By Jim Lint
Original Published on Monmouth Message Newspaper
In 1950, the Army had just finished World War II five years earlier. The Army had a major drawdown and cut troop units and staff. Most of the junior personnel had not served in World War II. No draftees had combat experience. June 25, 1950 was a nice summer day; people were preparing for a big Post softball event. The weather was wonderful. It was a great day to forget the office and enjoy life, even if you were stationed in Korea.
But June 25, 1950 was also a day for great OPSEC (Operational Security) and a busy day for another group. This other group emptied their motor pools and moved troops south. They were North Koreans attacking South Korea.
There was no warning; there was complete surprise. The U.S. Army focus was on a major softball event which was the complete command focus. An Embassy Marine driving an orange painted jeep near the embassy saw a plane in the morning air flying lazy circles. He waved and the North Korean Yak came in for a strafing run. The Marine survived, but the jeep was an early combat loss.
You ask how we could we have been surprised so soon after Pearl Harbor, which was also a lazy Sunday morning. The use of good OPSEC, security and intelligence can help our enemies attack our military. When we lower our guard and our OPSEC, it can create vulnerabilities that our enemies can exploit.
June 25 holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Security and Intelligence professionals. It was an intelligence failure. There were no indications and warnings that were presented to the command leadership. There was little tracking because after all “we were the victorious Army of World War II so who would attack us?” Security was in the state of, “when we need to, we will upgrade to meet the threat.” People believed “when the time comes, we will be ready; let’s enjoy the day.”
It is so easy to sit back 59 years later and see the errors in the ways of those professionals. Instead, I like to sit back and compare the intelligence and security operations of June 25, 1950 to today. We are better prepared. We do have a much more robust and fine-tuned intelligence system. But we must ensure we maintain our focus and support the command mission. By following the security rules we lessen the abilities of our enemies.
We are an Army at war but frequently that war is seen as “over there.” Many can forget it in our busy daily life. Bottom line is that we must ensure we stay informed with the best intelligence possible, and keep vigilant for any security breaches, or imperfections. We will always see minor security problems; think how we can improve our security. If we see problems with the regulations, we have a responsibility to raise these issues through the chain of command to Headquarters DA. We have to balance security, risk and mission accomplishment. Too much security can hamper mission accomplishment, just as too little can destroy a mission.
With seven years in Korea, both active duty and as a civilian, I have had the opportunity to see the history via people who were there. The 50-year anniversary of the Korean War brought the veterans of 1950 back to Korea. My conversations with them and with the U.S. Forces Korea Historian’s Office highly energized me to be a good professional in the S-2 and G-2 realm of operations. I hope as June 25 arrives on your calendar, you will reflect on 59 years ago and the status of security and intelligence. While reflecting, maybe you will find improvements in your organization and your operations.
James Lint (U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army, Retired) is currently the G2 of CECOM LCMC at Fort Monmouth. He has 32 years of Military Intelligence experience, covering the USMC, U.S. Army, contractor, and civil service.