Thus we see the first point of weakness in the defense of the men and materials of the Philippines, and their ability to monitor, track and react in real time to the enemy’s operations. That weakness came about through poorly managed radio transmission SOPs, created in part because of a weak command structure created through the placement of the physical location of the FEAF command HQ in a backwater spot, physically removed from the military’s centers of communication and activity.
Put another way, the entire command structure was undermined by a set of SOPs that allowed the communication men who operated the communication nets of this HQ to see the central command itself as not part of the big picture. After all, except for the desk the Commander sat at being located at Neilson Field, nothing else of importance was located there… nothing in the way of personnel management (S1), intelligence (S2), operations (S3), logistics (S4), planning (S5), or communications (S6). It was no wonder then that incoming messages from the War Department to the FAEF Commander got lost in the morass of high priority and plain fascinating messages being bandied about regarding the ongoing attack on Pearl Harbor.
As to why HQ Command was located at Neilson Field, it was because... rightfully so... the commander thought that his being close to the Pursuit Squadrons that were soon to be stationed there was more important than being close to the bombers at Clark Field. He wanted to be where the resources were that would defend his turf, rather than the resources that, at this pre-stage of the not yet started conflict with Japan, might be called upon to bomb Japan itself.
At Clark Field the Signal Corps had provided telephone and teletype connections with Iba Field, Neilson Field and Nichols Field, but little else. For the most part, this was all based on landline connections. While SCR-197’s had recently arrived to give tactical radio communications to each of the fields, they had not yet been put into service at the time of Japan’s attack on either Pearl or Clark.
Instead, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (aka PLDT), the state owned phone company of the Philippines, had agreed to provide commercial telephone service to Brereton’s headquarters. In lieu of the SCR-197s, which were ground mobile high frequency radio stations, the communications that controlled the entire Philippine U.S. Army and Air Force’s command was entirely dependent on hard wired telephone service provided by PLDT... a non–U.S., state owned civilian enterprise.
True, the telephone service provided linked all parts of Luzon to Clark, and via telephone messenger was able to relay reports to Neilson Field, but it was still landline based. The structure built was barely more modern than the military telephone based mode of communication used in WWI.
Further to this, this telephone linkage supported all of the surveillance and reporting systems the FEAF command put in place and depended on. That is, all of the aircraft spotters that had been sent into the field, or located at key observation points along the coast of Luzon, performed their duties by reporting what they saw via telephone to Clark, for further relay on to Neilson Field.
To be fair to those that designed this kluge, when originally designed and put in place the intent was that the spotters’ reports would be telephoned to a communication center at Neilson Field, for relay via teletype to Clark. However—because the manpower assigned to handle these messages was mostly located at Clark—as actually implemented, the reports were telephoned in to Clark and then relayed by teletype to Neilson. One can imagine the confusion this caused. With the SOPs on message management having to be bastardized to fit the reality of the situation, it was impossible to know if HQ at Neilson Field knew of or received coast reports of enemy activities, or not.
Trying not to be too critical of these efforts, we must remember that it was intended that all of this be replaced with a more modern, mechanized method, based on more modern communication equipment. Considering this, one can place the blame then on either the U.S. military’s inability in the Philippines—at the time of the December 8 attack—to assess their situation with respect to the enemy—or those in Washington that prioritized sending U.S. Signal Corps communications equipment to Europe, rather than Asia. In effect, by doing this the War Department logistics managers in Washington were essentially writing off any serious military attempt or capability to defend the Philippine's military’s operations, or those in the rest of Asia.
As to what was actually planned for the Philippines, after all of the manpower and communication needs of Europe were met, it was intended that this primitive arrangement of spotters reporting by telephone, with reports being sent on via teletype, was expected to be replaced with mechanized and infinitely more accurate reporting systems, operating on the backs of a communication net based on the Army’s new aircraft detection devices. These included the long-range radars SCR-270 (technically: U.S. Army Signal Corps Set Complete Radio, NO. 270, or SCR-270) and SCR-271.
The reality of the situation however proved different from the War Department's intentions. Here then Intent clashed with Strategy, causing the Tactics to not be able to be implemented when war came to the Philippines.
Reassignment of men and materials to Europe, not to mention the fact that as of December 1941 very few SCR sets had been manufactured, made it impossible to send more than a handful of each to the Philippines. Records of what was shipped to Clark back in those days are difficult to come by today, but our best effort at research suggests that only half a dozen radar sets were sent and received at the time of the Japanese attack on the Philippines. Of these half-dozen, only one was set up and in satisfactory operating condition when war broke out. This was manned by a unit called the Signal Company Aircraft Warning group, a group that was formed as part of the War Department’s “Philippine Department.”
Initially composed of a decently sized contingent of men and Officers, the Signal Company Aircraft Warning group arrived in Manila on 1 August 1941, with about 200 men but with no aircraft warning equipment. The first SCR-270 allotted to this group and the Philippines arrived two months later, on about 1 October. At once the men uncrated and assembled the sole SCR-270 that had arrived.
For those unfamiliar with the SCR-270, the key to its operation was the primary water-cooled 8 kW continuous/100 kW pulsed transmitting tube. Early examples were hand-built, but a contract was let to Westinghouse in October 1938 to provide production versions under the Westinghouse designation "WL-530" and the Signal Corps type number "VT-122".
A pair of these were delivered to the Army Signal Corps in January 1939, and were incorporated into what was then renamed the first SCR-270. It was tested and proved satisfactory in the Army's maneuvers that summer. Following this testing, several improved components were then introduced, with the Army offering contracts for eventual production.
The original SCR-270 consisted of a four-vehicle package including a K-30 operations van for the radio equipment and oscilloscope, a K-31 gasoline-fueled power generator truck, a K-22B flatbed trailer, and a K-32 prime mover. The antenna folding mount was derived from a well-drilling derrick, and was mounted on the trailer for movement. When opened it was 55 feet (17 m) tall, mounted on an 8-foot (2.4 m) wide base, which contained the motors for rotating the antenna. The antenna itself consisted of a series of 36 half wave dipoles backed with reflectors, arranged in three bays, each bay with twelve dipoles arranged in a three-high four-wide stack. Later production versions of the SCR-270 used 32 dipoles and reflectors, either eight wide by four high (fixed) or four wide by eight high (mobile).
In use, the antenna was swung by command from the operations van, the angle being read by reading numbers painted on the antenna mount. The radar operated at 106 MHz, using a pulse width from 10 to 25 microseconds, and a pulse repetition frequency of 621 Hz. With a wavelength of about nine feet, the SCR-270 was comparable to the contemporary Chain Home system that was being developed in England, but not to the more advanced microwave systems being used at that time by Germany. Regardless, the frequency used turned out to be useful, as it was found to be roughly the size of an airplane's propeller. This caused it to provide strong returns from incoming aircraft, depending on the angle of attack.
Generally the SCR-270 had an operational range of about 150 miles (240 km), and consistently picked up aircraft at that range. The nine-man field operating crew consisted of a shift chief, two oscilloscope operators, two plotters, two technicians, and two electricians. Best of all, again, the SCR-270’s was a mobile system.
In addition to the SCR-270, a model designated as the SCR-271 was developed for fixed location use. The SCR-271 was a less expensive ($35,000 vs. $55,000) version, but required considerably more effort to set up. Five of the sets were in Alaska by the time war broke out. Either way, both types were massive and complicated mechanisms, and it was necessary to spend many hours testing and adjusting the sets, as well as training and instructing the men who operated them. No test equipment of any sort accompanied either of these sets.
Fortunately, in the case of the very first SCR-270 that was sent to the Philippines, it gave the Signal Corps Communication Officer that put it into use little in the way of trouble. So little in fact that Signal Officer Lt. C. J. Wimer and a detachment of thirty men were able to take the radar to Iba Field, an airstrip on the coast of Luzon, about a hundred miles to the northwest of Clark Field, and get it operational in short order. Iba Airfield was built by the US Army, prewar, as an airfield at which pursuit aircraft could be stationed.
By the end of October the Iba radar was in operation. At about the same time, command and control of the FEAF was slowly being moved from Clark Field to Neilson Field, to better coordinate the HQ units being moved there also. Lt. Col. Alexander H. Campbell, the Officer In Charge of aircraft warning activities set up—as the Iba Field radar was being brought online—a central plotting board at Neilson Field, to coordinate the activities of all of the then various types of air warning systems… from the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company supplied telephones that linked field spotters, to the new radars that were slowly beginning to arrive.
More specifically, within two weeks three more SCR-270 sets arrived at Manila, as well as two SCR-271’s. All were temporarily stored, in crates, until Signal command within HQ could determine where to set them up.
The 271’s, being fixed radar systems, had to be mounted on high towers, which in turn had to be built. Once they were in place, they could not be moved, and so the decision as to where to place them was important. This especially as It took months to prepare the sites. Because of this the SCR-271’s were left in their crates, and stored at the back of the warehouse.
Of the mobile sets, two appeared to test satisfactorily when they were fired up, but nothing could be done to coax the third unit to operate with any degree of reliability.
Recognizing that time was of the essence, within a few days of having tested the two operational units, Army Signal Corps Officer Lieutenant Rodgers was ordered to take one of the operational units and set out by boat for Paracale, in Camerines Norte Province, Luzon, to set that unit up. About 125 miles southeast of Manila on the coast of the Philippine Sea, he not only took with him the better of the mobile sets but also one of the crated SCR-271’s. The plan was that he would use the mobile set until a permanent site for the fixed radar unit could be made ready. Rodgers and his men got their 270 set up, and started preliminary test operation by 1 December.
Meanwhile, Col. Spencer B. Akin, who had been assigned the duty of being General MacArthur’s Signal Officer, arrived in the Philippines. Unlike the situation in Hawaii, where the Aircraft Warning Company and the operation of the radars were Signal Corps responsibilities at the outbreak of war, in the Philippines the Air Forces controlled the entire air warning service. Although it was not one of his responsibilities, Colonel Akin felt compelled to recommend strongly that all radar sets and Signal Aircraft Warning Company personnel allocated for the Philippines be sent to the Philippines at once, without regard for the established priority schedules for personnel reassignment and equipment shipment that the War Department had set up.
To move things along even more quickly, Akin doled out the remaining radars in the closing days of November, assigning them to Signal Officers to get them into operation. Colonel Campbell, again , the Officer In Charge of aircraft warning activities, sent Lieutenant Weden of the Signal Company Aircraft Warning group to a site some forty-five miles south of Manila, on Tagaytay Ridge (Filipino: Lungsod ng Tagaytay), on the site of an old volcano that had subsided into an island in the middle of a lake formed by the volcano.
Weden was assigned the damaged SCR-270 set, and told to do his best to make it work. The thinking was that the extra height of Tagaytay Ridge might help the unit detect incoming aircraft. Unfortunately any hope that it might work in this location soon faded; the set could not be made to operate satisfactorily, although it was still useful for training.
On 3 December another Signal Corps officer, Lt. Robert H. Arnold, a graduate of Army Signal Corps OCS Class 43-16, was ordered to rush the last remaining SCR-270 to Burgos Point, on the extreme northern tip of Luzon. Known locally as the location of the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, the place is today considered a cultural heritage site, in the town of Burgos, the province of Ilocos Norte.
Its heritage is based on the fact that a lighthouse was built on the spot during the Spanish Colonial period. The lighthouse was first lit on March 30, 1892, and is set high on Vigia de Nagpartian Hill, overlooking the scenic Cape Bojeador, from which early galleons transporting silver to and from Spain and Mexico used to get their first sighting of the Philippines, their final destination. While the SCR-270 that was set up next to this lighthouse has long since disappeared, the lighthouse itself still functions today… some 125 years from its first being lit.
Of importance to Lieutenant Arnold, when selecting this spot he recognized it as the most northern place in Luzon, sitting on the southern edge of the Luzon Strait itself, only 160 mi (250 kilometers) from Japan’s southern border. One can imagine then that if the objective was to watch for approaching bombers and combat aircraft flying in from Japan, there could not have been a better location in which to place a radar installation.
Lt. Arnold arrived at the spot he picked out for his radar on the night of 7 December, and promptly set about assembling it.
At nearly the same time, a few days earlier in fact, the Marine Corps unit at Cavite informed Colonel Campbell that it had just received a radar set, but that no one knew how to operate it. This was an SCR-268 radar, a short-range searchlight-control set developed for the Coast Artillery and not intended as an aircraft warning system, although it was sometimes used as such. A Signal Corps crew hurried to Cavite and helped the marines take the set to Nasugbu, below Corregidor, on the southwest coast of Luzon. There it was set up and made operational.
All in all then, this was the tally of aircraft warning radars in the Philippines on the morning of the Japanese attack: an SCR-270 at Paracale, with tuning and testing just being completed, an SCR-271 still in storage and crates; a faulty SCR-270 at Tagaytay Ridge, still giving trouble but able to be used for training; an SCR-270 at Burgos Point, in the process of being assembled; an SCR-268 at Nasugbu Field, in the care of an untrained crew; one SCR-271 still in its crate in a Clark Field storeroom; and finally, at Iba Field, the one radar fully competent and able to perform its role.
Interestingly, when it was first brought online, according to the young Signal Corps Officer in charge of it, the prime purpose of the Iba Field radar installation was to demonstrate to commanders and troops alike what radar was, what it could do, and how it operated.
Today, knowing what we know about the Japanese attacks, this kind of thinking sounds naive. Either way, naive or not, it didn’t last long, as a grimmer mission emerged in the closing days of November, 1941. At that time Colonel Campbell ordered Lieutenant Wimer to immediately institute a 24-hour alert… and stay at that level until further notice.
It seems that what prompted Colonel Campbell to act was the visual sighting of hostile planes that week, over Clark Field. Attempts to intercept them had failed, but Campbell was not about to take any chances and so he ordered the alert.
Sure enough, on the nights of 3 and 4 December the Iba radar station tracked another sortie of unidentified aircraft, this time north of Lingayen Gulf. This radar sighting was radioed to Neilson Field, but again attempts to intercept the enemy aircraft failed. It seemed that while radar helped in spotting incoming flights, it was not as useful in helping the intercepting pilots find those planes and engage them.
And so it was that sometime in the early morning hours of 8 December (it was 7 December in Hawaii) the Iba radar plotted a formation of aircraft, again offshore over Lingayen Gulf, but this time headed toward Corregidor. The formation was plotted about 75 miles offshore, at a time within a half hour after the first unofficial word of Pearl Harbor reached the Philippines.
Or at least that’s what the records say. The Signal Corps officer in charge of the Iba Field radar, Lieutenant Wimer, remembers things differently. He said that the time was just before midnight, and the distance was more like 110 miles, instead of the reported 75 miles. He states that the first news of the Pearl Harbor attack had not yet reached Iba.
Regardless, the 3rd Pursuit Squadron located at Iba immediately launched planes to intercept the incoming flight. Unfortunately, it was at this point in time when one of the shortcomings of the SCR-270 came to light. As a long-range radar it was good at detecting oncoming aircraft, but not at showing the elevation of these same targets.
In the darkness of night, intercepting pilots could be sent in the right direction to find the target, to the point that the radar operator on the ground could identify when the two sets of aircraft had merged on his radar screen, but that did not solve the problem of the intercepting pilots actually seeing the target aircraft. In other words, without knowing at what altitude the enemy was, knowing that they were somewhere in your vicinity was next to useless.
Adding to this, while the radar system could reach out over the horizon to see the enemy, the radio communication systems of the time could not do the same in terms of keeping a working line of communication open between the radar operators and the pilots. In this case, poor air-to-ground radio conditions prevented contact between the radar operators and the American pursuit aircraft, even though the Iba station itself was able to keep in touch with the aircraft warning Headquarters at Neilson Field.
This was frustrating, as the Iba Field tracking capabilities were so accurate that they were able to notify the HQ at Neilson Field of the enemy's flight path changes, as they were making them, on a point by point basis. Similarly, so accurate was the SCR-270’s tracking capability that the radar operators were able to calculate the point of interception for the American pursuit fighters, before the pursuit aircraft even reached it. In this particular alert on the morning of the 8th of December it was calculated as being about twenty miles west of Subic Bay.
And so it was that the radar tracks of both groups of planes actually merged at that point, thus signaling a successful interception, even though the American pursuit aircraft could not and did not see the Japanese planes. Apparently, the truth was that the Japanese passed beneath the intercepting American aircraft, after which the they turned and headed back out to sea.
As we said at the beginning of this article, America’s failures in the early phase of the war against Japan can be attributed to a military not yet ready to fight that war. Not ready in that a) the routines, protocols and SOPs that were needed to counter any enemy threat were not fully fleshed out or implemented, and b) the equipment needed to accomplish the mission was neither available nor provided. Or as we said earlier: Mission written and assigned: yes. Manpower trained and assigned to the mission: somewhat. Equipment and supplies provided to support the mission: no.
In the case of the war in the Philippines, these problems all came together when the Japanese flight on the morning of December 8, 1941, off the coast of Lingayen Bay, went un-intercepted.
From a historical perspective, it shows how difficult it was for the Signal Corps to get up to speed in its new role of conducting coast watch activities as well as tracking, reporting on and directing intercepting flights for the newly formed Army Air Force. From a command perspective, what was worse was that this failure to come to grips with the enemy was to be only the first of a series of tragic missed opportunities. Missed opportunities that spelled disaster for the Far East Air Force.
Regardless of whether the Americans in the Philippines were ready for the Japanese or not, the Japanese were ready to take it to the Americans. This we saw come true when the next sortie of Japanese aircraft that was spotted found no more resistance than the one that arrived earlier that day. MacArthur's men were asleep at the switch, with the result that this time the Japanese bombed the airfields and radar installations on Luzon to smithereens. So well did the Japanese do their job that utter confusion took place within MacArthur's command, such that what happened over the next few hours has become clouded by dispute, and cannot be reported even today with any degree of accuracy.
As far as we can determine, it appears that the Japanese made several strikes at lesser targets before launching their main attack against Clark Field. All of the initial enemy flights were reported faithfully by the Signal Aircraft Warning service, both through calls from aircraft spotters on the ground (using old fashioned landline telephones provided by PLDT), through radar reports, and through transferred and forwarded teletype messages.
The Iba radar began picking up enemy flights due north over Lingayen Gulf, at about 1120 hours, at a distance of approximately 112 miles. During the next hour Iba's radar operators were kept frantically busy, checking and plotting enemy flights and radioing the reports to Neilson Field, as well as to subsequent points along the enemy flight path, until the planes were lost by interference from mountain echoes.
At this point historians assume that the Japanese flew down Lingayen valley, intending to stay out of sight and radar intercept much as they had done earlier that day at Pearl Harbor, when they flew below the peaks of the Mākaha Valley mountain range in order to avoid detection from the radars at Pearl. In the case of the attack on Luzon though, the radar signatures, temporarily lost as flights came inland and stayed below mountain peaks, were replaced with new plots of aircraft that appeared on the Iba radar screens even before the old plots had disappeared. All in all there were twelve sorties that were tracked, in waves of three flights each. The radar was still picking up new flights, and still reporting them, when the enemy’s bombers struck Iba Field itself, at about 1220 hours. At that point all radar tracking was stopped, as the SCR-270 was silenced and completely destroyed.
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Waiting and watching in the Neilson Field headquarters communications center, as the reports started coming in that morning, were Col. Harold H. George, Chief Of Staff of the V Interceptor Command; his Executive Officer, Capt. A. F. Sprague; his Aircraft Warning Officer, Colonel Campbell; and Campbell’s Executive Officer, Maj. Harold J. Coyle. Listening to the reports coming in, Colonel George predicted that “the objective of this formidable formation is Clark Field.”
A message was prepared warning all units of the FEAF of the incoming flight. Signalman Sgt. Alfred H. Eckles, on duty with the FEAF headquarters communication detail, carried the message to the Neilson Field’s teletype operator. There he waited while he saw the message being sent, and the acknowledgment of the Clark Field operator that it had been received by him. At that point, the time was about 1145 hours.
For the next half hour or so, George, Campbell, Coyle, and Sprague watched the plotting board, where the indications of the approaching flight were being charted. Campbell was apprehensive; he kept asking the others to do something about it, but the Air Warning Officers were waiting for the enemy to approach close enough to permit the most effective use of the outnumbered American defending aircraft.
When they decided that the Japanese were within fifteen minutes flying time of their target, Captain Sprague wrote a message. He showed it to George and Campbell. “What does the word ‘Kickapoo’ mean?” asked Campbell. They told him that “It means ‘Go get ’em’” in the Algonquian Indian language.
Factually speaking, this was not true, as the word Kickapoo is the actual name of the language, not a phrase within it. Either way, since it has never been explained further, one must presume that this was a secret phrase the fly boys of the time used to communicate with each other. Captain Sprague probably thinking the same took the message into the teletype room for transmission.
At this point the record becomes even more fuzzy, dissolving into a mass of contradictions, allegations and finger pointing.
Most Air Force accounts state that no warning message was received at Clark Field, and place the blame variously on “a communications breakdown,” “cutting of communications to Clark Field by saboteurs, and jamming of radio communications by radio interference,” an allegation that “the radio operator had left his station to go to lunch,” or that “radio reception was drowned by static, which the Japanese probably caused by systematic jamming of the frequencies.” In other words, the fault lay with either the Signal Corps communication network operators, the Signal Corps radar operators, or God.
Colonel Campbell states that he and the others assumed that the “Go get ‘em” message had been sent and received properly, since they had had perfect communication with Clark earlier, and since neither Captain Sprague nor anyone else mentioned any difficulty at the time. Even then they claimed, if the teletype circuit was out of order, there were direct radio circuits to Clark, as well as long-distance telephone and telegraph lines available in the Neilson Headquarters. So, if circuits were out of order the Signal Corps should have used an alternative means. Summing it all up, Campbell has repeatedly said that “if the Bomber Command was not notified—as its former commander, Brig. Gen. Eugene L. Eubank, insists—internal administration was at fault.”
Now, so many years later, research has determined why no counter sorties were launched against the Japanese. As it turns out, when the term Kickapoo came through at the 24th Pursuit Group’s communication center at Clark Field, Major Grover, the man in charge, was unable to determine if it was intended for Clark Field or Manila. Not knowing what the answer was, he held up launching the 20th Pursuit Group that was stationed at Clark. Fifteen minutes later, as the first bombs fell on Clark and did their damage, the devastation was so obvious that it was decided that the Army Air Force’s 20th Pursuit group was no longer airworthy or active, and should therefore be let loose, but written off as a functioning fighter squadron.
In reality, on the field at that very moment sat 17 anxious 1st Section, 20 year olds from the 20th Pursuit group, “sitting in their planes with their windscreens back, sweating and cursing from their two and a half hours in the midday sun,” with no idea why the red flag had not been waved to start their engines and launch to intercept the enemy.
Little did they know that when it eventually was waved, it would already be too late. By the time the flag was waved the time was 1235 hours, some 15 minutes after the Kickapoo signal first went out. Fifteen minutes after the order to intercept the incoming enemy aircraft, still no flights launched, and no one knew what was going on… not until one of the P-40 pilots looked up and saw the Japanese squadron wing over into dive positions, to attack the very same aircraft they were sitting in, on the ground, manned, but with their engines off.
We all know what happened next: the U.S. Far East Air Force became ineffective as an offensive force. They were bombed out of existence as their pilots sat in their cockpits, on the ground, with their engines off.
By the time the Japanese headed home there remained no more than seventeen of the original thirty-five B-17’s, the long-distance bombers which it had been hoped could alter the strategy of defense in the area. Now, without an air force, the military forces in the Philippines would have to revert to the prewar war plan of resisting for as long as was humanly possible… until MacArthur could return again and this time try to do it right.
As for the Signal Corps, it took much of the heat for the FEAF’s failure. In some cases it turned out to be the case that early Signal Corps radar and coast watch operations needed improvements… as we said earlier, in the areas of a) standards, protocols and SOPs needing to be tightened to assure that work routines were done properly, and b) making sure that the equipment needed to accomplish assigned missions was provided and put into service before the missions were launched.
But that wasn't always the case. Most of the time it was the Signal Corps that saved the day, as men scrambled to find alternative means of communication when systems failed.
Bringing us back to today, it’s interesting to compare the situation of the Japanese attack on the Philippines with that which the U.S. Air force faces today, in relation to the start of a possible war with North Korea. This is especially so as re. the Air Force's recent claim that it needs another 1,500 pilots if it is to achieve its current mission, never mind taking on the North Koreans.
In light of this, one must ask, in the event of a war with North Korea possibly turning nuclear, what will the U.S. military’s mission be, and how will it be performed. This being the first time America’s military will mount a nuclear war, are its standards, protocols and SOPs written, known and in place to support this new form of warfare, or will they be written on the fly as was the case in the Philippines in 1941? And if these routines are properly followed, will the equipment and trained men needed to accomplish the assigned missions—missions that have never been tested under real life combat conditions—be provided and put into service before the missions are launched, or will another fiasco unfold as with the case of Clark Field?
If America goes to war against North Korea it will likely happen sometime in the first half of 2018. We will all have to wait until that event unfolds to learn the answers to our questions above.
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 Source: The Fall of the Philippines:
The Desperate Struggle Against the Japanese.
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