Lesson: Spook duped by Troops
Early in my time with the Special Security Team (SST), my boss said, "The Artillery Corps Group we serve in Germany and the Netherlands will have its Technical Proficiency Inspection (TPI) here in LŁdenscheid soon. The inspection protocol calls for a counterintelligence officer to be present to answer any security questions the inspectors may have. We are not supposed to know any nuclear secrets, but we should have some understanding of what we are protecting from espionage and sabotage.
"We donít want to be just standing around looking stupid. So, I want you to go out to the maintenance site and watch some of the warrant officers doing reliability tests on a nuke. Besides, as you probably know by now, the troops donít like us very much because they think all we do is spy on the German girls they want to date."
"Will I have to wear one of those white bunny suits and a hair net?" I asked.
"No, they are not making nukes, just testing them. As usual, wear your suit, tie, and shiny shoes."
Soon, I was presenting my credential multiple times through multiple guard posts. After which I was shown into one of the maintenance igloos where some warrant officers had a nuke warhead laid open for reliability testing. Looking down into the anode-wired warhead, it just looked like a big tube of expensive stainless steel trussed up like a Christmas goose.
The warrant officers knew I was just a Newbie sent out to get a brief orientation. The atmosphere was a bit frosty. So, I stayed totally back out of the way, not saying a word.
Everything about the nuke warhead undergoing reliability testing seemed to be going okay. Lots of green lights on the test equipment until one of the warrant officers must have pressed the wrong button. All the lights started flashing red!
"Oh, oh! Time to go! Letís get out of here," cried the warrant officers. There was no need to tell me to follow them as they ran out the door.
Quickly, I found myself jogging away from the maintenance site inside a convoy of warrant officers and NCOs. But it struck me odd that we were merely jogging. Seemed to me like we should be running like hell. So, gasping for breath, even though I was much younger then, I asked the warrant officer jogging closest to me, "Why are we just jogging? Why arenít not running as fast as we can?"
"Well, you see, sir, back there are a bunch of 20 KT weapons. If they explode, there is no way in hell that we could run fast enough to get outside of their RD, their Radius of Damage."
So, I asked again, gasping for air with sweat now soaking my oxford cloth, button-down shirt, and my heels starting to blister, "So, why am I out here in a suit and tie and dress shoes sweating like a pig?"
"Because, sir, each week, we have to do a certain amount of PT. Switching on those flashing red lights makes for an exciting excuse to do it."
To paraphrase Queen Victoria, "We were not amused."
Nota Bene: During these dismal times for the USA, this column will focus on lighter subjects.
©2022. William Hamilton.