Sunday, August 17, 2008

Po-Mo ROTC Tableau

This happy cadet's photo is not featured
in the BGSU ROTC Hall of Fame

I'm sick to death of seeing things
From tight-lipped, condescending, mamas little chauvinists

All I want is the truth

Just gimme some truth now
--Just Gimme Some Truth
, John Lennon

Ranger does not have chicken pox, but merely a case of a poor yearbook xerox.

Recently he visited his college ROTC Program at Bowling Green State U. Ranger graduated from BGSU in 1968, a Distinguished Military Graduate, Regular Army Infantry Officer. ROTC taught him leadership, integrity, honor -- all the Boy Scout virtues. (Whether they have taken, is another matter. Ranger notes in his second commission the word "gentleman" was notably dropped from the oath.)

One place these fine lessons did not take is the ROTC Hall of Fame, where 4-Star General John Abrams'
(son of Gen. Creighton Abrams) picture is prominently displayed. You can imagine Ranger's shock at finding General Abrams, for you see, there is a problem: Abrams is not a BGSU ROTC graduate.

Abrams flunked out of BG his first year of ROTC, to be subsequently commissioned as a 2LT/OCS. Capt. Abrams later returned to BG in the early 70's to finish his degree in the U.S. Army Bootstrap Program. This may seem a small point, but it demonstrates that
facts are not relevant, even at the ROTC level of Army leadership.

Continuing his ramblings, Ranger remembered his professor of military science (PMS) advising against the Military Intelligence branch, his first choice, saying "You'll never make General officer in the MI." And so dumbass Ranger chose Infantry.

What PMS didn't tell him was that he wouldn't make General in the Infantry, either. What he didn't say was, having a 4-Star General for a father would be a great career enhancement, even for a college wash out.

It is all so very Post-Modern, something I'm sure the class of '68 will have no problem claiming as a theory of their own. The referent is gone, and the center does not hold. It is all so ironic, and so pastiche. If Ranger were high at the moment I am sure he would be amused, but he is not, and he is not.

I wonder how Gen. Abrams would feel about being co-opted into this Po-Mo tableau?

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Blogger The Mad Celt said...

Brother...does the center ever hold?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 2:51:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

mad celt, i was talking with a former classmate yesterday and he too remembers Johnny as do i . He was a smart ass loud mouth that i remember mouthed our NCO's-my friend remembers the same. Oh well- and so it goes.That must be the difference between o5 and 0 10.
This does not sit well in my stomach. jim

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 10:31:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger bigbird said...

At least you have a decent photo from ROTC.

While at ROTC camp at IGMR, as it was then called, I was called out of KP detail for a publicity photo shoot. My screen name alludes to my height - I was over the height limit and was in ROTC on a waver. The subject of the shoot was a staged inspection by a much shorter cadet. The picture went around the world on the front page of Army Times and I must of heard of it for fifteen years afterwards.

Your PMS was prescient in not putting you in MI. That branch was decimated by the RIF after Viet Nam.

I'm surprised that ROTC let you go infantry. I was Penn State '66. One of the co-captains of the football team asked for IN and got QM. The ROTC types in my year group were all being sent to the support branches.

If I narrow the scope of people I knew in college to my fraternity, I can say that only two made a career out of the military. One, that I knew as a drummer in a college rock band, was TC and made it to LTG during the Persian Gulf War. I think that I'm the only one in that subgroup that stayed in the reserves.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 10:38:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

mad celt,

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world"

Per your question: in the civilian world, no so much so. (Less so in Italy, for instance!) But one would hope in the rule-laden structure of the military organization, certain regulations would hold, like who gets to be on the Heroes Wall, fer instance! If graduation from the program is a requirement, well then. . .

Yes, I know--the center has not held in matters of torture, etc.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 11:44:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

bigbird, i went back to igmr for the muriel boatlift-what a trip.
As a dmg there was a guaranteed choice of branch.the infy was heavily rif'd in the 70's. I knew a man that escaped to the MP's and made Col- if he'd stayed sf/inf he would've been meat.
I lost my mil ball photos from rotc.Those would be pleasant memories. I like that i'm smiling on this rotc photo which was unstaged- this shows i wasn't always a grumpy fuck. jim

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 2:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Publius said...

ROTC boys. College boys. Never been an private, never been a sergeant. Upper crust. What do you privileged kids know?

Abrams? Gee, sort of reminiscent of McCain. While ragging on junior, fairness dictates that you also note that his dad was the real deal and made it all the way without family help. Tank named after him, and all. A great officer.

Should have gone MI, slick. Yeah, it was hit hard in the RIF, but the good ones survived. Besides, as a DMG/RA guy, you would have made it anyway. Reserve infantry guys went away, too. If you recall, there were some law suits about that. It was RA, not branch, that saved you. Parenthetically, that's why, despite my misgivings (always felt being a reserve officer better suited me), I ended up RA. Just hedging my bets. Cowardice, in other words.

The reason your PMS advised against MI was that most of those guys we always used to call, "regular army assholes," hated MI. With good reason, I might add. We gave them a lot to hate. That's one of the reasons why it was so much fun.

You would have had more fun.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 7:06:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


What this privileged kid doesn't know is how to play golf. Never did since I grew up in a coal mine company house. That's not quite the lap of luxury and privilege. And I don't remember Johnny being a neighbor.

Yes indeed Creighton was the real deal. However, VN was still communist last I checked.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 10:37:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Publius: follow-on:

As an ROTC scholarship student in those days, I was actually an enlisted reservist for my last two years' instruction. I was discharged as a Corporal E-4 the same day I was commissioned. If I'd not completed my instruction, I would have been brought on active duty as an enlisted man.

So in effect, I was an EM obligated to serve 4 years active duty; that was the condition of my contract. I would guess this is still the case for scholarship students.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 10:42:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

one thing i always appreciated about ROTC officers was the way they brought things like critical thinking to the table with them. when ASU was thinking about discontinuing ROTC in the anti-military mindset following vietnam i told them that ROTC was the only thing that would keep the military honest. bringing in guys who wanted to serve, then go home and live like real people live.

i'm a big ass fan of citizen soldiers who sign on in times of trouble, then go back to the farm or the office, or back to teaching high school.

the professionals are too close to mercs for my taste.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 11:02:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


It's safe to say ROTC officers were the backbone of the Army in WWI, WWII and Korea. I'd guess OCS outnumbered us in VN, but I don't have figures.

The ROTC was linked to Land Grant colleges, I think. If the government gave the land, the university had an obligation to allow ROTC instruction in the curriculum.

ROTC officers were viewed as a counterbalance to the West Pointers, as we were exposed to the humanities. WP's, until 1975, were engineers, so had a scientific vs. humanistic bent.

The strength of ROTC officers was, they took better care of their men, since often they returned to civilian life with those same men. Historically, the Reserve Forces had long-term local affiliations. Such officers were more reluctant to expend lives frivolously.

I couldn't imagine any reserve forces officer supporting the concept of a "long war."


Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 11:24:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Publius said...

I hope you know I was just ragging on you there, Ranger, although honesty compels me to note that being paid as a corporal while in college doesn't equate to actually BEING a corporal in a line unit.

Actually, I have a lot of respect for ROTC. And I agree with Minstrel Boy (and with you in your response to him) that ROTC can hopefully serve as kind of a check on the militant militarism that's seemingly become the logical end-result of the all-volunteer force.

I know "militant militarism" is an awkward construction, and it may not be readily grasped by non-military people, but to me, one of the strengths of the U.S. military—and another one of those things that formerly set the U.S. apart from other nations—was that our military officer corps was not comprised of unthinking servants of the state. A robust ROTC, spread throughout the nation, sweeping up folks with all different POVs, is a really good thing to help keep the dream alive.

Guys like me who went from being an RA NCO to RA officer directly (with a slight stop as a reserve officer) can rightly be viewed with suspicion. With our base actually being the military, we're in the "true believer" area. As is the OCS crowd. I'm a little different, thus my reluctance many years ago to "join the home team," i.e., go RA, and I still sometimes regret it. Inasmuch as I only did it to hedge my bets if I wanted to go past 20, it was a hypocritical move. In my defense, I would note, however, that I never applied: they offered it to me.

OTOH, my status as "USA retired" vice "USAR retired" has been valuable at times when dealing with the old American Legion and VFW war horses. Or, more typically, those who never put a uniform on. Pretty hard to swiftboat a regular officer combat veteran. The best they've been able to come up with is I've somehow lost my senses. Even the rednecks know better to go further, particularly in the area where I live, where guys like me are put on a pedestal.

Getting back to the whole ROTC thing, have you ever considered that one of the things that greatly undermined the whole citizen-soldier ideal was DOPMA? I'm thinking specifically where all officers and warrant officers have to be integrated into the RA at 04, and I think W3, if they wish to continue on active duty? This essentially ensures that no officer on extended active duty who's got more than maybe eight years of service might actually some civilian thinking in his/her makeup. I'm not so sure that's a good thing.

Ever thought about examining the character of today's military force?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 7:46:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger bigbird said...

I'm going to mildly nitpick. USAR retired is used in the time between retiring and getting retired pay at sixty. After that it is AUS retired, although the Army mails me as USA retired. AUS retired was also what the voluntary indefinites used.

I was under that same reserve enlistment thing, although there wasn't an Army ROTC scholarship program at the time. I'd have to dig out some ancient paperwork to see what my rank was.

I was also back at what had become FIG for a CGSC phase during one of the refugee situations. You're right, it was a zoo. An ADC was brought in from Hood to run the camp and he commented to us that the only good solution that he had heard was to bring them back in submarines and shoot them out of the torpedo tubes.

I started out as a platoon leader in a combat engineer battalion. Of the two West Pointers, one was a 1LT Company CO while the other was a 1LT going on CPT who was the S3. There was definitely a caste difference between the OCS and ROTC officers. But then again, until WWII, only a civil engineering graduate could be commissioned in the corps with other engineering disciplines not acceptable. Old habits die hard.

I was transferred to the engineer section at our corps HQ while still a 2LT because I had had a one credit course in FORTRAN II, at that time a lot of knowledge, and they wanted to mechanize the logistics of the barrier plan. There, the aides were West Point or Citadel, with one being fourth generation WP, having previously been in the corps' ACR which his father had previously commanded. We were obviously in different leagues.

I had the better deal. After the LTC transferred and the COL retired I was left as the Corps Engineer for a while, trying not to look like LT Sonny Fuzz. Even had a sedan for going to the field, complete with a castle in the license plate holder (if I hadn't used the car it would have been poached by someone else). I considered making a career of the Army. After all, this was a good start. My section SGM and the other NCOs told me of the RIFFs they had seen and the colonel's wives would tell me at happy hour that the lifestyle wasn't that great and that I could do much better. Having to go toe to toe with officers a few ranks higher isn't fun and you have to prevail or you loose your stature. This is a culture where people bang their schwantz on the table to get their way. So, I left active duty.

By the way, I live on a county golf course but also don't golf. Takes too much time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 9:34:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

i know you were ragging my sorry ass. I was not paid as a e-4, if i were i would,
've been flush. WE only rec'd 100$ mo.on scholarship beyond the books./fees.
I no longer trust that ROTC is a balancing force, my observations indicate that it's become a professional brain-washing operation.The Rotzee natzis prevail.Recently we had a local FAMU feel good article about a minority cadet getting commissioned and how this will benefit his child that he fathered at age 17. This is now an honor for a unmarried father/2lt . Is this really the traits of the new ROTC officer?Call me an old fool but what ever happened to concepts such as soldierly conduct?Are we now a corps of unwed parents?What are our standards? Rotc now demands total immersion in the program and this didn't happen in the past., now it's a professional type full blown program- a little west point if you like.
I acknowledge that my E4 status has nothing to do with real army e4 active duty- i was padding my resume.
My entire point of writing this essay was that even something as simple as a Hall Of Fame can be a LIE. jim
I commonly say that the Army and country that i served not longer exists. jim

Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 10:21:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

big bird, this is a stretch but i'll try anyway. Did you know John Mc Kee while at Cgsc at FIG?i've been trying to re-establish contact. He was at FIG in 81 for the course. jim

Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 10:24:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger bigbird said...

Jim - can't say that I recognize that name. I mostly took CGSC by correspondence as I learn better by reading rather than listening to a lecture.

Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 4:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

thanks for the commentary.
it's nice to know that all my readers are not golf course weenies.
I've never understood golf- these idiots stand out in thunder storms with lightening rods on their shoulders and in their hands.We both are smarter than that.
Also no enemy soldier was ever killed with/by a golf ball- so what good is it? No offense to current or future readers. jim

Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 5:20:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Publius said...

"it's nice to know that all my readers are not golf course weenies.
I've never understood golf- these idiots stand out in thunder storms with lightening rods on their shoulders and in their hands.We both are smarter than that."

Bite your tongue, Ranger.

Friday, August 22, 2008 at 5:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


I'd like to add that no enemy soldier was ever killed by a golf club, either.

I spent all my spare time on a rifle range and my other spare time reading FM's, making me the entertaining fellow you see today :)


Saturday, August 23, 2008 at 5:24:00 PM GMT-5  

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