Chapter 11: The Tribals
Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
We were in the briefing room with the Global Industrial Regional Station Chief, he had met us as soon as we walked off the C-130 that had taken us from Germany into Afghanistan. I had told him on the phone that I wanted a preparational brief done immediately so we weren't wasting any time.
"Gentlemen, welcome to post Taliban Afghanistan, I know your last visit was a little rough, but rest assured the coalition forces stepped up combat operations, and we have eliminated the Taliban threat from the main populous regions, however, that doesn't concern you cause you're planning to LRRP into Pakistan. Chief I received your brief, and a CIA asset will meet you on the other side of the border. It should be smooth sailing most of the way, but once you hit the Tribal Region we don't know what to expect. Your QRF and CCP in the Region is based at FOB Lincoln Shire, it's the operated by the Brits, they've got Royal Marines stationed there currently. They get engaged heavily about once every three months, other than that its relatively cold there."
"Good briefing Alex," I smiled, "Can I have a word out in the hall?" I had yet to tell him that we were chasing a HVT down. So when I dropped it on him that we were chasing the UN Secretary General, he gave me a "what the fuck" look. He had thought that Global Industrial had been stood down from that conflict, and from what he understood we weren't getting involved. Hell, I hadn't even told the General or the Ambassador that the Raiders had deployed, and current Intel circulating the Special Ops community was that they were looking in Africa for the SecGen. We were wary that we might be running across DEVGRU at some point during this excursion, if we did we would be reported to the the General, and I would definitely catch some flak.
As the sun went down, we left the safety of the Kandahar Base in low profile Afghan Trucks, but we were in full tactical gear, with fifty pound rucks, and plate carriers, we were equipped for frontline fight. We didn't know what we would face, either a Taliban fort, or a fortified UN Position. We drove through the night, at dawn, we reached our launch point, we dug in so we could get a few hours of rest before we started the hunt.
When 0930 rolled around, everyone was up, and finishing breakfast, once we were geared up and we checked in with HQ, "Raider Base this is Raider Actual."
"Raider Actual, this is Raider Base send it."
"Raider Base, Raider Actual, we're up and moving, what's the status of ISR?"
"Raider Actual ISR Drones are up, one will monitor the the OP, other will aid in search."
"Roger that, Spaz, Bug, and Kilo, y'all ready."
"Yeah buddy," Spaz called,
"Alright, we'll set up the hide, we will send grid once we're set."
Spaz and his element headed out, they were conducting our first recon patrol, trying to find our target. JDAM, Samson, and I moved further up the mountain, and started setting up the hide we would use for the first few days in the region. We found a good spot about half way up the mountain, with good sight lines, and heavy cover, I set up my sniper rifle between a ten centimeter gap between two boulders, then we laid out a canvas tarp and gave it a quick spray paint to blend into the rocks around it. After we were done camouflaging our position, the three of us went in three directions at fifty yards to make sure our hide was as invisible as we could get it. We all gave each other the thumbs up, we were good to proceed.
"All Raider callsigns,, this is Raider Actual, hide is set at grid quebec november four, six, niner, three zero, six, two, four, three, three."
"Raider Bravo Roger."
"Raider Base Copies, break, break, Raider Actual stand by for Chaos Actual."
"Shit." I thought to myself as we re-entered the hide, "Acknowledged."
"Chaos Actual to Raider Actual, do you care to inform me why you are in Tribal Afghanistan, and not at your desk?"
"Sir we had Intel passed down from one of G.I.'s station chiefs that an aircraft with UN Markings landed at Bagram. We are simply following up a lead, and to be clear sir, you never said I couldn't chase down leads, just that we weren't taking part in the main fight."
"So your trying to be helpful?"
"Roger," he sighed, "Look your lead is currently the best lead we have, DEVGRU is currently off the coast of Libya, they're sending a group in to assist with with tracking."
"Copy that, keep us apprised."
"Good work Raider, Chaos Actual out."
"Fuck for a second there I thought we were in for an ass chewin'" Samson chuckled.
"So did I." I rested myself against the boulder next to my sniper rifle, the roof of the hide was high enough for us a sit in, "I imagine we will be if this lead doesn't produce results."
I pulled out my water canteen and took a drink, it was already twenty degrees out and we were just approaching midday. "Raider Actual, this is Raider Bravo."
"Go ahead Bravo,"
"We're at Kunar One, we've got eyes on the trucks, according to the locals the occupants took off on horseback."
"Headed to Pakistan?"
"Kind of, from what we can gather, they're headed for North Waziristan, the locals believe either Miran Shah, or Mir Ali."
"R"Copy that."oger that, head back to the ORP, we're rallying with DEVGRU before proceeding."
"Hawk, I've got movement." JDAM whispered, "three men, black man-jams, AK's, two hundred meters out." I rolled over behind my Mk18, "Just behind the flat face boulder."
"Yeah I've got them, Raider Base this is Raider actual, I've got three contacts two hundred meters from my position, from they way they look I don't think these guys are local sheep farmers."
"Hawk, recommend not engaging, ISR will track them back to their hideout and I'll have them smoked with Fire Support."
"Roger that, going safe."
I was a little disappointed, I was looking forward to putting down a couple Taliban during this trip, we had decided to go light, I had left Trigger at home, I semi-regretted it cause tonight was supposed to be cold tonight and that dog was generated enough heat to warm up a bell tent, that and having the fur missile was a big tactical advantage, that and seeing Tali's flee from said fur missile was fucking awesome too watch.
14 Hours Later:
"Raider Actual this is Alpha, we're five out from your pos."
"Roger that I have eyes on you. The Valley's quiet right now but we've had a few Taliban patrols come past, we're packed and ready to move," I whispered into my mic.
When the DEVGRU entered our line, I shook the Team Leader's hand, "You the Hawk?" he asked.
"One and only."
"My brother was one of the hostages you rescued from the Iranian Prison," he smiled, "Thanks for acting when no one else would."
"It's what we do," JDAM called,
"Too right," I smiled, "And your welcome, has Intel briefed you on who our actual target is."
"Chaos told me himself, we're going after the fucker who tried to seize control of the world."
"Roger that, he's fled into Waziristan, either Miran Shah or Mir Ali, we believe that they'll bed down there for the night, make their way into Pakistan tomorrow, then we're never gonna catch him." I signalled JDAM to bring out the map.
"Roger, my teams been to Miran Shah before, we know it, guarantee this is a shell game, except if we flip one, targets gonna slip out the other,"
"Split up, take both towns at the same time, keep it quiet as long as we can. Hopefully get out with the cargo in tow before dawn breaks."
"Sounds good to me," the DEVGRU TL called, "We've got Stealth Hawks on standby to take us in," he turned to one of his team mates, "John, call black betty."
"Roger that sir."
When the helicopters showed up, DEVGRU loaded up on one, and we were on the other. By chopper, we were twenty minutes out from Mir Ali. We had diverted our ISR as soon as we had the Intel, and currently Preacher was looking for the target. Mir Ali was a big place, and the faster we found our friend the Secretary General, the easier taking him out would be. "We're twenty seconds out!"
"Roger, Raider Base, this is Raider Actual, do we have anything on our target?"
"I don't have much, there's a compound, northern tip of the city, there's been non-stop movement fighting age males trickling for the past three hours, probably up to at least fifteen, five vehicles inside. Nowhere else in the city has this much traffic.
"Roger, pass the Intel to the pilot, have them set us down two hundred fifty meters north of the compound, pass to DEVGRU, that we have a possible location."
"Copy that, passing, be advised, we've got to points of egress, one north gate, leads to the main door, and an east facing gate,"
"Roger that, Kilo you're on overwatch, covering Bravo, y'all take the east gate, JDAM, Samson, we're taking the front door" then the helo touched down,
We moved out, rapidly covering the two hundred and fifty meters to the compound. When we hit the so called gate, that turned out to be two slabs of metal chained together, and hinged to the dirt walls. We stacked the gate, "JDAM stand by with Shotgun." I paused, "Bravo, this is Alpha, we're at the front gate."
"Roger we're set."
"Stand by, stand by." I looked at JDAM, he nodded at me. "All callsigns, execute."
JDAM blew the lock off, and we rolled through the gate, clearing it with very little resistance. We moved right up the middle heading to the main building, on each side were mud walls, thick enough to stop fifty calibers. "Alpha, we've got C4 planted on the vehicles."
"Roger." Then all hell broke loose, PKM fire opened up from the upper stories, snaps ripped by our ears. We all took cover, I rolled right, in behind a mud wall. PKM rounds cracking everywhere, "Kilo, we're talking fire upper deck."
"Roger that, chopper's moving now."
"Hawk!" JDAM yelled, "Two oh three?"
I loaded a forty millimeter round into my under barrel. "Samson pop smoke!"
A few seconds later, the smoke billowed from the grenade, I popped up took quick aim, and fired. The first PKM position disappeared behind rubble and smoke. I dropped down, and reloaded, "I've got 'em Chief." Kilo called , "Target down,"
"Samson, cover the door with you're SAW, JDAM on me."
Then the front door opened, immediately followed by AK fire. "Shit!" JDAM and I dove again.
"Hawk, we ain't getting through this, not without casualties."
I pulled a frag out of it's pouch, "Frag out!" I yelled as I pulled the pin. I tossed it in the general direction of the door. After it detonated, I pulled out my USP and breached the door, "Front room clear, Alpha, on me."
We stacked, and moved up the hall, "Raider Actual this is Alpha One, jackpot, I say again confirmed kill on jackpot."
"What the fuck, who are we chasing then?" Samson whispered, as we moved up the hall.
"Roger that Alpha one, we're gonna continue exploiting our target, we definitely landed on something." I responded,
"Hawk, I think we've located what we landed on," Spaz called, "We're in the back entry area, you're definitely gonna want to see this."
The three of us cleared our way to Spaz's teams location, "What do you got Spaz?" I called as we walked in. My first reaction was that someone with OCD had organized it. Shipping pallets of what I could only assume was heroin, and marijuana in one corner, then arms crates in another, then in the last corner, something that I knew I would never forget, large dog cages, with four or five children inside each one.
"Looks like we know what they were gonna use to fund the disappearing act." Bug called,
I literally felt like I was gonna throw up. "Yeah, the most valuable currency in this part of the world," JDAM called, "Guns, drugs." he hesitated, and shook his head before he said, "And fuckin' kids."
"Raider Actual to Alpha One,"
"Go ahead Raider,"
"Yeah looks like we stumbled across their finances,"
"Roger, we're moving to extract."
"Raider Ops, this is Raider Actual, requesting additional extraction units for twenty five children."
The comms line was tense, even when Preacher came on, she sounded like she had just finished throwing up, she had a direct link from Spaz's and my helmet cams. "Roger that Actual, Chinooks are on their way from Bagram, eta twenty mikes." It was hard to hear Preacher over the yells for help from the children.
"Hawk, this is Kilo, perimeter secure, I don't see anymore targets, we're gonna set down at the back gate."
"Roger Kilo, hold the LZ, prep for arrival of Chinooks from Bagram."
"This is seriously fucked up," JDAM's tone was more stern than ever, "Kid's in fucking cages."
"Yeah, let's get them out." I looked at Bug, the only guy on our team that knew the local dialects. "Tell them to be quiet, and were getting them out of here." Without hesitation Bug went to work as JDAM and I started opening cages with our bolt cutters, "Spaz. prime the drugs and the weapons for demo." We waited in the room for the Chinooks, once Kilo said he had them in sight, we moved out, then watched from the back of the Chinook as Spaz blew the cache.
24 Hours Later:
"This headline breaking Globally, the United Nations being charged with Terrorism, Drug, Weapons, and human Trafficking, Kidnapping, and War Crimes. Standing trial in the UN Secretary General's place, are the leaders of the nations who were subservient to the UN's goals of a one world government, as well as the Secretary General's staff. They are being tried be the World Court in the Hague, and the evidence that has been made public has been stated by the prosecution as undeniable, and probably going to result in a good old fashioned hanging. In other news, the Executive floor was a massacre scene, where a dozen of executives were killed. However, with recent world events, no inquiries will be started. And with the Russian Government talking of de-escalation in Europe, and the relative peace in the Middle East, the world maybe entering the first term of world peace since the 1920's."
The sun was just starting to peak over the treed skyline of our home. The eastern skies were painted gold. A light fog lay still over the dewed grass, the trees were calm, as the morning birds began to sing. Our vehicles entered the the suburb, people were getting in their cars, beginning their daily commute. I pulled into the drive, "It sure is peaceful ain't it." Jim yawned, "beats the hell out of the Tribals any day."
"Quite the debrief huh." I sighed, as I turned of the Explorer, Jim looked over at me,
"The world knows we exist, and what we are capable of. I think as long as we are around, there maybe peace. I ain't gonna complain either. I think it's time for me to slow down the deployments anyway,"
"Join Preacher in the Intel shop?" I asked,
"Yeah. She might need some help," he chuckled, "You gonna bring Kilo onto the Raiders?"
"No, I think I'll let the team retire itself,"
"Sounds good to me."
We both got out of the vehicle, I stretched a little bit. We met behind the Explorer, I hit the garage door opener, and we unloaded our gear into the lockers in the garage. Once we were done, we shook hands, each said "I'll see you later." then he left. I closed the garage door, and went inside, where I was immediately greeted by Trigger.
"Hey boy." I smiled, as I hugged him, and scratched his flanks, "did you miss me?" I whispered. I could hear the TV in the living room, the theme from Paw Patrol was playing. I stood up, and walked into the kitchen. Christine was half a sleep on the couch, and Hallie was staring at the TV, mesmerized by her favourite show. I snuck in, and gently brushed my wifes hair away from her eyes, which flickered open, "Hey beautiful." I whispered, she leapt up and hugged me, "I missed you so much"
"I missed you too."
"Thank god you're alright." she sighed, "I hadn't heard anything since you left."
"Yeah, we're all home." I smiled,
"Good," she kissed me,
I sat on the floor, and put my daughter on my lap, she giggled, and continued watching her show.
Later that day, we were all over at Jim's. Enjoying the traditional post operation bbq. Everyone was laughing, and enjoying the beautiful weather. All of our phones were on one table, ever half hour or so I looked over at the table, every phone was set to loud, but none of them so much as blinked.