If Quarter Pentagon is attacked with missiles? Beware, minions. You’ll be working closer to the outside—while the biggies get the safer center offices

imageEverything inside me is hoping that no one attacks the towers of BRAC-133, aka the Quarter Pentagon (which unfortunately will house 6,400 defense workers just off the I-395 freeway in Alexandria, Virginia, rather inside a secure military base).

But a “sustainable development” news release from a Los Angeles firm gives us an idea of who’d be more likely to die in in a missile attack from I-395 or the near-by terrain—the minions, rather than the managers, whose offices have been “pushed to the center of the building.”

This appears to have been done partly to help protect against long-range snooping, as well as to save energy. But one possible fringe benefit for the brass is that they’ll be better protected, whether from missiles or other threats. In the Pentagon, the upper echelons reportedly tend to work in the outer E ring, into which a terrorist-commandeered jetliner crashed on September 11, 2001 (security camera movie). But in the Quarter Pentagon, the flunkies are closer to the windows.

Since BRAC-133 security issues are worthy of public discussion for us locals in Alexandria, let me share an excerpt from the Goodwin Proctor firm’s 2010 sustainability release commending the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

One of the greatest challenges facing the USACE’s sustainability efforts derives from the security constraints imposed by the agency’s intelligence operations. For instance, as a security precaution, the amount of natural lighting that can shine into the building through unobstructed windows is limited. Nevertheless, the light exposure in the new complex will still be greater than employees are accustomed to in their current work facilities. Some of the other planned improvements to accommodate the security limitations include the following:

  • Managers’ office spaces will be pushed to the center of the building, while cubicles for front-line employees will be located closer to the perimeter, allowing them to benefit from the natural light.
  • On each floor, walls of windows will only light narrow passageways around the perimeter of the floor.
  • Interior office space will be walled off from the floor-to-ceiling windows…

For now, let’s consider much-greater issues here.

The Pentagon has depicted BRAC-133 as a security-enhanced complex, and I can see the advantages of tucking away some of the Defense Department’s sensitive activities inside a big, controlled-access complex with wrinkles like tinted windows, super-strong girders, possible anti-aircraft defenses, or whatever. But balancing that out, doesn’t this centralization also offer terrorists and other enemies a kind of one-stop shopping—especially when I-395 and the related highways provide such tempting opportunities for well-equipped jihadists and the like?

Not to mention the high-profile of the complex in all senses of the word: something that is to terrorists what red capes are to bulls.

See the YouTube (embedded in the previous post) where I show the Corps of Engineers strutting its stuff.

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David Rothman

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