Antenna Discipline

antenna discipline vietnam soldiers walking through jungle
RTO Antenna

If you’ve ever been an RTO and whipped around, smacking the face of your PSG or PL with the antenna of your radio, you’re likely familiar with the term “antenna discipline.” It’s not a doctrinal term, but it’s one that I’ve heard used so often that it ought to be.

Antenna discipline is being aware that you have a 3-foot long floppy stick poking out of your backpack, and that when you move around, it moves too. An RTO with good antenna discipline is generally aware of where his antenna is at all times. It’s like another appendage; his tail. He moves slowly and cautiously, and he’s aware of the people around him. When he moves, he moves in such a way that his antenna glides through the air. When it droops, he adjusts it as needed.

An RTO with poor antenna discipline moves wildly, his antenna flailing around with him, smacking everyone in the face.

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Whose Platoon Is It Anyway?

platoon leader and radio operatior vietnam
PL and RTO

Maybe this is all just semantics, but I’m of the mind that words are born of thoughts, and they all mean something.

What does it mean when a platoon leader, a young lieutenant declares “This is my platoon.” Or, “these are my guys.”

Or when someone asks, “Hey, when are you getting your platoon?”

I never thought much of it when I was enlisted. The platoon leader really didn’t factor that much into what I did on a day-to-day basis. I was much more concerned with what my NCOs thought, and keeping my mouth shut when an officer came around.

Back in IBOLC, as the talk of going to “take” a platoon stirred, I started to feel bothered by the idea of declaring a platoon “mine.” Something just seems wrong about it. I think the idea is born from a good place, a patriarchal desire to do good for your guys, but still, something seems wrong. They aren’t and will never be mine. Platoons are made up of individuals, and if anyone owns them, it’s the Army.

The platoon leader, at best, just signs the hand receipt.

Maybe it’s because of the rank/pay/duty disparity – I don’t know.

I do know that in most cases, the platoon leader will come and go, but the soldiers of the platoon will remain long after.

So, who does the platoon really belong to?

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