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In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara were desperate to find additional troops for the Vietnam War but they feared that they would alienate middle class voters if they drafted college boys or sent Reservists and National Guardsmen to Vietnam So on October 1 1966 McNamara lowered mental sta. Ebook 2h See also Gregory s 2016 talk Low Aptitude Men In The Military Who Profits Who Pays Laurence Ramberger 1991 It s not well known but one of the most consistent long term sponsors of research into intelligence has been the US military This is because contrary to lay wisdom that I only measures how well you do on a test or book learning cognitive ability predicts performance in all occupations down to the simplest manual labor this might seem surprising but there are a lot of ways to screw up a simple job and cause losses outside one s area For example aiming and pointing a rifle or throwing a grenade might seem like a simple task but it s also easy to screw up by pointing at the wrong point reuires fast reflexes reflexes are one of the most consistent correlations with intelligence memory for procedures like stripping the ability to read ammo box labels or orders as one Marine drill instructor noted and common sense like not indulging in practical jokes by tossing grenades at one s comrades and forgetting to remove the fuse common sense is not so common as the saying goes Such men were not even useful cannon fodder as they were as much a danger to the men around them as themselves never mind the enemy and jammed up the system A particularly striking non Vietnam example is the case of one of the largest non nuclear explosions ever the Port Chicago disaster which killed 320 people any complex disaster like that has many causes of course but one of them was simply that the explosives were being handled by the dregs of the Navy not even bottom decile but bottom duo decile had to look that one up and other stations kept raiding it for anyone competentGregory s book collates stories about what happened when the US military was forced to ignore these facts it knew perfectly well in the service of Robert McNamara Lyndon Johnson s Project 100000 idea to kill two birds with one stone by drafting recruits who were developmentally disabled unhealthy evil or just too dumb to be conscripted previously it would provide the warm bodies needed for Vietnam and use the military to educate the least fortunate and give them a leg up as part of the Great Society s faith in education to eliminate individual differences and refute the idea that intelligence is realIt did not go wellThe main value of the book is providing many concrete examples of what a lack of intelligence can mean useful for people who spend their whole lives in high I bubbles and have no idea of what that means examples in Gottfredson s Why g Matters The Complexity of Everyday Life the difficulty of implementing social welfare programs McNamara s education fantasies never materialized for lack of funds the enlistees not being smart enough to ualify in the first place and a forceful denunciation of the harms cruelty committed by a willful blindness to the fact of individual differences harms which fall on those least able to understand or withstand them He was perpetually angry and aggrieved and he talked back to the sergeants When they cursed him and threatened him he would say angrily I just wanna go home Why don t you let me go home The phrase banality of evil comes repeatedly to mind in examining the ramifications of McNamara s blank slatism through the military systemGregory himself received an early introduction into the topic when he showed up for boot camp and was put in charge of one of those conscripted men to his bafflement his scrawny ward Gupton was illiterate couldn t understand the idea of a war or basic training couldn t memorize his serial number didn t know who Hitler was nor what state he was from nor his grandmother s nameaddress apparently he had no parents or didn t remember them was terrified of injections endlessly fascinated by the dog tags he was reuired to wear and thought a nickel was worth than a dime because it was bigger and routinely got into trouble because he couldn t keep rankshonorifics straight or hopelessly literal understand humor or military slang in commands and while he was unable to learn to make his bed another recruit was able to eventually teach Gupton to at least tie his shoelaces The cruelties began early on when Gregory accompanies several of McNamara s morons Gupton to their barracks where they are ordered to leave their backpacks out all their money is stolen in the night by the sergeant who then tells them to report the crime to him rather than the MPs which they guilelessly do Gregory notes that the sergeants appeared to have been targeting the morons routinely and getting away with it every time Life is hard but it s much harder when you re dumbThe story of Gupton has a relatively happy ending while eventually graduating boot camp and sent to Vietnam despite Gregory s attempt to get him safely discharged he apparently was sheltered by a sergeant who had a mentally handicapped sister of his own and understood survived his tour and returned eventually dying at age 57 But note that this is still far short of a normal male life expectancy the Iall cause mortality correlation is substantial particularly at an extremeOther stories did not end well Some were trapped in boot camp Gregory describes how many would be sent to remedial training repeatedly failing the exercise reuirements because they didn t understand how to correctly execute actions in swinging from monkey bars they would try to swing one bar at a time coming to a halt each time in running an obstacle course they would have to pause in front of each arrow and think about what an arrow meant before understanding which direction to go costing them too much time to ever beat the deadline they would insist on throwing grenades like a baseball directly to the target not understanding that throwing up in a parabola would gain them the necessary distance and in the mile run they would sprint as fast as possible at the start and be surprised when they became utterly exhausted long before the finish line One mutinied from the drills under the impression that being sent to the stockade meant going home until it was explained to him that the word meant jail One thing worth noting is that many of the short or unintelligent people came from very poor environments In thinking about the past it s easy to forget how poor the USA was until recently the USA during Vietnam to say nothing of earlier The life of American workers in 1915 was what we would consider a Third World country Gupton for example was very thin ate ravenously during training and had abscessed teeth because he had never seen a dentist in his part of Appalachia one enlistee considered himself blessed to be in the Army rather than Mississippi where he could eat meat every day indeed every meal of which there were three got beautiful new clothes free doctor dentist visits and was even paid money once a month another enlistee was thrilled about how he could suddenly see people s faces now that he had glasses after an Army doctor gave him a vision test Nevertheless the improved environment of the Army appears to have made little difference It is not surprising that McNamara s morons could be spotted on sight because of their shortness funny looking faces and general ugliness to the point where Gregory goes into detail about the one exception the handsome Freddie Hensley who nevertheless was not the sharpest tool in the shed to the surprise of everyone interacting with him and discovering things like his reflexes being far too slow to shoot a rifle or believing that there was no connection between thunder and lightning Hensley was sent into combat and died I was not surprised to discover that he had been killed in combat With his good looks he probably was assumed to be normal and was moved along to Vietnam and sent out into the fieldBefore long she was expressing grief and anger and bewilderment She told me that when Freddie received his draft notice she and other family members went to the induction center and explained that Freddie had been in EMR educable mentally retarded classes in school and had not been able to drive a car and that it would be a mistake to draft him In response a sergeant reassured the family that Freddie would not be put into danger he would just do menial jobs such as sweeping floors and peeling potatoes He was a good boy she said When he was little we used to go everywhere together He was my Little Man She began to sob and she lamented Why did they have to draft him I want to know why When forced through basic training by hook or by crook further training generally proved pointless there weren t enough funds to pay for the extensive hand holding so the fancy education direct instruction apparently McNamara put faith in either wasn t enough or simply never happened in the first place Thus demonstrating the iron brass laws of social programs as well program efficacy always declines as it scales up because it must be run by exactly those people failing at the task in the first place for lack of resourcescompetenceincentivesmeaningful interventions Where education was tried it turned out to be futile and those who did train them found them too slow or too dangerous to trust A man assigned to t shirt printing shop was unable to understand alphabetization and had to pick out each letter for printing by scanning through the box one by one a sergeant trained two men to drive military trucks somewhat successfully but they were too dangerous drivers to be used and were transferred out another simply forgot to get back on the helicopters after a village search forcing a second retrieval mission another was lucky enough to be sheltered by his sergeant in mess hall duties until a mortar hit it killing him one played a prank on his suad mates tossing a defused grenade at them two times but on the third throw forgot to disable it another wandered away from an ambush and wandering back was killed by his suad while yet another almost shot his commander with a LAW rocket when startled another did kill his commander while on guard duty when he forgot to ask for the password before shooting another forgot to put his rifle safety on shooting a suad mate in the foot who died another tripped a booby trap while not paying attention another was captured by the NVA and went insane screaming endlessly and defecating on himself while being beaten It is unsurprising that many of them would be made to walk point or ejected somehow in addition to the constant insults and abuse a new recruit was told the NVA would kill them all in a few hours went insane from fear climbed up a flag pole and jumped off it and another was beaten to death in Marine basic training McNamara may have had good intentions but in the social sciences good results follow good intentions much as the rain follows the plow which is to say they do mostly by accident and we find it easier to tailor our preferences to the results than vice versa Only a few of the stories like the recruit who was confused by having two left boots and two right boots but no complete pairs of boots or the one who thought semen was urine or the extremely short man who received an honorable discharge medical pension for contracting the terrible disability of dwarfism in a war zone or the draftee who tried to commit suicide by drinking a bottle of Head Shoulders shampoo could be considered all that funny Most are painful to read But educational again especially if you are in a high I bubble and have a lack of empathy for what low intelligence means Once you ve read some of these anecdotes other anecdotes like Scott Alexander s experiences in Haiti no longer seem like such a stretchOne of the most striking examples is that the My Lai massacre itself may have been directly due to lowered recruiting standardsHe cited Lieutenant William Calley convicted in the murder of than 100 unarmed civilians in the My Lai Massacre in 1968 According to Arnold R Isaacs the Vietnam war correspondent for the Balti Sun Calley flunked out of Palm Beach Junior College with two C s a D and four F s in his first year and reportedly managed to get through officer candidate school without even learning to read a map or use a compass 97 Marine Corps Colonel Robert D Heinl said the Army had to take Calley because no one else was available 98 His own attorney used Calley s low intelligence as a courtroom defense the Army he said was to blame for My Lai because if it hadn t lowered mental standards men like Calley never would have been commissioned Richard A Gabriel who spent 22 years as a US Army officer says Even the staunchest defenders of the Army agree that in normal times a man of Lieutenant Calley s intelligence and predispositions would never have been allowed to hold a commission 99Gregory concludes To justify lowering test scores for entry into the military Robert McNamara said that Project 100000 men were not brain poor at birth but only privilege poor advantage poor opportunity poor 151 His description was accurate but only when applied to those men in Category IV who possessed street smarts a sound native intelligence They did poorly on the AFT not because of mental deficiency but because of substandard education learning disabilities or weak testing skills Some of them were successful in the military as I will show later in this book What McNamara failed to see was that many Project 100000 were incurably limited They were indeed brain poor for life with no hope of making huge mental improvements No amount of McNamara s audiovisual gadgetry could transform them from slow learners into bright or even average citizens But wait a minute hadn t psychologists discovered that even people with serious mental limitations were capable of absorbing much training than society had previously thought possible Yes and it was a valuable insight mentally limited persons were not hopeless they were capable of growth and maturity But here was the problem they might be able to learn how to make change but that didn t mean that they could someday create a spreadsheet They might be able to learn how to put together parts in a factory assembly line but that didn t mean they could someday operate a 105mm howitzer in battle There was no hope of dramatically lifting the I of Project 100000 men who missed a test uestion like this If a farmer had a bucket of 24 eggs and he stumbled and broke half of them how many eggs would he have left The men who missed such uestions were slow learners who were able to live happy productive lives if they had a protective environment a cozy haven with loving parents helpful friends and sympathetic bosses Such was not the case for many Project 100000 men The stories come one after another making it a gripping read and I finished it in one sittingWhile Vietnam was not lost because of Project 100k wars are usually won or lost for bigger reasons Project 100k certainly did not help matters by doubtless doing a good deal of damage the full extent of which will never be known and arguably Project 100k was symptomatic of both the ideological delusions of the American politicians high level bureaucrats which conceived and pushed through the Vietnam War and perhaps importantly was a stop gap abused to deal with the fact that they could not justify it to the public sufficiently well to get support for a true population wide draft which would touch the middle upper classes If a war cannot win the support of the populace perhaps it shouldn t be fought in the first placeI would have liked statistical and psychometric details such as a short literature review of the extensive studies of I and job performance especially in the military eg Kavanagh 2005 how the probability of combat death correlated with lower I why I interventions typically fail etc but it is probably unrealistic to expect that from Gregory and in any case given the extensive lying fraud falsification of documents misclassification of members of the 100000 etc the statistics would likely greatly understate the true outcomes Fortunately it turns out that a thorough statistical study of the available data and a followup survey is available in an earlier book the Low Aptitude Men In The Military Who Profits Who Pays Laurence Ramberger 1991 as a bonus Laurence Ramberger 1991 cover not just Project 100000 but the almost too good to be true natural experiment known as the ASVAB Misnorming where the military accidentally and unwittingly engaged in the euivalent of a second Project 100000 in peacetime

FREE READ ´ eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB ☆ Hamilton Gregory

McNamaras Folly

Ndards and inducted thousands of low I men Altogether 354000 of these men were taken into the Armed Forces and a large number of them were sent into combat Many military men including William Westland the commanding general in Vietnam viewed McNamara’s program as a disaster Because many of the substandard men were incom. Hamilton Gregory a Vietnam veteran who worked with intelligence has written a much needed book on McNamara s so called Project 100000 utilized beginning in 1966 and continued throughout the rest of the war to boost total inductions by relaxing the intellectual medical and physical standards for the armed forcesThe road to Hell is paved with good intentions the old aphorism reads It seems an apt description of what happened with Project 100000 During Lyndon Johnson s laudable War on Poverty Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara proposed that Johnson consider using the armed forces as a way to rehabilitate the poor and jobless from deep rural country in the South and Midwest and from the inner cities of America In McNamara s estimation the program could admit previously disualified candidates usually disualified for various medical conditions low scores on the Armed Forces ualification Test AFT or criminal misconduct most at risk for continuing a generational cycle of poverty and not only instruct them in some practical trade eg auto mechanic but provide some form of classroom instruction that could help candidates secure GEDs learn basic arithmetic and learn to read and write In theory these men would not serve in Vietnam nor in the combat arms but fulfill their commitments in supply and service where they would learn valuable skills or at worst perform physical labor and thus free up other personnel for the combat arms In theory therefore Project 100000 was not such a bad idea of social engineering because as Gregory admits some of McNamara s men hailed from the poorest and most remote areas of America thus three suare meals 95month health care housing allowances and clean clothes were welcomed by these men as unthinkable largess As Gregory argues convincingly though Project 100000 hardly lived up to McNamara s lofty ideals The military brass and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee successfully rebuffed LBJ s attempts to relax armed forces standards between 1964 and 1966 by rightly stating that as warfare became increasingly complex and technologically dependent so too did the intelligence and physical standards need to rise in such a way that the military could induct the best and the brightest America had to offer to borrow a popular phrase from Halberstam The military reluctantly accepted Project 100000 in 1966 because of severe manpower shortages in Vietnam These shortages were caused by in on particular order of importance LBJ s refusal to call up the reserves or deploy the national guard the one year rotation system for personnel in Vietnam and the mass deferments provided to mostly middle class Americans in college raising families or fortunate enough to secure shoddy medical or psychological exemptions Add to all this the constant stream of casualties in Vietnam and the armed forces particularly the army found itself in the midst of struggling to maintain its NCO and junior enlisted rank and file Project 100000 recruits and inductees were brought into the services precisely at a time when those branches had little incentive or budgetary discretion to create wholesale education programs and rehabilitation cadres to provide these young uneducated and impoverished men with the skills and knowledge McNamara and LBJ promised Instead Hamilton explains how systemic corruption from military recruiters to induction center physicians to boot camp instructors allowed men totally unfit for service to steadily progress through the procedural reuirements to eventually deploy to Vietnam as primarily you guessed it infantrymen Gregory has both a personal and an academic interest in Project 100000 Personally he now works as a journalist and an activist for the causes of former Project 100000 men He also remembered being assigned to watch over a McNamara man during his time at basic training and seeing the profits of Project 100000 when he was assigned to a Special Training detachment where men who washed out of their basic company were given extensive physical training or medical rehabilitation In Gregory s recollections these men were borderline mentally handicap or worse and often suffered from obesity malnutrition and in one rare case dwarfism They should have never been allowed in is a constant refrain throughout the work Gregory cites a litany of anecdotes of men being unable to fire a rifle having physical handicaps that impaired the most basic physical fitness routines suffering psychological distress and being unable to comprehend instructions But if these men could not comprehend and execute orders from drill sergeants navigate obstacle courses or properly assembledisassemble and fire a M 14 they surely did not ever see the shores of Vietnam right Wrong Gregory claims that drill sergeants and company commanders in basic often fudged reports for McNamara s men to pass them through to advanced individual training AIT and that similar circumstances them pushed these men from AIT to regular service Once in Vietnam these men became not only a danger to themselves but to their comrades some refused orders others could not understand the complex and varied practices for survival in combat Many were wounded and others were killed in Vietnam Those who were fortunate enough to secure an MOS in the rear often puzzled NCOs and officers with their ineptness Gregory fingers induction centers and military recruiters as primarily responsible for exacerbating the problems inherent in McNamara s plan by deliberately falsifying paperwork to classify men in Category V I 71 as Category IV I 72 91 ignoring various medical conditions and paying individuals to take the AFT for potential Cat 5 individuals Of course these arbitrary mental categories were invidious and relied mainly on suspect I testing eg What s precisely the ualitative difference between a Cat 5 with an I of 71 and a Cat 4 with an I of 72 In any sense Gregory argues that the military accepted the bottom of the barrel and sent men to Vietnam who had little chance of survival Gregory does acknowledge that many of McNamara s Men were successful in the military and afterward In no way does Gregory stereotype those inducted under the auspices of this program as mentally handicap physically inept misfits and criminals However he would argue that successful P100K inductees and volunteers were the exception rather than the rule In my own research I studied the correspondence of an African American from rural North Carolina who rejected twice in the early 1960s for medical conditions was subseuently drafted during the P100K years He was not given a moral waiver eg making exceptions for past criminal misdeeds or administrative acceptance eg re categorizing a Cat 5 as a Cat 4 His letters home were poetic and insightful and after his two years in uniform he went on to a successful career at Branch Banking Trust BBT What s most interesting is how anecdotes about McNamara s men seem pervasive in both Gregory s interviews and among Vietnam veterans generally The reviews of this book on Goodreads speak to the seeming ubiuity of men with mental and physical handicaps existing in the rank and file of the army during Vietnam My one reservation about this book is that Gregory primarily relies on anecdotal and personal experience to formulate some of his most provocative arguments As one retired general once remarked about my own work A thousand anecdotes is not a statistic I think the same applies here Gregory collects an assorted and at times convincing array of anecdotes from veterans that attest to the problems of P100K but did not do any systematic statistical research to investigate precisely how widespread the problem of Low I Troops Unfit Men Criminals and Misfits became in Vietnam or in the army general For example I am not persuaded by a uote from William Westland that inducting the dregs of society had contributed materially to the disintegration of morale in the US Army and an American defeat in Vietnam Westland was apt to blame any and all things for his failed strategy in Nam This is a provocative book and purposefully so Gregory wants to start a conservation among veterans and academics about this thorny issue and he does not shy away from the colorful language used to describe McNamara s Men during the 1960s idiots morons retards etc in his attempt to convey that the Pentagon and the White House perpetrated a grave injustice upon perhaps the weakest and most defenseless members of our society during the Sixties As Gregory puts it for every intellectually or physically handicapped young man sent to Vietnam to be killed there was a corresponding middle class college bound usually white male looking forward to deferments and prosperity I hope that there will be investigation of this often misunderstood and ignored issue during the American war in Vietnam 45 I say claim here because some of these arguments rested on Gregory s personal experiences and remembrances and are not the most reliable nor empirical source

Hamilton Gregory ☆ 7 SUMMARY

Petent in combat they endangered not only themselves but their comrades as well Their death toll was appallingly high In addition to low I men tens of thousands of other substandard troops were inducted including criminals misfits and men with disabilities This book tells the story of the men caught up in McNamara’s fol. The least intelligent among us should never be viewed as expendable units of manpower but as our fellow sojourners on this fragile EarthImagine sending a five year old into combat That s what Project 100000 was all aboutThe author promised to one day tell the story of how the US drafted low I individuals to fight and die in the Vietnam war In writing this book which is mostly a collection of their stories he fulfilled that promise a few years before his deathThe author is uniuely suited to write about this topic both as a Vietnam vet himself but also as someone who had met some of these people and had written about them contemporaneously in letters to his wife during the warA few stories about the creative ways people dodged the draft were very entertaining like the kid who ate 3 extra large pizzas every night for 6 months so he d be categorized as overweight and avoid the draft early in the war But most of the stories in this book are sadSomewhat common facts Standards were lowered so that criminals could choose jail or military service Physical examinations were faked so that men with normally disualifying ailments and conditions could not escape being drafted The draft disproportionately targeted the lower class and middle and upper class men typically escaped the draft by getting education or other deferments or by having connections that let them serve in the National Guard and avoid Vietnam Eg Only 1 out of the 10000 men of the Mississippi National Guard was black in a state that was 42% blackLesser known facts These men died at a rate greater than 3 times other Vietnam soldiers Men could be drafted even if blind in one eye or generally having such poor vision they cannot see targets they are shooting at Men with Is lower than 70 were reuired to serve and in some cases even lower In some cases these men didn t even know their home addresses or how to read Fragging of officers dramatically increased as criminals were sent to Vietnam in a jail or army deal Combat units were refusing to fight and officers often refused to discipline soldiers for fear of being killed by a grenade in the nighttime The draft is like the old British method of pressing men into service at ports any young man they can find This was one of the drivers of the war of 1812 and yet now the US was using the same method 150 years later to conduct their own warExtremely crazy facts Postwar the recruitment process was still pretty screwed up in one case somebody with Down syndrome successfully enlisted when the recruiter faked his test scores and he was even shipped off to basic training A dwarf little person was drafted and got sent to the frontlines in Vietnam The army didn t have boots small enough for him to wear Joe Namath uarterback for NY Jets escaped draft because of bad knees while continuing to play football as a superstar while men who were blind in one eye or had limps were forced to serve


10 thoughts on “McNamaras Folly

  1. says:

    Ebook; 2h See also Gregory's 2016 talk Low Aptitude Men In The Military Who Profits Who Pays? Laurence Ramberger 1991 It’s not well known but one of the most consistent long term sponsors of research into intelligence has been the US military This is because contrary to lay wisdom that ‘I only measures how well you do on a test’ or book learning cognitive ability predicts performance in all occupations d

  2. says:

    I received my copy of “McNamara’s Folly” from the author himself He had read the first poem and later others in my

  3. says:

    Many of us especially Vietnam veterans like myself know well the basic facts that an escalation of troop levels began in the mid 1960's and peaked at about 550000 by 1968; that all total 27 million Americans served in Vietnam during the war years; and that 58000 American's died there mostly in combat situations But how many know that approximately 10% of those casualties were suffered by low I men brought into the ser

  4. says:

    Hamilton Gregory a Vietnam veteran who worked with intelligence has written a much needed book on McNamara's so called Project 100000 utilized beginning in 1966 and continued throughout the rest of the war to boost total inductions by relaxing the intellectual medical and physical standards for the armed forcesThe road to Hell is paved wit

  5. says:

    There's a uote from The Fog of War which I like a whole lot How much evil must we do to do good? Know that you will do evil but try and minimize it Well Secretary McNamara you just MAXIMIZED evilThe genesis of Project 100000 McNamara's program to lower standards for admittance to the military was simple As the Vietnam War heated up in 1965 bodies were needed to man the line Mobilizing the National Guard and reducing deferments fo

  6. says:

    Hamilton Gregory attempts to straddle three worlds That of a historian documenting a sordid incident if the death woundin

  7. says:

    The least intelligent among us should never be viewed as expendable units of manpower but as our fellow sojourners on this fragile EarthImagine sending a five year old into combat That's what Project 100000 was all aboutThe author promised to one day tell the story of how the US drafted low I individuals to fight and die

  8. says:

    Sometimes it is easy to get caught in a bubble of where you work and the people you hang out with Books like these are nice since they provide context and make you understand the world on a holistic level Most surprising were that the new minimum I ualifications for military service didn't seem that low to me whereas before the mili

  9. says:

    The first three parts are uite good describing the personal account of the author and his experience with the low I section of the US milliary After that the rest of the book is just short disorganized anecdotes from people he interviewed years later There's a lot of not his real name and he declined to give specifics which combined with the fact that these anecdotes simply rehash the author's experiences do

  10. says:

    A tragic chapter of the Vietnam WarSad reading and it will make you angry It makes a compelling reason for the reintroduction of the draft However it must be implemented without exemptions enabling the wealthy and talented from imposing their burdens on the less fortunate It would also make the American elites judicious in the use of military action if it is their children who will be in harms way