Fort Polk Guardian 06-07-2019

Viewpoint 2/ The Guardian , a civilian enter- prise newspaper, is an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army. Contents of the Guardian are not necessarily official views of, or en- dorsed by, the U.S. Government, De- partment of Defense, Department of the Army or Fort Polk. The Guardian is published weekly by the Public Affairs Office, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. Printed circulation is 13,000. Everything advertised in this publication shall be made available for purchase, use or patronage with- out regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation or any other nonmerit factor of the purchaser, user or patron. A confirmed violation of this policy of equal opportunity by an ad- vertiser will result in the refusal to print advertising from that source. All editorial content of the Guardian is prepared, edited, pro- vided and approved by the Public Af- fairs Office, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. The Guardian is printed by the Natchitoches Times , a private firm in no way connected with the Depart- ment of the Army, under exclusive written contract with Fort Polk. The civilian printer is responsible for com- mercial advertising. The appearance of advertising in this publication, including inserts and supplements, does not constitute en- dorsement by the Department of the Army or the Natchitoches Times of the products or services advertised. Guardian Editorial Staff Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk commanding general Col. Jarrett Thomas II Garrison commander Kim Reischling Public affairs officer Chuck Cannon Command information officer Jean Dubiel Angie Thorne Staff writers Editorial Offices Building 4919, Magnolia Street Fort Polk, LA 71459-5060 Voice (337) 531-4033 Fax (337) 531-1401 Email: Trading post ads: Fort Polk Homepage Advertising For advertising contact (337) 404-7242 Email: Guardian June 7, 2019 FORT POLK, La. — I have yet to start a book review with a favorite fall back adage used in the Army, but I will for this one. Bottom line up front, or the “BLUF” as is often said: Read this book! There are many reasons I will dis- cuss, but two of the top ones are: The book was authored by Lt. Col. Thomas Hanson, who commanded 2nd Battalion, 353rd Infantry Regi- ment, 162nd Infantry Brigade at Fort Polk; and the foreword was done by the then Joint Readi- ness Train- ing Center and Fort Polk Com- mander Brig. Gen. James C. Yarbrough. I wish I had read this book and done the review right after the review I did on T. R. Fehren- bach’s book, “This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness,” as it would have been an excellent dis- cussion and comparison. The author did his homework and challenges many of Fehrenbach’s claims on the poor state of the U. S. Army prior to the Korean War. But make no mistake: He doesn’t give senior civil and military leadership a pass. In fact, he does a fantastic job linking together the decisions made at the White House and Congres- sional level on everything from man- ning to logistics to arms procure- ments and everything in between and the effect they have on readiness on the front lines in combat. Troops suffered and the nation almost suf- fered defeat because of it. To set the stage, Hanson takes time in the first half of the book to put the reader into the mindset and culture of the nation, specifically why certain decisions were made by civilian and Army senior leadership. The title of one of the chapters — Post War or Pre War Army — best describes the identity crisis the na- tion’s Army was facing at the time. What I think the Fort Polk reader will find most interesting is the sec- ond half of the book where the au- thor dives into unit historical docu- ments and dissects the training plans and status of the individual regi- ments of the Eighth Army. Especially interesting are the many dynamics impacting overall unit readiness, things we today can- not even fathom: Problem sets like re- ceiving Soldiers with less than four weeks of basic training, branch im- material assignments of senior offi- cers to combat formations, a turbu- lent personnel assignment system exacerbated by occupation duties and a constantly changing organizational structure that was Army wide as the Army tried to “right size” post-World War II. Not to mention the education level of many Soldiers was at the fifth-grade level at the time, an on and off again draft and a resource constrained environment that is hard to even imagine. Any obsta- cles we have now pale in compari- son to the training challenges the mighty Eighth Army faced on the eve of a very bloody war. Regardless, as you will see as you delve into the individual chapters devoted to regimental training, the Eighth Army did get on track and is- sue good, solid training programs and made considerable strides. The pass/fail rate and observations of the observer/controllers (O/Cs) of the day (from the Division G3 sec- tion) would make the OCs of JRTC proud — not everybody passed and many were forced into retraining on specific tasks, often entire battalions. These observations and in-depth study by the author of these training plans dispel many of the myths of the Eighth Army and the initial fail- ures in Korea. Myths like the belief that the Eighth Army was “poorly trained, undisciplined and soft” seem to be shallow and not quite ac- curate, nor are they a holistic enough look at why these initial failures oc- curred. I was in the Army when we had the mantra, “No more Task Force Smiths,” and some of you may recall this saying as well. While well inten- tioned, in retrospect, and after read- ing this book, this seems to be a trav- esty of justice and does a disservice to the sacrifice to those in that ill-fat- ed, ill-prepared and underequipped task force. The Eighth Army did some hard training and, as President Teddy Roosevelt said, “Did the best they could, with what they had, where they were at.” Reading their training plans made me reflect on my 30 years in the Army and what we do here at JRTC every day. Many of the challenges we face are the same. They talk geographic constraints, manning issues and leadership is- sues and address those specifically in their training plans and subse- quent retraining. They lived the eight-step training model (plan training, train and certify leaders, recon site, issue plan, rehearse, exe- cute, conduct after action review, retrain) without even knowing it and with significant challenges. There is a lot to learn as well as inspire in this book. As I said in the beginning, read it: Any commander or S3 worth their salt is going to leave with a few things in their rucksack that make them and their unit better. AUTHOR: Thomas E. Hanson ALLEN MEMORIAL LIBRARY CALL NO: MS PRL 951.904 HAN ‘Combat Ready’ tells Eighth Army KoreanWar story By Retired Lt. Col. MARK LESLIE DPTMS Leslie Commentary For advertising contact Theresa Larue ( ) - Email: sales