Friday, December 29, 2017

"McNamara's Morons": Video explains how McNamara engineered a policy for the Army (and even Marine Corps) to draft more mentally challenged men as college men got deferred

McNamara’s Morons:  Lessons of Vietnam 6-13-2016”, as a video (63 minutes), goes best for right now on the legacy Movies blog:  in a little over an hour, Bill Dixon covers a little reported aspect of the Vietnam era draft.  This is one of a series of videos on Vietnam and other military topics.  Dixon stands in front of the Vietnam War Memorial near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington but often shows sections of text explaining his points as he talks, as if on an easel.  

Starting in 1966, the Army (and Marine Corps) accepted about 100,000 “New Standards Men” who had not made the mental qualifications for military service, and often tried to use them as cannon fodder in combat. The problem has been exacerbated by student deferments, and earlier by Kennedy-era marriage and parenthood deferments; those family chain deferments were ended in 1965 but the student deferments stayed until 1969 to be replaced with Nixon’s lottery.

The video covers the history of McNamara’s service as Secretary of Defense under Kennedy, as a “wiz kid” (or “wise guy”) appointed because Kennedy didn’t at first trust his military. The video briefly covers the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis, up through the Gulf of Tonkin. McNamara first thought that superior technology would win the war quickly.  By 1965 the escalations called for troops on the ground, and soon DOD was trying to increase the draft pool.

Often normal solders in Basic were tasked with supervising the “morons” and held personally responsible for teaching them to tie their low quarters, or clean rifles.  But often the “morons” got recycled.  Often, in combat, they increased the risk to other soldiers in their units.

Ironically McNamara, for all his nerdiness, claimed that the IQ's of deficient soldiers could be raised by their watching "videotapes".  (I think of "Sex, Lies and Videotapes").  Dixon makes a point that universities often don't each "common sense".  I was said by other recruits during my own Basic to have "too much education" without "common sense" or "social graces". 
Dixon covers McNamara’s book “In Retrospect” (legacy review);  McNamara shot a copy of the book with nine bullets as a way of demonstrating his apology for what he did, and the video shows a copy of the shot-up instance along with handwritten comments by McNamara on the cover.  It's interesting that McNamara's middle name was "Strange". 
There is also a video by Hamilton Gregory, author of “McNamara’s Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War”, which I have just ordered from Amazon and will review on a newer Wordpress blog. Gregory talks about his own getting sent to Special Training Company while in Basic Training after he had been hospitalized for heat exhaustion.  I cover STC in Chapter 2 of my DADT-I book (1997, 2000), and Chapter 7 (“Fiction 1”) of DADT-III (Fiction 1).  

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