Shake & Bake NCO's
The NCO Problem . . . __ (Excerpts from a article by Jerry S. Horton, Ph.D See the full article here) ______________________________________________________________________________________
As early as 1956 the Army officially knew it would not have enough NCO's for a sustained war. A staff study asserted that in the future the need for enlisted leaders would far exceed the number available and that at the commencement of, and during hostilities, the need for leaders might be so pressing as to make it necessary to appoint leaders before their ability could actually be proved on the battlefield.
It was also recognized in Vietnam that it was not a senior commander's war, it was a junior leader's war. There were over 200 combat sergeants turning over each week and many men were one tour enlistees or inductees. The Army faced the problem of sending career men back into harm's way or filling NCO positions with unqualified men. The demand for experienced NCO's in Vietnam far exceeded the supply. In Vietnam the Army was trying to meet these shortages by making a two-grade substitution of personnel. This means the platoon leader in combat is forced to pick the brightest PFC he can find, declare him the sergeant, and entrust the lives of a dozen men to his care. _________________
The Army had to do something different . .!! _And they did . .!!!
The Solution . . . The Non Commission Canidate Course (NCOC) at Ft. Benning GA _ (Infantry MOS's: 11B, 11C, 11F)
My training took place at the NCO Academy at Fort Benning, Georgia. When I graduated this time, I would have earned the rank of E-5, known to everyone in the military as an instant NCO! An instant Sergeant! A Shake & Bake Sergeant! _Most career noncommissioned officers rise through the ranks in the Army only after years of service. The older NCO's resented us because we would receive our stripes in school, and not in long-term service or combat. Many of the enlisted men, whom we would command, resented us because we were inexperienced and we might have taken their opportunity for field promotion from them or get them killed while we matured on the job in combat. We were often treated with the same disdain by commissioned officers, although their training had been very similar to ours. When I, and many others like me, went from an E-1 to an E-5 in only three months, we became a brand new Shake & Bake Sergeant. This nickname was taken from the Betty Crocker quick-mix product for baking chicken and had become very popular during the sixties. In three short months, the Army produced instant sergeants . . . Shake & Bake NCO's.
The NCOC training program was a very demanding 12 week course with a high percentage of canidates washed-out during the course period. The last two months of our training was identical to that given to OCS officer candidates. Our technical and theory classes took place in the same classrooms of the Infantry School, and we were trained on the same field ranges by the same instructors. During this period the harassment and discipline continued, but the Army's goal was not to attempt to break us, but as to weed out those who were deemed unable to become capable leaders. The Army wanted only the best to finish the program. They needed us in Vietnam....
The Vietam War Experience of Shake & Bake's. . .
Experience in Vietnam History shows that the Shake & Bake Sergeants performed well in combat. They served with distinction as leaders in our infantry units. They suffered high casualty rates in combat because they were assigned to units that experienced heavy fighting. There were 1,003 Shake & Bakes killed in combat out of 20,068 men trained. This casualty rate, at five percent, was considered to be extremely high. I had no idea that I was pursuing one of the Army's most dangerous careers, but we were invented for only one purpose - to lead men in combat. And we performed that job well!! _There were four Medal of Honor recipients that graduated as NCOCs.
It turned out that the last Shake & Bake Sergeant graduated from Fort Benning on March 18, 1972. The Army concluded that the program was a success. Because of it the Army implemented two new, similar programs. These programs gave new opportunities for advancement to career soldiers returning from Vietnam. The new schools established at Fort Benning were BNCOC (Basic NCOC) and ANCOC (Advanced NCOC). The Shake & Bake program was the basis for all training of NCO's in today's Army.
Here are some faces of Shake & Bake's just from my Class at 18-70, that you might find familiar . . . There were many, many others from different NCOC Classes . . .
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________________Steve Bago ____________Richard Bedolla ____________Randy Parmley ____________ Bill Stokoe
Here is a listing of the Charlie Company NCOC Graduates; (Under Construction Now)