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Is war on another front…
…going to lead to defeat?
Losses in the Pacific have cost the Allies.
The stakes raise as battlefield tactics and back room diplomacy muddy the waters. Was it a mistake to engage in Russia? Will it cost the President at home? The country is divided. The casualties mount. Has the tide of war shifted from the Allies?
As the U.S. manufacturing machine struggles to keep up with the demands, the country needs to unite to make it through.
Can the President bring the people together?
Does he have a strategic card left to play?
You’ll enjoy the fifth book in this epic war series because everyone loves an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.
Get it now.
The Red Storm Series is best enjoyed when read in the correct order as each book builds on the previous work. Reading order:
Book 1: Battlefield Ukraine
Book 2: Battlefield Korea
Book 3: Battlefield Taiwan
Book 4: Battlefield Pacific
Book 5: Battlefield Russia
Book 6: Battlefield China
*When you buy a book written by Rosone and Watson, they have chosen to donate a portion of the proceeds to help support the following organizations: Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Operation Underground Railroad, and Charity: Water.
Release date: September 23, 2018
Publisher: Front Line Publishing Inc.
Print pages: 561
Content advisory: No profanity or sexual content
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Battle of Taiwan
Clarke International Airport
Loading another thirty-round magazine and placing it in one of his front ammo pouches, Staff Sergeant Conrad Price smelled the pungent scent of jet fuel intermixed with the humidity and smell of death that still permeated the air around this hard-fought military base. Sprawled out in the recently repaired cargo hangar were the men of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, the US Army’s premier shock troops. The Rangers had just finished their preflight briefing and were now doing their final equipment checks before they would load up into the C-17 Globemasters that would ferry them to their drop zone.
Price looked down at his right hand, his trigger hand, and saw a slight tremor. He quickly flexed his fingers and went back to loading another magazine before anyone noticed. His nerves were starting to get the best of him as his mind wandered back to one of their earlier combat jumps. No matter how hard he tried to push the image out of his mind, he kept seeing his best friend, Joe Perez, lying in his arms, bleeding out from multiple bullet holes. Joe had saved him that day, and he’d paid the ultimate price for his country and his fellow Rangers. The look of fear on his friend’s face as his eyes had pleaded with Price for help would often cause him to break down emotionally when he was alone. He couldn’t afford for those emotions to surface now, not before a mission.
That was eleven months ago, but it still felt like yesterday. “How many friends have I lost in this war? Too freaking many!” he thought.
Sergeant Price angrily rammed another 5.56mm round into his last magazine. He desperately fought to turn those emotions of sorrow, pain and loss into a burning rage toward the enemy that had taken so much from him. That smoldering anger had kept him alive up to this point. He’d even been awarded the Silver Star for savagely charging and taking out an enemy machine-gun position in Siberia three months earlier. In his private moments, he’d secretly wished he’d been killed so that the pain would end, but since that hadn’t happened, he’d brutally killed the occupants of the fortified position with his trench knife when his rifle jammed.
With his magazines loaded, Price reached over and grabbed six fragmentation grenades and fastened them to his chest rig, making sure he’d wrapped the pins with at least one strip of tape. He firmly believed in the power of Murphy’s Law, and he wasn’t about to be that soldier whose pin got caught on something and the grenade went off.
Now that his personal kit was ready, he made sure his rucksack was packed with three changes of socks packed in Ziploc bags, a thousand rounds of ammo, two bricks of C4, four MREs, and the rest of the stuff needed to survive for several days, in case they were unable to get a quick resupply. Fastening his last piece of equipment to his ruck, he hoped the troops hitting the beaches would be able to relieve them according to the plan. Snorting to himself, he remembered something his dad used to tell him: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face, son.” It seemed like an apt comment at that point.
Seeing that his own equipment was ready, Price walked over to check on the eight other guys in his squad. They had nervous looks on their faces like him, but also that sense of duty and purpose as well. Like him, they had all volunteered to serve in the Rangers, to be the tip of the proverbial spear and carry out the high-risk missions. Of course, the extra $750 a month in special pay was an added bonus.
“How’s my face paint look, Staff Sergeant?” asked Specialist Michael Cochran as he finished rubbing some OD Green paint on an exposed part of his neck, lowering the small mirror he was using.
“I think if you stand still, you could pass as a tree,” Price replied, drawing a few laughs from the others and cutting the tension in the room.
One of the other privates chimed in, “Tell us this isn’t a suicide mission the brass is sending us on, Staff Sergeant.”
Specialist Alistair Waters, the squad comedian, interjected, “Since when is doing a night jump onto an occupied enemy air base a suicide mission? It would only be a suicide mission if we did it during the day—at night, it’s a walk in the park.” He got a few more chuckles from the Rangers around them.
A few minutes later, they heard the roaring sound of a C-17 pulling up near the hangar they were huddled in. After just a couple more moments, a total of four of the aircraft had positioned themselves near the hangars, their rear cargo ramps dropping down so the Rangers could load on in. Two platoons were slated to pile into each plane, giving them some extra space so they would have room to set up their parachute rigs once they got closer to the drop zone. They were going to be in the air for close to seven hours, too long to stay strapped to their rigging.
Prior to the soldiers moving to board the C-17s, several fuel trucks drove out to the planes and topped off their tanks for the flight. They’d be making one midair refueling before they reached their final destination.
They were all abuzz with adrenaline. The 2nd Battalion, 75th Rangers had been given the inglorious task of capturing the Taiwanese Air Force base just north of the city of Taitung, on the southeast side of the island. The battalion would land on and around the air base and secure the area for follow-on forces. While that was taking place, two Australian infantry battalions would land near Taitung and move in to secure it. Following their attack, the US Army’s 63rd Infantry Division would land and assist in securing the southern half of the island. Once the Rangers had secured the air base, a brigade from the 82nd Airborne would start to arrive and bring with them a series of light armored vehicles and artillery support.
“Everyone up! It’s time to load up,” yelled their platoon leader.
The Rangers dutifully carried their gear and parachute rigs with them to the transports. They’d assemble their parachute rigs once they got closer to the drop zone; until then, they’d contemplate the inevitable jump and what awaited them once they landed.
120 Miles off the East Coast of Taiwan
Aboard the USS Gerald Ford, Captain Patricia Fleece poured herself another cup of coffee from the hot pot in the combat information center or CIC. She was still grateful that the last massive battle she had participated in had turned into a victory, even if it hadn’t been as decisive as it could have been. If things had gone even slightly differently, she wouldn’t be standing there drinking a mug of java. She constantly remembered how lucky she was to be alive and still have command of a ship.
On the big board, she could see the destroyers and cruisers were in the process of firing their Tomahawk cruise missiles at the various land targets on the island. Above them, the Commander Air Group, or CAG, was in the process of launching the carrier’s airwing of F-35s to go in first and take out the known enemy air-defense sites. This would be quickly followed by a squadron of F/A-18s that will be conducting Wild Weasel missiles, trying to get an enemy radar to lock on them so they could fire a HAARM missile, specially designed to follow the enemy’s targeting radar to its source and destroy it. As they destroyed more and more of the Chinese’s targeting radars, their air-defense systems would crumble until they no longer posed a threat. Then, the real bombing attacks would commence.
“How much longer until the ground invasion starts?” Captain Fleece asked Admiral Cord, who was nibbling on a small sandwich the galley had brought up for the crew.
“A couple of hours,” she replied. “You see that track of aircraft that just entered our bubble in the south?” she asked, pointing to a new cluster of aircraft that were slowly making their way toward them.
“Yeah, I see it,” Fleece responded.
“That’s the lead airborne element of the Rangers,” Cord explained. “They’re going to try and seize that PLA Air Force base down in Taitung City, where those Tomahawks are about to hit. If the rest of the fleet times everything right, the first wave of Australians should be hitting the beaches near there about the same time the paratroopers hit the airport. To the north, the Marines will land near Luodong.” She spoke as if instructing a class of naval officers at Annapolis—except this was a real invasion, not some tabletop exercise. While the invasion of Luzon was the largest naval invasion since World War II, the invasion of Taiwan was significantly larger.
Admiral Cord took the last bite of her sandwich, then asserted, “I’m going to order the strike group to start moving in closer to the shore. I want our ships closer to the landing force. Do you have any objections?”
“No, I think it’s a good idea to move in closer to land in case some of our fighters sustain combat damage and need to make an emergency landing,” Captain Fleece replied. “I wasn’t too keen on being this far out from where our fighters were striking either—it limits the payload they can carry.”
“Things are about to get real crazy for the next couple of days,” said Cord, smoothing back a hair that had fallen out of her bun. “I need you to stay on top of your people. If you see someone getting too tired, swap them out for a fresh body. We’re going to have tens of thousands of soldiers and Marines landing in what will likely be a very contested landing.”
Fleece nodded. “We’re ready, Admiral. You can count on the Ford.”
The water was relatively calm as the Marines of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines loaded up into the amphibious assault vehicles or AAVs that would ferry them to the beach. Due to the heavy presence of enemy air-defense systems, it had been determined by the brass that the Marines would only conduct a seaborne assault, so they wouldn’t risk losing dozens of troop transport helicopters. This, of course, meant the AAVs would have to make several trips to the ships to get everyone ashore, but it was a small price to pay until they were able to neutralize the enemy air-defense systems.
Checking his own equipment one more time, Captain Tim Long ducked his head slightly as he climbed aboard the vehicle that would ferry him to the shore. This would be his second seaborne invasion of the war, and the third time he was part of the first wave of an invasion. He wasn’t sure if he should feel honored, nervous, or worried that his luck might run out this time.
“Third time’s a charm, or something like that,” he finally determined.
Five minutes after sealing the hatch to the vehicle, they rumbled toward the back ramp until they reached the inevitable edge and drove right off. The AAV briefly dipped under the water before popping to the surface like a buoy. The driver effortlessly turned the vehicle toward the shore and gave it some juice. In short order, their vehicle fell into formation with the other AAVs that made up the first three waves of the assault. Following those initial waves were the larger LCACs, hovercrafts that would bring their tanks and other armored vehicles ashore.
While their vehicle slowly made its way to the beach, one of the privates asked, “Do you think the Chinese will be waiting for us at the shore?”
Captain Long turned to look at the private and saw that everyone else in the vehicle was now looking at him, waiting to hear what he would say.
“Probably,” he answered matter-of-factly. “This is my third invasion. Each time, the PLA was waiting for us. I would suspect they’ll be waiting for us here as well. However, we’ve trained for this. We all survived the Philippine campaign, and we’ll survive this campaign as well. Remember your training, and do your best to look out for each other. Work as a team, and we’ll come through this.” As he spoke, he did his best to convey strength and optimism to them.
The vehicle sloshed around a bit in the waves as they got closer to the shore, and the motion pushed their vehicle forward. One of the Marines got sick and puked in a barf bag that the vehicle commander had handed him when they’d boarded. Apparently, the crew was tired of cleaning puke out from seasick Marines, not to mention having to drive around all day in a vehicle with vomit swishing around on the floor.
“We’re approaching the beach!” yelled the gunner from his perched position.
“Strange. I’m not hearing any explosions or machine-gun fire,” Long thought.
“Hang on, we’ve reached the beach,” the vehicle commander told Captain Long. “We’re going to drive up a bit and get you guys closer to the actual city before we turn around and go back for the next load.”
Seconds later, their AAV hit the soft sand and increased speed up the beach. Even as they moved up past the shoreline onto rockier areas, there still had been no reported contact with the enemy. It was quiet—no heavy machine guns, no artillery, rockets, or mortars. It was eerily silent. The hairs on the back of Captain Long’s neck stood straight up. Something about this situation just seemed wrong.
A few minutes into their drive, the vehicle commander halted the track and dropped the rear hatch. In seconds, everyone was out. They found themselves at the edge of a row of condos and other buildings that faced the ocean. There were no civilians or enemy soldiers there to greet them, not even a stray dog.
“Everyone, fan out and start clearing these houses,” Captain Long ordered. “We need to get the beachhead secured!”
Long turned to find his radioman. “Tell the other platoons to begin searching the nearby houses and make sure they are cleared. Also, send a SITREP back to the Wasp and let them know we’re on the beach and securing it. Tell them we haven’t encountered any enemy resistance as of yet.”
Captain Long searched the nearby faces until he located his sniper team lead. “Staff Sergeant Jenkins!” he shouted, waving his hand.
The staff sergeant heard his name and ran quickly to Long. “Sir?” he asked.
“Get your snipers deployed on the roofs of these buildings and start scanning those hills and ridges. I find it hard to believe the PLA would willingly give up the beach without a fight. I think we just walked into a trap,” Long explained.
“We’re on it, Sir!” shouted Jenkins as he motioned for his sniper teams to get moving.
Ten minutes went by with Captain Long’s company clearing one building after another along the coastal city before they made their way inland. During that time, the second wave of Marines had landed, bringing the other two battalions of their regiment forward. The LCACs were going to wait to bring their armor ashore after the third wave landed, but with the first two waves not encountering any type of resistance, they opted to move in and get the tanks and LAVs ashore before their luck turned.
Captain Long led his Marines further inland until they came to Qinqyun Road, the main road that separated the oceanfront part of the city from the more inland part that ran all the way up to the mountains. It also divided the east coast of the island from the west coast and the city of New Taipei. Looking up at the rising mountain scape they were walking toward, Captain Long thought he saw a glint of something. Several areas of the mountain had thick, black, oily smoke rising to the sky—a cruise missile or airstrike must have found something of value to hit.
Boom, boom, boom. Thump, thump, thump…
Suddenly, the world around Captain Long’s company exploded. Artillery and mortar rounds landed all over the part of the city his men had just walked into. Chunks of buildings, parts of parked cars, and clumps of dirt and concrete were thrown around in all directions like flying pieces of shrapnel, adding further chaos to the carnage that was being unleashed upon the Marines.
“Take cover!” Long shouted. His men were already seeking shelter against the sides of the buildings that hadn’t been pulverized during the initial barrage.
Captain Long turned back and scanned the ridgeline for the source of the barrage. Then, further up the mountainside, he saw the cause of their peril—cleverly hidden bunkers firing down on to them.
Screams for corpsmen pierced the air as the wounded called out for help. Looking back to the beach, Captain Long saw dozens upon dozens of explosions rocking the beach where his Marines had just been ten minutes earlier. Several of the LCACs that had zoomed in to land their armored vehicles had been hit on their way off the beach and now lay in the shallow waters as burning wrecks.
Some of the tanks that had made it ashore trained their main guns on the bunkers that were firing on the beach, sending well-aimed shots right back at the enemy. Several of the bunkers—the ones with artillery guns hidden in them—were starting to be blown up by the Marine tanks.
Knowing his Marines couldn’t stay where they were, Captain Long yelled, “Everyone, move forward!” They needed to get closer in to the hills and the mountains if they were to escape the deadly artillery fire that was still raining down on them.
Steadily, Captain Long’s Marines made their way through the now torn and destroyed seaside city to the rolling hills at the base of the mountain range that separated the island. When they reached the edge of the city, they were met by yet another nasty surprise. One of the fireteams ran to the base of the first hill, only to be ripped apart by machine-gun fire. The weapon of death that shredded them to pieces was one of the Chinese Hua Qing miniguns, which launched 7.62×54mm rounds from its multiple barrels so quickly that the soldiers were decimated before they even knew what had happened. This fearsome weapon then turned toward the rest of his company of Marines, and they immediately dove for cover in the mounting rubble of the city.
Captain Long grabbed his radio receiver and contacted his heavy weapons platoon. “Lieutenant Lightman, get your mortars set up and start pounding those bunkers up here!” he shouted.
Raising his own rifle to his shoulder, Long took aim at the machine-gun bunker with the Hua Qing minigun in it and fired several rounds at the location where he thought the gunner must have been. For a few seconds, the gun stopped firing, and Captain Long thought he might have been successful in his efforts. Then the shooting picked back up again.
“Crap!” thought Long.
Green tracer rounds zipped over his head and stitched up the buildings and anything else his men were using for cover. Aiming for the same spot he had just sent a few rounds into, Captain Long squeezed off another four or five rounds. The gun went silent again. This time, one of his Marines fired off an AT-4 rocket, which hit just below the gun slit, throwing a lot of shrapnel and fire into the bunker.
Just as another fireteam charged forward, two more hidden machine-gun bunkers opened fire, killing two of the Marines outright and wounding the others. Several of his Marines ran out there to help drag the wounded to cover, only to be cut down by the PLA soldiers, who were now going to use those wounded Marines as bait to kill more of his men. Before Captain Long could say anything, a handful of mortar rounds hit the area around the bunker.
A moment later, Long’s radio crackled. “Pit Bull Six, this is Dog Catcher Six. How copy?” He recognized the voice on the other end as Colonel Tilman, his regiment commander.
Slouching down behind the half-destroyed wall of the building he had taken cover in, Captain Long hit the talk button on his radio. “This is Pit Bull Six. Send,” he responded.
“Is the path to the base of the mountain clear?” asked Tilman.
“Negative, Dog Catcher. We’ve encountered several lines of well-camouflaged machine-gun bunkers protecting the base of the mountain. Some of the bunkers are equipped with miniguns, which are tearing us up. I’ve got dozens of wounded up here,” he replied.
Long heard a sigh on the other end. He knew that Tilman would not be happy. The guys on the beach were probably getting pounded. He’d probably hoped that if they could push through to the base of the mountain, they might be able to get some reprieve from the enemy artillery fire.
“Copy that, Pit Bull,” Tilman said after a slight pause. “We have fast movers inbound from the fleet. Their call sign is Angel Eight. Use them to clear out those bunkers in front of your position and advance to the base of the mountain. We need to clear a path off this godforsaken beach. How copy?” Colonel Tilman shouted to be heard over the explosions in the background.
“That’s a good copy, Dog Catcher,” replied Long. “I’ll contact you once we’re past this line of machine-gun bunkers.”
He put down his receiver and turned to his radio operator, who had a separate UHF radio that was designated for air support. Sadly, the ground forces operated on one set of radio frequencies and radio system, while the Air Force and naval aircraft operated on a different system entirely, which required the ground forces to have either two radios or a forward air controller who could speak directly to the fighters overhead. The battalion and regiment had a FAC, but not the individual companies.
Once his radioman had set the right frequency in place, he handed the handset to Captain Long, who proceeded to make contact with the F/A-18s that had just been assigned to him.
“Angel Eight, this is Pit Bull Six. We have troops in contact,” he began. “Requesting danger close mission at grid TA 5764 4765, enemy machine-gun bunker. How copy?”
There was a short silence. “Pit Bull Six, that’s a good copy,” the pilot responded. “How many targets do you have for us?”
“Angel Eight, I estimate at least five enemy bunkers to our immediate front,” explained Long. “However, I have eyes on at least twelve bunkers nestled into the mountains that are hitting the beach with artillery fire. What type of ordnance do you have?”
After another brief pause, the pilot’s radio had caught up. “We have a mix of 500-pound and 2,000-pound JDAMs. We’ll drop the 500-pounders near your position and save the big boys for the mountain bunkers. Send us the coordinates for the other bunkers, and we’ll hit them on our next pass across the island.” The pilot’s voice sounded so nonchalant from the safety of his high-altitude perch.
Five more minutes went by as they fed the planes somewhere above them the coordinates to seventeen separate targets. Then, one by one, the bunkers were hit. Many of them were completely blown apart. Within seconds of the bombs landing, more than half of the artillery fire that was devastating the beachhead ceased. The machine-gun bunkers directly in front of his company front had also been destroyed. By this time, another company of Marines had pushed through the enemy artillery fire to reach their position. With the bunkers destroyed, or at least temporarily taken offline, the Marines charged forward, quickly overrunning the enemy positions as they pushed their way to the base of the mountain.
The fight to liberate Taiwan was on, and it was going to be another bloody campaign before it was over.
East Coast of Taiwan
High above the coastal city of Toucheng, there was an old Buddhist temple that sat just off the Fudekeng Industrial Road, halfway up the mountain that divided the Island of Formosa. It was at this little piece of paradise that Brigadier General Lee Jinping and Major General Xian Loa were observing the American fleet advancing toward them.
“It won’t be long until they begin to land their Marines,” General Xian thought in anticipation as he looked at the ships approaching the coast.
“When do you want our anti-ship missile batteries to start attacking the American warships?” inquired General Lee.
Xian lowered his binoculars and examined General Lee’s face. He seemed eager to put his fortifications to the test. “Soon,” General Xian responded. “Right now, the Americans have no idea what we have waiting for them. We want to let them deploy their ships, offload their ground force and then hammer their ships. What I want our forces to do right now is to be patient. We must wait for the Americans to land a substantial ground force. Then, when they are lulled into thinking we have abandoned the coasts to them, we unleash everything we have. We will sink their ships off the coast and pummel their ground forces. By the end of today, the Americans will accept that they can’t recapture Formosa from us, and they will withdraw.”
Xian, who had been given command of the 41st and 42nd Armies by General Yang, was thoroughly confident in Lee’s work and in his men. They had laid an elaborate trap for the Americans, and now they just had to stay patient and let it play out.
For the next hour, jets roared overhead. He listened to a myriad of precision-guided munitions and cruise missiles hit targets near the coast, along with a few positions further up on the mountain fortress. Most of the targets that had been hit were actually elaborate decoys. The Chinese knew the Americans would be hunting for targets, so they gave them a plethora of marks to hit. It was part of their strategy to deceive the Americans and to camouflage their true intentions. For now, the Americans would be led to believe they were crippling the island’s air defenses and destroying key bunkers and strongholds. When they were satisfied, they would send in their ground force, and then the real fight would begin.
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