There is now a FAQ page under 'About the Author' that contains the FAQ and responses from previous blogs. Please feel free to contact me with any other questions you may have. I will answer them and add them to the FAQ page-all anonymously, of course!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE USMC!
The last posting apparently spawned another question, so I’ll be brief and answer it.
How does a guy in the Army wind up working around the Navy?
In today’s world, the services work together far more than ever before. Much of this started from hard lessons from prior wars or conflicts, but to fight a common enemy requires common communications, planning and consistency. The ability to achieve this requires that members of all services, understand and work with their counterparts in the other services. For a while, the Joint Service position was what was known as a “Purple Suit” position. As opposed to a “Green Suit” (Army), “Blue Suit” (USAF), etc. These lessons harken back to World War II, and Admiral Halsey’s brilliant move in the South Pacific. In that theater of the war, everyone wore Khaki, regardless of service, and it was to enhance everyone’s working together towards a common goal, devoid of inter-service rivalry. More recently, and a personal lesson learned from Grenada, was that Army Aviators doing medical evacuation missions, were unable to land on the ships that were supporting the operation. Having never operated from ships they were at a loss to speak the language or engage in the art of landing on a moving target. So, either the pilots lied, and landed hoping for the best, or they had to land on the beach for the patient to be transferred by boat. Neither option was workable, and because most of the aviators were unfamiliar with how to approach this ship, much less land on it, this situation created huge problems. As a result, the solution was simple, get our guys deck qualified for future operations. Since that pivotal moment, we learned, and it paid dividends later in my career and for the entire services as a whole. Then we get to how special operations came under one roof, with the Joint Special Operations Command, which would be a basis for an entire series of books, and well outside a posting here. Needless to say, working with other services is our acknowledgment that we all have a skill set to bring to the table, and while not to perfection yet, we are at least closer than ever before. ~ Michael S. Pauley
One of these days, although not anytime soon, I might need to do a FAQ section. In the meantime, I’ll just do it the hard way. Here are a few of the most recent questions, which I’m going to attempt to answer.
Have you really been to the locations in your book?
Yes, with one notable exception. Antarctica. Otherwise, I’ve traveled to or actually lived in most of them. I grew up in West Virginia, and have traveled extensively or lived in the South Eastern United States. I was in the James River Valley as recently as a week or so ago, and along the Savannah River basin even more recently. I have passed through Hawaii, lived in Texas, and moved extensively through Central and South America. I have even logged time in Europe, Korea, and other portions of the Asian and Australian continents.
Why does a Lieutenant General outrank a Major General, when a Major outranks a Lieutenant?
This is actually one of my favorite questions! When the United States decided to start naming our military ranks, we borrowed then from the British. Believe it or not, and this is a slightly more obtuse factoid from military history, the original name for the rank “Major General” was “Sergeant Major General.” Through the years in the British Army, this longer title was eventually shortened to just “Major General.” This is why the Lieutenant General is the higher rank, because it was consistent with Lieutenants out-ranking “Sergeants Major.” Of course, as Command Sergeant Major Clagmore would say, “Lieutenant, you might THINK you out-rank me, but you’ll NEVER out-think me because of rank!”
What did you do in the Army?
I served. Some of things I can talk about? I flew helicopters, and commanded at several levels (Platoon, Company, Battalion, etc.), in Aviation, Medical, and “other” type units. I have a special operations background, and have jumped through the hoops necessary to work in those fields. I also started my career out of college as a Private, and was the rank of Sergeant when I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. As for rest, I’m keeping that on the “down low” or on a “need to know” basis.
Was your Dad in the Navy like General Patrick?
Yes, he was, and he was a man with some very proud service. He was in World War II on a Destroyer Escort, the USS Cloues, in the Pacific. (He had an uncle serving as a Turret Captain, on the USS North Carolina too.) Later he went to Submarine School and served on the USS Seal. Eventually he served in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Air Force Auxiliary, as an aviator/pilot. Hence I grew up around the Navy and with airplanes, which may have something to do with my eventual gravitation towards Army Aviation. Well, that and the fact that I was told that the “only way out of Special Operations was to either die or go to flight school.” Joke was on me, since even after I started flying, I was usually still snagged for the “off the wall” stuff. I also have a working knowledge of the Submarine service, at least as a spectator. As for the Naval Aviation side, I did get deck qualified and have landed and/or operated from several ships to include the USS Capadono (Fast Frigate or FFG); USS Guam (LPH); USS Okinawa (LPH); USS Sphinx (converted LST); USS Enterprise (CVN); and a number of other vessels that include LHA or LHD class ships.
Well, enough of those, if anyone has questions, then by all means send them in to me, and I’ll do my best to answer them. I might even divulge a few more secrets about the Gomers.
~ Michael S. Pauley
Time to lighten things up a bit. After all, fall is ending, winter is coming, and there will be plenty of time to sit in the cold and ruminate on the annoyances of life. Now is the time to enjoy football, fires, family, (not necessarily in that order), and the smell of a fine, hot meal on a cold afternoon. November is without doubt, my favorite month. Most people love December for things like Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanza, or the ever more popular “Festivus for the Rest of us.” For me though, Thanksgiving was THE holiday. Growing up, it was the one time when ALL of the family got together, and that was something special for me as a kid. The tradition continues in my family, and even now almost a month out, I’m getting excited. Somehow the smell of a cooking turkey, cold crisp air, and tons of leaves on the ground still feels very special.
Looking back, Thanksgiving even felt special when the smell of food was a warming MRE, the air was hot, and the leaves were definitely not in sight. (Sometimes, you would be hard put to just find a tree, much less one that turned colors or shed leaves.) Still, we found a way to make it a happier time, no matter where we were or what we were doing. Such is the way of families. For some of those Thanksgivings, we were just thankful for being alive, and our family was the men around us sharing our misery. Oddly enough, even though they weren’t “blood kin,” and the turkey was cold and in a plastic pouch, the holiday was no less special, because the bonds were every bit as strong as with our own families. The spirit is what makes this a special time, and it is that spirit that keeps us going, no matter where we are or what we are doing. This year I am lucky to be home and anticipating the family being together in a few weeks which, as always, is that for which I’m most thankful. ~ Michael S. Pauley
The last two postings have been rather serious in tone, which is in part because of the upcoming holiday, Veterans’ Day. Over the last 12 years, we have fought two wars, and have engaged in operations globally. We also still have veterans who were not part of those years, but served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Grenada, Panama, and Operation Desert Storm. There are the unsung conflicts, such as counter-terror operations predating the current conflict, such as Eagle Claw, Central America, or the re-flagging efforts for tankers and commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf. We’ve had people in harm’s way around the world for years. Many of these men and women are forgotten in the stream of larger events, but they deserve our respect just as well, for they laid it on the line just like the veterans from the more well-known conflicts. Whether you were feeding supplies through the “Stans” or were keeping the Contras going, you were still part of the much larger picture. I think one of the reasons I am in the American Legion, as opposed to the VFW, is that they always saw the larger picture, whereas the VFW wouldn’t even let Vietnam Veterans join for the longest time, because it wasn’t a “declared” war. On Veterans Day, let us all not make that mistake. If you ever wrote that blank check for your life, by putting on the uniform of our country, then next Monday is YOUR day. I sincerely hope you enjoy it, and while you’re at it, raise your glass in that time honored toast of the profession of arms, “For Absent Friends!” ~ Michael S. Pauley
I have been accused of being a jingoist, and I must stand before you, guilty as charged. Of course, I am! How can you not be, when you have dedicated a large portion of your life to the service of your country. Now, having said this, I too have opinions about things that might seem inconsistent to being a pure jingoist. I am not one to say that my country is right all the time, nor am I likely to ever say that the Army/Navy/etc., will always get it right. Hardly! We are a nation standing together, but our component parts are all different. We thrive on this difference, since the sum of our parts is far greater because of our differences.
The past weeks have seen an increase in violence domestically, people angry about health care issues, employment, economy, foreign policy, etc., and our elected leaders seem to be more interested in taking cheap pot shots at each other than finding solutions. Is this healthy? Maybe, since if we all thought alike, or took the same positions on everything, then being a jingoist would truly be a dangerous thing. Again, going to history, anyone reading about Japan in the 1920s up through December 7, 1941, would find that being a jingoist is a very bad thing, since it was they that believed that we were worth attacking. Meanwhile, in this country, isolationism and anger over things like the New Deal set the stage for the world (specifically Japan) to see us as vulnerable, weak, and unlikely to ever take a stand. We were viewed as lazy, just as some view us today as obese. This was a bad combination then, and could be a bad combination now. Keep in mind that our founders wanted us to bicker, and wanted us to keep each other honest, but that doesn’t mean the world at large gets this concept.
Regardless of your specific viewpoint on an issue, you have to respect the process, but more importantly, you’d better keep your guard up and keep it from getting personal. Once the world starts to see you as weak and vulnerable, or you are seen as being disjointed and unlikely to take a stand, then things have a way of getting ugly. I point to World War II, but you can go much further back through history to the most ancient wars. Would Sparta have marched on Athens if the Athenians weren’t seen as weak in mind and spirit? The list of examples from history are endless, which means we’re likely to see it again. So be pissed off, be angry, but never let it get to the point that the rest of the world sees us as incapable of coming together. We shouldn’t need a Pearl Harbor or a 9/11 to bring us to a common purpose, but historically, that has been what was required. Do we really want to go down that road again? ~ Michael S. Pauley
With all that has been going on around here, there is one little thing that passed without much notice. I now plan to fix that little oversight by talking about the newest edition to the United States Navy. Granted, as a soldier it is easy to overlook these things, but this thing is impressive. So, what am I talking about? The latest Destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, while not commissioned yet, is now in the water. She is an odd looking beast, with a bow that resembles naval construction from over 100 years ago, and a silhouette that looks more like a submarine than a surface ship. What impresses me the most is her “stealth” capability and her main gun. Aside from the missiles and other “gee whiz”, she has the ability to launch a 155 millimeter shell over 100 miles. To put this in perspective, at 610 feet long and mounting in essence a 6" gun, the Zumwalt class destroyer is the size of a “Light Cruiser” from World War II, and almost twice as long as a Battleship from the Spanish American War. If she performs up to specifications, then we are looking at a very advanced warship.
This Naval advance naturally begs the question, why is this a big deal? Well, as a soldier, it is nice to know that she is out there watching my back. More to the point, a study of military history will show you that advances in naval construction, and warships, is part and parcel of most of the geopolitics of the 20th century. As the HMS Dreadnought changed the world view, I sincerely hope that the advance of the Zumwalt may do the same thing. It is no coincidence that China is building up her fleet to project her influence further into the Pacific. It is also no coincidence that the nation of Japan is re-evaluating her military limitations. Then there is the current state of Russian projection in the same region. Our movement to more advanced and armed warships is still vital, even now in the 21st Century. Science Fiction aside, to maintain ourselves as an influence in the Pacific, we have to maintain a well armed, well trained, and advanced United States Navy. I know this sounds odd coming from an old grunt, but there you have my take on it. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Not my words, but still they have that resonance and application to the present! ~ Michael S. Pauley
Michael S. Pauley is a Navy brat and an old soldier who served in all three components of the United States Army. Living in Lexington, South Carolina, Michael is now a practicing attorney and member of the United States Naval Institute and the American Legion, Post 154, Tybee Island, Georgia.