Task Force Ranger

Task Force Ranger in Somalia – Isaiah 6:8
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Task Force Ranger in Somalia – Isaiah 6:8
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Photos from Mogadishu, Somalia.

We were pretty busy and this was way before cell phones and cameras…the battle staff photo has then CDR Eric Olson and then Lt Col Gordon Nash (USMC)…We arrived in Mogadishu 26 August 1993 and I was on the advance aircraft in and the next to last out. The pictures of the Univ Compound from the second assessment team that went in (arrived 4 july 1993). LTC Faust led that team to assess intel capacity. A June 1993 team went into see if forces on the ground could roll up Aideed.






Click here to see an Area Study of Somalia from the Lint Center

Click here for a Timeline of the Events in Somalia

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Gero Iwai: Army CI Agent

CIC_1949

Gero Iwai: First Japanese American Counterintelligence Agent in the US Army

Lori S. Tagg, Command Historian, US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence

In the early morning hours of December 7, 1941, the Japanese Air Force bombed the US Naval fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  According to the multi-volume “History of the Counter Intelligence Corps” (CIC), “During the first minutes of the raid, agents of the Corps of Intelligence Police (CIP), scattered throughout the island of Oahu, raced to CIP headquarters in the Dillingham Building in downtown Honolulu. A hurried 10-minute conference and the agents were out on their first assignment of the war. Following a previously arranged plan, they dispersed in teams.  Their mission was to apprehend all pro-Japanese sympathizers.”  CIP agents began rounding up individuals on a “pickup list” compiled over the previous 10 years.  Within days, more than 400 individuals had been arrested and confined at a makeshift detention camp.  Significantly, while many of those on the list were Japanese, pre-war investigations had confirmed that allegations of espionage among the Japanese American community in Hawaii were predominantly false.

Those investigations were largely the handiwork of Gero Iwai, a 36-year-old Hawaiian native and a 10-year veteran of the CIP.  As one of the first Japanese Americans to pursue an ROTC course during his attendance at the University of Hawaii, he was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant, Infantry, in the Officers Reserve Corps upon graduation.  However, on August 19, 1931, Iwai chose to enlist in the US Army, was placed on the Detached Enlisted Men’s List (DEML), and was assigned as a CIP Investigator in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff (ACoS), G-2, Hawaiian Department.  [Note: the DEML was equivalent to today’s “branch immaterial” assignments.]  At the time, Iwai was the only Nisei (second generation Japanese American) employed in the G-2’s counterintelligence office.  For the first 10 years of his Army career, Iwai worked undercover, his true occupation unknown even to his own family.  He monitored the activities of the Japanese community, surveilled the activities of the Japanese Consulate General, and established a network of informants among the Japanese Americans employed at the Consulate.  Iwai and his fellow CIP agents painstakingly compiled the list of individuals they believed would be a threat to the US should war with Japan occur.

LTC IWAI

On April 8, 1941, Iwai was honorably discharged from the Army and accepted an appointment as a Reserve officer serving as the Assistant to the ACoS, G-2, Hawaiian Department.  In time, Iwai became the Officer in Charge of the Translation Section of the Counter Intelligence Detachment.  The day after the Pearl Harbor attack, given his years of experience and knowledge of the Japanese culture and language, he was the natural choice for a special joint and interagency assignment.

Iwai and fellow Nisei Douglas Wada, a Naval intelligence officer, were chosen to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigations to interrogate a captured Japanese officer.  The first Japanese prisoner of the war, Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki had commanded a Japanese midget submarine launched against targets in Pearl Harbor.  Due to mechanical issues, his submarine had run aground miles from the harbor, and he had been captured by military police.  Among Sakamaki’s possessions was a navigational chart that, upon analysis by Iwai and Wada, was found to designate the berthing locations of all the major carriers and warships of the US Navy.  Furthermore, documents recovered from the Japanese Consulate and translated by Iwai and Wada provided further evidence of the staggering extent of Japanese pre-war espionage.

Throughout the war, Iwai continued to conduct counterintelligence work for the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), successor to the CIP.  His personal crusade was to prove the Japanese Americans in Hawaii were loyal to the US.  His thorough investigation uncovered not a single subversive or hostile act against the US on the part of Japanese Americans.  His top-secret report to that effect reportedly swayed the opinions of military leaders, including Gen. Delos C. Emmons, commander of the US Army in Hawaii, who subsequently proposed the formation of what would become the 100th Infantry Battalion, made up almost entirely of Japanese Americans from Hawaii.

Iwai remained in Honolulu with the 401st CIC Detachment until 1949, when he was assigned to the 441st CIC Detachment in Tokyo. He returned to the US in 1954 and, after 26 years of honorable service, retired from military service as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1957.  Ironically, Iwai’s efforts to prove the loyalty of the Hawaiian Japanese Americans both before and during World War II had completely estranged him and his family from the community he sought to protect.  Instead of living his final years in his beloved native Hawaii, Iwai settled in San Francisco, where he passed away in 1972.

Caption:  Lt. Col. Gero Iwai, the US Army’s first Japanese American counterintelligence agent, was posthumously inducted into the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame in 1995.

 

 

 

 

COL Lansdale, CIC

CIC Detachment Ensures Success of the Manhattan Project

CIC Detachment Ensures Success of the Manhattan Project

Lori S. Tagg,  USAICoE Command Historian

The United States program to develop the atomic bomb, codenamed the Manhattan Project, began in August 1942.  From the beginning, the need for security was paramount.  The project had to be protected from sabotage and espionage and, equally important, the fact that the US was working on such a program had to be kept under wraps at all cost.  Early on, a Protective Security Section (PSS) handled personnel and information security, facility protection, and security education.

By February 1943, a more comprehensive counterintelligence program was warranted and Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) agents Capt. Horace K. Calvert and Capt. Robert J. McLeod were assigned to the Manhattan Engineer District (MED) to organize the Intelligence Section.  More CIC personnel followed, with agents stationed at Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Chicago; St. Louis; Site Y (Los Alamos, New Mexico); and Berkeley, California.  By August 1943, when the project transferred to the Corps of Engineers, the Intelligence Section merged with the PSS and established its headquarters at Oak Ridge.  At this time, the Section assumed responsibility for every aspect of security within the MED.  Four months later, on December 18, 1943, a special CIC Detachment, commanded by Lt. Col. William B. Parsons, was organized, and Lt. Col. John Lansdale became the chief of intelligence and security for the entire Manhattan Project.

In the early 1940s, Lansdale, a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and a US Army Reserve officer, was a successful trial lawyer in Cleveland, Ohio.  He had turned down several calls for active duty before finally taking the advice of one of his VMI classmates to accept special duty within the War Department’s Military Intelligence Division (MID). Lansdale initially worked in the Investigation Branch, Counter Intelligence Group, reviewing investigative reports of prospective War Department employees.  He eventually became chief of both the Investigation and Review branches of MID.  Another one of his duties was to act as liaison between the PSS and the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence.  When the Manhattan Project transferred to the Corps of Engineers and the CIC Detachment activated, Lansdale had the background and connections to move effortlessly into the position as head of intelligence and security.  Due to the criticality of his mission, Lansdale quickly became special assistant to Gen. Leslie Groves, the chief of the MED.

The CIC Detachment was initially comprised of 25 officers and 137 enlisted agents, each one hand-picked by Captains Calvert and McLeod.  Over the next year, the Detachment grew to 148 officers and 161 enlisted agents.  This included non-CIC military personnel with specific technical abilities critical to the security of the program.  Detachment Headquarters was centralized at Oak Ridge, but personnel were placed on detached service in 11 branch offices around the nation.  At times, these agents were so highly classified that they were referred to by code symbols and only the Finance Officer computing the pay of the agent knew his exact location.

Lansdale assumed full responsibility for all intelligence and security matters affecting the MED.  In addition to preventing unintentional disclosure of information and infiltration by enemy agents, Lansdale’s responsibilities included preventing fires and explosions, monitoring courier duties, protecting classified shipments, educating personnel about the importance of security measures, obtaining newspaper cooperation, and conducting 400,000 background investigations of potential personnel.  His agents acted as bodyguards for the project’s top scientists and went undercover to monitor local rumors about the various installations involved in the bomb development.  Lansdale also planned and executed the security measures for the 509th Composite Group, the special Army Air Forces’ organization formed to deliver the bombs.  Additionally, he was deeply involved in the Alsos Mission, an overseas task force that seized the technology and scientists involved in German atomic research.

The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan brought about the end of World War II and saved the lives of thousands of US and Allied troops who would have died in an invasion of Japan.  The procedures put in place by Lansdale and his CIC Detachment led to the successful protection of the atomic bomb program, later called the “War’s Best Kept Secret.”

COL Lansdale, CIC

Colonel John Lansdale, Jr., was a civilian lawyer and Army reservist who requested a call to active duty with the War Department’s Military Intelligence Division. He served as the head of Intelligence and Security for the Manhattan Project from 1941 to 1946.

Article produced and shared by the Command Historian:

US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence
1889 Hatfield St, BLDG 62723
Fort Huachuca, Arizona 85613

What? Oh, come on!!!!!

by Mule

One of my first para-military courses after joining the CIA was a small-arms familiarization course. I was given driving directions to a clandestine training facility out from Washington and arrived late one Sunday afternoon for a week’s indoctrination to pistols from around the world.

Guards at the front gate of the training facility checked the name on my driver’s license against a list of people expected, gave me a map of the installation and pointed out where the barracks were located. I arrived at the housing area, received military fatigues which had my training alias, PENDY, already sewn military-like above my shirt pocket. I changed into my military togs and joined other special operations new-hires at the installation bar. Very soon thereafter Jerry Falls emerged as the quickest and most clever among us. He was ex-Special Forces/Vietnam and naturally cunning, a lawyer by education.

He told me later that night after supper as we had lounged outside smoking a cigarette that he had grown up in a tough Catholic section of Philadelphia. When he was about ten his mother insisted he take special lessons at the local parish on how to “give confession.” At the conclusion, the class lined up in a side isle of the church to go into one of several booths for their first official, church sponsored, confession of sins.

Jerry was well back in the line, waiting for others to find the pitfalls in this exercise. He knew out on the streets kids didn’t squeal if they knew what was good for ‘um. Jerry wasn’t so sure this wasn’t a set-up, plus it was very dark in those booths and talking with extreme authority figures was not inviting. He saw that the boys ahead of him would go into one of the booths and he could faintly hear in a high pitched whisper from the boy’s side, “Forgive me, mumble, mumble, mumble.” And then on the father’s side of the booth, there would be a lower pitched, inaudible response. Except in the booth of Father O’Riley, who was hard of hearing. A young boy from the class would go in and there would be his whispered opening and then from the father’s side, loudly, “YOU DID WHAT? TO YOUR BROTHER, YOU SAID WHAT? WHAT? WHAT’S A BUGGER?” Jerry hoped that when he came to the head of the line that he would not have to go into the good Father O’Riley’s booth. The father responded loudly to every boy that went in, “YOU DID WHAT? YOU SAID WHAT?”

Jerry’s time came and he was sent to Father O’Riley’s booth.

Inside it was warm from the other youngster who had been in before. And it was dark. He could hear the Father breathing through the opening of the partition that separated them. He began, “Forgive me father for I have sinned,” he said and paused. The father said in an even tone. “Yes. And?” Jerry continued to sit quietly but then said, “Actually I haven’t sinned.” The Father yelled, “YOU WHAT? WHAT?” Everyone in the church could have heard. “YOU WHAT? DON’T WASTE GOD’S TIME.” Outside people walking by the church stopped when they heard the shouting.

This made an impression on him, he said, and he didn’t go into dark rooms with strange men ever again.

This guy was funny and I sought him out the next morning when we went to the pistol range.

The instructor, a former Special Forces NCO, had dozens of foreign handguns laid out on a long table and he spent an hour going over each weapon, discussing its country of origin, its caliber, what it could and couldn’t do, where they were being used around the world. We were then offered the opportunity to take any one of the weapons to the firing line and, on command, fire them at targets mounted in front of an earthen berm 50 feet away.

We had worked our way through several of the weapons – Jerry was at the firing port to my right – when one of the trainees in our group said something dumb about keeping up our proficiency with foreign weapons. Sort of a suck-up question, asked in a stupid way. Well that’s what Jerry noticed and he brought it to my attention. He suggested that the person needed a reality jolt. The morning sun was up and many of us had taken off our fatigue tops and were in T-shirts. Jerry suggested that we get the dumb questioner’s shirt, take it down range and put it behind our targets and shoot it full of holes. We’d put it back and no one would be the wiser, until the fellow went to get dressed for lunch.

So I walked over to the fellow’s area – he was distracted firing a weapon – picked up his shirt and walked back to my place on the firing line, next to Jerry. The next time we went down range to check our targets I took the shirt and placed it on the berm behind my target. When we got back on line I began to fire the foreign weapon I had at the time, through my target, into the shirt. Time and time again I fired. One magazine, two. Jerry had put his gun back and was beside me, watching, laughing and laughing and laughing. He fell to the ground and curled his knees up to his chest in the fetal position as he laughed. Tears were running down his cheeks, he was laughing so hard.

I started to have second thoughts about my new friend Jerry because this was funny, shooting the shirt and seeing it bounce around behind my target, but it wasn’t that funny. You don’t fall down laughing over this, do you?

The next time we were allowed to go down range and check our targets, I went down and found I had been shooting my own shirt. Even the PENDY nametag had bullet holes in it. Jerry had switched them on me. I had shot maybe 15 holes in my own shirt.

I had to wear it to the mess hall for lunch. An instructor came up and told me I looked stupid. Jerry laughed and laughed.


Story was originally published at: http://www.muleorations.com/blog/51-2


Background about the Author:    James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr

Many people dream of success and living a fulfilling life. This Bronze Star and Purple Heart awarded veteran is one of the few people to ever actually achieve those dreams. Mr. James E. Parker, Jr. fought in Vietnam as a 2LT and eventually joined the CIA where he received two Certificates of Outstanding Service, a Certificate of Distinction and the Intelligence Medal. He has decided to share his insightful experiences and through stories on his website as well as in the books he has written which are listed below. The Lint Center for National Security Studies is thankful and proud that we are able to share some of his selected stories with you in our Virtual Archive.

Website:
http://muleorations.com/index.html

Books:
http://muleorations.com/books-for-sale.html

The Vietnam War Its Ownself (2015)
Kessler Country Homilies (2013)
Battle for Skyline Ridge (2013)
Covert Ops (1997)
Last Man Out (1996)
Codename Mule (1995)

It’s Time For DEF CON: Where’s Your Computer Security Expert?

By James R. Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University

It is that time of the year. Hackers, corporate computer security personnel, network penetration testers and federal government computer security professionals are going to Las Vegas for DEF CON 24, running from August 4-7.

Origins of DEF CON

DEF CON is one of the oldest and largest hacker conferences. It started out as a 1992 Las Vegas party for a friend of DEF CON’s founder, Jeff Moss. The event was so popular that people wanted to hold it again.

There are many discussions about how the name DEF CON originated. One story says that the name came from the Matthew Broderick movie “WarGames,” featuring a teen hacker. The movie used the military term “DEFCON,” meaning “Defense Condition.” The other story is that the “DEF” is from the #3 key on a phone. The “CON” came from “conventions.”

Quirks of DEF CON

DEF CON does not allow the use of credit cards to pay or pre-register. This rule is to appease the concerns of the registrants. In the beginning, there were individuals who were very talented with phones and computers, and maybe some of their skills were unlawful. One of the registrants’ worst fears was that the FBI would collect the information on their registration forms and use that information to arrest people.

But the lack of registration caused consternation for other participants. In later years, many federal employees and investigators wanted to learn about the techniques of the hacker community. The lack of a registration receipt made it difficult for them to be reimbursed for attending DEF CON.

DEF CON Appeal’s to Computer Security Experts

DEF CON is a great learning and networking place for everyone. As a retired federal employee, I look forward to DEF CON to see my federal friends.

DEF CON is a place to discover out-of-the-box thinkers who may have ideas for computer security that have not been explored. For example, NSA General Keith Alexander spoke at DEF CON in 2013. He planted the seed in the hacker community that they should explore working for the U.S. government.

Many government employees support this hiring effort. As a nation, it is critical for us to grow this type of talent in computer security. Those future employees will work with large budgets and impact international operations.

DEF CON is also a target-rich recruiting event. The FBI will have a booth at DEF CON, staffed by FBI professionals assigned to the FBI Cyber Division. They will also provide special 10-15 minute presentations on FBI cyber capabilities and recruitment efforts.

Furthermore, this conference appeals to former military service members transitioning to corporate computer security. They want to learn the newest computer security defense measures and see the corporate security programs that are offered.

DEF CON Affects the Future of Computer Security

My first DEF CON was in 2005. Since then, the computer security industry has seen computer whiz kids graduate from college and create excellent computer penetration testing companies.

These network penetration testers, also known as white hat hackers, test computer systems for high pay. Many high-security companies are required to have penetration testing every six to 12 months to maintain their insurance. This is the evolution of “evil hackers” to well-paid corporate penetration testers.

DEF CON 24 is the birth of new ideas and new connections. Ideas and conversations held while participants are standing in line or in hallways will inspire new companies, new techniques, and maybe new industries.


Story was originally published at: http://inhomelandsecurity.com/def-con-wheres-your-computer-security-expert/

‘BSides’ Las Vegas Offers Fresh Cybersecurity Insights from Industry Leaders

By James R. Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University

Overview: On August 2nd and 3rd, BSides Las Vegas held its eighth annual information security conference at the Tuscany Suites in Las Vegas. BSides is a community event organized and run by volunteers. The following is a survey of some of the many strategies, insights and experts that enriched the entire two-day experience for cybersecurity professionals.

BSides Keynote Speaker Dr. Lorrie Cranor Discusses Misconceptions in Password Security

The conference kicked off with an outstanding keynote speaker, Dr. Lorrie Cranor, Chief Technologist of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Having written over 150 research papers, she’s also a professor in the School of Computer Science and the Engineering and Public Policy Department at Carnegie Mellon University, and Director of the Carnegie Mellon Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory.

A thought leader in the information security industry, Dr. Cranor puts forth revolutionary ideas—especially in changing conventional security practices such as the mandatory password changes conducted in many organizations. Her research data shows that changing passwords is not as effective as one might think. Keylogger software programs detect password changes and can instantly compromise the new password.

She discussed a report by the University of North Carolina that studied 10,000 defunct accounts. The study found that people apply changes in predictable ways, making it easier for UNC to determine future passwords using an algorithm.

The UNC study discovered that users who are annoyed when they must frequently change passwords were statistically shown to create weaker passwords. Consequently, the weaker security choices of some users endangered cybersecurity for all users in an organization.

Dr. Cranor addressed misconceptions on password strength, noting that using keyboard patterns on any mobile device, including diagonal patterns, does not provide security for users. She discredited the infamous belief that an exclamation point at the end of a password offers greater security. To increase information security for passwords, Dr. Cranor recommended that users avoid common words or names and add digits and symbols to increase a password’s strength.

Dr. Cranor also presented an interesting bit of research that asked people to decide which password was more secure: “ILoveYou88” or “IEatKale88”? The Password “IEatKale88” is 4 trillion times more secure than “ILoveYou88”. It’s interesting to note how “super” common “ILoveYou” is as a password.

Expert Haydn Johnson Talks about Organizational Confusion with Information Security

Network penetration tester and vulnerability assessment expert Haydn Johnson of KPMG Canada spoke about his interesting concerns commonly used information security terms, such as penetration testing, vulnerability assessments and red teams. Managers who contract security testing and assessment services often confuse these terms and have unrealistic expectations about system and network security, he noted.

Johnson described concerns about how to modify scanning tools to keep up with new security vulnerabilities. He advised that information security companies should differentiate themselves from their competition in the future by providing much-needed education to customers about business risks and the impact of security vulnerabilities.

Cybersecurity Research Expert Keren Elazari Calls for Better Computer Software Content Identification

Another thought-provoking speaker was Keren Elazari, a senior cybersecurity researcher and computer security expert from the Balvatnick Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Elazari facilitates hacker/security researcher conferences in Israel and spoke during I Am The Cavalry’s track at the BSides conference.

Elazari discussed why security research matters for the coming decades and emphasized that third-party computer software needs to be better identified to determine potential vulnerabilities. She drew a startling comparison—while candy bar labels are required to list all of their ingredients, software has no labels that explain elements of the software code.

There’s danger in buying unfamiliar software. Large, multimillion-dollar companies may purchase smaller software companies, yet not have intimate knowledge of their acquisitions’ third-party software, which could contain harmful viruses.

Other noteworthy topics by Elazari included how “Hacker Heroes” wield their skills for the greater good. They have the knowledge to report on vulnerabilities and assist in the software patch to repair the problem.

BSides Conference Showcases Information Security Nonprofits

One of the interesting tables on display at BSides was The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), a nonprofit focused on improving the security of software. Their mission is to make software security visible, so that individuals and organizations are able to make informed decisions.

OWASP is in a unique position to provide impartial, practical information about application security to individuals, corporations, universities, government agencies and other worldwide organizations. Operating as a worldwide community of like-minded professionals, OWASP issues software tools and knowledge-based documentation on application security.

OWASP will hold a conference in Washington, DC in October 2016, and another conference in Belfast, Ireland, in 2017. Additionally, OWASP has programs to attract women into the application security career field.They also have projects working with military veterans to boost awareness of the critical need for the application security career field.

Similarly, I Am The Cavalry is a grassroots organization that is focused on issues where computer security intersects with public safety and human lives. I Am The Cavalry’s primary concerns are medical devices, automobiles, home electronics and public infrastructure.

During the conference, I Am The Cavalry offered a choice of speakers, including Keren Elazari, for the “I Am The Calvary” track of discussion sessions. The entire track was excellently managed and facilitated by Joshua Corman and Beau Woods.

With such a diverse choice of speakers and presentations at BSides, it’s hard to see everything. However, this conference offers something for everyone and is well worth attending.


Story was originally published at: http://inhomelandsecurity.com/bsides-las-vegas-offers-fresh-cybersecurity-insights-from-industry-leaders/

My Vietnam War

by Mule

My 3rd Platoon, A Co, 1st/28th Battalion, 1st Division in December 1965 before patrol in South Vietnam. Most men in this photo would be wounded or killed by the summer of 1966.

*****

“We all went to Gettysburg, the summer of ’63:

Some of us came back from there

And that’s all,

Except the details.”

Captain Paxiteles Swan, Confederate Army,

Complete Account of the Battle of Gettysburg

I think I know how Captain Swan felt.

In my generation, we all went to Vietnam in the summer of ‘65.

All Americans were involved.

The war divided us as a country. We took sides. Initially most were in support. As time went on, more were opposed and then the war became very popular to oppose and demonstrators took to the streets by the tens of thousands.

American flags sewn to the seats of dirty jeans vied with those hung, reverently, traditionally from front porches of simple homes.

As a song of the time noted, the war happened during the “Dawning of the Age of Aquarius,” a time when we went to the moon, killed a president and a King, harnessed the atom, discovered the computer, swooned over Elvis and questioned authority. It was a time of radically expanded horizons.

Americans were pumped, masters of the world. The communication explosion provided instantaneous coverage of events around the world, and the speed of air travel shrunk the size of our world to hours, minutes. Increasing numbers of satellites circled the earth. The U.S. military/industrial complex produced awesome weapons of destruction because Communism — a godless, harsh, angry political ideology lurking beyond our borders — threatened our way of life. Communist leaders said they would bury us. They armed their missiles and aimed them at our centers of commerce. Americans dug bomb shelters in their backyards; elementary school teachers held “duck and cover” bomb drills.

Then Vietnam burst on the scene in 1964 and war there quickly wove itself into the fabric of our society. It became the lead story on the evening news as Americans sat down to supper — a panorama of monk immolations, rice paddies, Hueys, B-52s, dirty GIs, M-16 rifles, screaming children, Tet, Vietcong, Jane Fonda, POWs, dope, dust-offs, and lush bamboo jungles in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, where no building was safe from enemy sappers, where the Communists were willing to die and did, in fact, die by the hundreds of thousands — attacking in waves, blowing whistles, beating drums, running headlong into mine fields. It was an extravagant show unlike anything Americans had ever seen or imagined before. Clear good, clear bad, dramatic, easy to hate.

Some Americans went to Canada to avoid the military draft. Others in traditional fashion answered their country’s call — 2.6 million Americans served in Vietnam.

Whether protesting, fighting, or standing on the sidelines, we all were involved. In my generation, we all went to Vietnam in the summer of ’65.

*****

For those of us who fought the ground war there, we found ourselves at some point kneeling on a spent jungle battlefield, exhausted, wet from the monsoon rain, stinking from putrid sweat, arms hanging loosely at our sides, eyes sunken into our heads, ears still ringing from the explosions of battle, and lungs filled with the smoke of gunpowder. And we knelt beside our buddies whose blood turned the soil black as they lay dying or wounded. A terrible anguish swelled deep inside us, and we tried to conquer our pain. For the most part we were citizen soldiers. The emotional consequences of war — killing each other — were hard to put into perspective and those moments always came as our emotions crashed following the adrenaline high that had sustained us in battle.

After a firefight, a soldier is emotionally wasted and helplessly watching a buddy die stuns the senses.

War expands the human experience. In war, a soldier sets aside his survival instinct because of a compelling obligation to unit and friend. He risks violent death because the men he serves with expect it. In the jungles of Vietnam, wealth, personality, and ambition counted for nothing. By simply closing his eyes and going to sleep a soldier displayed his extraordinary trust in his buddy. In the jungle, the military group — the fire team, the squad, the platoon — was everything. My battalion in Vietnam was the 1st/28th Infantry, 1st Division. I would have died for it, for my commanders, for my soldiers.

Faithfulness and death were common elements among U.S. combat units in Vietnam. So was youth. We were all youngsters. I was twenty-two years old when I first went. Most of my men were eighteen or nineteen years old. We knew little about life; we were so impressionable. For most of us, before Vietnam, we did not know anyone who had died. Yet, in this war, we saw friends, who meant more to us than any other friends we had ever known, die in the catastrophic way that men die in combat — ripped by shrapnel or torn apart by booby traps. They died in our arms. Their blood stayed on our clothes for days.

On our return home from Vietnam — when our homes were quiet late at night and we felt secure — we tried to tell our mothers and fathers or our girlfriends or our wives about the pain, how we felt fear, how we loved the men who died, how the experience plumbed the depths of our souls, and how, deep inside us, we had changed. But war is sensorial and difficult to put in words. We didn’t know until we tried to talk about our combat experiences how indescribable they were. We also realized that the telling took away from the joy our loved ones felt at our homecoming. So after a while, after we’d hemmed and hawed and seen our loved ones uncomfortable, we stopped talking.

*****

To people outside the family, we were quiet for different reasons. We were apprehensive because, in this war, American soldiers were called “murderers” and “baby killers.” The television commentators — so clean, so self-assured — droned on incessantly with their dark litany about the “bad war.” No one said that our sacrifices had been worthwhile or had value. No one thanked us. Instead we heard, “disgraceful,” “debacle,” “tragedy.”

And we did not win. In our culture, nobody likes a loser. Nothing excuses losing — not bad government, not ineffective strategy, and not blundering diplomats. Because we didn’t win on the battlefield, we received no parades when we came home. Despite our love for our country and respect for its tradition of duty and service, we had the feeling among us that our country did not love us back or respect our patriotism.

So we didn’t talk much. To give dignity to the memories of our friends who had died so violently in Vietnam, we did not discuss their sacrifices or how we felt about their loss. We did not risk having our hard-to-explain feelings trampled and trashed by an unsympathetic public that saw us as part of a losing proposition.

Winning at war gives meaning and value to death in combat. For citizen soldiers in this war, there was no dignified alternative to victory, no way to soothe their souls — second place lost.

Like Captain Paxiteles Swan, who also fought bravely for an army that did not win, we who served in Vietnam became sullen, sensitive, and uncommunicative. We said, after a fashion:

I went to Vietnam,

I came back

And that’s all.

And the curtness was defensive — the brevity out of some embarrassment, some perceived notion that the listener really was not interested.

We did not win the “bad” war.

*****

The Vietnam War now belongs to history and no longer divides us as a nation. There are other headlines, other TV lead stories, other conflicts, other issues. Protestors have grown up and gone on to jobs in the market place and academia. Retired. To them Southeast Asia combat is of fading interest.

This is not true of Americans who saw combat there. We have, after all these years, developed a clear voice about our service. We say with more confidence, “I served proudly in Vietnam.” There is the sense among us veterans that we are family. That we experienced something extraordinary in our jungle combat. We realize the enormous excitement and adventure in what we did and the unique closeness to the men we served with developed a fraternal bond unlike any relationship in ordinary American life, that brings us together now in reunions, that makes us stand so proudly when our country’s flag passes by. We know our fidelity helped preserve the concept of allegiance to our country during the tumultuous “Dawning of the Age of Aquarius,” when American ideals were reassessed.

And we are proud of the gritty manliness to our service, about enduring all those hours of boredom, slogging through the jungle, getting wet and dry a dozen times before changing fatigues, staying awake at night on ambush patrols and then fighting sleep on daytime sweeps, eating out of cans, drinking 100-degree iodized water out of plastic canteens, battling the fire ants, crapping out behind a tree, cussing, hacking at saw grass — and then suddenly, sheer stark terror. We have memories that cannot be duplicated in video games or movies. Or protest.

And we have the experience of coming home, which may be one of the greatest things about the war in Vietnam that non-vets will never know. Coming home to your mother. Seeing her for the first since fighting in a cold dark jungle so far away, you realize how much you had missed her. How deep inside, during those hours of combat horror, when you called out to your God, you also hungered for her comfort and safety. Her warm, tight, loving embrace. And then in final answer to your prayers there she is. In all of my life, there was no single greater joy than holding my mother when I came home from war.

I went to Vietnam,

I came back

And that’s all you’ll ever really know unless you went there too.


Story was originally published at: http://www.muleorations.com/blog/96-2


Background about the Author:    James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr

Many people dream of success and living a fulfilling life. This Bronze Star and Purple Heart awarded veteran is one of the few people to ever actually achieve those dreams. Mr. James E. Parker, Jr. fought in Vietnam as a 2LT and eventually joined the CIA where he received two Certificates of Outstanding Service, a Certificate of Distinction and the Intelligence Medal. He has decided to share his insightful experiences and through stories on his website as well as in the books he has written which are listed below. The Lint Center for National Security Studies is thankful and proud that we are able to share some of his selected stories with you in our Virtual Archive.

Website:
http://muleorations.com/index.html

Books:
http://muleorations.com/books-for-sale.html

The Vietnam War Its Ownself (2015)
Kessler Country Homilies (2013)
Battle for Skyline Ridge (2013)
Covert Ops (1997)
Last Man Out (1996)
Codename Mule (1995)

War Stories

Retired from the clandestine service in the early 90s, I went back to work for the CIA after 9/11. One of my first jobs had me at the end of the day in a bay area with other retired CIA case officers. Occasionally a bottle of wine was opened.

Not that it was needed to get this particular group of old retired spies to talk about what they had seen and done over the years.

There was a certain one-upmanship involved in the story-telling along the lines of “Oh yea, well listen to this.”

Caused a natural tendency for grander and grander acc’ts of CIA field duty to the point that some of the stories there towards the end of the end-of-the-day sessions were hard to believe.

With that in mind here are three of those stories:

A) There was an up and coming firebrand of a case officer, who after three tours was made Chief of Station of a small 3rd world country. He had this piece of business that he was sure this one particularly busy larger station would want to know about.

So he wrote them a long involved message giving the background to this piece of business and where it stood now and how it might be of use to them.

He got no response.

A few days later he wrote again, referencing his first message, giving some minor details about how the situation had changed and asking the busy station to respond, at least to provide an expression of interest.

He got no response.

A few days later he wrote again, referencing his first two messages, and gave this large station a piece of his mind about professional courtesy.

The response from the busy station referenced his three messages and the text had only one word.

“Yawn.”

B) The Agency in its relatively short life has gone through several “riffs.” Good men have been let go, although most of the bottom quarter of the case officer corps have periodically been purged too.

Usually a panel of officers two grades over the grade under review would be convened and they would make the determination of who stayed and who was let go.

The Chief of Station in a significant geographical location was called to Hqs to sit on one of these panels. By all acc’ts he didn’t want to be there doing this distasteful work, and he was the most severe in his recommendations. The most damning.

When he got back to his station, finally, he found waiting for him, his own riff notice.

He sent a two word message to Hqs.

“Fuck you.”

C) An old experienced ops officer from Hqs flew out to a foreign station to pay off a long time asset.

Reasons why he was being paid off and terminated and his exact country of origin, isn’t part of the story.

The story told in that group of old case officer late one day was about the large amount of money the agent was to receive.

The officer coming from Headquarters had arranged to have the cash sent from Headquarters and it was awaiting him when he arrived at the CIA field station. He introduced himself around, picked up his package and found an empty desk. When he opened the package he found instructions on how the officer was to transport the money from station to the hotel room where he would meet and pay the agent.

An old hand, he didn’t feel the need for some Headquarters bean-counter to tell him how to do his business, so he put the instruction letter away and began counting the money slowly. When he finished he checked the total against the amount listed in the package and then checked the amount against the due amount in the agent’s file. All matched.

Looking around the desk he found a blank sheet of paper and listed the amount on it, with intentions of writing a receipt around that number for the agent to sign once they were together.

He checked that he had a pen in his shirt pocket and then took bundled money by the handfuls and placed them in different pockets of his suit coat and a newly purchased black wool overcoat.

On the way out he stopped by the Chief of Station’s office, an old contact. There was some re-introductory chit chat, and then the Hqs guy went over his plans for the afternoon, evening ahead. His comments were brief and to the point.

Station Chief made a few comments about security and ended by saying that the newcomer should be careful because of the threat of street crime, especially aimed at tourist. Pickpockets, street walkers and street thugs would be along his route to and from his destination. The Headquarters officer assured the Chief that he could look after himself and took his leave.

All went well for the Headquarters officer as he walked along the streets of this old city, passing through the crowds with his hands in his overcoat pockets. His coat collar turned up against the winter wind, he kept his head down and did not stand out from others rushing by. He had memorized his route and walked it casually, effortlessly taking note along the way that he wasn’t being followed.

Two hours he walked this way and that before going into a subway station, bought a ticket to a stop several beyond where he was going and waited in the shadows. The train arrived and the officer boarded. The trip to his destination stop was uneventful although the officer had a local newspaper up as if he was reading it and kept his attention on his surroundings in the noisy fast moving underground train.

When he reached his stop, he got up, folded the newspaper and waited for others to get off before he did. The last to leave, he stepped out on the platform and looked around.

Suddenly he was swarmed by young kids. Filthy, laughing, grabbing kids, yelling in some odd language. They were at his back, his front, his sides. Hands everywhere all at once. He tried to shoo them away by hitting them with his newspaper and his open hand. He grabbed a hand that was inside his overcoat pocket then turned around to stop a kid from pulling his wallet out and that took his focus, because he didn’t want to lose his documents. The kid – with unkempt hair, dark eyes and ratty clothes – was smiling but was biting his lip as he tugged at the wallet, yanking again and again to get it out of the man’s back pocket. The officer tried to slap the kid but he ducked and then there was sharp electronic “bing, bing” in the subway station and the kids were gone. Completely swarmed by youngsters one minute, the next, they had stopped yelling and leaped away. The man, getting his balance, looked up and saw a tall dark man standing in the door of the subway, holding it opened against the constant sounding door-ajar “bing, bing.” All the kids scampered by him, safely aboard. A few waved gleefully as the train left the station.

They had taken most of his money… almost every dollar of that enormous amount. In no more than a dozen seconds.

In the sudden quiet of the empty underground station, the agent collected himself and then carried on.

Hqs was not pleased when they got his report. Eventually he suffered career ending consequences.

The incident sent shivers down the spines of everyone in the local station, because they had to work on those streets every day. Gangs of young thieves – some coming from other countries – were a constant menace, targeting tourist and other foreigners primarily, but going after anyone who looked prosperous. They operated on plazas where tourist congregated and also near bus and subway stations. Everyone at the CIA station made renewed vows to be absolutely professional at all time on the street and to stay out of the grasps of the local young thieves. They also checked their wardrobes to make sure they dressed down to the common level of working people when they went out on the streets.

Late one Wednesday afternoon several months later, a CIA officer from the station went out to pay a local agent. Coincidentally he ended up at the same subway stop were the Headquarters officers was robbed. He was well aware of where he was and what had happened before. He buttoned his worn overcoat to the top and locked his arms around his chest, pulling the slack of the coat to the front, took a deep breath, put his head down and was quickly out the door as soon as they stopped.

He was immediately swarmed by kids, pushing him around, backing him toward the subway door. Yelling amongst themselves. Laughing.

The officer didn’t hesitate. He swung out both arms at the same time, catching one young boy on the temple who dropped to the platform floor. Turning he picked up another boy and used him as a bat against another youngster, screaming now as loud as he could.

As he was widening his stance ready to do more battle a large grown man dove in like a football player hitting the officer in the chest, knocking him to one side. He fought to keep his feet after stepping on one of the boys still down on the platform. But he was losing the battle – there were more men on him and he fell to the floor – so he sought to put his hands in his pockets, covering his money.

One of the angry men sitting on his chest asked in a very excited, very US mid western voice, “What are you doing? Are you crazy?”

The CIA officer had stepped off the subway train into the path of some US Boy Scouts on an international field trip rushing to make the train.

Sipping our wine there in that bay area, we all agreed that this CIA spy business is tough. You just never can be sure.

This was a late afternoon story… and some agreed later it was awfully cute to be true. But then who knows?


Story was originally published at: http://www.muleorations.com/blog/13-2


Background about the Author:    James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr

Many people dream of success and living a fulfilling life. This Bronze Star and Purple Heart awarded veteran is one of the few people to ever actually achieve those dreams. Mr. James E. Parker, Jr. fought in Vietnam as a 2LT and eventually joined the CIA where he received two Certificates of Outstanding Service, a Certificate of Distinction and the Intelligence Medal. He has decided to share his insightful experiences and through stories on his website as well as in the books he has written which are listed below. The Lint Center for National Security Studies is thankful and proud that we are able to share some of his selected stories with you in our Virtual Archive.

Website:
http://muleorations.com/index.html

Books:
http://muleorations.com/books-for-sale.html

The Vietnam War Its Ownself (2015)
Kessler Country Homilies (2013)
Battle for Skyline Ridge (2013)
Covert Ops (1997)
Last Man Out (1996)
Codename Mule (1995)

Hell’s Gate

Although several of the men had been wounded, PFC JV Patrick was the first man killed in my infantry platoon in Vietnam. In sending his effects home, Sergeant Bratcher and I realized that his billfold and some other personal items had been sent from the field with his body, which we assumed had ended up at the morgue at Bien Hoa.

I took a day trip down to pick them up, starting out by the brigade helipad at sunrise. By noon I was standing in front of the MAC V field morgue near the 1st Division Headquarters. There was an unusual antiseptic smell to the place; an unhealthy, forbidding air.

I walked in the reception area and told a young corporal sitting behind a high desk that I had come for the personal effects of one of my soldiers killed in early January. I gave Patrick’s name and service number. The corporal acted bored and after a moment looking off in the distance he reached for a field telephone on his desk. He turned the dial on the side and was soon in lengthy conversation about what was Patrick’s and what wasn’t. He hung up and suggested we go in the back.

We walked out of the reception area right into the working area of the morgue. Six dead, nude G.I.s were laid out on marble top tables. Other unprocessed body bags lay stacked one on top of the other in the rear. The concrete floor around some of the tables was covered with blood. A man with a water hose was calmly hosing down the area, going slowly back and forth in front with the water. The morgue operators were wearing boots and were talking amongst themselves as I walked through, one or two taking note of the fact that I was trying not to lose my breakfast. My muscles froze and I walked awkwardly.

The smell in the mid-day Vietnamese sun was putrid: excrement, alcohol, some other atrocious smell akin to rotten oranges.

Trudging along behind my receptionist escort I stepped through the water, blood and human slime, and despite now looking straight ahead I replayed the clear image I had made of the room in those brief seconds as I first walked in. Some of the men on the tables were white, others black, some had lost limbs, blood was still dripping from some tables, some of the men had their eyes and mouths opened. Some were closed.

The dead men were so quiet; the black men so colorless, the white men so cold and chalky. The attendants so nonchalant.

My senses were assaulted. It was too sudden. Too unexpected. Too macabre and bizarre. It was the most horrible place I had ever been, the worst moments I had ever lived.

Back in the supply room I could not speak. The receptionist asked who’s effects I had come for, but I could not talk. Patrick’s name was finally mentioned and soon some personal items were laying before me on a table. I went through them like I was hypnotized. Taking this, discarding that, not sure why. When I finished, I looked up at the supply sergeant and he said, “That’s it.”

He put the items in a plastic bag, I signed for them in an indecipherable script and walked stiffly out without a word… not through the working bay, but out the back, around the building, to the road in front. I started to jog to get away from the place, and then started running as fast as I could. Finally, a quarter of a mile away I stopped and looked back, still afraid, breathing hard, drenched in sweat. In the distance the morgue stood isolated like a godless chamber. Its stench was still in my nose. The bloody, slaughterous sights inside permanently stamped in my mind.

An olive-drab gate to hell.


Story was originally published at: http://www.muleorations.com/blog/68-2


Background about the Author:    James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr

Many people dream of success and living a fulfilling life. This Bronze Star and Purple Heart awarded veteran is one of the few people to ever actually achieve those dreams. Mr. James E. Parker, Jr. fought in Vietnam as a 2LT and eventually joined the CIA where he received two Certificates of Outstanding Service, a Certificate of Distinction and the Intelligence Medal. He has decided to share his insightful experiences and through stories on his website as well as in the books he has written which are listed below. The Lint Center for National Security Studies is thankful and proud that we are able to share some of his selected stories with you in our Virtual Archive.

Website:
http://muleorations.com/index.html

Books:
http://muleorations.com/books-for-sale.html

The Vietnam War Its Ownself (2015)
Kessler Country Homilies (2013)
Battle for Skyline Ridge (2013)
Covert Ops (1997)
Last Man Out (1996)
Codename Mule (1995)

Hammock from Hell

Bob Dunn and I towards the end of our US Army tour in Vietnam worked at Battalion Hqs. One of our jobs was to make sure that everyone got on the helicopters coming back to the base camp from jungle operations. We were always on the last helicopter out. Here’s the cast of characters in this little story:

  1. At our base camp we lived in a tent with the Battalion supply officer, Moubry (alias) who was not our friend.
  2. Bradley was a former NCO who had gotten his commission, like me, from OCS. He had the Battalion recon platoon.
  3. Lingel was the Battalion commo officer.
  4. Dunn, who you’ll hear much about later.

As we trudged up the road from the airfield at Phuoc Vinh, our goggles pulled down to our necks, we looked like raccoons, with clean rings around our eyes. Our fatigues were dirty and sweaty from the two week operation, plus all the debris that they had collected from the dozens of helicopters in the lift. Our hair was matted down from dirt and grime. We were tired to the bone and we trudged along with our heads down.

When we arrived at our tent, we found devastation. A river from the monsoon rains had run through our section of the tent. Bob’s cot had been swept to my side. Our clothes, hanging on the mosquito netting of the tent, were mildewed. A package of cookies from home that had been ripped opened and destroyed by rats was lying on top of my cot. Mud was six inches deep across the floor to Moubry’s elevated section.

Moubry had added an easy chair and a rug. The light over his desk was shining down on his open Bible.

Still carrying our guns, we walked around our area of the tent in mud up to our ankles and tracked it across Moubry’s new rug, out into the company street, over to the supply tent and behind the counter. Moubry saw us and went out the back. Going down the line of supplies, we pulled out new fatigues, new skivvies, new socks, new sheets and new pillows. We went back to our tent and put our supplies on Moubry’s bed. On a revisit to the supply tent, we picked up shipping pallets to put on the floor of our tent section.

After showering, shaving and dressing in our new fatigues, we went to the mess hall and persuaded Cookie to make us some sandwiches, even though he had long since closed the line for supper.

Later at the officers’ club, Dunn and I were joined by First Lieutenant Frank Bradley, who had taken the recon platoon from Pete. We sat by ourselves and stacked beer cans five levels high. Dunn knocked them over. Then I went to my old tent in the Alpha Company area and retrieved the picture of the nude behind the bar.

Arriving back at the battalion officers’ club, I put the painting of the nude in a position of honor behind the bar. I proposed a welcoming toast to her. Bradley, drunk, stood up. He staggered to get his balance, saluted the lady and left. He stumbled down the battalion street as he tried to light a cigarette. He was so intent in lighting his cigarette that he lost his way and weaved off between two tents. Finally getting the cigarette lit, he found the tent that he shared with the communication officer, First Lieutenant Larry Lingel, who was in bed but not yet asleep. With the cigarette still in his mouth, Bradley stumbled to his cot and pulled up the mosquito netting. He turned around, sat down heavily and reached forward to undo his shoes. He couldn’t. He came halfway back up and fell back on the cot, his legs still off the side.

Lingel had seen the cigarette in Bradley’s mouth, but he didn’t know what happened to it, so he turned on a small bed light over his head.

Bradley started to breathe deeply. A couple of seconds later, the cigarette rolled off his chin and landed on his neck.

A couple of seconds went by.

Suddenly, he jerked forward and became entangled in the netting. He swung his arms around and became more ensnared — fighting, twisting, kicking. The cot turned over and he fell over backward, with his upper body completely wrapped in the mosquito netting. He thrashed around on the floor for a few more seconds and then he lay still.

Lingel, propped up on one elbow, looked down without comment.

The cigarette began to smolder inside the mosquito netting at Bradley’s back. He lashed out again, jerking and struggling, and rolled across the floor away from the overturned cot. Coming to rest in a ball in the middle of the tent, he lay silently.

Finally, from inside the netting, came a faint voice, “Lingel, Lingel, save yourself, I’m done for. Can’t get away.”

This true story, one of my favorites, is taken verbatim from the hard copy of my Last Man Out. You want more about Dunn go to the Last Man Out index and look up Bob Dunn. Also check police blotters up and down the west coast of the US of A.


Story was originally published at: http://www.muleorations.com/blog/18-2


Background about the Author:    James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr

Many people dream of success and living a fulfilling life. This Bronze Star and Purple Heart awarded veteran is one of the few people to ever actually achieve those dreams. Mr. James E. Parker, Jr. fought in Vietnam as a 2LT and eventually joined the CIA where he received two Certificates of Outstanding Service, a Certificate of Distinction and the Intelligence Medal. He has decided to share his insightful experiences and through stories on his website as well as in the books he has written which are listed below. The Lint Center for National Security Studies is thankful and proud that we are able to share some of his selected stories with you in our Virtual Archive.

Website:
http://muleorations.com/index.html

Books:
http://muleorations.com/books-for-sale.html

The Vietnam War Its Ownself (2015)
Kessler Country Homilies (2013)
Battle for Skyline Ridge (2013)
Covert Ops (1997)
Last Man Out (1996)
Codename Mule (1995)