When an international incident occurs – say, a nuclear meltdown in Japan, revolution in Egypt, a SEAL raid in Pakistan, or something along those lines – the State Department knows every detail possible. How? A buzzing room of plugged-in, insomniac brains.
The State Department’s Operations Center (casually called “Ops”) was first whipped together during the Bay of Pigs invasion, when a conference room of geopolitical whizzes sat down to monitor their botched coup d’etat. It didn’t exactly help then, but the ad hoc center’s stayed together into this century, operating around the clock with its eyes and ears on diplomatic crisis zones, the Daily Beast Reports.
Although it’s not exactly James Bond stuff – most of the staff sits in cubicles with headsets, telemarketer-style – the room is never in the dark:
A far cry from the old-style phones, advanced computers and TV monitors keep a pulse on every “area of interest,” as one analyst called them. Volatile places like North Korea, Libya, and Burma are constantly monitored. Digital clocks line the wall with the local time in what are considered, at any given time, the six most sensitive places on earth. (Earlier this week those were Tripoli, Damascus, Moscow, Kabul, Islamabad, and Singapore.) Another clock keeps what’s known as “Secretary Time” to track wherever Clinton is on the planet…data trackers, advanced radio receivers and Web-based conference calling that can get anyone, anywhere, into a conference call.
Doesn’t exactly sound like a low-stress gig. The fact that the Ops team works two overnight shifts every week probably doesn’t help. [Daily Beast]