Another milestone: 50k sold: Nightstalkers

I wondered: who are the Special Ops who take care of the thing that go bump in the night?

Moms sat back in her seat and gestured for Nada to begin. The team sergeant got up and picked up the top binder. “Nuclear Protocol, including facilities, materials, weapons, etcetera.” He tossed it to Kirk, who caught it. Nada picked up the second binder. “Biological Protocol. There are some nasty bugs out there, and hard as it is to believe, there are people in labs trying to make nastier ones. It’s not like Mother Nature can’t be quite the motherfucker by herself.” He tossed the second binder. Third binder: “Chemical. Really, you do need to read all this stuff, cause Doc or an Acme might not be by your side. Pretend you’re in graduate school for things that can kill. Learn which ones kill quickest and fastest.” He paused. “You know your three Bs right?” “Breathing, bleeding, broken,” Kirk said, listing the priorities for triage. Nada nodded. “For us it’s the three Cs. Containment is the first priority. Nothing else matters if whatever shit we’re trying to deal with spreads. Then concealment.” He noted Kirk’s surprised look. “Panic can kill as much as the actual problem. Word of some of the things we’ve had to squash gets out, people will go bonkers. The people out there in the world got twenty-four-hour news channels. They’re hungry for bad shit, like the way weathermen pray for hurricanes to hit so they can stand on that pier with the wind howling around them. The news would eat up the stuff we deal with and the public would panic. War of the Worlds–type shit. The third C is control. That one is regulated by Ms. Jones’s directive whether it’s dry, damp, or wet. Got it?” “Containment, concealment, control.” “Good.” Nada picked up a stack of three more binders. “This is just a bunch of stuff. And some of it is pretty weird. They list every single mission the Nightstalkers have been on since it was founded in 1948. Makes for great late-night reading.” Moms cut in for the first time. “Don’t concern yourself so much with the problems, because some of them won’t happen again, but look at the way the team dealt with it and consider possibilities.” Nada dumped the three binders on top of the ones already in Kirk’s lap. He grabbed the thickest one off the desk. “This is the one I call the Dumb Shit Scientist Protocol, but don’t ever let Doc hear that. This lists all the incredibly dumb things scientists have done that damn near wiped out the human race.” Nada’s eyes shifted to the wall between the CP and Ms. Jones’s office, as if she could hear through two feet of steel-reinforced concrete. “Pretty high up on that list is what happened at Chernobyl.” Last, Nada tossed a pocket-sized team Protocol. “That’s your first priority reading. You’ve got forty-eight hours, then anyone can ask you anything in it and you’d better know it and your place in whatever it is. Here is an overview of the entire Area 51 Series. Tell us who your favorite Alien is (from any movie or book) and be entered in a  drawing for a free audio book from the Area 51 Series.    

Jimmy Stewart, Marlene Dietrich & the Rule of 7 for Disasters

I’m writing this as I sit here at McGhee-Tyson Airport (Knoxville) waiting to board a flight en route to Seattle to present at PNWA. Perhaps not the smartest move, but those who know me know . . .

When I was young I watched the movie No Highway In The Sky starring Jimmy Stewart– and strangely enough, Marlene Dietrich. It’s about an engineer who fears the first jet-engine commercial airliner will crash because of metal fatigue. He’s so convinced he’s right, even though everyone else thinks he’s wrong, that he retracts the landing gear while the plane is parked on the runway to prevent it from taking off. Of course, by the end of the movie he’s proven right. But of more interest, three years after the movie, the first jet passenger plane, the de Havilland Comet had two fatal crashes. The cause: metal fatigue.

Then I went to West Point and subsequently volunteered for the Special Forces (Green Berets). Both of these experiences had a profound effect on the way I view the world around me. Operating in the covert world leads one to have a paranoid perspective where shit doesn’t just happen, it’s expected, and we have to deal with it. I’ve written quite a few novels based on my experiences, but also some nonfiction books. The Green Beret Survival Guide is full of not only survival information, but stories about survival events. In a way, this book is an expansion of those types of individual stories to larger catastrophes. Who Dares Wins: Special Operations Strategies for Success is where I apply what I learned and taught in Special Operations to the civilian world.

Finally, my wife (who is terrified of flying) and I became very interested in a television show titled Seconds From Disaster, which aired on National Geographic. Over the seasons it covered just about every plane crash and numerous other disasters. And we noticed a startling commonality. No plane crash just happened. There was always a series of mistakes, miscalculations, negligence and other events leading up to those final seconds and the disaster. Which led us to develop the . . . The Rule of 7: no crash happens in isolation or as the result of a single event. It requires a minimum of 7 things to go wrong in order for an airplane to crash. And one of those 7 is always human error. It might not be the primary cause, but it is always a contributing factor.

A catastrophe involving humans does not happen in isolation. In fact, with enough knowledge and preparation, many individuals and organizations can avoid catastrophes altogether, and if caught in one, survive.

I’ve used the Rule of Seven not only in the Survival Guide and Who Dares Wins but it’s an integral part of my new Time Patrol series, where the Shadow is trying to change six days in our history in order to form a Time Tsunami and wipe us out!

Let’s hope we don’t go past six.

What if Wednesday? What if George Pickett challenged US Grant to a duel? As cadets.

Pickett youngThe Civil War was a West Point war. One of the many pieces of trivia I had to memorize as a plebe at West Point was: In the 60 major battles of the Civil War, West Pointers commanded both sides in 55, and one side in the other five.

For me it brings into sharp contrast the difference between Honor and Loyalty.

Jefferson Davis almost got kicked out of West Point as a cadet for partying. What if he had? What if some of those implicated in the eggnog party/riot at Christmas in 1826 had been kicked out? Jeff Davis the most notable, along with a future Governor of Mississippi, a future Supreme Court Justice, a future Secretary of State of the Republic of Texas, and a Confederate Army General.

West Point crestWest Point has produced a large number of people who have had great influence in our country and around the world. So I started what-iffing different possibilities for them while they were cadets, having had one or two scuffles with the discipline system as a cadet.

One possibility was posed in the subject line of this blog. Pickett was class of ’46. Grant ’43. Grant had no tolerance for alcohol. Pickett liked to pretend he was southern aristocracy although the reality was somewhat different. What if the two had crossed paths in a bad way at Benny Havens Tavern, just off the West Point reservation?BTW- we had to memorize Benny Havens Oh! too. A song about the illegal tavern.

I explored this possibility in D-Day (Time Patrol).

It should be remembered that Pickett was part of a very successful charge. During the Mexican War. Which was, percentage-wise, the bloodiest war in our history.

I’m starting to slip down the rabbit hole of history now.  But what if . . . .

Of more interest, the different between honor and loyalty. I like to pose it this way: would you rather have an honorable friend or a loyal one?

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