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From Our Home Page Archive

        Home Page as originally published in November 2017

— This Month —

When Strategy Bumps Its Head Against Tactics

–  Say, When Is That War With North Korea Supposed To Start, Anyway? 


OCS Signalmen Go To War In The Philippines

–  Without Logistics, Tactics Are Impossible. Without Tactics, Strategy Is Meaningless – 



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.

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When Strategy Bumps Its Head Against Tactics

 ArmySignalOCS Editor

Say, When Is That War With North Korea Supposed To Start, Anyway?

Is it us, or are we the only ones that seemed to have noticed that a momentous military event took place just last week? With only the rarest of exceptions, all of America’s media seemed to have completely ignored it, if they even know it happened.

What event are we talking about? We’re talking about an order that President Trump signed on October 20; an order that for all practical purposes announced to the world exactly when America’s soon to take place war with North Korea will occur. An order that, for those that know anything about military logistics, one can actually use to calculate the likely starting date of that war, if one wants to.

How could the corrupt, biased, politically driven news media not have picked up on this, and jumped on it for all its worth? We don’t know.

Well, actually, we do know. We answered our own question: they are corrupt, politically motivated and biased. All they care about is promoting the Russia, Russia, Russia story… so this particular event, having nothing to do with Russia, went unreported.

As to exactly what this military event was, that’s simple to answer: On October 20, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order (EO) amending President George W. Bush’s Executive Order 13223, originally issued on Sept. 14, 2001. Trump’s amendment to Bush’s order allows the military service secretaries (the secretaries of the Air Force, Army and Navy), subject to regulation by the Secretary of Defense, to recall retired service members to active duty.

Why is that a big deal, you ask?

How about this for an answer: within 5 minutes of the signing of the order the Air Force announced that it would immediately be calling up 1,000 retired combat pilots, to return to active duty… with that number possibly being increased by a further 500 in a few weeks.

Focus on this again, if you will: the Air Force is recalling 1,500 bomber, transport and air combat pilots, for immediate active duty, for a period of time that will last at least 3 years.

When was the last time that happened? And why would something like this be happening if America wasn’t going to war?

You see, as all of us former Army Officers know, it’s nice to have 1,600 tanks available for combat duty, but those tanks are useless if you have only 500 men trained to drive and shoot them.[1] If that’s the case, you might as well have no tanks at all. And that’s the situation the Air Force is in right now: lots of airplanes, not so lots of pilots.

Junior Biurdsmen


While the Air Force has plenty of aircraft, what they don’t have are plenty of pilots to fly those aircraft. Well, actually that’s not accurate either. The Air Force has plenty of pilots if the combat work they have to support stands as it is today… but not if a new war is about to break out.

Or put another way, if a war is about to break out somewhere in the world where the U.S. military is going to look to the Air Force to transport, say, 350,000 troops from three different regions of the world, involving assembly centers located in four different countries, all at distances of 10,000 – 12,000 miles from the target country, all within a 1.5 week period of time, as well as fly tens-of-hundreds of bombing missions every day to prep the field of combat for those troops being brought to the target country, for about, say, 3 – 5 months; as well as fly twice as many combat fighter support missions every day, once those troops cross into enemy territory, and maybe do this for perhaps years to come, well, then they better get busy bringing on board a bunch of pre-trained, combat experienced pilots.

See our point? Stores of combat equipment—especially tactical aircraft—are nice to have if you are going to war, but only if you have enough trained troops to man that equipment.

- - -

Our guess is that in the last NSC and Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting the President sat in on, someone with a star on his shoulder asked him when—if America is going to go to war against the Rocket Man—he thought such a war would start. Our further guess is that the President answered by saying something to the effect of...

“After my trip to Beijing in the first week in November, to meet with Xi Jingping, I’ll know if China, possibly with Russia’s help, will take steps to mount a coup against the Rocket Man… to take him out and replace him and his government with one more to our—the U.S., China and Russia’s—liking.

"They won't tell me this, but I will sense it. If I get the sense that they will decapitate the leadership of North Korea, rather than their risking my acting as the crazy they all think I am, by impetuously starting a war in their back yard, then you can be assured that there is little likelihood of us going to war against the Rocket Man.

“If, however, I get the sense that China and Russia won’t force a change of government in North Korea, then I would say that you men can count on going to war with North Korea either a) immediately, if the Rocket Man tries to set off an above ground Atomic Bomb somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, or b) immediately upon my believing that China and Russia are not going to replace the current government and leadership of North Korea."

Our further guess is that if such a meeting happened, and such a conversation took place, then when the President stopped speaking a fly on the wall would have heard a discernible “gulp” from the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, as he realized that he did not have the manpower to support such a mission. That is, support the U.S. military in an all out, soon to take place, possibly nuclear war with North Korea...on the Korean peninsula.

It would be at that point in time in our hypothetical conversation that the President would have said to Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, “David, what are you gulping at?”

And General Goldfein would have hemmed and hawed and mumbled something to the effect of…

“Ah, Mr. President, Sir, well, ah, you see Sir, the Air Force can’t support such a mission Sir… that is, not at this time Sir, not yet Sir. I mean, Sir… we just don’t have enough qualified pilots to take on a mission like this... Sir.

"We’ve got plenty of aircraft and the like, but what, with all of the other wars we are fighting, Sir, we don’t have enough pilots. The Air Force will need 8 months to a year to get ready for such a war, Sir, and even then we might need more time… Sir.”

The Commander In Chief Issues OrdersAt which point the President would come unglued and scream something to the effect of, “You guys better be ready to go to war with North Korea next month!! I don’t want to hear this bull$#%t about not being ready for war. What good does it do having your own Army if you can’t use it ??!!”

... at which point one of the other Joint Chiefs would step in to save the day, and suggest that the Air Force might be able to solve its problem if it simply recalls some of the pilots who recently retired. And just like that, the problem would be solved… with everyone talking all at once, and the President smiling because now he could stick to his strategy of scaring the hell out of the Chinese by making them think he is about to go to war.

... and over coffee brought in by some staff member who would later leak the results of the meeting to Rachael Ray of PMSNBC fame, the group would calculate how many pilots would need to be recalled to bring the Air Force up to strength to achieve its mission, and how long the whole exercise would take,

... and they would calculate that to achieve mission ready status the Air Force would need to give the recalled pilots 30 days notice to get their lives in order, which by itself would take the Air Force 30 days to do, which meant that at a minimum they needed 60 days—2 months—just to get to the point where the recalled pilots were starting to arrive at their duty stations, after which they would need another 6 weeks of recertification and training on the aircraft they would be flying, then another month to post them to their final duty stations… all of which they would realize would mean that if a further two weeks were allowed as a fudge factor then, at the earliest, the Air Force would be ready to tackle their mission some 5 months from the day the President issued an order allowing for the recall of, say, 1,500 Air Force pilots.

Five months… five months from October 20, 2017.

President Trump Is HappyAnd with that the President would walk away happy, knowing that he could go to war with North Korea anytime after March 20, 2018.

And that would be the way it would be.

The President would get busy between now and then trying to con the Chinese—and hopefully the Russians too—into decapitating the leadership of North Korea so that a war could be avoided… a nuclear war, mind you… and if he could not do that then at the first sign of the Norks getting ready to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean, the President would unleash America’s might and take the country to war against North Korea… supported, of course, by the Air Force.

Think this is all crazy? We encourage you to read the treatise we published on our Home Page last month, on Trump's strategy for dealing with the Rocket Man and his henchmen.

And in the mean time, in keeping with our fictitious story above, think more deeply on this whole issue of assuring one has the logistics in place one needs before one goes to war. In fact, we encourage you to do better than that... read our story at right about the kind of problems that arise when an Army is not ready for war, but war is ready for them.

Read our next story about how the Signal Corps dealt with its own attempts to get up to speed when Japan brought war to the Philippines before MacArthur’s Signal boys were ready.

And then, before you fall off to sleep tonight, be sure to put a circle on your calendar around the date 20 March, 2018.



Vietnam Campaign Ribbons

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

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

Update 10 September – What's WAR with North Korea going to look like? Read this excellent article by a former Army Officer that strategized war games with the NORKs. Some of it is a bit far fetched, but most of it is spot on. You'll enjoy it.


  OCS Signalmen Go To War In The Philippines



Without Logistics, Tactics Are Impossible; Without Tactics, Strategy Is Meaningless

Editor’s Note: The article that follows is a revision and rewrite of transcribed content gathered by third parties from various "official histories" of World War II.  Please read our full disclosure below regarding these sources.

We all know the story of the Signal Corps’ role in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the detection of the incoming sortie of airplanes by an SCR-270 radar set. Most know too of the incredible damage the Japanese did.

Beginning at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time (18:18 UTC), the base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by 353 Imperial Japanese aircraft, including fighters, level bombers, dive bombers, and torpedo bombers. In two waves launched from six aircraft carriers, the Japanese managed to damage all eight U.S. Navy battleships, sinking four in the process. They also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship and a minelayer.

Adding insult to injury as well as to make sure that our American military didn’t just pick up the pieces and carry on as usual, before returning to their carriers the Japanese proceeded to wreck further havoc on Pearl Harbor's infrastructure, by going after the base’s power stations, dry docks, shipyard, maintenance facilities, fuel and torpedo storage facilities, and the submarine piers. Then, not satisfied with even these accomplishments, they finished the job by destroying a further 188 U.S. aircraft. In all of this the Japanese killed 2,403 Americans and wounded 1,178 others.

On their side of the equation, we were able to shoot down only 29 aircraft and sink five midget submarines. For America, it was not a glorious day.

This we know. What many of us have forgotten however is that over the next seven hours the Japanese also mounted coordinated attacks on the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, Malaya, Singapore, Howland Island, and Hong Kong.

What’s the lesson in all of this? Since no one detected their coming attacks in sufficient time to do anything about it, it’s that having in place operational coast watches and surveillance operations to guard against surprise enemy attacks is an absolute necessity. If a country is going to operate bases and military facilities remote from its national territory, at a minimum, it has to be able to protect those facilities and the men that man them.

One would think that the U.S. military of 1941 would have known this. Apparently it did not, as all of these successful attacks by Japan proved.

Strategy Vs Tactics

Fortunately for America, while the attacks accomplished their intended goal, they turned out to be largely unnecessary. This is because unbeknownst to Yamamoto, who conceived the original plan, the U.S. Navy had decided as far back as 1935 to abandon a strategy of “charging across the Pacific towards the Philippines" in response to an outbreak of war, to instead adopt something they called "Plan Dog," which emphasized keeping the Imperial Japanese Navy out of the eastern Pacific and away from the shipping lanes to Australia, while the U.S. concentrated its military efforts on defeating Nazi Germany.

From a strategic standpoint the U.S. military’s decision to ignore the kind of damage a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the other bases could do, in lieu of achieving the higher strategic goal of winning the war in Europe, might have made sense; but it did nothing in terms of protecting either America, its military infrastructure, its servicemen or the civilian society those servicemen were charged with protecting. Instead, all of this was sacrificed to the cause. They—the military servicemen and civilians who lived in the places under attack—were left to defend themselves and to die for a dubious cause, by leaving the front door that formed America’s perimeter defense open, for the Japanese to enter.

What then should America’s military have been doing, and how should it have acted during that period of time from the moment Japan first prepared for these attacks, until it concluded its perfidy along the Pacific rim? Given that there was strategic military logic in America deciding to sacrifice the Pacific in order to focus its resources on Europe, how should it’s military have prepared for war against Japan, and how should it have protected the military assets and civilian societies that it was charged with protecting?

Sun Tzu On Strategy vs TacticsThe answer is simple: more than building up a robust response capability like battleships and aircraft carriers (i.e. tactical capabilities) in places like Pearl and Manila, America should have built up a robust coast watch and observation capability in these areas. If there was no intention to fight off the Japanese, American military resources should have focused instead on tracking what the enemy was up to, and countering those activities whenever possible. If this had been done, then the tragedy that befell Pearl Harbor and seven other bases in the Pacific may been avoided.

Last month we penned an article that looked at one example of the kind of coast watch and enemy tracking and surveillance capability that America’s military operated in the Philippines. In it we looked at an Army Signal Corps OCS graduate from OCS Class 43-19, Lieutenant Leon Tinnell, and how he ran a coast surveillance and enemy tracking operation on Mindanao.

In his case he did a superlative job of tracking and reporting on Japanese activities and shipping in the area. The only problem was that he was assigned to do this work after the Japanese won the war in the Philippines and took over the islands, not before they attacked.

Why, we ask, was this kind of mission not mounted before the Japanese attack on Clark Field? Why was there no priority for the staffing of cadre and equipment such as SCR-270 radars, backed by a well spelled out mission, to do this?

Without such a mission being assigned, and the prioritization of that mission, the bases that the Japanese attacked at the beginning of the War Against Japan in 1941—from Pearl Harbor to Hong Kong—not to mention all of America’s and its military Allies’ resources—were nothing more than tempting sitting ducks for the Japanese. It’s no wonder they attacked.

The answer to these questions is that while there was an attempt made to do these things, it was poorly executed. For example, there was a military mission written to keep an eye out over the horizon for the Japanese… and the mission was staffed. Unfortunately a) the routines, protocols and SOPs that were needed to mount the mission were not fully fleshed out and, b) the equipment needed to accomplish the mission was not provided.

Mission written and assigned: yes. Manpower trained and assigned to the mission: somewhat. Equipment and supplies provided to support the mission: no.

One can see how the lack of providing all three legs to this stool, each of which was necessary if the mission was to be successfully accomplished, when not provided caused this chair to topple over when it was needed most. QED; the mission failed.

This despite the best and often heroic efforts of the Signal Corps men and Officers assigned to do this task.

clark Field, Angeles, PhilippinesOne can see this by looking at the case surrounding the Japanese attack on Clark Field in the Philippines, on 8 December 1941. Looking at this small portion of the Japanese’s Pacific rim attacks, one can see how not having the equipment needed to accomplish the mission, and poorly laid out SOPs, helped contribute to Japan’s success.

- - -  

It is interesting to note that the Philippines was a focus of Army and Navy power for over forty years before the Japanese attacked on December 8, 1941. One would have thought then that the U.S. Navy would have had everything in order, as might be required to maintain its presence and defend its facilities from attack. Certainly it, and the Army elements that supported it, should have had all of the SOPs and equipment that might possibly be required to secure its facilities from attack.

It must have come as a surprise then to learn after the fact that the one o’clock warning message that General Marshall sent from the War Department in Washington to General Short in Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, about an imminent Japanese attackwhich had also been copied to General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines, commanding general of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE)mysteriously failed to arrive.

The fact was, this message was transmitted—in the signal sense of the term—and it did arrive. The problem was that it was transmitted in a format that labeled it as the “number two” message. That is, its priority was second among a series of four messages that went out to Panama, the Philippines, the Western Defense Command, and Hawaii. As will be seen, this second priority level meant that while the message was transmitted and arrived, it was placed in queue for validation behind higher priority messages.

Normally this would not have significantly affected the timing of MacArthur receiving it. However, today we know that other factors intervened to slow the message down in its delivery. Specifically, we know that the four messages left the War Department Message Center at 1205 hours, Washington time, and that while enroot other traffic to the Philippines pushed it out of the focus of the message operators. Before the portion of the message that was copied to the Philippines got there, word of the attack on Pearl Harbor had already begun arriving, via unofficial channels.

About 0300 on 8 December (it was then 0830, 7 December, in Hawaii) a Navy radio operator picked up Admiral Kimmel’s message to the fleet at Pearl Harbor, talking of an attack by Japan. About the same time a commercial radio station on Luzon picked up word of the attack, and both rumors and radio traffic in the Philippines radio net began to pick up and spread the news. In other words, scuttlebutt and rumors jumped the message queue, forcing legitimate message traffic off the air.

All of this can be blamed squarely on the Army and Navy’s radio operators in the Philippines, men who tracked the more interesting unofficial reports flooding the airwaves rather than doing their job of decoding and recoding legitimate traffic, and sending it on as may be required. All of this unofficial "noise" caused the commanders involved to lose focus on the task at hand... acting on the incoming War Department messages and any orders they might contain.

The military forces in the Philippines were thus fully aware of the attacks taking place in Hawaii, yet no one was focusing on what was about to happen in the Philippines. While on the morning of 8 December 1941 this became the norm, there were still a few local ground commanders who moved to place their men on combat alert, at a point in time that turned out to be only a few hours before sunrise and the start of the hostile action that was about to take place.

Through all this noise what no one seemed to realize was that with the Pacific Fleet crippled by the attack at Pearl Harbor, the next prime target must be the Philippines. Certainly this was true as far as the Far East Air Force (FEAF) was concerned.

Why the FEAF didn’t recognize this, no one knows. With little more thought than this, everyone should have known that the Japanese would launch an attack in short order against the major airfields and naval facilities of the Philippines. Considering that of these Clark was the only big first-class airfield for B-17’s in the islands, one could have guessed that Clark should have been made ready for an attack, and the planes dispersed, if nothing else.

Part of the cause of this confusion—and therefore lack of preparedness for the Japanese attack on the Philippines—lay in  the fact that Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, Commander of FEAF, had established his headquarters at Neilson Field, not Clark. Neilson Field was a relatively small facility, taken over from a commercial owner. It had poor communication with the rest of the FEAF command, and exercised little in the way of command and control over the FEAF operation.

The result was that radio and communication net operators relegated it in their minds to a backwater operation, barely part of the “system.” In their minds it was viewed in importance as equal to all of the other second rate command centers and air fields, such as, Del Monte on Mindanao. Within the communication traffic arena, this meant that they were far down on the list when it came to notifying them as to what was going on, even though the Commander's office was located there. For all practical purposes, as far as the radio operators were concerned Clark Field was the only command and communication center of importance on the island,  comparable to Hickam Field in Hawaii.  

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1st Signal Brigade**FACTS**1st Signal Brigade 

Veterans Make America Better





[1] An Armored Brigade Combat Team has 90 tanks. There are 14 ABCT’s in the US. Army, (six of them being in the national guard) with a 15th in the process of being stood up right now (as at October 2017). So, that’s 1,260 active Abrams tanks in the Army, including the ones in the National Guard. U.S. Marines have three active tank battalions, one per Division, for a total of 196 tanks. There might be a couple more in each Headquarters element. The seven Marine Expeditionary Units, which deploy on board amphibious ships, have four tanks each. That would make an additional 28. Assuming the upper range in each case, that makes 1,490 Abrams Tanks actively available in the U.S. military. The U.S. Army also has the M1128 Mobile Gun System, which is effectively a light tank (A Stryker with a tank gun on top). Our records show that there are 12 per Mobile Gun Systems per Striker Brigade, all contained in a “weapons troop” in Recon Battalions. There are nine Stryker Brigades (one of which will be demobilized in 2017}, which means that there are 108 light tanks available. In total, that’s means that there are 1,598 tanks available, which with your permission we will round off to 1,600 tanks.  - To return to your place in the text, click here

Editor’s Note: The article above is a revision and rewrite of various content originally gathered from “complete transcriptions of official histories from all the allied nations of World War II.” In other words, the content we used in the above article was gathered from official historical documents that were originally transcribed and created by third parties.

For the most part, the transcribed content we used stemmed from a website entitled It is unclear who this group is, who within this group transcribed the content we used as our source, and/or where the transcriptions they created came from.

Notwithstanding this, while the source of the original content from which the transcriptions were made may be impossible to identify, a URL search for ownership of the domain name that published the transcriptions indicates that the primary site used to publish the data is registered to "Registry Domain ID: D174535382-LROR," owned by "Registrant Name: Chris Gage," of "Registrant City: Raleigh, NC."

We wish to acknowledge this and thank this source for placing no copy write restrictions on their transcribed content. As a result, we have been able to re-transcribe their content, as originally published by them, using it in much of our article in its original form and grammatical structure.

We extend this same Free Cultural Work (free content) license to our own story above, reminding readers that the definition of Free Cultural Works are those that have no significant legal restriction on people's freedom to:

– Use the content and benefit from using it,

– Study the content and apply what is learned,

– Make and distribute copies of the content,

– Change and improve the content and distribute these derivative works.

Finally, while content on the transcription websites we sourced our text from was transcribed from “official histories,” we would remind readers that we have been unable to determine both the original source documents of those histories, and/or the accuracy of the transcribed content shown. Accordingly, while we have made a best effort to validate the accuracy of the content and statements we have re-transcribed for use in our article, we cannot say with certainty that all of said content has a) been properly sourced to its original author(s), b) is accurate as written, or c) is available for use in the public domain.

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