Those Magnificent Men

I was sent this via e-mail from my Uncle Pat, also known as Colonel Alfred H. Paddock. Uncle Pat is a story in and of himself, but I’ll tell you a little more about him after the e-mail. Let it suffice to say for now that Pat is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable soldiers on the subject of unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency and psyops to have served in our armed forces. Thus he has a deep appreciation for the struggles our men and women are having in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the magnificent way they have conducted themselves relative to history or any other armed force in existence today.

Despite attempts to portray their conduct otherwise, I will repeat something I have said over and over. History and the rest of the world may have set a bar too low for some of your sensibilities, but no large military force has ever conducted itself in a more professional and humane way than the US armed forces of the last five years. In fact, it isn’t even close. As some, rightfully, point out our failings they wrongfully act as if those failings somehow outweigh the positives our civilian and military leaders have overseen. That is a shame.

Anyway, I have no idea if this letter is genuine, I see it has made its way around the internet, but here it is with an introduction from my uncle:

This letter from an Australian father whose son is serving in Iraq is worth reading. On active duty I knew military men from Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, and they were all good soldiers. In fact, during the early 1960s I attended the British Jungle Warfare School in Malaya (now Malaysia). Soldiers from all three of these countries were both on the instructor staff, and others as students. There was also a Gurkha unit that served as both a demonstration and aggressor organization for field exercises, truly impressive soldiers. I and a US Marine Corps officer were the only “Yanks” as students, so we received a good bit of kidding for that. On weekends we would all go into Singapore together, and a great deal of camaraderie developed among us as the course progressed. I would have served with any of them in combat, with great confidence that they could be relied upon.

All of this is to say that the letter below is a real tribute to today’s American Army soldiers, so be proud of them…




I am an Australian and my son is an Australian - as far as we are concerned there is not place on God’s earth better than Australia, and there are no people better than Australians.

That was until the past week or so.

My son is in the Australian Army and he is currently on deployment in Iraq. I can not go into his duties in great depth, but shall we say that he and his fellow army buddies are on a glorified guard duty looking after the Australian Embassy. They don’t go out looking for “action”, though it is a different story in Afghanistan, there the Aussie troops chase the baddies over the hills and into the valleys..

My son and I just ended a long ‘phone conversation and here are some of his comments, believe me this is what he said. We have all seen the bullshit emails written by some clown in his lounge room pretending to be at the coal face, but this is what was said.:

“Before I came over here I thought we (the Australian Army) were pretty shit hot….. was I ever wrong!….The Yanks (I hope you don’t mind me using that word) are so professional from the top to the bottom that it is almost embarrassing to be in their company, and to call yourself a soldier….don’t get me wrong, we are good at what we do but the Yanks are so much better…..they are complete at what they do, how they do it and their attitude is awesome….they don’t complain they just get on with the job and they do it right…..I carry a Minimi (SAW) so I am not real worried about a confrontation but I tell you I feel safer just knowing that the US Army is close by….If we got into trouble I know that our boys would come running and we could deal with it but they would probably be passed by a load of Hummers. No questions asked, no glory sought, the Americans would just fight with us and for us because that is their nature, to protect those in need of protection…..We use the American Mess so you could say that we are fed by the Americans…..they have every right to be pissed at that but they don’t bitch about that they just make us feel as welcome as possible….what gets to me is that the Yanks don’t walk around with a “we are better than you attitude” and they could because they are, they treat us as equals and as brothers in arms. If nothing else, coming here has taught me that the Americans are a truly great Nation and a truly great bunch of people…..Let’s face it they don’t HAVE to be here, they could stay in America and beat the shit out of anyone who threatened them, BUT THEY ARE HERE because they believe they should be here, and the Iraqis would be screwed if they weren’t here…..When I come home, you and I we are going to the US, we will buy some bikes and we are going riding….”

The reason why I am sharing this with you is because I realize that you (as a nation) must get pretty pissed with all the criticism you receive by the so-called “know it alls” who are sitting at home - safe. The reality is that they are safe, just as I am, because of America. If the world went arse up tomorrow there is f**k all we (Australia) could do about it, but I know that the Americans would be there putting themselves on the line for others. That to me is the sign of greatness.

The most precious thing in my life is my son, I look at him and I thank God that I am fortunate enough to be able to spend time in his company. We laugh, we discuss, we argue, we dummy spit, we have the same blood. I am not happy that he is where he is but that is his duty. He joined the Army to protect and to defend, not to play games. I mightn’t like it but I accept it. My reasons for not liking it are selfish and self centered. I felt assured that he would be safe because he is in a well trained army with an excellent record, BUT NOW, I feel a whole lot better knowing that he is with your sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.

Whilst he was growing up. I was always there to look after him, I would not let harm befall him and I would always put myself before him to protect him. I can’t do that now. When it comes to looking after him now he and his mates will do the job, but also THANK GOD FOR AMERICA.

Gentlemen, I have rambled on for too long. but as I finish I say to you, as a foreigner and outsider, a nation is only a collection of its people and its attitude is the attitude of its people, collectively and as individuals. I am really glad you are here on this Earth and I respect you as a nation and as people.

Stand up and feel proud because you deserve it, there is no one else who will do what America does without question. The next time someone howls you down, take some comfort in the fact that America is defending their right to act like an idiot.

Finally, thank you for looking after my son.

Peter Turner

A little background on Pat. He wrote the classic book on the history of the origins of the US Special Forces:

You can read a synopsis of his on the true father of the US Special Forces, Major General Robert A. McClure, adapted from his upcoming biography here.

He has a number of articles and papers on the subject, as well as on the subject of Psychological Operations, an area where he was one of the driving forces in making a point of greater emphasis for our military, though he probably feels there is much work to do on that front. You can download Psychological and Unconventional Warfare, 1941-1952: Origins of a Special Warfare Capability for the United States Army (13.5 MB pdf.)

Of interest to the present conflict would be this if you get your hands on it:

Paddock, Alfred H., Jr. ‘No More Tactical Information Detachments’: U.S. Military Psychological Operations in Transition. Low Intensity Conflict & Law Enforcement 2:195-211 Autumn ‘93.

He also has an excellent piece in the book, Psychological Operations: Principles and Case Studies. You can find a review over at the Small Wars Journal.

On a more amusing note, he has some kind words and ample disdain for Robert Kaplan’s Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground.

One of the original Green Beret’s, one might feel that my interest in counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare stems from my uncle, but actually I had only the vaguest idea what Pat did until I was an adult. My interest was developed independently. In third grade I read my first true works on military strategy and history. B.H. Liddel Harts, History of the Second World War and Strategy, and most on point, Mao’s, On Guerilla Warfare. Still, I have read what I can of his works, watched the documentaries where he was a major source and followed his career from a respectful distance. I am thinking he might make a nice interview, I may broach the topic. Maybe I will even let Josh in on it.

Here is his Bio:

Alfred H. Paddock, Jr. was born February 11, 1937, and raised in Bogalusa, Louisiana.

He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College. His military career included command and staff assignments in Korea, Okinawa, Laos, Vietnam, and the United States. He holds both M.A. and PH.D. degrees in history from Duke University, and completed a 31 year U.S. Army career as a colonel in October 1988.

During the 1960’s he served three combat tours in Laos and Vietnam with U.S. Army Special Forces ‘Green Beret’ operational units.

During the 1970’s he was an instructor in Strategic Studies, General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth Kansas, Kansas; served in the Politico-Military Division, Department of the Army Staff, Washington DC; commanded the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion, Fort Bragg, NC; and served as both a faculty instructor for the Department of National and International Security Studies, and as a Strategic Research Analyst for the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College.

During the 1980’s he commanded the 4th Psychological Operations Group, Fort Bragg, was the Chairman, Department of National and International Security Studies, U.S. Army War College; was the Military Member, Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff, Department of State; and was the first Director for Psychological Operations, Office of the Secretary of Defense, in over 30 years.

Dr. Paddock is the author of U.S. Army Special Warfare, Its Origins: Psychological and Unconventional Warfare, 1941-1952, plus many articles and book chapters on special operations topics.

Among his decorations are the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Defense Superior Service Medal, six awards of the Meritorious Service Award, the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service, the Air Force Commendation Award, four awards of the Air Medal, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

He is a member of the Infantry Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame, a recipient of the Psychological Operations Association’s General Richard G. Stilwell Award, and First Honorary Colonel of the Psychological Operations Regiment.

My grandparents left two extraordinary men as their sons. I know they couldn’t be prouder of them. I know I am.

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