part of the shift to the Pacific which began under the Obama administration. The United States is seeking to contain the Chinese military, not dissimilar to its ring of bases around the Russian Federation or Iran.It is also worth noting that the US Marine Corps and Army are lagging behind several nations in its land-based anti-ship capabilities and wish to catch up, the US Naval Institute explicitly named Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Japan, and Poland.[1][1][1][1] Now, I should clarify there are two main reasons for this:The United States has been involved in a completely different form of warfare for the past two decades. We didn’t need anti-ship capabilities to fight the Taliban, ISIS, or insurgents in Iraq.While coastal defense historically fell to the Marine Corps and Army, this tradition was largely done away with after WWII. The Air Force and Navy vessels, as well as its organic air arm and Marine aviation, were seen as more than capable of handling this role on their own. This is also the same reason why the US does not employ masses of surface-based anti-air missiles, unlike Russia.The People’s Republic of China is seen as the long-term threat to American dominance in the region and around the world by the US military:China is leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage. As China continues its economic and military ascendance, asserting power through an all-of-nation long-term strategy, it will continue to pursue a military modernization program that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future.[2][2][2][2]The militarization referred to is taking place in the South China Sea, within the confines of the so-called “Nine-Dash Line”:Same as the Russian Federation’s militarization of the Arctic, this is all about access to natural resources and securing shipping, as well as denying the US access in a conflict.[3][3][3][3] Unlike Russia, however, much of the territory claimed in the South China Sea relies on old claims that are disputed by every other country bordering the area. Honestly, if those islands possessed nothing of value none of the countries involved couldn’t care less what their territorial status is, but they do have value and China is the only one with a military credible enough to enforce its claim.This increase in military activity by the People’s Liberation Army, Navy, and Air Force has spurred the United States military to take a more active role in the region, with the US Navy allocating 60% of its ships for operations in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Marines now rotate through Darwin, Australia on a regular basis, with the most recent deployment bringing along a HIMARS battery.[4][4][4][4] (High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System.)During the RIMPAC 2018 exercise, the Army debuted its first use of the Naval Strike Missile which struck a ship, the USS Racine, as part of one the exercise’s SINKEX.[5][5][5][5] The Marine Corps also recently awarded a $47 million contract to Raytheon to for that same system with General Neller stating, “There’s a ground component to the maritime fight. We’re a naval force in a naval campaign; you have to help the ships control sea space. And you can do that from the land.”[6][6][6][6]His statement displays the heart of this recent development; land forces are going to be used as part of any modern naval engagement. It is unlikely that we’ll see any high seas battles solely between aircraft carriers and their support vessels any time in the foreseeable future. Almost all future battles are going to employ some form of long-range, land-based missiles/aircraft, in addition to sea-launched missiles and planes. The United States has to adapt to this shift in military affairs.Both Russia and China currently employ area-denial weapons as the linchpin of their military buildups, as seen in the picture above. The United States is responding by using that same idea.The People’s Liberation Army Navy and land-based units may be able to deny access to the South China Sea but, at the same time, proper employment of American and allied land-based missiles can confine the PLAN and Chinese shipping in the event of any conflict.[7][7][7][7] Closure of these chokepoints would put the Chinese navy in an untenable position. While it is unlikely that China’s military would attempt to break out into the Indian Ocean or go east of the Philipines in a near-future conflict the United States still needs to consider the usefulness of land-based anti-ship missiles for any potential conflict.Land-based missiles are also key to what the United States refers to as Archipelagic Defense.[8][8][8][8] China is assumed to be the aggressor in this strategy and land-based missiles will serve to delay or confine the PLAN until reinforcements can be brought into the area. The missiles will also act as a screen to protect amphibious ships and provide depth to the defense.The Strait of Malacca is vital to China’s economy with at least 70% of its oil imports transitting the Strait every year.[9][9][9][9] If the US or allied nations could put anti-ship missiles and expeditionary bases in the region Chinese naval vessels and shipping would be effectively barred from passing through. Chinese ships would have to divert further southeast, lengthening any trips and would still have to follow predictable paths.The rockets and missiles the Marine Corps and Army are buying are all able to be moved by air so they could easily bounce around the region engaging the PLAN. The Marine Corps is currently in the process of procuring a smaller version of the HIMARS that can be transported by its Ospreys and Ch-53s which will further enhance mobility, survivability, and response time.[10][10][10][10] If these miniaturized pods are capable of using the Naval Strike Missile Marines could displace from island to island engaging Chinese ships from jungles or low valleys.Concealability is one of the major factors that influence the American choice to procure land-based missiles. With surveillance satellites in space it is virtually impossible to conceal any surface vessel. Small truck-mounted missiles can be more easily hidden and avoid detection for a longer period of time. It should also be noted that, unlike an individual ship, ground units can separate and disperse. With modern communications these units could still talk to each other, know the location of one another, and mass attacks as needed. On top of that, dispersion means that an entire unit cannot be disabled or destroyed in one fell swoop.Land-based units enjoy the luxury of hardened structures so it is unlikely they would all be taken out in the opening shots of an attack. That’s not to say they all of them would make it through, especially considering the employment of penetrating precision ordnance, but they are less susceptible to destruction. Further, these systems can be shifted from one hardpoint to another, or to other bases/firing areas entirely, to confuse any intelligence gathering by China.Missiles could also be resupplied to active batteries on land faster than ships at sea. Ships are able to resupply at sea but they do not have access to the infrastructure that is available on land.Another factor to take into account is that these land-based systems don’t always have to be used on land. The Marine Corps is making great strides in this area, with their first use of a HIMARS from a ship taking out a land target in 2017.[11][11][11][11] I cannot see any real obstacle to them being used in an anti-ship capacity in the same manner, the biggest issue was designing software compensating for the roll of the ship and that has been dealt with already. Deck-launched missiles systems would add to assets that could be brought to bear in a potential battle, as well as enhance the offensive capabilities of amphibious vessels. As of now amphibious ships, such as the San Antonio-Class, have essentially no meaningful organic anti-ship capacity of their own. This unconventional approach provides a solution to that problem. It’s certainly not perfect and doesn’t have the firepower of other surface combatants but it is a good start. (I don’t know, maybe they could put anti-ship missiles in the ships Vertical Launch System, just a thought. The ship definitely has the capacity.) These ships don’t typically operate completely on their own, especially in a combat environment, but it would increase the survivability of the ship. The same could even be done with land-based anti-air systems.The United States neglected its land-based anti-ship capability for far too long but steps are being taken to right that wrong. Both the Marine Corps and Army are working to reclaim their place in the natural order things as expeditionary, coastal defense assets. While the US may not, and probably won’t, rely on land-based systems to the extent that other countries do, it is making the correct decision in this case.Footnotes[1] Give Marines and Soldiers Better Antiship Fires[1] Give Marines and Soldiers Better Antiship Fires[1] Give Marines and Soldiers Better Antiship Fires[1] Give Marines and Soldiers Better Antiship Fires[2][2][2][2][3] China’s militarization of the South China Sea[3] China’s militarization of the South China Sea[3] China’s militarization of the South China Sea[3] China’s militarization of the South China Sea[4] U.S. Reaches 2011 Goal of 2,500 Marines in Darwin - USNI News[4] U.S. Reaches 2011 Goal of 2,500 Marines in Darwin - USNI News[4] U.S. Reaches 2011 Goal of 2,500 Marines in Darwin - USNI News[4] U.S. Reaches 2011 Goal of 2,500 Marines in Darwin - USNI News[5] Army conducts 1st RIMPAC joint live-fire sinking exercise as Multi-Domain Task Force[5] Army conducts 1st RIMPAC joint live-fire sinking exercise as Multi-Domain Task Force[5] Army conducts 1st RIMPAC joint live-fire sinking exercise as Multi-Domain Task Force[5] Army conducts 1st RIMPAC joint live-fire sinking exercise as Multi-Domain Task Force[6] Raytheon to Arm Marine Corps with Anti-Ship Missiles in $47M Deal - USNI News[6] Raytheon to Arm Marine Corps with Anti-Ship Missiles in $47M Deal - USNI News[6] Raytheon to Arm Marine Corps with Anti-Ship Missiles in $47M Deal - USNI News[6] Raytheon to Arm Marine Corps with Anti-Ship Missiles in $47M Deal - USNI News[7][7][7][7][8][8][8][8][9][9][9][9][10] Marines Want a Truck-Mounted Rocket-Launcher that Fits in an Osprey[10] Marines Want a Truck-Mounted Rocket-Launcher that Fits in an Osprey[10] Marines Want a Truck-Mounted Rocket-Launcher that Fits in an Osprey[10] Marines Want a Truck-Mounted Rocket-Launcher that Fits in an Osprey[11] For Marine Corps, Firing Rockets Off a Ship Is Just a Starting Point[11] For Marine Corps, Firing Rockets Off a Ship Is Just a Starting Point[11] For Marine Corps, Firing Rockets Off a Ship Is Just a Starting Point[11] For Marine Corps, Firing Rockets Off a Ship Is Just a Starting Point

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