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First pages

Major Sandy squatted down next to the intelligence officer. The man, kneeling on the hard stone floor, did not appear to even notice him because he was so focused on the stripped down detonator at the tip of the bomb. The sounds of gunfire coming from outside the thick stone walls appeared to be getting closer.

“Will you manage?” Major Sandy asked.

The intelligence officer did not respond for a moment but then looked up from his work.

“What?”

“Will you manage?” Major Sandy repeated.

“Yeah. Sure,” the man replied and went back to work.

 

 

 

Twenty nine days earlier...

 

D-23, 2231hrs EST. Officers' Mess, 2-111 Infantry, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 

 

 

“I hear everything is coming along well. The CO is happy,” Major William Flanagan said to Major Edward Sandy, the commander of A-Company, 2nd Battalion, 111th Infantry Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard .

“So far so good. The Strykers are all loaded and will be leaving Philly later tonight,” Major Sandy replied before ordering a beer from the Officers' Mess bar. “We had a last minute snag when Wondolowski got a nasty sprain but Huber from C-Coy stepped in to take over his platoon. Other than that, though, it looks like we're good on the personnel side as well.”

The two officers were talking about something that had been the battalion's main preoccupation for the last little while – the upcoming deployment of A-Company to Turkey for a month-long bilateral exercise. The exercise was designed to test the National Guard's Stryker units' ability to deploy and operate with a foreign military – in this case, the Turks.

Its Strykers – both the infantry carrying versions and the MGS with their 105mm guns - and the vehicles of a beefed-up combat service (CSS) platoon were going to be moved by sea. The troops, on the other hand, were going to fly directly to Turkey on chartered jetliners. Once on the ground, A-Company was going to spend the better part of a month attached to a Turkish mechanized battle group as it went through its paces at a large training area in central Anatolia.

 

 

Illustration.

A-Company's structure less its CSS platoon.

 

 

“Good stuff. All good with the Canadians as well?”

“Yeah. They confirmed their eight troops earlier today. Supposed to be solid guys. Two of them did a tour in Afghanistan so they should do fine.”

“Are they the same ones that came over at the end of last training year?” Major Flanagan asked.

He was talking about a weekend exercise held by the 2-111th several months earlier when a platoon of Canadian reservists from Montreal had joined the National Guardsmen.

“Almost,” Major Sandy replied. “I think there are two that hadn't come over that time but that should be OK. They're all driving up in two days for a week of familiarization training to make sure that they're all up to speed on our kit.”

“Good stuff. Hey, isn't one of them a woman?”

“Yeah. Their squad leader. A sergeant.”

“I wonder how the Turks are going to react to that. Do they even let women serve?”

“No idea. But it can't be worse than the Arabs.”

“Well, in any case, I think you guys are going to have a great time over there,” Major Flanagan said.

“I think so too. From what I hear the Turks are good and the plan for the exercise is interesting. Lots of live fire. They're even supposed to bring out their new attack helicopters. Plus, it will be good to work with somebody new for a change and test the company in a different climate.”

“Did you get any new info on the situation with the Kurds?” Major Flanagan asked.

“Yeah, the old man gave me an intelligence report today. No change,” Major Sandy shrugged his shoulders. “Fortunately, all of the violence is much further to the south than we will be so we should not be affected. Especially not in the middle of a Turkish Army base.”

“Well, at least you're bringing live ammo so if anything happens, you guys won't be standing around with nothing to shoot back with.”

“Yeah, let's just hope that the intrep is right and it doesn't get to that. I don't think anybody wants to get involved in that mess,” Major Sandy replied.

“And the Islamic State?”

“Same as the Kurds – according to the intrep there is no threat in the area that we'll be in. Although, these guys I wouldn't mind getting in my sights.”

“I know what you mean,” Major Flanagan agreed. “Hey, the old man is here,” he nodded to the battalion's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel George Huch who just entered the Mess.

“Sir,” the two company commanders greeted him when the colonel headed directly for them.

“Gentlemen. Listen, Ed,” Lieutenant Colonel Huch said. “Unfortunately I can't stick around tonight but if you need anything before you leave, don't hesitate to call me.”

“Yes, Sir,” Major Sandy replied.

“Good. Otherwise I'll be seeing you and your boys at the air base to wish everybody luck.”

“Sir.”

“Good night, gentlemen. Oh, and Brad,” the colonel turned to Major Flanagan.

“Sir?”

“I'm going to need a sitrep on the upcoming range exercise.”

“Yes, Sir. I'll have it ready for you next time we come in.”

“Thanks,” the colonel said and turned to leave the Mess.

“The CO's wife is sick again,” Major Flanagan commented.

“Yeah. I think it's serious too. You could tell how distracted he was all evening.”

“Too bad. It's not like he isn't busy enough between here and working at the bank without having to deal with that kind of stuff. You can tell that the man is really dedicated since he still comes in every single time.”

“For sure. I can think of a bunch of guys who would be the first to call in with a whole bunch of excuses to say they can't muster.”

 

 

 

D-1, 0736hrs FET. Central Anatolia.

 

 

 

“They're leaving in a hurry,” Corporal Tim Besler commented.

Him and PFC Eric Beasley were standing next to their Stryker and watching a column of Turkish armored personnel carriers, the ACV-15s, from the battle group that A-Company had been training with. The vehicles were moving fast and kicking up a lot of dust as the column rolled down a dirt road which traversed the training area. The two soldiers could only imagine just how badly the ACVs' passengers were getting thrown around as the tracked vehicles bounced on the road's uneven surface.

The Turks had started moving fifteen minutes earlier, right after they had breakfast at their bivouac site set right next to that of A-Company's. It was a surprise because the exercise was not yet over and when the troops got up that morning, there was nothing to signify that something like this would happen. The Americans could see and hear the usual banter coming from the Turkish camp as the troops lined up for food. Just like A-Company's men did.

But then, all of the sudden, the banter, the sounds of guys laughing and the sight of troops going about their business without much hurry, changed. These were replaced by the sound of shouted commands and the sight of men running around and packing their kit into the armored vehicles. Then the first ACVs started moving and soon the entire Turkish mechanized infantry battalion was on the road.

The same happened with the battalion of tanks which was part of the battle group. The Americans could clearly see the atmosphere go from relaxed to stressed at the tankers' bivouac site as well and soon the heavy machines were also on the move, leaving behind them a haze of dust and diesel exhaust.

 

 

 

Major Sandy watched the Turks' departure with equal surprise. They had been training together for two weeks now, his A-Company conducting offensive and defensive operations together with their battle group. Their armored vehicles crisscrossed the rutted maneuver area of the Turkish base and the troops dug shell scrapes into the hard earth.

It wasn't easy work – not least because of language differences (although the Turks had plenty of English-speakers so this wasn't as bad as might be expected). There were also important differences in standard operating procedures on both sides or the different mobility of the vehicles used by them which meant some initial difficulties in synchronizing movement of the tracked and wheeled units.

However, after two weeks of training, the Americans and the Turks had managed to work out everything out and A-Company became better and better integrated into the Turkish battle group.

And then, this morning, the Turks just packed up and started to leave. Without any warning and definitely not according to the exercise schedule which had called for a live-fire advance to start later that day. The orders for the advance had already been issued the previous evening by the battle group's commander, a Turkish lieutenant colonel, and live ammunition had been brought up to the training area and now awaited distribution. The live fire attack was supposed to conclude the offensive training the exercise's participants had undergone so Major Sandy was surprised to see the Turks departing.

“Get me Kırıntılı. Maybe he can tell us what the hell is going on,” the major told Captain Richard Lynch, A-Company's second-in-command.

Him and Captain Lynch had been sitting inside the company commander's Stryker and going over some details of the day's live fire exercise when everything started. Isolated in the vehicle, they had no idea that anything was going on until the major's driver got their attention. At that point the two officers climbed on the roof of the Stryker from where they could see better. From there first they watched the increased activity at the Turks' bivouac sites and then their vehicles starting to move.

“Last I saw him, he went over to their battalion CP. I guess it was right before all of this began. They had sent a runner to get him and they both left in a hurry. I don't think he's come back yet,” Captain Lynch replied.

“Right,” Major Sandy said, dragging out the word. “I don't suppose they plan on leaving us here without an LO.”

“I'd be surprised if they did,” Captain Lynch replied. “But if something big enough happened for these guys to have to pop smoke like this, then they could do all kinds of stuff. You know how messed up the army can get.”

“Yes. Definitely,” the major agreed. After sixteen years in the military – first in the Army and then in the National Guard – he had seen plenty of things that could shake anybody's faith in the ability of the organization to perform.

“Hey, actually I think that's him,” Captain Lynch said, noting a lone figure walking towards A-Company's lines from the quickly emptying Turkish bivouac site. “I'll bring him over,” he offered and climbed down from the armored vehicle to intercept the Turkish officer.

The figure indeed turned out to be Captain Kırıntılı just as Captain Lynch had thought and a couple of minutes later the two were standing next to Major Sandy's Stryker. At that point the last ACV-15 departed the Turkish mechanized battalion's bivouac site. Only some of their tanks were still at theirs, waiting to join the line of vehicles heading towards the base.

“Hey, what's going on over there?” the major asked the Turkish officer.

“I'm not sure, Sir,” the man replied. “The colonel didn't give me any details other than that the battle group had to go back to their barracks.”

“Right,” Major Sandy wasn't sure if the Turk was telling the truth or hiding something from him. Having once dealt with another officer from the region who lied so smoothly that, had the major not known better, he would have never guessed, he was cautious. “And what is supposed to happen with us? Are we supposed to follow them or something?” he nodded towards the column, now partly hidden by all the dust that the armored vehicles were kicking up. “Did you get any instructions for me?”

“No, sir,” the Turk replied. “I mean you are not supposed to return to the base. For now your company should stay in the training area and carry on.”

“Carry on with what? The live fire?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“It's a battalion trace... But I suppose we can adjust it to do this attack alone,” Major Sandy said, thinking out loud. “All right. Why not. Graham, let's carry on with ammo distribution as planned,” the major told his second-in-command after climbing down from the Stryker himself. “I'll take a look at the trace and see what kind of adjustments have to be made so that the attack looks realistic.”

“Roger that, Sir,” Captain Lynch replied and headed towards the trucks parked in the center of the company's bivouac site.

A group of platoon sergeants had already gathered there to coordinate the distribution of ammunition with the lieutenant in charge of the CSS platoon. Normally a Stryker company had only a supply section but, given that A-Company was deployed separately from the rest of the battalion, it needed a more robust logistical element. Hence an entire beefed-up CSS platoon was attached to it to ensure its ability to function. After all without enough trucks to carry fuel, ammunition and food or the mechanics to deal with vehicle breakdowns, the company would not get very far.

“All right, Captain Kırıntılı,” Major Sandy turned back to the Turk. “We'll carry on with the exercise but it would be good if you could find out for me what is the plan for the next couple of days as far as we are concered.”

“I'll do that, Sir,” the captain assured him.

However, no news had reached the company while preparations for the live fire continued. The ammunition for the soldiers' small arms and for the heavy weapons mounted on their Strykers was distributed and Major Sandy adjusted the plan to reflect the reality of a single company attack on the objective. Although there was always the option to execute it according to the original plan with the rest of the battle group being notional, that would not have made for realistic training so that option got ditched.

By lunchtime all of the preparations were finished and a new set of orders had been disseminated to reflect the new plan. Then, right before noon, a small truck convoy appeared from the direction of the base.

“Looks like food is here,” Captain Lynch commented.

“Yes. But why three trucks?” Major Sandy wondered.

Throughout the exercise, whenever fresh food was called for, it was brought in from the base kitchen by three trucks – one for each element of the battle group. Now, however, only A-Company was left in the training area.

“No idea. But I guess we'll find out soon enough,” Captain Lynch said.

They watched the trucks as those approached and then saw that while one headed directly for them, the other two stopped in the middle of the road. One of the drivers got out of his cab and went over to the other one and the officers could see the Turks talking and looking around.

“I think that whatever happened that the battle group had to go back, hasn't filtered down to everybody and kitchen is still carrying on with the old feeding plan,” Major Sandy decided. “I bet you those two trucks are filled with food for the two Turkish battalions.”

“Yeah, probably. I wonder what else we're going to see happen,” Captain Lynch replied.

“You know what, Graham,” the major turned to his second-in-command, lowering his voice so that Captain Kırıntılı would not overhear.

“Sir?”

“Actually, first, tell me how much ammo have we got left in the trucks?”

“I can get you the exact numbers if you want but it's about half of our original stock. Enough for the defensive live fire scheduled for tomorrow.”

“OK.”

“Why?”

“I'm not sure if I want to expend everything that we've got until we find out what's going on around here, if you get my drift,” Major Sandy told him.

“I think so. What I can do is claw some back from the stock that was already distributed and put some aside from tomorrow's allocation. This way we'll do both the offensive and defensive live fires as planned and still have some left over. We can always get rid of it on a range later on when things get clarified.”

“Good. Let's do that,” Major Sandy agreed.

Meanwhile the supply truck entered the company's bivouac site and drove into the center where the food was usually distributed. Soon the first platoon that was scheduled to eat could be seen heading towards it. At the same time the remaining vehicles, both of them indeed filled with food for the two Turkish battalions that were no longer there, turned around and headed back to base.

 

 

 

D-Day, 0813hrs FET. Central Anatolia.

 

 

 

“Jesus Christ,” Airman Geoff Lichaj said as he read the text on his smartphone.

The twenty one-year-old Vermont native was sitting on the tarmac under the wing of an F-16C Block 50 multirole fighter. He was in his second year with the US Air Force and on his first tour abroad since his squadron had deployed to Incirlik, Turkey a month earlier. They were there as part of Coalition operations against the Islamic State and the Vermonter did maintenance work on the F-16s that flew to strike targets in Iraq and Syria.

It was his first time not just in the Middle East but abroad in general and Airman Lichaj was thrilled to have gotten on this deployment. He savored every minute of it – especially, clearly, the opportunities to see the country on his days off. But today was not going to be one of those. He was supposed to do some work on the F-16 that he was now sitting under, as the jet had developed problems with its hydraulics and was now grounded.

While waiting for his supervisor to show up so that they could take a look at the plane together, Airman Lichaj pulled out his smartphone to check the day's news. It was his daily routine - first the ones from back home in Vermont, then national and, lastly, whatever happened in the rest of the world.

The ones from Essex Junction, the small town just east of Burlington from where he came, had nothing out of the ordinary. An announcement that one of the churches was starting Tai Chi classes for seniors was as exciting as it got today. Or, generally, most of the time. Still, even that was good. Airman Lichaj's grandmother had problems with arthrithis and he hoped that she would participate in the church's initiative as Tai Chi was supposed to help a little.

However, it was the international news that got the aircraft technician's attention. The big headline that jumped at him from the front page of an international news service when he went to its website.

War.

Turkish invasion of the neighboring Bulgaria.

There wasn't much in the article because little had filtered out so far – which wasn't really surprising given that combat operations had supposedly began just hours earlier. There were reports of air strikes on targets on the Bulgarian coast and in the southwest of the country where a highway led from the Turkish border towards the important city of Plovdiv. There was also supposed to be some fighting taking place on the ground along that highway and an unconfirmed report of shelling of Svilengrad, a Bulgarian city which lay just north of the border.

“Hey, Lichaj, what's up?” Airman Lichaj heard a voice behind him and turned to see Sergeant Mike Zusi, his supervisor and another Vermont native – albeit this one from the “big city” as he liked to call Burlington.

“Check this out, Sarge,” Airman Lichaj handed over his smartphone.

“Wow...” was all that the sergeant said when he saw the headline. “This is... wow. This is crazy shit.”

“Yeah. So what's gonna happen now? How close are we to Bulgaria anyway?”

“Ahhh...” Sergeant Zusi said as he tried to remember what the map of Turkey looked like. “I think we're pretty far. Here, can't you check that on this thing?” he handed the smartphone back and Airman Lichaj pulled up a map.

“OK, here. It's loading. Right. It's like seven hundred miles from here.”

“Then it's probably too far to affect us.”

“You think so?”

“Yeah, for sure.”

“I guess that's good. So what will happen now?” Airman Lichaj repeated his previous question.

“Now? Now we're going to fix this thing,” Sergeant Zusi patted the F-16's wing. “And then we'll see what the boss says.”

 

 

 

Half a mile away from where the two aircraft technicians were about to start work on the grounded fighter, a similar scene was playing out. At the base headquarters building, Colonel Christian Cameron, a forty five-year-old from Mississippi who was the Air Base Wing commander in command of US forces at Incirlik, was reading a hastily put together report about the Turkish invasion.

He was incredulous that he had not received any kind of a warning from Intelligence about what was, after all, a pretty significant event. One that could have all kinds of implications for his command since it was located in one of the warring states. And one that doesn't happen just like that.

To launch an invasion one has to mobilize troops, move them to assembly areas, bring up mountains of supplies to sustain them, etc. etc. All of this takes time, can't really be hidden and, above all, involves thousands upon thousands of people. People of which there had to be one to spill the beans. Even if just to say good bye to his family.

And yet, despite all of its satellites and legions of highly trained analysts, Intelligence had not noticed any of this. Absolutely nothing. In fact, the colonel learned about the invasion from the very same news service that Airman Lichaj opened on his smartphone.

The colonel got the news at home while having breakfast, after which he made a couple of quick phone calls and rushed to the office. The Air Base Wing's vice commander, Colonel Dax Nagbe, appeared at the same time, the two officers running into each other on the parking lot in front of the headquarters building.

“Don't tell me that you also read about it on the Internet,” Colonel Nagbe said to his superior after they greeted each other and headed inside.

“Yeah. The boys at Intelligence really outdid themselves with this one,” Colnel Cameron said sarcastically.

“Wouldn't be the first time.”

“No it wouldn't. You, know, sometimes I wonder...”

“Yes. Hey, maybe we should just start hiring reporters instead. It might even be cheaper than the people we have right now and, clearly, the quality of work wouldn't suffer much either.”

“Probably.”

The two men entered the building and passed by the duty corporal's desk, the man standing up and saluting the senior officers sharply. He was wondering what was going on as they were in earlier than usually and in a rush. And they weren't the first ones to come into the office either as a couple of other headquarters officers had practically run inside just a little earlier.

One of those, the first one in fact, was Colonel Cameron's Intelligence Officer, Major Alexander Bradley. Just like everybody else, he had read the news at breakfast and immediately realized what a failure on the part of Intelligence this represented. His superior needed this kind of information to make decisions and had received nothing so the major knew that he had to get to work.

He did not even breakfast, instead grabbed a banana and rushed out the door, yelling a quick goodbye to his wife as he ran past her. And, having been one of the people that Colonel Cameron had called right after seeing the news himself, the intelligence officer knew that his superior was on his way toheadquarters as well.

Major Bradley was probably even more annoyed at the lapse in intelligence than his boss. Not only was he probably going to end up on the receiving end of a very one-way conversation but this would add to the long list of jibes about military intelligence that he already had to endure.

He had called his superior at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany where US Air Forces in Europe were headquartered, catching him just as the man was stepping out for his early morning jog. It turned out that he hadn't heard anything that would signal the invasion either. Then Major Bradley started calling all of his own subordinates – although by this point almost all of them got the news and were heading to the headquarters themselves.

First to arrive, the intelligence officer immediately logged on to his computer, pulled up every supposedly reliable news site that he could think of and started scanning them for information. Fortunately the duty officer who had been present at the headquarters building had already gotten started on preparing a report on the events and e-mailed it to the major. With that report open on his screen, Major Bradley was able to expand it with additional information he found as well as add some basic analysis of his own. This way, when Colonel Cameron barged in, the intelligence officer already had something that he could hand to his boss.

And he was happy that he did because he knew that the colonel wasn't in a good mood. Certainly, when he heard the Air Base Wing Commander talking and discerned the word “useless” he was pretty sure that it was in reference either to him or his department. And in either case it wasn't good.

“A2!” Major Bradley heard the wing commander's booming voice.

“Sir!” he replied and pressed print.

The printer that was next to his desk spat out a couple of sheets of paper which the intelligence officer grabbed and headed for Colonel Cameron's office.

“Sir,” Major Bradley reported as he stepped through the open door.

“Oh, here we go. Our glorious Intelligence representative,” Colonel Cameron said. “I have some news for you. Do you have any for me?” he addressed the major with sarcasm dripping from his words.

“Yes, Sir. Here is a report about the events that have transpired this morning,” Major Bradley handed the printout to his superior.

“Kind of late. Isn't it?”

“Yes, Sir. Unfortunately, there hadn't been any indications that the Turks were going to make this move. No signals intercepts, no humint reports. The Turks maintained excellent operational security over this and that's why we never picked it up,” Major Bradly tried to explain his department's failure to warn the wing commander.

“Right. Nevertheless, operational security efforts or not, launching an invasion on a neighboring country takes more than a little effort and preparation. Something on a big enough scale that you people should have noticed. And the fact that you did not means that, clearly, there is a major weakness somewhere and I suggest that you get your ass in gear and find it,” Colonel Cameron spoke icily.

“Yes, Sir,” was all that the major could say in response.

He knew that the senior officer was right and that an event on this scale had a big enough footprint that it should have been noticed. On the other hand, though, given that the United States wasn't at war with Turkey, he didn't really have a reason to have agents stationed outside every Turkish military base and observing what was going on. Nor to have a network of informers in the Turkish armed forces. Well, he did have a couple but these ones were obviously either not in the know or chose not to give him the news.

“In any case. For now let's see what it is that you've got for me,” Colonel Cameron said and looked at the Intelligence Officer's report.

The first part of it, the description of the events that had so far taken place, was, unfortunately, only a little more detailed than that what the colonel had already heard on the news. Basically just the same mention of air strikes and fighting along the highway heading towards Plovdiv.

It was clear that none of this information came from military sources but, rather, from civilian news services. Soon enough, though, there was bound to be more. A satellite would get (if it already hadn't been) redirected to fly over the Turkish-Bulgarian border and AWACS aircraft was/were going to be deployed so that the region would be under radar coverage. At that point, Intelligence was going to be able to provide a clear – or at least clearer – picture of what was going on.

The one item in the report that did come from a US military source and one that the colonel hadn't heard mentioned on the news was provided by US Navy's Sixth Fleet. Based in Naples, Italy, the Sixth Fleet was responsible for operations in European waters and this meant that it had warships on the Mediterranean and on the Black Sea. In fact one of its Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers was in the western Black Sea and heading for the Bosporus to return to the Mediterranean the following night when the Turks began their combat operations.

The destroyer's powerful sea and air-search radars had noted a large scale missile attack by Turkish warships and aircraft against Bulgarian navy's vessels. Interestingly enough, all of the latter had been struck at sea and none in port.

On one hand this didn't mean that the Turks hadn't attacked targets in port but, on the other, this report made it look like an awful lot of Bulgaria's warships were deployed at the time. Perhaps not “a lot” in absolute terms but relative in size to the Bulgarian Navy. Or at least relative to the size of it as Colonel Cameron imagined it to be.

This made him wonder and he moved on to the “Analysis” part of the report. He scanned it until he found a reference to the naval action. Just as he thought himself, Major Bradley's conclusion was that the Bulgarian Navy must have known of the impending attack and that was why it had sortied in strength. Almost all of its warships in fact, save for one of its three ex-Belgian Wielingen-class frigates as well as one minesweeper that were undergoing a refit at the time. And if the Bulgarian Navy knew, then Bulgaria's military and political leadership must have known as well.

“The Bulgarians were aware,” Colonel Cameron stated and looked up at the Intelligence Officer.

“That's my conclusion, Sir. Otherwise, I don't see why their fleet would be at sea.”

“Right.”

“Also, there is the report of fighting south of Svilengrad along Highway A4. The Bulgarians don't have a base on the border so they must have moved forces into the area prior to the invasion. Which means that they expected it,” Major Bradley added.

“OK. And if they knew then why don't we know?” Colonel Cameron asked.

“My guess is that they are more active in targeting the Turks with their intelligence gathering operations. They have a long and bad history together and with the Turks' recent meddling in their internal affairs, I can imagine that the Bulgarians pay a lot of attention to what goes on across the border. Especially given all the rhetoric that followed the mosque burning in Sofia.

“We, on the other hand, don't have a beef with the Turks and therefore focus our resources in other areas. Although, just like you pointed out, Sir, this was a mistake and will be corrected,” Major Bradley added quickly.

“Second point. If the Bulgarians knew, wouldn't they tell us?” Colonel Cameron asked. “We are supposed to be allies, and, on top of that, everybody who gets in trouble usually comes running to us for help.”

“All I can venture on this subject, Sir, is that they could have brought this up on diplomatic channels. Either talked to our embassy in Sofia or through their ambassador in D.C.. Then this information would have been with the State Department and it somehow hadn't made its way to the Pentagon.”

“It's kind of hard to believe that something that important would not have been passed along,” Colonel Cameron agreed.

“I agree, Sir. But it is a possibility. It could be that it got shelved on purpose by somebody who has Turkish sympathies. Or even Islamist ones – after all the Turks have been playing the “war on Islam” angle pretty hard after the mosque incident.

“Or it could be simple incompetence. With the Administration's diversity quotas there were a lot of people that got promoted to all kinds of positions before they were ready. This didn't do them any favors and I think that we've all seen the results on more than one occasion,” the intelligence officer continued and Colonel Cameron nodded in agreement.

“And, of course, there could also be that a decision had been made by the White House to stay out of the whole affair,” Major Bradley finished.

“Even if the White House wants us to stay out, we should at least be informed that we're about to find ourselves in a war zone,” Colonel Cameron commented.

“I completely agree with you, Sir.”

The colonel considered this for a second and Benghazi came to mind almost automatically. It was his opinion that a failure to act decisively had cost American lives in that city and was worried that a lack of warning about the current situation was a sign that the lesson of Benghazi hadn't changed anything.

Also, while no fan of the American taxpayer covering the cost of everybody's security, Colonel Cameron wasn't all that sure that backing out of the Middle East was a good idea either. In the long run this kind of a policy could backfire and cost a lot more as other players moved in to fill the vacuum. Just like the Russians and the Iranians had done in Syria. He could only hope that the next administration was going to show a firmer foreign policy. Either that or pull all of its people back so that they were not in harm's way if it doesn't plan to support them when in need.

“All right. Next. How does this affect us?”

“The fighting itself should not because we are simply too far from it. And, frankly, the disparity of forces here is so big that this will be a very one-sided conflict. This means that there is no chance of some sort of a Bulgarian counteroffensive that pushes the front lines all the way to this area.”

“Good for us but too bad for the Bulgarians.”

“Yes, Sir.”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I make my living as a day trader but there is not much room for being creative in that line of work. Buy. Sell. Buy. Sell. All day long. So I turned to writing and filmmaking. I have been writing for history magazines since the mid-nineties and books and films followed.


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