They never quite understood why they were taken

Sunday, February 21st, 2021

The Judge Advocate General had ruled, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), that any man who had once held a commission, whether he had kept it active or not, could be legally recalled to fight in Korea:

And the Pentagon, when the Chinese poured across the Yalu, had made an incalculable error, one that would damage the Army Reserve Program for a decade. Never certain that a big war would not start any minute, the Pentagon called, not the officers and men in Table of Organization units, receiving pay and training, but the bulk of the inactive reservists, men who had received neither, and whose interest was less. The inactive individuals could be called up for fillers; the units were kept in reserve for a bigger war, which never came.

Most of the forty thousand Reserve officers recalled involuntarily and sent to Korea had never expected service short of all-out war. They never quite understood why they were taken, when hundreds of thousands of National Guardsmen and others, organized in units, were kept at home.


Hundreds of thousands of officers and men were sent as individual replacements. They arrived in their new divisions friendless and alone. Most of them never developed any feeling for a division in which they had not trained, in which they merely put in their time, until they could rotate out once more, again as individuals.

There have been few reunions of veterans of the Korean War.

And there was a final tragedy, affecting many of the recallees. Reserve officers, recalled from jobs and businesses for two years, on top of the loss of time during 1941–1945, often had no career to return to. Many elected to remain in the Army. But when Korea ended, and Washington, determined once again never to fight a ground war, shrank the Army back below a million men, the Army had no place for these men.

Thousands would have to return to civilian life, short of qualifying for pensions, to seek new jobs after the age of thirty-five or forty.


  1. Vetrani Sui Sunt Circuli says:

    “the Pentagon, …made an incalculable error, one that would damage the Army Reserve Program for a decade.”

    Let me help.
    About those calculations.

    Either the Active or the Reserve can go, hmm?
    Active duty have *sponsors* and indeed patron/client exists, however informally. This is the informal power to say NO, I have better things to do. Moreover attrition of active hurts active component.

    Reservists esp IRR – Irregular Ready Reserve – have NO POWER, except although they don’t know it to vanish by not ever answering, ala deus ex machina.
    Their ruin or deaths cost the Pentagon – nothing.

    You will see above the choice of reservists that the power lay with those who loaded the costs onto others who are nameless and have no organization or sponsorship. This of course is the pattern of our elites and their professional managers today.
    Our professional managers have long applied a simple, reasonable IF/THEN process to “policy.”

    IF hopeless and costly nonsense-
    THEN offload the consequences onto others.

    The same decision tree – the real decision tree – was applied in 1965 by not activating the reserves, instead calling up draftees for Vietnam. Let’s understand that in the case of both Korea and Vietnam the military has a clear idea very fast that they are not supposed to win, or complain about being set up for failure – a lesson driven home by the firing of MacArthur. The results of Vietnam are all volunteer force, and force restructuring so that the Army cannot ever deploy to war again without the reserves and national guard. So it’s fixed, right?


    The same decision tree of decision makers offload consequences is applied to Iraq etc after 2003/04.
    What happened was Abu Gharib. Once it was clear we had yet again been mired in pointless attrition and slaughter the games began. You may hear for instance the military saying ‘on average’ the soldiers have a year or more ‘sit time’ rest and reset out of the war zone. What they don’t emphasize is ‘on average’. On averages…the year at home is averaged of those who DON’T DEPLOY with those who DO DEPLOY. IOW the don’t deploys don’t, or deploy to Kuwait or Qatar.
    The DO DEPLOYS deploy until they are dead, out or in the mental hospital, or become stable functional psychopaths, etc. But they weren’t lying, it was ‘averages.’

    We just saw this happen again with guarding the capital: IF DOD says NO, because it’s guarding Chernobyl right after the explosion…
    THEN find some chumps to do it…meet National guard
    And Chumps were found in Murphy NJ, Cuomo NY and the Dem govs of MD and VA. Later chumps from GA etc.
    And yes the Pentagon is full of people who consider all their pawns to be CHUMPS, and it’s difficult to disagree with them factually.

    This is why you have NG guarding the Capitol, instead of DOD which has tens of thousands of active duty troops and marines in the DC area, spread around 12 bases.

    Now of course this IF/THEN decision process is simply typical of our elites for decades, we see it in Finance the last generation or more: IF you are told to make bad loans that won’t be repaid THEN offload the costs onto the public.

    IF your wall street gambling is out of hand
    THEN get a bailout.

    IF there are consequences to any decision,
    THEN offload the costs onto the weak or powerless.

    I mean what’s the point of going to an Ivy League school or West Point if you have to face consequences?

    That’s all that happened in Korea after Macarthur was fired.

  2. Kirk says:

    The nuances are somewhat forgotten, but there are legal issues due to posse comitatus law with regards to active duty troops doing what the NG is doing in DC, right now. It’s not just the desire to slough off an ugly and unrewarding mission–Congress would have to get up off its ass and declare martial law and/or authorize the active side to be doing that.

    The whole situation is corrupt, and likely to blow up in the face of it all–And, I strongly suspect that’s the intent. They’re looking for an excuse to justify even more draconian measures, and I don’t think they really grasp just how little attention the mass of the public is paying attention to their little drama.

    The thing that strikes me as significant here is just how little care the average person has for all this. The events in DC could just as well be occurring in a vacuum, and there’s zero connection with it for most people, who just look at it as something on the evening news that they really don’t care about. I don’t hear outrage, I don’t hear anyone really even paying attention to it, and that’s just… Bizarre. It’s like everyone has either tuned it out, or they’re just so burned out on it all that whatever the talking heads say is taken as more meaningless bloviating. Which is simultaneously somewhat heartening, and terrifying…

    I think we’re seeing the effects here of “the boy who cried wolf…”. They spent the entirety of Trump’s term screaming about how he was “destroying democracy” and would never leave office, and yet… Here we are, and the Democrats are the ones doing the things (like, impose virtual martial law…) that Trump never did. This fact isn’t highlighted by the mass media, but people do notice the facts on the ground, and there are a lot of people who’re looking at the current situation and going “Uh-huh… Sure, Nancy… Yeah, that’s right: Trump was the bad guy…”.

    The big thing I think the Democrats are going to have to deal with in the coming years is going to be what I’d term the “credibility bankruptcy” that they and the national news media have brought about. People just aren’t up in arms about the situation in DC because they see it as more of the same shit, different day, and they refuse to take it seriously. The breaking point is going to be where and when they finally do hit an inflection point and discover something that the majority actually cares about, and then it’s going to go massively wrong for them all.

    We’re governed by idiots, I’m afraid, and there are fewer and fewer things I’d rule out as being beyond the pale of possibility as time goes on. We may see a shooting insurrection before the end of the first Biden/Harris term, and it may not start on the right, either–I think they’re going to have to rein in the BLM/Antifa coalition before long, and they’re not going to go quietly into that good night. Expect problems when they finally have to deal with that, and then just watch the fur fly.

    I think we’re probably going to see a violent breakdown of the Democratic Party coalition of interest groups, and it won’t be at all pretty or peaceful…

  3. Kirk says:

    To the point of the excerpt from Fehrenbach…

    There’s a major disconnect in the US military, in that the people running it do not see themselves as beholden to anyone but their own kind. This is inimical to overall defense efforts because the Reserve, NG, and non-career parts of the Regular Army come to be seen as expendable resources that are owed no loyalty, and those components accurately note the attitude on the part of the “ring-knocker union”, which isn’t exclusively military academy graduates these days.

    The careerist mentality is a plague upon us all, and the damage they do is incredible. One of the major ironies we went through in Iraq on our first tour with 4th ID was that we had more NG and Reserve elements working for us than anyone else in Division; and the perception on the part of most of those guys was that they were getting screwed by the active duty guys ‘cos they were NG/Reserve. Reality was, however, that it was anyone who wasn’t organic to 4th ID, and since our HQ was an attached element, well… Yeah. We were active duty RA as well as the rest of the division, but we were still just as much second-class citizens as the NG/Reserve bubbas thought they were. Reality was, we oftentimes screwed over our own organic RA elements in favor of the NG/Reserve guys, but they didn’t pay attention to that, and only saw the stuff that 4ID was doing to them, blaming us because we were the bearers of bad news. Whole thing was severely irritating, to tell the truth.

    But, in some ways, the NG and Reserve guys were absolutely right. In others, however? LOL… You haven’t lived until you’ve had to deal with the way that the Alabama National Guard operates. We had an Engineer battalion of theirs, and then they got tasked to provide a civil affairs/military government element that was to run a significant fraction of the CENTCOM operation. Sweet ‘effing Jesus, but those guys were, ah… Ethically diverse. They showed up, and within about a week every Alabama NG unit in theater had a sudden spike in quality of life. I was running a small detachment in Kuwait which was doing logistics “smoothing”, and we had a single rep from the Alabama NG battalion with me. The Alabama NG contingent tracked him down almost immediate upon taking authority, and we could have had the heavens rain goodies upon us in the form of new rental cars and God alone knows what, had either of us been the sort to ask for that kind of thing. As it was, we already had problems keeping track of crap, so it was “Yeah, we’re good…”. Other Alabama NG elements, though? LOL… I’m surprised some of them weren’t relocated to work out of the Kuwait City Hilton. Those “good ol’ boys” knew how to make the system rain money, that’s for damn sure. Scary to watch–They put 4th ID to shame, really. Nobody ever questioned a damn thing that the Alabama Guard guys did, but we were doing 15-6 investigations about the shady crap 4ID did on its first Iraq tour until well after we had returned from our second tour with 101st Airborne some two years later… That’s how shady the active guys were, and how bad they were at hiding it, compared to the NG types who were used to “operating” in the shade.

    Good times, good times…

    But, I’ll tell you this much–The more I look back on it, the less respect I have for the “union” careerist types running the game. I don’t think they’re competent, and they’ve got zero loyalty downwards, always demanding it flow up and never demonstrating even a tiny bit towards the people beneath them.

    Push comes to shove, the Mattis and Honore types are going to be in for a huge shock when they go to start giving orders that the mass of the military doesn’t want to follow. They think they’re trusted, but the system has them surrounded with yes-men that keep them insulated from the actual opinion of the rank-and-file, and they really don’t understand how the machine operates or what makes it tick. They screw around and really get people pissed-off at them, and you’re going to see all those carefully-trained SF guys that they’ve created over the years doing things they never expected them to do, like run real insurrection operations here on US soil. The crap they’ve false-flagged in DC is pretty much a joke, run by dipshits who’ve got no real idea what end is up on an actual guerrilla movement. You start to see real SF guys get engaged, with real intent? It will be a very, very different sort of thing.

    If you ever do see a major military-involved coup, do not expect the Mattis or Honore types to be involved or engaged effectively, other than as targets. The coup plotters and major movers will all be the guys who’ve not yet been “selected and co-opted” into the system, and will likely be mid-career field grades who’ve been given orders that they cannot or will not stomach. Question is, how many of those are there, and which side are they on?

  4. Paul from Canada says:

    It is interesting to study countries with a repetitive history of coups. One of the things you notice is that a lot of it depends on the society. If it is not irredeemably corrupt, like for example, Chile, military rule can and eventually does give way to a return to civilian rule.

    If it is corrupt, the idealists who supported the first coup, grow disillusioned as the new Junta proves just as corrupt as the civilian government it supplanted. At this point. there are further coups, moving down the ranks.

    For example, Ghana was ruled by F/Lt Gerry Rawlings, after he seized power in a coup. A Flight Lieutenant is essentially equivalent to an Army Captain, or a Navy Lieutenant. In Liberia it got even more extreme, to the point that the last coup there was conducted by S/Sgt Doe.

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