From Holland with shove
In the early 1960s, the U.S. and the Netherlands (AKA Holland), signed a solemn agreement whereby U.S. nuclear weapons could be stored close by Dutch artillery and air-defense missile units. In addition to constructing some substantial storage igloos inside some formidable wire fences, the Dutch pledged to have a specific number of troops available, within a specified amount of time, to defend the nuclear weapons storage sites.
For example, should an unruly crowd of anti-nuke protesters (the Atom-Gegner) surround one of our nuke storage sites, the Dutch pledged to have an armed infantry platoon respond immediately. If the situation worsened, larger and larger infantry units were to respond until an entire infantry battalion was on the scene.
By prior agreement with the Dutch, the way we tested the security system, in lieu of an actual crowd of Atom-Gegners, was to pass an Alert Notice through the outer fence to one of the American guards. The Alert Notice stated the site was being surrounded by a mob of over 100 anti-nukers. The American guard would take the Alert Notice to the American duty officer who would sound the alarm, summoning armed Dutch reinforcements to the site.
My Intel partner, Mr. Price, and I made many weekday trips to Holland, checking security at our nuke storage sites, and meeting with our Dutch counterintelligence counterparts; usually over a nice dinner of Dutch-Indonesian food (nasi-goreng was our favorite dish). During one of our convivial evenings, one of the Dutch agents mumbled something about the Dutch troops going home on weekends. Given the small size of Holland and its flatness, bicycling from barracks to home on weekends seemed reasonable; however, the Atom Gegner were mostly weekend activists. And there’s the rub.
We had to ask "Do you mean on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights there are no Dutch troops protecting our nuke storage sites?" Answer: "None." We sent a priority report up U.S. channels. Consequently, higher headquarters ordered us to test the alert system the very next night, a Friday. We handed the Alert Notice through the fence at midnight. The alarm bells rang in the troop barracks. But no one responded.
We knew the U.S. must have filed a stiff protest with the Dutch because, by the next morning, Mr. Price and I were standing in front of the desk of a red-faced Dutch lieutenant general who was accusing the two of us of poisoning Dutch-American relations. Of course, we were in civilian clothes. For all the general knew, we could have been CIA, private contractors, or buck privates. Deciding talking back was not going to be helpful to U.S.-Dutch relations, we just gave the irate general a shrug that would have made any Frenchman proud and walked out.
After tip-toeing through the tulips back to West Germany, our bosses told us the good news was that we had done a fine job. The bad news was that both of us had been declared persona non grata in the Netherlands. So again, no Letters of Commendation. Move on. No more quixotic tilting at Dutch windmills. Worst of all: No more nasi-goreng for us.
Nota bene: Until morale improves, these semi-spook stories will continue.
©2022. William Hamilton.