Book 2 Chapter 153

The Beast carried us to Blair House where they were getting ready to start. Vice President Harrison was just giving the opening toast. I stood in the door and waited until he was finished before I took my place and offered another toast.
”We lift our glasses to welcome our friend Emir Akram Bello to our great nation, to build a relationship that will last an eternity. A relationship built on trust, commerce between our two countries, enduring prosperity and good will and to work for mutual security.”
The evening was a relaxed social event. Everyone seemed to enjoy the evening. I talked with the Emir over an hour. He wanted an early start because of the time change. I invited him to join me for an early breakfast.
The real work would start tomorrow. It was 2100 when the affair closed down for the night.
I went to my desk in the Oval Office; the girls and the boys had turned in as soon as we landed as the jet lag had proven just too much. My desk was neat and orderly with piles tagged with their importance. I took the most important pile and read for an hour, adding questions and thoughts in the margins. I crawled into bed with Jenny and Marcy. Lorrie had Sara in the bed with her tonight; she must have been fussy.
I was up at 0500 – the Emir was to be here at 0600 for the early breakfast.
The breakfast was a working breakfast. Over coffee I was filled in on the present day Nigeria’s problems and its problems with its neighbors. Then there was the growing problems with Boko-Haram. I had gained a lot of knowledge about the area.
I learned even more about the relationship with China and its foreign aid package to Nigeria. As usual with China, it was a leveraged package. China – with nearly slave rates for Chinese labor – but billed at western rates would do infrastructure improvements in exchange for raw materials.
As time went on the only infrastructure projects that were completed were those that benefited exporting the raw materials. The Logos marine terminal was updated to handle mining, mineral ore containing rare earth minerals and shipping container traffic.
A bridge on the main highway and highway repairs to the ore fields and oilfields were quickly completed. Other promised projects in the package were started but quickly stalled. Chinese workers disappeared, equipment was moved from the projects to the ore and oil fields and only returned after much pressure – or not at all.
The relationship soured with the Chinese officials, with excuses flowing like the oil and minerals to the docks. If that wasn’t bad enough, records stopped or came up short.
It is not rocket science to figure out how much oil and ore were loaded on tankers and freighters. Their capacity is public record with Lloyds of London and the International Shipping Agency. The ISA tracks ships on the ocean to be able to schedule port stops and ships that go missing in storm. Ships positions at sea are reported daily. It was easy work to get the numbers complied without Chinese help.
The contracts were expiring and Emir Bello was refusing to renew them even after pressure, promises and threats from China. It was the Chinese that had insisted on an initial short term contract and not an open ended one – for whatever reason no one knew – but it worked to Nigeria’s advantage.
At 0800 we met the rest of the Emir’s group in the lobby on our way to the Oval Office, but first I directed the group to the office that I had converted into the map room.
Today in it was an eight foot by ten foot table with a map of Nigeria with all the important places marked out. The projects that had been finished or started by the Chinese construction company were marked. The path of Boko-Haram was also mapped.
There was a box of map markers I had borrowed from the DOD; they were large thimbles with different colored flags on them. They could be placed on the map to indicate bridges and other projects Emir Bello wanted to talk about.
With a couple of breaks it was 1100 when we got down to the serious things. There were several small bridges and miles of roadway that were immediate concerns.
”The day after the Chinese leave, the Army Corps of Engineers will be there to do site preparation and geological surveys necessary for sound construction and dependable roadbeds,” I said.
”Equipment will start arriving immediately after and trainers to train your work force. We will provide the equipment, training, supervision and engineering,” I said.
”As we agreed earlier, your men will supply the labor and your country will supply the materials. You and we get more of everything for the money that is being invested,” I added.
”Also we will pay going market rates for any minerals or oil that are extracted – with correct accounting,” I said.
”Why do you need to bring new equipment and not use the Chinese supplied equipment?” the Emir asked.
”I fully expect it to be destroyed or sabotaged beyond repair,” I said.
”Yes, you are probably right,” he said.
By then it was time for another photo session and a fancy lunch. I ate light – a salad and soup – and entered into light conversation with the new group that was going to oversee my new foreign aid programs.
After lunch we started on the security end of our discussion. Vicky and Andy along with Frank Love had the first meetings With Emir Bello to discuss the future role the CIA and JBG would play in fighting Boko-Haram. This was done at the CIA head quarters at Langley Virginia. I could not be part of that meeting although I would get a report in a couple days.
When the Emir came back, General Ingram and I discussed whether there would be a US military presence in Nigeria. The General wanted one but I was unsure how the discussion would go.
At 1700 we ended the discussions for the day. At 1900 it was my turn to host the State dinner for the Emir, his group and selected VIPs. My invitees were the State Department, a few select Senators, Representatives, their wives and a few other guests.
At 2000 the night ended with the Emit going back to Blair House. My evening was not over; I needed to go back to my desk to handle several issues.
One was to put the agreement with King Eluad into the works. It needed to go to the DOD first, to the joint chiefs who needed to approve the war games. I had a big sell ahead of me – a lot of people would need convincing. Then on to the planners and schedulers for cargo ships to carry the trucks and tanks that needed to be sent.
Then plan for what to do with the air base; we had access to it again. A team needed to be flown in to evaluate it. The Air Force used the base during the Kuwait-Iraq war. It had been placed into a reserve status by the Saudi’s at the end of the war.
It was temporarily reopened as an emergency field for B52 bombers in the Afghan war. As trouble began to escalate between Saudi Arabia and the Somalia rebels, the Saudi’s had spruced up, repaired runways and rebuilt hangars for their own use, all before the price of oil plummeted – reducing their discretionary cash supplies .
The next thing in the agreement was that King Eluad had agreed to allow a US destroyer to make a port call on July the forth to the port of Manama. Manama was above the imaginary line of ‘No American military ships allowed in the Persian Gulf’ by Iran.
This was one of the demands that Iran required to be met to release the hostages taken during the Carter administration. Carter agreed to it and withdrew the ships only to see the demands increase and get laughed at.
No President since had sent ships that far up the gulf since with one exception, and that was during the Kuwait war. Iran agreed to allow an amphibious force to sail to the shores of Kuwait as a diversion. Several of the battleships refurbished under Reagan’s three hundred and fifty ship goal were part of the force.
It was the last hurrah for the old battleships as the Navy immediately took them out of service with plans to scrap them so they would never come back again. They did end up as museum ships.
To further make sure they would never come back, all the tooling to produce replacement barrels for them was sold for scrap in the mid-2010s and in 2017 the thousands of shells for the big guns were destroyed, deleting them from the reserve weapons depot. The Navy cut ten feet off the barrels of the museum ships – with the exception of the Missouri and the New Jersey.
They didn’t fit the Admiral’s vision of the modern Navy, even though the Marines wanted to keep them in reserve for amphibious operations. It was carrier’s planes or expensive missiles if we ever had to make amphibious landings.
The heavy guns were being eliminated off all new ships being built. Instead of being able to send nearly a thousand five inch shells to the target, the new destroyers could launch a hundred missiles.
The Zumwalt class was the last destroyer to have a heavy gun. It was designed to fire a sabot round that had an extended range at a heavy cost of a million dollars a round. It was so expensive the navy stopped all gunnery training and tried to develop conventional rounds for the 155 mm caliber. They finally gave up on finding a use for the ship. At seven billion a copy, it was a big lemon.
I had visions of several destroyers sailing into Manama with flags and pennants flowing in the wing to piss off the Iranians even more. Hopefully it would be enough to cause them to rush their plans and get them off stride.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.

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