Sunday, January 31, 2010

A message of thanks from SGT Matthew Vanderboegh and comments upon LTG Hertling and the bayonet.

I have been quite busy here with work, and have not had a chance to follow the blog as I should. First I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all of those who sent birthday wishes. It is truly humbling to see the outpouring of gratitude from perfect strangers on this website. I am ashamed that I have not reciprocated the good wishes of the readers of this blog. Please pass on my gratitude on behalf of myself, Nicole and the kleine mann.

Second I would like to address the postings of LTG Hertling. My current assignment is with the Command Group of the 1st Armored Division. The same division that LTG Hertling just left. My time with the General was albeit brief and in an indirect support role, but I was extremely impressed with his candor and professionalism. Respect is earned and not given. From speaking with others who did, I can say that have not seen a General (to include GEN Petraeus) more respected or admired then LTG Hertling. There are those that might doubt his gasp upon reality but I would offer the Generals own comments about his resume and add that I doubt that any of his detractors have led anything higher then a squad during combat operations in Iraq. Big Army makes decisions for the whole of the Army because of decades worth of Army experience. Bottom line; this guy is not a career staff officer nor is he an armchair General. Your readers should probably listen to him.

Yes, it is quite true that the Army has moved away from many Cold War common tasks. Ask any Infantryman when the last time he applied camouflage to himself or dug a foxhole and I am sure he will tell you "basic training". He can, however, raid and cover ground quicker then his predecessors. It is just the nature of how the war in Iraq is being fought. I would offer that when they did away with things like Sergeant's Time Training, a lot of fieldcraft was lost. So it is with bayonet drills. For better or worse it is just not the Army that many of the readers knew from the 80's and 90's.

The Army aside, the decision to take away the bayonet makes little to no difference to your mission focus. I would not doubt if your readers would prefer their KaBar's to the bayonet anyway.

Now it is obvious that I raised my kids to think for themselves and equally obvious that we disagree on this issue. However, the only time I winced was when reading this: "I doubt that any of his detractors have led anything higher then a squad during combat operations in Iraq."

If I may exercise a father's prerogative to gently chide his son, this is gratuitously and needlessly insulting to those of you, veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, who have emailed me and posted to the contrary of LTG Hertzler's opinion -- some of you who have told me you owe your lives to the bayonet and bayonet training. I'm sure he didn't intend it to be insulting to them, but that is how, I am positive, that they will take it.

Well, as I have said before many times, us Vanderboeghs are opinionated so-and-sos.

And since we are on the subject of bayonets, here are two photos of a Marine outfit in Iraq in 2004, forwarding by Irregular RCB with this comment:

K/3/1 USMC Fallujah assault 2004. Bayonets fixed. Photo from an embedded photographer with our unit.


chinasyndrome said...

Mike it sounds like you should be pround to have raised a son who thinks for himself not afraid to buck the system,even when Dad's the system.And did pretty respectfully at that.I'm not military so can't debate bayonets,sounds like if you can affix one to your weapon do it .If not K-bar time.

Anonymous said...

My own thanks again to Matthew for his service and for sharing the photos of the young warrior with Grandpa and thus, with all of us.
And my thoughts - he is right when he says that many / most would prefer their old KaBar ( or these days, maybe TOPS or RATs) for close in stuff and for the morale boost as well.
As Lt. Pogo would say, "Howsome ever..." - just in the event that ammo runs dry or can't be accessed in a pinch, then the rifle becomes a club, a spear, and any alternative version of primitive weapon, and if one MUST close with an enemy on such a level, would one be willing to carry the extra 14 ounces of weight in order to gain an extra 20 inches of reach? I probably would. At the very least, I would want to offer the man in the field an option by placing a mounting lug on the rifle.
- j -

Unknown said...

To borrow an aphorism from another time: The sword cuts both ways.

Bayonets are a tool. They can open an MRE pack, they can pry open a tin can (if there is such a thing any more) they can slice off a piece of 550 cord. They can also stick in the chest of a muj coming through a door suddenly. But they can also make it harder to "slice the pie" at the corner of a building. They're a tool worth keeping. and yes, I led a bayonet charge (of sorts) in of all places Frankfurt West Germany in 1969 during the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations.

In reality, the judgments made should be made by those who bear the consequences of those judgments.

Anonymous said...

From a historical perspective, let me suggest a couple of alternatives to the bayonet. First is the humble e-tool. It obviously has many uses around a camp and has a history in WW1 of being one of the best trench raiding weapons, often used in preference to a bayonet. The second is the Woodman Pal. It is great for clearing brush, chopping small trees, etc. My son has one of these and it works great! The Army used them and even published a manual about using one for hand to hand combat. Just my two bits.

Michael Gilson said...

I asked 'Mad' Mike Williamson a question about mounting bayonets on AR15 carbines that have the gas block and flash hider too close together to take a standard bayonet. He said there is an after market rear bayonet lug that (IIRC) bolts onto the magazine well.

Anonymous said...

If the Bayonet is so useless, why do the gun-grabbers keep trying to ban them?

Pericles said...

I owe LTG Hertling an apology for my previous comments that were unkind about him personally. The fact that he is aware of this blog speaks greatly of him. Sir, I hope you are reading this, so that you may be aware of my apology to you.

I see you wasted no time in getting out of the G-3 section and headed to 1-1 CAV. Every month, when I went to the G-3 conference my Brigade Commander told me "Don't drink the water, there is something in the water there."

IN creating the training plan for our unit, we don't do bayonet training. We distilled basic and AIT into 12 weekends to get a gut to be a capable member of the unit, and we need to emphasize our 3 missions, and we don't have all of the gear the active duty folks have.

Having said that, the M9 bayonet is on our standard equipment list. Bayonets have psychological impact - especially in the middle of a crowd. Got them if we need them, but the real use is part of a mindset of being a threat to the enemey - in the words of Robert Heinlein "the enemy considers you a threat even if you are dropped 100 miles in the enemy rear, buck naked in the middle of winter".

Anonymous said...

Let me explaiin to you the photo's of the Marines. I have it on good authority that in the first picture the Marine is saying, "The Burger King is over there." On the second photo, someone said, "Oh look an Airforce Chick!"

Van from the Hinterland