LTG Mark Hertling responded to my earlier praxis post on the bayonet, giving a thoughtful and more detailed explication of the Army's current thinking. Here it is. I will have comments on the other side.
LTG Mark Hertling has left a new comment on your post "Praxis: The Bayonet":
A few Soldiers who I respect mentioned this blogsite and some of the things being posted as a result of an interview I did at Ft Jackson. They recommended I clear things up with some additional information.
We're revising how we "fight with a rifle" as part of basic training. We're looking at the most likely ways Soldiers will be asked to fight, based on what we've learned in combat, especially in combat over the last eight years. Our new training will include significant changes in a pugil assault course (which I would challenge anyone to compare to the old Bayonet Assault Course, and see which one they think is tougher), fighting with devices (knives, etc) and revising our combative training skills. That is in addition to how we conduct tough physical training, and a more intensive form of basic and advanced rifle marksmanship. It will be pretty intense, and -- more importantly -- relevant to the current and future operating environment.
We can teach the "spirit of the warrior" (replacing the "spirit of the bayonet, as I was taught)by using all kinds of devices and training in our professional values. And that might be important, because the chance of actually using a bayonet in combat is relatively rare (even given the unique actions of the Highlanders, or that of the great infantry hero COL Millett).
For those who submitted comments about me personally, I did have to smile. Yes, my chosen branch was Armor. I've commanded Infantry and Cavalry units, and have had three tours in combat, and I've been assigned to two different training centers. And by the way, in all my years, I've never seen bayonet training being conducted outside the training base (Army or Marines), so I'm wondering how people sustain these critically important skills....or is this just something that is introduced in basic, and never practiced again? Seems to be the case. Not a good way to train.
Thanks for all of you for being interested in what we're doing in the training base. We're still producing the best Soldier in all the world...and we're trying to keep it that way!
General Hertling over Iraq.
While LTG Hertling's thinking is made more clear by his kind response, I maintain my own position (as previously set out) that, at least for the purposes of the militia of the United States, bayonets and bayonet training should not be neglected.
I do thank LTG Hertling for taking the time to respond to my concerns, but I stand by my position.
Hmmm... LTGs may not be exactly 'following' SipseyStreet, but people they know and respect are...
And he calls himself 'a mere scribbler'.
Would that my own scribbles attracted that sort of attention...
Appreciate the follow up post. God bless our men and women in uniform no matter where they are.
The way I look at it, every soldier seems to carry a knife, anyway. Make your bayonet your knife, and you just SAVED WEIGHT.
Important people lurk at Sipsey Street and some may even privately call themselves friends of the 3% while they can't say it out loud (you all know who you are).
Thanks for the recent posts on shelter and bayonet and links to authoritative materials.
Right up front I want to say I appreciate the General's forthright concern and comments, and his taking the time to clear up his message; he makes a good point.
Bottom line with us 'threepers' is that teaching edged weapons, ie, knife and/or hawk fighting and/or is more in line with MW than is bayonet fighting especially in that our rifles are not standard and not all of them take bayonets. Everyone, on the other hand, has a knife and can buy a good hawk. But, if a bayonet is all you have and you put it on the end of a rifle, you had better damn well know how to use it.
But if you can see your way clear to sling your rifle behind your back and you have a good knife in one hand and a hawk in the other, and you train with it (key point the General made) more than just for initial familiarization, you're going to be a much more effective psychological and physical weapon in MW scenarios.
Hertling doesn't get out too much. I did bayonet training several time after I left San Diego.
Just to set the record straight for the general. My old Guard Infantry unit did refresher bayonet training every year as part of our civil distrubance training. Nothing moves a crowd better than an unwavering line of unsheathed bayonets.
If you want to update the combatives program, fine it could use it. But do NOT lose the "Spirit of the Bayonet".
What is a LTG? I love this blog, as well as War on Guns and other gun blogs, however some of the writing assumes that all readers understand the lingo. Some of us don't. I don't know what an LTG is.
Wow. A general officer is paying attention to this sight, and cares enough about it to respond.
This is telling. Perhaps we are not alone.
I am very encouraged about the state of things because of this man's post.
to Jerri Lynn
LTG= * * *
LTG=three star General
LTG=Someone you will salute.
LTG is short for Lieutenant General
in other words, a Three star General
Assuming of course that Mike vetted the LTG's credentials, I agree that it is interesting someone that far up the chain would have the interest in responding to a mere scribbler's comments. It is also somewhat encouraging because while for the most part I still have a deep faith in the morality of those serving in our military, there are doubts as I have never cared for a 'professional' military simply because conscripts keep things honest - being as they are some what restive about the whole situation.
The LTG's comments regarding bayonet training were reasonable even if you happen to disagree. I've been out of the military for so long I have no idea what their training is like so I don't have much of an opinion - which means I wouldn't disagree with anything Mike said either. The main thing I see is that those in position of responsibility need to primarily be concerned about the troops, whether it be training or well-being. If the man is sincere in his concern for the troops, regardless if he is infantry or armor or a redleg for that matter, then he will do the best he can and that will be pretty good.
I have a personal bias against officers in general and armor in particular; the reason for the latter being that I got in-country just after that legend in his own mind, Abrams, imprisoned the 5th's Group commander, Colonel Rheault. It wasn't so much that the Col. didn't deserve it for screwing up eliminating that sorry little traitor and getting caught out, but that Abrams was such an arrogant ass and all his actions did was put the stamp on the verdict that what he knew about counter insurgency operations could be stuck in a gnat's eye with lots of room left over. In any case, for that stunt and his vendetta against SF until he finally kicked the bucket, he was, is, and will always be despised by SF.
Armor or not, the LTG comes off as sounding pretty reasonable. If his concern really is about doing the best he can for our troops, I wish him the very best.
However, I can't resist not signing off with Col. West's motto: "Bayonets!"
To echo some of the other comments, I was enlisted in the U.S. Army, 1961-1964 active duty, 82d Airborne, 1/325, and we did train with bayonets in field exercises. We also trained for crowd control with fixed bayonets.
We can teach the "spirit of the warrior" (replacing the "spirit of the bayonet, as I was taught)by using all kinds of devices and training in our professional values.--LTG Hertling
Why does this need to be an either/or proposition? Does the "warrior spirit" somehow preclude bayonet training?
Unless forbidden by law (as when serving on a jury or traveling by commercial air carrier), I make it a habit to always have a knife or gun within easy reach. Is it likely I will ever need to shoot an attacker or cut my way out of an unwelcome embrace? No, but I am more at ease for having these tools nearby.
So too, the bayonet may be employed infrequently but its availability is a comfort to the foot soldier.
"The way I look at it, every soldier seems to carry a knife, anyway. Make your bayonet your knife, and you just SAVED WEIGHT."
As regards a man responsible for outfitting himself, for carrying all his own gear, and likely to be moving alone at times under the most insistent personal circumstances, I would say that gear capable of serving multiple purposes should warrant SERIOUS consideration. While the above quote is not God's own word, it is certainly worth consideration.
Weight, whether that of the sum total of incoming fire, or the grievously heavy total of packed-in equipment (or both), is always a consideration. If you are light enough to where you can didi mao without having to drop equipment that might be hard to replace later, you are able to enter the next phase of conflict better prepared, and more likely to survive - one more time.
Either way, guys, train hard, think, retain your humanity, and prepare to not just survive, but to overcome and thrive.
I think the thing that is missed here is the money factor.
Like it or not, the level and variety of training conducting by all branches of the military is dictated by monetary concerns as much as it is the realities of past combat.
In some respects I agree with the General, but I agree more with MV. There is a unwise thing that happens in the American military that ought not — they forget that training for the current war is not what you should do. You must train for the NEXT war. There is no guarantee that the next war will not be a large scale maneuver war. There is no guarantee that American soldiers will not be required to engage massed attacks as they did in Korea.
The General has a point, as he is looking at economy of training. I agree. I think my tax dollars ought to be wisely spent in the way our soldiers are trained. But I do not think it wise to set aside a particular weapon simply because it seems outdated. No weapon is ever "outdated," it simply depends upon the circumstances of combat in which you are engaged. By the same token, I don't think it wise to train soldiers in the use of the bow, it just isn't economical.
This is where the difference lies: What is proper economy for a soldier, may not be proper economy for a militiaman and vice versa.
I do think the General would be wiser to consider that, until we no longer have ANY threat of facing Russia or China (who can field large units and engage in massed attacks) soldiers will require the ability to employ the bayonet effectively
Training for the next war is fine and well, but given the butchery the Constitution has undergone, Posse Commitatus is just a speedbump. Other than the oil-control quagmire in the Middle East, the next war is here.
I'd rather see our military "rise" to the incompetence of the typical bureaucrat than train with bayonets. I'd like to see them train with Xboxes and Playstations, and those alone, so as to "save the planet from all that lead leeching into the drinking water (tm)". C'mon, Obama, can't you get a Maoist czar or two on that "lead contamination" angle?
When the time comes, as it surely will since redistribution is the populist platform of the new (dark) age, I'd rather be facing idiots and malcontents than crack paratroopers, but that's just me.
Perhaps the good General was misquoted by the original article that started this.
But I stand by my previous statement.
The good General said:"We're revising how we "fight with a rifle" as part of basic training. We're looking at the most likely ways Soldiers will be asked to fight, based on what we've learned in combat, especially in combat over the last eight years. Our new training will include significant changes in a pugil assault course (which I would challenge anyone to compare to the old Bayonet Assault Course, and see which one they think is tougher), fighting with devices (knives, etc) and revising our combative training skills. That is in addition to how we conduct tough physical training, and a more intensive form of basic and advanced rifle marksmanship. It will be pretty intense, and -- more importantly -- relevant to the current and future operating environment."
For the better! But as people who teach swordsmanship say. "There more parts to the sword than just the blade."
The same thing is true of the rifle or any other arm.
A bit of knowledge from an artillery Major.
"On most bases you will encounter painted rocks. the reason they are there is that you can't afford to train constantly. So to keep soldiers occupied the rocks get painted."
Good old/ancient weapons training can be done for less cost than the paint. And could save soldiers lives.
As an old infantryman(joined in 1976-1983; re-joined in 1985-1991; in Nat. Guard until 2000) myself; I must agree with the good general's statements; however, reluctantly. In my total time on active service, the various units(82nd, 4th ID, 7th ID) to which I was assigned; I believe that we did any kind of bayonet practice once. This occurred when I was stationed with the 7th ID at FT. Ord, CA(now de-activated). We did have the bayonets fixed on the rifles, but, with the scabbards over them as we were doing the "dance" with them.
When I joined in the late 70s; the Army had stopped teaching bayonet techniques. When I re-enlisted in '85; it had been re-instituted. However, we had to use the "rubber(these had the barrel and front sight of worn-out M-16s fixed in a hard-rubber M-16)" M-16s as the real ones could break(no joke!).
I do remember seeing a bayonet course at Ft. Ord, and asking one of my platoon members if our company(C Co., 3/17th Inf) had used it. He replied that they had gone through it once; and that a number of the M-16A2 had been broken during the course. That ended any further bayonet training.
The comments about it not fitting on the M-4s; I don't know how accurate those statements are; but, the chances are that the Colt/FN engineers weren't given that spec(M-9/M-10 bayonet compatibility) as a requirement.
By the way, I do remember what several prior service(Vietnam) vets had to say about M-16s in hand-to-hand. None of it was good. Most would complain about the rifle breaking, and not doing too much damage to the VC or NVA soldier. While the M-16A2/3/4 is "stronger"; it ain't that much stronger. And, the M-4 is a carbine version of the M-16, so....
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