US soldiers reviewing their knowledge online have revealed nuclear secrets, according to an investigation released Friday, May 28, by Bellingcat. The investigation site was able to precisely locate the American thermonuclear bombs stored in Europe.
American soldiers in charge of the nuclear arsenal in Europe are regularly subjected to long and detailed security questionnaires, which obliges them to memorize a great deal of information and acronyms.
Googling for acronyms used by the U.S. military associated with the names of European military bases known to harbor nuclear missiles – even though the local government never recognized it – Bellingcat discovered online review sheets disclosing the exact location of the missiles, specifying even if they were “Active”, that is, if they were well armed with nuclear warheads.
For example, on bases where B61 airborne nuclear missiles are stored, aircraft hangars (PAS, according to the acronym) are equipped with armament securing systems (WS3) and a concrete reinforcement (vault) which can house four B61 thermonuclear bombs, says Bellingcat author Foeke Postma.
By typing in the Google search line “PAS”, “WS3” and “vault”, along with the name of a military base known to harbor nuclear weapons, the journalist was offered free file applications. reviews for students, such as Chegg, Quizlet and Cram.
Files removed from applications
The Dutch government has never officially recognized that the Volkel air base in the south-east of the country was harboring nuclear weapons. But Bellingcat discovered, on the Chegg application, 70 revision sheets concerning this database. We learn that there are 11 protective structures in Volkel, five of which are “Hot” – which means they are armed – and six “Cold”.
Other review sheets found on the Cram app reveal that at the Aviano military base in Italy, frame 27 in the “Tango Loop” area houses a missile. “Cold”. Worse, a soldier had entered, on one of these online review sheets, the passwords and usernames required to deactivate the WS3 security systems.
“We were also able to find details on (…) all other European bases known to harbor nuclear weapons: Incirlik (Turkey), Ghedi (Italy), Büchel (Germany) and Kleine Brogel (Belgium) ”, notes the investigation site, known to have unmasked agents of the GRU, Russian military intelligence, and documented the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.
These review sheets date from 2012, and the most recent was posted online in April 2021, said Foeke Postma, who said he tried, unsuccessfully, to get a reaction from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. , the Pentagon and the European Command of the United States Army for its article. The revision sheets were removed from the applications as a result of his process.