WALTZING IN THE SHADOWS
It is mid-Summer, 1978 in Washington, D.C.
United States Army Sergeant First Class William Sampson completes a unique recruitment assignment no one thought could be accomplished. A friend of his working in the military personnel center offers Bill a special assignment which he accepts without hesitation. Based upon his expertise as a military administrative supervisor and fluency in German, he is qualified for the position in a small, obscure office located at the American embassy in Vienna, Austria.
Bill then receives a “suggestion” to go to the Austrian embassy in Washington as a diplomatic courtesy. He is met by an embassy employee, Ursula Weber. She explains, over lunch, what is expected of foreign military personnel when leaving their diplomatic compounds and Austria’s delicate position as a neutral in the middle of the Cold War.
They establish an instant rapport and see each other socially before Sampson departs for Vienna.
He learns that he will be working for a major on the promotion list to lieutenant colonel. There is one Austrian civilian employee whose sole job is as chauffeur and providing the two with whatever they might need from the local economy.
The two soldiers are responsible for; monitoring the use and disposition of U.S. military equipment given to Austria at the end of the Allied Occupation in 1955, offering and planning for the schooling of selected Austrian soldiers in U.S. military service schools and for reviewing and assessing intelligence on the military and political activities taking place in the neighboring Warsaw Pact nations of Czechoslovakia and Hungary, as well as the communist but neutral Yugoslavia.
In the following three years, Sampson becomes privy to highly sensitive intelligence. It not only includes detailed assessments of Soviet weaponry but the capabilities and skills of Warsaw Pact troops. The information passed to Sampson by the secretive contact directed to him by Weber, who has returned to Vienna and become his good friend, includes uncannily accurate prognostications of events behind the Iron Curtain and throughout the Middle East. He learns of things leading up to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the breakup of the Soviet empire, He also learns about the disturbing rise of radical Islamic groups and planned acts of terrorism.
Throughout this period, Sampson becomes aware of and actually sees many technological advances which we take for granted today.
The story is historically accurate and takes place in real locations as they were during the time frame depicted. All characters, with the exception of one, and their interactions, are purely fictional.
The crux of this is something that we may not yet have learned; nothing is better than on-the-spot human intelligence reviewed and acted upon by professional analysts and decision-makers unhindered by purely political considerations.