The Monroe Doctrine Volume II
Through the cyber-fog of war…
… the National Security adviser had one worry.
Would he be able to save the U.S. from defeat?
Blain serves at the pleasure of the President. Brought over from the last administration, there were few people more trusted. He knew the biggest threat was the deepfakes.
China’s AI played war like a Grand Master.
In what seemed like an instant, the cyber-attacks crippled networks, and then the world lost faith in everything on the Internet. Global financial markets were in turmoil as supply chains ceased to function.
The greatest propaganda campaign ever…
…tore apart the fabric of society.
Could China’s expansionist goals be contained?
The United States and NATO responded. The US & Royal Marines were called upon to do something they hadn’t done since the days of the Pacific war—wage an island-hopping campaign.
Was a new alliance between old foes their only hope?
You’ll love this fast-paced political thriller because this game of espionage chess is the most daring ever played.
Get it now.
Release date: March 30, 2021
Publisher: Front Line Publishing Inc.
Content advisory: No profanity or sexual content
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The Monroe Doctrine Volume II
Bravo Company, 3rd Rangers Naval Air Station Key West Key West, Florida
The giant naval air station was abuzz with activity as the dawn began to push aside the darkness. All around, ground crews were fueling and readying dozens upon dozens of helicopters and ground-attack planes. Even so, the place was not without its own scars from the opening day of the war. Many buildings and some hangars were still charred, burnt-out wrecks of their former selves—reminders that the American homeland had been viciously attacked.
It was a unique sight. Navy and Air Force weapon technicians worked together on a row of aircraft not far from the hangar the Rangers were operating out of. The weapon technicians were crawling over a row of A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, more commonly known as Warthogs. There was a specialized machine just behind the cockpit, feeding 30mm rounds into the aircraft. Air Force and Navy ordnance technicians were working together as carts of AGM-65 Maverick missiles, newly redesigned CBU- 103 cluster munitions, and dozens of regular five-hundred-pound dumb bombs were affixed to the wings of the Warthogs.
“It’s amazing to see, isn’t it, Sergeant?” Captain Meacham commented as he handed Amos Dekker a cup of coffee.
“It sure is,” Dekker replied. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a flight line of aircraft being made ready for a combat mission. It’s incredible how many sailors and airmen it takes to get one aircraft loaded up with munitions before the plane can even fly. If you look over there, sir, you can see them doing the same thing to the Apache and Viper helicopters.” Meacham looked over to the parking ramp with a small fleet of helicopters parked on it. It was just as impressive to see as the rows of A-10s being made ready.
“Hey, aside from bringing you some coffee and disturbing your morning moment of solace, Amos, I wanted to give you these,” Meacham said as he pulled out a pair of new sergeant first class chevrons. “I’m sorry there wasn’t time to officially pin you before the mission starts. Top is going around the company and platoon making sure everyone knows it’s official even if we didn’t have a formal pinning ceremony. Still, you’ve earned them, and I wanted to be the one to present them to you. The S1 said your pay changed two days ago, so it’s official. You get to lead a Ranger platoon into battle, and not just any battle—an invasion of Cuba.”
Dekker knew he’d been selected for sergeant first class last week, but the battalion was in the middle of deploying, so he hadn’t been able to officially pin on the rank. He smiled as he looked at Meacham. “It’s not your fault, and thank you for letting me pin them on before the invasion. You’re still wanting me to take over the Second Platoon?”
“I am. I hate to say this, but we’ll have to wait to see what kind of casualties we end up taking over the next few days. I may end up moving you to wherever we’re shortest.”
Dekker nodded. Then he asked, “Any news on the election, sir?”
Meacham shook his head. “The election results are a concern for tomorrow. Today we focus on the mission.”
He and Captain Meacham were both from Bozeman, Montana. Dekker had been a freshman when Meacham had joined the Army. Looking back on it, Dekker realized he should have gone the ROTC route like his friend. However, when he’d graduated high school, all he’d wanted to do was to get out of Bozeman and his parents’ home.
Surveying the area, Dekker commented, “You know, I didn’t think they’d get this place fixed up and ready for action so fast.”
When the two of them had come down on a scouting mission a few days ago, the place had been a wreck. Half the runways had still been full of craters in addition to nearly all the buildings being charred ruins. Now, the place still looked like hell, but the runways were patched, and new fuel farms had been established.
“As you said during our visit, Sergeant First Class—you tell the Seabees what needs to get done and by when, and they deliver,” Meacham reminded Dekker.
“Did the S2 say anything about the air defenses at the airfield or what kind of defenders we’ll likely run into?” asked Dekker.
Meacham shrugged. “Not really. I don’t think anyone really knows for certain. I mean, the Air Force and the Navy have hammered the island pretty hard this last week. I suppose we’ll find out when we get there.”
The MH-47G Chinooks and the MH-60M Blackhawks were almost done being fueled. Once they were, the entire battalion would load up and fly across the Straits of Florida to seize the first of what would be many Cuban military airfields. They were going to be conducting a series of airfield seizures once they got their first foothold on the island established.
“How soon do you think it’ll take for them to get the 101 brought over to reinforce us?” asked Dekker, still unsure of the grand plan the brass had come up with.
“I was told as soon as the birds return to Key West”—Meacham pointed to the 160th SOAR—“they’ll refuel and the 101 will load up to join us. I suspect that unless things really go to crap, they’ll join us within a couple of hours.”
The battalion command sergeant major suddenly interrupted their conversation. “That’s it! Everyone to the helicopters!” he shouted. He’d been moving amongst the companies, checking on the men and doing what he could to pump them up. This would be one of the most dangerous missions the battalion had taken on in decades.
“See you when we land, Sergeant,” Captain Meacham said as he left to go find the first sergeant and the chalk he was riding with.
“OK, boys, you heard the sergeant major. It’s time to load up!”
Dekker called out to the squad he was going to ride into battle with.
The eight riflemen loaded down with their gear, weapons, and faces painted were as ready for war as anyone could be. The groups of Rangers all around them advanced toward the Chinooks they’d be riding into combat.
After packing into the troop bay of the helicopter, Dekker checked on the squads to make sure they were ready to go. First and Second Squads were riding along the right side of the helicopter while Third and Fourth Squads were on the left. The company’s lone LS3 robotic pack mule, which was carrying their extra ammo and mortar equipment, was situated in the middle between the soldiers.
Looking out the rear of the helicopter, Dekker saw the first stick of Blackhawks take off. The first platoons from each of the three companies conducting the assault were the battalion’s pathfinders or scouts and would race ahead of the main body. They would land at the four corners of the box the battalion had been assigned to secure, identifying potential threats to the less maneuverable Chinooks before they got there.
“Hey, there go the Apaches.” One of Dekker’s new soldiers pointed.
The attack helicopters would race ahead of the assault force to take out threats the pathfinders found.
“Sergeant First Class, how long until we get there?” asked one of the nervous soldiers. He was fiddling with his rosary beads.
Dekker’s platoon had eight new soldiers, all fresh from Ranger school and training. This would be their first mission. They were rightly nervous.
“Forty minutes, give or take. So I suggest you sit back and get comfortable. We’ll be here for a little.”
75th Fighter Squadron Straits of Florida
Major Wilhelm “Baron” Richter banked his aircraft to the left, making sure to stay below one hundred feet. He was twenty minutes out from Havana and wanted to avoid getting shot down before he could support the Rangers seizing the Playa Baracoa Airport, a small regional airport along the coast, halfway between Havana and the port city of Mariel.
“Good hunting, Tiger Sharks. I’ll see you all back at Key West,” came the voice of their squadron commander, Lieutenant Colonel Lane “Banjo” Miller.
Good hunting indeed, thought Baron. The closer to the shore they got, the more the knots tightened in his stomach.
The shore of Cuba was illuminating with the predawn light. In a couple of minutes, the sun would be fully up.
Looking off toward Havana to his left, Baron saw strings of red and green tracer fire crisscrossing the night sky. He wasn’t sure if the gunners were hoping to get lucky or if they were actually aiming for something.
The closer he got to land, the more his own warning systems squawked. The Chinese and Cubans still had a few functional radars working for their surface-to-air missiles. Steadily, some of the SAMs disappeared—probably a stealth bomber overhead being fed some targeting data.
Gotta love the bomber guys—they make our job a lot easier, Baron thought. Getting up close and personal with the ChiComs was a lot more fun when they weren’t dodging supersonic SAMs.
Once Baron was over land, he spotted the Port of Mariel off to his right, and Playa Baracoa Airport to his left. The small airport was a ruined wreck from the previous cruise missile attacks and some special attention the B-52s had paid it over the last week.
In another fifteen minutes, the 160th SOAR would be arriving to deliver the Rangers. Baron wanted to make sure he cleared them a good path if one needed to be cleared. Right on cue, though, he spotted six helicopter gunships approaching at near wavetop levels. They were moving in to clear the airport before the ground elements arrived.
As Baron neared the coast from his perch, his radar and FLIR weren’t identifying any threats so far. He did spot several enemy gun emplacements around the airport that had been hit. More than a dozen aircraft parked on the side ramps had been destroyed.
Zooming over the runway, Baron banked his plane hard to the right as he gained altitude and assumed a defensive loitering position over top of the airport. He kind of thought if there was a hidden gun system, they would have fired on him. He wanted to make sure they attacked him and not the helicopters. He could take a few hits; they could not.
As he was gaining altitude and repositioning his aircraft, sure enough, a couple of guns let loose. Unfortunately, they didn’t fire on him. They were going after the approaching helicopter gunships. The Apaches took evasive maneuvers to get out of the line of fire.
Damn it, I was flying too low and fast to see them on my first pass, Baron thought as he cursed under his breath.
Turning his plane down to attack the threat, Baron locked onto the first gun position and fired one of his Mavericks. He then angled himself toward the second anti-aircraft gun and fired another Maverick. As he released both missiles, the helicopters circled around for their own attack run on the AA guns.
One of the Apaches turned a little too close to one of the AA gun trucks, and the quad 35mm autocannons ripped the tail boom completely off. The helicopter spun out of control and exploded on impact.
Crap, I was too late, Baron thought, chiding himself for not spotting and taking those guns out sooner.
Circling around the airport, Baron started looking for more targets of opportunity. At the far end of the airport, near the town of Rosa Marina, he spotted some movement. Using his onboard targeting computer, Baron moved the FLIR to look where he thought he had seen it. Sure enough, he spotted a column of armored vehicles emerging from the tree line near the village. Now that the ground war was on, they advanced toward the airport.
Baron angled his A-10 for another attack run; he still had a couple of missiles left. He planned on firing them on the two lead vehicles. Best he could tell, they looked like T-99 main battle tanks followed by a column of ten APCs or infantry fighting vehicles.
He radioed the Apaches, providing them with the enemy location. Baron planned to nail a couple of tanks but wanted their help in finishing them off. The pilots thanked him for the heads-up and said they’d stay out of his way for the moment.
Baron turned his aircraft around for an attack run. He felt like a World War II–era dive bomber pilot. It was exhilarating.
Having lined up for his attack, Baron let loose his two remaining Mavericks at the tanks. He then switched over to his guns and strafed the column with his 30mm rotary cannon. The vehicles were doing their best to scatter, but his guns ripped right across half a dozen of them before they had a chance to escape. As he flew over the column and climbed out of the area, his alarms started blaring. A pair of MANPADS jumped out after him.
Firing off a burst of flares, Baron took the aircraft into a hard turn to shake the enemy missiles heading toward him. He felt a bit of satisfaction when he saw one of the MANPADS explode against one of his flares and the other missile fly off into the sky harmlessly.
Just as he was about to hoot and holler with excitement at beating the two enemy threats, his aircraft shook hard. Then his canopy shattered, and he felt the armored tub he was sitting in take a ton of hits.
The air started whipping his face as smoke swirled around in the cockpit. Alarms blared and half his instruments were flashing red. The eject alarm screamed at him to get out of the plane. Baron didn’t know what had hit him. All he knew was the plane was barely responding to anything he was trying to do. Then it shook violently, and more alarms lit up.
He depressed the talk button on his radio, unsure if the damn thing was even working. He delivered a quick mayday call and his approximate location so that maybe a combat search-and-rescue team or the Rangers could find him.
Damn it! Baron thought as he grabbed for the ejection handle and gave it a hard pull.
What was left of his canopy blew off, and his seat shot up and away from his stricken plane. It was only then that Baron saw how badly his aircraft had been hit. One of his engines was completely missing and more than half of his left wing was gone.
As his chute deployed, Baron watched his plane spin out of control until it blew up not far from the airport. He spotted a pair of Apaches heading toward the column he had shot up. They plastered it with a slew of rockets and some Hellfire missiles.
One of the helicopter pilots flew not too far from him and gave him a thumbs-up. They would stay somewhat close to him until help could arrive. He was thankful for that. He just hoped as the ground battle below started, he wouldn’t be naked and alone for too long.
Seeing he still had a few thousand feet to go before he landed, Baron started looking for a safe spot to set down. He spotted a field not too far from the airport and turned the guide wires on the parachute as best he could. His heart skipped a beat when he saw one of the Chinese armored vehicles racing toward his position.
Seconds later, the vehicle exploded as a Hellfire missile slammed into it. Baron smiled. He would have to buy that Apache pilot a beer if they all lived through the next couple of days.
“Sergeant First Class! We’re two minutes out,” the lieutenant said, passing down the warning from the crew chief.
Sergeant Dekker nodded at the information. He turned to his right and passed the word to the next guy. They were still over water, but it was clear by the color change that they were getting close to the shore—the seas were looking lighter.
For the last hour, they had been flying just above the waves. The pilots did their best to stay below the radar in case the Air Force had missed a SAM.
The engines changed pitch when the pilots gained a little bit of altitude as they approached the shore and their target. In seconds, they were no longer over the water. They had crossed over onto land as they approached the airport. So far, no one was shooting at them.
The helicopter flared up a bit as the pilot bled off their airspeed and angled them in for a landing. Dekker couldn’t see much from his vantage point, but what little he could see told him this airport had been worked over hard by the Air Force.
“Prepare for landing!” shouted the crew chief behind the pilots.
The Chinook settled down into an open field at the southeastern side of the airfield. The long blades of grass were flattened by the rotor wash while the palm tree leaves waved and danced from the turbulence of the air.
“Everybody out!” shouted one sergeant, jumping out of his seat at the end of the rear ramp and rushing off with the third squad as they broke to the right of the helicopter, fanned out into a half circle and went to ground. The other squads did the same as they ran off the Chinook.
Lying in the tall grass, with dust, dirt, and debris flying all around him, Dekker held his rifle out, covering his field of fire.
The sound of the Chinook’s engines picked up and the giant helicopter clawed its way unnaturally back into the air. Then the Chinook turned and left them alone on hostile land as it raced back to NAS Key West to refuel and pick up the 101st Air Assault Division soldiers. The entire 18th Airborne Corps was participating in this assault.
With the swirling of the rotor wash gone, Dekker could scan his sector better. He saw streaks of oily black smoke rising into the air, maybe six or seven hundred meters away. It looked fresh, not like something that had been blown up several hours ago and was slowly burning its way out.
“First and Second Squads, advance on that farm and clear it,” instructed their lieutenant. “Then move toward those burning vehicles and check them out.”
“First Squad! On me!” shouted Dekker as he rose up and ran toward the farm.
He had his rifle at the low ready since they hadn’t seen any sign of enemy soldiers in the immediate vicinity or even heard gunfire nearby. The rest of his squad followed not too far behind him. Dekker waved them forward, then ordered them to form up a line abreast of him as they advanced. This way, if they encountered an ambush, he’d have his entire rifle squad online, ready.
Off in the distance, they heard the sound of a large-caliber gun firing. It sounded like an anti-aircraft gun. They saw some tracer fire streak up into the sky. An explosion erupted a couple of kilometers away, causing them to flinch.
One of the Apache gunships flew overhead and raced ahead of them. It wasn’t shooting at anything, which Dekker took as a good sign. When they reached the farm, they started searching the nearby buildings. Once they’d finished clearing the property, Dekker saw a column of enemy vehicles half a kilometer away. The vehicles were all charred and on fire; debris surrounded many of them. Some vehicles had black forms hanging across the sides of them—enemy soldiers who couldn’t get out of the burning wrecks before they died.
“I got movement near the convoy!” shouted one of the soldiers. “Three o’clock!” someone else yelled.
Pop, pop, pop.
The soldier fired a few shots, his new 6.8mm Sig Sauer rifle making a distinctly different sound than the traditional M4s they’d been using for half a century. “Got him!” shouted the soldier.
“Let’s move. Advance now!” roared Dekker. He raised his rifle to the ready position, tucked inside his shoulder, as he advanced on the convoy as fast as he safely could.
The rest of the squad had fanned out at this point to envelop any potential defenders still alive.
Pop, pop, pop. Ratatat, ratatat.
Everyone hit the dirt as a string of machine-gun fire raked over top of their positions.
“Contact front!” one of Dekker’s sergeants yelled as the squad opened fire on them.
“Get that MG going now! I want some lead downrange yesterday!” roared the squad leader to his machine-gun crew.
“Firing the forty-mike!” yelled one of his M320 grenadiers.
Thump, came the sound from the grenade as it fired and sailed through the air.
“Sergeant, what’s going on up there?” came the call over the platoon net from their lieutenant.
Dekker depressed the talk button on his throat mic. “Contact to our front, near that column that got shot up. They’ve got us pinned down with a couple of machine guns. Could you send the rest of the platoon up here to help us?”
“We’re on it, Dekker. Hold tight,” the lieutenant replied.
Dekker raised his own rifle up. He spotted a cluster of palm trees and some underbrush to the right of the convoy. Whoever was in there had set up a good position. They had a machine gun flanked by half a dozen riflemen on either side. Further to the right of their position was another machine-gun position with a similar setup. These guys had established a good L-position ambush on his Rangers. They needed to get out of it before they got cut to pieces.
Bullets continued to rip over their heads as the Rangers ate the dirt and tried to stay low—they weren’t in the best of covered positions. “Sergeant, we have to move. We can’t stay here,” called out one of his fire team leaders.
“Everyone, pop smoke. We’ll fall back and flank these guys from a different position once we’ve built up some cover!” Dekker called out over the squad net.
Reaching for his own smoke grenade, Dekker pulled the pin on it and then gave it a good heave in the direction of the enemy.
Moments later, a total of nine smoke grenades were churning out a thick cloud of the stuff. With the cover now established, the Rangers fell back to a more defensible position until the rest of the platoon could link up with them. Then they’d start to flank the enemy positions and put them into their own L-shaped fire position.
“There you are, Sergeant. What do we have?” asked the lieutenant as he plopped down next to Dekker.
“Over there.” Dekker pointed. “We have two enemy machine- gun positions and at least fifteen to twenty riflemen.”
The platoon sergeant nodded to Dekker. “I see ’em. LT, we can send Dekker and Second Squad to the left of the column and then circle around behind them while we have Third Squad stay here and keep ’em occupied. Then Fourth Squad can circle around from the right flank.”
Just then, Captain Meacham joined them along with the company first sergeant. They had heard the shooting and come over to investigate.
“Lieutenant, Sergeants, before we send more Rangers to move around and attack that position, I’ll see if we still have some gunships still in the area,” Meacham announced. “I’d rather not lose any guys if we have some close-air support we can call.”
Twenty seconds later, they managed to get a hold of the Apaches they had seen earlier. They were still loitering in the area, waiting for a close-air support mission. They started feeding the pilots the coordinates of the enemy positions, then waited.
Dekker heard the familiar sound of helicopter blades, which was followed by the whooshing of some rockets. The little cylindrical objects flew across the sky into the thicket of palm trees and underbrush. Explosions erupted, sending tree branches, grass, and underbrush in all directions.
By this time, another platoon of soldiers had fanned out and joined them.
When the Apache flew overhead, it strafed the area with its chin-mounted gun a couple of times. Then it continued to loiter over the area; the pilot told Meacham he’d stick around to make sure they were clear.
With the cover of a gunship overhead, the Rangers charged forward. They ran across the open ground, closing in on their positions in case the enemy was playing possum.
When Dekker reached the thicket of trees the enemy had been hiding in, he saw close to a dozen dead bodies strewn about the area. He also noted the deceased weren’t Cubans—these were Chinese soldiers.
“All platoons, hold your positions,” called out Meacham over the company net. “Dig in and fortify where you are. We’ll hold our position until the 101 joins us.”
Dekker walked the line, making sure the machine gun was in the right position and the rest of his soldiers were ready.
Hearing the Apache overhead, Dekker looked up just in time to see an object that was flying incredibly fast slam right into the helicopter. The Apache blew apart, raining fiery debris down on the ground.
Moments later, a sleek, fast-moving object whizzed across the sky, flying right over their positions.
Holy crap, that happened fast… Dekker’s mind raced.
“Did you see that, Sergeant? That enemy fighter just smoked our gunship,” one of the Rangers said to him.
Captain Meacham watched the fighter zip right over their heads. He turned to look back at the airport to determine if it would attack their positions. Instead of attacking the Rangers, the jet continued its high-speed race out to sea. Meacham realized what the enemy pilot was doing. He was racing out into the Straits of Florida to nail more of the helicopters ferrying troops in from NAS Key West.
He grabbed the handset from his RTO and passed what he saw up to the next echelon. That was about all he could do.
Then he heard the voice over the radio say, “Phoenix Six, Columbus Actual. Rainbow One is showing enemy movement toward the airport. Rainbow is tracking two battalions, a mix of armored vehicles and light trucks, eight kilometers southeast and east of the airport. Stand by for contact. CAS has been called. Will advise when they arrive on station. Hold your positions as best you can. Out.”
Great, just what we needed. Two battalions of enemy soldiers heading toward us.
“First Sergeant, send a message to Third Platoon and tell them to haul ass and get up here,” Meacham ordered. “Let Fourth Platoon know enemy armor is inbound. Get their mortars set up and ready. Have them send their rocket teams forward as well.” He wasn’t sure how much time they had left. What he did know was, if the 101 didn’t arrive soon, he wasn’t sure a single battalion of Rangers would hold out against two mechanized battalions unless they had some serious air support.
“Captain, we got our scout drones up. We’re steering one of them toward those enemy columns. You want to see what we’re facing?” asked one of the sergeants running their reconnaissance section.
“Yeah, let’s see what’s coming,” Meacham replied as he sat down next to the tree. The drone operator was sitting under the shade with the Toughbook opened up.
Looking at the video, Meacham saw this was a serious force heading toward them. He spotted at least six enemy AA tracked vehicles, a dozen T-99 tanks and at least twenty infantry fighting vehicles and open-bed troop transport trucks. There were a lot of soldiers heading toward them as well.
As they watched the video for a minute, they saw the entire column start to split up, breaking down into smaller two- and three- vehicle teams. The AA gun trucks were further separating themselves from the vehicles they were supposed to protect.
As if on cue, the AA guns began shooting at something off- screen. The gun trucks were spitting out a lot of rounds. Then a couple of missiles flew out from their vehicles. Seconds later, one of the AA trucks exploded from a missile hit.
Meacham then heard an explosion overhead. He looked up and saw a fighter plane break apart in the air. Then he watched a single parachute deploy.
Meacham returned his attention to the computer screen and the image the drone was sending them. The trucks had thoroughly spread out. The transports had stopped, and a lot of soldiers had gotten out and were now fanning out to advance on the airport and prevent the Americans from gaining a foothold on the island.
Damn, this will be a bloody fight if our reinforcements don’t get here soon.
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