SIERRA VISTA, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - Fort Huachuca's history reaches back to the days when the Cavalry kept the peace in the West. But there's a quieter part of the post's history.
Fort Huachuca trains intelligence specialists, and it has a museum that honors the quiet craft of spying. Here’s a look at what they can talk about.
In Fort Huachuca’s Intelligence Museum there’s a wall marked with graffiti. It is no ordinary wall. It's a remnant of the infamous Berlin Wall that blocked East Berliners from the free world when the Cold War was at its coldest and Berlin was a center for spies of both sides.
The museum is part of Fort Huachuca's program to teach modern soldiers the art and science of gathering intelligence.
Sometimes spies knew about each other. Before the Berlin Wall fell, the Soviets, and the Western allies actually had an agreement where some soldiers could spy on each other.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked historian Paul Pipik: “So effectively there were people who had a license to spy?”
Paul Pipik: “In so many words, yes.”
Smith: “In the Cold War world?”
Pipik: “That's exactly what it was. The Soviets had a similar mission. It was located in Bonn, West Germany and when I was over there in the 70s we'd see them up on the hilltops watching us as we would road march and they were always poking around when we were training as well."
The spy teams would try to elude each other. The museum has a small truck one of the teams used. At night the soldiers could change the way the lights looked on the truck to try to lose anyone tailing them as they stretched the limits of where they could go.
Craig Smith asked Pipik: "What if they pushed it too far?”
Pipik: "They could be arrested. They could be interrogated but they really couldn't be held. No one wanted to lose ability to move freely in the other guy's zone so they were usually given a finger wag and sent on their way if they were found too far into the wrong places."
But spying is at least as old as war. The museum has a small brass disk that turns plain language into code. The code disk was one way Civil War soldiers tried keep the enemy from understanding messages sent by flag signals.
The museum has one of the Enigma machines the Nazis used in World War Two. They were confident the Enigma produced unbreakable codes.
It helped win the war for the Allies when British code breakers were able to beat the Enigma's encryption, decode German messages and learn enemy plans. They developed the predecessors of modern computers as part of their code breaking effort.
The museum shows current challenges too like improvised explosives, and suicide vests as modern soldiers come to Fort Huachuca to learn how to use information as a weapon.