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birdguy

Bureaucracy

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During lunch these days I am punishing myself re-reading Col. Jack Broughton's "Going Downtown".

Punishing myself because I was a part of the receiving end of it.

The command structure running the Vietnam War was top heavy.  At the top were the twin oracles of the president and the secretary of defense who had no concept of how to wage a war but considered themselves experts.  It was top heavy pyramid made of granite at the top and balsawood at the bottom that had to be constantly shored up by the ants in the balsa wood at the base.  I was one of those ants.

Col. Broughton was my vice wing commander while I was there.  I never met him personally but we did touch bases in a round about way once after the Turkestan Incident which I have written about previously.

The Thuds flew two missions a day over the north.  I supervised one of the two armament and bomb loading crew shifts.  I had the morning shift that loaded the aircraft for the afternoon missions.

After each mission I had to submit a report enumerating how many bombs were loaded, how many fuses were used, how many arming wires and arming wire clips, and how many bomb ejection cartridges were used.  How many tail fins were installed and how many screws were used to attach them to the bombs.  Usually three or four spare aircraft sat at the end of the runway to take the place of any mission aircraft that had to abort.  Then, after the wing had taken off and the spares or the aircraft that had aborted returned they had to be downloaded.  Those munitions had to be tallied too except for the arming wires and clips which could not be reused.  It wasn't difficult.  Each ship carried the same load so I just had to multiply each load by the number of aircraft that had taken off.

Well, recalling all of that is my round about way of coming to the point about bureaucracies. 

Years ago in the Humor in Uniform section of a Reader's Digest (remember those?) I'm reminded of the following story.

At a very large recruit training base during World War 2 there were several mess halls.  A second lieutenant was the mess officer for each one.

Every month the mess officer had to send in a report of how much food was eaten; how much garbage and waste was discarded;  how many aprons the cooks had to replace; how much silverware and dinnerware had to be replaced.

One smartass lieutenant finished his reports early one afternoon so he decided to make up fictitious fly-paper report.   He enumerated the number of flies caught in the flypaper hanging from the rafters in the mess hall and broke them down into how many were caught in each section of the mess hall and kitchen.  He included it with the rest of his reports and sent it on to headquarters.

The following month, about week after all the mess officers had submitted their reports, they all got a memo saying their flypaper reports were missing.

And that's one way bureaucracies grow.

By the way, how many of you are familiar with Jean Shepherds books?  He's written quite a few.  The recurring TV Show 'A Christmas Story' about Ralphie shooting his eye out with  BB-Gun he got for Christmas is an annual classic.  It's actually a composite of several of Jean Shepherd's stories.

One of his lesser known books is called Shep's Army about his experiences in the Army during WW2.  It's pretty funny.  If you ever served in the military you'd enjoy the humor in it.

Noel 

Edited by birdguy
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I'm first generation Norwegian American.  You know what they say about Norwegians.  You can always tell a Norwegian, but you can't tell him much.

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Thanks for sharing Noel! As usual, your writing 'voice' is excellent.


Fr. Bill    

AOPA Member: 07141481 AARP Member: 3209010556

Interests: Gauge Programming - 3d Modeling for Milviz

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Fr. Bill, I never learned how to 'write'.  I just always knew how.  I took some English composition courses in high school I guess but never in my higher education endeavors.  Writing for me comes natural.

When I was retiring from the Air Force I though I had accumulated enough college credits, work experience, service schools, correspondence courses and college courses through the University of Maryland Far East campus to get an associates degree.  And indeed I had.  So I gathered all my diplomas and credits and submitted them to the education office.

But I was lacking one important course.  I had never taken English Composition.

Now I could have taken a course or even tested for it but being the contrarian I am I thought I'd rather say I can't get a degree because I lack a course in English Composition, but I am a published writer.

Bureaucracy! 

Noel

Edited by birdguy
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I'm first generation Norwegian American.  You know what they say about Norwegians.  You can always tell a Norwegian, but you can't tell him much.

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18 hours ago, birdguy said:

But I was lacking one important course.  I had never taken English Composition.

Oh my! That reminds me of what I experienced when returning to the US from my family's sojourn in Tehran, Iran. I graduated from Leysin American School in Leysin-Fedey, Switzerland. It was a policy at LAS that all students' classes were to be taught in at least two of the four languages the school used: French, German, Italian, and English. Classes would not be taught in whichever of the four -- if any --was one's native language!

I thought that this was a most excellent policy but have to admit that it was a bit of a struggle the first year taking all math and sciences in German, and all humanities in French! It was truly "sink or swim" time...

After graduating with honors, I returned the the US to meet up with my parents in their new home in Alexandria, VA. When we went to the local High School for me to apply for an equivalent HS diploma, I was informed that because I had not taken any courses in English, that I'd have to take at least one year of HS composition before being granted an Equivalency Diploma from George Washington High!

As it turned out however, my assigned teacher gave all students a test for grammar and composition on the first day of class to serve as a benchmark. When she reviewed my test results and closely examined my records from LAS, she informed me the very next day that I would not be required to attend any further classes if I would agree to submit four essays before the end of the school year and that they met or exceeded what I'd already done on the initial exam.

She suggested that I spend my time instead taking voice music lessons and singing in the choir, since I had to show up every school day. I rounded out my school day by tutoring fellow students in German, French, and ironically English! 😃

 

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Fr. Bill    

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Interests: Gauge Programming - 3d Modeling for Milviz

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21 hours ago, birdguy said:

The Thuds flew two missions a day over the north.  I supervised one of the two armament and bomb loading crew shifts.  I had the morning shift that loaded the aircraft for the afternoon missions.

After each mission I had to submit a report enumerating how many bombs were loaded, how many fuses were used, how many arming wires and arming wire clips, and how many bomb ejection cartridges were used.  How many tail fins were installed and how many screws were used to attach them to the bombs.  Usually three or four spare aircraft sat at the end of the runway to take the place of any mission aircraft that had to abort.  Then, after the wing had taken off and the spares or the aircraft that had aborted returned they had to be downloaded.  Those munitions had to be tallied too except for the arming wires and clips which could not be reused.  It wasn't difficult.  Each ship carried the same load so I just had to multiply each load by the number of aircraft that had taken off.

This brought back memories. When doing my flying training in the 1960's one of our instructors was a USAF pilot on an exchange posting with the RAF. His previous tour had been in Vietnam on Thunderchiefs and his descriptions of the missions there were eye openers.

They lost a lot of aircraft in the early days by flying straight and level for too long on the bombing runs. All the North Vietnamese had been instructed that, whenever they heard an aircraft close by, they should point every weapon they had at the sky and start shooting, even if they could not see the aircraft. He said that each bombing run was literally like flying through a hailstorm of bullets.

Eventually the Thud pilots changed tactics, remaining at high level until near the target, then going into a near supersonic dive, releasing the bombs and getting the hell out as fast as possible. It was less accurate but with more chance of survival. Of course this was before ground to air missiles were fully deployed, then the game changed again.


John B

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Right now I'm a whole lot more concerned about how autocracies grow than how bureaucracies grow..............

Edited by W2DR
kant spel
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Intel 10700K @ 5.1Ghz, Asus Hero Maximus motherboard, Noctua NH-U12A cooler, Corsair Vengeance Pro 32GB 3200 MHz RAM, RTX 2060 Super GPU, Cooler Master HAF 932 Tower, Thermaltake 1000W Toughpower PSU, Windows 10 Professional 64-Bit, 54TB disk storage, and other good stuff. Klaatu barada nickto.

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3 hours ago, W2DR said:

Right now I'm a whole lot more concerned about how autocracies grow than how bureaucracies grow..............

Three Amens to that!  I could comment but.....

Noel

4 hours ago, Biggles2010 said:

They lost a lot of aircraft in the early days by flying straight and level for too long on the bombing runs.

As Col. Broughton brought out in his book those straight and level runs were dictated by Washington.

During Rolling Thunder when B-52 were bombing the north their routes were dictated by upper echelon and they flew those same routes every day.  The North Vietnamese were handed targets on silver platter.

Later in the war F-105s would fly a four ship at high altitude led by a B-66 pathfinder that would tell them when to drop their bombs.

Not much was said about the B-66s.  They flew out of Takhli and engaged in electronic jamming missions.  The bomb bay was converted to a electronic jamming compartment and held 3 ECM officers.  I saw two of them crash.  One was on his downwind approach and all of a sudden pitched nose up and then slid into the jungle tail first and exploded.  I was walking out the village after work early one evening and I saw a B-66 on final with his gear up.  He didn't make it.  He hit the ground about 100 yards short of the runway and burned.

Robin Olds commanded the F-4 squadron at Korat (I think).  One day his F-4s flew the same route the F-105s flew into Hanoi.  The North Vietnamese thought they were the usual F-105 flights and launched their MIGs.  The F-4s with their air to air missiles were waiting for them.

I should mention the 100 mission celebrations.

A thud pilot coming back from his 100th mission would trail his flight by a few miles.  The three ship formation would break off and land.  Them the 4th ship would come in low over the runway and give us a mini air show before he landed.  Then the ambulance and fire trucks with sirens blaring would lead him into his revetment.  When he climbed down out of the cockpit he was doused with champagne.  After words from the wing commander and his squadron commander his buddies would toss him into the back of a pickup and haul him off to the swimming pool where the tossed him in flight suit and all.  There was quite a celebration at the officers club that night.  And the pilot would make an appearance at both the NCO and Airmen's clubs and thank them for their support and buy a round of beer for everyone.

Noel

 

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I'm first generation Norwegian American.  You know what they say about Norwegians.  You can always tell a Norwegian, but you can't tell him much.

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