A Memorial Day Message from The Lint Center

This Memorial Day, the Lint Center honors those American’s who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country. Originally recognized at “Decoration Day,” this commemoration dates back to 1868 where people across the nation recognized the fallen from the Civil War. It’s original date of May 30th was chosen because it was not on the anniversary of any Civil War battle and was later moved to the last Monday of May to provide a three-day weekend for federal employees. Although many of us are fortunate enough to enjoy this long holiday weekend, let us not lose focus on what this day is about. Today is about taking the time to reflect and honor those heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our great nation. We must never forget them or their families.

United Airlines Incident Provides Management Case Studies for Business Schools

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “United Airlines Incident Provides Management Case Studies for Business Schools”, Online Career Tips, 14 Apr. 2017, Web, http://onlinecareertips.com/2017/04/united-airlines-management-case-studies/

By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

Last Sunday, security officials dragged paying passenger Dr. David Dao off United Express Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky. As a result of his rough treatment, Dr. Dao was hospitalized. The incident, which passengers filmed on their smartphones, escalated into a public relations scandal for United Airlines.

By Tuesday, United’s stock fell 1.1%. This plunge wiped out $255 million of the airline’s market capitalization.

The market decline amounted to a major pay cut for United’s Chief Executive Officer, Oscar Munoz, based on his stock options and other future payments.

[Related: It’s Time to Improve Passenger Protection Laws for Overbooked Airlines]

United’s Handling of Situation Likely Caused Its Stock Decline

United’s handling of this incident is partially to blame for the stock decline. Munoz failed to promptly acknowledge the injuries Dao suffered and the stress to Dao and his wife caused by this incident.

Munoz also did not offer a sincere apology as a result of this incident at first. Instead, Munoz insisted that the security officers had followed proper United procedures. A few days later, Munoz finally issued a public apology.

In the meantime, Dr. Dao has hired two lawyers to proceed with lawsuits against United.

Solutions to the Practice of ‘Bumping’ on Aircraft

One solution for a company like United would be to offer better incentives. Perhaps the airline could increase the incentive to get off the plane from $1,000 to $2,000. MarketWatch reports “United’s revenues come to about $36 billion a year, or roughly $100 million a day.” Surely, United can afford to sweeten the pot when asking a passenger to take the next flight.

Another suggestion would be not to use law enforcement to remove passengers like Dr. Dao. What charges could officers have pressed? Trespassing would seem like one possibility. But airlines spend a lot of marketing money to fill seats. Telling a passenger that he is going to be removed because he is trespassing seems counterproductive to the goal of filling seats.

Management Lessons to Be Learned from United Airlines’ PR Disaster

While companies never publicly admit to mistakes for fear of lawsuits, Munoz’s initial statement violated a key element of leadership: Leaders take responsibility and fix the problem. Munoz’s numerous contradictory press statements is a case study of what management should not do in a crisis situation or how to make a complete mess of a public relations program. Public relations studies of United’s handling of the affair will go on for years.

Dao’s Treatment Could Also Impact United’s Future Markets in Asia

Dao’s claim that he was targeted for removal because he is Asian could adversely affect United’s business in Asia especially. Many future passengers have probably seen the video of this incident on social media, which could harm any plans United might have for expansion in Asia.

All in all, this was not a proud moment for the United States or for United Airlines.

United Airlines Has Provided an Excellent Management Case Study

As an instructor in the School of Business, I find this incident to be an excellent teaching event for students to discuss and learn from United’s mistakes. As sad as this case is, there are a plethora of lessons to be learned from Dr. Dao’s case, such as how good managers should act and how to properly manage a public relations crisis. These learning experiences are applicable for college freshmen as well as corporate chief executive officers.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 45th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017, Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”

Employees with Poor Grammar Affect Your Company Image

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “Employees with Poor Grammar Affect Your Company Image”, Online Career Tips, 31 Mar. 2017, Web, http://onlinecareertips.com/2017/03/employees-grammar-company-image/

By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

I teach a Management 100 class at American Military University called Human Relations. In this class, we talk about some hiring actions and first impressions. In today’s computer-based world, that first impression of a person or company is often online.

Proper grammar shapes that first impression. We would never go to a job interview with our shoes untied. So why would people think poor grammar is not a faux pas, too?

Good Grammar Reveals Company Credibility and Employees’ Learning Capabilities

In my class, I share Kyle Wiens’ Harvard Business Review article, “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.”

Wiens is the CEO of iFixit, the world’s largest online repair manual publisher. He is also the founder of Dozuki, which helps companies write their own technical documentation such as paperless work instructions and step-by-step user manuals.

Wiens is a self-described grammar stickler who hires many writers and software code writers. Anyone applying for a job at one of his companies is required to take a grammar test.

“Good grammar is credibility, especially on the Internet. In blog posts, on Facebook, in emails, and on company websites, your words are all you have,” Wiens says. We represent our employers both on and off duty, he explains. When our social media is a grammatical disaster, it also reflects on the company owner who hired you.

Wiens makes an interesting point: If a 20-year-old person applies for a job and does not know how to use proper grammar, that person’s learning curve and capability make him or her a poor candidate for hiring.

Wiens believes everyone should have learned English grammar in 20 years. He will not hire even great programmers who cannot pass the grammar test. From experience, he has found that they will fail on other tasks, even simple tasks like stocking shelves and labeling parts.

A focus on grammar shows a focus on all tasks, he says.

Writing Well Also Makes A Difference in Hiring Success

I published a book this past January on getting a job in the federal government. Like Wiens, I too focused on the need to make a good first impression in an applicant’s resume. Writing well shows your capabilities and your dependability.

Writing is like learning a foreign language. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 45th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”

Intelligence As A Career

Looking for a career in the field of Intel?

Check this out:
The Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) Has Released The 2017 Edition Of Their “Intelligence As A Career” Booklet.

Ralph Van Deman and the Birth of Modern American Military Intelligence

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

When the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, the US Army’s intelligence efforts were nearly non-existent.  Early attempts to gather information about foreign armies resulted in the creation of a Military Information Division in 1885.  In 1903, the division transferred from the Adjutant General’s Office to the Office of the Chief of Staff, where it became the Second Division of the General Staff.  However, by 1908, the Second Division had been absorbed by the Third (War College) Division, and the Army’s intelligence functions had been relegated to a committee.  Intelligence activities declined over the next several years due to insufficient personnel and appropriations as well as limited interest or understanding of its importance.  By early 1917, “personnel and appropriations were limited, the powers of the committee were narrow and its accomplishments, though valuable, were necessarily meager.  Such was the situation at the time war was declared.”  But change was coming.

In 1915, Major (later Major General) Ralph Van Deman arrived at the War College.  A native of Delaware, Ohio, he had attended both law and medical schools before accepting an infantry commission in 1891.  Over the next two decades, he gained valuable intelligence experience in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and China.  In Manila, Van Deman established an intelligence organization to conduct terrain analysis, mapping, and counterintelligence.  By the time he arrived at the War College, Van Deman was one of few career military intelligence officers in the Army.  He immediately grasped the implications of the United States’ lack of a military intelligence organization and resolved to reverse the situation.

Van Deman wrote numerous memoranda criticizing the ineffectual nature of the War College’s committee.  He stated, “To call a chair a table does not make it a table—it still remains a chair. And to call the personnel of the War College Division a Military Information Committee does not make it one” [emphasis in original].  His appeals for the creation of a competent organization were essentially ignored.  One week after the US declaration of war, Van Deman pled his case to Major General Hugh Scott, the Chief of Staff, who refused to consider the proposal on the grounds that it would only duplicate British and French efforts.

Persisting, Van Deman enlisted the aid of a female novelist and the Washington DC Chief of Police, both friends of Secretary of War Newton Baker.  Either because of or coincident to these outside interventions, Secretary Baker summoned Van Deman to his office on April 30, 1917, to explain the state of US military intelligence.  Just three days later, on May 3, the War College received an order to create an intelligence organization and detail an officer to “take up the work of military intelligence for the Army.”  Van Deman, of course, was the perfect choice to lead the newly established Military Intelligence Section (MIS).

The MIS experienced rapid growth throughout the war.  The Section was divided into a Positive Branch for intelligence collection, attachés, translations, maps and photographs, and training, and a Negative Branch for all counterintelligence functions.  A Code and Ciphers Section within the MIS became the Army’s first organized signals intelligence unit. Finally, Van Deman initiated the first personnel security investigation and identification card systems within the War Department.

By 1918, the renamed Military Intelligence Division had more than 1,400 military and civilian personnel.  At this time, it moved out from under the War College to a spot as one of four equal divisions on the War Department’s General Staff, a position it has maintained to this day.  In addition to equality on the General Staff, other long-standing consequences of the establishment of the MIS were the recognized need for professional intelligence personnel and the preservation of an intelligence effort even in times of peace.

That the World War I period was a watershed in US Army intelligence history cannot be overstated. No single individual did more to advance Army intelligence than Ralph Van Deman.  In 1988, the MI Corps recognized this when it chose him as one of the initial members of the Hall of Fame.  In 1992, it further memorialized him by naming the East Gate in his honor.  Maj. Gen. Ralph Van Deman is recognized as the Father of American Military Intelligence for his role in establishing the first effective, professional intelligence organization within the Army 100 years ago.

NOTE:  Join the US Army Intelligence Center when it rededicates the Van Deman Gate during the Hall of Fame activities, June 23, 2017, at 1430.

 

Ralph Van Deman

Ralph Van Deman

After the war, Ralph Van Deman, shown here as a Colonel, commanded at the regiment, brigade, and division level.  Promoted to Major General in 1929, he retired later that year but continued to consult in Army intelligence matters until his death in 1952.  (US Army photo)

The Ability to Write Well Is An Asset for Any Career

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R. & Blanton, Doris, “The Ability to Write Well Is An Asset for Any Career”, Online Learning Tips, 7 Mar. 2017, Web, http://onlinelearningtips.com/2017/03/07/write-well-asset-career/

Co-Authored By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

Co-Authored By Doris Blanton
Faculty Director, School of Business, American Public University

Writing for various audiences is a skill that takes practice, practice, practice. But writing must also be adapted to the needs of an organization and its intended audience.

Intelligence and Law Enforcement Writing

Have you ever seen a James Bond movie in which he writes a report or summarizes any mission he’s completed? Of course not. Bond is not in the espionage business to convey information, but to execute actions.

Unlike Bond, intelligence agents and analysts must be able to write about an incident with clarity and conciseness. This type of writing must be quickly understood by national decision makers, who must then act on the information provided in the intelligence documents.

Similarly, law enforcement officials and counterintelligence agents must be able to write clearly about an incident because their documents are used in court. Clarity is especially important when incidents that take place in one country must be reported and translated into the language of another country.

Management Writing

Managers have to write assessments of business performance and personnel actions. As most managers learn, when it comes to employee discipline or termination, a strong written history of the employee’s problems provides a human resources department with written proof of wrongdoing. Without this proof, personnel actions are somewhat limited.

If a manager does not take the time to document each employee incident in writing, incidents of wrongdoing can be dismissed as unimportant or non-existent. For dutiful managers, it is critical that documenting all employee incidents become second nature at all times.

On the flip side of personnel management, managers and supervisors must also think about writing award justifications. They need to acknowledge when employees perform above and beyond the job description.

Managers must make time to make these rewards because they inspire other employees to pursue excellence. Managers who fail to acknowledge the positive performances of their employees might discover their high-performing employees looking elsewhere for employment.

Business Writing

In management and business, staffing actions from one level to another must be through the written word. The action must be conveyed in a manner that gets across a specific point.

Managers should develop good writing skills because communication is a key skillset good managers possess.

There is a school of thought that says the more information that is written down, the better the document. That is, the weight of the document reflects how hard you worked on it.

This philosophy of many words on many pages might be fine for middle-level analysts conducting assessments that need to be clearly conveyed. However, a gigantic document with many pages is not useful for an executive-level manager who has 20 other projects to read and respond to in the same day.

Senior leadership needs concise, well-written executive summaries. These summaries must be to the point, reflecting a well-designed synopsis that quickly transmits information. Well-written executive summaries save time, especially in situations with minimal turn-around time for action.

Writing for Internal Job Openings

Suppose there is an opening in your department and there are two equally qualified candidates. But one applicant has a history of writing for various publications within the industry or as a representative of his employer.

The applicant with the greater writing experience will often win the job because she already has displayed a capability to write clearly and concisely and can prove it with her published work.

Employers often seek candidates who are excellent communicators by asking them about their education. A university degree suggests that a candidate has already earned some proficiency as a good writer. In addition, college is a great place to improve your writing without company leaders seeing your mistakes.

Potential Employees Should Have a Writing Track Record

In addition to a degree, job candidates are often asked about any writing projects they have successfully completed or examples of their writing. In this era of the Internet, employers will often do a search to find any writing you have posted. Finding some of your work online can be a decisive factor when the employer chooses which candidate to hire. Although we all believe we can write and clearly express our intentions, we often get bogged down trying to assess and contribute to various daily reports. The biggest asset an employee can possess is the ability to accurately proofread while also respecting an audience or a reader.

Employers tend to subconsciously evaluate an employee’s worth by how the employee writes emails, report analyses or executive summaries. Sadly, many employees are not given the tools to improve their writing for a variety of reasons:

  1. An employer might expect employees to be proficient writers without actually contributing to their writing development.
  2. Some employees might never have received effective or appropriate critiques regarding their writing abilities. They are left to presume that their written documents are fine as submitted because their employers are too busy with other issues.
  3. Employees often are involved in job-related tasks, leaving little time to focus on writing, proofreading and editing skills. Many employers and employees are pressured by job-related deadlines, which further minimizes their time to perfect their writing abilities.

Why Is Writing So Important?

There are people who debunk the notion that writing well is important. They think writing comes naturally and that readers will automatically understand what’s on the printed page.

That is not true. If you cannot express yourself clearly, your reader will not understand you. Writing well is fundamentally important to every career.

Good writing could even get you a pay increase. Your employer will want to know the whys and what-fors in your request. Your case will be stronger if you provide clearly written documentation why you deserve a raise. Writing accurately and concisely – and including specific, logical examples of why you merit the increase – will support your request for a pay raise.

To improve your writing skills, consider contributing to your company’s magazine or newsletter. It’s an opportunity to practice your writing and demonstrate your commitment to your organization.

Finally, writing to communicate to outside stakeholders further highlights to your colleagues that you can clearly express your organization’s position in the marketplace. This practice also will gain external exposure for you and your career.

Places to Publish Your Writing

There are many opportunities for publishing your writing. If you regularly read specific publications, contact the editors of those publications. Send query emails or letters about the possibility of becoming a contributor.

University alumni organizations have publications and often turn to alumni for input. This might be an easy place to start your professional writing.

Similarly, veterans have many outlets for writing, such as RallyPoint, American Legion Magazine, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Association of the US Army Magazine. Each branch of military service has organizations that publish and share ideas. All of these publications provide upwardly moving people with an opportunity to publish their writing.

There are also venues for self-publishing, which have no editors to review and correct your work. Many self-publishing services have controversial content which is often used to gain attention for an author. Some services seek content that encourages search engine optimization (SEO) and clicks from readers to show how many readers visit the site. The biggest and most respectable sites are WordPress, Blogger and Medium.

Being Ready To Write

Writing well can make you a leader within your organization, a critical thinker, an employee worth further development and an overall asset to the company’s bottom line. Isn’t this the type of person you’re striving to be?

About the Authors

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in South Korea, supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 43rd scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.

Dr. Doris Blanton is a faculty director and full-time professor in the School of Business at American Public University. Her research focuses on the retention of adjunct faculty, examining their experience of the online and on-ground adjunct life. Doris mentors her peers, students and professionals through job transitioning and in personal development, highlighting writing, proofreading and editing strategies.

In addition to Dr. Blanton’s professional responsibilities, she has contributed to the creation of various intervention strategies focused on the retention and persistence of new college students, specifically those with zero to 24 credits. She is active with the Roots Church and volunteers with various local non-profits, Volunteers of America and the Snohomish Historical Society. Doris also participates in local back-to-school functions, providing free haircuts, backpacks and school supplies.

Don’t Protect Your Valuable Photos the Way Grandpa Did

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “Don’t Protect Your Valuable Photos the Way Grandpa Did”, In Cyber Defense, 7 Mar. 2017, Web, http://incyberdefense.com/news/dont-protect-valuable-photos-way-grandpa/

Commentary By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

Today, most people take many more digital photos of family, friends and vacations than previous generations did with film cameras. In fact, the ease of use and the low cost of digital photography consigned Kodak, Fuji and Polaroid cameras and film to the museums of 20th century technology.

For example, Polaroid stopped manufacturing its instant film in 2008, leaving this Waltham, Massachusetts, manufacturer with just 150 employees. Thirty years earlier, Polaroid was an iconic company with a “peak” global employment of nearly 21,000 employees.

Today, lots of people have never heard of Polaroid. But their valuable digital pictures often receive the same poor level of protection that an album or scrapbook full of Polaroid or Kodak prints used to provide – not much.

Many people born in the 1960s and 1970s could never imagine storing pictures on a thumb drive, DVD or even a CD.

In a digital world, we need better protection for our valuable photos and other documents because technology is always changing. The 3.5 disk might have been a nice improvement over a 5.25 floppy disk, but today, many computers don’t even have a disk drive.

Technology Changes Rendered Some Familiar Devices Obsolete

Think of that rapidly deteriorating album of black and white photos your grandfather gave you. The negatives of those pictures disappeared long ago. It might be a good idea to convert those album photographs to JPG files for later use. And those old 35 mm slides you used to project onto a screen at home to bore your neighbors? It’s not easy to find a working projector today, much less a new one.

Some people paid to have their slides transferred to VHS tapes and then they threw away the slides. But it’s hard to play VHS tapes these days.

Just as you should “never put all your eggs in one basket,” you should never store valuable digital files in just one place.

Never Save Digital Files in One Place

If you had a one-of-a-kind item, you would want to protect it. The cost to reconstruct PowerPoint programs or Word documents from a damaged laptop is extremely intensive in terms of man-hours. The cost often exceeds the cost of the laptop.

Yet, it’s surprising how many people save their cherished photos and documents only on their laptops or desktop devices. That computer could become infected with a virus or, worse, ransomware could attack it. If someone steals your laptop, those cherished family photos are gone forever.

Many Security Programs Can Save Your Photos

There are multiple solutions to the issue of saving digital images. Which solution is best for you depends on your situation.

For example, there are many types of software backup programs. Some programs save their files to an off-site cloud server.

Some computer owners save their photos on a thumb drive or on an external hard drive. They can be unplugged and should be stored separately from your computer so a virus or ransomware attack on your device will not affect them. These devices enhance your protection.

Another form of security can be as simple as having a friend or business colleague hold an encrypted hard drive of your data, with you repeating the favor for that person. If one or both laptops are lost by theft or destroyed in a fire, neither of you will lose your data. This is inexpensive security that saves you the cost of a cloud backup.

Federal organizations are working hard to protect the public from cybercrimes, but we also must take some responsibility for our own protection. By taking some extra time to protect your images and other digital files, you’ll enjoy greater peace of mind knowing your files are protected.

The inspiration for this and several future articles came from a meeting at the US Secret Service (USSS), Electronic Crimes Task Force (ECTF) in Las Vegas. Future articles will discuss concepts and actions to counter ransomware and the experiences of individuals and businesses.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 43rd scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.

Sound Ranging in the Great War

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

Private (later Sergeant) Jesse R. Hinman, a native of Astoria, Oregon, arrived on the Lorraine front after three months at the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) school in Langres, France.  Reaching Mandres on Sunday, March 10, 1918, he was able to watch firsthand the AEF’s 1st Division conduct its first bombardment of the war.  The next day, Hinman’s detachment began its work establishing two forward observation posts, six microphone bases, and a central station all connected by dual lines of communications wire.  Stringing the line was arduous work given the shell-pocked terrain of the area.  Keeping these lines in working order once the German’s launched their Spring Offensive would be even more difficult and hazardous. The detachment’s function, however, was critical to the 1st Division arrayed along the AEF’s sector of the St. Mihiel salient.  Their work was kept highly secret, and the men referred to their unit only by its initials—SRS, Sound Ranging Section.

Hinman was a member of the first SRS to reach the front. By the end of the war, four sections were operational on the American front.  Sound ranging, along with its counterpart flash ranging, was a science new to the battlefield.  Given the static nature of trench warfare over the previous two years, British and French forces had developed and deployed equipment that allowed them to locate enemy guns using sound waves and artillery flashes.  Impressed by the results, General John J. Pershing, commander of the AEF, tasked an officer to study the British and French systems of sound and flash ranging. Simultaneously, the Signal Corps tasked three officers to establish sound and flash ranging companies in the AEF.  The Signal Corps officers and their companies were assigned to Engineer regiments upon reaching France.  However, they operated under the direct tactical command of the AEF G-2.

Each SRS was comprised of a lieutenant, a sergeant, and 39 privates, including linesmen who laid and repaired the communications wires, forward observers on the front lines, and the recorders, computers, and plotters at a Central Station who worked the electrical apparatus.  In simplified terms, the process of locating the position of an enemy gun began with the forward observers stationed on the front lines.  When they heard a significant report by an enemy artillery piece, they pressed a button to activate the recorder at Central Station.  When the sound wave from the report hit a series of six microphones arrayed behind the front line, each microphone sent an electric pulse via communications wire to the recorder.  The recorder documented the exact moments at which the report reached each microphone, similar to the jumps caused by an earthquake on a seismograph.  By plotting the recorded differences in time on a map board, the men at Central Station identified the position of the piece.  Seasoned Sound Rangers could pass the location on to the Chief Intelligence Officer within three to five minutes.  AEF artillerymen could then refine their targeting and conduct a counter barrage to eliminate the enemy’s gun.

As enemy artillery inflicted nearly half of all Allied casualties, the information provided by the Sound Rangers proved to be a significant intelligence source.  In addition to immediately passing on the location of enemy guns, the SRS compiled a daily report for the Artillery Information Service that summarized the class of battery (howitzer or gun), caliber, and probable targets.  Forward observers added their assessments to the report and collected shell fragments, duds, and portions of fuzes for analysis.  The observers’ remarks were critical in many respects.  For example, from their front line posts, observers heard the arrival of German resupply trains.  They also determined that, when the enemy’s band played, new troops were arriving at the front in preparation for an upcoming attack.

The SRS daily reports were compared with information from other intelligence sources, like prisoner-of-war statements, captured documents, and aerial photographs.  As a new science, sound ranging provoked skepticism on the part of many officers who demanded corroboration from other sources, especially aerial photos.  However, sound ranging proved most valuable in locating artillery pieces hidden from visual observation.  In one instance, Sgt. Hinman’s SRS No. 1 had identified the location of a very active enemy battery on the eve of the Battle of St. Mihiel.  Because the information could not be corroborated on an aerial photograph, the sound ranging data was considered an error.  Later it was found that an enemy artillery piece had been hidden in dense woods exactly where the Sound Rangers had indicated.

A post-war study of sound ranging accuracy showed the method could identify the location of an enemy gun within 10-25 meters in ideal weather conditions.  Roughly 80 percent of all battery locations were identified by the Sound Rangers.  Like many new technologies employed during the Great War, sound ranging matured in the postwar period, and by 1927, the function had been transferred from the Engineers to Field Artillery.  The methods continued to be used during World War II, but by that time, sound ranging was being overshadowed by the advent of radar.

Forward observation posts near Forges, France, during World War I.
Forward observers were critical to the effectiveness of sound ranging operations.

 

World War I Counterintelligence Agents Get Their Man – February 1918

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

On August 13, 1917, the US Army’s Military Intelligence Section (later elevated to Division) created the Corps of Intelligence Police (CIP) to protect American forces in France from sabotage and subversion. CIP agents also conducted special investigations, including suspected German espionage activities, throughout the United States.  The CIP had difficulty apprehending the enemy agents involved because they often fled to Mexico.  Several CIP agents were stationed along the US-Mexico border during this period to investigate and apprehend suspected German spies.

Two CIP agents in Nogales, Arizona, Captains Joel A. Lipscomb and Byron S. Butcher, recruited Dr. Paul B. Altendorf to infiltrate German spy rings in Mexico.  Altendorf was an Austrian immigrant to Mexico, where he served as a Colonel in the Mexican army.  Known to the CIP as Operative A-1, Altendorf managed to join the German Secret Service and become linked with several other German spies living in Mexico.

In January 1918, the CIP learned that Altendorf was accompanying one Lothar Witzke from Mexico City to the US border.  Witzke was a 22-year-old former lieutenant in the Germany navy, who alternately went by Harry Waberski, Hugo Olson, and Pablo Davis, to name just a few of his many aliases.  He had long been under CIP surveillance as a suspected German spy and saboteur.  During the trip from Mexico City, Witzke had no suspicion that his companion was an Allied double agent taking note of Witzke’s every move and indiscretion.  At one point, a drunk Witzke let slip bits of information that Altendorf quickly passed on to Capt. Butcher.  Specifically, Altendorf informed the CIP that Witzke’s handlers had sent him back to the US to incite mutiny within the US Army and various labor unions, conduct sabotage, and assassinate American officials.

On or about February 1, 1918, Capt. Butcher apprehended Witzke once he crossed the border at Nogales, and a search of Witzke’s luggage revealed a coded letter and Russian passport. Capt. John Manley, assistant to Herbert Yardley in the Military Intelligence Division’s MI-8 Cryptographic Bureau in Washington, DC, deciphered the letter, revealing Witzke’s German connections. The letter stated: “Strictly Secret! The bearer of this is a subject of the Empire who travels as a Russian under the name of Pablo Waberski. He is a German secret agent.”

While detained at Fort Sam Houston awaiting trial, Witzke was extensively interrogated by CIP agents but refused to provide any details about his contacts, co-conspirators, or alleged espionage.  His trial began in August 1918, and witnesses against him included Dr. Altendorf, Capt. Butcher, Capt. Lipscomb, and Capt. Manley.  Witzke took the stand in his own defense and spun a fantastical tale of how he was simply a down-on-his-luck drifter framed as a German spy.  The Military Commission found Witzke guilty of espionage and sentenced him to death, the only German spy thus sentenced in the US during World War I.  After the war, President Woodrow Wilson commuted his sentence to life in prison, and he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth.  In 1923, however, Witzke was pardoned and released to the German government.

A decade later, during the international Mixed Claims Commission hearings into damages related to the war, several American lawyers revealed Witzke’s role in the sabotage of the Black Tom Island munitions depot in New York Harbor on July 20, 1916. Ostensibly, he had been one of three collaborators who had placed dynamite on several barges loaded with ammunition causing a blast felt as far away as Philadelphia and Maryland.  The explosion lit up the night sky, shattered windows, broke water mains, and peppered the Statue of Liberty with shrapnel.  Seven people were killed.  Although in 1939 the Mixed Claims Commission found Germany complicit in the sabotage, Witzke and his co-conspirators, allegedly responsible for the worst act of terrorism on American soil up to that time, went unpunished.  Additionally, Germany refused to pay the $50 million judgment.

The capture of Witzke and other German spies and saboteurs by the Army’s counterintelligence agents undoubtedly prevented many, but not all, planned sabotage activities during the war.  Such incidents poisoned relations between the US and Germany and introduced suspicions and fear in the minds of the American public.  Americans could no longer assume complete security from enemy acts of terror on US soil, a reminder still valid today.

For more information on the Black Tom Island incident, see Michael Warner’s “The Kaiser Sows Destruction: Protecting the Homeland the First Time Around,” https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol46no1/article02.html#rfn12.

 

Damage to a pier at Black Tom Island caused by German sabotage to prevent American munitions from reaching Germany’s enemies.
(Library of Congress Photo)

Decoded Zimmermann Telegram Sets US on Path to War – January 1917

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

“…we make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.”

These words are extracted from the now infamous telegram from Arthur Zimmerman, the German Foreign Secretary, to Heinrich von Eckardt, German Minister to Mexico.  The telegram, sent from Berlin on January 16, 1917, directed Eckardt to propose an alliance between Germany and Mexico to the Mexican president in the event the US formally entered World War I.

World War I, or the Great War as it was then known, had been fomenting in Europe for years, but the final catalyst proved to be the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in June 1914.  Shortly thereafter, Germany declared war successively on Russia, France, Belgium, and Portugal, and the United Kingdom and other European nations quickly declared war on Germany. The war eventually embroiled nations worldwide.  The US steadfastly retained its neutrality for two years. President Woodrow Wilson, re-elected in 1916 on the slogan “He kept us out of war,” resolutely but unsuccessfully pursued a negotiated peace between the two sides.  By early 1917, Germany decided to launch unrestricted U-boat warfare on all ships, neutral or belligerent, in the waters of the war zones. This effort, German planners predicted, would bring England to the brink of economic collapse and thus surrender within months.

Zimmermann knew that the U-boat war would force the US, reluctantly but inexorably, into the war on the side of the Allies.  He believed that if Germany could entice Mexico into a war with the United States, it would divert US attention and ammunition shipments away from the Allies.  On January 18, the telegram reached Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, the German ambassador in Washington, DC, who was then to send it to Eckardt in Mexico.  Zimmermann had audaciously sent the message over the US State Department’s own trans-Atlantic cable, which President Wilson had allowed Germany to use for transmitting communications related to peace negotiations.  Inexplicably, Wilson had allowed those dispatches to be sent in the German code, for which the State Department did not have a codebook.

Unbeknownst to the US, British cryptographers had been intercepting message traffic on the State Department’s telegraph route.  In addition, unbeknownst to both the US and the Germans, those same British code-breakers had cracked the German diplomatic code and immediately set themselves to decoding the Zimmermann Telegram.  Incredulous at its contents, the British debated how best to notify the US, knowing, on one hand, it would bring the US into the war and, on the other, that it would anger the US to know England was reading its dispatches.  To prevent the latter, the British code section waited until Bernstorff sent the message to Eckardt and used that message, slightly altered from the original, to enlighten the US of the brazen German scheme.

The British finally revealed the contents of the telegram to the US on February 23, and a week later, major newspapers around the country published the evidence of the German conspiracy.  Americans reacted with a mix of disbelief and anger.  Rumors that Germany had financed Mexican bandit Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico, in March 1916 had resulted in a comprehensive investigation by the State Department.  The results of that investigation, as well as others into German intrigue in Mexico, were inconclusive, however.  As a result, most Americans initially viewed the telegram as a hoax–surely the Germans were not so foolhardy as to promise to give away part of the United States.

Ultimately, the directives in the Zimmermann Telegram came to naught; the Mexican president chose to remain neutral rather than instigate a war with its northern neighbor.  Undeniably, however, knowledge of the threat of hostile action on American territory shifted public opinion in support of a war most citizens had previously marginalized.  At the same time, Germany had launched the unrestricted submarine warfare it had previously threatened, resulting in the sinking of several US merchant ships in late March.  The Great War, therefore, was no longer just a threat to Europe.  On April 2, 1917, President Wilson requested a declaration of war from Congress, stating, “That [the German government] means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors, the intercepted note to the German Minister at Mexico is eloquent evidence. We accept this challenge of hostile purpose….”  Congress overwhelmingly voted for war and ultimately, American intervention helped turn the tide in favor of the Allies and end the war.

The Zimmermann Telegram (National Archives)