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July 2014

— This Month —

The End Of War As We Know It

And...

The True Cost Of War... Who Pays It?

Plus...

Radio Stories Of The Signal Corps

- - - - -

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.                       


 

A note from the Editor...

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 in Iraq.

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 parts:

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 years.

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.

As 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 place.

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 leaves office.

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.

It's disgusting.

e  f

Radio Stories Of The Signal Corps

Jean Shepherd - Signal Corps RaconteurEach 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 entirety. Enjoy!

 

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 Part.

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.

Idi Amin, Dictator and CanibalIn 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 or another.

Continued at top of page, COLUMN AT RIGHT


 

Attacking from home... 


 

Vietnam Campaign Ribbons

This page last updated 1 July 2014. New content is constantly being added. Please check back frequently.

Update 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!

Update 29 May 2014 Heard about our Memorial Day Salute, but missed it? Click on the picture below and enjoy!!  

Memorial Day Salute To Vets 

 

Update 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. Jump to OCS Class 42-10 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.

Death rate from wars

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 motion.

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? 

Read more... 


 

 

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 side.

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.[1]

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?

Dau Tieng refugeesHow 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 them would 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.[2]

Vietnamese Boat PeopleThe 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 terror and 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?

Convoy of tears...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 lifethe true cost of war.

What 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.[3]

RVN - Refugee ChildIn 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 spending years 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...

Read more...

 

e f

The absence of war...


July's Crossword Puzzle

Army Signal CorpsTheme: Cost of WarArmy Signal Corps
Civilian & Military Deaths, Genocide & Domicide

Hint: Join 2, 3 and 4 word answers together
as one complete word.

 For answer key to this month's puzzle,
see icon at bottom of page




Footnotes:

[1] 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: Return to text

[2] 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: Return to text

[3] Brachman, 150. - To return to your place in the text click here: Return to text

 


 

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