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Posted By: Dave Gaddy on: 08/26/2009 10:17:50 EDT
Subject: RE: Gen'l Myer's character

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I apologize for overlooking Joe's post of 21 Aug 09 until today. Points well taken! We must also be careful of the date at which comments were made about events, techniques and people. (By late 19th C, writing in retrospect and with regard to then-current usage, we find more refs to the "signal service" than readily encountered in the 1861-65 period. One former CS signalman refers dismissively to the visual signaling of the war as crude, but clearly says that in light of developments post-war.) My impression is that Myer had not "thought through" the relation of his visual signals to electromagnetic until the war started and he encountered problems with the rivalry. He had not fully formulated the doctrine of a Sig Corps (thus the difference in evolving concepts in US and CS -- Alexander was not privy to Myer's post-1860 thinking, and vice versa). Myer wisely kept flexible. In exile, Myer introduced the concept of "all-source intelligence" in the Army, but it focused on the signal officer, rather than the embryonic "G2" (BMI in the AoP; Provost Marshal elsewhere). In the CSA, Norris's War Dept Secret Service Bureau was a central "backroom" effort, not reflected in signal duties in the field but by exception ("such other duties as may be assigned," in modern parlance).

To me, Glassford emerges as a second generation observer, able to place things in a different perspective, and therefore appears more critical (or objective) in what he says. He helps us, today, to "bridge the gap" between the past (on which we concentrate) and the post-war, interim period in which the tiny organization prepared for the next emergency.

Greely, I see literally as the towering figure of the post-war era, freed of Myer's baggage (honor, reputation, self-image, dedication), yet respectful of his pioneering efforts. Scientist, intellectual, explorer, but with roots in the combat arms. The "flowering" of the Signal Corps as a scientific branch stems from seeds he planted: I believe that the first Army PhD was future Maj Gen and CSO George Squier (West Point '86; Johns Hopkins doctorate in physics and math) -- Greely assigned him, with another future CSO, James Allen, to track the work of a fellow named Marconi who was fiddlin' around with wireless telegraphy, a techique that promised a marriage of Myer's visual, wireless system, with wireless telegraphy. It's an exciting story, overall, but throughout, it was a balancing act to reconcile science and technology with a warrior's mentality of trigger-squeezers. (As I've noted before, there's a straight organizational line from the flag-waver on Little Round Top to the fellows who, in our time, bounced radar signals off the moon!) It took a century (with the experience of the WW II Signal Intel Service and later Army Security Agency, having to live with that bias and skepticism toward "non-warriors") to result in the organization of the Army's Intel and Scty Command, INSCOM. With "blood equity," the men -- and women -- of INSCOM, their comrades in the other services, and their side-saddle and back-up civilian pro's, have staked their claim to belong in the front ranks. Myer would have been pleased -- and a little surprised? Glassford would have approved. Greely would have been concentrating on the Mars landing.

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