Army Aviation

The Challenge to the AAAA! Build Citizen Support!

Looking Back, December 2018 / By Mark Albertson: . . . therefore, the interests of the army and the people are one and the same.  We must always take care to strengthen the monolithic solidarity between the army and the people.  [1]

Secretary of the Army, John O. Marsh, presented the keynote address at the 1981 AAAA National Convention in Washington, D.C.  The underlying aspect of the Secretary’s address was the fostering of citizen support.  Which in today’s America presents a dilemma.  Sure, many will saunter up to a uniform and offer a cheery “Thank you for your service.”  But how many are willing to turn in their civies to take their place alongside the recipient of their good wishes.  Since the Army is having trouble generating recruits, the obvious conclusion here is . . . why?

Reaching back into history, Secretary Marsh brought forth the Continental Army’s victory at Yorktown, October 19, 1781, as that nexus between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.[2]  The 55 names on the Declaration of Independence signified that next step towards revolutionary war . . . cohesion.  Order had to overcome the spontaneity of uprising if there was to be any chance for victory.  Otherwise Ben Franklin’s pronouncement would most certainly have come true, “We must all hang together or assuredly we shall hang separately.”[3]

Such realistic assessments can breed that patriotic cohesion that is based, not on some perverted form of plastic nationalism which can never result in a functioning system of representative government; but, rather defined on such concrete notions as Consent of the Governed, as alluded to by Secretary Marsh with his references to both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.[4]

Secretary Marsh offers that the battle of Yorktown was that “victory that would mean that all the hopes and promises of the Declaration of Independence would belong to the American people and would ultimately produce six years later our great Constitution.”[5]  Concur here, but with a caveat . . . People will defend such precepts in our priceless documents only if they understand such precepts . . . which many of our fellow citizens in present day America clearly do not.[6]

1811 marsh johnSecretary Marsh was correct in observing the precarious nature of our turbulent world.  Take the Middle East, a Cradle of Civilization, afflicted as it has always been with regimes of the authoritarian and despotic variety.  The basis of the current round of instability is rooted in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, on the heels of which the opportunistic British and French, seeking to fill the resulting political void and service their insatiable imperialistic desires would, in the end, do what the Ottomans never did, draw borders through clannish associations, tribal affiliations, religious differences and ethnic passions . . . in essence creating that powder keg of conflicting grievances known as the modern Middle East.[7]

Europe:  Here Secretary Marsh outlined the seeming over-preponderance of superiority enjoyed by the Soviets with regards to the East-West standoff:  “We have around 11,000 tanks—they have 47,000; we have some 15,000 armored personnel carriers—they have 60,000; some 5,000 artillery pieces for us, 24,000 artillery pieces for them.”[8]   Yet . . .

. . . there were a number of causations which developed to undermine the material advantage enjoyed by Moscow:  1971, President Richard Nixon opened dialogue with Mao Tse Tung which would result in diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.  Following defeat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Anwar Sadat would become a Capitalist by switching camps, from that of the Proletarian Revolution led by Moscow to the Market Orientation centered in Washington.  1975, Cuba became embroiled in Angola; while Hanoi, after finally unifying Vietnam, invaded neighboring Cambodia to attack a Peking client known as Pol Pot and his murderous regime.  1979, the Peacock Throne came to an ignominious conclusion with the Shah’s removal, resulting in the ascendency of the Shia Fundamentalist Regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.  December, that same year, Moscow, seeking to assure its satrap of Socialist Orientation in Kabul, unleashed its invasion forces on Afghanistan, spurring the Jihadi movement and leading to a nine-year campaign against the Mujahidin (Soldiers of God).[9]

Just where does Army Aviation fit into this perpetual state of menace, strife and conflict?  Secretary Marsh, within his remarks, noted how the English Long-Bow changed the face of warfare, as did the Colt .45 which came to be called the Great Equalizer.  “I submit to you that Army Aviation, as a weapon system, can perform that role.”[10]  “The American Army pioneered this concept known as Army Aviation, built so much around the Attack Helicopter and the airlift helicopter in the Air Assault concept of vertical envelopment.”[11]

“It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the success of what you’ve done is clearly recognized in the fact that almost every modern Army in the world today has copied what you’ve contributed in the field of aviation, . . .”[12]  Perhaps, but the reality here is that Army Aviation can also be the “sincerest form of battery,” that Great Equalizer when defending America’s interests.  This has been expressed in Vietnam, Grenada and a half a hundred other places.  And the defense of those interests is ongoing, perpetual and unceasing.  And this takes a committed population which is required to back those Americans in uniform.

From December 8, 1941 to September 2, 1945, 16,112,566 Americans put on a uniform to join the global quest to utterly defeat Fascism, Nazism and virulent militarism.[13]  That amounts to some 12.2 percent of then the American population, which was about 132,000,000 in 1941.  And during the conflict, many of those not in a uniform were in the war plants supporting their loved ones overseas.  Even children, 6 or 7 years old, with their red wagons were carting pots and pans down to some collection center for the cause.  You have 6 or 7 year olds on board, you have a war effort.  Of course, the question today is how many American youngsters, 6 or 7 years old, have red wagons?

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Security against foreign danger is one of the most primitive objects of civil society.  It is an avowed and essential object of the American Union.  The powers requisite for attaining it, must be effectually confided to the federal councils.

Is the power of declaring war necessary?  No man will answer this question in the negative.  It would superfluous therefore to enter into a proof of the affirmative.  The existing confederation establishes this power in the most ample form.

Is the power of raising armies, and equipping fleets necessary?  This is involved in the foregoing power.  It is involved in the power of self-defense.[14]

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Secretary Marsh’s concern about fostering citizen participation, returns, of course, to the domestic variety of the Greatest Generation who gave up their cheese, meat, sugar and salt for the war effort, in addition, to the rationing of gasoline.  And, in addition, Secretary Marsh employs Carthage as a warning.  This Mediterranean power was the object of Roman hatred and vengeance, as exemplified by the Roman Senator Cato and his repeated pronouncements of, “I think Carthage should be destroyed.”

“But the people of Carthage could never bring themselves to believe that Cato meant what he said.  Secure in material wealth and progress, Carthage only wanted peace with Rome.  Finally they awoke but it was too late.  Rome crushed Carthage, destroyed its buildings, and sowed its fields with salt.”[15]  Secretary Marsh’s reference to the Cathaginian Peace following the Third Punic War should be duly noted.

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Secretary Marsh urged AAAA to take the lead in building that “broad, national-oriented, sustained effort to build citizen support. . .  I’m really talking about an educational program for the American citizens in your communities where your Chapters are located.”[16]  Secretary Marsh even advocates such resources as television and advertising, where industry may have “enormous advantages.”

In the end, it is up to the Army Aviation community itself.  Those serving, those supporting, those affiliated must understand that Army Aviation is not only a branch of the United States Army, it is a movement; and, must be treated as such.  And the chapters are a good place to start; borrowing, if you will, the notion put forth by Lewis Powell[17] for Army Aviation.  Chapters, then, can be cells that beat the drums for Army Aviation.  Such could include a stable of speakers, ready to elucidate the rich history of Army Aviation in a variety of venues.   For the more Americans who are aware of Army Aviation and its functions, the better are the chances of building that citizen support as put forth by Secretary Marsh.

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A good general, a well-organized system, good instruction, and severe discipline, aided by effective establishments, will always make good troops, independently of the cause for which they fight.

At the same time, a love of country, a spirit of enthusiasm, a sense of national honor, and fanaticism will operate upon young soldiers with advantage.[18]



[1]  See pages 107 and 108, III “Our Party has Successfully Led the Building of the People’s Revolutionary Armed Forces,” People’s War, People’s Army, by Vo Nguyen Giap.

[2]  The Declaration of Independence (The actual document is titled, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.) was an effort of the most inflammatory type.  Inspiring the masses to evict a colonial oppressor with a marvelous use of language, this document is just as much an English class as it is of immense political significance.  But at the same time it was a rouser to arms, it was also a unifier.  For up to July 4, 1776, spontaneous uprisings throughout the 13 colonies had been the order of the day, with patriotic colonists forcing out crown-appointed administrators and taking local control with Committees of Safety.  A like process manifest itself in Petrograd in February 1917.  Here workers, soldiers and peasants forced out Czar-appointed administrators to set up Soviets or committees.  Such is Revolution from the bottom up, not the top down.

[3]  There is some disagreement as to whether Ben Franklin actually stated this or not.  A James Thatcher, offered in his Military Journal, July 18, writes that the phrase was uttered on the day of the signing.  But as Carl van Doren points out in in two-volume history of Ben Franklin, the Declaration was not signed until August 2, 1776.  See pages 418 and 419, “Unsupported Legend,” Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiographical Writings, Vol. 2, by Carl van Doren, 1945.

[4]  The former is not only what it is stated to be, a Declaration of Independence, but is also a Declaration of War; a revolutionary expression of displeasure with the oppressive primacy of arrogant monarchical power.  Yet, it is also the American citizen’s Article of Faith, a birth certificate of citizenship which supersedes any certificate of birth obtained from any hospital, city hall or house of worship.  While the latter document is our blueprint for government, with its attendant Bill of Rights, which are the People’s protections against any infringements of government, thus forming this ruling structure known as the American Republic.

[5]  See page 9, “The Challenge to the AAAA!  Build Citizen Support!” Army Aviation, May 23, 1981.

[6]  Half the American public is on an eighth grade reading level or less, per the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.  Of course, there is the old standby; that is, actually go out and talk to your fellow citizens and pay attention to what they understand about American history, government, current events. . .    

[7]  Refer to that litany of events which ultimately led to the current round of unpleasantness:  The 1903, Lansdowne Declaration (upon which the 1980 Carter Doctrine is based); the Damascus Protocol, 1914; Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, 1915; the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916; the Balfour Declaration, 1917; the San Remo Conference and Treaty of Sevres, 1920; Treaty of Lausanne, 1923 and the 1930 Anglo-Iraqi Accord.

[8]  See page 10, “The Challenge to the AAAA!”

[9]  The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a conflict which became emblematic of the changing nature of political forces at this juncture.  The Pan-Arabic Movement was fast giving way to the Pan-Islamic Movement.  A development which will not only subvert and suborn the Soviet Union economically, militarily and politically, but help to speed up the collapse of that house of cards known as the Soviet State.

[10]  See page 12, “The Challenge to the AAAA!”

[11]  See page 12, ibid.

[12]  See page 12, ibid.

[13]  America’s Wars. Department of the Veterans Administration.

[14]  See pages 270 and 271, “The Federalist No. 41,” by James Madison, January 19, 1788, The Federalist.

[15]  See page 12, “The Challenge to the AAAA!”

[16]  See page 11, ibid.

[17]  Lewis Powell, nominated to the Supreme Court by President Nixon, sent, in August 1971, a Confidential Memorandum to the Chamber of Commerce Education Committee Chairman, Eugene P. Sydnor, Jr., “Attack on the American Free Enterprise System,” AKA, the Lewis Powell Memo.  This 36-page manifesto was in response to, what Lewis Powell viewed as the threat posed by opponents of the Free Enterprise System.  American Business, he wrote must go on the counterattack.  And a building block to success was through the Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber has outlets all over the country.  And from these outlets Business could organize to refute the message posed by that collection of contrarians rostered in the Memo.  One method of attack, a stable of speakers traveling the country presenting the message of Free Enterprise.. 

[18]  See page 79, Maxim LVI, Napoleon’s, Art of War.

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America’s Wars, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.

Attack on the American Free Enterprise System, AKA, the Lewis Powell Memo, August 23, 1971.

Doren, Carl van, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiographical Writings, Viking Press, New York, 1945.

Giap, Vo Nguyen, People’s War, People’s Army, Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., New York, NY., 1962.

Hamilton, Alexander, Madison, James and Jay, John, The Federalist, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, Ct., 1961.  Reproduced from the original texts.

Napoleon’s, The Art of War, Barnes & Noble Books, 1995.

Robinson, Kirk Ward and Eaton, Christopher, Founding Character:  The Words & Documents That Forged a Nation, Roan Adler Publishers, Nashville, Tenn., 2003.

“The Challenge to the AAAA!  Build Citizen Support,” Army Aviation, Vol. 30, No. 5, Army Aviation Publications, Inc., Westport, Ct., May 23, 1981.