A man (Bob Johnston) in a suit pumping gas into his SUV. He holds the gas nozzle in the vehicle and pumps while he looks up to the station’s price sign. It reads Premium Unleaded 99. A second SUV pulls up the the pump behind Johnston’s. Mike Cantell gets out dressed in slacks and a polo shirt.
Bob Johnston (looking down from the sign at the vehicle behind him): Mike. Mike Cantell?
Mike Cantell: Bob! Man is that really you? What brings you to Houston?
Bob: Took a job here.
Mike: Doin’ what?
Bob: Oil. Got an easy desk job shuffling papers.
Mike: I thought you were doing the battalion commander bit with the 82nd Airborne.
Bob: I was, but when they offered early retirements—I couldn’t resist. How about you? You’re not in the Corps with that hair.
Mike: No. I took an early retirement too. I’ve got family near here so…
Bob: You took an oil company job too.
Mike: Yeah. The 9-5, plenty of time at home offer was tough to turn down. When they call you and ask if you want to do very little for six figures a year, it’s real hard to say no.
Bob: I figured they made the same offer to everyone. I guess there is some loyalty in the business world. You know it’s been over two years now.
Mike: Those were two tough years, Bob. I got a Battalion at Camp Lejeune, but couldn’t focus on what I was supposed to be doing. It was what I wanted my whole career, and when I got it, I hated every minute of it.
Bob: I know. I was doing the things I always thought I would do with a battalion, but I just couldn’t stand in front of my soldiers any more and tell them they were defending a great nation--that the sacrifices they made were for freedom or democracy or any of that other stuff that used to make me stand tall when I heard the National Anthem.
Mike: Do you think it would have been better if…
Bob: Didn’t we ask ourselves that a couple years ago?
Mike: I can still remember a little of the cynical innocence I knew before it all happened. I can remember standing on the top of Jabal Sanam and…
Jabal Sanam, elevation 142 meters above sea level. Highest point in the Iraq-Kuwait DMZ. A white Toyota Land Crusier with black UN letters and a blue UN flag climb the winding dirt road to the top. Both military observers in the vehicle are unarmed and wearing blue berets.
Major Li (Peoples Republic of China): Almost to the top. Thanks for letting me drive.
Major Johnston (US Army): You’re doing fine, just relax.
Major Li: Driving time is scarce enough in my country. Getting to use 4 wheel drive on a climb like this is better than MSA.
Major Johnston: You must not get to drive much.
Major Li: When I return to China, I may be able to buy a small car, but China’s limited reliance on personal vehicles also means there aren’t as many good roads. I could never afford a four-wheel drive.
Johnston (pointing): Let’s take that spot right over there.
Li: Looks like one of your Marine friends.
Johnston: Mike Cantell.
Li: Go ahead and have a national conversation with him. I’ll talk to Commander Perez.
Johnston: You make it sound like we’re discussing matters of grave national concern. Major Cantell is from Texas. He just calls it shooting the …well never mind, I don’t want to mix in any American slang into your near perfect English.
Li: English is the official mission language.
Johnston (exiting the vehicle): So the Brits remind me at every opportunity.
Cantell (walking out to meet Johnston in an area between the UN vehicles): About time you got here Bob.
Johnston: We’re 20 minutes early Jarhead.
Cantell: I know, but Perez is driving me crazy to get down the hill. He’s only got two weeks left here and can’t sit still for 5 minutes.
Johnston: This observer stuff is for the birds.
Cantell: Beats a desk job doesn’t it?
Johnston: I don’t know anymore. Every time I go back to KC for a couple days rest I just get ticked off and want to come back out.
Cantell: I know. Some Kuwaiti pulled up next to me last week, rolled down the window of his 2000 Chevy Caprice, and yelled Yankee go home.
Johnston: That was original. One of the many benefits of taking up temporary residence in Kuwait City.
Cantell: What’d you hear on the contingency strength?
Johnston: Looks like we’re holding at 12 Americans. The other primary members are still providing 15, so it would look bad for us to reduce any more. That’s the party line anyway.
Cantell: We should be able to shoot the messenger every once in a while. Just to keep up morale.
Johnston: Well, see how this grabs you. Were meeting with one of the Under Secretaries of State and two from Defense tomorrow—the entire contingent.
Cantell: Not dress blues at ChiChi’s again?
Johnston: No, at the prepositioning facility at Doha. You can come as you are. Besides, a lot of the ChiChi’s in the states have closed. Be thankful for your Arabian Gulf blessings.
Cantell: I’m supposed to visit the Iraqi regiment outside the DMZ tomorrow. What time’s the meeting.
Johnston: The bigwigs don’t hit Kuwaiti International until 1400. See if you can make your liaison visit in the morning.
Cantell: One of the Russians is going with me as interpreter. I love getting Russians up early.
Johnston: The fine diplomacy skills of a Marine. You still haven’t told anyone you speak Arabic. Terrible waste of a fine vacation in Monterey.
Cantell: Orders are orders. Listen, don’t speak.
Johnston (Looking at Cantell’s vehicle): You’d better get down the hill. It looks like Perez is going to wet his pants if you don’t go now.
Cantell (pointing west): There’s a storm headed your way.
Johnston: Tell me about it. Wouldn’t want to leave a Marine out in the weather. See you tomorrow night.
Johnston walks over to Perez and gives him a signal to get out of the driver’s seat. Perez reluctantly obliges.
Perez: You Americans think your run the place. In Argentina you would not be so bossy.
Johnston: Sorry, commander. But as anxious as you are to get down that hill and back to your Argentina, I’m a little concerned that you wouldn’t use the road.
Perez: Pushy and humorous is OK.
Vehicle drives down the hill, leaving the other vehicle and two UN officers on the observation post.
U.S. Army base, Doha, Kuwait (Northwest suburb of Kuwait City). Twelve U.S. Officers with UN patches are seated with three men and one woman in suits. A meal has been provided in vat cans and the officers are serving themselves and eating in a picnic atmosphere.
Markus Wellington: Gentlemen, please continue to fill your plates. We’re going to keep this as informal as possible, but I would like to get some introductions out of the way. And as your colonel says it’s OK to get right down to business, we’ll do just that. I am Markus Wellington, usually just go by Mark. I’m the Undersecretary of State and responsible to the Secretary for matters in this part of the world. To my right, with the unusually small portions from the buffet is Jonas Mercury. Jonas with the SecDef and he’s accompanied by Mr. Phillip Harm also with Defense. Ms. Londa Applewood is from the Attorney General’s office.
Johnston (quietly to Cantell): I told you they would get you for drawing lines in the sand like that.
Cantell gives Johnston a friendly elbow and both continue listening.
Two unidentified men bring out a dry erase board on wheels. A sketch of Iraq and Kuwait with the DMZ along their borders is already sketched in.
Markus: Right now you are probably thinking that someone in the State Department surely had a map he could have loaned me.
General laughter that resides quickly.
Markus rights in red dry erase marker TOP SECRET -- NOFORN
There is a general hush among the officers.
Markus: The president sent me on this little goodwill visit, not to draw sketches or make sure that you’re well fed; though we’ll do both. He sent me to convey a message that we have a dilemma in supporting the United Nations effort here. The Arab countries continue to raise the price of oil and the UN is seriously considering lifting the embargo on Iraq. While this might appear to significantly increase the oil supply to the western world, and a corresponding drop in prices; our intel sources tell us that Iraq has brokered a deal with Saudi, Iran, and yes Kuwait to limit their exports to levels that keep prices high for everyone. In fact, it appears that Saudi Arabia will even assist Iraq in rebuilding part of its oil production infrastructure.
Colonel Bill Noble (UN contingent commander): You said Kuwait as well.
Markus: Yes. The same Kuwait that abandon their own country only to have us give it back to them.
Bill: Is this a viable alliance…consortium…arrangement for these countries?
Markus: We believe that it is not only viable, but that the Kuwaitis prefer it to the current arrangement. It seems they are losing standing in the Arab world as an “American Puppet.”
Commander Jeffrey Dalton, USN, UN Observer: We do get the evil eye quite a bit when we’re in Kuwait City. So much for saving their butts…
Markus: Commander, the despising attitude that you receive is but the tip of the iceberg. The Emir of Kuwait was expected to announce his request for withdrawal of all U.S. Forces by the end of next month.
Markus: Yes, was. We worked something of a deal of our own. We will execute a major exercise in Kuwait in three months with our Maritime Prepositioned Forces and then withdraw them along with the Army forces here at Doha.
Bill: And then?
Markus: Watch the Iraqi Army roll south through Kuwait into Saudi Arabia.
There is a considerable amount of grumbling among the officers.
Captain Roger Ballistere, USAF, UN Observer: Just give it up!
Jonas Mercury: Captain Ballistere. A man whose name is well known throughout the SecDef’s office.
Numerous officers call out: E F, E F, E F!
Londa Applewood: Did I miss something.
Jonas: Only the near evacuation of Kuwait City about 8 months ago.
Jonas: It seems that young Captain Ballistere needed a modem connection for his notebook computer and on one of his trips from the DMZ to Kuwait City he stopped in one of the most trafficked computer stores in the city. Accompanied by since departed, Captain Martin, the two entered the store in search of the equipment and were greeted by a friendly Kuwaiti merchant seated among several other Kuwaitis. Normally, a “How are things” greeting would be accompanied by a “fine, thank you; under control, A OK, or some response of little value beyond the conversational reply.
Londa: I take it there was more than the…
Jonas: Oh yes, much more. Our good Roger Ballistere replies with a harmless, “Is your gas tank full?” The entire office of about 18-20 Kuwaitis fell silent and all eyes and ears turned to the good captain, who replied only, “Mine is.” Now you might wonder how some DOD desk jockey like me gets a first hand account of such an incident. It seems that after Captain E.F. Hutton’s computer store stopover, he and Captain Martin proceeded to the UN Headquarters in Umm Qasr, where they proceeded to tell, and re-tell their E.F. Hutton story. Meanwhile back in the real world, our satellites pick up massive congestion along the Fahaheel highway heading into Saudi, and, And! We get a call from the state department that just received a call from the Emir’s palace, that the Emir was about to evacuate to the UAE and wanted to know if the U.S. Air Force would give him escort. Of course by this time, State is up to their ass in alligators with calls from Saudi. Of course in Umm Qasr, our two Captains are up to about their 4th beer and ready to call it a night, that is until Colonel Bill Noble comes into the UNIKOM club and grabs these two by the stacking swivel for a hasty outdoor conference. Did I forget to mention that this was Colonel Noble’s second day as Contingent commander?
The entire room is in an uproar of laughter.
Londa: This is a crock of ….
Jonas (holding his hand up to finish his story, and also having trouble keeping a straight face): And the real kicker here, also the answer to what you were certainly going to ask, is that the news media never picked up the story, and the Emir and the Saudi’s later denied their requests for help and repeated inquiries.
Londa: I don’t believe a word of it. The Emir would be furious.
Jonas: Furious he was, but composed enough to realize that if he fled the country on a rumor—especially when he never checked with his military commanders—that he would invite more political turmoil than he was ready for.
Londa: I’m sure there was disciplinary action for the captain.
Jonas: Yes, befitting the crime. He was awarded the call sign E F.
Londa: You’re kidding. For an international incident!
Jonas: You said yourself you never heard about it. Not keeping up on current events Londa? Seriously, there was nothing to discipline. The Kuwaiti over-reaction was totally disproportionate to the Captain’s sarcasm, but not unrelated to our visit. I’ll remind you that everything discussed tonight is top secret and not to be discussed again anywhere except in secure meetings called by your contingent commander or myself. Mark, will you continue with your brief.
Markus: By order of the president, your service as UN Observers is terminated effective at 2400 hours this evening. Now through some administrative glitch, we will forget to inform the UN for a few months and it is of course not your duty to inform them. You are all a part of Operation Hutton….not too many captains get an op named for them…at least while their alive. Jonas, the concept please.
Jonas: We have established certain connections in the Republican Guards that are willing to assist in the overthrow of Saddam with our guarantee that the U.S. will support a military republic in Iraq. Our prepositioning exercise will appear routine except that the back load of the prepo ships will be only with equipment requiring depot level maintenance. The remainder of the equipment and forces will be staged in hide positions along the coast road. The road will be closed to all civilian and UN traffic. The locals and the UN won’t like this, but will probably accept it when we accidentally uncover some chemical munitions abandon by the Iraqis during our exercise. The U.S. will of course define a containment area, post local warnings as to any possible airborne drift, and proceed to decontaminate the area. We will turn over some disarmed munitions with the Iraqi markings and throw in a few dead goats for good measure. Kuwaiti police posts in the area will be evacuated and all access to the area will be guarded by Marines in gas masks and chemical over garments. Our reports will be such to keep flight patterns far enough away to avoid any significant detection without enhanced optics. The troops here at Doha are the only ones out of the loop. When they hear the chemical alarms, they will be dawning their protective gear for real. That should take care of any opsec breaches we have here, and hopefully turn them in our favor.
Bill: And then?
Jonas: Colonel, we will watch the Iraqi Army cross the DMZ, proceed at high speed down the Basara highway to Kuwait City and continue into Saudi Arabia.
Jeffrey Dalton: I though we we’re overthrowing Saddam.
Jonas: We are, and if this goes well, we’ll take a few gratuities with us. Gentlemen, the loyalty of the Saudi and Kuwaiti government to our intervention in 1990 was about a million barrels of oil. After that point, there has been a steady decline of loyalty to the point of animosity. Some of you fought here in 90 and 91 or maybe flew missions in the assorted strikes in the years after that. Do not be fooled. This area is vital to the national interest of the United States. Not because of democracy. Hell, we put the Emir back into his country knowing full well that he would only seek to strengthen the monarchy. Our interest here is oil. If you can’t live with that reality, say so now and you can be repatriated back home without any prejudice whatsoever. Anyone?
Jonas: Very well. The Iraqi attack will follow the Emir’s announcement of the departure of U.S. Forces. The King of Saudi will make a similar announcement concerning withdrawal of U.S. forces from Dahran. Both countries will of course heighten their own security somewhat, but as they believe their oil consortium is not known to us, they will really not be looking for an attack from Saddam. Of course, Saddam doesn’t know his forces are going to attack either. Both Kuwait and Saudi will of course make appeals to the U.S. to restore the integrity of their countries, but we will express to them how vulnerable we are after withdrawing. They will make concessions—concessions that involve an extended military stay, one that they do not know will result in the loss of their sovereignty. We will evict the invading arming from Kuwait and Saudi once again. This time we just don’t intend to give the country back to its current owners….at least not right away. The transition back to local rule could take twenty, maybe twenty-five years.
Bill: You still haven’t addressed Saddam. He’s a survivor.
Jonas: That he is. He survives at the expense of his subordinates. This last round of executions has the military so giddy, that even the most competent don’t want to command one of his armies. Finally, however, our allies in his army have risen to prominent enough positions that we can act. Saddam has been patient and so have we. We have two generals and three more senior officers in Northern Iraq committed to the overthrow of Saddam. Likewise, the commander, deputy, and some of the colonels of the Republican Guards near Basara are ready for a change. None of them will accept a conquered Iraq or heavy civilian casualties, but they know that to survive this coup, Saddam must die. Phillip, the operational overview please.
Phillip (at the dry erase board): Gentlemen, at D-Day minus two, the Republican Guards will conduct major exercises just 10 kilometers north of the DMZ. This will cause the UN to give some extra attention to those forces. By that same time, we will have just over 150,000 soldiers prepositioned in Southeast Turkey, some as part of an exercise turnover and others recently arrived after completing Bright Star. We promised the Turkish government that we would cease our military exercises for two years in exchange for one major exercise while our forces were already in the area. They were willing to negotiate, and we settled on a four-year abstinence from exercises and awarded the Turks some pretty big support contracts for our exercise. They’re expecting to make some big bucks on us, but we pretty much we got exactly what we wanted out of them—the throughput of a very large land force without public outcry. Carrier and Marine Expeditionary units afloat have had their turnover schedules adjusted so both will be in the AO at the same time. That’s six carrier battle groups and six Marine Expeditionary units in striking range of Bagdad or Riyad, all without a link to any world crisis.
Bill: There’s still a lot of wild cards in this.
Jonas: There are, but we have one distinct advantage. We will have diplomats visiting with both the Emir of Kuwait and King of Saudi discussing the withdrawal of the final elements of U.S. Forces, and of course asking for some monetary contribution to our inordinate expense incurred thus far in positioning forces to protect the two countries and then in withdrawing them. Our people will be in a position to help these two leaders interpret these invasion events.
Bill: And if Saddam does have terrorists ready to strike in the U.S. as he says he does?
Londa: We are in the second month of a five month process of shifting law enforcement taskings to an 80% focus on terrorist threats. We may miss a drug bust or bank robbery somewhere, get a few claims for invasion of privacy, but come D-1, we will move to arrest on every lead that we have.
Jonas: We have also scheduled home armory training for 65% of the country’s National Guard Units for two weeks beginning D-3. By chance, they will all run anti-terrorist exercises on D-Day. And we have among us, twenty of the best military observers in the UNIKOM mission. Most of whom have been called pushy, overbearing, or similar descriptive terms. These are the same officers that get handed the tasks that cannot be handled with the usual good enough for the UN effort.
Major Cantell (very sarcastically): You don’t think the UN sets standards to strive for?
Jonas: I’m sure they are just what a Marine strives for Mike. I was wondering when I would hear something from you. Your instructions to listen and not speak were just in the Arabic language.
There are some chuckles among the officers and Cantell draws some rather strange looks from all but Bob Johnston.
Jonas continues: You 12 will generate the crux of the intelligence that UNIKOM and ultimately the UN will need to condemn the Iraqi action. I’m sure there will be some collateral benefit to convincing the Kuwaitis it’s time to bug out again.
Phillip: Major Cantell, anything unusual to report from your liaison visit to the Iraqi’s this morning?
Cantell: There was a lot of extra maintenance on equipment and a lot of small unit drills. We normally pick liaison days that have traditionally been slow days for the Iraqi units. They were busy today. The officers acted as if they weren’t, but they were busy and focused.
Phillip: Good. This will take every bit of logistics the Iraqis can muster, and some that we will throw in to help. It is important that we allow the Iraqis to take Kuwait City nearly intact without any real resistance. Your reports, our interpretations with the target governments, The six Hind-D helos we will turn over to General FaHaad on D-1, and 326 tons of dry ice dumped into the ocean from Jahra to Salmiya should tell the Kuwaitis which way to run.
Cantell: A war with special effects.
Phillip: That normally wouldn’t be that significant, but combined with all of the other factors, would induce terror in the most hardened of patriots.
Johnston: Die hards?
Phillip: We don’t expect that many. There was some resurgence in patriotism just after the war, but the country has pretty much returned to the complacency it loves so well.
Cantell: Kuwaiti regular forces.
Phillip: You can say that with a straight face, major?
Cantell: I would expect 20, maybe 30% to stand and fight.
Phillip: We’ve briefed the Iraqi commanders that 50% will fight. The Republican Guards are still professional units. They took their beatings from us in the war, but learned some good lessons and stuck to their core values. We’ve also thrown in a couple high altitude air strikes to significantly favor the Iraqis.
Phillip drawing circles on the dry erase board where Kuwaiti defense positions are expected to be.
Phillip: At H-1 on D Day, don’t be any where near hear….not if you want your eardrums intact.
Cantell: So we’re going to paint a picture of a battlefield with our reports. If all of the reports are from Americans, it’s going to be really suspect.
Phillip: Stick to your normal UN procedures. No two of the same nationality on patrol. We’ll provide dust signatures far enough away that it will still be a blur with binos, unless you have the script. Some of the officers on patrol with you will just not confirm the sighting. Others will hate to appear incompetent and provide something close to what you come up with.
Cantell: Dare we ask what we’re really seeing.
Phillip: Four wheel drive vehicles with smoke generators and dragging lightweight blades to kick up extra sand. They will normally operate in groups of three, and kick up enough sand for a company of tanks. If the wind’s right, you can make that company a little bigger. Disparity in reporting is a good thing. And if you can get your patrol partners to put the reports in their own words and call them in, we’ll generate just a bit more fog for all to contend with.
Jonas: Now the observation teams on Jabal Sanam will get the show of a lifetime. Almost 80 percent of the Republican Guards will roll right down the Basra Highway through Safwan and into Kuwait City. They will be proceeded by the 6 Hind D’s which will make an early call on the city, making sure to strafe the Emir’s palace. An evacuation decree by the Emir will save a lot of fighting in the streets. Even those with patriotic intentions will feel obliged to obey.
Johnston: I just went to Dahran two weeks ago to pick up one of our guys coming back on a hop. That road was a mess.
Jonas: It appeared to be a mess. We made sure that an American company had a very low bid on the road upgrade. We paid them off and have had our guys there for six weeks. It looks like a mess now, but come D-Day there will be 12 southbound lanes ready for evacuation. We also have teams in country in Saudi, that will stop all northbound traffic at H-1 and switch all lanes in Saudi to southbound, at least all the way to Dahran.
Johnston: The ring roads could still bottle up before everyone got on Fahaheel highway.
Jonas: There are six ring roads and once we pull the barricades and blow the sand off the ground level entry ramps, each ring road will have two lanes of it’s own to empty into.
Johnston: I wish your traffic guys would work the Magic games. The only thing that gets out of the O-Rena fast are the Magic players—
Cantell: They’re usually gone by the fourth quarter. Like we haven’t heard that one before.
Johnston: You seem to have covered the big bases, but there’s still going to be a lot of chaos you can’t account for.
Jonas: We’re counting on chaos. It will give more legitimacy to the Iraqi attack. If it’s too clean, it will look like what it is?
Cantell: Would that be a coup or conquest?
Markus: A finer point to be sorted out in the history books.
Cantell: End State?
Markus: Split right down the meridian. New Iraq gets everything west, and we take everything east—right down to Yemen. The Iraqis control Mecca and Medina so we don’t start any religious conflict with a western conquest of those two cities. They also get all of the coastline along the Red Sea. Something that makes this especially enticing to them—unrestricted seaports.
Bill: I can see the Kuwaiti’s running, but the Saudi’s will likely put up a fight.
Jonas: They have the ability to put up something of a fight, but based upon the current training state and very limited maintenance they have done on their vehicles over the past 6 months, at best they can stand off for 30 days without U.S. support. We will continue to feed the Saudi’s the false intel generated by the UN observers—a picture of a force much larger than the one rolling towards Kuwait City, a force headed from Western Iraq towards Medina. The Republican Guard also have 24 operation scuds with conventional warheads. When their lead elements hit Kafji, we will supply their target acquisition folks with the precise coordinates of Saudi Command elements.
Bill: Are we keeping liaison people with their command elements.
Jonas: No. They will pull out at D-7, but instrument selected vehicles in the Saudi command elements. We’ll still have a skeleton force in Dahran and keep and AWACs up at all times. The AWACS will know where every Saudi command element is and can downlink the info in seconds.
Bill: What about U.S. – Iraqi firefights?
Jonas: At D-1, we confirm off limits areas with General FaHaad. He knows if he deviates, we’ll both lose.
Bill: And Russian Satelittes.
Jonas: We have confirmed that they have been retask for almost 4 months now. They are all looking north watching their own republics that may be looking to break away. And we have a diplomatic backup plan there as well.
Bill: You have done a lot of planning, but this thing could turn the wrong way at multiple points.
Markus: Agreed. And I need the help of your officers to find the flaws and recommend alternatives. Your men know the area, the local forces, and the civil climate in the city. Let’s take about a 15 minute break, and then I’d like to break into 4 groups to run the plan through the ringer. When we reconvene, you’ll each have an operational packet in front of you. These materials do not leave this room, except for what you commit to memory. If you would please clear your own places, we will commence promptly in 15 minutes.
Jabal Sanam, Two UN vehicles on top of the hill for changeover.
Cantell walking with Johnston away from the other two observers in the vehicles. An Indian and Norwegian officer are in the background with the vehicles.
Cantell: Did you finish the new sector observation plan?
Johnston: Yeah, we’ll have the patrols where we need them. You can make sure that you’re here and the rest of the contingent will make sure they are on patrol at that time. The 0645 patrol time helped. Not too many of our UN brethren care much for the earlier patrols. Did you conduct your liaison yesterday?
Cantell: They looked good. I didn’t see one vehicle that was down, and they had real security to the flanks and rear this time. They’re focused.
Johnston: Any second thoughts on this thing?
Cantell: Only about a million. You talking execution or ethics?
Johnston: Both, but more the latter. I held a vehicle ID class two days ago and the only thing these guys could identify was in the Mercedes SL class. The only thing on their minds is their last day in the DMZ and how soon they can leave the sector for a couple days in Kuwait City.
Cantell: I brought out those music videos that Jonas gave us last week and I think my whole patrol base is brain dead. The Russians from Charlie 2 and 3 and November 4 came by on a visit yesterday and watched them for 8 hours straight.
Johnston: You’re quite the diplomat of decadence.
Cantell: I gave them some tapes of true artistic value too.
Johnston: You mean that stuff your sister tapes of CMT and mails to you.
Cantell: Yes, the fine arts.
Johnston: Right…. I made a liaison visit to the southern sector two days ago. Looks like all of our guys have worked themselves into the right patrols.
Cantell: That could change if UNIKOM HQ orders everyone to withdraw once things heat up around Safwan.
Johnston: Our guys at Sierra 1 and Sierra 4 have both rigged their fuse boxes on the patrol vehicles so that they will stall at the right observation post if needed. I think we have covered as many bases as we can.
Cantell: I’m sure we can paint a picture of three to four Iraqi divisions heading for Northwest Saudi. I’m not so sure that there aren’t too many moving parts in the rest of this thing.
Johnston: I guess I’m just as worried that they do have everything figured out. If we pull this off are we soldiers or spies or what.
Cantell: I think the term is imperialist.
Johnston: The Soviets called us that for long enough. I wasn’t comfortable with it then, and I’m not too sure I’m comfortable with it now.
Cantell: I think we just a small cog with a front row seat. This course of action was decided long before we were brought into the loop.
Johnston: Still just doesn’t seem fair for some reason.
Cantell: It’s an unfair world.
Johnston: So you see this as fair in an unfair world?
Cantell: I see this as multiple pay grades above this Marine’s decision making.
Johnston: OK, let’s talk something closer to home. Who are you partnered with for D-Day.
Cantell: Major Li. This is the first time up the hill here he hasn’t been with me. None of the other observers will let him drive. I think his broken English will be effective enough for the report.
Johnston: And with you looking through the binos, there will be at least an extra regiment or so added to what’s really screaming down the highway.
Cantell: About a decade ago we called this the highway of death. You think they’ll call it the highway of deception this time?
Johnston: Not if the big picture deception goes well. The rest of the world won’t know what hit them and we’ll be pumping free oil to the States before you tour is up here.
Cantell: You heard what Colonel Noble pulled off didn’t you.
Johnston: I heard he scheduled a media tour for most of the Arab Networks to be heading from UNIKOM Headquarters to Central Sector Headquarters just before the DMZ is breached.
Cantell: And he got the General to buy off on live TV feeds from the DMZ.
Johnston: Yeah, the General’s been putting together quite the press briefing for these folks. He doesn’t have a clue that anything he says will be preempted by a couple hundred tanks screaming by a dozen cameramen.
Cantell: Oh well….
Quwayrat Adhbah (About 15 Kilometers into Iraq from the DMZ). Sand Berms mark the perimeter to a regimental headquarters. A while Toyota Land Cruiser with UN markings drives up to an entryway. The Iraqi sentries point to an area outside the berm, and the vehicles backs up, parks and two UN Observers get out. They are Major Cantell (USMC) and Captain Marc Beauchamp (French Foreign Legion).
Marc: We’ve never been asked to park out here before.
Cantell: Dismount points around headquarters sites are good practice.
Marc: Agreed, but when’s the last time we saw good practices around here. These guys were so bored last time we were out here they couldn’t muster the motivation to stand up and check our ID’s. They just sat around a little stove drinking tea and waved us in.
Cantell: Well keep your eyes open. We’ll talk about what we observe on the way back.
Cantell and Beauchamp walk to the sentries and present their blue ID cards. The sentries salute and one speaks to a junior in Arabic, then turns to the two UN officers.
Sentry: This soldier will escort you to the commander’s tent now. He has been ordered to escort you back here after your visit. Please permit us our formalities today.
The sentry salutes. The two UN officers return the salute and follow the soldier into the camp.
D-Day, Jabal Sanam, 0710 hours
Three UN vehicles parked on top of the hill. Johnston and Cantell have walked away from the group.
Johnston: I didn’t hear from you yesterday.
Cantell: As per the plan. Silence means delivery completed.
Johnston: Did Beauchamp suspect anything.
Cantell: No. The papers were in the pack of cigarettes I gave Colonel Hussein. He took them to General FaHaad while Beauchamp and I had tea.
Johnston: Any relation to Saddam?
Cantell: No. Hussein’s pretty common.
Johnston: Did Beauchamp suspect anything.
Cantell: No. He knows that we can’t offer the Iraqi commanders the return hospitality of a visit to our headquarters in the DMZ. Cigarettes are pretty much SOP for return of hospitality. His eyes were taking everything else in though.
Johnston: Yeah, I read his report before it went up to UNIKOM headquarters. We sent it unedited.
Cantell: Well the CMO’s reaction was predictable. Shoot off a message to UN headquarters in New York and move his media briefing to Jabal Sanam. Do you think he knows how to get here?
Johnston: He can follow the line of vehicles full of boot lickers.
Cantell: Nice term. It’s good to see that your Ranger training gave you a kindler, gentler vocabulary.
Major Li (walking up from patrol vehicle): Major Cantell, Chief Military Observer departing Umm Qasr.
Cantell: Thanks Li. You had better get the vehicle turned around now. Once that parade of vehicles gets here it will be a real circus getting out of here.
Li departs to move the vehicle.
Johnston: You think they’ll make it up here in time?
Cantell: It will be close.
Emir’s Palace. Markus Wellington is meeting with two of the Emir’s ministers.
Markus: No, we are not insisting on payment. If it is Allah’s will that you reimburse us for the cost of our defense of your country and the expense of our withdrawal, then we would be most pleased. We will not insist.
Defense Minister Mohammad Saad: I will convey your request to the Emir.
Financial Minister Ahmed Mubar: Mr. Wellington, please join our staff for breakfast while Saad confers with the Emir.
Markus: Thank you very much. I am hungry this morning.
Mubar and Markus exit the rooom.
Jabal Sanam, 0746. Major Li is seated in the UN vehicle manning the radio and looking generally North. Major Cantell is a few meters from the vehicle looking East. Major Johnston and his vehicle have departed. One other UN vehicle will an advanced party from the CMO’s staff are on Jabal Sanam setting up briefing charts. The wind is blowing the charts down and the observers keep putting them back up and look for rocks to brace them.
Major Wanabeese (Kenyan Army, UN observer with general’s staff): You two come here and help us.
Cantell (talking while looking through binos): Sorry. Our mission is to observe.
Major Wanabeese: I work directly for the CMO and order you to help.
Cantell: And I work for my sector commander who told me to come up here and observe, not play staff pogue. Have the CMO call him if you want to change our tasking.
Major Wanabeese: You American’s shouldn’t be so arrogant now that you have been kicked out of Kuwait. I’ll tell the CMO as soon as he gets here you refused to help!
Cantell: Li, I can see vehicles approaching from the East. Seven, no eight land cruisers and a truck. I hope they don’t think they are bringing that truck up here.
Major Li (excited): Major Cantell! Major Cantell! To the North.
Cantell turns slowly to his left and brings the binoculars back up to his eyes.
Cantell (turning north, still looking through binos): Major Li. Please get out an incident report.
Major Li: Got it!
Cantell: I’m picking up something coming out of the dust. Are you ready to write.
Major Li: Ready!
Cantell: I have 8, no now 14 tanks. Make those T-80’s passing between Charlie 1 and November 3 right down the Basara Highway.
Major Li: OK, you call it in Cantell.
Cantell: Go ahead Li. Your English is fine and I need to keep my eyes open.
Major Wanbeesee and Lieutenant Colonel Akbar (Indian Army, UN observer) are still fighting putting their charts up in the wind. The wind is winning. They are oblivious to Cantell and Li’s activities.
Lieutenant Colonel Akbar (yelling while holding a flip chart): Major! I direct you to come assist me immediately!
Cantell (chuckling to himself): Sorry colonel. I’m a little busy.
Akbar starts walking towards Cantell in a rage.
Akbar: I am Lieutenant Colonel and you are Major. You will follow my orders!
Cantell (ignoring Akbar): Li, you finished with that report?
Major Li: Yes, but UHQ says to authenticate. What do they want.
Cantell: They don’t want to believe it. Tell them they have no authentication procedures and get ready to send another report.
Major Li: Roger.
Cantell: Good pronunciation Li.
Major Li: Thank you, but I think you are too much joking when we might be attacked.
Cantell: I’m always in a good mood when I get to piss off staff pogues. Incident Report number 2. Ready to go Li.
Major Li: Ready.
Cantell: Twenty-four T-72 tanks and 36 BMPs now entering DMZ. First reinforced company of tanks entering Safwan. Send that I’ll and look to see if anyone else is on the way.
Major Li: Sending now.
Lieutenant Colonel Akbar (now in Cantells face): You will come now and help me or I will have your colonel repatriate you.
Cantell (pushing Akbar back to an arm’s distance): I’m at little busy now sir. But thanks for your offer to get me back to the states.
Akbar is furious and turns to Major Li.
Akbar: Major Li, come help us now!
Major Li: I am most sorry colonel Akbar, but I must finish this IncRep.
Akbar: IncRep! What Indicent do you have to report.
Cantell: Back off colonel and let him call it in.
Akbar: I am senior here! I will decide who calls in IncReps. What are you reporting?
Akbar grabs Major Li’s notebook. Li stops transmitting and looks to Cantell for direction.
Cantell: Let him call it in.
Akbar: Tanks. What tanks.
Cantell: How about those over there. Major Li, standby for Increp number 3.
Akbar is stunned and Major Lee cautiously takes his notebook back from him.
Major Li: Ready, Mike.
Cantell: Third group of vehicles is 42 BMPs followed by some towed artillery. I can’t make out the caliber of the gun. Looks like two groups of 8 howitzers though. Send that and I’ll keep looking.
Akbar: Give me your binos major.
Cantell: Sir, this is my personal gear. Please get yours from your vehicle.
Akbar: We don’t have any.
Cantell (raising his binos back to his face): Strange. I thought the UNIKOM SOP was for all vehicles to have one set of UN issued binos.
Akbar: Then I must commandeer your personal binos.
Cantell: Why don’t you just use the UN binos in our vehicle.
Akbar: I’ll need to use your radio too. Ours is broken.
Cantell: You don’t get out much do you colonel.
Akbar: Major Li. Give me the binos! Quickly!
Cantell (looking through binos—that show two Hind-D helos flying nap of the ear directly towards them): Why don’t you call this one in colonel? You won’t need binos for it.
Cantell points directly north. Akbar steps away from the vehicle and starts looking north. Cantell steps close to the vehicle and kneels down.
Cantell (quietly to Li): Hold on to everything that’s not tied down.
Akbar: What! I don’t see anything. Major! I’m tired of your disrespe…..
Two Hind-D helos fly a few meters over the top of Jabal Sanam. The briefing charts are caught up in the wind and dust and blown off the top of the hill. Akbar is blown to the ground by the wind. The wind quickly stops as the helos continue south.
Cantell: You want to call that one in colonel.
Akbar: Why didn’t you tell me they were helos?
Cantell: You’re the senior officer.
Akbar: Major Li. Report 2 unidentified helos.
Major Li: Sir, those were Hind-D’s.
Akbar: I couldn’t identify them.
Cantell: They were Hind-D’s.
Akbar: I didn’t get a good look at them.
Cantell (almost laughing out loud): You couldn’t be any closer to them without being a passenger.
Akbar: You will show me proper respect!
Cantell (looking East through binos): Yes sir. Li. You know the procedure. Call in the report as disputed. Give your UN ID number and mine confirming Hind-D sighting. Give LtCol Akbar’s ID as uncertain.
Akbar: That’s unidentified.
Cantell: Whatever you say. You ID number sir.
Akbar: Just report those without me.
Cantell: You know we can’t ignore a dissenting report. Your number sir?
Cantell: You want to take a shot at identifying those two helos to our east or those two to our west.
Akbar ducks, then realizes the helos are some distance off.
Akbar: You identify them.
Cantell (very sarcastically): Aye, Aye Sir. Would you mind picking up our binos and reporting on that next group of vehicles entering the DMZ.
Camera zooms out from the top of Jabal Sanam to multiple dust clouds north of the DMZ heading south for the Basara Highway towards Kuwait City.
Several UN vehicles (Toyota Land Cruisers) stopped bumper to bumper a few meters from the Basara highway. General Uf Hal, Pakistan Army, the CMO (chief military observer) is in the 3rd vehicle. Colonel Noble is the driver, and two other officers are in the back seat. Focus in on the general’s vehicle. First looking out the front windshield at two other UN vehicles to the front with tanks and armored personnel carriers zooming by. Camera crews are dismounting from the vehicles and taking up positions to film. The general’s vehicle has three radios all of which are calling in reports.
Colonel Noble (turning to the two officers in the back seat): Get you butts out of here and tell the other vehicles to spread out and take cover off the road.
General Uf Hal: Do we turn around?
Colonel Noble: We’ve been sitting here for 10 minutes. If they wanted to target us, we gave them plenty of opportunities.
General Uf Hal: I need to talk to headquarters.
Colonel Noble: We’ll have to break into the reports. Do you want to do that?
General Uf Hal: No not yet. Let me first compose my thoughts.
Colonel Noble (Showing the general his map): From what I can keep up with, this is what we have.
General Uf Hal takes the right half of the map as if the two are sharing a hymnal. Colonel Noble takes his pen and shows the general symbology he has been placing on the map.
Colonel Noble: From what I could pick up…and I know I missed some of it…At least a division’s worth of equipment has gone South along the Basra highway. From the speed which they moved, I would guess they were Guards.
General Uf Hal: Republican Guards?
Colonel Noble: Yes General. The reports from the Central and Southern Sectors seem to indicate a much larger force, four maybe more divisions, skirting the DMZ headed south.
General Uf Hal: To Saudi or into Kuwait.
Colonel Noble: Unknown, but there is no advantage to going so far west, just to get into Kuwait.
General Uf Hal: I must assume the force is larger than we have seen. Do we have any casualties.
Colonel Noble: I know of no UN positions that have been fired on.
General Uf Hal: I must talk with my COO.
Colonel Noble: Sir the Chief Operations Officer is in Kuwait City taking a day off.
General Uf Hal: Who is his deputy?
Colonel Noble: Lieutenant Colonel Quaynar.
General Uf Hal: I cannot understand his English. Colonel, do you have one of your officers at my headquarters that can draft a message. My first communication with UN headquarters in New York must be as clear as possible—and it needs to go out in less than 20 minutes.
Col Noble (pulling out a cell phone): I’ve got just the man, and if communications towers haven’t been knocked out, you can send you message without interrupting the incoming reports. I recommend that we make this report effective 0900 hours and follow it later with an update. We’ll never get anything out if we try to include every report that’s coming in now. (Now talking on the cell phone): Peter. I have a special request. The CMO needs a message out to York ASAP. You do the clerical work and then step on all the toes you need to, but get it out in 15 minutes. Here’s the boss.
Noble hands the CMO the phone. The thunder of 2000 pound bombs echos in the distance.
Switch to a highway setting with numerous barricades and a dozens street sweepers approaching the construction area. Two trucks pull up and about 30 men jump out of them and start removing barricades and posting signs. The street sweepers reveal on ramps to the Fahaheel Highway. Signs are quickly mounted on existing supports. The signs say Fahaheel Highway with Saudi Arabia directly underneath. The signs are both in Arabic and English.
Emir’s palace. Saad, Mubar, and Markus are all seated around a conference table.
Saad: Mr. Wellington…
Markus: Markus or Mark, please.
Saad: Mark. Please accept our most humble apologies. The Emir has declined to reimburse your country for its expenses. Please understand this is not to be taken as an insult, but it pleases the Emir for you know you that he considers it the choice of a country to maintain great armed forces or to negotiate it political conflicts. You have elected to maintain a great army and its costs are your cost of doing business as a great nation. Please take the Emir’s remarks with you to your Secretary and President.
Markus: I will. I wish that we could have parted a bit more cordially, but we will honor the Emir’s sovereignty. Allah willing, you will prosper and …
The Emir bursts through the doors into the conference room.
Emir: Where is my defense minister!
Saad: I am here excellency.
Emir (pointing to Markus): Leave us now!…..No remain! What do you know of this!
Markus: We were discussing…
Emir: Of the attack! The attack!
Saad: Excellency, I know of no attack.
Emir: If you’re thinking has caused this, then I will have your head.
Saad: Excellency. I do not know what you speak of.
Enter two Kuwaiti Air Force captains.
Captain: Excuse me excellency. I have the reports from…
The Emir snatches the reports from the Captain and both Captains leave the room. Saad cautiously approaches the Emir. The Emir thrusts the papers into Saad’s chest.
Emir: Tell me is this true.
Saad: It cannot be true. It cannot!
Emir: Do not tell me what I want to hear. Tell me if I am betrayed.
Mubar moves to a TV on a corner stand in the conference room and turns it on to news of an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The pictures are from the CMO’s convoy and show tank after tank screaming by the cameraman.
A man enters through the doors and walks directly to the Emir with a portable phone.
Man: The King of Saudi Arabia, Excellency.
The Emir takes the phone and walks away from the group talking in Arabic. Saad rapidly looks through the papers as the rest of the group moves towards the TV.
Emir: How soon before the forces are to the city limits.
Saad: Thirty minutes for ground forces by my best estimate, excellency.
Two helos can be heard getting louder and louder.
Emir: How long to get my family out of here.
Mubar (pointing to the TV screen that shows full but moving highways): Excellency, the city is already evacuating. We cannot get through that.
Emir: How long to get my …
Large caliber machine guns rip through the Palace courtyard. All hit the floor in the conference room. Saad moves to cover the Emir with his body. Firing stops and the helos are heard flying away.
Emir: My helo. Get it now.
The TV now shows huge clouds of mist rising from Kuwait harbor.
Mubar (pointing to the TV): Gas! Gas!
Saad (closing a cell phone): Excellency, you aircraft is destroyed. Our planes are burning on the runway.
Emir (looking at Markus): You have American helicopters for your withdrawal. I must have one.
Markus (opening cell phone): Of course Excellency. And your family?
Emir: Yes, yes. Bring as many as you can. And I must talk to your president!
Markus (raising his hand to calm the emir): Let me get you to safety first. (Now talking into the cell phone): How long! Not a minute later. Move!
Emir: You can save us. How long? How long until it gets here?
Markus: Excellency, I have three Sea Stallions in the air now. The first will land in 4 minutes. The others are two minutes behind them. They can each take 25 people—20 with luggage. I don’t know if you have time to pack though. The helo pilot reports more Hind-D helos on the way.
Saad: You have escort helo’s for our safety?
Markus: There are only two in the area. They are for the protection of our last withdrawing elements.
Emir: They must protect us! They must!
Markus: Excellency. I cannot turn my back on our own forces. The withdrawal you demanded has made them too vulnerable. They may already be destroyed.
Emir: Mr. Wellington. I call upon Allah and upon the greatness of your country to protect us now. I will give you all that you see before you. Save us now.
Markus: As you wish Excellency. (Bringing the cell phone back up to speak): Send the escorts……Yes, now!
Markus closes the phone.
Markus: The first helo will be here in about 2 minutes. You should proceed to the courtyard. I don’t know how long they can sit there before the Hinds are back. Go please.
Emir: And you?
Markus: I will go with the last one. Go now, please!
TV News Anchors, Tom Sanyo and Karen Carruthers. Maps of Southwest Asia and war video running in the background.
Tom: Good Evening. Tonight we continue to follow a story that has caught the entire world off guard. Two days ago Iraqi forces launched a massive assault south through Kuwait with blitzkrieg speed and surprise. This time it appears that the Iraqis learned their lessons from a decade ago and continued south into Saudi Arabia. With U.S. Forces virtually withdrawn from the area, the Iraqi army and air force was nearly unopposed. Those forces which did stand and fight were decimated, first with extremely accurate air or artillery strikes followed by ground assaults only minutes afterwards. Massive Saudi casualties were reported before the invading ground forces even crossed into the Kindom. The errant scud missiles of the gulf war of the early 90’s found their targets almost without fault over the past two days. Karen, what do you make of our U.S. Casualties.
Karen: Well, Tom, I have to say that our casualties probably reflect our very limited military presence in the gulf region. To date, and among all of this fighting, the only American casualties are two Navy seamen that were run off the road when they were returning from the U.S. Embassy to the Army base at Doha. One broken arm and twelve stitches to the head.
Tom: From the reports we’ve been getting, those two were certainly headed against traffic.
Karen: Yes they were. And if there is any good fortune in this near instantaneous catastrophe, it is that several media crews were filming in the Iraq-Kuwait DMZ when the Iraqi forces broke through. Without this little bit of warning, who knows how many civilians would have been brutally murdered in the streets of Kuwait.
Tom: Well, we can’t assume that the same brutality we saw a decade ago would prevail again….
Karen: Would you want to take that chance.
Tom: No, I suppose not. And in this case, the mass evacuation of Kuwait City was nothing short of a miracle.
Karen: And where have all of those people gone, now that the Iraqis have had considerable military success after attacking, well I guess we can say conquering, Kuwait?
Tom: Many are just stranded on the highway a hundred miles into Saudi. Literally, thousands of cars have been abandoned on the road. The real mystery is the location of the two royal families. Both the Emir and the Kings families have been reported as fleeing their palaces by aircraft on the first and second days of this crisis, but we have no reports where they may set up a government in exile…
Karen (holding one ear): Tom, Tom…we have a report coming in from the defense department that Iraq has fired scud missiles near Diyarbakir, Turkey. Yes, the Secretary of Defense has confirmed the launch and impact of some 14 scud missiles apparently with conventional warheads into Turkey.
Tom: We have U.S. Forces in Turkey at this time. Do we know if they were the target?
Karen (looking around the studio): That’s all I have. We can only assume that there will be a DOD press conference sometime soon.
Tom: Very soon I hope. There was something of a comfort level in the gulf war with the regularity of military information that we were provided on almost an hourly basis. This has now apparently moved beyond a war among Arab states and it’s hard to say what the Turkish or U.S. military response to this may be.
Zoom out to a TV screen mounted on a stand anchored to the wall near the corner of the office.
Four-star general: I think we know what the response will be. Our forces are already linked up with the Iraqi divisions in Northern Iraq. They will lead us to Saddam’s Headquarters, then stand aside while we take care of the rest.
Secretary of State: The president will make his announcement in one hour.
General: By then we will have swept by Kirkuk and turn west. Any official Iraqi statement?
Secretary of State: Our agency guys told us he was ready to give a televised denial denouncing this as an American Plot, but changed his mind after the televised reports of his success. Our guys say he’s playing along like he ordered the whole thing.
General: Any indications that he might have know about it all along.
Secretary of State: No. That’s been a concern all along and we’re using every resource we have to keep tabs on that possibility. And based upon your concerns, you have superior military presence at every critical point you requested. If it does go sour, will still in a position of hold our own.
General: The royal families?
Secretary of State: Ever hear of Green Hat Island?
Secretary of State: It’s about halfway between Diego Garcia and Amsterdam Island.
The general walks to a globe in the office and spins it to the waters between Africa and India. The secretary walks over to the globe.
General: It’s not on here.
Secretary: Of course not (pointing to a location in the water).
General: The trade winds don’t even blow through there!
Secretary: It has nice accommodations for about 50 people, supported by four large generators and enough fuel to run them for 22 days. Natural fresh water supply.
Secretary: For the protection of the families, there is no outbound communication with the outside world. They are able to receive one channel which updates the news every two hours. Of course the news is manufactured just down the road from here and the two families are our only viewing audience.
General: Let me guess. The war is going badly.
Secretary: Something like that. Digitally altered footage of almost every recognizable building in both countries attests to the same. Total physical destruction of both countries, and tomorrow we air a message from Saddam in which he declares both the King and the Emir to be enemies of the Arab World. He offers a reward of about one billion dollars for the head of either sovereign. This is followed by more altered footage in which other Arab leaders decline to comment on our, I mean Saddam’s remarks.
General: What about rescue from the sea?
Secretary: Unlikely. Of the six square miles of the island, there is not a foot of usable beach. Some of the cliffs are less than 10 meters, but most are 25 meters or more. The compound is in the center of the island. This was an all air operation to set this place up.
Secretary: The first six days are catered feasts. The caterers are of course from the agency, but fair cooks in their own right.
General: And on the seventh day?
Secretary: The royal families will awaken to find themselves alone on the island. We have stored enough MREs there to last 50 people at least 6 years. We figured that would be enough time to develop some basic agricultural and hunting skills.
General: That’s a lot of MRE’s.
Secretary: And each meal is hand selected.
General: You took the pork meals out of the cases?
Secretary: Not exactly. We have been taking the pork meals out when we ship to Muslim countries for years. We seemed to have warehouses full of pork and rice. So we…
General: Took them all to the island. I don’t know whether that’s cruel or poetic.
Secretary: I would lean towards your latter selection. It was on top of everything else, economical. A fair solution wouldn’t you say, General.
General: That’s a matter of perspective, I guess.
Secretary: Come now general, the Roman conquerors used to drag the defeated through the streets of Rome and make them slaves. I would say we are being a bit kinder in our empire building.
General: You know that every empire the world has known has fallen.
Secretary: Yes, and some day we may face the same fate. But it is time to cast aside our illusions of influencing the world through our leadership. The world understands force and commerce.
General: And you consider this within the duties of you office.
Secretary: Yes. The world is unfair. We have simply decided to adopt the rules of the world.
TV News studio.
Tom (turning towards the news camera from looking at a video to his rear): That may have been the shortest presidential news conference on record. If you missed it, and it’s quite possible that you did. The president of the United States just announced that U.S. Marine Forces had landed in Kwuait and Saudi Arabia and that U.S. Army Forces had entered into Iraq from Turkey. We have no further details about this conflict or the numbers of Americans involved, but from what the president didn’t say, my guess is we are going this alone.
Karen: That’s my read on it too. Not one mention of an alliance anywhere. The French and British have both been out of Dahran for over a year now and apparently, the president is not going to wait to put together a coalition this time.
Tom: That begs the question. Does the United States have enough military might to forcibly project itself half way around the world without any real host nation support? For more on that very question we now go to retired admiral James P. Monagle. Admiral…
U.S. Embassy Kuwait.
Operation Hutton Control Center.
Jonas: Good to see you back. How was your delivery?
Markus: On schedule. We beat the Saudi royal family by two hours. I’m sure there will be some heated discussions on room assignments.
Jonas: While we work on the lesser tasks of dividing their former kingdoms.
Markus: Somebody has to do the mundane jobs.
Marine radio operator: Mr. Mercury.
Jonas: We’ve been working in these tight quarters for long enough now. Just call me Jonas.
Marine: Yes sir, Mr. Mercury. Message from ARFOR near Bagdad.
Jonas: Read it.
Marine: Spot report. Prime target surrendered without a fight currently in custody with 9 family members. ID confirmed. This outcome not previously discussed. Please advise soonest.
Jonas: The old blowhard gave up without a fight.
Markus: If he lives, the world will demand a trial.
Jonas: Are you saying to kill Saddam and his family? They surrendered.
Markus: We can’t compromise the entire operation over this one turn of events. Help me.
Enter Col Noble.
Col Noble: This place looks like Camp Pendleton. I’ve never seen so many Marines.
Jonas (pointing to a TV monitor): You should see the Saudi border checkpoint. There’s a reinforced battalion there just to keep the Kuwaitis out.
Markus: Colonel. I need some advice. ARFOR has captured Saddam and his family. We can’t let them talk to anyone?
Col Noble: Your asking me if you should order him killed?
Markus: And his family?
Col Noble: I wouldn’t want to carry out that order. No professional soldier would. Kill him on the battlefield, that’s one thing. Murder in cold blood. Don’t ask ARFOR to carry out that order.
Jonas: What if they fled the country?
Markus: To where? We only set up one sight.
Col Noble: Not too many days ago, all three families were willing to share the same bed of prosperity.
Markus: What about the Saddam propaganda we’re pumping in?
Jonas: The island is six square miles isn’t it?
Col Noble: Multiple LZ’s.
Jonas: Beat’s killing them in cold blood.
Markus: What will they do to each other?
Col Noble: They will decide their own fates on an island of common exile.
Markus: They will eventually learn we did this to them if they don’t kill each other first.
Jonas: A logical conclusion. They will have something in common to talk about other than how they will exploit us with the price of oil. This is better than the alternatives.
Markus: Sound fair to you Bill?
Col Noble: Six months ago I would have said you were crazy. Today, it sounds fair.
Markus: Get the logistics moving. Marine, prepare to draft a message: Personal for Commander, ARFOR.
Full Screen that says Gulf War Update with heavy drum beat news theme music.
TV Studio. Karen and Tom at their desks.
Karen: Good Morning. Breaking news from Southwest Asia and the State Department today. In something of an unexpected turn of events, a provisional government in Iraq has indicated that Saddam Hussein has fled the country with close members of the ruling family. No indication was given as to their location, but General Kamahr Hussein, apparently no relation to the fleeing dictator, stated that Iraq’s government was intact under his leadership and ready to discuss total cessation of hostilities with American Forces. The current disposition of Iraqi and American Forces appears to be pretty much along the meridian that divides both Iraq and Saudi Arabia, with all of Kuwait clearly in American control. Surprisingly, the U.S. State Department’s first reaction to this Iraqi announcement was to recognize the provisional government as legitimate and accept its offer to discuss a cease-fire. Defense and State Department briefings are expected by mid-afternoon.
Tom: That’s certainly good news, and much like the first gulf war, we just are not seeing the American casualties that some analysts projected. In fact, with only 2 non-combat fatalities, and 40 or so injuries; this has been a near bloodless war thus far for our forces.
Karen: We can only pray that things will continue on this course. Those of you that remember the first gulf war can also remember how sickening it was to lose those 20 or 30 soldiers from the Scud attack so close to the end of the war. I want to be optimistic, but I’m sure our military commanders still believe there is significant danger until this thing is really stabilized.
Tom: I couldn’t agree more. Our hopes and prayers are with every serviceman in harms way. We will interrupt our regular gulf war coverage with any further developments, and don’t forget to join us for our regular world and national news at six where our lead story is how calm the U.S. oil companies have been through all of this.
Karen: With all the time I’ve been spending here in the TV studio, I haven’t been able to visit too many gas stations, but it seems that we have seen no real hike in gas prices since the onset of hostilities in these oil rich countries. Be sure to join us at six…
U.S. Embassy, Kuwait City
Operation Hutton Control Center
Jonas: You wouldn’t believe the traffic into the Airport. A 747 or C-5 every 10 minutes.
Markus: The throughput’s the same or better down south. Three more days and we will have our occupation force in place.
Jonas: 98 percent reservists. That will be a first.
Markus: We need the active forces freed up.
Col Noble: You think somebody’s going to try something while everyone’s over here.
Markus (smiling): I’m counting on it.
Marine radio operator: Mr. Wellington. Hard copy message from Defense Intelligence Agency.
Markus: Aloud please.
Marine: Satellite imagery confirms 8 mechanized and 4 motorized Russian divisions crossing into Iran. Intel current as of…..22 minutes ago sir.
Markus: Don’t call me sir.
Marine: Yes sir.
Markus: You have to love these guys.
Col Noble: What’s the deal this time.
Markus: Short and sweet. The Russians are mounting a legitimate attack. The State Department will support their story that the Iranians threatened them with nuclear strikes and announce a non-interference policy.
Col Noble: Do the Iranians have nukes?
Markus: Not ready to launch, but they would get there soon enough. Iran will throw most of its armed forces against its North and Western borders and we will move across the Arabian Gulf and take our share.
Col Noble: And that is?
Markus: Roughly everything south of the 30th parallel.
Col Noble: I guess it’s hard to be an empire without controlling the Straits of Hormuz.
Markus: We get a fair take on the oil too.
Col Noble (sarcastically): Looks like the Russians are in the empire building business as well. It’s hard to believe that they didn’t insist on Bandar Abbas. Draw the Iranian forces away from us and pass up a warm weather port like that.
Markus: During the cold war, we got to know one another. We decided the world was a safer place with two super powers than it is today. They are a patient people, and we’re throwing in some carrier-based airstrikes to help them out. Besides there’s plenty of warm weather ports between Gwadar and Karachi.
Back to opening scene with Johnston in Suit and Cantell in slacks and a polo shirt at the gas station.
Bob: That’s history, my friend, and we were part of it—for better or worse.
Mike: You know that last year the congress didn’t appropriate anything for a defense budget and the Republicans and Democrats agreed on a tax cut. Did we change that.
Bob: I think we did. An entire defense budget paid out of oil revenues—and it looks like the profits are up for this year.
Mike: What we did, what we were a part of, was it right?
Bob: I don’t know. No, that’s not true, I do know. It wasn’t right, but I think in a way it was fair. It was fair in an unfair world.
Bob puts the gas nozzle back in the pump. Zoom in on pump. It reads: Premium Gasoline, 93 Octane Rating. Select preference, and there are five buttons below each with a service emblem on them: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard.
War and conquest have been a staple of the human diet as long as sword and shield have moved together in formation. Each combatant must grapple with his lot as a warrior and what it means to him. To fight for right and freedom, to keep our honor clean, don’t tread on me, or just follow me, increase the heart rate and heighten the senses of a real fighting man. And despite the battlefield courage and savvy of centuries of combatants, this illusion of earthly fairness and justice is necessary to every noble warrior, who should have to look directly in the face and ugliness of power.