PHD #053: Shoulders and Their Nuclear Payloads
Shoulders and Their Nuclear Payloads
Summary: Tillman goes over nuclear launch protocols with Kulko and offers a choice.
Date: 21 Apr 2041 AE
Related Logs: Uhh
Kulko Tillman 
PriGuns / Faux CIC
Room desc goes here!
Post-Holocaust Day: #53

Cerberus' newest Lieutenant is not in his usual place, staring at the hypnotic swirl of the DRADIS readout. Rather, he occupies the ECM station, having apparently relieved the enlisted technician for the time being. Faux-CIC is quiet on the whole, with the empty space around the Battlegroup blissfully quiet.

Tillman makes his way into CIC, rubbing gently at his arm. Eyes move over the group and he spots Kulko, slowly adjusting his route to take him towards the new Lieutenant. "Mister Kulko. Learning new skills?" he asks with an easy smile as he stops at the coffee machine.

"Practicin' old ones, sir." Kulko answers nonchalantly. "Crewman… aw, frak, I forgot his name. Anyhow, he was fallin' asleep in the chair, so I figured I could stand watch and brush up on my ECM ops one and the same."

"Watch your words, Lieutenant," Tillman chides gently as he glances to the man while he pours himself a mug. "Anyhow, pick your butt up because we've got a few things to go over. Your promotion changes a few things and we need to get a couple situations straightened out." The XO takes his mug of coffee over towards the makeshift plotting table.

Kulko sets the station to as automated as it gets, given the Colonials aversion to that sort of thing, and rises quickly. "Sorry, sir," he offers, heading for the table. "You're right about that much - findin' there's more than a lil… scrutiny? Naw. Hostility, almost. From the Viper jocks, at least. They got all shot up, and I got a promotion."

"Understandable. But that's part of it, Lieutenant. How you handle the situation and explain why is part of how you learn to deal with complex situations. When you finish out your tenure in training, if you have to speak for myself and the Admiral, then its important to be able to adjust to that dynamic. After all, we don't promote based on kill counts or the ability to command a wing of pilots. That's the CAG's job." Tillman lets that sink in as he watches the young man over the other side of his mug. "Now, two primary things. First, we need to get you educated on nuclear launch protocols. Second, we need to discuss getting you Watching Qualified for combat operations." Meaning, commanding the ship during an engagement. "I'll let you pick what you want to go over first."

"This about those nukes we picked up at Parnassus? Or our onboard complement?" Kulko queries, taking a moment to find himself a mug and pouring himself some engine grease, black. "Or both? Might as well start there."

Tillman nods and takes on a more serious tone. "Both. As you know, this ship has twelve space-launched nuclear-loaded missiles. They have their own silos and those missiles have only one purpose. They are never to be tampered with or even fixed without the express consent of both myself and the Admiral. Now, each missile contains six fission-fusion thermonuclear warheads. These warheads are independently targetable re-entry vehicles that can be employed against terran or zero-G targets. Their payloads are adjustable prior to launch and have yields that vary from seven-hundred fifty kilotons to fifty megatons." Tillman looks about as serious as he's ever gotten. "The tactical nuclear warheads we pulled off of Parnassus are fifty kiloton weapons designed for fleet-sized engagements. The strategic nuclear weapons we carry in the tubes are generally too large and too slow for most fleet engagements."

Kulko works on the coffee as Tillman explains, nodding periodically. "Unless we could get a target dead'n the water." Thankfully the other man, as a Canceran, should get the reference. "Or it were a station, or whatnot. We ever thought about cannibalizin' the big'uns and retrofittin' em? I mean… we could get seventy two tactical nukes, if we broke 'em all down."

"If we have a target dead in the water, so to speak, we're use conventional arms. Besides, just one of our strategic weapons is far too powerful to take down a single target. The basis for naval warfar is to damage the ship and cause fires so that the fires will spread to Tylium tanks - which when they do, the whole ship will generally explode with the force of a nuclear blast. That's why its so critical that we don't expose the belly of the ship during engagements." The XO takes another sip. "Cannibalizing the strategic weapons is not an option. Past testing about putting nuclear payloads in the deck guns has shown that the payloads become unstable and ineffective because the guns are simply too powerful. They fizzle and can even cause unpredictable yields in that state. That's assuming the warheads could even fit into our gun batteries." Tillman reaches for a book under the shelf and hefts it out to settle on the table. 'Watch Officer Protocols'. "Chapter Eight deals with our procedures for nuclear release, but I'll give you the overview right now if you'd prefer?" The Major's face is stone, an impassable mask of marble that only moves enough so that he might talk. Those eyes don't move from Kulko's.

"Might help put things'n context when I'm readin' the full text, yeah," Kulko replies, glancing towards the book for a few moments before meeting Tillman's heavy gaze. "And… have there been any changes, seein' as how the inter-Colonial political situation is all fra… topsy-turvy?"

Tillman watches the man for what he almost says. "I let a lot of things slide as an Ensign, Kulko, but you're going to have to leave some of that out of CIC." The words aren't said loudly, though they carry enough volume to convey the severity of what he's talking about. "But yes. Typically, the nuclear weapons of the fleet were under a positive control policy that resided with the President of the Twelve. Since we no longer have a political body to consent or take such orders from, control of these weapons resides with myself and the Admiral to employ as we need. I do not take this responsibility with any kind of humor or cavalier attitudes. Nor does Abbot. Nor will we tolerate it." His flat voice doesn't waver a bit. "Now, proper protocol will obviously differ from the book because orders must come in and be triple confirmed via communications and a Watch Officer outside of Command Staff. The new policy is this: One of us, either the Executive Officer or the Commanding Officer, will give the order. The order must be vocally and loudly confirmed by myself or consented to similarly by the Admiral. At which point, a third officer from Tactical - such as yourself - will repeat the order." He holds up three fingers. "Three levels of confirmation for nuclear release are required. No less. Any questions so far?"

Kulko shakes his head, setting down the mug beside the book. "No… well, one, sir. Does it matter if the order comes from you or the Skipper, first? Or will it always come top down?" A pause. "And what kind of situations are we talkin 'bout, here? If these are strategic weapons, are we…" Kulko lowers his voice, at this. "Are we talkin' bout if we figure out where the toast— Cylons are based out of, we give em an eye for an eye?"

Alright, so maybe more than one question.

Tillman shakes his head. "I can give the order, or request permission for the order. No matter what, the Admiral -must- consent or give the order himself. I will not accept anyone else. If the Admiral is physical unable to give the order, then it will come from me and I will seek order confirmation by another ranking officer in CIC. After that, a third will still have to repeat the order. A similar situation would occur if I am unable to confirm or give the order. Three levels. Always. As for situations?" The Major shakes his head. "I can't say. If we find their home, I'll be seeking their employment, though. But there are too many variable situations out there that are too dynamic. The employment of these weapons is too important and risky to make blanket statements." His voice lowers. "Like if we have to employ them against the Colonies." More than likely that's said in confidence. What's said in CIC.. Stays in CIC. "Anything else before I continue?"

Kulko, who had been looking at the plotting table while absorbing the logistics, looks up sharply at the mention of the Colonies. He shakes his head. "No, sir," he answers without hesitation.

"After the order is repeated for the third time, the Admiral and I will remove our missile keys. The Admiral will issue orders for a strike package to be input into the launch computers, which will be done by the Tactical Officer - which could potentially be you. Even before you finish out your training." A pause to let those words linger in the Lieutenant's mind. "Once the package data is entered, it is sent to Weps. To this very station. The orders are confirmed and the missile keys are inserted into the plotting table. Both keys must be turned at the exact same instant. Doing that unlocks nominal control of the missile's firing and it is given to Weps, who follows his own procedures I won't detail. But, he removes a firing trigger from that locker on the wall." Tillman gestures to an unassuming metal box in plain view of the entire room, a set of three locks securing it. "Once Weps has positive control, he or she fires on Command's orders. Weps is locked out of the targeting package, as well. Once the orders are given, Marines are stationed in this room to ensure that Weps completes the firing procedures." Tillman looks like he might be finished. "Questions or clarifications?"

Kulko exhales, long and hard. Follows Tillman's gesture to the box, having never noticed it before. This time, he is genuine in his response. "No, sir."

The XO nods sternly. "Alright. If you ever need some of this clarified, you ask me right away. I want to make sure you're well-aware of what is required. Now, if something happens to the Admiral or I, then we will appoint someone else to Command Staff to handle this part. If something ever happens to both the Admiral and I, Lieutenant, then Major Hahn is next in line for command. She will need to be briefed on procedures and consent as it currently is only held by myself and immediate Tactical staff." Tillman pushes the book across the table to Kulko. "Details and systems knowledge are all in here. But..moving along." The mug of coffee gets a sip before being settled back down on the table. "I want to get you combat qualified as soon as possible. Normally, fleet regulations state that nobody under the rank of a full Lieutenant may command a battlestar in a combat situation. I'm willing to waive those regulations, Mister Kulko." The XO is no less serious. "But I want you to think long and godsdamned hard about accepting that responsibility. Men and women who stand watch on these carriers in combat will decide the fate of all twenty-eight hundred souls aboard - which is entirely half of what's left of this race." The Major's jaw sets as he bores holes into Kulko's head. "I want an answer right now, do you think you can handle that yet or do you want more time. Yes, you start training right now. No, we continue working on your education with planning operations." He doesn't look like he wants to wait long. And by long, that's probably a time less than three seconds.

Kulko doesn't immediately look up, or answer. He takes almost ten seconds to look at the book, extra special closely - as if the answers to just how to deal with the burden Tillman describes are somewhere inside. Or, preferably, on the cover. "I'd be lyin' if I said I knew what I was gettin' into when I took Tactics as a concentration," Kulko muses quietly, mind wandering back to those early days on Picon. "But then, none of us did, yeah?" He shifts his stance, feet under shoulders as if to brace himself. Looks up to Tillman. "Gods put me here for a reason. A'won't let you down, sir. Clear eyes. Full heart."

Eyes nover moving from Kulko, the Major waits while Kulko looks to the book and then speaks. At the end, he nods. "Fair enough. We'll be shelving your operational planning for awhile and getting you focused on warfighting." Another gesture to the book. "You've seen it before. Read it. But nobody is ready to standing combat watch until after the real thing. But you can bet we'll be trying to simulate it." The XO glances around, eventually settling back on Kulko. "Once we're back in CIC we'll be running drills on you. We will have a fully manned and staffed CIC and I will be observing while you make combat decisions and react to fluid situations. You will be graded and it will be harsh. If you don't pass, we'll start again from square one. Now, having said that, this will qualify you for command of a naval vessel. Be ready for that. You'll need to be versed in quite a few areas so I don't expect perfect off the start. But within a few weeks I want you ready to deal with some of the harder simulations. Understood?"

Kulko clasps his hands at the small of his back as Tillman lets loose the battery of What Is to Come. "Supposin' this will be different from the sims on Picon, then?"

"Yes. As far as I know, the Navy never had the facilities to accommodate this." Tillman reaches for his mug and takes a sip. "We'll be pulling together the entire CIC, as well as Damage Control, other Department Heads, and utilizing the Command Staff from both the Praetorian and Corsair. When we conduct your final exam I will see about conducting a live-fire exercise. And while this all might sound interesting - you aren't going ot enjoy it. Nobody ever does. You've also got age and experience working against you. Thus, I'll be using that against you in your exercises." The Major folds his hands behind his back and focuses on the new Lieutenant again. "We have tactical manuals here in CIC and down there in the library. Ignore strike operations and all that for now. Focus on fleet engagements and employment of forces. Questions?"

Kulko breaks his pose to reach out and claim the manual. It joins his hands behind his back. "Learn how to kill without dyin'. Got it."

"That's the goal. The most important thing to keep in mind in all this? We are all that's left. Use that mindset to temper your actions and decisions. People are our most precious resource and they must be guarded. Even the Air Wing and Marines. Every loss is a slice at our fleet that can never be healed." The Major holds the Lieutenant's gaze for another moment before glancing to DRADIS. "Get some studying done and we'll start your exercises soon. Dismissed, Lieutenant."

Kulko snaps off a downright enthusiastic salute, holds it for a long few moments, then turns for the hatch. There's work to be done.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License