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April 2018

— This Month —

The Evolving Role Of Signal Corps Tactical Officers

- Part 2 of 6 -

–  Warfare Evolves; The Signal Corps In World War I —
 

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.

 



 

Will It Be War, Or Not?

 ArmySignalOCS Editor

Watch For The Nobel Prize...

►The following article was not authored by, nor endorsed by, the Board of Directors.  It is strictly the opinion of the Editor.◄

For the past several months we’ve watched the “Rocket Man” and the “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” go at each other, and offered our comments on what the likely outcome would be. You can read our thoughts here, here and here. If you take the time to do so, you will see that we predicted that if something wasn’t worked out soon, a war between the U.S. and North Korea was inevitable, and would likely start sometime after March 20th.

Why March 20th? Because as we discovered in a report by the Defense Department it would take that long for the U.S. Air Force to get itself into position to be able to support such a war.

Well, March 20th has come and gone, and America’s B-1B Lancers and their cousins the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers are still sitting on the ground, so that must say something.

As we all know, it appears that the Rocket Man decided that the Dotard just might mean what he says, and so he likely came to the conclusion that discretion is the better part of valor. That is, it might be a good idea if the Rocket Man began to ratchet down the invectives and sit down with the man and see if a deal could be put together, rather than continue to poke his fingers in the Dotard’s eyes. After all, it’s true what the Dotard said to him in one of his tweets, he does have a bigger nuclear button.

So here the world sits, waiting for these two alpha males to meet sometime in May. But what will happen? Will a deal get done, or will these two jamokes resort to fisticuffs?

Our guess: a deal will get done.

Why? Because Donald Trump is a deal doer. Period.

If you look closely at the Trumpster what you will see is a man of very shallow talent and even less intelligence. Sure, he has good instincts, and he is a crafty businessman, but even those skills don’t run deep. More specifically, he is not a true businessman, as in the case of Rex Tillerson, who had the skills needed to run ExonMobile, a global multinational corporation with 69,600 employees.

Instead Trump is a small businessman… and while we do mean small, we don't mean that in a pejorative sense. His entire corporate experience centers around running a small family business… his own. Consider if you will that rather than having the experience of managing a cadre of 6,500 C-level executives, as in Tillerson’s case, his centers around 4 people—himself, two sons and a daughter... sitting behind the big desks.

Is this bad? In our opinion, not at all. You see, as we said, Trump is not a businessman… he is a “deal doer,” and therein lie his skills. What Trump is good at is getting deals done, and when it comes to sitting with Kim Jong-un and talking things over, that will put him in good stead.

Regarding what kind of deals the Trumpster is good at doing, well, that’s another story. You see, for Trump the goal is to do the deal, never mind whether it's good for him or the guy on the other side of the table. For Trump, as long as he goes home with a deal in his pocket, he’ll let others work out how it all comes together, who gets what out of what, and where the chips fall.

How can he be like this, you ask? Everybody recognizes that his companies are successful, so how can you say his only concern is doing the deal, not making it “profitable,” or making it work?

We can say this because for small businessmen… that is, businessmen whose business is small compared to companies like ExxonMobile… whether the deals they do are financially beneficial or not is measured differently than in the case of global multinationals. For small businessmen like Trump, as long as the deal is financially large, it isn’t important whether its profitable or not.

Trump HotelsTake for example the development of a new hotel, in Moscow, say. In such a case, as long as the deal prices out at in the order of $150 million or more (the most costly residential tower “deal” done by Donald Trump to date cost approximately $300 million to construct), it matters not whether it will be a profitable venture or not.

This is because as the project rolls out, with first stage financial backers having already written checks to the tune of $30 to $80 million, they are sure to pony up again if more funds are needed down the road. For Donald Trump then, worrying early on in the negotiations whether the deal being discussed will be profitable or not is of no concern. All that is of importance is how much he gets out of the project as it unfolds.

So how much does a Donald Trump property developer type person get out of a $150 million project like this? Likely as not he will skim off—legally, through his company, mind you—18% or more… or some $27 million. For a typical 3 year project that’s $9 million a year. And don’t forget that the costs of operation of his company are all paid for by the project, his family gets paid, when the project is done he draws income from its operation, picks up the net profits, and retains ownership of an asset that in the end will top $150 million in value.

Build your little property development company up so that it handles two or three such projects at a time, and you could easily find yourself enjoying $30 – $50 million a year in cash from the properties under development, with another $99 million each year in operating profits from the 33 licensed properties his companies currently operate. $149 million in loose change a year… and that’s what he gets folks. That’s his portion.

Our point here then is that Donald Trump has become accustomed to caring more about getting a deal done—signed—than whether the deal is a good one or not. Others will worry about that part, once the boss returns home with the first check from the financial backers, and the deal signed.

What do you think will be in his mind then when he heads over to meet with the Rocket Man? Will he care what the terms and conditions are of the agreement they strike, or just the fact that he can walk out of the meeting room in Panmunjeom with ink on paper? For the Trumpster, indoctrinated over 30 years of small business into thinking that doing deals is all that matters—not how they turn out—we’ll bet the only thing on his mind will be bringing home a signed deal.

Enjoy your April. Keep your eyes open come this December… we’ll bet President Trump will be in Stockholm then, picking up his Nobel Peace Prize.

- - - - -

The North Korean thing having been covered, we’ll entertain you now with Part 2 of our series of articles on the need for the U.S. Army to assign to the Signal Corps responsibility, across all military arms, for developing strategies, tactics and new forms of armament able to counter the ‘new forms of warfare’ that are coming to the fore.


 

The Evolving Role Of Signal Corps Tactical Officers

Signal Corps Tactical Officer

- Part 2 of 6 -

These days “war” is all over the place. That is, the concept of war… what we define as war… that thing that they call war… its reference, its meaning, description, delineation, denotation—or whatever it is you want to call it—is all over the place. It’s almost like war has become amorphous. Today it is what you want it to be.

For example, war used to represent an organized and generally prolonged armed conflict carried out between states and/or non-state actors. Today that’s no longer the case. Today war is not defined based on whether there is armed conflict involved or not. Today war can be something as benign as a DNS (denial of service) attack by one country on, say, a small set of another’s electrical substations—with neither country admitting that the event ever took place.

Does that qualify as war in your mind? It does in our mind, especially if such activities are recurring. And besides, if it isn’t some form of warfare, then what is it?

Whatever it is, you’re unlikely to find it being described as war, per se. Yet it happens far more frequently than we care to admit; see for example “It’s not just elections: Russia hacked the US electric grid” to get an idea of how frequently and close to home such events occur.

Or how about the global embargo being pressed against North Korea right now? Ignore for a minute the fact that it is justified, the question is, would you define that as a war on North Korea? We would. The truth be told, war has morphed. And with that change has come a change in the kind of people needed to fight it.

Last month we published Part 1 of this series of articles on what we feel is a requirement that the U.S. military broaden its ability to fight these and the other new kinds of war that are coming along, as well as the more advanced forms of conventional warfare appearing on the world’s battlefields. Our particular concern is that these new kinds of war require new strategies and tactics if they are to be won... and at the present the U.S. military is  bereft of the skills needed to develop either the strategies, or worse, the infrastructure needed to implement them, i.e. the tactics. Note here, when we speak of the U.S. military not having the capabilities needed to fight these kind of wars, we do not mean at the theoretical level, but instead across the military’s C2… i.e. in the field and especially in the heads of the tactical Officers that must respond to the challenge these daily ‘new forms of war’ and their associated combat events bring.

In this article, as well as in the 4 remaining that will be published over the next several months, we will look more deeply into how this has come about, and exactly what is needed to prepare the U.S. military to fight these kinds of wars, and win their associated battles. What you will see is that since in so many cases the 'new forms of war' and their battles stem from the use and application of advances in technology, we will focus on how the military can build a combat integrated infrastructure able to apply advanced technology counter measures to stymie their effectiveness. And as you will see, in all of this our conclusion will be that since integral to the issue of countering weaponized new technologies is both an understanding of the technology, communications (think: digital networking, et al), data management and AI (artificial intelligence), it should be the Signal Corps that not only specifies the technologies and capabilities needed, but most especially develops the strategies and tactics that will underwrite the use of the technologies, so that they achieve the intended strategic objective(s). Further to this, if this is to be the case, then the Signal Corps should also be the element that  implements their use in the field, i.e. tactically, right down to the line of battle, whether it be the perimeter defense of an artillery emplacement, an FOB, or standing two feet to the left of and three feet behind the corporal about to break down the door of a house in Fallujah.

Simply put, what we will be arguing is that the Signal Corps should be the arm that

a) Works with the Pentagon’s war planning people to develop the strategies needed to counter an enemy’s ‘next century but applied today’ war efforts (e.g., electromagnetic pulse based warfare against the continental U.S….  electric grid hacks and attacks… or just plain combat field drone attacks), and achieve the desired war event outcome(s),

b) Defines the form, kind, number, manpower skill set, and logistics needed to implement the tactics that it develops,

c) Oversees (via newly trained and assigned Signal Corps Tactical Officers, located in the field and throughout the chain of command, at all echelons) the implementation of the various defined tactics,

d) Reports in real time to the various Command hierarchies the success or failure of same, and

e) Both recommends and implements—in real time—any required changes to the strategies or tactics, in order to improve the final outcome and/or results.

As you read this, focus on the Signal Corps Tactical Officers mentioned above. Throughout this and the subsequent articles in this series we will refer to the type of Signal Corps Officers that will be needed to do the work we listed as just that: Signal Corps Tactical Officers. These Tactical Officers will constitute a new and unique breed of Officer to be stood up. In discussing them the reader will see that we have assigned to these men a primary role of turning standard combat tactics of the kind used today into superior tactical decisions and methods, able to meet the needs of the 'new forms of war' that are appearing with each day that passes.

Continued Right Page, Top


 
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Table of Contents

As to how these new Tac Officers will go about their jobs, in great part they will define, design and then depend upon the use of the capabilities found in the ever advancing forms of armament and communication these new Signal Corps Tactical Officers will help bring to the field.

Regarding this, what we expect is that in many cases the new forms of “armament” that need to be developed to counter the 'new forms of warfare'  will have within them capabilities designed to target and extract information and intelligence from the real time events associated with the 'new forms of warfare', especially those that are digital in nature.

When such information and intelligence is extracted, our new Signal Corps Tac Officers will assure that it is analyzed and incorporated into a new set of tactical plans for the field—which the new Tac Officers will oversee the design of, to counter the 'new form of warfare' being experienced. In doing this, the Tac Officers' primary job will be to integrate the information so extracted into the newly defined tactical plan(s), in order to correlate what is done in the field to defeat the enemy to the core element of its attack. Again, if things go our way, all of this will be done under the auspices of the Signal Corps, with its new Tac Officers being fully integrated into all elements of command and control, up and down the entire chain of command.

We assign to the Signal Corps this duty, as it is the most qualified of all the branches when it comes to working across both tactical and strategic lines of authority, even as it sits today. This is certainly the case with Communications, Command, and Control (C3), as well as command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) and its associated technical architecture, including the interoperability objectives as defined by the Army Digitization Office.

To understand how the Signal Corps got to this stage of competence, and earned pride of place in being the best qualified arm to take on the duties of marshalling America’s fighting forces when it comes to 'new forms of war,' one might look to how the Signal Corps evolved from its humble beginning to its place of honor today.

Last month we looked at the Signal Corps' evolution by scrutinizing that period from its foundation through to the end of the Spanish American War. In doing this we developed an idea of how the Signal Corps became adept at working with new forms of armament to extract value from them, how to work with military disciplines outside of its own sphere of influence (what today is called 'combined operations'), and how to develop skills at analyzing tactical options able to lead to less costly and more rapid mission completions. Last month we did this all the way from the Signal Corps' formation through to the end of the Spanish American War.

This month we will extend this exercise by looking at the Signal Corps’ role in World War I. Our intent will be to see how the skills the early Signal Corps developed were further refined during WWI, such that the Signal Corps could play a more integral role in strategy development and tactics implementation.

Before looking at the Signal Corps in WWI however, let us digress and look at the evolution of warfare itself, so that we can draw a parallel between its evolution and that of the Signal Corps… evolving in parallel, in order to achieve the mission.

Warfare’s Evolution Affects The Signal Corps’ Mission

If you fought in Vietnam, while it may at times have seemed that way, the truth is that the Vietnam War was not fought with fists, sticks, stones and people screaming at each other in unintelligible languages. Nope. It was a modern war.

The evolution of warReal warfare—the original kind—started long before then… during times when people knew their enemy, and often watched them die, up close and personal. For warfare to be real and hold value, nothing brings home both the depths of its purpose and its impact on humanity more profoundly than participating in it… as a soldier… on the battlefield… standing there watching your enemy’s eyes as he stares back at you… on the ground… with a knife sticking out of his gut… as he bleeds to death at your feet.

This author’s Uncle (a Signalman in an artillery company) died in hand to hand combat with a Japanese soldier, on Attu, in WWII, at 0300 in the morning, in just such a scenario. From this one can see two things, that the Signal Corps has by tradition been in the thick of warfighting, and that while warfare may have advanced from sticks and stones, for the soldier in the field it hasn’t advanced much.

A weblog that can be found on www.milsf.com, written by someone that goes by the moniker Warcat, wrote an excellent piece back in 2015 on how warfare has evolved. With minor edits we have reproduced it here, for he makes the case better than we can that the evolution of warfare demands that new means to counter the coming ‘new forms of war’ be developed.

In Warcat's words:

As weapons evolved so did the method of using them. With a bow and arrow it was easier to sneak up on the enemy and shoot an arrow in him or throw a spear at him. When groups started waging war on each other new technologies forced them to use different tactics. Armor and shields reduced the effectiveness of bows and arrows.

The Huns for instance would fire arrows at the enemy and ride away when the enemy came after them. In this way they could decimate the enemy ranks without ever being forced to get close to them until the Huns had the advantage. Infantry were butchered by the fast moving horsemen. Of course other factors were involved, but [the fact remained that overall one could expect that back in those days] a group of aboriginals would have been slaughtered by a group of bow wielding horsemen.

Until the nineteen hundreds, soldiers fought in big formations where Generals could mass their troops where they would do the most damage to the enemy. As guns became more common troops were equipped with them and deployed in several ranks. A bullet fired from a black powder musket could penetrate all but the strongest armor and so massed cavalry charges of knights could be slaughtered by a group of poorly trained peasants armed with guns.

At the time muskets and such were pretty inaccurate but they improved with time. As the weapons became more accurate the ranks of men that were marched around in formation became obsolete except for parades or administration purposes. Now, all a group of men did was make it easier to hit one.

Units started dispersing. Machine guns made dispersion even more important as did grenades and cannon. Explosive shells that could kill a group became even more common and accurate so dispersion was needed to avoid high casualties.

As the explosive radius of bombs increased so did a military’s vulnerability to them; a bomb explodes and sends out shrapnel which can kill as easily as a bullet. When the atomic bomb was developed, large militaries again realized the danger of concentrating their armies like they once did.

Radios made it easier to call for mortars, artillery, naval gun fire, attack helicopters and fighter craft.  …

In Vietnam the VC and North Vietnamese quickly learned that to assemble in large numbers would usually invite artillery, jet fighters, attack helicopters or naval gunfire.

In Desert Storm the allies decimated the Iraqi ranks and infrastructure from the air and sea before the troops ever entered the scene. When troops did move in, the Iraqi’s were confused, hungry and demoralized. Many surrendered and those few that didn’t were quickly killed. For most Allied ground forces it was a one sided fight.

Technology has changed the way war is fought to an incredible extent. With current advances in technology it could change even more. With more widespread and instantaneous media coverage citizens are quickly informed of world events. With vivid, realistic views of what their fellows are facing in distant lands people are becoming less interested in seeing their sons and daughters die in battle. In turn they pressure their government to end the war.

This is starting to have great effect in the way wars are fought. Those in power are, perhaps for the first time in history, beginning to care about the loss of human life. Stand-off weapons, that do not risk the lives of citizens, are becoming preferred. The cruise missile, which can strike with pinpoint precision is now more important than ever.

One cannot predict the way wars will be fought in the future. With the growing number of weapons of mass destruction one can assume that to avoid the attention of these weapons combat units will be smaller, faster and more evasive. They will not assemble for mass destruction and they will try to avoid detection by the enemy whenever possible.

An orbital satellite can count eggs on a table. How long before they marry a satellite weapon with the imager and use it to attack individuals on the planet’s surface. Special imagers can detect missile silos and transmit their location to attack units. Of course (as Iraqi Scud Missile launchers proved in the Gulf War), this is not perfect yet.

Technology is becoming more precise and lethal. Already, unmanned aircraft are employed by US forces. … A remote controlled aircraft is less restricted by high gravity forces which can cause a pilot to black out. Without a pilot, remote controlled aircraft have many advantages. If it is shot down you don’t have to worry about a pilot for one. It can maneuver and probably fight better than a manned aircraft and they can be built smaller.

Ground craft are no different. They will not expose friendly troops to danger and because they are unmanned are more expendable.

Anything built by man can be destroyed by man. Burrowing missiles can destroy deep bunkers and satellites can scan and pinpoint almost anything they want.

If a target can be found it can be destroyed.

Military technology is a game of haves, have-nots and catch-ups. If country A develops a weapon then Country B will develop a counter to it. If country A creates an un-jamable radio, then country B will find a way to jam it. If country A develops a way to gather intelligence, then country B will find a way to counter it. If Country A develops a good defense, Country B will find a way to defeat it.

Every system has a weakness and strength.

Mechanized WarriorWarcat’s writing continues. For our purposes however he has accomplished the job. He has made our point well. War will continue to evolve, with most of the evolution being driven by advances in technology.

Where in the past these technological advances came in the form of improved kinetic arms, today they come in non-kinetic forms as well. That is, in many cases a country can achieve the goals that set it to war more easily via non-kinetic means than kinetic. Take again the example of Russia hacking America’s electric grid.

Whether then it is the case of non-kinetic, civilian infrastructure oriented warfare, or as in our example in last month’s article a combat soldier using personal drones to help him clear a street in Iraq, as the means and methods of warfare advance in non-traditional ways, so too must the U.S. military’s ability to counter these advancements. The question then is, who within the U.S. military will take on the responsibility

• Of defining what the desired outcome(s) should be when the U.S. finds that an adversary is undertaking a ‘new form of warfare’ against it, and the U.S. decides to confront that adversary,

Who will specify the kinds of strategies that can be applied to achieve the U.S.’ desired outcome in confronting the adversary,

• Who will define tactical plans that correlate the strategies such that the tactics give the best chance of accomplishing the goal(s),

• Who will define the best forms of armament (both kinetic and non-kinetic) to support the new tactics being laid out,

• Who will produce, train and then inculcate the SOPs surrounding all of this into the men who will apply these “solutions” in the field,

• Who will stand beside these men and their field commanders, in the midst of this ‘new form of warfare’ as a real time, adjunct support mechanism, to assure that the support they need (think: real time intelligence and information) is available to them, and

• Who will recommend real time changes to the tactics being implemented if they fail to produce the desired results, and accomplish the mission?

To answer these questions, it will be useful to return again to the task of understanding how the Signal Corps gained its expertise.

The Signal Corps In WWI

If the Signal Corps or its new Tactical Officers which we have defined are to do the stuff listed in the bullet points above, it and they must have the skills needed to perform the command and control relating to each of these tasks. That means that the Signal Corps must know how to handle truly advanced forms of technology and armament, and perhaps more importantly, be adept at working in a joint warfare environment.

Accepting that the Signal Corps is the most advanced when it comes to working with emerging technologies (e.g. forms of digital communication, networks, AI, digital platforms, data collection and analysis, and the like), our concern here is its ability to work with combat disciplines under the command of other strategic arms, such as the Navy, Marines, Air Force and so forth. It’s this latter area—expertise in combined arms operations—that goes to the heart of a unit being able to field advanced tactics that depend on the use of new forms of armament, able to take on an enemy’s application of ‘new forms of warfare.’

To make the case that the Signal Corps has the “chops” to do all of this, we point to its history. Last month in Part 1 of this series of articles we made the case that the Signal Corps was in fact the first military arm to develop a combined arms operation and perfect the model. We provided two examples, the first being a combined arms operation where the Signal Corps put together an amphibious landing exercise in conjunction with the Navy, during the Coastal Campaign in the Civil War, in 1861, and in the second example, where the Signal Corps developed a combined arms operation, again with the Navy. In this case it did so during the Spanish American War, in Cuba, and as part of its effort it defined the strategy and tactics for the exercise, and then developed and implemented the Signal Corps–Navy combined operations plan itself. This latter item was aimed at destroying a Spanish undersea communication cable from Cuba to Spain, while at the same time reusing what portions of it could be by adding them to a U.S. cable being laid by the Signal Corps to tie Cuba to the U.S.all while under Spanish shore fire.

The point again is that in order to effectively fight the ‘new forms of warfare’ coming, the military arm that manages this combat area must be expert at combined arms operations, even to the point of including working with civilian components, partners and infrastructure, through to and including corporate America. We saw last month how the Signal Corps gained expertise in this area from its inception up through the Spanish American War, here we look at what it learned in World War I.

WWI - Changing Roles For A Changing Time

digital military networkWhen the U.S. entered World War I in April of 1917 the roles and responsibilities of the Signal Corps were augmented and dramatically enlarged. Key among its new duties was the responsibility to conduct research and development in both communication theory as well as its applications to battlefield conditions, even extending to development of prototypes for new forms of "armament."

This was considered necessary because, among other things, the then 'new form of warfare'trench warfaremade communications on the front lines nearly impossible. It being the case that someone  needed to address this issue, and the problem being communication related, the Signal Corps was the natural choice to take on the task.

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