August 10, 2012
Crack Unit

From McClatchy’s:

RALEIGH, N.C. — The man police say walked into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday morning and shot members of the congregation was a former Fort Bragg soldier with two good conduct awards and five achievement medals…

At the time of his discharge, Page was a psychological-operations specialist. Garcia said psychological operations soldiers provide their commanders with the ability to communicate information to large audiences by radio, television, leaflets and loudspeakers. In the field, these soldiers rely on language skills, regional orientation and knowledge of communications media to deliver information.

Your average non-veteran, reading this, might wonder how a homicidal racist with the I.Q. of a rutabaga could have functioned successfully in such a sophisticated military unit. I may be able help you out on this one.

Page’s old outfit was the Fourth Psychological Operations Group. My own old outfit, back in the mid-1950s, was the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Battalion. It was also at Fort Bragg, also in the Special Warfare Center, and had the same official mission described above by Garcia.

Back when I was there the Special Warfare Center maintained a small library of books, leaflets, and other material bearing on psychological warfare. One day a new commanding officer inspected it, and was appalled by the sloppy appearance of the shelves.

“What the hell is this, sergeant?” the colonel said. “Why aren’t those books dressed?”

To dress, in military terminology, is to form a straight line left to right in order of height.

For serious students of military history, I’ve written before about this crack unit, first in a 2000 piece called “What Did You Do in the Cold War, Daddy?” (pdf), then in 2005, and again in 2009.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at August 10, 2012 02:06 PM
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There's another "interesting" thing about Page that I haven't seen anyone comment about. I read that he served in the Army from 1992 to 1998. I'm pretty sure that comes out to around six years, depending, of course on when in 1992 he started and when in 1998 he left. So, isn't six years a full "tour"? Or whatever it's called. And I wonder, why was the homicidal racist OK to stay in for almost a whole tour and then needed to be less-than-honorably discharged right before he would get out anyway?

I'm certainly not defending his homicidal racism here. But I wonder if the Army maybe bear just a teensy, tiny, little bit of responsibility for cutting this guy loose on society? I know, that's a terrible, Communistic, America-hating thought, but ...

Posted by: Tim on August 10, 2012 3:24 PM
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