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From Our Home Page Archive

     Home Page as originally published in October 2013

This Month
The Korean War's Impact On The Outcome Of War


Part 4 America Between The Wars – RADAR Blooms

- - - - -


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.

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The Korean War's Impact On The Outcome Of War

– or

After 60 Years, It's Time To Recognize How Much The Korean War Changed America

Korean War

What should be expected as the outcome of a war? In the old days… WWI and WWII, a victory was required. Since then the situation seems to have become muddled. From a stalemate at the end of the Korean War, to a negotiated withdrawal in Vietnam (one that left the enemy in charge), to a declaration of victory in Iraq that only saw the resulting nation switch sides to partner with America’s worst nemesis (Iran), to God knows what will happen when we leave Afghanistan next year, it seems that the whole reason for going to war has become untidy and confusing, as has the expected outcome.

Consider the pseudo chest thumping and amateurism that was being displayed by Washington with regard to the threat of pin prick missile shots at Syria. Thank God that seems to be fading from the scene. Even so, what was the threat of half a dozen missiles being shot at Syria supposed to accomplish? Was it supposed to be a precursor to a war of some sort, a war without a plan, or was it supposed to be something else? What was the expected outcome supposed to be from the use of the force being proposed? Was America supposed to come out of  the exercise as a victor of some kind?

And what about the effectiveness of such an exercise? When someone uses kinetic devices on a place where civilians are sure to be killed, shouldn't they be able to state in advance what the expected result will be? What kind of damage were these weapons supposed to accomplish? Was it thought they would cause such extensive damage that the effort would forever dissuade Assad from using chemical weapons again? Or was the plan that they would not cause any damage, and therefore somehow scare the pants off of Assad? If you will forgive the crude analogy here, Kerry’s promised “unbelievably small, limited kind of effort" missile shots would have been the equivalent of you, my neighbor, raping my daughter, after which I in return then marched forth with righteous indignation to the center of your front lawn, and once there, with fume and vigor, proceeded to fire Roman Candles at your house. Roman Candles as a response to rape? Really?

America attacks SyriaDon’t confuse politics with logic here, this is not a discussion about the efficacy of the foreign policy of Kerry-Obama (shouldn’t it be the other way around?) but a question of what everyone expected the outcome to be from the action they were proposing. Our interest in this article is with what America expects the outcome of war to be when it enters into it, not whether the decisions that lead to war are the right ones or not.

To see how the outcome of war has changed, as well as America’s expectations as to what war can accomplish, one need only look to the legacy the Korean War passed on to us. Again, we are not talking about the fighting that took place, the heroism of the men, or the politics behind how the war ended, but instead how what America was willing to accept as an outcome of war went from being the total defeat of the enemy on the  battlefield to a partitioned country.

- - - - -

On the night of July 27, 1953, the final payload of bombs to be dropped over North Korea was sent on its way. Inside these 250-pound bombs however there were no munitions. Instead there were thousands of cherry blossom leaflets printed in Chinese. The message on them was simple: Go home. The war is over.

But how did America get to the point of dropping “Go Home” announcements? If we look into that, we might learn more about why war today, especially the threat of it, has become just one more political tool of the Washington elite… one whose effectiveness has been eroded over the years to the point that politicians use it with nary a thought of war's original intent and purpose, or the outcome it is supposed to engender.

    The Korean War

Korean War AnniversaryThis past July 27 America should have celebrated the fact that 60 years have passed since the Korean War ended. But it didn’t. Why?

Oh, it’s true there were some celebrations and remembrance ceremonies, but the nation as a whole pretty much ignored the event. President Obama at least went to the extent on July 27 of praising the American soldiers who fought in the Korean War as heroes, stating that they “deserve[d] better” than what they were given when they came home. He said that they deserved “perhaps the highest tribute we can offer our veterans of Korea…” and that we should give them this tribute by now doing “what should have been done the day you came home.”

As to what that tribute should be, he suggested that Americans pause “in our hurried lives” and let these veterans “carry us back to the days of their youth and let us be awed by their shining deeds.” [1]

Read More


Mime Field!

Part 4 - America Between The Wars

To MUTE radar sounds, click speaker icon above.

Radar Blooms

In July we began a series of articles that looked at the state of the American military between World War I and World War II. This is the fourth and concluding article in that series. Our interest has been in how the U.S. military went from being essentially a 19th century one to a 20th century one, and as we have said in the past, the best in the world at that. What we have found along the way was that much of the improvement in the U.S. military came about because of the actions of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Nearly single handedly the Signal Corps put into effect programs that pushed not only the military but American business to a higher level of effectiveness and productivity than had ever been attained before.

Included in these programs were efforts to develop newer and more modern methods of research, design, manufacturing, better methods for quality control, a push to standardize systems, development of better means for testing, more accurate and standardized approaches for measurement, better means of production, and much, much more. Across the board, all of these were designed to raise the quality and reliability of the goods and services America produced.

But this wasn’t enough, in addition to putting in place better processes the Signal Corps recognized that if truly better war fighting materials were to come to the military, more and better alliances needed to be built between the nation’s military and its civilian business counterparts. And so the Signal Corps went about setting up new research and development laboratories, as well as new partnerships with academia, new training programs for the men in the sister branches of service that would use the new systems being developed, new methods for logistics control, and even an early form of just in time (JIT) inventory control to assure that whatever turned out to be needed on the front lines in the next war would end up getting where it was needed, when it was needed. The changes the Signal Corps brought to how American industry operated were revolutionary, so revolutionary that we posit that they formed the root factor that made America the superpower it is today.

To prove that this technological, management, process and production revolution accomplished its goals, we have looked over the past few articles at its impact on mundane technologies. In our second article in this series we looked at its impact on wire communications, merely as a way to show how even the most basic of technologies could be improved via the application of the traits listed above. Last month we focused on the then emerging field of radio and showed how Signal Corps efforts broadened the base technology such that it found usage in everything from voice communications to landing systems. This month we conclude our effort to prove our point that the Signal Corps launched American industry into the 20st Century even while the world was still mired in the 19th, by looking at radar.

RADAR, a common item today used for everything from weapons targeting to automatically parallel parking cars, was beyond the imagination of most people in the late 1930s, including many in the U.S. military. Yet surprisingly, research on it had been going on for many years. Heinrich Hertz gets credit for the first research on it, showing in the late 19th Century that radio waves could be reflected by metallic objects. The term itself, RADAR, was coined by the Signal Corps to refer to the equipment it was developing for the Navy, and stood for radio detecting and ranging. 

RADAR grew out of the Signal Corps’ efforts to develop radio navigation systems for its then fledgling Army Air Corps. It was a natural extension of the technology into a parallel area of use. Where radio navigation used radio signaling to detect a target and either fly to it or away from it, radio detecting and ranging was intended to find objects that had not yet been detected.

Most of the improvements in development of the technology took place in 1937. The first functioning RADAR system the Signal Corps produced was called the SCR-268. It went through several iterations, with letters such as "b" being appended onto the number 268 to designate interim improvements. Later, in May of 1937, two more "improved" versions, the SCR-270 and SCR-271, were announced. These were supposed to address mobile and fixed RADAR needs, but as we will see they proved to be more problematic than anyone expected, especially as the actual needs of those that used RADAR in the field began to change as World War II got underway. As a result, the basic SCR-268 became the workhorse of World War II.

Continued at top of page, column at right

Twerking overcomes logic

This page last updated 1 October 2013. New content is constantly being added. Please check back frequently.

Posted 1 September 2013 The Center for Cryptologic History will host its biennial international symposium in October. All Signal Corps personnel are invited... active, retired, or whatever. Click here for more information.

Posted 1 August 2013 Thinking about a second home? Maybe a cottage somewhere? Perhaps something up in the mountains so that you can do a little hunting or fishing? Colorado, maybe? Or how about a place along the coast... the beautiful Tidewater area of South Carolina, say? Then check out our list of Signal OCS members that run their own real estate companies. They'll be sure to treat you right. Talk to David Martinek, Class 09-67, or Jimmy Stewart, Class 17-52. They'll both help you find what you need. You can find them on our Other Links page, or just click their names above.

Posted 1 August 2013 Have a business of your own? Drop us a note with the details and we'll post your business on our Other Links page. And don't forget, you can advertise your business in our OCS Newsletter. Just send an eMail to Preas Street at for details.

Vietnam Campaign Ribbons


Army Strong

Continued from left column... 

U.S. Army Signal Corps SCR-268B RADAR

The SCR-268's antenna system was based on dipole elements arranged in three groups, each in front of a passive reflector. Overall, the antenna system was about forty feet wide and ten feet high. The entire system could be rotated around its axis in both azimuth and altitude.

When in use, three radar operators sat at consoles mounted on the pedestal just below the antenna’s cross-arm. Each had their own oscilloscope. One tracked the azimuth, the next elevation and the third helped determine range. Pointing the antenna was through rotation of a series of large hand-wheels. Accuracy was less than ideal, covering a sector in the sky of about 9-12 degrees when a target was spotted. This meant that searching at maximum range proved too inaccurate for targeting purposes, because a span of 9 - 12 degrees in azimuth and elevation covered most of the sky by the time full range distance was achieved.

To overcome this problem later versions of the SCR-268 redesigned the antennas so that they could have two directions of higher sensitivity. These levels of sensitivity were referred to as "lobes." By using this technique, both lobes could be displayed, each slightly separated from the other, on the oscilloscope’s display screen. By adjusting the antenna until the returns from each lobe were equally strong, the overall accuracy of the azimuth and elevation of the target could be reduced to near one degree.

Range accuracy was 200 yards, plus or minus. To make the system more useful one set of "repeaters" sent the directional information to a searchlight so that it could automatically track the target, while another repeater sent both directional and range information to a gun that could be laid on the target. While not accurate enough for actually locking on to the target in question, when used in combination with the gun's existing optical equipment (which could be used at night because of the co-existence of the searchlight in this tripartite weapon system) the gun could be fine tuned to the point of effectiveness.

Finally, the radar system was mobile... or should we say semi-mobile... requiring four “tractor” units to get it from one place to another. Two towed the radar base and the antennas, a third pulled the K-34 trailer power van and the fourth another van that converted the power provided by the power van to high voltage, for use by the radio equipment itself. Yet while it was portable, it was a heavy system, weighing in at 82,315 pounds. Even so, the Signal Corps had accomplished a masterpiece in technological development when it created the SCR-268.

In terms of its development of RADAR, through dint of determination the Signal Corps pulled into its sphere of influence all manner of American capability from research to manufacturing, overseeing through the whole process each step along the way until a functional, viable RADAR based weapon system came out the other end… a weapon system badly needed by both the Artillery Corps, Army Air Corps and the Navy.

Read more about anarchy and leadership



Is That An Enemy Out There Or Not?

We’ve spotted something trying to sneak through the wires out along the perimeter again. But we're not sure if it's the enemy or not. You might want to do the IFF on this one, and decide for yourself.

It appears that the researchers at The Kinsey Institute (Indiana University, Bloomington) have been awarded a two-year grant to study the medical accommodation needs and care of transgender service members in the U.S. military.

Excuse me? Did I read that right? They’re trying to understand what kind of medical accommodations and care transgenders should have in the military? And they are using our tax dollars to do that? How about this instead: why are they even in the military?

Now I know that times have changed since when I joined up and I had to swear that I wasn't gay, but has it changed that much? Does the military now sign up people with gender identity problems? Not being an expert on this topic, I'm not sure what the line of differentiation is between gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and those who are classified as having gender identity issues, but it does make me wonder why the military needs to be involved in this area at all.

Look, no one in this world should harbor any grudge, bad feelings, or otherwise have any antipathy towards gays, lesbians, transgenders, or anyone else with an other than heterosexual sexual identity, except of course if they happen to be into animals. As the Pope said, “Who am I to judge?” He’s right, it’s not up to us to judge... except for the animal part that is.

These are all good people, with most probably being fundamentally better than this author will ever been. But that’s not the point, we’re not talking about how good their souls or intentions are, we’re talking about whether the U.S. military needs them to accomplish its mission, and if not, what it owes to them when it finds them in its midst.

With little doubt, as fellow travelers on this earth, it is up to us to help troubled people as much as we can... and my apologies to these transgender people if they don't consider themselves troubled... but if they're not, then why do we need to research what needs to be done to help them? Help in the form of understanding, empathy, kindness, compassion and forbearance as fellow human beings makes sense. But letting them into the military and then changing the military to accommodate their emotional, physiological, psychological or pathological needs, that seems a little extreme.

From this former soldier’s perspective, the military should not be a halfway house for troubled souls. It is not the Red Cross. It is not a therapy center whose purpose it is to help people who come into it with extant problems figure out how to deal with them.

Having said that, let us make it clear: our view is that if you are a member of the military and because of the duties you perform in it you acquire emotional, identity, or other problems, then without doubt it is the military’s job to help treat you. If the military caused the problem, then the military owns the problem. But it seems to this author that the military should not be marching the streets of America looking for recruits that already have troubles in need of treatment, and then asking them to join.

According to the people who requested the funds to do the above mentioned study, "Some research findings and clinical observations… [suggest]… that the rates of veteran status among the transgender community may be elevated compared to the general public. You can even see cases in the media, like Kristin Beck 'Warrior Princess,' a former Navy SEAL, interviewed on the 'Today' show, and soldier Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, recently convicted of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks; there seems to be an ongoing connection between the transgender community and U.S. military."


Like we said, it looks like these people are starting to come through the wire out along the perimeter. You might want to take a look at this and decide if these folks are friends coming back from a LRRP or the enemy in disguise.

In the mean time, if you see any other strange things coming through the fence, let us know.



The Peacock Speaks

Peacock he may have been, but when he wasn't strutting his feathers he was a damned good soldier. With every moniker he could have from Big Chief to Dugout Doug and the Gaijin Shogun, Mac had more nicknames than most generals, and most of them fit him to a T. Unafraid of controversy, MacArthur seemed to court it, walking headlong into any fracas just as though he was storming a shore on one of the Philippine islands he loved so much. The Korean War fracas however proved to be his undoing.

In our column at left we talk of how the way in which the Korean War ended changed how politicians today see the purpose and result of war. With the partitioning of Korea, the seed was set that made world leaders begin to find it acceptable to end a war on terms that satisfied the needs of the proxy powers behind the war, rather than the needs of the nation on whose soil the battle was fought. If MacArthur had lived long enough to see how this would affect America in Vietnam, Iraq, and our thinking today, he might have wept with sorrow.

To MacArthur there was only one way to end a war: defeat the enemy on the battlefield so that not a drop or vestige of any resistance or strength remained. Once so done, occupy the defeated country and use that occupation to offer magnanimity  and generousity aimed at helping to rebuild the country until its people could reassert free and reasoned rule over their country again.

An approach that said more of the times in which he lived than today, what MacArthur failed to realize was that the Korean War was not a war like other wars. The protagonists may have been North and South Korea, but the real power behind the war was the U.S., Soviet Union and China. For the fact is, the Korean War was the world's first but certainly not its last war where proxies went at it through the arms and blood of smaller nations.

What MacArthur failed to realize was that in proxy wars, unlike in normal wars, the proxy players can never really engage each other in combat, and so only one of them takes the field while the other fights through his proxy. For if they both took the field, then a post-nuclear age world war would break out that might obliterate the earth.

And so, as the modern age dawned during the time of the Korean War a mechanism had to be found whereby in a proxy war once one proxy fighter had proven their ability to gain the upper hand over the other, they could offer the losing proxy fighter a graceful way to exit the war. As we now know that mechanism turned out to be 'partition'... the partitioning of the underlying country by the proxy fighters, as a declaration that the war is being ended on mutually acceptable terms short of the need for one proxy fighter to annihilate the other.[2]

MacArthur was an old school fighter. To him war was war. In his time you fought to win. Little did he know that with the end of World War II would come an end too to the idea that great powers should ever face each other again on the battlefield. From that point on, great powers would fight through underlings... tin pot dictators, tyrants, despots, the Taliban, Moslem radicals, communist hangers-on, freedom fighters, rebels, Shi'a, Sunni, North Koreans, or whatever or whomever was available to take to the battlefield while the proxies argued their case for imperial control over the country in question behind closed doors.

With MacArthur's farewell speech above you are hearing more than just his personal words of good bye. You are hearing a good bye being said to a time and age of warfare that will likely never return again... a time when truly great powers faced each other across a battlefield and fought to the end.

Truman got it. He got the fact that the times had changed and great powers would not confront each other on the battlefield again. That's why he fired Mac when he wanted to nuke China. Mac never got it... and so he did what he had to do... fade away, peacock feathers and all.

October's Crossword Puzzle

Army Signal CorpsTheme: Military MedalsArmy Signal Corps

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

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


[1] Obama says Korean War veterans ‘deserve better’, The Desert Sun, Sunday, July 28, 2013, Page A4. - To return to your place in the text click here. Return to place in text

[2] In talking of the issue of partition, we are of course speaking of wars during the modern era. In earlier times when Kings and Emperors ruled empires it was quite normal for two competing kings or rulers to agree to partition the countries that they had fought over, or even swap one territory for another, at the conclusion of a war. One can see an example of this in the Seven Years War (1759 - 1788) where in the Treaty of Paris that concluded the war  between England, France and Spain, France lost Florida to England, though it gained Louisiana west of the Mississippi. During these imperial times rulers felt that the countries and peoples they coveted control over were nothing more than savages and had no right to be involved in the decision as to what was best for them as regards which European empire would rule over and receive tribute from them. By the time of WWI and WWII this kind of thinking was thought to have passed, although from the time of the end of the Korean War until today it seems to be creeping back again. - To return to your place in the text click here.Return to place in text

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