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From Our Home Page Archive
Page as originally published in January 2015
— This Month —
Aren't You Glad You Retired?
Slam, bam, thank you Mam...
The Pentagon's Revolving Door
Here we go again...
An Archive of War
- - - - -
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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
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Aren't You Glad You Retired?
Slam, bam, thank you Mam...
Aren’t you glad you retired?
It seems that America is running out
of money, which means that the DoD is running out of money,
which means that the Pentagon is running out of money, which
means that the Army can’t afford to have all of those young
Captains and the like running around… well… costing America
money... which means that many of them are right now packing
their bags and heading home—for good. You see, since there’s
no war on this month, our ever frugal government has
decided to get rid of a bit of excess baggage… like 1,188
Now, aren’t you glad you retired?
Remember the RIF, that wonderful thing
that hits the military after every war? Well, it’s back
again… big time. With no big wars on the horizon… and
America sick of those small little troublesome ones that
seem so hard to win, the wonderful people in Congress that
set the budget have decided that money spent on helping
illegal immigrants will get them elected faster than money
spent on the military. Well… to be honest, they never said
that; that’s just our opinion. Anyway, the people in
Congress that allocate funds and the people who spend the
money allocated have decided that it would be nice if the
Pentagon reduced the size of its workforce. Not just any
workers, mind you… but the ones that wear railroad tracks.
tracks. You remember those, don’t you? They’re the little
silver bars that people called Captain have been wearing on
their shoulders since 1832. As it stands, since November the
Army has been notifying a number of its Captains that their
military careers are coming to an end. Oh, and for good
measure, the Pentagon has tossed into the pot some 550
be accurate, the RIF began back in July, although it’s just
now coming to the general public’s attention. We heard of it
through OCS Candidate Don Fedynak (Army Signal OCS Class
04-68), who thought it not just strange but troubling that
the people picked to be pink slipped seem to be some of
America’s best Officers. He said it reminded him of stories
he heard from some of our own Board Members, about being
kindly asked to leave the Army after a lifetime of service
But hey… that’s our America! Right?
Something should be done about the
disruptive, slipshod way in which these decisions are made,
where people who have dedicated their lives to our country
are put out to pasture with nary a thought to either their
situation or the readiness of the unit/Army/country they
It’s not that RIFs should be done away
with; that’s not our point. We understand that national
financial needs mean that the Army has to —to some
degree—grow and shrink with the economy… but it shouldn’t do
so at the expense of those who gave their all for the
country—especially if some of those are among the most
skilled, capable and dedicated of those serving, and have
repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice their
personal wellbeing and family life for our country. Those
people—the ones who make America what is it, not the
undisciplined slackers that roam the street marching in
support of political views fostered by MSNBC pundits—deserve
better than a thank you note and a boot in the ass from some
administrative separations group at a base they never served
at, as they are pushed out the door.
Consider for example the simple fact
that 48 of the 1,188 Captains being let go served with
distinction in Afghanistan. When President Obama finally
realizes that he needs real boots on the ground to
put down ISIS, where does he think he is going to find those
boots… and seasoned, combat qualified Officers to lead them?
More likely than not sometime around
the end of 2015 the Pentagon is going to wish it had those
48 combat experienced Captains back. Mark our words.
Then there’s the way these Captains
were let go. Of the 1,188 that were notified back in June of
2014 that their careers were at an end, 87 were deployed
outside of the country at the time of their notice. Now
that’s a fine howdy-do: slam, bam, thank you Mam… you are no
longer needed… see if you and your family can find a place
back in the states where you want to live, and we’ll get you
there. What you do once you get home is up to you, we don't
need you anymore.
Yet that too is not the end of the
disrespect and affront being foisted on this group… it seems
that one-fifth of the Officers targeted for RIF began their
life as enlisted men. What’s wrong with this, you ask?
Look at your own career. As an OCS
graduate you began your career as an EM and you earned every
damned advancement that came your way, from PVT E-1 to
whatever grade you had when you left the Army. More likely
than not that means that you had far more experience in
military matters, leadership and command than those of equal
rank that you served alongside of, e.g. those who put their
bars on fresh out of some educational institution located at
some quiet little place on a river in New York state.
is not to say that OCS and other EM-grown Officers are
better than those others, it’s only to say that there is a
whole lot of solid experience and knowhow in the heads of
Officers who grew their skills from within the ranks…
experience and know how that ring-knocker Officers take
decades to learn.
But even that's not the end of this
debacle. The biggest problem we have with the RIF that's
running now is with respect to the size and allocation of
the complement of people being let go. The Army is facing
far more service cuts than any other branch. Under
directive, in 2014 alone, the Army lowered its complement of
men from 530,000 to 508,000. Considering the number of
kinetically hot spots in the world, twenty-two thousand men
is a big number, but that’s still not the end of it. This
year (2015) another 20,000 are slated to be cut.
The fact that all are being forced out
of a life they have committed themselves to for ten years or
more is tragic. Good people… dedicated men and women… have
been laid off without a care or concern. Clearly, there is
no place for a union in the military. However, if ever there
was a time when a union was needed to protect “worker’s
rights”, this would be it.
Everything That Goes Up Must Come Down
Candidate Donald Fedynak (Army Signal OCS Class
04-68), who served with the 221st Signal Company
(Pictorial) in Vietnam in 1969, sent along
a message that said "Here's something you might
be interested in for the website… a video of
footage that I shot in ‘Nam and recently
edited… it’s the Skycrane recovery of a VNAF
plane that went down in a rice paddy in
1969… got a pilot who flew those type of
missions to narrate… there are also stills from
the mission that were published in Hawk
magazine… I think all our old aviators will get
a kick out of it..."
– Click either
image above to enlarge –
1st Aviation Brigade Skycrane Recovers a Downed
Vietnamese Air Force A-1E Skyraider
The Pentagon's Revolving
Here we go again...
It’s not supposed to be
this way. The office of the Secretary of
Defense is not supposed to be fronted by a
revolving door. The man who sits in the chair is
not supposed to change with the time of day. The
job is much too important for this kind of
juvenile politicking. Arguably, the position of
Secretary of Defense is more important to
America's well being than even that of the
President. Without it being occupied by a
centered, clear headed thinker, America is in
We say this because today
the desk of the Secretary of Defense is the
place where the buck really stops when
it comes to keeping America safe. By comparison,
the desks of
all others in our government that sport
important titles are of little consequence. The
people who occupy them do little more than
shuffle memos that spout off about make-work
ideas of little value to America. For the most
people are nothing more than bureaucratic noise
makers. From the office of the Secretary of
Homeland Security, who focuses on how many pairs
of shoes have been taken off at airports this
week as a means of keeping America safe, to the
head of the CIA who spends his time fighting off
people like Diane Feinstein and others hell bent
on emasculating his department, to the heads of
the FBI, State Department and others, all the
people who hold these positions do is run around
making noise and playing politics.
To be fair to them, it’s
not entirely their fault, in part because most
of the Presidents who have held office since the
days of Eisenhower have moved from setting
strategy and leaving the tactics for how their
goals will be achieved to their Cabinet, to
micromanaging the tactics and ignoring the issue
of strategy all together. And so today we have
no discernible strategy for the Middle East, or
for dealing with an aggressive China, coming to
grips with how Iran will be kept from having the
bomb, or anything else for that matter. Instead,
when an issue pops up on the global stage most
of the Presidents that have traipsed through the
White House in recent memory, including the
current one, seem to focus more on trying to
micromanage a response than setting a policy to
preclude its recurrence. And who can blame them?
All they are doing is following the lead that
President Johnson set when he first started
picking bombing targets in Vietnam. The fact of
the matter is that
sitting in the SitRep room watching a bunch of
Green Beanies storm an al-Qaida hideout is far more
fun than sitting in the Oval Office trying to
figure out how to fix the world's problems.
Pity the poor Gates
or Panetta or Hagel then, Secretaries of Defense
all, fully capable of running their fiefdom better than
their President can… but nevertheless unable
to do so without being micromanaged every step
of the way.
Pity these men who all had their fill of a
rudderless ship of state in need of a course to
sail more than help in steering it. When the new
Secretary of Defense that President Obama has
proposed is confirmed he will face this same
problem. And to add insult to injury, he will be
the fourth Secretary of defense in six years.
That’s disgusting. Four Secretaries of Defense
in six years.
This page last updated 1 January 2015. New content is constantly being added.
Please check back frequently.
1 January 2015 –Alvin H Watkins, LTC(R) SigOCS Class
7-66 sent an update in the way of more photos for
his album. Al's chopper from his Vietnam days is on
display in the Smithsonian. You can see his latest
pictures of his days in Vietnam by visiting his
personal bio page and clicking on the album at the
bottom of the page.
Our thanks to Al for his update. Now, all of you
Army Signal OCS Grads out there that have not yet
sent in your own short bio, how about getting to it
this coming year? Make it one of your top priority
New Year's Resolutions!
1 January 2015 –Signal OCS
Graduate Nick Mills (Class 01-68) has overseen the
publishing of a new book about Vietnam. Nick is an
associate professor of journalism at Boston
University. He is also responsible for putting
together the volume on Combat Photography for the
Time-Life series "The Vietnam Experience". Nick's
book is called "The American Experience in Vietnam
-- Reflections on an Era", published by Boston
Publishing Co. Inc., Zenith Press, 2014. Find it on
Amazon and buy it today .
One reviewer commented, "As a helicopter
pilot in Vietnam, I saw a lot of what's in this book
firsthand, but this book covers the whole country
and it was very interesting for me to see what was
going on in other areas of operations. The photos
are very good. I recommend this to anyone who was
there if they have any interest in the bigger
picture. I also recommend to those who have
questions about what is really like - the photos
tell the story."
3 November 2014 –The association
needs a couple (maybe three) class coordinators who
intend to attend the reunion in San Antonio next
year... to verify addresses... to encourage others
to join them there... etc. So the question is, who
is going against all training to volunteer for the
"job"... Don't let the "silence" be deafening!!
Contact MAJ (R) Richard Green TODAY!
11 November 2014 –A new Class Photo
for OCS Class 66-04 has been sent in and posted.
This one has the names of all of the candidates
shown on it. Be sure to check it out!
Continued from left column...
Sure, it may be true that the President is the Supreme
Commander of America’s military forces, but that doesn’t
mean he should be running the Defense Department. Let’s be
honest: when was the last time a President was in office who
had a clue as to what the U.S. military was all about, how
it runs or how to use it? The guy in office today has never
spent a day in uniform, never mind a year on the field of
battle. And while his predecessor may have filled out an Air
Force uniform at one time, he seems to have worn it only
when he absolutely had to… doing his best at every
opportunity to use his family's Yale pedigree and
connections to escape military duty whenever he could.
You’ve heard of Weekend Warriors? Well “W” was the
Then there’s Clinton. His aversion to serving was so strong
we doubt he ever even bothered to learn how to spell
Warrior. One wonders what his wife would be like as a
President. We’ll bet she can’t wait to get her hands on the
DoD, push the Secretary of Defense aside, and run it like a
Tupperware party on steroids, full of gun toting homemakers
out to shoot anyone not supporting women’s rights. If you've
heard Hillary Clinton's rhetoric about a war on women, elect
her and watch as she takes control of the DoD, pushes the
Secretary of Defense aside and uses the U.S. military to
mount a war on men.
But we jest...
Ah for the good old days, when the Office of the President
set national policy and left it up to subject matter experts
to implement his policies. Those good old days when the
President would decide when to go to war, actually take the
time to ask Congress to issue a declaration of war to
legitimize the undertaking, and then turn the war over to
the Secretary of Defense to fight, while the President sat
back and satisfied himself with feedback from the Joint
Which raises the question, if we were Ashton Carter,
President Obama’s nominee for the next Secretary of Defense,
and we were confirmed as the position, what would we focus
If left to our own devices, we would focus on these issues:
1. Improving The Defense Acquisition Process
2. Addressing Budgetary Matters
3. Finding Ways To Negate Bureaucratic Inertia And
4. Developing An Ability To Focus On More Than Just Air-Sea
1. Putting Life Back Into America’s Transatlantic Security
2. Middle East Security Issues
3. Finding Ways To Manage China’s Rising Power In Asia
Let's take a look at these, one at a time.
An Archive of War - Part I
Examples of effective American decision making and leadership, as seen through
the documents of war.
Last month in this space we offered an article with the rather long sub-title
The words behind the phrase "unconditional surrender".The article itself was about the
actual process by which America issued its demand to Japan to surrender. The
point of the story was that while we all know about the war, few of us know how
America's demand was made known to the Japanese, or what the actual wording of that
Hidden within the story however was a back story; one that suggested that the
America of our fathers was a stronger, more secure America than the one we live
in today. As we saw it, the "old" America of that time was peopled with leaders
that didn't have a doubt as to where we as a nation were going, or how to get
there. They were decisive, clear of mind and determined to not only make America a better country, but take the world along with us too.
Men like Roosevelt and Truman led the crowd, with
others in their cabinets like
Cordell Hull, Henry Stimson, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., and even more, all working
together to push
through programs like the
Valley Authority Act (which allowed the federal government to build dams and
power plants to both generate and sell power as well as engage in economic
development for this poverty stricken area of America), the
Conservation Corps Act (which created work camp jobs for 250,000
men of ages 18 to 25, and in the process both improved America's environment
ecology, as well as established some of our greatest parks), the
Glass-Steagall Banking Act (which instituted banking reforms, including
establishing the FDIC as a means for protecting the money ordinary American's placed in
their local banks), and much more.
These men, along with military leaders like
George Marshall, James Forrestal, Chester Nimitz,
Douglas MacArthur, William Halsey, Jr., George S. Patton, Billy Mitchell,
Dwight Eisenhower and others, took
center stage during this period... a period when the world was in chaos and upheaval,
suffering from a global economic meltdown greater than any experienced before
or since, while engaged in the largest war the world has ever seen. During
all of this these men led with clarity of purpose and integrity beyond measure,
bringing America through it all, making it a stronger and better country along
The men of those times were true leaders, who thought in unequivocal terms.
They were decisive, determined, disciplined and dedicated.
While not always beyond reproach in their personal lives, their public ethics were above reproof, their
honesty unimpeachable, their integrity the thing of legends. They were
Americans, of a kind and type which, with very few exceptions, we have failed to
see as leaders since. And while they harbored their own fears, they feared not
in taking a righteous stand for our country... such as drawing a red line, telling another not to cross it,
and taking quick and unambiguous action if they did. Of perhaps greatest value, their decisions were
clear and precise... as is evidenced in their writings, especially the documents
they published in telling the world what it could expect of America.
Compare that if you will to those who run our country today: Congressmen who
publish "reports" intended to hang America's dirty laundry out for the world to
see... telling tales of "torture" backed by one-sided, biased information... all
for political gain. President's who dally with interns, play golf more than they
preside, bow to foreign potentates, and backslide on every major issue of
consequence they face. Ideologs who trash America to further their cause,
with nary a concern for what their efforts do to our nation as a whole. And race
baiters... the worst of all of them. Men who earn their living ginning up racial
confusion, confrontation, invective and hatred, as a means for raking in
millions a year in compensation.
One sees the failure of America in the acts of these people. We fear that
through their leadership many Americans are no longer able to think clearly or
see the truth of the situations that befall us. As an example, where once being liberal was a
point of pride relating to the means by which people made decisions, as in "how
one goes about thinking of ways to solve a problem," now being liberal denotes a
bias towards income redistribution, big government and high taxes intended to
generate yet more money for yet more government programs.
Conservatism too has lost its meaning, suggesting a right wing extremist mindset
more so than a penchant for traditional values. While the died in the wool
conservative may not have changed, how the world views this species has morphed
to the point where whatever he is, he is now the opposite of a liberal. To be
sure, where once these two were befriended world travelers walking the path of
life together, now they are perceived to be mortal enemies... each intent on
changing America to fit their image of how it should be and how it should work. No longer do
our leaders fight to be elected for the chance to administer America.
Now they fight to have the right to change it to suit their image.
One longs for the days of the last generation. Not that those days were easier
by any means; they weren't. As we already said, the men of those days wrestled
with a global depression that makes today's economic problems look like a child
5¢ short of what they need to buy a Coke; while at the same time those same men
fought a global war against enemies that make Al Qaida look like the Cub Scouts.
Disagree with us? Then you be the judge: match the torture the Japanese levied
POWs in the South Pacific with that of Al Qaida or ISIS today — The Bataan
death march, the Burma–Thailand ‘death’ railway; the rape of Nanking, human medical
experimentation in Manchuria, cannibalism on Chichi Jima, the "Manila massacre",
the Wake Island massacre... need we go on? Or how about in Germany
— concentration camps where over 11 million Jews, gays and gypsies were
put to death... all for a political cause. Compare that if you will to today's
troubles and you will see that the problems groups like ISIS bring to our world
pale in comparison to the acts of terrorism and state sponsored murder America's
leaders had to deal with in the first half of the 20th century.
What those men had to deal with makes President Obama's problems look like
child's play... like the hyper exaggerated claim that blacks today suffer from racism.
There is no doubt that there is still discrimination today, but the hyped up concoction of victimization
that ugly men like Al Sharpton and others peddle as racism is nothing compared
to the kind of real racism that existed in the 1930s and 40s. For
people like Sharpton, Eric Holder and even Presidnt Obama to claim that police,
landlords, NBA owners and everyone else in America hates blacks is not only
disingenuous but dangerous in the extreme. If they really feel this way then
rather than ratcheting up the rhetoric they should be doing something about it
by pushing for laws that will level the playing field, or prosecuting those who
have violated existing discrimination laws.
Little wonder then that when we read the documents from America's last era...
the one managed by our greatest generation... we see simplicity and lucidity in
those leaders' way of thinking, rather than the muddle headed speechifying
that seems to come out of Washington today. When leaders of those past days put
down their thoughts, there was clarity of purpose and reasoning in their decisions, and in how they explained
their thinking and conclusions to the world. We long for that day.. when our
leaders solved problems rather than just talked of them; when they brought us
together rather than apart.
Last month we showed you one of those documents: The
It set out in clear, concise terms the conditions for surrender that Japan would
have to accept... as well as the reasons for those conditions and what Japan
could expect either as a result of her capitulation or our response if she
refused to. This month we bring you another document from that era... one
related to the same topic. This one too shows clear headed, reasoned thinking on
the part of the men of that day. It's titled "Final Directive Authorizing Use of
Atomic Weapon Against Japan" and comprises the actual order that released
America's first nuclear weapons
for use. Again, what you will see if you read it is clarity of purpose, mind and
intent. Something woefully missing in the White House today. No line in the sand
here, the order is unambiguous, unmistakable and precise.
From time to time as this new year unfolds we will post in this column, under this byline, other
documents of this type; documents that show lucid, sober, reasoned,
intelligent leaders from America's past thinking and acting in ways that made
Would that today's leaders could learn from them.
January Crossword Puzzle
Vietnam War Trivia
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
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