By David Hackworth.
I read this book when it first came out 20 odd years ago, but I re-read. Back then I was a young wet behind the ears officer brushing up on professional reading and took value out of it. I'm no military officer now, but I have a bit more life experience and the book 'reads' differently. You can't step in the same river twice and there are whole new things that can be taken away from it.
Events described are less current and more History with a capital H now. So that appeals anew. I know more about the military hardware described. I had learned more about small unit army tactics in the intervening years, too, that weren't necessary relevant to Navy stuff when I first read the book.
Now Hackworth was a legitimate military bad ass back in the day. He had 'seen the elephant' and ate it for breakfast. Later in his career he went around the bend in a cuckoo bananas kind of way, and his politics would never dovetail with mine, but, again, these differences don't detract from this autobiography. The man lived for battle at one time. And he was good at it.
Hackworth joined the Army at age 15 just after WWII, and proceeded to have an eventful career, getting a battlefield commission in Korea and eventually working up to battalion commander in Viet Nam. He is one of the more highly decorated soldier of all time, too.
He became quite disillusioned with the Army because of the conduct of higher ups and politician during Viet Nam. The sclerotic bureaucracy was resistant to learn from hard-earned experience picked up by actual fighters like himself. Because of this he angrily resigned in disgust. The feeling was mutual with the Army and they were relieved to be rid of this thorn in their side. Of course the outcome of Viet Nam indicates that while Hackworth might not have had the answer for success, the Army and the politicians certainly did not.
Anyway, gun content. When at the Pentagon he found 15-20% of casualties were from friendly fire. One of his recommendations to remedy this very high rate was to switch from the 1911 to something else, as the pistol had killed more US soldiers than the enemy. At first I was incredulous, but I can see that. I'm not looking at the actual data, but it makes sense. How many opportunities does a grunt have to shoot at bad guys with a pistol? He's using his rifle for that. But accidents and fights back at base could get tragic, and a pistol grabbed. Add the single action trigger of the 1911 and fewer hours and proclivity training with it, and you have the start of a recipe for death by negligent discharge.
Hackworth also hated the M-16. He thought it too flimsy, and later found out the Army was cheap with the ammo selection, and picked a dirtier round that fouled the rifle quickly. And it wasn't GI or idiot proof. He admits it developed into a decent weapon eventually, but that was after Viet Nam was over. He'd rather it had gone through all its teething problems before it got sent to battle.
And he carried an M1 for the early part of his career. In Korea and into Berlin for the wall. His unit was issued M-14s in Berlin.
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