NORAD Santa tracking systems to eventually track real things
Command critical to national survival requests patience
NORAD, long focused on Father Christmas, now turns toward national survival
PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, COLORADO—It was a tense week for North American Aerospace Defense Command, starting with an American fighter jet shooting down a Chinese surveillance balloon after it floated across wide swathes of North America, and ending with a flurry of additional engagements against mysterious objects from northern Canada to Lake Huron. In the wake, NORAD commander, General Glen D. Vanherck, admitted the nation’s aerospace warning systems are in need of extensive upgrades.
“Obviously, we kinda dropped the ball on this,” Vanherck said during a press conference. “But we’re taking steps to ensure this kind of lapse in performance never happens again. That begins with improving our detection and tracking systems. For decades, NORAD has been optimized for the annual detection, tracking, and safe airspace deconfliction of an imaginary elf. Starting today, we will seriously consider putting resources into finding real, dangerous, objects that might happen to stray into our area of responsibility.”
Vanherck noted NORAD planners are already in discussions about which conference room might be appropriate for the effort, though progress has stalled over a debate about the number of whiteboards required. In a hopeful sign for retired colonels everywhere, multiple defense contractors have signaled their willingness to engage in a multi-decade effort likely to end in a circular finger-pointing exercise by the military-industrial complex and a farcical congressional inquiry.
Vanherck hailed the “NORAD Santa Tracker,” a system designed to follow a fictional gift-giving sprite whom a minority of the world’s population cares about for a few days each December. “Our airmen and guardians are extremely proud of the work they do once each year with the Santa tracker system-of-systems,” emphasized Vanherck. “These patriots manage a highly complex array of technologies that could accurately track the altitude, airspeed, and present-delivering rate of jolly old Saint Nick across the entire globe if he were real. This is no small task; if you saw how tall the stack of 5-inch floppy disks keeping these systems running is, you’d be asking how our servicemen — and women — can track ole Kris Kringle so well, instead of asking why we couldn’t detect a giant latex ball moving through clear skies at the pace of an old man with a walker.”
NORAD field grade officers are enthusiastic about creating a host of GS jobs
Asked why NORAD failed its core mission of protecting North America’s airspace, Vanherck at first demurred. “First off, it’s great to see so many reporters here,” he said during the press conference. “The airmen and guardians stationed here spend most of their time just reminding their families and friends that NORAD still exists and telling them to watch War Games if they want to know what we really do. Secondly, you all might question the military utility of tracking a kindly and admittedly fictional spirit across the world. But just think about the possibilities. Santa notionally transits the whole planet in just a few hours at velocities approaching the speed of light, in an aerial vehicle with apparently infinite cargo capacity and an inexhaustible fuel source, and has eluded detection by billions of people over the course of two millennia. If Santa were real, and we could crack those currently imaginary secrets, it would be a game-changer for the American aerospace industry, and probably allow me to retire into a job that didn’t involve just staring at these god-forsaken hills every day.”
Vanherck said upgrading NORAD’s systems requires a phased research and development approach. “Phase I will focus on the detection and interception of completely defenseless and slow-moving objects like balloons since clearly, that’s the closest alligator to the boat. Once we’ve solved that knotty engineering problem, we’ll move to phase II—tracking and intercepting faster-moving targets that might have the very unsportsmanlike capability of shooting back. Then, in phase III, we’ll see what we can do about stopping supersonic munitions carrying payloads that could wipe out entire cities. Boy, if our adversaries ever made something like that, we’d be screwed. NORAD ain’t got shit to stop those things. I’m just being honest here.”
The man tasked with the survival of the United States of America ended the press conference on an optimistic note, stating that while NORAD had a long way to go in protecting the continent from real-world threats, it had contingencies for nearly every conceivable imaginary enemy. “I’d put our Galaga players up against any in the world. Truly elite-level performance. Americans can sleep soundly at night knowing our joystick operators are more than ready to defend them if a Boss Galaga ever rears its ugly head.”
Kay Too Ess Ohhhhh finds your excuses vague and unconvincing.