Subscribe
TD originals

Arms Control, With a Heart

Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, left, and President Ronald Reagan sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty on Dec. 8, 1987. (White House / Wikimedia)

Esse quam videri bonus malebat. [He preferred to be good rather than to seem so.]
—Sallust, “Bellum Catilinae”

Thirty years ago, on Dec. 8, 1987, President Reagan sat down with his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, at a summit held in the White House, where they signed what was known as “The Treaty Between the United States and the Soviet Union on the Elimination of their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles” (better known as the INF Treaty).

The product of detailed and often tense negotiations between the two nations since 1981, the INF Treaty was a landmark moment in arms control history, representing the first time that entire categories of nuclear-capable delivery systems had been eliminated. (Previous arms control agreements between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, such as the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks, or SALT, had sought to place caps on the number of weapons each party could possess.) By engaging in a process that eliminated weapons, as opposed to negotiating a formula for limiting their numbers that had one side seeking to gain an advantage over the other, the INF Treaty set a precedent for all arms control agreements that followed.

The INF Treaty also was groundbreaking in its use of on-site inspection as the primary means of treaty compliance verification. Both the U.S. and Soviet Union had opposed inserting the human element into the traditionally technical problem since it was first broached as a verification tool in the 1950s. Humans could be spoofed or compromised, as well as see (and comprehend) things that remote sensing could not. For this reason alone, the U.S. did not have a pool of trained and experienced “inspectors” on hand to implement the new treaty, which was scheduled to enter into force on June 1, 1988—less than six months after the treaty signing ceremony.

What the U.S. did have was a cadre of Russian experts: Foreign Area Officers and Russian linguists who had served in a variety of positions closely linked to the Cold War atmosphere that dominated U.S.-Soviet relations at that time. This included sensitive intelligence postings on submarines, naval vessels, reconnaissance aircraft and ground listening stations; assignments to U.S. embassies in Moscow and other Soviet-bloc states; and the ultimate Cold War job as a member of the Military Liaison Mission (MLM), headquartered in the East German city of Potsdam, adjacent to occupied Berlin, where the actual (albeit unstated) job description was to spy on Soviet military forces deployed in East Germany.

In 1985, U.S. Army Maj. Arthur Nicholson, a member of the MLM, was shot and killed by a Soviet sentry while trying to take photographs of a Soviet military facility in East Germany. Three years later, many former members of the MLM, including several who were with the mission when Nicholson was killed, were assigned to a new Department of Defense organization, the On-Site Inspection Agency (OSIA), tasked with implementing the on-site inspection provisions of the INF Treaty.

When the INF Treaty was signed in December 1987, I was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, finishing up my initial tour of duty in Twentynine Palms, Calif., as an intelligence officer with 5th Battalion, 11th Marines, an artillery unit attached to the 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade, the Marine Corps component of the Rapid Deployment Force. I had spent the past two years training to confront Soviet and Soviet-style enemies in the Middle East and Europe, and thanks to my degree in Russian history (which incorporated two years of compulsory Russian language training), I had developed a reputation for being a specialist on the Soviet military.

I had received orders to the 11th Marine Amphibious Unit, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., where I would serve as the assistant intelligence officer, and was looking to making that move early in 1988. Within a week of the treaty being signed, however, I was put on notice that my orders had been changed. I was now going to Washington, D.C., as a member of the newly created OSIA. As my assignment monitor out of Headquarters Marine Corps explained, the Department of Defense had tasked the Marines with providing a major fluent in Russian for duty with agency. The monitor was unable to find either a major or a captain who fit the bill. Since my records showed I spoke Russian, I got the job.

Ever-efficient, the Marine Corps got my orders changed in record time, and by the middle of January 1988, I found myself at the Coast Guard Headquarters in Buzzard Point, Washington, D.C., the temporary headquarters of OSIA. When Brig. Gen. Roland Lajoie, the newly appointed director of OSIA, addressed his new staff in early February 1988, I was struck by two realities: First, I was the junior officer present, and second, I was in the presence of men whose Soviet specialist credentials far exceeded anything I might be bringing to the table.

I wasn’t the only one who came to this realization. Marines tend to seek out Marines, and one of the other Marines assigned to OSIA was Lt. Col. Lawrence Kelley, one of the most proficient Russian linguists in the U.S. military and a veteran of the MLM in Potsdam (both Kelley and Lajoie were at the MLM when Nicholson had been killed—Kelley as the naval representative, and Lajoie as the MLM commander). Lajoie had tasked Kelley with organizing and training the inspection teams that would implement the INF treaty. Each team would be led by a senior officer, usually a lieutenant colonel but in some cases a colonel.

At this time, I was wandering the halls of Buzzard Point, doing odd jobs while the organization tried to figure out what to do with me (there were no billets for first lieutenants, a problem in rank-conscious Washington that Marine Corps headquarters had not considered when assigning me to a major’s billet.) Fortunately, I had caught the eye of one of the newly minted team leaders, an Army lieutenant colonel named Tom Brock, who penciled me in as a member of his team.

I was ecstatic. But my joy was short-lived. While team leaders were given great latitude when it came to selecting their team members, I was a Marine, and as such, Kelley had to interview me to make sure I would not embarrass the Corps by being given such an important assignment. The interview was conducted without notice, in a hallway where Kelley stood me at attention and started peppering me with technical questions about the treaty—all in Russian. After suffering through a few minutes of my poor college-level Russian replies, Kelley rejected my participation in Team Brock as an inspector because my language skills were not up to par.

Newly unemployed, I again began a search for gainful employment within an agency working overtime to get ready for its new mission. Like any Marine, I operated under the adage that leadership abhors a vacuum, and when OSIA’s deputy director for counterintelligence, a senior FBI agent named Ed Curran, asked if I would come help him set up the counterintelligence program for OSIA, I quickly volunteered—even though I knew practically next to nothing about counterintelligence. My immediate boss was an Air Force colonel who was away for a few months, putting me in charge.

I was quickly informed that the inspection teams were none of my business, so I turned my sights on the next available target, in this case a part of OSIA known as the portal monitoring directorate. Portal monitoring was a unique inspection activity, created at the last minute when the Soviets declared that the factory that assembled the SS-20 intermediate-range missile, scheduled for elimination under the INF Treaty, also produced the SS-25 intercontinental ballistic missile, whose first stage was physically similar to, but not interchangeable with, that of the SS-20.

In order to verify that the Soviets were not shipping SS-20 missiles from the factory, the treaty negotiators allowed for a team of 30 inspectors to be permanently assigned to the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant, located in the foothills of the Ural Mountains some 700 miles east of Moscow, where they would monitor traffic leaving the factory to make sure no treaty-limited items (i.e., SS-20 missiles) were present. The Soviets, in the interest of reciprocity, were allowed to establish a similar inspection regime outside the Hercules factory in Magna, Utah, that had produced the Pershing II motors.

These portal monitors were not allowed entry into the factories in question, but rather established a perimeter around the installation and inspected any vehicle or container that departed the factory that was of sufficient size to carry a treaty-limited item. Unlike the other INF inspections, whose operations had been negotiated down to the most basic detail before the treaty was signed, portal monitoring was left as a virtual blank page, to be written by both parties as they grappled with the technical and logistical demands of implementing such a daunting effort.

One of the reasons the other inspections had been placed off limits from counterintelligence is that their inspections were of such a short duration, and team integrity so closely controlled, that it was deemed that the Soviets would have little opportunity to recruit or otherwise compromise a U.S. inspector. The FBI was responsible for counterintelligence operations involving Soviet inspectors coming to the United States. My role as an OSIA counterintelligence officer was to coordinate with the Salt Lake City FBI office about issues of reciprocity involving how the Soviets treated American inspectors in Votkinsk.

But it was Votkinsk that caught my eye. Here, Americans would be working full time, surrounded by Soviets—literally living in the backyard of the Evil Empire. With Ed Curran’s blessing, I approached the office of the deputy undersecretary of defense responsible for counterintelligence, and within a matter of weeks had established a counterintelligence plan for Votkinsk that included a polygraph program (every person assigned to Votkinsk would be polygraphed on a random basis) and the creation of three additional billets in the portal monitoring directorate for counterintelligence officers who would be assigned on a rotational basis to Votkinsk. The purpose of this operation was to provide counterintelligence support to the inspectors stationed there. Getting this program in place and funded was a big deal, with Curran calling it one of the best examples of interservice and interagency staff work he had ever seen.

There was one problem: the portal monitoring directorate, which was led by two colonels. One was a Marine, George Connell, and the other was from the Army, Douglas Englund. Both were experienced Soviet hands. Each had served as a defense attaché in Moscow and possessed impressive Russian language skills. Given the unfinished state of the inspection procedures and technologies intended for use in support of portal monitoring, both had been away from the OSIA headquarters, overseeing ongoing discussions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

The week I was informed that my counterintelligence support plan had been approved by the secretary of defense, Doug Englund returned from one of his many trips. When he heard about what I had done, he was apoplectic. I quickly found myself summoned to Brig. Gen. Lajoie’s office, where Curran and Englund were waiting. In the meeting that followed, I didn’t say a word. Curran defended the plan as sound and necessary, while Doug Englund derided it as lunacy and counterproductive.

Lajoie, playing the role of King Solomon, struck a compromise. The secretary of defense had said there would be a polygraph program, so there would be. Lajoie himself would take one of the tests, and then quietly shut the program down. As for the counterintelligence billets, Lajoie told Englund to accept them as additional manpower and be grateful. Englund reluctantly concurred, with one condition: The counterintelligence officers would work for him directly, and he would get to pick them. When Lajoie agreed, Englund turned to me, glowering. “The only way I can control you,” he said, “and make sure nothing like this happens again, is to own you. You now work for me.”

The rest, as they say, is history. On May 28, 1988, the U.S. Senate ratified the INF Treaty, which went into force on June 1. According to the treaty, inspections would begin 30 days later, on July 1. But the numerous technical issues surrounding the work of inspectors working in Votkinsk had yet to be finalized. A decision was made to dispatch an advance party of specialists to Votkinsk, two weeks before the start of inspections, to work out a framework for portal monitoring operations and address the plethora of logistical and technical support issues that remained unanswered.

Initially it had been planned to dispatch a team of four personnel—two from OSIA and one each from Sandia National Laboratory and the U.S. Air Force Electronic Systems Division, who were responsible for developing the technical equipment that would be employed in Votkinsk. Englund added a fifth, me. “You’re the team counterintelligence officer,” he said. “Go to Russia, keep your eyes open, your mouth shut and your brain on. Listen and learn. This will be your crash course in portal monitoring operations.”

When Lt. Col. Kelley found out I was going to Russia as an inspector, he immediately protested to Lajoie. “He can’t speak Russian worth a damn,” he rightly pointed out. But as counterintelligence staff, I was beyond Kelley’s reach. The best he could do was insist that I take a crash Russian refresher course from a contract instructor, which I attended along with another member of the new counterintelligence staff, an Air Force captain named Stu O’Neill who was scheduled to deploy with the first portal monitoring team later in July. Kelley stressed the importance of the mission to our instructor, a middle-aged female Russian émigré, who was in tears when our 10-day period of instruction ended, with neither of her two students having advanced our linguistic skills in any meaningful fashion.

Kelley, aghast, tried in vain to have me held back, but to no avail. Englund insisted I be deployed as planned, and on June 21, 1987, I found myself ensconced with the other members of the advanced party at a dacha (country house in Russia) named after the former minister of defense of the Soviet Union, Dmitry Ustinov, who had taken a particular interest in the work done at Votkinsk, spending so much time there that a dacha had been constructed as his second home.

For the next 10 days, I did as Englund instructed, learning as much as I could about portal monitoring operations and related technologies, the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant and the town of Votkinsk itself, where the American inspectors would be living until permanent quarters were constructed at the factory itself, some five miles from the town center. On July 1, 1987, when implementation of the INF Treaty began, I and the other members of the Votkinsk advance party had the honor of being the first U.S. inspectors on Soviet soil.

(Lajoie accompanied the first INF inspection team to deploy to the Soviet Union—Team Kelley, led by none other than Lt. Col. Lawrence Kelley. They flew into Moscow the morning of July 1, 1987—eight hours after I and the Votkinsk advance party had established an inspection presence on Soviet soil. I don’t know if Kelley ever gave it a second thought, but I found the turn of events humorous, and more than a little ironic.)

Accompanying Roland Lajoie and Team Kelley on the morning of July 1 was another team of 14 inspectors, consisting of 10 inspectors from Team Guiler (led by Lt. Col. Douglas Guiler) plus Doug Englund and three other inspectors from the portal monitoring division. This team arrived in Votkinsk on July 2, when portal monitoring inspections officially began.

The actual inspections were conducted in a somewhat spartan environment, with inspectors working from a shed outside the factory gates, and inspections conducted using tape measures and visual observations. Twice a day, a team of inspectors would walk the perimeter of the factory, using a trail I and the other members of the advance party had hacked through the underbrush and swamp that surrounded the factory walls. As the “pathfinder,” I was given the honor of leading the first perimeter patrol, as well as the opportunity to brief the other inspectors, via a hands-on demonstration, on the threat posed by tick-borne encephalitis, extracting a dozen of the tiny arachnids from my person during a post-patrol self-inspection.

When we weren’t on duty at the factory, the inspection team took up quarters at a newly constructed apartment building in Votkinsk, where we were assigned modestly furnished private apartments, and took our meals at a local cafe contracted by the Soviets to provide us with three solid meals per day. The treaty allowed inspectors to engage in social and recreational activities within a radius of 50 kilometers in their off-duty hours, but only after advance notice was made through an official request and, if approved, escorted by Soviet officials.

American inspectors soon became a regular part of life in Votkinsk, walking along the town’s scenic lakefront, browsing goods in the shops and taking in the cultural activities, including tours of the birthplace of the famous Russian composer Tchaikovsky.

The editor of the local newspaper interviewed Doug Englund and published a transcript of the talk, along with an observation by one local who noted that the Americans lacked the horns and tails the locals had been conditioned to expect. Votkinsk was a closed region, with entry forbidden to foreigners. For many residents, the American inspectors were the first non-Russians they had seen since the departure of the German prisoners of war who helped construct the town center in the early 1950s.

As critically important as the inspections themselves were (the INF Treaty was, after all, about the elimination of two classes of nuclear-armed ballistic missiles), the unsung story of the inspection experience was the breaking down of barriers built upon decades of mistrust between Americans and Soviets. Both sides began to identify with each other not as enemies but as fellow human beings. This was especially so in the case of the portal monitoring experience in Votkinsk, where the inspectors lived among the Soviet population and cooperated with their Soviet counterparts in nailing down critical technical procedures in the middle of an active inspection process, an experience unique to Votkinsk, where so many details had been set aside for resolution after the inspection process had begun.

The portal monitoring operation in Votkinsk was operating under the microscope of congressional scrutiny. Conservative anti-Soviet hawks, led by Sen. Jesse Helms, used delays in the installation of critical inspection monitoring equipment, namely a giant X-ray device known as CargoScan, to call for the abrogation of the INF Treaty. It didn’t matter that the majority of the delays were brought about as a result of failure on the American side to provide technical documentation required by the treaty, as well as delays on the part of Sandia National Laboratory in getting CargoScan ready to be deployed to Votkinsk. The congressional attention created an environment of political scrutiny that placed pressure on every American deployed in Votkinsk and, by extension, their Soviet counterparts, who had to work with the American inspectors to overcome these obstacles. Throughout this process, one person stood out as the personification of grace under pressure: Doug Englund.

Murphy’s Law—if something can go wrong, it will—was alive and well and living in Votkinsk. Isolated from the rest of the American world, the inspectors assigned to Votkinsk had to learn to roll with the punches. As inspectors, we took our guidance and direction from our leadership; and in Votkinsk, it was Englund, as the first site commander assigned to the portal monitoring facility, who set the tone for everything that followed. For Americans used to getting things done on a tight schedule, Votkinsk was a wake-up call for the realities associated with trying to install one of the most technically demanding arms-control monitoring systems in the history of arms control, in a remote site 700 miles from the nearest U.S. embassy and several thousand miles away from their American support bases.

The American culture of “get it done now” could easily have clashed with the Soviet culture of “not until everything has been checked, double-checked and approved,” creating an atmosphere of tension and mistrust. Englund was able to realistically assess the reality on the ground, gently coaxing his inspectors and their Soviet counterparts to get done that which could be done, all the while politely fending off pressure from higher headquarters to implement unrealistic schedules and expectations.

The result was the transformation of Votkinsk into an island of calm in the midst of a stormy sea, a place where American inspectors and their Soviet counterparts could hash out their differences void of the politicized environments of Washington and Moscow. This doesn’t mean that there were no issues or moments of tension. There were. But the fact that the U.S. inspectors had socialized with their Soviet counterparts to an unprecedented extent, combined with the leadership example set by Englund in responding to setbacks and differences, created a work environment where solutions, not excuses or attribution of blame, were the norm.

Englund left his position as co-director of portal monitoring in fall 1989, taking the job of OSIA’s chief of staff, while leaving Col. Connell in charge of the portal monitoring directorate. In Votkinsk, the incomplete installation of CargoScan had become the focus of a growing political crisis in Washington.

The issue finally came to a head in March 1990, when the Soviets refused to allow American inspectors, who had unilaterally declared CargoScan operational, to use the X-ray device to image rail cars exiting the Votkinsk factory, which had been declared to contain SS-25 missiles. A total of three missiles exited the facility without being imaged, all under protest by the American inspectors, who declared the Soviet actions to be treaty violations. The Soviets, in turn, protested the American actions as illegal intrusions into the operations of the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant, at one point submitting a bill for the costs accrued to the factory due to the delay in shipping the missiles that was brought on by the American actions.

In the end, senior officials from Washington and Moscow descended upon Votkinsk to resolve the dispute. While the presence of these delegations signaled the seriousness with which each party viewed the situation, the actual resolution was achieved by the American inspectors and their Soviet counterparts, who built upon their many months of on-site negotiating experience, and the mutual trust and confidence that came with it, to reach a timely and equitable solution that brought CargoScan into compliance and put the treaty back on track. Even though he no longer served as the commander of the American inspectors in Votkinsk, Doug Englund received full credit from everyone involved in the process that led to the resolution of the CargoScan crisis for helping create an environment of calm professionalism that enabled the inspectors and their Soviet counterparts to resolve what could have been an explosive, treaty-threatening crisis.

I left OSIA in July 1990, returning to the Marine Corps. After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August of that year, I got on a path that deployed me to Saudi Arabia, where I was involved in planning and implementing combat operations targeting Iraq’s SCUD missiles (which, ironically, were produced at Votkinsk). One of the reasons I was assigned the task of SCUD hunter was my experience as an OSIA inspector, which brought with it an undeserved reputation as being a missile expert. Whether I was such at the start of the war is very much a matter of debate. By the war’s end, however, I had accrued a significant amount of knowledge about Iraq’s ballistic missile capability and its weapons of mass destruction programs.

I returned home in March 1991 and was ordered back to OSIA, where I spent my final months as a Marine. (I had submitted my resignation before the war, deciding that, with the Cold War a thing of the past, I might use my new-found Russian skills in a civilian, vice military, capacity.) I was assigned to Magna, Utah, where I did counterintelligence work in support of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, then under negotiation and eventually signed in July 1991.

Before leaving for Magna in early April 1991, I met with Doug Englund at OSIA headquarters to discuss my experience during the war. By this time, Englund, along with Tom Brock, had been tasked with preparing for an anticipated United Nations weapons inspection program to disarm Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and he was interested in my opinion regarding Iraqi capabilities. Our paths did not cross again until August 1991.

By that time, I had been honorably discharged from the Marines and was actively searching for employment opportunities. While visiting friends in northern Virginia, I was invited to attend a party at the Englund residence. There, he pulled me aside and asked if I’d like to go to New York and help him set up a intelligence unit to oversee weapons inspections in Iraq. I agreed, and by early September, I had relocated to New York City, where I was appointed to the staff of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM).

UNSCOM had been created using the INF Treaty experience as a template. This was not a surprise, given the fact that Englund served as UNSCOM’s director of operations, with Brock as his principal operations officer. Together, these two INF Treaty veterans built a process that mimicked the INF inspection process, centered on individual inspection teams organized to verify compliance with declarations the Iraqis provided to fulfill requirements set forth by Security Council resolution.

Englund and Brock soon found themselves squeezed by two opposing realities that had not existed in the INF Treaty context. Whereas the INF Treaty was a bilateral agreement, equally binding on both involved parties, the Security Council resolution, which set forth Iraq’s disarmament obligation, was imposed on one party (Iraq) by another (the U.N.) under threat of force. Iraq did not voluntarily enter this arrangement and was therefore inclined to act in a manner it deemed necessary for its national security, submitting incomplete and misleading declarations to disguise retained capability that would otherwise be subject to elimination under the supervision of UNSCOM inspectors.

Complicating matters even more was the fact that the disarmament process was not the leading factor behind America’s support for UNSCOM. Rather, the disarmament of Iraq was part of a larger process designed to isolate and destabilize the regime of Saddam Hussein. The inspection process was useful only insofar as it supported the overall policy of regime change in Iraq.

For arms control professionals like Doug Englund and Tom Brock, whose experience was founded in the principled approach to disarmament that had embodied the INF Treaty process, the UNSCOM experience represented a deviation from the norm. To get the process back on track, they implemented an inspection process that strictly adhered to the disarmament mandate the Security Council established, deflecting efforts by the U.S. intelligence community to transform UNSCOM into little more than an intelligence collection resource.

This approach created friction between the Department of Defense, which oversaw the On-Site Inspection Agency—and, by extension, the work of both Englund and Brock—and the U.S. intelligence community, which held that although the two men had been attached to the United Nations, they were both serving officers who ultimately were responsible to the U.S. government.

One of the main reasons Englund brought me to UNSCOM was to create a modicum of independence for it when it came to intelligence support for the inspections. From his perspective, one reasons Iraq opted to cheat was that it lacked confidence in the inspection process. If UNSCOM could establish itself in the eyes of the Iraqi government as a credible, professional organization that operated independently of outside control (especially from the United States), then Iraq might be convinced that full cooperation with the inspectors was in its best interests. This approach was derived from Englund’s experience in Votkinsk, where he believed the best way to resolve the various issues that arose from implementing the portal monitoring inspection regimen was to work with the Soviet counterparts, rather than against them.

During this time, I shared an apartment near the U.N. headquarters with Englund and Brock and was privy to the evolution of their inspection philosophy, hashed out nightly at the kitchen table. I was an eyewitness to their approach to use inspections to resolve the problems created by Iraq’s false declarations. They conducted two inspection missions in Iraq in fall 1991, one led by Brock, the other by Englund, that adhered to the principles of operational integrity inherited from the INF Treaty experience. Both inspections were designed with the intent of exposing flaws in the Iraqi declarations regarding ballistic missiles.

Neither man, however, was willing to sacrifice the reputation of UNSCOM by conducting operations that were inconsistent with the Security Council’s mandate. While this meant that the Iraqis might be able to evade the inspectors’ detection of illegally retained weapons, Englund and Brock sought to impress on the Iraqis the reality of the inevitability of future detection by an inspection process that was thorough, professional and unrelenting.

This interaction led to a major confrontation between the CIA and Englund and Brock in November 1991, who were accused of being little more than patsies for the Iraqis. Ultimately the men prevailed, mainly on the strength of the intervention by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen. Colin Powell, who sided with the two INF veterans against what turned out to be false accusations by the CIA.

The November clash of wills between them and the CIA came to a head in December 1991, when the CIA proposed what amounted to a mini-invasion of Iraq by UNSCOM inspection teams heavily staffed by American special operations forces for hunting down what the CIA claimed to be a retained operational ballistic missile force in Iraq. While both Englund and Brock opposed the CIA’s inspection concept, the powers that be in Washington had told them that this inspection was to take place.

Partly on the strength of a competing intelligence assessment that I prepared in my role as UNSCOM’s independent intelligence officer, Englund was able to take control of the inspection process. He assigned Brock as operations officer of the inspection team, which a neutral Norwegian colonel was to head to help soften the blow of the inspection on the Iraqis (both Englun and Brock felt that one of the goals of the CIA in pushing for such a large, confrontational inspection was to compel Iraq to walking away from the inspection process altogether, thereby paving the way for the resumption of hostilities between the U.S. and Iraq). I was brought along as a team member to provide ongoing intelligence support for Brock and the Norwegian colonel independent of the CIA.

In the end, the inspection found nothing. The CIA’s intelligence was either outdated, wrong or both.

The Iraqis, however, found no consolation in this result. The professionalism and tenacity of the inspection team, taking its cue from Brock, accomplished what he and Englund had hoped it would. In March 1992 Iraq, backed into a corner by UNSCOM’s relentless inspection-based pressure, admitted that it had not been forthcoming in its original declarations and submitted what it termed to be a “full, final and complete” declaration of its weapons of mass destruction programs, admitting to, among other things, holding on to a force of nearly 100 ballistic missiles and six mobile launchers, as well as failing to declare important aspects of its chemical weapons program.

Unfortunately, neither Brock nor Englund would be around to bear direct witness to this success. Under pressure from the CIA, which resented Brock’s continuous pushback against the improper assertion of American control over the UNSCOM inspection process, Brock was recalled to OSIA at the end of December 1991 and forced into retirement. Englund followed shortly thereafter, departing UNSCOM in early spring and retiring from the Army.

Englund’s stature was such, however, that UNSCOM brought him back out of retirement, creating the position of director of field operations for this purpose. Operating out of UNSCOM’s Bahrain Field Office, he oversaw support for deployed UNSCOM inspections, both in terms of their pre-mission training and post-mission debriefing in Bahrain, as well as providing a level of supervisory backup support for inspection teams while deployed in Iraq.

In this latter role, Englund made his largest contribution in his new position, being tasked to travel to Iraq and oversee the resolution of a new inspection crisis involving a standoff outside the Ministry of Agriculture in July 1992, where inspectors had been denied entry for over a week. Tensions between Iraq and UNSCOM had reached a boiling point, and Englund’s presence served as a calming influence on both sides.

In many ways, the Ministry of Agriculture intervention was the culmination of his unique approach to disarmament, forged as it was in the crucible of the INF Treaty implementation experience and honed during his time with UNSCOM. Englund injected the human element into an otherwise cold, technical process. The Ministry of Agriculture crisis led to a series of aggressive inspection operations in fall 1992 that eventually compelled Iraq to accede to the requirement for a permanent, ongoing monitoring and verification presence that covered the part of its industrial capacity deemed capable of supporting either research and development or manufacturing efforts related to proscribed weapons of mass destruction.

The transition from confrontational no-notice inspections to more deliberate monitoring inspections brought with it a reduction in the role the director of field operations played. In early 1993, Englund left UNSCOM once and for all.

But his legacy lived on well after his departure. By this time, I had transitioned into the role of a combined intelligence/inspection operations officer for UNSCOM. The CIA had lumped me in with Brock and Englund as part of what it called “the INF Mafia” at UNSCOM, which had been targeted for elimination. Englund had gotten the last laugh: While both he and Brock were military officers subject to the control of the U.S. government—and susceptible to CIA subterfuge—I was a private citizen working for the United Nations.

One of Englund’s last actions as director of operations at UNSCOM was to push the U.N. into hiring me as a permanent professional staff member, thereby insulating me and my work from the machinations of the CIA. The notion of an independent, credible and professional inspection operation, promulgated by Englund and Brock based upon their INF Treaty experience, had taken root at UNSCOM, survived their departure and lived on through my work and that of other inspectors so motivated.

In many ways, Englund had served as a control rod for an arms-control process that threatened to go critical at any time. He did this at OSIA, developing a leadership approach toward problem solving that brought Americans and Soviets together in a shared effort to resolve what otherwise could have been insurmountable issues. At UNSCOM, he continued in this vein, overseeing the creation of a professional inspection regime that compelled Iraqi compliance not through intimidation or the threat of force of arms, but rather through an acquired confidence in the process of verifiable disarmament nurtured under the calming influence of Englund’s quiet leadership.

Like a nuclear control rod, once Englund was removed from the inspection process, the legacy of genuine arms control he had fostered deteriorated until it spun out of control. By 1996, UNSCOM had resumed its program of no-notice inspections, driven by the CIA in the aftermath of the defection of Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law to search for weapons that Iraq had declared to have unilaterally destroyed in summer 1991 but for which UNSCOM could not fully account.

One can only speculate as to how events would have turned out if Englund had been present at UNSCOM in summer 1996, able to inject an element of calm reasoning into a tense environment exacerbated by repeated standoffs between UNSCOM and Iraq over the issue of access to sites linked to Iraq’s president.

Likewise, one can only wonder how successful the CIA would have been in asserting its influence and control over the UNSCOM inspection process had Englund been available to block its efforts.

Several directors of operations followed him at UNSCOM. Many were capable men, but none had his experience and stature when it came to promoting the absolute integrity of the inspection mission.

Ultimately, the CIA was able to insinuate itself into every facet of the UNSCOM inspection effort, corrupting it to such an extent that Iraq ultimately lost faith in the process.

By refusing to work with the UNSCOM inspectors, Iraq initiated a process that led to the eventual dissolution of UNSCOM as an organization and, in doing so, ended a decadelong experiment in on-site inspection as a credible arms control verification methodology that could trace its bloodlines directly to the INF Treaty.

The result was the United States’ invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, using the CIA’s flawed premise of Iraq’s continued possession of weapons of mass destruction as an excuse. The American military intervention in Iraq set in motion events that eventually helped destabilize the entire Middle East.

Moreover, the demise of UNSCOM brought with it a change in the mindset on the part of the United States when it came to future arms-control agreements. One need only look as far as the issue of Iran’s nuclear program to see how the CIA’s model of intrusive confrontational inspections has trumped the deliberate, disciplined approach to arms control that had been promoted by Englund during his tenure at both OSIA and UNSCOM.

On Nov. 22, Englund passed away, losing a five-year struggle with cancer. With his passing, America lost one of its greatest unsung heroes: a veteran of the Vietnam War and a man who had earned the Soldier’s Medal (the Army’s highest award for heroism in a noncombat situation), not once, but twice—the second time while helping secure classified material from KGB officers disguised as Russian firefighters when the U.S. Embassy in Moscow caught fire in August 1977.

I had learned about his impressive resume while working for him at OSIA and later in UNSCOM. But the impression he made on me in his role as an advocate of credible on-site inspections in support of arms-control agreements will forever shape my own opinion of him as a man.

On Dec. 8, a group of more than 50 veterans of the INF Treaty experience will gather in downtown Washington to celebrate the signing of that treaty. During this gathering, an opportunity will be provided to participate in an open-mike session, reminiscing about their roles in the creation and implementation of the INF Treaty. At that time, I can only hope that one or more of the participants will pause for a moment to think about Doug Englund, his wife, Anne, and his family and friends who mourn his passing.

But I would hope, too, that Doug’s professional legacy will be celebrated. He was one of the most influential forces behind the ethos of professionalism and compassion that defined the on-site inspection experience in support of the INF Treaty and, by extension, the initial work of the United Nations in Iraq. He epitomized arms control with a heart—the very essence of that which made those experiences so special, and which is lacking in our country, and the world, today.

Scott Ritter
Contributor
Scott Ritter spent more than a dozen years in the intelligence field, beginning in 1985 as a ground intelligence officer with the US Marine Corps, where he served with the Marine Corps component of the Rapid…
Scott Ritter

Now you can personalize your Truthdig experience. To bookmark your favorite articles, please create a user profile.

Personalize your Truthdig experience. Choose authors to follow, bookmark your favorite articles and more.
Your Truthdig, your way. Access your favorite authors, articles and more.
or
or

A password will be e-mailed to you.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles and comments are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.