Friday, June 13, 2014

the last book I ever read (Duty by Robert M. Gates, excerpt fourteen)

from Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates:

In a place as big as the Defense Department, something is always going wrong. Most of the time, it’s just a bureaucratic screwup. But when our nuclear forces are involved, it can quicken your pulse. The first two such incidents on my watch, as I’ve described, had led to my firing of the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force in 2008. In October 2010, at F. E. Warren Air Force Base near Cheyenne, Wyoming, all communications were lost with a squadron of fifty Minutemen III nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. While alternative communications were soon reestablished, no one had informed the secretary of defense or the president when we lost contact with a launch control capsule and fifty ICBMs. And of course, when the communications went down, no one at the base, or at its higher headquarters at Strategic Command, knew at that moment how long they might be down or whether they had been lost due to a technical malfunction, terrorist act, sabotage, or some other scary scenario—or even whether one or more of the missiles might somehow be at risk. In a masterpiece of understatement, Obama allowed as how he would have liked to have known about it. It was a sentiment I shared.

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