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Thread: Department of Defense

  1. #1
    Comfortably numb by rejections SuzanneSeese's Avatar
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    Department of Defense

    I'm having trouble developing a character. The antagonist in my WIP.
    Brief summary: There is a global threat, discovered over 50 years ago. Scientists have been working on a specific experiment at an American station on the Antarctic. The experiment (we are talking about aliens, gene therapy, DNA) is headed by an American scientist. The threat has become increasingly alarming, while the Department of Defense has been involved, they haven't been much of a presence at the facility. Until it is decided to move onto phase 2. This is where my antagonist comes in and where I am stuck. I've been to the Department of Defense website but can't find some answers.
    I don't want this guy to be a total prick. He's threatened by the scientist in an intellectual way. He makes his presence known in a 'rule with an iron fist' kind of way when he is sent to the Antarctic to oversee and carryout phase 2.
    My questions:
    In the DoD who would send my character on this assignment?
    Would my character be military or civilian?
    Would he have a rank or would he be called Mr. Smith?
    And my first idea was to have him from the CIA, would someone from the CIA or the DoD be sent on a this type of assignment?

    I have so many questions because I'm a little apprehensive to dig deep into the CIA and the DoD on the internet.
    Suzanne Seese

    Writer's Blog: View of Sue
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    "Take car. Go to Mum's. Kill Phil - "Sorry." - grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over. How's that for a slice of fried gold?" -Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead
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  2. #2
    procrastinatrix Kitti's Avatar
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    Your best bet is probably to set it up that the scientists have been contractors for the DoD all along, and now someone from the program office that oversees them has been sent out to take a more active role in whatever they're doing.

    If you go that route, you would also want to pick an agency that was in charge of the scientists, not just generic DoD. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...fense_agencies

    DARPA or DTRA might make sense.

  3. #3
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    What you're talking about reminds me of the first part of the movie Stargate. I don't remember which agency it was, but when the project moved into its next phase, they sent Kurt Russell out to run things. They, however, did have a general in charge.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW Al Stevens's Avatar
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    Not CIA. Probably military. At least a light colonel. But everything about your plot is exceptional, so any routine protocols could be averted.

    Who would send him? Is this an international effort or only USA? If the former, he might be directed by the United Nations Security Council. Otherwise, the National Security Council. Think Oliver North.

  5. #5
    The colors! THE COLORS! leahzero's Avatar
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    Randomly, the alien/Antarctic setup reminds me strongly of The Thing.
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by SuzanneSeese View Post
    I have so many questions because I'm a little apprehensive to dig deep into the CIA and the DoD on the internet.

    Why? They have public websites. They have better things to do than track people who do Google searches on "DoD+Alien research+Antarctica."

    The CIA would be unlikely to be involved - first, the CIA isn't part of the DoD, and second, they do HUMINT, not gene therapy research in the Antarctic.

    DARPA usually provides funding but not much in the way of scientists actually doing research in labs outside of CONUS. DTRA and various other agencies could possibly have gotten involved for historical reasons, but the most likely scenario is that your character is a civilian, non-governmental employee (a contractor) being overseen by some federal agency. Which means a representative of that agency will be your antagonist. Each branch of the military does have its own research organizations, so it could possibly be a military officer as well, but if it's a civilian agency overseeing things, then it will probably be a civilian they send.

  7. #7
    Demigods, wolves, & Vamps... Oh my! tedi.s's Avatar
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    I was thinking this reminds me of the Transformer's series. Usually the intellectual is a part of a committee and the committee head has rule over the military appointed by the President. you have to remember that the leader of the military is the President, the commander in Chief. So If he appoints a person to act for him the military would have to follow them. There is more to it than just that, but hopefully you get the idea.
    Also feel free to research the government sites. There information is kept public as they are suppose to serve the public. Searching for them is not going to separate you out. Half the teens in the world are all over the sites for one reason or another. Good luck!
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  8. #8
    And now, back to Plotting! Duncan J Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuzanneSeese View Post
    I'm having trouble developing a character. The antagonist in my WIP.
    Brief summary: There is a global threat, discovered over 50 years ago. Scientists have been working on a specific experiment at an American station on the Antarctic. The experiment (we are talking about aliens, gene therapy, DNA) is headed by an American scientist. The threat has become increasingly alarming, while the Department of Defense has been involved, they haven't been much of a presence at the facility. Until it is decided to move onto phase 2. This is where my antagonist comes in and where I am stuck. I've been to the Department of Defense website but can't find some answers.
    I don't want this guy to be a total prick. He's threatened by the scientist in an intellectual way. He makes his presence known in a 'rule with an iron fist' kind of way when he is sent to the Antarctic to oversee and carryout phase 2.
    My questions:
    In the DoD who would send my character on this assignment?
    Would my character be military or civilian?
    Would he have a rank or would he be called Mr. Smith?
    And my first idea was to have him from the CIA, would someone from the CIA or the DoD be sent on a this type of assignment?

    I have so many questions because I'm a little apprehensive to dig deep into the CIA and the DoD on the internet.
    Hi! Long time DoD Employee here! (20 years active duty military, 10 years DoD contractor)

    1. Your character would be sent by the service (Army, Navy, Air Force) that is sponsoring the research. If it were generic DoD, then Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD(R&E))

    2. Your character could be either. If civilian, could be Mr., could be Dr. If military, would go by rank. In your case I'd send nothing less than a full bird Colonel.

    3. CIA wouldn't be involved directly (but don't count out the guy that sweeps the floors).



    There are quite a few Antarctic research stations, the U.S. alone has six. The military has a presence at most of them. It would be easy to set up a seventh, clandestine, base within one of the others.

    As others have mentioned, most DoD research is performed by non-uniformed personnel, which is performed at Universities and other dedicated research facilities. The Internet used to be DARPAnet, and before that, ARPAnet -- created to tie the few DoD research University facilities together.
    R/
    Hamster #164

  9. #9
    Comfortably numb by rejections SuzanneSeese's Avatar
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    Good stuff guys, thank you.
    Your best bet is probably to set it up that the scientists have been contractors for the DoD all along, and now someone from the program office that oversees them has been sent out to take a more active role in whatever they're doing.
    This is exactly where I want to go with this character.
    Who would send him? Is this an international effort or only USA? If the former, he might be directed by the United Nations Security Council. Otherwise, the National Security Council. Think Oliver North.
    This is an international problem but the U.S. was first on the discovery and first with the technology to possibly thwart the threat.
    Randomly, the alien/Antarctic setup reminds me strongly of The Thing.
    My aliens are not frozen and not found on the Antarctic.
    There are quite a few Antarctic research stations, the U.S. alone has six. The military has a presence at most of them. It would be easy to set up a seventh, clandestine, base within one of the others.
    I'm using the McMurdo Station and taking the liberty to have a domed shaped facility located there with a highly classified clearance needed to enter the tightly secured gates that surround it.
    2. Your character could be either. If civilian, could be Mr., could be Dr. If military, would go by rank. In your case I'd send nothing less than a full bird Colonel.
    This is where I'm stuck. I need him to probably be military because he carries a gun and isn't afraid to use it. But at one point he makes a huge error in judgment which sends things spiraling out of his control.

    Your response has been very helpful everyone and I certainly appreciate it. I will check these links and get myself rolling again for sure now. Thanks!
    Last edited by SuzanneSeese; 02-21-2012 at 05:19 AM. Reason: can't spell
    Suzanne Seese

    Writer's Blog: View of Sue
    Humor Blog: Farvel Cargo

    "Take car. Go to Mum's. Kill Phil - "Sorry." - grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over. How's that for a slice of fried gold?" -Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead
    "You must never hesitate." - Sean Connery, The Rock



  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW Al Stevens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuzanneSeese View Post
    This is where I'm stuck. I need him to probably be military because he carries a gun and isn't afraid to use it. But at one point he makes a huge error in judgment which sends things spiraling out of his control.
    Not inconsistant with a military operative. Murphy of Murphy's Law wears a uniform, too. The acronym SNAFU was military.

  11. #11
    Writer Beware's Faithful Igor Richard White's Avatar
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    Colonels don't make mistakes?

    Bwah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah!!!!


    (former NCO)

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW
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    I don't know if you're still looking for input, but this would likely be a "blackbox" project (meaning that there is no congressional oversight). Black box projects are often run by inter-agency teams (so think of Army and Air Force together). NSA also runs a lot of blackbox work if you don't want a specific branch of the military involved. (They're good at coming up with excuses to tread into some pretty bizzare territory.)

    Civilians/contractors can carry weapons, but are not often REQUIRED to carry them. Military members also do not carry weapons in a lot of situations. IF you have an environment that calls for weapons, then anyone can carry them -- but that would have to be an environment where the people are expected to defend their lives.

    Most scientific labs don't call for weapons. BUT, many contractors are ex-military and it is not beyond reason that an ex-military person may carry a personal concealed weapon out of personal preference. I would never expect a military person in uniform, not associated with security, to be armed in a lab environment.

    The nice thing about blackbox teams is that you can call them what ever you want. The directors of the teams tend to be powerful people. Usually they've been handed millions of dollars with no accountability and no oversight as long as they stay within budget and amble around toward a vaguely worded goal.

    As an example:

    Actual goal: To develop x-ray technology capable of imaging through six inch concrete

    Team Name: Joint Task Force for Combat Imaging Technology (if a joint op - usally run by a "commander" or Combat Imagine Technology Program (if a single/NSA type project - usually run by a 'director")

    Public Stated Goal: Improve Military Imaging Capabilities

    Replace the concept of imagine above with any super-secret, not yet made public, sci-fi tech you want.

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW
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    Some more comments:

    If it is an international team, then I would use the "Joint Task Force... " type name. That is often how we establish on-going efforts with other NATO countries.

    Also the "highly classified clearance" is called being "read into" a special compartmentalized program. As an example, you can have the classification "Top Secret" (a military classification), but then within that have SCI (specialized compartmentalized information) that requires additional background investigation, polygraphs, etc.

    SCI programs are all named. So if your SCI name was "Blue Thunder", then the workers' clearance would be fully described as "Top Secret / Blue Thunder" and workers would be said to have been "read into the Blue Thunder program" or "cleared for Blue Thunder material". Your special dome would also be called a "Blue Thunder Only Facility" if no other work is allowed to be done there.

    Now, if the name of the Blue Thunder program is also protected, then externally, your dome would be referred to as something like building 12 and externally the program would be called (classified) Top Secret/SCI (meaning there are additional requirments above Top Secret).

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW Al Stevens's Avatar
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    I worked on a Top Secret/SCI project for DIA in the 1970s and 80s. The code name was classified but known by its initials. I never mentioned the name even after leaving the project. Then I heard the name on The West Wing being used for exactly what it had stood for.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Fins Left View Post
    I don't know if you're still looking for input, but this would likely be a "blackbox" project (meaning that there is no congressional oversight).
    Legally, there are no projects that aren't subject to Congressional oversight, and it's not as easy as Hollywood would have you believe for a DoD agency to run a secret base in the Antarctic without someone noticing and Congress asking where all this money is going.

    Black box projects are often run by inter-agency teams (so think of Army and Air Force together). NSA also runs a lot of blackbox work if you don't want a specific branch of the military involved. (They're good at coming up with excuses to tread into some pretty bizzare territory.)
    Eh... NSA is all about SIGINT and crypto/infosec. I mean, yes, they may get into some projects that seem pretty far afield from their mission, but one of my pet peeves is the NSA being used as a catch-all government secret agency that's involved in everything from studying captured aliens to sending ninja assassin commando teams into Russia. The NSA just doesn't have any reason to be doing things like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Al Stevens View Post
    I worked on a Top Secret/SCI project for DIA in the 1970s and 80s. The code name was classified but known by its initials. I never mentioned the name even after leaving the project. Then I heard the name on The West Wing being used for exactly what it had stood for.
    It might have been declassified. Are you sure it wasn't a cover term (which is the unclassified name for a classified project)?

  16. #16
    Comfortably numb by rejections SuzanneSeese's Avatar
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    I don't know if you're still looking for input, but
    Hell yes! The more input the better, thank you.
    There is a lot of research involved in my WIP. And the voices in my head won't let me ignore these characters no matter how hard I try. I have to get this novel written before I go crazy.
    I really appreciate the input!
    Suzanne Seese

    Writer's Blog: View of Sue
    Humor Blog: Farvel Cargo

    "Take car. Go to Mum's. Kill Phil - "Sorry." - grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over. How's that for a slice of fried gold?" -Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead
    "You must never hesitate." - Sean Connery, The Rock



  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW Al Stevens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    Legally, there are no projects that aren't subject to Congressional oversight...
    In the old days, CIA's budget was bundled with the Army's, and Congress did not know how much and had little if any oversight. Congressmen didn't automatically get security clearances. I don't know how they do it now. It seems CIA can't get away with doodly squat any more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    It might have been declassified.
    It has. It referred to high resolution surveillance technology (satellite imagery) not known to the public then.
    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    Are you sure it wasn't a cover term (which is the unclassified name for a classified project)?
    I am sure. It was drilled into us.

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