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Ken White
11-05-2011, 05:53 AM
Moderator at work

Another thread 'Definition of a Raid' has meandered into a mainly historical discussion of this Vietnam War era POW rescue raid, so I have attempted to separate the two themes and created this new thread.

Original thread 'Definition of a Raid':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=14474

Rule one on raids: they must be based on good intelligence ... unlike Son Tay (http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/vietnamwar/p/sontay.htm)I know several folks who went on that soiree and all complained of excessive caution and endless rehearsals (one wag said "... and each was a worse cock up than the one before..."). There was at the time some interesting rumors. One claimed that the move of the Allied prisoners was known and the raid went anyway for psychological purposes. Flaky. Another claimed that the move was known and the Raid went anyway as a diversion for another effort. Also flaky. Truth will be out in AD 2030 or so... ;)

Regardless, while it did not accomplish the nominal mission of freeing prisoners neither did it result in a slew of own casualties. Interestingly, one guy on that Raid, SGM Galen Kittelson was also as An Alamo Scout on the more successful raid which freed hundreds of US PWs from the Japanese Cabanatuan Camp in the Philippines during WW II. Pappy and I were in the same unit when we went to Little Rock to put the kids in school. :wry:

You're right on Dieppe. It was always going to be difficult but could have gone much better than it did. One problem with both it and JMM's Marine item is that Amphibious Raids are very prone to interdiction on withdrawal -- you can only do so much on a body of water. I have this vague recollection of reading a Book years ago that discussed it and it was alleged that someone had suggested that the accepted plan was in essence making a frontal assault at the point of heaviest defense and that was the antithesis of the philosophy of a raid... :rolleyes:

The fist "Thunder Run" through Baghdad in 2003 was essentially a very successful raid -- the second stayed in town so was not.

JMA
11-05-2011, 06:11 AM
Ken,

The Son Tay raid took place November 21, 1970.

The prisoners were moved from that camp in July of that year.

What does that tell you about the quality of the intel?

Ken White
11-05-2011, 03:06 PM
The Son Tay raid took place November 21, 1970.
The prisoners were moved from that camp in July of that year.
What does that tell you about the quality of the intel?What you say is true. What you and I apparently cannot say at this time is whether or not that move was known -- satellites and UAVs are better and more prolific now but they then existed... -- and the 'Raid' allowed to proceed for other reasons. Not saying that was the case, just that whether it was or not is not known to us. :confused:

You may assume that it was an intel failure. Could well be, even likely correct. However, having worked in the belly of the beast for a day or two, I've learned to reserve judgement. Folks in the ME and Asia are not the only ones who can makes thing to be not always what they seem... ;)

JMA
11-08-2011, 04:40 PM
What you say is true. What you and I apparently cannot say at this time is whether or not that move was known -- satellites and UAVs are better and more prolific now but they then existed... -- and the 'Raid' allowed to proceed for other reasons. Not saying that was the case, just that whether it was or not is not known to us. :confused:

You may assume that it was an intel failure. Could well be, even likely correct. However, having worked in the belly of the beast for a day or two, I've learned to reserve judgement. Folks in the ME and Asia are not the only ones who can makes thing to be not always what they seem... ;)

Ken,

Son Tay can most certainly be listed as a raid that failed (to achieve its objective) because of poor intel or the incompetent use of the available intel.

Much has been written about the Son Tay raid the conduct of which by the men on the ground was nearly flawless.

Having been involved in some raid activity myself it is the waiting that gets to you. You want to get it done and over with. Son Tay had a specific weather/moon phase window of opportunity which limited possible action to a few days in each month. They wanted to go in October but were scheduled for November. The prospect of another delay was not what the commanders (and probably the troops) wanted.

Here is the problem: From here (http://www.historynet.com/interview-with-sergeant-terry-buckler-about-the-son-tay-prison-camp-raid-during-the-vietnam-war.htm)

Operation Kingpin, the final phase of the rescue of the POWs at Son Tay, was approved on November 18. The following day Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, the new chairman of the JCS, received information that the POWs had definitely been moved to Dong Hoi. Unfortunately, the planners nixed the idea of moving on Dong Hoi. They felt that the raiders had rehearsed for months for a raid on Son Tay and that shifting camps at the last minute might prove to be disastrous.

Sums it up pretty neatly doesn't it?

What should Moorer have done? Ask any officer cadet and he will tell you that you cancel the Son Tay operation and plan a new one for Dong Hoi.

In fact lets take this further... go ask your grandson or any random kid of say 15 year old and ask him the following:

You have been rehearsing for months to attack a POW camp and free American prisoners there. You find out two days before the raid is to take place that the prisoners had been moved to a new camp. What would you do?

a) Attack the empty camp anyway.
b) Cancel the operation and prepare a new plan to free the POWs from the new camp.

Now one must surely wonder how this guy made it to CJCS?????????????

When imbecilic decisions like this are made at the top of the military it just opens the door for politicians to demand and get oversight of military operations to the micro management levels.

Then of course the spin doctors got hold of it and turned a flawlessly executed yet failed operation into an act of heroism (which it was at operational level) instead of a case stud in the failure of command decision making at the most senior level of the US military (which it most certainly was).

This was a strategic raid and the commanders were able to draw from the best available and have plenty of time to prepare which makes it different from raids conducted on the fly by units engaged on a battlefield.

Simmons was of the best (as once again proven by the Ross Perot funded Iran raid) but if you have an accurate 'weapon' and you don't know how to aim it then failed raids like Son Tay happen. Thank heaven there were no KIA or serious casualties.

Ken White
11-08-2011, 08:08 PM
But...Now one must surely wonder how this guy made it to CJCS?????????????

When imbecilic decisions like this are made at the top of the military it just opens the door for politicians to demand and get oversight of military operations to the micro management levels.Sort of -- but Moorer wasn't an imbecile. Does that negate your complaint? :D

May not negate it but it certainly calls your comment into question. The truth is that neither the Wiki, you or I know for sure the 'why' of that decision -- as I said, it'll be released about 2030. Stick around to find out... ;)This was a strategic raid and the commanders were able to draw from the best available and have plenty of time to prepare which makes it different from raids conducted on the fly by units engaged on a battlefield.Yes and no. I suggest that it was a tactical raid that got -- wrongly IMO -- elevated to the Strategic plane by the US desire to make some things more important than they really are...Simmons was of the best (as once again proven by the Ross Perot funded Iran raid) but if you have an accurate 'weapon' and you don't know how to aim it then failed raids like Son Tay happen. Thank heaven there were no KIA or serious casualties.Simons, not Simmons and having worked for him, he was okay, not the best... :wry:

Aside note -- he also made the Cabanatuan Raid.

JMA
11-09-2011, 08:27 PM
But...Sort of -- but Moorer wasn't an imbecile. Does that negate your complaint? :D

May not negate it but it certainly calls your comment into question. The truth is that neither the Wiki, you or I know for sure the 'why' of that decision -- as I said, it'll be released about 2030. Stick around to find out... ;)

I said Moorer was an imbecile? No I did not but he clearly made an imbecilic decision.

One must surely question how this man reached the pinnacle of the US military without it being established that he was unable to make (in this case) an intelligent decision under stress.

This links back to the post by Red Rat in the What Are You Reading Now thread about the book The Stress Effect: Why Smart Leaders Make Dumb Decisions (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stress-Effect-Smart-Leaders-Decisions/dp/0470589035/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314803500&sr=1-1)

I would welcome a review from him on this book as to any insights he has gleaned from the book as to the military in this regard.

Ken, how did Moorer manage to get to CJCS when his was unable to make a simple decision a 15 year old could make and does this indicate the the joint chiefs are merely rubber stamp yes-men?

Yes and no. I suggest that it was a tactical raid that got -- wrongly IMO -- elevated to the Strategic plane by the US desire to make some things more important than they really are...Simons, not Simmons and having worked for him, he was okay, not the best... :wry:

For the OBL strike it was troops from stateside that were used and not those based then in theatre? A pattern here?

Aside note -- he also made the Cabanatuan Raid.

I'll look it up.

Ken White
11-09-2011, 10:55 PM
I said Moorer was an imbecile? No I did not but he clearly made an imbecilic decision.To you it is clear, others without your vast knowledge, experience and inside information do not know enough to make that call... ;)

You may, however, make as many standing broad jumps at possibly wrong conclusions as you wish.One must surely question how this man reached the pinnacle of the US military without it being established that he was unable to make (in this case) an intelligent decision under stress.I suspect that he did it like countless others around the world before and since -- by making more, mostly intelligent decisions involving far more persons while under stress than you or I ever had to do. Note also that we do not know that the decision was not intelligent, we only have your assumption based on limited information that it was unitelligent. :rolleyes:

Note also that you're basing your possibly fallacious assumption on one incident of which you are but partially aware and informed as opposed to possessing (or citing) more detailed knowledge of his over 40 years of service in which, among other things, he was both CinCPac and CinCLant, two major commands and something no one had ever done before (or since...).Ken, how did Moorer manage to get to CJCS when his was unable to make a simple decision a 15 year old could make and does this indicate the the joint chiefs are merely rubber stamp yes-men?The 'how' is discussed above. You do not know that it was a simple decision, it merely suits your purposes to so assume. Been my observation that 15 year olds make a lot of hasty --and bad -- decisions. Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs are like ordinary mortals, some are yes men, some are not. All have far more military experience than you, most good, in more areas of the world and more varied circumstances. Most also have more sense than to leap to judgement based on limited knowledge and most are concerned with far more than minor tactical problems. They can be legitimately accused of being excessively cautious but it must be recalled that they are dual hatted as both the military adviser to the President (not Commanders, they command nothing) AND as guardians of the institutions that are the entire US Armed Forces with worldwide and not just current Theater (or current political administration) concerns. Those are somewhat conflicting roles and the balance is always uneasy.For the OBL strike it was troops from stateside that were used and not those based then in theatre? A pattern here?That too is an assumption and not necessarily correct.

However, you raise a good point. The Cabanatuan raid was ordered by the local commander using in-theater troops. There were some unheralded but deep and successful raids in Korea that met those same parameters. Son Tay, OTH was the harbinger of excessive control from Washington and of the use of out of theater forces. That raised those efforts from a military operation to a political action (please note and consider that FACT). As was / is the OBL effort. The OBL thing was a mixed bag, theater wise but was emphatically a Washington orchestration. I suspect little good will come from that trend...

jcustis
11-10-2011, 01:57 AM
http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/1995/November%201995/1195raid.aspx

Bad News Develops

Bad news developed in Washington when a usually reliable intelligence source in Hanoi stated that the Son Tay prisoners had been moved. Reconnaissance aircraft tried to get last-minute photographs of the camp November 18 but failed. However, another report indicated that the camp was occupied by "someone."

Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird was briefed on the possibility that no prisoners were in the camp. General Blackburn and DIA Director Lt. Gen. Donald V. Bennett recommended the raid proceed, weather permitting. Mr. Laird agreed and so advised the President, who acknowledged that it was worth the risk. The "go" message was sent to General Manor at Takhli.

General Manor laid on the mission for the night of November 20. In the Red River Valley, little cloudiness was expected, as were good visibility and light winds. As the General reported later, "The night of 20/21 November 1970 was the only night for many days before and after that date that launch would have been possible."

Vice Adm. Frederic A. Bardshar aboard USS Oriskany was sent his go-ahead planning message, which said simply, "NCA approval received." The aircrews of fifty-nine strike and support aircraft were briefed but not told why they would be flying over the major North Vietnamese port of Haiphong and dropping only flares, not bombs. They were given permission to fire their Shrike air-to-surface missiles and 20-mm ammunition against any enemy radar-controlled SAM defenses that posed a threat to US forces and to support search-and-rescue missions if anyone were shot down.

Sounds like single-source reporting said one thing, and the planners attempted to verify, but could not, but made heavy decision nonetheless. That's what they get paid to do. It certainly doesn't sound like the information about moved prisoners was as definitive as some articles allege.

It for sure doesn't sound like they were risk averse and wanted to wrap the members of the raid force in pillows. Shudder to think that they would risk casualties or a KIA (here's my not-shocked face...okay, it's gone now).

JMA
11-10-2011, 04:16 PM
To you it is clear, others without your vast knowledge, experience and inside information do not know enough to make that call... ;)

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

I say again Ken, explain the scenario to a random 15 year old and see what an epic fail the CJCS's action was. How he wasn't summarily dismissed (forced into retirement) remains totally amazing.

You may, however, make as many standing broad jumps at possibly wrong conclusions as you wish.

Ken, you can attempt to mock me as much as you like to entertain your like minded around here. (by now you should have realised that those tactics do not work on me)

I suspect that he did it like countless others around the world before and since -- by making more, mostly intelligent decisions involving far more persons while under stress than you or I ever had to do. Note also that we do not know that the decision was not intelligent, we only have your assumption based on limited information that it was unitelligent. :rolleyes:

... but at the critical moment he failed. So (being thankful he killed no one in this case) you thank him for his service, give him a service medal and pack him off post haste into retirement.

Note also that you're basing your possibly fallacious assumption on one incident of which you are but partially aware and informed as opposed to possessing (or citing) more detailed knowledge of his over 40 years of service in which, among other things, he was both CinCPac and CinCLant, two major commands and something no one had ever done before (or since...).The 'how' is discussed above. You do not know that it was a simple decision, it merely suits your purposes to so assume.

... forget the history all it took was the man to fail at a critical moment... one mistake is all it takes. He failed. Probably a good case study for the Peter Principle.

Been my observation that 15 year olds make a lot of hasty --and bad -- decisions. Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs are like ordinary mortals, some are yes men, some are not.

I don't have anything to do with 15 year olds

The question is how they managed to claw their way up the promotion ladder. Officers of that rank (one would like to think) would be a cut above us mere mortals, yes?

All have far more military experience than you, most good, in more areas of the world and more varied circumstances.

So did Hannibal's elephants, but did that make them any more than mere elephants?

The simple difference Ken, is that I did not serve long enough to reach my own level of incompetence... obviously many of the guys you mention did.

Most also have more sense than to leap to judgement based on limited knowledge and most are concerned with far more than minor tactical problems.

Maybe most do. But then obviously some are so intellectually challenged that they allow an attack to go ahead on an empty camp 23 miles from Hanoi. The mind boggles.

Don't worry the Brit have there problems as well. Remember Arnhem?

On D-1 an Ultra decryption revealed the movement of 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions to Nijmegen and Arnhem. Also airphoto-reconnaissance and intel from the Dutch underground confirmed the panzer presence. Eisenhower was concerned, Montgomery laughed it off and Eisenhower did not have the balls to overrule Montgomery. (seems to be a problem at the top levels of the US military, yes?) The rest is history. Only 8,000 casualties, what the hell, hey Ken? (can't criticise the generals can we?).

They can be legitimately accused of being excessively cautious but it must be recalled that they are dual hatted as both the military adviser to the President (not Commanders, they command nothing) AND as guardians of the institutions that are the entire US Armed Forces with worldwide and not just current Theater (or current political administration) concerns. Those are somewhat conflicting roles and the balance is always uneasy.That too is an assumption and not necessarily correct.

Excuses, excuses Ken. This man blew it. He should have been fired if not worse.

However, you raise a good point. The Cabanatuan raid was ordered by the local commander using in-theater troops. There were some unheralded but deep and successful raids in Korea that met those same parameters. Son Tay, OTH was the harbinger of excessive control from Washington and of the use of out of theater forces. That raised those efforts from a military operation to a political action (please note and consider that FACT). As was / is the OBL effort. The OBL thing was a mixed bag, theater wise but was emphatically a Washington orchestration. I suspect little good will come from that trend...

Ken, with respect, you are now trying to pass the buck to Washington while there is growing evidence that after all is said and done maybe the US military does in fact need political micromanagement.

But the US did once have a man of honour. Remember Operation Eagle Claw? As a result of that cock-up Beckwith resigned.

Ken White
11-10-2011, 10:29 PM
There are none so blind as those who will not see.Ain't that the truth... :DI say again Ken, explain the scenario to a random 15 year old and see what an epic fail the CJCS's action was. How he wasn't summarily dismissed (forced into retirement) remains totally amazing.What is totally amazing is that a mature South African with considerable and successful military experience is making judgements like a 15 year old.Ken, you can attempt to mock me as much as you like to entertain your like minded around here. (by now you should have realised that those tactics do not work on me)Understand one thing -- I am not mocking you. I am stating that you espouse some bizarre theories. Nor am I attempting to entertain anyone -- I am trying to suggest to you that you, as the saying goes, should "engage brain before putting mouth in gear." You are smarter than some of the odd comments you make for whatever reason.... but at the critical moment he failed. So (being thankful he killed no one in this case) you thank him for his service, give him a service medal and pack him off post haste into retirement.That's just asinine. You apparently totally misunderstand the role of the CJCS. None of that was his call.I don't have anything to do with 15 year olds.Nor do I so stop suggesting we call on one for answers to questions about which most will know little. An attribute apparently widely shared. :rolleyes:The question is how they managed to claw their way up the promotion ladder. Officers of that rank (one would like to think) would be a cut above us mere mortals, yes?Not at all. Pontificating, sycophantic, overly aggressive, less than thoughtful and other less than stellar types exist in all ranks, Private to General. If one thought as you say one should like to, then one would make some terribly flawed judgements about people. Obviously.So did Hannibal's elephants, but did that make them any more than mere elephants?Yep, they were combat experienced Elephants. ;)The simple difference Ken, is that I did not serve long enough to reach my own level of incompetence... obviously many of the guys you mention did.Still groping, I see...

Yep, many of them did -- many of them also did not. Same applies in all fields of human endeavor. As you know...Maybe most do. But then obviously some are so intellectually challenged that they allow an attack to go ahead on an empty camp 23 miles from Hanoi. The mind boggles.Yes, the boggle is quite noticeable.Don't worry the Brit have there problems as well. Remember Arnhem?

On D-1 an Ultra decryption revealed the movement of 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions to Nijmegen and Arnhem. Also airphoto-reconnaissance and intel from the Dutch underground confirmed the panzer presence. Eisenhower was concerned, Montgomery laughed it off and Eisenhower did not have the balls to overrule Montgomery. (seems to be a problem at the top levels of the US military, yes?) The rest is history. Only 8,000 casualties, what the hell, hey Ken? (can't criticise the generals can we?).I was criticizing Generals before you were born. Generally, though, I tried to have some factual basis rather than my perceptions on which to base that criticism. It might be helpful if you tried that.

Re: the Arnhem effort -- and Son Tay for that matter --you forget or elide the political aspects and the stultifying effect of a large bureaucracy. You apparently never had to deal with that or have forgotten how perncious it can be. Some of us have dealt with it and know better than to discount it -- think of our conversation re: Libya when I suggested those factors would cause exactly what did happen... ;)

Not all bad, I guess -- gave you something to rail about for a few weeks.Excuses, excuses Ken. This man blew it. He should have been fired if not worse.We can disagree on that. You're speaking through your hat...

That's no excuse, it's simply reality with which you have never had to work so you can be dismissive. Those who have to live with it do not have your luxury.Ken, with respect, you are now trying to pass the buck to Washington while there is growing evidence that after all is said and done maybe the US military does in fact need political micromanagement.Heh. I wouldn't deign to comment on that little gem...But the US did once have a man of honour. Remember Operation Eagle Claw? As a result of that cock-up Beckwith resigned.No. he did not. I knew Beckwith and while he was indeed generally honorable, he did not resign over the foul-ups (plural) that led to the failure of Eagle Claw -- which were many, multi-service and both bureaucracy and Washington jinxed from the start and a few of which he also contributed. Charlie didn't resign, he retired with credit for 30 years service and full Retired pay -- the norm for Colonels, then and now. He did that over a year after Eagle Claw. So, once again you make a fallacious comment based on poor knowledge and a lot of false presumption.

You really ought to work on that -- and that, BTW is not mockery or meant to entertain anyone, it is a suggestion for you to consider if you wish to be taken seriously.

jmm99
11-10-2011, 11:17 PM
1. Lowered NV morale because it showed we could hit within 25 miles of Hanoi, with minimal losses to us.

2. Enhanced US PW morale because an effort had been made to free them.

One might also suggest that putting US boots on the ground that close to Hanoi opened up the US psyche to more aggressive actions within North Vietnam itself, culminating in the 1972 Operation Linebacker I (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Linebacker) and Operation Linebacker II (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Linebacker_II).

One might also consider the effect in 1964 had Linebacker-type actions, as well as US raids, been employed against North Vietnam - rather than the "graduated response" employed by the Johnson Admin.

JMA
11-11-2011, 10:21 AM
What is totally amazing is that ...

I will not continue the ###-for-tat response but rather restate my position.

The decision to proceed with the Son Tay raid despite confirmation that the camp was empty was gross incompetence. The fact that the CJCS failed to act sadly indicates that a person incapable of decision making at a critical moment had somehow managed to reach the pinnacle of the US military. If the decision to proceed was taken by or strongly recommended by the military the CJCS should have been dismissed (or worse). If, however, the decision to proceed was driven by the politicians then it exposed a lack of moral courage in the CJCS which again raises questions as to how he managed to reach that position. I say again any which way you try to spin it the man was worthy as a subject of a case study into the Peter Principle.

Fast forward to Operation Eagle Claw. Here we see more of the Keystone Cops incompetence at the highest level of the US military. I quote from Beckwith's book: - in conversation with Task Force Commander Major General James B. Vaught during the preliminary planning stage:

"What's the risk, Colonel Beckwith?"

"Oh, about 99.9 percent."

"What's the probability of success?"

"Zero."

"Well, we can't do it."

"You're right, Boss."

"I've got to buy time from the JCS."

Staggering isn't it?

A major-general and a colonel can't tell the JCS that the operation has a zero chance of success??????????????????????????????????

So what were the JCS thinking???????????????????????

Then from here (http://www.mindef.gov.sg/safti/pointer/back/journals/2002/Vol28_2/5.htm):

The contradiction between the optimism of the flag-rank staff officers and the pessimism of field commanders like Beckwith indicates that the feedback of ground commanders had not been taken seriously by a civilian administration which was determined to execute what it perceived as a last resort.

It is simple.

Nobody (in their right mind) with question the physical courage of the US forces... but it is becoming increasingly clear that moral courage is in short supply in the upper echelons of the US military.

Sticks and stones and all that stuff Ken

Fuchs
11-11-2011, 01:34 PM
(...)moral courage is in short supply in the upper echelons of the US military.

I see no good reason for spelling "US" here.
Moral courage in armed services is the exception, not the norm. Anecdotes.

That's the downside of the power that command authority bestows on superiors and the downside of having an organisation that demands obedience to the degree of overpowering survival instincts.

Military moral courage needs to be replaced by a careful selection of civilian leaders (and by civilian authority over the military). The civilians on top need to make sure that unpleasant news reach them by rewarding good reporting and punishing bad reporting (and non-reporting of important facts) whenever they can reveal it.

I don't think there's a reliable way how to make amilitary effective AND foster its moral courage at the same time.

ganulv
11-11-2011, 02:54 PM
That's the downside of the power that command authority bestows on superiors and the downside of having an organisation that demands obedience to the degree of overpowering survival instincts.It’s not limited to the military, that’s for sure (http://chronicle.com/article/An-Insular-Penn-State-Stayed/129713/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en).
The civilians on top need to make sure that unpleasant news reach them by rewarding good reporting and punishing bad reporting (and non-reporting of important facts) whenever they can reveal it.http://funnyshirtz.info/images/i_support_negative_feedback_tshirt-p235663571231458629up37_328.jpg

jcustis
11-11-2011, 03:28 PM
The decision to proceed with the Son Tay raid despite confirmation that the camp was empty was gross incompetence.

You contiinue to post in this thread, over and over, that there was confirmation the prisoners were moved.

A single source report from a HUMINT asset is not confirmation of anything, yet you continue to toss your hand in with the conspiracy theorist lot who believe that report sealed the deal.

Do you understand that your argument hinges on that weakness right now?

Ken White
11-11-2011, 03:40 PM
I will not continue the ###-for-tat response but rather restate my position.He said as he again laid out a ###. :D

As for this:It is simple.

Nobody (in their right mind) with question the physical courage of the US forces... but it is becoming increasingly clear that moral courage is in short supply in the upper echelons of the US military.That certainly applies to some, fortunately, not to all even though such blanket condemnation may be perceptively merited in your view. Fortunately, you are not the arbiter. Also fortunately, reality -- and most others -- differ.Sticks and stones and all that stuff KenNo sticks or stones, just another response to your apparent once a month or so relatively pointless excessive negativity cycle. It's yet another plea for you to think about what you're posting rather than occasionally dashing off ill considered and quite uninformed vituperation for no apparent reason other than that you can...

It's too early for the Grinch... :D

JMA
11-11-2011, 03:54 PM
I see no good reason for spelling "US" here.
Moral courage in armed services is the exception, not the norm. Anecdotes.

You are probably correct in that one hears of very few commanders who are willing to make that final and irrevocable protest and resign rather than follow insane orders or risk soldiers lives unnecessarily.

That's the downside of the power that command authority bestows on superiors and the downside of having an organisation that demands obedience to the degree of overpowering survival instincts.

Of course in a situation (like that Beckwith found himself) where the operational commander who himself will be in harms way to refuse would invite the response "well if you are not up for the task then we will find someone who is," (incorporating the innuendo of cowardice).

When it is a situation where it is someone who will not be at risk like the cocooned JCS it is all about their pensions - in that how many lives can be gambled with (not risked mind you) before he/they are prepared to risk their pensions.

Military moral courage needs to be replaced by a careful selection of civilian leaders (and by civilian authority over the military). The civilians on top need to make sure that unpleasant news reach them by rewarding good reporting and punishing bad reporting (and non-reporting of important facts) whenever they can reveal it.

In the case of Son Tay you may be correct but in the case of Eagle Claw (where a desperate unpopular President was prepared to risk the lives of military men to save his own political ass) it was up to the CJCS and the JCS to tell the politicians to go take a hike. They didn't have the balls (moral courage in this case) to do it.

I don't think there's a reliable way how to make a military effective AND foster its moral courage at the same time.

You may be correct... but a step in the right direction will be to court-marshall those who it is proven have failed in their duty of care to the men under their command.

In the case of Son Tay and Moorer if he had known that either way he was going to end his career and lose his pension he may just have done the right thing especially if that was the honourable course of action.

jmm99
11-12-2011, 01:58 AM
My initial reaction was to address this post to JMA; but upon reflection, I am simply going to followup Jon Custis' posts. So, we should address the material facts regarding, and who was involved in, the so-called "intelligence failure" (no POWs); and, more importantly, at what level, should we analyze the end goal of the mission.

In considering those questions, two online sources stand out for factual validation and reasoned policy analysis (fn 1):

Amidon (http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/parameters/Articles/05autumn/amidon.pdf), Mark. "Groupthink, Politics, and the Decision to Attempt the Son Tay Rescue". Parameters, Journal of the US Army War College 2005 (Winter) [cited as Amidon].

Mitchell (http://ehistory.osu.edu/vietnam/essays/sontay/0000.cfm), Major John, USMC (1997). "The Son Tay Raid: A Study in Presidential Policy". e-History: Vietnam War. The Ohio State University [cited as Mitchell]

1. Events of 19-20 November (the Material Facts)

Amidon's summary (pp.5-6 pdf) is the shorter of the two:

On 19 November, after the President approved the mission and one day before actual launch, word reached General Blackburn of the North Vietnamese HUMINT source who reported “no prisoners at Son Tay.” This HUMINT report triggered a massive reanalysis of available information and demands for an updated intelligence estimate.

For the next 12 hours, General Blackburn, DIA Director Lieutenant General Donald Bennett, Admiral Moorer, and Secretary Laird struggled with the significance of this news and what impact it should have on the mission. General Blackburn was certain that the mission should proceed; yet his confidence wavered as he expressed great frustration with the quality of the intelligence analysis. “One minute they were ‘sure’ the prisoners were gone, the next they were ‘suspicious’ that POWs had been moved back into Son Tay.”[31] General Bennett appeared before Admiral Moorer on the morning of 20 November with two stacks of “evidence,” one saying “they’ve moved,” and an equally large one saying “they’re still there.”[32] Despite this muddled intelligence picture, General Bennett eventually recommended that the mission proceed, primarily on the basis of the “95 percent assurance” that the raiders could safely complete their mission.[33] Armed with the concurrence of his three subordinates, Secretary of Defense Laird routinely notified the President that the mission would proceed as planned. The White House concurred with the Pentagon’s intentions. With the raid due to launch in hours, the Administration was not interested in doubts. As Admiral Harry D. Train, at that time the Executive Assistant to Admiral Moorer, later put it, “They didn’t want to know.”[34]

31. Schemmer, p. 180.
32. Vandenbroucke, p. 65.
33. Schemmer, p. 180.
34. Vandenbroucke, p. 66.
Mitchell's section on "Intelligence and the Decision: (page 6 (http://ehistory.osu.edu/vietnam/essays/sontay/0006.cfm) & page 7 (http://ehistory.osu.edu/vietnam/essays/sontay/0007.cfm)) goes beyond Amidon (snips from 19-20 Nov):

....
[the meeting of Blackburn, Bennett and Moorer on 19 Nov] Having heard the opinions of both men, Moorer decided to brief Laird the following morning. Hopefully, the additional time would allow for reconsideration and/or confirmation regarding to the new information. If confirmed to be accurate, enough time would be available on the morning of 20 November to brief the NCA and deliver any changes to the raid force prior to their scheduled launch time.

The following morning [20 Nov], Moorer, Bennett, and Blackburn again met to discuss the new developments. As it turned out, Bennett had a change of opinion. He had reconsidered his position based on all the information collected to date on Son Tay. Bennett arrived at the same conclusion Blackburn did on the day before. Therefore, Bennett recommended a 'Go.' That recommendation was enough for Moorer to agree that the mission should be attempted, since he also believed that the POWs were still there. It was good that all three 'confirmed' what they wanted to believe because the raid force mission commander had given the final preparation and execution order to the raid force earlier that morning. It is apparent that Moorer's decision to wait had paid off because anything less than a unified recommendation from his office probably would have led to an abort by the NCA. However, there was still enough time to do just that with another 'Red Rocket' if Nixon or Laird deemed it necessary in light of the Hanoi source information. Therefore, with Bennett at his side, Moorer went to brief Laird on the recent developments.

Laird did not hesitate in agreeing with Moorer's recommendation to proceed despite the new developments. Laird was committed and fully understood Nixon's policy and to what extent the President would go to make his point once diplomatic efforts failed or produced insufficient results on a specific issue. Laird's resolve and conviction over the POW/MIA would be reconfirmed in his eyes because, within an hour of Moorer's departure, Richard Helms arrived to discuss the information obtained from the Hanoi source and also brought additional news concerning the POW issue. The CIA had intercepted recent "traffic" and confirmed that as many as 11 more POWs had died in captivity in addition to those reported on 13 November. Laird knew he must immediately inform the President of these developments. However, exactly what and how he told the President is an issue which is still debatable.
....
Research indicates, and it is the judgment of this author, that the President would not have aborted the mission in light of this information. Whether or not the President was briefed about the Hanoi source information is irrelevant. After all, the final decision to carry out the raid had been made. In other words, there was no political "smoking gun" (any Presidential "wrong doing" associated with the decision to execute or continue) to be found on this specific issue. However, if the Hanoi source information proved to be true, Laird would take all the blame if the mission turned out to be a total failure. Apparently Laird's decision not to brief Nixon would provide Presidential "plausible deniability" in case the mission met with tragic results. Having established Nixon's policy towards ending the war in Vietnam and what part the raid would play in that policy, let us review the leadership, execution, and reaction to the mission in order to understand the complexity and significance of the Son Tay Raid.

Why was the presence or absence of the POWs "irrelevant" to the decisions made at the National Command Authority level ?

cont. in part 2

jmm99
11-12-2011, 02:09 AM
2. Strategic Analysis vs Tactical Analysis

Amidon succinctly sums up the "worm's eye" tactical view vs. the "big picture" strategic view (pp.10-11):

Same Mission, Different Goals

The most stunning aspect of the Son Tay raid is the wide and subtle goal divergence that existed between the Pentagon and the White House. In the minds of the Pentagon military planners, the Son Tay raid was a high-risk tactical mission undertaken to rescue American POWs being held captive under harsh conditions in North Vietnam. Colonel Simons summed this viewpoint in his pre-mission speech to the raiders: “We are going to rescue 70 American prisoners of war, maybe more, at a camp called Son Tay. This is something that American prisoners have a right to expect from their fellow soldiers.”[53] To the Pentagon planners, conflicting intelligence in the eleventh hour threatened the sole objective of the raid. No POWs, no raid.

President Nixon’s motives were far more complex and closely guarded. Although Nixon also sought to rescue POWs, the Son Tay raid provided an ideal vehicle to forward his emerging strategy of imposing pressure on the North Vietnamese and convincing them that the Administration was not to be trifled with. According to historian Jeffrey Kimball:

In his memoirs, Kissinger revealed the broader diplomatic and strategic reasons behind the November 1970 [Son Tay] air raids. Besides diverting North Vietnamese defenses from Son Tay, they were designed to retaliate for the abrupt rejection of our peace proposal; and to slow down the North Vietnamese dry-season supply effort in the South. Thus, besides its humanitarian and political purposes, the combined operation of rescue and bombing had military and psychological purposes - an adjective Nixon used in his memoirs. [Nixon] commented that “it revealed [to the North Vietnamese] their vulnerability to a kind of attack they had not experienced before. The rescue mission demonstrated that the US could get past North Vietnamese air defenses and operate in [their] rear. It was a true [rescue] activity but also designed to show” that Nixon’s threats should be taken seriously.[54]

Unlike those at the Pentagon who viewed the Son Tay raid as a POW rescue, President Nixon saw it as a combination of a rescue, a threat to the North Vietnamese, and a salvo against his domestic critics. At least one modern scholar has gone so far as to ask the question: “Was Son Tay a rescue mission or an attack on North Vietnam disguised as a rescue mission?”[55]

Numerous Pentagon officials expressed surprise at the White House’s indifference to the reports of decreased camp activity. Their concerns might have been far more muted had they understood the fundamentally different objectives of the White House and the Pentagon. Whereas the military’s launch decision hinged solely on rescuing POWs, the White House saw great opportunity in safely executing a raid into North Vietnam, even if no POWs were rescued. Those in the Pentagon believed they were recommending “go” on a tactical mission. The White House had long since approved a strategic mission.

53. Schemme, p. 198.
54. Kimball, p. 238.
55. eHistory, “The Son Tay Raid: A Study in Presidential Policy,” p. 6.

Mitchell (page 16 (http://ehistory.osu.edu/vietnam/essays/sontay/0016.cfm)) comes to the same conclusion:

IN CONCLUSION: A QUESTION TO CONSIDER

Having explored both the humanitarian and political origins of the raid, perhaps a final thought provoking question remains, was the Son Tay Raid a rescue mission or an attack? In the opinion of this researcher, it was both! A noble and honorable attempt had been made by a gallant force to relieve the suffering of their brothers-in-arms, but the raid also possessed the elements of a deliberate attack to carry out Presidential policy. Undoubtedly, had POWs been rescued at Son Tay, immediate success would have been acknowledged by all, perhaps even resulting in uniting a divided America. Yet, at the same time, but unfortunately out of public view, the raid was an immediate success because Hanoi quickly began direct negotiations and took rapid action to correct their past transgressions regarding the treatment of POWs. By linking military actions to strategic goals, as was demonstrated by the raid on Son Tay, it is evident that President Nixon emerged from the latest round of 'negotiations' as a winner, although not immediately recognized as such.

Perhaps there will always be speculation concerning the raid. For example: Prior to the mission, did the NCA or any other planner/decision maker know that there were 'in fact' no POWs at Son Tay? Perhaps some did, but for unknown reasons elected to remain silent on the issue. Additionally, did Colonel Simons' raid group land at the secondary school on purpose and if so, who ordered it and why? Furthermore, when were the POWs actually moved from Son Tay? And finally, why were the POWs moved? All of these questions call for additional research.

Nonetheless, it is difficult to argue with positive results like those which occurred after the raid. Hanoi's response was to break off official peace negotiations in Paris and publicly denounce the U.S. for escalating the war. Unofficially, Hanoi, China, and the Soviet Union were shaken by the raid. All tightened security at their military compounds and other sensitive locations. Additionally, previously classified White House documents revealed that Hanoi began responding to official requests concerning POW issues as early as 26 November 1970, something they had rarely done before. Hanoi was also concerned that American public opinion was now focused on the POW/MIA issue, especially since confirming that many POWs had died in captivity. Hanoi finally got the message and began to fear a change in international and American public support for the war since the raid had highlighted such a sensitive issue. In light of these and other developments, the raid was an overwhelming success as both a rescue mission and an extension of policy. The President's decision to support his policy through military activity directly resulted in forcing Hanoi to treat POWs more humanely and forced Hanoi back to Paris in a more humble negotiating position.

Without a doubt, Hanoi now knew it was dealing with a new Administration determined to see an end to the war, but only in an honorable manner. On two occasions the President had shown Hanoi his resolve and to what lengths he would go to ensure that his style of diplomacy should not be misinterpreted. Hanoi knew it had better pay attention lest it risk waking a lethargic giant with a new attitude.

As Mitchell points out, there are some interesting tactical issues that remain open - the full story of the Secondary School being one of them !

Frying Adm. Moorer is NOT justified by the facts. He acted in accord with the NCA policy setting the strategic basis for the mission. That NCA policy happened in this instance to be sound.

Regards

Mike

fn 1. The Wiki for Operation Ivory Coast (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ivory_Coast) provides a framework for discussion, including the two sources linked above. Consider also 1972 Linebacker I and II linked in my last post.

Ken White
11-12-2011, 02:49 AM
As always your research skills, speed and thoroughness are amazing and laudable.

Thus I laud...

I agree with your conclusion re: Moorer with the added note that Moorer, like every other CJCS was NOT in the chain of command. The CJCS is an adviser, of course his recommendations have weight but in the end the Chain was and is President - SecDef - overseas commander. In this case, as your research shows, the decision was in essence political and was by the President. Counter recommendations by the CJCS may or may not have affected that -- with Nixon, my bet would be no. Every former Lieutenant Commander relishes a chance to overrule a four star... :D

JMA
11-12-2011, 11:47 AM
Frying Adm. Moorer is NOT justified by the facts. He acted in accord with the NCA policy setting the strategic basis for the mission. That NCA policy happened in this instance to be sound.

... and so the Moorer defense team rests it case.

(Those who [B]want to believe that will do so without even bothering to read your sources. Blind loyalty can be taken for granted in many cases.)

Where in any of the quotes you provided did it prove that Moorer acted in accordance with the applicable NCA policy and if so how does absolve him from his duty as the top advisor to the White House and his duty of care towards his troops?

The key to the Amidon article was the confirmation from Admiral Train, Executive Assistant to Admiral Moorer:

In a 1993 book, Admiral Train admitted: “Twelve hours before the raid we had fairly high confidence that [Son Tay] was empty. The photography showed the grass had not been walked on in ten days. On the basis of the photographic evidence alone we knew that it was empty.”

Moorer, at the interface between the Pentagon and the White House, failed to display the moral courage to tell he White House that the camp was empty and to insist that the raid was called off. Moorer has no place to hide, the man was a moral coward.

I hope this matter is now settled (which it will be all other than for the blindly loyal).

Blackburn and Bennet should of course not be allowed to get off scott free either.

And as far as the White House one (sadly) expects no better from politicians.

Another very tragic aspect to this is that the very same Groupthink which had led to the Bay of Pigs fiasco was still alive and well in the US system.

The Son Tay Raid together with the Bay of Pigs and Operation Eagles Claw (and others) should be studied in detail at staff colleges around the world as case studies in command disfunction at the highest levels.

JMA
11-12-2011, 11:48 AM
As always your research skills, speed and thoroughness are amazing and laudable.

Thus I laud...

I agree with your conclusion re: Moorer with the added note that Moorer, like every other CJCS was NOT in the chain of command. The CJCS is an adviser, of course his recommendations have weight but in the end the Chain was and is President - SecDef - overseas commander. In this case, as your research shows, the decision was in essence political and was by the President. Counter recommendations by the CJCS may or may not have affected that -- with Nixon, my bet would be no. Every former Lieutenant Commander relishes a chance to overrule a four star... :D

Ken, you didn't bother to read that stuff did you?

slapout9
11-12-2011, 02:54 PM
Link to the Mayaguez Incident.


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

Stan
11-12-2011, 03:24 PM
JMA,
Actually, it has been studied and pounded to death in the form of thesis material in almost all the NCO academies and CGSCs since Christ was a Corporal in the Corps :D

However, it seems this was a war of politics where political expediency took priority over military necessity. (Go Figure)

In my feeble and near ancient military hindsight, moral courage of even king kong would not have changed Nixon's mind yet alone the American public bent on getting out of Vietnam.

How foxtrotingly strange that a shoe repair shop owner would be responsible for expanding Armistice Day to celebrate all 24.9 million veterans, but a decorated flag officer's opinion meant little :rolleyes:

Happy belated Vet's Day you old pirate ;)

The Son Tay Raid together with the Bay of Pigs and Operation Eagles Claw (and others) should be studied in detail at staff colleges around the world as case studies in command disfunction at the highest levels.

EDIT: BTW, it's still known today as Operation Ivory Coast - and decades later another botched political load of Bravo Sierra !

JMA
11-12-2011, 03:33 PM
Link to the Mayaguez Incident.

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

Never heard of that one, thank you.

Summed up well with this I believe:

Vice Admiral George P. Steele, the Seventh Fleet commander later stated that: "The sad part of the Mayaguez is that we had sufficient force coming up with the Seventh Fleet, after it had been turned around from the evacuation of Vietnam stand down, to seize Southern Cambodia. I begged for another day or two, rather than commit forces piecemeal as we did .... The idea that we could use U.S. Air Force air police and Air Force helicopters as an assault force appears to me as ridiculous today as it did then."

Ken White
11-12-2011, 03:50 PM
Moorer has no place to hide, the man was a moral coward.Misperception based sweeping judgements a specialty? :DI hope this matter is now settled (which it will be all other than for the blindly loyal).We knew it was settled in your mind before this sub thread gathered steam. No one had any idea of changing that. -- or any desire to do so.

The intent was merely to set the record straight for observers and not let ignorance, misperceptions and / or bias rule. That's been done. :cool:Another very tragic aspect to this is that the very same Groupthink which had led to the Bay of Pigs fiasco was still alive and well in the US system.Sadly, that factor still exists here and elsewhere in the world. Thank you for finally acknowledging that there is indeed such a politically induced and bureaucratic phenomenon and that it does significantly affect military operations. That principle is correct even if you did, as often occurs, get the specifics rather badly wrong on this particular incident. ;)

JMA
11-12-2011, 04:20 PM
JMA,
Actually, it has been studied and pounded to death in the form of thesis material in almost all the NCO academies and CGSCs since Christ was a Corporal in the Corps :D

However, it seems this was a war of politics where political expediency took priority over military necessity. (Go Figure)

In my feeble and near ancient military hindsight, moral courage of even king kong would not have changed Nixon's mind yet alone the American public bent on getting out of Vietnam.

How foxtrotingly strange that a shoe repair shop owner would be responsible for expanding Armistice Day to celebrate all 24.9 million veterans, but a decorated flag officer's opinion meant little :rolleyes:

Happy belated Vet's Day you old pirate ;)

EDIT: BTW, it's still known today as Operation Ivory Coast - and decades later another botched political load of Bravo Sierra !

Stan, I was in London late September for the RLI 50 year reunion and remembrance service and just last week-end attended the (Rhodesian) SAS Remembrance service here in Durban. This week end we fit in with the general Armistice Day proceedings in our areas.

As I age these moments become more poignant as one considers the fallen and their families. In our case it all happened 40 odd years ago. It doesn't get any easier.

Together then one more time:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Right... back to business then. Let no officer, no matter how senior be allowed to be frivolous with soldiers lives and get away with it (that includes protecting the lives of their soldiers from the idiot ideas of politicians as well).

Happy Vet's day to you and your fellow Congo vets, I bet you all still miss the place ;)

JMA
11-12-2011, 04:47 PM
Thank you for finally acknowledging that there is indeed such a politically induced and bureaucratic phenomenon and that it does significantly affect military operations. That principle is correct even if you did, as often occurs, get the specifics rather badly wrong on this particular incident. ;)

Two comments on this then I'll let you have the last word.

Moorer was at the civil/military interface in this instance. He was in a position to put in the block but he failed in this duty to the military to do so. I would like to believe that this was caused by a (hitherto undetected) lack of moral courage rather than through craven fawning submission to his political masters.

You are in denial Ken. They knew that the camp was empty at least 12 hours before the raid. They could have and should have aborted the mission. Moorer should have put in that block. The buck must stop with Moorer.

Over to you.

Bill Moore
11-12-2011, 05:41 PM
Mike,

I want to second Ken's comments, great job on the Son Tay Raid research. I sat through a couple of briefs on the tactical operation presented by those who were actually on the raid, but your quick summary was the best I have seen on the strategy aspect.

I think President Nixon got it right, and it didn't matter strategically if the POWs weren't there. This is hard for me to say, but perhaps it was better they weren't there, because PW casualties during the raid may have resulted in negative press that undermined the desired strategic message. If I recall correctly Pres Nixon immediately made a public announcement after the raid was executed (what we would now call strategic communications), so it seems the messaging may have been the primary goal all along, and based on what I read the raid had a positive impact in influencing NV behavior and boosting the morale of our PWs (and higher morale increases survival rates in capativity, when one loses hope they lose the will to live).

Have to disagree with JMA on this one, it was the right decision to execute.

JMA
11-12-2011, 07:32 PM
Have to disagree with JMA on this one, it was the right decision to execute.

That's fine Bill.

Then maybe the scenario should have run something like this:

* CJCS approaches Laird - tells him the evidence is that the camp is empty and insists that the Son Tay raid is aborted and a new 'live' target selected.

* Laird then says (something like this): "Admiral, I apologise if you thought the mission was to effect the release of POWs. The real mission is to send a clear mission to the North Vietnamese government that we can strike anywhere at any time with a side benefit that the POWs, their families and other troops will get a lift by knowing that we will try to rescue them."

* The CJCS would then reply (something like this): "Well then Mr Secretary the risk to our troops will be minimal and the chance of 'success' remains above 95%."

* As the CJCS is leaving Laird would say (something like this): "Oh Admiral, I don't think we should trouble Col Simons with what we have discussed. As far a she and his men are concerned they should believe the camp is occupied."

* CJCS: "Yes, Mister Secretary."


==========================

Here's an extract of an interview (http://ehistory.osu.edu/vietnam/essays/sontay/0018.cfm) between Mitchell and the lying *'# Laird:

6. Question: Did you know at anytime prior to the Raid that no POWs were at Son Tay?

Answer: No. All the intelligence we had indicated that POWs were at the camp. I had been involved in this intelligence collection for quite some time and I had seen several other camps which we had been looking at for a long time. Son Tay gave no indication that POWs were not there. We knew the camp was active and had been for several years. The decision to execute was based on this intelligence. However, we knew that there was a possibility that no POWs were there. After all, we had no hard evidence of their presence, only indications from camps known to house POWs that were similar to the conditions and activity found at Son Tay. The raid force knew of this possibility also. Do you understand? I know what you are asking. The Hanoi information was simply not believable.

7. Question: Did you brief the President on the Hanoi source information?

Answer: No. The decision to go had already been made. Do you understand? I believed the information to be inaccurate. I informed the President about new information concerning the deaths of additional POWs being held. The CIA passed that as many as 10 more POWs had died in captivity.

*

JMA
11-12-2011, 07:44 PM
Pfft, invent your own thread, guys! ;)

Take it easy Fuchs... this is a discussion about 'when is a raid not a raid?'

It is when a a propaganda stunt is dressed up as a raid to confuse the North Vietnamese and concoct a message for POW and local consumption... and then everyone gets medals ;)

davidbfpo
11-12-2011, 07:56 PM
Another thread 'Definition of a Raid' has meandered into a mainly historical discussion of this Vietnam War era POW rescue raid, so I have attempted to separate the two themes and created this new thread.

Original thread 'Definition of a Raid':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=14474

jmm99
11-13-2011, 12:37 AM
And so it goes with counterformists.

On the other hand, I'm gratified that Bill Moore and Ken White picked up on my presentation. BTW: Bill expressed one of the thoughts I've had but didn't express: "... perhaps it was better they weren't there, because PW casualties during the raid may have resulted in negative press that undermined the desired strategic message."

Melvin Laird was less than articulate at times, but, in terms of the Nixon-Kissenger principals re: Vietnam, Laird was relatively straight-forward (e.g., the Cambodia bombing ought to have been made public upfront). I also read his interview with MAJ Mitchell in which he stated what he believed at the time he met with Nixon:

from JMA's snip of interview
... Do you understand? I know what you are asking. The Hanoi information was simply not believable.
....
Do you understand? I believed the information to be inaccurate. I informed the President about new information concerning the deaths of additional POWs being held. The CIA passed that as many as 10 more POWs had died in captivity.

Based on both Amidon and Michell (the latter more detailed at pages 6-7), on 20 Nov, Blackburn, Bennett and Moorer were faced with a non-consensus by the DoD analysts as to whether the POWs were at Son Tay or not. That military trio decided it was more likely than not that the POWs were there. Moorer and Bennett then met with Laird. See also 1988 SOCOM at post end.

BTW, Moorer was well aware by then of Nixon's position; from Amidon (p.5 pdf)

“When [Admiral Moorer] mentioned that the mission would be canceled if there was any sign that the enemy was aware of the objective, Nixon protested: ‘Damn, Tom, let’s not let that happen. I want this thing to go.’”[29]

29. Vandenbroucke, p. 63.

Before Laird went in to see Nixon, he met with Dick Helms. They discussed (1) the Hanoi information; and (2) the most recent POW deaths (the latter detailed in the Laird interview snip above). I've found no details re: the Laird-Helms conversation re: the Hanoi information. So, I can't prove that discussion created or reinforced Laird's belief that the Hanoi information was "inaccurate" and "not believable" - it clearly did not lessen that belief if it already existed.

BTW: While it may shock some, Presidents (with some exceptions) are not interested in intelligence details - only the adviser's BLUF.

As we know, information + analysis = intelligence. Son Tay definitely suffered from "information paucity" (if that is an "intelligence failure", so be it). In what (if any way) the analysis was faulty has not been laid out in anything I've read. In an low information environment, a single bit of new information easily may be perceived to be great import. It may or may not be of material import to the larger picture.

We do have "eyewitness testimony" from a number of Son Tay particupans in 1988 (link to pdf (http://www.benning.army.mil/library/content/Virtual/Documents/Son%20Tay%20Raid%20Panel%20Discussion.pdf), 93 page transcript):

SON TAY RAID PANEL DISCUSSION
USSOCOM COMMANDERS CONFERENCE
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA
29 MARCH 1988

Participants:
Lieutenant General LeRoy J. Manor, USAF (ret)
Brigadier General Donald D. Blackburn, USA (ret)
Colonel Elliott P. Sydnor, USA (ret)
Colonel John V. Allison, USAF (ret)
Colonel Richard A. Dutton, USAF (ret)
Introduction by General James J. Lindsay
Moderator: Colonel Wayne E. Long, SOJ3-S

BG Blackburn specifically addressed the "no POWs" issue (pp. 78-82) - to my satisfaction; but undoubtedly not to anyone whose position is so far out on the limb as to be unable to come in from the cold.

To those who are undecided about this mission, I ask this hypothetical:

1. The Hanoi information is taken absolutely at face value.

2. The policy for the mission is "if POWs, raid; if no POWs, no raid".

3. Pursuant to that information and policy, the raid is aborted (19 Nov)

4. That same day, the NV move the 10 Catholics (earlier moved out to isolate them) back into the otherwise vacant camp.

Now what flak would have resulted from that "intelligence failure" ?

Regards

Mike

Surferbeetle
11-13-2011, 02:02 AM
On the other hand, I'm gratified that Bill Moore and Ken White picked up on my presentation. BTW: Bill expressed one of the thoughts I've had but didn't express: "... perhaps it was better they weren't there, because PW casualties during the raid may have resulted in negative press that undermined the desired strategic message."

Mike,

I always appreciate/admire your analytical skills and efforts, and this latest effort is once again excellent.

Commanders on and off the battlefield do find it useful to demonstrate to opponents that they are able to act with impunity at a time and place of their choosing. Perhaps it's a base hit, perhaps it's a home run, the important thing for a commander is to keep slugging at a ferocious pace, or in a cunning manner, or both. :wry:

Although I am not in agreement with the outcome of JMA's analysis regarding ADM Moore's character, I do find it interesting and instructive to consider JMA's visceral reaction. It makes me think about the necessary skill sets selected for when serving at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels (a gauntlet inhabited by both Darwin and Sun Tzu ;)). I suspect that JMA was very successful tactically and that his unit would have been a valuable place to learn tactics.

As long as we are working on a number of topics simultaneously...if you get a chance, perhaps some of your skills would be available for an analysis of the options available to France at the Future of European Stability or the EUCOM Economic Analysis - Part I thread?

jmm99
11-13-2011, 03:24 AM
I'm also gratified to receive a positive comment from you. :)

I'd suspect you're on target here:

from SB
I suspect that JMA was very successful tactically and that his unit would have been a valuable place to learn tactics.

based on the conversations I had with JMA re: the Rules of Land Warfare.

Critique of tactics (outside of the courtroom) is not one of my strong suites; so also, neither is economics:

from SB
As long as we are working on a number of topics simultaneously...if you get a chance, perhaps some of your skills would be available for an analysis of the options available to France at the Future of European Stability or the EUCOM Economic Analysis - Part I thread?

You should be a Civil Affairs recruiter :D

Yup, I took Econ 101-103 (basic 1st year; and managed As); but I also had a roommate for a year who wrote his Master's thesis on the French Economic Plans of the 60s (in French) and was working on a PhD in the same topic (he later switched to law and did well there). So, this old country boy knows his own limitations.

My primary interests here are ROEs and HVTs. Son Tay fits into that subject matter - from viewpoints other than the purely legal, which is a welcome switch.

Regards

Mike

Lest one figures the roommate was a drudge, he was a German-American who more than matched me each nite in pitchers of dark. We thought we were pretty good until we ran into a friendly bunch of Aussies. Those guys are very simply outstanding. :cool:

JMA
11-13-2011, 08:50 AM
And so it goes with counterformists.

There are those who desperately want to believe that Moorer got it right in this case.

On the other hand, I'm gratified that Bill Moore and Ken White picked up on my presentation. BTW: Bill expressed one of the thoughts I've had but didn't express: "... perhaps it was better they weren't there, because PW casualties during the raid may have resulted in negative press that undermined the desired strategic message."

Mike, you find and post documents which inform on the subject then go and spoil it by selectively quoting and mixing in your own unsubstantiated conclusions. Just let the facts speak for themselves.

Melvin Laird was less than articulate at times, but, in terms of the Nixon-Kissenger principals re: Vietnam, Laird was relatively straight-forward (e.g., the Cambodia bombing ought to have been made public upfront). I also read his interview with MAJ Mitchell in which he stated what he believed at the time he met with Nixon:

Oh yes, but if he said anything in that interview which casts doubt on what you are trying to sell here it was because it was one of those occasions when Laird was not at his articulate best, yes?

Based on both Amidon and Michell (the latter more detailed at pages 6-7), on 20 Nov, Blackburn, Bennett and Moorer were faced with a non-consensus by the DoD analysts as to whether the POWs were at Son Tay or not. That military trio decided it was more likely than not that the POWs were there. Moorer and Bennett then met with Laird. See also 1988 SOCOM at post end.

Mike, non consensus among intel analysts is a constant. As there was no urgency (other than in the mind of Blackburn) there was no sane reason to proceed with an operation where no POW presence was confirmed.

The docs you cite do not support your position at all (Mitchell makes liberal use of his own interpretation of events which possibly confuses you). Neither does the SOCOM document support your position.

That said you are deliberately ignoring comment from Adm Train relating to what Moorer knew before the op went ahead.

Yes Blackburn and Bennet were part of the whole cock-up but they were subordinates of Moorer. The buck stops with Moorer.

BTW, Moorer was well aware by then of Nixon's position; from Amidon (p.5 pdf) [

Page 6? The document I have numbers from page 119-131

What we do know from Amidon is that Laird did not inform Nixon of the "troublesome" HUMINT. (page 128)

Before Laird went in to see Nixon, he met with Dick Helms. They discussed (1) the Hanoi information; and (2) the most recent POW deaths (the latter detailed in the Laird interview snip above). I've found no details re: the Laird-Helms conversation re: the Hanoi information. So, I can't prove that discussion created or reinforced Laird's belief that the Hanoi information was "inaccurate" and "not believable" - it clearly did not lessen that belief if it already existed.

Laird admits that he did not inform Nixon of the "troublesome" HUMINT (see above). The Helms/ Laird conversation is irrelevant to Moorers lack of moral courage.

BTW: While it may shock some, Presidents (with some exceptions) are not interested in intelligence details - only the adviser's BLUF.

Irrelevant to this issue.

As we know, information + analysis = intelligence. Son Tay definitely suffered from "information paucity" (if that is an "intelligence failure", so be it). In what (if any way) the analysis was faulty has not been laid out in anything I've read. In an low information environment, a single bit of new information easily may be perceived to be great import. It may or may not be of material import to the larger picture.

You don't have to take my word for it but it is safe to assume that if you are going to fly in to North Vietnam to within 23 miles of Hanoi one would like to believe that the INT would be good if not excellent.

The lack of INT confirming the POW presence in this case reflects on Blackburn as much as it asks questions about the competence or otherwise of the Bennett and the DIA... and is something Moorer should have immediately picked up on when he became CJCS in July 1970.

We do have "eyewitness testimony" from a number of Son Tay particupans in 1988 (link to pdf (http://www.benning.army.mil/library/content/Virtual/Documents/Son%20Tay%20Raid%20Panel%20Discussion.pdf), 93 page transcript):

Read it... what's your point?

BG Blackburn specifically addressed the "no POWs" issue (pp. 78-82) - to my satisfaction; but undoubtedly not to anyone whose position is so far out on the limb as to be unable to come in from the cold.

You're such a push over Mike (if that convinced you of anything).

Note: careful with the side swipes or you will have Ken on your case... then again maybe you won't ;)

A key admission by Blackburn (in the SOCOM doc) you missed (or chose to ignore) was:

"And the sum of the substance was that if we didn't do it now, we would never be able to pull this thing together later on."

This does not give you any inkling as to why he would have found that "troublesome" HUMINT coming in at the last minute to be unconvincing?

To those who are undecided about this mission, ...

No Mike, this is not about the raid it is about Moorer's failure to pull the train's emergency brake when it became clear that nobody was at home.

At possibly the one time in his career when called upon to show moral courage Moorer wimped out and thereby placed the lives soldiers at needless risk.

I ask this hypothetical:

1. The Hanoi information is taken absolutely at face value.

2. The policy for the mission is "if POWs, raid; if no POWs, no raid".

3. Pursuant to that information and policy, the raid is aborted (19 Nov)

4. That same day, the NV move the 10 Catholics (earlier moved out to isolate them) back into the otherwise vacant camp.

Now what flak would have resulted from that "intelligence failure" ?

Regards

Mike

No, no, no, Mike. It is quite obvious that had the (available) INT been properly interpreted as to the likelihood of the presence of POWs at Son Tay the Raid would never have got off the ground.

JMA
11-13-2011, 09:34 AM
Although I am not in agreement with the outcome of JMA's analysis regarding ADM Moore's character, I do find it interesting and instructive to consider JMA's visceral reaction. It makes me think about the necessary skill sets selected for when serving at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels (a gauntlet inhabited by both Darwin and Sun Tzu ;)). I suspect that JMA was very successful tactically and that his unit would have been a valuable place to learn tactics.

What would you be knowing about strategy then?

Surferbeetle
11-13-2011, 09:47 AM
What would you be knowing about strategy then?

...can't resist...about as much as you? :p :wry:

JMA
11-13-2011, 11:02 AM
...can't resist...about as much as you? :p :wry:

I can't remember making a personal observation about you? Did I?

Surferbeetle
11-13-2011, 12:21 PM
I can't remember making a personal observation about you? Did I?

No, and my answer was not one either.

The bulk of my work has been small team work and I do not buy into the false hierarchy of strategy>operations>tactics in terms of social standing. ;)

Walking a mile in the shoes of others....I suspect that you and I are not aware of the context and nuances involved in the formulation of the Admiral's decision. We are also aware that POW's and fellow soldiers want to know that they (and theirs) are not going to be left out in the wind with no concern as to their welfare.

Not to put too fine a point on it but, as you know better than I most probably, battlefields are tough places where tough calls are made and horrible things regularly happen. The Admiral made a tough call, and from this armchair it appears to have been the right one.

JMA
11-13-2011, 12:46 PM
From here (http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf&AD=ADA406941) we get:

If blame must be assigned, responsibility for MARKET GARDEN’s failure can be given to planners at the strategic and operational levels who seemed hell-bent on carrying out the operation ...

... and in the case of Son Tay we have in Brig Gen Blackburn's own words (http://www.benning.army.mil/library/content/Virtual/Documents/Son%20Tay%20Raid%20Panel%20Discussion.pdf):

And the sum of the substance was that if we didn't do it now, we would never be able to pull this thing together later on.

How was "troublesome" INT dealt with on Market Garden?

"... the 10 September 21st Army Group intelligence summary (INTSUM) stated that “elements of the Second SS Panzer Corps, the 9th (Hohenstaufen) and 10th (Frundsberg) S Panzer Divisions, were reported to be refitting in the Arnhem area.”

Major Brian Urquhart, the staff intelligence officer for the 1st British Airborne Corps personally ensured that Browning saw the 10 September INTSUM but was told by Browning “that the reports were probably wrong, and that in any case the German troops were refitting and probably not up to much fighting.”
To convince Browning otherwise, Major Urquhart ordered that oblique photographs be taken of German troops in the area of the Arnhem drop zone
from low altitude. The pictures confirmed the 10 September INTSUM and showed German tanks and armored vehicles parked under the trees within easy range of the 1st Airborne Division’s main drop zone. Browning again dismissed this evidence.

Then from Son Tay (Amidon (http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/parameters/Articles/05autumn/amidon.pdf)):

When faced with the unwanted report that the camp was empty, General Blackburn asked his DIA intelligence team: “How in the hell they could make heads or tails of the data? He was flabbergasted by their interpretation. One minute they were sure the prisoners were gone, the next they were suspicious they had moved back into Son Tay.” This caustic reaction was prompted by intelligence that did not fit the desired picture. The implied message to the “dissenters” was, “I will stop yelling at you when you tell me what I want to hear.”

So that's how Blackburn dealt with the troublesome 'messenger' what did Browning do?

Browning dismissed his (Urquhart's) claims and ordered the division's senior medical officer to send Urquhart on sick leave on account of 'nervous strain and exhaustion.'

Tragically similar isn't it. Quite impossible for two separate events totally unconnected to each other to coincidentally be so similar. Any serious officer should study this phenomenon so as to be able to identify it should it rear its ugly head during the course of his career.

Any other contributions of similar occurrences of this phenomenon?

JMA
11-13-2011, 03:40 PM
You contiinue to post in this thread, over and over, that there was confirmation the prisoners were moved.

A single source report from a HUMINT asset is not confirmation of anything, yet you continue to toss your hand in with the conspiracy theorist lot who believe that report sealed the deal.

Do you understand that your argument hinges on that weakness right now?

I nearly missed this.

Major, let me help you with a simple timeline:

* Air photography in May 1970 identified the presence of US POWs in Son Tay on the following basis (http://www.psywarrior.com/sontay.html):

At Son Tay, 23 miles from Hanoi, one photograph identified a large "K" - a code for "come get us" - drawn in the dirt.

* To study the feasibility of a raid, CJCS Wheeler authorized a 15-member planning group under the codename Polar Circle that convened on June 10. The study group, after a review of all available intelligence, concluded that Son Tay contained 61 POWs.

* July 14 POWs moved from Son Tay

* Finally, in late July 1970, a Joint Contingency Task Group was formed and the operation received the code name Ivory Coast. Moorer briefed Laird on Ivory Coast and Laird immediately approved formation, training, and support of the rescue group.

* 21 November 1970 the Raid on an 'empty' POW camp went ahead.

So what does that tell you?

It tells you that all of the 'stack' of evidence indicating that the POWs were at Son Tay they had dated after 14 July was nothing but dead wrong... or as they say in the classics, nothing but hot steaming horsesh*t.

Not only that, Adm Train is on record as follows:

In a 1993 book, Admiral Train admitted: “Twelve hours before the raid we had fairly high confidence that [Son Tay] was empty. The photography showed the grass had not been walked on in ten days. On the basis of the photographic evidence alone we knew that it was empty.” (my emphasis)

So I suggest major instead of getting picky with me over the available intel why not question how the charade was able to continue after the camp emptied on 14 July up until the actual raid on 21 November.

Little wonder the following:

The intensity of the criticism, and leaks of information including reports of the operation, caused the Nixon Administration to reorganize both the military communications network and the government's intelligence apparatus.

I hope you are now able to see where the real weakness lies.

JMA
11-13-2011, 04:13 PM
No, and my answer was not one either.

Could have fooled me.

The bulk of my work has been small team work and I do not buy into the false hierarchy of strategy>operations>tactics in terms of social standing. ;)

'in terms of social standing' ? No idea what you mean.

Walking a mile in the shoes of others....I suspect that you and I are not aware of the context and nuances involved in the formulation of the Admiral's decision.

Your man Colin Powell once said:

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.

In other words cut through the crap and get to the crux of the matter. Moorer should have done this, he failed.

You are talking about the CJCS, he should be a quite exceptional person and not unable to make even the most basic decision.

We are also aware that POW's and fellow soldiers want to know that they (and theirs) are not going to be left out in the wind with no concern as to their welfare.

You do the best you can to bring them home. In the case of Son Tay it was merely a gesture. It also blew any chance of actually bringing any POWs home as the North Vietnamese they were moved beyond reach. Asl any POW would they have preferred a handful being brought home or just a token gesture?

Not to put too fine a point on it but, as you know better than I most probably, battlefields are tough places where tough calls are made and horrible things regularly happen. The Admiral made a tough call, and from this armchair it appears to have been the right one.

The Admiral was also in an armchair... a comfortable one in Washington. He can claim no excuse like the fog of war etc etc. He made a bad call and has no excuses.

jmm99
11-13-2011, 07:27 PM
JMA: Train is the only point I'll respond to.

You (and everyone else) know what facts I'm relying on, what inferences I draw from those facts, and the ultimate conclusions I reach from those inferences.

I did do an online search last nite re: then (1970) Capt. Harry Train - retired an O-10 - and found little online about his tour with Moorer; and nothing to show that he was in or out of the decision-making loops in 1970. Mitchell does not mention him at all; nor does Blackburn.

Train's 1993 comment is phrased in terms of "we". Who was the "we" ? Moorer and Train ? Train and his code clerk ? The salient factual question is what did Train know, what did he communicate to Moorer, and vice versa (and exactly when in 1970 did all that occur). That question is particularly important if Train in Nov 1970 firmly believed that the raid should be aborted.

Amidon's Train quote (p.8 pdf; below separating the quote from Amidon's comments) is from Vanderbrache's book (based on an interview with Train, which I couldn't find online):

Self-Censorship: Individuals with dissenting views remain silent, driven by a desire to remain a “team player” or a fear of losing influence.

In a 1993 book, Admiral Train admitted: “Twelve hours before the raid we had fairly high confidence that [Son Tay] was empty. The photography showed the grass had not been walked on in ten days. On the basis of the photographic evidence alone we knew that it was empty.”[42]

42. Vandenbroucke, pp. 65-66.

Despite being personally confident that the camp was empty, a four-star flag officer [JMM: Train was an O-6 then] remained either silent or chose not to forcefully argue his case.

If someone has more information on Train's actual role in the Son Tay mission, I'm more than willing to look at it.

The same goes for more information re: the Laird-Helms discussion (just before Laird saw Nixon) re: the Hanoi source.

Regards

Mike

jcustis
11-13-2011, 09:18 PM
So I suggest major instead of getting picky with me over the available intel why not question how the charade was able to continue after the camp emptied on 14 July up until the actual raid on 21 November.


(Yawn)

I get picky over the available intel because your line of argument through this whole thread has been plain, flat-out, terrible - just terrible. First you started to impugn Adm. Moorer's character by hanging on to a quote that he had been presented with information that the prisoners had definitely been moved. Then when the weakness of that argument was called into question, when it was made apparent to you that the single source of information from the Hanoi informant was just one piece of the puzzle, it seems you went rummaging through the internet and came up with another nugget to support your railings.

And now you seem to be retreating on the conviction of your argument. First it seemed that you were advancing the position that Adm. Moorer lacked moral courage and was therefore a moral coward, and then in your latest posts, you state that he made a bad call. Which is it? If anything, your most cogent thought in this whole discussion is that if the DIA IMINT had been properly interpreted, the raid would have never gotten off the ground. Well shut the front door! Maybe, at the end of the day, DIA is really the agency to lay the blame on. :wry:

Bad calls happen in conflict, and no amount of pillows anyone tries to wrap around our warriors can prevent them, but a moral coward?

You'd be hard pressed to find anyone in this forum who would disagree that there are perils to groupthink and hive mind planning, but what we are dealing with now in this sub-thread is the issue of whether there was absolute confirmation that the prisoners were moved, and that the planners knew this but proceeded to recommend a go to civilian leadership nonetheless. You have failed, in my opinion, to do that, but you have certainly nipped and barked as is often your modus operandi. You don't help your argument when you do that...ever.

You've paraded a single quote from a single book (attributable to Train) , and I think jmm99 has already torn your argument apart again. If you are going to rail against something, and certainly against a figure of history, you really ought to read more. If you had bothered to browse Perilous Options, you might have realized that there were indications that activity had picked up between 3 and 13 November, according to the writer's line of discussion about the DIA IMINT analysis. Even Bennett, who briefed Moorer on the "two stacks of evidence", had doubts as time wore on but seemed to decline a distinct opinion because there was a lack of more concrete evidence. I'd nod my head with you if you were making the statement that the compartmentalization of information and groupthink was the most significant lesson to be learned from Son Tay. Where you are losing any audience is when you drift off into attacks against Moorer and essentially call him an imbecile (yes, my impression and not your words) and less decisive than a 15-year old.

Which is it, because you appear to be all over the map. Was he indecisive, a careerist and morally corrupt, or not intelligent enough to be CJCS? The body of evidence, personal recollections given years after the event, and other data tell different people different things. I do not discount Train's quote about the 12-hour information (and I doubt any other folks posting to this thread discount it), but it is still the recollection of a single individual years after the event, and it is from a separate book at that. Those recollections have to be taken into consideration with the larger body of information, and frankly, you could be accused of selectively ignoring data that is counter to your view.

Mike, you find and post documents which inform on the subject then go and spoil it by selectively quoting and mixing in your own unsubstantiated conclusions. Just let the facts speak for themselves.

I presume that if you followed your own advice, you wouldn't have anything to say.

I am reminded of why I tried to stay out of threads where you post. You came in with a very clear mindset, started swirling around and breaking the shop's china when others offered a contrarian point of view (which is fine, by the way), and at the end of things we haven't actually gotten anywhere.

And bristling at Surferbeetle's comments took it to a whole new level. Really?

What this thread definitely highlights is the immutable fact that although we have the freedom to comment on history, we would be wise to be cautious and not let hindsight hamper our analysis of decision-making during volatile times.

JMA
11-13-2011, 11:12 PM
JMA: Train is the only point I'll respond to.

Mike,

You are wise to limit your response.

Read Amidon and you will find the following on page 124:

Admiral Harry D. Train, at that time the Executive Assistant to Admiral Moorer, …

So I suggest that you ask around to find out the duties of the Executive Assistant to the CJCS to establish how Train is able to use the word ‘we’ in this comments.

That will solve your problem.

You see Mike, Moorer became CJCS in early July 1970 and as the the POWs were moved on 14 July there is no chance that in the four months prior to the raid going ahead on 21 November 1970 there was no chance that concrete confirmation of the actual presence of US POWs in Son Tay could have been provided.

Where Train is valuable is that in his comment (which some seem as desperate to disregard as Blackburn was with the HUMINT on D-2) he indicated that:

The photography showed the grass had not been walked on in ten days.

From this can be deduced that (despite the weather issues) there were in fact two sets of photos taken. One on or around the 10th of November with a second set taken ten days later to allow for the comparison Train speaks of.

Would it be unreasonable to expect Moorer to call for actual proof of POW presence in Son Tay before going to the President seeking final mission approval for the raid on 18 November? In fact Amidon states:

The lack of activity at the Son Tay camp was not revealed at this meeting—the President authorized transmission of the “execute” message later that afternoon.

So what (without me reverting to recommend asking a 15 year old) would/could the lack of activity in a POW camp supposedly housing 60 odd POWs mean?

The position of Moorer just gets worse and worse.

May I suggest that you reverse your lawyers ‘cap’ and take a look into where the problems were with the planning of the Son Tay raid. The result may well be very interesting.

JMA
11-13-2011, 11:15 PM
(Yawn)

Major, this is the second time you have come out shooting from the hip in response to my postings and embarrassed yourself.

So now you attempt to redeem yourself by attempting to discredit me. If you had read the sources listed by Mike and maybe done a little research for yourself (call it rummaging through the internet if you will) you will have (or should have) realised that the INT was so thin as to the presence of POWs in Son Tay that no responsible commander would have allowed any of his soldiers and airmen to have taken part in such an ill advised and risky operation (possibly the most audacious and potentially risky operation ever undertaken by US forces).

Now how come you failed to identify the critical fact in all this and that being that it was later confirmed that the camp had been vacated on 14 July?

That would have informed you that it was impossible for Moorer to have received confirmation of the actual presence of POWs in the camp prior to seeking final mission approval from the president.

Why too, do you think Moorer elected not to inform the President of the ‘lack of activity’ in the camp?

Do you think Moorer’s actions were those one should be reasonably expect from a CJCS? Clearly not.

Finally your comment about reading Perilous Options (Vandenbroucke’s book) is plain ridiculous. Mike was unable to find it online yet I am supposed to have a copy on my bookshelf??? I thought we had got past the ‘activity’ issue to the point where actual confirmation of POW occupation was needed (as was possible back in May 1970 when there were POWs in the camp).

jcustis
11-13-2011, 11:35 PM
Finally your comment about reading Perilous Options (Vandenbroucke’s book) is plain ridiculous. Mike was unable to find it online yet I am supposed to have a copy on my bookshelf??? I thought we had got past the ‘activity’ issue to the point where actual confirmation of POW occupation was needed (as was possible back in May 1970 when there were POWs in the camp).

Uhhh, you could have found the relevant part here: http://books.google.com/books?id=RWnSJjSwC8IC&pg=PA66&lpg=PA66&dq=;perilous+options+train&source=bl&ots=rUmNuMaOjK&sig=1d59OCQp7Bf7oaz3ueSZ7UrjoE8&hl=en&ei=dlHATuPcIuqqiALE7MSpAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false.

I believe Mike was referring to the actual interview.

So now you attempt to redeem yourself by attempting to discredit me. If you had read the sources listed by Mike and maybe done a little research for yourself (call it rummaging through the internet if you will) you will have (or should have) realised that the INT was so thin as to the presence of POWs in Son Tay that no responsible commander would have allowed any of his soldiers and airmen to have taken part in such an ill advised and risky operation (possibly the most audacious and potentially risky operation ever undertaken by US forces).

I don't have a desire to discredit you. You do a fine job of that all by yourself.

Your presumption that I would conclude the intelligence to be too thin is pretty sweeping. I think you are overly risk-averse, so I understand how that could frame your views and your opinion of what a responsible commander looks like, but you really shouldn't let your values, opinions, and judgment speak for what posters should or shouldn't be inclined to think.

It would be better to simply say, "I wouldn't have done that," and call it a day. Instead you are just incredulous that others might disagree with you. It's okay, really. it happens often here.

Where at that link do I find the piece about "... there were indications that activity had picked up between 3 and 13 November... "?

C'mon, read the darn thing.

Do you think Moorer’s actions were those one should be reasonably expect from a CJCS? Clearly not.

Which actions? Again, you've been all over the map, so clarify what you are talking about.

Now how come you failed to identify the critical fact in all this and that being that it was later confirmed that the camp had been vacated on 14 July?

That would have informed you that it was impossible for Moorer to have received confirmation of the actual presence of POWs in the camp prior to seeking final mission approval from the president.

What is your definition of confirmation? A POW waving into the night as an SR-71 flew overhead? I for sure am not talking about that level of intel, and I surmise that the planners did not believe they needed that standard to be able to advocate a go for the mission. You may be prescribing that standard here, and that's okay, but the whole point to this discussion is what the planners knew, when they knew it, and what other information impacted in the decision-making process (there was a lot).

I think it's fair to say that there were a significant number of details, decisions and factors impacting on the process at the time, and there is a wide range of potentially contradictory information that exist. I still believe that the planners tried to make conscientious decisions in the process. You don't seem to think so, and again, that's fine, but don't be surprised that you're expected to bring your A-game when making weighty posts like you have, and to defend your point of view with information.

At the end of the day, I don't believe Moorer to be a moral coward, imbecile, or unintelligent, and the contrasting viewpoints in this thread simply demonstrate the beauty of how people can come to different conclusions over the same bit of information.

JMA
11-13-2011, 11:45 PM
Uhhh, you could have found the relevant part here: http://books.google.com/books?id=RWnSJjSwC8IC&pg=PA66&lpg=PA66&dq=;perilous+options+train&source=bl&ots=rUmNuMaOjK&sig=1d59OCQp7Bf7oaz3ueSZ7UrjoE8&hl=en&ei=dlHATuPcIuqqiALE7MSpAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false.

Where at that link do I find the piece about "... there were indications that activity had picked up between 3 and 13 November... "?

jmm99
11-14-2011, 03:01 AM
from JMA
So I suggest that you ask around to find out the duties of the Executive Assistant to the CJCS to establish how Train is able to use the word ‘we’ in this comments.

That will solve your problem.

Unless you are blowing smoke, you have already focused on Train's duties and the evidence that he performed them in the period July-Nov 1970.

1. Spell out Train's duties you believe are material to your position; and

2. The evidence that Train performed them.

Regards

Mike

jmm99
11-14-2011, 03:47 AM
is what I'd like to read. From Vandenbroucke, p.204 snip:

1521

Regards

Mike

JMA
11-14-2011, 06:49 AM
Unless you are blowing smoke, you have already focused on Train's duties and the evidence that he performed them in the period July-Nov 1970.

1. Spell out Train's duties you believe are material to your position; and

2. The evidence that Train performed them.

Regards

Mike

No Mike, the onus is not on me for this.

To me it is self evident what the duties of staff officers are having served with a wartime Brigade HQ 30 odd years ago. It appears that you do not understand the function of 'staff'. You then need to read up on it (enough in the public domain) to realise that Adm Train (or whatever his rank was at the time he served on Moorer's staff) could well have been in the loop with the unfolding Son Tay developments. The bottom line is that there is no reason to question the integrity of Train's quoted response in the Vandenbroucke interview.

To support this last sentence of mine I refer to Amidon:

Out-group Stereotypes: The inputs of individuals outside the group are not valued if they do not conform to the group’s view. Although mission planners had repeatedly lamented the lack of HUMINT and the overreliance on technical means, when the HUMINT contradicted their desire to “go,” the HUMINT was ignored. Twenty-six years later, in a 1996 interview, former Secretary of Defense Laird said that when presented with the information from the Hanoi HUMINT source, he did not judge it to be accurate or believable.

In the context of this SWC discussion you (and others) are treating Adm Train in this manner. I note with interest the difference in your handling of the choice items you cherry picked from the various texts you quoted and Train's comments. Would you be happy to just ignore Train's input (for fear of where it will lead) as Moorer/Blackburn/Bennett did with the HUMIT for Son Tay and Browning did with the evidence of two Panzer Divisions around Arnhem?

A case study in group think is developing nicely around this thread and the spirted defense of Moorer. Fascinating.

JMA
11-14-2011, 12:18 PM
Methinks you edited and lengthened this post after my first response, no matter...

I don't have a desire to discredit you. You do a fine job of that all by yourself.

Can you hear the one hand clapping?

Your presumption that I would conclude the intelligence to be too thin is pretty sweeping.

I was merely assuming that you had the smarts to know that but... go on prove me wrong then.

I think you are overly risk-averse, ...

Me, risk averse? Got the wrong guy in mind. I can think of a couple of hundred people who would find that pretty funny. Been called a lot of things in my time (both good and bad) but never risk averse.

... so I understand how that could frame your views and your opinion of what a responsible commander looks like, but you really shouldn't let your values, opinions, and judgment speak for what posters should or shouldn't be inclined to think.

You need help again. This time read your own manual FM 6.0 (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/6-0/chap2.htm) about the difference between taking a calculated risk and a gamble:

2-94. A calculated risk is not the same as a military gamble. A calculated risk is an exposure to chance of injury or loss when the commander can visualize the outcome in terms of mission accomplishment or damage to the force, and judges the outcome as worth the cost. Taking a calculated risk is acceptable. A military gamble is a decision in which a commander risks the force without a reasonable level of information about the outcome. In the case of a military gamble, the commander decides based on hope rather than reason. The situations that justify a military gamble occur when defeat or destruction of the friendly force is only a matter of time and the only chance for mission accomplishment or preservation of the force lies in the gamble.

Got the picture now?

It would be better to simply say, "I wouldn't have done that," and call it a day. Instead you are just incredulous that others might disagree with you. It's okay, really. it happens often here.

Incredulous that you and others seem to be so imperceptive so as to fail to pick up on the key aspects of this issue and continue to blindly argue in favour of a man who when his moment came failed to make the most simple decision. (This is why I referred to the book; The Stress Effect: Why Smart Leaders Make Dumb Decisions (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stress-Effect-Smart-Leaders-Decisions/dp/0470589035/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321270918&sr=1-1))

Officers are (or should be) judged on their ability to apply good judgement and display a keen ability to quickly and accurately grasp the critical elements of a given situation. Not too much of that around here sadly.

Which actions? Again, you've been all over the map, so clarify what you are talking about.

If you have been reading this thread you will know what actions I have commented on.

What is your definition of confirmation? A POW waving into the night as an SR-71 flew overhead?

Silly.

I for sure am not talking about that level of intel, and I surmise that the planners did not believe they needed that standard to be able to advocate a go for the mission.

Here you surmise in favour of three people (Moorer/Blackburn/Bennett) who got it badly wrong. What was the standard they applied in May 1970 when the reached the decision that 61 POWs were in Son Tay?

You seem unable to grasp that after the operational planning got under way and picked up momentum (like with Market Garden) the boot moved to the wrong foot in that the INTEL people had to prove the camp was empty rather than merely cast reasonable doubt as to a POW presence (which given the location of Son Tay and all the related risks) which would have led to an abort.

You may be prescribing that standard here, and that's okay, but the whole point to this discussion is what the planners knew, when they knew it, and what other information impacted in the decision-making process (there was a lot).

And the bad news is that Adm Train (the man whose testimony you all want to just go away) indicates what they knew and when they knew it.

I think it's fair to say that there were a significant number of details, decisions and factors impacting on the process at the time, and there is a wide range of potentially contradictory information that exist.

I'm sure you think that but I'm not sure you could support that with any concrete facts, could you?

I still believe that the planners tried to make conscientious decisions in the process. You don't seem to think so, and again, that's fine, but don't be surprised that you're expected to bring your A-game when making weighty posts like you have, and to defend your point of view with information.

I seldom enter the fray if I don't have the ammunition to support my case. I stated that Moorer made an imbecilic decision (along the lines of The Stress Effect: Why Smart Leaders Make Dumb Decisions) which could be explained by his being newly appointed, the Peter Principle kicking in or a range of other reasons.

At the end of the day, I don't believe Moorer to be a moral coward, imbecile, or unintelligent, and the contrasting viewpoints in this thread simply demonstrate the beauty of how people can come to different conclusions over the same bit of information.

You don't believe or you don't want to believe? Now your problem would come if you were asked to substantiate that.

jcustis
11-14-2011, 01:51 PM
What is your definition of confirmation? A POW waving into the night as an SR-71 flew overhead?
Silly.

I was being flippant to make a point, but are you going to answer the question? It was still directed at you and was not rhetorical.

What standard do you believe they should have used to achieve confirmation or denial? A single source HUMINT report? A knock at the front gate?

And don't reply with, "well, the intel should have been better than what they had," because that's just moving the goal posts in circles. We know they should have had better intel, and there hasn't been anyone in this thread who has said otherwise.

Quote:
At the end of the day, I don't believe Moorer to be a moral coward, imbecile, or unintelligent, and the contrasting viewpoints in this thread simply demonstrate the beauty of how people can come to different conclusions over the same bit of information.

You don't believe or you don't want to believe?


You really don't have any idea how this discourse is supposed to work right now, do you? You are just talking in circles at this point.

I...don't...believe...Moorer...to...be...a...moral ...coward...imbecile...or..unintelligent.

Now your problem would come if you were asked to substantiate that.

I don't need to. I have substantiated it already, at least the reason why I come to that conclusion.

I put the Vandenbroucke material on the end of spoon for you. Did you even read it and find the reference to the point made about the 3-13 November activity?

jmm99
11-14-2011, 03:43 PM
I called; you didn't show the cards - end game.

Regards

Mike

JMA
11-14-2011, 04:01 PM
I called; you didn't show the cards - end game.

Regards

Mike

I was supposed to produce the transcript of Vandenbroucke's interview with Train?

You're joking right?

Surferbeetle
11-14-2011, 04:42 PM
I was supposed to produce the transcript of Vandenbroucke's interview with Train?

You're joking right?

Hmmm...so then, your considered analysis still boils down to unsubstantiated allegations, with a baseline of 'leave the POWs to the tender mercies of their captors'?

Poor form at best.

JMA
11-14-2011, 04:47 PM
What standard do you believe they should have used to achieve confirmation or denial? A single source HUMINT report? A knock at the front gate?

You are being silly again.

My standard is unimportant... and your demand for such is an attempt to draw that into the discussion is just a red herring.

The simple fact is that after 14 July 1970 for the four months and one week until the raid went ahead on 21 November 1970 no INTEL was produced to prove the camp was still occupied by US POWs. In other words no confirmatory INTEL.

In fact the evidence of a POW presence had deteriorated to so tenuous a level that Pres Nixon was deliberately deceived by not being informed of either the lack of activity in the camp nor the HUMINT report that the POWs had been moved.

To help you obtain a simple grasp of the Son Tay issue I suggest you read Amidon's document. You really need to attempt to approach this in an investigative and enquiring manner rather than mere resort to high school debating tactics driven by a desire to be blindly loyal to a man who screwed up big time.

JMA
11-14-2011, 05:10 PM
Hmmm...so then, your considered analysis still boils down to unsubstantiated allegations, with a baseline of 'leave the POWs to the tender mercies of their captors'?

Poor form at best.

Look I don't understand your inability to understand the most simple truth... and that being the camp was empty. There were no POW's there... the evidence points to that this was known by Moorer/Blackburn/Bennett before the raid was launched. Yet it went ahead placing the soldiers and airmen involved at an unacceptable risk on a fruitless exercise.

The charade of Son Tay resulted in the consolidation of US POWs to location beyond the reach of rescue.

If you want to do it you need to do it right but with the best will in the world and the best troops it is the string of intelligence failures and severe limitations in the top levels of US military command (at the time) that made these kind of operations a near impossibility to conduct effectively.

jmm99
11-14-2011, 05:45 PM
p.65 (p.64 is unavailable from Google)

1522

Best I can do given attachment limits (enlarge your view to 150% or so).

and p.66

1525

and p.67

1526

Regards

Mike

JMA
11-14-2011, 05:53 PM
p.65 (p.64 is unavailable from Google)

What link are you using for these?

jmm99
11-14-2011, 09:52 PM
JMA: based on the ad hominems you've been tossing at me for the last couple of days, I don't think I owe you the time of day or a link.

For the benefit of the others here, go to Google Books, Perilous options: special operations as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy By Lucien S. Vandenbroucke (url (http://books.google.com/books?id=RWnSJjSwC8IC&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=vandenbroucke+%22son+tay%22+moorer+train&source=bl&ots=rUmNvKaKqL&sig=SIhjfI7aOXrgQb_lzFIxLzSBfPc&hl=en&ei=rYjBTuDBEubfsQK31fyfBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false) on my computer - it goes to Page 200 - use "Previous Page" on the right of Page 200 to get to pages 65-67).

Vandenbroucke was a State Dept. guy who generally took a negative view of special ops because of what he believed to be their negative impact on US foreign policy.

Regards

Mike

Stan
11-14-2011, 10:50 PM
Vandenbroucke was a State Dept. guy who generally took a negative view of special ops because of what he believed to be their negative impact on US foreign policy.


Mike,
It probably won't surprise you when I tell you most State P**ks still have a negative view and they are constantly telling us "other than State personnel" about our negative impact on foreign policy. It would be the chargé d’affaires who told us the Rwandan refugee crisis will last "two weeks tops" in July of 94 :D

Regards, Stan

JMA
11-15-2011, 04:40 AM
JMA: based on the ad hominems you've been tossing at me for the last couple of days, I don't think I owe you the time of day or a link.

Mike, with respect to you and given your approach to this thread being rather as one would expect from Moorer's legal team rather than someone attempting to find the truth you have hitherto got off lightly IMHO.

FWIW I have attempted to read the preview link and using three browsers (IE. Safari, Firefox) I continue to get 'No Preview Available' so must make do with the three pages you posted.

For the benefit of the others here, go to Google Books, Perilous options: special operations as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy By Lucien S. Vandenbroucke (url (http://books.google.com/books?id=RWnSJjSwC8IC&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=vandenbroucke+%22son+tay%22+moorer+train&source=bl&ots=rUmNvKaKqL&sig=SIhjfI7aOXrgQb_lzFIxLzSBfPc&hl=en&ei=rYjBTuDBEubfsQK31fyfBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false) on my computer - it goes to Page 200 - use "Previous Page" on the right of Page 200 to get to pages 65-67).

Yep, I get no preview available.

So... from the attached pages we learn...

According to Secretary Laird's military assistant, Brigadier General Robert Pursely, DIA told Laird and him before the operation that, "the chance that prisoners were still in he camp was, at best, 10 or 15 percent.

and Moorer:

"I argued more strongly than all the others that we should go in and conduct the rescue mission ... We had some doubts the POWs were there, but the forces were poised to go and there was some possibility the POWs were still there."

In post #4 to this thread I said the following:

Having been involved in some raid activity myself it is the waiting that gets to you. You want to get it done and over with. Son Tay had a specific weather/moon phase window of opportunity which limited possible action to a few days in each month. They wanted to go in October but were scheduled for November. The prospect of another delay was not what the commanders (and probably the troops) wanted.

Laird/Pursely were told there was a 10-15 percent chance the POWs were still there while according to Train, he and Moorer knew the camp was empty. Yet despite this the raid went ahead.

Moorer was in a position to pull the emergency brake on a train that gathering a momentum of its own and he failed to do so and allowed himself to be swept all in the 'group-think'. As the top man in the military he failed. He failed to say:

"STOP... we are planning to do what on an empty camp 23 miles from Hanoi?"

Vandenbroucke was a State Dept. guy who generally took a negative view of special ops because of what he believed to be their negative impact on US foreign policy.

Regards

Mike

This comment on Vanderbroucke? Because he doesn't produce what you wanted you got to put the boot into him too? Very Sad.

It saddens me more than I can say that it is the behaviour of men at the top of the military (as in the example of the Son Tay Raid) that opens the door for the demand for civilian oversight and micromanagement of military operations.

Ken White
11-15-2011, 05:32 AM
Laird/Pursely were told there was a 10-15 percent chance the POWs were still there while according to Train, he and Moorer knew the camp was empty. Yet despite this the raid went ahead.While you have the luxury to discount reasons other than the PWs if you wish, the decision makers at the time did not.This comment on Vanderbroucke? Because he doesn't produce what you wanted you got to put the boot into him too? Very Sad.He did not "put the boot into him..." He disclosed a salient fact about his bias which any prudent person would consider in arriving at a judgement.

There's a lot of that bias stuff going around, though it is exposed rather than disclosed... :D

Your sweeping lack of knowledge of how US foreign and military policy are crafted -- bad choice of words there, perhaps 'clumsily assembled' is better -- is yet again noted. You are of course entitled to that lack of knowledge and even to flaunt it as you do on these little forays through fantasy land in which there are no political interferences with military operations. :rolleyes:

Though I again suggest if you wish to comment on US polices and actions intelligently or with the slightest degree of credibility you might work at becoming a bit more aware. That lack of knowledge is shown by this statement of yours:It saddens me more than I can say that it is the behaviour of men at the top of the military (as in the example of the Son Tay Raid) that opens the door for the demand for civilian oversight and micromanagement of military operations.The only sad thing in this thread is your intransigence and attempt to couch things of which you know little in terms of your own experience and denigrating the experience of others with condescension.

I suggested to you many months ago that was a mistake. It still is.

A little education is offered with faint hope it will be understood or accepted. That micromanagement of which you write began in this country during WW I. Wilson and his alter ego 'Colonel' Edward House who with no military or foreign policy experience served as Wilson's de facto national security adviser and diplomatic troubleshooter. Both of them intruded in American military affairs to an extraordinary degree during the war. They set the Stage for Franklin Roosevelt in WW II who was even more intrusive and for Lyndon Johnson who was yet again worse. So the Civilian oversight ALWAYS present in the US from 1775 forward became stifling by 1970, Nixon merely continued the interference of his predecessors . It caught up not only Son Tay, but the later Mayaguez and still later Eagle Claw -- in fact, in every US action since to include Iraq and Afghanistan, thus it still is stifling...

Having been in the US Army at the time and having known and talked to several participants as opposed to basing comments on unclassified history and articles, I'm quite certain you are wrong on Moorer's ability to halt the operation. Just that simple. While your simplistic tactical approach to the issue may seem to have some merit in your eyes, in the eyes of anyone who has the slightest idea of how the US Government works it will be seen as just that, simplistic and tactical. No matter, you can of course believe what you wish for whatever reason you wish to do so. Still, I again suggest that if you wish to comment on US policy and methods, you ought to know a bit more about the monster and the bureaucracy that feeds it.

Where is blueblood? No matter, I'll quote him:

"So what's with the holier than thou nature?"

Misifus
11-15-2011, 03:14 PM
I'm not an expert on this subject, but if the boss came to me and said...

"Hey guys, it looks like there is only a slight chance that our guys are still at the camp. Do we go or shall we cancel"?

My reaction would be, "Let's go get our guys."

JMA
11-15-2011, 03:33 PM
I noticed you had taken up position waiting for your moment to pounce so I through the bait in the other thread to lure the vulture down... and it worked. You are so predictable Ken

While you have the luxury to discount reasons other than the PWs if you wish, the decision makers at the time did not.He did not "put the boot into him..." He disclosed a salient fact about his bias which any prudent person would consider in arriving at a judgement.

There's a lot of that bias stuff going around, though it is exposed rather than disclosed... :D

Your sweeping lack of knowledge of how US foreign and military policy are crafted -- bad choice of words there, perhaps 'clumsily assembled' is better -- is yet again noted. You are of course entitled to that lack of knowledge and even to flaunt it as you do on these little forays through fantasy land in which there are no political interferences with military operations. :rolleyes:

Though I again suggest if you wish to comment on US polices and actions intelligently or with the slightest degree of credibility you might work at becoming a bit more aware. That lack of knowledge is shown by this statement of yours:The only sad thing in this thread is your intransigence and attempt to couch things of which you know little in terms of your own experience and denigrating the experience of others with condescension.

I suggested to you many months ago that was a mistake. It still is.

A little education is offered with faint hope it will be understood or accepted. That micromanagement of which you write began in this country during WW I. Wilson and his alter ego 'Colonel' Edward House who with no military or foreign policy experience served as Wilson's de facto national security adviser and diplomatic troubleshooter. Both of them intruded in American military affairs to an extraordinary degree during the war. They set the Stage for Franklin Roosevelt in WW II who was even more intrusive and for Lyndon Johnson who was yet again worse. So the Civilian oversight ALWAYS present in the US from 1775 forward became stifling by 1970, Nixon merely continued the interference of his predecessors . It caught up not only Son Tay, but the later Mayaguez and still later Eagle Claw -- in fact, in every US action since to include Iraq and Afghanistan, thus it still is stifling...

Having been in the US Army at the time and having known and talked to several participants as opposed to basing comments on unclassified history and articles, I'm quite certain you are wrong on Moorer's ability to halt the operation. Just that simple. While your simplistic tactical approach to the issue may seem to have some merit in your eyes, in the eyes of anyone who has the slightest idea of how the US Government works it will be seen as just that, simplistic and tactical. No matter, you can of course believe what you wish for whatever reason you wish to do so. Still, I again suggest that if you wish to comment on US policy and methods, you ought to know a bit more about the monster and the bureaucracy that feeds it.

Where is blueblood? No matter, I'll quote him:

"So what's with the holier than thou nature?"

Once again you take it upon yourself to set me right on an issue.

All this does display is how US-centric your view point is to the exclusion of reality and common sense. You demean yourself in the process (even if you can't see that).

It seems everything (and I mean everything) can be excused with the simple retort you just don't understand the US system etc etc.

But you fail to note that the majority of the world's population is not trapped in and by the US system so are able to see through the crappy excuses to where the real problems lie.

Every time there is a mark 1 cock-up mentioned it is met with the usual "but you don't understand our complex systems". A cock-up is a cock-up (whatever the reason) and that is the hard truth.

Son Tay was an audacious concept which degenerated into a case study of planning failure due to Group-think and weak leadership. The world knows this but only the Americans in mental lock step with the officially applied spin are in denial. Sad, very sad.

Steve Blair
11-15-2011, 03:54 PM
I'm seeing little of actual value in this thread aside from the usual sniping. Cease and desist. Otherwise this gets the same lock Dave applied so judiciously to the Revolution in America thread.

JMA
11-15-2011, 03:54 PM
I'm not an expert on this subject, but if the boss came to me and said...

"Hey guys, it looks like there is only a slight chance that our guys are still at the camp. Do we go or shall we cancel"?

My reaction would be, "Let's go get our guys."

Maybe your reaction should then be to put in for a transfer because a smart boss would have said:

"We are aborting the Son Tay raid as we no longer are sure there are POWs there. We have identified Dong Hoi as live and are going there in a month or so."

No expertise needed... just a lick of sense.

Ken White
11-15-2011, 04:07 PM
I noticed you had taken up position waiting for your moment to pounce so I through the bait in the other thread to lure the vulture down... and it worked. You are so predictable Ken Actually it did not -- I posted in the order I read the threads -- so yet again and as so often occurs due to your penchant for charging blindly and self righteously, you're wrong... :DOnce again you take it upon yourself to set me right on an issue.Nasty, fruitless job but some has to do it. Actually, I'm not alone in that quest. A number of folks here have tried to do that. You pay little attention to them either.All this does display is how US-centric your view point is to the exclusion of reality and common sense. You demean yourself in the process (even if you can't see that).Not really. I'm simply attempting -- quite unsuccessfully I note -- trying to keep you from continually doing just that to yourself.It seems everything (and I mean everything) can be excused with the simple retort you just don't understand the US system etc etc.That's another untruth or shading of the truth. Not everything but indeed a number of things on which you choose to comment about the US. Ignorance shows...But you fail to note that the majority of the world's population is not trapped in and by the US system so are able to see through the crappy excuses to where the real problems lie.You and that rest of the world also fail to note that those aren't excuses, they are reasons and that we are well aware of and tolerate, even welcome, that dysfunction because it is offset by a number of to us, advantages. That's where much misunderstanding originates.Every time there is a mark 1 cock-up mentioned it is met with the usual "but you don't understand our complex systems". A cock-up is a cock-up (whatever the reason) and that is the hard truth.Nah, that's also untrue -- I only mention that when you miss the boat on an issue to which it applies. You get more right than a you do wrong but when you err, you tend to do it spectacularly. Cock-ups are often in the eye of beholders. In this issue, you see a cock-up, full stop. As the full story is not yet unclassified, others are suggesting you should not rush to judgement and doing so in several different ways for several different reasons. I strongly doubt this is a case of 'Everyone's wrong but JMA...'Son Tay was an audacious concept which degenerated into a case study of planning failure due to Group-think and weak leadership. The world knows this but only the Americans in mental lock step with the officially applied spin are in denial. Sad, very sad.Officially applied spin? Seems to me that your application of a cock-up label is predicated on cherry picking US sources. :wry:

If it's sad, why do you relish it so? :D

Crocodile tears are unbecoming...;)

Ken White
11-15-2011, 04:10 PM
I'm seeing little of actual value in this thread aside from the usual sniping. Guilty -- and departing.

bourbon
11-15-2011, 05:09 PM
I have not read it, but I recently noticed this in bookstore:

The Quiet Professional: Major Richard J. Meadows of the U.S. Army Special Forces, by Alan Hoe. The University Press of Kentucky, 2011.

The author is a veteran of Special Air Service and first met Meadows in 1960 during Meadows’ exchange with SAS. Saw there was a chapter on the Son Tay raid.

Misifus
11-15-2011, 05:57 PM
...No expertise needed... just a lick of sense.

Judging from your attitude and vitriolic responses on this thread, it's apparent that you are the one who requires a "lick of sense."

Now go ES&D.

Steve Blair
11-15-2011, 06:30 PM
Ok...time for a cooldown. This thread's locked.