Obscure Military Bases–Mapping the Remnants of Cold War Military Strategies and Current Worldwide Military/Intelligence Strategy
I’ve always been fascinated by the Intelligence world and the Military; over the course of my life, this fascination has become increasingly pertinent and important to have some understanding of. Looking at the news over the past 3 years, in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks, coverage of the Security State has certainly increased, but (and this is just based on my personal experience) seems to be limited to specialty documentaries, sensationalist authors writing books called things like “The Dark Fortress,” or “The Shadow Government” (I improvised those titles, and as far as I can tell no such titles exist). Apart from these more typical examples of how the media/press are covering the issue of the Security State, there are also more unusual instances, such as Trevor Paglen, who works as a visual artist, but attempts to analyze issues and concepts related to this general topic.
Looking at the immense amount of assorted research being done, and taking on the task of sorting out the conspiracy nuts from the actual researchers, I am interested in doing a project that would involve mapping a mixture of current Military installations that seem odd, or have been identified as pertinent to the current Security State (NSA, Black Sites, etc.), but also older examples of unusual Military installations or installations related to the Intelligence world. Now, naturally the word “odd” is a bit nebulous, so to clarify, this would be focused on examples of installations that might make one either laugh or shudder; I’m thinking of a more widely known installation like the Utah Data Center, wherein the NSA and other Intelligence agencies in need of large data storage will keep large data collections of, presumably, the widespread gathering from systems like PRISM, STELLAR WIND, BULL RUN, and others. Despite its ubiquity as a known example of infrastructure owned and operated by the US Government for at least slightly nefarious purposes, it still remains a fascinating case study of the new surveillance state.
Ideally, I would want to pick a handful of examples that are a bit less known; as mentioned, I would want to research both current examples and defunct examples to see which might stick out more as the interesting route to take. Somehow, based on my cursory research into the subject, the latter is seeming more tempting. As bizarre as our National Security State is today, the Cold War will pretty much always take the cake when it comes to bizarre ideas and plans being implemented by the U.S Government. But I may find that both are interesting, and that splitting it, creating a juxtaposition between currently used installations and older, now defunct, or lesser used examples, would be the route to take. This is something I’d be interested to hear feedback on, perhaps to narrow this a bit or stumble into an even more interesting project. I have to admit, I feel I’m short on the “hook” here, which is to say that the research has thus far proved amazing and the topic is exactly what I would like to do but it maybe is a bit dry or lacking some extra, sexy, unusual sort of twist? Maybe I’m just used to this topic.
Turning to the details of how I might execute this, obviously the issue of scale is important, as desiring to map Military bases leaves one with a very large area to potentially map. However, I feel that, based on maps I’ve seen thus far, there can be a sort of variety of scales used; it really depends on the amount of space around the base needed to contextualize where it is located and/or what makes it a bit unusual or “off the beaten path.” So, using the Utah Center again, one would only need to zoom out large enough on a mapping tool to get the general specs of how the area is laid out, and give some idea of how large it is and where it’s located as a geographical oddity.
I will finish with a thought of how I might put a tweak on this project, perhaps answering my nervous questions from above; mapping these bases in such a way that one might be able to show strategic locations, planned strategies, and generally demonstrate how geography is so important to the Security State might be the clever addition I need. The problem (and why I’m putting it here rather than as my plan in the body of the proposal) would be the scale issue again. One move would be to stick with the plan but just add this piece in the form of symbols or contextualizing nearby landmarks, or perhaps a brief caption (something I was planning on anyway). Just thought I’d add that to see if it helps. Here is a smattering of Bibliographic resources that are good stand-ins and/or actual examples of what I will use:
Edwards, Paul N. The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1996. Print.
Sweeney, Chris, and David Hambling. “The World’s 18 Strangest Military Bases.” Popular Mechanics. N.p., 10 June 2015. Web.
Beckhusen, Robert. “7 Obscure, Remote and Super-Geeky Military Bases.”Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 22 Feb. 2013. Web.
“10 Top Secret Military Bases the Government Doesn’t Want You to Know About.” Activist Post. N.p., 03 Mar. 2016. Web.
Reporter, Daily Mail. “Blank Spots on the Map: Almost All the U.S. Army’s Secret Military Bases across the Globe Revealed on Google and Bing.”Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 15 Dec. 2013. Web.
Paglen, Trevor. “Trevor Paglen – WORK – BLACKSITES.” Trevor Paglen :::: WORK :: BLACKSITES.
(Here’s an example of an article that I would use to locate odd military bases)
“US in Southeast Asia.” Economic and Political Weekly 11.15 (1976): 543-44. Web.
(Behind JSTOR sign-in) LINK
Some other folks have mapped military installations:
- Josh Begley: http://empire.is/
- Mishka Henner: http://mishkahenner.com/filter/works/Fifty-One-US-Military-Outposts
- Bill Rankin: http://www.radicalcartography.net/index.html?usempire