Operation Desert Shield has things humming at Rockville's General Kinetics Inc. The company makes a facsimile machine secure against electronic espionage, and they have been snapped up by the Pentagon and foreign governments, all of which are sending lots of classified material to Saudi Arabia these days.

While the orders are rolling in, General Kinetics President Richard A. Thompson last week told last week of how a little Middle East crisis can cut through red tape. Thompson said officials of a government he declined to identify called and asked how soon General Kinetics could sell them 15 of the faxes for use in Saudi Arabia. Normally it would take many weeks, given strict U.S. controls on what technology can be sent overseas. But after the country's embassy and the State Department got on the phone, Thompson said, the machines left Dulles on a plane that night.

General Kinetics also is giving back a bit of what it's getting in added business from Desert Shield. It loaned the U.S. Central Command two of the fax machines, which can send photos with almost no loss of image quality, so that troops in the field can receive pictures from home.