The first meeting was at 1000, but many of the diplomats met in the five star cafeteria for breakfast. President Orbatch, Prime Minister Attenborough and I arrived at the same time for breakfast. The three of us decided to sit at one table without any aides.
Other G8 members were scattered around at various tables. Japan, Germany and Canadian representatives were at another table. Italy and France were at yet another.
Over breakfast Orbatch, Attenborough and I discussed how the agreement with Russia was working out. They both offered assistance again if we needed it in any conflict with Iran.
I seriously doubted that Prime Minister Attenborough would be able to offer anything but token assistance. Muslims now held the political edge in Britain. More than fifty percent of the cities were now controlled by Muslims and almost as many seats in Parliament and the House of Commons. France, Germany Italy were all in no better shape. Sharia law was replacing traditional laws and penalties.
Refuges from the Syrian conflict and other Middle Eastern civil wars along with the European Union’s insane open borders policies had sealed the fate of Europe; in twenty more years they all would be Muslims.
All that was one reason I had asked for no help from European countries. If asked, they would demand to be part of the decision making process and as there were more of them, I would end up losing control or get mired down in continuous political disputes.
I felt sure that Orbatch would very probably send troops if I asked, given I had him on a string. I was betting I wasn’t going to need them with the plan that the generals and admirals had worked out. The DOD had excellent planners when one took their blinders off and threw the book of restrictions in the shredder.
Prime Minister Attenborough was trying to get a feeling on what kind of military cuts the US was going to do in Europe. It was a topic that the Pentagon had put on hold. Even though they were no longer part of the European Union, they were still affected by decisions connected to it by trade.
The numbers and bases would have to be first looked at by several groups in the Pentagon and that would take a couple years. After they were finished, Congress would have to be convinced. Then there was the work to do with our allies.
The Pentagon could do slow draw downs and reductions saving lots of money. But the big issues would be political and take time.
Troy handed me a note from Chief of Naval Operations. It was on the condition of the Hammann. It had traveled under its own power with JBG ships for escort to the JBG Masqat dry dock. Experts from Ingalls Industries – the builder of the Hammann – were waiting to inspect it.
The Hammann had been escorted by twelve JBG fast ships and four army helicopters from a Saudi base and guided into the dry dock. The keel blocks were placed and the dock was pumped dry by a team from Newport News Ship Building. They were the ones that used the dry docks last to repair the collision damaged destroyer.
The crew was put up in the barracks that were part of the JBG site. While the last destroyer was being repaired improvements had been made to make it more livable and fit in the twenty first century. There were 10 VCATS rooms where American guest service men and ladies could contact home through the JBG network. A sailor could set up a prearranged time and see his or her family live at any JBG office.
The Hammann was twenty five years old and had just returned to service from a two hundred and fifty million dollar upgrade and overhaul. A new destroyer to replace the Hammann was two billion dollars and eight years away with the two year fitting out and sea trials before accepted delivery. The ship yards that built them had construction contracts with the Navy that far out.
The USS Cole had taken fourteen months to be repaired after a terrorist boat filled with high explosives struck her amidships, flooding multiple decks and nearly sinking her.
With most of the damage on the Hammann superstructure, I expected the ship to be repaired and a lot faster. With CAD equipment and blueprints, repairs would go quickly.
After breakfast we went to the acclaimed Resort Country Club of Madrid. The meeting became contentious from the opening. Agriculture trade was a big issue; Spain, France and Canada were unhappy that the US had entered in the grain deal with Russia.
Their argument was by the exclusivity of the agreement it robbed the international markets of fair trade. Their theory was that the US should have bought the grain on the European grain market and donated it to Russia.
I quickly shot that theory down by saying we had the grain in government storage that was already paid for so doing that didn’t make any sense. I didn’t see how Canada fit into the European grain market equation. The US bought a substantial amount of Canadian agricultural products of all kinds.
It looked like it was my turn to be in the barrel. Everyone had a gripe or wanted something for nothing, including dropping trade restrictions that had been negotiated and in place for decades. I guess they thought I was in a giving mood.
They soon found out I was not. I quietly thanked the State Department for the full days briefing in preparation for the three days of meetings. I held my own and gained a few points here and there.
As usual there were the news conferences and photo ops along with musical chairs. It happened so much I was used to it by now. A couple of leaders who were pranksters would have rabbit ears in some of the photos as payback. I was sure they would get me back before we adjourned.
The three days drug by – in my opinion the three days were a waste. There were no real accomplishments to speak of for people at our level of power.
There were documents to sign for the press the final day and a farewell feast. The document signing lasted thirty minutes too long.
The feast consisted of all kinds of Spanish delicacies with everyone taking samples from the trays. There was one tray labeled criadillas – I knew what they were and it would not be the first time I had them. If they were prepared right, they were good. They were considered a south western and hillbilly treat. I guess that there were those in Spain that liked them also.
Troy, Secretary Dean and I were sitting at the table with President Orbatch, Anton and the Spanish Prime Minister Diaz, waiting for the desert tray to be brought around.
”What did you think of the delicacies? I noticed that you sampled most of the items,” Prime Minister Diaz asked.
”All of them were good. It was nice to sample different foods. The criadillas would have been better if the cook had added a dash of old bay seasoning to the batter,” I said.
”Oh, you have had them before?” he asked.
”They call them Mountain Oysters in the Appalachian Mountains, Rocky Mountain Oysters in the West and South West and in Canada – Canadian Prairie Oysters. Yes, I have had them several times before – they taste even better when they are cut up and allowed to drain when they are still warm,” I said.
”What are they?” Troy asked.
”I’ll tell you later. Has the hotel room been checked and our bags sent to the plane?” I asked.
”Yes and there are messages you need to look at when we are airborne,” Troy said.
I started looking at messages while we were in the line to take off. The Chief of Naval Operations confirmed that the Hammann would be seaworthy enough to return to the US in about two weeks.
Parts of the superstructure would be cut off – that could create problems on the open ocean – and plates welded on some of the holes on the main deck to keep sea water out. Many of the ship’s functions that were necessary to fight were damaged. Consequently, all ammunition and missiles in the magazines would be removed.
Lower deck controls for the ships essential functions would be enough to get it back home.
The next was from General Ingram, ”All Naval units required for part one will be in place by Tuesday night as planned. Targeting information developed by your instructions is complete and will be sent to all ships on Tuesday.
”That’s good news,” I replied.
That was one thing Troy and I needed to talk about was how many media personalities we were going to fly to the carriers. I wasn’t going to have any aboard. The Generals insisted that it was customary there be some media assigned with the forces.
I finally agreed but only with the Navy; there would be none to accompany the ground troops. I remembered all the crap the media would start with first dead civilian they saw.
Tonight I was going home to be with my mates. I had already asked to see both Andy and Vicky in a meeting tomorrow; there were things they needed to know.
Edit by AAlfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.