Uncovering Cold War Soviet secrets with the USAF and NSA (310)

Cold War Conversations

Tim served in the USAF and the NSA from 1975 to 1988 during some of the most tense periods of the Cold War.

This included stints at the US Air Force Electronic Warfare Center at Kelly AFB, Texas, and RAF Chicksands, in the UK working on SIGINT collection of USSR/Warsaw Pact/Other targets.

He also served as part of the Cryptologic Support Group, Strategic Air Command HQ, Offutt AFB, Nebraska providing SIGINT briefings to SAC leadership on worldwide events

In 1983 he transferred to the NSA and later GCHQ, Cheltenham, Glos 1984-1988.

We hear about how the first indications that something was amiss the morning Chernobyl reactor exploded in 1986, the day the cleaners answered the secure phone at SAC HQ, and how at GCHQ the US and British intelligence share information as part of the UKUSA Agreement.

0:00 Introduction and Tim’s background in the US Air Force

5:12 Understanding electronic warfare and data gathering at Kelly Air Force Base

16:58 Posting at RAF Chicksands in Bedford, UK, and monitoring for changes in regular patterns

25:52 The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian hostage crisis

36:19 Able Archer alerts and other instances of signals intelligence at Strategic Air Command, Nebraska

44:16 Incident of the KAL007 Korean airliner and US Navy exercise incidents

57:08 Misinterpretation during a briefing on a recon flight of TU-95 bear bombers and gathering intel on the Soviet Union

1:01:18 Constant pressure to provide intel on Soviet leadership and missile alerts during Soviet drills

1:05:34 Transition from Air Force to NSA and role at the NSA

1:14:08 Tracking Chinese air defense and transition to GCHQ

1:22:08 U.S. stance during the Falkland conflict and witnessing the Chernobyl reactor explosion

1:30:59 Anecdote about NSA bureaucracy and language proficiency test

1:34:21 Closing and thanks to supporters

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Extra episode info here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode310/

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