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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.                         

Ship Ahoy!

The WW2 Signal Corps Grand Fleet

In The Pacific Theater

Don Mehl, OCS Class 44-35

Donald Mehl - Manila Hotel 1945John Paul Jones is known as the father of the American Navy; but Major General Spencer Akin was the father of the U. S. Signal Corps’ Grand Fleet in the Pacific Ocean. It was known officially as the Seaborne Communications Branch but it was referred to as Akin’s Navy by those involved in the fighting between Australia and Japan during World War 2. The 805th Signal Service Company of which I was a member played a significant role in this important operation. 

This operation became a necessity following the attack and capture of the Philippine Islands by the Japanese in 1941-45. To appreciate the contribution of the Grand Fleet we have to go back to the period between 1942 and 1943. Japan had taken control of much of Asia and established a defense line from the Aleutians Islands to Australia. The Japanese strategy was to consolidate her positions. With the American Navy disabled Japan thought that we could do nothing and would negotiate for peace. That was before Midway, the battle of the Coral Sea, and Guadalcanal. After these engagements we dominated the Pacific Ocean. Our strategy was to demand unconditional surrender of the Empire of Japan.

MacArthur & Sutherland - Malinta Tunnel 1942When the Japanese forces first attacked the Philippine Islands, the American and Philippine armies were not prepared to defend against the onslaught and it was not possible to reinforce our army. The United States was much unprepared for war in 1941. Prior to December 7, 1941, the American public did not want to become involved in a world war but it was thrust upon them. The Army had no choice under the circumstances but to surrender. Manila was declared an open city and was spared the destruction that came later in 1945 when the U. S. Army recaptured Manila and the Japanese fought building by building until almost total destruction resulted. The U. S. and Philippine troops withdrew to Bataan and Corregidor. In February 1942 President Roosevelt ordered General Douglas MacArthur to go to Australia and prepare to return and defeat the Japanese. 

Malinta Tunnel - CorregidorThe order for MacArthur to evacuate came through the Signal Corps communications installation on Corregdor where the American and Philippine troops would hold out until captured. There was a large Signal Corps com-munications and intelligence unit on Corregidor consisting of approximately 700 men. In addition to the communications operation there was an intelligence intercept and cryptographic section. These faculties were under Major General Akin who was General MacArthur’s Chief Signal Officer. General Akin also returned to Australia along with a nucleus of intelligence soldiers who were to form the crypto facilities in Australia.

Malinta Hill - Aerial ViewThe Signal Corps troops continued to provide communications from Corregidor until they were captured. They kept getting the messages through in spite of bombing, shelling and other adversity. Their equip-ment was in the Malinta Tunnel that served as a hospital and headquarters. Equipment was continually damaged but they kept on the air even resorting to amateur radio equipment when necessary. When the antennas on Malinta Hill were constantly damaged by bombs and shelling,  the Signal Corps troops connected antennas between trees. The Signal Corps troops kept improvising and maintaining communications until May 1942 when the surrender took place. Most branches of the services have their symbol honoring the valiant people who sacrificed and gave their lives in performing heroic duty. We don’t know how many Signal Corps troops were killed in the final battle of Corregidor or what fate came to them after they were captured but we know that many suffered and died. As heroes of one of the worst defeats ever suffered by the United States, these soldiers should be honored as Signal Corps heroes and become a symbol of Signal Corps determination to “get the message through” regardless of adversity.

MacArthur with some of his staff escaped from Corregidor by PT boat and later transferred to an aircraft for the remainder of the trip to Australia. Accompanying MacArthur was Major General Spenser Aiken his Chief Signal Officer and Lt. General Richard Sutherland his Chief of Staff.Ships Ahoy! by Don Mehl, OCS Class 44-35


Camp Murphy 

West Palm Beach

Last month we published an article on the Signal Corps’ effort to get up to speed and train the mammoth number of Signaleers needed during WWII. Rather than try to cover the entire war effort we looked instead at the Signal Corps during its peak of operation in mid-1943. In that article we talked of the number of “little” Signal Corps training facilities that were being stood up around the country, from Camp Crowder through to Camp Murphy. We even offered a side bar article on Camp Kohler, north of Sacramento. This month we thought we would continue the story a bit more, and take a closer look at Camp Murphy, one of the numerous little specialized Signal Corps training camps that were needed during WWII.

Like Camp Kohler, Camp Murphy was named after a Signal Corps Officer who fell in the line of duty early in WWII. Colonel William H. Murphy, a soldier and scientist, was killed in action at Bataan, a battle that took place shortly after Pearl Harbor marked the beginning of the war. Well respected, he was memorialized by none other than Damon Runyon, who wrote: "One of the first men killed at Bataan was a Lieutenant Colonel of the Signal Corps. I believe that until the fall of Bataan he was the highest commissioned officer killed in action in the American Army in World War II. This calls to my mind the fact that in all our wars since '61, the men of the Signal Corps have left a record of imperishable glory. It is one of the most hazardous of all branches of the Service, yet little exploited or glamorized. For 80 years the red and white banner of the Signal Corps has moved with the vanguard of our fighting columns."

Camp Murphy - Florida - 1943

The location for Camp Murphy was selected in December, 1941. At that time a panel picked a tract of land south of Hobe Sound and about 20 miles north of Palm Beach, Florida. The ground was considered perfect for the future Signal Corps training school, as it would allow the use of what were then thought of as the best techniques possible when it came to camouflaging buildings. The natural camouflage of the area’s vegetation meant that the post center as well as most of the school’s activities would be virtually invisible from both the air and the ground.

As the school was built, great care was taken in clearing the jungle along the fringe of the Everglades, where the Camp was located, to assure that none of the dense, semi-tropical growth of cabbage palmetto, swamp maple, Australian pine, palm, live oak, cactus, mangrove or the other undergrowth found there was removed. All buildings were painted a dull green, a color every Army soldier knows well by now, to blend with the surrounding landscape. Instead of making a large clearing and arranging buildings along a central Company streets as was done with most Army Camps at that time, Camp Murphy was laid out in an irregular pattern that covered nearly nine miles, with streets and buildings facing in every direction. Many thought it looked haphazard. A few knew its real purpose: to disguise the Camp’s location.

Camp Murphy reveille

In the early part of March, 1942, the 801st Signal Regiment, under the temporary command of Captain John A. Ord (yes… the same one they later named Fort Ord after) was activated. Companies A and B were held at Fort Monmouth, but the rest was sent on to help build and set up Camp Murphy. As a new Camp, at the time, it was considered one of the most important Signal Corps installations in the Army.

Since Captain Ord was on temporary assignment to help get Camp Murphy up and running, Colonel Hugh Mitchell was relieved from duty in the office of the Chief Signal Officer (March 27, 1942) and permanently assigned to the post as Commandant of the Signal Corps School, Hobe Sound, Florida. Records show that on April I, 1942, Headquarters and Headquarters Company was activated at Riviera Beach, Florida (near the final location of the Camp, Riviera Beach served as a temporary HQ until the Camp was finished) and the first morning report for that date showed two officers and 14 enlisted men as the nucleus for the new school being built.

Colonel Albert Brooks Cox, Signal Corps, became Commanding Officer of the 801st Signal Training Regiment and, immediately following him, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur W. Wehr took over the post of Executive Officer of Camp Murphy. In May of 1942 Lieutenant Colonel James W. Green, Jr. reported for duty and was assigned Assistant Commandant, Aircraft Warning School. Remembering again that the Army Air Force was part of the Signal Corps back then, and that therefore the Signal Corps was responsible for training airmen, one can see that Camp Murphy was going to play a major role in training the fly boys the Army needed. As important, both Camp Murphy and the Signal Corps were gaining national attention, in part because the image of the Signal Corps was on the rise as a segment of the military that held some of the Army’s “elite.” One can see this in the privileges granted to the Officers that were stationed there. While out in the middle of nowhere, one of the benefits of being stationed at Camp Murphy was that the Officers were allowed to use the elaborate and spacious facilities offered at the not too distant Jupiter Island Club.

An Officers' best friend... the Jupiter Island Club - 1943

One can also see how important the Signal Corps was becoming in that the dedication ceremony that was held on July 5, 1942, included such dignitaries as Colonel David Sarnoff, President of the Radio Corporation of America and Chairman of the Board of the National Broadcasting Company. Once fully operational, the normal compliment of permanently stationed cadre included 854 Officers and 5,752 Enlisted Men.

As to what was taught at Camp Murphy, it primarily covered radio tactics, equipment, and procedures as used in support of air force communication, radar training (both HF Radar and training on the soon to be obsolete SCR-268 Radar system), aircraft warning and interception, and the integration of these with ground force and artillery operations.

If you would like to take a trip back in time, click on the picture below to read the Camp Murphy newspaper. This one is Volume 1, Issue 1, as published on October 1, 1943. It's a good read, and well worth the effort. You'll soon begin to think that you would trade today's confused world situation, gutter politics, random mass killings, and lack of civility among people in a heart beat for the much simpler problems of those days.

Source: History of the 801st Signal Training Regiment.

Camp Murphy Message - 1943


Rebalancing Our Strategic Imperatives: Japan

This is the third in a continuing series of articles on the changes the U.S. Army should make in order to throw its support behind the State Department's new Pivot Strategy. In each article we examine the lay of the land of the countries the U.S. military will need to embrace more closely if it is to achieve the strategic military imperatives that the Pivot Strategy creates, we look carefully at how the history of each of these countries affects their socio-political-military position in Asia, what problems they face with their neighbors, whether any of this affects our own security, and what, if anything, we can do about it.

We have already looked at the Philippines and Burma, two critical pieces in the puzzle relating to how to tamp down China and North Korea's new aggressive stance. This month we look at Japan. If you like our report, come back again next month for an analysis of yet another of the key players in Southeast Asia.


- Japan -

The question could be raised, what prompted Secretary of State Clinton’s decision to pivot America’s strategic focus away from Europe and towards Asia? Why now? What’s changed?

The answer lies in two activities that seem to be occurring with greater frequency, activities that portend the coming of active states of military conflict in Asia if something is not done about them. The two activities: North Korea’s missile launching exercises and China’s maritime muscle flexing.

Both of these are worrisome because while they pose an existential threat to the U.S. they pose a direct threat to the many small countries of Southeast Asia. Not these items per se mind you, but the ideological beliefs that underlie China and North Korea’s taking these actions.

With these things happening it was only natural that the State Department would cast its focus more keenly on Asia. The net result: a new Pivot Strategy to guide its actions and a new requirement for the U.S. military to rethink its military imperatives in Asia.

In trying to determine what the U.S. military’s strategic imperatives are that are born out of Clinton’s Pivot Strategy, and therein establish what activities the U.S. Army should begin to undertake both with regard to the above named activities as well as in the Asian region in general, it is important to know why the countries of Southeast Asia feel threatened by these actions; actions which in any other part of the world would be classified as only slightly more aggressive than the usual level of military exercises countries engage in.

Not surprisingly, for both the perceived North Korean threat and the China muscle flexing threat the answer as to why these moves are occurring and why they should be perceived as menacing lies with China.

With apologies to body builders who many say suffer from an inferiority complex and therein seek to pump up their muscles, China’s muscle flexing may betray a similar sense of inferiority... or so some would say. A country constantly whining and complaining about how it’s sovereignty was disrespected, abused, subjugated and trampled on by the imperial west and many of its own neighbors over the past 250 years, their recent muscle flexing suggests that China is desperately trying to rebuild its own sense of self worth.   

Continued at top of page, COLUMN AT RIGHT

This page last updated 2 September 2012. New content is constantly being added. Please check back frequently.


New pictures!Posted 2 September 2012 – Check out the new class picture for WWII OCS Class 44-34, sent in by Ron Condle, son of OCS Graduate Eugene J. Condle, Jr., of the same class. Ron also sent in a series of great pictures from his dad's time in service. As usual, you can see the Class Picture by going to the OCS Class 44-34 Class Page, and you can see Candidate Condle's own pictures by scrolling down the page and clicking on his last name (highlighted in bright green). Our special thanks to Ron and his wife Jan for taking the time to scan the photos and send them to us. It's personal efforts like Ron & Jans that make it possible for us to archive this important part of America's military history. Our thanks to you both.

New pictures!Posted 1 September 2012 – A reminder that the October 2012 Reunion is coming next month. If you haven't yet signed up now's the time to do it. Click on the Reunion Info link item in our menu list at top left and follow the instructions there. Do it now! The Association needs your support... and besides, let's face it... you need to be there!

New pictures!Reposted 1 September 2012 – Ms Julie Bercu Hunsucker was kind enough to send in her father's copy of his Class Pictures for OCS Class 42-11, one of the larger classes of WWII with 807 students. She also included two pictures of her dad. Her dad of course was Candidate Harold S. Bercu. One shows him as a Captain and the other shows him many years later when as an Officer he seems to have lost most of his hair! See, that's what the Signal Corps will do to you. Our thanks to Julie, and especially her husband Larry Hunsucker for having taken the time to scan and forward to us this wonderful set of high resolution pictures. One of the best things about this set of pictures is a scan of the back side of the graduating class photo. It shows the stamps the Army used to place on the back of the pictures and includes a hand drawn table by 2nd Lieutenant Bercu where the class members signed his photo in their own handwriting and indicated their home town. For real military historians this is a treasure trove of great information. You can see the pictures at the bottom of the Class Page for OCS Class 42-11 by clicking here OCS Class 42-11 Class Pictures

New pictures!Posted 24 August 2012 – We've received so many complaints about our News Feed that we decided to change it. It seems Army.Mil is down as much as it's up... and according to our readers the news items they post are not news at all. Our guess is that it's not run by the Signal Corps. Anyway, we've revamped our "RSS Feed" to include items from Army Times and an assortment of news topics from other military news feeds. Check it out. If you like it, great! If not, let us know what you want in the way of military news and we'll hunt down an intelligence operative, take him prisoner, and post his views on our site. Seriously... let us know what you want to read and we will find it for you. To read our daily update of military news, click on the orange Army News link above left at any time of the day.

Posted 1 August 2012 – Doug Lising, Class 04-67, has written a new book called "Remember Roscoe Filburn" that addresses the issue of "large, cumbersome, and intrusive" government. It's a good read and will make you think twice about the direction our government is taking. Take a few moments to find out more about Doug's book and how to downloaded a FREE copy or buy a "printed book (with a nifty color cover)... from Amazon for $10." Click here Remember Roscoe Filburnto jump to our Other Links page, then scroll down the page and look for the flashing red arrow and headline A Call For Action. If any of our members would like to read the book and write a review, we will be happy to post it here.  

Vietnam Campaign Ribbons


Continued from left column... 

China apologists would tell you that—now that China has regained control over its own sovereignty, and emerged from its own self imposed period of isolation to rejoin the global stage— it is only natural for it to expect and even demand that the world treat it with dignity. After all, they deserve it after so many centuries of domination and subordination by the west. They would also tell you that even now China continues to be treated to unequal cultural and economic criticism, as is evidenced by the world continuing to attack it, publicly censuring it for manipulating its currency, producing inferior products, stealing intellectual property, and otherwise subjecting it to all sorts of unfair criticisms in what is clearly little more than an effort to keep China from taking its rightful place in the world. With the world colluding against it, how can you blame China for flexing its sea muscles and/or for taking sides with the only true friend it has had for the past 60 years: North Korea?

That’s what a China apologist would say. An outsider watching China’s activities in this regard could be forgiven for thinking that these words have the ring of truth to them.

But they are not true. They are not true because China is not suffering from feelings of inferiority. Instead it is suffering from just the opposite: feelings of superiority over the rest of the world.

To know the true China and understand what she feels not only about herself but also the rest of the world you only have to look at the name of the country. China, in Mandarin Chinese, is Zhong Guo; 中国.

Zhong Guo means Middle Kingdom. That is, the people who live in China gave their country that name because as far as they were concerned at the beginning of time the gods placed them in the center of the universe, in the center of the earth, as the preeminent form of life, to rule over and receive tribute from all other peoples that then or might ever exist.[1]

To be more precise, the word zhong translates into two conjoined meanings. It means both “middle” and “center” or “central.” Thus the name Middle Kingdom has two meanings. First, that the kingdom the Chinese were meant to rule over occupied that place in creation that was above the lower level where inferior life forms and beings existed, and below the upper level where the gods existed, and second that the place in this universe and on this planet where the Chinese people actually live marks the exact center of both the universe and the earth. In other words, short of whatever exists in the lower kingdom of the inferior life forms, or the higher kingdom of the gods, here in the universe that we exist in China and the Chinese people occupy the top center position. They are the best of the best. Accordingly, the people of China and their government should be considered the rightful rulers of the universe as we know it.[2]

The next time you begin to think that America is a pretty good country and Americans a pretty good people, consider what 5,000+ years of Chinese civilization based on a tenet that claims that all humanity revolves around them has taught the Chinese to think of themselves and their country.

Temple Of Heaven - Tian Tan 

What does all of this have to do with our review of the military strategic imperatives that relate to Japan? The answer lies in the role that the Chinese think Japan should play in the world, versus the role Japan thinks it should play. And in this regard this very simple two word phrase—Zhong Guo—has a lot to do with what the Chinese think. More to the point, it is this thinking and a pent up feeling the Chinese public harbors about its superiority, including the view that it is about time the government demand from the rest of the world redress for past grievances that it suffered, that is causing the tension that led to the Pivot Strategy.

In Japan’s case this translates into a direct threat to Japan’s sovereignty. The threat grows directly out of the concept of China sitting at the center of the universe and therefore deserving of tribute being paid to it by all other states. This spiritual-cum-ideological belief began during the Neolithic era as Chinese civilization developed in the regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys. As Chinese civilization developed it came into contact with other civilizations, and as it subjugated these other civilizations the peoples of China developed a Sino-centric view of the world, one which helped them understand how they should view the numerous new states they were encountering and conquering. This Sino-centric order prevailed throughout China’s history right up until the early 20th century when it collapsed with the last Emperor and the dynasty itself. Considering that the last Chinese dynasty ended in 1911, it’s not surprising that many Chinese still see themselves as being at the center of the universe, or at the very least subscribe to the idea that the countries of the Pacific basin should conform to a Sino-centric order.

As this relates to Japan, the late discovery by the Chinese of the existence of Japan (circa 600 AD) caused a hiccup in the Sino-centric order, and that hiccup is at the root of today’s problems between these two countries. As China developed and conquered its neighbors the order the Chinese ascribed to the world was structured around concentric circles in which China’s ruling dynasty sat at the center, with all of the other barbarian tribute states occupying outer rings, in order of priority, with one state per ring, based on how China’s rulers saw the other states in terms of their level of civilization and most importantly their fealty to the Emperor. Of all of the states that China included in the structure Korea sat closest to China, giving it a putative superiority over all other states in the order.

Japan on the other hand never made it into the circle. As far as the Chinese were concerned, when it first discovered Japan the civilization it saw was not worthy of being included in the circle. After all, Japan was isolated from the known world by a huge sea, it had conquered no other kingdoms, it had no relations with any of the other tribute states, and worst of all it didn’t even have a complete language of its own… Japan had borrowed Chinese words and ideograms it learned from visiting fishermen to fill in the blanks in its own language. For the Chinese at the time, Japan was considered an anomaly, possibly an example of a form of life just emerging from the lower world to the middle world. Whatever it was, it was not worth treating as a civil society and so it was excluded from the Sino-centric model.

Japan, of course, thought differently. As far as it was concerned, it was China that was backward and not worth knowing. Japan was an advanced, politically independent society that had never and would never pay tribute to anyone. It had no need of China, and would be quite happy if it just went away.

While originally developed thousands of years ago, the reader can see the problem the Sino-centric model brought into the modern world as it relates to the relationships among the countries of Asia. For one thing Japan’s having never been included as one of the centric states throughout its history meant that neither China nor any of its vassalages needed to consider Japan in their thinking of the world or how it ran. For all of them Japan was a non-entity. Interestingly, this applied not just to matters of life and governance but also of war. After all, as a subservient entity to China it was up to China to protect its subjects from Japan, if such protection was ever needed.

For another, Korea, being second only to China in terms of moral and righteous ranking meant that while China would set and define historical orthodoxy Korea’s interpretation of history would be superior to that of Japan. In modern day terms this means that when it comes to claimants to the Senkaku Islands both China and Korea’s view of history should hold sway over Japan’s. Japan, being considered by the Sino-centric order an undeveloped culture just emerging from the lower world during the Xia Dynasty (c. 2100 – c. 1600 BC) couldn’t possibly have a claim to these islands, regardless of the fact that Japanese speaking people inhabited them at that time.

Click to read more


What's Next ? 

Personal Drones

No opinions expressed here on our part. Just some links to get you to start thinking about the subject. Read on the internet everything you can find about domestic use of drones, then form your own opinion. When you have one, let your Congressman and Representative know what it is, regardless of which side you end up on. The issue affects your constitutional rights and those of your children and grandchildren... it's too important to leave to a do nothing congress to decide.

● Domestic drones: security and privacy game changer - Network World


● Bill would clip wings of private drone use - The Washington Times


● Over a hundred unmanned drones have taken to U.S. skies this year - Catholic Online


● Fourth Amendment caution for drones - The Virginian-Pilot


The Obama Doctrine

- A companion piece to our article on Japan at left -

Editor’s Note: With the political vitriol that exists today it’s nearly impossible to write anything about the incumbent President without someone seeing it as a political statement either for or against him. That’s not what we are writing of here. In the article that follows we make no political statements. You may read them as such, but we assure you we are not offering them as such. Instead, what we are doing is trying to figure out what the Obama Doctrine is and how America’s military leaders can go about  bridging the gap that has always existed between the policies a President espouses and the strategic military imperatives that the Pentagon must develop in order to support those policies. As you will see in the article below, in order to do that one must discuss not only the Obama Doctrine, but the mindset and thinking of the man who created the doctrine. In this case, President Barack Obama. Whether he comes out looking good or bad is of no consequence to us. What is of consequence is whether it is possible for the U.S. military to develop a set of strategies that can be successfully implemented and achieve his policy goals. If, when reading our comments below, you see politics at every turn, perhaps you have been watching too much TV. If so, we respectfully  recommend that you consider turning off Fox and MSNBC for a while and spending more time with a good book. It may do you well.

The Obama Doctrine

It’s interesting that Sarah Palin got tripped up when Charlie Gibson (ABC News) asked her about the Bush Doctrine, and as a result saw her value as a V.P. running mate take a nose dive, not to mention her credability. Heck, everyone knows what the Bush Doctrine is; it’s that the U.S. has the unilateral right to take action against any country that harbors or gives aid to terrorist groups, whether they actively support those groups or not. Why didn’t she know that?

It’s interesting we say, because if you ask anyone what the Obama Doctrine is they’ll likely look at you with the same blank stare Ms. Palin had for Charlie Gibson.

Does Obama even have a doctrine, you ask? Or are his foreign policy decisions being decided each day on the basis of how well that day’s breakfast sat with him?

Surprise! We think he has one… it’s just not well known and while a few insiders are speaking of it, it's not being publicly articulated by any of his media minions. As to why this is so, well, we’ll leave that up to others to figure out. As we said above, our goal here is not to get into politics but to uncover what the foreign policy positions are that drive America’s strategic military interests. In this regard, knowing what the President’s foreign policy principles are is central to knowing what the U.S. Army, the Signal Corps and of course the rest of the U.S. military has to do to support those philosophies.

In President Obama’s case it appears that not only does he have a doctrine of his own, but that he’s aggressively implementing it. Sure would have been nice if he told the rest of us, huh?

As for why our interest in this topic, think of this article as a companion piece to all of the other articles we have and will be publishing on the countries of Asia that are part of the State Department’s “pivot” or “rebalance” strategy. To know whether the positions we are espousing to you on the strategic imperatives and tactical objectives for each of these countries are useful or not, it’s necessary to know of the higher cause that brings about these necessities. One of those causes, among the most important of all, has to do with the foreign policy and defense doctrines that are held in the mind of the President. If Obama has a doctrine then we need to know what it is.

To get to the heart of the Obama Doctrine it is useful to reflect on how the President handled Libya’s uprising, and how he is handling that of Syria today. In the past the U.S. had a clear view that even in cases where our own interests were not directly threatened, if the well being of a people was threatened, say by a brutal dictator, then we Americans had an obligation and responsibility to step in and protect those people. 

Usually we were the first to call for an effort to stop the brutality, twisting arms in the U.N. to try to get a few countries to ride along with us to restore civility and peace to the troubled area. One could start with Argentina in 1890, but even on a modern day level, how else can you explain our involvement in the Dominican Republic (1904), Cuba (1906), Soviet Union (1918-1920), Haiti (1914-1934), Dalmatia (Croatia, 1919), Greenland (1941), Greece (1947), the Berlin Airlift (1948), Formosa (Taiwan, 1950-1955), Lebanon (1958, 1976), Congo (Zaire, 1968), Cyprus (1974), Kuwait (1991), Somalia (1992-1995), Bosnia (1992-1996), Macedonia (1993), or any of the other literally hundreds of peacekeeping efforts we have undertaken to help troubled peoples? Sure, some have been to assure that a pro-U.S. government either stayed in power or took over, but there were just as many cases where our military’s involvement was purely for humanitarian purposes. It’s part of America’s character: we have in our life and country the best the world has to offer and that—coupled with our predominantly Judeo–Christian heritage and ethics—means that when the world needs help we should be among the first to step forward. For centuries this way of thinking has been part of our value system… or rather, it seems that it used to be.[3]

Why "used to be?" Because President Obama seems to have fashioned a part of his Obama Doctrine on the position that we're no longer going to take the lead when a trouble spot flares up in the world. Instead, his doctrine seems to follow a pattern suggesting that we're going to either beg, compel or coerce others to be the first to step forward, with whoever steps forward providing both the money to pay for the effort as well as the manpower to address any needs on the ground.

One could see this at work during the Libyan battle that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi... a former signal officer himself. More recently, this doctrine appears to continue to be in force in today’s Syrian conflict… an internecine battle that has claimed 38,615 lives and displaced 1,550,000 Syrians so far.[4]

Muammar Gaddafi - Signal Officer - 1969

Muammar Gaddafi - Signal Officer - 2011

Whether this is good or bad for America, or what the moral implications are for the changes this will bring in our own value system, we will avoid taking a stand on here. After all, our objective is to understand the Obama Doctrine itself and how it impacts the role the U.S. Army plays in its foreign dealings with other militaries and countries, not to comment on the kind of national policy that says that as long as my house doesn’t catch on fire it’s not my problem if my neighbor’s house does and it burns to the ground in the process. Notwithstanding this seemingly non-American approach to this most serious world affair, there is no doubt that an American policy of non-involvement in regional conflicts that kill tens of thousands and displaces millions is going to change how the world sees us, and that in turn is going to change how it treats our military and affects our military's ability to implement its own strategic imperatives.

We can see this already happening. If America no longer stands as a bulwark against rogue regimes killing their own citizens what does it stand for? As a foreign policy, this “it ain’t my problem unless it affects me personally” approach is raising eyebrows. France for one, who as a rule is usually quite giddy about the prospect of criticizing America for its knee jerk tendency to get involved in every little battle on the planet, was baffled by our approach to Libya and is just as puzzled by our approach to Syria. “What?!” they are saying, “You want us to be the first to go in and do something?? Ce ne peut être!"

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James R. Mccrone, OCS Class 68-01 Memorial


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[1] Zhong Guo can variously be written as Zhong guo, zhong guo, Zhonguo, and zhongguo and all be considered correct. Notwithstanding this, the term is in reality composed of two separate words and so purists would normally write it as Zhong Guo, with the words being capitalized since it denotes a specific country. Chinese characters are pictographs, where the pictures embedded in the characters tell the story behind the word’s meaning. Follow this link to see how the Chinese characters for Zhong Guo, 中国, depict a country that sits at the center of the universe. - To return to your place in the text click here: Return to place in text

[2] The reader should immediately see the similarity between this form of tri-level existence that the Chinese believe in and that of the American Indians (e.g. the Creek), who have beliefs that say they too exist on a plane above a “lower world” but beneath a higher level “upper world” that contains the universe of the gods. The similarities are to be expected, since as all know the American Indians of today are descendents of a Paleo-Indian race that migrated from Asia across Beringia around 16,500–13,000 years ago. Along with themselves the American Indians of that time brought with them spiritual beliefs originally derived from ancient Chinese ways of life. One of the key differences however is that the beliefs of the American Indians shifted away from a view that they were the anointed rulers of the universe they existed in towards one where they were an equal but no more deserving part of the world around them than, say, the cedar tree, bear, eagle, mountains, or waters of the earth. That isn’t the case with the Chinese, who even today harbor deep seated beliefs that they occupy a position above all other sentient beings on earth. - To return to your place in the text click here: Return to place in text

[3] From Wounded Knee To Libya: A Century of U.S. Military Interventions; Dr. Zoltan Grossman - To return to your place in the text click here: Return to place in text

[4] According to various sources, including the United Nations, up to 19,460–26,860 people have been killed, of which about half were civilians, but also including 9,805–10,000 armed combatants from both the Syrian army and rebel forces and up to 1,755 opposition protesters. According to the UN, between 500,000 and 1.0 million Syrians have been displaced within the country. The Syrian Red Crescent revised its estimate of displaced people to 1,550,000 at at July 21, 2012. - To return to your place in the text click here: Return to place in text