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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Blame Improper Tactics, Not the M-1 Tank

August 27, 2004

Re "Militia Found a Gap in U.S. Armor," Aug. 22: It was not the M-1 tank, but one of the oldest armored vehicle tactical errors that resulted in the deaths of tank commander U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Mike Goins and his ammunition loader, Spc. Mark Zapata.

Early in World War II, the Army learned that tanks unaccompanied by dismounted infantry (particularly tanks with open hatches) were vulnerable to attack by dismounted enemy soldiers. U.S. Army tactical doctrine has, since early in World War II, called for tanks to be employed in conjunction with dismounted infantry. The M-1 tank may have other defects, but a tactical error at a low command level does not justify the unfounded accusation that the success of this attack indicates there is a gap in U.S. armor.

Alfred M. Diaz

Colonel, U.S. Army (retired)

San Dimas

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