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— This Month —
The End Of War As We Know It
The True Cost Of War... Who Pays It?
Radio Stories Of The Signal Corps
- - - - -
Our Association is a
not-for-profit fraternal organization. It's purpose is a) to foster
camaraderie among the graduates of Signal Corps Officer Candidate
School classes of the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War
eras, b) to organize and offer scholarships and other assistance for
the families of Officer and Enlisted OCS cadre who are in need, and
c) to archive for posterity the stories and history of all of the
Signal Corps OCS Officers who served this great country. We are open
to ALL former Army Signal Corps OCS graduates,
their families and
friends, as well as other officers, enlisted men, those interested
in military history, and the general public. Please, come join us. For more information about our
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contact details, click on the OCS Association link at left.
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Without doubt some of our readers will think we
have lost our mind. Below you will find an
article that says that war as we know it is
coming to an end. In the column at right you will find
another that makes the case that war will
continue to exist, and that civilians will pay a
higher price for it than those of us in the
military. And as you well know, on the front
page of every newspaper in America, as well as
the lips of every talking head on TV, you will
find endless comments about the war just
starting again... for the third time... the one
What gives... how can war be coming to and end
on one hand yet be unfolding in
nearly every ornery country one looks at?
The answer is simple: war has morphed. It is no
longer a singular item of curious distinction
arriving in a style we all recognize. Today war comes
in many forms. Far too many perhaps, but many forms.
In our article below we explore the trend
towards the end of war in its traditional
format... large, world encompassing, global
war... a la World War I and World War II. In our
view, this format for war is going away, and
below we explain not only why, but what it will
be replaced by.
At bottom right we simply make the point that
whatever kind of war mankind fights, the
civilians who live in that war zone are the ones
that end up getting the short end of the stick.
As militarists ourselves, we tend to forget
this. Hopefully this article will remind us that
while we think we who fight it have it tough in war, those
refugees we pass as we move along the road in
one direction, while they march forlornly in the
other, have it far worse.
As for the debacle getting up to speed in Iraq, well, all
we can say is what did you expect? Three years
ago we made the point that war comes in three
Part 1: Failure by the Secretary of State
to prevent war by doing his/her job of reaching an
acceptable compromise with the belligerents involved.
Part 2: The Kinetic Part.
Part 3: The Non-kinetic Part.
Of importance, we also said that the
Kinetic Part usually lasts between 1 and 10 years, and is
the easy part. The tough part is the Non-kinetic Part...
which, if we judge by history, lasts between 30 and 50
What's the Non-kinetic Part you ask?
It's the rebuilding that is needed if the war torn country
that exists at the end of the Kinetic Part is ever to have a
chance of rejoining humanity and civilized society again.
And while for the most part it's non-kinetic, as you can see
in Iraq, from time to time the nation rebuilding that takes
place in this Non-kinetic Part can become kinetic too.
in Japan and Germany post WWII, and South Korea at the
end of its war, every country devastated by war needs the
overarching protection of the country that defeated it if it
is to rebuild itself and rejoin the world. That protection,
and the time it takes to rebuild the country, is what we
call the Non-kinetic Part.
Why do countries need this protection?
They need it not just to keep aggressive outsiders like—in
the case of Iraq—ISIS
out, but also to give the country's fledgling political
structure a chance to grow roots, its people a chance to
test the new form
of government they live under, and a chance to change it as time passes... if
it fails to meet their needs.
Compare the oligarch centered,
industrialist driven, corrupt, power broker based form of
government that existed in South Korea at the end of the
Korean War to the vibrant democracy that exists today and
you will see what we mean. It took Korea from the end of
its conflict (July 27, 1953) until today... some 61 years
later, to make its government work. Does anyone expect any
less for Iraq? Do people really think that the Iraqi's can
figure out how to govern themselves in less time than the
Koreans? And if not, why did we abandon them at the end of
the Kinetic Part then?
So now we are paying the price... or
rather, if Obama has his way, the Iraqi people will pay the
price for the mess we left that country in... because we
weren't prepared to stick around the 30+ years needed and
help them through their own Non-kinetic Part. That being the
case, we never should have started that war in the first
Regardless, it seems to this Editor at
least that America likes to fight
wars but it hates finishing them. Vietnam—we walked away
when the Kinetic Part quieted down
enough to give Henry Kissinger the cover he needed to tuck
America's tail between its legs and go home... so that the
liberals would stop protesting and ruin Nixon's legacy.
Iraq—again we walked away at the end
of the Kinetic Part, presumably because this time we needed to teach
George Bush a lesson by trashing his legacy.
Afghanistan—once more we are walking
away at the end of the Kinetic Part. This time one presumes
to do the opposite. Rather than trash Bush's legacy, we are
leaving in order to burnish
the legacy Barack Hussein Obama II will leave behind when he
So many legacies. So many failed war
efforts. And all because America abhors Part 3, the
Non-kinetic Part of war.
As a kid I remembered my mother telling
me when we went into the local Woolworth... in Webster,
Massachusetts, that if I touched anything and I broke it I
would own it... and she would have to pay for it. These days America
seems to touch a number of
countries... many of which it breaks. But we rarely take
ownership of the consequence, and we usually leave it up to
the broken country to fix itself.
Radio Stories Of The Signal Corps
month we try to place at least one article on this page
that is purely Signal Corps oriented. It's not always easy.
While there is much to write about the broken world around
us, especially from the military perspective, interesting
stories of Signal Corps efforts past or present are hard to
come by. To write one of our articles can easily take us 140
hours or more.
This month we have something special
for you. Back in 1939 a future Signaleer and radio
announcer was born on the south side of Chicago. His name
was Jean Shepherd, and while a modest man his legacy would
be every bit as good as, if not better, than those of the President's
we discussed above.
Born in Illinois, he grew up in Indiana.
If you have ever seen the movie A Christmas Story, it is
based on his days growing up in Hammond, Indiana... in the
southeast neighborhood of Hessville.
As a young man, at the
ripe old age of 16, he
earned his Amateur
Radio license. Then later, when World War II
broke out, he found himself in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
When the war ended he worked his way
into broadcasting. Starting at WSAI in Cincinnati in 1948,
he went on to work at KYW in Philadelphia from 1951 - 1953,
and after a stint on TV moved on to radio broadcasting at
WOR radio in New York City. Occupying an overnight slot he
delighted his fans by telling stories, reading poetry and
organizing comedic listener stunts.
Of interest to us is that most of his
stories dealt with his time in the Signal Corps. Career
wise, Shep, as he was known, went up and down the ladder of
success... as we all do. Even so, he managed to keep his
radio gig going into the mid-1990s... hosting a Sunday night
radio show called "Shepherd's Pie," on WBAI-FM... continuing
to tell stores of his time in the Signal Corps.
Perhaps you have heard of him... or
heard his broadcasts? If not,
this is your chance. Grab a beer, find a quiet place away
from the kids, grandkids and wife, shut the door, turn the
lights off, put your feet up, close your eyes, and make
believe you are punching the buttons on that old Philco
48-482 radio that your family had. Travel back to the 50s
and 60s... and listen to Shep tell you stories of his time
in the Signal Corps. Enjoy!
Broadcast Story #1:The Army Pass. Originally broadcast
on WOR, New York, on January 28, 1965, this story deals with
the vagaries of an enlisted man in the Signal Corps trying
to figure out how to deal with the Officer in command of his
platoon, while at the same time he seeks relief from
things like KP duty. The segment runs 44:52 in length The
entire show is broadcast here.
Broadcast Story #2:The Pigeon Company
– An Old WWII Cruiser. Originally broadcast
on WOR, New York, on February 4, 1965, this story talks of a
carrier pigeon company and how out of place the company was
in the world of RADAR. Beginning
with a dark yet delightful poem, carrying on to talk of the
life of a typical pigeon, the story continues to a
fascinating end. Covering everything from pigeon AWOL to the
literal secrets of where pigeon companies are assigned...
critical in nature, this broadcast is still worth listening
to. In the process Shep takes a shot at the Navy. The segment runs 42:12 in length.
You will love it. It's a
classic, and you should take the time to listen to it in its
Broadcast story #3:
Army Casual –
A rambling story recorded at a live performance at the
Village Lime Light, New York, on July 2, 1965. A local
comedy club, Shep often tried out new material here. This
segment talks of
how Shep made it through his time in the Signal Corps. The
story recalls what it is like to lose control of your
life... to wish for enough freedom to date the girl you
want, to dress to your best to meet a girl you love, to
control your own destiny... and most importantly, to have a
pass to leave the base... a simple pass. If you have ever
had a pass revoked then you will understand this story...
about living through the agony of having your pass "yanked"
just before you leave the base. This segment runs 51:46 in
length. It cuts itself short at the end, but by then the
story is told anyway. Enjoy!
Want more... drop us a note. We have
more recordings available and will stream them if requested.
Note: The media
streamed here was downloaded from public sources. We have
attempted to find if this media is copyright protected, but
have failed to find any listed claimants. It is being
streamed here as belonging in the public domain.
The End of War As We Know It
There is no doubt that
humanity has benefited from centuries of war.
Back in the day, as they
say, we used to listen to the song War [What
Is It Good For], by Eric Burden & War. At
that time it was the in-thing to hold the view
that war was a bad thing. Like children in a
school yard we used to mime the words “…
absolutely nothing!” Today our view is that
while this might have been a popular viewpoint
back when we were young adults, now that we are
more informed about life we can see that that’s
not the case.
Today we know that war is
and has been essential for humanity’s survival.
Crazy, you say? What kind
of war are you talking about? Our answer: as in
our editorial comments above, Part 2
– the Kinetic
How can we make this
claim, you shout? Our answer: because only
through warfare have people been able to come
together into larger, functional societies able
to provide themselves with the chance to enjoy
both security and riches. Yes, it’s a hell of a
way to get there, but it works.
the end, no matter how anti-war you are you
have to recognize that it is principally through
the impact of war that our modern lives are
hundreds of times safer today than those of our
ancestors. The unfortunate fact is, whether you
go all the way back to the stone age, or just
back to the pre WWI period of imperialist
aggression, you have to admit that it is better
to live in today’s world than the one that
existed when every little country in Europe was
trying to invade its neighbor, when nearly every
country in South America was ruled by a tin pot
dictator, every country in the middle East
had a crown prince or king appointed by Allah,
when countries in Africa were ruled by the likes
of Idi Amin, when imperialism ruled, and when
most of Asia was under the thumb of one warlord
This page last
updated 1 July 2014. New content is constantly being added.
Please check back frequently.
16 June 2014 –The Association's reunion is coming up in October.
To be held in Kissimmee, Florida, it'll be a grand
ol' time you shouldn't miss. To get your
application form jump to our Reunion Info page and
download it. You can get there via the menu item in
the upper left corner of this page, or by clicking here:YES! I
WANT TO GO TO THE REUNION!
29 May 2014 –
Heard about our Memorial Day Salute, but missed it?
Click on the picture below and enjoy!!
1 May 2014 –
It's a never ending task, and we have to thank Maj.
(R) Richard Green for taking it on. What task, you ask? The one of
keeping track of the status of every Army Signal OCS
graduate from the program's inception until today.
Are they still alive? Where do they live? What unit
did they serve in? If they have passed away, when
did they die and where are they buried? All this and
more he tracks every day, without exception.
Periodically he sends us an updated roster, and we
plod through trying to update the Class Pages on
this website so that the content here matches his
archives. So far, we've failed miserably. In some
cases our data is up to three years old. Our bad. We
do a disservice to the great work Richard is doing.
Still, we try. This month we finally updated the
status of the 900 men who graduated from Signal OCS
Class 42-10. You can see the newest data by clicking
here. While you are at it, take the time to look
at some of the other WWII, Korean and Vietnam War
era classes, and thank the Lord for the service
these men gave to our country. And then take a
moment to send a note of thanks to
Richard for his
service in tracking your
heritage... and if you have a moment or two left
after that, well, why not contribute to our
scholarship program too. $5.00 will help.
See! Now doesn't that make you feel better?
Continued from left column...
From those earlier days until today, what has made the world
so much safer is war itself. Specifically, as time has gone
on the winners of the wars these little countries fought have incorporated the losers into
their own society, thus making the winning society larger.
When this occurred, the only way to make these larger
societies work was for their rulers to develop stronger
governments. In doing this one of the first things these
governments had to do, if they wanted to stay in power, was
suppress violence within their society.
Recognizing that most government rulers could care less
about being peacemakers for the sake of goodness, they
nevertheless understood that well-behaved subjects were
easier to tax and govern than angry, homicidal ones. And so
they set about suppressing violence while trying to improve
the economics of the country. Where this succeeded peace
reigned, with an unintended consequence of the rate of
violent death falling in these larger, more peaceful
societies. The result: from Stone Age times until today
violent death through war has fallen by 90 percent.
Considering the dangerous world we lived in for so long, and
bad as it still is in many places today, it would appear
that war has made things far better now than the way they
used to be. Only one conclusion is possible. War has
produced bigger societies, ruled by stronger governments,
which have imposed peace and created the preconditions for
prosperity. And one of the ways in which things have gotten
better is through the fact that the evolution of warfare has caused us to
reach a state where the need for modern kinetic warfare
may actually be diminishing. More specifically, large (WWII
sized) and mid-scale (Vietnam sized) kinetic warfare may be
on its way out… although the small incendiary wars, like
that in the Crimea today, or with ISIS (aka ISIL) in Iraq, will be here
for a while to come.
Going back to the 18th century and looking at the cause and
impact of war, one can understand how war has advanced to
the point today where it might actually no longer be needed…
that is, where the world may actually be able to live
without large scale kinetic warfare… if it chooses. One can
see this in the evolution of both thought and reality.
Hegel, for example, thought the function of history was to
produce the Prussian state… a clear embracement of war if
there ever was one. Toynbee took this one step further,
seeing history as being carved by the hand of God, via the
use of war. Trotsky once said “You may not be very
interested in war, but war is very interested in you.”
China, once devoutly communist in all areas and only too
keen to fashion its society out of “the barrel of a gun,”
now softens its Marxist stance by encouraging a strongly
materialist, evolutionary approach to life… one that
replaces hard warfare as a means to gain national security
and a better life for its citizens with a more toned down,
soft, bullying approach towards its neighbors… actions that
stop shot of true kinetics. And so we see a transition in
The world’s wars of the past, more than any other
element—the result of them, the impact they had on bringing
us together into a more homogeneous global society, and the
desire to avoid more of them—has been the genesis of the
quantum leap forward we have had in living standards and
life expectancy, and the need for fewer and fewer “world
wars.” As important, while war has been singularly
successful in creating the peaceful, plentiful, prosperous
world we live in today, the horror of how war accomplishes
these goals is driving it towards its own extinction.
The question however is, if war, as we know it, becomes
extinct, what will it be replaced by?
The True Cost of War –– Who Pays It?
It’s funny how one can close one’s mind and senses to the reality of war,
especially when one is in it… that is, when one is serving in a war zone, where
one’s daily task involves fighting that war.
In 1967 I found myself in a convoy
from Da Lat to Buon Ma Thout, in the Central Highlands. There had been a lot of
fighting in the Buon Ma Thout area and as our convoy progressed the dirt roads
began to fill with refugees moving south. Not tons of them mind you, but enough;
a good steady stream… sufficient to keep the road filled.
I watched them from my perch in my Jeep. Ragged, saddened faces...
yet determined to survive... matched only by
the tattered clothes on their back. Sandals falling off of their feet as they
struggled to carry two or three frayed bundles on their backs, or a child in
their arms. Old men, sun darkened, paper thin skin… with no teeth and no smile; bone thin women as meek as a mouse, young children with big eyes
bewildered by what was happening around them.
Moving along slowly so that we did not kick up dust and make their life any more
miserable than it was, I began to see for the first time the true impact of war.
The true cost of conflict… the cost to those who live within the war space
itself. For the first time I recognized that the cost of war for these people
was different than the cost of war for me. I began to see things from their
Finally, after a half hour or so of passing them by and
seeing more yet to come, I called my convoy to a halt,
walked its line, and told my troops to break out their
C-rations (Meal, Combat, Individual) and begin to pass them
over to the refugees. With a half dozen scouts placed out a
few hundred yards on either side of our convoy, to keep an
eye on the surrounding area, we stayed put for an hour or so
until we had given out all of the rations we had. Then we
slowly motored up again and headed off to our destination.
To me it was an easy decision, we would eat again... I did
not know if the refugees we ran across would.
Undoubtedly, conflict has many costs. Until that moment in time though I had
thought that there was only one: the loss of human life. And because I had been
trained to deflect any emotions related to killing while at my station, I felt
nothing about the loss of life that existed in Vietnam then… nor for that
matter, in the wars America has fought since then. A small part of the reason
for this is because I was trained as a soldier, to lead others in killing still
others. But a bigger part is due to the fact that throughout the twentieth
century man has done more to kill his fellow man than at any time in history.
Considering that the past 100 years have seen more wars than at any time before, how
can one not become insensitive to death from war?
How bad has it been during the past century?
Consider this: whether we go back to the death of
some 8 million Jews in the Holocaust, 1.7 million by Pol Pot in Cambodia from
1976-1979, the 900,000 civilians killed in Leonid Brezhnev’s war in Afghanistan
from 1979-1982, the 400,000 that Mullah Omar and his Taliban can take credit for
from 1986-2001, the million-odd Rwandans that were massacred in 1994, the 78
million Mao Zedong killed as he consolidated control over his country from 1958-1969, the 10 million that died in the original 1932-1933 war between the Soviet
Union and the Ukraine, the 20 million killed as Stalin consolidated his grip on
power between 1924 and 1953, the 3,800,000 South Vietnamese who were killed by
the North as part of their political cleansing campaign after we left, or any
other of the hundreds of little regional conflicts that resulted in nearly half
a billion dead during this century, there is little doubt that we have lived
through an age of genocide. In my Jeep that day, moving ever so slowly along old
Route 27, I saw some of these casualties… plodding along, unaware that many of
soon become just one more act of genocide in the war that struck their country.
This past week the UNHCR said that last year some 50 million people were made
refugees due to war.
Just one more statistic.
The problem with numbers like this
is that when you read them you do not see
the people behind them. Casualty figures let you see the surface cost of
conflict, but not the true cost. And even then, they only tell you of the people
that died. They do not tell you of the hell lived by those that survived, of the
physical and emotional scars that they will carry throughout their life.
Of those I saw along
old Route 27 in the Central Highlands that day, I often wondered...long
after I returned to America, usually as I walked the farm my father left to me
when he died, checking the maple trees to see if they were ready to tap,
enjoying the quiet morning... how many suffered the mind
numbing pain of terror that comes from war? How many suffered the fear and worry
that comes as one looses control of their very life? How many suffered political
torture at the hands of the Viet Cong after we left their country? How many were raped?
How many of the Montagnards that I personally knew were dead, because they
knew me... the enemy? Gertie? The 14 year old child-girl that polished my boots
and did my laundry when I lived on Lang Bien mountain? Is she still alive? And how many have yet to
recover from all of this… even today, some 47 years later?
As we ponder the events in Syria and central Iraq, as ISIS drives to build its
Caliphate (khilāfa, meaning "succession," not a country with borders
per se, but a region with common religious beliefs), we would do well to
recognize the pain civilians in these parts of the world are suffering as we
speak. We would do well to see the problem as it is: not one of defeating an enemy but winning a
peace for those who, without our help, are destined to suffer the true cost of
war, as civilians living within a society built to subjugate them… a society
that will impose on them—for the rest of their life—the
true cost of war.
is the true cost of war? Consider this:
Loss of life is the most obvious result of violent conflicts, but it is not the
hardest to bear for those that must live in the region that results from war.
Large-scale conflicts cause dead and wounded soldiers, but also dead and wounded
innocents, as well as physical, psychological and physiological damage that may
carry on forever. As in the case of those I witnessed from my Jeep, conflicts
almost always produce refugee flows, both within the country at war and across
its borders into neighboring countries. In the Sudan, where conflict has been
ongoing since 1983 of all things, in addition to the over 2 million who have
died are more than 4 million who have been displaced. Of these fully 75% are
women and children.
this small situation one can see a microcosm of the true cost of war: refugees
are vulnerable to every form of pain and damage, from things as small as
sleeping on the ground in torrential rains and living under searing desert
conditions to full scale natural disasters, lack of
food, all the way up to intimidation and manipulation by local gangs and thuds,
not to mention the combatants themselves. Add
to this the fact that refugees produce substantial costs for bordering countries as well as
the international community in general, and you can gain an idea of the kind of
humanitarian disaster wars cause. The fact is, refugees are the genesis of
the much feared event that we call humanitarian disaster, and while natural
disasters can cause refugees, by far the largest cause of refugees, and
there-from humanitarian disasters, is war.
But this is still not the end. Some may be
surprised to find that civilian victims suffer from innumerable long term
injuries. The aforementioned physical injuries as well as a condition most think
only military combatants experience: PTSD. Add to this the rape
and torture one expects from war, and round it off with homelessness, the cessation of schooling,
lack of health care, lack of potable drinking water, lack of food, unsanitary
living conditions, and other less obvious things such as consequences that
impact an individuals' ability to earn a living, and you have a cocktail for a
miserable life for those civilians that somehow manage to live through a war.
Yet it continues… it continues with the psychological effects of
trauma, most of which stay with an individual for the remainder of their life.
Among these are included deep fear, distrust, depression, a sense of
hopelessness, despair, melancholy, ambivalence about life, and an inability to
cope with almost any challenge, no matter how small it is. For those who suffer these conditions,
they can be expected to last for decades... if not a lifetime.
Clearly, the cost of war goes far beyond the cost of the conflict... and it is
paid by the civilians over whom the war is fought.
But that is not the end...
July's Crossword Puzzle
Cost of War
Civilian & Military Deaths, Genocide & Domicide
Join 2, 3 and 4 word answers together
as one complete word.
For answer key to this month's
see icon at bottom of page
 For those of you who have forgotten, each C Ration
(or Meal, Combat, Individual) box contains one canned
meat item; one canned fruit, bread or dessert item; one B
unit; an accessory packet containing cigarettes, matches,
chewing gum, toilet paper, coffee, cream, sugar, and salt;
and a spoon. Four can openers are provided in each case of
12 meals. Although the meat item can be eaten cold, it is
more palatable when heated. Each complete meal contains
approximately 1,200 calories. The daily ration of 3 meals
provides approximately 3,600 calories.- To return to your place in the
text click here:
 Jarret M. Brachman, “High-Tech Terror:
Al-Qaeda’s Use of New Technology,” The Fletcher Forum of
World Affairs 30, No. 2, Summer 2006.
- To return to your place in the
text click here:
 Brachman, 150.
- To return to your place in the
text click here:
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