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These are some personal notes that describe some of my memories and opinions of the organizations that I served with in an Army career that spanned nearly 30 years. If you find this site by accident through a search engine you are welcome to contact me and share your thoughts. Thanks. My e-mail address is BradenClan@
gmail.com.

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Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)


Fort Monroe, Virginia
1979-1981

From USACGSC I was reassigned to the Office of the Inspector General, Headquarters, Training and Doctrine Command. There are records going back to the mid-1600's of Armies having Inspector Generals. Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a Prussian, was one of the first Inspector Generals of the Army, assisting General George Washington in preparing the Colonial Army to fight the British. The mission of Inspector Generals then was probably similar to the current US Army Inspector General Mission: To provide impartial, objective and unbiased advice and oversight to the army through relevant, timely and thorough inspection, assistance, investigations, and training. In addition to the US Army Inspector General, major Commands all have IG Offices, and TRADOC was no exception .. . the Commanding General needs a means to get an independent an unbiased look at what is going on the the organization. The CG does does this with General inspections ans special investigations.

How does an Engineer become an Inspector General? The answer is that the Army has important jobs that need to be done that are not specific to any branch; like ROTC, Recruiting, and Reserve Component Support. Army Officers are expected to understand that they will likely have at least one duty asignment away from their regular branch to meet the needs of the Army. And in the case of IGs, the understanding is that officers with solid records are pulled in because they will have a good and current understanding of the Army. So this was my assignment away from the Corps of Engineers.

With the move from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Monroe came househunting chores. The quarters at Fort Monroe were wonderful, but the waiting list for these quarters was over a year. We shopped the local housing market and ended up back at Fort Monroe, this time in old Wherry Housing at the end of the base. The quarters were very small, something like 900 square feet. The quarters were judged as substandard, as as a result not all my BAQ was collected each month. So we moved in and found our neighbors in the court to be very nice. Bonnie soon had our third child, Anne, and managed to take care of her plus Karen and Sandra while I spent the next two years out two weeks of every month doing inspections for the command.

In retrospect, I don't how Bonnie did it, with me being away and her with two young girls and a baby. But then she did similar in raising all four of the kids. God bless her. So there I was on TDY, on per diem, getting paid by the Army to eat out. I returned home from each trip understanding that while I was ready for a home cooked meal, Bonnie was ready to get out of the house. I recall from one of the earlier trips Bonnie was asking me about what I did and where I ate. As I was answering her, I could see the look in her eyes: here she was eating chicken pot pie with three kids and there I was out eating at restaurants. But Bonnie understood the dynamics and we were able to share the info. For my part I tried to make my time home valuable.

I was assigned to the Inspections Branch of the TRADOC IG Office as one of the two training inspectors for TRADOC. The other inspectors looked into areas such as facilities, personnel, combat developments, logistics, and transportation. My counterpart was JJ Mills, an Armor Officer who had served with great distinction in Vietnam and had something like 50 Air Medals. He modestly explained that he was the junior officer in the unit so they always sent him our first. JJ also had three or four helicopters shot out from under him while in Vietnam. If I say so myself, JJ and Jay were a great team. JJ was loud and assertive, intimidating as an inspector. I was the quiet one, but I was also the one that did the bulk of the "write ups," documenting the problems that JJ uncovered.

Despite the quarters that were substandard, the view from them (right out into Hampton Bay) was outstanding. We liked the Fort Monroe area - just down the road from Busch Gardens, for example. And we liked the seafood we could easily get. From Fort Monroe to my parents' home in Maryland was about a four hour drive, so we got to see a lot of them.

Dependents from Fort Monroe were bussed to a local school in Newport News; a school with not a good reputation, so we enrolled Karen and Sandra in the just-off-base Catholic school and we watched them head off for their education each day dressed in their uniforms. Bonnie would often go to the school to sign them out early, and hope that they wouldn't blurt out that the reason they were leaving early was so that we could spend some time in Busch Gardens.

Inspecting is both an art and a science. The objective at the TRADOC level was not to go somewhere and find a bunch of little "gotchas" where well-meaning people make simple mistakes, but to find areas where the command could improve its performance overall. JJ and I worked to keep this perspective, and our findings were mostly well-received.

One interesting aspect of how we did business at the TRADOC IG shop was that for each trip, someone was named the Project Officer or "PO" (pronounced as if it rhymed with "row.") The PO had duties such as arranging the air and ground transportation, reserving hotel/motel rooms, coordinating with the local IG, and ensuring that the final report was done before we left the particular installation. It was amazing how 15 grown men could become absolutely brain dead when they were not the PO, and the poor PO would be answering every bit of trivial information that otherwise competent officers could have looked up easily. Because the PO also had the task of ensuring that the final report was assembled, he was always the one pleading and begging with the various inspectors to get their write-ups in so coming up with the final would not be an all-nighter. Remember that these reports were typed mostly in the days of the IBM Selectric with interchangeable balls, though a few installations had Lanier word processors. No spell check. No automatic formatting. Lots of white out.

One of our trips was to Fort Bragg, where we were to inspect the Special Forces School. While the school is at Fort Bragg, most field training occurs at Camp Mackall, a sub-installation of the base that is about 40 miles away. The day before I was to go out there, I stopped by the office of the School Commandant, Colonel Ola Lee Mize, to tell him, as a courtesy, that I would be going to the camp the next day. Colonel Mize had earned the Congressional Medal of Honor in Korea, and was a much respected and capable individual. Unfortunately, we didn’t seem to hit it off right away, as he declared that I would be unable to find the camp, and I responded, respectfully, that I tended to find what I went looking for. (In actuality, I had arranged for one of his cars and drivers to take me there.) Nonetheless, the next morning Colonel Mize met me at the school in his own car to take me to the camp. Before we left he saw one of his drivers that was to take me to the camp and had him follow us, so he probably guessed that I had the transportation problem figured out.

At the camp everything looked good. I was a bit surprised to see a a Vietnam War-era M114 tracked armored fighting vehicle, driving around. the M114 , as it turned out, was not the Army's best fighting vehicle product and its effective life in the Army was very short. I asked myself'how in the world would this camp be authorized an M114 when they weren't in the Army anymore, and who woiuld be paying to maintain it and fuel it?' As an Inspector General I had every right to go get answers to my two questions, but I thought that if I knew the M114 was there then a whole lot of other people did and that I might have better things to do wiith my time. So I let it go.

Shortly thereafter I found a large tent with about twenty soldiers in it. It turned out that all 20 had washed out of the course (and would be re-cycled for another opportunity later) because they had failed the “recon exam” for the second time. I asked them what part of the exam they had failed the first time. They didn’t know. Then I asked what part of the exam they failed the second time, and they didn’t know this, either. Of course it’s not right to have people fail at something and not know why and therefore what they need to do to pass. Twenty soldiers essentially sitting around for six weeks waiting for the next training cycle is a true waster of Army resources. I also observed the large number of other soldiers who had failed various other parts of the course and were waiting to be recycled into the next course. In my write up I noted that perhaps Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler was correct when he said, “One hundred men will test today, but only three win the Green Beret.” (From The Ballad of the Green Berets) I heard later from my team chief that Colonel Mize asked for me to come work for him. That was nice.

JJ and I were promoted to Lieutenant Colonel about the same time another inspector was promoted to Major. We had a three-way promotion party that involved renting a cruise boat and having our party afloat to sail the waters of Hampton Bay, complete with food, beverages, and a band. It was a super time and set the standard for future promotion parties.

One visit that sticks out in my mind ws the inspection trip to Fort Leonard Wood, where engineer enlisted soldiers were being trained. The Engineer School, like the other TRADOC service schools, had put out a manual detailing which of their school tasks would be trained where. For example, some would be trained at the school, so units in the field would know that incoming new soldiers would just need refresher training on these tasks, and some might have training deferred to be done at the unit level. So I picked up a copy of this manual and spent my time seeing if the Engineer school was doing the training thjey said they would be doing. Well, in one case they were not. The School was training comabat engineers on only one type of the two type mine detectors found in combat engineer units, so I "wrote them up" for this failure. And I noted that the base had a number of very nice small wooden bridges spanning very small creeks and small gaps. I learned that these small bridges were the "final project" of engineer soldiers being trained as carpenters. In the Army a Carpentry Specialist is responsible for performing "general heavy carpentry" tasks such as constructing rough timber structures. Hmmm. These nice little bridges were pretty and certainly added to the appearance of the base, but, in my opinion, were more in the category of "finish carpentry" and certainly a task that they would be very unlikely to be called upon to perform once in their unit. Building a timber trestle bridge over a small creek in something like four hours and having the bridge "proofed" by driving a five ton military truck across it would be a much more appropriate use of training time and resources. Since there was nothing technically wrong with building pretty bridges, it would not have been appropriate to write a "finding" on the subject, but IGs are allowed to have opinions, called "Observations" and my thoughts about what was happening as a final project for carpenters were entered into the IG Report as an Observation. The Engineer school was plenty unhappy with my findings and one observation, but Headquarters, TRADOC, backed me up.

After about 18 months at Fort Monroe I came out on the Battalion Command list and soon learned that my command would be at fort Campbell, Kentucky, home of the 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles).

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