I slept soundly; it was 0600 before I went to the kitchen for breakfast and 0700 before I settled in the chair behind the oval desk.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I looked through the reports from the Joint Chiefs’ night crew. The causality numbers were still low and holding steady. Troops and equipment were assembling to take control of the seven other major cities in central Iran. Helicopters would be making fly-overs today before sunset.
The week was going away fast; today was Thursday and the schedule was packed. It was seventeen days to the convention – the pressure was being ramped up on all the delegates. I was to speak on Thursday. Apparently they wanted a long speech from me; I had a two hour slot in prime time.
Troy came in and placed a dozen newspaper clippings on the desk – something that he rarely did. He knew I cared little what all the liberal papers said. The clippings were a collection of the political ads published in papers and magazines around the country from yesterday’s PR shots. A speed read of the clippings left me satisfied that it was the right thing to do.
Today’s office work needed to end early as well. I had a live interview with the number three network today at 1700 and then an appearance on the worldwide Military News Network at 1745. It would be transmitted to all military bases and ships.
I was waiting on the Generals for the update. They finally came in, looking reasonably relaxed.
”Armor covered by helicopters started into the seven remaining cities in west central Iran at daybreak. There were some holdout sections in each of the cities; we took some serious injuries and lost some equipment,” General Ingram said.
”Air strikes were called in and the resisting areas leveled as per your instructions. There were considerable causalities in those areas. After the initial operations the general population quickly displayed white flags and surrendered,” he said.
”The troops spent most of the daylight hours collecting weapons and picking up prisoners. Big Red One secured a thousand prisoners. The Eighth Army armored support division collected one hundred truckloads of munitions and weapons turned in by the civilians and the local government. The demolition guys are going to be busy for a while,” Army General Johnson said.
”All of central Iran will be secured by Monday and then we can prepare for the invasion of the northern sector. The State Department is asking that we help with general issues with the population before moving on the Northern sector,” General Ingram said.
”Assisting the State Department will allow time for more logistics to catch up and the Air Force and Navy planes can continue to work over the North sector.”
”There are lots of hidden military equipment and installations there. We found maps and coordinates; the planes can have a field day,” General Ingram said.
”Did the State Department get all of the Persian speaking JBG personnel or are there some still available? We could use a few ourselves in all the sectors,” General Johnson said.
”I don’t know; let’s call and ask,” I replied. I dialed Jenny’s cell number.
”Hi lover, how are you?” I asked.
”Horny while waiting for the weekend and you,” she said.
”Same here. Sounds good to me. I should have told you that I had you on speaker,” I said.
”No harm done, just a little frisky talk among friends and lovers,” I said.
”How many Persian speaking security are there left after the State Department request who would want to travel to Iran for a hundred days?” I asked.
”The State Department requested five hundred. They are already assigned and on location or should be before the end of the day. There are seven hundred and fifty left according to the computer. You will have to check with Vicky, Ching Lee and Andy to see how many they are comfortable letting go,” Jenny said.
”Please add them to the call,” I said.
”General Johnson, how many did you want?” I asked.
”If the State Department felt they needed five hundred, we could take the same, splitting them between the Army and Marines units,” General Ingram answered.
Vicky, Ching Lee and Andy came on the line.
”We need five hundred more of the Persian speaking security people for Iran. How many can you let go immediately?” I asked.
”We can do that many, but no more for a while,” Andy said.
”Same contract numbers as the State Department? Twelve hundred and fifty a day per man, plus they reimburse travel expenses and supply food and shelter,” Vickie said.
”Fair enough. When will they start arriving in Saudi Arabia?” General Ingram asked.
”Some will be there tomorrow. The contracts need to be signed today; they will be faxed within the hour, ” Andy said.
I quickly ran the numbers in my head. Damn, there is going to be one hell of a Congressional investigation when all this is over! I had no idea how many flight hours was being billed for all the C5s, C130s and 747s for freight and people. That many interpreters would run up big numbers every day for one hundred days.
Lunch ran over because of interruptions. It was 1330 before I could sit down with the makeup ladies and begin the picture sessions. I left the rule book on the desk again and went about the tasks I needed to do.
The girls called again with a list of questions. I asked what they were for.
”We are catching up on some corporate paperwork and forms. It seems the more we do, the more we find we have to do,” Jenny said.
I let it drop and knew there was going to be a lot more paperwork going forward with so many new contracts and expansions.
At 1700 I was sitting in the green room with camera crew and the reporter from Americas third rated news network. They needed thirty five minutes of film for the hour show. Troy pressured them to make every question newsworthy and worthwhile because there was no time for re-shooting questions and answers.
It was tight but I walked back to the Oval Office in time. While I was answering questions, the crew from the military network had been setting up their equipment and were ready to go live.
Tonight’s crew was one each from the Army, Navy and Marines who immediately stood to attention and saluted as I entered. I returned the salute.
”At ease, as you were,” I said as I took my assigned place for the camera.
”We can certainly understand that you have been very busy the last few weeks. We would like to talk a little about that if we could,” Navy Lt. Fredrick said.
”The attack on the USS Hammann stunned America. At first it seemed like there was a lengthily delay in the response but when it came it was a blockbuster. How is the war going?”
”It’s going good, far better than expected. The ground troops are now at a place in two weeks where we thought it would take two months to get to,” I said.
”With that information, do you anticipate the war will end much sooner than anticipated?” Army Lt. Corby asked.
”I hate to jinx the effort, but I think the ground operations and objectives will be over in a month,” I answered.
”I don’t anticipate leaving office in January and leaving a ground war for the next President to deal with,” I added.
”Always before in attacks like this, our allies stand with us in the UN and when military action has to be taken. Have any of our allies offered to help with the military campaign this time around?” Lt. Corby asked.
”Yes, several of our allies offered to send troops if I requested them. President Orbatch and I talk frequently and in several of those talks even he has offered to send troops to provide security for the POW camps that are being built,” I answered.
”I have not asked any nations for troops for several reasons. Every time you add an additional a member into the mix, you multiply the length of the decision making process many times, especially when there are political limitations involved,” I said.
”I had faith that our military could easily handle the challenge that the Iranian military would present. The success of the combined campaign with the Army, Navy, Marine and Coast Guard shows what they can do when you take the blinders off and throw the book of restrictions into the shredder.”
”I gave our military several simple orders; win the war with as few American casualties as possible, do it quickly and use every nonnuclear tool in our arsenal. There were no limits on what weapons could be used or where. The only restriction was they were not to bomb any oil facilities, wells and the electrical grid,” I said.
”Why did you elect not to destroy the electrical grid?”
“When the war is over Iran will have to rebuild – electricity is the most important thing to do that, plus it’s the one thing that is the most time consuming to build back. Water, sewage and hospitals all need electricity”
”In the planning we tried to look past the fighting and its immediate aftermath and in to the future,” I explained.
”If the war was going badly then surely the electrical grid was a target. But the offensive nature of the war was going so good from the first day out that we knew we could save the grid for the rebuilding phase,” I said.
”You have ordered a mix of weapons used there – the curious mix was the MOABs and seismic bombs – why?” he asked.
”The MOABs were dropped on an installation first to totally destroy the installation and eliminate anyone in shallow bunkers or caves. The seismic bombs were to destroy all personnel bunkers – deep or shallow – and to destroy any provisions or ammo and make it unrecoverable by collapsing any access to the materials,” I said.
”Did your years in the Marines helped you in this crisis?” Lt. Fredrick asked.
”I understood all the things that could go wrong for the troops in the field and tried my best to avoid them. It was that experience that drove the heavy unrestricted bombing campaign against military targets and other high value targets before there were any troops sent there,” I answered.
I answered a lot more questions and then there was just general talk about the future of the services as the world marched into the future.
The hour went fast. They were packing up their equipment when General Ingram made the last pass through with the last update of the day; it was midnight in Iran.
We had lost six Army soldiers in a rollover of the MRAP replacement. The expensive piece of equipment was not living up to its sale pitch. It was supposed to have independent suspension, self leveling to resist rollovers and computer lockout of the drive system if it entered into a potential rollover. This was the second one in ten days.
I was not happy about two failures of the system in less than two weeks.
”Find out what happened to cause those accidents, is it a failure of the equipment? Are the soldiers exceeding its capabilities – are the computer control programs bad?” I instructed the General.
We had thousands of those special vehicles but this was the first time they were used in a war-time environment. In the back of my mind I wanted to know if the DOD had been sold a lemon – again.
The original MRAP was sold as being IED proof- they were not. It wasn’t until the third and forth revisions that they were IED resistant – not proof. An IED hit in the right location and it was an expensive coffin for many soldiers.
I called it a day, went to the living quarters and then to the fitness center. The two Secret Service agents and my four JBG security that I liked to work out with met me there. We worked out two hours before we found the hot tub. I could use an hour on the massage table at home but that would have to wait.
Supper was light tonight then I called my mates for an update at home. They were still working on forms and reports asking questions. I spent two hours on the video chat from the kitchen. I was going home again tomorrow night.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.