Killeen, John Part 2

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  • Interviewee: Killeen, John
  • PDF Interview
  • Date: September 17, 2019
  • Place: West Cape May, NJ
  • Interviewers:
    • Shaun Illingworth
  • Transcript Production Team:
    • Jesse Braddell
    • Shaun Illingworth
    • John E. Killeen
  • Recommended Citation: Killeen, John E. Oral History Interview, September 17, 2019, by Shaun Illingworth and Donald Koger, Page #, Rutgers Oral History Archives. Online: Insert URL (Last Accessed: Insert Date).
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Shaun Illingworth:  This begins the second oral history interview with Colonel John "Jack" E. Killeen on September 17, 2019, in West Cape May, New Jersey.  Thank you for having me here.

John Killeen:  I'm glad to have you, glad to have you in my man cave here.

SI:  You were telling me this is the house that you grew up in.

JK:  Yes.

SI:  I will probably ask you about some of the stuff you showed me before.

JK:  Okay, sure.

SI:  For the record, there are a lot of hunting trophies from your work in New Mexico and elsewhere and a number of mementos from your military career.  We left off in the first interview with your final posting at Kirtland Air Force Base.   

JK:  Yes.

SI:  Then, you became the head of security at Los Alamos National Laboratory. 

[Editor's Note: The Department of Energy oversees the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, originally established during World War II to conduct atomic weapons research as part of the Manhattan Project.]

JK:  Yes, first, the protective force, then, all the security, yes.

SI:  How did that transition come about?

JK:  They had horrendous safety practices going on with the people who were running the armed security at the Laboratory.  In a training exercise--we had a live-fire shoot house and a lot of high activity--one guy confused live rounds and blanks.  There wasn't an adequate safety procedure in place.  So, he blew a guy's chest out in the training exercise, killed him.  So, they fired everybody and I got the phone call to come up and take over the armed force up there. 

So, I retired a year early from the Air Force.  It was a very nice offer, so, I jumped on it and went up there and took over a fairly troubled program.  So, that's how I got up there.  So, I retired at midnight one day and, at five-thirty the next day, I was running a practice nuclear convoy.  So, it was a quick change.  [laughter]

SI:  This was under the Department of Energy. 

JK:  Yes.  The University of California was running the Laboratory for the Department of Energy, yes.  [Editor's Note: From 1943 to 2007, University of California managed the Laboratory for the US Department of Energy.  Since then, two LLCs, Los Alamos National Security, LLC (2007-18) and Triad National Security, LLC (2018-present), have run the facility in conjunction with the University of California.]

SI:  To the extent you can--I would imagine, some of this, you might not be able to talk about--what is the security structure at a place like the National Laboratory?

JK:  Now, my primary responsibilities were security forces operations, the armed force part of it.  As you know, that's where the atomic bomb was developed.  Also, that's the one center that manages and creates plutonium for the US arsenal and the huge amount of other science that also takes place there.  So, I led a protective force of about six hundred members who provided protection of special nuclear material.  We had literally tons of weapons-grade plutonium and uranium there, which we protected. 

We ran counterterrorism operations--training, luckily, we never had to really use that--but high-speed, live-fire shoot house, live-round training, the armored vehicles, general-purpose machine-guns, squad automatic weapons, grenade launchers, I later instituted Gatling guns, in protection of, as I said, many tons of special nuclear materials and, also, protection of employees, protection of information, protection of property and preventing theft and diversion, sabotage, any kind of malicious destruction at Los Alamos.

In that original job, I oversaw the security force training, the exercises.  Then, my biggest challenge starting off was, first, to fix their really terrible safety practices, and then, to deal with some real union dissatisfaction which existed there.  The protective force was unionized and I had to really restore a very troubled organization to effective performance.  So, that was the charter that I got from the Department of Energy.  So, it was an interesting adventure. 

SI:  In general, how did you go about fixing the safety issue?

JK:  Basically, sat down with everybody and went through all the accidents, all the incidents, all the near misses.  We built thirty-one initiatives to improve the safety, the whole range of initiatives, especially a lot of focus on firearms, but, also, physical fitness training, where we had an unreasonable amount of, the way they were doing it, pulled hamstrings and twisted ankles.  The intermediate use of force training, which we had to do also, is basically hand-to-hand combat--unsafe practices.  There are guys getting their shoulders screwed up.

We just worked through all that and built an initiative over a period of time.  It really paid off.  We wound up, within a year, we'd achieved the second-lowest injury rate and accident rate in the Department of Energy.  Basically, I took established Air Force Security Forces safety practices and brought them to a civilian area, tailor-made to the kind of work they were doing there.  So, it really paid off.  It worked really well.

It was a big operation, because the budget during my time there ranged from sixty million to a hundred million per year, depending on what was going on in the rest of the world.  I wound up being on-scene commander for the recurring anti-nuclear demonstrations and got to meet a lot of movie stars by locking them up, including Martin Sheen and Wes Studi and some others, got to meet them personally when I arrested them, but it was an interesting time.  [laughter] Then, that faded away after that.  President Clinton came to visit.  So, I was the project officer for setting all that up at the Laboratory. 

[Editor's Note:  Martin Sheen is an actor whose career has spanned over five decades.  He is the father of Emilio Esteves and Charlie Sheen.  Wes Studi is an actor and Vietnam veterans whose career received acclaim beginning in the 1980s.]

It's getting ahead of the timeline you're talking about, but, then, we had to really change a lot of things to deal with the post-9/11 threat, developed a whole new strategy to cope with the increasing terrorist threat and, also, preparations for the Second Gulf War.  The intelligence was telling us that the threat went up, and so, we did a lot of things differently. 

[Editor's Note: Colonel Killeen is referring to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon and the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power.]

Basically, we designed a project management and computer modeling process and developed the first site safeguard and security plan that they'd had for a long period of time.  That became a model for the Department of Energy.  I'll say some more things later on about the details of how we did some of that, but the basic thing was to build a comprehensive, measurable plan for what had to be done, and then, to start working really hard on the physical infrastructure and what we had to do there to make sure the place was not subject to any kind of a terrorist attack.

The management process is the key.  I've got a picture in the other room there--the Governor presented the Roadrunner Quality Management Award to us, the Governor, Gary Johnson then, as one of the top three performing organizations in New Mexico.  So, that was a big honor.  [Editor's Note: Gary Johnson, a Republican, served as Governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003.]

It's getting further downstream, but we also had the worst fire, at that time, in New Mexico's history, called the Cerro Grande Fire.  I showed you some quick pictures in the book there, but we lost four hundred homes.  It burned over the Laboratory twice.  We had to evacuate the town and the Laboratory.  The chief of police took operational control of the town, along with state police, fire were involved everywhere.  Then, I was the on-scene commander for everything on the Laboratory side of things. 

We had to fight the thing for, basically, two weeks.  It burned over the Lab twice.  Afterwards, a number of us, again, Gary Johnson declared us the heroes of the Cerro Grande Fire.  We had a big party and got medals hung around our neck and all that stuff, but really was just an intense experience.  [Editor's Note: The Cerro Grande Fire occurred in May 2000.  No lives were lost, over 150,000 acres caught fire and it caused over one billion dollars in damage.]

SI:  Yes.  Let me go back--you mentioned that the security force was unionized. 

JK:  Yes.

SI:  How did you adjust to working with a civilian unionized force, coming from a military background where everything is pretty set in stone?

JK:  Took probably six to nine months to get a trust level built up.  The only way to do that is, you can't do that from an office, you've got to be out on the ground.  So, I'd be out there two or three o'clock in the morning, four o'clock in the morning, out drinking coffee with the troops and getting to know the people individually and build a level of trust--had some really bad start-ups. 

The guy who had just stepped down as the president of the union wound up cutting his stepson's throat and stabbing his wife, but she survived.  So, he was one of the union leaders and went to jail for the rest of his life.

SI:  Wow.

JK:  That was about two weeks after I arrived.  Then, about a month-and-a-half after that, the only black guy, who was a real superstar in terms of performance and combat performance, turned out to be a stalking rapist from the malls in Albuquerque. 

SI:  Wow.

JK:  That kind of put another dent in things.  At this point, it was pretty obvious to everybody that there needed to be some changes in the way business was done.  A lot of visiting the guard mounts, a lot of wee hours of the morning out with the troops, twenty-four/seven, six, seven days a week, the same way you'd lead troops in combat, leading from the front.  You build enough personal relationships so that that management-union barrier starts to slip.  That was the basic approach.  It worked pretty well.  We did well and the guys really began to perform well. 

SI:  Did you say--I would imagine this would be the case--that the safety issues were one of the union's issues with how things were being run before you came?  A more general question, what were the union's issues that you had to address?

JK:  The core issue was how they were treated.

SI:  Yes.

JK:  Yes.  I'm not going to name companies, but the general manager was a hard-ass horse's ass, basically, [laughter] firing people, discipline people, trying to run an intimidation method of management.  That can work under certain circumstances, for a short period of time, but you can't run a long-term, successful organization, especially with a unionized workforce, and do that.  So, they had the worst strike in DOE history about two years before I got there.  It had never healed since then.  Then, after that, we had successful contracts, once we built the relationship up enough.  It was a human-interaction, personal-interaction, fair-treatment-of-people process. 

SI:  When you say companies--are these DOE employees or do you contract out?

JK:  Contracted out.

SI:  Yes.

JK:  The University of California was contracted to run the Laboratory, primarily with a focus on science.  Then, some elements of the operations, especially the armed force parts, which they had no background in, they put out for bid.  People bid on it; it was a combination of capability and cost.  The Lab kept getting in trouble all the years I was there, so, most of the time, it stayed focused on capability, no matter what the cost.  That gradually eroded later, but we'll get to that.

SI:  Okay.

JK:  A little bit later.  I'll talk about some of the issues that happened during that time period as we get further down.  The whole key to running a twenty-four/seven, high-speed armed force is developing personal relationship where your leadership's respected.  That's basically the way that the Air Force Security Forces succeeds.  It's not an eight-hour-a-day job; it's a day-and-night kind of a thing.  You just have to build those relationships.  It took six to nine months to get that really operational. 

SI:  Were most of the folks that you were in charge of former military or was it a mixture? 

JK:  About half.

SI:  Okay.

JK:  It was one of the best jobs in Northern New Mexico.  Probably sixty percent of my employees were Hispanics, but they were Hispanics whose families arrived before Columbus [laughter] or right after Columbus.  They'd been there for years and generations and lived in Española and Northern New Mexico.  For the guys who didn't go to college, but were pretty good athletes and had a clean record, this was the best job around.  [Editor's Note: Española, originally called San Juan de los Caballeros, was founded as the capital of Spain's Nuevo México territory in 1598.]

So, about half the force were local, native New Mexicans of Hispanic background.  At that time, they were still talking "Spanish," not "Hispanic," because they traced their legacies back to the early Southwestern settlers from Spain.  The other half were--some of them had gone in the military and come back--but others were people who just came out of the military and applied for jobs there and were good enough to get hired. 

SI:  Besides the security force, there were other responsibilities for preventing, you said, theft, destruction, but, also, espionage.

JK:  Yes. 

SI:  Was that one?

JK:  Well, that was a lesser part.  I worked with the core people who did that, but we had three FBI agents permanently assigned to the place.

SI:  Okay.

JK:  That was primarily their thing.  We supported them, but the FBI ran that aspect of it.

SI:  What steps would you take to address those issues?  Were you setting up ways of searching people as they come in and out of the facility? 

JK:  Yes.  When I got there, Los Alamos was an open campus and had two major roads that ran right through the Laboratory, within thirty yards of nuclear storage areas, and had operations scattered all over the Laboratory.  We had to draw that in, reduce the footprint.  I tried to do that early on, but couldn't get authority to do it, politically.  Then, 9-11 happened; then, it was instant. 

So, we wound up building gate shacks.  You could still use the road, but you had to be able to show a driver's license and come through.  It was a deterrent.  The roads were then controlled.  That made a huge difference when we did that.  We dramatically reduced the footprint from multiple storage areas for weapons-grade plutonium and uranium down to one--actually, initially, two primary centers.  Then, we gradually closed one of those and got everything in one area and built a state-of-the-art system, that I can say some more about as we progress. 

We did that after I took over the whole security operations there, but it's one of a kind in Department of Energy.  We've never lost an exercise since we finally had it built.  So, it's reduced the footprint, controlled access to the Laboratory, work really closely with the FBI, in terms of intelligence and surveillance.  We had incidents where we got scouted, but, invariably, the guys would pick it up.

SI:  Scouted by the FBI or some other agency?

JK:  No, scouted by, in one instance, a carload with three Arabs who had no reason to be there and were taking photos.  They got snatched up and their photos taken.  The FBI did a lot of background check on them. 

We also--I can talk about that later--but we had Wen Ho Lee, who was a spy, had that whole incident take place, then, a couple other significant classified--not classified in terms of what the content was--but mistakes with classified information that generated real flack.  The Congress was furious.  The protective force had none of that, but, as I said, jumping ahead, when I came back to the Laboratory and took over the whole security program, then, that was my headache, too--but we're still basically when I was running the armed force there, the protective force. 

[Editor's Note: In December 1999, a federal grand jury indicted Wen Ho Lee, then a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, on numerous charges related to sharing nuclear-related intelligence with the People's Republic of China.  Ultimately, the government could only prove one charge, improper handling of sensitive data, to which Lee pled guilty and was sentenced to time served.  Lee subsequently pursued a civil lawsuit against the government and several media outlets over the fact that his name had been publicly revealed before any charges were filed, which was settled for a multi-million-dollar sum.  The federal judge in his case issued a public apology for denying Lee bail and ordering him to serve solitary confinement.]

SI:  To clarify, this is the period from 1995 to 2003 when you were running the protective force.

JK:  The armed force, yes, the pro force, yes. 

SI:  All right. 

JK:  Okay.  I mentioned the Cerro Grande Fire.  We lost four hundred homes and burned over the Laboratory. 

SI:  When you say "burned over the Laboratory," what exactly does that mean--all around the Laboratory?

JK:  Burned right through it.

SI:  Oh.

JK:  It took down probably ten or fifteen older building structures, including some historic ones way back to the Manhattan Project, but most of the newer buildings were all resistant.  They just got scorched, but we had four hundred homes burnt to the ground, cars melted, but none of the critical areas.  The way they were built and how durably they were built, they just got singed.

The question was, how do you move an armed protective force safely around the flames and still protect the whole area?  So, that was the challenging part of it, but it burned over it twice and just really trashed the town.  The fire was set against our fire chief's advice, was set as a controlled burn up in the Jemez Mountains.  They lost total control of it.  The government wound up buying some really nice homes for the people who used to live in Los Alamos. 

SI:  Wow.

JK:  They burned them all up. 

SI:  Did you lose anybody in that fire? 

JK:  No.  We had two injuries, both firemen--one broken arm and one tore up a knee--but the rest of it, we managed to avoid any kind of death or injury out of it. 

SI:  Is there a fire department as part of the Laboratory facility? 

JK:  Historically, Los Alamos was a little, tiny, nothing town when the Manhattan Project came up.  So, when I first took over operations, the Laboratory ran about everything.  The City Council had a police force.  The fire department was downtown in Los Alamos, but it was really good, had to meet Laboratory standards of protection, nuclear material training, everything.  So, really, for a small town, it was a super high-grade fire department.  They were initially managed by the Laboratory.  Then, progressively, during the time I was there, they got handed off to the city, but a good chunk of Los Alamos was managed by the Laboratory until the city got organized enough to progressively take stuff over. 

SI:  In terms of security access for the employees and everyone else associated with the Laboratory, did you have to run those background checks?

JK:  Yes.  Well, no, we didn't.  I did in my follow-on job, but we'll get to more details from that.  I left the Laboratory for a while to run the DOE National Training Center.  Then, that was just a little over a year.  They had significant problems overall and they asked me to come back, to take over the whole security program at Los Alamos. 

So, there's a different sequence of time there.  At that time, I was running all aspects of security, including everything except the counterintelligence, which the FBI still ran, not just the armed force.  The armed force was just one particular part of it.  I can get into that in some more detail in a minute. 

SI:  Before 9-11, what was your typical week like?  Was it mostly running training exercises?  What were the routines?  Were there any other incidents that came up, besides the fire? 

JK:  The fire was the biggie.

SI:  Yes.

JK:  Some surveillances that we picked up, a lot of training time, reinforcing the safety.  Then, the Department of Energy runs really comprehensive inspections.  They come in, they give you full-blown inspections, including opposition force and attack you. 

We were mediocre, primarily because of the footprint of the Laboratory and with open roads running back and forth.  Around the critical nuclear areas, there's a perimeter intrusion detection system, which is basically an outer fence, a detector cable in-between the fence, which, when you get near that, sends a signal, then, another fence on the inside that's also alarmed.  Then, you're in the area.  

That's inadequate for the way it was done, especially with highways, public highways, running thirty, forty yards away from the outer fence.  So, probably thirty or forty percent of the time, we lost the exercises, because you just couldn't stop people in time, didn't have the right armament, didn't have the right armored vehicles to resist attacks. 

So, the whole time was fighting for funding, concept building the site safeguard and security plan that showed you what you needed, developing computer modeling to actually run sophisticated exercises, to show the results that you would likely get, given all the parameters, building all those kinds of things in the early stages, to prove that the footprint had to change, the nature of the defensive infrastructure had to change and the weaponry had to be upgraded if you were going to be able to really guarantee, one hundred percent of the time, that you weren't vulnerable.

A lot of that was just stalled, fighting for money.  As anywhere in the government, you're fighting for tradeoffs for where the dollars are spent.  In a scientific laboratory, science is the priority, not armed troops.  Even with the embarrassments that were happening, it was hard to get money.  9-11 solved all that. 

SI:  These pre-9/11 political problems, were they due to higher-ups in the DOE or the University of California not wanting to spend the money?

JK:  It was both.  That's it, yes.

SI:  Okay.

JK:  The DOE was reluctant to spend the money.  The University of California had critical science priorities they were looking at and tried to minimize the costs involved in paying the grunts to run around with guns, stop and check badges, do all those things.  So, you might get some money flow after you had trouble with an exercise and got declared unsatisfactory--some money flowed right after that death with the terrible practices--but there was no consistent implemented plan.  That's why I built the site safeguard and security plan, to show what we ought to be doing, but getting it funded was slow until after 9-11.  Then, after 9-11, it really picked up. 

SI:  Can you describe the day of 9-11 and what your response was there?  Was there any particular response you had to take? 

JK:  Oh, yes.  As soon as we saw it happening, I recalled troops and doubled the force, twenty-four/seven, doubled the force all around the clock.  I blocked those roads, told the state we're doing it and we blocked the roads.  It was entry control only by ID.  We have, basically, line badges that every employee wears.  We shut off civilian access, unless there's a pre-authorized reason for them to be there. 

In fact, I even tried to throw the Governor off the bridge before I recognized him, Gary Johnson.  He was in an area where nobody was supposed to be.  He was observing the fire from a distance.  So, I ran over there and started chewing his ass.  It turned out to be the Governor, said, "Oh, sorry, sir."  [laughter] He was able to be there.  We shut down the place for a while, and then, progressively relaxed it as it was clear that this was not a general attack, this was focused primarily on one terrorist attack in one area for terrorist publicity type focus, to intimidate people.  The initial reaction, we shut the place down then.  

That precedent also helped when it was time to start building gate shacks and entry control points and get those highways under control, because, I mean, two of them are still state highways, but there's no way you can have an open-access state highway running within forty yards of the perimeter fence, six-and-a-half tons of plutonium, just weapons-grade plutonium.  So, we finally solved that problem. 

SI:  Jumping back earlier, to the wildfire, did all the nuclear material remain in place? 

JK:  Yes.  That's really secured in vaults that are super, super fireproof, designed to resist external bombing attack.  That stuff's good, but the problem is that I had to evacuate the troops.  They initially told me that the one area where most of that's concentrated that the air systems could handle all that smoke.  It turned out not to be true, and so, had to get in and evacuate the guys out through the smoke to get them out of the place, and then, secure it from a distance, but all kinds of problems.  It was basically twenty hours of operation.  Then, I slept in my office with a mask on my face, to reduce the inhalation of smoke, but that was a twenty-hour day.

SI:  Wow.

JK:  With a quick four hours' sleep, if I'm lucky, at night to be able to deal with it, and then, be constantly on the edge to keep the troops away from where the fire was headed.  So, the good news is, a fire like that, that burns in forests, usually burns slower than a grass fire.  Grass fire, you just can't get near it.  Whatever the speed of the wind is--and it creates its own wind--you're in big trouble, but it's more predictable in a forest fire. 

So, I was able to move the troops around and maintain the level of security you need from over-watch positions.  The fire was self-protecting.  Nobody was getting through that to get the stuff anyway.  That was an interesting experience.

SI:  Did you have to run an evacuation of everyone in the facility?

JK:  Yes, my troops did, yes.  That was easy.  The town was a problem.  It just turned into a huge traffic jam because the roads were not adequate, but we got them ahead of the fire.  At first, we evacuated to a town below Los Alamos called White Rock.  Then, the fire blew up again and was threatening White Rock.  So, we had to evacuate that again.  Then, it turned into a huge traffic jam.  We were able to get them off the Laboratory effectively, because I had a lot of troops that could do that.  It put them right in a traffic jam, but further away from the heart of the fire then. 

SI:  Were there other natural disasters that you had to deal with?

JK:  That's the main one that comes to mind, yes. 

SI:  Okay.

JK:  You got floods and major thunderstorms and all that stuff, but that doesn't really affect the Laboratory.  As solidly as those facilities were built, that's minimal impact--just take care of the troops and make sure they're in a safe position.  The biggest headache was having an area where the footprint was marginal at best in terms of security, being able to get the funding, the process, the planning and the execution to turn that into a "nuclear Fort Knox," where there's no question that you can't get where you need to to do any dirty deeds.  

SI:  You mentioned earlier that you picked up some surveillance.  What does that actually mean?

JK:  The people who would ride the public roads, before we shut them off, and stopped to take pictures of critical facilities.

SI:  Okay.

JK:  When I arrived, they weren't jacking them up at all, just letting them go.  I said, "No, that's unacceptable."  The configuration was such that we had people at far ends of the Laboratory.  If you could see somebody doing that, you can get a radio call out soon enough to block traffic, call them and examine their camera.  The lawyers never agreed completely to it, but, if it was on your camera at a critical facility, you're losing your film or it's being erased.  So, we just did that and nobody ever stopped us.  We had a number of instances of that kind of thing.  Some may have been tourists, but there's no way to tell and a number were foreign nationals. 

Then, in my other job, when I did take over the security program, we were under constant cyber-attack.  That's thousands of hits an hour from all over the world.  Chinese, Russian, hobby hackers, everybody was hacking, trying to get into the premier National Laboratory's system, but that was the next job, the job after next. 

SI:  9-11 was this turning point where you would get more funding.  How long did it take to reorganize the Laboratory into this system that you had pushed for?

JK:  It took about two years to get it decent.  The Nuclear Materials Safeguard and Security Upgrade project, which I have to look at my notes later, how much that was, but a multi-millionaire-dollar system, was the final solution.  We just finished that about the time I was leaving the Laboratory.  So, it took a number of years. 

Phase one, we finished quickly, which really helped, but it was in two phases.  The second phase was, we kept the exterior fence that we had.  Well, first, we shrunk the footprint and got down into one primary location.  Then, we kept the outer fence, we kept the cable sensor in the middle.  Then, I stole an idea that I had from the Ground Launch Cruise Missile Systems in Europe and put in a steel mesh fence that took you a long time to cut your way through, which created a huge delay and a very visible footprint, because the best way to get through it was with a saw.  The noise and flash and everything that comes from that, you're delayed there.  Then, the other fence was behind that.

Then, I got armored vehicles and went out to Arizona for a tinkerer out there who really knew what he was doing, bought Gatling guns and put them on armored vehicles.  So, you penetrate the place, you get through the first fence, you get the detection, you hit the delay.  While you're trying to work through the delay, a couple of armored vehicles roll up on you with Gatling guns at three thousand rounds a minute of armor-piercing ammo and the fight's over.  That's never been defeated, ever since we got it finished.  So, that solved the problem of failing inspections. 

SI:  Wow.

JK:  So, that's the longer story, over time.  Most of the systems in DOE are called PIDAS, Perimeter Intrusion Detection and Assessment Systems.  We named ours PIDADS, Perimeter Intrusion Detection, Assessment and Delay System.  The delay is built into the system.  That fence slows you down until there's plenty of time to respond and eat your lunch.  So, that solved the problem.

SI:  Yes.

JK:  Yes, and then, consolidated all the dispersed nuclear areas into that one.  Then, we also worked on things I can't give you full details on.  As drones came on, we worked on being sure we had ability to control drones, so that we didn't have adverse experiences like we just had in Saudi Arabia.  [Editor's Note: On September 14, 2019, Saudi Aramco oil refineries in Abqaiq and Khurais, Saudi Arabia, were attacked by drones launched from Yemen by Houthi forces purportedly backed by Iran.]

SI:  After 9-11, did the anti-nuke protests continue? 

JK:  Much to a lesser degree, once the movie stars got out of it.  Well, what normally happened was--no, I'm going to draw a blank on their name.  Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament's England. 

SI:  SANE?  [Editor's Note: The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, formed in 1957, advocates for global nuclear disarmament as well as unilateral British disarmament.  The National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE), also formed in 1957, in Silver Spring, Maryland, later renamed Peace Action, held a rally led by Martin Sheen at Los Alamos National Laboratory on the anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing in 1999.]

JK:  No, it wasn't SANE.  It was a western group.  I can't believe I'm blanking on their name now, but they would form up--I think Plowshares, I think.  They would have an anti-nuclear demonstration downtown, around a public area called Ashley Pond.  Then, they would march over in a sackcloth and ashes.  They used to penetrate the Lab and try to get into places, but we got so tight and they got tired of being arrested.  So, they would then walk to the bridge just before the Laboratory started and sit down and have about a three or four-hour prayer vigil.

[Editor's Note: The Plowshares Movement, a nonviolent, Roman Catholic, anti-nuclear pacifist movement, began in 1980.  Its adherents have gained publicity for their beliefs by breaking into nuclear weapons facilities and committing acts of sabotage and vandalism.] 

So, they all continued, but the three thousand people led by movie stars who were swarming areas of the Laboratory stuff just ended.  There's no way to do that anymore, effectively.  The movie stars stopped showing up, so, the crowd went way down to some really dedicated people. 

SI:  It is confrontational, obviously, but were they trying to attack--not attack, but heavily resist--your men when they would try to arrest them?

JK:  No, there's no real resistance, very rare.  They did squirrely things that tricked us a few times.  The one guy had two pet llamas.  He showed up and got himself arrested.  So, I had llamas running all over the place, trying to catch them and get animal control in to deal with the llamas.  Then, the other people would bring pets and leave them.  It was mainly to get on television cameras and send their message.  The movie stars always attracted the main networks, instead of just a local network. 

So, it was fairly cooperative.  It's really too intimidating to try to fight.  If Antifa [militant anti-fascists] were there and tried it, it would be a really bad experience, because I got six hundred guys, highly-trained, highly-skilled, designed to deal with counter terrorists and with special nuclear materials, deadly force authorized, way beyond what a local law enforcement officer is able to do.  So, it's just not done.  You'll come and demonstrate and get your name on the cameras, but it's too intimidating to get stupid then. 

I had one guy do that while I was there.  He got as far as the front gate of the nuclear storage area and got wrapped up and sat there and got a pretty good jail sentence for trespassing and threatening and all that kind of stuff.  He's the only one that ever got beyond the demonstration level and tried to penetrate and resist.  Nobody ever tried except him, and he went to jail for a good period of time. 

SI:  During this period, were you living in the town of Los Alamos?

JK:  Yes, yes.  As I mentioned, going back just to the end of the Cerro Grande Fire, my company at the time--the parent company was Day & Zimmerman--I got Project Manager of the Year out of that.  What I did that I most enjoyed there is, I ran the High-Adventure Boy Scout Explorer group, now called the Venture Crews.  

Basically, we specialized in whitewater.  We ran most of the rivers in the West, trained near Taos, on the Rio Grande River, but we ran elements in the Taos Box, the Yampa, the Green, the Arkansas, the Salmon, the Selway, ran the Grand Canyon, spent eighteen days down there running that, and others.  Also, we did back-country ski trips.  Tenth Mountain Division Hut system in Colorado is a phenomenal set-up and we skied that all the time.  I taught snow cave camping and we did a lot of mountain biking.  For several years, we went up to the Boundary Waters and Quetico Wilderness on canoeing trips. 

During that time, I was still training pretty hard.  So, I ran the Boston Marathon twice, which included the hundredth running, which was really more of a party than a marathon.  They usually limit the size of their crew, but, for the hundredth running, they let anybody who wanted to run in.  They started the firing cannon off to start the race, it took me nine minutes to get to the starting line.  Then, every one of the bars along the way had bands out front playing.  It was just a giant party, but it was a lot of fun, yes.  I was on the Board of Directors of the Los Alamos YMCA.  In 1999, they chose me Citizen of the Year in Los Alamos. 

At that point, I got an offer to go run the Department of Energy National Training Center in Albuquerque.  That's when I transitioned down to Albuquerque.  I kept the home in Los Alamos and the wife stayed there, but I lived, during the week, in Albuquerque, and then, back on the weekends.  So, that was a job in-between taking over the whole security program at Los Alamos.

SI:  With the Boy Scout involvement, did you go to Piedmont?

JK:  Yes, we were up there pretty regularly.  That's just right up the road, yes.  In fact, a lot of the adult meetings were held up there.  We never went there for the camping week, because we had even better places right around us there. 

SI:  Yes.  Did you lose your home in the fire?  Was it affected?

JK:  Missed my home.

SI:  Okay.

JK:  No, the section of town that it burned, mine was not affected.  The only thing I lost that I really was sad about in there was, you saw the oryx head in there, that I was asked to help reduce the herd that would come over and created damage down in Southern New Mexico.  That's the best meat I've ever eaten.  That was in the freezer and the freezer was off for ten days, twelve days.  So, I lost all my prime game meats.  [laughter]

SI:  Did you have any kind of official wildlife and game role, like you had had in the Air Force in Europe?

JK:  Basically, I was on the New Mexico depredation hunt list.  What that meant was, when they had an animal problem they had to deal with, the people who were on that list, who the state had selected, had the skills, would be asked to come help.  In this case, a hundred years ago or longer, somebody brought oryx in to White Sands Proving Grounds and they just prosper there.  They're from the Kalahari Desert and they do real well in Southern New Mexico. 

They had one herd that came over the mountains into, I think it was Santa Rosa, and they trashed the agricultural experiment station.  So, the depredation hunt guys called, said, "Can you help us get rid of this herd?"  I said, "I can do that."  So, that's where I got that one big head on the wall, the African gemsbok or oryx. 

[Editor's Note: The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish introduced the South African gemsbok or oryx, a species of antelope native to southern Africa, to the White Sands Missile Range and its environs from 1969 to 1977 to increase game hunting opportunities.  With its natural predators absent, the oryx prospered to levels that threaten flora and fauna in the White Sands National Park.]

SI:  You also seem to have traveled quite a bit in the Southwest.  Do any experiences stand out?

JK:  The Grand Canyon is miraculous.  I mean, that's just miraculous.  You sit on two-million-year-old rocks, the Zoroaster granite and Vishnu schist.  That's an amazing place.  You can look at the layers of history for two billion years in the rocks.  There's a number of Native American areas down there.

Later on--see, I think we're jumping a little bit--the other great travel was, I went down to Copper Canyon in Mexico [in the Sierra Madre Occidental], which is bigger than the Grand Canyon.  We had an elders' conference with the Tarahumara Indians.  They call themselves Raramuri, but they're known to most Americans as Tarahumara.  They're the great runners.  They're the ones that Nike brought people up to run the fifty-milers.  They hated their shoes and threw them away, cut up tires and ran on tires and won the race.  Nike fired them.  A friend of mine--it's a long story for him, how he got down there--but he was an old hippie who went down to Mexico and wound up living with them.  He's now a pretty good businessman. 

We were trying to have an elders' conference with them.  There's pretty good evidence that the Pueblo Indians that I worked with, the Tiwa, Towa and Tewa in New Mexico, after the revolt against the Spanish led by Popé, when they ran the Spaniards off for fifteen years, until the Spaniards came back with cannon, at the time the Spaniards came back, an element of those Native Americans appear to have gone to Copper Canyon and were part of the Tarahumara down there. 

[Editor's Note: The Pueblo refers to a multi-tribe group of Native Americans in the American Southwest, including the Tiwa, Towa and Tewa tribes.  In 1680, the Tewa Puebloan Popé led a revolt against the Spanish, expelling them from the region for twelve years, when they returned to conquer the Puebloans.]

What we were trying to do was establish that fact and go hit up the casinos that were now really propagating in America and get some financial help for the Tarahumara.  They're trying to resist the drug traffickers and all the stuff that's going on in Mexico and maintain their culture and living hand-to-mouth.  So, we were working on getting that done, but, unfortunately, that coincided with the 2008 Recession and the casinos got in trouble.  We never did manage to help, but I spent two weeks there and had three elder meetings.  About ten of us went down there and met with the elders of the tribe and spent a couple weeks with them.  That was a fascinating experience.  That was phenomenal.

SI:  Was this work with Native Americans part of a group effort or just a personal interest?

JK:  It's a personal interest for me, because I had a number of the Native Americans who worked for me at the Laboratory and had linked up with San Ildefonso Pueblo [a tribe in Santa Fe County] especially, but, also, the Jemez Pueblo [a tribe in Sandoval County], good friends, close friends.  The casinos had really changed the quality of their lives, from being right on the edge, struggling with a lot of poverty and alcoholism and other issues, and the casinos pretty well turned that around with employment. 

We were trying to do some of the same thing with the Tarahumara, who were struggling so much down there, but it never worked out.  I did a lot with the Native Americans.  In fact, I made the mistake of agreeing to go through a sweat lodge ceremony.  That's not a picnic.  That's tough. 

SI:  Really? 

JK:  Yes.  I'm not claustrophobic, but I was close, in that little, tiny tent with about four times the heat that you would have in a sauna, only get to open the thing to breathe a few times during the course of three hours.  That was a one-time experience.  I wouldn't do that one again.

SI:  Wow.

JK:  The other ones are, I had a friend of mine who's a halibut fisherman in Alaska.  He would pre-position kayaks for us up in Kuiu Island, near the Kuiu Bay, which is one of the major feeding areas for humpback whales.  They eat there, and then, they breed in Hawaii.  So, he pre-positioned kayaks.  We spent about eight or nine days, flying in by bush planes, kayaking with the humpback whales.  They're just fascinating.  They're brilliant animals, yes.  They run organized hunts called "bubble-netting."  They'll go down and swim in circles, blow bubbles and tighten it up.  In fact, one erupts through, gets the fish in his mouth.  That's right at Kuiu Island there.

SI:  We are looking at a picture on the wall of a humpback coming out of the water.

JK:  Yes.

SI:  Wow.

JK:  So, that was a lot of fun.  That was another real highlight.  Then, the Grand Canyon, I mentioned that.  That was phenomenal.  In fact, I'd have to do it commercially--you have to wait several years for a lottery drawing to be able to see it and get in there by yourself, with a party--but I'm thinking of going commercial again, to just run the Canyon again.  It's a magical place.

SI:  With the Second Gulf War, there were additional preparations.  What did that include?

JK:  That just added that continued emphasis; that just kept what we got going after 9-11 and just sustained it.  There was no challenge to the money.  So, we were able to build the PIDADS system that I told you about, over time, but it took quite a while to get that done.

Then, I went down to DOE National Training Center in Albuquerque.  I was the general manager and, also, a senior vice president for Wackenhut Corporation then.  At that time, that was a phenomenal operation.  It involved all kinds of different government agencies, including Interior, the FBI, the State Department and Homeland Security, but one of the problems was, as I got down there and really got into the financial books, they had misused a lot of money.  I advised DOE, so the DOE sent in the whole world to examine the books.  We had to subsequently reduce the support of the multi-agencies and all that kind of a thing.  That was a mess that we had to work hard to fix.  In the middle of that, I got an offer to go back to Los Alamos and run the whole security program. 

Down there at the DOE National Training Center, we had a number of academies.  So, we managed the Central Training Academy, which was all training the armed force, the pro force.  We ran a Counterintelligence Training Academy, which was basically all the services, all the agencies who were involved in counterintelligence, the Foreign Interaction Training Academy, where we brought, basically, military and security people from all around the world and put them through an American experience for a month, combination training and cultural exposure, dining out in America and visiting landmarks. 

So, we ran that program, also, an Accelerated Access Authorization Program, the AAAP.  Basically, when you had to accelerate a clearance for somebody to be in the government, this was the agency that ran the high-speed assessment, background inspections that didn't go through the normal several-month routine, but could do all kinds of things to get you a quick clearance if you needed it for somebody coming in the government.  So, we ran that too. 

We also managed the Antiterrorism Assistance Program for Department of State.  We ran a program for Homeland Security.  We were pre-positioning millions of dollars' worth of equipment all around the country, emergency response equipment around the country.  Then, we also ran a security training program for the Department of the Interior.  After 9/11, they really had to upgrade their security on our dams and they had not done any of that before.  So, we trained all their people on how to secure the dams. 

So, we were doing that all the time.  Then, as I got further and further into our books, our accountant was shuffling money between all these different agencies, just to balance his books.  So, he'd taken money from State and given it to DOE and miscellaneous.  I had to raise the flag on that one.  So, the DOE decided, "This is the DOE National Training Center--you other agencies go somewhere else and find a way to get your services," and cut way back on the thing. 

SI:  Wow.

JK:  Unfortunately, at the same time, the Lab was having headaches.  They asked me to come back and take over their whole security program.  So, I went back home, up to Los Alamos, and stopped commuting.  The National Training Center became a lot smaller operation.  Los Alamos, they were in trouble with the Congress and the White House for a series of things.  So, I went back up there and took over that program. 

SI:  Before we leave Albuquerque, the Antiterrorism Assistance Program, was that for training allies?

JK:  Yes, yes.

SI:  Would you go overseas to manage a program? 

JK:  No, we brought them here for the American experience, then, ran them through our version of the high-speed stuff they should be working toward.  Some were already there, but some had a long ways to go to figure out how to do that.  We were trying to build an international network of people who could pick up the phone and call and have trusted assistance for when they needed to respond to a terrorist action.  

In fact, the Indian class that we put through wound up on the phone with us in the Mumbai attack, when that Mumbai terrorist attack was taking place.  Their initial response was mistaken.  We were able to consult with them quite a bit on dealing with that Mumbai attack, and other lesser ones, but that was really the biggie.  I don't know if you remember that one or not. 

[Editor's Note: On November 28, 2008, Pakistani-trained terrorists attacked the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower in Mumbai, killing more than 167 people, injuring 293, and incurring major damage to the hotel. The assault was a part of a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in India perpetrated by Pakistani militants.]

SI:  Yes.

JK:  But, they were calling back for consultation.

SI:  Was that during that time?  I thought it was later.  Was that in 2003 or 2004?

JK:  I don't remember when it was.

SI:  Yes.

JK:  I'm trying to think.  I'd have to look up the Mumbai attack date, but they were calling the NTC for advice then.  We'd established personal relationships with them.  I was back at Los Alamos by then.

SI:  When you came back to Los Alamos, what had gone wrong in the interim?  Why did they recall you?

JK:  Well, they had a few challenges going on, but the one that really clobbered them, that they got in trouble with, was the management of Accountable Classified Removable Electronic Media, ACREM.  Basically, it's electronic thumb drives, the discs, tapes.  

The way the Laboratory operated that program, it was totally dispersed.  So, the scientist who was working on some of that stuff had it in his desk, had it in his safe.  They lost all kinds of accountability and all kinds of stuff that was sensitive wound up unaccounted for.  The Congress was really upset and the White House was upset that the Congress was upset.  Then, that was the biggest challenge that we had to deal with right away. 

So, I wound up being the Director of Security, Safeguards and Emergency Management.  Their performance, also, across the board, was not being rated well by the Department of Energy.  They had an unsatisfactory performance rating in 2004.  We took that to satisfactory in 2005, '06 and '08--we had no inspection in 2007--but the ACREM thing was the one that really clobbered them. 

What we had to do was centralize the program.  So, what I did, basically, was set up a series of twenty centrally-controlled libraries.  So, they still had easy access to it, but they were managed by a trained person who knew how to manage that data.  It was issued to them for their use and personal accountability, and then, returned to those libraries.  It took awhile to build that program, but that bailed us out of that.  We got our performance up. 

I forget the exact timelines, but, as a result of that and some other challenges--the Wen Ho Lee situation, the ACREM thing--the University of California wound up losing the contract there.  They'd kept fifty-one percent of the contract to do the science, but a group called LANS, Los Alamos National Security, came in and ran other parts of the operation.  So, that was a transition, from no longer pure University of California to Los Alamos National Security running primarily the operational side of the Lab, while the University of California kept doing the science.

We were also responsible for emergency management and response and for HAZMAT, hazardous materials response, and fire department.  This is about the time that we designed that multi-million-dollar project I was telling you about to protect the special nuclear materials.  That's the NMSSU Project, the Nuclear Materials Safeguard and Security Upgrade Project, and building the PIDADS system that I told you about.  That's when the funding came in for that.

Then, during my tenure, we successfully completed phase one of the project, early and under budget.  The other one, the phase two, took a lot more money and a lot longer time.  By then, I'd done a number of other things and had just been recalled from retirement to work the pro force again, but that's jumping way ahead. 

We also built the Deployed Security Model.  That model, basically, we took the bureaucracy that was all in the Office of Security bureaucracy and dispersed it to the key facilities, the operational facilities, and had them working directly for that facility boss.  So, you still were networked in terms of the security group, but the guy sitting right near--whoever's running the thing--has a security advisor.  

We built that whole system.  The Deployed Security Model made a huge difference, putting the expertise close to the work, and drove our incidents, security incidents, way, way down.  So, that was all part of that time phase, yes.

SI:  Looking at these things from the outside, like the ACREM issue, you get the impression that information is just going missing and it could wind up in enemy hands, but it seems like the problem is more just somebody taking something, putting it in their desk.

JK:  No, they destroyed it and didn't account for it.

SI:  Okay.

JK:  For the most part, I mean, because the stuff, when you're done with it, you shred it, but there's a whole accounting system to make sure that gets documented.  Like the TSCM Program, the Technical Security Counter Measures Program, when you work with nuclear materials, you convert it from one substance to another substance.  You've got to track exactly, scientifically, that none of that got diverted, but that it all got converted.  It takes a technical surveillance to make sure of that.  

The same way, you need a system that accounts for creation, management and disposition.  If you put it out over a thousand different people that have access to that, that's managing it personally, it's going to get screwed up.  I mean, it's just not going to work.  Somebody will shred stuff, but, then, you have no way to prove that it's not lost.  So, it's beautiful Congressional hearings, "Two years ago, your audit said you had this many.  Now, you have that many.  You can't account for the difference.  Explain that to me."  It's a loser.

SI:  Yes. 

JK:  So, we centralized the twenty libraries with professional custodians who managed that.  They did the destruction.  They did the management of the thing.  It made that problem go away.

SI:  You were talking about security incidents and how this decentralization caused them to go down.  Would an example of an incident be, say, somebody not logging things correctly in a recordkeeping system?

JK:  Yes, yes, leaving critical safes open, failing to secure alarms, failing to classify things that need to be classified--I mean, the whole range of mistakes you can make when you're working with really sensitive material.  So, if you don't have somebody who understands the details readily available and you have to call some central bureaucracy and try to find somebody who can help you, that's one issue, but, when the guy works for you and he's sitting an office away, you can say, "Hey Charlie, how do we do this?" and greatly increases the effectiveness of the program.

They're still wired in to the central security.  So, they're still wired in and up-to-date and connected to me and the rest of the people who are running the program.  So, they've got the expertise, but they're deployed to the people close to where you're really doing the work.  That makes a huge difference.  So, that drove the security incidents way, way down--misplaced classified material, unlocked safes, failed to secure an area properly and all that stuff. 

SI:  Were you ever called to Washington for hearings or anything like that? 

JK:  No.  Again, yes, they came to see me.

SI:  Okay.

JK:  I have to think about the dates for it now.  At that time, the contract had changed over and I was the physical security guy.  I'm trying to think, trying to get my dates straight here.

SI:  Let me pause for a second.


JK:  Yes, the time they came to see me was a mess, but that was a little bit later on in the sequence of things.  I'll give you all the details on that, but, essentially, that was classified material being where it shouldn't be under really sexy situations.  I'll give you more details on that when we get to that point, but, yes, they were mad enough to come see me then. 

SI:  From 2004 to 2009, is that when you were working on cybersecurity? 

JK:  Yes, yes.  Then, I was working with it.  They worked for me, but I really wasn't directing the program.  I was employing the experts to do it and kind of oversaw the budget and all that aspect of it.  I didn't have the cyber skills to be able to know how to deal with thousands of hits an hour from external agencies, that they managed that and I was kind of an administrative overseer.  So, I was not as deeply involved as I was in Pantex, when I had to run the program for a while, but Pantex was the next job. 

SI:  How did the transition to Pantex come about?

JK:  I got a job offer to go over there and run their security program.  I was physical security director at Los Alamos, but Pantex, it's probably the most sensitive nuclear installation in America, because it's where the nuclear weapons are assessed and maintained. 

There's no science on how plutonium ages or how the components of nuclear weapons age.  So, this is the place where they pull a weapon out of the stockpile, take it there, disassemble it, get all the protective action links out of it that keep it from being able to explode except when it's supposed to explode, and do the analysis of the health and safety of the firearm.  You have nuclear weapons without permissive action links in it, so, it's a really sensitive place to operate.

They got in trouble out there.  They were not running well at all.  My predecessor had been fired several months before.  I got a call to go over there and become the safeguard and security division leader there.  Basically, the problem there was--it actually wasn't as bad as Los Alamos was when I first reported over there--but they also had union difficulties.  They had failed performance reviews, not passing inspections.  It was not in anywhere near as big a trouble as Los Alamos was before, but DOE was dissatisfied with it.  They'd fired two people before me. 

My job was to come over there and fix the program, fix the problems.  So, we did it.  It took about a year, but, by the end of 2010, we were running a ninety-two-percent performance rating.  I had to build from scratch a mission, vision, strategy, doctrine and organizational performance plan, performance evaluation plan, with measurable results that we had to achieve. 

Somewhat akin to the dispersed problem I had at Los Alamos, when we got there, they were running a security level of "everything was absolutely critical to be protected."  So, part of the plan was a graded security protection program, where you prioritized where you made your focus.  So, we built that into the plan and built an operating plan.  We basically met the objectives; had to rebuild the protective force training program.  That was not adequate. 

That's where I got stuck with managing the cybersecurity program, way beyond my technical limitations.  We muddled through it, but it took a number of months to find a qualified person to come in and take it over.  Basically, I chopped that program over to them after a number of months because I just don't have the expertise to be able to tell you how to deal with the technicalities of cybersecurity.  You wanted to know how to employ weapons to stop an attack, I'm your man, but you want to tell me how to stop a cyber-attack, I'm not.  [laughter] So, I was able to hand that off. 

SI:  Yes.

JK:  We also had to rebuild, I mentioned before, the Technical Surveillance Countermeasures Program, the TSCM Program.  That needed to be rebuilt because that was not adequate for the nature of the jobs that they were doing at Pantex.  Again, we reduced the footprint.  We got from about four locations down to two locations and simplified the security posture for that and had to build an operational security program and lessons-learned programs.

I was commuting back from Los Alamos to there, and then, about every other weekend, I got back to Los Alamos.  One of my objectives there was to hire a qualified replacement.  I hired a really sharp Army brigadier general to replace me.  He was my deputy and, as soon as he got trained up, then, I wanted to head back to Los Alamos. 

I also was on the Board of Directors for the Boy Scouts where I was in Amarillo.  We had a really good program there, a lot of Western focus, with horses and all that aspect of it.  I was there for less than two years, and then, got back to Los Alamos, again, as a security physical division leader.

SI:  I was curious about the Technical Surveillance Countermeasures.  Can you give me an example of that?

JK:  Yes.  When you start getting into the uranium, plutonium and the radioactive materials and you're doing any kind of science with them, then, you're converting one thing to another thing.  The equation has to add up, to make sure there's no diversion of special nuclear materials.  That's not just uranium and plutonium; it's thorium, Americium a whole range of other things that fall into the sensitive material category. 

So, you have, basically, chemists and physicists who have to track that.  When you start an experiment, you have X amount of this.  You do the experiment and, as you do the experiment, certain things happen.  When that comes out, what you have left over has to be able to be traced back through the equation to show that this amount of material would really produce this amount of material.  That's a techy job for physicists and chemists, but it has to be precise, because, if you come up with the wrong numbers, then, that's reportable to DOE.  A team shows up and you have all kinds of problems.

SI:  Yes. 

JK:  We had one at Los Alamos, when I was back there, with some idiot that worked in the primary nuclear storage area, a technician, wanted to steal gold.  He would steal little quantities of gold and stash them, and then, try to smuggle it out of the area--and forgot it was radioactive because of all the experiments that were done.  So, he tried to escape from the place with the stuff in his lunch basket.  It set off every radiation detector there is and caught him at the gate.

SI:  Wow.

JK:  Some people do stupid things like that.  TSCM is to make sure that you'll catch any of that.  So, you've got your radiation detectors and the science that TSCM does to make sure, if you start with this, you follow this process in your experiment, you get this end result and there's no discrepancy.  So, that's what that program's all about. 

SI:  As you are talking, I am noticing a lot more, at least on the surface, organizational theory and management in the job, particularly assessment issues.  Obviously, they are needed, but did you think there was the beginning of an overemphasis on reportable outcomes, that sort of thing? 

JK:  That's hard to say, because you're transitioning.  You're trying to run a high-speed, multifaceted laboratory with a huge amount of oversight.  When you start talking nuclear stuff, then, politics gets into it, anti-nuclear kinds of issues.  The Congress is deeply involved.  When something goes wrong, it's high visibility.  Congress gets to have a hearing and get lots of publicity out of it.  So, the tendency for senior leadership is to crank down as much as they can to prevent all that.

That complicates operations, but is that wrong or is that right?  It's the reality you're operating in, so, I don't know, it's hard to say whether it's overemphasis or not.  In a different political environment, it might be unnecessary, but, when every sneeze translates into an issue, then, maybe not.  The Lab had been through the ACREM incident, they'd been through the Wen Ho Lee spy situation, they're being hit thousands of times an hour with external hackers--I mean, there's a lot of fertile material there to get politically upset about. 

SI:  When you returned to the Laboratory, it was after the Wen Ho Lee incident.

JK:  No, Wen Ho Lee went forever.  Yes, that turned out to be a mess, because, now, he was stealing stuff and they couldn't account for the stuff, couldn't make sense of it, because it seemed as though it was going to the Chinese, but he's from Taiwan.  The FBI really screwed down on him tight.  The little, quiet fellow, gardener, very sociable and get along with people beautifully, his neighbors loved him--but there's no doubt he was a spy.

The FBI really leaned on him--legs chained and orange jumpsuit and a lot of intense interrogations.  Wound up, he got a book deal out of it.  The judge apologized to him and he never did significant time, sentenced to time served, got out, got a book deal and did all right out of it.  So, every side of the political spectrum was upset about that--the ones who said, "You abused him," and the ones that said, "You didn't screw him tight enough to figure out what he was doing to you and you couldn't account for your materials."  So, that was a complete mess. 

The one that really, when I came back, occupied a huge amount of my time was, a fairly low-level administrator was taking old records, classified matter.  A lot of it was French; the French had provided to us on nuclear matters.  She couldn't keep up with the work.  So, she took a bunch of classified home to work on it.  She co-let her apartment to another person, to split expenses. 

So, the Chief of Police gave me a call and said, "Jack, I got good news and I got bad news.  Which one do you want first?"  I said, "Oh, hell, give me the good news first."  He said, "We just took down a primary crack dealer."  I said, "Hey, congratulations," said, "What's the bad news?"  He says, "The place is full of your classified shit.  Can you get over here and get it?"  I said, "Whoa!"  [laughter]

SI:  Wow.

JK:  So, that one went south fast.  So, that's when the Congressional team came out to visit and pilloried and beat us around the head and shoulders and lots of PR.  "Department of Energy Nuclear Classified Information Found in Crack Dealer's House," you can imagine those kind of headlines.  So, that occupied a good chunk of my couple of years, year-and-a-half, back then at the Laboratory.  The publicity was unreal.

The Congressional folks showed up there and had a roundtable.  I wound up being the chairman of the Security Improvement Task Force, the SITF, and it was formed to respond to the problems.  So, I took over the security incident program, built all the corrective actions that were required by it.  I continued to supervise the pro force, security training and technology enhancements, the classification program, build a better vulnerability assessment program. 

That's when we really started to get into computer modeling for terrorist-level attacks.  We did a great progress building that up and rolling that into the site safeguard and security plan.  Basically, we'd take areas of the Laboratory and model it.  Then, we'd take varying kinds of levels of terrorist skills and model that and run hundreds to thousands of battles and see how it all turned out, and then, adjust from there and build that into our site safeguard and security plan.  So, it was kind of the beginning of that level of modeling. 

It really worked out well, but it took a year-and-a-half to dig the way out of the oversight and the issues affiliated with the classified matter in the crack dealer's house. 

SI:  However, this employee was not sharing the information with anyone.

JK:  No.  It was not usable to him anyway.

SI:  Yes.

JK:  I mean, yes, he wasn't sitting down on a laptop looking at any of it.  They just happened to live together.  One, she broke every rule in the book taking it home.  Two, if she did work on it--she swore she didn't, but I don't know why you'd take it home if you couldn't--but, if she did it, she would've done it on an unclassified computer, which gives that access to being hacked.  Three, she co-rented the place with a crack dealer.  So, it was bad all the way around. 

SI:  Yes.

JK:  There's no way to explain that.  So, you just have to recover from it and build persuasive plans, and then, withstand the scrutiny that comes with it.  Yes, that time, the Congress came to visit me, four of them.  The Air Force, I had to go visit them, but, here, they came to visit. 

SI:  Do you feel like they were out to score points, or were they legitimately concerned?

JK:  Oh, they're legitimately concerned, but they were going to score points while they're at it.

SI:  Okay.

JK:  You know how the Washington scenario works.  If a Congressman can get outraged at some injustice or some huge mistake and you get good TV time on the six o'clock news at home, it's good stuff for the constituency and for voting for the future.  They're inseparable.  So, it's not a phony concern, it's a legitimate concern, but it doesn't hurt if it gets a lot of public exposure for them that shows how they're managing the government on behalf of their constituents. 

SI:  At the end of this tenure with the National Laboratory, you decided to retire. 

JK:  Yes.  Some of the things I was doing at the time, I was doing a lot of bike riding.  My knees were shot from years of running marathons and ultras.  I had ridden the Santa Fe Century, the hundred-mile bike race, a few times there, doing a lot of mountain bike riding.  So, what I wanted to do before I got too old was the Great Divide Trail, a magical place that runs from Banff, Canada, to the Mexican border, over twenty-seven hundred miles.

So, I retired to ride that.  As I rode the Great Divide Trail, I couldn't start in Banff, because we had huge floods that year that washed out bridges on the back-country trails.  I didn't feel like riding the first 260 miles on highways, so, I started right at the Canadian border, and then, rode down to the Mexican border.  Then, I reshaped that a little bit, went a little bit further, because I didn't want to have to camp overnight in the middle of the main area where they're smuggling drugs and illegal immigrants.

I spent seventy-some days in the back country, periodically show up in a place like Jackson Hole, get in a luxury hotel and pig out on really good meals, and then, back in the woods.  The wife tracked me by computer.  I had to carry a Spot, so that she could track me by computer to know where I was--and if I didn't move for two days out there.  [laughter] That was the deal I had to cut.  No, I spent a good amount of time back in the beautiful wilderness.  It was a great trip, a phenomenal trip. 

SI:  Yet, you did not stay retired for long.

JK:  No.  [laughter] They had some operational issues again in the pro force.  They asked me to come out of retirement and run the pro force again, like I did the first time I went to Los Alamos.  So, I was a little reluctant, but a lot of my old troops, well, their job was at risk and they were having some problems there.  So, I said, "Okay, I'll do it." 

So, I did it for about a year-and-a-half.  The goal was to get the problems fixed, get things fully operational again, get through a really nasty union contract renewal, and then, to win the contract, so that LANS, the company I was working with, would approve the SOC's, which was my company, contract to continue.  Then, I'd retire again. 

All that was successful except the last one.  Then, we got really badly underbid by another company.  At the end of all that, we lost the contract anyway.  We did return operations to really excellent performance.  The union demands were unreasonable; it was really, really nasty, but we finally solved that.  We got a good contract underway.  We got our performance rating up to ninety-four percent from unsatisfactory.  The pro force did brilliant work under the DOE inspection.  

By then, we'd finished the NMSSU Project, the PIDADS project.  Nobody could beat us.  Every attack was snuffed out immediately.  The DOE Chief of Defense, Nuclear Security, said it's the best performance in recent memory.  We finished the project and it was an all-around success.  They haven't lost a battle since with that system in place, and there never has been one security failure since then.  That's still one-of-a-kind in DOE, but it really is an idea that ought to be applied to about two other locations, at least. 

I had to reduce the force.  Trying to avoid an involuntary RIF [reduction-in-force], we were able to work, through a period of time, to get people to voluntary retire who were reaching that point.  We avoided having to have a RIF.  Safety program got squared away.  We achieved all of our goals there.  We further enhanced the electronic simulations.  We started working on drones and counter-drone operations.  We built computer modeling for small-unit movement. 

We built a system where we took pictures in actual Laboratory locations and ran comprehensive "shoot/don't shoot" training for the guys.  So, you could get into a scenario where you're confronted with demonstrators or confronted by intruders.  Some are armed, some aren't armed.  You've got to make "shoot/don't shoot" decisions on the spot.  Then, you have to shoot accurately under a lot of stress. 

That really, really helped the training program.  That was just starting to get developed to the point that, now, what you see on your X-Box or whatever that is, we were just getting started with that for combat training.  It worked really, really well, reduced risk because you didn't have to do all that live fire. 

You still did your live-fire quals, but you could do an awful lot of high-speed training, get proficiency up, using the electronics for it; did the same thing with a driving simulator.  So, we had one where you get into the thing and drive under all kinds of different circumstances, including bootlegger turns and other things you had to do, could do that electronically before you had to get in the car and actually do it.  We developed all that during that time period. 

We also helped the fire department translate some of that same thing to forest fire controls, was able to build a simulator table on fire behavior.  That really turned out to be useful training for the fire department folks, to be able to get into a simulator situation and project in wind conditions, weather conditions, humidity and fire behavior kinds of stuff.  So, that was kind of all the stuff we were doing.

When the bid came in, we were underbid significantly.  They've struggled quite a bit since then, because they didn't provide enough manpower or resources to do it.  They're apparently getting by, based on what the troops there tell me, but they're really struggling with the excessive overtime.  The low bid worked at that point in time because there was no particular security crisis going on at the time and they elected to go with the lowest bidder. 

So, I retired again and still doing a bunch of consulting.  Well, I haven't in six or seven months, but I came back here to Cape May.  I was out to Espanola, New Mexico, doing some consulting, and the Hanford Site up in Washington State [a decommissioned nuclear production facility]. 

I was on the contract at Sandia (Livermore) Laboratory in California and was out there for a couple of months.  We won that contract, that I was basically the designated advisor.  One of my old troops was a real superstar, but didn't have the depth of experience that some of the competitors do.  The deal was that I was on-call, including go out there if I had to, if there's some issues that came up, to work with him on it.  Then, we bid it that way and we won.  So, we still have that contract out there.  Then, I've been down to Virginia at the headquarters for SOC, but I'm trying to stay retired. 

I got sucked into being the president of the Kiwanis Club down here in Cape May.  It's the largest one in the state.  It's about a thirty-hour-a-week job.  So, that's interesting.  [Editor's Note: Kiwanis International and its clubs across the globe serve children through philanthropy and volunteer-based service projects.]

SI:  Were you involved with Kiwanis out in the Southwest?

JK:  Yes, I was president out there, too.  It does really important work for the kids.  Plus, this one here gave me my first college scholarship, so, it's payback time here.  We managed to scrape together the money to give out twenty-one thousand dollars' worth this year.

SI:  Wow.

JK:  Plus, all the Key Clubs and Circle Ks and all the youth development stuff we do.  So, that's really worth it, so really worth it.  I'm still bike riding.  Last year, I rode the Outer Banks, which is about a 350-mile ride.  I just came back from a ride out in my old playgrounds in Colorado.  It was about three hundred miles, and got a chance to run whitewater in the Colorado River again. 

Then, I'm up at Rutgers regularly now, as my grandson just graduated summa cum laude.  He's finishing up now, going to be a vet, but he was the captain of the Rutgers University Ultimate Frisbee team that did so well up there and a third-generation Rutgers graduate.  So, I get up there periodically for that. 

SI:  As an alum, have you stayed involved with the University?

JK:  Not until the last year or two.

SI:  Okay.

JK:  I've been living all around the world and elsewhere, and just haven't from a distance.  Now, I have been, a little bit with the ROTC, but more with just Rutgers itself. 

SI:  You worked in security for the Air Force, then, in civilian life, which was, by then, privatized, company contracts.  Which system do you think works better, having a more government/military spearheaded system or one where companies have to bid and contract?

JK:  The military's much easier to run.  There's no way that the military would be providing the same services that the corporate one is, but it's a lot more complicated to run the civilian operation.  Union's one of the issues.  If you have a cooperative union, things are really working well together, but, if you get a couple guys that are looking to make their reputation as a hot-headed union leader, then, it gets complicated.  That's hard work to get it done. 

In the military, the tendency is to hire the best people and delegate, let them run their operations and just keep track of how well it's doing and watch it carefully.  The civilian way of operating is extensive performance objectives that the administrators, who may or may not know a lot about security, create, but set as performance standards.  If you're going to get your award fee, then, you work to those.  That's a lot more over control and less delegation to junior leaders.  It's a lot more bureaucratic in nature than a military operation. 

In a military operation, you can't--you're dispersed.  You're not working one physical location that you're trying to secure.  You've got to be able to really train junior leaders, make sure they understand the commander's intent, understand the commander's intent.  You really focus on that intensely, but, once it gets into the action, they run the show.  I mean, it's their call.  If they need help, they shout, but you're not over their shoulder telling them, "Do this, do that.  Meet this standard, meet that standard," anywhere near the way you are in civilian life.  In civilian life, if you don't meet those standards, whether or not they're the right ones, you don't get paid.  So, it's a very different operation. 

SI:  One thing I wanted to ask about earlier, the Order of the Sword.  [Editor's Note: Colonel Killeen was awarded the Order of the Sword on September 14, 1996.  Non-commissioned officers in the US Air Force award this honor to their commanders.]

JK:  Oh, yes.

SI:  You were telling me the story before.

JK:  Oh, yes.  A year after I had retired and had gone to Los Alamos, the enlisted force of the Air Force surprised me.  I got invited to lunch and a bunch of my old troops showed up.  They had set up a formal presentation of the Order of the Sword.  The Order of the Sword is not a registered Air Force decoration controlled by the Air Force.  Basically, the enlisted force makes the decision whether or not to award the Order of the Sword.  It's supposed to be provided to those who provide the greatest people-centered leadership.

In the Security Forces, my business, I was the second guy to get it.  Now, I think there's been three or four.  They came and gave me that super fancy sword and presentation.  That was about a year after I'd retired, which really shocked me, because I was pretty well out of the action, but the guys followed up.  That's the highest honor that I could ever get from my troops, for them to unnecessarily, of their own volition, go to all the trouble of creating the banquet and the honor and the sword and the presentation.  So, that was a big deal for me. 

SI:  Is there anything else you would like to add?  We went through every aspect a bit.

JK:  I think so.  I can't think of anything we really skipped that's critical.  I've said that, most of my life, I've gotten paid for my hobbies.  It's really been fun and challenging to go on out and take on the challenges that the world has presented over our time here.

SI:  The sword is one example, but it seems like you have kept up with your troops and the people you worked with.

JK:  Oh, yes.

SI:  That those are meaningful relationships. 

JK:  Oh, yes, absolutely, absolutely, still well-connected.  There's an Air Force Security Forces Association, which is tightly-knit.  I'm going to miss their conference this month in San Antonio, but there's an annual meeting with that whole bunch.  The e-mail network flows. 

My old civilian company, the guys who worked for me over the years are now becoming the leaders, and so, I get lots of phone calls there.  Knock on wood, I haven't gotten recalled in the last six or seven months.  I'd like to keep it that way.  I finish this Kiwanis stint and I want to get back in the woods again and a little further riding on the bike than I have.  So, I'm looking forward to trying to do this retired life.

SI:  Did you always want to come back to Cape May?

JK:  Yes, pretty much.  As I say, I'm fourteenth-generation from here.  I've got family all over the place.  The wife desperately wanted to be here all the years I was dragging her all the way around the world.  So, I came back in the midst of the family, in a beautiful setting, and get to turn this old house into my man cave. 

SI:  We talked a bit about this in the first interview, but what are the major changes you have seen in the community?

JK:  It's much more affluent than it was when I was growing up.  When I was growing up, you had a really busy summer season.  The locals worked seven days a week, twelve to sixteen hours a day, get their money, as much as they could, and then, deal with the wintertime, when everything went completely dead.  Now, the place has been discovered, National Historic Landmark.  Basically, probably the second week of January to the first or second week of February is slow.  The rest of the year, it just booms. 

[Editor's Note: In 1970, Cape May was added to the National Register of Historic Places.  In 1976, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark District.]

Historically, way back when, when it was the first seashore resort, one President used Congress Hall for his "Summer White House."  Presidents visited here.  It was the place to be when you got here by boat, and then, that was the place.  Now, it's kind of returning to that kind of a thing.  You've got a lot of folks with good money who've moved down here and bought the old houses and restored them or built new ones that look like the old houses.  The place is just booming ten months, eleven months of the year.  [Editor's Note: From 1889 to 1892, President Benjamin Harrison made the historic Congress Hall his "Summer White House."]

In reality, even though there's a lot of building that has taken place, it's been mostly in built areas.  You've still got your Pine Barrens north of here.  You've still got the sounds surrounded by salt marsh and a cleaner ocean than it was when I was growing up, because the ships are not dumping oil off shore anymore.  So, the environment has improved right along with it, despite the increase in year-round business. 

SI:  I noticed the Air Museum nearby--are you involved with that at all? 

JK:  Oh, the Naval Air, the one at the airport?  [Editor's Note: The Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum, located at Cape May Airport, opened in 1997.  Dr. and Mrs. Joseph E. Salvatore co-founded the museum.]

SI:  That might be it.

JK:  Yes.

SI:  I saw signs for it and I heard someone talking about it recently.

JK:  Yes.  There's two different ones up there.

SI:  Oh.

JK:  There's a Vietnam museum and the Naval Air Museum.  Dr. Joe Salvatore has built that and he's a good friend.  I'm a member and I've done a fair amount with them up there.  It's a fantastic museum.  I mean, it's really, really worth visiting if you have any interest in the history of airpower, especially air and sea power combined.  He's the same fellow who built the historic village right near his house in Cold Spring.  [Editor's Note: The Forgotten Warriors Vietnam Museum is located at Cape May Airport.]

SI:  Okay.

JK:  Yes.  That's Dr. Joe Salvatore.  In fact, I saw him today, he and his puppy dog.  He's got a really great German shepherd.  He was at the airport today.  He's built all that and that's a remarkable place.  He's recovered some aircraft.  I don't know, they had a flying show just last week or week before last.  You can get to ride in World War II aircraft, P-51s, the Mustangs, the B-17, B-29, the old bombers.  That's a whole week's show down there that they put on. 

So, I have not taken on a leadership role, but he's a good friend and support him when I can and been a member out there and get out there periodically.  In fact, that's where I had breakfast, out there today with a bunch of cronies. 

SI:  All right, I was just curious.

JK:  Yes.

SI:  I would imagine you would have some connection to it.

JK:  Yes, oh, yes.

SI:  I think you answered everything I could possibly throw at you.  Have you continued with the Boy Scouts?

JK:  Tangentially down here.  They've both got a bunch of leadership.  I take one weekend and sponsor them at the Cape Island Deer Club.  We've got a gun range up there and the kids need to do their archery and firearms, the merit badges.  I babysit them for a couple days up there and make sure that the safety practices are followed and the firearms training's done right. 

I just was the MC and chairman of the 9/11 ceremony in Cape May and we had the Boy Scouts deeply involved in orchestrating that and folding the flag.  So, that kind of tangential thing, but I'm not taking a leadership role with them.  It's a "help them when they need it" role.  So, they've got a lot of good leaders down here already.  Yes, we just had the 9/11 ceremony we do every year.  That went really well.  I wound up the MC this time, with our State Senators and our Assemblymen and the Mayor and all the folks that were speakers.

SI:  Was that through the Kiwanis? 

JK:  Yes, we run that.  We run a flag ceremony every day from Memorial Day until 9/11 and involve the kids in taking down the flag and folding the flag and answering questions about the flag.  Then, it ends up with a 9/11 ceremony, which the VIPs all show, and the commander of the Coast Guard base.  They were all speakers at that; good event, really went well.  So, just did that 9/11--what, a week ago? 

SI:  Thank you very much.  I appreciate it.

JK:  Absolutely, absolutely. 

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Transcribed by Jesse Braddell 10/15/2019

Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 4/23/2020