Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Thursday, September 30, 2004


This is coolbert:

We do not seem to have ever had military dynasties in the U.S. Families whose generations of menfolk are devoted to military careers from an early age and make a name for themselves with military service.

This does seem to be something that was common in Europe in the days of nobility. Noble families would send their sons to military service, and these sons would begat other sons who would follow in the footsteps of the father for generations, etc [I am thinking here of such noble families as the von Freytag-Loringhoven's. A Prussian noble family that had generations of military men in it. Military men that fought in the American Civil War, World War One, and World War Two, among others.

[one Freytag-Loringhoven was involved in the attempt on the life of Hitler].

[Another Freytag-Loringhoven, Bernd, is the LAST survivor "Hitler's Bunker" in Berlin, 1945. He has only now, sixty years later, spoken about the events that occurred there!!]

This sort of thing just does not seem to happen in the U.S. Never has, probably never will. Why that seems to be so is just not clear.

Famous military names of American history just do not seem to produce dynasties of military leaders.

Washington of course was childless.

Robert E. Lee was the son of Light Horse Harry Lee, of Revolutionary War fame. But Robert E. did not seem to have any famous descendants that followed in the military footsteps of the great Confederate General.

Grant also did not seem to leave behind any sons or grandsons that became famous military men.

The Mac Arthur family for a while seemed to possess the stuff a dynasty is made of. First Arthur Mac Arthur attained the rank of General. And of course the famous Douglas followed quite closely in the footsteps of his father and achieved even more glory and greatness. Douglas did have children, but I don't think any of them had military careers.

The grandson of "Black Jack" Pershing fought and was killed in Vietnam as an infantry lieutenant [Dickie Pershing]. Perhaps he sought to continue the military service of his famous family. But his life was cut short.

"Pershing may best be remembered for his waggish ways, he was also a very bright young man who blossomed into a serious and skillful soldier. A second lieutenant with the 101st Airborne Division, Pershing was killed when his platoon was ambushed near Hung Nhon, 400 miles north of Saigon,while searching for a lost comrade."

The Patton family did have a military dynasty for three generations. One Patton was a general [??] in the Confederate Army. The most famous George S. Patton Jr. fought both in World War One and Two. And the son of George S., also called George [the IV, there was not III?], achieved the rank of Major General and fought in both Korea and Vietnam. But after George IV, the Patton family seems to have eschewed military service.

The family Mc Cain had the stuff of a dynasty also. John Mc Cain was on the way to the rank of admiral until his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. His experience and injuries as a POW precluded further military service. If he had successfully continued his military career, he would have undoubtedly followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both of whom were admirals. None of John's children have seen fit to follow in his footsteps.

Even in our own modern time, the Schwarzkopf family has produced two generations of military men, the famous Norman of Desert Storm, and his father, who was a major military man and a general in his own right too. But as with the Patton and Mc Cain families, none of Norman's children have sought out a military career.

It has been noted that big money only last three generations at the most in the very richest of American families. The first generation makes the money, the second generation consolidates the families position in society, but does not expand the financial base, and the third generation spends most of the money and are for the most part wastrels. Perhaps something akin to this pattern of behavior is also present in prominent American military families?? I just don't know!


Wednesday, September 29, 2004


This is coolbert: [This blog entry contains material first heard on Paul Harvey's radio program years ago].

Here is a story from the American Revolutionary War that illustrates the ironies of life, war, and how attitudes toward military honor and behavior have changed over the centuries.

The narration of Paul Harvey goes something like this:

"A group of British snipers lay in hiding, waiting to shoot down officers of the nearby American Continental Army."

"These snipers include their commander, Captain Ferguson, a British marksman/innovator."

"The snipers see two horsemen approach at close range. These two men are obviously ranking officers of the enemy Continental Army."

"The two horsemen seem to be doing a personal terrain reconnaissance of an area that in several days will become the site of the Battle of Brandywine."

"Ferguson gives the command to NOT SHOOT!? According to Ferguson, 'The range is only fifty yards. That is TOO CLOSE! It would not be SPORTING to shoot these officers at such a close range.'"

"The two men on horseback are suddenly alerted to the presence of the British snipers. The horsemen turn and ride off at high speed."

Ferguson again gives the command to NOT SHOOT?! Again, according to Ferguson, 'These men have their backs turned to us. It would not be CHIVALROUS TO SHOOT! Anyway, these are brave men.'"

"It is only later that it is determined that one of the two Continental Army officers is none other than George Washington himself."


This according to Paul Harvey.

And is this story credible? It seems, YES! Evidently one of the two Continental Army officers in the sights of Ferguson that day was George Washington. It may be, according to description, that the second officer was Casimir Pulaski. Just one shot from Ferguson could have conceivably changed world history in a dramatic and drastic fashion [I think most historians would agree that the death of Washington at this stage of the American Revolution would have meant the disintegration of the Continental Army and place the American revolutionaries in a precarious, if not hopeless position]. Read further about the Ferguson rifle by clicking here. Read further about Ferguson by clicking here. Read further details about the story by clicking here.

However, there is more to the story.

And there are ironies here.

One irony is that four days later the Battle of Brandywine did occur, with a victory for the British. Washington was doing a personal reconnaissance of the potential battlefield in advance. As mentioned in a previous blog, this sort of behavior, the commander doing such a terrain reconnaissance, is almost always a portent of something dramatic going to happen. As it did here. The same as with Tsuji at Malaya [1941], or the Soviet commanders prior to Czechoslovakia [1968]. One shot from Ferguson and the battle would conceivably not happened.

A second irony is that Ferguson was badly wounded at the Battle of Brandywine. Wounded in the arm, and wounded in such a manner that he was no longer able to do the one thing that MEANT THE MOST TO HIM, being a marksman and a sniper.

The last and final irony is that Ferguson was later in the war killed at the Battle of King's Mountain, leading British troops into battle.

Not only did Ferguson lose his life, but by Ferguson's chivalrous and sporting behavior, the British may have lost both the war and the American colonies.

Some persons have used this incident and others to venture that Washington enjoyed a divine providential protection to his very person.

Washington was a man of great physical courage, as witnessed in 1755 during the defeat of Braddock's English army by the French and Indians. One of the few men to keep his head, Washington, twenty three years old at the time, was a tempting target for French and Indian fighters:

"I luckily escaped without a wound, though I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me." [Washington's own account in a letter to his mother]. Read the entire letter of Washington to his mother by clicking here.

After reading about the incident involving Ferguson, even a skeptic may be willed to admit there is something to this divine providence stuff].

And now you REALLY know the rest of the story!! [Thanks again to Paul Harvey}.



This is coolbert:

Update on the newly opened American Indian Museum. There are weapons and implements of war on display in the museum. But they are implements of war acquired from the "white man". Muskets, rifles, pistols, etc. "White man's weapons" used by American Indians in their battles with the "white man". Implements of war as used by American Indians in warfare among themselves are NOT on display. That side of American Indian life is just not chosen for display.

Interesting program on National Public Radio [NPR] this morning about Deerfield village in Massachusetts. Deerfield is a small hamlet in the western part of Massachusetts. The village is about three hundred years old and is the site of a very prestigious prepartory academy used by the elite of old New England society to prepare young men for positions of leadership.

Deerfield is now making an effort to reconcile differences with the descendants of the American Indian tribes that occupied the area prior to the coming of the "white man". They are meeting with the Americans Indians for reconciliation. And this is all well and good. And is to be commended and praised.

It should also be kept in mind what happened to Deerfield village three hundred years ago.

The settlement of about two hundred English speaking settlers was attacked by a large band of Algonquin Indians commanded by French colonial officers. This war party proceeded south to attack Deerfield at the behest of the French, as the village was built on land contested at the time between the French and English colonial powers.

The results of this raid were apocalyptic for Deerfield village. A sentry fell asleep and allowed the war party to attack without warning. All the homes in the village were burned, a goodly number of the adult men were killed, and the survivors, men, women, children, numbering around one hundred eleven, forced marched back to Quebec. This all occurred in the winter time, at the harshest time of the year. Along the way, those unable to keep up with the forced march were executed. Those that survived the forced march were kept in various states of captivity for many years afterward. Some were kept by the Algonquin and ended their lives living among the Indians. Some were ransomed by other British colonists and did return back to Massachusetts. Some ended up growing up as French Canadians and did not return to the Plymouth colony. A very sad fate indeed. An account of this ordeal is most harrowing:

"Just before dawn, February 29, 1704, a band of 300 French and Indians attacked the Massachusetts frontier village of Deerfield.

The attackers had killed 49 villagers, . . . The surviving 111 people, many of them small children, faced a forced march of 300 miles through the wilderness, in the worst of winter, to Canada.

It resembled the Bataan Death March of World War II . . . The Indians killed those who could not keep pace.

The next day she fell wading a river. An Indian killed her with one stroke of his tomahawk. A hatchet also fell that day on the suckling infant of a neighbor and on an 11-year-old girl.

On March 7, a young woman who had suffered a miscarriage came to Rev. Williams. “Pray for me,” she said, “that God would take me to Himself.” She was anticipating her death which came later that same day.

One of the Indians had carried a four-year-old girl on his back with his pack. When the deep snow made it impossible to carry both, he killed the girl.

Williams had an Indian “master” assigned to him who fed him and provided snowshoes, but regularly threatened to kill him. One morning the “master” awakened Williams to tell him he must run that day because they expected to travel 45 miles. Williams said his aching legs and bloodied feet would not make it.

“Then I must dash out your brains and take your scalp,” the master said.

20 parishioners had died en route, eight weeks after the massacre . . . The Jesuit priests were determined to convert Williams and his parishioners to Catholicism.

Initially, the French treated him well.

“All means were used to seduce poor souls,” Williams wrote. “The Superior of the Jesuits offered me an honorable pension from the King of France if I would stay among them.”

As part of their conversion effort, Jesuit priests baptized children without the consent of their parents.

One priest expressed his compassion by reporting that before the Deerfield Massacre he had instructed the Indians to “baptize all children before they killed them; such was our desire for your eternal salvation, though you were our enemies.”

Persuasion having failed, the Jesuits threatened violence. Williams’ Indian master told him to cross himself and kiss the crucifix. He would be killed if he did not. Williams refused. He lived.

The Jesuits also proselytized the other Deerfield colonists, with little success. Two women on their death beds were denied visitors. The Jesuits reported that they had converted in their final moments and were given the last rites of the Catholic Church.

Finally, after more than two years, in November 1706, the captivity ended. Governor Dudley of Massachusetts paid ransom to the French and sent a ship to bring the colonists home. Fifty-seven captives, including two Williams children, arrived in Boston Harbor, November 21, 1706. Left behind, by her choice, was his daughter Eunice, 10, who later married an Indian and “thoroughly conformed to Indian dress and habits.”"

I wonder if any of this reconciliation will take into account what occurred to the inhabitants of the original Deerfield village?? Personally, I doubt it. Too bad. This is a good idea if done correctly. Quite often, these events just become a forum for more recriminations.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004


This is coolbert:

Don't expect things to always go your way in war.

Even when a new leader assumes command, it may take a while to turn around a bad state of affairs.

Even people with great promise sometimes take time to properly assess the situation and know in what direction to head.

And these people of promise may make mistakes and errors that sometimes result in great defeat or loss of life. War is not any easy business! The learning curve, as they call it, is sometimes protracted.

Such was the case with Winston Churchill during World War Two [WW2].

Upon gaining the position of Prime Minister in 1940, the war at that point was going very grimly for the British. Dunkirk had just occurred and the British had been expelled from the continent, and invasion of the British home islands by the Germans was imminent. Churchill at that point gave his blood, sweat, and tears speech that is so famous.

British leadership in the war up until the fall of France in June 1940 was under the control of Chamberlain, whose abilities seem to have been quite limited and lackluster. With the fall of France, a big shake up was definitely needed, and the result was the ascendancy of Churchill to the top spot.

The first test for Churchill upon assuming office of course was the Battle of Britain. And this resulted in a defeat for the Germans, albeit at great loss to the British as well. With the German defeat, an invasion of Britain itself was precluded, and the British and Churchill did have a brief respite. Churchill at this point was more or less commanding the war and making decisions normally left to the General Staff

However, subsequent to the Battle of Britain, a string of continuous British defeats in other parts of the world began.

And continued for almost two years.

First British defeat in Greece, then the same in Crete, then the numerous defeats in North Africa at the hands of the German Afrika Corps commanded by Rommel. The besieged fortress of Tobruk finally falling to the Germans after a gallant but futile British defense.

And the catastrophic defeat of the British forces in Singapore at the hands of the Japanese cannot be forgotten [was mentioned in detail in another blog entry].

Then in the summer of 1942 came the debacle at Dieppe, also touched upon in another blog entry. It was at this point that Churchill himself became nervous that he could follow the same fate at Chamberlain.

This did not happen. The victory of Montgomery at El Alamein seems to have saved Churchill..

[It should also be remembered that during the First world War, Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty. and proposed the abortive Gallipoli mis-adventure. And in the aftermath of this British defeat was sacked and removed from office. Great men do make mistakes!!].

Persons such as Lincoln and Churchill did have to deal with incompetence and did despair on many occasions at defeats of their forces. But they did prevail and showed greatness in the process. Even with defeats, superior leadership and ability can and will prevail.


Monday, September 27, 2004

This is coolbert: We have all heard about the amazing success the allied powers had during World War Two [WW2] in reading the German Enigma cipher machine. It is said that the ability to read in real time the secret messages being passed between the German commanders drastically shortened the span of the war, saved a lot of casualties, and played a very major role period in the defeat of Germany.

Much less has been written about similar successes against Japanese Army cipher machines. And this does strike me as somewhat peculiar.

A LOT HAS been written about the U.S. Navy and their success with the Japanese Navy's code system [JN-25]. This Navy success was very instrumental in the defeat of Japan during the war in the Pacific theatre. But this was a code system as opposed to a cipher system.

And A LOT HAS been written about the Japanese PURPLE cipher machine. And how U.S. cryptanalysts were able to read secret messages enciphered using this machine. And how reading these messages contributed to success both in the Pacific and the European theatres during the war. However, it seems the Purple was primarily a diplomatic machine. And evidently other Japanese cipher machines were read both before and during the war also. These were [??] variations of the same Enigma machine used by the Germans, at least to my understanding. Beginning with RED, followed by PURPLE, and also JADE and CORAL, all being read by U.S. cryptanalysts. But these do not seem to be Japanese Army cipher machines.

For whatever reason, the Japanese Army version of the Enigma cipher machine was not read until 1943?? This is a surprise to me.

"Colonel Sinkov and his American staff worked on the high-level Japanese Army codes.

Central Bureau did not break any high level Japanese Army codes until mid-1943 with the Water Transport code. Later that year, one main line Japanese Army code was broken." [I believe in this context they are talking about cipher machine in contrast to code].

Why it was not until this late date that the Japanese Army cipher machine was read is not really commented upon. Even by much earlier than 1943 the British and Americans were able to read machine ciphers and do so quite regularly and with proficiency. Since most of these cipher machines work on the same general principles [it seems the Japanese RED machine was a version of the Engima, the PURPLE an advanced version of the RED, and the JADE and CORAL versions yet again of the Engima], it would seem that if you were able to read several cipher machines already, the Japanese Army machine would be an easy target. For some reason this does not appear to be so. Read about the "cracking" of these cipher machines by clicking here.

Perhaps it was the case that in the Pacific theatre, cryptologic matters were given only 10 % of the resources available for analysis. This was the general rule throughout the war, 90 % of the war effort aimed at Germany, the rest toward Japan.

And it must have been that the various allied powers were interested in the activities of the Japanese Army prior to the outbreak of war and did intercept and analyze Japanese Army secret radio traffic.

The British Far East Coordination Bureau [FECB] has been mentioned in a previous blog. Stationed in Singapore prior to the outbreak of war, this unit was based originally in Hong Kong. And excellent location to monitor Japanese radio traffic for the four years Japan was at war with China prior to 1941. There must have been a lot of secret Japanese radio traffic available for the British to analyze.

And H.O. Yardley, the famous American cryptologist, in his book, "The Chinese Black Chamber", describes his mis-adventure in China trying to teach the Nationalists the ways of cryptanalysis. Evidently the Chinese were novices at the science and hired Yardley as a "distinguished" advisor. Yardley was proficient as a cryptanalyst and boasts of having read nineteen different Japanese cipher and code systems during his sojourn in China. These were in all likelihood low level communications, but nonetheless, Yardley was able to demonstrate that the Japanese systems were exploitable. Yardley was later prior to the outbreak of the war contracted by the U.S. government to elaborate on his observations of the Japanese crypto systems, but this effort came to naught [it seems the U.S. was interested in Japanese diplomatic cipher machines without having any traffic of Japanese cipher machines to work on].

So why was it not until 1943 that Japanese Army cipher machines were read by the allied powers in the Pacific? It is a mystery to me?? Perhaps some web sites and histories have this subject covered more fully, but it so, I have not found them.


Sunday, September 26, 2004

This is coolbert: In my last blog entry, I made a reference to a link that described "Project Touchdown". My comments in bold on the article in the link:

"Thanks to our battalion S-2, 44th Signal Battalion soldiers were aware as early as 1965 that the enemy was probably monitoring USARV tactical-radio nets. The Army Security Agency tried to make everyone else a believer in this, too. However, as I mentioned in my article in the last Army Communicator [Books, Winter 2002 edition], despite ASA's many warnings, it was USARV's official opinion that the NVA/VC had no equipment capable of monitoring U.S. tactical-radio nets, nor could they understand English well enough to use the information if they had the equipment and, most importantly, our tactical forces moved so fast and our actions on the battlefield were so quick that even if the enemy managed to acquire some information from our tactical-radio nets, it would do them no good and us no harm. That arrogance was to cost us dearly."

The powers in charge were aware as early as 1965 that something was going on. MANY WARNINGS, MANY WARNINGS!!! Not sure what, but aware something was happening.

"Since there was no COMSEC device, either internal or external, provided to this equipment until late in the conflict, the only solution was to constantly stress the vulnerability of FM voice radio to intercept and analysis and to carefully use Signal operating instructions, off-line (paper) operations codes and authentication tables (challenge and reply) to provide net security. As I said, however, before late 1969, the USARV and Military Assistance Command Vietnam commanders steadfastly refused to believe there was a real COMINT threat. This attitude was reflected across the entire force at every level."

There was comsec equipment available. But a lot of it was bulky and potentially difficult to use. Paper codes and challenge/reply, if well designed and used judiciously, are effective.

"Accordingly, since existing operations codes and authentication tables were cumbersome for the typical poorly trained FM voice radio operators (most of who were officers and senior noncommissioned officers) to use, they were rarely employed."

This stuff was available, but the operators were poorly trained. And a lot of them just did not take the time to do things right. It was the Army's doctrine at the time not to have dedicated trained radio operators at the maneuver level for the most part. Any soldier was supposed to be capable of handling the radio.

"our astute enemy used to extreme advantage."

Astute is an understated characterization if anything.

"No one to my knowledge has ever been able to calculate the number of names on the Vietnam Wall due to poor COMSEC, but all indications are that the number is considerable. The number of Americans killed and wounded in action due to lack of radio security certainly must, in my opinion, far exceed the much-publicized losses due to friendly fire or non-combat related deaths due to accidents, for example."

This is probably a fair estimate.

Embarrassed by Alpha-3

"Fortunately, in late December 1969--almost four years after the U.S. Army deployed major units to Vietnam and after four years of exposing our combat-radio nets to exploitation--the situation changed dramatically. On the morning of Dec. 20, 1969, a scout from 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, discovered a long wire antenna on the ground at the old Michelin rubber plantation in the area northwest of Saigon. The antenna wire led to a carefully concealed underground bunker complex that was packed with enemy radio-communications intercept equipment. This complex was the operations center for an NVA/VC platoon-sized radio "technical reconnaissance unit" known as Alpha-3 that was part of the NVA's 47th Technical Reconnaissance Battalion."

And this was almost five years, maybe it was five years, after the U.S. had become committed big time to ground action in Vietnam. All this time disaster was taking place, unknown to the U.S. forces. And the only reason this unit was found was by the U.S. patrol having a "Kit Carson" scout [VC defector who agreed to work for U.S. forces] finding the long-wire antenna of the enemy unit and following it to the dug out. Without him finding the antenna, this unit may have not been discovered!!??

"After a short fight, 12 members of Alpha-3 were taken prisoner. Even more significant, however, was the fact that U.S. infantry also captured all of Alpha-3's equipment and its logbooks. These logbooks proved without doubt that the enemy had been intercepting U.S. voice radio traffic over an extended period of time, understood the exact meaning of the traffic and were able to easily decrypt and understand traffic covered by unauthorized (locally made) codes and infrequent SOI changes."

One enemy interceptor was killed and twelve captured. It is very important that the prisoners were taken with their gear and logs captured intact too. This is useful in interrogations.

"Alpha-3's stuff consisted mostly of captured AN/PRC-25 or AN/PRC-77 radios and others bought from our South Vietnam allies or through third parties. Obviously, this equipment was 100 percent interoperable with the radios in our units since it was identical to our equipment. Supplementing the captured or acquired U.S. standard very-high-frequency equipment, Alpha-3 had several Chinese R-139 HF receivers and a good number of Sony and Panasonic commercial radios they had simply modified to work in the U.S. tactical-frequency bands."

Some of those commercial radios were stolen by GI's after the fact!!??

"Alpha-3 soldiers discovered they could solder together eight BA-30 D-cell flashlight batteries (no shortage of these) and produce the 12 volts of direct-current power the AN/PRC-25 needed to receive signals."

The transmit side of the radio was disabled and only the receive portion used. It would work on 12 Vdc.

"Alpha-3 was able to produce antennas that extended the normal operating distances of their radio-intercept receivers far beyond their expected range."

That long wire antenna was used extensively. Somehow it was resting only one foot above the ground and was able to pick up transmissions of all sorts. Not the sort of thing any respectable engineer would design. But it was not only effective as a radio antenna, it was camouflaged too. It was only the Kit Carson scout that knew what to look for that spotted it!!??

"Supposedly ignorant Third World Alpha-3 soldiers were expert enough to actually build radio receivers in the field from new and used parts obtained or manufactured locally."

Well, these guys must have had a lot of experience. Years worth. Maybe decades worth. Worked against the French and the South Vietnamese too??

"In short, Alpha-3 was reading our mail and knew exactly what it meant and what to do about it. U.S. infantrymen found handwritten logs containing the texts of American voice conversations transcribed verbatim in English and then analyzed by excellent English linguists."

These English linguists were described as having a PROFOUND knowledge of English. To develop that ability, it is normal practice to have lived among the native speakers. What is that??!!

"The civilian press, in fact, proved to be a great source of immediate operational information throughout the war. Present-day commanders should take a lesson from this when considering allowing the civilian press and its normally uncovered communications (satellite phone, cellphone, etc.) into their operations area."

Damned press as usual. If you told them this, they would have scoffed and talked about 1st Amendment rights or something. And how many of them were foreign reporters maybe in cahoots with the enemy and sending that stuff knowing it would be picked up???!!!

"The Alpha-3 logs showed us that back in 1965 we were passing this operations-security information over the air in the clear because we underestimated the enemy's COMINT capabilities:"

Again, at least since 1965. That is five years and nothing was known??

"U.S. units made extensive use of locally produced unauthorized codes"

Even if an unauthorized code works and is 100 % secure, you don't want to use it. Makes your unit stand out.

"* U.S. units often failed to use authentication procedures in a deception environment. This was particularly evident under a higher-stress situation such as medical evacuation, search-and-rescue, quick-fire artillery targets and units in contact with the enemy. The NVA's imitative communications deception could exploit this U.S. characteristic to lure evacuation and SAR aircraft into preplanned "kill boxes," misdirect artillery fire to harmless locations or on to U.S. forces and disrupt, confuse and expose maneuvering U.S. troops. I personally saw this at work in 1969, when an unauthenticated transmission caused 69th Signal Battalion's base camp at Ben Hua to be shelled, producing produced several casualties."

This is shown somewhat in the movie "BAT-21". Each and every pilot carried a vest on his body with a small beacon radio. Rescue aircraft could "home" on that beacon to rescue the downed pilot. The enemy would take these radios, set up an ambush, and activate the radio, hoping to catch U.S. chopper rescuers in a RPG ambush. I have informants that tell me they have talked to chopper pilots about this and not one has ever said they knew a thing about any of this!!??

"* U.S. radio operators, many of who were field-grade commissioned officers and senior noncommissioned officers, lacked proper circuit discipline."

If a lowly private made a security violation, I bet he would have never heard the end of it. Let a senior officer or NCO do the same thing or worse, and it would be command responsibility and decision.

"* Secure communications equipment, if available, was almost never used between 1965 and 1969, since the equipment (Nestor) was bulky"

Well, this stuff was available. And it was bulky. And prone to overheating too.

"After this, Abrams' hostility to Signal Corps officers, our training, doctrine and tactics as taught and conceived at Fort Gordon--and particularly Signal officers in S-6/G-6 assignments battalion through corps--is legendary. Led by the MACV high command, the Signal Corps quickly became the target for an unmerciful attack by our combat-arms brethren, who at the time needed a blood sacrifice and something to blame for why the ground war was not going particularly well. Unfortunately, much of the attack was well deserved."

To begin with, despite WARNINGS, the top brass ignored the advice that their message traffic was subject to intercept and exploitation. This is a fact. So they need to blame someone else. Someone else was negligent too, this is also a fact. Signal did not do it's job. But leadership must flow from the top downward.

"Many today will say of what relevance is this almost 40-year-old information to today's Army and Signal Corps?"

This stuff is as relevant to day as it was forty years ago. Will always be relevant.

" Never underestimate the capabilities of your "electronic enemy."

The devices and proper net-operations procedures do no good if you don't use them."

Well, it is all true. And how well are the procedures and devices being used now. I bet I know, but I am afraid to say. I hope for the best, but fear the worst. Maybe I am just a pessimist at heart.


Saturday, September 25, 2004

This is coolbert: In the book "Devil's Guard", the German commander of the French Foreign Legion battalion consisting of Germans in French Indo-China does make comments regarding the radio insecurity of the French and the negative consequences of making poor, injudicious and insecure use of the radio in war time.

Here are some comments attributed to "Hans":

"We had our own codes in German, a definite advantage over the Viet Minh. The enemy intelligence had often broken the French Army code [or rather the Chinese or Russian experts had done the job for them]."

"I had my misgivings about such detailed wireless dispatches whether they were coded or not. I had often requested a change of code but all in vain. In the German Army we had changed field codes every other day. The Foreign Legion used the same keys for months in a row. Recent events events made me suspect that the 'ears' of the Viet Minh were wide open both in Hanoi and in the radio listening posts in the frontier areas and Eisner swore that some of them were manned by Russian signal experts. I would not have been surprised if the enemy had the key to our code."

"In this respect, however, I underestimated the Viet Minh. A few months later we learned that for over six months three German nationals from the Soviet Zone had been attached to the Viet Minh High Command. Their principal task was to keep track of our communications."

It was often thought by American forces in Vietnam and by the American public in general that the enemy being fought during the Vietnam could be best characterized as a bunch of peasants wearing black pajamas, wearing sandals made of discarded rubber tires, while firing at American forces with home-made zip gun type weaponry. In reality the enemy in Vietnam was quite sophisticated in some regards. Espionage and intelligence gathering by the VC and the NVA was very good and highly stressed by the communists. And part of that effort to glean intelligence about U.S. forces, and the South Vietnamese for that manner, was by radio intercepts. Radio intercept units that were very poorly equipped by American standards, but then you don't need a whole lot of sophisticated equipment to do work in the area of radio intercepts. What you do need are smart, experienced and dedicated people who know their job and do it with panache. My intuition tells me the enemy the U.S. fought in Nam was more than up to the task in this regard. Click here to read a web site about some of what Craig was talking about in a previous post of his.


Friday, September 24, 2004

This is coolbert: No one ever said the military was cheap.

Here is an amazing statistic that bears this out. For the better part of at least two decades, the Chieftain was the main battle tank [MBT] of the British Army. And had a big main gun, of caliber 120 mm, with a very long rifled tube. Click here to see a site about the Chieftain. The amazing statistic is that each and every time the main gun was fired, the cost was $4,000 per shot???!!! No wonder the crews of these tanks maybe get to fire only about fifty or so practice rounds from the main gun per year. And perhaps a goodly portion of those fifty or so rounds are in qualification or what is called familiarization?

What exactly does this cost of $4,000 per main gun shot consist of?? Well, it presumably consists of ALL costs related to the gun itself, the round being fired, the developmental costs of the gun, the round, the propellant [the Chieftain had a unique firing system. The round to be fired and the propellant were not one item, they were two separate pieces. In practice, the Chieftain gun would have a round in the breech, but no propellant. Propellant would be loaded at the command of the tank commander prior to firing. NO shell left over after firing], the training of the crews, the time operating the tank, the cost of operating the firing range, etc. A whole lot of factors perhaps figure into the cost of firing each and every round.

This is the type of thing that seems to drive the civilian sector just crazy about the military. The cost seems just so disproportionate for the function. Like the $800 hammer or the $6,000 fax machine. Etc. These costs are taking into consideration a whole lot of pricing factors the public is just not aware of.

Again, no one ever said the military was cheap. Especially if you want modern, war-winning weaponry that gives you an advantage over the enemy.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

This is coolbert: Unfortunately, Craig is 100 % right about what he says. A lot of phoney baloney was said about the Vietnam veteran and all those who served during the Vietnam era period.

It IS unfortunate that the "angles" the media loved in Vietnam were just so negative. "Stories" abounded about Vietnam and Vietnam GI's. Most were later to be disproven.

One "story" that was thoroughly disproven was the claim that by 1970, MOST GI's returning from Vietnam were hooked on heroin. This was apocrypha going around the media that was widely disseminated. "Everyone" knew this to be SO!! As a result of this rumor mongering, the military began to test for drugs GI's returning from Nam. And they did find some heroin addicts indeed. But the percentage of GI's that were heroin addicts was no greater at all than the addiction of the general public in the U.S. NOT greater at all!! And yet the story persists that GI's coming back from Nam were just junkies on smack?!

Another story the media loved to cover was that the South Vietnamese army [ARVN] was a bunch of worthless cowards who would not fight, were corrupt, and were mostly derelict in their duty. Any and every image that could be put on TV to buttress this claim was broadcast. BUT, it is noteworthy that in all of the years of combat in Vietnam, there was only ONE week when the death toll of American GI's surpassed the weekly death toll of South Vietnamese soldiers. When ably led, the South Vietnamese soldiers did fight well. This was just never reported, or if it was, it was "counter-balanced" by images of say General Loan executing a VC terrorist or South Vietnamese soldiers looting the bodies of dead VC. U.S. intelligence was able to determine that even after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and the subjugation of South Vietnam by the communists, some South Vietnamese units continued to fight, even in absolutely hopeless circumstances.

Why was all this done? I just cannot say. It is really beyond me. Maybe it is the way journalism is taught in this country? I have heard that journalism professors tell their students it is not necessary to tell the truth. It IS necessary to tell your perception of the truth!!?? Whatever that means?



This is coolbert:

The other day was a significant day for the American Indian. A museum of American Indian artifacts devoted to displaying American Indian culture in all it's forms was opened.

And the museum is state-of-the-art and the museum building itself appears to be a major work of architecture. Modern, innovative, and state-of-the-art displays on the inside.

And many persons are commenting on how overdue such a museum is.

Most of the displays are from artifacts that were in safekeeping in either the Smithsonian Museum or held by the Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA]. And a lot of input into how to display the artifacts was forthcoming from American Indians themselves.

After all, this museum is dedicated to them. And this input was apparently judiciously displayed. The museum is generally accepted as being a very significant accomplishment.

Some artifacts, however, for some reason, are not on display.

These artifacts that have omitted, for whatever reason, are implements of WAR.

For some reason, the persons that decided as to what artifacts are to be displayed, did not deem implements of war as worthy of display. [only about 10 % of the artifacts that can be displayed are actually on display at any one given time].

There is presumably a wide variety of war artifacts that could be placed on display. This would include the usual suspects of knives, lances, clubs, tomahawks, and bow and arrow [The latter evidently was used sparingly by American Indians when in combat among themselves. American Indians, when fighting one another, seem to have preferred close quarters, hand-hand combat over the use of long-range missile fire as represented by bow and arrow].

Undoubtedly there are ulterior motives for not including war implements among the items on display in the museum. The curators do NOT want to display the American Indian as being aggressive and warlike. Rather, they want to portray the American Indian as being happy, contented hunter-gatherers and marginal agriculturalists living in harmony with nature and at peace among themselves. NOT as tribes and societies that had a warlike side to them.

This message is both correct and incorrect.

There were American Indian tribes that did live very peaceful and relatively contented lives, war being NOT an element of their culture.

And then there were other American Indian tribes that seem to have been thoroughly immersed in warfare.

Among the latter tribes, those that waged war on a almost continuous basis [and very successfully too], were the Apache, Sioux, and the Iroquois.

All three tribes were aggressive, warlike, and predatory.

All three tribes were highly skilled at war making and torture, and greatly feared by their neighbors.

All three tribes were expansionist, moving from their "homelands" to invade, conquer, and expel their neighbors. [Apache from Canada moved south following the Rocky Mountains to the area around New Mexico, Arizona, and northern Mexico. Sioux moved from the north woods of Minnesota to the area of the Great Plains. Iroquois moved from the Great Lakes eastward into the lakes area of upstate New York.]

All three tribes gave great resistance to the American settlers, those settlers intent upon their own expansion. On a number of occasions, these three tribes did inflict significant military defeats upon the settlers.

The very names Apache and Sioux means "enemy" in the language of their foes. The Sioux were also referred to by their enemies as "the tribe that will not listen!". Among themselves, the Apache like to call themselves Dine [din-eh] and the Sioux refer to themselves as Lakota.

These tribes did have a societal structure that was conducive to war making.

The Confederation of the Iroquois was efficient and well developed. At one point the Iroquois themselves suggested to the American colonialists that the Iroquois structure of government would make an excellent model for the colonialists to follow and emulate.

Joseph Campbell relates how American Indians organized their warriors into "societies". Societal organization that had a rational basis for waging war. Such as:

"Little Birds: Boys from 15 to 20 years old.

Pigeons: Men who have been to war several times.

Mosquitoes: Men who are constantly going to war.

Braves: Tried warriors.

All Crazy Dogs: Men about 40 years old.

Raven Bearers: [not described].

Dogs; Tails: Old men.

Horns; Bloods: Societies with peculiar secret ceremonies.

Soldiers: [not described].

Bulls: A society wearing the bull's heads and robes [buffalo??]."

It is not correct to NOT include implements of war in the exhibits at the American Indian museum. War, warmaking, conquest, etc., is all a part of American Indian culture and history just as it is for cultures found anywhere in the world. To neglect this part of the culture is NOT appropriate. Do not dwell upon it, but include it. Maybe future curators will??


The First Rathergate
The CBS anchor’s precarious relationship with the truth.

By Anne Morse

Critics are calling the media scandal over the Jerry Killian forgeries "Rathergate." But to thousands of Vietnam veterans, the real Rathergate took place 16 years ago when Dan Rather successfully foisted a fraud onto the American people. Then, unlike now, there was no blogosphere to expose him.

On June 2, 1988, CBS aired an hour-long special titled CBS Reports: The Wall Within, which CBS trumpeted as the "rebirth of the TV documentary." It purported to tell the true story of Vietnam through the eyes of six of the men who fought there. And what terrible stories they had to tell.

"I think I was one of the highest trained, underpaid, eighteen-cent-an-hour assassins ever put together by a team of people who knew exactly what they were looking for," said Steve Southards, a Navy SEAL who told Rather he had escaped society to live in the forests of Washington state. Under Rather's gentle coaxing, Southards described slaughtering Vietnamese civilians, making his work appear to be that of the North Vietnamese.

"You're telling me that you went into the village, killed people, burned part of the village, then made it appear that the other side had done this?" Rather asked.

"Yeah," Steve replied. "It was kill VC, and I was good at what I did."

Steve arrived home "in a straitjacket, addicted to alcohol and drugs" knowing that "combat had made him different," Rather intoned. "He asked for help; that's unusual, many vets don't. They hold back until they explode."

Rather then moved on to suicidal veteran named George Grule, who was stationed on the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga off the coast of Vietnam during a secret mission. Grule described the horror of watching a friend walk into the spinning propeller of a plane, which chopped him to pieces and sprayed Grule with his blood. The memory of this trauma left Grule, like Steve, unable to function in normal society.

Neither could Mikal Rice, who broke down as he described a grenade attack at Cam Ranh Bay, which blew in half the body of a buddy, "Sergeant Call." "He died in my arms," Rice tearfully recalled. Rice described how the sound of thunder and cars backfiring would regularly trigger his terrible memories.

Most horrific of all were the memories of Terry Bradley, a "fighting sergeant" who told Rather he had skinned alive 50 Vietnamese men, women, and children in one hour and stacked their bodies in piles. "Could you do this for one hour of your life, you stack up every way a body could be mangled, up into a body, an arm, a tit, an eyeball . . . Imagine us over there for a year and doing it intensely," Bradley said. "That is sick."

"You've got to be angry about it," Rather replied. "I'm suicidal about it," Bradley responded.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, drug abuse, alcoholism, joblessness, homelessness, suicidal thoughts: These tattered warriors suffered from them all.

The The Wall Within was hailed by critics who — like the Washington Post's Tom Shales — gushed that the documentary was "extraordinarily powerful." There was just one problem: Almost none of it was true.

The truth was uncovered by B.G. Burkett, a Vietnam veteran and author of Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of its Heroes and its History (with Glenna Whitley). Burkett discovered that only one of the vets had actually served in combat. Steve Southards, who'd claimed to be a 16-year-old Navy SEAL assassin, had actually served as an equipment repairman stationed far from combat. Later transferred to Subic Bay in the Philippines, Steve spent most of his time in the brig for repeatedly going AWOL.

And George Gruel, who claimed he was traumatized by the sight of his friend being chopped to pieces by a propeller? Navy records reveal that a propeller accident did take place on the Ticonderoga when Gruel was aboard — but that he wasn't around when it happened. During Gruel's tour, the ship had been converted to an antisubmarine warfare carrier which operated, not on "secret mission" along the Vietnam coast, but on training missions off the California coastline. Nevertheless, Burkett notes, Gruel receives $1,952 a month from the Veterans Administration for "psychological trauma" related to an event he only heard about.

Mikal Rice — the anguished vet who claimed to have cradled his dying buddy in his arms — actually spent his tour as a guard with an MP company at Cam Ranh Bay. He never saw combat. Neither did Terry Bradley, who was not the "fighting sergeant" he'd claimed to be. Instead, military records reveal he served as an ammo handler in the 25th Infantry Division and spent nearly a year in the stockade for being AWOL. That's good news for the hundreds of Vietnamese civilians Bradley claimed to have slaughtered. But it doesn't say much for Dan Rather's credibility.

As Burkett notes, the records of all of these vets were easily checkable through Freedom of Information Act requests of their military records — something Rather and his producers simply didn't bother to do. They accepted at face value the lurid tales of atrocities committed in Vietnam and the stories of criminal behavior, drug addiction, and despair at home.

Perhaps that's because this is what they wanted to believe. Says Burkett: The Wall Within "precisely fit what Americans have grown to believe about the Vietnam War and its veterans: They routinely committed war crimes. They came home from an immoral war traumatized, vilified, then pitied. Jobless, homeless, addicted, suicidal, they remain afflicted by inner conflicts, stranded on the fringes of society."

Burkett, who did check the records of the vets Rather interviewed, shared his discoveries with CBS. So did Thomas Turnage, then administrator of the Veterans Administration, who was appalled by Rather's use of bogus statistics on the rates of suicide, homelessness, and mental illness among Vietnam veterans — statistics that can also be easily checked. Rather initially refused to comment, and CBS spokeswoman Kim Akhtar said, "The producers stand behind their story. They had enough proof of who they are." For his part, CBS president Howard Stringer defended the network with irrelevancies. "Your criticisms were not shared by a vast majority of our viewers," he sniffed, adding that "CBS News and its affiliates received acclaim from most quarters . . . In sum, this was a broadcast of which we at CBS News and I personally am proud. There are no apologies to make."

Sarah Lee Pilley, who ran a restaurant in Colville, Washington where the CBS crew dined while filming The Wall Within, would not agree. The wife of a retired Marine lieutenant colonel who saw combat in Vietnam, Pilley, said she "got the distinct feeling that CBS had a story they had decided on before they left New York." After interviewing 87 Vietnam veterans, CBS chose the "four or five saddest cases to put on the film," Pilley said. "The factual part of it didn't seem to matter as long as they captured the high drama and emotion that these few individuals offered. We felt all along that CBS committed tremendous exploitation of some very sick individuals."

Why would Dan Rather do such a thing? Partly because the stories of deranged, trip-wire vets is much more dramatic than the true story: That most Vietnam veterans came home to live normal, productive, happy lives. Second, Rather apparently wanted the story of whacked-out Vietnam veterans to be true — just as he now wants the Jerry Killian story to be true.

Or maybe — despite a preponderance of the evidence — he considered the sources of these tales of Vietnam atrocities "unimpeachable." As angry Vietnam veterans began calling CBS to complain about the factual inaccuracies of The Wall Within, Perry Wolff, the executive producer who wrote the documentary, claimed that "No one has attacked us on the facts." Despite the growing evidence that he'd been had, Rather also continued to defend the documentary — which is now part of CBS's video history series on the Vietnam War.

Perhaps Vietnam veterans ought to take a page out of the book of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and air television ads exposing Rather's deceits — something along the lines of: "Dan Rather lied about his Vietnam documentary. I know. I was there. I saw what happened. When the chips were down, you could not count on Dan Rather."

Certainly, we cannot count on him for the truth. During a 1993 speech to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Rather criticized his colleagues for competing with entertainment shows for "dead bodies, mayhem, and lurid tales." "We should all be ashamed of what we have and have not done, measured against what we could do," Rather said.

Thousands of Vietnam veterans — not to mention the Bush campaign — would agree.

I have met all kinds of kooks claiming to be Viet Vets, talking about how awful it was, and about all the evil they had seen in Vietnam. Most claimed to be Marines. Most were not, and were lying through their teeth. And of course someone who was not there would have no idea that they were lying. And I am sure most people believed Rather's BS above.
At least Jane Fonda eventually apologized, sort of. I am still waiting for Dan. I guess his apology for the Bush forgery will have to do.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

This is coolbert: What Craig is talking about with regard to American radio insecurity is the adoption by American military forces world-wide of the automated CEOI [communications electronic operating instructions]. A response to the realization that American radio procedures were inadequate and had become an absolute liability. Too much valuable and potentially very damaging intelligence was being developed by the enemy who was able to intercept and analyze American radio traffic.

Something had to be done. And something was. This was the automated CEOI.

I like to refer to the automated CEOI as the "OH MY GOD" book. That is what the average soldiers reaction is when you see it. A thick document that at initial appearance is intimidating. But it must be used, is used, and is a tremendous improvement over what existed before. [Only a small portion of the CEOI is actually germane to any given day of a units radio usage. First glance intimidation of the CEOI is somewhat deceiving].

With the automated CEOI, all callsigns, suffixes, frequency usage, etc., have become uniform throughout the U.S. military. And change on a daily basis. A LOT of thought was given to the automation system for generating and assigning the callsigns, the suffixes [The suffixes identify an individual transmitter being used within a unit. I.e., the suffix 09 would mean the transmitter of the unit commander, 16 the transmitter of the executive officer, etc.], and the frequency usage. Duplications, contradictions, and conflicts have been avoided with the automated system. Given the large number of radio transmitters existing with say an American infantry division [as many as 10,000 [?????]], this is no small task.

Authentication/challenge/reply is also provided for within the automated CEOI by a daily changing key system facilitated by the use of a small, simple clipboard device [KAL-61] that has a slide mechanism on it. This daily changing key system allows for challenge/reply, encryption of map coordinates, and a simple speller code.

The automated CEOI also provides a two-part operational ["OP"] code to send and receive encoded messages, regardless of whether a unit has working secure cryptographic equipment or not. These OP codes also change on a regular basis [once every two days] and provide a pretty good degree of security if used judiciously. Your opposition would have to intercept a lot of radio traffic using the op codes. And then the process of reading the secret encoded traffic would take some time. What intelligence that could be gleaned by reading the messages, if they could be read, would be minimal as the information would be out of date by the time the traffic was read.

This automated CEOI IS hard to use unless a radio operator is skilled at using it. And not all radio operators are. But if people are trained and practiced in the use of the automated CEOI, they cannot go wrong and will not have to worry about providing intelligence to the enemy by using antiquated and poorly constructed systems of callsigns, frequencies, and codes and ciphers.

Poor use of radio communications can be a tremendous liability to any military. The automated CEOI was a quantum leap forward for the U.S. military.

[It may be that the current families of spread-spectrum technology, frequency hopping transmitters and receivers [the new 900 MHZ and greater cordless phones are an example of this technology] and built in cryptographic capability has rendered the ability of the enemy to glean intelligence from the intercepts of U.S. radio communications null and void. At least for a time?? But I would not rule out the possibility that this is NOT the case, or always will be the case. Radios must be used judiciously. They were not in Vietnam, with disastrous results in some cases]


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

This is coolbert: I have noticed a trend in the international arena that is both surprising and disturbing at the same time. This trend has to do with the consensus opinion that seems to be prevailing on the subject of war crimes tribunals.

It should be remembered that at the end of World War Two [WW2], war crime trials were held for many years in Germany. This had it's genesis in the Nuremberg series of trials of the high ranking Nazi war criminals. Persons accused of genocide, plotting aggressive war, war crimes, crimes against humanity, etc. And a large number of Nazis were tried, convicted, and hung. And an analogous series of trials, on a smaller scale, were also held to try Japanese war criminals. A number of Japanese were also hung. Trials of this nature continued in the decades following the end of the war at least in Germany. Even until quite recently. I think it was just a few years ago that the Germans finally did announce that no more ex-Nazis would be tried. These persons were just too old, feeble, and mentally unsure to stand and get a fair trial. Even recently, just a few years ago, in France, an ex-policeman who signed deportation orders for Jewish children, who were sent to Auschwitz, was tried and sent to prison, at the age of ninety-five [95]!

And the consensus opinion about these war crimes trials at the time was that this was fair and just, and necessary and even mandated. Such terrible damage was done that something had to be done by the world powers, the victors in the war, to bring about a sense of justice world-wide. It could not be a return to business as usual for the aggressors in WW2. Not only did something have to be done, but this was going to set a trend for the history of the world. International war criminals could no longer be safe after a war ended. Persons accused for committing horrendous crimes would be brought to justice.

And even at the time, there was criticism of the war crime trial concept. It was criticized that it was "ex post facto" law, that it was victor's justice, etc. And these criticisms were valid to an extent, but were mild and mostly muted.

Like I have said, there seems now to be a new consensus regarding war crime trials and holding perpetrators to account for atrocity and inhumane behavior.

The arguments raised now are that such trials are counter-productive. That rather that establishing a system of justice that allows victims some degree of retribution against their persecutors, these trials and punishments do not allow for reconciliation. Victims are basically told something along these lines:

"Yes, you were mistreated, maybe very badly. But you now have to get on with your lives and look to the future. And that future means you will have to live with your one time oppressors. You must get beyond what happened in the past, reconcile your differences with your adversaries, and get on with life. Not only that, but you should not desire revenge, or retribution. That will begat only more animosity from your erstwhile foes. Persons you will have to live with in the future!!"

This sort of attitude has been seen in say Sierra Leone, where just the most terrible atrocities were perpetrated by the "rebels". This usually involved cutting off the hands of those that would not support them. After negotiations, the rebels were not only not prosecuted for war crimes, but got a seat at the table of government.

[Most surprisingly, at least to me, is that the person who negotiated and oversaw the bringing of "peace" to Sierra Leone was Jesse Jackson. Claims the title of Ambassador as the results of his effort. Jackson is a person who would normally go into a frenzied mode if one black man in American was say beaten senseless by white police officers. Would rant and rave and stamp his feet up and down in his desire to see justice done. In the case of Sierra Leone, Jackson said that peace must come first, even if it meant accommodating the perpetrators of horrendous atrocities. This I just do not understand. To me it represents a contradiction of the most astounding nature!!]

And the same attitude is also seen in Rwanda. Hundreds of thousands of persons were massacred in the most grotesque manner within weeks. Some perpetrators are being tried and sent to prison. But the numbers of convicted are few, and the punishment for the most part is miniscule compared with the crime. [There was an incident where 4,000 Tutsi refugees fleeing massacre were herded into a church by two Catholic nuns, on the offer of safety. The church was then saturated with petrol from the outside by Hutu militias, and the structure burned to the ground, all inside perishing. And this with the knowing and in advance connivance of the nuns???!!! These two nuns were tried, convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison in a Belgian court. Well, figure it out, that amount to about 3/4 of a day for each death. Is that justice???!!!]

And who is it that is advocating the policy of reconciliation rather than retribution and justice?? Most surprisingly, at least to me, this advocacy comes primarily from non-governmental organizations [NGO's]. Groups that are very lefty. Groups that would pursue persons such as General Pinochet of Chile or Milosevic of Serbia to the ends of the earth. To me, this is a very surprising contradiction. I am not sure what the aims of these groups are, but it is not going to bring the reconciliation that they seek. It merely allow a whole bunch of plain ordinary bad old people to go free, or be punished very lightly. Go figure!!??

Read about a NGO implementing such a policy on the island of Bougainville, South Pacific Ocean, by clicking here. It seems that they had an eight year war going on there until recently. This policy of "reconciliation" is called restorative justice. My own opinion is that it will not restore anything or bring any justice. Is just band aid measures and feel good stuff!!

I know that the NGO's will say that the trials for war crimes after the fact are not satisfactory either, but please don't tell me that what they are doing is justice either!


Monday, September 20, 2004

Intelligence Failure III.

This is coolbert:

Regarding the ineptness of British Intelligence prior and during the Malayan campaign of 1941-42, some readers of this blog may ask the question, "well, how good was the Japanese intelligence effort?"

The terms, open and notorious, blatant and obvious apply to the Japanese intelligence effort in Malaya prior to the outbreak of war.

All during the decade preceding the outbreak of war, the Japanese had a large scale and widespread espionage effort in Malaya.

And as you may have guessed, in contrast to poor British intelligence, Japanese espionage was fruitful and successful.

This effort WAS duly noted by British counter-intelligence [CI], as inept as British CI in the peninsula was, but no effort was made by the colonial administration to curb infractions by Japanese intelligence. The Malayan colonial administration felt that by tolerating the espionage, the Japanese WOULD NOT BE PROVOKED!?

The Japanese did have very good intelligence sources within the British military itself. This was primarily the notorious traitor Captain Heenan. A traitor who was in a key position and sold to the Japanese all and everything of a secret nature that he could get his hands on. [Just prior to the British surrender, Captain Heenan was executed by a bullet to the back of the head and his body pitched into Singapore Harbor by a British MP].

In the year prior to their invasion of Malaya, the Japanese were able to read secret message traffic to/from Singapore.

British cryptographics had been compromised by capture, capture that was not detected. [the German surface raider Atlantis had captured a British merchant ship in the Indian Ocean that had cryptographics bound for Singapore onboard]. These cryptographics were given to the Japanese and from that point on, many secret messages to/from Singapore were read by the Japanese radio intercept service. A bonanza of intelligence that cannot be underestimated!!

"In November 1940 the Automedon was intercepted on the last leg of her journey off the Nicobar Islands . . . by the disguised Germans surface raider Atlantis . . . The delighted Germans found that they were now in possession of weighted British diplomatic courier mailbag containing the top secret personal correspondence and intelligence crown jewels for the Far East, together with all the new British maritime code-books, and the British did not know . . . early in 1941 the Japanese had copies of the highest level policy and in addition could read almost all of British secret maritime radio traffic. . . . after Singapore surrendered in 1942, Kapitan Rogge of the Atlantis was presented with a samurai sword by the Emperor of Japan's own hands; a Japanese honor almost impossible for any Westerner to comprehend, and the real mark of Japanese appreciation"

In the months prior to the outbreak of war in the Pacific, the Japanese sent numerous reconnaissance aircraft flights to make a photo recon of the length and breadth of Malaya.

These flights WERE duly observed and noted by the RAF Malaya, but no action was taken, again, at the behest of the Colonial administration. It was felt that interfering with these hostile recon flights MIGHT PROVOKE THE JAPANESE!!!

The chief of staff of operations of the Japanese army slated to invade Malaya even personally made a recon flight [as a passenger/observer] at low altitude over the landing beaches designated for the invasion force.

This was the famous/infamous [??] Colonel Tsuji, of which mention has been made in previous blog entries. Such a flight, with the a nearby Japanese army's operations chief of staff on board, should have been, if detected, a sure sign that something very big and ominous was going to happen. Was this detected and the proper inferences made? Probably not!

[Prior to the invasion of the Soviet Union by the Germans in 1941, the Germans made numerous reconnaissance overflights of Soviet territory. These flights too came to the attention of the Soviet. The response of Stalin was also to do nothing to intercept or stop the flights. The thought at the time was also "We do not want TO PROVOKE THE GERMANS!!" Sounds familiar, doesn't it??].

[Personal reconnaissance of the potential battlefield by a top commander or planner is almost always properly inferred as being a sign of something big to come. Tsuji at Malaya, the Soviet commanders prior to Czechoslovakia, Washington at Brandywine. A significant event and precursor.]


Secure radio communications is always an issue. It is easy to become lax, and let the enemy know what we are doing.

Aviation was especially prone to problems. We often thought we were moving too fast for radio intercepts to have much use to the VC. And were right, usually.

We kept our radio frequencies and call signs the same, never changing them, or important air direction radio nets. Squadrons used their own call signs. The Danang Dasc call sign was Danang Dasc.

That all changed in the fall of 1970. Suddenly we had to change the call signs every day, using alpha numeric designators. We resented this, as it was confusing, and made it time consuming to know who you were talking to.

I found out why a number of years ago, when we saw a film about a captured VC / NVA radio intercept station. They had gleaned a substantial amount of information from careless radio operators. The radio operators would tell their friends about impending B-52 strikes with carefull made up codes, something lik "Big Bertha will be in your pos tommorow" The VC figured this out right away, and warned their forces.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


This is coolbert: While reading the "Economist" magazine the other day, I came across a picture of a wall poster on display in Tehran, Iran.

A poster that shows how the Iranians view themselves in their "cold war" with the United States.

The wall poster, very well done, shows a noble stag being set upon by six vicious hounds. Hounds that are trying to tear the noble stag to pieces. Wrapped around the body of the stag is the flag of Iran. And wrapped around the bodies of the vicious hounds is the American flag.

This is how the Iranians view themselves. A small, weak, and gallant and misunderstood country being set upon in all sorts of ways by the "Great Satan", the U.S.

[I would also mention that this poster is very insulting in an Islamic way too. The U.S. is represented as vicious hounds. Dogs. The dog in Islamic culture is an unclean animal.]

Not only is the U.S. bad, but bad and represented by an unclean animal, abhorrent to a devout Muslim.

Posters of this type have been used by all sides and nations when engaged in war.

Propaganda designed to present your enemy as being something other than human. To arouse strong emotions of hate and anger in the viewer. The Germans used to portray the Soviets as apes or gorillas in clothes. American posters would show a Japanese airplane as a bat with eyes containing the sunburst image of the Japanese battle flag. German Nazis were portrayed as robots strewing skulls over a plowed field, the representation being as the Nazis were farmers sowing seeds of death!

These sort of posters effected all sorts of people in World War Two also. Surprisingly, even Pope Pius XII must have been influenced by them. There was a popular poster of the Italian fascists that portrayed American black soldiers as gorillas raping Italian women. When the U.S. forces entered into Rome in 1944, Pius XII pleaded with American emissaries to not allow American black soldiers into Rome. It was okay to allow American white soldiers, but not the black ones. The image of raping black American soldiers portrayed as gorillas was seemingly in the mind of Pius XII also.

Here is an excellent anti-German poster from WW2. Says a lot without words. And in the background, does that not look like Hermann Goering himself?? Yes, it does!!

There is actually a thriving business in this type of poster art. Poster art that displays a "racial angle". Collectors will pay top dollar for this type of "art", as surviving pieces of this genre evoke such strong emotions. Emotions are a big part of art and art value.


Saturday, September 18, 2004

This is coolbert: I have seen some news reports about the parents of soldiers being killed in Iraq as being very bitter. Hard to accept the loss of a son in any war. But with the current family structure in the U.S., it seems even more difficult to accept than it was in the past when war deaths did occur. And this does not have to necessarily to do with the nature of the war itself, it is legal/illegal/unnecessary, etc.

Bitterness is from a much greater realization.

The current archetype for the American family is to have two children, one son and one daughter if possible. The parents reproduce only themselves and no more. Zero population growth. This is sometimes not even done either. One child seems to be enough for some. This is done for a variety of reasons, mostly economic. Large families are almost non-existent any more.

And the idea is to raise that child with a maximum of nurturing. A lot of time, effort and yes, money, is spent in raising that child to adulthood. The parents have a lot of investment in a single child, or a boy in a male/female offspring [two children] household.

If that son enlists and serves in the military, while almost always a young man, and that young man goes to war and is killed, cut down in the prime of life, those parents have lost a tremendous investment. These parents, if this was an only child, no longer have hopes for grandchildren, someone to look after them in old age, etc. Their investment in the future has been totally dashed. This was not the case if there were five or six children in the family, as used to be the case not too long ago.

Zero population growth may be a good idea, and has a lot of adherents, but I am sure losing your only child/son at war was not a consideration of the advocates. Will this cause parents to rethink the entire concept?? NO, I am sure it will not. Wars of the future are going to create a lot of bitterness. Of course, a death at war was always a tragedy, even when sons of large families were killed. However, the deaths of soldiers now, because of the ideal family archetype being followed in so many cases, is even more emotionally troubling for the parents. Tragic!

Friday, September 17, 2004


This is coolbert:

My series of blog entries on intelligence failures is based upon the book, "Military Intelligence Blunders", by the British author, Colonel John Hughes-Wilson. I highly recommend this book to all interested parties. It's insight is profound, and the style of writing is acerbic.

Colonel John Hughes-Wilson is described as a career British military intelligence officer, retiring in 1993 after a career of 30 years as both a commander and general staff officer. His service included the Falkland Islands, the desert, NATO's political and intelligence staff and the jungles of Whitehall. Very insightful comments. Especially in the aftermath of the findings of the 9/11 commission.


This is coolbert: Intelligence Failures II.

"Winston Churchill described the British defeat at Singapore in 1942 as the 'The greatest disaster ever to befall British arms'. On 15 February 1942, the British Imperial garrison of the . . . Bastion of Singapore, . . . Surrendered to a numerically smaller Japanese assault force. Some 130,000 well-equipped British, Australian and Indian officers and soldiers, with ample battle stocks, capitulated to just 35,000 hungry, exhausted Japanese front-line troops . . . In the brief but martial history of the British Empire, no greater military humiliation can be found. Only 9,000 of the total of 60,000 Japanese soldiers became casualties in the whole Malayan campaign. The British-led force lost 146,000, of which over 130,000 surrendered. . . We have to go back to the Athenian defeat at Syracuse in 415 b.c. to find comparison for the debacle at Singapore."

And this was mostly due to a massive intelligence failure on the part of the British. A failure that is massively compounded by the fact that the British, as I have said in a previous blog entry, were at war for over two years when fighting began with Japan. You would have thought that surely after fighting for over two years against a powerful enemy such as the Germans, the British would have been more than prepared for the onslaught of the Japanese at Singapore.

And this defeat as mentioned above does not even mention the sinking of the battleships Repulse and Prince of Wales just two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Sent out without air escort or protection, the two last allied capital warships in the Pacific theatre were "duck soup" for Japanese torpedo equipped float planes flying out of French Indo-China. The loss of these two battleships was said to be the worst mental blow that Churchill suffered during the entire war!!

The British military intelligence officer Hughes-Wilson attributes the intelligence effort at Singapore as having four fatal flaws. These were:

Underestimation of the enemy.

Fragmentation of effort.

Lack of resources.

No influence at the highest levels of command and control.

Underestimation of the military capabilities of the Japanese is regarded by Hughes-Wilson as being the single most horrendous intelligence flaw of the British in the Malayan campaign in 1941-42.

"in many ways this is surprising, given that Japan was a warrior nation with an impressive track record."

And recall, the Japanese had been at war with China full time for at least four years prior to the outbreak of World War Two in the Pacific. The Japanese had a A LOT of experience at this point.

"At the time it was genuinely believe that the Japanese were physically small, buck-toothed, had poor eyesight and incapable of fighting in the dark or operating sophisticated machinery."

Recall once again, the cartoon I mentioned in another blog, of a little bitty Japanese man holding a samurai sword, with the buck-teeth and squinty, slitted eyes and the big glasses.

Hughes-Wilson points to the use of light tanks in Malaya by the Japanese as just one example of British underestimation. The British did not have one tank period in Malaya, as tanks were supposed to be not capable of being used in the jungle. Of course, the Japanese had tanks, and used them effectively, much to the consternation of the British.

"Anyway Intelligence had assured successive British planners that there was absolutely no armored threat from the Japanese. Now here was a Japanese tank assault slicing straight through the British jungle defenses and heading straight for Johore and Singapore."

The Japanese had also developed new infantry tactics for use in the Jungle, tactics that the experienced Japanese infantry exploited.

"Once they were halted, the Japanese infantry deployed swiftly into the trees on either side, firing as they went and outflanking the dug-in positions blocking the track. By using these so-called 'fishbone' tactics, they consistently outflanked the bewildered and static imperial heavy infantry."

Japanese air power was also a decided shock to the British, who had deemed the Japanese to be inferior pilots and not worthy of respect in this important facet of modern warfare.

"Using tactics developed in four years of air raids on targets in China the Japanese aircrews knew their business."

"Another unpleasant surprise in the air, unforeseen by air intelligence, was the high-performance capability of Japanese aircraft . . . The crews of the outnumbered and obsolete Brewster Buffalo fighters of RAF Malaya swiftly learned that they were outclassed."

Fragmentation of intelligence effort was due to poor organization or lack of organization. Each intelligence agency looked after it's own affairs without regard to concerted action.

"The British approach to the management and co-ordination of intelligence in the Far East seems to have been remarkably fragmented."

The Far East Coordination Bureau [FECB] was supposed to be the organization that put together the total intelligence package on Japanese forces opposing the Malayan peninsula. It did not do this. It seems to have been more of a collection agency that operated for British Bletchley Park [BP], concerned with radio intercepts, and breaking and reading Japanese codes and ciphers.

The British did have a counter-intelligence effort in Malaya. But it was fragmented and did not work together. It this sense it must be remembered that counter-intelligence [CI] does also act as a producer of intelligence. Not only as an agency that prevents enemy intelligence from operating on your territory. By determining what the enemy is interested in, CI can give you an idea of what the enemy's intentions are. British CI in Malaya was supposed to have been a MI5 effort [British counter-intelligence is known as MI5]. But each local police department also had what was referred to as "special branch" [police political intelligence]. None of these CI agencies worked together and did not produce a joint product. In addition, the MI5 official in charge in Malaya was not well regarded and was felt to be more of a hindrance that an asset!!??

Resources for intelligence were also sorely lacking.

What intelligence agencies did exist were not heeded and had no real influence in the Colonial command structure. It seems there was real dissension among the Colonial administration and the military as to who was really in charge and what was to be done in the Malayan campaign.

What intelligence was gathered was not even listened to, or was ignored totally.

In this instance, the command structure of the Colonial administration in Malaya was primarily concerned with making as much money as possible for Britain, to support the war effort. And was doing so in this regard at the behest of Churchill. Malaya was, and is now, the world's largest producer of tin and natural rubber. Prior to December, 1941, these products were being sold at a premium and provided much needed money for the British war effort. Any considerations given by the colonial administration in Malaya always revolved around business and selling product. It was seen as being counter-productive to antagonize the Japanese in any way. That is why the comment was made so many times not to "PROVOKE" the Japanese.

The "white tuans" [lords in Malay, the ruling class] did just not seem to realize the peril they were in, and ignored intelligence to the "nth" degree, much to their later chagrin.