UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, VIRGINIA – He is unremarkable for a military leader at the cutting edge of weapons technology. “The New York Times article changed everything,” he told me when I first arrived. The article he is referring to is the September 4th, 2016 article about a pillow fight at the United States Military Academy, West Point. The man I am speaking with is Brigadier General Serta, the project lead on a new Army weapons system that is being tested for non-lethal fielding in places like Afghanistan and other far-away places. How are these two things related?
General Serta’s new weapon is called Precision Instrument for Lumping Warmongers, or P.I.L.W, which has been affectionally referred as the “Pillow” by those who have begun testing this weapon this past summer. “We like to think that not all warfare has to come down to bullets. A non-lethal weapon in trained hands can easily diffuse a situation of civil unrest much easier than a rifle, even when that rifle is loaded with rubber bullets… a gun is still a gun, and guns can make people uneasy. Pillows, on the other hand, they just make people want to curl up with a good book and go to sleep.” This is the premise that General Serta’s team has been operating off of for the past five years of development of the P.I.L.W.
I am shown the weapon, and it indeed looks like a standard pillow, it even feels like a pillow. “The secret,” General Serta tells me, “is in the Boss Employment Device, or B.E.D. Each element leader will use the B.E.D. when the P.I.L.W. is employed. The B.E.D. is a RF transmitter that dials in the firmness of the pillow module for the appropriate situation.”
So how did this dangerous and experimental weapon get in the hands of West Point cadets on that unfortunate “Spirit Night?” Well it seems that every summer thousands of cadets are sent throughout the country on what they call A.I.A.D.s where, among other things, they work with government and civilian agencies.
“One cadet was here on his summer training.” General Serta told me. “We had lost one of the P.I.L.W. systems which includes one B.E.D. and five pillows. We had thought a Ranger unit had absconded with it for Ranger Rendezvous. That would have made the most sense, those crazy soldiers loved this thing. When we saw the carnage reported by the New York Times, we knew immediately where our P.I.L.W. system was, and what had happened, so we reached out to the leadership at West Point. I mean, does anyone in America really believe that a pillow fight could really cause over two dozen concussions, broken noses, and dislocated shoulders!? How gullible is everyone who still reads the New York Times?”
“We knew the proverbial cat was out of the bag, and some smart reporter would show up here eventually, so we began to work with West Point to get the P.I.L.W. system returned to our facility quietly.” General Serta told me, but there was yet another secret… the most senior leadership at West Point had a different idea for the P.I.L.W. They wanted to keep the P.I.L.W. system for what they termed as a ‘secret and dangerous mission’ that even General Serta would not share with me.
However, only one ‘secret and dangerous mission’ for West Point came to mind… that’s right, the P.I.L.W. might be seen again at the annual Army Navy Football game in Philadelphia this coming December. A source close to the top brass at West Point confirmed what I thought and told me that they were unsure whether the P.I.L.W. would be used on the Navy Midshipmen, or their own Black Knight team, especially after Army West Point Football’s heart breaking home opening loss. To Fordham.
While the Spirit Night pillow fight at West Point on a dark night a few weeks ago was an unfortunate incident where some unsuspecting cadets got injured. General Serta feels their pain more than most as he was the initial test subject during R&D of the P.I.L.W. He would take responsibility for the casualties if it wasn’t for the security around the P.I.L.W. system. “However, it is through unfortunate incidents that we make leaps in technology, and the pillow fight at West Point was an unknowing field test of a system that had yet to be deployed. The New York Times article changed everything.”