Archive for 'Vietnam War Combat Veterans'

Vietnam War Veterans…Intangible Expectations Returning Home

April 8th, 2016. Published under Analysis and commentary, Vietnam War Combat Veterans. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly April 8, 2016 ‘A blog where attention span really matters’!

First, an analogy for reader consideration…your brother, sister, son, or daughter just returned from a successful – injury free expedition that culminated in reaching the summit of Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. It’s likely many trepidations were expressed in advance of the expedition, by loved ones and others citing their perspectives of the associated risks and dangers. Upon the mountaineers’ safe and scheduled return home 3-4 weeks later, they could anticipate friends and loved ones who opted not to participate in the expedition will seek their presence to ask many questions on a range of minutia, e.g., the mountaineer’s preparation, the climb itself, and their thoughts upon reaching the summit that expound upon their consistent social media interactions with ‘friends’ throughout.

For the mountaineer, the barrage of questions would likely be conveyed with genuine eagerness and their responses replete with descriptive (mountaineering) terms which for most, there would be a commonality of interpretation and perhaps relatable personal experience to draw upon for clarity.

For many Vietnam War combat soldiers returning home to physical safety…perhaps understandably, held expectations there would be comparable displays of interest, or more correctly stated, what one perceived our fathers experienced returning home from WWII. I have learned, not surprisingly, some returning (Vietnam War) combat veterans held expectations their homecoming may include a celebratory tone embedded with a genuinely conveyed interest in what they had experienced, endured, and ultimately survived to talk about following a 52-week deployment with a personal departure date replete with ifs, ands, and buts.

If-when genuine inquiries did manifest for returning Vietnam War combat soldiers…the dialogue-narrative would likely be cautious initially interspersed with varying levels of soberness, solemnness, and unease. Just as frequently though, inquires could assume a presumptive tone, after all, the Vietnam War is frequently characterized as the U.S.’s first ‘televised war’, so many individuals elected to engage conversations with perspectives already formed – framed from 90 second snippets on evening news broadcasts, which at the time, there cable 24/7 news options.

A combat veteran’s response to any inquiry would likely be peppered with the distinctive vernacular of the Vietnam War and combat, i.e., descriptive words and language which at first blush may appear to be crude, callous, and perhaps insensitive to the circumstances they recently left, aside from the camaraderie within their unit. For a questioner – listener such descriptive language may be met with little commonality of interpretation or understanding wherein they would sense sufficient comfort to engage in follow-up questions or conversation to seek understanding and clarification.

Comparing the mountaineer to the Vietnam combat veteran is analogous…for the former, it would have been highly imprudent to put themselves and others at potentially grave risk to commence such an expedition absent substantial physical conditioning and mountaineering experience relevant to climbing the world’s highest mountain. Whereas, for the latter, the U.S. military presumed its infantry – combat arms trainees would learn quickly upon arrival in Vietnam, irrespective of having no direct combat experience. So, in a relatively brief period of time, 16 weeks, infantry trainees were presumed to acquire an ability to physically and emotionally transition (i.e., adjust, assimilate, etc.) to the inhospitable environs of war and combat in Vietnam.

Adding to some soldiers’ anxiety and wonderment about entering a theater of war, something which was rather routinely witnessed was that for a not insignificant percentage of replacements, the shuttle service from the U.S. to Vietnam was their first ever ‘plane ride’.

Admittedly, Vietnam War combat soldiers did not have the benefit or curse of real time, at will social media and photographic communication in which recipients could interpret as they wished, be it revisionistic to that seen on conventional broadcast news.

Vietnam War Intangibles…It’s Time We Ask!

March 30th, 2016. Published under Vietnam War Combat Veterans. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly March 30, 2016 ‘A blog where attention span really matters’!

‘It’s time we asked’ is the title given to a project developed by ‘us brothers’ (Michael D. and Stephen D. Moberly). Conceptually, the project evolved from far too many instances wherein we witnessed, i.e., heard parents, grandparents, wives, children, loved one’s, and friends of Vietnam War combat veterans utter the telling phrase ’he never talks about it’, to which, our consistent response is, and will always be, ‘did you ever ask’?

We admit the actual percentage is unknown…but, suspect it is significant, that is, the number of Vietnam War combat veterans, who, upon returning home, received few genuine – sincere inquiries regarding their experiences. Anecdotally, we have identified common rationalizations justifications loved ones frequently applied insofar as exhibiting a reluctance – absence of inquiry with one or a variant of the following, i.e.,

…I am going to – I believe it’s best to wait for him to bring the subject up…
…we don’t know what to ask, how to ask it…
…we just assumed he didn’t want to talk about it because he hasn’t said anything yet…

The ‘absence of inquiry’…generally, perhaps obviously, arose within familial circumstances and variously remain embedded in the common, but largely unrecognized impasse, i.e.,…

…why one party (the combat veteran) may have elected not to talk about it, and
…the other party (family member, loved one, etc.) may have elected not to ask about it!

Too, the reception for returning Vietnam War veterans, on the whole, and, for a variety of reasons, aside from individual family treatments, was far less generous compared to veterans returning from generational wars that preceded and followed Vietnam. Us brothers hold no illusions, nor do we believe the ‘it’s time we ask’ project will manifest as an antidote for wholly reconciling such circumstances. We suspect for some veterans the deferential ‘home coming’ influenced their inclination for silence and anonymity, i.e., ‘he never talks about it’, which was far too often interpreted as ‘he doesn’t want to talk about it’.

So, for many Vietnam War veterans returning home, any muted – slighted reception remains confusing as does the still occasionally heard phrase, ‘but, the Vietnam War was different, it was unpopular’.

Such inattention, however it was intended or rationalized at the time, especially by individuals one could legitimately presume to have had a personal interest and responsibility to ask, was routinely and in numerous instances remains variously translated by (Vietnam War) combat veterans particularly, as apathy, disrespect, or having succumbed to the ample anti-war rhetoric which was a consistent feature of the news, providing content to public – family discourse.
Us brothers suspect as well, some of the inattention manifested as an absence to much needed (at will, informal) path to – emotional outlet for reconciling…
…what they had done.
…what they had seen, and the
…physical-emotional endurance and resilience integral to combat.

(Mr. Moberly is an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist and author of ‘Safeguarding Intangible Assets’ published by Elsevier in 2014, m.moberly@kpstrat.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.)

Vietnam War Combat Crossing Intangible Chasm

March 29th, 2016. Published under Uncategorized, Vietnam War Combat Veterans. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly March 29, 2016 ‘A blog where attention span really matters’.

In June, 1969, during the 15+ hour flight from the Fort Lewis, Washington to Vietnam in the relative comfort of a Braniff 707, one of several commercial air carriers contracted to shuttle troops to – from Vietnam. During the flight, any trepidations about war and my soon-to-be role as a combat infantry soldier with the 173d Airborne Brigade were variously suppressed – masked. There were soldiers on the aircraft who characterized their presence as a ‘return trip’, i.e., their second or third tours in Vietnam. Many told ‘war stories’ for the first tour replacements who cared to listen. At this point, I would not have known, nor did I have any reason to suspect some of thos stories may have been embellished somewhat to fit their audience of replacements.

Surveying other soldiers (fellow passengers) within my limited view, left me with the impression that few were wholly immune – impervious to the onset of a reflective cocktail of thoughts, memories, and ‘wish I had’s’ about what the future may have in store for them. While I saw no conventional evidence, i.e., hands clasped, heads bowed, or mouthing words in silence, etc., I presume there may have been a fair amount of praying occurring periodically throughout the flight.

For those fortunate enough to win the ‘window seat’ lottery on the plane ride to Vietnam there was ample time to observe the blue sky, the blue hue of the Pacific Ocean, the occasional cargo ship or island below, other aircraft, and experience 13+ time zone changes. Throughout the flight, one’s sense of direction was muted, aside from knowing the plane in which we were all passengers and hopefully held return tickets valid 365 days hence, would eventually be landing in Vietnam which we knew was west of our starting point.

When the aircraft finally lands at Cam Ran Bay, Vietnam, each soldier is rapidly engaged in the in-county replacement processing pipeline…usually culminating two days later, with arrival at one’s assigned unit, in my case, 1st platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 503d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade based in the Central Highlands where I was greeted with the unforgettable disdain as the ‘f…ing new guy’. The greeting evolved, I felt at the time, from probably deserved bravado, laced with unsympathetic and unforgiving ‘one liners’ about what lie ahead. At that moment in time, as a replacement, I felt truly differentiated from all other creatures on earth.

The opportunities a replacement can avail themselves insofar as commencing crossing the unpitying and unforgiving chasm from civility to recognition as a responsible, dependable, and contributing soldier to his combat unit can vary. Of course there are numerous variables, most of which come wrapped in their own intellectual, emotional, and physical endurance, functionality, and resiliency.

Of course there are acts and/or behaviors, should a replacement be attuned to recognizing them as unwritten and equivalent to a small culture’s expectations which have been established by the experienced ‘elders’ of a combat unit’s, irrespective of rank. For the astute replacement crossing the chasm may occur relatively rapidly whereas for the less astute replacement the ‘chasm’ can be unrelenting and take much longer, if it occurs at all.

Arrival at one’s combat unit the realization there are no opt outs, becomes operative, save for the obvious. This will become one of the most challenging ordeals one may ever encounter, that is, the enormity of responsibility to themselves and others and the anxiety that comes with it. Specifically, if mistakes or errors in judgment are made, particularly those with variously – potentially irreversible outcomes as judged through the myopic lens by other combat soldiers in the unit. Compounding circumstances-incidents like this, significant errors – lapses could shadow a combat soldier indefinitely in their combat unit unless – until relevant amends occurred.

Another distinctly combat related perspective that evolved very rapidly for some was the seeming randomness of combat outcomes, many of which were variously and wholly outside one’s sphere of control and/or ability to favorably influence. Usually, unless-until a combat soldier recognized the absolute necessity for sustained periods of complete sensory (mental, emotional, and physical) functionality, i.e., possess reaction transition time frames in the nanosecond realm and being fully acclimated to the suddenness and randomness which combat frequently occurred.

(Mr. Moberly is an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist and author of ‘Safeguarding Intangible Assets’ published by Elsevier in 2014, m.moberly@kpstrat.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.)

Preparing For Combat…The Intangibles

March 9th, 2016. Published under Uncategorized, Vietnam War Combat Veterans. No Comments.

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, m.moberly@kpstrat.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.

War and Combat Intangibles In American Films

February 10th, 2016. Published under intangible assets, Vietnam War Combat Veterans. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly February 10, 2016 ‘A business blog where attention span really matters’.

Through the lens of the ‘it’s time we were asked project’ not an insignificant percentage of American films produced with a story line linkage to Vietnam War combat tend to do so by incorporating particular tracts which perhaps are intended to accommodate perceptions of generations removed focus groups, i.e.,
• a snap-shot-in-time portrayal of an observed and recorded act of extraordinary leadership and/or courage in which a soldier was subsequently honored, perhaps posthumously, with relevant citations and medals.
• a revelation of ‘what if’s and/or what should’s’ relative to a specific or series of political – military miscues, strategic – tactical misreads, cover-ups, and/or injurious fabrications, or misleading rationales or explanations.
• protests initiated by citizens (globally) particularly the United States against the Vietnam War which questioned key motivations-rationales for the U.S. government’s initiating – engaging the Vietnam War.
Of course, we recognize now that every (Vietnam War) revelation describing a strategic political-military misstep or misjudgment, was wholly without merit.

To be sure, by the time a new investigative revelation eventually sieved down to those engaged in combat in Vietnam, they were indeed disconcerting and frustrating to some. But, if my experience serves as an indicator, personnel consistently engaged in combat environs tended to be emotionally apolitical insofar as how the Vietnam War was being strategically – tactically prosecuted.

To do otherwise, i.e., exhibit a wholly anti-war posture, there was broad agreement amongst veteran combat personnel, could potentially draw one’s attention away from their combat (offensive-defensive) responsibilities and effectiveness, thereby putting themselves and others at risk. So, assuming an apolitical posture/attitude about the Vietnam War during the period one was engaged in combat was, for most, a necessary obligation because, among other things, there was no opportunity to merely ‘opt out’ or engage in protest absent significant consequences imposed by superiors, but particularly combat team members.
With this admission, it is certainly not the intent of ‘it’s time we were asked project’ to purposefully merge either in the recorded accounts of Vietnam War combat veterans’ unless the subject independently evolves at their will absent scripted influencers. Admittedly, of the combat veterans engaged for this project thus far, some have indeed expressed perspectives and opinions about one or more of the tracts described above.

Vietnam combat veterans interested in participating in and/or supporting the ‘it’s time we were asked’ project are encouraged to contact Mr. Moberly at m.moberly@kpstrat.com

Mr. Moberly is an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist and author of ‘Safeguarding Intangible Assets’ published by Elsevier in 2014, m.moberly@kpstrat.com View Mr. Moberly’s videos on YouTube at ‘safeguarding intangible assets’ or his CNN and CNBC videos at his webpage http://kpstrat.com

Combat Intellectual Capital

February 5th, 2016. Published under Systemic Risk, Vietnam War Combat Veterans. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly   February 5, 2016 ‘A business blog where attention span really matters’.

A proposition that influenced us to proceed further with the development of the ‘it’s time we were asked’ project stems from on-going frustrations we frequently discussed relative to defensive tactics (troop safety) applied in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters. An example of which has to do with the presumptive sophistication of anti-personnel devices developed-used by adversaries against military personnel (in Iraq and Afghanistan).  No comparison – relevance were made to comparables or the primordial anti-personnel devices used against combat troops in the Vietnam War, i.e., the variety of ways sharpened bamboo stakes and wire could be fashioned into very serious and deadly anti-personnel devices.

We understand, for perception and political reasons, it remains ‘verboten’ for senior administration officials to publically compare-contrast the insurgency rooted war in Vietnam to its comparables in Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of counterinsurgency tactics and strategy and anti-personnel devices.

A quote widely attributed to Sir Winston Churchill summed up our frustrations rather well, i.e., “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  In this instance soldiers were, in many instances needlessly dying or being seriously and irreparably injured as a result of failing to learn from or ignoring the combat history of the Vietnam War.

Through our lens, there was an obvious absence of ‘lessons learned’ from the multitude of similar but needless misjudgments and misdiagnosis of tactics and strategy at the outset of the Vietnam War. In other words, we suspect, had any military personnel in any leadership capacity in 2003 asked any Vietnam War combat veteran three things to expect and prepare their combat troops defensively and offensively for, they would likely be…

  • ’booby traps’ of all types used in the Vietnam War, but a term/phrase nonsensically ‘upgraded’ to IED’s or improvised explosive devices for application to the Iraq and Afghanistan war…distinctions without differences.
  • it is going to be a very tough, long, frustrating, and ultimately dissatisfying endeavor insofar as winning hearts and minds.
  • significant tactical – strategic distinctions between the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan or Vietnam is terrain!

It’s worth noting following the April, 1996 plane crash in Croatia that killed Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and 34 other American business leaders embarked on a trade mission, the government compiled a 7,700 page document titled ‘lessons learned’. In my judgment, one of the most significant takeaways from that document was the fact that numerous civilian and military pilots had first hand and recent knowledge of the dangers and challenges associated with negotiating a landing at that particular Croatian airport facility, but whose experience went unnoticed and un-asked.

Vietnam combat veterans interested in participating in and/or supporting the ‘it’s time we were asked’  project are encouraged to contact Mr. Moberly at m.moberly@kpstrat.com

Mr. Moberly is an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist and author of ‘Safeguarding Intangible Assets’ published by Elsevier in 2014, m.moberly@kpstrat.com View Mr. Moberly’s videos on YouTube at ‘safeguarding intangible assets’ or his CNN and CNBC videos at his webpage http://kpstrat.com

Intangibles Of Combat

February 4th, 2016. Published under intangible assets, Vietnam War Combat Veterans. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly   February 4, 2016 ‘A business blog where attention span really matters’.

Since the withdraw of U.S. military personnel from Vietnam some 45+ years ago, there remains, in my judgment, insufficient contextual light shed on the consistent physical challenges and mental endurance of those directly tasked with engaging in combat. There are at least two generations of citizens who possess little, if any, exacting familiarity about the Vietnam War aside perhaps from observations – perceptions gleaned from films that often evolved from books, translated to screen plays and then ensconced in director’s dual assessment of presumptions about realism and box office draw.

Embedded within this of course, are various government investigative reports, cathartic memoirs (books) by government officials – military personnel who, among other things, were voices for the Vietnam war’s prosecution, i.e., analysis, policy, and/or strategy.  Too, there is an abundance of single author books which are inclined to describe particular incidents-circumstances which the author was likely to have been a participant and recognized for heroism and valor.  Many of these offerings we found, fell short of articulating the obscure and apolitical complexities and realities experienced by combat veteran’s over the course of their 365 day tour.  A high percentage of such realities encompassed physical, mental, and emotional endurance, luck, and experiential skills gleaned from emotionally taxing and unrelenting  (24/7) probability of instantaneous engagement in combat.

Of course, there were other bodies of work undertaken espousing an array of social, moral, and political agendas and investigative journalism, some of which contained insights from previously suppressed or classified documents-knowledge that had the benefit of including the inevitable ‘what shoulds’ and/or ‘what if’s’.  Too, these sources often raised new questions about (a.) the government’s rationale for engaging in the Vietnam War, (b.) war fighting strategies relative to deploying hundreds of thousands of military personnel to prosecute a war, 8,846 miles and 13 time zones away from St. Louis, Missouri, and (c.) a war that was largely rooted in Vietnam’s historic ineptness, corruption, and repetitive receptivity to being subject to multi-pronged and multi-faceted communist led insurgencies.

So, be assured, it is not the intent of this blog post, nor our ‘it’s time we were asked’ project, to lionize or demonize the Vietnam War, war in general, or combat in particular. Instead, through our ‘it’s time we were asked’ project we will be delivering (in open sources) many hundreds of unscripted, un-sequenced, and un-coached audio recordings – discussions with Vietnam War combat veterans. A key purpose of which is to bring much needed clarity about combat in war that reaches well beyond what have now become ubiquitous, but inquisitively hollow expressions, i.e., ‘thank you for your service’ or ‘welcome home’.

Vietnam combat veterans interested in participating in and/or supporting the ‘it’s time we were asked’  project are encourage to contact Mr. Moberly at m.moberly@kpstrat.com

Mr. Moberly is an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist and author of ‘Safeguarding Intangible Assets’ published by Elsevier in 2014, m.moberly@kpstrat.com View Mr. Moberly’s videos on YouTube at ‘safeguarding intangible assets’ or his CNN and CNBC videos at his webpage http://kpstrat.com