By Joel Michaels

Gladys L. Lonstein-Gaman, a member of our country’s “greatest generation,” recently passed away, just two weeks shy of her 100th birthday. She served in the United States Army Nurse Corps during World War II (1943 -1946), where she was assigned to the 121st Station Hospital in Braintree, England. After the War, she lived most of her life in Peabody, Massachusetts where she raised her family. Her two sons, Steven and Philip, survive her. I am Gladys’ nephew.

Gladys came from a modest background in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she lived with her two sisters and younger brother. She was an unassuming woman who did not seek recognition for her military service.  During an interview in 2004 by the Veterans History Project, her first inclination was to diminish the extent of her contributions to the War effort. When asked why she enlisted as a nurse at age 24, she said “I had to be a part of it in some small way” and nursing was the only way she could make a contribution. She went on to say that “my involvement seemed so small to me” as she compared it to the many young men who saw combat and thought it was “hardly worth mentioning.”

Like many American Jews who served in World War II, Gladys gave two reasons for her service. The first was the protection of America, as she concluded that if “England had been taken over by the Nazis, we would have been next.” The second was to “help my people who were being persecuted in the concentration camps.” Supporting American soldiers in the field was how Gladys perceived she could best provide some outreach to her fellow Jews who were victims of the Holocaust.  Her remarks provide context for why a young Jewish girl from Worcester left for New York alone to enlist and go on to England to face an uncertain future during a most troubled time.

Although Gladys saw her contributions as a member of the Army Nurse Corps as small, not all saw it that way.  One night, while on duty at the hospital in England, Gladys experienced the impact of a German warplane’s bomb. After she emerged from the rubble and from under the desk she used for cover, she saw the significant damage surrounding her. Gladys immediately directed her attention to ensuring the safety and health of the patients in the ward. Her response and actions that day were the subject of a Major’s letter of commendation, which affirmed that “under extremely hazardous conditions, Second Lieutenant Lonstein did calmly and efficiently carry out the necessary work of attending to the patients in the ward.”  Gladys explained her reactions that night by saying that she probably was “too dumb to be scared” and “all I knew was that I had to get the patients to a safe place.”

Since World War II, the role of women in the American military continues to evolve. Some of this change can be attributed to the actions of many women, including my aunt, who served in the Army Nurse Corps. Like their male counterparts, they too were fearless in ensuring that our country would not fail in defending its security and freedom for its citizens, while restoring peace throughout the world. To this day I remain in awe of the contributions they made.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Sam Greenberg

Marty was born in Wilks-Barre, PA, and he was one of three brothers.  They grew up in a small town with around 4,000 Jews in the town, which was a large Jewish population for Wilkes-Barre’s size.  He was a Boy Scout, and he always wanted to serve his country and to follow in the footsteps of his brother Sam.

His chance came when he was drafted at the beginning of the Korean War.  His brother Sam dropped him off at his local train station to go to basic training.  Sam told him, “Don’t forget to duck,” and he laughed and continued to smile as he got on the train.

He trained at Fort Sam Houston to become a combat medic, and he joined the First Armored Division at Fort Hood, where they deployed to Korea.  He worked a lot in the field – dragging and caring for other soldiers.  He always said, “War was hell,” and that’s pretty much all he would say about it.  He was wounded three times during the battle of Pork Chop Hill, and he received a bronze star and a silver star for performing his duties.

He spent 10 months in Walter Reed recovering before going home to Pennsylvania.  He decided he would become a watchmaker and diamond setter, which he really enjoyed quite a bit – he did it the rest of his life.  There, he met Sondra, and they had three sons – Mark, Allan and Kevin.

Marty was a dedicated member of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., and spent more than 40 years giving back to other veterans.  Marty passed away earlier this year, but we will always remember him, still smiling.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Marc Wolf

From the remote mountains of Afghanistan, to the tip of Japan’s Honshu Island, to the desert sands of Iraq and to London’s urban jungle; I’ve spent much of my adult life far from my family and my hometown of Beaumont, Texas. Through my travels as a U.S. Naval Officer, I’ve learned volumes about myself as well as the different places I have lived and the broad range of people with whom I came in contact.

In my roles as an Anti-Submarine Warfare Intelligence Officer assigned to the Commander of Patrol and Reconnaissance Forces in the FIFTH and SEVENTH Fleets, as well as the Senior Intelligence Officer for Naval Special Warfare’s SEAL Team TWO, I have always led with the Boy Scout Oath and Law as my guide posts.  “On my honor, I will do my best.”  Those words are the opening lines of the Boy Scout Oath.  You see, I grew up as a Boy Scout, earned the Eagle Scout by the age of 15, and those words are the code — let watchword be duty — by which I’d lived my entire life, especially when my own leadership came under fire on my third trip to Afghanistan.

An enlisted man under my charge, but one year my senior, Jesse Harrahill is one of the finest intelligence specialists I ever worked with during my tenure as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy.  A true professional with a can-do spirit, a realist who was my sounding board when it was time to think outside the box, a friend and a colleague, Jesse is one of the few people I’ve known who truly “gets it” and whom I would trust to lead in all situations.  Jesse understands the big picture. At the time, he’d been doing what he does best for almost ten years and has what it takes to make it in any position in any organization. The Navy is lucky to have him and I was lucky to work with him during the two years I served as the Senior Intelligence Officer assigned to SEAL Team TWO.

The Navy places a significant emphasis on the advancement process.  How else do we retain and promote our finest Sailors?  The year I met Jesse, he was ten years in and was selected as “Intelligence Specialist of the Year” for the entire Navy. But despite all his accolades, Jesse had still not achieved an important status: Chief Petty Officer. He had one designation to earn before he would make this important career advancement. He hadn’t earned a “Warfare Device.” His best chance would’ve been on a previous tour of duty aboard an aircraft carrier, but he was so busy looking after others, he missed his chance to meet all the requirements and was turned down by the review board.

No matter how other members of the SEAL Team leadership and I argued and appealed, the Navy would not grant an exception for Jesse. So the senior leadership promised Jesse in my presence that we would make it happen — I made that commitment.

We all recognized that moving up to the next level at the senior enlisted ranks was important for Jesse’s personal development and motivation. I knew even more as Jesse had told me this was a goal for himself. I knew that if he didn’t advance he might get out of the service and that would be a great loss.

As Jesse’s superior, I not only had a personal interest in seeing this thru, it was my responsibility as an officer to ensure the integrity of the chain of command.  I vowed that under my watch, Jesse would advance.

A month later our situation changed, we had to act fast to take advantage of our enemy’s position and we had to move men into place to be ready. I was sent to another location in Afghanistan; but before I left, I laid out plans for how our manpower should be used. I made it part of my plan to keep Jesse behind. He was just three weeks from reaching his goal – his Warfare Device — and I wanted him to finish. Though Jesse was one of our best, I trusted the other Sailors in my department could complete the mission, and for personal good and the good of the Navy, Jesse was to remain in place. My commanding officer had a different idea.

In the military structure, you don’t question your command. It’s virtually unheard of and carries serious consequences. But I reminded my superiors of the promise they made to Jesse and of how important it was for us to keep that commitment.

I believe a person is defined by his character and the greatest asset he can have is a good name.  So, I put myself on the line to help Jesse Harrahill — to help him earn his warfare device and advance to Chief, to help the overall group and to help morale – to let them know they can believe and trust the chain of command and the Navy to take care of them, and to always do the right thing.

In the end, Jesse was able to accomplish his goal. Today he proudly wears the khaki uniform of a Chief, and the Navy and all of us are better for it.

Jesse knew I stood up for him in Afghanistan. He knew I put career and myself on the line. On my last day of active duty service, he honored me with a plaque inscribed with my own words, my mantra: “Always do the right thing and take care of your people no matter what.” He added his own sentiment to the plaque: “It is because of your devotion to this principle that I proudly wear my pin.”

In my life I hope to always remain true to those words — my own words, my own promise and watchword — whether as a supervisor, in management as an executive or as a member of a group taking care of my teammates.  It is my hope to always surround myself with people of integrity and honor, who stand up for what’s right, who consider the good of the group, and most importantly, who keep their word, no matter the risk. Words such as these remind me of my sense of duty, honor, purpose, doing what’s right in the most difficult of situations and the importance of looking out for each other, my fellow Sailors and Marines, my comrades-in-arms, my band of brothers.  I know I always will.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Geoff Terman, Edited by Adam Lammon

Since 2005 there have been 42 separate attacks against people in or adjacent to houses of worship in the U.S., resulting in 137 casualties.  Considering that America currently has about 345,000 houses of worship with nearly 150 million congregants from 230 diverse denominations, we must establish a ubiquitous security culture.

People wishing to do harm to large gatherings of the faithful need not look further than our local places of worship.  Religious institutions are generally soft targets for several reasons: open access to services and vehicles, limited security, and an awareness among nefarious actors that they generally lack comprehensive planning to mitigate threats.  Therefore, the key is to harden the structure, plan for contingencies, improve cyber security measures, and buy space and time for congregants until law enforcement arrives to mollify the threat.

The knowledge to improve lax security is available, but unfortunately, it is not collated for easy use.  Consequently, buy-in and utilization of all-inclusive security planning, training, and implementation in houses of worship is the exception rather than the norm.  If the first catalyst is a knowledge gap, the second is congregant and leadership complacency, likely due to the relative comfort and freedoms we enjoy in the U.S.  Have you ever heard someone say, “this is a house of G-D” or “G-D will watch over us”?  Since the threat is real, readiness is an imperative.  To improve security, a paradigm shift needs to occur through education imparted on the leadership of synagogues as well as their congregants.

Through education, we must communicate a better understanding of historic incidents, current events, and predictive analysis of what the future holds.  Furthermore, we must inculcate an understanding of how to conduct a security assessment, scenario based immediate actions, and engender a mindful community of interest. Once collectively understood, these elements will reveal
shortcomings and empower decision makers to implement a deliberate layered defense and create emergency management plans. Through this methodology, the knowledge gap will effectively contract and our security posture will improve.

We are not alone in this endeavor because as Americans, we have a national community of interest. We can learn from the best practices of other religious institutions and government programs and local law enforcement can help us better understand the threats and create a tailored plan. We must be prepared for the chance that malignant actors will increase their direct actions against soft targets in the U.S. just as they have recently in Europe.  Are we ready for that?

The existence of biblical and constitutional mandates for religious defense should compel us to plan towards threat mitigation.  As codified in the First Amendment, religion is a right of all citizens, but we know that freedom is not necessarily free.  The Jewish faith has been on the receiving end of torturous endeavors since the beginning of recorded history.  As scholar David Kopel wrote in his 2004 paper, “The Torah and Self-Defense,” both Mosaic law and the Jewish exodus from Egypt have illustrated that “people must use every practical option, including self-defense, before expecting a miracle.”  We must take the initiative to protect our communities because we could all be potential targets.

Let’s start by understanding the “five W’s” of security planning:

  1. Who and where is the threat?
  2. What is the vulnerability the adversary will attempt to exploit?
  3. Who is on the team that will counter the threat?
  4. What will the team implement to undermine their attempts?
  5. When has this occurred in the past and when could it occur in the future?

Finally, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is the threat to our congregants real and exigent in nature?
  2. Is my house of worship doing everything possible to protect ourselves from people wishing to do harm?

Volume 71. Number 2. Summer 2017

Lance Allen Wang, Assoc. Editor

I remember it clear as day. Our Jewish lay leader at Victory Base in Baghdad was redeploying, and she asked the 10-12 of us, located in a small room off to the side of a plywood Chapel surrounded by blast walls, furnished with a few folding chairs and a small wooden ark with a toy Torah (a souvenir from Israel), if any of us would be interested in taking over as lay leader. There was nary a peep from the “congregation” – a collection of men and women from different services, plus a few contractors for good measure. I was hardly in a position to consider myself qualified to take over. Although I didn’t want to be a lay leader, I was unable to stomach the thought that in a war zone some young Jew might not be able to pray at a time that he may want or need to the most, all because I decided not to volunteer. I pulled the lay leader to the side, and said that I’d be happy to volunteer, as long as she understands that my only qualifications were that I’m Jewish.

At the time, I was hardly an observant Jew. Although fiercely proud of my ethnicity and cultural heritage, I was mostly secular in my outlook and lifestyle. I’d been to services a handful of times during the twenty years or so that I’d been in the military, and the last time I’d led a service was when I became a Bar Mitzvah over a quarter century before. I wasn’t a member of a Shul – we had briefly joined one, but it was clear that we had very little in common with the congregation. There were lots of imported European cars in the parking lot in contrast with my dirty pickup truck, and pretty much no one who wore fatigues to work. It was a very Reform shul, but the kind that eschewed kippot and Hebrew in their services. We didn’t stay very long.

Needless to say, I ended up taking on the role. It turned out to be one of the most transformational experiences of my life. I’m sure many people perform that role daily in civilian and military congregations and find it rewarding or mundane, depending upon their circumstances. But as for myself, my time as lay leader became a period of personal spiritual exploration that coincidentally took place during a period of trial and vulnerability.

I’ve always said that the best way to learn something is to teach it. While I felt that my skills as a prayer leader were greatly lacking, it was clear that within the small congregation there were those who knew less about Judaism than me. Some were not Jewish at all, but were in the process of converting at home or were considering it. We had others who recollected bits and pieces of the service from their youth – but most attended for the same reason I did, to share the company of fellow Jews on Shabbat for a couple of hours. I began to study how to lead a service. I would pick the brains of the Jewish Chaplains that would occasionally visit for a few days. Then something else happened.

I’d been lay leading for a bit over a month and I was in my unit’s headquarters talking with several other officers when there was a rocket attack. It was much larger than the usual 107 millimeter rockets, and this one was far too close for comfort – it roared overhead like a freight train and landed just beyond our blast walls, killing one civilian and injuring several soldiers. Plaster rained down in our headquarters, but other than a blown out window and some shrapnel scattered about the area, we were shaken but no worse for wear. But I was troubled, and I was fortunate that a week later we had a visiting Rabbi, a reservist from Pittsburgh, I think.  I asked him if I could speak with him privately, and he quickly agreed. I think he knew I needed guidance.

We grabbed some coffee and sat in the plywood Chapel. I told him I didn’t get it- as a Jew, as a lay leader, I thought I was doing all the right things. But then there was the rocket attack and I felt nothing. No divine presence, no sheltering hand. Nothing! In retrospect, silly as it sounds, I felt like a spiritual failure and wholly unqualified to lead anyone in prayer.

The Rabbi thought for a moment, and then said, “I’m going to respond to you, but before I do, I want you to be willing to sit and listen to the entire answer.” I wish I could do justice to the way the Rabbi explained it, so I will forego attempting to say what he said, but I will instead tell you what I heard. These may be completely different things, but I internalized what I heard, and in the end, I suppose that is the most important.

He asked me if I believed in God. I knew I couldn’t just dismiss this with a shrug. I’d never really considered the question as a grown-up. I still took many things for granted as though I’d just learned them in Hebrew School, when in fact, that was a long time ago and I’d grown quite a bit since I’d had any form of formal Jewish education. I could no longer take things for granted. God could no longer be seen as the “cosmic Santa Claus” such as children see Him.  But I needed to find a way to fit an adult understanding of God into the crazy quilt my life had become. So I responded with the old standby, “I’m not sure, but I have spiritual feelings.” Truth be told, I sure wanted to believe in God, and if was going to help me avoid the feeling of spiritual emptiness that I was feeling at my most alone, I was all ears.

We discussed the concept of spirituality, and its connection to faith.  What I realized was that spirituality is those things that touch the soul and our ability to feel and appreciate them, while other creatures cannot, is part of our evidence of the divine. But in the end, faith is not a solid line.  The divine is not “provable.”  Nor is absence of the divine “provable.” That’s why it’s called “faith” and not “fact.” To watchers of “Law and Order” – “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Those spiritual things help connect the “doing and saying the right things” to the divine. Faith helps makes the “doing and saying the right things” mean something.

He then offered me some suggestions. “Talk to God,” he said. He asked me if I pray. . “I lead prayer,” I told him. “Yes,” he said, “But do you pray?”

I told him I did when I was leading services, but it felt like a one-way conversation, and I never did on my own. He said, “Talk to God. It need not always be in the context of prayer. Watch Teviah in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ – he’s constantly talking to God. He even kvetches at God.” In retrospect, this was helpful advice. Judaism is often so connected with the concept of communal prayer and gathering, we forget our own personal relationship with the divine. In the privacy of the small trailer I called home, the gentle swaying of prayer became the embrace of an omnipresent parent.

Discovering faith and the need for an adult understanding of God helped me become a better lay leader. I was able to lead short discussions with the congregation, conversations which were sorely needed to share the extraordinary circumstances in which we found ourselves. These discussions dealt with hard topics, like the loss of one of our own to a roadside bomb. Another member was a military police officer, who was coming to terms with cleaning blood out of one of her vehicles after a particularly difficult patrol.

It’s almost ten years to the day since I was sent to Iraq. Since then, I’ve retired and settled down outside a small rural village in upstate New York. I still pray twice a day – I make time for spiritual exercise as well as physical. I spent four years as President of my congregation, and still lead a service once a month.

Do I approach faith with the surety of a child? No, I don’t. I’m challenged by it, intrigued by it, and know that whatever it is, it is a part of me. I still wrestle with it – but doesn’t the word “Israel” mean “wrestled with God?” Much like with the regular cycle of reading Torah, we read the same scripture repeatedly, and while the words don’t change over time, we and our world do.   So we tease out new meaning, new relevance, and new ways to use it as a prism with which to view ourselves, our lives, and God.   So long as I continue to do that, I find myself in a good place.

Volume 71.  Number 2. Summer 2017

By Jordana Green

Regardless of political leanings, the rise of anti-Semitism on a national level is a concerning and bipartisan issue.

In a viral Facebook post written on February 4th, a New York City subway rider recounted how he and his fellow passengers worked together to erase Nazi symbols scrawled across the subway car using Purell hand sanitizer and tissues. This particular anecdote has a happy ending, but it exemplifies a concerning trend:  New Yorkers worked together- in a city where people notoriously keep to themselves on public transit- and did not let hate win, but few expected swastikas and “Jews belong in oven” to be scribbled all over a public train in one of the most diverse cities in the world. In 2017.

It is no secret that anti-Semitism is at an all-time high, likely in part because anti-Semites feel safe expressing their horrific opinions given the current political climate. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) website lists numerous reports from 2015 demonstrating the rise of anti-Semitism on both a national and global level. Although they have not yet published reports from 2016, it is likely that the numbers will continue to rise.

Over three separate days in January, 57 bomb threats were called in to 48 Jewish community centers (JCC) across the country; another 11 hoax bomb threats occurred on February 20. Under-reported by mainstream media, the coordinated threats were often called in at the same time or within hours of each other.  The JCCs followed proper procedures- calling the police, informing the ADL, and evacuating the premises- and Jewish institutions across the country are re-evaluating their security measures and assisting the FBI and the ADL in investigations. While bomb threats are a tactic often used to incite fear, they still need to be taken seriously. That these threats were coordinated speaks to the likelihood that they were premeditated and the fact that only Jewish buildings were targeted indicates an anti-Semitic undertone.

A quick perusal of headlines from Jewish newspapers reveals similar stories that also flew under the radar. In a strip mall in Philadelphia, a mikveh, Jewish ritual bath, was vandalized with illegible graffiti and while the area’s security cameras were all damaged, the other storefronts were unscathed.  In Washington, D.C., the police are investigating a litany of anti-Semitic threats made against a family who voiced support for Black Lives Matter, including a letter with the notorious yellow “Jude” star.  At Hebrew Union College, the Reform affiliated rabbinical school in Cincinnati, a sign was spray-painted with a swastika. So many hate crimes have been reported since November that it would take pages to list them all.

While many incidents were perpetrated by anonymous vandals, others were organized and supported publicly.  A neo-Nazi group organized (and later cancelled) a march against the Jewish community in Whitefish, Montana, aiming to recruit a Hamas member to speak at the armed march.  The coordinators further encouraged attendees to bring copies of Mein Kampf for a neighborhood kid’s “story hour.” March organizer Andrew Anglin originally picked January 16, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, as the “James Earl Ray Day Extravaganza.” This event was created specifically to target Jews, Jewish businesses, and everyone who supports the Jews. The names, photos, phone numbers, and addresses of the town’s Jewish residents have been made public by an alt-right and white supremacist website, The Daily Stormer.

Worthy of note is that this rise in anti-Semitic incidents is not confined to the United States.  In the United Kingdom, anti-Semitic hate crimes rose by 36 percent in 2016, the highest numbers since the Community Security Trust charity started keeping records in 1984. On average, there were more than three incidents per day, ranging from vandalism and property damage to hate mail and graffiti.

Anti-Semitism has persisted through the ages and Jewish history is littered with attempts to hurt, defile, embarrass, and exterminate the Jews. During late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, the Romans first expelled the Jews and later classified them as second-class citizens. Hundreds of years later, Jews were massacred in the name of the Crusades. By the 15th century, the Jews had been banished from England, France, and Austria; many of these Jews settled in Eastern Europe.

The Spanish Inquisition of the 15th century and the Reconquest in the 16th century expelled the Jews again, forcing them to either convert or face punishment. In the Italian Papal States, Jews were forced into specific neighborhoods called ghettos and the pogroms of the late 19th century were often backed by the Russian tsars, and continued through the rise of Nazi-Germany. The Jews who had fled to Eastern Europe once again found no escape from persecution.

It is a sad world we live in when we must question whether the vandalism of headstones in a Jewish cemetery was a hate crime, and when our college students are afraid to express their Judaism on campus. Often, anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment bleed over into anti-Semitism rhetoric, and many on college campuses seem unable to tell the difference.

On September 6, 2016, the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) released its annual report for the 2015-2016 academic year. ICC observed that anti-Israel activists have refocused their efforts on displays of anti-Israel sentiment, heckling, and disruptions of Israel-related events that attempt to frighten and silence guest speakers. Conversely, ICC noted that despite these attempted intimidation tactics, there has been a 151 percent increase in pro-Israel activities and rallies on campus overall.

At the United Nation’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day gathering on January 27, new Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told attendees that “a ‘new normal’ of public discourse is taking hold, in which prejudice is given a free pass and the door is opened to even more extreme hatred” due to the rise of xenophobia.  We must work fervently to reject this trend to the annals of history.

If you, someone you know, or your community experiences anti-Semitism, the ADL has a secure form on its website (adl.org) to report the incident. Call the police and filed a detailed report, and be sure to let us know by emailing jwv@jwv.org.

Volume 71. Number 1. Spring 2017

Lance Allen Wang, Assoc. Editor

In one of the classic books on the evolution of American warfare, historian Russell Weigley described how conventional American warfare developed into a strategy of “send bullets, not men.”   Indeed, it is a fundamental truism of American warfare that there is a trade-off between large numbers of American casualties and public support for military operations.   This aversion provided the impetus for development of weaponry with longer range, higher capacity and more power, in addition to other technologies which served to reduce casualties among American servicemen and women.   The immediacy of wartime media coverage combined with the willingness of the press to show the human cost of war has helped spur the further leverage of technology to extend our military capabilities

The newest developments are “movers and shooters” which are completely unmanned weapons– indeed, when we look back on the Global War on Terrorism, armed unmanned aerial drones will likely be seen as the most important technology to emerge.

ROOTS IN WORLD WAR II

Creating robotic technology was a natural extension of the American strategy to reduce casualties.   As with many explorations of new technology, it had both failures and triumphs in its development.   Perhaps one of the most famous failures was the BQ-8, which was a “robot” B-24 Liberator bomber, used in Operation Aphrodite in 1944.

The concept turned old bombers into “flying torpedoes,” flying by radio into their target and exploding.  The plan called for a pilot and co-pilot to get the bomber off the ground, arm the explosives, and bail out.   Then, under radio control, the bomber would crash into its target.   The target for the mission was Nazi sub pens at Heligoland in the North Sea.   Soon after the explosives were armed, the BQ-8 detonated, killing the two crewmen on board before they could bail out.   One of them was Navy Lieutenant Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., brother of future President John F. Kennedy.   In all, there were 14 missions in Operation Aphrodite during 1944-45.   None of them was successful.

EXPANDING CAPABILITIES IN VIETNAM

During the Vietnam War, heavily modified target drones, specifically the AQM-34 Ryan Firebee, were turned into unmanned photo and electronic reconnaissance aircraft.    This classified operation called for the Firebee to be launched by C-130 transport aircraft, flying either a preprogrammed path or piloted by a remote operator, then recovered in midair by a specially designed helicopter.   The US military learned a great deal about drones during the Vietnam War, knowledge which would help make unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) commonplace decades later.

THE MIDDLE EASTERN TESTBED

Israel’s conflicts and wars have often provided a test bed for technology and doctrine – the Yom Kippur War pointed out the limitations of airpower against surface to air missiles, and the limitations of armor against wire-guided anti-tank missiles while at the same time helping develop combined arms solutions to these challenges.  Israel’s 1982 operations in Lebanon against Syria demonstrated the value of integrating operational (as opposed to experimental) drone aircraft into their manned formations, with drones fulfilling the role of reconnaissance and electronic warfare.  Currently, Israel has a robust and developed drone program.

UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES COME INTO THEIR OWN

After limited use in DESERT STORM, the United States increased its development and use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, including for strike targeting during the Kosovo conflict.   Their ability to fly lower because of the absence of pilot risk made them excellent for post-strike assessment also.   By the time of the Global War on Terrorism, the ability to arm drones, as demonstrated on the MQ-1 “Predator” and MQ-9 “Reaper” drones, marked an evolutionary change in warfare – the truest manifestation of “send bullets, not men.”   Numerous high value targets have been attacked by remotely piloted vehicles.   Depending upon the type of strike mission and who is conducting it, pilots are sometimes half a world away, leveraging technology to provide capabilities far beyond what veterans of OPERATION APHRODITE could have ever imagined.

However, robotic warfare is not confined to the air.   The use of robots in explosives ordinance disposal has been very successful, and has been integrated into combat operations as a counter-Improvised Explosive Device (IED) measure; again, reducing personnel risk in extremely hazardous duty.   Current trends in development include autonomous “wingmen” for tanks, with manned armored vehicles flanked by robotic ones, controlled by the primary manned vehicle.   However, unmanned land vehicles have not yet developed the kind of durability and reliability for them to assume some of the load of land-based warfare.

POTENTIAL PITFALLS, AND THE FUTURE

From a technological standpoint, other than the durability issues, the issue of artificial intelligence as an obvious next step for robotic technology raises practical as well as ethical questions.   In the end, who makes the decision to fire a weapon is a decision fraught with risk if it is delegated to a machine.This remains a huge question in strategic nuclear warfare – shall a computer make the decision determining if an attack is real, and should we delegate our retaliation decision to a computer?   Just the same – should a drone determine if a target is the high value one we are seeking, and shall its digital innards make the decision to shoot?

The other challenge we face is the delusion of bloodless warfare which drone warfare seems to promise on the surface.   We may send bullets… and robots…. But we will always have to send men and women with an accompanying cost in blood and treasure.   T.R. Fehrenbach wrote, in his oft-quoted book on the Korean War, “This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness,”

“Americans in 1950 rediscovered something that since Hiroshima they had forgotten: you may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life – but if you desire to defend it, protect it and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men in the mud.”

Volume 71. Number 1. Spring 2017