US Defense officials have launched "Operation Buckshot Yankee" to replace dangerous USB drives with harmless 3.5" floppy disks.
Air Force cargo planes that once flew in Operation Iraqi Freedom, now deliver emergency supplies of floppy disks to airmen stationed in Afghanistan. "We had a fully loaded C-17 touch down yesterday, and we're unloading precious cargo from another aircraft right now," said Brigadier General Jack L. Stratton, who commands the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield. "Operation Buckshot Yankee is saving lives out here. Without these floppy disks, airmen will go home in body bags and we will fail our mission."
General Stratton pointed to a VC-25 plane on the tarmac. "It's completely loaded with floppies right now, but within the hour we'll have them in the hands of airmen who are getting desperate. A C-5 pilot radioed in a few minutes ago, he'll go short final tonight, and I expect another C-17 delivery tomorrow. Each of those aircraft is brimming with magnetic media so we can prosecute our mission here in Afghanistan."
According to Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, the US military banned the use of USB flash drives in 2008 as a clear and present danger to America's national security. "We've been stuck with floppy disks ever since," General Stratton explained. "It is ancient by today's standards, which makes it really hard to find enough floppies to meet our mission critical needs. Operation Buckshot Yankee was launched as a force multiplier, to fulfill our life-or-death struggle to backup data files."
Across the airfield, a gaggle of sergeants stood in line, waiting for supplies as they came off the aircraft. "That is how important a floppy is to us," General Stratton observed. "Our people are coming out to the flight line for lifesaving supplies. They probably need to save a Powerpoint slide show to disk, and this aircraft is their lifeblood."
General Stratton explained that a single C-17 aircraft can deliver up to six million floppy disks. "It carries 18 pallets, each with ten tiers of 50-pack boxes, and each tier is laid out in a 23 by 29 grid of boxes."
"Let me put that into perspective for you," said Command Chief Master Sergeant Jeffry M. Icu, II. "One C-17 can bring us the equivalent of forty 1-terabyte USB drives." General Stratton whistled in awe, saying, "that's a lot of data storage."
General Stratton laughed when asked how many floppy disks he needed for his own use. "I have a waiver to use a USB flash drive." He pulled the tiny device from a pocket in his flight suit. "Rank has its privileges, you know. This thing costs about as much as 100 floppies, but it can store 11,000 floppies worth of data." Command Chief Icu eyed it with envy.
"Floppy disks are only mandated for the enlisted corps and for junior officers," General Stratton explained.