The training of the response team continued until Friday afternoon, including a revised hostage rescue. Hanna and her cameraman participated again. Not because it was newsworthy but because I wanted video to critique the training and to document the training improvement.
To my surprise Victor showed up to watch the hostage rescue. I had new thermal images from the agency hangar in the back to work with. The agency was always evaluating new equipment and procedures and more than willing to use it.
Special agent Kevin Parks was the manager of the agency hangar and research team stationed at Morton Field. After the Atlantic 709 issues had gone away, Hanna’s station ran the rescue clips again in a different news slot; Kevin had seen them.
Friday morning when we were loading the chopper for rescue training, a Gator made a bee line from the agency hangar straight to me.
“Are you doing another rescue?” Kevin asked all excited.
“Yes, it will finish up the training for this group before they ship out Monday morning,” I replied.
“Can you hold off ten minutes to let me get a drone high? I have some equipment I want to test with real time live action,” Kevin asked.
“Can I get a copy of the video for training purposes?” I asked.
Jake was doing the pyrotechnics effects and I was going to help him so I could learn. I needed to learn because Howie and Jake were soon going to be gone most of the time. Howie Crafton was the member of the RRT who had the explosives license. Howie had already ordered enough blasting caps and other toys that were locked up in the armory.
Howie was in the second chopper as part of the roof assault team. Then this afternoon he was on one of the ground teams. This was one of the changes for this group; they were going to get to experience both ground assault and aerial assault.
Since there were no Rochester guys to be bad guys, I had to be creative. That meant that Vicky, Ching Lee, Mark and several guys from the aircraft shop got to be bad guys. Vicky and Ching Lee were pumped at being bad guys.
Another thing that Ching Lee and Vicky were going to do was get wild in the second run through. They were going to don double hearing protection and a helmet so the flash bangs would not bother them and heavy coveralls. They were going to stay out of sight under the stairs and surprise the group after they worked past them.
While we were critiquing over lunch, cardboard boxes and other debris was going to be put into the concrete building to play with their minds for the second run through. I called Kevin and gave him a time for the second run to get the drone in the air.
The first run went smooth – the second was a totally different outcome. Ching Lee and Vicky tagged (killed) the entire aerial team and two mechanics tagged three of the ground assault team.
I was concerned as hell at first with the outcome of the second then I realized why. They were complacent; this group had been the bad guys when the Rochester group went through. They thought they had it figured out but they thought wrong.
I learned more than they did, there would be no more cake walks in this part of the training. I was going to be a lot harder on the next group. Big changes were coming for this part of the training. This group would go through it again very soon.
I was extremely upset with myself for not thinking the project through. Bob’s Construction was coming back as soon as I figured out what changes were needed. I just hoped the RRT would not need this skill any time soon and would get several trips through the training.
Friday afternoon the RRT was sent home to be back at 6 AM Monday morning with their baggage for a minimum stay of 3 weeks in Morocco.
The weekend was quiet as it could be with two newborns in the house. Mom and Lisa were still spending a lot of time with us. We did not mind – it gave us the time to spend together and spend in the gym that we all needed.
Early Monday morning Ching Lee and I said our goodbyes with hugs and kisses to our mates and the little ones. At Morton Field I also said hello and good bye to Jake, Mindy, Tony and Kathy and their spouses. Their flight to Japan was twice as long as ours. They would have to stop and refuel on the west coast to be able to make it to Japan.
The members of the Rapid Response team were surprised as hell when Ching Lee and I rolled bags to the plane. The two who had grabbed the front seats were even more surprised when I told them they needed to move. They thought they had prime seats for the flat screen displays.
Lorrie had the original flat screen removed and replaced with the largest that could be installed in the space. I started with the SVOL contacting all 10 colleges. A headset kept the conversations private. It was the first time in a while that I had the opportunity in the daytime to check in with all of them, unless there had been an emergency.
It took two hours to make the complete cycle of all 10 colleges. After a pee break and a fresh refill of coffee, I connected the State computer to the system and started on the VCATS system.
I started with the embassies I had visited; Bogota, Quito, Lima, La Paz, Dubai, Masqat, Kuwait, Doha, and Riyadh. Then the embassies that the aviation division had made chopper exchanges at – Bamako and Khartoum.
I saved Rabat, Morocco for last. I was going to tell them to pack and be ready to fly out in six hours. I typed up an email to all the JBG employees informing them they were being temporally rotated out of Morocco today for the recurrent training module and to be ready to fly out in six hours. I held off sending the e-mail until I had talked to the Ambassador.
I called Ambassador Howard Rambo on the VCATS. Harvey Black was working the security desk today.
“Hello Harvey, good to see you today. How is the weather in Rabat today?” I asked.
“It is good here – warm and dry as always with the winds off the desert. What can I do for you? It is unusual to talk to you this time of the day,” Harvey replied.
“First thing is how long would it take you to teach someone to do the job you are doing today?” I replied.
“Not that long – it is reasonably easy and there is always a state department employee here during the day shift. Why do you ask?” he responded.
“Can you page Ambassador Rambo for me, and then I can tell you,” I replied.
“Good afternoon Ambassador, BJ Jones of JBG – how are you doing today?’ I asked.
“I’m doing well and it is good to hear from you again, but somehow I don’t think the weather is the reason for this call,” he replied.
“You are correct. The current 18 man JBG team is being rotated out today. The plane with the replacements should be landing in about 3 hours or so; you need to coordinate transportation. There will be 27 individuals to transport to the embassy,” I replied.
“I need to call Victor and Amy to confirm that. It would have been nice to have several days notice,” he replied.
I hit send on the email to the site employees then responded to his comment.
“I met with Victor yesterday; in fact he witnessed one of the training modules for the temporary team that is flying in. Amy is in the loop as well.”
“As far as the short notice – given the massive data breaches to government systems daily it seems like, “Loose lips sink ships is the best policy.” The best security today is not to put it in writing and don’t talk on the phone about anything that needs to be secret,” I replied.
After a chuckle, “You are right about that,” Ambassador Rambo replied. With that the screen went black.
I paged again and Harvey opened the screen, “Did you get my email?”
“Yes, some of the guys are packing already. We are going to be able to come back aren’t we?” Harvey asked.
“Yes, that is correct; in three or four weeks depending on how fast the training goes. The Ambassador is supposed to be getting transportation for 27 people, follow up on it if you would,” I replied then I signed off.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.