Grand Turk Auxiliary Air Force Base

“Doubtless you know that Turks Island, about three hundred miles from here through the Windward Passage, is the most important centre for testing the guided missiles of the United States?”

DR NO, Chapter 16

Dinner has just been completed between Doctor No, James Bond and Honeychile Rider. They have moved on to their “after-dinner entertainment.” Bond has asked what is next for Doctor No, and the reply is noted above.

The Grand Turk Auxiliary Air Force Base was a missile tracking station built as a joint agreement between the United States and Great Britain which went into operation in 1953. The purpose of the base, and other tracking sites, was to track the long-range missiles launched from the United States as well as the satellites and manned flights launched from Cape Canaveral.

The first missile tracked from the station was in November, 1955 when it tracked a SNARK missile. (more on that later!) The station was an early member of the Atlantic Missile Range and was operated by the Pan American Airways Guided Missile Range Division. It wasn’t quite the most important base, as Doctor No claimed, but it was an important installation during that time period.

1977 stamp commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the station.

Grand Turk, along with several other bases, was used to track all of the space launches from Explore 1 to the last of the Mercury flights and was the first place that John Glenn was taken to on Feb 20, 1962. It continued through the Gemini and Apollo as a “satellite” station of Cape Canaveral. The base was closed in 1984.

The Windward Passage refers to the strait between Cuba and Haiti.

Full set of stamps
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Clausewitz’s first principle

Bond had left Scotland Yard with the feeling that he had achieved Clausewitz’s first principle. He had made his base secure.

Moonraker, Chapter 10.

Irritation flickered at the corner of the thin mouth. “Mister Bond, power is sovereignty. Clausewitz’s first principle was to have a secure base. From there one proceeds to freedom of action. 

Dr No, Chapter 15

I. General Principles For Defense

1. To keep our troops covered as long as possible. Since we are always open to attack, except when we ourselves are attacking, we must at every instant be on the defensive and thus should place our forces as much under cover as possible.

Clausewitz, The Principles of War.

General Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was a Prussian general and military theorist. his works included On War and The Principles of War. He served as field soldier, with combat experience against Revolutionary and Napoleonic France.

His ideas are noteworthy for among other things, the idea that war is a continuation of politics, and his approaches are even taught in business schools today.

Fleming twice using the secure base theory confirms the idea that Bond and his enemies are involved in a strategic war, which requires planning and forethought, which brings to mind another of Clausewitz’s quotes:

“No one starts a war–or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so–without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it.” 

It’s a similar thought to making your base secure, in Moonraker Bond makes his base secure by gathering information and having his objectives clear in mind. Dr No, on the other hand has a physical base at his disposal from which he attacks the outside world.