by John Galt
July 14, 2016 05:00 ET
ALL OF THE CHARACTERS OTHER THAN POLITICAL LEADERS ARE FICTIONAL. ANY RESEMBLANCE OR DIRECT USAGE OF ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY PERSONNEL IN THE STORY IS PURELY RANDOM AND BY COINCIDENCE.
November 11, 2016 12:08 A.M. Eastern Time – The Oval Office
“Mr. President,” the aide stuttered, “President Putin sends his regrets that he has not been in contact sooner, but he is flying back to Moscow from Siberia and would like to talk to you on the hotline directly at 6 o’clock in the morning, our time. Is that acceptable for you sir?” Obama looked over at his Generals, still mulling about the room and Ash Carter before he replied, “Sure, please tell him that would be fine.”
The President then looked over at his generals and asked the question they anticipated the moment the Cook news brook, “I need to know if this is the moment we should call up all our reserves and start moving more forces to Europe?”
General William Tompkins, newly appointed to the JCS just before the election, looked down at his iPad and then directly into the President’s eyes with a stunning announcement. “Sir,” he began, I think we should call not just for reserves but a full mobilization. If I know Putin from my years stationed in Eastern Europe, before his plane lands early this morning he will be activating all of his forces including his domestic guard. I fear we are on the precipice of a major conflict if we do not stare down the bear and force Putin to stand down within the next seventy-two hours.”
President Obama the looked over to Ash Carter and said, “Order the DEFCON 3 declaration and a full mobilization. We do not have much time if we are to protect Eastern Europe and provide NATO with the force structure I promised. I’m going to go catch a few hours of sleep so please, wake me if anything important happens and make sure I’m awake before Vladimir calls later this morning.”
November 11, 2016 03:35 A.M. Eastern Time – Yokosuka, Japan
“Admiral Andrews, Admiral Andrews,” the exhausted ensign was yelling as he burst into the Admiral’s quarters, “the Chinese have sent their Marines into the Senkaku Islands and sunk two Japanese Coast Guard patrol boats!” The Admiral was busy filling out the usual paperwork the Pentagon and Japanese Defense Ministry required due to so many domestic incidents in the past year when he looked up at the ensign with an angry look. “Ensign, you are to exit this office, shut the door, knock on the door and follow military protocol or I will have you shoveling garbage in the Aleutians so fast your head will snap clean off,” and with that outburst, Admiral Andrews sipped his coffee as the visibly shaken ensign quietly shut the door and went back into the hallway.
The ensign knocked on the door and the ensign entered and saluted. The Admirals said harshly, “State your business slowly and completely son.” The ensign, still visibly shaken read the report verbatim recounting reports from the Okinawa radio intelligence units, the Japanese Defense Ministry, and information about the force levels and strength the Chinese government moved into the region. “Thank you ensign, please return to duty and provide me with updates every fifteen minutes. Contact the Captain and call for an emergency meeting of all staff officers immediately in the CiC.” The ensign saluted and replied with a snappy “yes sir” and left the room.
Admiral Andrews was getting to old for this crap in his own mind. Besides having to act as a diplomat to placate the Japanese government because of problems with his airmen and Marines on Okinawa, he had to pay respects to the Chinese attaché who he knew was lying to him every time they communicated. “Captain Franks,” Andrews spoke softly into the phone, “can you put me into direct contact on a secure line with General Alvin Pickens in Okinawa please? Also, revoke all shore leaves, send the Shore Patrol out to round up all personnel and prepare to make way for the South China Sea. Put all aircraft on full alert and have the dockmaster provide us with a full store of aviation fuel and ammunition. I want to be at sea by midnight.” The Captain sounded somewhat shaken as he stuttered “Yes sir, but Jack, what the hell is going on. I just heard the Donald Cook was sunk by the Russians.” Admiral Andrews was not aware of the incident half a world away. “Sam, this is worse than I thought,” he began, “deploy the Marines with full loads on board and declare a security lock down. I’ll be damned if we are sabotaged before we get going. And I want every damned airman on board in the next 3 hours our I’ll have their ass.” Captain Franks replied, “Consider it done sir.”
Jack Andrews knew his next call would cause a crisis in Tokyo, but it had to be made thus when he got General Pickens on the phone, the concern was obvious in his voice. “Al, this is Admiral Andrews, we haven’t had a chance to talk much since you took over last month,” Jack began, “but I need you to revoke all leaves and put your entire group on full alert. Prepare for a possible invasion, deployment, or worse attack from the Chinese.” General Pickens was a no nonsense USMC hard nose, not one of the new politically elite appointees that the Admiral was used to dealing with. Thus when he spoke forcefully it was respected, “Sir, I’ve monitored developments and our entire compliment will be back on base in four hours. All leaves have been cancelled, patrols doubled, and I have initiated all war time security procedures. Are the preparations for deployment to the Senkaku Islands under consideration yet sir?”
“General, God help us, but I think we are heading in that direction,” the Admiral began, “prepare as if they are about to invade Okinawa or we are preparing for full scale war. I will advise further as to what is happening after I speak to the Minister of Defense in Tokyo shortly.
November 11, 2016 05:15 A.M. Eastern Time Kiev, Ukraine
The United States Embassy offices in Kiev were busier than usual but the CIA officers inside were doubling down on their activities and the concern was reflected in their face. The on site station manager walked into the Ambassador Cynthia Lauder’s office and interrupted the conversation she was having with a staffer without an apology and told everyone in the room to “get out, now.” Looking at the Ambassador somewhat shocked, they nodded their heads, looked down at the ground and skulked out of the room without comment. “Tom, what the hell is this all about,” Cynthia stated in a stern voice.” “Ms. Ambassador,” he stated in a very nasty, firm voice,”there is a plane on the tarmac ready to go. You and your top three staffers with four of mine are to proceed there immediately. The situation has destabilized where it would appear an invasion is imminent. You can not object and I am authorized to force you to leave if you do not comply. The United States just declared Defense Condition Three and we will be at war within two to three days, if not sooner.”
Stunned, frightened, and horrified, she stuttered out, “Do I have time to go home and pack?” Tom did not hesitate. “Ma’am you have twenty minutes to pack all material as dictated by the State Department as critical and classified. You are to empty your safe. No other personnel other than you and your husband plus Level One designated staff are to go with you. My staff is destroying all critical data and removing hard drives for carriage with your staff back to London. From there you will transfer with other State Department personnel back to the states. All Ambassador level families are being evacuated from Europe as we speak. Your family will be on a second plane leaving in two hours and you may direct them as to what to take with them up to 100 kilograms.”
Cynthia did not know what to say other than “yes sir” initially, but then gathered her wits and asked the hard question. “How long until the Russians get to Kiev?” she stammered, almost in tears. Tom replied, “If they want to, seventy-two hours. But that may not be their primary target. Either way I anticipate being behind enemy lines before the next ten days are over, if this situation does not go nuclear.” Now Ms. Lauder started to well up with tears, “Jesus, no, no, no,” she said, “there is no way they will ever do that will they?” Tom looked into her eyes and stated in a cold manner, “no, they probably won’t, we will first.”
November 11, 2016 05:55 A.M. Eastern Time, Washington, D.C.
“Mr. President,” Valerie Jarrett began, “here is the latest intelligence update and military status report. The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, as well as our Eastern European allies have raised their defense alert levels and begun calling up reserves. Our military reports a 40% increase in readiness but the reservists are still drifting in behind schedule as they appear to think this is another drill in my opinion. The Turkish government reports that they are moving ten brigades to the Russian border and sealed their borders with Syria and Iraq completely. Unfortunately Romania is requesting a full NATO meeting of the General Staff before activating their emergency plan which leaves our Southern flank exposed according to the JCS. Lastly, and I’m not sure this is related, SunTrust Bank and Regions Financial are reporting an unusual system outage where credit cards nor ATM cards are working within their system. I just mentioned this in case we need to go public later this morning to warn our citizens as the media has already splashed headlines about the sinking in the morning papers.”
“Thank you Valerie,” Obama began, “have the Russians called in yet?” A staffer was standing by and replied, “Not yet sir, but I think you need to read this report from the CIA and Pentagon about the Chinese invasion of the Senkanku Islands.” President Obama looked stunned and paused for a moment as he scanned the summary page. “Ash, when did this happen and what are we doing about this?” Obama said in a visibly angry voice. “Mr. President,” the Defense Secretary began, “we have ordered our the third and seventh fleets on full alert…” and as he spoke, a staffer interrupted. “Mr. President, President Putin is now on the hot line and ready to speak with you. Your preferred translator Ike Vizechsky is on the line with you also.”
“Good morning Mr. President,” Obama began, “I hope you had a pleasant flight back from Siberia.” The Russian language heard on the line was obviously angry and stern as Ike began the translation,”Mr. Obama, let us dispose of the social nonsense and get down to brass tacks. You are accusing the Russian Republic of attacking one of your naval vessels in the Black Sea without any evidence or justification. Now you have raised your force alert level to your defense condition three which is even more asinine. I hope your generals have advised you that as a result of your orders, the Russian Republic has had no choice but to engage in a full mobilization and at this time all military attaché plus our Ambassadors are being recalled from NATO nations as we speak. The actions you are undertaking are not those of a rational man, but those of a madman. Do you really want to start a world war over a shipboard accident?”
President Obama became visibly angry and at that point Valerie Jarrett just glared at the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Mr. Putin, I can assure you this was no accident. We know your military has objections to our naval vessels operating near the Crimea, but that does not give your nation the right to buzz them with airplanes, harass their crew while on shore leave in Odessa, or lay mines in the Black Sea. I would prefer we stop this madness but I fear you have underestimated my resolve even though I am leaving office soon.”
At this point in time there was considerable yelling in the background on the phone in Russia. Obama knew this was a conference call just like the situation in the White House but he could not understand why Vladimir Putin was so angry. “Mr. Obama,” the translator began, “Why did two of your F-16 fighter airplanes shoot down one of our reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea twenty minutes ago. I thought your forces, your Generals who want war, had a leash on them which you held? Your nation’s actions are putting us at the brink of insanity and as a result of your nation’s actions, I am declaring an Air Defense Zone over the Eastern Baltic Sea in all airspace 40 miles around Kaliningrad. Any NATO aircraft or civilian aircraft operating without authority in that region will be shot down until this situation is de-escalated.”
The translator sensed the tenseness of the moment when Obama did not reply immediately and stated “One moment President Putin, please allow me to speak to my Generals.” President Obama thanked Ike for thinking fast on his feet then looked over to the Joint Chiefs. “Well,” he scolded them, “who gave anyone permission to shoot down Russian aircraft?” Air Force General Ed Billingsley spoke up, “Sir, it was the Danish. They were on patrol duty and exceeded their operating authority due to nerves it would appear. I’m trying to confirm the details as this conference call continues.”
Obama spoke up and said “Ike, take us off hold.” Then he began to speak, “Mr. Putin, Vladimir, we can bring this back from the brink as you state, but first we need an apology and explanation for your unwarranted attack on the Donald Cook. I have to go on national television in two hours to talk about this and I would prefer, as I am sure you would also, that a de-escalation policy develop from our conversation here and the NATO conference about to begin with the generals in Brussels.”
“Mr. President, Barack, I think you are making a huge mistake. I nor my nation will apologize for anything since we did nothing,” Putin began, “if you do not bring your forces back to a lowered readiness level and reduce their defense status my country must assume a state of war may exist soon. As a result of the downing of our aircraft by one of your NATO allies, I have activated our strategic forces and reactivated the targeting solutions which include all of NATO’s capitols and major cities in the United States and Canada. I hope after you meet with your CIA and find out that Russia was not responsible for any of this insanity, you will reduce the rhetoric and bring the world back from the brink. Your legacy and that of the United States rests on your actions in the next twenty-four hours. When you elect to speak to us in a sane manner with more facts, please contact us then.”
President Obama briefly replied, “Certainly sir, but I think you are making a mistake.” With that, the phone line went dead and a terrifying silence began to lay heavy like a San Francisco fog on the participants in the room. Ash Carter finally broke the silence by stating, “Mr. President, may I suggest relocating the Vice-President, his family, and your family to a secure location immediately and initiating the Continuity of Government plan?”
Obama stared at the pens on his desk, twirling an old, antique wooden pen from the Truman administration and sighed, the nodded his head. America was now on a path to war and he was neither mentally prepared nor rested enough to deal with this crisis. Sadly, no one in the White House wanted to contradict the President or act differently at that moment.
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