Created: 6/1/1967

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible


TITLE: Spy Mission To Montana

AUTHOR: Walcer W. Romig




A coliociion ol articles on the hislorical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol Intelligence.

All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence axe those of the authors They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of Ihe Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting oi implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.

Simulation of assumed enemu effort to plot Minuteman sua positions.


As the flight out of Salt Lake City headed northward toward Butte and Croat Falls, the three of us viewed the desolate salt wastes aod changing surface patterns below with due gcomorphologtca) respect but also with some apprehension. Our mission during the next ten days would take us into the equally strange and sparsely settled terrain cast of the Rockies in Montanainuteman missile complex was being Installed. We were about toround survey of Minuteman sites, making hurried observations with small geodetic instruments suchovert agent might use to ascertain more or less precisely their locations.

The time was late in Julyhortly before tbe first missile was placed in its silo east of Great Falls. The world bad already heard the USSR's trumpeting of the "pin-point accuracy" of its ICBMs 'anywhere in then fact, it was important then, as now, for the Soviet as well as. missilcmen to identify, assess, and if feasible reduce the many sources of error and uncertainty that make it quite impossible to achieve "pin-pointne uncertainty that can be responsible for an appreciable partissile's miss distance concerns the precise position of the target on its local geodetic datum.

The locations of topographic and cultural features in any area of interest can ordinarily be obtained from existing large-scale maps, say the. topographic map series at0issile launch siles, however, are purposely excluded from these. The Soviets, consequently, though they presumably have in hand the best large-scale maps and geodetic data covering the United States, can obtain the coordinates of missile sites only by determining, through photography or direct observation, their positions with ref-

the malmstrom minuteman uunch complex in montana showing the three scales of topographical map covfrage)

7 Cia


Fievni 1

1ouM also get tbe boundaries of the sites by searching county Hue records and then locate the iflos within these boundaries by ohscrvsuon or byngineering drawings for the uutallinons <marked merely Official Useinerimentstion with this method yielded results witfaiu about the mine range of accuracy as the field observations heroin described. But itethod lew biely to boiew of tbe nslc of agent espcoure, sinceoarrb of land recced* would be reported by the county to the AH Force and (he searcher subjected to mvesbgaOoD.

crcnce to rtcighboring features that are shown on iheur simulation of possible clandestine Geld observations was intended to reveal how well the USSR could by such means place the sites on US. maps and so drtenrune their coordinates on the North American Datum

Mission lo Monlona


Official Help

The survey by our three-man (earn, two from CIA and one from Army Map Service, had been laid on by agreement between CIA and the Strategic Air Commandst Strategic Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base near Creat Falls. On arrival at Malrnstjorn we reported to tbe Deputy Commander of the Site Activation Task Force and discussed with bimew other officers of the com-mand our planned procedures.ew at Malmstrom were witting of our mission, and the simulution of covert activity called for us to avoid recognition and toar in Butte to use during

The Boeing oompariy, the prime contractor for construction of the complex, was still mainly responsible for security; none of the sites had been officially turned over to tbe Air Force. We were briefed on the security measures in effect It seemed quite probable that our unscheduled and furtive use of surveying instruments in the vicinity of the sites might arouse someone's suspicion to the point of challenge. Just what the security response might be was both of special interest to the Air Force and of personal concern to the three of us. At least we were given badges authorizing our presence around tlie complex that wo could use in the event of detention by local police or Boeing security patrols.

The Malmstrom Minuteman complex embraces an area of morequare miles in central Montana, fromiles westiles east of Great Falls {seehe land surface within the area is generally rolling and unforested, with scrub-covered buttes oo the horizon in the west The complex was planned to accommodate the deployment of ISO mis riles in hardened silos; these were grouped intolights, each havingissile sites situatedontrol center. Individual sites were spaced Sve to eight miles apart and connected by underground communications lines to their control centers.

We werereliminary rccoonaissaocc by helicopter over portions of the complex where we planned to make observations. Wc accepted on the grounds that this would give us no real advantageoviet agent, who could use the contmercial flights in and out of Creat Falls which traverse the launch complex at fairly tow level. The air reconnaissance proved very helpful in showing us some

standard characteristics of the sites and enabling us to anticipate some problems we would encounter in making observations from roadsides in various types of terrain.

Some characteristics stemmed from criteria used in the original selection of theto well-surfaced existing roads,from populated places, and suitability of soil and terrain for deep construction. They were often on low lulls below the crest, for drainage and perhaps some blast protection. Theyeet from existing roads in order to minim (re new road construction, but in several instances the access roads were moreeet long. -Ihe'curves in these had to be1 ot'large radius to accommodate the missile delivery van.

The sites were all two to three acres in area, rectangular with the longer dimension running north and south, and fenced against human or animal intrusion. The arrangement of the concrete emplacements within the sites was uniforrn at all, with the silo to the south and west ofonspicuous feature was two commercial power poles, onearge transformer, at the edge of each enclosure (see

The Survey: Planetable

We began our field survey on the day after the helicopter Sight. In the course of eight days we travelediles in our rented car and made observations at more thanites, concentrating oo those that were farthest along in construction. We csiimatedample of this size would be large enough to determine the error characteristic of different methods of observation and different scales of map. Small portions of the area had been mapped0 andhird of itone inch to theut the largest scale available for the remaining two-thirds. Our,two jpdependepLcax^fge^^si,elescopic alidade and planctable to draw tines of position, and second, measuring bearing anglesrunton compass from observation points referenced by readings from the car odometer. Two of us worked with the instruments while the third man drove the car. roade odometer readings, took photographs of the sites, and kept watch for approaching cars.

The telescopic alidade ismall telescope mountedarallel straight-edge, by which the line from observer to sighted target can be markedap on the planctable. We decided to makeonsistent practice to sight upon the transformer pole whether at short or long range, since other features of the site were often hidden by intervening terraua. Tlie car was slowed down as weite to give us time to select favorable observation points. These bad to be identifiable onroadstream or rail crossings of the road, or juncturesection lineoad, but .sometimes points fixed by odometer readings from such junctions.ypical observation stop lhe planctable was quickly set up by the roadside, leveled, and aligned with the road so lhat the map on it was correctly oriented.areful sighting upon the transformerine of position was drawn on the map through tlie observation point

At least two such lines of position were of course required, from different observation points; generally three or four were obtained for each site unless intervening terrain cut off further possibilities. The fix deternuhed by the intersection of the lines of position was always plotted in the field beforeite When there were only two such lines, odometer readingsisual estimate of the distance from the country road to the site helped in plotting the 6x.

The alidade method worked satirfactorily with maps on the plane-table atnchile or larger. The observer always found it frustrating when the best available map was at.

We took reasonable precautions to avoid suspicion. We did not refrain from rrutlting observations in frontite just because men were at work there on the surface, but we tried to limit our time at any observation point to ten minutes, and we always waited for an approaching vehicle to pass us before getting apparatus out of the car. Local inliabitants were curious at times about what wc were doing there, possibly more because of how it might affect them and

The Bmnton Compass

This instrumentocket-sized transit equippedompass needleircular scale for reading horizontal angles, that is the bearing of any object on which it is sighted. Our observations with it entailed much the same procedures as with the telescopic alidade except that the rawmeasurements aod positionin the field were not reduced until weeks later after our return to Washington. The Brunton was attachedollapsible tripod and carried assembled in the cor. At identifiable roadside stops it would be set up and leveled and then usually sighted successively upon the transformer poleemote segment of the road. The angular difference between the road and pole bearings, later laid out from the roadap, wouldine of position for the pole. Usually more lines of position were obtained by this method than with the telescopic alidade. The Brunton was used at all stops and was particularly suited for close-in observations from points on either side of the access road. At distances greaterile the sighting was too uncertain to be reliable.

Although most of the Brunton measurements were thus of angle differences independent of magnetic declination, some, for instance when road bearing was equivocal, were based upon compass direction at the point of observation. The magnetic declination in the area could be read from maps, and the value applicable at any point could be obtained by interpolation. This value, moreover, was regularly checked along long straight stretches of road.

Angles were measured oo the Brunton to the nearest half degree. Setting up tbe instrument, sighting it, and recording the anglesbetween five and ten minutes. Because it was most effective at close range, this method required more odometer readings than

Mission lo /Von'ono

the telescopic alidade. Odometernterpolated lo trie nearest fifty feet, were taken at all road intersections in the vicinityite at stream crossings, and at the point in the county road directly in frontite. The odometer had been checked for accuracy between roads of known one-mile separation.


At stops for food and lodging in the course of tlie eight-day survey we ran several times into members of the Airt Ceodetic Survey Squadron. (Not wishing to be queried regarding ourwe refrained from conversation withhey wereinrecise geodetic determination of missileions relative to the North American Datumeodetic control had previously been extended to the general vicinity of the sites from existing trianguUtion points by. Coast and Ceodetic Survey. As the sites neared completiont CSS was extending the horizontal control from theS triangulation points to tlw axes of the silos.

The official detcrmmaoon of the geodetic coordinates of the silos was thus made byt CSS. and it was with their results that we would compare our own in order to ascertain the errors in our hasty observations. This comparison could not be made until months after our return to Washington, when we had completed our plotting of fixes for the Brunton observations andt CSS had completed its data reduction for the sites we visited.

Inherent errors in the mapsubstantial portion oi the error in our fixing of site locations. All maps, regardless of scale, contain cartographic mors. Symbols arc exaggerated to achievethe crowding of symbols in congested areas necessitates some shift from true position; and every measured distance is affected by draftsman's skill, by paper shrinkage, and by alignment of the printing registry. Cartographic error runs toeet on well-made maps atnd toeet on thosef other major sources of error, we calculated inaccuracy in plotting Exes, also dependent on map scale, at about two-thirds again as largeeet at. Observational errorsraneet regardless of map scale.

The deviation in the geodetic positrons of the silos as determined by our survey from those delwinincd byt CSS was as follows for areas mapped at the two principal scales (this total error is not

Minron lo Montano

the sum of contributions from (he various sources but the square root of the sum of their squares):


Enur in (eel

ercent auurancef all rue* within

this range of erroe)

90 percent ii nuance {nine-ten thi ofthu

; The observalional component of these ranges of error could without doubt have been considerably reduced by repeating observations many

| times and averaging.

The Brunt on compass method gave slightly better results than the telescopic alidade. Certainly the Brunton seemed, because of its

' compactness, case of operation, and easy concealment, more like the kind of instrumentovert agent would employ.

In estimating Soviet capability to. launch sites by such

; methods, there are other considerations that have to be taken into account. We found that many new roads had beeo constructed in

; the area, not shown on the latest printings. topographic maps. The covert agent would have to have some knowledge of geodesy and mapmaklng to assimilate such recent changes. By and large,oviet clandestine surface operation, by making repeatedshould be able to locate the sites within approximately the magnitudes of error indicated above.

Our field trip ended without mishap. Although we thought onoccasions that our car was being followed, no one ever stopped us for questioning. The fact that the contractor still had responsibility for security in the area, with the primary concern of protecting his materials from theft, probably accounted for our being unmolested. As our plane headed eastward from Croat Kails at the end of theellow passenger, an employee on the construction project, remarked that several people down there at the sites had been shot, presumably because the local inhabitants sometimes resentedon their property. This information vindicated, as the last missile site dwindled from our view, the premonitory sense of danger with which we had approached the ten-day Montana venture and left us relieved that our survey was over.

Original document.

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