Scorpion one First Strike, "Ready"
First a word
It's been a few weeks since I last posted part of this story, and I'm deeply sorry for keeping people waiting so long, a few things like recovering from illness and changes to my routine have kind of thrown a few 'spanners in the works'.
It's a Monday afternoon here in Hamilton, I used to be able to write these hubs over the weekend, but changes in scheduling have meant that I now get Mondays off, but work Saturday and Sundays (Hey, Sunday is time and a half, so I'm not going to turn that down!) but it has meant quite a few changes in our ' post-COVID 19' world.
Anyway, when we left the story the team had been given an order that while it made some tactical sense, it was unthinkable they would carry it out, but no one back at HQ (except maybe one civilian from MI6) even dreamed they would disobey. Will they?
Let's find out.
A pilot's worst Nightmare
From the Previous
Chambers stopped for a moment, the two vehicles looked like Humvees, but with strange boxes on the roof of each, "they look like anti-tank missiles" he wasn't sure.
"Try again" Burke replied, "vehicle-mounted stingers, better known as anti-aircraft missiles, you think I'm sending helicopters anywhere near them you can think again!" He turned to the radio operator, "I'm not risking the loss of my aircraft, give the abort code."
"But sir" the comms operator began, she was looking directly at the Wing commander, "Standard Operating Procedure is".
" I know what the SOPs are!" he blurted out, "and the presence of those missiles overrule the SOPS, anything within three miles those things will take-down, now do as I ordered," he slammed his fist into the nearest desk, glaring at the operator he went on, "or do we relieve you of your duty" he was in no mood to argue. "now send the bloody code!"
Standard Operating Procedure or SOPs for short are drills and actions that are set down for situations where communications are either just too slow or would give away your position, they're there to not only help the troops on the ground know what to do, but also to instruct anyone in a support role exactly what was going to happen next, and the SOPs said that in the situation, the control of the operation passed to the team in the field.
"But sir" she tried again, "the RV is east of their position the enemy is east of them too so they'll have to go around them, sir."
"Much easier if the enemy doesn't know they're there don't you think?" He was being sarcastic, " as in no damn firefight! Now send the code, THAT'S AN ORDER!"
Back in London
The stakes become clear.
"Have they reached the objective yet?" The well-dressed man asked as he entered the room, he was a very distinguished-looking gent for whom one look confirmed he was part of the British establishment, it was a look Sir Michael Smith had spent many years cultivating and was as far from real life as you could get.
“The recce team is there now sir” the operator, a young redhead with a slight accent that most wouldn’t notice answered, “they’re observing the place as we speak,” she didn’t even turn to acknowledge him, she was staring intently at the computer screen, “The main force won’t be there for another eight hours, Though I think we might have a problem sir”
“What problem?” that statement stopped him in his tracks, he had been heading for the coffee pot, an ever-present item when Sir Michael was around, “and what main force?”
“We’ve just got the feed from Iraq sir” the operator went on’ she half-turned at the same time as tapping a few keys on the screen, the camera zoomed out, “about three miles east of their position sir, a new convoy just arrived and stopped right where we don’t need them”
“Explain” was all he said. He’d reached her desk by now, but not before he’d poured a cup, he put it down beside Sandy and went back to get himself one.
“Armoured convoy, six ISIS vehicles, all Humvees, looks like two of them are equipped with vehicle-mounted Stingers sir” she stopped for a moment to allow him to absorb the information.
“The RAF is having kittens sir regarding the Stingers sir, Looks like they’re the Avenger system!” she went on, “Burke already tried to call the team, giving the abort code”
The Avenger system was every pilot’s worst nightmare, mobile and deadly, they can appear anywhere on a battlefield and with a range of about six miles, or ten kilometres it was deadly, mounted on the vehicle also meant it wasn’t being used optically, but was radar-guided.
“WHAT!!” he was almost around to her side of the computer. The government had made a promise to the Swedes on this, a foolish one he’d thought at the time, but still, one they’d do well to stick with.
“I said tried sir!” Sandy stopped him, “the team’s gone dark, possibly radio silence”
“Is there any way we can contact them?”
“Sir, we only have listening capability, everything else is being run by Iraq” she looked directly at the Director-General of MI6, it felt strange for her, telling her boss what they could and couldn’t do, she’d only been with MI6 a year or so and was still getting used to the way things were done.
Meanwhile 'Back at the Ranch'
"They've gone dark sir!"
No one was sure just what capabilities ISIS really had, they captured a lot of equipment the Coalition forces had given Iraq, including surveillance, direction finding and radio jamming equipment, but no one was sure if they knew how to use it, and even less appealing was finding out the hard way that they worked out the DF equipment when they sent a couple of shells whistling your way’
The RAF worry about the stingers was a concern, Intel said there wouldn't be any anti-aircraft fire in the area, the Stinger missiles had a ten-mile range, a couple of Apaches could deal with them, but that meant asking the Army Air Corps for help, something the 'Brylcreem Boys' hated doing.
"Do we know why they're gone dark?" He asked as he sat in the seat beside Sandy, she passed a headset to him, he didn't bother putting it on, there wasn't any point really if the team was in radio silence they wouldn't respond to anyone, and if the radios we're faulty they were all screwed.
"No sir" Sandy replied, "the team told us about the convoy, then it went silent" she looked directly at him, her expression saying she expected to get some form of blame.
"Are you sure it's not just the comms link at our end?" Sir Michael wasn't quite believing her, "satellite went down or something like?" he knew some of the biggest military balls ups have been through faulty radio equipment, the last thing they needed was this operation going 'tits up' and four SAS soldiers being taken by ISIS.
"No sir" Sandy sounded sheepish, "Cheltenham assures me the equipment at our end is fine" she paused to let that sink in, "at the other end" she went on, "they either turned it off, or something broke, either way, we lost comms with the team on the ground".
What do you think?
"Make sure those buggers don't spoil our party"
The village was little more than a couple of dozen houses, actually calling the place a village was a bit of a stretch, it was more like a country hamlet without the pub, but had a mosque for a church, but it was a village, or what passed for them in this part of Iraq. They were little more than mud-brick huts, each one with its own tiny walled-in courtyard where the women would do the cooking in seclusion.
North of the village was the compound, a road (the only one apart from the main road ) led south into a central area where it met the main road running east-west, the perfect ambush spot.
Joey worked fast, he had two claymore mines, or Padminis as the British called them, both of these would be remotely detonated by Smithy once the right vehicles were in the 'kill zone' they would block any avenue of retreat, or reinforcements getting there.
The Padmini is the UK version of the American Claymore, a mine that can be set to go off in one direction, making it the perfect weapon for their ambush, Joey had brought three, two intended to be used in the ambush and one as a backup, he now knew exactly where he was going to use the backup.
"Mines set boss" Joey whispered to Jacko as he passed his position, "remember the sixty"
"Got it" Jacko replied, they all knew what he meant, the mine was perfect for this job in that you can control the direction of the blast, "how far?"
"Fifty metres boss" Joey assured him, "both facing inwards, will kill everything in that area."
"Use the last one to make sure those buggers" he nodded towards the convoy still a couple of miles away, "make sure they don't spoil the party!"
"Roger that boss, gimme five minutes" and Joey was off running.
He ran almost to the edge of the village, he had one left, each mine had its own set of stakes, so he didn't need to worry about attaching them, he flipped the two stakes out from the bottom of the mine and drove them into the ground.
Next was a ball of cheese wire, or at least that's what it resembled. The tripwire had a small hook on one end, he hooked it into a small pin at the top of the mine, then began reeling the wire out.
The grenade pin can take some pressure before coming out, the last thing he needed was for it to come out right now, that would detonate the device and it wouldn't be a pretty sight, the claymore was named because it’s inventor an American of Scottish ancestry wasn’t just thinking of some Celtic pride when he developed the weapon, he knew it was a weapon with awesome potential, but potentially devastating when used properly.
As soon as he got to the other side of the street he looked for a place to attach the wire, there was a power box from when the village had electricity, he used the handle on the box and pulled the wire reasonably tight.
'Good job I don't have to hide this stuff' he thought to himself as he finished the bodge job, at least to him it felt like a job only half good enough, he knew it would do the job, but that didn't stop him wishing he could set things that properly.
The mines were anti-personnel mines, a British variant of the M1 Claymore meant for killing or maiming combatants, but not so good against armour, even the Humvees armour would stop the blast, but Humvees are wheeled vehicles, take the tyres out and you immobilise the vehicle, that would not only stop their victims getting away, they would also prevent help getting there. It was the Hummers weak point, and the point Joey intended to use to their advantage.
And here we stop
Sorry about that folks, but it's time to stop. I know it's frustrating as things are just seeming to 'heat up' for the team and I'm pulling the plug! But that's the way things are.
At least we found out what the team intended, and it's got everyone on edge, everyone except Scorpion one that is!
They're just getting on with the job.
Well, that's all for this week, see you soon.
But before I go I'll leave you with a proverb I learned in the Army, see below.
"When the going gets tough.
The tough get going!"— Old Army proverb