Thomas Calabrese = Part One
“Mad Dog” and the Joint Expeditionary Force
The one thousand acre property was located in Northern Israel not far from the city of Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. It had been the site of a resort and convention complex until it was purchased by private investors for one billion dollars. There was a twelve foot privacy fence and three entry gates, each one manned by four heavily armed security guards. Sentries patrolled the perimeter of the property twenty fours a day while surveillance cameras scanned the area. Motion sensors were placed in strategic locations and surveillance drones flew overhead. It was impossible for anyone or anything to get within one mile of the area without being noticed and since the original purchase, surrounding property had been acquired and several buildings, an airfield and two large hangars were constructed.
The auditorium had two hundred men and fifty women in attendance from over sixty different countries. They were all former military and included the best of the following military units; Navy Seals, Marine Corps Recon, Army Rangers, Delta Force, Green Berets, Shayetet 13, SAS, GIGN, EKO Cobra, JTF2, Alpha Group, SSG and Gurkhas. When retired Marine Corps Major General Michael Anthony Doyle entered and walked up to the podium several men and women in the audience put on headphones so that they could hear him speak in their native language. Small talk ceased and the room grew silent as General Doyle began to speak, the wall behind him began to light up as a large satellite photo appeared.
“This is our target gentlemen, Marib, Yemen, latest Intel is that Taliban, Al Qaeda, Boko Harum, Isis, Hamas and fringe terrorists’ cells are scheduled to have a summit here in six days. Aerial photography has shown a major influx of fighters moving into the area. Gentlemen, we are going to crash this party,” General Doyle waited until folders were passed out to everyone in the room, “This is your playbook with your particular assignments; read it, study it, and memorize it,” He took out his laser pointer and highlighted areas on the photo, “here’s our strategy; ten sniper teams will set up at these coordinates and ten stinger missile teams will set up here.”
I will lead one team from the west; Sport will lead the other from the east. Whatever your weapon of choice is for close combat, everyone will use radically invasive hollow point rounds and muzzle suppressors. I don’t want bullets going through a target and hitting a friendly, repeat, no armor piercing rounds. Wear your body cams; we’re going to need all footage. We’ll launch drones with sonic weapons that will emit sound waves to disorient the enemy. I emphasis this point because you need to keep your earpieces in at all times, in fact, I recommend that everyone carry a spare. We will be transmitting on a communication frequency that will block those sound waves. We just received a shipment of a new bullet resistant material lightweight compound composed of multi-block copolymer polyurethane and we will be using it on this mission.”
General Doyle picked up a clear sheet of plastic about three feet square and bent and twisted it to show how flexible it was then handed it to a man who walked over to the other side of the stage where a makeshift rifle range had been set up and placed it over the bulls-eye. General Doyle pulled out a Kalashnikov, commonly called an AK-47 and fired an automatic burst at the plastic sheet. The man retrieved the sheet and brought it back to General Doyle who held it up and showed everyone that it had fifteen bullets embedded into it, but none had penetrated the protective material.
“After the briefing, head over to hangar one where technicians will custom fit; vest,face, arm and leg protection for you. Like I said, its lightweight and flexible so don’t worry about it interfering with your movements. These worthless pieces of garbage are using the townspeople as human shields to stop coalition airstrikes and their endgame is a massive execution so that they can place the video on social media, “We’re not going to let that happen.”
General Doyle highlighted a building, “I’m pointing to a bank that has a vault and heavily fortified rooms of stone and steel. Many of the hostages are being held in this building while others are in cages or chained up,” A man walked out carrying a piece of equipment that resembled a large chainsaw and handed it to General Doyle who held it up for everyone to see, “This is a nuclear powered laser. There is nothing that it cannot cut through and the frequency has been set to create a temperature of 14,000 degrees Fahrenheit, steel vaporizes at 5,400 degrees.”
Three men rolled out a large steel table with a large stone boulder and a thick metal beam. General Doyle pressed a button and a blue light extended three feet and adjusted it down to two feet and in less than three seconds he cut the boulder in half then turned it on the metal beam and in less than a second, cut it in two, “The extraction team will be carrying three of these and once we’ve secured the area and released the hostages, the medical team will assess them. If they are too weak or injured to walk then…”
Another man walked on stage and slipped on something that resembled a water ski vest and pulled a cord and the vest inflated. General Doyle walked over and picked up the man with one hand and lifted him over his head, “These vests are filled with a composite of helium, hydrogen and aerogel. Put one of these on an injured hostage and when you carry him out, he won’t weigh more than twenty pounds.”
General Doyle scanned the audience, “You have photos of high value terrorist leaders in your folder and if you can take one alive then do so. Inject him with our standard fast acting tranquilizer then put a vest on him and get him out. Our mission priorities are in this order; kill the enemy, rescue as many hostages as possible and last and least of all, take prisoners. We’ll have another briefing in forty eight hours. Go over your assignments and if you have any questions, suggestions or complaints, bring it up at that time, dismissed.”
General Doyle waited until the last person exited before he left through the back door. He was honored to lead this unit, but every now and then he needed a little down time to be alone with his thoughts and let his guard down for exposing any type of weakness or doubt in front of his men. That would be an error of epic proportions especially before a combat mission. It was 1500 hours and Doyle decided to take an hour for himself before heading to the dining facility for an early supper so he walked to an isolated place of the compound and began doing deep breathing exercises until a montage of memories starting flowing through his mind.
He thought about growing up in Kansas City, Missouri and about his ex-wife, Shannon whom he married when he was a Captain in the Corps and wondered how she was doing. The last thing that he heard was that she was married to a plumber, had two kids and was living in Denver. The numerous deployments took a toll on their marriage, but the real problem was that Doyle was a fiercely independent and private person who internalized his pain and suffering. He would find strength in his core beliefs then come back as if nothing ever happened while his wife felt more like a spectator than a participant in their marriage. Doyle truly wished her happiness and accepted the harsh reality that the same qualities that made him a good leader in the military made him a failure as a husband. He vowed never to place another woman in that position again.
Doyle’s current assignment was liaison officer between American counter terrorism and the Israeli Special Forces and he had been in Tel Aviv for two and one half years when orders for his next duty station came in, he would be going to Camp Pendleton to finish his career as Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations West. He had met T. Jefferson Parker the renowned novelist on his last tour of duty at Pendleton when Parker was doing research for one of his Charlie Hood’s novels and was being escorted to training areas by Public Affairs. A few years later Parker contacted him and requested an interview on the effects of multiple deployments for his newest literary effort, Full Measure. They developed a friendship so when a recently renovated home on a two acre parcel of land in Fallbrook went into foreclosure near his own place, Parker notified Doyle, who quickly purchased the property and planned to move there after he retired, but then everything changed.
The Jewish American family was visiting relatives in Israel when they were kidnapped by Hamas operatives. Joint Intelligence determined where the hostages were being held and a plan to rescue them was quickly implemented. Marines and Israeli soldiers would comprise the extraction team and Doyle would command it. The rescue team was ready to board helicopters when they got the order to “Stand down.”
Iran had contacted the Defense Department and threatened that any attempts to rescue the family would negatively affect the nuclear treaty and soon afterward Hamas communicated that they would release the family in exchange for one hundred terrorists currently being held in detention, but the Israelis refused the deal. The State Department issued their usual politically correct gibberish about opening talks with Hamas and warned Israel not to enact a rescue on their own, but when Intel came in that the family was being moved to Iran, there was no time for delay or negotiations.
General Doyle knew that there was only one slim chance to rescue the family and it would effectively end his Marine Corps career, but he couldn’t stand by and do nothing so he contacted two militant Jewish agencies who secured the proper funding. General Doyle contacted a group of freelance mercenaries and they secretly put together a rescue mission. The family was saved and the kidnappers were killed in the process, but Doyle knew that there was a good chance the truth would come out about his involvement and he didn’t want to be in the Corps when it did. He could be court martialed for disobedience of a direct order and that could affect his retirement and future job opportunities, but if he retired now, it would be a lot more difficult to bring him back for disciplinary action.
Doyle e-mailed Jefferson Parker and told him about his decision to take early retirement and return to Fallbrook California, but didn’t elaborate beyond that. Parker had been taking care of Doyle’s house during his absence and replied that he would check everything to make sure it was ready for occupancy. In two days Doyle would be home and that was going take some getting used to, home had always been any place he was stationed over the past thirty years. There was a knock at the door and when Doyle opened it a young Israeli man was standing before him. He showed General Doyle his identification to identify him as a Mossad agent, “There are some individuals who would like to speak with you before you return to America, General, please come with me, it won’t take long.”
When they arrived at their destination, Doyle noticed heavily armed Israeli soldiers strategically located around the building and when he entered the two story structure, the area was lighted to shadow the faces of five men sitting behind a long conference table.
“Thank you for coming, Major General Doyle,” Man in Middle said.
“Your man said, please.”
“We wanted to congratulate you on the successful rescue of the Steinway family.”
“To the best of my recollection, I don’t recollect a rescue or a Steinway family.”
There was a collective laugh from the five men.
“So what are your plans now that you are retiring?” The man inquired.
“I’m moving to Fallbrook, California to grow avocados and learn guacamole’ recipes,” General Doyle answered matter of factly.
“As exciting as that sounds, we have another option for you… interested?”
“I’m always interested in my options,” Doyle replied.
“A multi-national strike force with the best men and best equipment.”
Doyle remained expressionless.
“No comment?” The man asked.
“Was that a question?” Doyle asked.
“Let me re-phrase. How would you like to command such a unit?”
“Maybe, I would need more details.”
“Officially, this meeting is not happening and officially and there are no plans to develop the type of strike force that I just mentioned,” The man continued, “Is that clear?”
“I’m not even here so obviously whatever we’re doing is unofficial, I get it,” Doyle smiled.
The Mossad agent handed a folder to Doyle, “Read it and see if you like it.” One of the men at the table suggested.
The next morning Doyle was on the phone with Jefferson Parker, “It looks like I won’t be coming back to California after all; something came up at the last minute.”
Jefferson Parker was astute enough to know that General Doyle was being secretive and he didn’t need to know the details, “What do you want to do with the house?”
“I’ve been thinking about that, you’ve already done too much for me already so if I gave you power of attorney, you could sell it and keep any profits from the sale.”
“I don’t need the money and what happens if you ever want to come back someday? I’ll tell what I’ll do, I’ll contact a friend of mine who owns a property management company and if they can find a tenant, they’ll take a percentage of the rent and maintain it during the occupancy and if there is any money left, they’ll send it to you,” Jefferson explained.
“If you don’t mind, that would be great. The job I’ll be doing pays pretty well so if there’s any money left, why don’t you split it between the Wounded Warrior Foundation and any animal rescue group of your choice since I know you’re a dog lover. I’ll talk to you soon, thanks Jeff for everything.”
“Hey Mad Dog!” A voice called out.
Doyle turned around and saw Sanger Stevens; Sanger was in her mid-thirties and had served six years in the army as a Cobra pilot and four more in the Israeli Special Forces. She held American and Israeli citizenship because her mother was born in Israel. Sanger was beautiful enough to be a model if she wanted to, not one of those thin fashion types, but one of those fitness models who graced the covers of exercise magazines. She was muscular, but not to the point of it affecting her femininity and had a quirky sense of humor.”
Hey Sport,” Doyle replied.
Nobody held any rank in the Joint Expeditionary Force, members were either called by their first name, or their call sign; Michael Anthony Doyle was Mad Dog, Sanger Stevens’ initials were SS which morphed to Super Sport then shortened to Sport, she was also fanatical about her exercise regime.
“Time’s up,” Sanger smiled. “Huh?”
“You always take exactly sixty minutes after a briefing to walk around by yourself before going for an early dinner.”
“Am I that predictable?” Doyle smiled.
“You are around two hundred and fifty individuals who have terminal hyper vigilance syndrome, everybody knows everybody’s routine. Did you ever wonder why no matter where you walk that you’re always alone?”
Doyle thought for a moment, “I’m going to have to plan to be more spontaneous in the future.”
There were a few men and women in the dining room when Doyle and Sanger entered.
“It’s a nice day, want to eat outside?” Sanger asked.
“Sure,” Doyle replied.
They walked outside to the spacious balcony which provided a panoramic view of the countryside and the Sea of Galilee and sat down. A young man with a noticeable limp and jagged scar on his left cheek approached.
“Afternoon Mad Dog…Sport.”
“How are you doing?” Doyle asked.
“I’m hanging, been expecting you.”
“I told you, everybody know everybody’s schedule and preferences. Sanger commented, “Slider, it’s Wednesday and what do I regularly eat for dinner on Wednesday?”
“The Sport Special, large organic spinach and tofu salad, oil and vinegar dressing, two sliced avocados on the side with a bowl of sunflower seeds to sprinkle on top, red wine and for desert, something organic in the wide spectrum of fruits,” Sean answered.
“See,” Sanger smiled.
“Okay what about me?” Doyle asked.
“That’s a little tougher…since you’re a little less regimented than Sport, but if I had to make an educated guess; bowl of chicken soup, tomatoes and mozzarella slices with olive oil and oregano, rainbow trout, baked potato with butter and chives, no sour cream and to drink, iced green tea. How did I do?”
“Close enough, that’s exactly what I’ll have,” Doyle laughed.
End Part One