Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Speeches, Spys and Sleeping NATO

One of the first things we soldiers of 1st Battalion-70th Armor were told when we deployed to West Germany was, "Sleep NATO."

Even in the 1970s, people from Soviet-controlled nations were fleeing for the West and prosperity.  And among the immigrants were spies.  Spying is a profession with both men and women, but our leaders were mostly concerned about female spies.

Men are most likely to forget their inhibitions and talk too much when their egos are inflated and they are feeling adored and impressive.  In my work in corporate communications, I have occasionally dealt with the aftermath of a CEO or other top executive who gives a speech then answers a reporter's questions afterward saying way too much.  Once in Singapore the CEO I worked for gave a speech that got a resounding ovation in Singapore.  A reporter asked him about a plant we were building in China and our proud, happy CEO told the reporter, "Yes, it is ahead of schedule."

We had never admitted in public we were building in China.  The next day, our CEO wanted to know who had leaked the information.  He did, but post-euphoria amnesia made him forget what he said.

A female spy can do exactly the same thing by asking questions at the moment a guy rolls over on his back and smiles at the ceiling.  And he may not remember that he told the spy who just loved him when his unit will be leaving for the border.

I watched the show Alias with my family.  We also watched the series Nikita together.  Sydney Bristow of Alias (Jennifer Garner) and Nikita (Maggie Q) of the series of the same name, are both married to handsome co-stars and manage to conduct successful spy operations around the world without sleeping with their targets.

The Army never expected that of the soldiers living in Germany during the Cold War.  But the Cold War was not a family TV show.

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