I was on my way to VCATS; I knew things should be coming to a head by now at several places. I was not wrong; as soon as it keyed live Amy, Victor and Woodman were paging me.
Amy and Victor both knew why the swap was going on so I keyed them on a conference call.
“Ambassador Woodman is furious that you are going to keep the three ladies extra time,” Victor replied.
I explained in detail, “I need the three ladies to handle the social agenda at Kampala. They are here, experienced and willing to go and I do not have time to find or train other people. Even though we are preparing for the worst, we have to present the appearance of normal embassy operations. That was the point of this whole operation.”
There was silence on the screen for a few moments; finally Victor broke that silence, “Yes, that was one of the goals of the swap, we were so involved with the terror part we never considered the social aspect and with the six week stay, it will be necessary.”
“What do we do about Woodman?” Amy replied.
“Tell him I pulled rank, that I need my employees for a special project for six weeks.” I replied.
“I am going to add him to the conference call,” Amy replied.
“Good morning Ambassador Woodman; good to see you again,” I replied.
“Good morning Amy. Victor, I did not know you would be on this call. I was told that Alice, Ellen and Linda could come back after their training; now I am told they are not coming back for six weeks and Cynthia is packing up all their belongings to go to Kampala.”
“I want to know why before I file an official protest with the Secretary. What is so damn important in Kampala to take my people?” Ambassador Woodman almost screamed.
“It’s above your pay grade,” Amy replied.
“I have classified clearance,” Ambassador Woodman yelled.
“What is going on at Kampala is three levels above that; as I said, above your pay grade. Outside of the White House there are only 6 people who know the full story and you are talking to three of them. Make any noise and you will be called to Washington for an operational review; that would be a red X in the file and censure. We do not need any traffic that might be monitored or hacked,” Amy said.
Hmm, had she just pulled rank on him and added a threat? Sounded like it to me.
“I don’t care and I still don’t like it,” Woodman responded before he closed the window.
“There is something else going on there,” Amy replied.
“Yes and it is criminal. When I return you will have a complete report. Don’t you think it is odd that a site that is at the very bottom of the risk scale has three body guards for the ambassador’s wife? Re-evaluate the security needs there so we can discuss the details in six weeks. I would like to take two of those ladies out today,” I replied.
“Oh no, don’t do that today. He is upset enough,” Amy replied.
“OK, I have work to do and time is running out,” I replied.
I paged Ambassador Joe Bernardi at the Kampala embassy. I guess I was slightly negligent; I should have talked to him before now.
“Good evening Ambassador, I am not interrupting supper am I?” I asked.
“No, just finished and was finishing up things for tonight. You are going to run things for me while I have whatever secret surgery I am to have,” he replied.
“I heard that surgery is pretty sensitive but has a good success rate,” I replied.
“Well, just what is it? You seem to know more than I do,” he replied with a laugh.
“You don’t know? Wow, they are going to add 4 inches to your cock and make you 2 inches taller, make you 20 years younger and double your libido,” I said as I tried to keep a straight face.
“I don’t think my back can stroke 4 more inches,” he said before he broke out laughing.
“Either you know more than I do and they have sworn you to secrecy, or as little as I do,” he replied.
“You have been at this longer than I have, so we will just let it go at that. I have some questions for you.” We talked about an hour. I asked about the availability of sand to set up a beach volley ball court for exercise and about trucks to bring the pallets of materials to the embassy.
I learned that it could take a week for a trucking company to make the delivery. I did not want the items we were taking to be sitting on a freight dock for a week in that part of the world.
I also learned that while Kampala was the home to over a million people, it was the melting pot for the region with hundreds of ethnic groups and the problems that mix created.
Inflation was through the roof and many things were now hard to get or not at all. Gasoline was available most days.
Even though it was in a tropical region, even safe drinking water was a challenge at times for many people – even in the city. I was saddened to learn that most people who visited there usually ended up sick at least once until they built up immunity to the local bugs.
The answers just added to the list of things we needed to take. I had the General make some more calls, and then I called Dad to send him on a mission.
“Dad, find me a six wheel truck with a flat bed, a pintle hitch and a two axle equipment trailer. Dad, I have to have them by tomorrow evening,” I said.
I called Howie, “Howie, how much does the heaviest pallet of equipment weigh?”
“We have tried to limit them to limit them to 750 pounds max in case we have to man-handle them,” he replied.
I made another call, “Jason, call your John Deere buddy; I need a medium size skid steer loader with a bucket and a pallet fork attachment. I think a 326E or smaller; not any bigger. It needs to be here in time to be loaded on the C17 but I would really like to have it by noon tomorrow,” I said.
I went down to the refreshment center for a late lunch. The gym seemed empty even though there were plenty of regular gym customers working out and the tanning booths were really busy. With prom season coming up, all the moms and daughters wanted to sport tans at all the parties and events.
The reason the gym seemed different was that there were no embassy employees training. They were all on the way back to their respective embassies. The end result would be that all 37 persons of the rapid response team would be back by dark. The three missing were at Quito.
The General came in to hand me the instructions for loading the Blackhawk in the C17. One of the Blackhawk mechanics was flying to Kampala with us to reassemble it and check it out. He was flying back on commercial aviation as soon as his work was done. I sent the instructions to Robbie to give to the mechanics so the chopper would be ready.
The final pieces were coming together. I needed to pack my clothes, but I was going to wait until Sunday to do that job. My mates and I were going shopping for me – some expensive clothes to do the social events I was going to have to do.
Howie was on his way to review with me the list of weapons and other things packed in crates. The rest of the computers and chargers for the drones were sitting on my desk.
Howie came into my office with a handful of papers. They were the list of items we wanted to take. One was my list, one was Howie’s list and the other was Andy’s list.
We compiled the list into one and the double checked everything. I was sure that Howie and Andy were talking often about the trip needs. None of these lists included the items that I had given the General.
Speaking of the general, he was sitting in a corner chair working on questions I had asked a few minutes earlier. That was 45 marine cots, just to make sure there were enough places for everyone to sleep that were their own. I had no intentions of hot swapping bunks like they did on submarines.
Alice, Ellen, Linda and I would most likely end up in one bedroom with the rest of the bedrooms being set up as bunk rooms for the men. We were taking more than twice as many people as were currently stationed there. The cover story was that they were remodeling and upgrading the facilities. It was one more thing that would not be answered until we arrived.
Then I remembered that Ellen, Alice and Linda were not in the first body armor order. I had their sizes and weights in the HR files. They may not wear them but at least I would be able to offer.
I sent Cindy on another mission, “Find me as many single bed size air mattresses as you can find, or at least 40.”
Another call to Howie, “Send one of your guys to Lowes, get Dewalt skill saws, several different drills and bit sets, get a couple of battery pack drills and four 10kw electric start generators, make sure they work. Also get a variety of nails and deck screws.”
Damn the logistics for just forty was a bitch! I was glad we did not have to plan for 10,000 people and we still had not talked about food yet.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.