One company commander’s battle against drugs and racial conflict in the war to rebuild the post-Vietnam army
In 1974, being a soldier was neither an easy nor a popular profession, as Captain Michael Lee Lanning found out when he assumed command of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division in Schweinfurt, Germany.
The start-up problems of the all-volunteer forces were still painfully evident in the United States Army. Morale was low, drug abuse high, racial conflict frequent, discipline poor, and criminal activity common. Even the barracks were a pathetic shamble.
These were just some of the problems Captain Lanning faced as he struggled to make Alpha Company “combat ready.” What followed is a shining testament to how leadership by example can make a difference. In eighteen months, Alpha Company went from being an unruly, unprofessional, drug-infested unit to the best in the battalion, racking up top marks, honors, and commendations. They became a company to which Lanning could honestly say: “You are the best soldiers in the best company in the best army in the world.”
Col. Michael Lee Lanning retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel after more than twenty years’ service. During his assignment to Vietnam, he served as both an infantry platoon leader and a company commander in the 199th Infantry… More about Col. Michael Lee Lanning