Last week, commenting about Our Secret Fighting Women, my good friend Koji Kanemoto reminded me of one of his earlier blog posts relating to a former member of the Military Intelligence Service during World War II. In his comment, Koji mentioned a gentleman he met some years ago, a Japanese-American veteran of the war who served, as did Koji’s father (post-hostilities), in the U. S. Army’s Military Intelligence Service. The man’s name was Grant Ichikawa. His wife, Mildred (called Millie), also served in the Army’s MIS during the occupation of Japan. Both have since passed away.
Koji’s comment reminded me of his own family’s story. If ever there was an American tragedy on the scale of the American Civil War, the Kanemoto family story is its modern version. In brief, Koji’s grandfather, Hisakichi, migrated to the United States from Japan in the late 1800s and took up residence in Seattle. He and his Japanese wife produced four sons: Yutaka, Hisao (who died in infancy), Suetoro, and Koji’s Dad, Koso.
In the 1920s, as was the custom in the Japanese-American community back then, Hisakichi’s three sons returned to Japan to visit their ancestral home in Hiroshima to learn Japanese. Koso Kanemoto returned to the United States before hostilities broke out with Japan in 1941. Suetoro, for whatever reason, delayed his return to the United States until it was (quite suddenly) too late. The Imperial Japanese Army conscripted Suetoro for service in World War II.
Koji’s father, Koso, having returned to the United States before Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor, soon found himself and his family in an internment camp in California. So much for the “land of the free.” Eventually, Koso enlisted in the U. S. Army. Because of his Japanese language skills, the Army assigned Koso to military intelligence. He worked as an interrogator of repatriated Imperial Japanese soldiers and translated at hundreds of war crimes trials in Quonset huts during the occupation period.
Ultimately, however, Suetoro (who by 1944 was a senior NCO) was killed while fighting US forces in the Philippines. After the war, Koji’s father resumed his life in Southern California. He passed away, aged 99 years, in 2018. The final tragedy was that Koji’s father had little memory of his younger days in his later years.
The Kanemoto family story, while unique, was not entirely one of a kind. A gentleman I met while stationed in Japan experienced similar circumstances. His name was Ted Kobayashi, and you can find his story in my earlier post, All about Honor.
In addition to the preceding information, this week, I’m offering a link to one of Koji’s posts, which I found quite interesting. It’s part of America’s story that few people know. Feel free to leave Koji a comment on his blog, Masako and Spam Musubi.
 Per U. S. Army Military Intelligence records: Yamamoto, Mildred S. (Ichikawa)
 Ironically, most of the Nisei’s assigned to Military Intelligence that were fluent in Japanese had Hiroshima as their ancestral home. A number of these people had family members who perished in the atomic bombing of that city.
 Many Japanese-American U. S. Army veterans assigned to military intelligence duties in the Pacific War, later agonized over the possibility that their work in intelligence-gathering and analysis may have contributed to the death of their family members fighting on the Japanese side.
American intelligence-gathering and analysis before World War II was a function performed by four separate departments: the Navy Department, War Department, Treasury Department, and the State Department. In the Navy, for example, the Office of Naval Intelligence (established in 1882) fell under the Bureau of Navigation. ONI’s mission was to collect and record such information as may be useful to the Department of the Navy in both war and peace. It was a mission that remained unchanged for sixty-two years. Over time, ONI would expand their activities to include both foreign and domestic espionage whenever such operations were beneficial to the mission of the Navy. Similarly, the State Department had its cipher bureau (MI-8) (which was shut down in 1929), and the Army had its Signal Intelligence Service. None of these activities were coordinated, and seldom did the agencies share information between them.
Out of concern for this lack of coordination, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed his friend of many years, William J. Donovan, to devise a plan for a coordinated intelligence service modeled on the British Intelligence Service (MI-6) and the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). Donovan called his organization the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Eventually, OSS would manage 24,000 intelligence agents, 13,000 of which were American employees, between 1941-1945.
Donovan was looking for a unique sort of individual — a person with a doctorate who could win in a bar fight. Some were academics, some were military officers and enlisted men, some were athletes, filmmakers, and a few were convicts. Donovan employed them as spies, saboteurs, code breakers, analysts, map makers, forgers, and propagandists. They became expert in penetrating enemy territory by parachute and from the sea. They kidnapped people, blew up bridges and railroad yards, stole secrets, and put together the networks that did all of those things.
One-third of these people were women. One of them was an actress named Marlene Dietrich; another was a woman named Margaret Mead, a pioneering anthropologist. Julia McWilliams developed a shark repellent. Julia is more famously known as Julia Childs. Another, Jean Wallace, was the daughter of the Vice President of the United States. Several of these women were killed in the line of duty, such as Jane Wallis Burrell in 1948.
Virginia Stuart served the OSS in Egypt, Italy, and China. At first, Virginia wasn’t sure what the OSS did, but she wanted to serve her country, and someone directed her to the “Q Building” (OSS headquarters in Washington where the Kennedy Center now stands). Armed with a bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College, Virginia applied to the OSS in November 1943. She was naturally adventurous, but there was a war on and most of her friends were participating in it in one form or another. Her older sister, Edith, had joined the Navy as a chemist. Virginia thought she might do that as well, but in 1943 the Navy was looking for scientists and medical personnel, not liberal arts majors. Ultimately, the OSS hired Miss Stuart. She was simply told, “Work hard, get the job done no matter what it takes, and keep your mouth shut.”
Stuart later recalled that the work in the Secret Intelligence Branch was grueling, the environment uncomfortable, the hours long, and that everyone became addicted to the caffeine in Coca Cola. Initially, her job included assembling and making sense of hundreds of reports submitted in abbreviated form from secret agents in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Everyone had a sense of urgency, and everyone realized that the information they were receiving was important, no matter how insignificant it may have seemed when it first arrived — everything from troop movements and decoded radio messages to logistics issues and plans for secret penetrations of enemy held territory. The longer the war went on, the more information there was to analyze and categorize. What stood out in Virginia’s memory from those days was that there were no “men’s jobs and women’s jobs.” There was only the one job, and everyone did it.
All the information was classified, of course, but some of it was more secret than other. She recalled that “Eyes Alone” material was quickly delivered to Colonel Donovan’s desk. It was the “most important” because of its sensitivity or timing.
When an opportunity presented itself, Virginia requested overseas service. After eight months of waiting, she was sent to work in Cairo. She and three other women dressed in khaki uniforms boarded a ship, along with Red Cross workers and war correspondents. No one was to know who they were, what they did, or where they were going. Virginia was going to Cairo because that was the OSS forward headquarters for Middle Eastern operations.
Cairo was a place where one could hear dozens of languages: English, Italian, French, Yugoslav, and Turkish among them. In addition to military personnel, there were politicians, academics with expertise in the economy, logisticians, and yes — even German spies. OSS headquarters in Cairo was a converted villa with a secure code room in the basement. It was a place where newspapers and magazines from around the world were read and analyzed. The analysis required men and women who were not only fluent in several languages but also familiar with cultural nuances, which made the work even more challenging. This unusual library of information had a wide range of uses, from people who needed to manufacture official-looking fake documents, to others who were looking for a slip of the teletype (so to speak). Sometimes, OSS received information coded in classified advertisements.
A year later, the OSS dispatched Virginia Stuart to China. A week later, Virginia learned that the United States had dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. There was no detailed information about the event, of course, and no one was sure what an atomic bomb was. But while the world was focused on the bomb, secret agents parachuted into Manchuria dressed as Chinese Nationalist officers to conduct guerrilla raids against Japanese occupation forces there, and to help plan for the liberation of Japanese POW camps. Eventually, Virginia married one of these men, a British-Australian colonel attached to MI-6. Virginia Stuart, after her stint with OSS, married and raised a family in such places as the Philippine Islands, Honduras, and later became a news anchor in Rhode Island.
The end of the war signaled the end of OSS. Few of the uniformed services chiefs appreciated Roosevelt’s OSS (General MacArthur and others) who felt that intelligence gathering, and analysis, belonged within their purview. President Truman, an old Army hand from World War II, agreed with his generals. Of course, none of these generals (or even Truman) seemed to understand that the OSS provided vital intelligence from a vast network of sources they could not have managed on their own. Despite the fact that OSS technically worked for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Truman wanted the OSS to disappear. He made that happen in July 1945.
But not even Truman on his silliest day was stupid enough to do away with the assets created by OSS over nearly five years. At the end of World War II, the OSS continued to collect valuable intelligence information about the Soviet Union, which almost immediately began working against the interests of the free world. Over a period of two years, what was once the OSS , transitioned into the CIA, and many of the people who worked for OSS found themselves doing essentially the same tasks for the renamed spy agency.
The contribution of our women to America’s secret service didn’t begin or end with World War II. During the Revolutionary War, a woman known only to history as Agent 355, served as part of the Culper Spy Ring, and played a pivotal role in the arrest of British spy, Major John Andrew and the infamous traitor, Benedict Arnold. Anna Smith, living in Long Island, helped communicate information to General Washington through a code system that depended on the way she hung her laundry to dry. It may not seem like much of an effort, but that is the nature of the clandestine service: vital information in drips and drabs, funneled to the people best positioned to make sense of it.
Women made ideal spies simply because men didn’t think they were capable of it. Most of these women are unknown to us today precisely because they were very good at what they did, and also because once they had achieved such remarkable results, men simply forgot about them.
During the Civil War, Pauline Cushman, an actress, was a Union spy discovered by the Confederacy. She was saved from hanging by the arrival of the Union Army mere days before her execution. Sarah Emma Edmonds also served the Union cause, disguising herself as a male soldier, sometimes as a black man, at other times as an old woman, to spy on the Confederacy. Harriet Tubman, in addition to helping to free enslaved blacks, served the Union Army in South Carolina by organizing a spy network and occasionally leading raids and spying expeditions. Elizabeth Van Lew was an anti-slavery Virginian who smuggled food and clothing to Union prisoners and provided information about Confederate activities to Union officials. It was this woman who cleverly placed Mary Elizabeth Bowser as a spy in the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Not all the ladies were in the trenches during World War II, but this one was. Virginia Hall was an American spy with the British SOE and about as tough as they come. While on a hunting trip in Turkey, a gun accident caused her to lose her leg. She named her prosthetic device “Cuthbert.” In connection with the SOE and OSS, Hall led networks of agents in various specialized missions, rescued prisoners of war, and recruited hundreds of spies to work against the Nazis. Her quick wit kept her two paces ahead of the Gestapo, who spent a lot of time and effort trying to find out who she was. Hall was able to outpace the Gestapo because she was a master of disguise, and Germany lost the war knowing that whoever this woman was, she was the most dangerous of all Allied spies. Virginia Hall is the only civilian woman to receive the Distinguished Service Cross.
Marion Frieswyk was a cartographer, who along with others in the OSS, produced three dimensional topographic maps of such places as Sicily in advance of the allied landings there in 1943. Marion was a country girl with a knack for numbers. At the age of 21 years, her ambition was to become a school teacher after graduating from Potsdam Teacher’s College in 1942, but the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii changed her plans. A college geography professor encouraged her to apply to a summer graduate school course in cartography at Clark University; he told her that the war effort would demand trained map makers. Out of her class of thirty students, the OSS recruited only two: Marion and a fellow named Henry. The OSS offered to pay her $1,800 a year and she was soon off to the nation’s capital.
Customized map making was a new innovation in 1942. The OSS spared no expense sending civilian employees around the world to procure existing maps; geographic researchers and draftsmen transformed these maps into detailed representations of places where the Allies would fight their battles. As in the case of Sicily, Marion and others produced a number of topographic models — it was a combination between artists’ studios and woodworking shops, where jigsaws were employed to produce precise 3-dimensional changes in elevation beginning at sea level. The Sicily map was the first custom made topographic map ever made in the United States.
In 1943, Marion married her classmate from Clark University, Henry, the other student hired by OSS. She and Henry were married for 64 years. After the war, when Truman disbanded the OSS, Marion and Henry transferred to the State Department where they worked until the creation of the CIA. Marion stayed with the CIA until 1952, resigning so that Henry could accept an assignment in London. In recognition of Henry’s 25 years of government service in cartography, the CIA presented him with the Sicily Map that he had helped produce in 1943.
Most of these stalwart women from World War II have passed on, but courageous, hardworking, thoroughly dedicated women continue to serve the United States in the Central Intelligence Agency. Gina Barrett, for example, is a 25-year veteran intelligence analyst with the CIA, who wrote the first report warning US officials about Osama bin Laden in the early 1990s — she was one of a team of six other women focused on the Middle East’s merchants of death, but Ms. Barrett is quick to point out that women have always played a role in America’s clandestine services. Maja Lehnus is another woman, who in over twenty-nine years of CIA service, held six different leadership positions in the field of chemical, biological, and nuclear armaments. Lehnus is the woman at CIA who does the worrying for things that most people don’t even know about — or even want to know about.
The CIA’s clandestine mission for women include a wide range of projects, from counter-terrorism to field operations, the technical aspects of bombs, and space weapons developments. Most of these women are married with children and none of them look anything like an Albert R. Broccoli spy. But the clandestine service is a tough row to hoe and the work can wear anyone down. One such clandestine professional, whose identity is secret, is an explosives expert. The job, she says, is unrelenting, and if someone working in this field doesn’t find a way to step away from it, it will eventually kill them.
There are no seductresses at the CIA, reports one woman. That’s all Hollywood stuff. There is no erratic behavior. What there is, and has always been in the American secret services, are women like Virginia Hall, who are prepared to do whatever it takes to accomplish their vital (to the United States) missions.
Eloise Page was one of 4,500 women employed by the OSS. She began her career as a secretary; she retired as the third-highest ranking officer in the CIA’s operations directorate. In the operations section, she had responsibility for planning and directing covert operations and recruiting foreign spies. Page was the CIA’s first female station chief. Suzanne Matthews followed Page’s pathway. She joined the CIA as a secretary in 1975 and worked her way up to case officer.
Janine Brookner was another of the CIA’s shining stars. She joined the agency in 1968. The CIA offered her an analytical position, but she was adamant about wanting an assignment in operations. Ultimately, as a senior case officer, Brookner infiltrated the Communist Party and recruited a highly placed Soviet bloc agent. Today, Brookner is a Washington, D. C. lawyer.
Female employees of the CIA continue saving American lives every day. Completing this daunting task requires constant vigilance and attention to detail. The demand associated with this work requires compartmentalization, checking one’s emotions, and keeping a cool head under intense pressure. Currently, women make up around 45% of the CIA’s workforce and 34% of the agency’s senior leadership. The third and fourth most senior positions in the CIA are held by women.
Currently, there are 137 gold stars affixed to the CIA’s Memorial Wall, signifying CIA personnel killed in the line of duty. Thirty-seven of these stars do not identify the name of the veterans because their names remain classified. Eleven of those stars are for women, such as Barbara Robbins who died in Vietnam in 1963, Monique Lewis who was killed in Beirut in 1983 and Jennifer Matthews who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Some of the women who lost their lives (as with their male counterparts) had a spouse and children at home. Working insane hours protecting the homeland is one kind of sacrifice — giving up their life for the homeland is the ultimate sacrifice.
 The British had their spies, as well. Anna Bates disguised herself as a peddler of knives, needles, and other dry goods to the Continental army. While she was doing that, she took careful note of the soldiers weapons, which the British believed was useful information.
Recently, a number of bloggers and pundits have brought into question certain decisions and actions of our senior military leaders. Bloggers are by now famous for basing their opinions on something other than a complete understanding of how the military works, which is further complicated because some commenters offer their views without knowing all the facts.
For example, while it is true that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces, the President does not become involved in every situation that challenges our joint/unified commanders. A drone attack against suspected Taliban targets would not have warranted presidential involvement, but it may take the president’s authorization to bomb targets in Syria. There are different protocols for a wide range of situations.
Additionally, political biases too often drive a pundit’s opinions. It is a situation begging for intellectual dishonesty, and it does nothing to enhance the average citizen’s understanding of events in far-off lands. If we criticize our senior military leaders, we must base our reproach on what transpires rather than what we think might have happened.
Still, there remains a question about the politicization of our Armed Forces, particularly among our flag officers (generals and admirals, one through four-star officers). Are they knuckling under to the inexperienced (and often, incredibly flawed) dictates of civilian leadership to achieve promotion and plum assignments? There is some justification for this concern, particularly in the argument that senior officers have acquiesced to demands for social engineering as a priority over the prime directive, which is the combat readiness of our armed forces and their operational efficiency.
There is nothing I can write that would be an improvement over the speech delivered by Douglas MacArthur at the U. S. Military Academy on 12 May 1962. General MacArthur’s wise counsel follows sixty-one years of active service. He had been retired only eleven years when he gave his address. In my view, MacArthur’s remarks offer a clear view of what our senior-most military officers ought to be, how they should govern themselves while wearing the uniform of an active-duty officer, and how they should behave once retired. But it is also my view that General MacArthur spoke to all military leaders, from the most junior non-commissioned officer to the highest-ranking commissioned officer. Thus, the following words apply as much to leaders today as they did on the day of General MacArthur’s retirement.
General of the Army Douglas A. MacArthur
Sylvanus Thayer Award Acceptance Speech
12 May 1962
General Westmoreland, General Grove, distinguished guests, and gentlemen of the Corps!
As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a doorman asked me, “Where are you bound for, General?” And when I replied, “West Point,” he remarked, “Beautiful place. Have you ever been there before?”
No human being could fail to be deeply moved by such a tribute as this [Thayer Award]. Coming from a profession I have served so long, and a people I have loved so well, it fills me with an emotion I cannot express. But this award is not intended primarily to honor a personality, but to symbolize a great moral code — the code of conduct and chivalry of those who guard this beloved land of culture and ancient descent. That is the animation of this medallion. For all eyes and for all time, it is an expression of the ethics of the American soldier. That I should be integrated in this way with so noble an ideal arouses a sense of pride and yet of humility which will be with me always.
Duty, Honor, Country
Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.
Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they mean.
The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.
But these are some of the things they do: They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation’s defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for actions, not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future yet never neglect the past; to be serious yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.
They give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over the love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what is next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.
And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead? Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory? Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man-at-arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefield many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then as I regard him now — as one of the world’s noblest figures, not only as one of the finest military characters but also as one of the most stainless. His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give.
He needs no eulogy from me or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy’s breast. But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements. In 20 campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people. From one end of the world to the other he has drained deep the chalice of courage.
As I listened to those [old] songs, in memory’s eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs, on many a weary march from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle-deep through the mire of shell-shocked roads, to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.
I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always, for them: Duty, Honor, Country; always their blood and sweat and tears, as we sought the way and the light and the truth.
And 20 years after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth of murky foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts; those boiling suns of relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms; the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails; the bitterness of long separation from those they loved and cherished; the deadly pestilence of tropical disease; the horror of stricken areas of war; their resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack, their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory — always victory. Always through the bloody haze of their last reverberating shot, the vision of gaunt, ghastly men reverently following your password: Duty, Honor, Country.
The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are for the things that are wrong.
The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training — sacrifice.
In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him.
However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind.
You now face a new world — a world of change. The thrust into outer space of the satellite, spheres, and missiles mark the beginning of another epoch in the long story of mankind. In the five or more billions of years, the scientists tell us it has taken to form the earth, in the three or more billion years of development of the human race, there has never been a more abrupt or staggering evolution. We deal now not with things of this world alone, but with the illimitable distances and as yet unfathomed mysteries of the universe. We are reaching out for a new and boundless frontier.
We speak in strange terms: of harnessing the cosmic energy; of making winds and tides work for us; of creating unheard synthetic materials to supplement or even replace our old standard basics; to purify seawater for our drink; of mining ocean floors for new fields of wealth and food; of disease preventatives to expand life into the hundreds of years; of controlling the weather for a more equitable distribution of heat and cold, of rain and shine; of space ships to the moon; of the primary target in war, no longer limited to the armed forces of an enemy, but instead to include his civil populations; of ultimate conflict between a united human race and the sinister forces of some other planetary galaxy; of such dreams and fantasies as to make life the most exciting of all time.
And through all this welter of change and development, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable: it is to win our wars.
Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishment. But you are the ones who are trained to fight. Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed; that the very obsession of your public service must be: Duty, Honor, Country.
Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men’s minds; but serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation’s war guardian, as its lifeguard from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiator in the arena of battle. For a century and a half, you have defended, guarded, and protected its hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice.
Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be. These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.
You are the leaven that binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the nation’s destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds. The Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.
This does not mean that you are warmongers.
On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.
But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished, tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears, and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams, I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.
But in the evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.
Today marks my final roll call with you, but I want you to know that when I cross the river my last conscious thoughts will be of The Corps, and The Corps, and The Corps.
I bid you farewell.
These words, so eloquently delivered, must serve as our guide in determining the worthiness of our military leaders. Duty, Honor, Country. Even though we all recognize that civilian leadership must control the military, there is no obligation for any soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine to obey an illegal order or directive or any inherently inept order that could lead to a battlefield disaster. No individual can fulfill his duty who does not have unshakeable integrity. As officers and NCOs, our integrity demands that we place the good of our nation and those entrusted into our care ahead of personal comfort or advancement. As General MacArthur said in 1951, our integrity will lead us to perform our duty as God gives us the light to see that duty.
There are consequences to performing one’s duty, of course. One’s superiors may not agree with a leader’s decision — censure is always possible. Still, if we have relied upon our best judgment deciding, that is all anyone can ask of another. Every leader must prepare to refuse an order, especially an illegal directive, particularly a foolish order. “No, sir, I will not execute that order. Here is my resignation.” If we do not have principled senior officers or our flag officers lack the moral courage to resist political pressure opposing a “proper” decision, then there is something substantially wrong with the process we employ in choosing our senior-most officers. Every American military leader must realize that a bended knee is not one of our time-honored traditions.
On 11 September 2001, Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airliners and used them as weapons against New York and Washington, D. C. The attacks were planned and orchestrated by the mentally deficient Osama Bin-Laden.
In the aftermath of the attacks, the Bush administration announced its war on terrorism. The Present’s stated goal was bringing Osama Bin-Laden and Al-Qaeda to justice and preventing the emergence of other terrorist networks. President Bush intended to achieve the goals through economic and military sanctions against states perceived as harboring terrorists and increasing global surveillance on terrorists’ movements.
In the aftermath of the attack, the Inspector-General of the CIA conducted an internal review of the agency’s performance before 9/11. This report was highly critical of senior CIA officials. Through the autumn of 2001, the Taliban continued to pressure the Northern Alliance, often with the aid of Osama Bin Laden and his Arab forces. On 9 September 2001, an assassination attempt by two Arabs posing as journalists mortally wounded Northern Alliance Leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. This attack was the work of Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda. The Northern Alliance responded to Massoud’s killing with an aerial attack on Kabul on 11 September.
We now know that Al-Qaeda coordinated Massoud’s murder with the terror attacks on the United States on 11 September. Since Massoud was an American ally, the US planned to punish Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden as part of its first phase of what became known as the Global War on Terror.
The War in Afghanistan began on 7 October 2001 with allied airstrikes on Taliban and al Qaida targets. On the ground, American, British, and other Allied special forces troops worked with the Northern Alliance to begin a military offensive to overthrow the Taliban. This alliance between the Northern Alliance and the Allies led to coordination between Allied air attacks and ground attacks by the Northern Alliance. These attacks led to the fall of Kabul on 13 November 2001, as the Taliban retreated from most of northern Afghanistan.
But the first troops in Afghanistan after 9/11 weren’t military. They were CIA officers carrying boxes of cash to recruit Afghan warlords. It was after that when special operations forces showed up, and after that, an allied bombing campaign. In 2001, the coalition victory came quickly. CIA officers took the lead in locating Osama Bin-Laden in the Tora Bora complex but worked with special operators and local Afghan militias. Bin-Laden’s escape and disappearance into the woodwork meant that the Al-Qaeda organization could not wage further attacks against the United States.
During these early days, CIA (forward) was exceptional and well-suited for the challenge. Afghanistan in 2001 wasn’t the CIA’s first turn at bat. Covert operations in Afghanistan began in 1979. Some contend (and I am one of them) that the CIA’s operation Cyclone set into motion what later transpired: the creation of Al-Qaeda and the attack upon the United States in 2001.
In one of history’s tragic ironies, the covert operation succeeded, turning Afghanistan into a quagmire for the Soviets and eventually leading to their defeat and withdrawal — but elements of the mujahideen and their supporters eventually morphed into Al-Qaeda, a carefully conceived organization with two purposes: to rid the Saudis of potentially harmful radical components they created through Wahhabism, and the pursuit of global jihad without drawing attention to themselves as its creator and primary source of funding. Despite the thousands of disaffected morons seeking paradise through jihad, neither Al-Qaeda nor the Taliban (both adherents of Wahhabism) could stand up to the might of the US and Coalition military forces. So, they withdrew (at first into small enclaves, and later en mass) to Pakistan, a Saudi partner in global jihad movements).
In the twenty years since 9/11, the CIA’s involvement in counterterrorism has expanded to the point where it is nearly impossible to differentiate between the work of intelligence gathering and suppression. One example is that both the CIA and military engage in drone operations, often independently but occasionally as a cooperative effort. A second example is that while the CIA supervised the operation to locate and kill Osama Bin-Laden, Navy Seals carried out the mission. Today, both US special operations forces and CIA para-military groups engage in covert activities.
What is the point?
All government agencies suffer the slings and arrows of their civilian/political masters. The pendulum swings, and with each amplitude comes the waste of billions of dollars in revenues. The executive’s decision to bring thousands of unvetted Moslems to America’s communities, for example, may score points among the least intelligent of us all. Still, it results in new demands to expand domestic counter-terror capabilities. Previously, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has demonstrated incapable — handicapped by federal restrictions on monitoring mosques and its fascination with Bible-carrying Christians. By law, neither the CIA nor the military can operate inside the United States.
So, while the fusing of intelligence gathering capabilities with military operations does have its benefits, there are also significant risks. CIA paramilitary operations mean that it is spending less time on data collection and analysis. We are, in 2021, returning to a period before 2001, which, as before, is a stupidity that could lead us once more to dire consequences. As recently stated by Dr. Zegart at the Hoover Institution, the CIA’s mission is to prevent strategic surprise, not playing cowboys and Indians on the Afghan plain.
We live in an increasingly dangerous world. Artificial intelligence is good and well worth the money we’re spending on it, but it isn’t good enough. We need human intelligence to give us due and timely notice of approaching danger. This is what we need the CIA to do. America’s defense requires a coordinated effort, not a disjointed one, and not one that has overlapping responsibilities to the point where no one is quite sure who’s in charge of what. The tremendous expense of an effective intelligence effort must cause us to realize that there is a difference between battlefield intelligence and strategic intelligence, and we must endeavor not to make it more complicated than it already is. We do have our national defense interests at stake, don’t we?
Ah yes — Our national interests.
To drive home the previous point(s), according to the Afghanistan Study Group (Final Report) in February 2021, it is the United States’ foremost interest to contain the activities of terrorist groups that remain active in Afghanistan that could threaten the US homeland — principally, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP). According to this report, “Our ongoing military presence in Afghanistan, working alongside Afghan security forces, has disrupted these groups and prevented them from attacking our homeland. A complete withdrawal of our troops would allow the threat to reemerge. In the long term, the United States must either maintain a counterterrorism force in Afghanistan or have assurances that other verifiable mechanisms are in place to ensure that these groups cannot reconstitute.” Except that seven months later, there is no US military presence in Afghanistan; there are no Afghan security forces and no way to prevent their reemergence. All that is left for us now is to know, in advance, what we can expect from these radical morons who seek to kills us. This is what the CIA must now concentrate on; if they are not focused on that, then we should anticipate a very troubling future.