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From Our Home Page Archive
Home Page as originally published in
— This Month —
So You Think You Know Everything About
The Development of The Telegraph?
Then check out this trivia
Does Dutch Treat Work In War?
The reality of "degrade and destroy"
Tactical Warfare On A Signal Site
Is this how we lost the Vietnam War?
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So You Think You Know Everything About The
Development Of The Telegraph?
Check out this trivia trove...
As Signaleers we have all heard so much about
the early history of the development of the
electric telegraph that by now we think we know
the full story. Not so, Kemo Sabe.You would be
surprised the trivia and little known facts
behind this most early form of communication,
the one that got all of us started in the
direction of becoming Signal Corps Officers in
the first place.
Take, for example, the development of the very
earliest form of communication, the “semaphore
telegraph line.” What’s a semaphore telegraph
line, you ask? Just what you would think it
would be … a method by which a line of people
station themselves on hills and other areas
where each can see the person sending them a
signal, as well as the person to whom they must
repeat the signal they just received… who then
set about using semaphore flags to “telegraph”
signals from one to the other.
Isn’t that basic semaphore signaling, you ask?
Yes it is, but the correct name for this kind of
signaling is “semaphore telegraph
Why is this important? Because it’s from
this early terminology that the word telegraph
came into existence, and eventually made its way
into the realm of electronic signaling where we
all first ran across it.
O.k., so that’s interesting … but is that all
you have to offer in the way of historical
Nope. Not by a long short.
We’ll bet you didn’t know that “semaphore
telegraph line” signaling was so popular,
reliable and wide spread that by the early 1800s
there were literally hundreds of these
“telegraph lines” spread across Europe… linking
one country to another, up and down the
continent. While nothing more than a manually
operated visual telegraph line composed of men
stationed on every hillock available,
frantically waving flags at each other, this
method of sending both private and commercial
messages was so popular that it became quite
common in Europe.
What about the U.S., you ask?
Not so much. Only a few simple links were ever
built in the U.S., and these quickly fell out of
favor and disuse. Part of the reason was that
the territory of the U.S. was vast, compared to,
say England. This made visually telegraphed
signals able to cover only limited distances…
between two towns, or at most along the length
of one of the new toll roads then being called
“turnpikes” because of the gate mechanism that
controlled who was allowed to ride their horse
or carriage over the road. All in all, with slow
signals transmission covering limited distances,
and only able to be used during good visibility,
the concept of the semaphore telegraph line
never took off in the United States, as it did
The solution, as we all know, was for someone to
invent a similar system that relied on visual
signaling that could cover longer
distances, in all kinds of weather, including
the dark, without a
need for high hills or the ability to see from
one relay station to the next.
Notice that we said “visual signaling.” Those of
you who have, in your own mind, moved on to
expecting us to talk here about electrical
signaling using Morse Code or the like are a bit
ahead of us. Yes, electricity was involved, that’s
true, but Morse Code wasn’t. In fact, not only
was Morse code not involved in early
electrically based telegraph signaling, but the
means of receiving the signal being sent was
still based on visual signaling.
For the men of the time trying to invent a
better way to communicate over long distances,
visual signaling still sat at the top of their
list. Thus, while electrical signaling via
currents came into use, the means of signaling
did not involve the “audible” realm, but instead
continued to rely on converting the electrical
signals involved into... one more time... visual signals.
Does Dutch Treat
Work In War?
The Reality Of "Degrade And
There is something
positive about President Obama’s policy with
respect to “degrading and destroying” the so
called Islamic State (IS, ISIL, ISIS or whatever
you want to call it). The positive thing is that
he appears to be attempting to build a consensus
among other countries for them to do the
on-the-ground fighting that will be needed… when
the war against ISIS gets to that stage … rather
Don’t think any
on-the-ground fighting will be needed? Think he
can do everything he needs to with just
airpower... drones? Surely
you jest. Every good military strategist knows
that you cannot win a war with airpower alone,
or naval power either for that matter. While you
may be able to debase and wear down an enemy’s
capacity to wage war against you, you cannot
defeat him without the proverbial boots on the
Why? Because for a war to
be concluded the warring society that existed
has to be replaced at the conclusion of the war
with a functioning society based on a stable
form of government, able to govern the citizens
of the war zone in question.
…and to build a
functioning society peace must reign throughout
…and for peace to reign
throughout a land that still houses a bunch of
disgruntled dead enders that used to be fighting
against you and still probably harbor some nasty
feelings about having been defeated, and are
therefore likely inclined to do all they can to
resurrect themselves in the form of an
insurgent force, someone’s army is going to have
to occupy the country in question and keep the
peace until the new government is up and
running, and the economy is back to normal.
In other words, a drone
war may look good on paper, but no war can be
won with airpower alone, nor can an enemy be
“defeated” after he is “degraded”... not without
an army on the ground.
So where is President
Obama going to get the army on the ground he
needs? The one he will eventually require to
put an end to ISIS?
Judging by his words on
the topic of degrading and destroying the
Islamic State, he seems to be planning on
getting his army from the coalition his
Secretary of State is busy trying to put
We wish him well. Many
President’s before him have established
coalitions of countries to follow us into war,
but none to our reckoning have established such
coalitions solely for the purpose of having our
coalition partners provide the ground troops
needed, instead of us. If President Obama
succeeds in this new and creative approach to
war, he may just set a precedent that will not
only give future U. S. Presidents a new tool in their
arsenal of international power politics and
relations, but also usher in a new way for
America to fight its wars.
Imagine that: we provide
the air power, you provide the soldiers.
Don’t be too quick to
dismiss it… it just might work.
For it to work however,
our coalition partners’ armies will have to
approximate in capabilities those of the good
old U.S. Army. Unless they can, a drone war is
likely going to go nowhere… just droning on, if
you will (sorry, we couldn’t resist that).
So let’s pick an Army to
fight alongside of us against ISIS: how about the Jordanian
army as our fighting partner? Or Iraq? Turkey?
Bahrain? The Kurds? Or better still, Saudi Arabia?
In the case of fighting
ISIS, if, say, Saudi Arabia provided the troops
and fought with American air power above its
head, the idea of a coordinated yet bifurcated
force (instead of a combined force operation), with the
Saudi’s providing the foot soldiers and America
the airpower might work. Why? Because the
Saudi’s have a damned good army, predominantly
outfitted with U.S. military equipment,
communication systems, et cetera.
That’s pretty much true
for Jordan too; although it’s anyone’s guess if
Iraq has either the skill or the stomach to
fight a modern war.
This page last updated 1 October 2014. New content is constantly being added.
Please check back frequently.
1 October 2014 –COL (R) Earl
Tingle, Class 09-67, sent along a picture of our
fellow classmate Kent Sterling, who passed away in
April of this year. In it Pete Bradley is also
shown. Pete died in 2009. How young our fellow
classmates are, to die so soon! Such good men all.
Honesty, integrity, intellect, kindness, compassion,
true friends never to be forgotten, true American
heroes. The kind of men we all long to be, even in
these advanced years of ours. Honorable beyond
measure. See their picture here:
1 October 2014 –
Don Mehl, OCS
Class 44-35, dropped us a note to let us know he
can’t produce hard copies of his book anymore, so
you folks that haven't bought one will just have to
settle for spiral bound copies. They are still
excellent quality prints, so be sure to buy
one from our PX. Look for TOP SECRET COMMUNICATIONS
OF WORLD WAR 2 BY DONALD MEHL $49.50 PLUS $6.50
S & H. Sales are good and the response from readers
is good too, so get your copy today. SUPPORT YOUR
FELLOW CLASSMATES! BUY NOW BY CLICKING HERE
1 September 2014 –
of our website know that we often provide "linkable"
reference documents as background material in
support of some of our articles. Beginning this
month you can gain access to an archive of these
documents by clicking on the "Document Library" link
in the menu list in the upper left margin. You'll be
surprised, some of these documents are more
interesting than our original article! Check
them out! New documents will be added as we publish
more stories. Enjoy!
11 August 2014 –
Davis, OCS Class 21-67, sent us a few pics of his
time in Vietnam. Part of the 37th Signal Battalion,
Rexford served at Hoi An and on Monkey Mountain, of
all places. You can see his pics on the Class Page
for 21-67. Today Rexford is a
Colonel, currently serving as a Department of the
Army Civilian with the G-37 Office at the United
States Army Reserve Command, Fort Bragg, NC.
Which brings us to our point: Let’s call President Obama’s
new war fighting policy the Dutch Treat War Policy.
traditional Dutch Treat lunch you pay for your share, I pay
for mine, and we both enjoy our lunch, walking away happy
and content that we each did our part to enjoy our time
together and have a positive outcome. Under an Obama led
Dutch Treat War Policy, you would provide the army, I would provide
the air force and/or navy, and we would both fight the war.
And when it’s all over we would then sit back, slap each other on the back,
and congratulate ourselves for a campaign well waged and
Does Dutch Treat Work In War?
By now some of you readers are rolling on the floor
laughing. A Dutch Treat War Policy! Are you crazy?
Not really. If looked at from afar this concept of two or
more partners joining forces towards a common goal but
keeping their individual contributions separate is only
slightly different than what NATO does today.
In NATO’s case, if a new war comes along there will be
multiple “coalition partners” fighting alongside each other…
men from the armies of multiple NATO member countries,
fighting arm in arm towards a common goal. Most likely the
format for combat will take the old WWII form, where a
supreme commander is appointed, thus causing the forces from
multiple countries to fight under his direction and control…
as a common, unified army.
But what would happen if a modern
day Montgomery stepped into the picture… and insisted that
his British men come under his command and his only? Would
NATO throw this hypothetical Monty and his men out, or
instead would it carve out a special spot for him so that
the Brits could contribute to the war, yet still retain the
autonomy they might insist on?
And what if that autonomy was not commander related, but
related to the type and kind of fighting that the allied
army provided? Think, for example, of this hypothetical
modern day Monty offering to provide a tank corps... tanks
and only tanks... no infantry. Would NATO turn it away? If he
said he would provide it only under his local command, would
turn his tanks away just because that's all he would
Isn't this the essence of President Obama's Dutch Treat War
concept? Each country provides what it will... with some
force other than the U.S. providing the ground troops while
we provide the air cover?
A similar situation to this played out in Afghanistan. There
the Japanese offered to fight alongside of us… but couldn’t.
Their constitution forbid them from doing so—sending armed
troops to fight in a third country. How then could the
Japanese show America, who today carries the bulk of the
task of defending the Japanese homeland, that Japan stands
beside America, is appreciative of the fact that our
military protects their country, and that while they might
be precluded (for the moment) from providing armed military
support in our cause, are desirous of contributing what they
can, as they can, towards any war we may fight?
As we all know, the answer is that what
Japan can provide is logistical support… to a level and
degree that puts their own men in harm’s way without
requiring them to carry a weapon. And so we see Japan in
nearly every war America gets itself involved in, sending
all manner of equipment from thousands of Toyota Hilux
trucks, to road building machinery, artificial legs, and
whatever else they can offer to help win the war. It’s true
that the Japanese men sent to distribute this equipment and
train the locals in its use end up having to be protected,
and that draws troops away from the fight itself, but so
would be the case with any group of people working to
support the civilian side of a war effort.
Small potatoes you say? True, but the model works. That is,
the “war model” of one country providing the soldiers while
the other provides the logistics, tools and materials works.
And if it can work in such a situation, why not in one where
one country provides the troops on the ground while the
other provides the air cover?
Tactical Warfare On A Signal Site
Looking down from the perimeter of our signal site, Lang Bien Mountain, a dozen
miles outside of Dalat, you could see where the area we cleared of trees and
brush ended and the jungle began. Well, jungle is a bit of a misnomer. The truth
is, up in the Central Highlands where our signal site sat, atop a 7,800 foot
mountain, the terrain looked more like the woods of Eastern Massachusetts where
I grew up than
the steamy jungle of the Delta. Walking through it on patrol I could almost
imagine that I was 7 years old again, patrolling the line of stone walls that
snaked through the woods of our farm, hunting squirrels with my .22 and a pocket
full of shorts, down near the back pasture where the cows tended to gather.
The only thing was, on Lang Bien Mountain we weren’t hunting squirrels, although
we were definitely hunting varmints and vermin.
As a Signal Officer, one of three assigned to the signal site as OICs for the
three separate Companies that ran commo facilities up on the mountain, in
addition to making sure my own men kept our radio relay UHF systems up and
running I was also given the additional duty—by the Infantry Captain that
commanded the site—of supervising a squad of his Infantry guys, who themselves
had various duties.
With the responsibility I was given for his men, plus my own, I ended up with
four key jobs that, along with my normal Signal Officer tasks, kept me pretty
busy. Among them was responsibility for the perimeter defense for the most
vulnerable of the 4 sectors of the site, commanding a squad of Infantry men that
manned one of the three 60mm mortar pits that
ringed the signal site, commanding both my own Signals men and another squad of
Infantry boys during any attack by the VC, and keeping the site’s tree line
unobstructed so that we had a clear field of fire out to at least 300 meters.
Of the four tasks, that last one, keeping the site’s tree line unobstructed out
to 300 meters, was the most difficult. To keep our tree line clear we used two
tricks: C-4 and Agent Orange.
The part I liked best was the C-4 part… where we suited up like we were on
patrol, went down to the tree line below us, and then spent the day blowing up
trees. The part I liked least was the Agent Orange part. Even then, not knowing
what was inside of those drums with the orange stripe around them, the idea of
coming back from a day’s work along the perimeter, drenched with the slick, oily
chemicals that we drew out of those barrels to spray over the brush line, was
not something I savored.
Still, it brought me and my Infantry boys closer together.
Me, a young Signal Corps Second Lieutenant, in command of
an Infantry Captain’s squad of seasoned jungle warriors. Together we traipsed
the perimeter of our Signal Site day after day, pushing the tree line back
little by little, knowing with deep satisfaction that during the next Sapper raid
or early morning attack everyone on the site would be safer for our work.
One thing that always puzzled me though was exactly how far back we needed to
push the tree line. My orders said 200 - 300 meters, but having watched my own
Signaleers fire on the enemy when our site was under attack, I knew that their
accuracy with M-14s wasn’t up to that distance. The Infantry guys I commanded
were better, but not that much better. Out to about 100 meters everyone could
hit just about anything. But from 150 meters out to 300, very few of the VC that
we shot at seemed to fall. Since in most places we had driven the tree line back
to between 250 and 300 meters, at that distance, my Signaleers not only could
barely spot Charlie moving along the line, but they couldn’t hit him with a
rifle shot if he was waving a barn door over his head.
October Crossword Puzzle
Afghan War Acronyms
PART I of III
Join 2, 3 and 4 word answers together
as one complete word.
For answer key to this month's
see icon at bottom of page
 The original Lone Ranger show was
created at Detroit radio station WXYZ in 1933. The phrase
that Tonto called the Lone Ranger “Kemo Sabe”, is said to
have derived from the name of a boys' summer camp in
Michigan, owned by the director's uncle. Some say that
Kemosabe in the Navajo language means "soggy bush," or
"soggy shrub." That may be the case, but investigations show
that in the 1930's, when the Lone Ranger show got its start,
there was indeed a camp in the northern part of Michigan
called "Ke Mo Sah Bee", and the name is reported to have
stood for "trusty friend" or "trusty scout." We’re not sure
which explanation is behind the phrase, but we’ll stick with
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text click here:tyle931">
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text click here:
 In Afghanistan the Dutch military
contingent was assigned the responsibility of protecting
Japanese civilian engineers, humanitarian aid staff and
construction workers. For a more detailed discussion showing
the kind of contributions countries like Japan provide in
America’s wars, see the attached PDF file. It was produced
by the Japanese government, and accordingly presents its
information in a form biased in the country’s favor. Still,
it does portray facts and provides a good overview of the
kind of non-combat logistical support wars require. Link to
- To return to your place in the text click here:
 Sapper: PAVN (People's Army of
Vietnam) and Viet Cong Sappers are better described
as commando units. The Vietnamese term đặc công can
be literally translated as "special task". Thousands of
specially trained Sappers served in the PAVN and Viet Cong
commando Sapper units, which were organized as independent
formations. They were armed with various types of bombs,
mines, explosive charges, grenades and even steel-pellet
mines. They are famous for breaking through perimeter
defenses at forward operating basis (FOBs) and Signal Sites,
running through the base, setting off explosive charges near
buildings and equipment, and then exiting the base on the
other side from which they came.
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text click here:
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