Oh, shut up already!
Some enterprising Belgian military spokesperson has decided to announce to the entire world that of the two sets of 11 hardened shelters at Kleine Brogel Airbase, the activists were in the one without nuclear weapons:
A similar stunt occurred last November, according to Ingrid Baeck, a chief spokeswoman for the Belgian Ministry of Defense, who sought to minimize the danger.
“I can assure you these people never, ever got anywhere near a sensitive area,” Baeck said in a telephone interview Friday. “They are talking nonsense.”
But Baeck challenged the activists’ claims they went undetected for well over an hour, that guards were unarmed and that they were able to approach a hardened bunker containing sensitive materiel undeterred.
“It was an empty bunker, a shelter,” Baeck said of the building.
Way to paint a target on the loaded ones, genius.
Just take your lumps, because you can’t pretend Belgian security didn’t fail. The activist incursion is an alarming anecdotal demonstration of a systemic security problem that was well documented before the February incident.
In some important ways, Baeck is exaggerating herself — for example, we can see that the guard’s weapon is not loaded — but the real problem is that she also revealed where the activists ought to have gone. Nice way to get some kid shot on April 3, when they come back.
Yes, there are two sets of 11 shelters at Kleine Brogel, only one of which has WS3 vaults (Here is a set of Google Earth placemarks). The activists assumed that the one they accessed was the nuclear one based on their previous analysis (and the serendipity of an open gate).
The other area seems to have a more impressive fence line. That is probably, as Ms. Beack suggests, the location of the hardened shelters with WS3 vaults. (By the way, I wish I had been as careful in my post text as I tried to be in my image captions.)
If you look at the pictures of the General Tom Hobbins visiting the 701 MUNSS at Kleine Brogel in March 2006, there are two wide-angle pictures that confirm the location of the WS3 as the area I have place-marked as A. The activists were in B.
Lt. Erline Wyseur (left) and Capt. Jason Long, 701 MUNSS, meet Gen. Tom Hobbins, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, during his unit visit March 10.
If you open up the Google Placemarks, I am pretty sure they are standing in front of the shelter marked A3, with A4 in the background.
You can see the hardened aircraft shelter, aligned at a 45 angle to the taxiway, over Hobbins’s right shoulder.
A tree line runs along the left side of the taxiway and wraps behind the shelter, before breaking to a clear view of the horizon.
Over Long’s left shoulder, there is a small clump of trees. In the high resolution image, you can also see what looks like a ditch. The obstruction visible over Hobbin’s right shoulder appears to be related to the ditch.
On the far side of the ditch, there is a small road that crosses the taxiway and it is visible over Hobbin’s right shoulder.
There is no other bunker arrangement that even looks close. Moreover, here is another shot of Hobbins at a facility about 100 meters to the north.
Chief Master Sgt. James Fleshman, 701 MUNSS, meets Gen. Tom Hobbins, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, during his unit visit March 10.
Again — this doesn’t change the fact that Belgian security turned in a woeful performance. (I am still scratching my head over the lack of guard dogs.) This was an anecdotal demonstration of something that is, as I noted before, well-documented by US officials. Moreover, it’s quite a stretch for Baeck to say that the activists “never, ever got anywhere near a sensitive area” — they were inside the wire, which is a plausible definition of “near,” and the two areas are less than two clicks from one another.
I continue to think that if the Belgian government (and other NATO governments) refuse to provide adequate security at Kleine Brogel, the weapons should be placed at US base where we will.
And a note to our Belgian friends. I was going to keep these to myself, but since Ms. Baeck decided to help out, there isn’t much point. But please don’t try to get into area A. If the Belgian security is inadequate, the SACEUR has almost certainly assigned additional US security personnel. They will most likely respond very differently than the Belgian sort you are used to.