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January 2015

— This Month —

Aren't You Glad You Retired?

Slam, bam, thank you Mam...

And...

The Pentagon's Revolving Door
Here we go again...
 

Plus...

An Archive of War

- - - - -

MISSION STATEMENT

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 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. 


 

Aren't You Glad You Retired?

Slam, bam, thank you Mam...

ArmySignalOCS.com Editor's Column

Aren’t you glad you retired?

It seems that America is running out of money, which means that the DoD is running out of money, which means that the Pentagon is running out of money, which means that the Army can’t afford to have all of those young Captains and the like running around… well… costing America money... which means that many of them are right now packing their bags and heading home—for good. You see, since there’s no war on this month, our ever frugal government has decided to get rid of a bit of excess baggage… like 1,188 Army Captains.

Now, aren’t you glad you retired?

Remember the RIF, that wonderful thing that hits the military after every war? Well, it’s back again… big time. With no big wars on the horizon… and America sick of those small little troublesome ones that seem so hard to win, the wonderful people in Congress that set the budget have decided that money spent on helping illegal immigrants will get them elected faster than money spent on the military. Well… to be honest, they never said that; that’s just our opinion. Anyway, the people in Congress that allocate funds and the people who spend the money allocated have decided that it would be nice if the Pentagon reduced the size of its workforce. Not just any workers, mind you… but the ones that wear railroad tracks.

Railroad tracks...Railroad tracks. You remember those, don’t you? They’re the little silver bars that people called Captain have been wearing on their shoulders since 1832. As it stands, since November the Army has been notifying a number of its Captains that their military careers are coming to an end. Oh, and for good measure, the Pentagon has tossed into the pot some 550 Majors too.

MajorTo be accurate, the RIF began back in July, although it’s just now coming to the general public’s attention. We heard of it through OCS Candidate Don Fedynak (Army Signal OCS Class 04-68), who thought it not just strange but troubling that the people picked to be pink slipped seem to be some of America’s best Officers. He said it reminded him of stories he heard from some of our own Board Members, about being kindly asked to leave the Army after a lifetime of service and sacrifice.

But hey… that’s our America! Right?

Wrong.

Something should be done about the disruptive, slipshod way in which these decisions are made, where people who have dedicated their lives to our country are put out to pasture with nary a thought to either their situation or the readiness of the unit/Army/country they left behind.

It’s not that RIFs should be done away with; that’s not our point. We understand that national financial needs mean that the Army has to —to some degree—grow and shrink with the economy… but it shouldn’t do so at the expense of those who gave their all for the country—especially if some of those are among the most skilled, capable and dedicated of those serving, and have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice their personal wellbeing and family life for our country. Those people—the ones who make America what is it, not the undisciplined slackers that roam the street marching in support of political views fostered by MSNBC pundits—deserve better than a thank you note and a boot in the ass from some administrative separations group at a base they never served at, as they are pushed out the door.

Consider for example the simple fact that 48 of the 1,188 Captains being let go served with distinction in Afghanistan. When President Obama finally realizes that he needs real boots on the ground to put down ISIS, where does he think he is going to find those boots… and seasoned, combat qualified Officers to lead them?

More likely than not sometime around the end of 2015 the Pentagon is going to wish it had those 48 combat experienced Captains back. Mark our words.

Then there’s the way these Captains were let go. Of the 1,188 that were notified back in June of 2014 that their careers were at an end, 87 were deployed outside of the country at the time of their notice. Now that’s a fine howdy-do: slam, bam, thank you Mam… you are no longer needed… see if you and your family can find a place back in the states where you want to live, and we’ll get you there. What you do once you get home is up to you, we don't need you anymore.

Yet that too is not the end of the disrespect and affront being foisted on this group… it seems that one-fifth of the Officers targeted for RIF began their life as enlisted men. What’s wrong with this, you ask?

Look at your own career. As an OCS graduate you began your career as an EM and you earned every damned advancement that came your way, from PVT E-1 to whatever grade you had when you left the Army. More likely than not that means that you had far more experience in military matters, leadership and command than those of equal rank that you served alongside of, e.g. those who put their bars on fresh out of some educational institution located at some quiet little place on a river in New York state.

West Point circa 1775This is not to say that OCS and other EM-grown Officers are better than those others, it’s only to say that there is a whole lot of solid experience and knowhow in the heads of Officers who grew their skills from within the ranks… experience and know how that ring-knocker Officers take decades to learn.

But even that's not the end of this debacle. The biggest problem we have with the RIF that's running now is with respect to the size and allocation of the complement of people being let go. The Army is facing far more service cuts than any other branch. Under directive, in 2014 alone, the Army lowered its complement of men from 530,000 to 508,000. Considering the number of kinetically hot spots in the world, twenty-two thousand men is a big number, but that’s still not the end of it. This year (2015) another 20,000 are slated to be cut.

The fact that all are being forced out of a life they have committed themselves to for ten years or more is tragic. Good people… dedicated men and women… have been laid off without a care or concern. Clearly, there is no place for a union in the military. However, if ever there was a time when a union was needed to protect “worker’s rights”, this would be it.

Read more...

 


 

 

Everything That Goes Up Must Come Down

Candidate Donald Fedynak (Army Signal OCS Class 04-68), who served with the 221st Signal Company (Pictorial) in Vietnam in 1969,  sent along a message that said "Here's something you might be interested in for the website… a video of footage that I shot in ‘Nam and recently edited… it’s the Skycrane recovery of a VNAF plane that went down in a rice paddy in 1969… got a pilot who flew those type of missions to narrate… there are also stills from the mission that were published in Hawk magazine… I think all our old aviators will get a kick out of it..." 

Skycrane rescue, Vietnam 1969                Skycrane rescue, Vietnam 1969

Click either image above to enlarge

Skycrane rescue, Vietnam 1969

1st Aviation Brigade Skycrane Recovers a Downed Vietnamese Air Force A-1E Skyraider


 

The Pehtagon's Revolving Door

The Pentagon's Revolving Door

Here we go again...

It’s not supposed to be this way. The  office of the Secretary of Defense is not supposed to be fronted by a revolving door. The man who sits in the chair is not supposed to change with the time of day. The job is much too important for this kind of juvenile politicking. Arguably, the position of Secretary of Defense is more important to America's well being than even that of the President. Without it being occupied by a centered, clear headed thinker, America is in deep trouble.

We say this because today the desk of the Secretary of Defense is the place where the buck really stops when it comes to keeping America safe. By comparison, the desks of all others in our government that sport important titles are of little consequence. The people who occupy them do little more than shuffle memos that spout off about make-work ideas of little value to America. For the most part, these people are nothing more than bureaucratic noise makers. From the office of the Secretary of Homeland Security, who focuses on how many pairs of shoes have been taken off at airports this week as a means of keeping America safe, to the head of the CIA who spends his time fighting off people like Diane Feinstein and others hell bent on emasculating his department, to the heads of the FBI, State Department and others, all the people who hold these positions do is run around making noise and playing politics.

To be fair to them, it’s not entirely their fault, in part because most of the Presidents who have held office since the days of Eisenhower have moved from setting strategy and leaving the tactics for how their goals will be achieved to their Cabinet, to micromanaging the tactics and ignoring the issue of strategy all together. And so today we have no discernible strategy for the Middle East, or for dealing with an aggressive China, coming to grips with how Iran will be kept from having the bomb, or anything else for that matter. Instead, when an issue pops up on the global stage most of the Presidents that have traipsed through the White House in recent memory, including the current one, seem to focus more on trying to micromanage a response than setting a policy to preclude its recurrence. And who can blame them? All they are doing is following the lead that President Johnson set when he first started picking bombing targets in Vietnam. The fact of the matter is that sitting in the SitRep room watching a bunch of Green Beanies storm an al-Qaida hideout is far more fun than sitting in the Oval Office trying to figure out how to fix the world's problems.

Pity the poor Gates or Panetta or Hagel then, Secretaries of Defense all, fully capable of running their fiefdom better than their President can… but nevertheless unable to do so without being micromanaged every step of the way. Pity these men who all had their fill of a rudderless ship of state in need of a course to sail more than help in steering it. When the new Secretary of Defense that President Obama has proposed is confirmed he will face this same problem. And to add insult to injury, he will be the fourth Secretary of defense in six years. That’s disgusting. Four Secretaries of Defense in six years.

Continued at top of page, COLUMN AT RIGHT


 

New uniforms for females


 

Vietnam Campaign Ribbons

This page last updated 1 January 2015. New content is constantly being added. Please check back frequently.

 

Update 1 January 2015 Alvin H Watkins, LTC(R) SigOCS Class 7-66 sent an update in the way of more photos for his album. Al's chopper from his Vietnam days is on display in the Smithsonian. You can see his latest pictures of his days in Vietnam by visiting his personal bio page and clicking on the album at the bottom of the page. Army Signal OCS Class 09-67 - Sterling & Bradley Our thanks to Al for his update. Now, all of you Army Signal OCS Grads out there that have not yet sent in your own short bio, how about getting to it this coming year? Make it one of your top priority New Year's Resolutions!

The American Experience in VietnamUpdate 1 January 2015 Signal OCS Graduate Nick Mills (Class 01-68) has overseen the publishing of a new book about Vietnam. Nick is an associate professor of journalism at Boston University. He is also responsible for putting together the volume on Combat Photography for the Time-Life series "The Vietnam Experience". Nick's book is called "The American Experience in Vietnam -- Reflections on an Era", published by Boston Publishing Co. Inc., Zenith Press, 2014. Find it on Amazon and buy it today Army Signal OCS Class 09-67 - Sterling & Bradley. One reviewer commented, "As a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, I saw a lot of what's in this book firsthand, but this book covers the whole country and it was very interesting for me to see what was going on in other areas of operations. The photos are very good. I recommend this to anyone who was there if they have any interest in the bigger picture. I also recommend to those who have questions about what is really like - the photos tell the story."

Update 3 November 2014 The association needs a couple (maybe three) class coordinators who intend to attend the reunion in San Antonio next year... to verify addresses... to encourage others to join them there... etc. So the question is, who is going against all training to volunteer for the "job"... Don't let the "silence" be deafening!! Contact MAJ (R) Richard Green TODAY! Army Signal OCS Class 09-67 - Sterling & Bradley

Update 11 November 2014 A new Class Photo for OCS Class 66-04 has been sent in and posted. This one has the names of all of the candidates shown on it. Be sure to check it out! Army Signal OCS Class 09-67 - Sterling & Bradley

 

 

 

Continued from left column... 

Sure, it may be true that the President is the Supreme Commander of America’s military forces, but that doesn’t mean he should be running the Defense Department. Let’s be honest: when was the last time a President was in office who had a clue as to what the U.S. military was all about, how it runs or how to use it? The guy in office today has never spent a day in uniform, never mind a year on the field of battle. And while his predecessor may have filled out an Air Force uniform at one time, he seems to have worn it only when he absolutely had to… doing his best at every opportunity to use his family's Yale pedigree and connections to escape military duty whenever he could. You’ve heard of Weekend Warriors? Well “W” was the penultimate Anyone-But-Me-Warrior.

Then there’s Clinton. His aversion to serving was so strong we doubt he ever even bothered to learn how to spell Warrior. One wonders what his wife would be like as a President. We’ll bet she can’t wait to get her hands on the DoD, push the Secretary of Defense aside, and run it like a Tupperware party on steroids, full of gun toting homemakers out to shoot anyone not supporting women’s rights. If you've heard Hillary Clinton's rhetoric about a war on women, elect her and watch as she takes control of the DoD, pushes the Secretary of Defense aside and uses the U.S. military to mount a war on men.

But we jest...

Ah for the good old days, when the Office of the President set national policy and left it up to subject matter experts to implement his policies. Those good old days when the President would decide when to go to war, actually take the time to ask Congress to issue a declaration of war to legitimize the undertaking, and then turn the war over to the Secretary of Defense to fight, while the President sat back and satisfied himself with feedback from the Joint Chiefs.

Which raises the question, if we were Ashton Carter, President Obama’s nominee for the next Secretary of Defense, and we were confirmed as the position, what would we focus on?

If left to our own devices, we would focus on these issues:

Functional Problems

1. Improving The Defense Acquisition Process

2. Addressing Budgetary Matters

3. Finding Ways To Negate Bureaucratic Inertia And “Next-War-Itis”

4. Developing An Ability To Focus On More Than Just Air-Sea Battles

Regional Problems

1. Putting Life Back Into America’s Transatlantic Security Partnerships 

2. Middle East Security Issues

3. Finding Ways To Manage China’s Rising Power In Asia

Let's take a look at these, one at a time.

  Read more... 


 

 

An Archive of War - Part I

Examples of effective American decision making and leadership, as seen through the documents of war.

Last month in this space we offered an article with the rather long sub-title The words behind the phrase "unconditional surrender". The article itself was about the actual process by which America issued its demand to Japan to surrender. The point of the story was that while we all know about the war, few of us know how America's demand was made known to the Japanese, or what the actual wording of that demand was.

Hidden within the story however was a back story; one that suggested that the America of our fathers was a stronger, more secure America than the one we live in today. As we saw it, the "old" America of that time was peopled with leaders that didn't have a doubt as to where we as a nation were going, or how to get there. They were decisive, clear of mind and determined to not only make America a better country, but take the world along with us too.

Men like Roosevelt and Truman led the crowd, with others in their cabinets like Cordell Hull, Henry Stimson, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., and even more, all working together to push through programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority Act (which allowed the federal government to build dams and power plants to both generate and sell power as well as engage in economic development for this poverty stricken area of America), the Civilian Conservation Corps Act (which created work camp jobs for 250,000 men of ages 18 to 25, and in the process both improved America's environment and ecology, as well as established some of our greatest parks), the Glass-Steagall Banking Act (which instituted banking reforms, including establishing the FDIC as a means for protecting the money ordinary American's placed in their local banks), and much more. 

These men, along with military leaders like George Marshall, James Forrestal, Chester Nimitz, Douglas MacArthur, William Halsey, Jr., George S. Patton, Billy Mitchell, Dwight Eisenhower and others, took center stage during this period... a period when the world was in chaos and upheaval, suffering from a global economic meltdown greater than any experienced before or since, while engaged in the largest war the world has ever seen. During all of this these men led with clarity of purpose and integrity beyond measure, bringing America through it all, making it a stronger and better country along the way.  

The men of those times were true leaders, who thought in unequivocal terms. They were decisive, determined, disciplined and dedicated. While not always beyond reproach in their personal lives, their public ethics were above reproof, their honesty unimpeachable, their integrity the thing of legends. They were Americans, of a kind and type which, with very few exceptions, we have failed to see as leaders since. And while they harbored their own fears, they feared not in taking a righteous stand for our country... such as drawing a red line, telling another not to cross it, and taking quick and unambiguous action if they did. Of perhaps greatest value, their decisions were clear and precise... as is evidenced in their writings, especially the documents they published in telling the world what it could expect of America. 

Compare that if you will to those who run our country today: Congressmen who publish "reports" intended to hang America's dirty laundry out for the world to see... telling tales of "torture" backed by one-sided, biased information... all for political gain. President's who dally with interns, play golf more than they preside, bow to foreign potentates, and backslide on every major issue of consequence they face. Ideologs who trash America to further their cause, with nary a concern for what their efforts do to our nation as a whole. And race baiters... the worst of all of them. Men who earn their living ginning up racial confusion, confrontation, invective and hatred, as a means for raking in millions a year in compensation.

One sees the failure of America in the acts of these people. We fear that through their leadership many Americans are no longer able to think clearly or see the truth of the situations that befall us. As an example, where once being liberal was a point of pride relating to the means by which people made decisions, as in "how one goes about thinking of ways to solve a problem," now being liberal denotes a bias towards income redistribution, big government and high taxes intended to generate yet more money for yet more government programs.

Conservatism too has lost its meaning, suggesting a right wing extremist mindset more so than a penchant for traditional values. While the died in the wool conservative may not have changed, how the world views this species has morphed to the point where whatever he is, he is now the opposite of a liberal. To be sure, where once these two were befriended world travelers walking the path of life together, now they are perceived to be mortal enemies... each intent on changing America to fit their image of how it should be and how it should work. No longer do our leaders fight to be elected for the chance to administer America. Now they fight to have the right to change it to suit their image.

One longs for the days of the last generation. Not that those days were easier by any means; they weren't. As we already said, the men of those days wrestled with a global depression that makes today's economic problems look like a child 5¢ short of what they need to buy a Coke; while at the same time those same men fought a global war against enemies that make Al Qaida look like the Cub Scouts.

Disagree with us? Then you be the judge: match the torture the Japanese levied on American POWs in the South Pacific with that of Al Qaida or ISIS today — The Bataan death march, the Burma–Thailand ‘death’ railway; the rape of Nanking, human medical experimentation in Manchuria, cannibalism on Chichi Jima, the "Manila massacre", the Wake Island massacre... need we go on? Or how about in Germany — concentration camps where over 11 million Jews, gays and gypsies were put to death... all for a political cause. Compare that if you will to today's troubles and you will see that the problems groups like ISIS bring to our world pale in comparison to the acts of terrorism and state sponsored murder America's leaders had to deal with in the first half of the 20th century.

What those men had to deal with makes President Obama's problems look like child's play... like the hyper exaggerated claim that blacks today suffer from racism. There is no doubt that there is still discrimination today, but the hyped up concoction of victimization that ugly men like Al Sharpton and others peddle as racism is nothing compared to the kind of real racism that existed in the 1930s and 40s. For people like Sharpton, Eric Holder and even Presidnt Obama to claim that police, landlords, NBA owners and everyone else in America hates blacks is not only disingenuous but dangerous in the extreme. If they really feel this way then rather than ratcheting up the rhetoric they should be doing something about it by pushing for laws that will level the playing field, or prosecuting those who have violated existing discrimination laws.

Little wonder then that when we read the documents from America's last era... the one managed by our greatest generation... we see simplicity and lucidity in those leaders' way of thinking, rather than the muddle headed speechifying that seems to come out of Washington today. When leaders of those past days put down their thoughts, there was clarity of purpose and reasoning in their decisions, and in how they explained their thinking and conclusions to the world. We long for that day.. when our leaders solved problems rather than just talked of them; when they brought us together rather than apart.

Last month we showed you one of those documents: The Potsdam Declaration. It set out in clear, concise terms the conditions for surrender that Japan would have to accept... as well as the reasons for those conditions and what Japan could expect either as a result of her capitulation or our response if she refused to. This  month we bring you another document from that era... one related to the same topic. This one too shows clear headed, reasoned thinking on the part of the men of that day. It's titled "Final Directive Authorizing Use of Atomic Weapon Against Japan" and comprises the actual order that released America's first nuclear weapons for use. Again, what you will see if you read it is clarity of purpose, mind and intent. Something woefully missing in the White House today. No line in the sand here, the order is unambiguous, unmistakable and precise.

From time to time as this new year unfolds we will post in this column, under this byline, other documents of this type; documents that show lucid, sober, reasoned, intelligent leaders from America's past thinking and acting in ways that made America great.

Would that today's leaders could learn from them.

Authorization to use nuclear weapons

e f

OCS Wisdom 


January Crossword Puzzle

Army Signal CorpsTheme: Vietnam War TriviaArmy Signal Corps
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as one complete word.

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