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October 2015

— This Month —

The Importance Of A Military Viewpoint

When Electing Presidents

Make Your Vote For The Next President Really Count


What Would SIGINT Be Without the SIG

SIGINT Wins Wars; The Signal Corps Makes SIGINT Possible


Still Crazy, After All These Years

A Cat's Life

- - - - -


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 We are here to serve you. 


The Importance Of A Military Viewpoint When Electing Presidents

Make your vote count 

Making Your Vote For The Next President Really Count

With Presidents, picking one to elect is not about personalities. You may think it is, but it is not. Trump's outsized personality, Bush's half there,, half not there facade, Fiorina's articulate elucidation of every syllable, Rubio's steady drumbeat of Cuban-American logic, Hillary's strained smile... each may give you something to like, but in the end these are all, well, to steal a word from The Donald, just personas. They say nothing about how any of these men or women will govern when they are in office. When it comes to governing and leading America, the personas you are watching on TV don't amount to a hill of beans. What counts is how these people think, and more importantly what they think of the things they think of when they do think.

Take a topic that requires the President of the United States to act... any topic, and try to guess how your chosen candidate will work their way towards drawing a conclusion that will lead to a course of action that they will follow, a course of action that you would approve of. It's tough to do, no? So how do you know how they will govern in the future?

To know that, you need to look past the persona of the candidates vying for your attention and instead look to—and judge—their character. That is, look to the value system they developed during their lifetime. More simply put, try to determine what their core values are on those topics that are of importance to you. If you can do that, then you will be able to judge their character.

As to what values are important for someone that wants to govern a nation—our nation—we would propose the following.

Core Values

Our list of core values that need to be scrutinized when voting for a President include: the value a leader places on the concept of Family; Financial Security for both individual families as well as the nation as a whole; their views on Education of the type that reaches every level of society in the world at large; the need for national Economic Growth and Economic Stability; Freedom and what comprises the concept of freedom; the Health of the people of the nation, with emphasis on the elderly and financially destitute; Honesty; Integrity; both National Power and Personal Power; Security; National Self-reliance; National Spirituality; the pursuit of Truth; and the development of National Wisdom.[1]

As you watch the candidates trying to be our next President ruin your nightly TV breathing space by occupying so much of it, pleading for your vote, try to gauge them on each of the above core values. Make a game of it, and use it as a means to figure out which one you will vote for.

How exactly can you do this; gauge their core values? It’s easy… follow this process: compare—in your mind—the candidates you are interested in against two exemplars: a) a best of class person of your choice, historical or otherwise, that imbues the value you are trying to judge each candidate against, and b) our current President’s own value system, as exhibited by the results he attained while in office.

Core values evaluation

The Core Value Comparative Process

Note here that the objective is not to critique President Obama’s time in office. It is to use his accomplishments as a base standard against which you can then judge the candidate(s) you are leaning towards. Thus with respect to any core value, you will look to compare how you think the candidate of your choice will perform in comparison to how President Obama performed on that same value, while at the same time, as the graphic above shows, you will also compare how you expect your candidate will perform against another standard... where this time the standard is not President Obama, but some straw candidate that exemplifies to you the epitome of someone that holds and lives by the core value standards you stand by. In other words, someone who is able, through his actions, to achieve real world results that reflect the best in class application of the core value in question, as well as the value you place on it.

To help clarify what we are saying here, let us use an an example the concept of National Power, a concept which if not managed properly can greatly hurt America, its standing in the world, and even our very existence. The core values a President must hold and follow greatly impact how he will manage the use of America's National Power. The task then is to judge your candidate against both how President Obama handled the tool of National Power that we gave him, and how some other best of class exemplar might.

One of the things most of our readers would worry about is whether the next President of the United States will aggressively act to both hold on to and improve our national military capabilities (read: National Power); using those capabilities for the purpose of insuring national safety and global peace. After all, the ultimate yardstick of National Power is military capability. If America continues to lose its military capabilities… as it appears to be in the process of doing now… then how will we ever manage the threats we face?

Unlike 50 years ago, these days countries subsist in an environment where internal and external threats to security are both common and ever-present. This is true for the smallest of countries, as well as our own. Because of this, the effectiveness of a country’s coercive arms becomes the ultimate measure of that country’s National Power. As we all know, military capabilities allow countries to defend themselves against all forms of adversary… both foreign and domestic… while simultaneously enabling their state manager (i.e. President) to pursue whatever interests he/she may wish; even, if necessary, against the preferences of other nations. As one expert on this subject put it, “military power expresses and implements the power of the state in a variety of ways within and beyond the state borders, and is also one of the instruments with which political power is originally created and made permanent.”[2]

If we chose to gauge one of today’s candidates for office by looking at his or her core values when it comes to how they will treat the topic of military or National Power, we should be able to glean whether America will weather the next decade without fear, or with constant trepidation about where the next terrorist attack will come from, the next domino in the world will fall, the next war will break out that America feels a need to fight, or even whether Russia will knock America back on its heals or not.

You can see then that on the topic of National Power it is important to judge your candidate's propensity for handling it right...  which you can do by simply comparing their persona against:

1) President Obama, via the state he has left America in, and 

2) Someone that on the topic of National Power is an exemplar of how you think things should be handled.

Note again, we are not saying that because you are picking an exemplar (best of class straw man) for comparative purposes that means that President Obama represents a worst of class example. Not at all. He doesn’t. What he does represent though is the status quo, and that, after all, is what we are trying to gauge today’s candidates against… if only to cause a change for the better when the next president is elected.   

Read More


What Would SIGINT Be Without The SIG?


SIGINT Wins Wars; The Signal Corps Makes SIGINT Possible 

SIGINT wouldn't be SIGINT without the SIG. It would just be INT, and probably bad, old or corrupted INT at that. Knowing this and being Signal Corps people, our interest is in how SIGINT comes to be, and what role SIG plays in the INT gathering process. More importantly, what we really need to know is how does the combination of these two gain its value.

To answer these questions we need to look back in history to WWII, prior to rolling that forward again to look into one incredible Vietnam War case where SIGINT won the day.

Before starting though, in case you have forgotten, let us clarify that Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) is defined as intelligence information which is gathering by the interception of signals, where the signals being gathered stem either from communication between people, or from the gathering of electronic signals not directly associated with the process of communication. Note then that there is a distinction between these two. Specifically, in the former case, where the signals gathered from communication result in useful information, that information is called Communications Intelligence, or COMINT. In the later case, where useful information results from the gathering of what are essentially electronic signals of a non-communicative nature, the information gathered is called Electronic Intelligence, or ELINT.

But where did this all come from, the idea of SIGINT, COMINT and ELINT? For the answer to that question we need to look at the American military’s first efforts, during WWI, to stand up an air corps capable of bringing air power to war.

Initially the air corps that was established fell under the auspices of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Called the Army Air Corps, it fielded the latest in technical innovation in air frames and armament developed for use in aerial action. But it didn’t stop there. The Signal Corps, being signals focused more than anything else, turned to its signals communication and intercept knowledge to find ways to improve the usefulness of the new baby Air Corps it had under its wings.

One of the areas the Signal Corps focused on dealt with developing Airborne Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) equipment that could both help a pilot find the target he was flying towards, as well as get him home again once he found and eliminated his target. Back during WWI, the base technology the Army used in creating ARDF were based on the core elements it was already using in its basic direction-finding (DF) systems. Those systems were used for acquiring an enemy radio signal and then deriving information about the generating station by mathematically calculating where the signal was being generated from. To do this the Signal Corps needed to have more than one radio signal interception station surveying the area in question. These radio signal interception stations were called DF stations, and when they operated as a cohesive, integrated unit the result was called a “DF Net.”  

Continued at top of page, COLUMN AT RIGHT



Signals Intelligence


Vietnam Campaign Ribbons

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

Update 1 September 2015 Max Holt, the Association's Chaplain sent us a link to a fascinating website. It pinpoints on a map of Vietnam all of the firebases and U.S. war facilities of the Vietnam War. The site claims: "THIS IS A FULL Collection of 4 pages of FIRE BASES, AIR FORCE BASES, Naval and Medical, BROWN WATER Naval, and any and all bases DOD during the Vietnam War 1963 to 1975". You may want to check it out... but be forewarned that it's still a work in progress, and so clicking on some of the bases will send you to a dead link. Be patient, the webmaster for this interesting site is still working on it. Click here to the website.

Update 1 September 2015 Speaking of Max Holt, he recently completed his latest book, as well as a website to promote his writing. Called, you can learn and read more about his latest novel on it. The book is titled Neverlasting Paradise. It's an excellent read... take the time to visit Max's site and buy a copy for yourself. Click here to Max's website.



Continued from left column... 

When the enemy’s transmissions were heard, all of the stations in the Net would take bearings on the transmitting signal and record both its signal strength and direction from the receiving antenna. The directions determined from each of the DF Net participants would then be charted on a map, with the point where three or more of the lines crossed being called a "fix." This fix would then become the target of attack for either artillery, aircraft bombings, or an infantry assault. Notice that in this case the objective was not to monitor the station for intelligence, but simply to find out where it was so that it could be attacked.

By the time WWII rolled around, this method was improved on to the point that both the location of the transmitting station and the content of its transmissions became of interest to a DF Net unit. And, with the increased involvement of aerial combat and bombing that air power brought, the DF Net people found themselves supporting the new United States Army Air Forces[3] in attempts to extract even more intelligence out of the information being gathered.

To make sure the air force gained as much value as possible out of the new capabilities being built into DF Nets, in 1942 the Signal Corps helped the Army Air Forces stand up its own signal radio intelligence companies. Patterned after the Army Signal Corps' own Signal Radio Intelligence Company structure, each AAF SRIC (Army Air Force Signal Radio Intelligence Company) was uniquely adapted to perform its designated air force mission. In most cases this meant either conducting Communications Security Monitoring (called COMSEC) or Communications Intelligence (COMINT) support. Within this structure radio security sections performed the COMSEC monitoring mission, while expanded SRIC's (later re-designated as Radio Squadrons, Mobile) provided COMINT support to air force commanders in the field.

Bolling Field, Washington D.C. - 1942To make certain that the intelligence gathered from these new units was properly analyzed and filtered, the Signal Corps helped the air force set up a Radio Security Detachment. The first of these was set up under the command of the Army Air Forces at Bolling Field, District of Columbia, in February 1942. Its designation was the 136th Signal Radio Intelligence Company. Later it was re-designated as the 136th Radio Security Detachment. Its duty was to monitor both friendly air force communications, as well as perform COMSEC for the Army Air Force during World War II.

When all of the kinks of the facility at Bolling Field were finally worked out, the template that resulted was transferred to Europe, where multiple copies of this new form of RSD were built. As to be expected, with the Signal Corps setting the pace, they worked like magic both in Europe, as well as every other overseas combat area where they were placed.

Over time the entire DF concept was rolled out world wide, from the U.S. itself to places in Asia, each being designed and staffed with the men and equipment that war required to fill the specific SIGINT, COMINT, ELINT or COMSEC mission it was given. To protect the principle U.S. borders and mainland, DF posts were set up in areas such as Fort Devens, Massachusetts; Bangor and Brunswick, Maine; Naknek (King Salmon), Alaska; and in Hawaii and Iceland. As for the original 136th Radio Security Detachment that the Signal Corps helped bring online, after the end of WWII it was moved to Fort Slocum, New York, and stood up again on an island called David's Island, in Long Island Sound.

Finally, when the newly activated U.S. Air Force Security Service came into existence in 1949, the 136th Radio Security Detachment became a part of it.

One can see then that as communication and signal interception evolved, the Signal Corps played a strong and important role in helping its sister branches figure out how to best use the signals capabilities the Signal Corps was developing in its labs at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.

Strangely, while the Air Force was quick to turn to signals intelligence to help it meet its mission, thus introducing a quasi-mobile version of the technology into its own sphere of influence, when the U.S. Army itself went to war in WWII it depended on hardscape, fixed station signals intelligence units to provide the DF Net stations that were needed. The concept of developing mobile units and structures able to perform the required functions seems to have escaped the Army. Because of this, the notion of developing, integrating and deploying mobile radio intercept operations on the battle fronts of WWII moved most slowly.

WWII Pacific RDF NetNot necessarily a fault of general command, one of the factors that determined the speed of technological advance was that even after the need for mobile units was recognized, the technology required to create a portable radio listening device with enough power to sniff out and intercept signals from the low-powered, dry cell driven transmitters that the enemy was using, didn’t exist. That is, while the mathematicians at Ft. Monmouth that designed the kinds of radios needed could specify them on paper, the manufacturing processes that were necessary to bring them to life had not yet been invented.

Because of this, monitoring low power enemy radio broadcasts and charting the line-of-sight signals that enemy forces were using to support ground combat took something just short of eons to develop.

An example of this can be seen by looking at the state of the art in 1941. At that time the Signal Corps had signal service companies with Morse Code intercept operators located in Hawaii and the Philippines. These units targeted Japanese diplomatic communications. Yet try as they might, they just weren’t able to pick up all of the transmissions needed to figure out what the Japanese were up to. Yes, there were some breakthroughs, but overall the success rate was minimal. Not surprisingly then, once the attack on Pearl Harbor took place, other DF Net sites were quickly set up and manned in the Asia Pacific, with the primary objective of enlarging the Net and making it able to intercept Japanese army, navy and air force communications, not just ambassadorial traffic. 

Read More


Still Crazy, After All These Years

While in Vietnam one of my duties was to make sure our guards were awake while the rest of us were asleep. I did this by taking nightly walks, around 0300 hours, along the perimeter of our signal site, poking my head in the guard station-bunkers that stuck out at the end of the concertina wire and claymores, along the side of our hill (Lang Bien Mountain). When I got to each bunker I would poke my head in and spend a minute or two talking to the guys on post. If I found a particularly sleepy crew I would usually send each of the men, one at a time, back to the mess hall for some coffee, while I relieved the missing man at his post.

To make sure the men didn’t acclimate to my nightly visits, I varied the times I showed up, and even doubled back for a second or third visit if needed, chatting them up each time, just to keep them on their toes. The routine varied night by night, but all in all I could expect to get some shut eye from about 2200 to 0230, at which time I would then rise and run my circuit. Sometimes covering the perimeter and prodding the guys to stay alert took me until 0400 before I was finished  On quiet nights, if I was lucky, I could get myself back into my bunk by 0315, where I could then drop off to sleep until 0600. At 0600 a new day began for me, and the routine started all over again.

SleeplessOne byproduct of this lifestyle was that when my DEROS date came up and I returned to the States, my sleep cycle didn’t match everyone else’s. What I found was that I tended to be starving in the middle of the night, wanting a steak while everyone else was sound asleep. Yet during the day time I was hungry too and not at all sleepy. Being accustomed to marching to my own drum, I just went with the flow, getting up at all hours of the night to fire up the barbecue, grab a beer or two, and go out and feed myself in the cool night air, while the rest of the family slept. Steak, spaghetti and frozen meat balls, boiled hot dogs, a quarter of a double layer cake… whatever it was that I wanted, I ate it, no matter what the time of day. And when it came to sleeping, if I was tired I went to bed; if I was not, I just stayed up… no matter what time of the day it was. I didn’t fight it… I just went with the flow. My wife said that I had the sleep cycle of a cat. Unlike a dog, who goes to bed when you do and sleeps until you wake, you’ll often find a cat wandering around the house poking his nose into everything when everyone else is asleep, and soundly sleeping in little naps throughout the day.

That was me… a man with the sleep cycle of a cat… all thanks to Vietnam.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that by not forcing myself to sleep when everyone else did, I was reinforcing the strange sleep cycle I set for myself back during my combat days. The result was that by the time a few years had passed my sleep cycle had become embedded in me. After 4 plus years of sleeping in short bursts only when I needed it, and staying awake the rest of the time… and eating when I could, rather than when I should, I had developed my own pulsed circadian rhythm... on one minute, off the next, then on again without warning and off as as soon as the people around me stopped moving or talking.

That was back then… around the time of 1966 and on. Today, at 70, I’m still the same. For over 50 years my sleep cycle has been a mess. Actually, let’s be honest, it’s nonexistent. One can only wonder, are there other vets out there who, nearly half a century after they served, are still sleeping with one eye open, waiting for Charlie to come through the wire?



OCS Wisdom

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October Crossword Puzzle

Army Signal CorpsTheme: Civil War TriviaArmy Signal Corps
Game 2 of 2

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


[1]  On the issue of National Power versus Personal Power, a candidate that values National Power is good; one that values Personal Power could be very, very bad for our country. The chase for personal wealth is fine; the chase for Personal Power leads to crony capitalism and corruption.   - To return to your place above, click here. Return to your place in the text.

[2]  Peter Paret, “Military Power,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 53, No. 3 (July 1989), p. 240.   - To return to your place above, click here. Return to your place in the text.

[3]  Note on the use of the terms Army Air Corps and Army Air Forces: The U.S. Army Air Corps became the branch for Army aviation in 1926 (some Air Force sources say 1918). A decade later, in 1935 (again, some Air Force sources say 1918), General Headquarters (GHQ) Air Force was created (other Air Force sources say this never happened. Instead, they say that between 1918 and 1926 another entity existed, called the Air Service, U.S. Army, which was then followed by only one unit, called the U.S. Army Air Corps), within which all operational aviation units were placed and commanded. The original Army Air Corps… the one the 1918 birthers believe existed… was then relegated to managing the materials and training needed to support the GHQ Air Force. This arrangement they claim existed up to the beginning or WW II. Other sources… the ones claiming that the U.S. Army Air Corps was the only entity in existence from July 2, 1926 to June 20, 1941… say that the U.S. Army Air Forces came into existence on June 20, 1941 and continued in command until September 17, 1947. During this time they claim that the Air Corps became a subordinate element of the Army Air Forces (on June 20, 1941) and was abolished as an administrative organization on March 9, 1942. Somehow, between 1947 and June 22, 1949, all of this morphed into the Department of the Air Force and what we now know and love as the USAF.

How anyone in this branch of service can figure out who they are and how they came into being is beyond us. Notwithstanding this, even with all of this back and forth switching and shuttling, each of the above named organizations, from the Army Air Corps, to the Army Air Forces, General Headquarters (GHQ) Air Force, Air Service - U.S. Army, Department of the Air Force, and United States Air Force, continued to depend on the Signal Corps to develop for them the leading edge technology they needed to meet their mission. .   - To return to your place above, click here. Return to your place in the text.



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