Seven am Monday on this wonderful cold morning found Marcy, Jenny, Lorrie, Jason and I in two cars of our own unmarked cars, fighting our way through rush hour traffic on our way to the DHS Joint intelligence briefing room in Washington.
The NSA, DHS, State Department and CIA were scheduled to be there. Again I wondered what we were getting ourselves into. We were supplying logistics to two of those agencies and had never before been requested to any meetings like this.
The only thing that I thought we were going to do here was to simply write paychecks for 500 security employees who were subcontracted to the State Department. Those employees were still direct reports to the Ambassador’s security chief at whatever location they were assigned to, or so I was led to believe.
Part of the logistics package that we needed to do was supply 80 armored vehicles at 80 locations and helicopters at 10 of them. I guess my questions would be answered in due time.
I was instructed to wait in the lobby after I identified my group to the receptionist. She was still filling out temporary visitors badges when Frank and Eric opened a side door and walked in.
“That won’t be necessary,” Frank told the receptionist as he handed her five cards with retractable belt clips. She scanned the cards and handed them back with a clipboard.
“Name, card number, day, time and sign on the line,” She replied and then added. “Always have the card on you, when you leave the building, the card reader will automatically clock you out.” I put the information on the line and clipped the photo ID badge onto my belt along with my JBG badge.
Frank and Eric led us behind the closed door though a series of halls and other doors that required us to use the ID cards. Marcy, Jason and Lorrie carried briefcases and all of us were carrying our Glocks, even Jenny had hers under her jacket.
We were all wearing a professional ladies business suits with jackets; the temperature this morning was in the low 40’s. It was getting harder and harder for Jenny to find maternity business suits that fit her.
I was amazed that no one patted us down or asked to see in the briefcases. I was given no instruction on if we could carry our weapons or not. We were a security company and always carried the federal ID we were issued – an eternity ago it seemed. Now we had a much higher clearance.
Frank led us into a huge elaborate meeting room with a monstrous walnut meeting table. The chairs were red leather and padded more than best home living room chairs that I had ever seen, and I had seen some fancy offices in military establishments.
The walls were filled with flat screens so that where ever you were in the room, you had only to look straight ahead to see what was displayed.
I knew a few of the people in the room, Frank, Eric, McJames and Amy Lockerman, Victor Edmonson and Elmer Hobart. Frank introduced the rest and the agency that they worked for; there were a lot.
Four were US senators and 4 more were from the House State Department oversight committee, responsible for Embassy Operations and Security. They also served on the funding committee for the State Department.
Victor Edmonson, the director of embassy security, made the statement that JBG had been awarded the security contract by the State Department, replacing Black Water as required by Congress. The transition was to begin after the holidays.
The decision would be made public at a 2PM news conference in the conference center lobby.
Frank made the opening statements about JBG, and our cooperation in logistics and mission specific training for the agency.
Eric discussed the four successful on going surveillance operations we were assisting DHS with. It was at this point I was asked to give an overview of the security division and all the colleges we supplied security for. I kept it short and sweet. JBG security division had a five hundred full time and part time employees and responsibility for 20 thousand students at ten colleges, all in ten different states.
Eric then surprised Lorrie by asking her to give an overview of JBG Morton Field, now that it had been officially designated as an emergency airport in the area.
I was even more surprised when Lorrie asked if she could connect her laptop to the system to run a PowerPoint about the airfield.
Lorrie’s PowerPoint started with the barren farm with the one crop dusting runway and progressed from there, explaining the fuel farm, the terminal building with all the available meeting rooms and the restaurant. She explained about the runway width and lengths and the experimental snow removal system. Then she explained about the hangar space including the super hangar and on site Doppler radar.
Lorrie then explained that the restaurant and terminal would be fully operational on January 1.
She then showed another PowerPoint of our fleet of planes that we had available for charter with interior and exterior pictures and the addition of the helicopters after the first of the year.
Lorrie was a fast thinker and included a segment on the rental houses that were available as safe houses on short notice in Florida and one in Queens Anne County.
I had to laugh at that, she was talking about the house we had built for Crash that was still unoccupied. Lorrie liked James Bond and spy novels. I guess with this group she guessed that safe houses were the normal thing.
There were several individuals actively taking notes around the table. All of them began writing when Lorrie went through the aircraft list. With the helicopters on the list, Lorrie had made the decision to rehab two and possibly three of the Bells.
For the next four hours we listened to the descriptions of various security levels and how the embassies world wide responded to each level. There were discussions about intelligence collection at the embassies.
There was even a discussion of using the JBG employees in operations if necessary. In some areas information was their only assignment.
As I had suspected from the beginning, intelligence was part of the game with the diplomatic corps when in foreign countries. Intelligence and security went hand in hand everywhere.
I finally received a full list of the embassies that JGB was going to be working with and finally complete files on all the former Black Water employees – now JGB employees. The folders that we were given before were either incomplete or inaccurate or just terribly out of date.
The embassy list was a dozy in some of the hell holes and hot spots in the world. It was no wonder that State was contracting out security in some of those areas after Benzi. If there was a fiasco they wanted someone else to blame and to cover their collective asses.
I asked but did not expect to receive all incidence reports involving the former Black Water employees
After a massive catered lunch fit for kings and queens, it was back to the meeting room for open discussion. It was more like open season on JBG in a good way.
While we were having lunch I sent a text to Hanna Page and Marley Kendall about the news conference and the location, but not the reason.
Reasonable questions were asked and we did our best to answer all of them.
I asked point blank how far the badges we were issued would carry us. They were different than the normal badges that federal law enforcement displayed. What agencies honored them?
The badges would allow entrance to any US embassy worldwide and any military installations with escort, excluding classified areas.
The ID that Frank had given us and we were to keep allowed Marcy, Jenny, Jason, Ching Lee and Lorrie and me to attend these once a month interagency security briefings. Marcy, Jenny and I would receive by e-mail all national alerts. I was told this was done for two reasons.
One was our affiliation with DHS and the college security agreement. The second was the international embassy security alert system that we were now part of.
It was highly recommended that I visit all eighty embassies that I had employees at as soon as possible to form a working relationship with the ambassador groups there.
The state department was going to work up a portfolio on JBG and me. It would give all the non-classified things we did with various government agencies and our capabilities. It would be sent out in the informational package to the ambassadors 20 days before we officially took over the security contract.
The handwriting was on the wall; I needed to resign from KCC and possibly make it college number 11 under our security umbrella.
I had to handle these duties myself. I could not ask the girls or my administrators to take this on. To go to eighty countries and meet that many people was a huge task. I was sure there would be introductions and discussions with the host countries security personnel.
Another thing that was emphasized was that I needed to be in a position to handle calls from embassy staff personally in emergency situations, and if necessary immediately travel to that location if need be.
At the news conference the contracts were signed by all the appropriate high level dignitaries including Marcy, Jenny and me with brief statements.
Hanna Page was beaming; she was the only reporter from the Eastern Shore beat. Marley was in Fredrick County on assignment and her parent station did not think the Shore rated sending another reporter. Hanna had a Shore exclusive.
Hanna even managed to get in several questions that quieted the news group. Being a regular in the gym, Hanna phrased her questions for maximum benefit of her inside knowledge.
At 2:30, as we were walking to the parking garage I received a text that the G5 carrying Jake from LAX would be landing at Morton Field at 3:30. I drove while Jenny gave me back seat driving lessons on how to make it from Washington to Morton Field in one hour. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead was her motto.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Joe H.