Monday, September 5, 2011

Why I Write

But it wasn't because I didn't know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy?


y, Gnarls Barkley

[Motivated by Sgt. Rabb's post]:

I was a soldier once and now not-so-young, a fact which allows me to connect the dots from present to past. The logic of soldiering has been left deeply ingrained in my thoughts and actions.

Last night was suffused with memories of past screw-ups and negative events that I still cannot justify or accept as being correct. Today's events resurface them, and I am discomfited down to my Ranger lizard brain.

When I was a platoon leader, my assigned strength equaled the 37 men killed in the recent shoot-down of the Chinook in Afghanistan. My platoon was line infantry, not elite in any manner. We did, however, stress one military precept: Dispersion.

We never put all our eggs in one basket. We would never allow one military round to kill or wound more than was militarily acceptable. We maintained dispersion while eating and even in the chow line when we were operational.
My tracks (M 106) were never bunched up to allow enemy counter battery to knock out more than one of our guns. Not being bunched up is Rule One of ground combat.

On or about 21/22 Jan 71 there was an action at B53 in the Republic of Vietnam in which another entire helicopter of highly-trained Special Forces and Special Operations Assets men were blown out of the sky. To this day it is my contention
that these men were sacrificed because there was not a proper and judicious recon. Helo gunship fire suppression of the area was not employed and the men did not know what enemy they were facing nor their capabilities.

U.S. SOF assets are still making the same senseless mistakes that get good men killed for no measurable reason.
What is the benefit of the cost?

Thirty soldiers died at the hands (we are told) of a lucky RPG gunner. But in Special Forces, we are taught
there is no such thing as "luck" -- there is only the presence or absence of solid planning and execution. No unit should lose 37 people associated gear from one lucky RPG shot.

Such a loss is criminal negligence on the part of the operational planners and team leaders. No sensible soldier would put all his assets in one bunch, hoping luck would not turn ill; it does not work that way either in gang warfare or combat.

Ranger does not believe the shoot down of the Chinook was an RPG loss. Why does the media not posit the employment of a ground-to-air Redeye or Strella-type missile? If the U.S. uses technology, then why not the Afghanis?
Why the fiction that their successes are due to sheer, dumb-ass luck? The Gods of War need not be Christian or Western.

What would it mean if they were as tactical as we?

[cross-posted @ RangerAgainstWar]


  1. jim,

    SEALs on land have always befuddled me. They don't go to Ranger school, they don't go to Benning or Paris Island, and they don't know the principles of patrolling. The only tenet they ever care about (and I've seen this with white SEALS and ST6) is Mass. Get as many people on the "Y" as quickly as possible and dominate. I saw them do this in Iraq when they fit 13 guys on a single HMV and would flood a small building with an entire team. It is in their freakin DNA. (The funniest thing I ever heard was a NSW SEAL team try to use a cement saw as a "dynamic" breaching device, you can imagine it was neither dynamic nor speedy).

    Just to play DA, if these tactics (jamming 30 guys in a chinook to serve as a quick reaction force) have worked successfully for hundreds of missions over 6 years, is it suddenly a bad tactic because it fails once? True, from a numbers perspective this was a catastrophic failure, but with the limited amount of airlift in the country, ridiculous terrain and the mission requirements, isn't the technique justified based on a risk analysis?

    As far as an RPG shot, that is pretty much confirmed (not a media assumption). It was a hell of a shot, but it was just an RPG.


  2. Yeah, BG, but they do PT better than anyone else. Actually, I share your mystification about the SEALs on land, but I wonder if they're at fault here. I haven't paid much attention to this—I mean, a fuck up is a fuck up is a fuck up, right?—but I don't know if you hang this particular fuck up on the SEALs. They certainly didn't run the airlift portion and mission command was at pretty high levels, common in this day and age.

    Ranger's right. It's clearly a stone fuck up, but I doubt the SEALs had much more of a role than that of sacrificial lambs. Sure, they wanted to go, I mean shit, every operator wants to go, but somebody older and wiser is supposed to put the package together. Hate to say it, BG, but our service, the good old US Army, is usually the one when it comes to a fuck up these days. Don't they have something like 100 generals in Afghanistan? I'll bet you'll find a one or two-star Army dude lurking around there somewhere. But then again, the way this goatfuck has gone, might be an F15 driver with a star for all we know.

  3. Jim –

    That book on helicopters by Walter Boyne I mentioned in the previous post claims that our rotary wing loss rates in Vietnam were 43%. I believe it, I was one of those statistics. A former car pooler, a rotorhead, once told me that 10% of our KIA there were due to helicopter shootdowns. And that was done by 1930s and 1940s technology - 12.7mm DShK’s, RPGs and a few by 37mm AD. Extrapolate those figures to WW-2 and I do not believe you will find anything like it. Not even the B-17 and B-24 runs. The Schweinfurt raids and the Ploesti oilfield raid lost fewer than 30%.

    We should not be sending helos loaded with troops into hot LZs or even suspected hot areas. I am a fan of vertical envelopment but only to go around and get behind the bad guys and not to end up as ducks flying into a pond surrounded by hunting blinds.

    Even with improvements today helos are still extremely vulnerable because they go low and are slow and noisy. Chinooks and CH-46s are a design that is 50 years old, Ch-53s are not far behind, even the Blackhawks are over 30 years old. The white scarf guys flying fixed wing aircraft spent all the design and development money. Even Army helicopter development has been focused elsewhere – on gunships instead of low vulnerability transports. It was Joint Special Ops Command money that funded the new stealth helo used in the UBL takedown, not the Army, but they only built a few. And it looks to me they spent all their money on radar stealth and cool avionics, not as much on improving speed and silence.

  4. publius,bg,mike.
    Thanks for commenting.
    I know it will never happen , but i'd sure like to see the record of the mission prep for these episodes. I'd really like to see the opords.
    When we lost the men in 71 there was no opord- it was a frago type thing just thrown together. And of course as Publius points out all involved rucked up. I only know 1 Officer that refused to do a sog/soa mission b/c he didn't like the plan. He was relieved and his successor was killed. He's still dead and my friend is still alive. My friend was a fine soldier. I think LT Murphy should've done the same.
    In SOF the team leader is SUPPOSED to write the opord , or used to in my day. The Beckwith raid into Iran is illustrative of doing someone elses plan.
    The chief of SOCEUR is often a Flyboy from the SOS and doesn't know much about anything. Again - this is how it used to be.Everyone wants a piece of the pie.
    This is something that shouldn't happen. Why do we spend 10 bil$ p/a on socom and then make them hitch hike to work.?!
    With the facts at hand i must guesstimate that the bird set the load way too close to the target. This makes me wonder why the A/C Pilot would make such a questionable call.Ultimately this should be his call.
    I wonder why drones were not aloft to suppress incoming fire.
    We like to say that the Soviet gen'ls in ww2 were sterotypical thinkers, but we use helos just as lock step as the soviets did their forces. The only difference is that they had assets to sacrifice.
    Do we reward brains or just plain balls?

  5. Publius,
    After thinking on your cmt re; Seals i just gotta add-if they were going in to reinforce some Rangers in a tight , then why wasn't arty being used to relieve the committed force.
    Seals like Marines need arty support usually provided by fleet or organic USMC arty.
    The short fall in the pwot is the absence of adequate arty.
    Sounds a bit like Lang Vei. Air suppression is not a substitute for arty that is direct support. I couldn't imagine a misn w/o arty on call and pre-registered.
    Air assets ain't arty which has saved many a soldiers ass.

  6. One thing which affects these missions, I understand, is the difficulty flying rotary wing A/C in the thin air of the central Asian plateau. The Hooks are used because of their ability to get lift rather than any tactical consideration. Not an excuse, mind you - frankly, if I'm the mission commander and you tell me that I'm going to get this A/C rather than that not because it works better with the execution but because it's the only thing that'll fly then I'm gonna be thinking of ways to do the mission without needing the A/C.

    And the problem with the FA is similar; difficulty finding decent firing positions, difficulty with ranging the target areas, difficulty with FM commo... So I guess what I don't understand, then, is why we're not using our mortars better. A heavy mortar platoon is a hell of a lot more mobile and can bring the hate more quickly than an FA battery. I know that a Ranger outfit usually lacks anything bigger than 81s, but surely some straight-leg battalion's mortars could have been attached for these damn raids...

  7. Chief is right about the Chinooks getting the lift required in high altitude. The Blackhawk spec for service ceiling varies from 7500 feet up to 19000, and that wide range is due to air density, pressure, and temperature. The 19K figure is for perfect conditions (ISA Day which is beyond my ken but I am sure Al could define). And those ceiling numbers may have been determined when the bird was empty instead of when it carried a full combat load of GIs with gear.

  8. To chief and mike,
    Why do we fight in places that you can't even shoot sunlight in with artillery?
    Who really cares if these isolated pockets of humanity are faithful to the concept of democracy? Why kill them if they aren't willing to support the concept of nationhood? What do we benefit?
    It's always the same old story-Hamburger Hill redux. Go in and kickass and take names and then move to the next ADHD objective.
    Just leave sleeping dogs....
    ISTM that our military is so cumbersome and inflexible these days-if we could shoot indirect in Korea then why not in Pashtunistan?

  9. Artillery weapons (the rounds) are a lot more mobile than mortar tubes. With modern computing technology, getting accurate fire on the ground can take less than a minute, plus time of flight (which can be up to another minute, especially if high angle is used.)

    Of course, this presupposes decent command and control measures where time isn't wasted getting permission (and assuming that the guns are not already sending hate in a different direction).

  10. Ael: ?????

    But the cannons themselves are not. And with the aforementioned lift problems FA in central Asia is effectively a land with very poor and very few roads.

    To put an FA round on target I need a surveyed firing position, a surveyed FO with the ability to provide a three-dimensional location for the target, and I need an accurate met.

    GPS can do a LOT of that a lot quicker than the old days, but there's still problems with it, the met in mountainous terrain is ALWAYS a problem, so I have to think that it still takes a lot more assets, time, and trouble to move and hipshoot a light artillery FA battery than it does a mortar platoon, that can operate out of the back of a humvee and shoot almost as soon as the baseplates hit the ground. It may be that AFATADS has changed that some, but I find it hard to believe that it's changed it THAT much.

    And AFAIK almost ALL FA fires in the 'Stan are probably HA; the combination of narrow valleys and high mountains tend to make low angle fire problematic at best.

    And clearance of fires is essential for both systems; moreso for artillery whose danger-close is more critical, but crucial nonetheless. That's not wasted time - that's preventing a blue-on-blue, which is in many ways worse than getting shot up by enemy arty; you EXPECT the enemy to paste you...when you hit your own, bad shit happens.

    So final analysis, I have to think that sending an attached mortar platoon to support one of these raids would be simpler logistically and tactically than trying to arrange FA support. At least, the latter seems impossible to get for most AOs in the 'Stan. The mortars, dunno...but can't see why they'd be more difficult to lay hands on than an entire FA battery plus FOs plus met section...

  11. Why do you need to drop baseplates? I expect that almost all fire missions already have the guns in place, already surveyed, with met calculated.

    Clearance of fire for mortars involves the same issues as clearing arty (which may be why neither seem to be used much). You probably need a general's permission to do fire support, which probably makes it take too long (and you might as well use an airplane at that point, after all, the fly boys need their hours.

    If that is what is happening, then I could see all combat arms turning into taxi riding infantry, dismounting and patrolling as basically light infantry.

  12. ael

    I seriously doubt you need (not a general's but a Jag lawyer's) permission to fire mortars in general, because they are organic to the Bn. and Co. levels (certainly not in the defense). In the offense, best to do it to it first,and ask for forgiveness later. In the case of firing on a village, yes, I see problems in begging for KaBooms above Bn. level. Perhaps BG can comment.

    In one case, a multi service training team got its leadership whacked during a prospecting Chai Swilling, spit swapping PowWow, which, on the enemy's side was planned as an ambush. They received no air/arty (because it doesn't take a village). The backup Army platoon did not engage, because they said, they had no clearance from higher to do so.

    A big part of the problem is that there is insufficient air and arty coverage for a place as large as the Stan',mountainous terrain notwithstanding. A fact that is left unmitigated by Arty units deploying with their tubes left behind, so that they can perform duties such as: lesser grunts, FobKnob security, checkpoints, and the like (a written in stone obligation, which has metastasized since Somalia).

    You would think that with increased drone coverage, you could get the TOC Menkeys, and The Lawyers (They, who should be killed first), to alleviate these problems .... Yeah, Right.

    Unless mission like orders become fashionable again, stand by to fucking stand by, this abominable herd of cats will never even come close to even tying in a campaign against the goatherds of the world ..... out!

  13. For the Canadians, fire support rules changed dramatically moving from Operation Enduring Freedom to ISAF. Under ISAF, permission to fire was moved way up in the hierarchy. This frustrated FOO's and supported arms. I don't know specifically what rules infantry mortarmen laboured under, but in accounts that I read, no infantry commander talked about employing their organic mortars in firefights.

    A further factoid I picked up in a DND promotional video, was that a troop of 4 M777's also had 8 mortars they could deploy. I wonder if they stripped the mortars from the infantry and gave them to the gunners (given that you needed permission from god to fire anyways, why leave the mortars with the grunts. At least with the gunners you had a possibility of using them.

    Note that in a theatre where you had many different types of players, some more overt than others, you couldn't just let anyone drop mortar bombs where they wanted to. You might end up blasting all sorts of "friends".

    Note that much of this post is pure speculation, and given that the Canadians have withdrawn from Kandahar to train the ANA in Kabul, it is historical speculation.

  14. While I can understand why my infantry pals consider clearance of fires a nuisance, there's nothing that puts a chill on the party sooner than being stonked by your own indirect fire. So it doesn't matter if it's Kandahar or Korea, the FSO/FSE needs to clear fires before a single projo goes downrange.

    Where I can see that being utterly insane is in a multiservice, multinational, multifuck like ISAF. Because unlike Korea or the Kasserine, there's not just Good Guys and Bad Guys; there's Good Guy minions, civvies, goats, market stalls...god alone knows what the hell is out there and then the friggin' wingwipers show up and the airspace has to be closed...

    So if the problem is getting clearance, I'd opine that it isn't a question of sensitivity or rank or's a problem of a chaotic, crowded battlefield full of bystanders, and that's not going to ever change.

    As far as dropping baseplates...the advantage of mortars is SPEED and VOLUME FIRE. They can displace quickly, fire quickly, and place a lot of rounds on the target quickly. So in a defense, no, there's no advantage to having a platoon of 120s when you can have a firebase with 105s surveyed in. But this wasn't defensive; it was a raid, into "enemy" territory. So to send an FA battery bouncing and jouncing along the mountain roads would have been ridiculous. But a mortar platoon? Not so much baggage and a LOT quicker on the draw.

    Except...the clearance of fires problem is still there. And I don't know how you beat that, other than the USAF/Drone Patrol seems to...

  15. Chief,
    The mortars are often placed in beaten zones from what i've read . This has happened more than once. I must conclude that small unit ldrs lack the training to employ/place them properly.
    Maybe more 40 mm would cut some slack.

  16. We wrestled with the Hook (vs Huey) as an assault carrier over and over again in RVN, and the case against was exactly that which jim is talking about. At the time, the concern was the flying hour load on the Huey fleet, although most Hook companies were pushing the envelope as well. Every 8 months or so, someone would come up with a "new idea" and start scheduling Hook combat assault missions somewhere in RVN. Cut the number of aircraft required by 66%. Also, as they learned, this increased the deleterious effects of a well aimed round or maintenance problem by 300%.

    By the time this "reinvention of the wheel" came back to our neighborhood, we (our hook unit Cdr and Opns Off) were invited by the DCG of the 1st Inf Div to discuss it, as he had some concerns, especially the idea of one round being able to take down 33 troops and put 8,000 lbs of burning JP4 into an LZ. What they worked out was excellent. Part of the load on the Hueys was the distance from the staging area to the LZ. So, a secure intermediate LZ/PZ area would be established closer to the assault LZ. THe Hooks would be used to ferry the infantry to the intermediate area, and the Hueys lifted the troops from there to the assault LZ. This not only reduced flying hour load on the Hueys, but the shorter turn around time between sorties put more fighting power on the ground faster. In short, where this approach was possible, it was a big PLUS.

    The Hook is the fastest bird in the cargo/utility fleet, and carries the biggest payload. In Iraq and Afghanistan, there hasn't been the kind of exposure to ground fire we experienced in RVN, and it's easy to forget that threat. The 160th Spec Opns Avn Bde has made good use of the MH-47's, and one Hook can do the job of 3 Blackhawks, which becomes a tempting scenario (Again).

    I will not second guess the use of the Hook for missions such as these. There are also drawbacks to using 3 UH-60s to carry this many troops, not the least of which is the significantly larger PZ required, and the difficulty with a formation hovering around blind in blowing dust. Anyone here remember "Desert One"?

    So, there is a case for and against the Hook in operations such as these.


    Roger the losses info. The Viet Nam Helicopter Pilots Association archives say, "Total helicopters destroyed in the Vietnam War was 5,086 out of 11,827". As to the KIA data, the VHPA has records of about 2,200 pilots of all services who were KIA (including non-hostile fire mishaps). Considering that most were not alone in the aircraft, it is quite probable that some 5,500 total (10% of all KIA) died in helo related incidents.

  17. Al,
    Thanks for the history-personal type.Our experience has made us historical.
    The way you describe the leapfrog sorta arrangement is reminiscent of normal theater scenarios. For example- bringing ammo fwd to a forward point with eac assets and the using unit assets to bring them into the battle area. We learned this stuff in ww2 in groung ops , but it's transferable to avn also. In our lifetime relearned it every time some one deros'd.
    What you describe is old horse sense which even is rare in horses.
    I remember Beckwith.

  18. Mike-

    After a bit more digging through the VHPA archives I found:

    Total helicopter pilots killed in the Vietnam War was 2,202. Total non-pilot crew members was 2704.

    These I know are accurate figures, as the VHPA and our brother Association of non-aviator crew members have done massive research on the subject.

    VHPA estimates that about 40,000 helo pilots served in VN in all the services.

    VHPA also reports that 532 American passengers lost in Hueys alone. No passenger stats for any other type aircraft or nationalities. That's a total of 5,438, so ascribing 10% of all VN deaths to helos is probably spot on.

  19. Al -

    I was thinking more of non-crew members, but your figures make me think there were a lot more i.e. groundpounders in the back of Chinooks and also 46s and 53s that are unaccounted for. If so I surmise the percentage would be a few points higher than ten.

    BTW, what is an ISA Day? And regarding service ceiling specifications, are they calculated at empty weight of max weight?

  20. I'd have to dig into the spec being used today. For all intents and purposes, even thought the 47 & 60 show a service ceiling of 19,000 ft, you need oxygen to exceed 10,000. The earlier Hooks (A,B & C) had a 10,000 ft service ceiling only because their hydraulics would cavitate above that. There are a variety of factors that set service ceiling, and I would imagine the 19,000 ft figure is not near max gross weight, nor max airspeed.

    "ISA Day" is the term for "International Standard Atmosphere", which we called "Standard Temperature and Pressure" in the good old days, except ISA also includes humidity, which does effect the aerodynamic behavior in an air mass.

    International Standard Atmosphere =15C @ sea level, barometer of 29.92, and no humidity. Service ceiling is based on the air mass at the service ceiling being the theoretical density of an ISA Day at sea level below you. ISA temp would be calculated to drop from 15 C by 6.49C for every 1,000 meters in altitude above sea level, up to 11 km. So, since the air is rarely, if ever, providing an ISA Day, we have to use the actual temp, barometric pressure and humidity AT our ALTITUDE for performance planning and operating limits to get our ASI Day altitude or density altitude, in old fashioned terms. For example, at sea level, with a 98 F temp, 29.92 barometer and 90% humidity, the air density is the equivalent of about 3,000 feet. Can make a significant difference in what you can do.

  21. "The Schweinfurt raids and the Ploesti oilfield raid lost fewer than 30%."

    That was on one mission; the rate for Vietnam would include cumulative losses. And the WWII bomber loss rates would be far higher than helo's in Vietnam; the bomber crew had tours of 25 mission. A several percent loss rate per mission would add up.

  22. Mike-

    For reasons too complicated to explain in the space here, the CH-47A's max airspeed (Vne) was very "sensitive" to density altitude. We had a slide rule type Vne computer on the instrument panel to help us stay within operating limits. While it was capable of 133 kts at ISA sea level, at 4000 ft, Vne was about 115 kts empty and 90 at max gross weight. Due to the typical temp and humidity in RVN, our density altitude at sea level would be about 3500 ft, so we were limited in airspeed and gross weight before even taking off.

    One major benefit of the subsequent B and C models was a better speed and gross weight vs altitude profile. Empty at sea level, the Vne was 163 kts, and due to significant design changes in the rotor system, Vne degraded much less as density altitude and gross weight increased. The useful load increased some 5,000 lbs as well.

  23. All,

    Just a few facts and assumptions, as I know them.

    1. The Chinook was not Spec ops (160th). So the crew would have been less experienced than one would expect for this type of aircraft and no counter measures or other technologies that would have aided it. Probably flying with NODs at best, can't find illum data or moonrise info for that date.

    2. The a/c was hit along the route, it wasn't setting down. Likely an ambush, similar to Muj tactics against the Soviets. My bet is that the likely less experienced and less equipped crew was following a natural line of drift due to the short nature of the planning in any QRF mission and the lack of 160th avionics technology. But that is my guess, never saw the results of the investigation.

    3. IDF in support of an a/c movement may be a good idea at the OBJ, always a fan of seeding an LZ, but I seriously doubt the ROE allows for unobserved fire (assuming the planned LZ as outside of sight of the Rangers on the ground). Note: They use the hell out of IDF of all types in AF, as ROE allows, but I really don't know what the ROE is, nor would it be appropriate to discuss here.

    4. Using IDF along the route, again, not feasible. Even if you see a good TRP on a choke point or other dangerous place enroute, no observer, no fire.

    5. OPORD? SEALs? Not likely :)

    6. ADM McCraven (former CO and SEAL) was a huge proponent of the 3 slide CONOP. Actually they are extremely effective in QRF and time sensitive target situations. So no, no OPORD. Likely just a couple of PPT slides, maybe a map recon on a computer screen.

    7. Could the team leader have called BS? Should senior leaders have said, too risky, don't go? I don't know about that, RPGs are fired at a/c all the time, seen a few myself. It is just such a low probability event to get hit by one, and even lower that it would cause such a catastrophic damage to a 47. Again, I do wonder if 160th was flying that bird, as is usually the case, would things have been different. No disrespect to the late pilots, I just don't know their level of proficiency.

  24. bg- Again, I do wonder if 160th was flying that bird, as is usually the case, would things have been different.

    Only if they flew a different route or took some unknown to regular guys evasive measures. If the 160th has "secret" evasive measures they don't share with the general aviation population (something I seriously doubt), then mega shame on them. If there was intel about the potential of RPG fire, it would have been known to the crew that did fly the mission. There are no devices that protect any aircraft for RPG fire. The only saving grace is the difficulty a gunner has in "leading" the aircraft to score a hit, just as is the case with all unguided weapons.

    Of the various RPG strikes I saw in RVN, all resulted in the aircraft going down. As to loss of life, many other factors determined the extent. The lower 30% of the lateral silhouette is fuel tanks. The upper 20% involves components that result in catastrophic loss of control. The remaining 50% can result in loss of structural integrity, and the forward 10% and aft 10% of that 50% would also result in catastrophic loss. The odds are in favor of the RPG. Been there. Done that.

    I never argued against the 47 in this mission. I was offering that it does present the possibility of a more catastrophic result if things go wrong. The Hook has been the workhorse in Afghanistan, and I also noted that it's typically safer to use one Hook in a dusty environment that 3 UH-60's.

    It took them a while, but the bad guys in RVN finally learned how to lead helicopters, and when they did, our losses increased.

  25. Al,

    I don't know the terrain along the route, that is my question about 160th. Would 160th aircraft/crew taken the same route? My theory, that it was a rotary wing ambush, leads me to believe the route was along a natural line of drift used by the crew for navigation or a chokepoint resulting from terrain. Would aviators using a more advanced aircraft and more experienced pilots chosen the same route?

    Point taken about the damage an RPG can do.

  26. bg-

    Things may have changed since my day (retired in 95), but at that time, we were all given the same navigation training and threat avoidance training. I am aware of no electronics on the 160th's Hooks that would make a difference, but I could be wrong. Anyone who claims he can predict where a lone gunner is going to set up to shoot at you is full of crap. The locations are infinite. Yes, some places are better than others, but the one that ultimately results in a hit is, in perfect hindsight, always the best, even of it isn't the theoretical/doctrinal one.

  27. The smartest thing Giap did was send the BV33 to Lang Vei with 2200 dependents. The State department and CIA were more interested in their well being than our survival.

    A field grade officer had to be there for international relations. This destroyed unity of command. Shungle over-rode Willoughby and Pappy Craig and dictated what happened.

    A few things were neglected such as overseeing the liaison team attached to the Laos. Young would have not been captured and there would have been someone on the 2nd 106. There might even have been some more HEAT rounds (there were only 3 rounds.

    And, most important to me, Lindewald and Hannah would have been inside the camp and might have swung the battle.

    The "rescue force" did nothing but ride the helos into the old camp and ride them out again. They never set foot in Lang Vei. We made our break out before they arrived.

    Anymore questions?

    Longgrear sends

  28. Good scoop on Lang Vei - Thanks for the insight.

  29. Barry - 'That was on one mission; the rate for Vietnam would include cumulative losses. And the WWII bomber loss rates would be far higher than helo's in Vietnam; the bomber crew had tours of 25 mission. A several percent loss rate per mission would add up."

    I certainly do not mean to disparage the contribution of the Army Air Forces in WW2. They suffered more KIA than did six Marine Divisions in the Pacific. The air crewmen of the 25-mission tour over Europe in 42 and 43 did in fact suffer horrendous casualties. Only approximately 35% survived being KIA, WIA, ending up as a POW, or KIFA. The figures in 44 and 45 were much much better. But even with those disastrous numbers and with 26,000(?) air crewmen killed of the 8th and 15th AAF, they are still below 10% of total American KIA during WW2. Add in the 5th AF and other AAF units in the Pacific and the percentage may get closer.

    You are correct for the # of downed aircraft.

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