Locating military personnel

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Locating military personnel

    I have a civilian character helping a supposed soldier. He tells her of someone he served with in a specific regiment/special ops unit and she needs to verify this account by checking to see if the soldier/regiment exists - is there a way to do this? I can't see the US army freely dishing out such information over the phone to random strangers.

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Re: Locating military personnel

    Most military records for regular military personnel exist either on paper or on microfilm. They are not available to view online, typically, and that’s for “ordinary” servicemembers.

    When you add a variable such as Special Forces or Special Operations—“Operators”—the chances are slim to none of discovering or verifying any of those service members’ identities. If a mission is supposed to be non-attributable to a given nation, those who participate in the mission don’t wear their name tags on their battle-dress uniforms—nor do they wear their dog tags—in case of photographs, capture, or death.

    In the case of the killing of Osama bin Laden, there were two Navy SEALs who later “went public” and made claims as to who shot bin Laden dead. Both SEALs were retired at the time they made these claims, but that did not absolve them of their obligation to remain silent. One gave an anonymous interview to Esquire magazine in 2012, while the other made a differing claim in his book No Easy Day, stating it was the point man who shot and killed bin Laden. The SEAL who gave the Esquire interview was later outed by a website when the website discovered he wanted to announce his claim in a television interview (in 2014).

    The Pentagon would neither confirm nor deny either man’s account of the events of that mission and sent a letter to all Navy SEALs urging them not to divulge details and to “to comply with their code of silence about operational details, including avoiding taking "public credit".”

    "We do not abide wilful or selfish disregard for our core values in return for public notoriety and financial gain," they wrote. As to how much the military wishes to keep classified its tactics and personnel, in 2012, several members of SEAL Team 6 were disciplined for working as paid consultants on a video game.

    Names of other members of U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (also known as DEVGRU or SEAL Team Six) on the bin Laden mission remain classified.

    All this to let you know you’ll have to let your female character find out the information she needs by using a reunion photo from Facebook or a device like that to make your story function or be plausible. She’ll get little to no help from official channels, and they move too slowly anyway.

    Here’s a fun movie to watch related to “black ops” training: Basic (2003). Check it out for the well-crafted reversals leading up to its stellar twist ending.



    SEAL Team 6 Source: “Osama Bin Laden killing: US Navy Seals row over shooting
    Last edited by TigerFang; 07-22-2020, 05:26 PM.
    "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Locating military personnel

      Big help, thanks.

      The film looks good, I'll check it out.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Locating military personnel

        Thought up another way that might work for you:

        Presumably, the character your main character is verifying has been battle-torn and needed health or psychiatric care courtesy of Uncle Sam.

        One way your main character might gather more information on her target is to employ a hacker to track the VA medical healthcare records for the character she's verifying.

        Put it on the hacker. She hires the hacker, the hacker delivers the information she needs. Stop. Apparently, anyone can do this.

        https://www.bankinfosecurity.com/va-...-abroad-a-5814

        Even if it's not standard operating procedure for the character’s military unit and other military information to be associated with his medical file (FYI, it isn't), most people would not know that or think it odd in a government/military environment.

        So, then, this is where your ”artistic license” comes into play; you fabricate a credible loophole through which she can withdraw the information she needs to advance the story’s chess pieces until the heroine says ”Checkmate.”
        Last edited by TigerFang; 07-22-2020, 08:07 PM.
        "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Locating military personnel

          I hadn't thought of Facebook (durrr....) but had thought of the hacking option, which makes me cringe due to its convenience. Also, we're talking about hacking into military systems here so I presume that's not only difficult but off-putting due to the risk of comeback.

          No health concerns - just the need to investigate a good old conspiracy.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Locating military personnel

            Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post
            I hadn't thought of Facebook (durrr....) but had thought of the hacking option, which makes me cringe due to its convenience. Also, we're talking about hacking into military systems here so I presume that's not only difficult but off-putting due to the risk of comeback.

            No health concerns - just the need to investigate a good old conspiracy.
            Not to quibble here, but it’s not hacking into military computers, it’s hacking into the V.A. healthcare computer records. It’s non-military and hardly classified (but confidential, by law). Maybe the veteran in question—the character your main character needs to verify—has a psychological problem; that would be in there. It would give him a unique dimension and a chance for some actor to have fun with it.
            "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Locating military personnel

              Here' a bit more info for you. Amnesiac protag tells reporter he is a soldier and has memories of being on active duty with his squad. She's intrigued but wary as he could just be a loon. He recalls one person in particular due to them standing out (physicality and/or nickname) and gives these details to the reporter, which she wants to check out and, ideally, locate this other soldier to verify all what the protag has told her. She finds him, meets up with him and finds the answer she's looking for. For the sake of the story, she needs to accept what this guy tells her when she meets up with him so he's got to be believable, not mentally damaged.

              Best way to try and locate this guy?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Locating military personnel

                Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post
                Here' a bit more info for you. Amnesiac protag tells reporter he is a soldier and has memories of being on active duty with his squad. She's intrigued but wary as he could just be a loon. He recalls one person in particular due to them standing out (physicality and/or nickname) and gives these details to the reporter, which she wants to check out and, ideally, locate this other soldier to verify all what the protag has told her. She finds him, meets up with him and finds the answer she's looking for. For the sake of the story, she needs to accept what this guy tells her when she meets up with him so he's got to be believable, not mentally damaged.

                Best way to try and locate this guy?
                Maybe the guy could locate the reporter, after her clumsy attempts to identify him set off a red flag. For instance, she could go to the VA and ask for info... which she wouldn't get. The VA Admin watches her exit, picks up the phone.

                Why doesn't the reporter take the amnesiac to the VA? If he's a vet, then he might get treatment (which he otherwise might not be able to afford). That could also set off a red flag, alerting the mysterious soldier.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Locating military personnel

                  Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post
                  Here' a bit more info for you. Amnesiac protag tells reporter he is a soldier and has memories of being on active duty with his squad. She's intrigued but wary as he could just be a loon. He recalls one person in particular due to them standing out (physicality and/or nickname) and gives these details to the reporter, which she wants to check out and, ideally, locate this other soldier to verify all what the protag has told her. She finds him, meets up with him and finds the answer she's looking for. For the sake of the story, she needs to accept what this guy tells her when she meets up with him so he's got to be believable, not mentally damaged.

                  Best way to try and locate this guy?
                  Twitter, the new Facebook. She posts a photo of her amnesiac informant and asks if anyone served with him. This tips off everyone remotely interested in what your reporter is up to and on a global scale.
                  Last edited by TigerFang; 07-24-2020, 01:19 PM.
                  "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Locating military personnel

                    Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post
                    Here' a bit more info for you. Amnesiac protag tells reporter he is a soldier and has memories of being on active duty with his squad. She's intrigued but wary as he could just be a loon. He recalls one person in particular due to them standing out (physicality and/or nickname) and gives these details to the reporter, which she wants to check out and, ideally, locate this other soldier to verify all what the protag has told her. She finds him, meets up with him and finds the answer she's looking for. For the sake of the story, she needs to accept what this guy tells her when she meets up with him so he's got to be believable, not mentally damaged.

                    Best way to try and locate this guy?
                    I'd go the social media route because it's probably the most believable. We're all aware how state and institutional security counts for nought when vain and egocentric individuals are free to post online whatever they fancy when they're drunk and alone.

                    How about having the reporter first try checking official sources online without any luck. But then an auto email from LinkedIn pops up saying that one of their friends has joined. The reporter thinks "aha!" and she enters the second soldier's name into LinkedIn and finds him mentioned in a third soldier's profile because they once did some security work or other business together. She then Googles the third soldier's name and finds his Facebook/Twitter page that has an old post/tweet of a selfie photo (with nicknames) which shows the protagonist's squad on a tour of duty. That could confirm the truth of the protagonist's story, but without the reporter needing to meet the second soldier.

                    BTW, maybe you'd find something useful by looking at Bellingcat's methods of investigative journalism, research, fact checking and open-source intelligence.
                    Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                    "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Locating military personnel

                      Originally posted by Crayon View Post
                      I'd go the social media route because it's probably the most believable. We're all aware how state and institutional security counts for nought when vain and egocentric individuals are free to post online whatever they fancy when they're drunk and alone.

                      How about having the reporter first try checking official sources online without any luck. But then an auto email from LinkedIn pops up saying that one of their friends has joined. The reporter thinks "aha!" and she enters the second soldier's name into LinkedIn and finds him mentioned in a third soldier's profile because they once did some security work or other business together. She then Googles the third soldier's name and finds his Facebook/Twitter page that has an old post/tweet of a selfie photo (with nicknames) which shows the protagonist's squad on a tour of duty. That could confirm the truth of the protagonist's story, but without the reporter needing to meet the second soldier.

                      BTW, maybe you'd find something useful by looking at Bellingcat's methods of investigative journalism, research, fact checking and open-source intelligence.
                      These two suggestions—the social media trail and Bellingcat’s—seem very good, SundownInRetreat. What say you?
                      "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Locating military personnel

                        Originally posted by TigerFang View Post
                        These two suggestions-the social media trail and Bellingcat's-seem very good, SundownInRetreat. What say you?
                        Ssssshhh! Maintain radio silence. I guess Sundown has gone deep undercover. Or has been renditioned.
                        Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                        "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Locating military personnel

                          I don't think social media would work in the context of the story as she's trying to keep a low profile from authorities. I'm also not convinced by the deus ex machina of it. I'll check out Bellingcat, thanks.

                          Comment

                          Working...
                          X