Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chapter 52: Finding the Enemy

The last call that I made was to Bev. I hadn't checked on her for a while, and while I was pretty sure she would be fine, I needed to reassure myself. As it turned out, I needn't have worried. She had taken her mother to visit her parents in the Karoo, far from anything that I might be involved in.

The rest of the afternoon I spent watching the progress of the training and keeping track of how the different guys were performing. Somewhere during the afternoon, I noticed that Alina had gotten a clip-board from somewhere and was making notes of my observations. When I thought to take a look at what she had written, I was pleasantly surprised ... she had made neat profiles of each of the people I had commented on, with their name and a short description and then a summary of the various things I had said.

In the late afternoon, I called everyone together again and announced it was time for some PT. I decided to start out with a ten klick run, just to establish the basic fitness level. As it turned out, no-one had any issues with keeping up with the pace I set, which was a pleasant surprise.

After supper, Daise, Alina and I settled into the jacuzzi to let the hot, soapy water ease our muscles. After an indeterminate time of just lazing and soaking, Alina and I started talking through our observations of the people. Alina seemed to have all the details memorised, not needing to consult her clip-board once. Daise had to be reminded a few times, but each time she had a problem putting a face to a name, Alina gave her a quick verbal sketch of the person that enabled Daise to make the connection. I was very impressed by this performance by Alina, as it proved to me that she was bright and intelligent and had an increbible aptitude which, I felt, could be applied to any manner of careers.

We all eventually hauled our prune-skinned bodies out of the water, dried off, and clambered into bed. As much as I enjoyed the sensual delight of having these two delightfully nubile girls in bed with me, I faded as if someone had turned off the power switch.

I woke early as usual and headed out to the complex's pool. It was a bit cold in the pre-dawn twilight, but I warmed up quickly after a few lengths in the pool. I was joined after a while by Bettina who started doing lengths of her own. Although she swam a lot slower than I did, she had perfect form, gliding slowly and powerfully through the water.I pulled myself out eventually, sitting on the side and towelling myself dry while I watched Bettina for a while, then I pulled on my track-suit and headed down to see what Gerrie was up to.

As I expected, he was being his normal trogolyte self, hovering gnomishly over his various computers with various empty coffee mugs and half-eaten pizzas scattered around the place. Surprisngly, he was clean-shaven, which puzzled me for a while, until I realised that the vaguely moving lump under the blanket on the bed was a slumbering Katie, then it made sense...

"Morning Gerrie," I greeted him.

"Howzit Boss," was the unusually cheery reply.

"What's happening Gerrie?"

"All kinds of stuff. I have a good track on these guys now. Their OPSEC leaves a lot to be desired. I think they are all used to the cover of a larger organisation. They aren't true professionals, that's clear."

"That's good news, isn't it?" I queried.

"Good for us, yes!" Gerrie replied. "Not so good for them. I've been plotting their operations on Google-Earth. Here, let me show you..."
Gerrie moved to one of the screens and showed me a map of the greater Durban (Etekweni) area. There were little marks all over it. "What are the markers?", I asked.

"The red marks are reported 'Enemy action', the blue are the incidents where you and yours have been involved, yellow are reported incidents of various types which could be enemy action but that I'm not sure of. If you click on any of the marks, the description will tell you what the details are," Gerrie explained.

I spent a few minutes checking the map out, clicking on some of the markers. "Ok," I said finally, "are you ready to brief me?"

"Sure," Gerrie answered. "The first thing you will notice is the clumping in these areas..."
Gerrie proceeded to spend just over half an hour going through the various incidents and point out the trends that he had noticed. Areas where there were high incidences of particular types of incidents. Indications of routes in and out of these areas, places that he thought were bases of operations and various similar things. It broke down to three clubs in Central Durban, two in Umhlanga Rocks and three houses that he speculated were being used as both brothels and drug distribution centers.

"There is one anomaly," Gerrie pointed out finally. This area here is completely black. There are incidents reported all around it, bit nothing within 500 meters. I took a closer look and it seems that there is a house here which could be Dimitri's home base, his HQ if you will. I have a few indicators, but it's not definite."

"Ok. Brilliant work Gerrie. I think this gives us a great place to begin. I think our first missions are going to be recces of these areas to give us more tactical data. You know I trust you, but I prefer confirmation of your ELINT with some HUMINT."

"I knew you would say that," Gerrie grinned. "I would have figured there was something wrong with you if you hadn't ... I have some kit that should make the job a little simpler though."

"So do I," I replied. I proceeded to explain to Gerrie what kit I had ordered the day before and he approved of all my choices.

I was distracted by a noise and turned around to see that Katie had woken up. She sat up in the bed, apparently completely oblivious to the fact that the blanket had slid down to her waist and she was exposed in all her glory while she stretched and yawned. I turned to Gerrie with a smile, about to make some smart-arse comment, but stopped when I saw the awe-struck look on his face. He was staring at Katie as if she was "The Lady" rising from the lake bearing Excalibur, and I decided to make myself scarce. Gerrie didn't even notice me getting up and leaving the room.

When I got back to the dining room, it was clear that the majority of the guys were up and about, in the process of getting themselves something to eat. I joined the queue at the Buffett and loaded up on some carbs and protein to provide some energy for the day. I sat down at a table of my own and was joined shortly by both Daise and Alina. We ate in companionable silence. When I was finished my second mug of coffee, I stretched out and looked around. There was a low rumble of conversation in the room, but everyone appeared well rested and satisfied with their breakfast.

I caught the eyes of Johnny and Bird and summoned them. Daise looked at me with a puzzled expression and it took me a few seconds to realise it might look odd to someone else. "That's how you tell someone to come to you," I explained as I repeated my gesture, grouping the fingers and thumb of my right hand together and tapping it on top of my head. Daise smiled, satisfied with the explanation.

"Should we leave you alone Rupert?" Alina asked as Johnny and Bird pulled up chairs at our table.

"Nope. You stick around. I've nothing to hide from you, and after your demonstration of skill yesterday, Alina, I think you must stick close to me so you can help me with any details I forget," I reassured them.
Alina smiled at this, obviously pleased that her contribution was considered valuable.

"Morning Gents, sleep well?" I asked.

"Yup," Johnny answered shortly.

"Most comfortable bed I've slept in for some time," Bird added. "Nice place this."

"I'm glad you're enjoying it," I answered with a smile. "We go out of our way to make the accomodations comfortable, cause the courses are designed to be very UN-comfortable." We all grinned at each other like kids with candy.

"Ok, down to business. I spoke to Gerrie a little earlier. He has done his usual great job with ELINT. We have some indications of where the enemy is operating."

"And now you want eyes-on?" Johnny asked astutely.

"You know me too well," I replied. "That's 100% correct. Johnny, I'd like you to sit down with Gerrie and take a look at the ELINT and work out some orders for observing the various static locations. Focus only on gathering info please. Eyes only. No prisoners or interrogations. I'd like to build a database of timings and routines and photos of all the players."

"Teach your granny to suck eggs," Johny replied with a smile.

"Bird, There's a house that looks as if it's Dimitri's HQ. I'd like you to focus on that. Johnny's teams can feed you the Int electronically, and I'd like to have a feel for what you think we can do there by tomorrow. We can brain-storm it and come up with a plan."

"Are you thinking of assaulting the place? What's your intention? You want to just wipe out this Dimitri guy or something more?" Bird asked.

"I'm not sure. I'll keep my options open till I have a better idea of what's happening. That is one option though. With the limited Int I have now, I am leaning towards a campaign of attrition, whittling away the various operations that he's got going and isolating him, but we have a number of constraining factors."

"Like what?" Johnny asked.

"For one, we have to keep away from the Police. I will see what I can do to blunt that problem, but the last thing I want is to have any of them caught in the cross-fire. The other issue is the non-combatants. There are a lot of women caught up in this, especially in the brothels, and I'm not sure how we will tackle this in a way which will allow us to take the targets down without any of them getting hit."

"Cool," Johnny jumped in. "I'll get on to Gerrie and start planning. You want to start tonight?"

"If not sooner."

"Ok." With that, Johnny left.

"And me?" Bird asked.

"I'd like the rest of the guys to continue today what we started yesterday. I suggest that you work with Alina here, and start evaluating the the guys. You, Johnny and I will have to make sure we get the guys into teams that will work well together. Some recce teams, then some assault teams. My initial thinking is that we must plan the assault teams, but have one or two guys from each assault team getting together for the recce teams, so that when we do have a go, they can have people with each team who have had their eyes on the targets."

"'K. Sounds good."

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