President Obama and the Pentagon are creating a new branch of the armed forces, a cyber unit specializing in computer warfare. They will be trained to defend the nation’s computer systems against hackers, saboteurs and spies, and also to attack the computer systems of our enemies, thus disrupting their military communication and/or financial stability. Finally, a military position for the nation’s geeks! Armchair nerd warriors have been practicing their entire socially-challenged lives for just such an opportunity! Already there are CIA geeks in Nevada operating the unmanned Predator Drones in faraway Afghanistan that blow up houses and cars full of terrorists with pinpoint accuracy. Imagine the possibilities of an entire branch of the service manned by computer nerds and hackers?

They could steal the identities of people like Osama bin Laden, taking out bogus second mortgages on his caves, buying flat screen televisions, luxurious vacations and cars with his credit cards, stealing his ATM pin code and emptying his checking account, thus ruining his finances and making it  impossible for Al Qaeda to finance further terrorist activities. These official hackers could penetrate the computer systems of the North Korean army and reset their rocket coordinates so that the next time they decide to test fire a rocket it hangs a U-turn and goes after Kim Jong Ill. 

Imagine the snarky snickering that will go on in Geek HQ when they hack into the computer servers in Iran and flood them with pornographic photo-shopped images of the head mullahs having 3-ways with both boys and girls. Or better yet, goats. And the next time the Saudis announce they are raising the price of oil, have the Geek Marines threaten to flood their nation’s television stations and home computers with images of women leaving the house unveiled, unescorted and driving cars. Piece of cake for experienced hackers. And if that doesn’t work, have them electronically siphon off some of the royal family’s billions and transfer it to our own treasury.

Of course, organizing nerds and hackers into a disciplined military unit will be a challenge. They’re not exactly your typical gung-ho, physically fit recruits. They’re kind of pasty-faced and jittery, and tend to be either chubby or pencil thin and do their level best to avoid direct sunlight. They are not used to keeping regular hours or mixing with many other human beings. They are also full of whacky conspiracy theories and take science fiction movies very seriously, traits that no amount of training will erase. So maybe for this branch of the service, the Pentagon will have to rethink their one-size-fits-all approach to boot camp. 

Being that they need these geeks so much in order to be an effective organization, they might try to tailor their training and discipline to reflect the lifestyles of these people. Forget the 10 mile runs at dawn. Nerds and hackers are just getting to bed at that time after spending the whole night planting viruses in the computers of movie reviewers who gave a thumbs down to the Harry Potter films. Skip the physical exercise and forget about barracks. Let the recruits live in facilities that resemble their mothers’ basements, leaving them only to attend classes and Star Trek conventions.

Their work shifts should be elastic too. There are times when these people will work for 48 hours straight at their computer keyboards on some particularly challenging project, sustained only by Doritos and Pepsi. Then they might eat a box of dry raisin bran, drink a half gallon of orange juice and sleep for 14 hours straight. Not exactly military precision there, so you’ll have to recruit a whole lot of extra personnel so that when some of them collapse there will be others to man the computers. When an exciting challenge presents itself, they’ll all be willing to sit around in their underwear for countless hours at their computers, doing crazy impossible things just because they can. You have to coddle valuable people like this and overlook their eccentricities and their taped-together horn rim eyeglasses.

As far as uniforms go, the military can save a bundle by just providing them with T-shirts, jeans and sneakers, with maybe a North Face parka, a stocking cap and a scarf for cold climates. Military haircuts are also out of the question, as is shaving and showering on a regular basis. You won’t even have to pay them all that much since they’d be doing the same things for free back at home. Give them some state of the art computers and let them hang up their posters of Luke Skywalker and you’ll have cyber soldiers every bit as dedicated as regular soldiers, only a lot less personally appealing.

Which is fine, since they don’t like being out in public all that much and the military won’t want anybody to know who their official hackers are, so you can keep them secret. They’re used to people treating them like they were invisible anyway. More money can be saved by skipping the conventional arms training too. It might be a good idea to make it a point to keep these people away from explosives, firearms and sharp objects. Geeks tend to be sort of awkward and clumsy so maybe the automatic weapons and shoulder held rocket launchers are best left to our regular troops.

Concrning the boot camp practice of breaking them down emotionally and rebuilding their characters in military mode, that’s not a good idea either. These people are brilliant with computers and technology, but emotionally unstable in other areas. That’s a mind set the army won’t want to alter. Paranoia, resentment and childish maliciousness are the ideal emotional makeup for people charged with attacking and disrupting other nations’ computer systems. As far as rules go, if you tell a geek he cannot do something, consider it done before the close of business that day. Besides, if you fill these geeks with self-esteem and teach them to be well adjusted individuals, they’ll quit the army and go make themselves internet billionaires.

So the training and operation of Operation Geek Marines has to be undertaken very carefully, and mindful of the sort of monsters we could wind up creating. Look at what these people have done from an old laptop in Mom’s basement: penetrating the Pentagon’s and NASA’s databases, spreading computer viruses throughout the world and crashing untold numbers of computers just for the hell of it and wreaking financial havoc because they were bored one afternoon. Provide them with Cray super computers and state of the art gadgets and interfaces, there’s no telling what these geeks will do. We just might wind up with one of them as president when they decide to electronically alter the election results one year. We could wind up with “President Timmy.” Then where would we be?

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