WARNING: This page contains major plot spoilers.
If you haven’t read Mission:Black yet, you should not view this page. It is intended as an extra to supplement the book and contains material that may spoil the plot.
The following are elements that I used for my research when writing the book. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
Our second encounter with Rachel and her newly formed Division Team Eagle takes place in Marrakesh, where they are attempting to capture an important player in the nuclear black market.
The growing global market for illicit nuclear material is a real one and has been a source of concern for the UN Security Council and its member states for a number of years. Highly enriched uranium in particular is in demand by nations seeking nuclear weapons and those wanting to maintain existing arsenals. The risk that at some point, a terrorist organization may use a dirty bomb consisting of conventional explosives and radioactive material, is very much real.
The Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or SCIF that EAGLE and WOLF use in Ethiopia is factual. You have undoubtedly seen these in use on TV and in movies, where they often take the shape of a glass box the characters go into to have a secure conversation. Entire buildings can be converted into SCIFs and portable ones are in regular use by the army. I thought having a SCIF inside a shiny, black shipping container on the back of a semi-trailer truck would be uber cool for the Division Eight teams.
Implantable GPS chips like the ones Melissa Hunt had on her body have been in use for years.
Body cameras are routinely used by law enforcement and federal agencies as well as the army to capture footage to direct live missions and for use as evidence in court. Although a lot of law enforcement agencies still have their officers physically load footage to a database on a daily basis, the technology to upload live to a cloud server does exist.
The Golden Leopard
The Golden Leopard, South Africa’s highest military decoration for bravery, is factual. Ulrich Voigt’s professional background and progression to working for a private military contractor is a very common scenario for soldiers who leave the army.
The GAIT analysis software mentioned in the book is factual. The technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in recent years and is already being used in the healthcare industry to improve diagnosis and treatment for patients. GAIT recognition technology for biometric identification and forensics is still however in its infancy, although I expect to see it in use before the end of this decade. Hopefully, it won’t be as huge as the one featured in Mission Impossible 5 Rogue Nation!
Photo identifying markers
Modern smartphones and digital cameras embed GPS coordinates as well as date and time data for each photo we take, unless we disable these features or strip this metadata from the JPEG file afterward. Another reason to be careful about sharing pictures online, although many image-sharing services do automatically remove geolocation details for privacy reasons.
Ship Automatic Identification System
AIS tracking is factual and enable vessel traffic services and maritime authorities to track ships all over the world, for fishing fleet monitoring, security, and accident investigation. The data is actively used by ships for collision avoidance, navigation, and in search and rescue situations.
The MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle is factual and is one of the drones is use by the U.S. Army. Camp Lemonnier is indeed the U.S. Africa Command base in Djibouti.
Although the name USS Harrogate is fictional, the structural and operational details of the amphibious transport dock warship are accurate.
SEAL Delivery vehicle
The Mark 8 Mod 1 manned submersible or SDV is factual and is in use by Navy SEALs. It will soon to be replaced by SWCS, Shallow Water Combat Submersible, and DCS, Dry Combat Submersible. These will be fully enclosed, as opposed to the current SDV which is open to water, and be able to carry more commandos at greater distances and depths.
The Geckskin gloves and boot covers mentioned in the book are factual and are part of DARPA’s Z-man programs, which aim to develop biologically inspired climbing aids that can enable soldiers to scale vertical walls while carrying a full combat load, without using ropes or ladders. They were revealed to the public in 2014 and may soon be used in live missions.
Oil Exploration in East Africa
With vast untapped oil and gas resources buried deep beneath Africa and its territorial waters, the continent has become the new frontier for oil and gas exploration, with dozens of companies vying for licenses and established offshore platforms already in use. This is a source of much concern for environmental activists and international agencies worried about the ecological impact and worsening wealth inequalities such activity will engender in underdeveloped or developing countries with unstable governments and economies, rife corruption, and poor environment protection programs.