reply to post by reynoldt
I had some trouble understanding question #2. Regarding question #1, there are skill sets that don't exist in the military that do exist in the
private sector. It is a bit unrealistic to expect the technical personnel (engineers, programmers, etc) and to some degree administrative personnel to
all be member of a branch of the DoD.
Much DoD work is done by civilians. For instance, lets say you want some software to analyze telemetry from a test. You can task that project to an
outside source by writing a specification and providing a data set of fake telemetry. The programmer doesn't have a clue as to what the software will
be analyzing. He does a garbage in, garbage out verification of the software. The DoD then determines if the task was met by looking at the analysis,
pays the contractor, then feeds the software real data (telemetry).
A similar thing goes on with components. That is, the DoD via a subcontractor writes a specification for a widget, and the civilian company builds
that widget, not knowing where it goes. The classic case was the altimeter for the U2. I don't recall the exact limit, but say it was 100kft. Well
nobody was flying that high or even near that altitude. So they fed the contractor some BS about the altimeter to be used in a weather balloon. [I
don't recall the source for that story, but it is either Ben Rich's autobiography or that CIA declassified report on Oxcart.]
Now eventually you reach a point where the civilians need hands-on access to the hardware or need to be present for that test flight. That is where
the civilian employees show up at Groom Lake, or even further up the food chain, the contractor such as Lockheed.
Thus at the bottom of the food chain you have contractor providing parts that they have no clue where they go. These are jobs without security
clearance. Further up the food chain you have the actual defense contractor using personnel of various clearance levels. Then you have the personnel
actually on the ground at Groom, whom I expect have a very high level clearance.
Regarding not having clearance while working for the DoD, here is a brief story. I can tell you that in the dark ages when I was at EG&G, there was a
component that needed a minor tweak. The thing was so old that the schematics were drawn by hand (versus computerized schematic capture). We actually
had some draftsmen at the facility, though schematic capture was on-line at that point in time. So I instructed the draftsman on what I changed in
the component, got an updated schematic, and sent it up the food chain. Then I get this call from the contractor asking me what the hell is a certain
mark on the schematic. I look where he says he found the mark and it was the name of the draftsman....written in Chinese script. Back then, China was
Red China, so he was making a point that he didn't like some Chinese guy seeing his schematic. Obviously this guy never visited the factory since my
boss was from Hong Kong and the test engineer was from the mainland.