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TF Rakkasan Commander Responds to MultiCam Moratorium

EDITOR'S NOTE: Below is the response from 3rd Brigade Combat Team -- TF Rakkasan -- commander Col. Viet Luong to the post on MultiCam restrictions in eastern Afghanistan and the discussion that ensued. I have posted his entire response with only very slight copy edits...

Wow- such harsh words. I don’t ever recall being called a REMF or douchebag in my entire career. One of my Soldiers told me about this article and when I saw it, I felt compelled to respond- because of the lack of veracity of the reporting and the potential for something like this to impact my mission at hand and the characterization of my unit.

First off, I’ve been in tactical units all my life- 82d ABN, 173d, 101st. I have commanded at all levels and have never served above the BDE level. I have been deployed to Haiti, Kovoso, Iraq and Afghanistan in multiple command positions. Have been shot at and IEDed many times. I don’t know who BamaPunisher is; however, if he’d served with me in Samarra, he could attest to the fact that I consistently lead from the front and am outside on patrols with the boys nearly every day as a BN CDR. Just to give you some background on who I am and let you know that I know the fight firsthand, not sitting from my desk.

I’m perplexed that we are spending time talking about the multicam uniform. It is not all that important compare to other more important issues we have at hand. The multicam will not win us the war. The effectiveness of the multicam is thus far unproven beyond the labs.

In addition, the biggest casualty producing weapon remains the IED- against vehicles and not against Soldiers who are poorly camouflaged. I have fought in BDUs, DCUs, and ACUs. My Soldiers in Samarra bled profusely while wearing ACUs, the alleged best we had at the time. In short, I can’t really tell you if wearing ACUs saved more lives. So what I’m telling you is the most important thing for MY formation are discipline and standards.

I have not put out that Soldiers cannot wear mixed uniform. However, I’m proud that my NCOs and subordinate commanders understood the value of maintaining discipline and have enforced Rakkasan standards. LTs buying coolguy kits is a recipe for disaster. They are the most inexperienced in the Task Force. I’m glad that someone disciplined these guys. I’m guessing they probably got reprimanded by a CO CDR who had at least 3 combat deployments, who understand the importance of not allowing tactical discipline to drop.

I do not know who the NCO that bought the $1600 worth of equipment, but I’m also disappointed in him. I have always worn what I’ve been issued. I think it is poor leadership that these guys are buying off the shelf gear while the PVTs, without the funds to afford the gear, have to wear what they are issued. Hence, I’m proud of their chain of command for tightening up their shotgroups.

In addition, based on my own combat experience, we had Soldiers in Iraq who bought unauthorized gear such as ballistic plates and eye protection that were untested and paid the price. So it is not just a matter of gear. In the end, tenacity, leadership, courage, discipline will win us this war, not a uniform or guys with cool gear, Oakleys and bandanas. I think [commenter] Bob understands this more clearly because he probably has led men in combat.

Things that the boys need most are things like lightweight tripods, precision mortars, UAVs, plate carriers, better boots for dismounted ops etc, not the multicam.

If you want to support our Soldiers, here are some recommendations: - Thank a veteran when you see one. - Put some flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes on Memorial Day. - Volunteer to pack boxes for Soldiers at Give2TheTroop. - Visit some of my Soldiers at Walter Reed. - Give up your First Class seat to a Soldier in uniform. - Donate college fund money to the children of our fallen heroes - Support Goldstar Mothers and Spouses - Help prevent hate groups from harrassing our Fallen Heroes’ Funeral. - Pray every night for our Troops.

You see, when you help propagate these types of articles, you are tying down commanders from doing their jobs. You also paint a bleak picture to the American public that this war is being led by buffoons. You are actually supporting Taliban. In reality, we have a lot of great NCOs and officers, most of whom have been deployed several times. Our Army has never been this ably led.

When I was a BN CDR, I have had to answer inquiries by many “concerned former vetarans” on bogus information. As a BCT CDR, I’m always prepared to answer hard questions and take full responsibilities for all that happens in my unit. I just hate to waste time on such an inconsequential issue.

It is 0315 in Afghanistan. I need to get some sleep and get back to commanding my BCT. We are doing a lot of good things in Afghanistan and are steadily taking it to the Taliban. We rarely see any reporting on that. We are also making progress on development and governance. The ANSF has also improved significantly. It is not all doom and gloom because we are poorly led. For some of you who have served and are currently serving- thank you for your service to our Great Nation. Take care and God bless.

COL Luong

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