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Sunday, November 05, 2006

ODYSSEY OF ARMAMENTS






this is Ken's profile


Sunday November 5, 2006

- Ken Larson - from the book, "Odyssey of Armaments, My Journey Through the Defense Industrial Complex"

In 1968, I came home from serving two US Army tours in Vietnam, having been awarded five medals, including a Bronze Star. During my second tour I acquired Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression. Treatment would not become available for either ailment until the mid to late 70's. Returning to the University of Minnesota at Morris, I found that most of my former classmates were either facing the military draft or were violently against the war. I was not their favorite person.

Feeling isolated and alone, I was unable to relate to my family due to untreated Depression and PTSD. Disillusioned with school, I moved to Minneapolis Minnesota and began a career in the Defense Industrial Complex that would span over three decades from 1969 through 2005. I thought that through working on defense systems, I could contribute to the quality and quantity of weapons that the next generation would take to war. Given a clearly defined mission and the best armaments and systems in the world, I believed that another Vietnam could be avoided for the American Soldier. In pursuit of this goal, I participated in the design, development and production of 25 large scale weapons systems under Federal Government and Foreign Military Sales Contracts. I worked in several different disciplines for the companies that produced these weapons, negotiating and controlling the associated contracts with procurement agencies in the US Armed Forces and in 16 allied countries.

By the time treatment for PTSD and Depression became available, I had such high security clearances that had I been treated for these disorders, the US Government would have revoked my clearances and my career would have ended or would have been sharply curtailed. This quandary led to my journey through the Defense Industrial Complex. I found that accepting extreme challenges and succeeding at them became a way to displace PTSD and elevate depressive moods. For extended periods of time this method of self-management led to a satisfying, although somewhat adventurous and diversified life. However, down periods always occurred, especially after the latest challenge had been met. A new challenge was then required. Family, friends and acquaintances were often puzzled by the frequent changes in my job sites and locations. Two marriages fell by the wayside.

I became known in the industry as a front-end loaded trouble shooter on complex projects, installing processes and business systems required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation. These systems included estimating and pricing, proposal preparation, contract administration, cost and schedule control, program management, design to cost, life cycle cost, export management and other specialties unique to US Government Contracts. Getting through government source selection boards and surviving audits during competition was a significant challenge for defense contractors. Installing required business systems after contract award, under ambitious cost, schedule and technical conditions, was an even more difficult undertaking. I became a leader in the problem solving and creative processes necessary to win contracts and successfully fulfill them. When my mood demanded it, there was always a new job, with a new challenge and a subsequent elevated feeling from success. It was not unusual for a career professional in the Defense Industry to move regularly with the ebb and flow of competitive procurements and associated government funding shifts.

I came to know many of the career military and civil servants who managed the government procurement process. These individuals never went away, regardless of elections or politics. They developed the alternatives from which elected officials must choose. The American Public rarely heard from these powerful insiders, while the insiders slanted the choices supplied to elected officials in a self-perpetuating manner. I recognized the mirror image way in which procuring agencies and defense contractors organized their operations on the largest systems acquisitions. Key executives regularly moved back and forth between government and industry. I often observed the short, happy life of a defense company program manager. Appointed by the powerful insiders to head a single project, he had no authority over company resources, he perpetually competed with other program managers for the same talent pool and he always took the heat from management when things did not go well. His counterpart in the government quarters had similar experiences. I often supported several program managers at the same time. They all were desperate to achieve success. They each believed they had the most important program in the company.

In early 2005, approaching age sixty, I found myself unable to self-manage an extremely deep depressive episode. The journey had simply wound down. This situation nearly resulted in an end to my life. Recovering with help from my family and the US Veteran's Administration, I now reside in a veteran's home, volunteering to Small, Veteran-Owned, Women-Owned and Minority-Owned businesses that are pursuing contracts with the Federal Government. I provide advice, alternatives and business examples based on my experiences. It is refreshing to witness the successes of small, motivated and flexible companies. I believe they deserve every special consideration they have achieved under our system of government.

After thirty-six years in the Defense Industrial Complex my greatest satisfaction came from watching "Stormin Norman" and his Gulf War Forces defeat the Iraqi Army in Operation Desert Storm. They used the Abrams Main Battle Tank, the Hellfire Missile and an array of communications and other systems on which I worked. I have had the privilege of meeting several young soldiers coming back from current conflicts in the Middle East who have praised these systems for their life saving performances.

Operation Desert Storm had a clearly defined mission to liberate a small country from an aggressor. We accomplished the mission utilizing the best weapons in the world. Unfortunately, we did not leave the area. The lessons of Vietnam have not been remembered and once again political factors govern our presence in several countries. This time it is the Middle East. A Future Combat System (FCS) is now under development geared for urban warfare with unmanned vehicles, state of the art sensors and remote standoff capabilities. The enemy has grown to become a formidable force, cable of striking without notice even within our own country. He threatens the world economy with violent disruptions in several domains at the same time. He is a product of our own creation, rebelling against the "US Police Force" with help from neighbors who play either benign or active roles. Our enemy knows his neighborhood far better than we do. US intelligence and military capabilities are strained to the maximum monitoring perceived hot spots all over the globe. We must face the fact that our long term presence in other countries is resented.

How much longer can we afford to be the "World's Policeman"? We are spending over $500B per year for defense, homeland security and nation building. Investments we are making in developing new democracies are draining our domestic programs such as health care, stifling the education of our young people and limiting research and development in valuable commercial technologies. The largest corporations selling to our government are no more than extensions of our government in the cloak of industry. They are not in the business of making money for the stockholder. They are in the business of spending money for the government. As a result they are some of the poorest growth stocks on Wall Street. Recent consolidation in the Defense Industrial Complex has dramatically reduced competition. Only public laws mandating a twenty per cent allocation of Federal Contract Funding to small business have kept diversification in the mix. Even then, much of the moneys that flow to small business go through a select group of large business prime contractors who add their respective overhead and general administrative expense to the small business cost and pass it on to the government.

When we consider the largest evolving countries in the world today, such as China, India and others, we should note that they are successfully competing with us in a fast moving, complex world economy. These countries are not all pure democracies and probably never will be. No overt action on our part created these powerhouses. As we struggle to compete with them we must have education, research and development and a healthy work force to keep pace. How much can we afford to spend forcing our capitalistic ideologies on other societies? Events have proven that the world has become a tightly wound place economically. Countries who wish to succeed and grow will play the game anyway.

I hope that this account of my experiences has supplied useful insights into the US Government Defense Industrial Complex. My odyssey was driven by a need to manage illnesses acquired in warfare. I found a way to deal with the maladies for years by spreading myself thin and accepting every new challenge. I thrilled at success and moved on after defeat, pursuing a misguided goal. Out of necessity I have now been forced to look inward, wind down to a smaller perspective, take care of my health - begin serving the little guy.

Perhaps it is time for our country to consider a similar transition.

74 comments:

Red Stater said...

I sincerely thank you for all your years of service both in the military and for the military in a civilian capacity however I strongly disagree with your consclusion that just because some don't like our presence in Iraq, that we should cut and run.

To do so will not improve our image or make any friends out of the throatcutters in Iraq who will declare victory and pursue us at home and it certainly will not make any friends out of the Iraqi's who will be slaughtered if we leave them now.

The war may be unpopular but the cause is just. The men and women who have already given their lives in Iraq deserve better than to abandon their sacrifices.

Your frustration with our government is certainly understandable.

I hope for all our sake that you re-consider your intention to vote to cut and run.

lets bring our troops home in victory not in defeat.

With all due respect.
Red

Anonymous said...

hi, rcg. i don't even know what to say. your story is so similar to the many i've heard over the years, your battle with ptsd and depression. i wish you all of my best - and that your future years are filled with inner peace. it sounds as if you are on the way. my step-dad was in vietnam as well. he is still deeply, deeply haunted.

for $500 billion dollars a year being spent on defense, why don't i feel any safer?

i also feel that i must air my concerns with the new urban warfare devices that you describe. my fear is that it will make waging war for bogus reasons (iraq - a very unjust war, imho) all the more easier and will only force other countries into developing their own tools of death and destruction. and use them. it's a terrible cycle, this game of war. and detrimental on so many levels.

i have a toddler climbing on me, vying for my attentions, telling me that i'm "all done." i have to run for now.

thank you for posting this insight!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ken, for your comment on my blogsite,Dancing in Tongues. I read your piece 'Odyssey of Armaments' at your blogsite as well, to round out the picture, and have to say that I admire your honesty, courage and tenacity.

We have some things in common, though one of them is not Vietnam. I served in the Air Force in Turkey in the early sixties, and got out just as Nam was lighting up the midnight sky. When I got out of the service I went to college, joined the anti-war movement, and eventually became an angry, disenfranchised, pot-smoking hippie, ending up doing six months in drug rehab. I had to face all of the pain and misguided thinking that had nearly led me to ruin, and it saved my life.

I went on to marry, have a family, become a college professor, and am now living out a comfortable retirement with my second wife in Santa Barbara, California.

I cannot second-guess you on the inner workings of the 'military- industrial complex'; you have lived it, I have merely read about it. If it is what you say it is, though, it is beyond anyone's control, including Congress and the President, and we will all soon be victims of Darth Vader's Galactic Empire.

Perhaps I am just naive, or perhaps because I lack the direct experience with the self-perpetuating machine you describe, but I remain an optimist. There are many forces at work in the world, any of which, if unleashed, could destroy us all. I still do not see the system you describe as the most dangerous aspect of it.

We have apocalyptic madmen developing nuclear weapons; we have religious zealots who worship death, intent on avenging events that occurred back in the 12th century; we have tinhorn dictators flush with oil money who want to run the world and are willing to do whatever it takes to do it.

Corruption at the Pentagon - no surprise there. We still need the weapons and we need them to be constantly updated. I still believe in America's ability to self-correct, and will go on doing so until convinced otherwise. Let's hope we can survive the corruption and whatever the Axis of Evil can throw at us.

Thanks for the comments, and keep in touch. I'll post this on your site as well.

doomsy said...

I want to say thanks as well for your service to our country both in the line of battle and in the defense community, and I also want to praise you for enduring your ongoing struggle with PTSD. Your insights both in this post and in the comment you left at my site speak volumes, and I appreciate it.

I won't say anything about the Iraq war because I don't want to risk a comment "battle" with any well-meaning individuals here with whom I may disagree; among other things, that would detract from your great post, and it's just my opinion anyway. Anyone wishing to spend any time at my site at all can determine a pretty clear picture of that.

I'll add you to my blogroll for the courtesy of your comment and the highly interesting points you made. If you wish to reciprocate, that's fine, but this isn't a "quid pro quo" thing.

Good luck with everything and please keep in touch. I'll remember to check back as often as I can.

RoseCovered Glasses said...

I appreciate the comments on my postings by Red Stater, Supergirlest, Mick Brady and Doomsy. It's this kind of dialouge that furthers ideas and gets information out to inform the public. Views can be honestly expressed and constructively evaluated in this country, thank goodness, and blogging certainly promotes the proces.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post.

Richard said...

The following commit was found in another publication. I was courious as to what is going cause this war machine to " come apart"?

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen unitil it hits a brick wall at high speed.

RoseCovered Glasses said...

Regarding Richard's question, I am convinced after having worked in the Defense Industrial Complex that it will come apart at it's own volition due to the shear weight of the beaurocracy it supports and the unmanageable nature of the processes that make it up. To say nothing of the immense amounts of money being poured into it and the corruption prone nature of the way it does business. If you would like more detail, I would be happy to send you a copy of my book, my compliments. It is an unpublished work, intended for anyone who has an interest in these matters. Simply supply your email address and I will respond with a copy.

Mike in WNY said...

I found this blog post very insightful. Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog that led me to your site. I have had people tell me that my views are wrong because I've never worn a uniform and had to fire a gun in the heat of battle. Of course, that is a ridiculous argument, however, now I will point those people in your direction to read what you have to say.

I completely agree with your assessment of our role as the "world's policeman," it is a polarizing policy that will never accomplish its stated objectives. I guess a logical question is, are the stated objectives really the goals of those who make the policy? After reading your post, I would be strongly inclined to say "no." Self-perpetuation of costly bureaucracies certainly are a major factor, as you point out. I also question the objectives of many of our "leaders" who buy into the information presented by the military-industrial complex.

There will always be extremists, terrorists, fundamentalists or whatever you want to call them. They should not be the focus of our actions. The problem is worsened when large numbers of people started siding with those extremists. That is the failure of our Middle East policy.

In my opinion, the best way to effectively interact with the Middle East, and other countries, would be through cooperation and free trade. As you pointed out, we are in a global economy - like it or not. Establishing fair trading practices would hasten the development of other countries and increase their standard of living substantially. Our country would benefit economically as well. The perception of the United States would be greatly enhanced and changed from the current view that we are strong-armed bullies trying to impose our will on the world. Terrorism, by and large, would be defeated because the people in those countries would recognize the benefits of cooperation.

Rick Howell said...

Sir, I've read the piece - apparently from your book - on armaments that you suggested when you posted a comment on my blog, Rick Howell Speaks. I must say I am very favorably impressed. Your knowledge and your experience speaks for itself. Not only is your personal story interesting and motivating, you have obviously learned a great deal about the inner workings of what Ike called the "military/industrial complex."

I absolutely agree with your view that we must learn about our limits in the world. No country wants to be occupied; few countries wish for us to sweep in and bring them a way of life that revolves around fast-food restaurants, credit card debt, and too many consumer toys to play with.

Again, I appreciate your experience, work, and expertise. And I'm not done reading your blog. Sincerely, Rick Howell

RoseCovered Glasses said...

"Odyssey of Armaments" is available free of charge as an unpublished work in electronic form. Please direct your request with your email address to:

larsoke3@hotmail.com

Thanks

Anonymous said...

People like you make this country great. I read about your military service and the consequences you suffered. Any one who had worn this nations uniforms in defence of it is my hero. Without a doubt, Mr. Larson, you are my hero.

PoliShifter said...

Great post! Thank you for sharing. This is truly something for the history books.

As I see it we only have about a 10 year window to really turn things around and shift toward investing into education, research, and development.

If we don't, we will likey be passed by by other countries around the world such as China and India. Outsourcing isn't helping as it seems we have an eager willingness to move hi-tech and R&D jobs overseas, train people over seas, and pay them far less money rather than investing in our own citizenry.

Papa Ray said...

Yea, your bio reads almost like mine, substitute "Big Blue" for your defense job and it reads just as my life happened.

In general, of course.

I'm not surprised to find another vet as stupid as I was. I went from challenge to challenge, promotion after promotion, on and on, all while feeding my depressed, half crazed brain and ego.

Of course that came to a screeching halt when I retired. I never again found release through my work. So...

I did what I should have done years and years prior.

I got help. It took about four years and some days to where I got my demons excised and made friends with all my ghosts, but it was worth it.

Your take on the Pentagon is right on, but I think outside forces will act on it before it has a chance to implode.

Like another world war or something along those lines.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

The Guru Pat said...

Dude,

As a vietnam era vet (volunteer not draftee), I left America after my service and settled in England (very different from my small town Oregon upraising). I too had the demons to go from challenge to challenge and promotion to promotion, but became so good at it that I formed my own companies until I became one of the worlds experts on "what the British think". I finally got to the place where my ego was so full and I was so sick of others approval that I pledged that I would "give it all away"...let go of everything that I believed "made me, me". That's when it "all" started to make sense!So whether it is retirement that "forces" our eyes open; or just the sickness of our lives (constatnly looking for more success and "stuff") makes us stop and take a look around - it all ends in the same way! The important thing to realize is that getting suckered doesn't make you a sucker...we are where we are now because we were willing to confront the hollowness we felt in our lives; to "fill the hole in our soul" - not with another goal or beleif that someone else had the answers - but with our new sense of who we are; warts and all! This is what we take forward from here and tell the young men and women who look to us as the "grey beards"...our real stories of success and failure and the helping them find better ways to deal with their demons! Life is grand!

Pat

RoseCovered Glasses said...

Pat,

This was without a doubt the most astute comment so far in terms of understanding what many of us have gone through over the last 30 or so years.

You are exactly at the same place in your life as I am, helping others and glad to be doing it.

You and I both know how good it feels to hear from those who have had identical experiences in war and what follows.

My Very Best Wishes for the Holidays over ther in the UK

Ken

TomCat said...

Ken, first thank you for your service. Through voulnteer work in prisons, I have met many Vietnam era Vets with PTSD who would not be where they are were help available to them in the 1970s. Your successful struggle for so many years are a testament to your courage.

Thanks also for your comment at PP.

Anonymous said...

hello, RG--
I want to add my thanks to those above.
and to say I'm so sorry that our paranoid government would have penalized you if you had dared sought the help you needed to move past the depression and PTSD you incurred from serving your country.

you deserve to be so proud of yourself for doing whatever you needed to do to survive one more day and one more day and one more day as you struggled back from those difficulties. so many never reach the insights you have through the struggle but simply sink deeper.

thank you for your service AND for your courage in standing up to your demons.
two crows

Robert Garding said...

I read your comment on my blog "Tired of all the Liberal Rhetoric out there..." and I have to say several things.

1. Thank you and God bless you for your service to America....

2. Thank you for posting your comment to my blog. I have blogmarked you to mine, and will visit yours as often as I can. Your points are well taken and I appreciate your reading my blog and your commenting. God Bless you.

-Robert-

Wadena said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. If you like fishing you should take a look at my archives for some of the Wadena stories (Wadena likes fish).

Anonymous said...

Great post Thank you

Major-General Smedley D. Butler: Common Sense (November 1935)
I spent thirty-three years and four months in active service as a member of our country's most agile military force---the Marine Corps. I have served in all commissioned ranks from a second lieutenant to major-general. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the bankers, In short I was a racketeer for capitalism
Thus, I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place to live for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in…. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American Sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras "right" for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. I was rewarded honors, medals, promotion. Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three continents."

War Is A Racket


http://psychomikeos.blogspot.com/

Ken Larson said...

I agee

Ken

devildog6771 said...

I have certainly enjoyed your post and the comments. I too have PTSD. It is caused by something else but my military service brought it out to the forefront. I just didn't know it at the time. Later in ,life it knocked me off my feet when the cause began to make itself known.

I managed to complete my 4 years in the Corps. Although I never went into combat because women were not allowed in combat in the Corps during Vietnam, I worked at a place where the Marines returning from Vietnam were assigned to help them ready for EOLs. I am not complaining but it did have an impact on me.

What I most remember was the sense of helplessness I felt as I watched them try to readjust. Drugs was a major problem too as was alcohol.

My first duty station was San Diego at Ground Radio Repair School. I used to watch the recuits training. I saw young boys become young men before their time.
I always called them assembly line soldiers.

I had one young friend who killed men, women, and children, like the MaiLai incident. His buddy was killed the week before by a child who brought a granade out of her bag. He didn't mean to kill them. But a kid in a village wouldn't stop going for his bag. All he saw was a replay of the week before. The kid onlyhad a chocolate bar to trade. If he is still alive, I know to this day he is still haunted.

After boot camp many young men wound up in our classes. After they graduated and left, I carried their faces around with me long after their names were forgotten. I would look at them and think will I ever know if he makes it back ok. I have been to the "wall" three times looking for names and feel so guilty sometimes because I can't remember their names. But I feel them there as if that wall were a living breathing entity.

Vietnam can not in any way be compared to Iraq except from the point of view of unfinished business from as far back as WWI. Vietnam did not declar war on us and didn't want to destroy us, It simply wanted us to go home. It never tried to kill our president or harbored internatiinal terrorists!

Vietnam was always a civil war; but, we didn't know it until much later. The French, par for course, botched it there originally. They are doing the same crap now in Africa to former colonies "as UN Peacekeepers" because they simply will not let go completely.

Iraq and the entire Middle East problem might easily have been avoided had the Belfour treaty been an honest treaty. The secret treaties with France and England and the League of Nations in that region let them go in a half hearted maesure. During WWII some of the countries in the middle East remembered their betrayal after WWI and chose the wrong side. They paid heavily. The Ottoman Caliphate was divided,and the countries in the Middle East were subsequently formed without regard for clan or religious orientation.Clans and Sunni and Shia found themselves tied together as a nation in name only by arbitrary boundaries.

Stalin was already making his move for power and conquest and the nations that could have prevented the Cold War and the present Middle East problems used appeasement and "negotiation"when they should have realized Russia was no more economically able to wage further war than they were. The Middle Eastern nations werte not all fully freed until the 60's. France, England, Holland, a major corp and the US [for helping win the war] devided the Iraqi oil and moniees from the oil until about 1959. Iraq never saw a penny or any of the oil before then.

Israel was promised a homeland. England never intended to follow through until Truman voted yes forcing their hand. On the verge of economic collapse and in many cases already economically collapsed, only the US was able to help pull Europe out of ruin under the Marshall Plan and Japan under MacArthur's military rule.

We are not the war mongers and imperialist people would have us believe. We helped rebuild Europe with our money and determination. We posted our troops throughout Europe for the security of those nations at their request because Europe was too devasted to do so on their own.

The Russian army may have been poor and the nation economically broken, but it was determined to pick up where Hitler left off.

So much devastation still existed in Europe pre WWII from WWI that the European nations put most of their efforts into economic rebuilding and infra structure.

Except for England, who has a small military compared to us, none of the European nations have yet to rerbuild their Armies enough to really defend themselves in time of out right war. France may well be up to the samelevel as England. Not only that, the places where our bases are located are very much tied into the local economy.

Remember also that Europe depends on Midle Eastern oil. As much as peace and prosperity there is a goal, there was never really a rush or concerted effort to do more than contuinue the ststus quo. It is no longer an option. The Middle East must be helped now. I agree what we are doing "is" nation building. Heck, we "nation built most of Europe" in a way.

But the backlash of unfinish business in the Middle East threatens to over run Europe. It has gotten so bad that the European Union is studying the American political system and absorption of immigrants to see what Europe can do different to avoid a Muslim takeover.

In some nations, due to development and advancements, birth rates of nationals is lower and will soon be surpassed by immigrants primarily of Muslim descent if something isn't done.

As for capitalism, Democracy, and Nation building in the Middle East, if you do some thorough research you will seee that all through Europe, all those small, new Democracies are among the most avid supporters of what we are doing in Iraq. They all voluntarily contribute though many are not really in a position to help much. But to a one they all support the Iraqi effort.

But let us not foget one other crucial thing that impacted us all heavily in the Vietnam Era, teh massive cultural changesofthe 60's and 70's. Civil rights, women's rights, voting rights, The Communist movement at our colleges through the SDS, Weather Underground,the Black panthers, the asaassination of John Kennedy, Bobby, Martin Luther King and Maslcom X.The boombings and the the riots were also there too. And, lastly, the hippie movement and even the music culture. Add to that the war with "the draft" versus an all volunteer militaryandthe flag burnings, draft card burnings and draft dodgers underground railroad to Canada! It it any wonder we, as a nation, we unable to help our veterans? I don'tmean to condone this tragedy, I merely mean to point out cause and effect relationships.

One last final outcome or carry over of all that time for our troops was the emerging knowledge over a period of time of the dramatic effects of war on our troops and the knowledge that these effects could no longer be treated as acts of weakness or cowardice as was done prevbiously in war time.

In closing to what has turnedout to be much larger than I ever intended, thank God for you and the caliber of men who have posted here. I agree, you are real heros in my book. Thank you.

devildog6771 said...

I have certainly enjoyed your post and the comments. I too have PTSD. It is caused by something else but my military service brought it out to the forefront. I just didn't know it at the time. Later in ,life it knocked me off my feet when the cause began to make itself known.

I managed to complete my 4 years in the Corps. Although I never went into combat because women were not allowed in combat in the Corps during Vietnam, I worked at a place where the Marines returning from Vietnam were assigned to help them ready for EOLs. I am not complaining but it did have an impact on me.

What I most remember was the sense of helplessness I felt as I watched them try to readjust. Drugs was a major problem too as was alcohol.

My first duty station was San Diego at Ground Radio Repair School. I used to watch the recuits training. I saw young boys become young men before their time.
I always called them assembly line soldiers.

I had one young friend who killed men, women, and children, like the MaiLai incident. His buddy was killed the week before by a child who brought a granade out of her bag. He didn't mean to kill them. But a kid in a village wouldn't stop going for his bag. All he saw was a replay of the week before. The kid onlyhad a chocolate bar to trade. If he is still alive, I know to this day he is still haunted.

After boot camp many young men wound up in our classes. After they graduated and left, I carried their faces around with me long after their names were forgotten. I would look at them and think will I ever know if he makes it back ok. I have been to the "wall" three times looking for names and feel so guilty sometimes because I can't remember their names. But I feel them there as if that wall were a living breathing entity.

Vietnam can not in any way be compared to Iraq except from the point of view of unfinished business from as far back as WWI. Vietnam did not declar war on us and didn't want to destroy us, It simply wanted us to go home. It never tried to kill our president or harbored internatiinal terrorists!

Vietnam was always a civil war; but, we didn't know it until much later. The French, par for course, botched it there originally. They are doing the same crap now in Africa to former colonies "as UN Peacekeepers" because they simply will not let go completely.

Iraq and the entire Middle East problem might easily have been avoided had the Belfour treaty been an honest treaty. The secret treaties with France and England and the League of Nations in that region let them go in a half hearted maesure. During WWII some of the countries in the middle East remembered their betrayal after WWI and chose the wrong side. They paid heavily. The Ottoman Caliphate was divided,and the countries in the Middle East were subsequently formed without regard for clan or religious orientation.Clans and Sunni and Shia found themselves tied together as a nation in name only by arbitrary boundaries.

Stalin was already making his move for power and conquest and the nations that could have prevented the Cold War and the present Middle East problems used appeasement and "negotiation"when they should have realized Russia was no more economically able to wage further war than they were. The Middle Eastern nations werte not all fully freed until the 60's. France, England, Holland, a major corp and the US [for helping win the war] devided the Iraqi oil and moniees from the oil until about 1959. Iraq never saw a penny or any of the oil before then.

Israel was promised a homeland. England never intended to follow through until Truman voted yes forcing their hand. On the verge of economic collapse and in many cases already economically collapsed, only the US was able to help pull Europe out of ruin under the Marshall Plan and Japan under MacArthur's military rule.

We are not the war mongers and imperialist people would have us believe. We helped rebuild Europe with our money and determination. We posted our troops throughout Europe for the security of those nations at their request because Europe was too devasted to do so on their own.

The Russian army may have been poor and the nation economically broken, but it was determined to pick up where Hitler left off.

So much devastation still existed in Europe pre WWII from WWI that the European nations put most of their efforts into economic rebuilding and infra structure.

Except for England, who has a small military compared to us, none of the European nations have yet to rerbuild their Armies enough to really defend themselves in time of out right war. France may well be up to the samelevel as England. Not only that, the places where our bases are located are very much tied into the local economy.

Remember also that Europe depends on Midle Eastern oil. As much as peace and prosperity there is a goal, there was never really a rush or concerted effort to do more than contuinue the ststus quo. It is no longer an option. The Middle East must be helped now. I agree what we are doing "is" nation building. Heck, we "nation built most of Europe" in a way.

But the backlash of unfinish business in the Middle East threatens to over run Europe. It has gotten so bad that the European Union is studying the American political system and absorption of immigrants to see what Europe can do different to avoid a Muslim takeover.

In some nations, due to development and advancements, birth rates of nationals is lower and will soon be surpassed by immigrants primarily of Muslim descent if something isn't done.

As for capitalism, Democracy, and Nation building in the Middle East, if you do some thorough research you will seee that all through Europe, all those small, new Democracies are among the most avid supporters of what we are doing in Iraq. They all voluntarily contribute though many are not really in a position to help much. But to a one they all support the Iraqi effort.

But let us not foget one other crucial thing that impacted us all heavily in the Vietnam Era, teh massive cultural changesofthe 60's and 70's. Civil rights, women's rights, voting rights, The Communist movement at our colleges through the SDS, Weather Underground,the Black panthers, the asaassination of John Kennedy, Bobby, Martin Luther King and Maslcom X.The boombings and the the riots were also there too. And, lastly, the hippie movement and even the music culture. Add to that the war with "the draft" versus an all volunteer militaryandthe flag burnings, draft card burnings and draft dodgers underground railroad to Canada! It it any wonder we, as a nation, we unable to help our veterans? I don'tmean to condone this tragedy, I merely mean to point out cause and effect relationships.

One last final outcome or carry over of all that time for our troops was the emerging knowledge over a period of time of the dramatic effects of war on our troops and the knowledge that these effects could no longer be treated as acts of weakness or cowardice as was done prevbiously in war time.

In closing to what has turnedout to be much larger than I ever intended, thank God for you and the caliber of men who have posted here. I agree, you are real heros in my book. Thank you.

RoseCovered Glasses said...

To Develdog6771,

I appreciate the time you took, the kind words regarding the service of my coleagues and myself, your historical perspective and your keen insights as a service member and PTSD sufferer.

Your experiences speak for themselves, as do mine.

I have found my tonic these days in giving to small business through SCORE, through mentoring younger people whenever possible and through writing.

I suspect from the tone of your contribution here that you have found similar pursuits and that you are at peace.

Respectfully,

Ken

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken, I appreciate your comment on my blog. I want to read your book. I'll contact you. But I wanted to leave a comment here. You sound like a good fellow and I, like all the others, appreciate your candor and honesty.You are obviously gathering a trail of sensitive, emotional readers with a wide varity of opinions. I'll be thinking good things about you and be looking forward to getting a copy of your book. I certainly agree writing is good theorpy. I hope that it doesn't get you in any more trouble.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken, I certainly want to get a copy of your book. Good luck with your writing theorpy. I know that it works from my own experience. Keep up the good work.

Jimmy J. said...

Got to your blog via your comment left on Shrinkwrapped.

I too am a Vietnam Vet. One tour flying of the USS Midway at Yankee Station and one tour attached to the Air Force at Tan Son Nhut. I was disgusted with our "No Win" policies in Vietnam and resigned from the Navy after thirteen good years. We could have achieved the same result as we did in Korea if Johnson had been willing to turn the dogs loose on North Vietnam. But that's water under the bridge and only my opinion.

I experienced somewhat the same symptoms as you. Always pushing myself to achieve more and more. Then one day my son was killed in a mountain climbing accident. That sent me into a spiral of grief from whcih I could only escape by .......working. Went on for several years, but one day I woke up and realized I was out of energy and out of ideas. I knew I had to get help because I was actually wondering what the best way to commit suicide might be. I went into a few years of psychological counseling. But I still didn't feel any sense of self esteem. I knew what my issues were, I understood intellectually that I was an acceptable, high achieving person who had done much with my life. It just wasn't inside of me. I meditated, read the Bible, read self help books, went to church and more. Nothing..............Until one day I was hiking in the mountains of Colorado. To the east a huge thunderstorm built up. It was the kind of storm that has the power of many atomic bombs residing in its innards. Lightning was flashing, thunder was rolling and echoing. I felt very small, powerless, and alone. But something happened...........A feeling of calm acceptance came over me. Suddenly I realized I was accepted..........By a power that I could not name nor understand. I just knew deep within the fiber of my being that I was okay. From that day forward I have been more alive than I had been for years. I'm not conventionally religious, but I believe there is a higher power and if we can open up to what is out there it can transform us. That was 14 years ago when I was 59. I'm 73 now and that wonderful feeling has not left me. I learned that for so many years I was a human "doing" not a human "being." Now I'm a joyful believer in the Force, the Creator, God, Jehovah, Allah, Love, or whatever one can call He whose name we do not know. I don't understand it, but it's deep inside me and I'm stuck with it.

I have always felt that our military system was far too politicized. One of the things that I hated about Vietnam was the interservice rivalry. I was once involved with a JCS conference on ECM measures. Whenever we would try to share information about our ECM capabilities and what we knew of the enemy radar, a Navy Captain would jump in and cut us off. After the conference the Captain approached me and chewed me out for trying to share information with the Air Force and Army. (What?????) I was told many times by career officers that we could defend ourselves with 12 carriers, but 25 would be much better for Navy budgets and promotions.

Military budgeting is also screwed up. We used to go out and burn gas wastefully at the end of the fiscal year because if we didn't use it up we'd get cut. I'm sure you're familiar with many of these things.

IMO the answer is a single service with divisions that specialize in the various kinds of warfare. It always amazes me when I see that the Army still has more airplanes than the Air Force. Of course a single service means far fewer flag ranks and the flags will fight that to the death.

You have experience with procurement and know all the waste and duplication that is going on there. You also know where all the dollars are being scooped up by friends of the military and Congress. Would anyone listen to you if you named names?

I can only assume that you mean the only way this is going to change is if we are confronted with a situation where the military flat fails us. That's a pretty frightening scenario.

Good luck, I plan on being a frequent visitor.

RoseCovered Glasses said...

jimmy j,

Thanks for your comments, which speak volumes for themselves. Like several other Vietnam Vets who have visited this site, your story has remarkable similarities to what others have experienced after leaving that war.

Regarding your remarks about naming names, I have simply adopted a policy of not doing that because the overall problem is systemic and must be dealt with in a sytemic manner, much like a disease. The people are only the symptoms of the real disease which must be cured.

I am convinced the Military Industrial Complex will collapse by its own weight and then be suitably realigned to a posture which reflects the American people's wish to co-exist with other nations, take action only when other countries have been unfairly invaded, not occupy other domains and quit being the world police force.

Jameson Freeman said...

It is difficult for someone of my age and experience to relate to your personal knowledge of matters regarding the military, combat, defense and general political/industrial entanglements. This is not because of a lack of interest on the subject, rather a lack of exposure and a different path in life.

That said, your supplementing of information to my blog article on marine equipment and research was the best kind of comment I could have asked for. I appreciate the insight very much. It was incredibly relevant and interesting - especially given that most of my readers (college friends who bypass anything if they don't understand it) would do well to engage such matters in debate and thought. I hope my blog becomes a focal point of high-level debate and discussion on varied and profound matters, as well as entertainment and blurbs about various chic activities. You have helped a great deal towards making me feel that the former is a legitimate aim.

It seems like your writing has touched a lot of people in sentimental and intellectual ways. Your stories, both personal and current event-related are meaningful and important to read. Personally, I really like your poem, Together – its poignancy and flow show a lot of deep roots… anyway it was beautiful. Thanks again for taking the time to write your comment, as it has caused a lot of stir among my friends and impressed my father that a veteran gave credence to something on the How To Be Dolce blog. Have an awesome holiday season and a marvelous Christmas! – Since that’s today.

Stay dolce,
Jameson Freeman

http://howtobedolce.wordpress.com

RoseCovered Glasses said...

Jameson Freeman

I appreciate your response to my comment on your blog:

http://howtobedolce.wordpress.com

Quite frankly, I was drawn to our article, "It You Ever Doubted the Military Industrial Complex", by the Blogspot seach mechanism and then I stayed to read your fine commentary.

Since it is people in your age group who will be bearing the brunt of the future decisions on these matters, I was enthused with our perspective of questioning.

I work as a volunteer through SCORE with many individuals in your age group who have finished school and are starting their own small business enterpirses. I am impressed with the ingenuity and curiosity of many in your generation.

You are a fine writer and I am sure you will find as you continue your education that both visual and verbal communication will become principal elements of whatever you decide to do as a profession.

Thanks for the kind remarks on my photography and poetry.

In the event you and our friends are interested in further research on the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) may I suggest you check out the following site:

http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/spinney_testimony_060402.htm

Electronic copies of my unpublished work are also available by email for those who contact me at:

larsoke3@hotmail.com

Mr. Spinney and I spent equal amounts of time in the MIC. He was
on the government side and continues to blow the whistle loud and long. I burned out and changed my venue to commentary and small business.

Keep blogging, writing and communicating. You are good at it.

Ken Larson

Bill said...

Good Commentary here and on Controlcongress. As a Republican who's actually started looking at things from a "democrat" perspective I wanted to know if you had any insight on how to improve the Defense procurement procedure, specifically as it pertains to no-bid contracts to companies such as Halliburton, ect...

RoseCovered Glasses said...

Bill,

I appreciate your kind words on my commentary.

Regarding your questions on improving the process, that is a tall order. I don't know if you have ever looked at the Federal Acquisition Regualtion (FAR). Take a glance at the table of contents some time and you will begin to see a body of work which has grown on a reactionary basis since World War II.

http://farsite.hill.af.mil/vffara.htm

The above is just the regulation, not the process. The process and what is wrong with it is admirably covered at :

http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/spinney_testimony_060402.htm

Mr. Spinney spent an equal amount of time to me iin the Military Industrial Complex, only on the government side. His testimony at the above link is still pertinent today.

With regard to no bid contracts, the Haliburton situation was covered legally by the Pentagon with use of a massive "Indefinate Delivery/Indefinate Quantity (IDIQ) Contract which was awarded as an umbrella contract for a multi-year period to Halliburton through competitive bidding. IDIQ contracts are often let by the Pentagon to multiple award winners and the winners compete on a delivery order basis. Halliburton was so massively positioned to respond quickly to the need of war that the government contracting officers used the Halliburton "Umbrella" to justify the procurements.

Spinney gets into corrective action on these type of situations in his testimony. By the way, he is still crusading, having left the government. The search mechanism on your browser will turn up numerous articles on his work.

Ken

Bill said...

Ken
Thanks. Re: depression: I suffered that too after high school football albeit not at the same level as soldiers suffer. I think it comes from the training to focus and achieve, then having all that end suddenly. Lot's of people start to focus on themselves after intense situations which I think is suicidal. I like a quote from Bruce Lee, which sort of applies: "The consciousness of self is the greatest hinderance to the proper execution of all physical action". I've applied that one to all aspects of life. "TAO of Jeet Kune Do" is an excellent book, especially the first chapter which has lots of quotes like this.

Anonymous said...

The diversity of the commentators viewpoints displayed, shows possibility for collective thought and action. Most, just want to do a better job with what we have and now see that the beauty is here on the ground in small groups (supposedly protected by the Imperium). The destruction and tragedy is with the aberrant focus of tons of money and moral/ethical noninterest, self interest or psycopathy. The purging of these negatives is required but it won't happen without the forming of a new society willing to recognize just principles of conduct suitable for global peace and survival- (the progressive evolution of the human species). Examples of radical solutions abound and swirl through conciousness mostly motivated by greed, fame, illusion and religious ideology. How does wisdom emerge from this morass? Only through thoughtful relinquishing of the need for the above weaknesses. Then the proper action with the proper force and direction (the martial art analogy).

First, considering that the planet is overpopulated requires population limitation and this monumental problem along with climate change (which is a method of population limitation) must have a rational solution. Ignoring it is what we have now. Perhaps, it's easier to win (or lose)than evolve!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken, Thanks for letting me know about this post. Sounds like you have gone through the wringer for your country and are a true hero! It is great to read that you are doing rewarding work helping others.

It is definitely time for the US to stop trying to be the solitary 'World Policeman'. Multilateralism is the way to go to ensure the US does not continue to lose it's esteem in the eyes of the world.

I would be interested in reading the full book. Keep up the good work!

Shane
Dublin, Ireland.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to add my thanks with all those above for your service and your sacrifices. Thanks also for visiting my blog and leaving the link to this interesting article.

It made me wonder.... could we ever go back to walking softly and carrying a big stick?

Take care ... be safe ...

dusty said...

Depleted Uranium is something very few people mention when talking about the the first Gulf War. Its one of the things I wish people would address. I hope you have a good life sir and thanks for your service to our country.

Paul said...

Thanks Ken!

Kevin said...

Ken

You were kind enough to post a lengthy comment on my blog at www.kevinrants@typepad.com, so first, thank you for your good words. I've just read your powerful personal essay and also want to thank you for directing me to this post. I'm looking forward to reading more. In the meantime, I'm creating a link on my site to yours and would love it if you'd the same.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. May I first say that I am glad that you survived your bouts with depression. It is my earnest hope that you will continue to share your unique story with the world. We share many of the same viewpoints and I find that encouraging. Best wishes. Mort.

Anonymous said...

Very powerful story. Thank you sir, for your service to our country. I'm sorry it took such a toll on your mental health. I pray that you have found peace in your new undertakings.

You make important points about how our nations money is spent. We can afford to be the world police as long as the federal reserve banking institutions continue to print the money. The FED is devaluing the dollar and blowing out the economy at an accelerated rate, though. So it probably wont be long. At least thats how I see it.

Anonymous said...

How much longer can we afford to be the "World's Policeman"?

We never were able to. WWII came to an end in an atomic nightmare not by military might. The United Nations should be the worlds policemen and that will not happen until the security council becomes democratic.

Great post, much thanks.

stonecupid said...

Dear Ken,
Thanks for the comment on my page about the article from TomDispatch.com which I put on my webdigest about the future of war. I read your Odyssey of Armaments article with wonder and awe. Your journey has been made with fortitude, and however hard it's been, I have so much respect for where it's taken you.
Thank you so much for your service to our country, and the insight which you have because of it. And for passing it on.
PTSD is a major problem, and to some degree or other, too many people in and out of the military have yet to find a way to deal with it. There are some posts on my digest about it, and a song I've written called "Boy in Pain" here on myspace:
http://www.myspace.com/juliechristensenandstonecupid
Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken, I've been reading some of the comments - great as usual.
In response to dusty and depleted uranium; I have posted on my blog thehobophilosopher a lengthy column on Doug Rokke and his fight against depleted Uranium. I also published it in the local newspaper that I work for. As far as I know my newspaper and one in New Hampshire are the only ones who have yet to print anything on this issue. The owner of my newspaper who died last month was also a Vietnam vet. His name was Tom Hoffer and he had just been granted 100% disability for exposure to agent orange.
I finished your book Ken - clearly you have had quite an adventure. keep up the good work and good luck.

RoseCovered Glasses said...

Thank you Richard for your kind words on the dialouge going on here and for the additional information on depleted uranium which I will look into closely.

My friends and I at the veteran's home are enjoying your works, I am reading "A Summer With Charlie" and Joe is reading "Hobo-ing America". Both are extremely well written with en efficiency of expression that is so sharp it keeps the reader on his toes at all times. Very entertaining reads.

We look forward to your continued posts.

Rich said...

I can't help but wonder if red stater has considered the possibility that this war is unwinnable. Victory would be nice, but how many more Iraqis and Americans do we have to sacrifice to find out if victory is a realistic, attainable goal? Things have gone so badly for so long that I certainly wouldn't be willing to send my son to find out.

Rich said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog.

I'm in total agreement that the government is in need of some drastic changes. I disagreed somewhat with what you said on my blog about the Pentagon, however it's great that folks like you are speaking out about these issues.

Richard

Anonymous said...

I simply wanted to thank you for taking the time to both read my "whinings" then share your vast experience with me. Amazingly written, by the way.

Much perspective is drawn from what you say. I would like to also express my gratitude for pulling me back far enough to allow for some peripheral influence...the plan view so to speak. You're career, as you describe it is one to be proud of and respected. I am very much hoping to find myself in a position that poses both daily challenges, and the "troubleshooter" requirements I so thoroughly enjoy.

You were a large influence on the ensuing actions that following week, and I feel the better person for it, thank you, again for taking the time.

-Todd (1LazyEngineer- Live Journal Post)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ken for stopping by my blog
http://ananthsworldview.blogspot.com/2007/01/war-machine.html#comments

I am not as experienced as you..nor have I served in any wars..but I completely agree with what you have to say. I am eagerly waiting for the demolition of war machine..so that the funds of $500billion can be utilized else where to make the world a better place to live..People can be feel safe..Thanks your article is very insightful I will read you blog for all the updates on war machine..

Anonymous said...

Thank you for The Truth.

Ian Milliss said...

Thanks for your recent comment on our blog. Reading this post made me think how important and difficult it is to think through and change our beliefs, yet you seem to do that. Right now climate change poses the greatest crisis in the history of humanity and like it or not all existing social/political/military arrangements will be changed as a result. You come from a world that is completely alien to me and no doubt we would disrespect many aspects of each others beliefs but you are clearly a thoughtful man and creative thought is all that can save us.

M. Simon said...

Re: PTSD you might find this of interest:

PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

Re: why we are the world's policeman and why that is necessary:

Decline and Fall
Desolation Row

M. Simon said...

A Geologist Looks At Global Warming

M. Simon said...

War is a racket.

What people do not understand is that if it is done as a way to increase trade flows (Gen. S. Butler was right about that part.) every one involved gets richer.

If it is purely a blood sucking operation (as the Soviets did to their "clients") every one gets poorer.

Now in general (and yes from time to time we have screwed the pooch badly) where do you think America stands?

M. Simon said...

Anon 5:44PM thinks that if we stopped spending on the military the money could go to better uses.

Probably.

However, she needen't wait to get the Feds to move on it. She could start in her own community by demanding the police force be disbanded. Think of all the money that could go to better uses.

Some one is going to be the world's policeman. Given the options I'd rather it was us. We are not so good. But there is lots worse out there.

RoseCovered Glasses said...

m.simon,

Paraphrasing from the feature post at this site, "Odyssey of Armaments":

I hope that my account of the experiences I had in 36 years on 25 weapons systems in 16 foreign countries has supplied useful insights into the US Government Defense Industrial Complex.

My odyssey was driven by a need to manage illnesses acquired in warfare. I found a way to deal with the maladies for years by spreading myself thin and accepting every new challenge. I thrilled at success and moved on after defeat, pursuing a misguided goal. Out of necessity I have now been forced to look inward, wind down to a smaller perspective, take care of my health - begin serving the little guy.

Perhaps it is time for our country to consider a similar transition.

michael said...

My comment is short and simple. THANKS for taking the time to share your knowledge with people. Mentor's are so, so needed and you my friend fit that to a tee.

Again, THANKS
Michael Erickson
www.citizen4change.org

Ed, Dickau said...

http://courtofimpeachmentandwarcrimes.blogspot.com/2007/02/impeachment-revisitation-of-military.html

KEN_Thank you for your comments at http://precinctmaster.blogspot.com Please drop in and see the post I have put up prompted by your commentary. Please be well! Ed. Dickau

tammyswofford said...

Yes, the Abrams is an awesome monster! Flew out to Fort Hood on a CH47 once, just to hear them fire at targets. What a wave of sound, even with ear protection!

Appreciate your insightful comments, albeit not in agreement with all of them.

LCDR Tammy Swofford, USNR, NC

NOTR said...

Glad to see you are helping new folks take advantage of the 8A, Hub Zone and Vet Owned advantages the system offers.

Expect to see FCS go the way of the RAH-66. It is the last fart of RMA, net-centricity and all the other buzzies from the last decade.

Is the MIC too big? All I know is that I want to make sure that our men & women fight with the best and newest toys one can have.

Yet, I admit I blogged against the LUH and ARH helicopter programs because both were the result of $$ the system needed to spend, not a bona-fide operational requirement.

I suppose my biggest concern with the system we have now, is as it adjusts to spending $$ and creating toys for an asymmetric threat, we have taken our eyes off the very symmetric one. While Congress slashes DDG, F-35's and all the other stuff we don't need for the long war we are in, my fear is we will again hear the SecDef say, "You go to war with the Army you got, not the one you want." It was true then and will be true again as we continue to insure the next time the balloon goes up there will be a TF Smith there to take the beating because a conventional force has arisen and threatens our national interest.

Newsguy said...

Hi Ken, thanks for the comments on my newest blog. I have no idea how you found it. I have yet to post any public comments anywhere.

In reference to your story, Every Congressional Representative and Senator should have a copy of it and actually read it. They all could learn so much.

It is just common sense that Bush and his crowd should have learned a lesson from Vietnam, AND that when our troopers come back from this Iraq misadventure, they should get first rate medical care.

Tyler said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in the DIC. Your insights are invaluable and I am also very happy that you were finally able to get treatment for your depression. I'm 30 now and I've been battling with moderate to severe episodic depression since I was 14, so I know just how debilitating it can be. Part of my depression is a component of Crohn's Disease, an autoimmune disorder that I was born with. I'm so glad you were able to find effective treatment for that maddening disorder. I've never served in the military but I appreciate all of the men and women who do and support Obama for president in part because he advocates better benefits for veterans. I'm glad there are people like you who will speak their mind, people that were on the inside of the DIC and know the truth. I feel like we are moving toward a brilliant point in history where the leaders of the world can have a summit and finally decide to include all countries in the WTO, IMF/World Bank and work to propagate peace instead of war. Now if the US will just play nice and stop trying to rule the roost perhaps my dream can actually come to pass. Thanks again for sharing.

RoseCovered Glasses said...

Below is a rather intersting comment from John B. at ICDP Dispatch of the Isabella Co. Democratic Party, Mt.Pleasant, MI:

http://icdp.blogspot.com/2007/05/cindy-is-still-hero.html

John B. said...
And what are you doing to help the collapse of the MIC? Doesn't it seem a bit hypocritical to be part and parcel of the problem for decades and making money off the SYSTEM and now in a comfortable retirement without making any personal sacrifices to be spouting off about the obvious horrors of the killing machine you helped to make killing easier?

In WW-1 the civilian casualties were 10%. In Iraq the civilian casualties now exceed 90%. So how well do you sleep?

Rosecoveredglasses seems to describe your kind pretty damn well.

8:22 PM

John's remark was in response to my comment at his blog posting entitled, Cindy Sheehan is Still a Hero"

I supplied him the content of this blog to acquaint him further with where I am and what I do. He will not publish it so I will do so here. The 60 or so of you who regularly correspond on this subject at this site can be the judge of his demeanor.

We the People said...

As promised I have visited and enjoyed this posting as well as some of your other ones. As much talk as there is about the "terrorist threat" I find myself equally as concerned about the control and motives of the MIC in our own country.

I fully understand the need for the United States to maintain a superior offensive and defensive capability but strongly disagree with our current policy of military intervention on foreign soil unless it is absolutely to protect the very survival of the United States of America. IF that is truly the case in Iraq my most important question would be; "Why are we NOT taking ALL measures to put down this "threat" (as the most powerful military in the world) instead of fighting THEIR war?" Could it be that the real objective (and the reason "winning" has not been clearly defined) is not to end the hostilities but to keep the MIC in action. How do we continue to justify the sale of weapons and other war materials to ANY other country in the world? Oh, that's right, it's still about the money. Never mind that Americans have and will continue to be killed by weapons that we sold to current and future enemies.

Visit my blog site at; http://timetothinkagain.blogspot.com

for more impressions that are causing America the beautiful great harm.

Malcolm Lambe said...

I'm so pleased you left a comment on my blog. You've had a remarkable career. It saddens...no it "sickens" me to see what you Americans are doing in Iraq and I don't really understand why the common people just don't rise up and say "enough is enough". I reckon it's put your country's reputation back thirty years - back to Nam. How can you go in to "liberate" a people and then end up killing them indiscriminately? You've dug a big hole for yourselves there; Time to ask yourselves a few questions, don't you think? I'd start with "Do we really have God on our side". BTW did you read Why the U.S. Desperately Needs Another 9/11 Thanks again Ken.

Anycat said...

I read some of the comments and I think there is no hope, no how, no way, for any of us. Being the world's policeman and shoving our form of government down various throats will never be successful, but that doesn't mean we should give up occupying a nation for its own good. People in Iraq are slaughtered every day, and will continue to be slaughtered whether US troops are there or not. As I have noted, the only people who benefit are the weapons makers, the middle men, and the arm chair generals who pontificate from the comfort of their arm chairs about the how proud they are about the sacrifices made by someone else.

Thanks for visiting my Blog and I wish you well with yours.

Snuffysmith said...

Thank you for posting on my blog. And thank you for all of your years of service to the United States. I took the liberty of posting your comments on a political online forum which I help moderate entitled CommonGroundCommonSense.org/
I do not believe the Iraq war was a "just war" as defined by the Vatican of the Roman Catholic Church. And I fear for the blowback our country is going to experience as we march ahead into Iran. I always subscribed to the view that we are a republic as defined by the Framers of the Constitution, not an empire. I realize such thoughts are no longer politically correct in Washington DC.What a shame.

Anonymous said...

An interesting and informative read coming from the insights of a real insider. Red's comment is a frightening reality and belief system which keeps the monster feeding and likely will for generations to come.

The U.S. installed Saddam into power in the first place and we did this knowing he would destabilize the region and stir up Iran (strategists were counting on this- and they got it!).

Why people still try to justify this crap or attempt to re-write it into a heroic tale of rescuing the oppressed is beyond my comprehensive skills. The world is no longer buying those story-lines and neither are the American people. Yet these military industrial complex monsters know no other plot lines- so they keep coughing up the same thing.

I believe it was Hitler who publicly said, "Keep repeating the same lie- over and over and eventually people will come to believe it as the truth".

Hitler also said, "It is fortunate for us leaders that working men do not think for themselves".

RCG- I am very happy to hear you managed to come out of your self imposed nightmare with your head on straight and your memory intact as well as a positive and effective self help option regarding the side-effects of your tumultuous journey. This is a reason you are a decorated soldier- and deservedly so.

To quote red stater:

"The war may be unpopular but the cause is just. The men and women who have already given their lives in Iraq deserve better than to abandon their sacrifices".

here is my take:

There is no just cause for war in a civilized world. And if you want to talk about sacrifices and abandon red stater- then explain Rwandan genocide and the heroic soldiers and caring American government who stopped it out of protecting an oppressed people.

The Rwandan's are still dying everyday and there isn't a caring soldier in sight!

John from Hastings said...

Greetings Ken, Louie-Louie recently lent me his copy of "Odyssey of Arms". I was impressed that you presented your story in a calm, cool and collected manner. Your having been in the "belly of the beast", both as a soldier and as a player for the M I C warrants my attention as to what you have to say. It seems that the comments you share on the RoseCoveredGlasses blog is of the same caliber of communication. I feel that the use of anger, fingerpointing, religious-political-economic intolerance.... is just a snake with its tail in its mouth. Just a vicious, endless loop with no resolution. Like him or not, I think Rodney King had the "mother of all insights" when he pleaded: Can't we all just get along?". I travel in a bunch of different circles and it seems that a starlit night and a campfire never fails to bring out the "get along" in people. Thanks for sharing your story in "Odyssey of Arms" and thank you for continuing to share your insights via the RoseCoveredGlasses blog. Most of all, this Sailor thanks you for having been a Soldier and for having the tenacity to arise from the depths of despair and thereby come to a place of sharing the best of your talents in helping the
"little person" while being a Poet Photographer too!.......John from the place "where the three rivers come together".....

satyen said...

I thank you for your honesty and courage in admitting things people do not air. I agree that unjust wars like Iraq do not solve any problems: they rather breed hate and retaliation. Your comment about the "inside officialdom" deciding and guiding future action is true more than 1000%. Not learning from mistakes,yes. But with people like you ,there is still hope.

batvette said...

I came to your page after your reply on my comment at quora.
Some food for thought: The number of PTSD cases after Vietnam were far, far greater than those of WW2? Yet each saw a large number of horrors. What would be the difference?
The closure of being told you were a hero, that your sacrifice meant something and the things you did to others were forgivable because your efforts saved the world.
In effect, veterans of WW2 got closure and forgiveness for their sins that Vietnam, and now Iraq veterans, never will.
Think about that when you are vocally critical of US policies as wrong. Sure we can debate that there may be better ways, but most people don't think of the PTSD angle this way.
I don't think you can deny that telling someone he was a hero for shooting people will help him to get over guilt for it, but telling him he is a baby killer for it will damn him for sleepless nights for the rest of his life.
Solving the PTSD problem for many Iraq vets may be as easy as telling them the mission was vital and just and giving them the hero's welcome home WW2 vets got- and not using the war as political capital against George W. Bush and his party.

RoseCovered Glasses said...

batvette ,

I can understand your perspective, but not your generalizations. PTSD is personal for every soldier and in other wars we had a different and colder term for it, not diagnosed in many beyond shell shock.

I am critical of the Military Industrial Complex and the way it misleads the decision makers in my country.

Gerald Ben-Ami said...

Ken,

I want to thank you as you helped me when I first got started back 2007. I haven't ventured into the Federal side of things yet but definitely have experienced great success on a state level.

Thank you again for your many contributions to or country, it's citizens, and my business and those family

Gerald Ben-Ami
Big G Tech Support, LLC.