The White House guardians wouldn’t allow a big flat screen to be placed on the wall because of the historical pictures and paintings. They said it was because of all the tour groups that were given permission to walk in and look at the President’s historical desk.
But they did install a screen that dropped down from the ceiling and a ceiling projector with a pedestal camera that would show me to be able to do an MTAC or VCATS.
I pressed the buttons to make it all work. As soon as the screen went live I was looking at Andy, Vicky, Ching Lee and Major Aaron Purcell. Aaron was the commander in charge of operations for the Middle East contract.
”We just sank six Iranian gunboats and shot down one of their helicopters,” the Major said.
”Boats 11, 14, 9, 12 and 16 were escorting the Argentine flagged tanker Fernando II through the strait to the Manama oil terminal. There were eight Iranian fast boats today. The Iranians have been playing cat and mouse for the last several days to gauge our response to their maneuvers.”
”Today with their games they slammed into two of our boats and tried to board both of them in international waters. The boarders were killed right off and that was the start of the attack. As per our orders all systems were online and ready to go at the first sign of trouble. The other Iranian boats started firing, fire was immediately returned.”
”Missiles sank two of the standoff boats immediately. They were half a mile away but were firing heavy machine guns at our ships once the firing started. The other four Iranian boats were too close for missiles but the M242 chain guns and the quad 50s made short work of them. Those that tried to run, the rockets sank.”
”Their other two fast boats hightailed back to their base. We have prisoners; some will not survive their injuries. Ten are healthy and furious at being captured.”
”We have four men seriously injured, several more with minor injuries. The boats have plenty of bullet holes in them, one had a small fire that the systems extinguished. All are still in service,” the Major said.
”I am loading the videos onto the server now, it should be done in a minute or two,” he said.
”Video?” I asked.
”I decided that all the boat crews would have helmet mounted Go-Pro cameras for training and mission review,” Vicky said. ”I guess I forgot to tell you.”
”Andy, your response?” I said.
”There were twelve fast ships at the dock in Israel waiting on the six from Texas to arrive. I ordered them to proceed on to the gulf to reinforce the sites,” Andy said.
”I ordered Robbie to load four more UH 60 Blackhawks in a C5 with the weapons pods and mechanics to assemble and check them out. I also sent hardware with the pilots; they will be on the way by noon,” Vicky said.
“I’m going to send an additional fifty men who we have here with the C5,” Andy said.
”Our inured men should be at the Dubai hospital by now; the injured Iranians in cuffs with guards. The prisoners are in cells at the Abu Dhabi base.”
”See if the Israel manufacturer will send a team to fix the holes and check out the ships,” I said.
”Looks like you have it under control. I don’t have to tell you to be prepared for retaliation including a missile attack or an ops team,” I said.
The Navy people were standing at the door so I waved them in just as the computer announced that it had files.
There were five files, one for each boat. Each file had the cameras from each of the twelve crewmen.
We watched as the Iranians approached, jockeyed into position and then slammed into the side of four of the JBG boats with a six man boarding party on the stern.
It wasn’t much of a battle; my men did not hesitate to open fire and continue until the Iranian boats were sinking. The Iranian helicopter arrived a few minutes after the battle and started to join in with machine guns, only to be shot down with a Hellfire missile. It exploded in the air.
We watched all the film clips without anyone saying anything. Finally we had seen them all.
“Let’s go the meeting room where we can sort all this out,” I said.
I called Connie in to take notes for the official record.
”I don’t know what to say,” General Ingram said.
”I don’t want you to say anything. It is a JBG problem to deal with at this time. Unless they attack a US government installation, flagged ship, or assets, WE are not getting involved. Congress would have us all hung on the conflicts of interest and a host of other charges,” I said.
”Now we know they are following the intercepted plan and will attack our assets at some point in time. Sooner rather than later,” I said.
”Now fill me in on the carrier problem,” I said to the Chief of Naval Operations.
”The Fordson and Kennedy will not be participating, another eighteen months at the earliest on the Fordson. Twenty four to thirty six on the Kennedy. Nor will the Stennis participate, it doesn’t have enough fuel left in the rods for an extended tour. Something close, short and quick maybe,” he said.
”They are saying the Truman will be the first completed in four months. The next will be the Washington in six to eight months and will need crew and training, so a year at least.”
”The Eisenhower in four months and the Bush could be nine months, depending on sea trials – then training,” the Admiral added.
”So you are telling me that the only sure carriers would be the Truman and Eisenhower, because of manpower shortages at the shipyard,” I said.
”Just how many people are working at Newport News shipbuilding?” I asked.
”They say twenty thousand,” he said.
”So all those are working on the construction of the new ships,” I said.
”Mr. Secretary and General Ingram, come with me to the Oval Office for a minute. Gentlemen, we will be back in a couple minutes with orders for you,” I said. Connie followed.
”Looks like I have some drastic actions to take based on what happened this morning. Don’t you agree?” I said.
”Yes and I’m glad you are making the decision and not me,” the General said with Herman Payne agreeing. Herman Payne was the Secretary of Defense.
I told them of my plan. It took thirty minutes to explain it, what I wanted and why. They finally agreed with it.
” Let’s go deliver the bad news to the Navy.”
”As of today I and ordering all work halted on the Fordson, Kennedy and Enterprise. I am ordering a hold on the construction of the fourth and fifth carriers pending cancellation. If the problems with the new design cannot be corrected quickly, they will be canceled,” I said.
”Move all the employees from the halted construction to start working on the Truman, Washington, Eisenhower and Bush twenty four seven. I expect the Truman and Washington to be fully seaworthy and battle ready in two months. I expect the Eisenhower and Bush to be the same in four months,” I said.
”In the meantime, find an engineering group to figure out how to refuel the Stennis without cutting seven decks out in four locations taking four years. There has to be a way lift the cover off the reactor and move it out of the way to put in new fuel rods that can be done in months and not years. There should be more than enough manpower to make that happen,” I said.
”I don’t have to tell you to strip whatever crew and aircraft off the Stennis, Fordson and Kennedy to bring the other ships to full status,” I said.
”Then and only then as those ships are completed they can go back to work on the Fordson and Kennedy but not on the last two ships. Maybe by then the engineers will have answers to the problems. If not, cut the electromagnetic crap out and replace it with cable or hydraulics that we know works, but get it done,” I said.
”Don’t forget about the logistics to keep all this at sea.”
I thought the Navy people were going to fall out in the floor.
”General Ingram tomorrow is the Air Force’s turn in the barrel. Notify them please. I hope they are prepared to answer my questions,” I said.
Back in the Oval Office I read stacks of notes. I was glad a note was on a nine by eleven sheet with plenty of room for me to respond. Others required a phone call or email.
Another stack had appeared on my desk while I was dealing with the Navy. I could barely look over it; it was the budget. It was due by the end of the month, having been postponed repeatedly by continuing resolutions.
It was due just five days before I had to give the State of the Union address too!
Those in the industrial military complex against the change would broadcast the orders anyhow, putting my administration in position to defend the change. There would be counterpoints to guarantee nothing would interfere with their profits, not even faulty engineering or workmanship or pipe dreams of Congress. I had a week to write an hour speech for that.
Troy, Connie, and General Ingram helped me write up the orders for the navy. We decided that a press release was necessary.
By releasing a statement, I hoped that I would be on the offense. Connie hand delivered it to Harry. A courier delivered a copy to the chairman of the Armed Services Committee of both the Senate and House. It was signed by all the important people.
”After two days of intense meetings in the White House with the Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs about the backlog of repairs to the East Coast carrier fleet that has resulted in no carrier task force available for assignment.”
“The President has issued to following orders and directives.”
”All work is to be suspended on the Fordson, Kennedy and Enterprise with construction work on the fourth and fifth Fordson class carrier to be halted pending cancellation of the ships. The decision on cancellation will be made after sea trials, including aviation launch and recovery cycles, weapons systems and reliability of new and experimental systems and finally shock testing of the Fordson.”
”The workforce at Newport News Ship Building ( NNSB) is to be redirected to complete the necessary repairs to the Truman, Washington, Bush and Eisenhower under a twenty four – seven work format to clear the backlog of repairs and put these ships back at sea and in normal tour duty rotation. And above all, available for expedited assignment.”
”NNSB shall expedite refueling of the Stennis and overhaul as necessary allowing engineering groups further time to evaluate the problems with the Fordson class of ships.”
”The funding for repairs to these ships was approved in previous budgets and the pending budget with the work delayed because of dry dock availability. These orders change the priority of repairs based on the projected short and long term needs of the Navy and National threats.”
I was glad I had kept President Thomas’s staff. I had a lot to learn on how all those official documents needed to be worded.
Of course Congress jumped ten feet straight up, claiming they were not privy to the discussions, demanding hearings and immediate face to face meetings with the Navy, the Secretary of Defense and finally, ‘Just who in the hell does she thinks she is.”
Marcy flew over in one of the 406s. Ching Lee and Vicky decided it was best if they stayed close to the office given today’s issues with Iran. I agreed.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.