Top-shelf resilience (Re: Why the US Government has so many data centers)

Tony Patti tony at
Thu Mar 24 01:36:59 UTC 2016

FYI, similar to "battleshort", the term BATTLE OVERRIDE is described [1] on page 45 of G. Gordon Liddy's book _Will_,
and apparently [2] "Battle Override" was to be the original title of Liddy's autobiography, but the publisher wanted a one-word title.  Quotes: 

"On the multidialed wall behind the radar technicians was a prominent switch with a red security cover.  It was marked: BATTLE OVERRIDE", and 

"In the event of a battle emergency, however, the protective warm-up delay could be overridden and full power applied immediately by throwing the 'Battle Override' switch, as everything and everyone became expendable in war."

Tony Patti


-----Original Message-----
From: NANOG [mailto:nanog-bounces at] On Behalf Of Jay R. Ashworth
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 3:59 PM
To: North American Network Operators' Group
Subject: Top-shelf resilience (Re: Why the US Government has so many data centers)

----- Original Message -----
> From: "George Herbert" <george.herbert at>

> There are corner cases where distributed resilience is paramount, 
> including a lot of field operations (of all sorts) on ships (and 
> aircraft and spacecraft), or places where the net really is unstable.  
> Any generalizations that wrap those legitimate exceptions in are overreaching their valid descriptive range.

This seems like a good time to mention my favorite example of such a thing.

In the Navy, originally, and it ended up in a few other places, there was invented the concept of a 'battleshort', or 'battleshunt', depending on whom you're talking to.

This was something akin to a Big Frankenstein Knife Switch across the main circuit breaker in a power panel (and maybe a couple branch circuit breakers), whose job was to make sure those didn't trip on you at an inconvenient time.

Like when you were trying to lay a gun on a Bad Guy.

The engineering decision that was made there was that the minor possiblity of a circuit overheating and starting something on fire was less important that *the ability to shoot at the bad guys*...

Or, in my favorite example, something going wrong when launching Apollo rockets.

If you examine the Firing Room recorder transcripts from the manned Apollo launches, you will find, somewhere in the terminal count, an instruction to "engage the battle short", or something like that.

Men were, I have been told, stationed at strategic locations with extinguishers, in case something which would normally have tripped a breaker was forbidden from doing so by the shunt...

so that the power wouldn't go out at T-4 seconds.

It's referenced in this article:

and a number of other places google will find you.

Unknown whether this protocol was still followed in the Shuttle era, or whether it will return in the New Manned Space Flight era.

But, like the four star saluting the Medal Of Honor recipient, it's one of those outliers that's *so far* out, that I love and collect them.

And it's a good category of idea to have in the back of your head when planning.

-- jra
Jay R. Ashworth                  Baylink                       jra at
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