FORT MEADE, Md. — Chaos erupted this week at U.S. Cyber Command’s Joint Operations Center when, while conducting routine internal training, Air Force 2nd Lt. David Larson inexplicably deleted the State of Alaska. Sirens blared and red emergency lights flooded the JOC shortly after Larson demonstrated on a projection screen “a neat trick” he taught himself from his laptop.
“Every week, we have someone conduct some training to the Floor [the collective workspace for JOC personnel],” explained Master Sgt. Julian Vargas, pausing for a moment from shouting commands to staff running frantically across the operations area. “I thought for sure he was going to show some stupid gif import thing in Powerpoint.”
“But before I even knew what was going on, we all watched him highlight Alaska on a map that I’ve never even seen before. Then it was gone. Just—gone.”
“Holy shit,” he muttered, then ran back into the frenzied mix of personnel rushing back and forth between various computer stations.
“Most people don’t know what it is we really do here,” explained the clearly flustered Chief of Operations, Col. Charles Thune. “We have a lot of capabilities that are highly classified, and, oh man, I hope we have backups somewhere.”
Lt. Larson was both apologetic and defensive. “I feel really bad, but seriously, how was I supposed to know how easy it was to delete an entire state?” he asked. “I didn’t realize I could get into the Special Access programs and now I’m wondering if I just deleted Alaska or if I might have also taken out—”
“Hey,” he asked, “you guys have clearances, right?”
At press time, Alaska was still reportedly gone. “We’re lucky that Alaska is in peak salmon season right now,” said Col. Thune. “It’s normal for Alaska to drop off the grid during this time. But if we don’t get the state back soon, people are going to notice.”