Value and Handling of Prisoners in World War I

Published with Permission by:
Lori S. Tagg, Command Historian,
US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, AZ.

“Prisoners or deserters constitute one of the most fruitful sources from which information of the enemy is obtained.”
Intelligence Regulations, American Expeditionary Forces, October 21, 1918

By the time of the Armistice ending World War I on November 11, 1918, the US held nearly 48,000 prisoners of war. The majority had been captured within the final months as the war moved out of the trenches.  The American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) G-2, Maj. (later Maj. Gen.) Dennis Nolan put much emphasis on the information obtained from enemy prisoners. After the war, he remarked, “[A prisoner] can, as a rule, tell you much more than a spy…who is trying to get around and find out about the enemy.  [A prisoner] knows and the other man is frequently guessing at it.”

In mid-October 1918, Capt. Ernst Howald (standing right), the lead interrogator for the 28th Division, Second US Army, used prisoner statements to construct a detailed template showing the enemy facing the division. After the war, his estimates were proven to be highly accurate.

As Nolan shaped his formal intelligence organization in the early months of American involvement, he recognized prisoners could be captured any time on any battlefield, and commanders at every echelon wanted to examine the prisoners they captured.  He also realized that, due to a lack of personnel and the high operating tempo, in-depth interrogations at lower echelons were not practicable or effectual.  Nolan developed a hierarchical system for the examination of prisoners at all echelons and outlined clear guidelines for handling prisoners in the 1918 Intelligence Regulations and Instructions for Regimental Intelligence Service. Those same guidelines were published in the Army’s first (provisional) Combat Intelligence Manual, also printed in 1918.

Nolan’s system started at the regiment.  The Regimental Intelligence Officer, typically a first lieutenant, determined the name, rank, and organization of any prisoners, as well as the time and place captured.  Prisoners were searched and then quickly transferred to division assembly points.  The division G-2 sections, led by a lieutenant colonel or major, conducted limited questioning, with the help of commissioned linguists from the Corps of Interpreters.  This questioning focused on necessary tactical information about the division sector to a depth of two miles behind the enemy front lines.

From the division, prisoners were transferred to the corps collecting centers, where more in-depth questioning began.  The number of prisoners, especially during offensive operations, often stressed the corps G-2 sections.  At those times, Army headquarters dispatched teams of four sergeants and one officer to augment the corps’ interrogation efforts.  During the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives in the fall of 1918, French interrogators also supplemented the US interrogators.

The corps intelligence sections found that simple and direct questioning, combined with kindness and courtesy, was the most effective method for eliciting information.  Many of the AEF’s interrogators had been lawyers in their civilian lives and could coax information out of the most recalcitrant prisoner.  Corps interrogators used a variety of other tactics to elicit information, as well.  One interrogator found that he could get prisoners to talk openly if he showed them aerial photographs with landmarks they recognized. The II Corps G-2, Col. “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, recruited a drafted German soldier, who had previously lived in the United States and yearned to return there, to “work the prisoner cages” and glean information from his fellow prisoners.  Additionally, US interpreters donned German uniforms and wandered the collection points to eavesdrop on prisoners bragging about intentionally misleading their interrogators.  This use of “stool pigeons” was common practice throughout the war.

The quality and veracity of the information varied with the rank of the prisoner.  Lt. Col. Walter Sweeney, who served in the AEF G-2 during the war, claimed that “noncommissioned officers were by far the best sources for gaining information” and “few of them resisted insistent interrogation.”  About 60 percent of officers “invoked military honor” and refused to cooperate.  A typical German soldier had little knowledge about the larger battlefield, but he provided details on his own unit, weapons, troop losses, and general morale.  Enemy soldiers from Poland, Denmark, the Alsace-Lorraine region and southern Germany were particularly cooperative.  Unquestionably, the most important information obtained from prisoners was enemy order of battle, but they also gave up their routes of movement; the position and condition of trenches, dugouts and wire entanglements; their capacity to attack; and how susceptible they were to being attacked.

Based on the preceding outline, it is clear that World War I was no different than any other war in US Army history: prisoners of war have always been proven and valued sources of intelligence.  However, formalizing and standardizing the process for handling and examining prisoners in the 1918 Intelligence Regulations and provisional manuals was one more step in modernizing US Army Intelligence.  While field manuals published in 1940 provided more details on accepted interrogation techniques, the system for prisoner-of-war handling Nolan developed for World War I continued, with minor changes, throughout the 20th century.

The 1st Corps Observation Group in World War I

Published with Permission by:
Lori S. Tagg, Command Historian,
US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, AZ.

In the latter half of the 19th century, military organizations around the world began experimenting with aerial technologies. By the early part of the 20th century, advances in airplanes and cameras inevitably linked these two technologies for military intelligence purposes. By the time the US entered World War I, aerial visual and photographic reconnaissance had become principle sources of intelligence used by the British and French for planning and executing battles. Following the lead of the Allies, the fledgling US Air Service deployed 18 Aero Squadrons (Observation) to France in 1917 and 1918. Of these, 14 served with 1st, 3d, 4th, 5th, and 6th Corps. The first corps-level observation group was established in 1st Corps.

In April 1918, the 1st Corps Observation Group was assigned to the Toul Sector in support of the 26th Division. The Group consisted of the 1st Aero Squadron, responsible for long-range visual observation and aerial photographic missions and adjustment of divisional heavy artillery fire, and the 12th Aero Squadron, which conducted short-range visual and photographic missions, light artillery spotting missions, and infantry contact patrols. During its eight months of operations, the Group also temporarily included the 50th and 88th Aero Squadrons.

Courier Cpl. Roland McFall receives plates from Observer, 1st Lt. James B Harvey. At the end of the aerial photo mission, the motorcyclist waits to retrieve the glass photographic plates for speedy delivery to the photo lab for processing.

Each squadron consisted of 18 pilots and 18 observers, all officers. The Group also had a Photographic Officer, responsible for installing cameras on the aircraft and overseeing development of photographs after the missions, and a Branch Intelligence Officer (BIO). The BIO, assigned by the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) G-2, studied and interpreted the photographs and distributed all relevant information to higher commands. The Group also included a motorcycle courier, who sped the photo plates from the aircraft to the lab where 30 enlisted technicians and specialists printed and enlarged the photos and got them in the hands of the BIO within six hours.

In the early days of aerial operations, weather and mechanical problems cancelled more missions than were actually flown and many of the initial photographs had little intelligence value. Squadron personnel used their time in the relatively quiet sector to complete their training in preparation for more active operations. In addition to providing valuable training, the constant overwatch in the sector made it difficult for the enemy to make preparations for large-scale attacks without the Allies’ knowledge.

These quiet days in Toul came to an end in early July 1918 when the US began large-scale military operations against the German lines. The 1st Corps Observation Group had active participation in the Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne offensives. Commanders who had initially expressed skepticism about the value of aerial reconnaissance were now relying heavily on the discipline when planning operations. Weather permitting, aero squadrons flew daily dawn and twilight patrol missions and other missions as the tactical situation dictated. The BIO compared photographs from successive missions to identify changes in enemy battery positions, movement on roads and railways, and evidence of new works and troop concentrations. As the squadrons gained experience in actual combat conditions, they became more responsive to the needs of Corps and Division G-2s, air-delivering timely “First Needs” packets of photographs directly to command posts.

As the war moved out of the trenches as became more mobile, photographic reconnaissance became less important than artillery adjustment and infantry contact patrols. Because most of the observers were field artillery officers, they were attuned to and focused on meeting the requirements for artillery targeting. During contact patrols, air crews kept the command informed of the location of its front line by flying low enough to mitigate issues of unfavorable weather, while braving the dangers of both friendly and enemy ground fire. Communication issues between air crews and infantry units were partially overcome by more intensive collective training, although the rapidly changing battlefield challenged even the best efforts at liaison.

In reviewing its efforts, the US Air Service identified issues related to weather, air-to-ground communication, timeliness of photographic processing, and inadequate training that would need to be addressed in post-war developments. Still, the success of the Aero Squadrons cannot be overlooked. The Air Service understated the value of aerial visual and photographic reconnaissance as “satisfactory,” while historians noted that it had become the primary information source influencing decision-making by the end of the war. General John J. Pershing, commander of the AEF, concurred, stating, “No army ever went out with the information as to what was in front of it as the American army did at St. Mihiel and the Argonne.” Clearly, aerial reconnaissance would continue to be a critical component of Army Intelligence operations.

Counterintelligence In The American Expeditionary Forces (AEF)

Published with Permission by:
Lori S. Tagg, Command Historian,
US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, AZ.

In 1917, following declaration of war against Germany, the United States began building its one-million-man military force through a wide-spread draft. In the process, all eligible US citizens and resident foreign nationals were swept into the US Army.  The Allies, particularly paranoid of America’s “melting pot,” warned the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) G-2, Major Dennis Nolan, that US forces needed to be safeguarded from internal and external threats of enemy espionage, sabotage, and subversion.

On July 11, 1917, Nolan wrote to the Chief of Staff of the Army requesting “that fifty secret service men, who have had training in police work [and] who speak French fluently, be enlisted as sergeants of infantry in service in intelligence work and sent to France at an early date.” Nolan also requested 50 company-grade officers to assist British and French counter-espionage efforts at French ports and on the front lines.  Both requests were approved the following month and the Corps of Intelligence Police (CIP) became the first official recognition of the counterintelligence discipline in the US Army.

The first 50 CIP agents arrived in France in November 1917.  Two months later, the AEF received authorization to recruit another 700 agents from units already overseas. By the armistice in November 1918, however, the CIP had only reached a strength of 418 agents.

Belgian and American personnel in Wortegheim, Belgium, question a suspected spy charged with signaling to a German machine gun emplacement, November 1918.

One third of CIP agents served in the Front Zone, where the US Army had responsibility for 123 miles of territory adjacent to the fighting. They established mobile checkpoints to prevent entry of non-combatants into the combat zone and secured France’s border with neutral and Allied countries. Other agents served directly with advancing troops of the First and Second Armies where their chief mission was to control the civil population and detect and prevent espionage. Among the first to enter recaptured towns, they immediately replaced any suspect government officials and interviewed inhabitants for enemy order of battle information.

The majority of the CIP agents served with the G-2 Services of Supply (SOS) in the Rear Zone.  They provided security for 14 ports in France, England, and Scotland; 400 miles of frontier along the borders with Spain and Italy; 31 supply depots; and 7 leave centers.  They disguised themselves as laborers and interpreters to detect enemy agents circulating among US troops.  They also warned Soldiers about the consequences of “loose talk” and investigated suspicious behavior or cases of possible sabotage.  The CIP agents in the G-2 SOS investigated 3,706 cases and neutralized 229 suspected enemy agents through conviction, internment, or expulsion from the war zone.

Additionally, a few CIP agents worked “Special Projects” in the Counter Espionage Section of the AEF G-2. In addition to compiling a central file of more than 160,000 names, they provided security for traveling VIPs and, at times, served as General John Pershing’s bodyguard.

The CIP recorded a number of problems that arose during their World War I operations. Foremost, wartime haste left little time to procure suitable personnel, to adequately train agents, or to educate the rest of the US Army about the need for and importance of counterintelligence.  Furthermore, since CIP agents arrived in France several months after the first American combat troops, they did not have time to set up a “protective screen” to safeguard US forces and support services from enemy espionage or subversion.  The secret nature of much of the CIP’s work meant that their successes went unrecognized, which inhibited promotions for officers and commissions for enlisted personnel and negatively impacted morale.  Rank disparity often became an issue when agents interviewed senior officers or interacted with Allied counterintelligence personnel. Finally, the word “police” in the organization’s title led to CIP investigations of more criminal activities than their mission required or allowed, much to the consternation of the Military Police.

Despite these myriad problems, CIP agents were exceedingly proud of their service.  According to their official history, “World War I experiences taught most CIP agents that it was hard, unglamorous and painstaking work that earned for the Corps of Intelligence Police a permanent and honored place in all the future wartime plans of the United States Army.”  This, however, did not protect CIP from post-war reductions along with the rest of the US Army.  While the CIP remained a viable organization, carrying out critical counterintelligence missions in Hawaii, Panama, the Philippines, and along the United States-Mexico border, the number of agents on duty from 1920 to 1940 ranged from just 18 to 40.  Unfortunately, the same wartime haste that plagued effective operations in World War I would cause similar problems in World War II.

Some (more) Vietnam War Memories from the Early Days

By Lou Rothenstein

Since some of us really old guys are recalling things from the far distant past, I thought of recording a few more memories. Maybe one or two are interesting.

In 61 and 62, I had several TDY trips to Vietnam from KMAG in Korea. There was a ceiling on assigned troops – I think 5,000 so the Army brought in people TDY from several places in Asia. I was promoted to SSG and somewhat out of a job so I was a good candidate. I went from working for the Chief, KMAG as an E5 to document security for Detachment 40, (SF Advisors from 1st SF Group) KMAG, as an E6.

So, the Eighth Army SGM sent me to Vietnam. In 61 there was no MACV. MAAG-V, headquartered in Saigon was the place to be until around February of 62 when MACV cranked up.

I was living sort of in the basement of an outbuilding at MAAG-V HQ. I did odd jobs like teaching motor stables on sedans and packaging items for distribution to advisors in the field and sometimes the mail. It included some SF camps. These were manned by TDY teams from several different groups. It caused a few problems when they changed and not one in the HQ passed on the info. I delivered some newer than French 1:100,000 maps – some 1:50,000s, 1:250,000 around. Sometimes I had to hang out at Ton San Nhut for a ride. Aircraft were not too plentiful in 61. Once I was given a box to deliver to Vientiane. I had cash, bought a ticket on Air Vietnam, a C-46, delivered the package to a Mr. Miller, and immediately flew back to Saigon. I think it contained altimeters/aircraft gauges. We called this Gopher work. I believe that this was a CAT plane as the crew was Chinese. I had to have fatigues with a MAAG-V patch so I didn’t stand out in a crowd. I had to carry other shirts with different patches on them when going to another country. If I went into Laos, I would have to change shirts. There was a lot of this deceptive stuff going on. Apparently a way to get things into Air America or other outfits without the normal procedures.

I recall some advisors in 61 in the field who had little to work with. There was a new Ranger training center not to far from Da Lat that I recall that was the picture of field expedients. They apparently got things started by trading on the OD market. Goods for captured equipment. This was practiced even after we had more than we could use. Col Tom Henry who passed away in 2015 (China Post 1) was setting it up then a Captain. He also set up Delta Force early on.

I was rewarded with a plush job on my second TDY. I drove around an Army Major PAO type. He roomed at the new Caravelle Hotel. So I did also, sharing a room with an AF ATC from Taiwan for awhile. but I think he was a Spook as he didn’t handle a camera very well and was always asking me questions about this or that guy I had a beer or two with up at the Roof Garden (Saigon Saigon)at night. At the hotel, there were quite a few foreign correspondents and several from the U.S. I ended up writing some reports on these folks that were probably sent to ACSI, DA. It may have been the start of my change from grunt/clerk to intel.

About two weeks I spent thumbing rides around Vietnam to deliver things. I always came back to Saigon for a long weekend. I thought that this was the way to be in a war. Not much shooting going on and those weekends were great. After reading the book “The Spy Who Loved Us” (Pham Xuan An) I wondered if I had a beer or two with this chain-smoking guy. Back then, most people smoked so American cigarettes were good trading material at the end of the month when the cash ran out. I still don’t know. I talked with several reporters who bought beer as long as we low-ranking guys fed them information. ABC was more prone to bribe us for info than the other network folks. To this day, I do not understand the question when asked of an Army SSG “How do you think the war is going?” As if I really had inside info. My roommate could quaff some beer. After awhile, we gravitated towards some Aussies and Kiwis who lived in the hotel. Now they really drank beer. Sometimes, a U.S. officer would report me to MAAG HQ for excess beer consumption and other frowned upon behaviors. My Major always intervened – I worked for him and was following orders.

I recall the rooftop bar/cafe Saigon Saigon perhaps more than anything. Sitting at a table with good food, drinks, watching some military actions in the distance at night. I sat there in April of this year and had a couple of beers reminiscing. Also some much modified black B-26’s that flew at night. I discovered much later, they were testing the terrain following radar. Also the overloaded T-28s at Soc Trang. I saw one right after a wing fell off. These trainers were really overworked in ground support missions. And of course, the old helicopters. One can never forget the CH-21.

Things changed a lot with MACV establishing a larger presence in early 62. No Caravelle Hotel this trip. I first lived out of a security unit’s billets close to TSN where I could get my jeep serviced (washed and fueled). I got to know the flight schedules pretty well and drove people to and from the airport and sometimes the closer helipad. One Monday, MAAG HQ (both MAAG and MACV were operating at the same time) sent me on a mission to the Delta. I had to drive a new MACV LTC named Vann to My Tho as he didn’t want to fly. He wanted to look at the terrain. As soon as we left the Saigon area, he gave me his carbine, said I was shotgun and he drove to My Tho. I spent a couple of weeks there until replacements and new personnel came in. It was a bit closer to the action but the action was still sparse. I actually went on a couple of small operations, one that gave a a nice scar. I then went TDY to Okinawa ostensibly to learn how to jump out of planes but got injured inside one of them. That ended my dreams of an extra $55 a month. It left me with a problem shoulder for many years.

I started to worry about my pay. I was getting cash that sometimes I had to sign for, other times it was just handed to me. I found that someone arranged to have my regular but meager Army pay put away for safekeeping. I wonder if this was another way to get around counting all the people in country. But when I was sent back to Korea, it was all OK with the pay. The accumulated pay let me buy a new car at my next assignment. I had nothing much to do so I toured most of the KMAG teams, sometimes with new people, a couple of USO shows, or delivering goods. The G2 Advisor in KMAG had me write up a lengthy report on my experiences. There was also an Eighth Army NCO and a Captain who were also TDY to SEA that did the same. Apparently no one ever read the reports as when I went back to Vietnam in 66, things were worse. I, at times, felt like the VC made me their #1 target. There was a big difference in KMAG and MAAG/MACV. In KMAG, the Army folks were pretty senior.

After I left Asia, Germany was my next assignment. First Heidelberg, putting together message books for the CINC and staff. Pretty uneventful (boring) except one trip as a driver to Zossen-Wuensdorf, GSFG HQ. I ended up in Berlin thinking I would soon be in the Infantry. That didn’t happen. I was reassigned to G2, Berlin Brigade as an assistant to an assistant in G2 Operations. All the officers were Infantry. Working in SMOS. There were only two enlisted there that had any intel experience. The G2 SGM and the Ops NCO, both WWII and Korean Vets. They taught me enough to stay out of too much trouble. As Army Intelligence and Security (later MI) grew, we needed to retrain more enlisted folks into the new MOSs.

Vietnam was heating up and since I was there (short time and lack of significant roles), I became the “expert” on Vietnam. So junior officers and senior NCOs would stop by after patrols to ask questions. I was training a new G2 recruit, SSG Jim Fiske what little I knew of the workings of intelligence. The Vietnam orders started coming in in late 64. Jim was among the first to depart. I told him of my experiences, good times, gave him a few addresses, and he left a happy camper.

Well Jim got into country just before Christmas of 64. The day after his arrival, Charlie blew up much of his temporary billet, the Brinks BOQ. He was due to work at the new Combined Intel Center. I received perhaps one of the nastiest notes ever written by humans from him. He survived and went on to become an MI WO and embassy work. Good troop. I just remembered another one of our trainees. SFC Jim Kinnon. Profiled out of the Infantry, he became one of our collectors. I guess he didn’t want to stay MI as when he went to Vietnam, he told MACV their Drug and Alcohol program sucked, that he could do better. He was given the job which worked but was underfunded and undermanned. His program became a standard used even by fancy places like the Betty Ford Center.

I thought of writing this down as best that my memory could do. I did it previously but it was lost. Not that it matters much in the grand scheme of things, but it taught me not to pay too much attention to people who were “experts.” The world changes too quick. It also taught Jim to never listen to me again.

With the media and press in the news as perhaps not too well balanced in their reporting, I remember very well the situations in Vietnam. What really happened and was told to reporters, they most often reported the facts pretty well, at least in the early years. However, there were several of their stories modified a bit back stateside. Some stories I read later were not near the truth and reporter opinions were often more influential than official government reports. Some of this was our fault. MACV held a 1700 brief for the press. What was being told to reporters about TET-68 was not in line what some reporters were told by troops and they visited battle sites to see for themselves. It led one reporter, the most trusted man in America at the time to state that we were basically in a stale mate. It changed the opinions of many in America from pro to con about Vietnam.

Anyway, it felt good to write down what I can still remember at 78.

Tactical Signals Intelligence Originates in World War I

Published with Permission by:
Lori S. Tagg, Command Historian,
US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, AZ.

After the invention of the radio in the 1890s, the first widespread use of the technology for military communications occurred during World War I.  The ease of intercepting radio messages quickly spurred advances in encryption and decryption of codes and ciphers.  The Military Intelligence Division in Washington recognized the importance of this discipline and quickly established Herbert Yardley’s Code and Cipher Section.  Likewise, shortly after arriving in France, Brig. Gen. Dennis Nolan, the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) G-2, was forced to acknowledge that the US was woefully unprepared to exploit signals intelligence.  When British intelligence informed him that it had identified two-thirds of the enemy’s divisions through the intercepting and decoding of Germany’s radio messages, Nolan acted immediately.  On July 28, 1917, he tasked Capt. Frank Moorman to form the AEF’s Radio Intelligence Section (RIS), also known as G-2 A6.

Moorman, a 40-year-old Coastal Artillery officer serving as the acting director of the Signal School at Fort Leavenworth, had served in the Military Information Division in the Philippines and had temporarily worked with Parker Hitt, the Army’s foremost authority on codes and ciphers.  When Moorman arrived in France, however, he understood little more than his mission: to read and decipher German radio messages.  Starting from scratch, Moorman soon built a successful collaborative network that provided the AEF with reliable intelligence throughout the war.

Lt. Col. Frank Moorman and his staff of the Radio Intelligence Section, AEF Headquarters (INSCOM photo)

The US Army’s Signal Corps, which had responsibility for Army code compilation and communications security, figured prominently in Moorman’s network.  The Signal Corps’ own Radio Intelligence Service, later renamed the Radio Section, established, operated, and maintained listening stations close to the front lines.  Personnel manning these stations intercepted and copied enemy radio messages around the clock.  The Signal Corps turned recorded messages over to RIS personnel at each Army headquarters for deciphering and analysis using keys provided by the G-2 A6. The most difficult codes and ciphers and potentially important messages were passed further up the chain to Moorman’s section.

The US Army’s first foray into tactical signals intelligence quickly surpassed the efforts of its Allies.  Its eight listening stations intercepted more than 72,000 messages and 238,000 telephone calls.  Additionally, personnel located enemy radio stations, constructed net diagrams, intercepted and located radio signals from airplanes ranging for hostile artillery, policed US Army telephone lines near the front for operational security, and distributed American trench codes.  They also helped develop enemy order of battle through traffic analysis by using call signs and knowledge of German communication protocols.

One early success occurred in December 1917, when the RIS intercepted a transmission indicating the enemy planned a barrage in an area where a US division was co-located with the French.  The RIS passed this intelligence to front line headquarters just in time to allow the Allies to unleash a counter-battery attack that effectively prevented the Germans from carrying out their plan.  Examples like this quickly won over skeptical commanders who initially distrusted the value of code and cipher work. However, it also exposed a vulnerability for future warfare. Moorman cautioned that the system developed for use in World War I was successful primarily because of the static nature of trench warfare.  Its value decreased when the enemy became mobile and the RIS could not maintain close contact long enough to establish the listening stations and install the necessary equipment.

In 1920, Moorman spoke to the officers of the Military Intelligence Division in an effort to pass on insights relevant for the future.  He recalled that his most pressing problem was obtaining adequate personnel: “The difficulty in finding men who could actually think without a guardian was surprising.  It is hoped that one of the aims of the future will be to develop this ability in men chosen for code and cipher work.”

Another obstacle the RIS faced was educating outside personnel about the process of code and cipher work.  “What [headquarters] wanted us to do was pick out the important messages, decode them, and let the rest go.…It was a matter of considerable difficulty to make them see that we had to work them out and that the Germans did not tag their important messages before sending them.”  Additionally, educating troops about the importance of safeguarding their own communications was paramount.  Moorman warned, “It is a sacrifice of American lives to unnecessarily assist the enemy in the solution of our code.”  Too often, soldiers mishandled codes and refused to “[observe] the ‘foolish’ little details that the code man insists on.”  Moorman correctly predicted that all these issues would endure in the future.

US Army’s First Code and Cipher Bureau Created June 10, 1917

Published with Permission by:
Lori S. Tagg, Command Historian,
US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, AZ.

When Ralph Van Deman established the War Department’s intelligence organization shortly after the US entered World War I, he was faced with building his section from nearly nothing.  Although his background was more in the field of counterintelligence, he readily recognized the need for an office dedicated to cryptology.  He received numerous letters from amateur cryptologists offering their services, but he was intrigued by one person in particular: a bored State Department telegraph operator named Herbert O. Yardley who had deciphered a communication between President Woodrow Wilson and his aide in two hours.  Putting aside concerns about Yardley’s age—he was only 28—Van Deman chose him to create the Army’s first code and cipher bureau, known originally as the American Cryptographic Bureau but most popularly as MI-8.  Yardley reportedly remarked that “it was immaterial to America whether I or someone else formed such a bureau, but such a bureau must begin to function at once.”

Yardley was commissioned a First Lieutenant in the Signal Corps on June 29, 1917 and was given two civilian assistants.  Over the next year, MI-8 grew rapidly to 165 military and civilian personnel working in five subsections:  Code and Cipher Solutions, Code and Cipher Compilation, Secret Inks, Shorthand, and Communications.

Code and Cipher Solutions examined communications from commercial telegraph and cable companies, intercepted radio traffic, and seized mail.  Every suspicious missive, military or civilian, ended up on the desks of this subsection.  In addition to written communications, the section analyzed atypical items like postage stamps, musical scores, religious amulets, even a pigeon’s wings. The amount of work was overwhelming, especially after the US Navy stopped its cryptology efforts and let the Army take the lead.  During the course of the war, the subsection read more than 10,000 messages and solved 50 codes and ciphers used by eight foreign nations. This included the celebrated case in which Capt. John Manley deciphered a coded message found on Lothar Witzke (aka Pablo Waberski), a suspected German spy and saboteur.  Manley’s solution to the code sealed Witzke’s conviction for espionage.

The Code and Cipher Compilation Subsection established secure communications for 40-plus military attachés and hundreds of intelligence officers in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF).  Its services were critical for several reasons.  First, the Army’s 1915 telegraph code book had been stolen during the Punitive Expedition and had yet to be updated.  Additionally, British cryptologists informed the War Department that German telegraph operators on U-boats were able to copy US messages sent to the AEF and its allies via the transatlantic cables.  Because breaches in US communications would ultimately compromise the whole Allied effort, the subsection revised the entire War Department code and cipher system.  In conjunction, the Communications Subsection operated round-the-clock, averaging the secure transmission of more than 100 sensitive and classified messages per day.

The Secret Ink Subsection established two laboratories specifically for MI-8 use.  Chemists succeeded in developing an iodine vapor reagent for all types of secret inks.  As a result, the MI-8 uncovered communications directing sabotage, which allowed the War Industries Board to implement tighter security measures.  At its peak, the subsection was reviewing more than 2,000 items weekly. As more sophisticated methods to conceal messages were developed, the subsection continually worked on new reagents.

The Shorthand Subsection was an impromptu addition to the organization.  Military censors provided MI-8 with a number of messages believed to be in code but were found instead to be written in shorthand.  The subsection cultivated a community of experts in more than 30 shorthand systems used worldwide.

MI-8’s work was at times exciting and often fruitless, but personnel persevered.  In a series of post-war articles, Capt. Manley stated, “…it is the business of a Cipher Bureau never to allow its interests or energies to flag, for although a thousand suspicious documents may turn out…to be entirely innocent or insignificant, the very next one might be of the greatest importance.”  Manley also stressed that the organization successfully uncovered cases of nefarious activities but also cleared the name of several innocent civilians wrongly accused of spying for Germany.

Although employing relatively simple deciphering methods using little more than pen and paper, MI-8 constituted a significant development for military intelligence during World War I.  Brig. Gen. Marlborough Churchill, the Army’s Director of Military Intelligence, predicted in 1919, “Code attack is indeed still in its infancy.  It is capable of rapid and incalculable development.” Consequently, both the State and War Departments continued MI-8’s efforts as the Black Chamber in the post-war period. Soon thereafter, cryptology evolved into more sophisticated codes and ciphers requiring the invention of mechanical devices that would dominate both Allied and Axis code operations during World War II.

Lieutenant Herbert O. Yardley created the Army’s first code and cipher organization.  By the end of World War I, he had been promoted to Major and oversaw all cryptologic efforts for the US delegation to the Peace Commission in Paris.

A Vietnam Veteran Returns to Vietnam

A Vietnam Veteran Army Retiree Returns to Vietnam – Again.

By Lou Rothenstein

I had previous trips to Vietnam after the War. One was a working one, the other was a healing return tour with Soldier’s Heart for Vietnam Veterans in 2012. My wife was with me on this tour and as a Nurse, decided she wanted to return to do some medical volunteer service. We did this over a couple of weeks with Vets With A Mission, a nongovernmental organization that has been doing medical care work in Vietnam for 28 years. We then traveled to several world heritage sites and I needed to return to see a bit of Saigon.

After four years in Europe and the Middle East – a great first four years of Army service – I was assigned to a CONUS stateside four-star HQ. Sort of a boring let down. I volunteered for overseas again. Vietnam came into my life shortly after I was assigned to KMAG – Korea Military Assistance Group. Seems like the unit became a bit over strength in certain grades, I was promotable into one of them and MAAG in Vietnam needed a few more warm bodies so I did several TDY trips there in 1961-2. TDY was a way to get around troop level strengths and that apparently worked for the Army.

I initially started as an admin-operations type that was mostly taking people here and there, there usually being the airfield. As a Speedy 5, I then worked (driver-gopher) for a Major who was usually in civilian clothes, was always around the press and had a room at the Caravelle Hotel. Fairly new, it was a pretty nice pad. I shared a small room with another NCO who was TDY from Japan. He was an Intelligence type that spoke several languages. I believe their job was to watch the foreign and U.S. press types as many had offices at the hotel. What was nice was that I got cash to pay for my billeting and breakfast in an air-conditioned facility. Few around then. It was around $5-6 and included laundry. We junior ranks usually had enough left over for liquid refreshments.

    

MAAG-V 606 TRAN HUNG DAO SAIGON THEN AND NOW.
ONE STAYED AWAY TO AVOID REALLY BAD DETAILS.

Capable of two-finger typewriter operations, I typed several reports on people and conversations. It had some interest but a bit boring. The press was always asking questions of us like we knew what was going on. We reported their questions. I became Interested in going out and looking around where there was some activity in addition to an office, behind the steering wheel of a car and drinking atop the Hotel at Saigon. I was just up there today drinking a local craft ale and remembered that it was one of just a few 10 floor buildings around in 61. The view of the Catholic Cathedral was still there, now tucked between the many high-rise hotels and office buildings that is now Saigon District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City.
    

Saigon today still has the same old French Colonial look around the downtown area. What has changed is the current high volume of traffic – mopeds, newer model cars, buses and trucks. People still hawk their food and wares on the sidewalks, and the Ao Dai are seen worn by employees at hotels and government businesses. It is hard to tell what city one is in around Asia these days. They have become quite western in appearance. Work has started on urban rail to alleviate the traffic a bit. To the traveler, one must plan drives well as traffic jams are frequent and uncomfortable. Avoid rush hours. I thought of a couple of books about Pham Xuan An. Perhaps one of the best placed agents working against us during the war. This was someone I probably saw at his undercover work several times. The Army gave our press much information about what was going on which he had open access to. Should be read by all MI types.

I eventually got a job escorting (carrying luggage) the newly assigned MAAG officers and senior NCO’s who were relegated to the field, away from the easy life of Saigon. Later, the time was split between MAAG-V and MACV that started up 1962. Sometimes people did not know for sure what unit they were in and we had SF teams TDY in and out, and there was always someone choking up on the bat as to who got an airplane ride to the boondocks rather than a jeep or worn-out sedan. New maps were coming out and getting them out to where they were needed allowed a couple of our gopher corps to see some of the country.

While traveling around the country, an occasional view of a former SF Camp or MAAG/MACV Advisory Team would pop up. Most have been levelled to the ground in rural areas but in towns, they are in use by local police or agencies. The sheer number of Vietnamese government buildings, compounds and activities is quite amazing. Even very small towns have their share. In the areas I served, the U.S. areas were built over but former provincial headquarters I see are now small museums about the war. Outside of one or two in the bigger cities, they are generally worthless historically. One does get an impression of our more effective programs by the sheer amount of coverage they receive on display.

The War Remnants Museum in Saigon is the largest around. It shows U.S. markings painted over ARVN and VNAF equipment. It depicts former U.S. Navy anti-war demonstrator and Senator John Kerry in a heroic manner and former U.S. Navy Seal Bob Kerrey, an effective anti-VC Cadre operator as a war criminal.

Few Vietnamese remember the war. What they have comes from their parents and the government. Vietnam has a young population that knows they do not have much power to change things. In addition to the Re-Education Camps, the government restricted the children of their former adversaries to have any jobs connected with the government. However, the grandchildren might be able to work for government industries but unless they are a member of organizations such as the Young Communists, they will never be in positions such as the police. So, children of GVN personnel work for private and overseas companies or are self-employed or work at labor. It is sad to see resources wasted like this over the years.

The English language newspapers daily have the same type of articles. There are always visits to Southeast Asian countries to improve commercial relations and there is some government official visiting somewhere promising aid or investments in economically troubled areas. The third area is that of government corruption. It is a way of life over here. If one rises to some position of authority, it is expected that part of costs provided to the government will go to these trusted officials. Officials such as customs and immigration have become much more professional, no open palms noted this trip. They have learned from other countries.

The Koreans have returned. They were our allies during the war and later brought good quality transport and commerce with them. Now they are a major tourist group. From these and language training, they are displacing the Russians rapidly. A Korean on vacation can make the four-and-a-half-hour flight from Korea, stay at a resort for five days, play two rounds of golf cheaper than a round might cost them in Seoul.

The watchful eyes of the party are still omnipresent. I recall my first trip here early 90’s when paranoia abounded as they feared that USSF was training the old and wounded Montagnards in North Carolina to return and cause them problems. In 2012, it was economic fears that non-governmental organizations (NGO) would somehow drain their collection boxes. This time it was over watch on who could get medical treatment from the NGO. In addition, the college interpreters were interrogated as to their experiences.

Whether in China, Russia, East Germany, or Vietnam, officials seem to continually invent threats, probably to justify their security positions. By the way, they are quite easy to spot. When there is a problem around, an NGO is a good scapegoat. One of the medical treatment sites might have been changed for one apparent reason but might be tied in with a visit during the period of a high-ranking party official in the area.

If any reader is a Vietnam Veteran, they should consider re-visiting Vietnam. It provides some closure on what might have been a traumatic time, as well as some decent traveling and tours at a reasonable cost. Air travel is relatively cheap in country and there are recurring U.S. to Vietnam flights at special rates.

I am not a travel expert but might be able to offer a few more suggestions. Like every Vietnam Veteran I know or have worked with, the war was different for everyone. Even the same unit or location experienced different battles a few months apart.

Pham Xuan An –
“Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent” by Larry Berman, 2007. This book is sold in many Vietnamese book stores in English.

”The Spy Who Loved Us: The Vietnam War and Pham Xuan An’s Dangerous Game” by Thomas A. Bass, 2009.

As I sat at a rooftop table at Saigon Saigon a couple of nights ago, I tried to bring up memories of those later well-known reporters and photographers who stayed at the Caravelle in the 1960’s. I tried to picture the spy with a cigarillo in his mouth, but they were popular smokes at the time. I recalled a few names but mostly remembered those reporters who visited we military guys in the field. Some were intelligent and reported facts but many did not report all of what actually happened. A couple would not listen to our warnings and have never been seen since. In retrospect, it seems that some of those actions I knew about and participated in never made it into the archives. Perhaps what was reported sold newspapers or TV time, but I feel deep down that what was reported, or the way it was reported was more influential on the outcome than the actual battles, deaths, and goals.

Lou

Acronym Key:
CONUS – Continental United States
TDY trips – Temporary Duty Yonder
NCO – non-commissioned officer
MAAG – Military Assistance Advisory Group
MAAG-V – Military Assistance Advisory Group Vietnam
MACV – Military Assistance Command, Vietnam
ARVN – Army of the Republic of Vietnam
VNAF – Vietnamese Air Force
GVN – Government of Vietnam

Therapeutic Email

By Lou Rothenstein

Gen Milley’s statement brought back a lot of memories from early days in Vietnam. I also had a few of them pop up recently on a trip to Vietnam and a few places where I served. It also bugged me as I see many lessons learned not being read by enough people in high places.

I recall a statement from my last CO/Senior Advisor in Vietnam. “They should have shot the first man to bring an air conditioner into country.”

It had to do with an order coming down from on high that a certain category of personnel must have air-conditioned quarters. We had to use most of our electrical power for communications equipment that was essential to our mission. We had less than 100 men on an Advisory Team that covered perhaps the largest single a/o in territory in country. There were two SF B-Camps, about 14 A Camps, three Province Advisory Teams, and about 37 district and MATs. We had 7/1 Air Cav, the ARVN 41st Ranger Bn and an ARVN towed 155mm Arty Bn. Everyone was spread thin. Everyone became expert at calling for air support, primarily at night. Being at a primarily static camp, we made improvements in our living conditions. We traded captured enemy equipment for a well and water tank with erdolator (p) that gave us clear and drinkable water. We scrounged cement for sidewalks and an AK-47 got us a small cement mixer. We had a rather small PX with essentials only. Smokes, Jim Beam and a fewer, less essential items like razor blades and soda pop. Beer was traded with other elements or off the docks in Saigon on a monthly run or bribing a Caribou crew to deliver it. A Mamasan seamstress kept us supplied with VC flag replicas for further trading. We had it pretty good. Lack of clean ice might have been our biggest problem. Cold beer was sometimes had at the expense of some CO2 Fire Extinguishers……We worked out a trade with the Navy for refills….We survived discomfort through the gray military market as it was faster and sometimes more efficient than normal supply. We had our own supply system that skipped a couple of levels or worked locally and informally.

The problem was that some of us were gone more than half of each week somewhere in the AO. Down the street, a SF B Camp that worked on rebuilding and improving its compound after TET-68 major attacks – concrete mortar pits, actual buildings, etc., got movement orders to an area closer to the border. A great prize for a province advisory team. The B-Team lived in tents and had to improve a new camp just for survival. Eventually enough supplies arrived to build fairly good defenses and better living conditions. Few people realize that there were A Camps and Advisors in the Plain of Reeds that were pretty hard to get to when water levels were up. Some even had to travel within the camps in boats.

Probably the folks that did more with less were the MAT’s. Four or five on a Mobile Advisory Team were not very mobile as they advised the Popular Forces in their home villages and hamlets. Support was good between our SF Camps, MACV Teams and the U.S. Navy PBR and Swift Boat elements operating in our a/o. The USAF supported our SF Camps with a dedicated squadron of Caribous. Not a bad setup but it took quite a few people just to keep things running. I could not imagine what it would have been like to have to support things like Burger King that far from the flagpole….

On a previous advisory tour, we MI guys were assigned to an MI unit, attached to MACV. Our support was crappy from our unit. I was amazed at the lower ranks in the field we had to train while my headquarters area was filled with senior NCO’s at their club in Gia Dinh. All in fresh jungle boots and fatigues, while some of us in the field were wearing worn-out OG-107 or ARVN uniforms. It took a side trip to MACV J2 to fix some of the disparities. Going down through channels, things disappeared. The fix was to turn over the mission to MACV. It worked for us later in the war…

I had a couple of uncles and a brother-in-law who worked the WWII Battlefields. They all talked of the R&R camps where they got new clothes, hot showers, hot food, caught up on mail. How important it was to do it as a unit. Looking back on our R&R system in Vietnam, I could see the good it did for morale, but not being with one’s team left something out of the mix. After a big operation, our senior advisor sent us on in-country R&R as a team of at least four-five personnel to take care of one another. When I was in the 6th Convalescent Center, there were a couple of soldiers there that had 11 months in country with a Cav unit without any R&R. I had a good friend I served with in Berlin. He was assigned to MACV-SOG and had little support from his base area. They were in the field on recon a lot on classified missions, separate from other elements. To get support, they rounded up the nastiest, oldest clothing and equipment they could find and went to SF Hq. Once the CSM saw them, things happened. They were sent to supply for issuance of all new equipment, haircuts of course. and some rest. I try to contrast this with those who were close to the flagpole who were never short of jungle boots and fatigues they really didn’t need.

When I read of the Burger Kings and other “must have” niceties in base camps currently, I wonder if this is really a morale booster or buster. For those troops that go on missions away from the flagpole, it must be harder than it was for us to leave camps and compounds that didn’t have a lot to begin with. I wonder what percentage of troop strength is involved in this type of operation. Talking with a few soldiers with multiple deployments in our recent conflicts, it was nice to have things at a well-equipped base but they lamented having to pull guard and security duties while there. I do not get a good, clear picture around this. Where is the Rest part of R&R?

I recall our providing Navy PBR crews our cots for some daytime sleep after they were patrolling our Rivers all night long and too far away from their base LSTs. I also recall the making needed supply runs for us to teams and camps when helicopters were in short supply. The systems weren’t perfect but they worked. Things like mantles for gas stoves and refrigerators and certain radio batteries were like gold. Some of those on 30 day reup leaves would be detailed to bring some in their duffle bags on the return flight. Better than priority 999 they gave to Unattended Ground Sensors. Another project we picked up with Navy help.

I haven’t talked much about Grunts with U.S. Infantry units. In addition to working with ARVN, I worked a bit with the Mobile Riverine Force. A Brigade of the U.S. Ninth Infantry Division and a U.S. Navy Flotilla, CTF 117 did some major riverine operations along the major waterways of the Delta. They were pretty well supplied as they had a big base camp at Dong Tam and decent but cramped quarters afloat. There were a lot of immersion foot problems. Others who were friends or some clients in counseling over the years would state that they were in good units but their uniforms and gear were often in threads, not replaced on schedule as they spent too much time in the field, or the supplies simply weren’t there when they returned. I think there is something wrong with this picture of combat elements not getting what they needed on a priority over those living at the flagpole. It seems the picture I have of today’s Army is not too different from what I experienced. Too much tail.

Why not go back to something that worked in two World Wars and Korea? Of course the individual replacement system helped reduce unit integrity. One might recall the shiploads of troops returning from WWII when troops had some winddown time together before discharge. From Vietnam, many boarded the aircraft and were discharged the next day at Oakland trading jungle fatigues for civvies, then home. With shorter tours, it is possible. Perhaps the Navy Seabees had the best rotation/R&R system going in Vietnam. From a team training in CONUS, 8 months in country, four months at home base in the U.S., 8 months in country. Replacement teams brought with them the essentials they needed for much individual support, picking up tools from the departing team. Talking over the years with a few old hands at SF ops in Vietnam, a few would argue that the older TDY rotations of 6-8 months worked pretty well for them. One could also argue that even one year was not enough to do the mission as well as one would want it to be. Our combat Arms officers would rotate out of a combat role after six months. That worked well for us in Advisory units that received them as it reduced orientation and the learning curve. Too bad some senior NCO’s were also not a part of that rotation. We did receive a few after stints in the hospital and they worked out well.

I ate a lot of local food in Vietnam. On operations with an ARVN combat unit, I supplied Tabasco Sauce, I ate from the unit Wok at lunch break supplemented by that French contribution to their colonies, bread and of course local fruit. I never got sick until I returned to a U.S. camp and ate our chow. Things like ice cream took about 4.5 minutes to cleanse my digestive system.

Base camps are great things but I have the picture that their primary purpose is more to hold up the flagpole than with supporting combat troops. I am not sure if the Army/services have looked at what R&R should be, what the optimum time in a combat zone should be, or who should get R&R? I think base camp duty should be the longest, ground combat the shortest. Take a look at traumatic exposure, wound rates, PTS, and it comes pretty clear. All combat duty is not the same and exposure times should be more a determinate as to tour length. Not determined by costs of involving more units in rotation that could be offset by providing fewer creature comforts. It would reduce future Soldier problems greatly.

And now another area that bugs me about my Army.

I last talked to an Army Ranger senior NCO about two years ago. He had eight deployments and was on leave for his ninth. He loved the Rangers but it was hurting his family life. He questioned his deployments overseas to a non-combat area that could have been handled by a regular unit. It kept him from finishing college and possibly a promotion. I also talked with a MSG instructor at an Army school about the same time. He had one deployment, finished a college degree program and was on the promotion list. Both were infantry. I am not sure this is smart or fair for my Army in the long run.

I think that a conversation I had over several days in a PTS healing retreat is one that bothers me the most. It was with an Infantry PSG. He lost two platoon leaders and several Soldiers in Iraq. His unit stayed a bit longer than expected in country. When the unit came back to the states, he was stripped out along with several other senior NCOs and officers and sent to Ft Polk to train reserve component units. While he was gone, one of his Soldiers committed suicide. He felt deep guilt for not being with him in those critical readjustment months after combat deployment.

I recall the British Army some years back was having a time of it in Northern Ireland as a peacekeeping force. Infantry units were pretty much ragged after continual rotations at a time when the armed forces were being reduced. They decided to retrain other units as light infantry/security to even things up a bit. The U.S. Army would never attempt this I know but there are a lot of tail troops sitting in positions that could be replaced by civilians – or better – combat wounded veterans who could
still teach with first-hand knowledge from the combat zone from the platform at least. I think that the tail troops should also get two weeks of summer camp combat training to stay better prepared for that possible actual combat exposure as either an individual in a SMOS or as a unit. There are other armed forces that do this. I remember our Division Band in the 25th ID. They were well-versed in MP duties, pulled security at Division/Brigade CP’s. They trained for it with the MPs. Another unit I was in, the band assisted the medics as litter bearers and assisted in erecting those g*&&#^% GP Medium tents. Most able-bodied Soldiers can do more than one job if given the chance or a need is there. I recall an assignment to a small supply sub-depot where nearly all 60 or so Soldiers had more than one job. Originally I was a security type then by promotion and appointment, unit clerk. Morning Report, Leave/passes, orders, duty rosters for the 1SG. I spent more time driving a bus, deuce and a half or a 5-ton wrecker. Others in the supply operation were firemen and so on. Perhaps the Army might try to reduce tail strength by reducing slots and forcing commands to train troops in additional and needed jobs. Is it worth a try?

General Milley’s comment on disobeying orders caught me by surprise. What came to mind was a few of my seniors over the years that followed the book to a T and made no decisions on their own. It was painful to see a good target never engaged move out of range. They faded out soon. I do recall some relatively junior officers and some senior NCOs who took the bull by the horns in the absence of orders and communications and made decisions that were based on their training, experience, and gut feelings and saved lives. I saw some of these rise through the ranks to some pretty high and responsible places. I often think of Colonels Chamberlain and Lewis Millett who in the absence of attack orders and short on ammo, fixed bayonets, ordered a charge and won the day over a fleeing enemy force. I think the General in talking about disobeying orders is really talking about leadership.

I don’t recall who told me or where I read it but for what its worth “The only bad decision is the one that is not made.”

This has been my monthly therapeutic tirade.

Lou

Vietnam Architecture

By Lou Rothenstein

A bit hard to believe that most of this city and country has been rebuilt – looks like completely in some areas. The only building I recognized was the old train station, the palaces and gates of the old, old Seoul, and areas on Yongsan Compound. Some might miss the Old Korea as it is very hard to find.

A bit hard to find the old-time scenery, even rice paddies. They are different, much farmland is covered with greenhouses. Re-forestation seems to have occurred. Didn’t have time or inclination to hike the hills much. High-rise in Munsan-Ni, quonset huts all gone in 2nd ID, multi-lane  expressways, all make this a bit of a different country.

ROKA 1st Inf Div has a pretty good DMZ show at one of our old OP’s, and the whole of things look like a good tourist attraction. I talked with one ROKA who spoke good English and told him of our old radar and LP’s along the DMZ and he said he read about them in ROKA literature. We talked about how cold it was in winter there, particularly the Chorwon area.

We could take a few pages out of their book on security. They have some special purpose police vehicles allowing destruction of flaming barriers, buses that are bullet-proof and modified to prevent attachment of things under or up the tail-pipes, etc. Tomorrow is Buddha’s Birthday, and they have heightened security days before. On a visit to the Blue House area, everyone/thing is made digital. Even airport arrival at Incheon International includes facial photo/scan with passport and a couple of fingerprints.

Talked with a Korean War Veteran on a tour. He was on a tour sponsored by the ROK Government for U.S. and U.N. War Vets. They are provided most of a vacation, tours, shows, a formal dinner – their way of showing thanks for our help. He extended his stay to see more of the country. He felt it was something he needed to do for a long time. If you know of any Korean War Veterans who haven’t re-visited, they might check into Korea Veteran return tours.

Today it is shopping and a visit to the Korea War Memorial/Museum. Wife surprised at the difference in Vietnam and Korea. More English in Vietnam with people who deal with tourists/signs, etc. Also the large numbers of Korean tourists in Vietnam.

4.5 hour flight gets them a resort stay, 2 rounds of golf at the price one a single golf round in Korea.

Could not find any OB beer. The newer brands are not bad. Converting currency is not a problem, everybody including taxis use VISA.

Dennis Nolan Builds the First US Army G-2 Section

Published with Permission by:
Lori S. Tagg, Command Historian,
US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca, AZ.

In May 1917, General John J. Pershing had cause to celebrate and lament his appointment as Commander-in-Chief of a “theoretical army which had yet to be constituted, equipped, trained, and sent abroad.”  As his first step in the monumental effort to build the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), he carefully chose his field general staff comprised of Administrative (G-1), Intelligence (G-2), Operations (G-3), Logistics (G-4), and Training (G-5) sections.

While Pershing searched for his most trusted staff members, Maj. Dennis E. Nolan was completing a two-year assignment on the War Department General Staff.  His first experience in intelligence work was preparing products used by the General Staff for planning and mobilization purposes. This included a threat estimate on Germany’s capability to invade the United States.  Nolan had been commissioned a Second Lieutenant in Infantry following graduation from the US Military Academy in 1896.  He received two citations for gallantry in action during the Spanish-American War and commanded a squadron of the 11th US Volunteer Cavalry during the Philippine Insurrection. It was during this latter assignment that Nolan had come to know Pershing and the future AEF Chief of Staff, James Harbord.  Between 1901 and 1915, Nolan held a variety of positions including, instructor of law and history at West Point, director of Southern Luzon in the Philippines, and officer with the 30th Infantry.

Despite his impressive service record, Nolan was hardly holding his breath for a position on the AEF staff.  Consequently, when Maj. Harbord summoned him for dinner one night and informed him of his appointment as the AEF G-2 in charge of the Intelligence Section, Nolan declared himself “surprised and delighted.”  He sailed with Pershing and the rest of the AEF staff less than two weeks later.

Once on the ground in France, Nolan built, from the ground up, the Army’s first multi-discipline theater intelligence organization.  Following the British model, Nolan divided his Headquarters G-2 Section into four divisions: Information, Secret Service, Topographical, and Censorship and Press.  Nolan’s staff, totaling nearly 350 personnel, compiled daily intelligence reports based on a multitude of sources.  In addition to the traditional methods of intelligence collection, such as patrolling, observation, prisoner interrogation, and document translation, Nolan added aerial observation, photographic interpretation, sound and flash ranging, and radio intelligence.  He also played a direct role in organizing the Corps of Intelligence Police, the Army’s first permanent counterintelligence organization.  Venturing outside the normal intelligence arena, Nolan’s press division started up The Stars and Stripes newspaper to communicate orders and regulations, provide news of events, and boost the morale of American soldiers in Europe.

Because Pershing’s General Staff organization was repeated in the tactical units, intelligence officers were appointed at every echelon down to battalion.  To increase their effectiveness, Nolan drafted a set of intelligence regulations applicable to each echelon and established a school at Langres, France, to train all intelligence officers down to division.  Throughout the war, these tactical intelligence sections pushed intelligence up through higher headquarters to Nolan’s G-2 Section, which also pushed intelligence down to give lower echelons a broad picture of the enemy’s situation.

In the closing days of World War I, Nolan was given an opportunity to command the 55th Infantry Brigade, 28th Division, for ten days. For extraordinary heroism in action near Apremont, France, on October 1, 1918, he received the Distinguished Service Cross and the respect of his men, who recalled Nolan was “right up there with us doughboys.”  He then returned to his G-2 Section for the duration of the war.

Nolan’s G-2 Section, the Army’s first theater intelligence organization, unquestionably contributed to the AEF’s success.  Declaring that “no army was better served by its intelligence bureau than our own,” Pershing awarded Nolan the Distinguished Service Medal.  Secretary of War Newton D. Baker praised “the fidelity and intelligence with which General Nolan supplied [Pershing] eyes to penetrate the fog which clouds military actions.”

After the Armistice, Nolan was detailed to the Peace Commission until returning to Washington in July 1919.  After a year instructing military intelligence at the Army War College, he was named as the War Department’s Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2. Perhaps his most important contribution during this assignment was the establishment of the Military Intelligence Officers Reserve Corps—the first formal recognition of the Army’s need to retain professional MI officers.  From 1924-1926, he served as the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff, receiving promotion to the rank of Major General in 1925. His final assignment was Commander, Second Corps Area and First Army.  In 1936, when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 64, Nolan had served 44 years and was the second-highest ranking officer of the US Army.

 

Dennis Nolan

Dennis Nolan

Col. (later Maj. Gen.) Dennis Nolan sitting at his desk in AEF Headquarters, May 23, 1918.