Jake and Mindy left for Pennsylvania at 1. Jake had been here three days and I still had not been able to have time alone with him. I wanted so badly to hold him.
All the girls were doing the things that were needed to keep JBG going strong. Vicky and Ching Lee were making videos of the 407s for me to send to Ambassador Adam later today. Marcy and I were in our offices. Jenny was in hers, and having some heated arguments on the phone with her Annapolis office. Lorrie went back out to the airport. She decided to move everyone but the pilots into the terminal building. She and all of her staff were there doing the plug and play with computer terminals and flat screens.
She was leaving two flat screens behind in the pilots/ mechanics office as she was calling that side Hangar- one for scheduled arrivals and the other for scheduled departures.
While Lorrie was working in the terminal building she had the pilots hang a banner on the front of the terminal announcing that JBG Flight Services was now open in the main terminal. Vicky and Ching Lee were going to update the web site.
I was waiting for any updates on JBG’s first security flight mission, the replacement chopper mission that was in play. There were still three hours of flight time to go before the C130 would land at Bamako and I was still on pins and needles. I spent some time looking at the geography of Africa. A lot of the countries had new names since I was in school, due to rebellions, divisions, and other political strife.
The flight from Bamako to Khartoum flew over some of the most contested territories in Africa. So far none of the belligerents had taken to shooting down planes flying in the designated commercial plane routes. My guess on that was such an event would cost them too much in political support from whoever was sponsoring their war. It was more of the unwritten rules.
I now knew why we had received the shipment with the Blackhawks. Diplomats were forbidden by international laws from carrying weapons into other countries. Contract security details and accompanying police forces were another story and a gray area. We were to fill that gray area just like Black Water had done.
Black Water had grown too big and too fast with the Iraq war. They had to hire people too fast and did so without asking the right questions. They had tried to isolate the Iraq part of their operation from the rest of their business. In Washington, when things go bad with that large of a scale, no one is isolated from the flying horse dung. There were lessons to be learned, I hoped I saw them.
Ching Lee and Vicky must have come back. The ding of an email interrupted my thought process. Vicky had sent me the four video files they had taken of the remaining 407s. I had to admit, the JBG Security decals on those choppers boosted my spirits.
When I finished looking at all four of the videos, I sent them to Adam with a simple note, “Which one do you like best?”
While waiting for a response from the Ambassador, the weather came to mind. One of the things we had gained from all of these changes was access to NOAA US Government classified weather forecasting worldwide that the agency used. I wondered if it was truly any more accurate than the old Farmers Almanac. I looked at the 30 day forecast.
On January 25 it predicted a blizzard for the Middle Atlantic States coming from the south. We always had massive snowfall when the storms came from that direction and when the winter cold air from the north met over the Delmarva. Most years we missed the big blizzard for one weatherman’s excuse or another, usually one or the other front stalled.
How anyone could be wrong as often as they were and still keep their job was beyond me.
I went to Jason’s office; I knew he kept a copy of old Farmers Almanac on his desk for the tide charts. Sure enough it predicted the same. I called Robbie to have him make sure we had everything we needed in place in case a blizzard was coming our way.
We started our four PM meeting with no word from the C130, our first security mission for the State Department. Because of Jason’s absence, we had a short meeting – Jason was missing – he was rabbit hunting with my Dad today.
The biggest discussions were as follows: the flight to Bamako, Lorrie’s group making the changes at the airport and Jake’s project in the parts hangar. Marcy and Lorrie knew I had something that needed special security as a result of the planning they did with Jake today. Finally Marcy asked point blank what it was.
“The Blackhawks came loaded with freight it is advanced military weapons and ammunition along with some other goodies. The kind of stuff you fight a skirmish with. The kind of stuff that you don’t want loose in the neighborhood,” I replied.
“I assume that it gets delivered to some of the embassies at some point in the future. I think the fewer people that know about it, the better,” I replied.
As I said that, I did not think they needed to know the whole inventory list. There were at least a dozen cases of C4 along with detonators, another dozen, maybe more, 50 cal belt fed machine guns with chopper mounts, tripods and crates of belted ammunition. There was an equal number of M-60 machine guns and crates of ammo.
There were several crates of M16’s with several crates of clips and dozens of ammo boxes. There was 1 crate of 50 cal sniper rifles, the sales brochure I received every month from Law Mans supply had one listed on special pricing of ten thousand with the best scope on the market. The crate indicated there were 20 of them in there. There was 1 crate of 308 sniper rifles and another dozen ammo boxes of loose ammo for both and several mini Gatling guns with cases of ammo and chopper mounts for them.
The most worrisome thing was the 4 crates of shoulder fired anti-aircraft Stinger rockets and the crate of hand grenades.
I made a mental note to ask Frank if and when we were getting the license to have possession of those kinds of materials. I knew you needed a serious level Federal Firearms License for a lot of it.
I was counting on Bob’s estimate that his crew could put the armory together fast. I wanted it a more secure place than in a shipping container by the maintenance building. It did seem like a simple plan except for the door and I wondered why any company would have one of those in stock. I was counting on Jake to keep it moving forward as my construction inspector.
At 5 PM Eastern Charlie called from the Bamako Senou Airport, I placed the call on speaker so everyone could hear. They had just landed and were directed to park on the military side of the airport.
“We are parked in between a group of French and British military planes. We are riding with a group of British officers to the motel. When you contact the embassy, tell them to have their people here at 0630 to help unload and flight test it,” Charlie replied.
“OK Charlie, I will make the call now, remember to take plenty of pictures. Get some of the embassy accepting the chopper if you can,” I replied.
I logged into VCATS again and made the connection to the DETC system to let Amy know that the C130 had landed in Bamako Senou Airport and then to the Bamako US embassy, unsure if anyone was there to operate this time of night.
The call was immediately picked up by the night security crew. I recognized the name and face as one of the Black Water employees who we were acquiring.
Cindy had been working all day on a computer file for each embassy with names and pictures so I could be sure whom I was talking with. All I had to do is just click the location file and there was the employee list.
Thomas Clifford was startled when I identified myself and his response was priceless. “The bosses never called here before,” he explained.
“Have you read the introductory packet that state sent out yesterday?” I asked.
“Yes Ma-am – every word – but your agency Intel file is the one that made us stand a little taller. Believe me; we are looking forward to meeting you as soon as we can. The last few months have been tough on us, the guilt by association with the Iraq division has been bad and then being abandoned at Benzi – well, you know the story.”
I explained the reason for the call and the time that Charlie wanted the pilot and a staff member of the embassy there to inspect the chopper.
“I will pass the word to the pilot tonight and send a message to the ambassador,” Thomas replied.
The conversation with Thomas drove home that I should read the agency file on all of my new employees before I met them, hell, maybe I should even read mine first. I would have to see how far the agency login and password I had would go.
After the call, we went to Annapolis to finish all of our Christmas shopping; it was hard to believe two more days to go. Jenny was easy to shop for. The babies were going to have enough clothes to take them to a year old. The mind teaser had been shopping for the rest of us.
We had not told Jenny but we were also were going to have a family baby shower at the same time we opened our Christmas gifts. The governor and her coworkers had one for her at their Christmas party.
At a little after 8, Tony called – the J&J Christmas party had started at 730. He said, “I am going to kick your ass for keeping it a secret that Jake was coming home,”
“You will have to take a number and get in line then. A girl has to keep plenty of secrets; you know that,” I replied. Then I added, “Tell everyone Merry Christmas for me and thanks, put a round of drinks for everyone on your JBG card and send me the receipt, O if they need a taxi ride to get home safely add that to the receipt.”
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Joe H.