The day started off with a run – fire alarms were going off in the White House. I was up out of bed in a rush at 0400. Agents led me to the Oval Office and stayed with me while they sorted out the source of whatever tripped the alarms.
The source turn out to be from outside. The protesters had stayed the night and had started fires in old tires and then threw some kind of smoke generating compound into it. With little wind it settled over the area in a fog.
Acrid, burning, lung irritating, eye burning – full face oxygen masks came out of hiding places. Fire trucks were coming from everywhere; alarms were going off around the block.
DHS, CIA and Secret Service agents led me to the underground addition that had a closed ventilation system in case of a gas attack – my old Section Twelve office.
I didn’t have to but I ordered DHS to arrest all the protesters and charge them with domestic terrorism with a chemical weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy. I was sure there lots of other charges but that one would hold them in a cell.
I wondered what they had put in the fire to make smoke like that. I wondered if any of the many cameras had captured the people and vehicles involved?
I wondered if the chemical was a homemade mix or something off the shelf or – supplied from out of country?
I wondered why today of all days? All good questions that I wanted answers to. I was sure the agencies would find them in time.
The all clear was given an hour later; the White House had been checked for all kinds of poisons that could have been covered by smoke.
Outside they were still carting off protesters. They had them sitting in rows in flex cuffs on their ankles as well as on their wrists. The tire fires were out; drenched in foam. The fire department had fans they were using to move the smoke residue out of the area, for whatever little good they did.
I went to the meeting room where we held the NSA meetings in to start the day’s briefings. The Secret Service still was not comfortable with me using the White House or living quarters until every room was aired out and tested again.
First was Frank with the CIA reports and new photographs from the satellites. They showed the Iranians were still adding weapons and materials into the underground bunkers. A short conversation changed nothing. There was one more set of covered boat pens in the search of the Iranian coastline on the Persian Gulf.
I held the photos and intel report for my meeting with the Generals and Admirals that was up next.
The Generals and Admirals went over the plans one more time. All the plans for the first seven days were presented; it took two hours. It all made sense with the maps on the table using arrows, marks and notes.
I asked questions about the targeting and the facilities I wanted excluded to see if my directions had been followed. They were to the letter. Seeing it all laid out, I was happy about it the prospects for an ending we could live with.
General Ingram wanted a letter of authorization in hand before the first missile was fired. I understood that I would want some kind of order myself if I was in their shoes.
I asked if there was a way I could place a call to Hanna and Melinda after they were placed on the carriers. Hanna was going to the USS Thomas and Melinda to the USS Fordson. They were not to get their phones back until 2345.
I asked when the amphibious ships would start arriving.
”A few are there now; all of them will be there by the second week of operations.”
I was surprised that there were any amphibious ships were there at all. Those ships had a maximum speed of eighteen to twenty knots where the other Navy ships had speeds of forty knots plus. Common sense told me that it would take them twice as long for them to arrive in the Indian Ocean.
I was finally allowed to return to the Oval Office. There I asked Connie to research the letters that other presidents had issued to the generals to start operations.
There was plenty of noise from outside. The park service and the DC street crews were cleaning up a week of trash, tents and cardboard left from the protesters. It amazed me that even environmental protesters so concerned about the environment left tons of discarded trash for someone else to clean up. One would think the area would have been spotless.
The FBI was taking samples from the ashes and all containers near the fires, looking for anything and also fingerprints on all the containers close by.
I worked on the statement I was going to give tonight after the missile attack began. It was going to be a short statement with no questions allowed, much to the disappointment of the White House press corps.
Lunch was light – a small salad, a cheese burger and a mug of sweet tea – I passed on the French fries. I ate in the Oval Office by myself. I had ZNN midday news on; they were struggling with temporary news people.
The news desk anchor explained that the regular field reporters were fighting a sudden flu bug and that things would return to normal soon. Either none of the reporters had let slip to the bosses what they were doing or else the news chief decided to stay quiet. I found that interesting.
I had a 1330 meeting with several Congressman and a couple of Senators. I had vetoed a bill they supported. The bill had been sent back to committee and was waiting for agreement. This time they wanted it right when it came across my desk.
It was close to what we could agree on but I still wanted a couple changes while it was in committee. We talked, negotiated those changes and with some old fashioned political arm twisting, ended up with a bill I could support.
We were finished and socializing when Connie came in, followed by the General Ingram. Connie handed me the folder. General Ingram had a note that said, ”All Iranian submarines at sea have been sunk.”
The letter was on White House Presidential stationary in bold print and double spaced lines.
To: the Secretary of Defense; General Ingram- Chairman Joint Chiefs; Joint Chiefs; Speaker of the House; Majority leader of the senate.
I authorize the combined forces of the United States military to begin military operations at 1700 EDT today against the nation of Iran. This is in retaliation for the attack on the USS Hammann, along with funding and training terrorists for attacks around the world.
President of the United States
Roberta J. Jones
I signed twelve copies; one for each of the addresses, one for my personal file and one to go in the archives.
The copies for the Senate and the House leaders was sent by an agent with instructions that they be delivered a few minutes before 1700.
”Will everything start on time?” I asked General Ingram.
”Yes Ma-am, ready to go,” he said.
The General quickly left with his copies. He had thirty minutes to transmit final orders to the forces in the Indian Ocean.
I had made the call to the USS Thomas to allow Hanna to broadcast as soon as the first missile launched and to the USS Fordson for Melinda to broadcast five minutes later. The rest were set to broadcast fifteen minutes later.
The Congressional people seemed to be in no hurry to leave today. Now they were talking about bills that were making their way through different stages in committee, wanting input before they came to my desk.
Troy turned on the big screen to Hanna’s channel 34, split the screen to the ZNN station and muted the sound.
At 1705 channel 34 went live – Breaking News ”This is Hanna Page aboard the USS Thomas in the Indian Ocean. The United States Navy began the expected military strikes against Iran a few minutes ago. There are multiple missile launches from ships in every direction,” Hanna said.
Hanna was wearing a Navy flak jacket and a helmet; both had USS Thomas on them. While she was talking the ships PA warned of incoming missiles. Moments later the laser weapons started responding – the Patriot Five anti-missile system had gone active. Jed’s camera followed the laser to see the system hitting incoming missiles miles from the ships.
Fleet Admiral Scott had positioned the Thomas closer to Iran than the other carriers. From the sea trial test he had faith that it would work. The Patriot Five system was getting a trial by fire. Other ships’ anti-missile systems were working as well. How well would be known by daylight.
Melinda went live for ZNN from the Fordson with pretty much the same report; there wasn’t much else they could say. ZNN had all ten reporters give reports.
At 1740 I walked to the podium ”Today the United States Navy began a series of attacks in retaliation for the attack on the USS Hammann and many other attacks on US personnel in the Middle East for the last several years. The military operation shall continue throughout the night and for several days,” I said.
”At this time I will take no questions,” I said as I turned to leave the podium.
One of the news persons for a liberal media outlet yelled out, ”Don’t you think several days of missile strikes is a little bit too much response?”
”You slap me and I will kick your ass so hard it will take your dentist to remove my shoe. Iran slapped and it’s going to get one hell of an ass kicking,” I said.
”Previous presidents would have been happy to shoot a few missiles, drop a few bombs and declare victory. That’s not the way I do things,” I said and then I walked out. The news room was deathly quiet; no one made any attempt to ask any more questions.
I went to the dining room to eat supper. Tonight I had steak, mashed potatoes, hot rolls, peas and ice tea.
I wondered what Hanna and Melinda thought of their first day on the carrier and the meal. I had told General Ingram none of the media – including the ladies – were to get special treatment in accommodations with meals or bunks while aboard.
The opening military campaign had several parts. First – twenty eight guided missile cruisers – each carrying one hundred and thirty missiles in tubes – were to expend fifty percent of the missiles or 1820 of them and then move away into a position to defend the carriers.
The cruisers’ first strikes were to hit the most important and targets designated as primary targets: radars, anti-missile sites, military installations and command and control sites.
Next, moving into position sixty eight destroyers each carrying ninety missiles were to use one third or 2040 of them to hit the large primary targets again, then the secondary targets. All this was to be done before day break.
At 2200 I went to the basement where I thought the joint chiefs’ night crew would be on duty. Instead General Ingram, the joint chiefs and the night shift were all there. One meeting table was stacked with pizza boxes – the go to food when we went to war.
”The missile portion has finished. The carriers are launching the planes now,” General Ingram said. To confirm that statement they had ZNN on the TV showing the launches. The sun was just coming up in the Indian Ocean.
At daybreak the Navy aviation campaign was to begin.
All planes from the twelve heavy carriers, some twelve hundred planes would begin selective strikes on targets of opportunity, missile sites that showed signs of repairs or hidden sites still active, anything military that was moving on the roads and known ammo bunkers.
By 1000 the Navy should have located any remaining working radar and SAM’s (surface to air anti-aircraft missile) sites and destroyed them. Then they were to retire with about half providing escort for fifty B21 bombers, each carrying two MOABs.
The one hundred MOABs were to be dropped on select targets, the twenty IRG compounds and military bases. Others were to be dropped on the nuclear research buildings, the centrifuge sites and missile manufacturing plants. Others were to be dropped on the government headquarters buildings including the parliament and the presidential palace.
”One thing we need to look at is escape routes out of Iran to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Have the Navy bomb everything that tries to leave Iran. The powerful are going to try to run,” I said.
”Well, I’m going to bed. If something comes up that you need me for, call,” I added.
It would be tomorrow morning before the action reports could be compiled by the Navy and the review for effect by the intelligence groups. There was no need for me to stay up. I wasn’t go to do any knee jerk reactions anyway.
I slept soundly, woke up promptly at 0600 and then called my mates. It was 1400 in Iran. We talked for almost an hour. Vicky told me that the Iranians had turned the fast boats loose at 1210.
Andy’s teams had sunk over forty of them, fifteen were still burning this morning. Vicky had twenty fast ships damaged and five with severe damages; many of them would be out of service for extended repairs. There were also more wounded and five more deceased.
Iran had fired over 800 missiles at the US ships, Saudi Arabia and Israel in the first twenty minutes that it took ours to knock out their systems. The information the Russians had given us was only partially effective.
None hit the US ships; the close in defense and the Patriot Five systems on the Thomas took care of the rest.
Saudi Arabia and Israel were not as lucky but they did have the lion’s share of the missiles sent their way. Ten got through Israel’s Iron Dome and Patriot defense system. Fifteen had gotten through the older Patriot systems in Saudi Arabia.
For some reason – I was sure due to a computer input error – ten hit the same aircraft hangar. One hit an oil storage tank and four hit the international airport parking area, destroying several commercial planes.
Robert sent me an email.
”Tiam and the General were both very active while directing the response to the missile attack. Apparently they were in different buildings at the same site because they were commenting on how close the missile attacks were to their position.”
“At 1030 the General commented on the ground and building shaking and the sound of big jets overhead. Tiam started to respond and then all messaging stopped.”
According to the printout of the bomber data logs, two B21 bombers dropped four MOABs on the IRG general headquarters and the IRG training war college complex at 1032.
At 1200 the fifty B52 bombers were escorted by carrier planes. The B52s were each carrying one fifty thousand pound seismic bombs, they were dropped from forty five thousand feet and guided to the target area.
They were designed to penetrate very deep into the ground, rock or manmade concrete then explode. They were built with the most modern explosive mix. They were designed to mimic an earthquake and would destroy any underground structure within a thousand feet of its entry point and anything on the surface.
Each explosion would register on earthquake monitoring equipment around the world. There were a hundred and fifty underground structures, ammo depots, missiles storage, suspected nuclear research, storage sites and others. Fifty were going to be hit today, fifty tomorrow and fifty the next.
Instead of returning to the United States to rearm, the B21s and B52s were using US bases in Germany, the UK and Saudi Arabia to end the long flight times it would take to return to North Dakota and Louisiana. They would return tomorrow and bomb more selected sites.
I was in the Oval Office when Frank brought in the latest spy satellite photographs from a pass-over just twenty minutes ago. The generals followed him.
Frank had the pictures grouped by the area they were from. The satellite traveled in an orbit north west over Ardabil to the south east over Chabahar and the north east tip of Oman and continuing its orbit.
The missile testing area of Ardabil was completely demolished and there were massive craters where underground structures used to be. The pictures from Tehran spoke more volumes.
The thousand acre IRG headquarters complex, the war college, the weapons manufacturing plants and testing site reminded me of the pictures of Nagasaki after the bomb was dropped.
Everything was gone – steel beams twisted like pretzels, massive craters where underground secret labs were and fires still raging while fed by materials used to make explosives. These were the very same labs that developed the infamous IED that had killed so many US soldiers and were now used against civilians in the Middle East and Africa.
The political district was no different – nothing but rubble where the parliament building, presidential palace and state buildings once stood – all were gone. The very place where the weekly death to America marches and chants were carried out were gone.
The pictures were the same for every target area; the big bombs and the seismic bombs had done their job.
The underground bunkers where so much armor and ammunition had been recently stored were nothing but massive craters a hundred feet deep and more.
I had intended to run the bombing campaign for six days, but I began to think three days would be all that was necessary before a ground campaign could start.
The B21 and B52s had two more days of scheduled bomb runs already planned. Without a doubt I was going to allow them to finish.
I asked what kind of opposition the carrier planes ran into on their sweep before the arrival of the B21s.
”Twenty SAM missile sites were destroyed and several hundred trucks,” General Ingram said.
”We think the only active radar site still working is at the international airport,” he added.
I looked through the pictures again at the sites I ordered to be left alone. The oil production and refineries looked untouched. I was glad – I wanted no repeat of the environmental disaster that had happened at the end of the first gulf war. Power plants and substations were untouched as I wanted. They would be needed to restore services when all was done.
”There are one hundred and fifty A10s now in the area and fifteen of the twenty five amphibious ships will be there today if you wanted to push faster,” the Marine General of the chiefs said.
‘‘Let’s continue with the bombing plan for two more days and then reassess. If it looks promising, start putting the pieces in place,” I said.
”I need to play politician for a while. Keep me informed if I need to be – continue on as planned,” I said as they all stood and then left.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.