Weyand Speech This web site is dedicated to the memory of Col. William C. Maus, Jr. (1928 - 1998)
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GENERAL Frederick Carlton Weyand

United States Army Chief of Staff

3 October 1974 - 30 September 1976

Submitted by: LTC Michael D. Bianchi, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff, Army (CSA)

GEORGE CATLETT MARSHALL MEMORIAL RECEPTION AND DINNER Association of the United States Army Convention Washington, DC October 18, 2000 Thank you Gordon - my Granddaughters say, Wow. There isn't any better way to express it. Just before I came over here, I met with General Ed Smith who has the United States Army Pacific in Hawaii. He couldn't be here, he's in a War Fighter exercise at Fort Lewis, Washington. He came over to the office, brought me this tin canteen cup. He said, This canteen cup will remind you of your humble beginnings when you get all that adulation!!” So that's my old Burma canteen cup. Well, it is great to be back in Washington. When Arline and I left here, it wasn't a Freudian thing but it turned out we retired as far away from Washington as we could get and still be in the United States. But it's nice to be back and particularly when I have no work to do other than to talk about the Army and myself. You know it would be as you can understand, a high honor to receive any award from this great association. But to receive this recognition, tied as it is to that name of General George Catlett Marshall, exceeds expectations far beyond anything I could ever have imagined. In the fall of 1943, I was a young Major in Washington getting ready to go overseas. I went over to Fort Myer Theater, sat down and lo and behold who comes in and sits right in front of me but General Marshall. The newsreel was the Battle of Tarawa. America had rarely witnessed anything close to that. Over 3000 marines wounded and killed in a little less than three days of fighting, a fanatical enemy on an island no one had ever heard of. I sat there in total awe thinking of the tremendous power, the responsibility that resided in General Marshall as Chief of Staff. Well, a few years later, I was at a retirement ceremony for General Ridgway. General Ridgway was a frustrated Chief of Staff. I'll always remember he made the remark that, “I found there were 19 people who could tell me no and only one who could tell me yes.” And that turned out to be the President who steadfastly refused to see him. Well, when I became Chief of Staff, I found it was not “My” Army, it was Bo Callaway's and later Marty Hoffmann's Army, it was Jim Schlesinger's Army, it was Senator Sam Nunn's Army, and it was the President's Army. Most of all, it was and still is the Army of the American people. Twenty-five years ago as General Abrams and I sorted out the lessons of Vietnam, I wrote a thesis on that point. And what I wrote was that the American Army really is a people's army in the sense that it belongs to the American people who take a jealous and proprietary interest in its involvement. What that means is when the Army is committed, the American people are committed. In the final analysis, the Army is an arm of the American people. I make that point because for all of us in the Army, that bond between the people of our country and the Army is a sacred trust. Today, as our political leaders debate about the use of military force as an instrument of national policy, it is well for all of us to remember that truth: the support of the people we are sworn to defend is essential to the accomplishment of whatever mission is assigned us. Now, in a more mundane sense, I found out when I was the Army's Congressional Liaison Officer, that the Chief of Staff stood with one foot in the Congress and one foot in the White House, and the rest of him resided in the Pentagon. One day, Ted Clifton, who was President Kennedy's military aide, introduced me to the President and he said, “Mr. President, this is General Weyend, he handles Congress for the Army.” The President shook my hand and said, “Boy, I'd sure hate to have your job.” Well, you know, I thought that was fair enough because I didn't want his job either. It wasn't long after that, Bob Smart, who was the senior staff member of the House Armed Services Committee called me over and said, “Fred, Chairman Vinton wants to see the Secretary and the Chief of Staff tomorrow in his office at 7:00 in the morning.” Well, we were at the Capitol and they were at the Pentagon, across the river. And I said, “Bob, I'd be lucky if I could even get to see them by tomorrow morning.” And he said, “Just do it.” So at 7:00 the next morning, Secretary Starr and George Decker were in the Chairman's Office and the Chairman said, “General Decker, I'm going to give the Army 50 million dollars and I want to know what you're going to do with it.” The Secretary stepped in, responded for the Chief, and said. “Well, you know Mr. Chairman, the President's Budget has been approved and so we're going to have to stick with that.” And Chairman Vinton looked at him and said, “Mr. Secretary, I'm going to build a fire under you!” And he did and the Army got its 50 million dollars for procurement. I tell these little stories to make the point that the Chief of Staff is not a free agent. And his ability to get things done is a measure of his ability to build a consensus of support and understanding for what he's trying to do. General Marshall had such great stature as a military professional that in his time virtually everyone involved in National Security valued his judgments. Beyond military matters, he had a keen insight into all the other elements of National Power and he understood what was necessary to achieve a National Consensus. I always thought that the Marshal Plan was probably a testimonial more to his leadership and his ability to form a consensus than all of his great achievements in World War II. I had the privilege of serving under three of the Army's great leaders; General Marshall, General Matt Ridgway, and General Creighton Abrams, to whom I was closest. General Abrams was a rare amalgam of leadership, wisdom, human understanding and intellectual capacity. And all of that packed into the uniform of an American soldier. I never knew anyone like Abe and I am so honored here tonight that Julie, his wife, is here. She was the Army's Number One Wife and she and Arline saw Abe and myself through thick and thin. They, and all Army wives, are entitled to our applause. They are truly the wind beneath our wings. I've often thought that our Army wives are the conscience and the heart of the Army and we don't do enough for them, we don't talk about them enough, but they are always there for the Army and us. Well, like the best of his predecessors, General Shinseki is building a consensus for his vision. I'm going to be talking about General Shinseki, but the Secretary is also a partner in this. I'm a soldier, so naturally I think about that man in uniform. Rick comes from my adopted state of Hawaii. He recently delivered a very moving address at a celebration in Honolulu for the Asian Americans who were recently, and belatedly, awarded the Medal of Honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor for their heroism in World War II. I was privileged to escort Private Shizuya Hayashi during that ceremony and to hear General Shinseki delve into the core of courageous soldiering. What he said in part and I'll read it to you is, “No one can train to do what they did, in the deadly chaos of battle, trust between soldiers takes on a value all its own. And when they fight, soldiers fight for each other because of the trust they have placed in one another.” And then he went on to point to the hidden instincts that surged to the surface of these Asian American soldiers in their time of trial. They were trying to prove something to their country that had walked away from them. He said, “From somewhere within their breasts, on those terrible and distant battlefields, these men of courage and action lifted themselves to such heights of human endeavor that they have given themselves up to the ages.” Those profound thoughts are pure “Shinseki” and I quote them to you because they under gird this consensus that he's seeking from those of us in the Army, from the Pentagon, from the Congress, and from the American people; a consensus for transforming the Army, building on its precious, most precious asset - its people. I know in today's world, high tech stuff is terribly important but what the Chief and the Secretary settle on as their most precious asset is “people.” General Shinseki's vision is based on experience and, in my opinion, sound fundamentals. I know in some cases, the changes are revolutionary. But they flow from careful study, from trial, from demonstration, and validation. You think of the changes we have seen just in my lifetime from 16-inch coastal guns meant to defend San Francisco to intercontinental ballistic missiles. From bolt-action rifles to fire and forget weapons, to satellites, and to battlefield surveillance from satellites. And we now measure the depth of battlefields in tens and hundreds of miles rather than yards. What I'm saying is, this Army is used to change and it will continue to change. The army has adapted and endured against every imaginable threat for 225 years. That's its legacy and that's its future. General Shinseki has taken the first steps towards transforming the Army into a mobile, flexible full-spectrum force with a high degree of lethality and survivability on the battlefield. A force that can put, as he told you, a Brigade on the ground anywhere in the world in a matter of hours and rapidly build it up over a period of weeks to a Corps level force. Now, all of that is doable and General Shinseki needs our solid support to make it happen. You know General Abrams, and later, General Colin Powell, have been my two benchmarks of creative consensus leadership. And I believe that, given the same circumstances that the Army's faced with today, that they'd probably proceed in about the same way that Rick is doing it. I think probably General Abrams might gag a little bit at putting wheels and tires on his tanks. But, I think in the end he'd go ahead and do it if that's what was necessary to move forward. I told you about sitting in a theater behind General Marshall. I got my overseas orders shortly after that. During that period of several months in 1943, I was in the Washington area undergoing a very arduous training program in the German Order of Battle. I knew everything there was to know about the German Army, its leadership, its tactics, its weaponry, and its force structure; so I opened my orders the day or so after I saw general Marshall. I was ordered to the China/Burma/India Theater. Imagine that. There wasn't a German within a thousand miles of the place. I told that story to a group of young officers and they said, “Yep, that's the Army alright.” Well as a matter of fact, in this case, the Army was right. General Stilwell in Burma had a desperate need for the kinds of intelligence I could produce for him. And faced with daily morning meetings with Vinegar Joe Stilwell, I learned the Japanese Order of Battle very, very quickly. Well, I was unprepared for Burma but not nearly so badly as General Stilwell's forces. In May 1942, he was driven out of Burma, and withdrew back into India. At that time, he said to the press, “We got a hell of a beating - we got run out of Burma - it's humiliating as hell. We've got to find out what caused it and retake it.” And that's exactly what he did, as General MacArthur did later on in the Philippines. But, I tell you our lack of preparedness cost us dearly in American lives. You know, for me, the memory of Burma is of twin battles against disease and the enemy; of shifting missions against a largely unseen enemy; of soldiers leaving their hospital beds to go down and defend a vital airstrip that we held at Myitkyina. But for the most part what I remember is the indomitable spirit and courage of those soldiers; the same kind of soldiers I later led in Korea and Vietnam. Soldiers that did more; were doing more than their country had any right to ask of them. In Burma, and in China, and later in Korea and Vietnam, there was always a daunting and always underestimated problem of meshing our leadership and democratic principles with those of a foreign culture. And I am sure that the problem will continue to haunt us. I remember an instance in Burma where General Stilwell went to one of the five Chinese divisions he'd trained and decorated a Chinese soldier for a particularly outstanding act of heroism. He pinned the medal on him and we went back to that Division maybe a week or so later to find that the Division Commander had taken the medal away from the soldier and was wearing it on his tunic. I mention that because although it is a small thing, it tells a lot about two different cultures that are of huge importance as we mesh our vital interests with those of peoples we barely understand. The Korean War for me was a defining moment in my life, as a man, as an infantryman, and as a leader. I got my first Combat Command there. A Command I worked and I prayed for. And I'll tell you when I got it in the winter of 1950, to be intimately associated with those soldiers in combat was the most rewarding experience of my life. And that's even including being the Chief of Staff. I learned that men would follow me anywhere as long as I was out in front where they could see me and hear me and know that I cared for them. I learned the value of realistic training, and training, and more training. I learned the value of reconnaissance and intelligence, personal knowledge of the terrain and the enemy. I learned that precise, massive firepower resulted in lives saved and missions accomplished. I learned to visualize and prepare for the worst that could happen and be surprised at how often it happened. I learned that in the darkest hours my salvation lay in my faith. God gave me strength when I needed it most and it's surprisingly how often we do need it. And, as in Burma, again I learned the pain of not being prepared. At the outbreak, you know of the Korean War, there were no allies to buy time for us as there were in World War II. So we sent poorly equipped and trained soldiers from Japan in there. Sent them in as cannon fodder, there's no other better phrase to describe it, to buy time. My Division, for example, went in three, four months after the war began and it was at half strength. And the price again in soldier's lives was enormous. Even in Vietnam, I took the 25th Division in there when there was plenty of time for our country to get us prepared and yet I took only two Brigades in there. The third Brigade we formed from scratch and came later. General Abrams and I spent 5 years of our lives immersed in the war in Vietnam. From the outset we were fighting two wars. One war in the South against the Guerrilla Forces of the Viet Cong, and one war aimed at stopping Hanoi's armed aggression against the people of South Vietnam. Well, the back of the Viet Cong was broken in Tet of 1968, that February and early spring of that year. With that as a backdrop, General Abrams set about winning that war which he did. Oddly enough, little has been written about that period covering some of Abe's finest hours. An exception is Lewis “Bob” Sorely who has written a book about the years 1968 to 1972, when Abe was in command. It's titled “A Better War,” and I commend it to you because it'll give you a valuable perspective on a war that we didn't lose on the battlefield. After Tet, General Westmoreland sent Walter Cronkite out to interview me. I was in Command of the Forces in the South around Saigon and below and I was proud of what we'd done. We had done a good job there. So, Walter came down and he spent about an hour and a half interviewing me. And when we got done, he said, “well you've got a fine story. But I'm not going to use any of it because I've been up to Hue. I've seen the thousands of bodies up there in mass graves and I'm determined to do all in my power to bring this war to an end as soon as possible.” It didn't seem to matter that those thousands of bodies were of South Vietnamese citizens who had been killed by the Hanoi soldiers and Walter wasn't alone in this because I think many in the media mirrored his view. It was a far different situation for me than when I was in Korea with my Battalion. I had a fellow named John Randolph who was an Associated Press Correspondent. He literally lived with our Battalion and he wrote about the men in a way that was good for them. It raised their morale. He never undercut their effort nor maligned the cause for which they fought. He became like one of them. He was awarded the Silver Star for Valor for helping them retrieve wounded and dead from the field of battle under fire. When I was in Paris at the Peace Talks, it was the most frustrating assignment I think I ever had. Sitting in that conference, week after week listening to the Hanoi negotiators, Le Duc Tho and his friends lecture us. Reading from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Herald Tribune, the Atlanta Constitution, NBC, CBS, you name it. Their message was always the same. “Hey, read your newspapers, listen to your TV. The American people want you out of Vietnam. Now, why don't you just go ahead and get out?” So finally a Peace Agreement was signed that everyone knew would be violated and with no recourse or hope of enforcement on our part. Now, I am in no way blaming the media for the loss of South Vietnam; the blame, if you can call it that, is very widespread. Thousands of books and articles cover the subject from A to Z: dissembling political leaders, flawed strategy, micromanagement from Washington, pursuing the wrong objective, skewed reporting, the wrong war in the wrong place, violation of the principles of war, and on and on. The War against the North was, of course, different than the War in the South. In early 1969, I had an opportunity while General Buzz Wheeler was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss the bombing in North Vietnam. The President had halted it for a period of time and so I asked Buzz. “What's the portent, what's the importance of this bombing?” It seemed to me so simple what he said, “You know we never have had the intention of invading North Vietnam to establish control on the ground, so air power and blockade were the offensive elements of our national strategy.” There were times when it seemed like that bombing program and the blockade were close to forcing Hanoi to agree to meaningful negotiations with President Thieu, but in each instance, we backed off, sometimes as an intended gesture of goodwill and sometimes because of loss of our aircraft and our crews. In 1970 the War in the South was well in hand in the South, and had the Air Force and Navy been given free rein to apply air power to force Hanoi to negotiate in good faith, I believe we could have had a Peace Agreement long before 1973. But as it turned out, as Clausewitz might say, “Somewhere along the way we lost sight of the objective.” By 1969, when I was there in Paris, our negotiating team had lost faith in our mission and there was no doubt but that the American people had withdrawn their support. President Nixon tried to turn the tide but it was hopeless. You know there really isn't a humorous side to the Vietnam War - at least I haven't found it. But there is one story I've got to tell you because it makes a point. There were these two high school teams playing in the state championship. One of these teams had never been there before, the team they were playing against had beat them every time in the past they played with them. This underdog team had the ball on their own 10-yard line with about two minutes to play. The coach had used up all 3 quarterbacks. He had this kid who was in a suit but he'd never played; he'd practiced a little. He thought, “You know I don't want to turn that ball over, we can get a tie out of this, that's like a victory.” So he called the kid in and he said, “Now you go in there and you hang on to that ball. On the first play, you run the fullback off left tackle, the second play you get the half back around right end, the third play you hang onto the ball on a quarterback sneak, and then you punt. So the fullback ran off left tackle for about 15 yards, around right end for 20 yards, then the kid kept the ball and bulled his way all the way down to the two-yard line. Then he stepped back and punted. Well, as he came off the field, the coach ran up to him and said, “What in the world were you thinking of? First and goal and you punted.” The kid said, “I was thinking about what a dumb coach we had.” Now, the point of that story is that quarterback and that team on the field did not lose that ball game any more than the Army and the soldiers who fought in Vietnam lost that war. Believe me, I've been in 3 wars, and more so than any other, the question, “Was it in vain?,” was more common coming out of the Vietnam War. My answer to that is that no soldier who has sacrificed his life in the struggle against tyranny and oppression has ever died in vain. You know the cause for which the battle is fought, more than the outcome, determines the worth of the sacrifice. And these soldiers and airmen who fought and died in Burma and China were no more to blame for the tragic consequences for those peoples than were our soldiers in Vietnam. In the aftermath of Vietnam, for Abe and me, our watchwords were “Readiness” and “Stability” for the Army. Because readiness was a given. Abe and I believed that to build a truly ready Army, we needed a stable force. You've got to have that. We both believed with stability, cutting out all the historic ups and downs of Army strength, we could build a good Army. And thanks to Jim Schlesinger, and Mr. Secretary, we'll always be indebted to you for that and to Abe for his ability to fashion a consensus in the Congress. We did get a stable strength for the time that we were in there. Unfortunately, we were never able to get the money to equip, train, and maintain it properly. In those intervening years, this Association worked tirelessly to get for us a ready, balanced force. I want to mention a fellow that some of you never heard of, Bob Cocklin, who to me was the Founder of the Association. He and Cass, his wife, and I were very good friends. I was a horse holder, as they say, in the Secretary's Office and Bob used me as an intermediary to get to the Secretary and the Chief of Staff to get their endorsement and their personal support for what had to be done to get this Association up and running. You know in the aftermath of World War II, this Army was just made up of all of the separate combat branches, the seven technical services, reserve components, and a whole raft of separate entities of various kinds. All addressing their own interests, but none of them speaking for the Army. There was a great need for one voice that could speak to the interests and concerns of all of the Army and its soldiers. And it was Bob Cocklin's vision that this Association would fill that need. And so what we have today are the fruits of his labor; an Association that is the champion for all of the men and women of the Army and at the same time complements and expands the reach of the Secretary and the Chief in telling the Army's story. You know it seems to me as I've sat outside watching each succeeding Chief of Staff and President of this Association, that each in their own way has raised the bar; has raised the level of excellence of the Army and of this Association. And this is certainly true in the case of General Sullivan and his team. Building on the past, looking to the future. They've taken this Association to a higher level of accomplishment. The credibility of this Association is obvious to me even out in Hawaii. All I have to do is read the results of the Appropriations Committees. The credibility of this Association is reflected in a positive way in everyone of those instances. There's a reason for this, because just as he did when he was Chief of Staff, Gordon is out in front where the troops can see and hear him. You know every time I get one of his torchbearer messages, I want to say, “Send me in, coach,” because he really is a motivator. And Gordon, I have to tell you, we owe you a great debt of gratitude. So, am I proud of this AUSA team? You bet I am! Am I proud of General Shinseki and his team? You bet I am! And most of all, am I proud of the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States Army? You bet I am! I see a lot of them out in Hawaii, almost on a weekly basis I'd say. The 25th Division was a fine Division when I commanded it; it's even greater now. It's been under the command of a great General, General Kip Ward and his wife Joyce and I tell you Kip and Joyce are leaving. These great men always seem to leave too soon; Hawaii is really going to miss them. I go out there and I see young men and women that they're associated with, that they're responsible for. Those young people are clear eyed, they're bright, they're dedicated, and they're professional. And above all, they're in the Army by choice. We owe them our unqualified support for their selfless service. General Marshall was known for his skill at Grand Strategy. His vision of a world that could be, under girded his Marshall plan. But he often turned his thoughts to the Spirit of the Doughboy, the GI, the Rifleman, the Gunner, the Tanker, who win America's wars. Just listen to these words from him:  “Morale is a state of mind.  “It's steadfastness and courage and hope.  “It's confidence and zeal and loyalty. “It's élan, espirit de corps and determination.  “It's staying power, the spirit which endures to the end, the will to win and with it, all things are possible.” General Marshall was right; morale is a state of mind. You see it in these leaders around us this evening; confident, steadfast, courageous, determined, and as General Denny Reimer would say: “With soldiers as their credentials.” Just one more thing please before you sit down, you've been such a wonderful audience for me. I want you to indulge me in just one more war story. When I was Chief of Staff, one of my embarrassing experiences was when I went to my first Army/Navy game, sitting there in the middle of the Corps of Cadets. My aide comes up to me and he says: “General, this is where you lead the Corps in the Army Yell.” And, I didn't know the Army Yell. Well, I stood up and thank the lord, it's like you lead the pledge of allegiance. As soon as you stand up, say “I pledge allegiance,” the audience takes over. Well, they started their yell without me. So what I'm going to ask you to do is let me lead you in a yell as I did once before when I retired. I want to hear what 2700 people sound like when they shout: Give me an "A"; Give me an "R"; "give me an "M"; "give me an "Y"; "give me an "Army." Thank you. Biography:  Frederick Carlton Weyand was born in Arbuckle, California, on 15 September 1916; was commissioned a second lieutenant through the Reserve Officers Training Corps program at the University of California at Berkeley, 1938, where he graduated in 1939; married Arline Langhart, 1940; was called to active duty and served with the 6th Artillery, 1940–1942; was promoted to temporary first lieutenant, June 1941, and to captain in February and major in November 1942; graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, 1942; was adjutant of the Harbor Defense Command, San Francisco, 1942–1943; served in the Office of the Chief of Intelligence, War Department General Staff, 1944; was assistant chief of staff for intelligence, China-Burma-India Theater, 1944–1945; was in the Military Intelligence Service, Washington, 1945–1946; was promoted to temporary lieutenant colonel, March 1945, and permanent captain, July 1948; was chief of staff for intelligence, United States Army Forces, Middle Pacific, 1946–1949; graduated from the Infantry School at Fort Benning, 1950; was battalion commander in the 7th Infantry and assistant chief of staff, G–3, of the 3d Infantry Division in the Korean War, 1950–1951; served on the faculty of the Infantry School, 1952–1953; attended the Armed Forces Staff College, 1953; was military assistant in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management, 1953–1954; was military assistant and executive to the secretary of the Army, 1954–1957; was promoted to permanent major, July 1953, and temporary colonel, July 1955; graduated from the Army War College, 1958; commanded the 3d Battle Group, 6th Infantry, in Europe, 1958–1959; served in the Office of the United States Commander in Berlin, 1960; was promoted to temporary brigadier general, July 1960; was chief of staff, Communications Zone, United States Army, Europe, 1960–1961; was deputy chief and chief of legislative liaison, Department of the Army, 1961–1964; was promoted to permanent lieutenant colonel, September 1961, and to temporary major general, November 1962; was commander of the 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii, 1964–1966, and in Vietnam operations, 1966–1967; was promoted to permanent colonel, September 1966; was deputy, acting commander, and commander of II Field Force, Vietnam, 1967–1968; was chief of the Office of Reserve Components, 1968–1969; was promoted to permanent brigadier and major general and temporary lieutenant general, August 1968, and temporary general, October 1970; was military adviser at the Paris peace talks, 1969–1970; was assistant chief of staff for force development, 1970; was successively deputy commander and commander of the United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, 1970–1973; was commander in chief of the United States Army, Pacific, 1973; was vice chief of staff of the United States Army, 1973–1974; was chief of staff of the United States Army, 3 October 1974–30 September 1976; supervised Army moves to improve the combat-to-support troop ratio, to achieve a sixteen-division force, to enhance the effectiveness of roundout units, and to improve personnel and logistical readiness; retired from active service, October 1976. *** This document was prepared by CALL, Ft Leavenworth, KS.  (note: CALL stands for Center for Army Lessons Learned.) (Note: the web page where this speech was originally found a number of years ago is no longer available. Searches to find it on any other site have been unsuccessful.)