Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Defcon Levels

War and the prelude to war is a common theme in writing. The reason for this is likely because people have pretty much always been fighting wars (several going on right now, not that most people would know it, at least in this country, since major media does not find war and the causalities of war as interesting as a celebrity's social life). I have seen several war movies and read books that include wars. In general it is not a genre I read often.

One thing I have encountered repeatedly in fiction is the use of DefCon levels. I find it very annoying when they are used inaccurately since it is very easy to find info on them. The three most common ways I've seen them used inaccurately are:

1. The mention of them prior to their creation in November 1959.
2. The use of them by another country that doesn't call their states of combat readiness DefCon levels using a different term entirely.
3. The most common one getting the order wrong. The correct order is:
DEFCON 5 - Normal peacetime readiness
DEFCON 4 - Increased intelligence & strengthened security
DEFCON 3 - Increase in force readiness above normal
DEFCON 2 - Further Increase in force readiness
DEFCON 1 - Maximum force readiness.

Most recently I was reading a fan written story that used them incorrectly making a big deal about DefCon 4 (nuking a US city caused it). It's not really, DefCon 4 has occurred fairly often (most of the Cold War) with most people completely unaware. Defcon 3 has happened a few times but not often (September 11 attack caused level 3). The current DefCon level is 5.

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