Michael D. Moberly March 9, 2016 ‘A blog where attention span really matters’!
For the relatively small percentage of U.S. male citizens who entered military service…between 1965-1971, i.e., ‘baby boomers’, those who were assigned to – received infantry training assumed it was foreordained they would be serving in Vietnam in some combat role. Not surprisingly, almost all did so with little or no personal or direct experience with the emotional – intellectual differentials of actual combat and the wars’ theater, i.e., its people, history, culture, climate, and terrain, etc.
And, as in most wars and combat operations, but perhaps the Vietnam War particularly, preparing combat soldiers for entering the fatiguing environs of what is essentially a two-season climate, i.e., hot-dry – rainy-humid while being emotionally and physically prepared to engage or be engaged by adversaries who, in most instances were undistinguishable, but never-the-less willing and eager to harm – kill American soldiers. And, as in many instances, perhaps particularly combat, all the preparatory training completed and personal confidence one may have acquired as an outcome, for some, little may actually internalize or translate, unless – until they actually become fully emerged – engaged in all its realities and ultimately called upon to perform rapidly and effectively.
Perhaps necessarily so, infantry soldier preparatory training…as we knew it then, (1965-1973) was very structured. It encompassed some ‘things’ which many were hard pressed, at the time to find relevance, while other training involved mock-up (faux) exposures to combat like circumstances which largely focused on avoiding, mitigating, and surviving what the training regimen and military instructors characterized as variants of vulnerabilities and risks associated with combat in Vietnam, To be sure, the training was sporadically interspersed with, presumably embellished, anecdotes, e.g., the stealth, tactics, and ‘larger-than-life’ battle performance of the soon to be adversaries, which, at the time, were quite bewildering and disconcerting
In the Vietnam War…not unlike other wars – combat circumstances I presume, following one’s first visual of and/or contact with adversaries in combat, death, or the experience associated with incoming and/or returning weapons fire (intangibles), for a significant percentage, manifested as life – emotion – thought altering experiences (intangibles), usually with some level of conscious – sub-conscious permanency. For some combat veterans, such circumstances have been emotionally destabilizing, particularly if re-visited or conscious efforts made to psychologically reconcile observations and/or actions.
I have observed many infantry trainees, perhaps I should include myself, who, at 18 years of age, had yet to fully grasp, variously due to maturation and an abundance of self-confidence (intangibles) that, following the mandated 9 weeks of (infantry specific) training one would presumably possess the ability to physically and emotionally transition rapidly (intangibles) to activities that were utterly counter to their ‘life normalities’ prior to arriving in Vietnam, i.e., the inhospitable environs and extraordinary and largely unforgiving challenges associated with war and combat.
And, upon arrival as a f….ing new guy in a (Vietnam) combat unit, suddenly there was an absence of ‘life normalities’ aside from what one was willing – able to stow in their ruck sack. Adding to this wonderment, which evidence remains ample, is that, for a significant percentage of replacements, had, just days before, been their first ever ‘plane ride’ all-be-it a 15-hour duration air shuttle service from east-west coast bases in the U.S. to Vietnam. It is during that plane ride that one’s thoughts – feelings (intangibles) about the onset of and coping with their new realities often began to manifest.
Mr. Moberly is an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist and author of ‘Safeguarding Intangible Assets’ published by Elsevier in 2014, email@example.com View Mr. Moberly’s videos on YouTube at ‘Safeguarding Intangible Assets’. This post represents some of Mr. Moberly’s writing about his experiences in Vietnam as a combat soldier assigned to the 173d Airborne Brigade in 1969.