“Attention!” I yelled as I stood up. Both Major Grachev and Dimitri stood up as Colonel Martin walked to the briefing podium. He coughed.
“Gentleman sit down.”
He shuffled some things, and then began the briefing.
“For the past day, the IRLF forces have begun a major offensive in order to puncture the border regions. With the attacks a couple days ago by your unit, the NE portion has subsided. So they are looking towards the western portion in order to make their breakthrough. And to do that, they need fuel.”
He punched some keys on the laptop, and a video image showed vehicles moving, stopping, and moving. It was sped up so we would not fall asleep. Colonel Martin zoomed out, then rewound the movie. It was surreal. I started hunting for what he was telling us. Then Dimitri said to stop.
“Yes Lieutenant Emenevich?”
“Stop right there, that is what you are telling us yes? Over there…. you mind Colonel?”
Colonel Martin motioned to the image. “By all means.”
Dimitri stood up. “I can see vehicle stopping here, and right…. there. Fuel points?”
“Yes, you can be seated now.” He cleared his throat.
“The IRLF has been using these to fuel their tanks. Granted we’ve had satellites observing the area, but UAVs have also come into play. Since JSTARS is unavailable, we have to make do with what we have.”
He coughed again, quite loud.
“Excuse me. But we have seen this in the Karavcheask area, as well as the bay in Suhumi. Current threats in both areas are Hawk SAMs. Triple-A is to be expected, and there has not been a rash of IRLF Igla or old Stinger attacks, but nevertheless, keep your eyes open. They have been a constant nuisance, and the Suhumi has shut down operations around Guduata. The Canadians don’t want to send their birds up, especially since they do not have anti-radar missiles. The Georgians can, but they have suffered too many losses for us to waste a sortie with them. Besides, we think they’ve lost morale due to the inability of the 51st to reach here. There was a bombing that killed most of the senior leadership in St. Petersburg. So right now it looks like the NE may become weak, if we don’t monitor it from the air, or with the aircraft. We have targets assigned for the A-10s to perhaps provide some relief, though we will probably have to start looking for alternative basing, such as forward areas. Alexsei, you will go here, in the Suhumi area, and perform the attack here, while Dimitri…”
Major Grachev raised his hand. “Excuse me Colonel, as force commander for this unit, I would suggest sending Alexsei to Karavcheask, and Dimitri to Suhumi. Alexsei is more experienced in that type of area, while Dimitri still needs a milk run to get him back into work. He has been out of the fight for a week, and I must get my cub some experience.”
Colonel Martin simply nodded. It really didn’t matter who did it, just as long it was done.
“Fine by me. Here are your mission packets, takeoff time is 2045 tonight. Additionally I managed to get an IL-78M in case you need to refuel. The Karavcheask area is going to be a long flight, even though I am sure you do not need it. And Major Grachev, I understand you are QRF for these boys?”
“Da, I mean yes sir, I wish to help them, as I have nothing to do while they are gone.”
“You want kills like everybody else, I understand…”
Colonel Martin grinned. I felt the same way, how could you blame the Major? I took my mission packet, saluted, and left. Dimitri followed behind. I stopped by the phone, and told Sgt. Gennedy to get the ground crew ready to start loading weapons. Offhand, I told him to get two anti-radiation missiles loaded, and I will advise in ten minutes. In review, I told him to load six RBK-250s, two Kh-29Ls, and two Kh-25MLs. I figured he would have to unfuel the plane, which I would say takes three hours. He said three-and-a-half. I went with his assessment, it would be close, but he said he could do it, and the vodka was already in the refrigerator.
Major Grachev headed for his own UAZ jeep, and swiftly drove to the hangar where his aircraft was at. By pulling some strings, he managed to get an aging Su-33 from General Karmarov. The aircraft was really slated for scrapping, but Karmarov got it at the last minute, by exchanging some favors. The paint job wasn’t new, it still was dirty from all the refurbishing. However, unlike the two other pilots, this one’s nose was unmarked. He felt he had to be different when flying. He wasn’t a flashy person, and besides unit markings, that was all he needed. He also didn’t have to deal with a mission packet, since his aircraft was configured for air-to-air combat. So all he had to do was the normal preflight checks, and taxi to the start position when his two pilots left. Sighing, he did the normal preflight checks, then when his ground team was ready, he started the aircraft up. He then waited until Dimitri and Alexsei were done.
I didn’t win it again.
I had mentally went over the route and checked the images that the UAVs would get. There was a Vulcan, near Target Alpha, in the town of Kosta Hetagurova, which was the first target locked in the computer. Target Bravo was located in Nov. Teberda. Targets Charlie and Delta were located at Teberda itself. I had Spetznaz spotters, and had their callsigns written down on my kneeboard. I had everything memorized. The route was simple enough. For once this was a “rush” mission. It was since we do not normally give a full description. Some targets you can take the time in planning, but sometimes you must “surge” and move quickly. I reported a green status to “Gorkiy”, or Major Grachev’s callsign as I strapped in the aircraft. I heard “Pushkin”, or Dimitri give his status as well. Major Grachev wished us luck, and I switched to the tower frequency.
Sgt. Gennedy had the aircraft loaded in three hours, twenty-eight minutes. Close comrades, or I may have been talking to you with vodka on the breath. But needless to say, he kept the vodka and his soldiers that were not helping me get ready to leave, were taking sips from the tumblers.