McNamara’s Morons – Vietnam Was War For Profit, American Lives Be Damned!

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[Editor’s note: The Vietnam War is understood by few, although many books have been written and movies made, most of it is bunkum created by men who never saw combat and spent their time far from the front lines, the greatest danger they faced were the venereal diseases of Vietnamese prostitutes.

Vietnam was a manufactured war, many know that now the Gulf of Tonkin has been exposed as a fraud, but few know the truth about Vietnam and why the war was fought.

To put it bluntly, it was simply war for profit, the US had a huge military-industrial complex that needed conflict to support it – no war, no big military contracts. 

As well as pure profit, Vietnam was used as a live testing laboratory where all kinds of new and nasty weapons were trialled, to say nothing of the secret experiments, with the targets sometimes being the US troops themselves. Agent Orange was just the tip of a very big and deeply unpleasant iceberg.

The warmongers running things in the US didn’t care about winning the war, they kept it going as long as they could, only bowing out when domestic public opinion could no longer be ignored.

The disgusting and shameful ‘Project 100,000’ of Robert McNamara’s invention clearly shows just how little the US leadership cared about the successful conduct of the war, they knew sending low-IQ moron into battle was sheer folly, that they would simply be slaughtered, but no matter, better to have our morons slaughtered than lose some useful men, after all, we make just as much profit, regardless. Ian]

McNamara’s Folly: Project 100,000

At various times in its history, the US military has recruited people who measured below specific mental and medical standards. During the Vietnam war, “McNamara’s Moron’s” as they were called, were barely literate, or could not read or write, or did not speak English. They were underweight, or obese, were too short, or semi-blind, or missing fingers. In basic training, they often could not tie their shoes, button their uniforms, march in drills. Many failed at physical exercise, at tossing hand grenades, could not quickly assemble weapons, or smartly shoot at moving targets.

These clearly unqualified men were deliberately sought by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who in 1966 required more troops but did not wish to alarm the middle class. Under Project 100,000, pitched as a way path out of poverty, service entry standards were drastically lowered. In addition to men of low intellect, tens of thousands of other inferior men were inducted, including criminals, misfits, even men physically disabled.

Men in the Moron Corps scored near the bottom of the Armed Forces Qualification Test. But Project men were enrolled in basic training with normal recruits, and held to normal standards. Unable to keep up, they were often demeaned and humiliated by other trainees, drill sergeants and officers. In Kubrick’s 1987 film “Full Metal Jacket” the slow thinking, thumb in mouth, pants round his knees Private Pyle struggles to keep up with his platoon. It is an image of pure degradation, and accurately depicts how Project 100,000 men were treated.

Project men who failed Basic training were sent to Special Training Units, only to endure increased physical and emotional harassment, and punishing physical demands.

Altogether, 354,000 substandard men were drafted–many sent directly into combat. In time, sergeants and officers, even General Westmoreland, called Project 100,000 a disaster. The low IQ soldiers were incompetent in combat, putting themselves and their comrades in danger. Inevitably, their death toll was appallingly high.


Medic’s friend Hamilton Gregory has written “McNamara’s Folly, The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War”, a compelling, fast paced, factual and first person account of Project 100,00. Two excerpts follow:

“Drill Sergeant Stoner told one incident that seemed straight out of Gomer Pyle, but actually happened while he was checking recruit’s two pair of boots for correct fit by having them stand on a footlocker, which was place outdoors. ‘One recruit I was inspecting appeared on my footlocker wearing two right boots. I couldn’t believe it! I yelled at the private: “You idiot! What in hell are you doing wearing two right boots?’ He replied “Sir, there must have been a mix up and the private was issued two right boots, sir!’ I immediately got right into his face and screamed ‘Private, get your dumb ass back inside and get the other boots and get back here right away. Do you understand me?’ ‘Sir, yes sir!’ and off he went to the Quonset hut. Moments later he was back. He jumped up on the footlocker, this time wearing two left boots. In a very exasperated voice he said, ‘Sir, the privates’ other two boots were two left boots, sir!’ ”

“In his first day at basic training, Peter Tauber saw a company pass by, running in step as a drill sergeant calls cadence. Twenty yards behind them a whale of a recruit stumbles forward, lurching to keep up, falling further behind. On his tail is a small slight drill sergeant. The fat boy runs a jagged route, spinning to his right and his left as he goes, his head lolling from side to side, drooling and wearing an expression of imminent death. From time to time, he closes his eyes, as if to pray for a merciful tumble. Fifty yards past us he falls. We can hear the sergeant yelling at him as he wallows on the ground. But the fat boy, who must weigh what two of us do, just lies there. The sergeant yells some more and tries to pull him up. The next thing we hear is a scream. The sergeant is standing over the fallen boy and is kicking him in the stomach and backside, sometimes prodding, sometimes letting go with a field goal kick. Screaming sobs fill the air, wails of torture and pain. The sergeant takes off his pistol belt and begins to whip his prey. The boy holds up his hands to protect his face and the sergeant kicks them away. The boy pleads then cries and screams for the sergeant to stop, but the sergeant keeps beating him. Eventually the sergeant relents and lets the trainee get up and rejoins his platoon.”

Project 100,000 was highlighted in a 2006 op-ed in The New York Times. Kelly M. Greenhill, a former Wesleyan and Tufts assistant professor, writing in the context of a contemporary recruitment shortfall, concluded that “Project 100,000 was a failed experiment. It proved to be a distraction for the military and of little benefit to the men it was created to help.”

Less understated, Joe Galloway, a war correspondent who won a Bronze Star with V in Vietnam for carrying wounded men to safety at the battle of Ia Drang, wrote a column shortly after McNamara died. Entitled “100,000 Reasons to Shed No Tears for McNamara” he wrote that Project 100,00 men were, “to put it bluntly, mentally deficient. Illiterate. Mostly black and redneck whites, hailing from the mean big city ghettos and the remote Appalachian valleys.”

“By drafting them the Pentagon would not have to draft an equal number of middle class and elite college boys whose mothers would raise hell with their representatives in Washington. The young men of Project 100,00 couldn’t read…They had to be taught to tie their boots. They often failed (in basic training), and were recycled over and over until they finally reached some low standard and were declared trained and ready.”

“They could not be taught any more demanding job than trigger-pulling, so most of them  went straight into combat where the learning curve is steep and deadly. The cold, hard statistics say that these almost helpless young men died in action in the jungles a rate three times higher than the average draftee…The Good Book says we must forgive those who trespass against us–but what about those who trespass against the most helpless among us, those willing to conscript the mentally handicapped, the most innocent, and turn them into cannon fodder?”

To learn more about this sad and shameful chapter of America’s war in Vietnam, read Hamilton Gregory’s excellent book.

24 COMMENTS

  1. Absolutely shocking, but not really. Just when you think these bastards couldn’t get any sicker, then you find out this. These’s no level low enough that the US government will not stoop to. My husband went to Vietnam 67-68, got severely wounded, contracted bone cancer most likely from Agent Orange, spent a year in a full body cast in hospital in California. Traveling to see him while in boot camp, from Ft Riley, Ft Benjamin Harrison and then Ft Bragg he often spoke of the kind of men Ian speaks of here. At the time we chalked it up to Tennessee rednecks and Georgia boys since both of us were from “the city”. Now, it all makes sense. Wow!!

  2. During WW2 then Senator Harry Truman established an anti-profiteering committee to supplement the already existing steeply graduated wartime tax rates. The fact that neither step was taken during the Vietnam War certainly supports the thesis that profit was the primary motive. It also likely accounts for the vast difference in the time involved in the enormous undertaking of WW2 versus that of the lackadaisical tempo of Vietnam. At the start of the GWB wars the absolutely inimitable Tom Delay said “Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.” That sure tells us that the current crop of wars are simply a continuation of the MI Complex assault on the Treasury. All easily controlled but Congress doesn’t have the backbone to act in the interests of the nation.

  3. Sounds like my basic training company. Half were from Chicago and had the choice of the army or jail, and the other half were from the backwoods in MS and AK . I was the lone white college-educated recruit – drafted when I flunked out of college. It was rough, me the lone nerd! But I made it back and made the Dean’s list next two semesters. Recently got my front teeth straightened out (45 years after being punched in the face by one of them!)

  4. Beautifully written preface.

    Since I view the world with Rule #1 firmly planted — they play both ends against the middle — I see this as the next cycle . . . the more smarter recruit. And careful with the concept . . . the intelligentsia. Bolsheviks baffled with their “smarty pants” bullshit too.

    Yeah, but they’re still going to end up as Ian depicted . . . a good uniform blown to shreds.

  5. Paying to keep a huge army and it’s logistics in Vietnam, would have bankrupted most countries.
    Another benefit for bankers who feed off war, was the tremendous debt the war incurred. That debt was a factor in the dollar’s disconnection from gold. Selling the tools and supplies of war is profitable, but debt is how the big boys reap wealth. I wonder too, if LBJ’s controllers didn’t consider the war, as a way to distract attention form the terrible deed they had done. America’s youth were ripe for revolution at the time, but no one even entertained the thought that our government could be that evil.

  6. Many aspects of the Viet Nam War are still unknown to the general populace , i did not meet many people who would have been one of the ‘100,000 ‘ as described above , although i transferred to a Recon platoon soon after arriving in country so that may have my saving grace , no ‘journalists’ , photographers or observers ever accompanied us where we went , no Brothers served in the field with us [1970 -71 ] as they were protesting the ‘white man’s war’ back at headquarters , although many Latinos in my platoon . A small detail no one will venture to explore . Not many Nam vets left and of those ,very few actually experienced combat being mostly support ,thanks for the professionalism in that regard. I cannot begin to express the loathing i have for the Men in Suits who profit from War .

    • Kellogg, Brown Root, were owned or largely controlled by LBJ. How many billions did the Johnson family get?
      How many left behind POWs did not come home? The billions that would have brought them home was never paid. Nixon through Kissinger would have paid until Watergate erupted. With all of the presidents trade agreements were more important
      I talked with a Vietnam vet. He said they were told that agent orange was safe enough to rub on their skin.

      I know all of the generals in 67-68 planed a rescue of the POWs in the Hanoi Hilton. The answer came back NO!

  7. While I’m taken aback by this revelation, I am not surprised one bit. Both Johnson and McNamara were vile and evil creatures.
    The Viet Nam war was a cruel mistake and a hoax, in that the hoax was the idea of preventing communism from spreading throughout the rest of Southeast Asia. It was based on a lie created by LBJ and McNamara by lying about the Gulf of Tonkin incident that never took place. Yet these same two men went to great lengths to cover up and white wash the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty.

  8. I will not judge those that went there and fought , I was there myself . After a long road of recovery from too much to drink for years and other self inflicted guilt punishments I will say this country at the top level including the Pentagon are filled with SOBs just as evil as McNamara and just as fkd up as John the Mad Bomber McCain was . We have them today making profits from every round every plane and tank this country can sell along with daily FEAR being sold to boob tube brained Americans .

    • I think all countries are similarly afflicted with the likes of McNamara and McCain, but some manage to avoid them becoming all powerful, which the US has sadly not been able to. It is the leaders, the warmongers and profiteers who foment these wars for profit that I criticise; the grunts on the ground, in the filth and fury, the living hell of a combat zone, I don’t criticise, for I have never been there myself, never known what it is to be under fire, to be in a kill or be killed situation and I firmly believe that in such extreme circumstances, only those who have walked the walked are qualified to criticise. It should be noted that prior to the 1950s, when the US military began it’s long, steady decline in human materiel quality, senior officers had usually served in combat commands – those who were the best combat commanders were promoted, hence George Patton had once chased Pancho Villa round northern Mexico on horseback and personally killed his chief lieutenant, so he had seen the true nature of warfare, who knew and understood the stresses and challenges of combat. Patton was no exception, it was the norm for men who succeeded in combat commands to be promoted to senior ranks. However, post-Korea, this became less and less common, so you ended up with R.E.M.F’ers becoming generals and they proved to be mediocre at best compared to their forebears – no-one would favourably compare the likes of Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf or David Petraeus to their predecessors such as Pershing, Patton, Bradley or Hodges. Perhaps the rot set in around 1944 with Mark Clark, a very poor general who ended up commanding the US army in Italy and making a great cock-up of the campaign, not least the fiasco at Anzio. However, Clark was no fool and he understood that it was more important (as far as his personal success was concerned) to maintain a positive image in the US press than to actually win battles, therefore he employed several staff officers to do little else than handle the press corps, to make sure the press got to hear about every success and didn’t hear about the many mistakes made. Clark had a huge ego and wanted to ride into Rome as the conquering hero, as that would surely place him on the front cover of every news publication in the US. So Clark had the Anzio breakout head to Rome, so his ego could be satiated, rather than do what it should have done and head the other direction to cutoff the retreat of the German forces fighting the Allies further south. This meant that most of the German forces slipped away to man the newly constructed Gothic Line in northern Italy and the Italian campaign would last almost until the bitter end of the war in Europe. Sadly for Clark the very day he entered Rome triumphantly, with the press corps cameras all pointing at him, happened to be June 6th, 1944 and the fall of Rome was relegated to the small print, overshadowed by a certain amphibious operation on the channel coast of France. So Clark completely fucked up the Italian Campaign trying to gain publicity for himself and failed completely in both military and publicity efforts. Thank God Clark was the exception rather than the rule among Allied generals and we had the likes of Auchinleck, Wavell, Alexander, O’Connor, Slim, Montgomery, Hodges, Bradley, Patton, Devers and others who were fully competent.

  9. Sorry – I never met any of the 100,000 in Fort Campbell, Ky. 1969 – met some assholes in Nam but the % was about the average of us Americans. I guess those 100,000 were either dead or wounded by 70 and 71 in my corp area. Most of the men I met decades after the War weren’t that stupid – everyone I met was getting money from the VA for something or another and asked me why I didn’t get some. Many I’ve met didn’t look disabled to me. Maybe I was part of the stupid 100,000 – after all.

    • Hi Garry. I haven’t actually read Gregory’s book, so I don’t know all the details, but the book may contain the answer to why you didn’t run into any of the 345,000 recruited under Project 100,000, I can’t even guess, maybe Gordon knows.

  10. Lawrence Bell the owner of Bell Helicopter Corporation had provided money for Lyndon Johnson’s 1948 election campaign. In early 1960’s Bell was in serious financial difficulties. Vietnam war made to Bell very rich, compensating him many times over for their investment in the corrupt Texas politician who, 4 days after the Kennedy was murdered, signed the infamous National Security Action Memorandum No. 273….

    • Another glaring example:

      “RMK-BRJ was an American construction consortium of four of the largest American companies, put together by the United States Navy during the Vietnam War to build critically needed infrastructure in South Vietnam so that the Americans could escalate the introduction of American combat troops and materiel into Vietnam. This construction contract, amounting to $1.9 billion (equivalent to $14 billion in 2017 dollars), completed a construction program deemed to be the largest in history up to that time”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMK-BRJ

    • I always wondered why the UH1 series choppers could be heard coming miles away. To make it easier for them to be shot down of course! Huge profits for arms manufacturers, and let us not forget the huge sums off the books made from the Golden Triangle. Nam was a very profitable war indeed…. for some.

    • nawlins, And shoot them down they did. My older brother was of the First Air Cavalry 1967-68 and he got a first hand view of what was happening.
      After he returned home, thankfully, he gave my dad an education about what really was the purpose of that war and even tried to persuade another young man who had just graduated from high school from enlisting into the WOTC program. Just over a year later that young man returned home in a coffin. There was a big funeral in the local school gym. His dad forever blamed my brother.