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December 2017

— This Month —

Wrapping Things Up

–  It's Time To Put This Year To Bed, And Get Ready For The Next 

and

In War the Veneer Of Civilization Is Very Thin

–  The Physiological, Sociological And Psychological Impact Of War On Civilians  – 
And What The U.S. Military Must Do About It

MISSION STATEMENT

 

Our Association is a not-for-profit fraternal organization. Its 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 Association, to see a list of our Officers and Directors, or for contact details, click on the OCS Association link at left.

Please note: The views and opinions expressed on this website are offered in order to stimulate interest in those who visit it. They are solely the views and expressions of the authors and/or contributors to this website and do not necessarily represent the views of the Army Signal Corps Officer Candidate School Association, its Officers, Directors, members, volunteers, staff, or any other party associated with the Association. If you have any suggestions for improvements to this site, please send them to WebMaster@ArmySignalOCS.com. We are here to serve you.

 



 

Wrapping Things Up

 ArmySignalOCS Editor

It's time to put this year to bed, and get ready for the next one.

Spend time in Vietnam? Spend some of that time in one of those lovely swamp areas they called rivers, over there? Remember getting tired of C-Rations, and deciding to pick up a bit of fish from the locals, and cook it up over a Sterno tab, or a bit of C-4 plastic explosive set on fire... just for a change of pace? Then listen up soldier: you may be dying from a parasite that you picked up way back then... one which is just nowover a half a century latermaturing to the point of being able to kill you.

Yup. We're not fooling.

A new Veterans Affairs study points to a parasite from Vietnam that's just making itself known today. What the VA says is that recent test results show that more and more Vietnam vets are showing up with something called liver flukes, and these liver flukes are killing them.

Apparently, the thinking is that the liver flukes being found inside of Vietnam Vets today were ingested back during the war, likely by the soldier having eaten raw or undercooked fish from the rivers, swamps and wetlands of ‘Nam. Once in your body, they grow slowly—and we mean slowly… needing in the order of some 40–50 years to grow to maturity—at which point they are then developed enough to cause things like bile duct cancer in you.

Since it takes decades for the parasites to mature, symptoms don't appear until there are enough flukes inside of you to do damage. For most of us that means that it’s right about now that we should start feeling the symptoms of river fluke induced bile duct cancer.

What are the symptoms, you ask? Answer: tremendous pain, followed in just a few months by death.

Read more about this last minute surprise that the war you fought in half a century ago is bringing to you today. River Flukes in Vietnam Vets

See now, aren’t you glad you served?

With all of the press about sexual assault in the news these days… being committed by everyone from Hollywood luminaries to TV personalities, Congressmen, and just about everyone else sporting a big head, bigger ego and self inflated opinion of them self, it seems only fair to ask how our own military is doing on this front. Has the introduction of co-ed foxholes resulted in more sexual assaults in the Army than before the idea of sharing combat with women came up? Or are the men behaving themselves?

You be the judge:

For the record, sexual assault in the military is defined as anything from groping to rape. According to newly released data,

– Research that looked at all of the U.S. bases in South Korea reported a combined 211 reports of sexual assault, where the incident reported resulted in an investigation being opened. Such investigations we refer to here as “case filings.”

– The Norfolk naval station reported 270 sexual assault case filings in the 2016 fiscal year (which began in October 2015 and ended in September 2016). While higher than that found in Korea, the number reported is down from the 291 cases reported in 2015.

Sexual assault case filing reports from other big bases in 2016, included:

– Fort Hood, with 199 case filing reports;

– The Naval Base in San Diego, California, with 187 case filing reports;

– Camp Lejeune in North Carolina with 169 case filing reports;

– Camp Pendleton in California with 157 case filing reports, and

– Fort Bragg in North Carolina with 146 case filing reports.

For 2016, throughout all branches of service, the Pentagon reported a total of 6,172 sexual assault case filing reports, compared with 6,082 the previous year. While that’s up a bit, it’s nothing compared to how low the number used to be in the old days. Compare today’s reported cases that were filed for investigation, if you will, with 2012, when only 3,604 cases were reported and investigations begun.

Yet interesting as these numbers are, the reader should note that again they represent case filings, rather than mere reportings. If one looks instead at reports of sexual assault incidents where no request for action was made by the person being assaulted—thus resulting in no file being created or investigative activity beginning in favor of the assaultee—one would find that throughout the military in 2016 there were 14,900 reported incidents. And while this is a much larger number than that of the cases that were filed, it is significantly down from the 20,300 non-filing reports that were made in 2014.

So which is it? Are sexual assaults going up, or down? And if they are going up, are they going up because more women are serving in more close proximity to more men, or does the increase represent little more than America’s female soldiers feeling safer today about reporting sexual assault activities, than in the past?

Either way, one thing you can say about our military is that at least they measure and publish the data on how out of line men are when it comes to sexual assaults on women. The statistics speak for them self, and the fact that there are statistics to begin with says a lot about the integrity of the military. Now, if we could just get our government—federal and state—to do the same, we might actually accomplish something. As for me, if I were a sexually sensitive woman who couldn't fend for herself and stop an aggressive man dead in his tracks, I would opt for joining the U.S. military, rather than hang around Hollywood or the halls of Congress.

Sad.

Sexual Assault Victim

Next year... next month... we'll resume our Signal Corps Success Stories series. Those of you that are regular visitors to our site know that in these articles we tell the story of Army Signal Corps OCS graduates from either the WWII, Korean War or Vietnam War periods. It's part of an effort we are making to capture the stories of those Signal Corps Officers that gained their command through Signal OCS, and went on to serve our country. Our objective is to archive for posterity the stories and history of all of the Signal Corps OCS Officers that served this great country.

In writing our stories, we focus on helping our readers learn who these people were... in terms of their strengths, weaknesses and beliefs.. especially those beliefs that go to the core of their character, the ones that led them to step forward and serve. If you are an ex-Signal Corps OCS graduate, drop us a note and tell us about your life. We'll be glad to post it on a special bio page for you... and who knows, someday you may find your story highlighted here, on our Home Page, as a Signal Corps Success Story.

War Memories

One of the things that we know about war is that its sociological impact on those who live through it is enormous. It matters not if you are a soldier within it, or a civilian... the societal impact of war is horrendous.

What we also know is that at any one time in today's world there are some 50 wars being fought around the globe. That's the way it is... and unfortunately its been that way for a long, long time. Add to this the narcissistic egos of the Rocket Man and the Trumpster, and it would appear that America's military may soon find itself in yet another war.

Are these wars necessary? in North Korea's case, is it worth it to go to war to make our point that a self important dictator like Kim Jong-un can't be allowed to have nuclear weapons that threaten America, never mind ICBMs?

We'll let you decide. Instead though, what we want you to focus onas this year comes to a closeis the impact wars have on civilians.

In our next article we look at the effect living in a war can have on the civilians that exist within it. We'll use the case of a family that lived through the Vietnam War... fighting on our side, but leaving the country on the last day of the war... the last day from our standpoint... the day when the last American's left: April 30, 1975.

Why this story? Why at this time? Why write about civilians in war? What happened to Signal Corps stories? Why do we need to know about this stuff?

Because as Army Officers we should know the consequences of our work. We should know the consequences of poorly thought out military strategies. We should know what happens when President's micro-manage their military and lose a war. We should know what happens when we allow our government to use war as just another mode of political discourse.

While it may be true that war is just the continuation of politics by other means, that does not mean it is an acceptable substitute for dialog. Not when the civilians of the country involved pay the price of this dialog, by living in real time the harrowing parts of war, more so than many of the soldiers that fight it.

The truth is that for most civilians for which a war is ostensibly fought, their life becomes one of a living hell, one reflecting the gruesome, cold, hard realities of war, realities which change their life forever.

In our next article we discuss this topic, hoping to make the point that us Officers that fight wars must be the ones to step forward first, and shield civilians from harm. This we must do in the midst of the war, as well as at it's end.

Yet how can we do this if we are the first to leave the battlefield when a war ends... as in the case of Vietnam? How do we protect the civilians that remain behind as we board our transports home? And what kind of trauma do those civilians face post-war? One would think that now that their war is over, all would be well again.

As we all know from Vietnam, that is not the case. Often the trauma that follows a war is greater for the civilians that remain behind, than what was felt during the war.

How and why this is so is the subject of the documentary movie we post in our next article. Not directly, mind you... but indirectly. That is, while the main story of this documentary is about the effects the Vietnam War had on one South Vietnamese family, it is the backstoy that we are interested in. The backstory is the part that is of importance to us Army Signal Corps Officers, because it tells of the sociological trauma war brings to the civilians who live in the warring country, after the war is over.

Watch our movie; learn what causes the stress, pain and suffering of the civilians that endure war, and let it burn into your mind a determination that America never again allow itself to lose a war... not if it cares for the civilians for which it fights its wars.

 


 
Pee all that you can pee...


 

Vietnam Campaign Ribbons

This page last updated 01 December 2017. New content is constantly being added. Please check back frequently.

Update 19 October – Just found out that graduates of the former Artillery Officer Candidate School program at Fort Sill formed an association back in 2002. The association is active and is planning its next reunion for April, 2018. You can check out their website here . Like our Army Signal Corps OCS Association, the Artillery OCS group came together to support charitable and educational activities, as well as to capture the history and stories of Artillery OCS graduates. Be sure to check them out, and if you graduated this OCS program, join their organization!

 

 In War The Veneer Of Civilization Is Very Thin

Oh, Saigon

The Physiological, Sociological And Psychological Impact Of War On Civilians, And What The U.S. Military Must Do About It

The movie that follows speaks to the psychological, physiological and sociological damage war levies on the civilians that live within a war zone. In the case of this movie, the civilians that are the subject of the documentary include the nuclear family of a South Vietnamese couple that lived through the Vietnam War, until its bitter end.

Until you have seen the movie and watched how “our” war impacted this average family of the South, it’s hard to believe how much pain war can bring. That’s why we show this movie to you here… to help you, as former Army Officers, understand and internalize the true impact of war on the people it is ostensibly fought for.

Are the results of a war poorly managed and fought worth going to war to achieve? Is such pain worth going to war for? When one looks at the impact of war on civilians, can war ever be justified?

That’s not for us to say. The issue here is not whether warthe Vietnam War in particularwas a righteous war or not. Instead, the issue is what kind of impact does war have on the civilians of the country a war is fought in. What is the societal impact of war on people?

Let us reemphasize this: in this article the issue we are studying relates to the impact war has on the individual members of the society for which it is fought, not the principles it is fought for. We think that if you watch this movie—titled Oh, Saigonand concentrate on the sociological impact of war on such people, you will find that in our case, as former Army Officers who have all spent time in war, we may think we know of the pain of war, but as this movie will show you, we know only our own pain. There are other sides to the pain of war, and this movie speaks to them.

- - -

Oh, SaigonThe family involved in this documentary includes a father, who served as a Major in the South Vietnamese Air Force, his wife, and their three children—one of which was born of an earlier marriage in which the father was killed by the Viet Cong. To underscore the sociological ravages war places on ordinary people such as this family, the movie uses as a foil to the befuddled and troubling circumstances that take control over the family’s life various South Vietnamese uncles and aunts, some of which turn out, post-war, to be rabid communists.

The interplay of the actions the family takes with these people—even as the mother and father try to bring a semblance of normality to their life as the streets of Saigon begin to fill with NVA soldiers—as the city falls to the enemy—creates the lesson in all of this. As you’ll see, even with the help of the greatest country on earth, the United States, in helping this family evacuate the city and leave for America on the day in 1975 that Saigon fell, normalcy proves beyond the means.

The drama in this movie is palpable, but again, that is not the point of this presentation. The point is for us as former Army Signal Corps Officers to learn of and internalize the sociological impact of war on the civilians of the countries we fight in. And in the process, to pass on to those who we have influence over our views as to how wars—future wars—should be conducted. This especially as it relates to the debts we owe to those civilians of the countries that host our wars, and who in the process support our efforts through their tolerance and acceptance of the pain our wars bring to them.

Regarding this topic, what we know is this. There exist several behavioral and social science disciplines concerned with the impact of war upon society. In this documentary we will see the ramifications of these sociological areas of unease come to light. One of these that few of us who fight wars pay much attention to is the ability of war to reorder society.

Most of us former Army Officers know that this happens within the countries that provide the soldiers that fight wars—e.g. within our own country, America, as it geared up via the draft (i.e. via military manpower recruitment and training) to provide the soldiers needed to fight the Vietnam War. What we tended not to pay attention to back then however was how this sociological effect and reordering of society came into play in the place where the war was being fought... South Vietnam itself.

Today, so many years later, we now know that the effect that took place in America also took place in the war zone itself, South Vietnam. The difference however was that the impact on society within the war zone was multiplied a thousand fold over that felt here in America. That is, what we now know is that if war reorders society in an allied country, as the country prepares to support its ally, it does the same and more within the warring country itself.

As we look into the future, this simple fact must be kept in mind. It must be remembered if we are to avoid in future wars the mess America created when it ignored this basic societal tenet in Vietnam... or for that matter more recently in Iraq. As for Iraq, here we are referring to how Paul Bremer, the second head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq (i.e. governor of the occupation) single handedly caused the dissolution and reordering of civil society by creating instant unemployment for over 250,000 former Iraqi soldiers, when he dissolved their units. In the process he brought chaos to the country, set the stage for a rise in sectarian violence and created ISIS.

In the case of this movie, if one pays attention to the reordering of life that takes place behind the scenes in this documentary, one will see the same thing happening as that which befell Iraq. For South Vietnam's civilians, as America’s intent to leave the war became more and more obvious, society began to break down. People who normally were allied if not keen supporters of the South Vietnamese government began to switch sides… with the result that friends became enemies, families were broken, and both danger and death set in. In simple terms, the immediacy of the conflict and its changes on life created a reordering at the macroscopic level of life.

Oh, SaigonWhat we know then is that war can have many different impacts on societies, one of which is its reordering of life as the war unfolds. The type of impact war has on society depends very much on what the society was like before the war started, what the war was about, how popular the war was, whether the particular country involved won or lost the war, and other such variables.

With a history of winning its wars, for many, many years America paid no attention to the impact wars it fought had on the country of the war itself. All we cared about was the impact the war had on our own country. For example, the major impact of WWII on U.S. society was fairly positive. The war stimulated the US economy and helped to get it out of the Great Depression. It wasn’t until later in our country’s life that we began to experience wars ending without clarity. And when that happened, even then our thoughts were usually for our own. If Korea was left in a perpetual state of war, so be it. If Vietnam ended up “going communist,” ah, what the hell… so what?

What was lost in this way of thinking was the realization that at some point in time in the future these outcomes would come back to haunt us… by bringing to our own shores troubled civilians from the war zone, by creating enemies in waiting for us around the world, or by leaving the failed zone of war in worse condition then when the war started in the first place. As we now know, one of the worst of the societal impacts of failed wars or wars of no-consequence has turned out to be the degree to which individuals that come out of war zones of this type are able to act with agency and autonomy that proves—by societal norms—neither contingent nor context-justifiable.

In other words, forced migration and the negotiation of identity suddenly become issues of relevancy. So too is the emotional, intellectual and economic impact of people wandering the earth holding wavering points of view based on instable foundations of memory, the value of property, the impact of trauma, history, and other narratives that tend to make such people combatants of society.

As this documentary will show, for the people of South Vietnam, by 1975, it appeared that the Vietnam War was a clear loss for the United States. And while much of Indochina did become Communist, validating the domino theory that was presented to justify America’s involvement in the war in the first place, its existence left few psychological scars for America. For one, it did not affect the United States’ status as a superpower. For another, although the North “won” the war, its postwar period was filled with more fighting, poverty, and suffering for its people. If nothing else, the documentary film shown here will make this case.

Why was post-war Vietnam filled with such trauma and trouble then? The answer again lies with the hidden sociological impact that comes of war, for the people within the country a war is fought in. For it is the civilians within those countries we lose wars in that suffer the most sociological damage.

If one pauses to look around the world today one would find that there are currently, on average, 50 armed conflicts underway at any point in time. Add to this the fact that across the world torture is routine in over 90 countries, and one has the makings of a troubled world centered on bringing misery to the most basic and normal of people. For example, civilian casualties resulting from wars and conflicts are on the rise. During WWI only 5% of all casualties were civilians. By WWII that number had risen to 50%. In Vietnam the number rose again, to over 80%. Currently, at last count, UNICEF says the number is now at over 90%.

Adding to this, UNICEF says that “in the last 10 years 2 million children have died in war, a further 4-5 million have been wounded or disabled, 12 million made homeless and 1 million orphaned or separated from parents. At present the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) counts 18 million refugees who have fled across an international border, a six-fold increase” on the numbers that were measured back in 1970.

Students of current wars have learned that a key element that contributes to the above statistics is that modem political violence is being created via “states of terror” designed to penetrate the entire fabric of a country’s social relations, at its most basic level. The intent is to create a terror driven subjective mental life as a means of social control. It is to these ends that most acts of torture and violence towards civilian populations are directed, rather than to the extracting of information. We see this in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Ukraine, where the mutilated bodies of those abducted by security agents and dumped in a public place are used as props in a political theatre intended to stun the observing.

Oh, SaigonOne can see from this then the means by which war works its sociological impact on the civilians of a warring society. In the documentary we show here, one can see this taking place behind the scenes, even though it is not the point of the story itself.

What does all of this mean? For one, from this we learn that not only is there little recognition of the distinction between combatant and civilian in war today—nor any obligation to spare women, children or the elderly from its trauma—but the valued institutions and ways of life that exist within a warring society are marked for destruction by those seeking to topple the country. This means that, as in Syria today, whole populations can be targeted for destruction. In Vietnam we saw the North take this kind of action post-war, when they imprisoned in reeducation campssome for up to 17 years300,000 former military officers, government workers and supporters of the former government of South Vietnam.

It is depressingly clear that such strategies are highly effective. For most post-war societies, this results in the blurring of the line between political and criminal violence, with the political leaders and security forces of the winning side becoming involved in unbridled profiteering, black marketing and extortion. In our movie, one can see these two elements—the trauma of being sent away for re-education, coupled with the destruction of the societal norms that prohibit the conflating of political violence with criminal violence—coming to the fore as the reasons for the family fleeing the country.

For our part, thinking of these facts, how can one not concede that the greatest impact of war on people is to those who live within the war zone… not to the soldiers that fight the war. As former military Officers, as we encourage our country to go forward in putting countries like North Korea and Iran in their place—presumably to make the world more safe—we must also encourage it to devise better ways to protect the civilians we seemingly fight to free.

As to finding the impetus that caused the trauma of war to strike the Vietnamese, one must look first to why the war became necessary in the first place, because without a cause for war, no war would exist.

In 2009, Ms. Jessica McKenzie, a young U.S. college student, penned an undergraduate paper titled The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Vietnamese People: The Effects of the Vietnam Wars on Vietnam. Ms McKenzie won numerous awards for her work and since it supports our position on the causes of war based trauma, sociological upheaval, and the reordering of society—with editorial alterations on our part to her original text, and without quotations to note the distinction—we liberally quote from it here.

In the case of North and South Vietnam, the shared history of their wars of liberation against the French, and the unresolved way in which those combat efforts ended, left the people of the two countries with problems that still needed resolution.

Specifically, the Second Vietnam War [i.e. the one we Army Signal Corps Officers fought in] was an extension of the first war in Vietnam [the French Indo-China war that ended at Dien Bien Phu]. Compounded by the complexion of the Cold War then circling the globe, the Second Vietnam War represented the culmination of unresolved social and political relations. What connected the two wars most closely was the central aim that both the North and the South had during all of these times, to liberate and unify the country.

Whilst this aim was lost in the process of the first war, it was fervently reclaimed in its aftermath, by Ho Chi Minh.

  

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