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Sgt_Rock_EasyCo

Friends first is not doable. What happens if the guy is a good reenactor but doesn't rub you the right way?

 

I'm a former Paratrooper with the 505th PIR and 502nd Inf. Through my five years I earned my wings, cib, eib and other junk. When I joined reenacting I had experience directly applicable to the unit I joined. This was no small unit with over 100 members on the books and occasionally fielding as many as 50 guys. By my second event I was a CPL and stayed with the unit for over four years. By my second event I was made Training NCO and did my part to make my unit top-notch among reenacting. We used proper tactics, hand signals, behavior and such.

 

The problem I found for me personally is dropping my personal experience at the door to become a good reenactor. I persevered. The second problem was jealousy. Some individuals had been reenacting for years before me but I made rank when their buddies did not. Rank means didly squat when it comes to the Infantry and any Infantry man worth his weight will tell you so. What you know and how good you are is the key to respect. I tried hard to train all my guys but many of the NCO's that were in the unit before me outright refused to get on board. They convinced guys I was "too serious" and used the old axiom "it's just reenacting"= what that tells me is that they wanted to burn blanks but didn't want to learn proper Infantry Leadership Techniques. They couldn't exactly say anything to my face but they kept their little cliques going. I got fed up and left the unit because they were intent on mediocrity.

 

Three guys that are former Army Infantry (two former 82nd and one straight leg) became fed up with the "friends first" mentality. It doesn't work in the Army and it doesn't work in Reenacting. When the "Friends" are the leaders and they make excuses for not being hardcore then your unit will act like Civilians in uniform. My mantra was to act like NCO's and your troops will follow. Troops, be it reenactors or real soldiers desire strong and decisive leaders and wish for their leaders to be technically and tactically sound. If the NCO's (read squad leaders) are sound in Infantry knowledge then they can work together. I was rewarded with great satisfaction when our unit performed well. Unfortunately many of the friends like to srew off in the field sometimes and that one thing pissed me off more than anything. No Infantryman likes to be embarrassed or defeated by ineptitude and slack attitudes.

 

"it's just reenacting" "It's not real" are excuses for failure. Not winning every engagement is acceptible so long as you make the enemy pay heartily. We held off 150 krauts (with armor) for waaaaaaay longer than they anticipated and that helped us win the day overall. There was 30 of us. We rolled them all day from all directions and it pissed them off. So long as we used proper tactics and techniques all was well. All I asked is for guys to act like soldiers, act like Infantrymen in the field. When you return to the barracks, dress like a soldier in your class a's and then you can be friends and equals there.

 

I was too serious and it became a joke amongst some of the guys. They couldn't say anything to my face because I lived what they pretend to be. Shows you the heart of what they really want out of this endeavor. They talk a big game about movie realism, talk about representing Paratroopers and WWII Vets, and how good they are; then turn around and use excuses as to why some of them don't need to learn basic infantry tactics. The NCO's in a reenactment unit should do their homework and desire to be taught how to implement their knowledge in the field. They should act professionally whether their "buddies" like them or not. In the end the respect gleaned will make fast friends and better reenactors of them.

 

Being "cool" is more important than being good. This is completely counter to what works in an actual military unit.

 

What's more is that I was hard-core, vocal and not cool, but I was good and the Army said I was an expert at it.

 

Rock

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I was too serious and it became a joke amongst some of the guys. They couldn't say anything to my face because I lived what they pretend to be.

 

 

Sadly enough, I lived this on active duty. I believed in my responsibilities as a man and a Soldier, I mbelieved in the Mission and the Discipline it took to make a good fighting unit. I made no bones about it. Even the Department of the Army guys laughed at me for "toeing the Army Line"... These were former Army... the lot of them... most of them were 1st Sgts or platoon sgts on active duty. So they come to work, and laugh at me because I took my job seriously. More than once I was told I "needed to chill out and stop spouting all the high and mighty crap the army teaches you..."

 

I looked at them and asked them how the H-E double toothpick they ever attained the rank they claimed they held before they retired or just got out to get a DA job with attitudes like that.

 

Me personally? I want to be in a unit that wants to do well, and one that wants to honor those they intend to protray by being the best and most accurate reenactors that they can be. I believe that a reenacting unit should be run like an actual military unit. After all, that is the whole idea of reenacting, right? To do any less would end up like stated above... a bunch of unknowledgeable civilians in uniform, that just go out to burn blanks because its cool. I'll agree the commanders and maybe the first sergeants should be voted in, but everyone else should work for their rank. New personnel arrive at units regularly on Active Duty, and if you have a Sergeant transfer in, he doenst go to private and start over. Those who have been on active duty should always be given consideration for higher rank, simply because of the experience they bring to the unit. I'm not saying that civilians who have never served shouldnt hold rank, on the contrary, when a non prior service reenactor proves he has learned the skill set and leadership abilities needed to hold rank, give him the opportunity. Its how we learn. I dont believe a soldier who has served faithfully in the military, has experience in the MOS of the unit the being reenacted should be totally disregarded because he is new in the unit.

 

ALL units, either active duty or reenactor suffer from cliques and in-groupisms... There will always be people who deserve to be more than they are allowed, and there will always be those who hold more than they should both based on their knowledge, experience and participation... or lack thereof.

 

Wayne

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This is an interesting topic as I believe every re-enactor has been through this stuff in one form or another. I have been in a group with a core that has lasted over a decade. Most of those that have come and gone have done so due to "life stuff" and not due to politics. We have no formal by-laws, dues, etc. About the only formal thing we have is a name. We meet in January to discuss what we want to do for the year and we do it. If you can't make it, you can't make it, you just inform the group so they don't worry (this doesn't mean that you just don't show up...we are not that casual...it means that as a group we understand that things can happen ie. job change, sick kids, unexpected expense, LIFE!)

 

As for rank, we know our jobs and we have no problem with anyone from our unit leading us. We usually keep rank in the NCO range...Sgt. or Corporal...but we will add rank if needed...Lt or Captain. We do this not for power, etc. but for preservation. We have been in several situations where we show to an event with 11 or 12 guys and a top rank of Sgt. only to be placed in another group of 3 or 4 who have a Captain, Lt., Sgt. and Cpl. etc. and then we are expected to be under their command.

 

The people in the group have a love of history and are always moving forward in their impressions however, new people are always welcome. What we find is that working with new people instead of yelling or berating them causes them to stay in the group and also to improve their impression. We have also tried to move from negative discussions around the camp fire, etc. To positive, almost first person, discussions which helps our attitude and the attitude of those around us.

 

As for set-up. What you bring, you take care of. If someone wants to help you great (and we often do) however it is ultimately your responsibility. At one event (a national) our group camped with only bed-rolls. We were hot, dirty, wet, nasty, etc. all weekend. A group that we were combined with for the event all stayed in nice tents with cots, sleeping bags, coolers, camping equipment, etc. Not once were we invited under the fly or asked if we would like a cold Coke. At the end of the event we were informed that cars would not be allowed in for two hours. We picked up our packs and walked out. The other group was highly upset that we didn't stay and offer to carry their (three trips) stuff to their cars or even help them pack their equipment. Now before I sound harsh, we do have diplays we put up. All of us will contribute and all of us help set up and help tear down. I should also add that I have set-up large displays on my own and I don't expect the group to help. Usually they do but if someone has to get home I would never think of holding it against them.

 

Do we have fights...yes but we quickly get over them. Have people gotten big heads...yes and we bring them back to reality. The most important thing in our group is that this is a hobby and hobbies are supposed to be fun!

 

By the way...our impressions are both WWII and Civil War

 

Just my two cents as to what has worked for us.

 

Steve

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A few observations about this thread.

 

I have done hard-core CW, WW1, and a bit of WW2.

 

 

Guys with modern military experience are great and bring alot to the table....but you really have to set all of that aside.

 

No matter the time period, you have to realize that there is the "way it should be/by the books" and the "way it actually was/in the field". For examples....think of "Willie and Joe" vs. a sterotypical GI in a clean uniform with all his gear in excellent shape, or a CW company that is hypothetically commanded by a captain but has been on campaign, and has been commanded by a First Sgt. for the last month.

 

Members need to be committed to researching the realities....not just the manuals. Tactics evolve, clothing evolves, everything changes on active campaign....and it's a lot different than a modern military view.

 

 

If people are hung-up on ranks or are top-heavy (ie. they have 10 guys commanded by a captain, etc.) then avoid them. The best thing it to either have everyone trained and take turns, or have a "pool" of candidates for nco's and officers. If your attendence doesn't warrent an officer for a given event, then don't use one. He can be a private that weekend.

 

jmho

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Sgt_Rock_EasyCo

The problem with "leaving stuff at the door" with regard to military experience is a bit tough sometimes. I performed the research and learned all of the wwii tactics from the wwii manuals (not much different than today, just different names).

 

A WWII Reenactment squad being commanded by an current Air National Guard guy. He has no Infantry training and doesn't really care that much but he's a cool guy and hard charger, just not tactically saavy. So he gets in his squad a two former/current US Army Infantry Staff Sgts with a combined experience of 30 years in the Army. These two former SSgts come in as PVT's and are instantly put off by the lacksidasical attitude, the lack of WWII technical knowledge and the lack of military bearing. They are led poorly and their field experience is a joke- One of them leaves in dusgust and the other just shakes his head.

 

I can't "leave" myself at the door; If I was being led by someone more tactically saavy than me then I'd be good to go. The Reenacting world is full of wannabe's that feel that because they've attended battles for a few years they're ready to be Generals. Time in reenacting is fine but technical and tactical knowledge are the key to proper reenacting and replication of any given military unit. Getting dressed up and looking the part is not even half of true living history reenacting. It is key to burning blanks and posing.

 

Rock

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It sounds like a few of you had some bad experiences.

 

Reenacting is something done for fun. I have heard the old line "I am doing this to honor the vets..." till I am blue in the ears. If you wanted to just honor the vets, volunteer at a v.a. hospital. This could lead into the nasty debate of "Reenactors vs. living historians" but that would wonder a bit off topic. After of over a decade of doing ww2 I have found a few truths to be self evident. Again....

The units that want everything by the book and have their combat troops attired identically down to the position of the canteen. And the units that have pt and other assorted state side "niceties" (note the applied sarcasm) get big quickly yet die off just as quickly. Most of us are doing this to enjoy ourselves. When It stops being fun, people have a tendency to wonder off to other units.

 

Not taking your self seriously at all. Just as bad as the above. Please go play paintball if you want to hide behind a tree for half an hour after the first shot is fired. The ww2 GI did go through basic training and everyone had some idea of fire and move and pin and fix tactics. Some unfun things have to be done to keep a unit from looking rump tacular in the field.

 

Finding the elusive balance between the two is the hard part, but is the key to a good unit.

 

 

And is insanely difficult to accomplish.

 

 

Creating a group that can work together in the field and actually likes and tolerates each other is the tricky medium that we should all strive to accomplish. When you get this, rank and field command will fall into place on its own. The members will pick from their ranks who shall lead.

 

It has worked for us so far.....

 

Able company est 2002 and still going strong.

 

Having a few suckey seasons for close events, but still going......

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This is a really interesting topic for a number of reasons. First, let me say that I'm really not an reenactor. I do participate in the SASS, Single Action Shooting Society, where we dress up like cowboys and compete with pre 1890s era pistols, rifles and shotguns. I do this because that I like to shoot single action pistols and lever action rifles and not for the costumes.

 

Also, while doing research on an ancestor, James F. May, who fought in the Civil War in the 33rd Alabama Infantry Regiment, I discovered the re-enactors of this unit. James fought in 5 battles where his unit suffered over 60% casualties in each engagement. I exchanged info with the reenactors of the 33rd Alabama Regiment who had accumulated a lot of the records of the original unit. I went to several of the reenacted battles that they participated in and was very impressed by the spectacle and accuracy.

 

I did run around in the woods, playing war games, at Ranger School at Benning, and was chased during Escape and Evasion Training at Rucker, but I don't think that counts as re-enacting.

 

Over the years, I have participated in a lot of NASA Tiger Teams, many ad hoc teams which were put together, and many other small groups. I've also had to manage and participate in a lot of groups and teams. Small group dynamics is a critical area of management. One universal thing that I've noticed in every small group, to reach a common goal or plan, you have to have everyone's involvement in formulating the goal and everyone must be committed. Every member must get a chance to orally comment on the plan and everyone must make a verbal commitment. Any good manager or leader will make sure this happens.

 

I've observed a lot of managers and leaders operate and Wernher von Braun was the best I've ever seen at doing this. First as a co-op student, I watched von Braun chair different meetings. He would first state the primus or purpose of the meeting. He would then go around the room and get everyone's input, everyone. Then there was usually some discuss. Von Braun then make a recommendation or summation and then he would ask if everyone could live with it. He would then go around the room and verbally get everyone's commitment. When everyone left the room, some might not totally agree, but everyone was committed.

 

I would recommend having these type of sessions, periodically, to get everyone's inputs and commitment in a re-enacting group. Have a specific released agenda of discussion items. These sessions probably wouldn't be as much fun as the reenactments, but should help unit focus and get everyone's commitment.

 

So much for old wisdom. A couple of observations and questions. I'm really surprised by the seeming dissensions over assignment of rank, or who's going to be a Private or General. I'm guessing, but it would seem that one would want to experience all levels of the reenactment starting at Private.

 

Are weapons fired, with blanks, in most reenactments? How about in Europe where you're reenacting Nam era actions?

 

Do most of the re-enactors go out for drinks or dinner afterwards? Are there any group activities, parties or barbecues or such away from the re-enactions? Just trying to understand if people participate for social reasons, to wear the uniforms, to play with the weapons, to experience the moment, or all of these. I agree with Dirteater that it's got to be for more than honoring the vets. I would assume that re-enactors do this for the fun and that they enjoy it.

 

Politics comes with anything that humans are involved in. still interesting topic.

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Sgt_Rock_EasyCo

Blank fired weapons, yes.

Honor system and guys are usually good about taking hits.

Dinner on Saturday in Class a's or whatever.

Guys do go out and hang out together.

 

Guys also form small cliques.

 

Rock

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I have heard the old line "I am doing this to honor the vets..." till I am blue in the ears. If you wanted to just honor the vets, volunteer at a v.a. hospital.
Amen, brother! thumbsup.gif I've been saying exactly that for years now. That "honoring the vets" thing doesn't hold water when you consider that most WW2 events are actually closed to the public. That doesn't honor ANYONE other than the people taking part in it! I have never understood why so many people in the hobby can't just say, "I really like the uniforms and gear" and just let it be that. But no, people have to have their lofty, pretentious justifications for dressing up like E/506. There's a really good book on the madness of the hobby itself, although a lot of folks don't like it (personally, I think it's because it hits too close to home for many of us): http://www.amazon.com/War-Games-Inside-Twe...=cm_cr-mr-title
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FYI, I'm also big into Cowboy shooting and I can tell you, it's a great departure from re-enacting in general. Guns are fun again after a few years for me now!

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Allow me to clarify.

 

My point was that modern military attitudes about uniforms, doctrine, and discipline need to be forgotten for reenactment purposes.....because these things can all vary significantly dependending on the time period and unit that you're portraying.

 

That isn't an excuse to not drill.....a good unit needs to be familiar with the manual of arms and squad/company formations, etc. The scencario you mention would indicate that the people involved need more drill to become familiar with the concepts, or perhaps this unit isn't a good match for them.

 

 

 

 

 

The problem with "leaving stuff at the door" with regard to military experience is a bit tough sometimes. I performed the research and learned all of the wwii tactics from the wwii manuals (not much different than today, just different names).

 

A WWII Reenactment squad being commanded by an current Air National Guard guy. He has no Infantry training and doesn't really care that much but he's a cool guy and hard charger, just not tactically saavy. So he gets in his squad a two former/current US Army Infantry Staff Sgts with a combined experience of 30 years in the Army. These two former SSgts come in as PVT's and are instantly put off by the lacksidasical attitude, the lack of WWII technical knowledge and the lack of military bearing. They are led poorly and their field experience is a joke- One of them leaves in dusgust and the other just shakes his head.

 

I can't "leave" myself at the door; If I was being led by someone more tactically saavy than me then I'd be good to go. The Reenacting world is full of wannabe's that feel that because they've attended battles for a few years they're ready to be Generals. Time in reenacting is fine but technical and tactical knowledge are the key to proper reenacting and replication of any given military unit. Getting dressed up and looking the part is not even half of true living history reenacting. It is key to burning blanks and posing.

 

Rock

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Amen, brother! thumbsup.gif I've been saying exactly that for years now. That "honoring the vets" thing doesn't hold water when you consider that most WW2 events are actually closed to the public. That doesn't honor ANYONE other than the people taking part in it! I have never understood why so many people in the hobby can't just say, "I really like the uniforms and gear" and just let it be that. But no, people have to have their lofty, pretentious justifications for dressing up like E/506. There's a really good book on the madness of the hobby itself, although a lot of folks don't like it (personally, I think it's because it hits too close to home for many of us): http://www.amazon.com/War-Games-Inside-Twe...=cm_cr-mr-title

 

 

You can certainly argue that some people use the "honor the vets" logic genericly.

 

I can say that in some of the hard-core CW events I did, I did honor the original veterans. I participated in a 20+ mile preservation march, I did living history events at G-burg, Antietam, and Harpers Ferry, etc. The experiences I have had give more significance to diaries I read, because I have an increased understanding of the period, the equipment, tactics, and day to day life of the average soldier.

 

In WW1 and WW2 reenacting it was similar...yet different. It was beneficial for me as a collector to see how the gear works in the field. I was able to meet WW1 and WW2 veterans and have discussions about their service days, to apply that information to my impressions.

 

FWIW

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The only reason I reenact is to please my self; by shooting my machine guns, driving vehicles, camping, and drinking beer.

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Sgt_Rock_EasyCo
Allow me to clarify.

 

My point was that modern military attitudes about uniforms, doctrine, and discipline need to be forgotten for reenactment purposes.....because these things can all vary significantly dependending on the time period and unit that you're portraying.

 

That isn't an excuse to not drill.....a good unit needs to be familiar with the manual of arms and squad/company formations, etc. The scencario you mention would indicate that the people involved need more drill to become familiar with the concepts, or perhaps this unit isn't a good match for them.

 

I've got my Drill Manual and there are some differences for sure. When I was in in the 1980's the D&C differed minutely when it came to standard infantry. Tactical Hand and Arm Signals were somewhat different and the tactics were much more simplified, but very similar. Any modern military person would have little difficulty learning the basic drill and ceremony. Any modern infantryman would have little difficulty learning the old tactical information. Attack orders and operations orders were different in nomenclature and simplification.

 

My point is, for me, as a WWII reenactor it was easy to apply what I knew to what they did then- What they did in the 40's is mostly still applicable today. My Machine Gun Class for the M60 was the same information as they used in WWII (same tripod and T&E too)

 

I get your point to some degree but dropping yourself at the door is not a good idea if the guy can contribute with little or no training. Some prior-service guys might come in with higher expectations of behavior that needs to be tempered. Not everyone was or is, in the military so it takes time for some civilians to get acclimated to a military-like environment; When a Sgt yells at you to not take it personal. Or you must get a haircut and shave in class a's, or shine your boots or press your uniform etc..

 

Some civilians don't like to be told how a WWII soldier dressed, behaved and talked.

 

 

Rock

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Not everyone was or is, in the military so it takes time for some civilians to get acclimated to a military-like environment; When a Sgt yells at you to not take it personal. Or you must get a haircut and shave in class a's, or shine your boots or press your uniform etc..

Some civilians don't like to be told how a WWII soldier dressed, behaved and talked.

True, but some current and former military types can require far more than being "tempered." When I was an active duty LT, I wanted to ream the merry heck out of a guy at an event with bars on. I rode him pretty hard, asking him where the rear was, where the best chow was, simple soldier stuff that enlisted guys do to junior officers. I did this so much so that he eventually asked me what my problem was. I told him I was just treating him like real LT's get treated by soldiers, and I was correct about that. I didn't do tactical events for a VERY long time after that because I just couldn't dial it back to a civil level.

I've also seen people who I think got passed up for promotion one to many times and used their "experience" as an excuse to take our their frustrations in life on other folks who never served. I saw a guy I found later who was a national guard E-6 and treated everyone around him like his personal whipping boys. I know the difference between a good NCO and a jerk. This guy pushed people for no reason other than getting his rocks off. Probably hen-pecked at home, I guess. He picked the wrong guy to ride, though. One of the new guys in the group was a judo instructor and when the NCO tried to pull a "From Here to Eternity behind the barracks wall-to-wall-counseling" bit, the new guy broke his foot off in the NCO's butt.

You also see it in Airborne units. Plenty of inappropriate crap spewed by those who went through jump school against those who didn't (whether they served or not). Leave that crap for the bar or the real-world field when the legs come raiding your S-4 section. There's no place for that in a hobby!

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The only reason I reenact is to please my self; by shooting my machine guns, driving vehicles, camping, and drinking beer.

Here I am, butting in again. I'm not really a reenactor, as I have stated a couple times somewhere, I'm too damn old. I'm not sure either about this Honoring the Vet either. I'm a Vet, don't want anybody to honor me, I was Peacetime anyway, well almost, Vietnam was still going on, but they sent me to Germany. As I like to collect ww2 militaria, what better chance to show it off then at an Event? After the show is over, campfire, BBQ, drink some beer, some call it "camping in uniform". I got invited to an Event in France, about two years ago, the 95th ID French reenactors, mostly a military vehicle club, we went for a convoy for about two hours through the French countryside where the 95th ID fought, beautiful day, female jeep driver, my ww2 wools on, that was one of the neatest/coolest whatever Events I have ever been to! We stopped at a couple monuments erected to the fallen of the 95th ID, the President made a couple speeches, in French, I didn't understand "Jack Diddley", but that is reenacting I could do for the rest of my life!

So I guess what I'm trying to say, I'm in it for the fun.

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As I've seen on one of the CW boards "The only rank is reenactor". I've done CW for 10 years, as well as 22+ years in today's Army Reserve. The way I see it, since I've done artillery, you don't want a fresh fish coming in and being in charge. You needs to learn what's going on and how the show is run before you get to be the HMFIC.

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As I've seen on one of the CW boards "The only rank is reenactor".
I'd never heard that before but I really like it! thumbsup.gif Kind of like all that "time in the hobby" nonsense you hear, as if you can't be a farby moron for many years. Besides, when people pull that claptrap around me, I point out that I'm 39 and have been in re-enacting non-stop at least one event each of those years since I was 5 years old. That really shuts them down! :lol:
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Sgt_Rock_EasyCo
As I've seen on one of the CW boards "The only rank is reenactor". I've done CW for 10 years, as well as 22+ years in today's Army Reserve. The way I see it, since I've done artillery, you don't want a fresh fish coming in and being in charge. You needs to learn what's going on and how the show is run before you get to be the HMFIC.

 

I half agree. A tactical saavy new guy (expert infantry NCO) can come in and make an immediate impact. Once he learns the rules of engagement he can implement his Leadership Techniques and assist or even take charge seamlessly. I know that the Airborne Divisions of WWII stocked up on Airborne Qualified NCO's and Officers and called them "Platoon Guides". As attrition in battle took leaders out of action they filled in with no problems. The same happens in reenactment battles.

 

What is offensive is for a new guy that is technically and tactically saavy to come in and be led by long time reenactors that are Farby. Basic infantry tactics that are taught in basic training and infantry school (and still apply to wwii) are not taught in reenacting in many units. Basic techniques like how to "creep, crawl, rush". Watching reenactors try to move prior to contact and during contact is hilarious sometimes. A poorly trained reenactment unit, to a saavy Infantryman, looks like....a bunch of civilians playing war with fancy equipment.

 

I trained my previous unit from the ground-up. We learned military bearing, history, customs and courtesies, basic D&C, individual movement, team movement, combat formations and hand and arm signals. I took brand new civilian recruits and by the end of the first Friday they could fall-in with the group and function at a basic level. The "old time NCO's" were resistant to learning- I was new (highly qualified to teach this info) so 1/2 the NCO's avoided me and my training and it showed. They continued to act like civilians playing war while their troops looked and acted like soldiers. Often the troops knew more technically and tactically than their NCO's.

 

On the other hand, new but experienced personnel don't quite understand the reenacting world nor do they give an inch when it comes to demeanor. They have expectations that are compared to an active duty infantry unit and that's not reasonable. Often these individuals come in touting their experience, but contributing none of it. They spout in an elitist fashion but do little or nothing to improve their unit. Wearing your experience like a chip on your shoulder does nothing to contribute to honoring the soldier of WWII (for example). Taking the applicable knowledge and experience you have and positively contributing to your unit is the key. Dropping your personal crap at the door helps tremendously.

 

Rock

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ive been in many groups where politics and inner group fights have caused me to leave. The first time i wont go into much detail about, but the second time the around the group leader was forced to leave due to problems with his marriage. The man who took over was, i thought, a decent bloke but turned into some form of dictator. All of a sudden display impressions weren't a group decision anymore and he was more than willing to ignore historical authenticity for something he thought either looked or sounded good. As those on the forum will soon realize, i simply do not join or associate with groups that knowingly get the historical or authenticity side of things wrong. So i left.

 

At that point i'd become friendly with a group that do 2nd Rangers, and it had become apparent to me that this group had no politics, had fun, and did it right and i have now been apart of that group for coming up to a year now.

 

I also run my own group doing the 517th PIR in which only people we know and trust are allowed in. It is only a little side project so we're not too fussed if it doesnt have a huge list of members.

 

Politics has in my opinion some what tainted the reenactment scene in the UK. People struggle to ask questions nowadays without an arguement starting and if i had a quid for every time ive thought about quitting the hobby i'd probably have...................5 pounds. But now i've realized just to ignore the p****s of the hobby and stick to myself and get on with it.

 

Regards, Bez

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I half agree. A tactical saavy new guy (expert infantry NCO) can come in and make an immediate impact. Once he learns the rules of engagement he can implement his Leadership Techniques and assist or even take charge seamlessly. I know that the Airborne Divisions of WWII stocked up on Airborne Qualified NCO's and Officers and called them "Platoon Guides". As attrition in battle took leaders out of action they filled in with no problems. The same happens in reenactment battles.

 

What is offensive is for a new guy that is technically and tactically saavy to come in and be led by long time reenactors that are Farby. Basic infantry tactics that are taught in basic training and infantry school (and still apply to wwii) are not taught in reenacting in many units. Basic techniques like how to "creep, crawl, rush". Watching reenactors try to move prior to contact and during contact is hilarious sometimes. A poorly trained reenactment unit, to a saavy Infantryman, looks like....a bunch of civilians playing war with fancy equipment.

 

I trained my previous unit from the ground-up. We learned military bearing, history, customs and courtesies, basic D&C, individual movement, team movement, combat formations and hand and arm signals. I took brand new civilian recruits and by the end of the first Friday they could fall-in with the group and function at a basic level. The "old time NCO's" were resistant to learning- I was new (highly qualified to teach this info) so 1/2 the NCO's avoided me and my training and it showed. They continued to act like civilians playing war while their troops looked and acted like soldiers. Often the troops knew more technically and tactically than their NCO's.

 

On the other hand, new but experienced personnel don't quite understand the reenacting world nor do they give an inch when it comes to demeanor. They have expectations that are compared to an active duty infantry unit and that's not reasonable. Often these individuals come in touting their experience, but contributing none of it. They spout in an elitist fashion but do little or nothing to improve their unit. Wearing your experience like a chip on your shoulder does nothing to contribute to honoring the soldier of WWII (for example). Taking the applicable knowledge and experience you have and positively contributing to your unit is the key. Dropping your personal crap at the door helps tremendously.

 

Rock

HI Rock,

While I do agree with much of what you see, I have seen many examples of experienced NCOs and Officers joining re-enacting organizations who don't take the time to learn the historic examples of their hard won infantry skills. I attended one training (and as a re-enactor I always take any opportunity to learn) from a fine young veteran of service in an Airborne outfit. His talk about infantry tactics was a howl for someone versed in WWII. He started off by telling us about the composition of the squad and that every squad has a light machine gun (in WWII there were only 2 M-1919s per company) completely neglected the BAR and showed us combat hand signals which his unit used but which weren't the "by the book" WWII variety. Finally, he insisted that we "HOOAH" after he made a point. I absolutely respect his experience and dedication but he unfortunately didn't study the history, and therefore didn't connect at all. We weren't there to learn how to become modern light infantry but to learn what WWII soldiers would have been instructed.

When I was the ramrod for a WWII infantry re-enacting outfit I often reached out to people with real world skills some with combat service to take leadership roles in the organization but again, politics. Old timers would see these young guys moving up to take jobs they were ultimately very well trained for and would whine about it. I noticed that too, the young turks wanted to train like they used to on active duty and find that the majority of re-enactors (who don't get paid to PT) were unenthusiastic about thier attempts to educate.

In all, though we tried hard to emulate the tactics of WWII. At several of the events we did where active officers and NCOs were there we were praised over other groups because of our efforts. We hit hard on D&C, but again WWII D&C (and yes there is a difference), and hit hard on tactics and formations. And unfortunately this marked me as too "hardcore" among some influential members of the group. After I left, the group fell off, but soon realized what they lost. Today they are back to doing what they were before and I'm pleased to say that some of the NCOs are the young OIF guys coming back to the outfit after serving in the real deal.

I would say that for a prior service guy joining an established unit, they should remember that they need to take time to prove themselves to the other guys in the outfit. Just as how in the service, soldiers salute the rank but they respect the leader, in time your leadership training will show itself. But remember to be period appropriate and to remember guys who have been around a long time will be careful to hand the reins over to a "new guy" no matter how experienced until they know that person.

T. Bowers

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Sgt_Rock_EasyCo
HI Rock,

While I do agree with much of what you see, I have seen many examples of experienced NCOs and Officers joining re-enacting organizations who don't take the time to learn the historic examples of their hard won infantry skills. I attended one training (and as a re-enactor I always take any opportunity to learn) from a fine young veteran of service in an Airborne outfit. His talk about infantry tactics was a howl for someone versed in WWII. He started off by telling us about the composition of the squad and that every squad has a light machine gun (in WWII there were only 2 M-1919s per company) completely neglected the BAR and showed us combat hand signals which his unit used but which weren't the "by the book" WWII variety. Finally, he insisted that we "HOOAH" after he made a point. I absolutely respect his experience and dedication but he unfortunately didn't study the history, and therefore didn't connect at all. We weren't there to learn how to become modern light infantry but to learn what WWII soldiers would have been instructed.

When I was the ramrod for a WWII infantry re-enacting outfit I often reached out to people with real world skills some with combat service to take leadership roles in the organization but again, politics. Old timers would see these young guys moving up to take jobs they were ultimately very well trained for and would whine about it. I noticed that too, the young turks wanted to train like they used to on active duty and find that the majority of re-enactors (who don't get paid to PT) were unenthusiastic about thier attempts to educate.

In all, though we tried hard to emulate the tactics of WWII. At several of the events we did where active officers and NCOs were there we were praised over other groups because of our efforts. We hit hard on D&C, but again WWII D&C (and yes there is a difference), and hit hard on tactics and formations. And unfortunately this marked me as too "hardcore" among some influential members of the group. After I left, the group fell off, but soon realized what they lost. Today they are back to doing what they were before and I'm pleased to say that some of the NCOs are the young OIF guys coming back to the outfit after serving in the real deal.

I would say that for a prior service guy joining an established unit, they should remember that they need to take time to prove themselves to the other guys in the outfit. Just as how in the service, soldiers salute the rank but they respect the leader, in time your leadership training will show itself. But remember to be period appropriate and to remember guys who have been around a long time will be careful to hand the reins over to a "new guy" no matter how experienced until they know that person.

T. Bowers

 

Good points all.

 

My first event was only a partial since I showed up late Saturday night and battled only Sunday. My second event was a training event of which I conducted most of the training and was immediately promoted to Training NCO with the rank of CPL (shouldn't have done it). I read the wwii manuals, noting the pared down nomenclatures and differences in D&C. I read the infantry tactis, hand and arm signals and the Infantry Journal for up-to-date tactics (All WWII). I'm sure early on I made some transposing errors but corrected them by my third event. When I became the TNCO I was no young man fresh out of the Army. I got out over 20 years ago so I had to reach back and then adapt what I knew to WWII. Most of the guys in my old unit leadership were either prior service or police officer types. The Air Force guy didn't think he needed training (didn't respect our mission enough to get it right), the cops thought they knew it all and were cocky, and the Civilians were buddies of the leadership but ended up being the most trainable.

 

Bottom line is that most people in leadership come out to dress up and play the part. I could care less about the Platton Sgts or Officers or what have you. You can have weak Platoon level leadership but you CANNOT have weak Squad and Team Leaders. If you have strong Platoon level leaders but weak Squad Leaders then your unit will not be cohesive. If you have weak PSG/PL but strong SL's then your unit will be fine in the field.

 

My biggest issue is that once a guy takes a Squad Leaders spot then he has the same mission as an active duty SL. He must learn his tactics, D&C, military bearing, equipment= and he must do so well enough to teach it properly. New recruits look for strong and decisive leadership but they need that leadership to be technically and tactically proficient. I've seen new guys come into a unit with little or no training, no guidance, no mentoring and be lost. When a new guy came to our unit he wasn't left to his own devices ever. He was trained, guided, advised and led throughout the entire weekend.

 

For some reason, reenactors seem to place little no emphasis on team building. They find their clicks to hang out with and that's it. They try to get their buddies in their squad, try to get them promoted, and ignore the new guy if he's not "cool" enough. In the military if a guy is a dork, but a good soldier then he's respected and made part of the team. A good SL will pound anybody that puts him down for the wrong reasons, why? Because you're only as good as your weakest link and it's your *job* as an NCO (yes even for reenactors) to train that guy until his weaknesses become his strengths. ******that's what missing from reenacting*********

 

Reenactos blab about how they have real lives to live etc....my answer is, "Are the Veterans you represent worth the extra effort it takes to become proficient at your impression." and "You're a leader in a reenactment unit, you have agreed to be a cut above the rest."

 

The NCO Creed applies even to reenactors that throw on stripes.

 

The "Hooah" crap was punished in our unit. Anybody stating "Hooah" was dropped for pushups on the spot.

 

Rock

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[Hi Rock,

I agree again with your points. Espcially the point about the role of squad leaders, the only job I ever really wanted.

One problem I think all re-enacting units have and I'm wondering how you and yours solved it is attendence. This is an issue I struggled with the entire time I was in leadership and never did solve it to my satisfaction.

Put simply, training events were a hard sell and at the "big" events there often isn't enough time or the mission gets in the way of good training. I recall that we would work hard putting on a training event with a full schedule of activities encompassing things from general knowledge of D&C to tactics and (something often overlooked but a necesscary skill for re-enactors) public interaction. We often tried to coincide it with popular smaller events but there just wasn't enormous enthusiasm for a training event. We tried to make it mandatory espcially for new recruits but again "politics" as this caused resentment among guys who were told they wouldn't be able to come out to play at the big event because they missed the training. We even tried 3 times to have a meaningfull small arms training session and those of us who attended had a wonderfull time and learned so much, but we were always dissapointed by the turnout.

I always took a beating as the leader for insisting on training before I would allow a new man to attend with the unit at a big event. My point is that sad sack recruits put too much of a strain on the leadership who need to be able to rely on a basic knowledge level from all their troops for everyone's safety and enjoyment.

The question then for you and for any other re-enactment group leaders/ participants is " how do you handle the necesscity to train and the need for participation without the sideshow of politics?"

Tom Bowers

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Sgt_Rock_EasyCo
[Hi Rock,

I agree again with your points. Espcially the point about the role of squad leaders, the only job I ever really wanted.

One problem I think all re-enacting units have and I'm wondering how you and yours solved it is attendence. This is an issue I struggled with the entire time I was in leadership and never did solve it to my satisfaction.

Put simply, training events were a hard sell and at the "big" events there often isn't enough time or the mission gets in the way of good training. I recall that we would work hard putting on a training event with a full schedule of activities encompassing things from general knowledge of D&C to tactics and (something often overlooked but a necesscary skill for re-enactors) public interaction. We often tried to coincide it with popular smaller events but there just wasn't enormous enthusiasm for a training event. We tried to make it mandatory espcially for new recruits but again "politics" as this caused resentment among guys who were told they wouldn't be able to come out to play at the big event because they missed the training. We even tried 3 times to have a meaningfull small arms training session and those of us who attended had a wonderfull time and learned so much, but we were always dissapointed by the turnout.

I always took a beating as the leader for insisting on training before I would allow a new man to attend with the unit at a big event. My point is that sad sack recruits put too much of a strain on the leadership who need to be able to rely on a basic knowledge level from all their troops for everyone's safety and enjoyment.

The question then for you and for any other re-enactment group leaders/ participants is " how do you handle the necesscity to train and the need for participation without the sideshow of politics?"

Tom Bowers

 

Tom,

 

We addressed the training issue by requiring all new recruits to report early on Friday (three day event). They would report to and be under the command of the TNCO for three events, or until they had completed three training sessions. They would bunk near the TNCO and would follow his lead. I was the TNCO and would get them dressed, bunks made and then begin training. Most of them appreciated going over the basics. I taught history of the unit briefly, then military customs and courtesies (WWII Style), then drill and ceremony, then hand and arm signals and combat formations. I would have an assistant who would aid me in inspecting the troopers equipment and they would be taught how to wear their uniforms and gear. They would learn how to operate their assigned weapons. And lastly I would teach rules of engagment and safety.

 

All of this was done before close of business Friday. By Saturday morning they could all fall in with no problem and function at the basic level. They would be assigned to a squad temporarily and then fall back under my leadership unitl off of probation. After three events they would be assigned to a squad and that squad leader would take over. I would receive new recruits and start over. This method worked fabulously but I wanted to get my hands on the squad leaders. Two of the three (both civilians) attended the training and were receptive to guidance. The last one had some jealousy issues or something and wouldn't participate or submit to any training. He was and is incompetent but thinks he's great. He has the attitude and demeanor of a hard-charger but without technical and tactical proficiency he's dust in the wind.

 

This subject is near and dear to me because so many reenactors watch war movies and are highly critical (especially about uniform authenticity) but when it comes time to look in the mirror regarding all-around authenticity they give themselves a LOT of leeway. Playing war in fancy uniforms is still playing war. Reenacting should include behavior, uniform authenticity, tactics and peripheral. How can a reenactor teach people about WWII if all they know is uniforms? They must know tactics, D&C, demeanor, as well as the basic social life prior to and during WWII. It's called *Living History*.

 

That's why I don't reenact anymore: I became uncool because I asked guys in leadership to become at least minimally proficient at being NCO's. I earned the right to be a critic and tried every method of cajoling possible. Bottom line is that guys are motivated to dress up but not motivated to live it. It's ok for the troops to follow but the leadership must lead properly and all be on the same page.

 

Rock

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Bottom line is that guys are motivated to dress up but not motivated to live it.
You learned the one inescapable truth of the hobby. With eras that require D&C for movement (Any pre-1900 timeframe) in formations, there is a general resignation on most people's part to having to have drill because they have to be in mass. But WW2 wasn't like that, and I think that's part of it's appeal to those who take part in it. I started doing CW at the age of six and WW2 at the age of 18 (I'm staring 40 dead in the eye this year). I've done events with almost every large organization there is at one time or another. I've seen dozens (if not hundreds) of units who claimed to "do it right" over those years, but in the end, every single unit I ever saw in the WW2 hobby was largely a gaggle of folks with a general idea of what they were doing and no real 'chain of command' other than people wearing ranks. This includes every group I was in, as well.

I went to an event once right after I reported to my first active duty station. After a day at the event, I realized that the most messed up National Guard postal distribution unit would wipe the floor with every unit I saw at the event in regards to tactics. I was downright thankful that afternoon when my chain of command called and told me to get back to the post to handle a soldier in my platoon who'd been arrested for DUI. I left that event in total disgust and didn't do tactical events for several years afterward. I once asked to come to a local area event to report on their event for a Correspondent re-enactor publication and was given the standard "Well, join one of our normal units, go through the initiation period, and THEN we'll talk" thing. This was after I'd sent them links to everything our group does and photos of my impression and examples of my work.

I enjoy the display aspect of it now as most tactical events are held in the next state over from me anyway. That, and my growing interest in Correspondent stuff sort of required I steer clear of the local tactical scene for one of the groups. To me it's far more rewarding to show the stuff and discussing it with the public and the vets who come by.

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