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Now, when we left Jake last he was about to meet his new commanding officer, Captain Shawn Beckman, lets see how that meeting went.
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“Come in, Sergeant Anderson,” the captain said rather harshly.
Jake noticed the sharp tone in his voice and looked at the open door. He dropped his bag, opened his briefcase and took out some information, and walked in. When he got inside he saw the captain and he was looking down at some papers. It looked to Jake as if he was just lost in thought, sort of like a thousand meter stare.
When Beckman finally looked up, he saw, standing before him, in pressed BDUs, wearing his beret smartly, a tech sergeant.
As Jake watched him look him up and down, he saw a frown develop on his face. That frown quickly changed to a scowl when he saw the Ranger tab. That Ranger tab must really make him mad, Jake thought.
Noticing a hint of an inferiority complex Jake saluted and said, “Sir, Sergeant Anderson, reporting for duty.”
The captain reluctantly returned the salute, still scowling.
Jake noticed right off the animosity. “Sir, here is my information to include the orders Sergeant Landis gave me.”
The captain reached out and took them, and with obvious agitation in his voice, introduced himself. “I’m Captain Beckman and I really don’t know why you were sent here, but here you are. And you have … made it safely.”
“Yes, Sir, no problem,” Jake said still hearing that agitated tone in his voice.
The Captain already knew about the orders, so there was no sense looking at them. He looked at Jake and then slowly looked down. With utter contempt in his voice he said “let’s see here,” he said from memory of what he had already read. “Jacob T. Anderson, Ranger, Combat security police. Trained with the 1041st when they were first activated, calling them, “Air Soldiers.” Two tours of duty in Vietnam, awarded the combat ribbon and a bronze star for valor, trained in Special Ops. Also known as, ‘The Reb.’” He went on, and every word he said made him angrier. Air Soldier indeed, well, he needed a sergeant, so he had the perfect place for him, a place where he could confine his expertise.
“So,” the Captain said in a tone that suggested hatred, “you are what an ‘Air Soldier’ looks like.” He didn’t let Jake have a chance to respond. “Have a seat, Air Soldier.”
Jake stood for a second longer, turned slightly to look at the chair. He saw it was quite low giving that ‘looked down upon sensation,’ then looked back at the captain. Two things he immediately thought about, one; his suspicion about the captain was confirmed, he does have an inferiority complex. I just left a place full of clowns like this and I wind up here with another one, and two; the nightmare. These guys are everywhere. “I think I’ll stand, Sir. Besides, I’ve been sitting for a long time and I need to stretch my legs a bit,” he said, trying hard not to let the irritation he felt coming on show.
The captain looked at him, waited, and then said, “So, exactly how did you become a Ranger, seeing’s how the Air Force has no such thing.”
“After I left Vietnam I went to Special Ops training. One of their requirements was for me to go to Ranger school and so I did, at Fort Benning, Georgia. I earned my Ranger tab there.”
The Captain looked at him as he explained then cleared his throat. “I guess you are wondering why we are here.”
“Actually Sir, I know why we are here.”
Beckman looked at him with a puzzled look. Oh you do, do you, this I have got to hear. “So please tell me.”
“War sir,” Jake said with a slight smile, “that’s why. The North Korean Army is massing troops all along the DMZ and . . .”
“Well,” the Captain said stopping Jake. “War . . . is not the reason.” Captain Beckman paused for another moment, and then continued. “The reason we are here, other than the fact that this is a glorified listening post, is . . . I really have no idea why we are here. May-be it has something to do with the politician in Washington who just happened to be looking at the intelligence reports coming out of North Korea. May-be it got them a little suspicious and they decided to do some checking. May-be one of them needed a feather in his cap to make him look good. For whatever reason, here we are.” He paused when he noticed Anderson looking at the map of South Korea and especially at the location of Rebel Station.
“Sir, is this where we are, Chuncheon?” Anderson asked, pointing at the city on the map. Jake noticed the bridges. He thought that when the war does start, they would be an important enemy target that needed to be captured.
“Yes, it is. I know what you’re thinking. You are thinking, with Camp Page down in the city and it being the signal corps and all that why are we here. That is a good question. I wondered that myself and came up with the conclusion that because this is a United States Air Force resource up here, we guard it with United States Air Force personnel. That makes sense, doesn’t it?” He paused for a moment. “What we have here is essentially a listening post.” A glorified listening post, he said to himself.
Jake noticed again the sarcasm in his voice indicating his total dislike for this assignment. “Actually sir that is not what I was thinking …” Jake said. “I was thinking about those bridges sir and how the enemy is going to need them so they will have to capture them, especially if they want to get armor across.”
“We have,” Captain Beckman continued, “two forty-four man air base defense teams, one from Kunsan and the other from Osan. Because of a rumor of war, in which case I do not believe, our mission here is to protect a twenty-man combat communications team, a three-man fuels team, and a five-man maintenance team. All we are doing is providing security while the Combat Com monitors all communications activity along the DMZ. Washington wants to have the capability of making an informed decision, informed about what I have no idea. The com team is set up in the northern part of the area, and they provide their own security.” Beckman paused and looked at Jake. “As you can see on this layout, I have divided this place into two sectors, north and south with thirty-nine men per sector. That’s two thirteen-man squads, plus the quick reaction team, QRT, for Alpha sector, and the same for Bravo. I am assigning you to the QRT in Bravo sector and Bravo sector alone.
Jake studied the crude drawing of the base and it’s lay out. “Yes Sir, bravo sector, Sir.”
“Any questions so far?”
Jake thought, “Are the men ready for what’s coming and the choppers; are they available all the time?”
“They are our supply life line, making runs to Osan and bringing back the things we need, and as for the men, are they ready for what, there’s nothing to be ready for.”
Jake heard his statement about not believing a war is coming but he thought he’d say it anyway, “Ready to fight sir, you know, for war.”
Beckman looked at him as he now realized that Jake was going to be a problem. “As I said, Sergeant, war is not coming it is all just a bunch of talk. Oh yes, there is one thing I need to mention.”
Jake looked at him. “Yes sir.”
“We are not supposed to be here.”
“Not supposed to be here,” Jake said a little puzzled. “As in . . .”
“That right, as in . . . covert. And I might add, as a covert op I aim to keep our presence unknown, any other questions?”
“Covert,” Jake said.
“So you say Sir that no one knows we are here?”
“That is correct.” Beckman said.
“Sir, how did you get here?”
“We convoyed up in two and a half ton trucks.”
“And no one saw you?”
The Captain knew where this was going and he put a stop to it. “We are here covertly, period.”
“Covert. Yes Sir, but why. What reason do we need to be covert? You said a war is not coming but,” Jake said, “if that is the case then there is no reason for us to even be here or to be covert. However, everyone else says a war is coming and on the twenty fifth, which means that if North Korea holds to their intended time line, we can expect something to happen here and soon.”
Beckman could feel his face starting to turn red and said adamantly, “Sergeant Anderson, there is not going to be a war.”
Jake stood there thinking that this attitude, will, if it hasn’t already, be transferred to the men and that means death. Denial will lead to complacency and that can destroy an Army’s will to fight and that is not good. “Sir,” Jake said wondering if the Captain would agree to what he was about to say. “I’m no expert, but my understanding of air base defense does not adequately prepare men for actual combat, peace time activities yes, but combat, no. However, I believe I can help these men be more effective offensively and defensively, and if it’s okay with you Sir,” Jake felt at this moment he was about to step out on a limb but gave it a shot anyway, “We can begin patrolling.”
Beckman looked at Jake with total unbelief. He’d just told him this was a covert operation and here he is trying to ruin it. He hated guys like this and wanted to make sure he knew it. Are you that stupid? “Sergeant,” Beckman said putting the emphasis on the word Sergeant, “You must not have been listening or maybe you chose to tune me out, so let me say put this in a way that even you can understand. This . . . is a covert operation and, it being covert, I don’t want us detected. And in order for us not to be detected, there will be no. and I repeat, no patrols.”
Even though Jake expected the response he still gave him that questioning look, “Sir?”
“Sergeant, I’m sure you think you know what’s going on. Two tours in Vietnam with a bronze star with valor. Your record is impressive, but not to me. So, don’t think you can give me advice. I am in command here, and I am not going to have you, or anyone else for that matter, tell me what I should or should not do. The only reason we are here is to provide security and security only. Is that clear?”
The Captains blatant disregard for sound doctrine was utterly insane which made Jake want to hurt the Captain, but he kept his composure. “Sir, I’m not sure how long you have been in the Air Force or Security Police, but I’m sure you had to have gone to a war college somewhere and learned the essential parts of securing a base. Patrolling Sir is meant to detect the enemy, provide intelligence and create an early warning. It is a sound tactic and we need to know what is out there.”
“Sergeant,” the Captain said emphatically, his anger building, “Let me clear something up for you right now because clearly you have not been paying attention. We have been up here on this station for six months, and in those six month, there has been no, I repeat, no, U.S. forces sent to re-enforce this country. Now wouldn’t it make sense that if the North Koreans were going to attack, that we would want to make sure they did not? Now I’m not the brightest bulb in the bunch, but the way I see it is the President thinks this guy is a big wind bag and he is just blowing smoke. Now, I say this so that you won’t go a starting any rumors, we are not at war, nor are we going to war, is that clear enough for you or do I need to write it in crayon.”
Jake stared at the Captain as if he had lost his mind and he hated the crayon remark, but as before he kept his cool. “Sir you yourself said there has been a massive buildup of North Korean troops all along their side of the DMZ, but then you turn around and say you don’t believe there is going to be a war. Respectfully Sir, you can believe what you want, but they are going to attack and when they do this place will be taken out. Now I can’t answer as to why we haven’t begun a buildup of our troops, that’s above my pay grade, but that doesn’t mean I can’t read the signs. The North is with a doubt going to attack. And if we are not ready, then . . .”
The Captain wasn’t listening to him. He said “so, Sergeant Anderson, you will confine your vast amount of ‘experience’ to where you are assigned and limit your duties to that. Is that understood?”
Jake paused for a second and looked dead into the captain’s eyes. This Captain wasn’t even listening, he just shut him off. He is totally nuts. “So, you think no one knows we are here, and you are dead set against patrols?”
“No one knows, and no war and no patrols. Like I said, I don’t want people to know we are here.”
“Sir, logic would dictate that the only reason we are here is because we are going to war. Sir, the enemy knows we are here,” Jake said trying to make an appeal to his military side.
The way the captain’s face contorted, Jake knew that he hated this kind of logic and Jake could see that he was trying to figure out a response. But before he had a chance to, Jake said, “Will that be all, Sir?”
The Captain looked at him with a scowl. He hated these smarty-pants Ranger types. “Yes. Lieutenant Campbell is your flight commander and Ops officer, and you will report to him in the morning. That’s all.”
Jake saluted, turned, and left the captain’s office thinking, this captain is crippled too high for crutches and with this kind of thinking he will be the one who orchestrates the death of this station. And to Jake that makes him the enemy of this station. And as far as the enemy, Jake learned a long time ago in the martial arts that you don’t telegraph your next move, that you should always keep your enemy guessing and that is just what he’s going to do with this captain.