Wednesday I worked out hard in the gym after I spent several hours with Andy and Robert, then spent my daily hour at the firing range.
My MP5, my Glock and M16 got a workout each day and a good cleaning after. Another thing I did was to make sure all the buckles, straps, and attachments were in good shape on my military grade body armor. With so much riding on the outcome of both France and Mexico, I was going to be there.
I worked with Ching Lee, Vicky and Frank Hammonds on the Oklahoma College plans to thwart the attack. We decided to reduce the number of security employees who made a daily appearance at the college and then bring them back at night after dark, starting a few days before the planned attack. Then we could slip them out in the mornings.
Sabir Mahmoud and General Bashir were communicating daily. They were doing as we were doing – planning. Sabir was counting the number of security employees. That was the reason for the apparent reduction in manpower.
Frank Hammonds sent out an email to students and administrators that recurrent training for the security department would be over in the next few days and staffing would return to normal levels very soon, thanking them for putting up with the inconvenience.
It was a see what kind of response Sabir would send to the General kind of an idea.
The school bus conversion was not going as planned. It took three days to get the armor plate completed on the first one. At that rate only half of them would be ready in time. Texas Steel had the latest fabrication equipment, but it still took a day of CAD programming to get it set up to form the roll above the windows.
Andy’s design called for plate from the floor past the ceiling curve. That curve had to be done by a roll forming machine. The plates were four foot by eight foot and a half inch thick – they were heavy. The lower plates were easy, with the holes to bolt it through the wall pre-cut with a plasma cutter. It was the upper plate that was two and a half feet wide that was giving them fits getting them right. With the machines finally set they were able to do two buses a day. The good thing was Marcy had only purchased buses with Bluebird bodies so the shape and upper curve were all the same.
The three day delay had allowed the RV dealer to get a head start on mounting the roof heat pumps. That installation was easy – pick a spot, lay the template on the roof, cut the hole and apply heavy dose of sealer to the gaskets fastening it down. They were doing three buses a day. The wiring was going to be done after the generators were mounted.
The generators were another issue. The intent had been to install them on the front. The buses had flip front hoods so a bracket to hold the generator tray needed to be devised to allow them to be lowered so the hood could be opened. The front bumpers went into the iron pile.
After trial and error on the first couple, it became routine. Pulling two pins allowed the whole assembly to be tilted down by two people so the hood could be opened.
While Texas Steel was working through all those problems, there were others.
All the MRAPS were made by Navistar Defense Division; half of them did not run and had to be pulled off the lowboy trailers which were delivering them. I wondered if I had bought piles of junk. The only good thing was in the spare parts and tool kits the General sent were several laptops with the programs and cables.
With so much of the equipment not operating, the mechanics we had sent there needed help – a lot of it and soon – and we could not send it from here with the dealership opening on Saturday.
I called General Ingram and explained the situation, ”Can I post on the bulletin boards of the Army post near Brownsville for short-term part-time MRAP and Humvee techs?” I asked.
”Tell me what you want to say and I will have it posted for you,” General Ingram’s replied.
” MRAP and HumVee repair techs needed for short term project that must be completed within the next twenty days. Have some leave coming up? Extra days to use up? Wondering what you are going to do with them? How about making extra money?”
”Rooms, meals and tools supplied – work up to sixteen hours a day, fifty dollars an hour with overtime paid after working over eight daily,” the post said.
I was sure I was going to get flack over the posted wage. Lorrie was paying thirty at Morton and the truck stop for techs with full benefits added. The benefit package we furnished cost twenty dollars an hour – thus the fifty number. They were not going to get any benefits and when the job was done they were gone. I desperately wanted everything running, ready to run over the border.
I hoped the rate would entice experienced techs to come for the quick buck.
All I could do now was wait to see if there were any results. If there were none, the last resort would be to see if the international dealers in the area had mobile techs at over one hundred an hour or else look for independent truck and equipment techs.
Each night we girls moved gold from the crates and stacked it in the basement room. But we had it down to a science now and occasionally Dad and Jake helped. We would have all the crates empty and a few days to spare before the C5 made the next round trip.
Fort Polokwane was moving along. Both mines were fully staffed with a total of fifteen hundred miners. There were that many working on the construction side; six houses a day were being completed. The word had been put out that we were no longer hiring.
Putting the crusher plant at the abandoned mine was a stroke of genius. The mining trucks filled with aggregate made several trips to the concrete plant each day building the reserve pile bigger.
The main road was now concrete instead of stone, mud and ruts. With all the extra manpower, as concrete became available more streets were going to be done.
The grocery store had been finished and its shelves were kept stocked by women who had never worked a day in their life other than to forage for food and water and try to survive. They were considered by western standards to be dumb and un-trainable. They were trainable and they were by no means dumb.
They were getting a paid on Friday just like the husbands. They were working in the grocery store, painting in the new houses, final yard work, setting up the furniture and making the houses ready. Above all they were attending classes, learning to read and write and basic math.
The small hospital, doctor’s office and dental office were finished and the women were painting them as well. I had wondered how and if they would ever be staffed. But with almost twenty five hundred people at the site, they were a requirement.
Doc Burns helped with that, he thought all doctors in the modern age were forgetting the basics, getting cocky and too dependent on technology. He believed that the poor people in desolate places were getting left out.
With help from JBG he would expand his practice and require all his doctors to rotate two months a year at his new satellite clinic in Polokwane. He would also solicit the big medical universities to send nurses and med students there for additional real world experience and for credits. He had a plan – if he could get it to work.
Another thing that Andy and I talked about was a command structure problem that we were going to encounter that we had not had before.
Normally when we did an OPS mission it was less than one hundred people with a small group of team leaders. They had men assigned to each of them. It was easy to keep their groups together with their leader.
The Paris mission was three hundred spread out at two locations. One location was two city blocks square, the other nearly a city block. This was not going to be easy.
Andy and I decided – with the acquisition of Black Bear and joining our two groups together – with the types of operations we were going to be involved in, it was time to establish a military style chain of command. One thing that was a driving factor was in the French operation our men were going to wear black masks.
A style of command and control was first noted in ancient writings around 500 BC and all armies and police departments used the system in some version.
We decided we would use an abbreviated structure; private, corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, colonel, major and general. We also decided rather than unit numbers or insignias we would use color stripes on the gear to quickly identify what command group the individual belong to. Red, Orange, Green, Yellow, Gray, Blue and Black and if necessary, double stripes.
The reason the men were going to wear masks and eye protection was to counter the possibility of chemicals being thrown in our faces. That was a growing tactic that was being used in Europe by triple digits.
Battery acid was the favorite. It was easily available with no questions. Auto repair shops had stacks of junk batteries that could be drained to get it. In many places new batteries were shipped dry and the acid sold in five gallon plastic lined boxes.
The mask was also to thwart images of my men being plastered on various hate groups web sites and being added to hate lists for family harassment.
I hated the command structure and the mask but I saw no way around it. One plus, we could use it in Mexico as well and anywhere else after that.
I was responding to several inquisitive calls a week from countries or major companies about security arrangements.
Andy was going to meet with his group leaders and finalize the command structure and unit colors in the next day or two. Once that was done patches could be special made with Velcro so the men could be reassigned to another unit depending on the skill needs. The rank insignia would be sewn, glued or painted on hard items. A name tag was also to be sewn with the rank on the right front of the shirt.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.