Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Night Shift Option

Back in the days of the Cold War, a scenario was played out hundreds of times:

- Soviet Union starts a ground war in Europe.
- Group of Soviet Forces-Germany (East Germany) attack, with echelon after echelon of tanks and artillery, through Fulda (the infamous Fulda Gap scenario).
- American, British, West German and other Western units, badly outnumbered, defend and delay (buy time) and launch a counteroffensive.
- The mission: to stop the Soviet hordes before they pull a Patton and start pissing in the Rhine River. (which might not sound like a bad idea nowadays -- letting the Russians have Germany, that is).

The battles were almost always predictable and the war was almost always fought to a stalemate. The war games, in other words, were boring.

It was during one of these war games, that the Night Shift Option was excercised to the fullest.

The place was the Battle Simulation Center (BSC) at Fort Hood, Texas. The time was ... well, before the widespread use of computers.

At the BSC were various officers and NCOs representing the Blue Forces (BLUEFOR) and Opposing Forces (OPFOR). The BLUEFOR and OPFOR cells were partitioned off from one another to cut down on cheating that usually went on by both sides. In other words, you weren't supposed to slip a peek at the other person's cards -- it'd mess up the controlled simulation.

Anyway, these soldiers would move unit icons, in accordance with battle plans and orders, across mapboard tables. The plans and orders came from the command posts that were deployed in the field and practicing the art of warfighting in Europe. Making the battle seem real for the command post people was one of the objectives of the BLUEFOR and OPFOR cells.

To make a long story short, some BLUEFOR night shift players/controllers (don't worry, Buddy, Craig and Lou, I'll never tell. Oops.) got bored. SOS. Same Old Scenario. They figured out away to pop nukes without proper authorization -- and in doing so, express their real sentiment.

So, BLUEFOR launched some small tactical nukes -- at the 2nd Guards Tank Army and 3rd Shock Army. Ha! Crispy Critters. That'll teach those Russian bastards.

That was soon followed by OPFOR's retaliatory launch of even more and bigger tactical nukes at BLUEFOR.


The results were impressive, if not what the day shift and the senior controllers and generals had in mind when the exercise started.

The night shift players and controllers were in a frenzy -- especially the Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) players/controllers who felt they never got all the play that they wanted (sick puppies, they were). Well, that night was different. They got plenty of action as they ran from mapboard table to mapboard table -- from BLUEFOR to OPFOR -- drawing circles around units and assessing blast effects and fallout.

Before the war could escalate into intercontinental nuclear exchanges, a night shift senior controller came back from whatever he was doing (probably eating pizza) and the real shit hit the fan. And it really hit the fan when the generals came in the next morning and wondered aloud (something like WHAT THE FUCK!) as they observed day shift people hastily re-cocking the war game.

Nobody lost their jobs that I know of, but damn it was a close thing.

So, I was thinking back on that and it got me thinking about the War on Terrorism and the question:

What would the Night Shift do?

Well, ya can't fault them for a lack of audacity.

1 comment:

Housewife said...

LOL Good story and I liked the ending especially with the map and all.