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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

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Thursday, December 13, 2001

Americans not afraid of a fight

I was on a train from Scotland to Ireland last month when I read an article by Robert Elegant in a British newspaper titled "The Vietnam Syndrom is making American too frightened to fight." It was at a time prior to the increase in the bombing campaign. Some of his material follows:He claimed that the Vietnam Syndrom has implanted an excessive fear of taking casualties. The fear hobbles U.S. attacks that are, at best, half-effective. "American warplanes striking Taliban troop concentrations, flying high to avoid risk, often miss their targets."He stated decisions of any substance is bucked back to higher headquarters. Elegant said this "combination" was fatal to Gen. Abdul Haq because the all-weather helicopters never got off the ground to save him. "Clearly it was the result of the tangled command -- and fear of American casualties if helicopters landed in the steep ravine where he was beseiged.""Hints of a more robust strategy are now coming out of Washington, but what really has to change is the attitude to risk. Though good generalship minimises casualties, no war can be without them."He goes on to say that this military obsession certainly was not apparent in World War II, Korea (where he flew one mission in 1952 on a B-26 that flew below 1,000 feet attacking a train and a convoy of trucks -- in spite of heavy anti-aircraft fire), or Vietnam (where he observed a low altitude helicopter attack on Viet Cong troops).Now my thoughts, Mr. Elegant. The U.S. military is not in a "Vietnam Syndrom" but has been "guilty" of a commander being "put on a spot" in his decisions by higher authorities in all conflicts! ... and that might not be too bad.I also was a B-26 crew member in Korea in 1952. We stood down for two weeks, flying training missions instead of flying combat -- because of heavy casualties. We also dropped leaflets to let civilians know the time when we would be over their cities so they might escape unharmed. I always wondered if headquarters knew that the North Koreans were happy to read them also so they could reposition their guns.In Vietnam in 1969 our jet fighters were restricted to releasing bombs above 10,000 feet during a period of heavy losses. (Accuracy from that altitude resulted in lots of jungle toothpicks and dead monkeys.)However, I too, like most pilots, flew those hairy B-26 missions night after night. We also flew as low as 500 feet during missions, when needed, in Southeast Asia.No, Mr. Elegant, America is not too frightened to fight! It just may be that some of our commanders are "put on the spot" by leaders who care more about their troops, their families and innocent civilians than about a quick victory. Isn't that the American way?"Ben," it may take a little longer, but we're gonna gitchya!Don Meek, AdjutantVFW Post 4988Horseshoe Bend