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Code Name Anika

Code Name Anika

By George M James

Copyright 2016 George M James

Shakespir Edition

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

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ASIN: 9781370000166


Editing by Alec Chapman [email protected]


This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously or adapted to suit the story. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The information contained in this book is for general information purposes only and while we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to this book or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in this book for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever.

Table of Contents

Author’s Note


Chapter 1 Zimbabwe / Mozambican border, 16 March 2010

Chapter 2 Manica Province, Mozambique, 16 March 2010

Chapter 3 Mozambique / Zimbabwe border, Manicaland Province, 16 March 2010

Chapter 4 Mozambican / Zimbabwe border, close to Cavalariqa, 17 March 2010

Chapter 5 Chipinge runway, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe, 18 March 2010

Chapter 6 Mutare Airport, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe, 18 March 2010

Chapter 7 The ridge close to the Psalm 23 Valley, Mozambique, 22 March 2010

Chapter 8 Psalm 23, inside Manica Province, Mozambique, 24 March 2010

About the Author

Connect with Author online

Extract from the first GMJ book, Code Name VFO565

Extract from the second GMJ book, Code Name Pour Angelique

Extract from the third GMJ book, Code Name Phoenix

Extract from the fourth GMJ book, Code Name Lise

Extract from the fifth GMJ book, Code Name Dawson

Extract from the sixth GMJ book, Code Name Foxtrot

Extract from the seventh GMJ book, Code Name Angel

Extract from the eighth GMJ book, Code Name Odette

Extract from the ninth GMJ book, Code Name Sanford

Extract from the tenth GMJ book, Code Name Honey Bee

Extract from the eleventh GMJ book, Code Name Devorah

Extract from the twelfth GMJ book, Code Name Willow Bay

Extract from the thirteenth GMJ book, Code Name Missa 72

Extract from the fourteenth GMJ book, Code Name Cadillac

Extract from the fifteenth GMJ book, Code Name Blue Tang

Extract from the sixteenth GMJ book, Code Name OST-M

Extract from the seventeenth GMJ Book, Code Name Wrangler

Extract from the eighteenth GMJ Book, Code Name Casselberry

Extract from the nineteenth GMJ Book, Code Name Bella Dawn

Extract from the twentieth GMJ Book, Code Name Green 41

Extract from the twenty-first GMJ Book, Code Name Celery 50

Extract from the twenty-second GMJ Book, Code Name Caribbean

Extract from the twenty-third GMJ Book, Code Name Butterfly

Extract from the twenty-fourth GMJ Book, Code Name Phantom

Extract from the twenty-fifth GMJ Book, Code Name Mel’s Choice

Extract from the twenty-sixth GMJ Book, Code Name Halloween 38

Author’s Note

No GMJ Book is just written; the topic is carefully chosen to enlighten the reader to current dangers. In this book we take a hard look at the way secret agents combine with conventional forces, in this case self-propelled artillery, and cause mayhem. It is something which happens more often that what is believed, it is not always the cloak and dagger, it may well be heavy shells and rockets raining down. Angelique Dawson and her team are setting a trap for Zimbabwean forces chasing a South African Army Special Forces Team towards Mozambique. As is expected, she is up to other things also, not telling the narrator, her later husband and soul, Major Geoffrey Foxtrot. Code Name Anika follows closely on Code Name Halloween 38, GMJ 26. If you wish to read about Covert and Special Forces Operations in Sub Saharan Africa, the GMJ Books are the place to start. You will learn about covert operations, Special Forces techniques and military history not known outside the select few. Code Name Anika is the 27th book of the popular GMJ Series.

Since the GMJ Series has grown far beyond what was originally expected I am including in brackets where the events mentioned or referred to in this book are more fully described in other books. I also included a “briefing” to explain the background of the books for new readers. Thank you for reading my books and remember, one book is always free, kindly go to my website and find it (http://georgemjames.weebly.com). At the same time, you will not find any GMJ book at iBook Stores, see this blog (http://georgemjames.weebly.com/george-m-james-blog/goodbye-ibook-stores) for the reason why.

I furthermore left Angelique’s comments as they were in the original manuscript, inside the final product. It makes for better reading, I am sure. If you like the GMJ Books, please take the time to write a good review online, it is the only way to spread the word on the messages they contain. Thank you.

George M James

I don’t think people do trust the Democrats any more. How else does a socialist win 22 states?” Michael Moore 2016 on Bernie Sanders


When you write a series of books, and this is number 27 with no end in sight, you have to repeat at times what took place before and even in the future, depending on the story you are telling your readers. If you read my previous books this short briefing will not be news to you but we have to appreciate that not all readers read the other books yet and may be new to GMJ Books, if so, welcome, I hope you enjoy reading my books, most do and to most they are an eye opener in the murky world of counter terrorism. Since some readers may be new to GMJ, I decided to explain the GMJ background as a “briefing” since GMJ 19, Code Name Bella Dawn. Let me be clear that the books should be seen and read as a warning, and I know these books are studied by Chinese officials for obvious reasons. I also know most of my readers, good conservative folk, are American. I am not your enemy and never was, keep that in mind when you read of failures you should know about to learn from them. Nor am I a conspiracy theorist, I can prove what I write and I invite you to research what I say, you are also welcome to contact me, my details are at the end of this book.

The GMJ Books, it must be said from the beginning, are stand-alone books. You do not need to read all of them but I would like you to do so as there is so much fascinating military history & Special Forces tactics in them and they describe the great love story between the beautiful spymaster Angelique Dawson and Major Geoffrey Foxtrot, the narrator, and ex-Special Forces officer. Up to now this part was explained in chapter one of every book, interwoven in between the narratives and updated constantly.

I have to state that this part is not really fiction but taken from intelligence briefings given to very high ranking officials and is fundamentally what senior intelligence analysts, the smarter ones, are saying and it is not in the newspapers yet. Some authorities – they do “check” these books and I do have “tea” with them at times – call the GMJ Books “dangerous fiction,” whatever that means since I am not bound by any Secrecy Acts. I am often asked by readers how far the books are fiction and the answer is in several blogs – the latest one can be found here: [+ http://georgemjames.weebly.com/george-m-james-blog/gmj-books-fact-or-fantasy+]. In short, the GMJ Books are based on reality, the history in them, the tactics used, the background are all for real. Why Southern and Sub Saharan Africa? I am an expert here in this field, so I feel comfortable writing in this sphere. If I mention a town, a river, a sand dune, you can go there and see the book playing off, it is all for real.

I believe it is important for you to know about the background events even if you don’t admire the GMJ Books which some told me border on “arrogance” and “disdain” for other forces. Some saw the books as an attack on the US in general, my word, shoot the messenger and be happy, and yet more started pointing out the numerical superiority the US has over South Africa in a conventional war (more about this aspect later). They miss the point here, and worse, they are wrong in saying such things, I deny such allegations with contempt. Actually, my books should be seen as cautionary, and secondly, the background is part of the storyline and always will be, it is what shaped the books and why I wrote them in the first place. I appreciate that what follows may be news to you and it is discussed in much more detail in the first GMJ Book, Code Name VFO565 (which is not the first book in time, that would be GMJ 6, Code Name Foxtrot).

On this subject, rather oddly, I wrote the first five books in the future as in relation to this one or the rest except Code Name Devorah (GMJ 11) which is time wise, after Code Name Dawson of GMJ 5 ended. In a perfect world I would have started with Code Name Foxtrot (GMJ 6 taking place in 2004) and write them chronologically correctly but I did not and so it is. I am also surprised that the stories just kept coming and the positive response from most readers, thank you for that, it is appreciated. You are not bothering me by writing to me and my details are in every book as well as the website. I really have a desire for you to enjoy my books and for you to obtain a new appreciation for the counter terrorism trade, something I have decades of experience of in this theatre. In fact, many did say to me that the GMJ Books were an eye opener to them, well, that was the point, to give an alternative view than what you were exposed to until now. It is a sad fact that most of what I deal with in my books either comes true or rather is revealed a bit later, after the book came out. Is that by chance? I don’t know. I have access to information which others don’t and that is as far as I am willing to explain my books.

The main premise of the books, that the West is unable to launch official (that is via members of their Armed Forces i.e. US Navy SEALs or British Special Air Service to name the best known units, there are many more) raids or snatch operations into South Africa is very true. On why they would want to conduct such raids will be answered later and what I say now further must be read together, to see the pattern, they all work together. You cannot look at just a single source or event to form an opinion, you need to look for patterns, they are always present. Take my word, such an act of launching a snatch or killing raid would be seen as an “act of war” and probably start World War Three if the BRICS Nations (South Africa, Brazil, Russia, India and China) enter the fray. It is the same legal and moral legal principle as what would happen if Russian Spetsnatz Forces invade London to snatch a terrorist or try that in Orlando, Florida. There will be hell to pay and rightly so. The last time enemy saboteurs landed on US soil, by German Nazis during World War Two, most were executed by electric chair after being betrayed by their leader. This operation is discussed in some detail in a GMJ Book (there were two such landings, same results, we often look at history in these books).

The question arises then, what makes you think you can get away with landing Special Forces / spies on enemy territory today? The answer is simple, such official raids can only be taken against weak countries unable to retaliate (for example Somalia & Egypt). South Africa can retaliate – it has the means in their newish ultra-silent German built Type 209 submarines to do so. Historically, back in 2007 during “Exercise Amazolo,” the USS Normandy, FGS Spessart, HNLMS Evertsen, HMCS Toronto, HDMS Olfert Fischer and FRP Alvares Cabra were taking part in a joint naval exercise off the South African coast. Each one of these NATO warships was “sunk” by one such submarine, the SAS Manthatisi which often plays a fictitious role in our books. The above exercise is a fact you can research (as is everything else in my books) and the incident had major implications, something we also discuss quite often because it is important.

When the submarines and other equipment were bought in the late nineties, early 2000s, most South Africans moaned and groaned all the way on “money being wasted” and corruption (it happened – a lot of bribes were paid by the manufacturers) involved in the deal. But if you leave politics out of it – the new submarines are a game changer able to inflict serious loss, i.e. sink the carrier or the nuclear submarine from which such a Special Forces or conventional raid may be launched. This would be completely justifiable in a court of law; it is allowed under the rules of war. The German built Type 209 diesel-electric submarines are so quiet that they cannot be tracked by nuclear boats. Conversely, they can track nuclear attack and missile boats and they do, have no doubt, I saw the evidence. You would be foolish and racist to believe South Africa is “Africa & Third World” and hence “backwards” and not to be taken seriously as the NATO Squadron afterward claimed happened. They lied, they just could not find the SAS Manthatisi – in fact, submarines often get through in exercises, it is not uncommon. The NATO Squadron were all “sunk” as was the ship they tried to protect and they took the exercise seriously enough. Truth to be told, no surface vessel likes the idea of losing to a submarine. I can tell you, they would never hear the end of it, in every pub and every exercise the submariners of every navy, would remember the SAS Manthatisi and smirk about it. The surface fleet, obviously thinking submariners are revolting fellows, sneaky bastards, would groan – the dislike is entirely mutual.

South Africa had been operating submarines for decades, since 1969. The submarines are not for ceremonial use but operational and they started off with French made Daphne diesel-electrics, not the best submarine in history and that made them learn the trade the hard way. To make up for the aging technology they trained to world class standards. In this the South African Navy follows the Royal Navy “perisher” commanding officer’s course (considered the best in the world) and they know their own waters better than anyone else. This is where they train aggressively against each other and it is realistic training with submarines at times damaged in the process. No senior officer worries about that, it is expected from them, the submarine commanders, to press home their attacks all the time. In their small elite world you will find a lot of A-type personalities not willing to back down or away even one inch. I know some of the submarine skippers, we worked with them for years, they hate losing with a passion which is hard to believe. They consider themselves the real elite of the Fleet and piss on everyone else. They will do whatever it takes to gain the upper hand and they are professionals, they know what they are doing. Like with all elite military units, skin colour plays no role with them and never did. In training, outlook and tradition, as I often joke in GMJ Books, they are totally Royal Navy orientated. That is where they learned the tricks of the trade and typically South African, adapted with the years and introducing shenanigans only they understand. I say again, they know their own waters. You can bet your last penny on that they will attack if so ordered and no one knows where those submarines are once they dive.

According to reports I have, the Royal Navy tried twice to find the South African Type 209s and the Type 209s gained firing solutions on them first and kept it. This is like where a sniper has you in his sights – if he fires, you will wake up dead either in heaven or hell. There is no such thing as “surviving” a good sniper as one ancient female liberal apparently did in Bosnia in the 1990s. You know she misspoke a bit (we call it plain old lying in this country, we are direct people) when she said she was under sniper fire. I have to wonder, as a trained sniper myself, why she is still alive then, really, she should not be but then, she “misspoke.” Liberals often do such things and then wave a greasy hand stating it is fine, no problem, they are not really liars by nature, they, ahm, misspoke a bit, move on, and anyway “what does it matter now?”

The same type of sniper scenario takes place every day between submarines and it is not often that a nuclear attack submarine survives or will survive when it takes on an ultra-quiet diesel-electric boat. They will always be at a serious disadvantage in a place where noise will kill you as no nuclear boat is truly quiet, there is always noise generating from it. Nor does the diesel-electric have to surface for air every two days as during the Second World War, no, they can stay under water for weeks, technology made them a handful. And it gets worse, as Angelique Dawson stated flatly in Code Name Blue Tang, Code Name OST-M and in Code Name Casselberry – if an enemy submarine is tracked, and it flushes its torpedo tubes, or opens the torpedo tube doors or missile hatches at a depth from where it can launch, the South African Type 209s will shoot first. Will they hit? Almost certainly yes, and they will destroy what they hit, they have modern torpedoes and missiles on board. There are strong rumours of such an incident between SAS Manthatisi and a French nuclear attack boat where they came within seconds of shooting during an incident at (I scratched this out, Angelique). Sufficient to say, no enemy warship, spy ship or even squadron should feel safe close to wherever a South African Type 209 may be. This would play a huge role in later years, so much so that I reduced the threat (with the help of my mate Geelslang – the name means a Cape cobra snake, very much like him when riled, really dangerous, even when not riled) by sabotaging two Type 209s to such an extent that they are still not operational (Code Name Pour Angelique). This is not to say South Africa will sink the entire US Navy as one reader pointed out to me in a letter, rather silly in my view, and never meant to imply that. It simply means be aware, you will pay a price you don’t want to pay if you are found and counter attacked, it may well kick start World War Three. The lesson – be aware of the threat facing you, don’t simply dismiss everyone else because you are patriotic. Take note that you will suffer losses.

The way Special Forces operates, the Western & Eastern Block ones, is well known to us and hence we know how to counter them (see Code Name Casselberry where a US Navy SEAL Team came close in being annihilated). After all, we too have Special Forces, world class units. It is racism and a lack of knowledge which will make the average “arm chair general” in the USA and other places dismiss South African Special Forces just because they never heard of them before. Our Special Forces, both the Police and Army Units, were originally based on the British Special Air Service in Selection, outlook, training and operations but we developed further and were (they still are) rated with the best in the world. Go and research the word “Recce” on Google, you will be surprised what you find and talk to the Special Forces Community in your country, you will find massive respect for the South Africans. Our Selection failure rate was always way above that of the US Army’s Green Berets and almost never below 95% in failure rate – which is why I write “Selection” with a capital S, it is respect. With some Selections the failure rate was 100%, not one lad made it and they tried their best, they were dedicated men, not used to failure. The US Navy SEAL failure rate is on average 80% and the Green Berets, 65%, in my view, not good enough, too many men are allowed in. There is nothing elite in that. In my view, you simply cannot have that many men passing without eyebrows being lifted.

We rightly believed ourselves to be the chosen few who survived training and Selection few other men could or would even try. You had to be pretty special just to volunteer and no “Rambo” type would even pass the many psychological tests. The Army Medical people did some experiments with us. It is interesting enough for me to tell you about it – they found out that every Special Forces operator had the ability to suck in more air than most people, a lot more. They went so far as to test new recruits before Selection by making you breathe through an air pipe whilst cycling on a stationary bicycle contraption. By the amount of the air coming into your lungs, they knew and this was proven beyond any doubt, if you have the genes to make Selection or not. There is no shame if you don’t have such genes, mind-over-matter cannot, despite what Angelique believes, compensate totally for a lack of physical stamina during Selection and then operations. Those who had the magic genes were tested beyond what is seen as normal in other similar units and many failed, most in fact. You must have the body issued by God to start from and the ability to push through pain barriers with what can only be described as an absolute obsession in completing the mission. We don’t look kindly on losing and I would say fear it.

For the Army Special Forces Regiments (vastly bigger than us in the Police in manpower to choose from) the statistics were impressive and can be researched, 482 men were badged over forty years from 100,000 dedicated lads who tried Selection. This is a higher dropout rate by far than any of the more famous units which may be known to you and perhaps that is the real message in GMJ Books – do not underestimate that what you don’t know and do not believe the “OMG it is Patton or Montgomery” Brigade of which I write about often, much to the dismay of a few. I want to be clear on something, despite some nasty comments, unfortunate ones really, my books are not about who is the best, it is about horses for courses and in Africa you don’t get any better than the South Africans. They are highly respected even by the more famous units with whom they conduct training operations now and then but their tactics are virtually unknown, yes there are books available but they date back twenty plus years. Thus the premise that foreign Special Forces, except for a quick unexpected snatch raid, cannot operate in Sub Saharan Africa for any length of time is accepted fact in my world and recent history showed this. Since 2012 no raid conducted by the British Special Air Service or US Navy SEALs was successful in rescuing a hostage alive, they all died, the hostages that is, sadly so. The French succeeded, French Army Special Forces (included here is the Police GIGN Unit) but only where they rule the roost in French dominated countries of which Mali would be the perfect example. We discuss why these raids failed in Code Name Wrangler, a book about hostage rescues on foreign shores, working closely with spies, and one which is read, I am told, by many SWAT (Hostage Rescue) Units worldwide. I never refuse any serving members of any Police or Army a free copy of my books, you ask, you get. Hostage rescue is a world I know a lot about and it is a really good read, like all GMJ Books and has a unique “African” flavour to it as well. I received letters from such SWAT Units thanking me for the book – I am grateful for that. I had to refuse invitations to address them in person though. Shrug, I am not about to address men and women standing with a mask over my face as some authors do in the UK, to protect my real identity. It is ridiculous in the extreme to do such things. I am not the axe murderer from Fifty Shades of Filth. Once you read the book you will know what to do and that is another point most miss when reading GMJ Books. The narrator is actually telling you how to operate in this sphere and he is revealing Special Forces techniques you did not know about and I assure you once again, others are taking note, your enemies. Yes, they are studying these books with great attention.

I also know, because it happened, that such foreign Special Forces will be discovered and killed if not arrested and put on show trials. They cannot hide really, they are not like us, and if trapped, they are dead and some were, and they died because they were discovered. Special Forces, or the American and British version are by tradition “heavy” forces. They have to be supported with air cover and they always (justifiably so) want the ability to extract to safety when in difficulty which is often. This is a weak point in this sphere for reasons I will explain below and one which will bite them in the ass in the future. Historically, we operated without any air cover for up to eleven months at a time, for years, behind enemy lines, something rather unique in South African Special Forces history (see Code Name Missa 72 where we discuss this in some detail). No Western Unit can boast the same or has the expertise to do so, they are all “heavy” orientated and this is important in our consideration in their ability to operate safely here. Those aircraft must come from somewhere.

In my days you walked in and walked out after dropping by parachute or landing from the sea hundreds of miles away from where you wanted to be. The Soviets made the Angolan (and other places) air space the most hostile in the world, worse than what was faced in North Vietnam in the 1960s & 1970s by the US and we forced them to divert a lot of effort away from Afghanistan in the 1980s. And yet, without friendly air cover, we operated with very high success rates, destroying the enemy from within. We did so at times 2,000 miles away from the nearest help and I can tell you, being captured meant a prolonged death. Part of our training was what is known as the “Dark Phase” and in some other countries SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) which all aircrew and Special Forces undergo. There cannot be a worse time in your life (outside war) as those days, God knows, you are tested beyond what is seen as humanly possible. Angelique Dawson, as a member of the South African Secret Service, a very highly rated external spy agency, also underwent such training. It is brutal (not physically so much, mentally) and needed, you cannot begin to comprehend what an African will do to you if captured. Whatever you can imagine is nothing which had not happened before. But this is not the Western way of doing business – they want air support and to be honest, our lack of air support was forced on us by need, not by choice. Our French designed, later South African made, Mirage III, F1 AZ and F1 CZ fighters had problems against the latest Soviet MIG-23s (see Code Name Blue Tang for more details), and so we adapted. Western Special Forces always have air support when conducting operations, it is standard procedure and in practise this means the use of helicopters and that is a big problem here for many reasons of which I will only mention a few.

A helicopter needs air superiority or it will be shot down leaving the men behind to walk out if not killed outright. Walking out is rather difficult when you think how big and hostile a place Africa is. A helicopter cannot, in real life, defend itself against fast jets as was proven time and time again since the 1980s from the Falklands (where RAF and Fleet Air Arm pilots landed and ran for cover whenever an Argentine fast jet appeared, yes, standard procedure) to Angola to the Middle East. Many helicopters, including the heavily armoured Soviet Hind D, were shot down by the South African Air Force in Angola and so will the Black Hawks if they ever come close and they are not as stealthy as you may think by watching Fox News, there is no such thing as a stealth helicopter. If found, and they will be, the radar cover is excellent, they stand no chance even with Apache Longbow backup, making the raid even larger and more difficult to conceal, hence “heavy.” Of course, the attack helicopter pilots think differently, one took great exception to my views (we had one Rooivalk, a South African made attack helicopter rated above the Boeing Apache Longbow, that got solid missile lock on a fast mover during training). We will see in the future who is right, but for now, historically, they lost such engagements rather badly. The fast jets sorted them out every single time no matter what they claim and I believe in history like few others. You can see the future by noticing what worked in the past, it is that simple and always a theme in GMJ Books. We discuss old operations constantly, we learn from them, we adapt. You either like Military History or you don’t, if not, don’t bother to read GMJ, the books are filled with military history.

To get air superiority to protect the helicopters this far from Europe or other land bases you have to commit a carrier air wing and that wing flies primarily the F-18 Super Hornet to protect itself. Despite what you see in movies and what is admitted in public, it is a known fact that US Navy carriers are exceptionally vulnerable and they are regularly “sunk” in exercises against submarines. It is known that the French Rubis class nuclear attack boat, the Casabianca “sunk” the nuclear carrier USS Eisenhower and her Ticonderoga class escort cruiser USS Anzio in 1998 during an exercise in the Mediterranean Sea. Then again in 2015 the French Navy’s Amethyst class nuclear attack boat, the Saphir, “sunk” the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and her escorts. There are many other examples where the Western and Chinese submarines got through including the Amazolo Incident in South African waters which rocked the naval world (there were no aircraft carriers involved in the Amazolo Incident – it does not matter, the principle is established, the carriers / ships can be sunk).

The question to be answered is – where will the helicopters carrying Western Special Forces come from? They can only be from aircraft carriers, motherships (spy vessels) or land based staging areas. All of this is very problematic. If those carriers or other vessels, it may even be a nuclear submarine being tracked by the Type 209s, from where the Special Forces launched (obviously not by helicopter), are found and they will be found since South Africa operates its own reconnaissance satellites, the ultra-quiet submarines and the surface fleet (stealthy frigates, heavily armed with French made Exocet surface-to-surface missiles) will attack automatically. And so will the South African Air Force rated above anything else in the Southern Hemisphere and armed with new SAAB Gripen JAS39s, they will attack. This is another problem we need to look at closely, the South African Air Force, the second oldest Commonwealth Air Force in the world and a good one.

As shocking as this may sound to you, we had seen in Code Name Blue Tang that the JAS39 Gripen will win any dogfight against a Super Hornet, it is a mathematical certainty according to USAF Colonel John Boyd’s theory. The Gripen is lighter and has the same engine as the Super Hornet, more advanced electronics, is more manoeuvrable, and has top notch European and South African built air-to-air missiles besides a lethal 27 mm Mauser cannon proven better than a 20 mm which is World War Two technology. And it stands to reason, if they can shoot down a Hornet, Super or not, they will shoot down the much less agile replacement, the F-35 also. It is no match really, only the French Rafales are reckoned to be able to give them a serious go. There are many reasons why we came to this conclusion, read the book but let me mention a few of the reasons in the meantime.

The South African fighter pilots are as good as any. They are highly trained and just as belligerent and wanting a punch-up as it is with such overachievers. You would be plain stupid to believe they don’t understand modern equipment or will simply be shot from the sky, they won’t be. History will show you that the South African Air Force has an enviable reputation from before the Second World War right through to Korea, the Rhodesian Bush War and then the South African Bush War and even today. It is closely modelled in operational efficiency on the much vaunted Israeli Air Force with whom they had once close links and still do, unofficially. Unknown to many is that a South African Jew was offered command of the newly fledged Israeli Air Force in 1948, he refused and became a well-known Judge instead. A South African wrote the “Top Gun” concept plan for you whilst serving with the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, flying the Phantom II and a South African was the leading scorer in the famous Battle of Britain, called Sailor Malan, a group captain in the Royal Air Force. These are historical facts you can research on the Internet. From the close relationship with the Israeli Air Force came technical exchanges with the South African built Mirage Cheetah C and D fighter jet (based on the Israeli Kfir) outfighting the much better known American F-15E Strike Eagle during exercises in the 1990s and 2000 (see Code Name Blue Tang). The Cheetahs also defeated Belgian F-16s, admittedly the B model and then they got equipped by the JAS39 Gripen and now you have a problem. If they defeat the Super Hornets in battle, that carrier group is dead and unable to protect itself as they will run out of missiles quickly enough, being constantly attacked and remember what I said, such a counter attack will be deemed legal at the UN and any international court. It is an act of war to launch Special Forces raids into a country uninvited. How will you react if South African Special Forces operates in Florida? Or Russian Spetsnatz in Alaska?

Without air superiority, you cannot win in modern warfare and shockingly this is in no way guaranteed and never was. I was stunned when I uncovered the below statistics mentioned in the next paragraph. It was well hidden from the Western newspapers and even today angrily “suppressed and denied.” Most Western “historians” will not endanger their lucrative book contracts by writing “negatively” or “un-American” books containing hard truths. I want to state clearly here – I don’t care about conventional paper publishers at all and recently banned Apple’s iBook Stores from selling the GMJ Books as well as my other books, written under my own name. You can read my reasons on why I did so and it will stay so, in my blog (http://georgemjames.weebly.com/george-m-james-blog/goodbye-ibook-stores ). I am not about to change my mind. I write for you, my readers and to get the message out and hopefully for you to enjoy reading the GMJ Books, not for the pleasure of Hollywood or the mass market. I know many will love these books, and do, and many will hate them. Such is life, make peace. I do not go out of my way to insult people with what I write but I can prove what I write and that is important. It is useless in the extreme to ignore bad news or to shoot me, the messenger. Sniping at me with bad reviews and snotty comments is not going to help the men and women being issued with second-rate equipment or to live in cloud-cuckoo-land shouting about the “OMG it is Montgomery and Patton” Syndrome, not at all. Rather take note and do something about it – spread my books around if you wish – ask me for more copies if you want, I seldom refuse a good cause and if you have more questions, I will answer a politely worded letter. This is leadership in essence, to face your problems and solve it, something I fear is seriously lacking in the West at the moment.

Patriotism and patriotic dismissals of bad news are damn dangerous when not based on facts. In history we saw it in Nazi Germany, the slogan was “We will win because we must win.” Yep, they did not, you need more than a patriotic “we are the good guys” answer to everything in life. You need to know your enemy or life tends to be very unfair in general. In GMJ Books you will read at times shocking statistics not known to you but they should be, the characters may say things which will make you wonder about your politicians (we call them turds, they float in what they talk), and yes, I can prove what I say and a simple Google search will back me up. A word of warning, if you happen to have liberal views on life and warfare, don’t read GMJ. You will not like the books, they are conservative in nature, have no graphic sexual scenes, and a genuine belief in the Christian God with Bible verses quoted now and then. If you don’t like such an outlook, kindly delete my books from your computer and go your own way. We will not be able to find each other and I am not interested in your opinions either. Nor should you come to me with statistics like “We have 800 Apache attack helicopters and will shoot down your 15 Rooivalk attack helicopters even if we take some losses” because you have just proven to me you don’t get my messages. Let me spell it out again to you because it is important. No one, least of me, is saying to you a country like South Africa is able to win a conventional war against the US. What I am saying is you will have a bloody fight on your hands and because of that the chances of a conventional war are zero and the uncertain involvement of BRICS Nations and hence World War Three kicking off then, is too great. Hence, we are back to unconventional warfare, Special Forces raids and spies which is what we deal with in GMJ Books, not a conventional conflict which is extremely unlikely. Now see the scenario as written in Code Name Casselberry, a US Navy SEAL Team trapped and without air cover nor surface fleet guns to help them extract. How long do you think, realistically now, not jingoistic, will they survive against attack helicopters rated above the Apache, standing far off and picking them out? Or against men every bit as good as themselves and calling in heavy artillery strikes? The scenario is a warning, and a serious one, such circumstances are worked into the planning of such raids, but you should get the point that such a SEAL Team, or Green Berets, or Special Air Service, whatever, will be doomed. So let us not get out of context here or start talking what will happen afterwards (nothing, not with a Democrat calling for lines in the sand). Read what I am saying as a warning, before swinging at me with silly comments taken out of context. If I say to you that you do not have the technology advantage your Merchants of Death are telling you, take good note and research what I say, it is a clear warning, again, not an insult. You don’t have the best and never did.

Shockingly, the idea of NATO air superiority is a myth we all believed once as that is what was broadcasted to us for decades. We only needed to arrive to shoot down Soviet aircraft, no problem. But it was a lie and it is now exposed as such and most people will not believe what you are about to read. Historically, you can research this, what happened was that after German reunification in 1989, the German Air Force took over what remained of East Germany’s Armed Forces, a senior (well stocked) Warsaw Pact country. What they found was frightening. They found that the Soviet air-to-air missiles in the East German Air Force arsenals were much better than their American counterparts. Yes, so much better that the Germans started a consortium of nations to build their own infrared based heat seeking short range air-to-air missile, the IRIS-T. This missile is today reckoned to be 5 -8 times better than any American (Western) missile in existence and you can bet your ass that the Russians have similar systems and then something else took place, which exposed the myth of NATO air superiority even more.

The Germans organised “Red Flag” or “Top Gun” type exercises called ACM or air combat manoeuvring – known to the public as “dogfights” – between the former East German pilots and themselves. And so the Sukhoi SU-27 Flankers and MIG-31 Fulcrums flew again. Surprisingly, the West Germans lost and not only them, in almost every single engagement the NATO aircraft got shot down. There is an unknown South African connection here called Dieter Gerhardt, a former South African Navy Commodore and Soviet GRU (Military Intelligence, rated far above the KGB) spy. He stole a locally designed helmet aiming device called the Kukri System in the early 1980s and gave it to his communist mates. What the Kukri did was to slave the missile seeker heads to a dot sight in the flight helmet, you look at your enemy, lock on it, and press the trigger. Amazing South African Air Force technology and guess what, the new USAF Lockheed Martin F-35 “stealth” (stealth it isn’t) fighter is equipped with the “latest” model of this helmet system. Yes, South African technology bought out by BAE, the British Defence Company and may I add, not the latest version either, they got a raw deal. We have better and so does Russia. She carried on developing the stolen Kukri System and then came the V3E Agile Darter Missile, another problem, a major one since it is sold to countries not overly friendly towards the West.

The V3E Agile Darter is a short range air-to-air missile manufactured by South Africa with Brazilian input (they also fly the SAAB JAS39 Gripen fighter jets or will soon, and the reason why is extremely interesting – see Code Name Blue Tang). This missile is better than the German IRIS-T which means in simple terms, when linked to the improved Kukri helmet look-down-shoot-down system, if such a jet gets close to its enemy and it will, it will most likely win the dogfight and shoot the other one down. The dropping of flares is not going to make that missile miss, taking off into the sun is not going to make it miss and it is being developed into a medium range air-to-air missile also. Why is this important to you? It means that the so called “technological superiority” of NATO is non-existent regarding air superiority and that is a big deal. It is a myth as is the so called BVR or “beyond visual range missiles,” – it is seen as the same crap as variable-sweep wings (F-14 Tomcat) turned out to be. Scandalous, I admit, we all admired the “Top Gun” movie and yet the F-14 Tomcat was never rated highly by its enemies nor its BVR missile, the AIM-54 Phoenix. See Code Name Blue Tang why, almost an entire chapter is about this very subject.

We likewise established that the many advanced foreign weapon systems tested on South African missile test ranges are monitored and let us leave it at that except to say that if you know what your enemy can do, you surely enter any fight with a terrible advantage. And you have to wonder, where is that intelligence so collected going once the South Africans have it? Make your own deductions, it is entirely logical if you know who South Africa’s allies are and yet you find many First World nations here, using our missile testing ranges for a nominal fee. These “clients” include Germany testing Exocet, Sea Sparrow, Taurus and IRIS-T missiles. Singapore testing Igla missiles. Sweden testing the RBS15 MK3 and CAMPS. Spain integrating the Taurus missile on the F-18 and the list goes on and on. Research it yourself and get worried, you have every reason to be concerned and many analysts are concerned.

What else? The Soviets, we had to find out, had better ejection seats than the West. Yes, we get the dim-witted ones saying they needed it too, good joke, very patriotic, especially in the light of what the East German fighter jets did to the West as explained above. But tell me, how long does it take to train a modern fighter pilot? How many years and at what cost? And if he is shot down, and ejects safely and lives to fly again, as against the other fellow, who also ejects but breaks every second bone in his legs, who is the most valuable to his country? The answer is again, obvious when you get away from the “OMG it is Montgomery and Patton” way of thinking. The lie the turd brigade (politicians, they float in what they talk) uses goes like this: “No US ground troops in an enemy aircraft attack since the Korean War died” which is debatable but anyway a silly argument. We are not worried what will happen yesterday unless we can learn from it, we worry about today and tomorrow and frankly, the USAF has not been tested since Vietnam where they initially failed badly. So much so that “Red Flag” and “Top Gun” exercises were instituted to get them on top again. Nothing they did since then was against modern fighter opposition. In the First Gulf War the Iraqi Air Force never took off, they fled to Iran. The Taliban does not have an air force and hence we look at secondary conflicts like the Arab / Israeli, South African / Cuban in Angola, Falklands and the like for answers. We need to wake up and start thinking First World Enemy, not fifth rate like Iraq. It will take more than just arriving at the theatre to go home alive and mission accomplished and the answer does not lie in spending money, it lies in being the best with what you have right now. Wake up, in April of 2016 we read openly in newspapers that the US Marine Corps cannot keep its combat aircraft flying, their highly trained pilots have an average of 4-hours a month flying time. Do you get this is much less than what Third World Air Forces fly and far below the 30-hours minimum required to keep sharp! The next step is fatal crashes as the pilots get rusty and it is not their fault, they need to train at the edge all the times since their opposition do so. Flying an aircraft is not the same as fighting with it, more is demanded of such an aviator.

I wrote something in Code Name Mel’s Choice, GMJ 25, which I wish to quote for you and yes, you can research this and I am using my quotation as a warning: “The rise of the Chinese Air Force is something which you reading here should take seriously. General Mark Welsh III, the Chief of Staff of the USAF, said in March 2001 that “China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) will be poised to overtake the US Air Force by 2030.” In fact, many believe that they are even now coming close or did so already. What is clear is that in the last 20 years they got themselves over 800 Fourth Generation fighters, equally matching the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassualt Rafale, and the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon or JAS39 Gripen but they have better missiles (see Code Name Blue Tang why I say so). Their pilots fly on average 130 hours a month and in some squadrons, 180 hours. That is a lot, the US Marine Corps fly 4 hours and so does the USAF per month if lucky. The USAF also acknowledged that it is unable to keep its fighter pilots. Four hours, to put in perspective for you, is less than what a Third World Air Force like Nigeria is flying. How on earth did we get there? I am telling you, the lack of flying practise alone will slay innocent pilots by the dozen if up against those flying constantly. We saw this in history when the inexperienced German Luftwaffe pilots went up against experienced Allied ones at the later stages of World War Two, they were shot down by the hundreds and the same happened in Korea. Training is everything, ask the Israeli Air Force why they are rated so highly, the answer is that they fly combat all the time. When they take off they are operational.

Also, because of China’s rapid economic growth in the nineties, most of the Chinese Air Force Fourth Generation aircraft are relatively new and they have no need to scrounge museums for spare parts like the US Marines are forced to do, shamefully so. They have sufficient parts available and the mechanics to service the aircraft, you may comprehend, if the aircraft fly more, the maintenance are more, the entire Air Force must then up its game dramatically. The aircraft they fly are the locally built (and they are built well) Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker B+, the Sukhoi Su-30MKK Flanker-G as well as the Mikoyan MiG-35 Fulcrum-F and they are developing two types of Fifth Generation fighters – the prototypes already flying. As such they expect the Fifth Generation fighters to be operational from 2018 onwards, called the Shenyang J-31 and the Chengdu J-20, both of which will be equal to the US F-22 and F-35. What is more, they are busy developing, with Russian help, a large strategic stealth bomber.

We look for patterns in my world, ask yourself, why would China want a large, long range strategic bomber incorporating stealth technology? Who are they going to target? Russia? Their major BRICS partner? Nah, contemplate also on their expanded nuclear submarines, attack and missile boats, the aircraft carriers and the expansion into the South China Sea and Africa for the reasons I mentioned and make you own conclusions. In fact, the RAND Corporation did, they brought a report out, you can research this as you can with everything I say in my books, that shocked those briefed on it. They stated that as recently as in 1996 the US would have needed 2.1 air wings of between 66 and 72 aircraft each to protect their vassal, Taiwan, from Chinese air superiority. Right? We can quite get that thinking, a MIG-21 is no match for a F-16, F-15 or F-18. But because the Chinese increased their own capabilities so much, the situation turned on its head, by 2003, that number became 10.6 wings, by 2010 you needed 19.6 wings and by 2017, 29.9 wings, 2,000 aircraft. Flatly put, the US don’t have such resources available and probably never will again nor the pilots to fly them. Taiwan is gone. She cannot be defended and mark my words, every country in that region has every reason in the world to worry about China. The RAND Report concluded that the results of their scenario were “staggering.” I dare say, it is going to get much worse.”

How is this state of affairs possible for a country spending absurd amounts of money on its Military? Clearly the money is spent wrongly, on crap. What else can it be? Why do I not see senior officers resigning in disgust? Complacency? The Russians and Chinese are laughing at you, I know, I talk to them. I have friends in those countries. Truth to be told, frankly so, your premier force, “the proud and the few,” is now rapidly becoming a Third World Force! What a disgrace.

Then let us face it, throwing money blindly is stupid and a liberal way of sorting out problems, it is what you do with the money, what you get back, what is important. I once sat in a boardroom and the chairman asked about some problem, the MBA idiot answered, “we are spending x-dollars on it” and not getting that spending is not the same as getting results. It is a paper answer for morons. I fired him two hours later. Let me explain this in practical military terms to you – currently China and Russia deploy nine men for the money spent to deploy one American soldier. It will make a difference, don’t tell me one American soldier is necessarily better than nine others, that is silly thinking in the extreme, he is not. But what does history tell us, let us not speculate, let us look for answers in the past.

During the Battle of Kursk, 1943, known as Operation Citadel in military circles, the German Army used its best forces and arguably their best commanders against the Soviets. I am sure, the names Erich von Manstein, Günther von Kluge, Hermann Hoth, Werner Kempf and Walther Model are known to you as would be the Panzergrenadier-Regiment Großdeutschland, Waffen SS divisions Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, Das Reich, Totenkopf, Wiking and numerous others under equally famous commanders, men that are admired as much as is Napoleon or Eisenhower as great military captains. The Germans had a seven to one disadvantage at Kursk, not nine to one, admittedly, but the point is proven… the Soviets under future or current Marshalls Georgy Zhukov, Konstantin Rokossovsky, Nikolai Vatutin and Ivan Konev won a decisive victory against what was seen as a better army, better at all arms integration and technically superior with the new Panther tank, the Porsche Elefant tank destroyer and greater numbers of the Tiger heavy tank ever used before. We have to concede, as happened in Korea with the Chinese hordes, sheer numbers are important in war. Note we have already shown that you don’t have the technical superiority you think you have. It may be equally shocking to you but Americans are not rated highly as fighting men by many because of the weak political leadership behind them, not the soldier himself, but the turd behind him (note the difference please). We know they will be recalled at some stage, and the Democrats, we call them “Demorats,” will cry foul on what they supported once and blame everyone except themselves. That is the US legacy these days, sadly so.

Without air superiority, you cannot win a modern war, it is that simple. Your Abrams tanks are not all that superior to Russian, British or German models, they can be destroyed and will be destroyed, losses are inevitable. Indeed, some Abrams tanks were destroyed in Iraq by less than modern weapons. You will face worse against a modern nation and astonishingly, the US Secretary of Defence, Dr Robert Gates, admitted that the MRAP vehicles, South African technology by the way, are better protected than an Abrams tank. Two Abrams tanks were shot out in 2003, and another six in later years against ISIS. The Israelis lost four Merkava main battle tanks against Hezbollah in 2006 (in Lebanon), a closely guarded secret, with another 19 having their armour penetrated. Tanks are vulnerable, that is the lesson, no matter what your Merchants of Death tell you, these are facts.

Your supply convoys, be it ships, trains or trucks, will be destroyed from the air if not protected and that will make you run out of ammunition very quickly indeed. NATO could not even support a limited air offensive against Libya for three weeks in 2012, they ran out of bombs and missiles, yes, this is acknowledged fact. In 2016, the Royal Air Force announced their intention, forced on them by the turd brigade, to bomb ISIS. Ah yes, with six aging Tornado fighter jets, never any good to begin with and a few Eurofighter Typhoons thrown in as backup (the Typhoon is highly rated). Then, it came out, I have the evidence, they succeeded in killing exactly six ISIS members for their hundreds of sorties costing the poor British taxpayer millions of pounds, a joke in military terms. They said they were proud of that, they were targeting “infrastructure” and not enemy soldiers (we roared with laughter and still do, good one!). Yet 70% of all foreign jihadis come from Britain, that great isle of multiculturalism which obviously failed rather badly as an experiment, Jihadi John was but the most famous. It is a matter of time before we see a Paris or Brussels attack in London.

I am mentioning air superiority or the lack of it because your aircraft carriers are sitting ducks and will be sunk at will if found and the Super Hornets and or their replacement, known for losing a dogfight with a 20-year-old F-16, shot down in the process. They are also vulnerable, as we saw, against submarines, especially silent diesel-electrics. There are many experts in my world who say, based on the above, that this is what would have happened with a Warsaw Pact versus NATO clash and today, NATO would have lost air superiority and the war. Nothing, it seems had changed. It is keeping analysts awake at night and the reason why you sometimes read “leaked” documents about it. They too are trying to warn much as others warned in the 1930s to no avail. And they talk to me in private, to incorporate what they fear, in these books that you are reading now, written as dangerous fiction for legal reasons.

To summarise, it stands to reason then, if the carriers are unable to approach too close to our shores because of the Type 209 submarines no one can track and proven to be deadly adversaries, then the Western Special Forces cannot have local air superiority for their helicopters either besides the fact that the helicopters will almost certainly be shot down by the JAS39 Gripens including the Super Hornets trying to protect them. I say again, I can tell you from experience, if that Special Forces Team is trapped, it is dead and will be wiped out (the scenario in Code Name Casselberry, GMJ 18). Their mere presence will be seen as an “act of war” and it is an act of war in law to invade another country and this brings us to the BRICS Nations you may not have heard about but they play a major part in our premises. Take good note because this aspect really should not be dismissed on the “OMG it is Montgomery or Patton” Syndrome. Show some respect to others or pay the price.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa form the BRICS Nations and it is interesting when you look at them together, as you should. There are worrying patterns which most don’t realise but the Western leaders know – they have been briefed many times by people like myself. Not one of these countries mentioned above are overly sympathetic to the American “War on Terror.” Three of them, Russia, India and China are nuclear armed with Russia and China pointing thousands of nuclear missiles directly at the West as they did during the Cold War. It is said that between Russia and China, they now have much more advanced MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle) systems than the West (with the West I mean traditionally what NATO would be). They are causing intelligence analysts sleepless nights. I say again, look at the emerging patterns to understand what is happening and at all of them together as explained here, not just each on its own. There is much we can learn and it is not idle speculation, it is a worrying factor.

Four of the BRICS nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China operate aircraft carriers and large carriers at that, not baby flattops although India has a few, the ex-Royal Navy Invincible Class. Brazil, whose economy surpassed the UK’s in 2012, bought the old French fleet carrier Foch and the BRICS countries are increasing their carrier capabilities all the time. Slowly yes, not yet at US levels yet, but it is coming. Why is that? Combined with upgrading Kirov class battle cruisers being readied for deployment? The answer is easy to figure out when you understand carrier warfare in history. Carrier Groups exist to take the fight to the enemy (to Japan and Italy in the Second World War, later years Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf in what followed 9/11).

In this case, from the view of the BRICS Nations, the new enemy is almost certainly the USA, open for attack, attack or at the very least they want such an option available, to cut the sea-lanes. Your very survival depends on keeping the sea-lanes open. You fail with that aspect, and your troops have no weapons to fight further with, no reinforcements to stop the numerically superior enemy and the trapped troops are either dead or have to surrender. Let me give you another shocking fact, one, yes one, fighter jet was available to protect the entire US east coast with 9/11, shockingly, and not even armed. Nothing has changed. No USAF general got fired for such negligence, not one. I spoke with Spetsnatz officers grinning in delight when the subject of landing in the US coast at will, is mentioned. From a Muslim terrorist viewpoint, well, they are already there, the sleeper cells are established. We saw that with the San Bernardino attack recently and mark my words, we will see more such attacks in the future.

As I said, in history, aircraft carriers are offensive weapons in nature, not defensive. They attack and keep sea lanes open or close them, a blockade if you wish. They don’t defend their own country close to its own shores. Not once in naval warfare did that happen with carriers, the fights are far away from home. If defence close to your own shores is needed, then any land based aircraft can do so and do so better than any carrier plane can do (see now why the Chinese are building numerous islands in the South China Sea, one by one, it is called terrain deniability). Land bases cannot be sunk and there are many more available if one is destroyed and they will not be easily destroyed as some believe. It is not easy to keep a land based airbase out of order. There are such things as missile defensive systems of which Russia, with its S-300 and S-400 systems, is now the world leader. You back that up with what destroyed the USAF in North Vietnam, automatic anti-aircraft guns, and you have a serious problem to destroy such places. You will fight to get close and do something about it and standoff weapons can be destroyed in the air, it is figured into the air defence systems. Do you know some analysts in my circles call this the modern Cuban Crisis which Mr Obama did not quite get; it will now take a full scale war (not going to happen) to get the Chinese out. What is also interesting is that a Chinese officer contacted me and pointed out the similarities between those islands and the famous Star Wars Program of the 1980s – he used the word “shield” and I got what he meant, they are moving the front lines away from their country, making themselves safe, and at the same time creating the ability to react or strike far away. This is worrisome or should be.

And guess who are BRICS partners? Russia & China, the leading ones, helping each other (as do the rest) with technology and espionage. I can tell you, the Russian and Chinese carriers are very worrying to the Western intelligence analysts and they should be. Carriers only purpose in life is to attack first or to close sea-lanes and no other logical reason and they are expanding their capabilities all the time. Why? You think about this, all the patterns are clear and indicative to what I am writing in my books which is not to say it will happen but they are setting themselves up in case it happens. I believe, personally, that Russia is responding to constant uncalled for (the Soviet Era is gone, hello, wake up) White House criticism by making the strategic chess moves first. We have an odd tendency in the West to see Russia as the Soviet Union, and why is that? Propaganda, obviously, they are anti-gay as well as soundly Orthodox Christian in outlook these days. The liberal editors in charge of what you read don’t like such notions – let me explain.

A few years ago we had a rare confession of the way liberals are changing views. Richard Berke, a long time and respected New York Times correspondent apparently said: “There are times when you look at the front page meeting and literally three quarters of the people deciding what’s on the front page are not so closeted homosexuals.” Mr Berke is gay and so he should know and so it is, his statement was denied, and yet, what are you reading? You are reading mostly liberal crap from newspapers, slanted to suit their views and I include watching television, Internet, books and movies when I say “newspapers.” Some call this phenomenon “a weapon of mass distortion” and if you think about it, what is really left to shock you today? When I was a younger man, quite a lot of things we take for granted today and shrug off would have been shameful. For instance, being gay or lesbian is old news now, no one cares except them who feel the constant need to explain why as if we are interested to know. We see female musicians, not really gifted but influential, semi naked doing convulsions which would have been public indecency in my day, on stage and live television, and without any shame. We don’t even care when the US President lies about sexual relations nor smoking marijuana in his youth, we dismiss it as what? Not serious? Normal behaviour from the turd brigade? Expected nothing better anyway? And yet, they are supposed to be the “Leaders of the Free World” and give leadership, a serious job. They want our men in uniform to salute them and they want the Secret Service to take a bullet for them? Really?

I ask again, what do we find in newspapers today? We find relentless attacks, verbal, media, legal, and physical on Christians by atheists and liberals. If you believe these people, you should be very ashamed to be born white (as if you had any choice) and Christian or what a man like Mr Eisenhower would have seen as decent, it is a sin! Even taking an oath of loyalty to your country is seen as wrong, why I would not know. Demanding that illegal immigrants leave and go home, is all of a sudden immoral, scandalous and racist! What utter crap, yet, it is happening, ceaselessly. What is the pattern here? Let me surprise you – among the “Christian” nations on this earth, Russia is doing more to combat radical Muslim terror than any other country and they are succeeding and they are feared, unlike the NATO nations. They invaded and sorted out all such countries around them, and were condemned by the Western Press as a joke military wise.

Yet, in 2016 the Pentagon reluctantly admitted, against White House policy I am sure, that the Russian Air Force did more in a few months in Syria than what NATO could achieve in years. This is not about who is the best, really not, we are not gorillas flexing muscles at each other, I am too old for such nonsense, it is about who has the leader with the guts to act and unleash the dogs of war. I have to wonder, who is being worked from behind by bad leadership and who is not and I know the answer, who has to have separate public trains and swimming pools now to protect their women and children against abuse from migrants? Whose women are too scared to walk around even in groups at night and whose cities are rocked by Muslim extremist attacks? Yeah, sadly so.

Three of the BRICS nations operate the ultra-quiet Type 209 diesel-electric submarine, Brazil, India and South Africa and these submarines are undeniably defensive weapons. They keep to their own coasts where they blend in perfectly and make them even harder to find. Why do I mention this – the US Navy is not, by US law (ridiculous but true), allowed to use active sonar closer than 12 miles of its own shores or anywhere where mammals are spotted. By their own admission, they are lagging on this terrain since they cannot properly train, fearing to hurt whales (admitted by a serving officer in public). Any idiot but a liberal lawyer knows that you need active sonar to find a diesel-electric lying silently on the seabed close to its shores, the waves break the sound making it extremely hard to find. The enemy knows about this weakness in the US Navy operational strategies and will exploit it, they practise to do so all the time and this I saw with my own eyes. So if you come close to our shores to launch a raid, and you have to, your ships are standing into danger, there is a very real chance of suffering major losses and starting a World War. What does this mean in a strategic way? The home bases are protected from attack. The carriers are able to move out and hunt you down in your own sphere. As clear a pattern to military strategists if ever, and yet unknown to the general public.

If you put these BRICS countries together, you have a serious problem when trying to oppose them financially or militarily. They are even creating their own Monetary Fund and with China behind them, they can do so and cut the West’s (Wall Street) strangle hold in developing countries where the minerals are. They are not Mickey Mouse countries as the Western Press will have you believe. Let us look at the facts as we know it. China’s new navy has more (and on par if not better) submarines than the US Navy (this was frankly admitted by the US Navy in 2014). The Chinese submarines include nuclear attack and missile boats, offensive weapon systems, not only diesel-electrics for local coastal defence. Why is that? Why do China and Russia want nuclear powered submarines and genuine carriers armed with modern aircraft featuring top notch missiles and technology escorted by large surface warships? Yes, to attack and take the fight to you if needs be. What else can it possibly be? Of course, the “arm chair generals” will now say, come, let us rumble – they are not nervous nor scared. They actually believe what the Western Merchants of Death are telling them. But let us look at this aspect too.

Modern Russia is not the cumbersome Soviet Union. We need to get away from the images of the Soviet Union collapsing in 1991 as we need to get away from a defeated France in 1940 or a defeated US in 1972 after Vietnam. The Russian modernized much faster than expected under President Putin and is more than capable to fight and they will fight and did fight in recent history. They don’t have liberals crying foul at home, they TWEP (terminate with extreme prejudice, i.e. assassination, an MI6 term) such people. Once again, see what happened in Georgia and Chechnya in contemporary history where American trained troops could not run away fast enough from the advancing Russian Army that crushed them with contemptuous ease. Why is that? Undoubtedly because they know that the West is never going to risk nuclear or conventional war for them. They know in their hearts they are as expendable as Poland was in World War Two, a joke in terms of solemn assurances which cannot possibly be kept. They will be wiped out long before the West can act decisively even if they want to act which is extremely doubtful as long as lines are drawn in the sand with nothing behind the line. Your bluff will be called and it was called in the Crimea in recent times, the Russian flag is flying there and the Chinese flag is flying on their new islands and will stay flying there for the foreseeable future. The West can do nothing, the line in the sand proved to be just that, a line in the sand.

In 2016, NATO officially admitted that Russia will overrun Eastern Europe in three days (they later said Western Europe, then withdrew the remark). Yes, in three days, which makes the idea of NATO (read USA since only 2 of the 28 NATO countries spend the 2% of their budgets on the military as demanded by treaty obligations) defending the Ukraine, Poland or any Baltic country entirely laughable. This is the sad reality as it is now. And Russia cannot be blockaded which is the UK’s usual answer to any European conflict, starving the civilians out as much as possible (see the First & Second World War, millions died after and during the war, of hunger, because of the Royal Navy). To begin with, the Royal Navy is a zero on a contract these days. They have almost no ships operational and most of those are terribly old and outclassed. Their entire nuclear deterrent is depended on US equipment and they lost the ability to operate fleet size carriers, the last such fleet carrier went out of service in the mid-1970s – their Parasite-known-as-Prince-Charles, flew on them as a young man, with the MacDonald Douglas Phantom II. Now they need to be trained by the US Navy on carrier operation or perhaps France or even Brazil. That is how far the once respected Royal Navy is behind the times, close to fifty years, half a century. It is ridiculous but also so terribly sad. This may have been what Mr Obama meant when he said recently (March 2016) he does not like “free loaders.” The US Navy, with France, had to carry the costs of fleet carriers alone for decades, it is pathetic, really, abuse of friends even.

Then the US Carrier Groups, around which any NATO Task Force are built, are extremely vulnerable to all kinds of attack, we have seen that, air, surface and submersible. There actually is no fleet capable of blockade so that tactic is bound to fail, nevertheless, I am sure it will be tried. Besides this, Russia is way too big to be blockaded and never could be historically and so is China, but the West can be blockaded in return. Yes, look at a world map and see what I write about, imagine the earth in front of you, Africa in the middle, America left and Australia to your right and the rest in between. BRICS partner, South Africa, as always, controls the Cape of Good Hope sea passage between the East and West. In history, the alternative Suez Canal was impassable twice, first with the Suez Crisis in 1956 and again with the Six Day War of 1967, it is a very simple exercise to block that canal or any other including the Panama. (And the Muslim radicals, by the way, are moving into North Africa, ask yourself why. Intelligence experts say it is to close the Mediterranean Sea and capture cruise ships – they will make nice bombs and to cut the Suez Canal, one large cruise ship and it is closed for a long time.) You may be sure that there are excellent war plans in existence to block the Suez and Panama Canals with conventional means if needs be. Then you have Brazil able to control Cape Horn underneath South America as well as the eastern seaboard. It is extremely unlikely that a place like Argentina, who dislikes the United Kingdom immensely, will be anything less than neutral in such a conflict. They may even take the Falklands again and their fighter jets are flying off the old Foch, now the Brazilian carrier. And on the other side of the Pacific, to the left of California? Yes, China, waiting with its large fleet of modern nuclear and diesel-electric submarines and immeasurable reserves in manpower, money and new aircraft carriers. And now you are seeing why their surface fleet is being modernised and they are getting into the large carrier game, expanding their islands to keep the West away from the mainland. If a BRICs versus NATO war breaks out, you have a big problem. America and the United Kingdom are in effect, surrounded strategically already and do not even realise it. Some analysts say the fight is already decided and let us see exactly what they are saying before dismissing such ideas out of hand, they are shocking, I know.

Communist China replaced the West in Africa since 1989 and they are now Africa’s (every type of mineral desired and needed in the West) biggest trading partner by far. The West is seen as weak in Africa. Rightly or wrongly, Mogadishu (Black Hawk Down) and Mr Clinton’s hasty decision to pull out the US troops is seen as victory here, you are now paying the price for his feebleness in life. Africans state flatly among themselves, that the US Army ran for home as they ran from Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and soon Western Europe. The difference is, this time you may be followed home by the ones you pissed off. We likewise know that the moment they leave, those who helped them will die horrible deaths, revenge will be swift. Hence, so say the tribal leaders who are not stupid and have much influence, you cannot afford to help the US in any way, the US has zero staying power and cannot be trusted. There is no respect as there was once, long ago, under Mr Eisenhower, who is greatly admired. Those days the US was seen as the beacon everyone wanted to follow. These days, I am sad to say, the US is seen as morally weak, crumbling and unable to sustain any kind of losses, again rightly or wrongly. So China is preferred, quietly, as is their way, they moved in and they are able to cut Africa’s minerals off from the West whenever they want to do so. And yes, you actually do need those minerals, you are in no way self-sufficient and you need open sea-lanes to transport them to keep your war factories running, this is a reverse blockade happening.

Strategically, BRICS had outplayed the US or West in every aspect and the countries involved are not, repeat not, in any way depended on US weapons or technology as are the UK, Israel and Egypt as well as others. We discussed this aspect in Code Name Blue Tang, GMJ 15, in great detail. It is a shocking conclusion and Brazil turned its back on France and the US for new fighter jets. Despite operating a former French carrier, they bought the Swedish Gripen, not even a carrier aircraft yet as their new fighter jet. Brazil does not want US equipment and neither do China, Russia, South Africa or India (the only doubtful partner in BRICS). Why is that? The answer is obvious but you can read it in Code Name Blue Tang, a lack of space prevents me from explaining more. They will not allow the US to dictate their foreign policies.

You may not know this, but the South Africans have a world class armaments industry backing them up because of lies going back to the mid-1970s. At that stage the world was very different. South Africa was controlled by the white minority, called the Apartheid State, staunchly anti-communist and pro Jewish with the usual anti-English feelings expected from the Afrikaner of which I am part and of which we speak a lot in GMJ Books, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, and at times more serious. Following the Domino Principle, everyone in the West believed that as one African state after the other became independent from colonial powers, they would become communist too. (Most did, for a while and all took bribe money known as “aid money” from the West. Yes, you cannot show me one sustainable thing built by those trillions - the money was stolen, abused and used for personal gain.) When the Portuguese fled Angola, an oil rich country north of South West Africa (today Namibia), the South Africans, as the regional Super Power, were asked to intervene by the US and other black nations, very secretly, I can assure you. To modernise its army, an entire list of weapon requirements was given to the US (the negotiations were conducted by the CIA, so pathetically informed on local matters that they impressed no one, they left us shaking our heads) and whatever promises were made, were also broken. Because of international sanctions, and these broken promises from a country up to then seen as an ally, South Africa decided to create its own weapons industry. After all, the country has 74% of the world’s gold, Israel helping out here and there, and a long history of small arms manufacturing as well as out of the box thinking. But now they went the big time, the whole hog, and from that came a world class arms industry first called Armscor, and then (still is) DENEL. Were they effective? Yes. As an example, every MRAP vehicle you see in Afghanistan and Iraq is built on South African technology, not American and it is old technology for us dating back to the mid-1970s. It is a bizarre African country that boasted home grown nuclear weapons in 1978, unique and built at a fraction of the cost other countries paid. They say they gave the nuclear bombs so manufactured to the US for disposal in 1993 but there are many who say the technology to rapidly rebuild them still exists and it can be done easily. Certainly they are developing long range missiles to deliver such warheads (they have launched their own satellites into space). This really should worry the West. Where are those former nuclear engineers today? Some already said they will work for whoever pays them enough money. What are they doing right now to make a living? (See Code Name Angel if you want to know about the South African nuclear weapons program and how close the nukes came to end up in Iran.) There are many other examples of military expertise and technology which can be Googled and you will shake your head in disbelief, including top notch armoured vehicles, infantry weapons, field and naval artillery beyond belief, naval vessels and aircraft, advanced technological systems for aircraft and military communications where they still lead the world. It is not a normal Banana Republic with a normal Third World Military or espionage service. History shows a powerful country and a dangerous one, very willing to bully and act aggressively and used to winning.

For many years the South African Army was rampaging around, destroying whatever it wished to destroy and this against the best the Soviet Union could field. We maintained a kill ratio of 1,000 to 1, for 18 years. To the South Africans, arrogant people at the best of times and used to be the local Super Power, the idea of losing a war against anyone, including the US by which is meant the West, is not considered seriously. They have not lost a battle since 1942 at Tobruk and that is considered to be due to bad luck only since they could not stop a marauding Erwin Rommel without tanks, artillery or minefields. The British armour were running for Egypt, leaving Tobruk virtually undefended, a mere shadow on what it was the year before. Since then the South African Army won every clash including major tank battles against the Cubans and their Soviet advisers in Angola during the 1980s (it was the largest tank battle in Africa since the Second World War, at a place called Cuito Cuanavale, two entire tank brigades were destroyed, the rusting tank remains are still there, go and look). Chances are good that any raid by Western Special Forces will be met with equal force and those soldiers will be killed unless extracted and the places from where they launched, submarine, carrier, whatever, will be hunted down and attacked. BRICS may then get involved and you have World War Three. And all the above is important because Muslim radicals are to be found inside South Africa, see below.

The other constant premise in GMJ Books, about a “truce” between the current South African Government and the Al-Qaeda operatives (actually all Muslim Radicals, not only one organisation) in which they could use Southern Africa as a base to plan operations, is not proven (vehemently denied by all) but suspected by many intelligence analysts. As I said, we look for patterns and we found the patterns – the so called “white widow” Samantha Lewthwaite did hide in South Africa (Johannesburg) for a while. The London Tube bombers of 2005 did have connections with South Africa and South African passports. There is a large and very vocal Muslim community in the country and the sympathies are not with Israel or the West, but with Palestine and people like the late Colonel Gaddafi. This is discussed in many GMJ Books, again, as a warning (see Code Name OST-M for a look on Muslim terrorism in South Africa, and how it stopped, all of a sudden, suspiciously so). It is a very realistic premise and this is important because Sub Saharan Africa is becoming important in the “War on Terror.” Let me explain.

Sub Saharan Africa is becoming the new battleground for the covert part of the “War on Terror” as the Mossad (Jerusalem Water Works, as we call them) chased the Muslim terrorists south to where the South Africans rule the roost and protect them from the West. In essence, the South Africans were offering “positive neutrality” to the Muslim radicals which translates to physical protection against Western Special Forces or Agents. They made it easy for them, the radicals, to come to South Africa, we speak of the access routes in GMJ 19, Code Name Bella Dawn, and other territories under their influence in Sub Saharan Africa. The Muslim radicals are safe because of the military and BRICS reasons I gave already; it is very unlikely that an attack on them would be launched by the West. It gave them a safe haven and up to a point still do so. The first five GMJ Books (sometimes called the Egg Breaker War Series) deal with this premise in greater detail. You may wonder what else made the new South Africa so arrogant to go this route, well, let us look in history and find the answers.

The South Africans, currently protecting the Muslim radicals, absolutely believe that no Western country will attack them as they know they are the wet dream of every liberal in existence because of the “Apartheid difficulty” they overcame in the past. It did not matter to the applauding liberals that the new lot were openly communists and atheists counting Colonel Gaddafi and Yasser Arafat together with Communist China and the Soviet Union (now Russia) as their closest allies. No matter that even a free-thinking man such as Nelson Mandela said: “Your friends are not our friends.” No matter that they voted time and time against the West at the UN, that cesspool of everything what is wrong with liberals, since being allowed back in and have a sizeable Muslim population that is belligerently disposed against Israel demanding boycotts or that South Africa should be selling advanced weapons to Israel’s (read America / the West) enemies. None of this matters to Western liberals. This is a typical liberal and, it must be said far right-wing problem also, they don’t think things through, they get caught up in the moment. The liberals just loved the idea of majority rule, one-man-one-vote, they never thought of the consequences which we see today and will keep on seeing until a large middle-class is formed to be an effective opposition against shyster turds. Sadly, we also saw the consequences in Libya and a half a dozen other countries I can mention where the West’s interference brought more misery than anything else, even Iran is a CIA created problem (see Code Name Wrangler why).

Needless to say, the South Africans and Muslim radicals feel quite safe and with much reason. They can defend themselves and they will and then who knows what the BRICS countries will do if South Africa is attacked first by the West (in the form of Special Forces, secret agents or cruise missiles) for whatever reason. There is no mutual defence treaty we know of but if you look at the arrogance in giving “positive neutrality” to the radical Islam followers you have to wonder what they know and deny in public. Their actions show they fear no one and least not any Western led Special Forces raid or attack. They know they can and will defend themselves and if that starts World War Three, so be it. They think they will win in the end and they have a point, if BRICS come into the fray, and they might, you will have a fight on of epic proportions. No Western leader is willing to take that chance. Besides, China can pull in the US’s credit, and then what? A big sarcastic thank you to those of the turd brigade, both liberal and conservative, who created trillions in debt for the much abused American taxpayer. This debt is held by a foreign country of uncertain motives or very certain motives if we look at the expanding aircraft carriers and submarines and BRICS Pact. So I think it is safe to say, a conventional attack is very unlikely but if it happens, well, the fight will be on, have no doubts, South Africa will counter attack and force the issue all the way. In the meantime, other shenanigans are ongoing.

You may wonder why not then try clandestine operations or long range cruise missile strikes against the Muslim terrorists hiding down south? Well, the cruise missile strikes would be in law an act of war – the attacked country may well shoot its own missiles back and right at the White House, kicking off a general war. Kindly always remember, as I explained, this is not a country unable to retaliate in kind. It will retaliate, military and economically, via the UN, and wherever. The West has another distinct disadvantage they have not comprehended yet but we are getting there.

Sub Saharan Africa was so insignificant during the Cold War that no spy networks were established and now it is too late. The South Africans are already established and not about to let you in. You may not have heard of the South African Secret Service before reading the GMJ Books but be assured they are well respected in the Great Game and true professionals as good as any and in their own sphere the prevailing factor. Frankly, neither the Mossad nor the CIA or MI6 is rated highly in this sphere. We piss on them, they stand out, are unable to operate in any meaningful way and despised by the locals who see the US as a loser, about to run for home as explained. Jews are not liked to begin with and the Pommies, well, they are a former colonial power, hated. The Western Agencies are seen as a joke and being fed false or unimportant intelligence, by the local Agencies they officially liaise with. The West cannot, they do not have that capability, to cross check what they are being fed, but that did not stop them from trying. Oh no, they tried and they failed.

Covert operations were tried by the West and they ran into the established spy networks within days kicking off. Africa always had good counter espionage units, they had to keep the despots in power, and hence anything untoward is automatically reported. Foreign teams & spies are not welcome here without permission, a subject frequently addressed in the GMJ Books (see Code Name Cadillac, Code Name Blue Tang, Code Name Casselberry to name a few). At first the agents were politely warned to leave and get out. Then a few groups simply went off the air and disappeared (I was directly involved in two instances, you may imagine their fate). The Western spymasters stopped trying for a while, wondering what to do next and then became smart, they remembered the “Egg Breakers” that in theory, anyway, were Western orientated and sympathetic to the “War on Terror.”

They made the approach to the only tribe in Africa with decades of highly successful counter insurgency and counter terrorism experience behind them, the Afrikaner, my people. Once the rulers of Apartheid South Africa, and masters in hunting down terrorists and completely at home in their birthplace, they were here in Africa since 1652 and as Christians disliked the Muslim radicals enough to kill them. This led directly to the “Egg Breaker War” as it became known in our circles where the Egg Breakers switched sides and with British “mercenary” help destroyed the “Muslim Truce” up to a point (see Code Name VFO565, Code Name Pour Angelique, Code Name Phoenix, Code Name Lise, and Code Name Dawson) and opening the way for the Western Units to get the radicals sorted if they wished to do so by covert means.

To be honest, no one really knows who created the Egg Breaker concept. I do know you found us all over Sub Saharan Africa, even today, the most covert use of them was in Libya but only for a very short while (see why, Code Name Casselberry). With the passing years I became convinced that British MI6 (called “Six” by us) was behind the Egg Breaker concept and pulling the strings. If so, they used money from their cousins, the CIA whom we call the “Virginians” because of their headquarters in Langley, Virginia. We knew the Brits were so broken in money terms, it is an open secret, that they could not possibly sponsor any operation as large as the Egg Breakers. I suppose we could be classified as mercenaries as we got top dollars for our services acting as security consultants in Sub Saharan Africa and spying on the side for whoever paid us, as long as we agreed with their values. We knew our worth on a continent where we reigned supreme for decades. At the same time, we stayed loyal to ourselves and our traditions and the lads from Six kept very quiet on their role (if they had one, I don’t know for sure). As Afrikaners or Afrikaner orientated we were opposed to anything English and would never willingly take orders from them. This caused problems during the “Egg Breaker” War described in Code Name Lise and later in Code Name Dawson.

We don’t take kindly to anything English even if I count many Englishmen as friends. This dislike, it is a fine old tradition by now, was always present. The Afrikaner is not English and does not want to be despite being part of the British Empire for decades, against our will. Even our local language, Afrikaans, is a Dutch or Flemish dialect and has nothing to do with English but you find numerous Zulu words in it. After almost four-hundred years in Africa, we are white Africans and not welcome anywhere else. Originally, we came from Germany, Russia, France and Holland, the English came much later, in large groups, in 1820. It must be admitted and is, that after all these years we have nothing left in common with Europe. We see them as strange white people without much to admire in their countries. Their ways entirely strange to us who know what an illegal immigrant is - we deport them on the spot and no two ways about it. If the “undocumented alien” or whatever crap they are called by liberals does not get the message to piss off home, that immigrant may well be murdered or beaten until he understands that the law is there to be obeyed, it is not promulgated by parliament and signed by the President to be abused by them. Xenophobia, as ugly as it is, is a reality in Africa. Foreigners are chased away because of tribalism, it is not a country, it is many countries with many tribes inside those countries disliking each other. For us, the idea to live in a place like Western Europe without the sun shining 99% of the time, without the Southern Cross (a bunch of stars) to guide us home and with snow making our feet wet, is hideous to us. We like Africa even if the continent is lost, it cannot be saved, not even a man like Mandela could. This is our home; we don’t belong anywhere else and have no intention of leaving although we did lose 50% of our numbers to emigration since 1994. Those remaining are unlikely to leave and not everyone wants a green card in the US, unlikely as this may sound to you, we are first and foremost Africans even if Caucasian.

The loathing between the Afrikaner and Englishman goes deep - it was the last war between the Afrikaner and British Empire which caused the most dislike endured to this day. The calamity took place in 1901 and is called genocide by civilised men and a war crime by us. It was during the Second Anglo Boer War of 1899 -1902 that the exhausted British Army (they were losing and the war cost them more than any other in their Empire’s history) got desperate. They, under a suspected homosexual called Lord Kitchener invented something called “concentration camps,” yes, they call the places that name. The idea behind it was to deny non-combatant support to the fast moving Boer Commandoes or Boer Army (irregular cavalry, not Special Forces at all). As a direct result of their “great idea,” the British Army rounded up all the white women and children they could find and murdered (by chance, not choice, it must be said) almost one third of all Afrikaner women and children in the process. No less than any number between thirty and thirty-seven thousand white women and children died in conditions which would again be seen in 1945 in places like Auschwitz. In history thus, concentration camps were a British Army concept and not a German Nazi one. Obviously it is a damn shameful fact of life which they seem to want to forget about and should be reminded about now and then for their own good. This aspect will be found in every GMJ Book, simply because the characters and me, lost family in those camps. They are not forgotten, even today.

The women and children, non-combatants all of them and their many more black servants (no slaves for two generations by that time), died of disease and starvation inside concentration camps where by the laws of war they should not have been in the first place. The Geneva type Conventions, signed by the British Army at the time, prohibited such acts against civilian populations. You have to see the pictures of those victims and you can do so easily by Googling it to understand the ongoing anger. No matter what the British Army intentions were (to deny support to the Boer Commandoes) it happened and unlike what Hillary Clinton thinks, it does matter. Lives do matter, black and white and yes, even a liberal’s although he is not worth the price of a single bullet in my opinion. As far as we are concerned the Freeloaders in Buckingham Palace bear the ultimate responsibility and guilt (read shame & dishonour) for what their Army did in their name, no matter how long ago. It was a war crime of note and left deep scars which will not be forgiven easily. So much so that the South African Army, to this day, has a standing order to shoot anything wearing khaki (the British soldiers were called Khakis) and Bob is your uncle. You don’t need any permission from a commissioned officer to do so and God will not help you if you fail to do so. That is Standing Order One, you learn it at your first day of army service.

Justice for the slaying of the innocents was done in a small way, I am glad to say. When the most famous Parasite of all, known to you as Queen Victoria, died during the Boer War, it was seen as justice from God. We wish her and her countless siblings breeding in rare fashion all over the “Royal Houses of Europe” everything which is bad and may she join the homosexual Kitchener wherever he is which is not heaven, God will never allow them close or give them peace, we believe this. We grudgingly still await an apology which will never arrive, probably because of fears of being sued as the Kenyans did recently on their so called abuse during the “Uhuru Uprising” (it was not much of an uprising to be honest, 38 white people died besides 2000 Africans, in the statistics of war, almost nothing although every life lost is regrettable). Interestingly, we studied the “Uhuru Uprising” in great detail and some South African Police Force members were involved, it is one of the forgotten counter insurgency wars which the colonials actually won.

Being accused of having English blood in your veins was the worst insult an Afrikaner child could endure at school and an immediate reason for a proper fist fight behind the bicycle sheds. Such insults had to be answered with blood and was. This was one hell of a problem to me. I was christened with an English sounding name, Geoffrey, and I suffered more than most and learned to fight back hard from the day I realised I was good at such things. I could and did defend myself but only after the school janitor (assistant janitor actually, as a black man he could never be the chief janitor, it was reserved for whites) took pity on me, battered and bleeding after yet another fist fight because of my name and lack of a jersey, I grew up poor. Mr Dlamini was a great friend in need and taught me to speak Zulu fluently besides using my fists well enough to gain a richly deserved reputation for violence. It was most valuable to me, fighting for survival almost, I knew I would come out swinging and not stop nor mind taking a blow or two in return. You just get stuck in and the other lad will break and run at some stage. He had parents to run to, I did not. It made a difference, I suppose.

The boxing Mr Dhlamini taught me was not according to the Marquess Rules but street boxing. He was a good boxer himself in his youth, semi-professional, making some money to buy a car, an old Rambler. What he taught me was street fighting in the townships as the black areas were known (no mixing of races then). After school, I was never going to college despite good academic marks, no money, the South African Police Force offered me a square meal twice a day, a small salary, a uniform and to be someone if I wanted to be and I really wanted to. I had enough of being hungry most of my life and as a poor white being looked down on by everyone including other more privileged whites around me. If I was born English, I would have enlisted in the British Army which we sincerely admired despite our intense dislike of anything English except rugby and cricket and tennis for the sissies (Afrikaans, wankers) among us. Yeah, I don’t get it either since all the above sports are English. Mind, soccer was banned in Afrikaans schools as being “English” and “black” too. Apartheid was as terrible as you read and of Nelson Mandela I only heard when in the Police College, which is not a “college” and had nothing to do with the comedy movies of the 1980s, no, it was six months of basic training, as horrible as in any Army or Marine Unit.

It must be said, the old Police had a very fair system going where a man could excel and was not a Sheriff’s Department or a “Bobby” which you find in the UK. We were policemen yes, with powers of search and arrest, but also soldiers with an excellent reputation in deviousness, toughness and violence when called to be violent which was often. Since 1913 when the South African Police Force was created under former British Army and Indian Army officers, we fought as mobile cavalry, then light infantry and later as mechanised infantry and Special Forces proper for those who could hack it. In my time, during the South African Border War, we killed 90% of all terrorists in the rural areas. Inside South Africa we killed an astonishing 98% of all terrorists found. As Police Special Forces, we did whatever the much better known Army Units did far behind enemy lines and were rated as highly as any other Special Forces Unit in the world including the British Special Air Service or Israeli Sayaret Matkal with whom we had a lot more in common than what is realised by the public.

It was a great life and I felt completely at home in the military lifestyle and excelled in it. I found out I could push my body through pain barriers and once I knew that, I did so all the time (all Special Forces men do that, you will not make Selection if you cannot). Finally, after much hard work, blood at times, tons of sweat, tears and heartfelt prayer often enough, I got the respect I wanted, field grade officer’s rank and a chance of conducting secret missions which almost never reached the books or the press. Categorically everything we did was classified “Top Secret” and unlike the Army Units, no books were ever written on the Police Special Forces, not even today. Late in 1998, just after the Al-Qaeda attacks on the American Embassies in East Africa and Mr Clinton’s pathetic response, my future wife and soul, Angelique Dawson, came storming into my life like a destructive tornado. I was already out of Special Forces proper and an “Egg Breaker” for seven years by that time. I knew who she really was despite the name she introduced herself by, Mrs Dawson, when we first shook hands, one of those meetings which change your life. I had recognised her from a previous incident (most men would remember her, it is a terrible disadvantage for a spymaster, she is rather beautiful).

As a woman she is blessed with a swimsuit model body honed by years of hard physical activity and with a firm chest area as we African males call a woman’s bosom. Her hair was shoulder length and auburn with a blonde stripe in it and she had a most attractive smile when she used it which was often and a laugh leaving her entire body shaking (much to my discomfort, such shaking chests are terribly hard to ignore if not totally gay). Her eyes were green, and they changed colour at times depending on her mood. I can tell you, staring at her eyes and listening (trying so hard to ignore my chest, Angelique) was a lot of multitasking for one man. We are not known for such things.

I first saw her in a picture I found in her father’s wallet about eight years before this meeting. That day, when I saw her picture, was a miserable day for us as I was searching her dad’s body whilst apologising softly for being too late. He was a police general, old school and as hard as nails. I knew him well. He was my commanding officer in Police Special Forces for a time before being retired forcefully when the changes came after 1990 and lesser men took fright. As it happened, he was taken hostage by terrorists who did not click that the South African Border War was over and I led a failed attempt to rescue him. I took a ten-man section from my mate Geelslang Peter Ndebele’s platoon to go with me on that rescue mission. I stated flatly to him, a captain then and about to replace me as company commander, a major, that I was acting on my own. I had no orders to attempt a rescue and was in point of fact ordered to stand down for the fourth time. He could and should have refused the request to come with. Even so, he felt insulted at my attempt to protect his commissioned rank, the old man was like a father to him and loyalty is a big deal to us if not to the wankers called politicians. In the end, that same afternoon just before the sun went down, we dropped by parachute all around the suspected hostage house, stormed it and found the old general already murdered in cold blood. We failed and so it was, we were simply too late. If we launched earlier we would have made the rescue as we did many times in the past, I had never failed before. We executed (so some liberals claimed and I am not denying or confirming it) every terrorist we found in that house of evil. The terrorists, men and women died way too quickly for our liking and with more time they would have really regretted ever being born and meeting me. After years of fighting communists by any means possible, we knew everything about making someone suffer terrible agonies before death. That is the only part of the failed operation I regret, besides being too late, they died too quickly (Code Name Foxtrot).

The repercussions for my unauthorised raid and failure was prompt. I was blamed as failure has no fathers. Most certainly no senior officer stood up for me and I was thrown to the wolves. My career in the Police and Special Forces was over and so was Geelslang’s for not protesting my actions. I believe he lost more than me. Geelslang, as a Zulu man (a warrior tribe in South Africa, terrible people when not your friends), had to fight all the way to be a commissioned officer at 23 years of age (a record) and was well on his way to become the next Regimental Commander and the first black general officer based entirely on merit. If he stayed on he would have retired a major general at least and missed being a major by a few days. He was simply brilliant as a man and operator, even today spoken about with wonder, his reputation beyond belief. The rest of the lads got off since they were following orders and could not be expected to tell their platoon and company commander to piss off. Ballistics furthermore proved beyond any doubt that most of the terrorists were shot by Geelslang and I. We led the attack, were the first inside the house of evil, and so that too was logical. I calmly took the responsibility being the senior officer present but as said, Geelslang was blamed too, unfairly so, in my view.

Angelique did not attend her father’s funeral. She was outside the country and under deep cover so we acted as his pall bearers. His wife, Angelique’s mom, passed a few months before this sad affair. On the other hand, in many ways, we were family and it was a sight to behold, I am sure. Geelslang and I were in full dress uniform for the last time in our lives, sporting our Special Forces parachute wings, Army and Police, we qualified for both, and decorations for valour as did the many others attending out of respect for a good man. Not a single politician arrived even if he was a senior officer, a major general and such things expected, they wisely stayed away. We wanted to sort them out and rightly blamed them for holding us back. His only child, Angelique Dawson, would also become major general but in the French Army and my commanding officer a few years later. It is all rather ironic and not something she does not find hilarious or fail to remind me of now and then (Code Name Dawson).

Geelslang and I stood alone that day at the funeral but felt no regrets. We were already being ignored by the career chasers you find in the Military and Police. I was therefore rather surprised when a few days after the old general’s funeral, I was approached by another retired very senior officer I served with when I started out in Special Forces the decade before. He was highly respected and he had an offer of employment I could not refuse, being in the process of being cashiered if not resigning quickly enough. I formally requested to take my friend Geelslang with me if he wanted to come with. In fact, I made it a pre-condition of service and the recruiter agreed straightaway. Looking back, I feel he was rather grateful to me of getting Geelslang also into the new unit or organisation (which he never commanded, he just recruited). Getting Geelslang to come with me was an enormous bonus to all. As a black man he could move places where I simply cannot and together we would achieve great fame in our world. He accepted my offer as my full partner and so we became part of a very secretive group known informally as the “Egg Breakers.” Through the years we did well financially and had many adventures, set out in the GMJ Series and established ourselves in a country north of South Africa, called Mozambique, a very picturesque place, beautiful white beaches and Christian in outlook, a former Portuguese Colony and once our enemy.

Officially, it is speculated that the “Egg Breaker Program” fell under “Directorate F” of the South African Secret Service (SASS), an organisation which only came into being a few years after we were already established. Many say the Directorate is based on the more famous Soviet model, Directorate “A” of the Spetsnatz or Soviet / Russian Army Special Forces. There is a vast difference though – the Egg Breakers were entirely unofficial and not members of any official unit. Spetsnatz in its many formats, are members of the Russian Military but the concept of having an alternative force in waiting, embedded already, is the same. Nothing is new under the sun, this was similar as what the Muslim terrorists are trying today, civilian cells inside the enemy homelands. Their ideas can be traced via their so called “Al-Qaeda Manual” to Syrian Intelligence who got the idea from the Soviets originally. The major dissimilarity is that the embedded Muslim terrorists are rank amateurs unable to create much mayhem – they are not experts in war and their pinprick attacks against civilians a zero on a contract in the long run. Two weeks at the most and everyone had forgotten what took place or the liberals are making excuses for it, San Bernardino 2015 is but one such an example.

The Egg Breakers as highly experienced former Special Forces operators, are so much more dangerous than any Muslim radical, able to work with official Special Forces and spies or acting by themselves, blowing things up, killing, snatching or just gathering intelligence. We could seriously damage a country if we wanted to and we would not be bothered with pinprick attacks either, we would attack meaningful targets causing mayhem on a scale you cannot imagine. Working behind enemy lines is what Special Forces does (see Code Name Missa 72) but such men, there are no women in our ranks, are highly disciplined and unlikely to just strike out at workplaces settling personal scores. We would be able to cause genuinely massive problems and we were already embedded and overlooked, to be honest, acting as sleeper agents for the first seven years. I was hoping never to get the recall if honest.

The South African Secret Service decided to take direct command of us and found a major strategic asset in the Egg Breakers. The Service itself had no spy networks left as the official spies had put an end to all the old Apartheid spy networks (the correct thing to do in a changed world) and were now in the cold looking for new networks. Somebody senior then recalled they already had the spy networks created by the Egg Breakers. Not unnaturally, I suppose, they wanted command and would establish command as far as it is possible to command Egg Breakers (highly individualistic people). And so they flashed the code name VFO565 across our screens to take over. We started meeting with them, our years as sleeper agents over and all hell about to break loose as they went on the offensive, using us as first envisaged.

The commanding officer of “Directorate F” (a Directorate denied vehemently to exist to this day) and bona fide head of counter terrorism and later counter espionage, was one Angelique Dawson, today my wife and soul and mother of our twin daughters. She caused chaos in my life being “otherwise” at the best of times and soon proved to be dangerous in the extreme, very able to back up her views with any amount of deadly force needed. She had no lack of self-confidence or none I could ever see and she is exactly as described in the GMJ Books. As such, she simply marched in and firmly shook our hands. Declared herself to be in command and so it was, make peace. Once she had established command, she kept command even after she defected, we say came in from the cold, to DGSE (the French external spy agency) in 2012 (Code Name VFO565). It was a long and fascinating journey for her.

I acted, with Geelslang’s help (invaluable, he saved us many times) first as her impromptu bodyguard, then trusted agent and lastly as ground commander during the “Egg Breaker War.” A war she tried hard to prevent through the years but it was always coming, inevitable I would say. We would always be unhappy with the “Muslim Truce” and the way the new lot thinks. This then is the background on all GMJ Books and my world which you are about to enter again in a new book. Lastly, no GMJ Book has a name which says much about the mission inside it. Like military codes and they are codes, every one of them, they are explained to those who need to know, you the reader, will find the explanation why we used that name, somewhere in the book. I do hope you will enjoy the rest of the story. It is worth reading.

They are bluffing that B-1Bs are enough for fighting an all-out nuclear war. The US imperialists keep letting their nuclear strategic bombers fly over South Korea in a bid to seek an opportunity of mounting a pre-emptive nuclear attack. They had better stop their rash action.” Statement from Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency on the Obama’s White House attempt to scare North Korea

Chapter 1

Zimbabwe / Mozambican border, 16 March 2010

It dismays me when pukes like the North Korean leadership elite laugh at US attempts to induce acceptable behaviour from them. Sadly, flying a few ancient bombers over the Korean Peninsula won’t work as a credible counter measure or overt threat, some people just don’t understand lines in the sand, they have to be convinced and convincing people to be respectful is an art which my future wife and soul, Angelique Dawson is exceedingly good at. In the first place, she does not threaten, she prophesies or she simply attacks or unleashes men like myself and the lesson in good manners starts. Whatever method used, it is effective, we have respect if not outright fear and I am proud of that. In my world we know the difference between bluffing and acting decisively and we were about to act decisively right now. As soon as she lifted off in the South African Air Force JAS39 Gripen multirole fighter jet which came to fetch her for a meeting and broke the sound barrier seconds later (see Code Name Halloween 38), I turned to the men behind me, assembled to hear what she wanted done in her absence.

“Right, she will be back by tonight, I am sure. And she will have permission to do what needs to be done, the President likes her. Yep, I know her for more than a decade by now and can read the signs as well as anyone. What we want you to do, is to get your asses south and wait for my command to conduct some live firing exercises. What exactly you are shooting at does not concern you but I expect your rockets or shells to be effective against human beings and light armour. You get?”

I looked at the assembled men, reading their reaction, commanding men is something I did for a long time, this was not new to me. They looked fascinated and why not, working with us is a rare honour for conventional troops. I mean, people heard of us, they may even have seen us and yet no one knows exactly what we do. Not even the President but with them it is not need to know, it is deniability and covering your ass. No turd (we call all politicians, left right and centre, same thing, turds – they float in what they talk) wants to be exposed or go down in history as what he is, the son of lies and nothing but lies.

“We are not about to ask stupid questions, Major Foxtrot but we would need a bit more information than that, if you don’t mind.” One replied, respectfully enough, I recognised him as the G6 self-propelled howitzer commander, a steady man.

When the South African Army invaded Angola in 1974 and not without secret US approval in the background (soon to be exposed as dishonest support), they soon found out that their World War Two Era artillery were out ranged by the Soviet supplied equipment they faced. And so they designed and built something called the G5 howitzer of 155 mm calibre (6.1 inch), a brilliant piece of gun design and not, repeat not, a direct copy of the Canadian GC-45, also a brilliant design. The G5 can fire at ranges of 45 miles accurately, that is almost double than what any other comparable system can do. After the G5 proved itself in combat in Angola, the South African Army decided they needed a mobile version of the G5 to fit into their armoured vehicle fighting doctrines. At this stage the 14 000-pound G5 howitzer was pulled around by SAMIL-100 trucks and so the G6 self-propelled howitzer was born, at times called the Rhinoceros but the name never caught on. This vehicle has to be seen to be believed and is unique in the world. It is a self-propelled, lightly armoured and completely landmine proof vehicle weighing in at 46,000 pounds and looks like a rather oversized tank. The G5 howitzer gun is mounted on it in a turret able to traverse in any direction and fire accurately within a second of it coming to a halt. Following standard South African military doctrine, the G6 is wheeled, not tracked and capable of higher speeds than anything else in existence in that class (you cannot imagine how it feels when it overtakes you on the highway on its way to or from a shooting exercise). The powerful diesel engine gives it a 463 miles claimed range (I saw them exceeding 500 miles) between refuelling stops, which is virtually double than that of comparable vehicles. This is important here, the distances in Africa are longer than most and it won’t get stuck easily either. The six large tires simply float over obstacles and they will not be shot out just like that. By any account the G6 is a superb example of self-propelled artillery design, the best in the world and I am not joking, the statistics back me up. During the decades since its first appearance in 1987, it was updated many times with advanced electronics and is reckoned today to be as up to date as any. It was tested in combat in Angola and afterwards against the best the West had on test ranges. As an example, the tracked German Army’s Panzerhaubitze 2000 with its deplorable (yes, hello Hillary) 226-mile combat range, arrived here in 2005 for testing. The G6 won every shooting competition at the De Brug artillery range close to Bloemfontein in the Free State Province of South Africa. Geelslang and I actually saw part of the exercise by chance. We were driving on the national freeway to fetch something for Angelique and saw the G6s (four of them) driving towards their base at a steady 55 miles per hour, the mighty Panzerhaubitze 2000? Well it was following rather sedately parked on the back of a large lowbed truck, unable to move on its own tracks at that speed for any time or distance. We just shook our heads – do they really think that Oshkosh will be able to go cross country? Never ever and so it is, it may work in Europe, and I hope so, but here it is rubbish. We built our own weapons, we buy nothing from the US and dislike anything English and we lead the world in many areas. It is in no way a normal African country.

“Right, I will brief you as follows, it may even be true or not but you will never know since you will be firing indirectly (unable to see the enemy, Angelique). The scenario is that we have an Army Special Forces Team running towards the Mozambican border, they may be chased by undesirable people hell-bent to murder them without reasons we would be sympathetic to. Once they cross into this country, we will destroy the chasers and we will do so with indirect fire from a fair distance away. That is where you are coming in, to conduct the bombardment at my command. The chasers will not know where the shells and missiles come from and you will not know what you shot at except that you did so at my command, a live ammunition training exercise. It is for your own safety that I am not giving you a normal fire mission briefing.” I smirked, most men love this type of thing and why not, it is as good as kicking a liberal between the legs. “Gentlemen, only liberals ask too many questions, that is why they hate themselves and need psychological treatment together with help-me-feel-happy pills.”

With a G6 self-propelled howitzer you have a serious problem when facing it, its main gun will dominate anything between 3,280 yards (after that they fire straight up, like a mortar to decrease the range) and as far away as 80,000 yards (that is 45 miles, Angelique) as makes no difference and it fires every known NATO shell very accurately indeed. The gun can shoot anything from HE (high explosive), WP (white phosphorous), Chaff, Illumination, Canister, DAM (area denial munition), RAAM (remote anti-armour mine), as well as AP (anti-tank – all of them) as well as tactical nukes. She fires at four rounds rapid and then two shells per minute sustained. What makes this unique is the extreme accuracy involved. I know of an exercise in 2012, just before we defected, where a G6 self-propelled howitzer fired four rounds at 23 miles (half her effective distance but about what the rest of the world can do) – they fell within 15 feet of the target and you can imagine the rest – nothing was left after that salvo, fired one after the other in rapid fire mode. The big vehicle arrived a few days before, on “loan” to Angelique’s Service and the lads first designated to protect the runway we were operating from but things have changed, they were now needed down south and fast as well (Code Name Halloween 38).

“Airburst and anti-personnel shells it will be, we fire on command, a live fire training exercise, Sah, and we hit what we aim at, you may be sure of that.” The man acknowledged grinning at his mates. I expected nothing less.

“Oi, Sah, what about us? We can be devastating too!” Another asked, he was the senior Valkiri commander. To be honest, I had a lot of plans for him too. “We will be closer to the action, of course, we don’t skulk at the other side of the country like some people I know, the G6 people that is. Yeah, close and personal, rough and tough, ready to rumble, any range closer than 22 miles, that is us.”

The Valkiri Mark II is a Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), sometimes called the Bateleur and a devastating weapon system. We had two such vehicles available, built on the SAMIL-100 chassis and lightly armoured, fully landmine protected as is all other South African Military trucks or infantry fighting vehicles as well as personal carriers. The country led the world on countering landmines since 1974 and as such we were never much bothered with landmines during the long South African Bush War in Angola. A lot of technology came from that conflict which cost the Soviet Union dear, they suffered billions of dollars of losses as we destroyed and captured the stocks, sometimes still on the secret lists. It is said that our efforts helped the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan a lot, diverting weapons away from them. Each Valkiri system had 40 launching tubes for their 127 mm rockets and space to keep more in reserve. Those rockets, when they came out they were roughly based on the Soviet BM-21 Grad, the old “Stalin Organ” itself, except they do so at a distance of close to 22 miles. When they use the locally designed high explosive sub munition warhead, it is known as the HE (high explosive) pre-fragmented anti-personnel and light vehicle warhead – each warhead releases 9,700 small steel balls, this will completely saturate an area of 16,145 square feet with no less than 388,000 anti-personnel bomblets in less than a minute. And that is not all that system can fire, we have cluster and anti-tank mine dispensers too plus the usual HE (high explosive) and WP (white phosphorous). The salvos are fired in ripples or all at once, one rocket every 0.5 second, so 20 seconds in all – and then that vehicle moves away, reload rapidly, reload and shoot again. The previous model, based on the Mercedes Unimog carriage, proved to be devastating in combat where we often called them in on fire missions, the entire target area is covered in dust as the airbursts hammered home. Damn right they could play a role, he was right. Yet, his comment on being on the other side of the country, they are aggressive people – the Armour Corps from where these men came – clearly annoyed the G6 crew. They stared pugnaciously at the Valkiri lads, no matter than they were outnumbered two to one, ready to rumble.

“We all know that you lot failed maths at school, hence you cannot work out the complicated trajectories which comes naturally to us, shooting from far away and with complete accuracy. We don’t need to be close to the target, we destroy at a distance, like the gods of old, you get?” The G6 commander responded with a smirk, they clearly had this argument before. “We are not even at the halfway point with 22 miles! I am sure all of us can piss further than that.” He nodded to his lads in great satisfaction. “We can show you if you wish?”

Interesting as that was, the two men were evenly matched in size, I had a movement order to complete or Angelique would want to know why. Or, and this is worse, she would shake her head and wonder audibly “if men can get anything done without women in charge, it being known and undisputed (which it is, Angelique) that Adam, a male, the first attempt from God, not perfect at all, could not hack it alone even if in paradise and so God, in His wisdom and mercy, created a woman, Eve, to help him out.” She usually stops at this point before you can explain the story further… that Eve then helped Adam into sin by listening to the devil to steal apples. It would take a braver man than me to mention that bit, she gets “otherwise” (Foxtrot did once when we first met, we don’t speak about that PSYOPS mission of the devil anymore now that we are happily married. The husband failed to protect his wife, it is simple, before that, he could not hack it, that is where it started and it was not an apple either, Angelique).

“Yes, Valkiri. Your two vehicles will go with and participate in the live fire exercise. Airburst, HE (high explosive) pre-fragmented anti-personnel, and I expect proper results. If we don’t get the results you can deliver and your salvos must be accurate, we will have many uncalled for casualties.” I remarked quietly. The Special Forces Team, having my best mate, Geelslang, with them and acting as liaison officer for Angelique, would be dangerously close to the exploding shells and rocket warheads. “I don’t want that, gentlemen, we really have those lads’ lives in our hands here, they trust us not to screw up and we will not. You will do me proud.”

I first met Geelslang Peter Ndebele, a Zulu man, at the end of his Selection to Police Special Forces but I knew a lot of him by then (Geelslang is the Afrikaans word for Cape cobra, a vicious snake). My instructor mates at Special Forces Selection phoned and told me I better get (then) Police Sergeant Geelslang Peter Ndebele recruited to my platoon and promote him to platoon sergeant and my second in command. They had never seen the like and could not believe the man’s talents in leadership. He took over when the original commissioned officers were binned and carried the remaining two men (they had a 98% failure rate on that Selection, mine was 95%) so much so that the two constables were marginal, many felt they had unfair help with Geelslang kicking them along. Geelslang was a natural, he made everything look easy, carrying on no matter what they did to him and they did a lot. Many wondered if he could break and “forgot” to tell him he passed Selection, and so he kept on walking and running (staggering & grinning, talking in his head to some Angels and God according to him) from one point to another until Angelique’s dad, our commander at the time, stopped the impromptu experiment, fearing correctly that Geelslang would die before admitting defeat.

By that time during Selection you are just about immune to physical or mental abuse but I had never seen a man in that state of tiredness before. He was dead on his feet and yet had something spiritual about him, his eyes still alert and ready to pounce, holding his rifle in his hands, immaculately cleaned, even his uniform. We simply shook our heads when he was told by Angelique’s dad that he passed Selection four days ago already. He saluted the General, shrugged gracefully at us, displaying no anger as I would have or perhaps not, asked how his remaining two lads were and then knelt to one knee to thank God for the opportunity to be a man among men. It was an incredibly moving experience for us watching. A man that could not be broken.

We always needed men, desperately, we never could fill our ranks to what they should have been, because the standards were so high. Geelslang could have gone to any platoon of his choice, I was not the only one after him. The other platoon leaders were ready to make any promise to get him. Being smarter than most at certain things, I ensured his father, a tough police detective warrant officer, supported me before I spoke respectfully to him in Zulu to show I esteem his culture. I explained I needed a good man to be my second-in-command and he was that man. After that he was hooked and we became closer than brothers, a not so unusual event in Apartheid South Africa. Skin colour played no role in Special Forces, my word, you got there entirely on merit and Geelslang was the best of the best by far. Special Forces always had more black men in their ranks than whites, some units were 70% black if not more. Operators still talk about him with awe and rightly so. By any account Geelslang was adored by his men, I was respected for being hard but fair - there is a difference between the two and I am honest if enough to admit it.

For fun we sparred in the boxing ring where he had no equal including me who had a well-deserved reputation for violence since school days. To be sure, he came to my attention on his first official day at the platoon when he floored a white member who called him “Skaapsteker” which is the Afrikaans word for an ugly but none too dangerous snake. The thing is, Geelslang could speak Afrikaans fluently too (he also speaks Portuguese as do most Special Forces operators of our era) although he preferred Pommy as do most Zulus. He interpreted the name correctly as a calculated insult to try him out (such things are normal among men, you push and see what happens). The fact that the other lad was a known boxer of some repute did not stop him. He walked up and knocked him out with what became known as the “Geelslang left hook” and it is hard to duck, he spars away with his right hand, changes his stand, and then comes the left hook so rapidly and so potently aimed that it lifts a man off his feet. Being able to fight and shoot with any hand, ambidexterity it is called by the well-read folk (Angelique is like that also), is disconcerting to the extreme. You are not sure which way to duck and then it is too late, you walk into that left hook and down you go.

He indicated to me at his internal trial for assault that he is Geelslang Peter Ndebele, not a “skaapsteker” which can also be translated to mean “sheep shagger” and demanded his rights in the boxing ring. Such was our ways in the unit. We gave the superbly fit young men the chance to sort out their differences as men and anyone could challenge an equal rank to a fair enough bout. All of them were handy with their fists as all of them came to Selection only after a couple of years on the mean streets where you had to fight to survive. We knew a lot about dirty street fighting and some members became Krav Maga experts, most were what is known as “overachievers.” Geelslang was one of them, a Krav Maga expert, but his first love is boxing. Since no one had ever seen him fight before except me, we did not really know what would happen. I suspected he would be good and that he was holding back in our one bout before this incident. As it turned out, he was better than just good, he was excellent.

The next afternoon we all, including Angelique’s dad who was at the time our commanding officer, gathered in the gym to see the fight. Geelslang floored the boxer lad again and so fast that we first thought he may have cheated in some way but he did not, he was simply that good. He looks the part, being stocky (most Zulus are) at 5.11 with unbelievably broad shoulders and thick powerful forearms. According to his wife, he looks like a shorter, much broader and fitter Denzil Washington with a deep baritone voice which goes with such a body. I have yet to see a man move that fast and strike that hard in a ring or any other place and would not like to go up against him for real. In later years he opened a boxing academy at our place, the Ukuthula Ranch, where the district’s kids, including Angelique’s and my twin daughters, Lise and Odette, had many happy bouts. A few lads turned professional under his tutorship and I suspect he could have gone that route, the old police produced many good boxers. Thinking back, I recall three policemen that became South African heavy weight champions. Quite a few others fought hard at Commonwealth Games, winning medals, before we got banned by international sanctions because of the Apartheid policies (made at a level where we were not and before we were born).

Sufficient to say we could use our fists, let there be no doubt and we were not the least afraid of being hit either. However, Geelslang had a killer instinct, he would hammer away mercilessly. One of the tests at Selection, right in the beginning actually, during the first weeding process, is to step into a ring (a line around you, in the sand, ironically) and take your designated mate on. You may not duck or weave, you have one minute to unleash hell and the instructors watch for weakness, flinching or ducking and if present, it is bye-bye to you. And so you get stuck in, grimly taking the returning punches (the other lad feels entirely the same as you) whilst swinging all the time. Geelslang knocked three men down in his minute of mayhem and they were hard bastards, well able to defend themselves. Angelique, when she did her French Army Commando Course (this swinging test is standard everywhere, not unique to us at all), knocked two big lads down, they underestimated her as men often do. I regret not seeing the fight but her Frog Minder, Colonel Annaud was there, commanding the course she was on. He told me that she simply exploded into a flurry of vicious blows and kicks, smirking all the time and by God, I believe that, having seen her doing so many times myself. She is dangerous (but I always missed when swinging at you, on purpose, I cannot hurt my soul, Angelique).

We made good money, Geelslang and I, by entering him against the army lads and others in bouts, with me acting as his corner assistant. We were taking side bets via a platoon member called Yankee Two Zero who joined us from the Army Unit (as a platoon leader and commissioned officer, my role in betting would have been frowned upon). Sadly, we went on operations constantly and had better things to do than boxing but Geelslang made enough money from our boxing ventures for his dad to buy him cattle. From this, after breeding happily for three years, he could afford to pay the lobola (African bridal treasure) his future wife’s parents demanded and since Thandiwe is a medical doctor, they demanded a lot. We were flat broke for a year after that but it was worth it. She promptly bought us new stock from which our current herds came. A man’s cattle are a sign of wealth in Africa, it is a big deal even if the Ukuthula Ranch is a hunting and fishing concession, we keep a few herds of cattle around.

The two Special Forces Units, Army and Police, traded members at times and Geelslang and I ended up spending a few years with the army lads after a misunderstanding during a training mission where we kidnapped an army intelligence officer, stole his vehicle and hammered a few lads trying to detain us. We also worked the green slime (the intelligence officer, army slang) over until he revealed what we wanted to know, he broke rather easily. Angelique’s dad, our commanding general, was most impressed with our dedication (it was an escape and evasion exercise) but we had to disappear for a while to escape criminal charges ranging from kidnapping, assault, attempted murder, theft of government property, to wit a vehicle, and so we arrived at one of the Army Special Forces Regiments, our platoon handed over to new commanders, much to our regret. But we would be back, smarter by far since we learned a lot from the professional soldiers about working behind enemy lines where they simply excelled and were better than us, to be honest. That story of being found and then calling in airstrikes to escape as is happening all the time with Western Special Forces in Afghanistan… to us that spells failure with a capital F. It is entirely the wrong way in deploying Special Forces and a waste of their unique talents in my opinion. You are never supposed to be caught or spotted although the enemy quickly knew we were around, we made life hell for them. At one stage we were commanding an entire battalion of irregulars behind enemy lines, launching audacious attacks all the time to destabilise the bastards (Code Name Missa 72). We had no air support whatsoever.

Geelslang and I did very well financially operating as a team after we left the police and became Egg Breakers under command of my issued girlfriend as she was at the time, one Angelique Dawson. A woman which Geelslang had grave doubts about even though they liked each other and could be considered friends. Certainly they always had a great respect for each other but that is natural to a man like Geelslang, one of nature’s natural gentlemen, he would never hurt a woman without reason and he respected her father, a big deal in Africa. He also had a private school (public in the UK) upbringing which gave him the ability to speak beautiful Pommy Hooligan (BBC Standard to you), as well as good manners. Such schools do produce superior lads, no reason to try and deny it. As much as we dislike anything English, they produce, as a nation, astonishing men, you have to shoot them at sight in order to survive. My own English accent is harsh, Afrikaans accentuated, almost German like. I was in a normal Afrikaans school, the teachers could not speak English properly and did not want to in public to begin with. We learned to speak and read English almost as an afterthought.

As a highly experienced former policeman Geelslang immediately noticed that there was something wrong with Angelique Dawson or rather her setup as head of counter terrorism in the South African Secret Service (SASS). He had a point, we discussed it at length as the years went on as we became more and more puzzled by her antics. She had skeletons in the cupboard which we picked up. She troubled us as she did the most outlandish things like rendezvousing with French nuclear submarines in the middle of the night (Code Name Angel). She could pick up the phone and get a company of legionnaires parachuted in to help her extract a blown agent (Code Name Missa 72). She was trained far beyond what is normal for South African Secret Service operatives by being able to conduct HAHO (high altitude, high opening) parachute jumps normally associated with Special Forces only. We knew that as a South African Secret Service member, she was trained officially only in static line jumping, the most basic form of military parachuting and it puzzled me who recognised her ability within seconds as she stabilised herself (Code Name Willow Bay). She also knew about HALO (high altitude, low opening) jumps (Code Name Green 41). Then she had pretty odd friends that popped into our lives now and then and some later turned out to be family (Code Name Devorah). As the years went on she became closer to the French Republic and I stopped defending her from Geelslang’s open misgivings. I knew he would keep quiet on what we suspected even if only because of me and not necessarily her. He watched our growing romantic relationship with narrowed eyes and then started talking loudly about “two goats he saw at his father’s farm, they too stared at each other” and finally, sorely tested, remarked I am Angelique’s “pet!” For Geelslang, as the consummate professional, the relationship between a commanding officer and operator was just wrong. He was right on all occasions, I don’t disagree. For myself, I was never that much interested in whatever else she was up to, I just loved her and protected her from her many enemies. I would follow her lead and so it is with souls. You cannot help yourself.

“We will deliver, Sah. The 127 mm rockets will be of use on mass saturation as is their way. Not that anything will be left alive after my first salvo, I too will use fragmentation or shrapnel but the Valkiris are welcome to make background noise. When, and what happens afterwards?” The G6 self-propelled howitzer commander asked, ignoring the Valkiri lads giving him peculiar looks at the implied insult.

I hastily went on; they can sort each other out later. “We will leave in the next hour and we won’t be back for a few days as the song goes. Get your vehicles sorted and fully bombed up (operational, ammunition, water, fuel, food for the crews for two weeks). We have fuel depots along the way and we will refuel even when not needed.” I lifted my hand when they looked like giving me a lecture on fuel ranges. “I know you have more than twice the range needed even if on soft sand all the way but we like being prepared as we will be operating independently. Once we refuelled for the last time you will split and not see each other again until we regroup for the return journey. I also get that the Valkiris can travel more than 800 miles on a fuel load, the G6 a bit less being much heavier. Standard doctrine, we refuel where we can, including fresh water. Where you establish your extra caches we will decide.”

Another feature of all South African Military (including the old police, being something like the US Marines in size and outlook), was and is large fresh water tanks on all vehicles. They do not believe in long logistic tails and see it as a weakness. What they do and want is independence of movement, excellent cross country ability, speed and firepower. With this type of thing they are experts, especially the Armour Corps, long considered by themselves to be the elite, and then came the paratroopers in the 1960s. The two units, based rather stupidly next to each other at Tempe (Bloemfontein, Free State Province) dislike each other at sight in an esprit de corps actively encouraged by their commanders. I recalled, smiling secretly to myself, on how the former paratrooper officers, there were many of them in the Army Special Forces Regiment Geelslang and I got banned to, explained the Armour Corps. They referred to them as “Panzers:” “Foxtrot, the Panzers are known cheaters on the rugby field and hence not people to mix with unless you have them over the barrel of a rifle and even then they need watching. It is disgraceful how dirty they played. We had to retaliate, of course, it is expected. You cannot let them run amok as if they are something special.” They would then sadly shake their heads at the thought of being cheated most cruelly (they lost most of the rugby games too, height restriction to jump from small aircraft doors did them in, the armour lads had enormous players, physically the largest in the entire army and not by chance either).

And after a while, the former panzer officers, there were some of them also, explained over a beer about the paratroopers. They referred to them as “Bats:” “Foxtrot, they would ambush innocent armour lads (wearing black berets with an armoured fist on it) in the dark and from behind, like Philistines in the Holy Bible, stealing whatever they could from us and what is even worse, Foxtrot, they are cheats. The Bats are known cheaters on the rugby field and hence not people to mix with unless you have them over the barrel of a tank gun and even then they need watching. It is disgraceful how dirty they played. We had to retaliate, of course, it is expected. You cannot let them run amok as if they are something special.” They would then sadly shake their heads at the thought of being cheated most cruelly (yeah, I understand that, read on, Foxtrot cheated me most cruelly during Code Name Anika, Angelique). And so it went on, good natured (or not) insults traded at times. One, he was from the panzers, stated that: “We Panzers have a very nice uniform looking like an overall and yes they smell of diesel and oil at times. A nice and manly that smell is too, not like the puke of an airsick paratrooper or perhaps urine (from fear, no doubt), who knows?” And the punch up would start seconds later, the paratroopers feeling that they passed a severe 14-day selection before even getting to jump training, they earned their wings and red beret. They are special and you should know that or be taught a lesson in manners.

From my long experience with them I will say this. The panzers, they carried themselves with an air of “F you mate. The panzers are here to save your butts! Once again I might f add and now kindly sit back and see us panzer lads sort the f terrorists out.” They were aggressive to a point of insanity and used their eighteen ton Ratels (Infantry Fighting Vehicles) like nothing you have ever seen before. They would shell the bastards for a short while and then hunt them down with the Ratels covered in grey gun smoke and firing all the time, dashing here and dashing there and driving over trees and wheeling and turning before emerging from the smoke to dash right back in to finish the job. During this time, you heard them on their radios directing fire or giving directions on how to stalk that f T55 behind the tree and so it was. They did not come to fight but to finish the fight for the infantry “who’s too f stupid to understand something as technical minded as a Ratel anyway and what about the famous f paratroopers? The only good a paratrooper does is to f confuse the enemy as they try to regroup. They are always dropped into the shit so to speak and waiting for the panzers to save them (they have a point historically but don’t say that to the paratroopers, they reply with one word – “Arnhem!” shouting that they are still waiting for the f panzers to arrive, yep, since 1944).” And then the punch up would start seconds later, leaving Geelslang and me unsure who to attack and declaring neutrality for the duration.

I am sure the Panzers saw us as not as bad as the Bats, being from Police Special Forces originally. In fact, they took pity on us being forced to live with such shysters without arresting them at sight and said so many times in private. Every story has two sides and the truth somewhere in between. This was for once not our fight but in essence we did not like the Panzers much and the feeling was at times mutual. They had, most unfortunately, recognised Geelslang and me as the lads who did them in at a Police versus Army rugby game a year before (we did too and got sent off twice in the first twenty minutes, no red cards in those days when men were men). We felt that the panzers don’t jump from aeroplanes and they do smell of oil from a great distance, manly or not, it may betray our positions. Whenever we got close we would sniff around loudly much to their annoyance.

I explained the logistics further: “We will have the Kwêvoël carrying extra ammunition for you and we will have another SAMIL-20 with even more ordnance and supplies following. We intend moving about 250 to 300 miles south, establish extra ordnance dumps, firing positions and go silent as we wait. Gentlemen, we will not have air cover but then, we never do. That means you will be exposed after you fired your salvos like your instructors and predecessors were in Angola during the Bush War, move away from your firing position and wait in your prepared positions. Make sure that you are silent on your radios unless really needed. The enemy is able to track your radios. We will work out a good firing plan beforehand, use encrypted burst transmissions and also make sure that you are next to something large, causing ground clutter. I don’t expect more than a few salvos will be needed!”

A fire plan is of great importance to artillery men and generals take extreme measures to appoint a good artillery officer to command the divisional artillery batteries. They fire mostly indirectly these days, meaning that they cannot see the enemy, they have to drop their shells where they are told to by spotters (most times Special Forces). Not to waste time with long grid references (never less than 10 figures), the area to be shelled is at times broken down into codes, and with a single word, they will fire on that location corresponding to what was agreed beforehand. It is a wonderfully simple method but it works.

“You bet! We have been waiting a long time to shoot in earnest again. We can leave earlier, Sah, we are bombed up already. Just need to fetch our sleeping bags and mosquito nets if you don’t mind, we are ready.” The Valkiri commander replied eagerly.

By his greying hair I recognised he would have fired on the Angolans and their Cuban mates in the late 1980s, they learned to fear us and with good reason, I assure you. An experienced combat commander, just what I wanted.

“Okay, when done with your sleeping bags etc., meet me here at the apron. I have to speak to Colonel Mack and his aircraft. Kindly leave one man each to supervise the loading of the Kwêvoël and SAMIL-20 for us with extra ordnance. I say again, anti-personnel and light armour, that is what we are targeting in this exercise. We can leave as soon as the transports are loaded.”

A Kwêvoël is a SAMIL-100 six-wheel drive truck and a landmine protected one, the cab anyway, armoured against the NATO 7.62 round, thus also against the lesser AK47 but not armour piercing rounds. The vehicle, used by the South African Army since the 1980s, had the deep V-shape hull expected, as well as thick bullet proof windows. This one had an air conditioning unit fitted (not standard), being armoured like that it gets warm inside and it was early autumn down here, still warm. The engine and gearboxes (including the transfer gearbox) were the same as the standard non-armoured vehicle, a turbo charged 16 liter V10 diesel, kicking out 235 kilowatts at 2,500 rpm, with 95% of the power band just above idling speed where it should be. The vehicle would play a major role during the coming Egg Breaker War, towing a ZU-23-2 23 mm anti-aircraft cannon and used by Geelslang as a battering ram when Angelique got shot (see Code Name Phoenix). The Army used the Kwêvoël vehicles for almost everything you can think of, from cargo carriers, fuel or water bowsers or as a recovery unit, towing other vehicles and a once-off landmine proof horse (cavalry) transporter. You could, despite the armour making it heavier than the standard model I had, the SAMIL-100, still load 10 tons at the back and pull another 10 tons across any rough terrain, they are magnificent vehicles. Big and impressive to look at, lasting forever. You had no fear of landmines inside it and were as safe as houses.

They split into groups, leaving two lads standing with me. I pointed towards the armoury where the SAMIL-20 and Kwêvoël stood waiting, the Special Forces drivers next to them. Back in the 1970s the South African Military began a modernizing program to replace their World War Two Era trucks, mostly dreadful British Army Bedfords. We have one here at the Ukuthula (Zulu, peace) Ranch we retired to, Angelique used it to teach our twins, Lise and Odette, the proper use of C-4 plastic explosives and that was the most usefulness it had during its life. They were not suited for Africa as we found out. They kept overheating and breaking down. What we wanted were rugged military trucks suited to local conditions which were harsh, dusty, terribly warm at times and just as cold in the winter. This led to the SAMIL (South African Military) trucks which came in three basic versions set apart only by load carrying capacity over any terrain. The smallest vehicle, the SAMIL-20 could carry two tons, actually more, the midrange, the SAMIL-50 five tons and the SAMIL-100 (a six wheel 10-ton carrier – the Kwêvoël is based on it). At first the new trucks were founded on the West German Magirus Deutz Series with air-cooled engines. With the passing years the trucks were improved (a typical South African Military thing, they always see what they can improve to suit local conditions) to the proper SAMIL series with lighter South African-manufactured water-cooled Atlantis Diesel Engines (ADE) motors. These new engines were for all intents and purposes Mercedes Benz diesel engines, home-produced to overcome international sanctions and they fitted most models with Garret turbo chargers, vastly improving the original and yet staying a very simple beast at heart. At the same time they changed the gearboxes (lighter but stronger) and made numerous other changes to improve them all the time. We absolutely believed in SAMILs, battle proven for decades, uncomplicated and still going strong in many parts of Africa. They are popular, whenever the Army sells them, they are eagerly bought and rebuilt to new standards.

I usually drove the largest model, the SAMIL-100, during the rebuild we had a small sleeper cabin fitted at the back but left enough space behind it to load tons of equipment and more than once her Jeep Wrangler, I hate that Jeep. The sleeper cabin was nothing fancy, a couple of comfortable bunkbeds, a few lockers, a galley (that came later after we got married and Angelique insisted) and a large fridge for the meat (rapidly changed to fish and garlic by her) and cold beer for the barbecues. Angelique took one look as we showed her around in 2006, rather proudly I can tell you, and asked where the curtains were for the large windows? This was just before she said the manly rig is pink (which it was not) and she volunteered making the curtains herself… a skill no one previously thought she possessed, being a spymaster first and foremost. They still exist, the curtains and are still washed now and then in her none so secret anti-mosquito mixture (the mixture works, God knows what they were thinking to leave the curtains out, and she was a dark pink colour, Angelique).

The SAMIL-20 we had was also completely rebuilt. The engine, diffs, gearboxes, and she was waterproof which the original ones were not. This was largely due to a non-standard closed cab, the horrible tarpaulin based original removed. She even had an air conditioner unit and uprated alternator and power steering. This gave her the ability, like all our vehicles to charge electrical devices, a common feature in war these days, your night vision for instance needs charged batteries. We fitted two deep cycle batteries with advanced power regulators. An extra fuel and water tank was added as standard as also powerful LED lights. I like driving the SAMIL-20, she is quite comfortable and thought of leading the convoy with her. However, I got intercepted by Lucy the Lunatic, Angelique’s troubled agent.

“Major Foxtrot, you are not allowed to drive in the SAMIL-20, Mrs Dawson’s orders, you are to use the Kwêvoël until further notice!”

I looked at the petite woman, she is not known as “Lucy the Lunatic” without reason. Black hair (recently she was told by Angelique to look “Chinese” – Code Name Halloween 38), grey eyes and dangerous in the extreme. She was captured by a warlord and terribly abused over a period of months before escaping and coming back to kill the bastard (Code Name Green 41 & Code Name Celery 50). Her name had nothing to do with the famous Lucy spy ring in Zurich as many thought. The name “Lucy,” according to her, means ‘light’ in Latin. She had that right, “Lucy” is the English form of the Roman Lucia, coming from “lux” which indeed means light when translated directly. In later years she became a famous South African poet, under her real name. For now, she was still attached to the counter terrorism desk and not an Assassin, a normal agent up to a point. Whatever you read about Lucy in the GMJ Books is true, she is still around.

About two years (almost three, Angelique) before the incidents in this book the South African Secret Service decided they needed a para-military capability, almost something like the Virginian’s Special Activities Division but very much smaller in scale, more elite also. They were getting nervous of working with the Egg Breakers (becoming reluctant because of the Muslim Truce) and formal Special Forces were seen as too honourable men to kill indiscriminately. They trained specially chosen agents, men and women and duplicated the US Army Ranger principle in creating a leadership element able to function independently with Army Special Forces and field agents although not qualified to be called “Special Forces,” they were good enough. The Assassins, they have another name officially, with time, became operators in their own right, death squads I suppose, all over Africa and at times valuable, rescuing people and providing backup being in place already (Code Name Casselberry). Inherently though, they exist to protect the Muslim radicals against Western Special Forces and they did so very loyally, half being Muslim themselves. It was a good idea but it was hijacked. It rapidly went beyond what was desired and at one stage in 2008 they lost control.

The “Assassins” as we unceremoniously called them, troubled us a few times since their creation. First, their Muslim members, radicalised, physically attacked Angelique, their commander. They wanted her replaced with someone better suited to their crap and tried to remove her, permanently. We restored order by snatching the main collaborator (he died under interrogation) and wiping out another rogue team (Code Name Sanford). They got the message that she is protected by the Egg Breakers and the two groups eyed each other with open suspicion since then. The writing was already on the wall and the clash coming. No one was going to blink first, during the Egg Breaker War they came very close in being totally wiped out as we went after them and the radicals they were protecting. But they got a few unexpected counter strikes in, we suffered tremendous casualties too (see Code Name Pour Angelique where the scenario is explained in more detail, in what they did before we got them). The Assassins we had to work with at times, reluctantly, Lucy was never one of them, if she was, I would have never allowed her close to Angelique.

“Oh, you are speaking again?” I was surprised, the woman ignored me for months.

“No, I am not speaking to you, I am relaying Mrs Dawson’s orders. It is not the same thing, it is like super glue and urine, they don’t mix.”

And that is Lucy to you, she does not talk like normal people. She does not hug like normal people and she is insane on any type of swing. You have to see her going at it like a demented acrobat (and teaching those skills to Lise and Odette, Angelique) to comprehend what I just said, it is frightening, if she is not vertical on both sides, she is not high enough, hair blowing in the wind (she always loosen them), shouting with laughter. That is the one side of Lucy, the other is more alarming, she is a deadly shot, she won gold at some Commonwealth Games in her youth, she will strike first and not hesitate in pulling the trigger (Code Name Butterfly) and if she dislikes you, for whatever reason, you may even be innocent like I was, she ignores you flatly.

“Ngingamane ungabuzi ngubani umchamo futhi ubani super glue, Nkosi. (Matabele, I would rather not ask her who is urine and who is super glue, Sah.) Terminator, the big Special Forces platoon sergeant advised me.

In South Africa, current Special Forces, after my time, consisted of two Army Regiments forming the Special Forces Brigade, a misnomer if ever, they were not big enough to be a brigade in the usual sense of the word. One specialised on sea warfare and counter maritime terrorism (like the US Navy SEALs, British Royal Marine Special Boat Squadron or the French Commando Hubert) and that was the Regiment from which Angelique requested a platoon, commanded by Mike Delta Three Eight, an army captain, to assist her. She took good care of them, always thanking them personally and following up with a letter from her office thanking them officially. I think it would be fair to say they loved working with her, she is where things explode. Life with her is never boring and she leads from the front (unless bullied by Foxtrot and or Geelslang to “behave and act like a senior officer,” Angelique). Handling small boats in any weather, swimming underwater, climbing ship hulls vertically in the middle of the night is what Mike Delta Three Eight’s platoon does. To such people, the water is a friend, their best mate together with their rifles and feet and in no particular order. They have a motto “Iron fist from the sea!” and they are exactly that. You wake up and they have moved in, silently, from across the horizon or a submarine (not bothering to surface) and they are there, waiting to cut your family jewels off. Their sea warfare orientation did not exclude them from land based operations, they have all the skills expected from one of the world’s most elite Army Special Forces Units, they just preferred to be wet when they see water. Geelslang and I, from Police Special Forces originally, were banned to one of the land warfare Regiments but we completed the Special Forces attack divers course which is gruelling in the extreme as did Angelique before her first posting as an external spy, she was 17 at the time. The course has a nasty reputation in dropout rates (80% will not make it). Angelique Dawson did, she is a fish underwater, totally natural and well able to do mischief, sinking ships as she did in Code Name Green 41 or surfacing from a submerged submarine (Code Name Willow Bay, Code Name OST-M).

In Special Forces, you often have a nickname and it sticks to you no matter what you do. Terminator, was a man that played a major role during the time we seized the SAS Mendi where he helped me pull an injured Angelique onto the ship after our HAHO (high altitude, high opening) jump. Her hand was broken when she hit a jumpmaster who made some revolting sexual comments about her and that was nothing Geelslang and I did to the bastard, twice. The second time, when he got from hospital, we pulled all his teeth out, one by one, broke his ribs again and kicked his manhood into his intestines for good measure. But before this, a nice interlude for us, the big lad pulled her on board as she could not climb with one hand and she christened him “Terminator” and that he stayed forever (Code Name Willow Bay).

Terminator was eligible for the British Army because of his parents (former Rhodesians) and could have joined the thousands of other youngsters taking the one-way flight to the British Army or Foreign Legion recruiting depots. His decision to enlist in the South African Army was a major loss to the British Special Air Service as he would have made Selection there and anywhere else – the South African one is rated as one of the hardest in the world and frankly, above the British Selection in our judgment. We increased the Selection criteria after the first men came back from the British one in the 1960s. He spoke beautiful BBC Pommy as well as Shona and Matabele which meant he understood Zulu if spoken slowly enough. It was his Shona speaking ability what interested me most when close to Zimbabwe, a country where you either speak English (they speak beautiful English, we call it Pommy Hooligan), Shona or Matabele. As a man, he was genuinely big, over 6.6 and powerfully built.

I frequently had the feeling that Terminator took Angelique and me with a large grain of salt, shaking his head now and then and especially when we went parabolic, he was next to me, being abused (he enjoyed the experience, unlike you that never stopped complaining, Code Name Mel’s Choice, Angelique). Our “bickering” seemingly reminded him of his parents. In addition, Angelique always maintained she knew his mom from somewhere which can be bloody disturbing when a senior officer says such things in public. All the same, I think I am correct to say he really respected Angelique Dawson and was a devoted fellow classical piano concerto admirer unlike me that thinks it is pure maliciousness to make decent people listen to such awful ping pong sounds for hours. In later years, Terminator became a Regimental Commander, a major general rank, we still meet now and then in secret. He stated more than once that Angelique Dawson was the best commanding officer he ever saw in his life, even above Geelslang, which says a lot. (I did know his mom well; I am Mrs Dawson-Foxtrot, I know everyone and what is more, they know me. He had to be respectful and in addition, I outranked him by far, in age also, Angelique.)

It is actually a big deal in Africa, age. We respect grey hair above all and find countries where such respect is lacking, entirely sad. There is wisdom in age, we believe that and although a woman / wife is seen as slightly behind the cattle in status, an entirely honourable position, I assure you, Angelique can be very forceful about such matters. I recalled mentioning this to her when first met, we were heaving away to get a heavy five-ton ski-boat launched from the beach. She is an unexpectedly strong girl, I remarked casually that she would do well as a farmer’s wife, being strong enough physically to work in the fields whilst the farmer shows her where to plant the crop. I meant it as a compliment, she really is uncommonly strong for such a small body but she refused to get my point and took it as a mortal insult on womanhood. I explained patiently for the next two days that her place as wife is next to her husband, slightly behind the cattle, obviously, which is the African way, something her parents should have told her as a child. In the end I ran away when she pulled her Glock 19 Generation 4 to shoot me, her soul to be, roaring in fury and waving her arms. The place we sat at emptied in record time, I can tell you. Geelslang dived for cover, drawing his own Glock to shoot her first as I waved desperately, knowing she will not miss. She started laughing, breaking the tension and I skulked back to apologise. We don’t talk about this aspect anymore since we are happily married; she is worth more than all the cattle in the world (damn right, and I don’t work in the fields on the Ukuthula Ranch, never did and never will, Angelique).

“It is rude to speak mumbo-jumbo in front of me, Terminator! I will tell Mrs Dawson about you. Anyway, I am coming with, I have a rifle too….” Lucy said with a smile, not betraying much emotion though.

What she had was not just a rifle, it was German made DSR-1 sniper rifle she got from somewhere (Code Name Mel’s Choice) and probably illegally so. It is a bullpup design with a five-round capacity magazine capacity, not enough for an insurgency environment where you need so much more bullets. It suited her petite body, the sniper rifle being only 39 inches in total length but the barrel length was 26 inches and that was tremendously important in our world. For accuracy sake, the bullet needs time to travel down it, to stabilise and the powder burning and propelling it to burn through. Any sniper rifle with a less than 24-inch barrel is considered crap designing by us, it will not work, trust me, your mate will outshoot you every time. This one was in the hugely popular .338 Lapua calibre and Lucy was a trained spotter, not shooter. On the other hand, she was proven able to kill anyone at a ranges up to 2,000 yards with a single shot. The DSR-1 is used by the Special Forces of half a dozen countries including the German Police GSG-9 unit. As I always say in the GMJ Books, don’t let the word “Police” fool you, in many countries such units are the premier counter terrorism team and as good as any US Navy SEAL Team Six or Delta Detachment as I know the Green Beret Unit. Police snipers in such units are as good as any in the world, it is only in the US where Sheriff Department SWAT Units, not, repeat not, Special Forces rated, are lesser shooters (see Code Name Butterfly where we discuss sniping in great detail, Angelique).

“No you are not coming with us, what on earth for? You are assigned signals and runway defence.” I retorted.

“I was told by Mrs Dawson to take care of you, feed you your six garlic tablets every day, ensure you eat properly and get enough sleep.”

“Eh, and protect Mrs Dawson’s elderly Major against attack, Lucy?” Terminator asked with a smile of his own.

He was staring at us (Foxtrot is vastly bigger physically than Lucy, it must have occurred to Terminator that he did not need protection from the diminutive Lucy, Angelique).

“There is that too and my first step is for him to be in the armoured Kwêvoël. As such he cannot be in the SAMIL-20 at the same time, he not being Irish nor a bird.” She answered seriously, ignoring me again.

“I don’t need your protection, Lucy. I am surrounded by current Special Forces members, one G6 self-propelled howitzer, two 127 mm Valkiri MLRS launchers and am ex-Special Forces myself with a nasty….”

“She said you will behave or she will not talk to you for a week. And every time you look like getting red in the face, which is often when she is close to you, you have to drink a garlic pill for your blood pressure. Yes, I have one here right now, swallow!” She interrupted me in midsentence. “And stop quarrelling about my presence, I am here, make peace.”

“I suppose she said that too? To swallow? Did she now?” I asked bemused, I was about to add I have a reputation of being Mr Nasty himself, I don’t need a small girl to protect me (yeah sure, how many times did I protect you through the years, Angelique).

“Yes, swallow so we can witness it. I call upon Terminator as witness, the time is 09H43 AM and you are not swallowing! She said you and Captain Geelslang are widely known to cheat tiny women with anything from sniper competitions to off-road driving, jogs and the sanding of bar tops, and especially in taking garlic pills, not swallowing.” She was now glancing at her watch and then to me, to make the point clear.

“Angikhulumi ngani kuye kusaba, ukutshela omunye amabhungu yakho ukuze unake yakhe ngaphambi kokuba Mike Delta Three Eight ecasukile.” (Zulu, I am not talking to her anymore, tell one of your lads to keep an eye on her before we get Mike Delta Three Eight upset.” I said as I swallowed the garlic pill. “You note, Lucy, it is 09h44 AM and I swallowed the damn pill!”

“The Major said you are welcome, Lucy. Now keep quiet and stay in the background, we are busy here. He will take the Kwêvoël and you can act as bodyguard.” Terminator interpreted accurately in spirit (my ass, he is getting garlic fish next time he visits, Angelique) as she stared determinedly at him for a translation.

Mike Delta Three Eight was a coloured man and like Geelslang twenty odd years before him, he had to fight like hell to be commissioned. In Apartheid South Africa, such men, once known as mulattos in America, were seen as too black, now they are seen as too white and oddly, they have Afrikaans as a home language. This one, he graduated first in his class at the Military Academy, was a captain, a Special Forces platoon commander and he suffered blood to get to that position. And he was good or he would not command a Special Forces platoon. Many find this hard to believe, seen that segregation was the standard in the regular army until 1994, but South African Army Special Forces always had more black operators than whites, you will not find racism in such units, God knows, we were long past that before the rest of South Africa woke up. Obviously Mike Delta Three Eight had real names also, but he answered to his call sign of MD38 (written out for easier reading in GMJ Books, he is not a medical doctor, Angelique). I long suspected that he and Lucy were closer than what they acknowledged openly. Always giggling away somewhere like kids and why not, life is fun. Unfortunately, he was about to be chased towards us with Geelslang and another operator, Zulu lad called Lentliziyo. Terminator was on his way to join them, to meet up and give them the message to get themselves spotted deliberately so that they could lead the chasers to their deaths by shelling. And that was a dangerous assignment, I assure you.

It all started, well, I am not sure where to be honest, I only know what Angelique reveals and that is not enough to know for sure. Not that she lies, she never does but she twists her head at times and forgets to explain further (it is for your own good, Angelique). We were at this stage in an undeclared war with a failed state to our north, once known as Rhodesia and now as Zimbabwe, under command of one Robert M Mugabe, their lifelong president. We don’t like the man, we don’t like his racist policies of hating white people (he has a terrible inferiority complex) and he is known in GMJ Books as the “Baboon Mugabe,” a calculated insult (to baboons, I am sorry, Angelique) relating to the way he acted, not his skin colour as he thinks. It was an odd place, Rhodesia, a former English Colony and a place where Apartheid never existed, more English than England and they had a thriving economy. They were loyal too, they lost more men per capita fighting for their Leech than any other nation. In the end they would be betrayed by South Africa and their Leeches to become the failed state of Zimbabwe. Sadly, Mugabe started off well, holding seven university degrees, genuinely popular with some part of the population if not all and then came the usual evil, power that corrupts. His absurd policies in chasing all white farmers and officers away caused famine in a country that once exported food. Somehow, by crook no doubt, he gets himself voted into power with every “free and fair” election as regularly as the sun will rise tomorrow, you have to be an idiot or a liberal, same thing mostly, to believe that the elections are not rigged.

They have a good local domestic spy agency called the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation), an institution rightly feared and respected as efficient enough. They started off back in the 1960s as the external intelligence-gathering arm of the British South Africa Police Special Branch as the excellent Rhodesian Police called themselves. For most of their existence, in those days, they acted under the command of one Ken Flower. He was a man suspected of reporting to the British MI6 all the time. He denied it but the rumours just would not go away. I certainly believe he was a mole but as said this was never proven and a fair amount of evidence points to both sides of the coin. He died in 1987 and it was very interesting to us how many MI6 men attended his funeral. We were there, Geelslang and I, working under cover and taking the pictures and hoping to get permission to assassinate the Baboon.

The stated function of the CIO is to provide high level security to Zimbabwe from threats both within and outside. They do that very efficiently and have a reputation for barbarity second to none. They developed a knack of making all opposition disappear inside the country abusing the court system or what is left of it and plain murder. In most countries they would be declared a terrorist organisation. They were also heavily involved in illegal diamond smuggling in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the only reason why the Zimbabwean Army got itself involved there. Despite their political shenanigans or probably because of it, they are good soldiers, they have good human material, probably under the top five in Africa which means as good as any but this does not mean as powerful, not the same thing at all. Lately CIO operatives, working as illegals, started to attack and harass former Zimbabweans hiding in South Africa (to their south). They only got away with it because some of the new lot thinks that the Baboon Mugabe is a god to be admired and kowtowed to. He supported them during their liberation struggle so I suppose it is not entirely unexpected that they would then be in his pay forever and two weeks. There is no country in the world where he is more welcome than the new South Africa and perhaps Communist China. The rest banned him for being the criminal he is… his human rights abuses are worse than most including Idi Amin’s. And yet, he is admired by the new lot as being something “wise” and respected.

As an overt military threat Zimbabwe is a zero of a contract. Despite their good soldiers they are totally outclassed in weapons and material and will lose any arms clash with the local Super Power, South Africa. On the other hand, the place is dangerous and people do disappear from time to time there, even Western diplomats. Unlike the official lads in the services, we, the Egg Breakers, kill their CIO operatives whenever we can find them in our spheres. There is no love lost and never was and they got the message rather quickly and issued a standard TWEP order (to terminate with extreme prejudice, assassinate, MI6 terminology) on any Egg Breaker they can find, including Angelique Dawson, the Egg Breaker Commander and then head of counter terrorism. We would retaliate, I assure you.

What made the Baboon Mugabe the scum bag in our eyes and in the GMJ Books was the Matabele Genocide which most Westerners have not heard about and simply don’t care about in any case. We cared, for us it was personal. Geelslang’s wife, Thandiwe, is a Matabele girl and her family were almost wiped out in the early 1980s when the Shona tribe (the Baboon Mugabe is a Shona or at least his mother was, his father is disputed and perhaps a Malawian making him a mongrel in our tribalism eyes) sent the North Korean indoctrinated Fifth Brigade into Matabele tribal lands with orders to “suppress” it. Nothing can justify what took place in the Matabele Tribal Lands between the years of 1983 to 1987. More than 20,000 innocents of all ages were raped & murdered without trial and buried in mass graves. They simply disappeared and word reached us slowly and intermittently of the genocide and massacres. The West, led by the UK, kept silent, apparently blacks murdering each other is not a big deal to them. A few lucky ones, Thandiwe’s remaining family among them, fled to the UK. She was already there and became a medical doctor before returning to the sun down South meeting Geelslang under peculiar circumstances (Code Name Willow Bay). They got married as soon as we could get enough money to pay her substantial lobola and to do so we entered him in boxing bouts with the Army lads with side bets and trading in cattle. Still, it took two years, as a police warrant officer he was not paid much, even in Special Forces with lots of extra danger pay. The Zimbabweans have a word for this genocide, “Gukurahundi.” It cannot be translated properly but comes down to “The rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains.” It means to clean your house or in this case to murder all opposition and create a one party state as per Soviet Union & North Korean models (see Code Name Mel’s Choice where we discussed what Geelslang and I witnessed there). The Baboon excelled in keeping to power, it must be admitted, the man is a natural born shyster. Geelslang took the attacks on his wife’s tribe very seriously and openly threatened to kill every Shona he meets. Usually he is the consummate professional but with Shonas he is more obnoxious than usual.

When Rhodesia became Zimbabwe an amalgamation of forces took place. The two main terrorist groups were incorporated into the crack former Rhodesian Army, their erstwhile enemies. Some units were disbanded, the Selous Scouts being the first and others changed their names but stayed sensibly true to their British Army heritage, for instance the all-white Rhodesian Light Infantry Commando became the “1 Commando Regiment” and although never rated as Special Forces they are certainly good backup in the same class as the British Parachute Regiment would be to the Special Air Service. From the disbanded Rhodesian Special Air Service came the “Parachute Group” and many of the CIO operatives, came from this elite group. Unquestionably, they were operating inside South Africa, and we walked into them from time to time, they died. There is no mercy in our world.

Recently, a group of Zimbabwe Army Military Intelligence officers contacted Angelique to supply them with arms and ammunition, they were getting ready to either start a fire or contain a fire, she agreed to help and we stole the ordnance from South African depots (see Code Name Phantom). We then delivered tons of it by clandestine air drops before they shot us down, well almost (Code Name Mel’s Choice). Then Angelique went on the offensive, swearing that the Baboon will come to have convulsions at the mere mention of her name and wiped three dozen Zimbabwean agents out in a carefully crafted night ambush, using Special Forces, heavy mortars and a Super Frelon helicopter in a PSYOPS mission (Code Name Halloween 38).

Mike Delta Three Eight and his team (Geelslang and Lentliziyo) were still inside the country to witness the counter reaction and obtain us a casualty count, it was with them that Terminator wished to join up with, give a private message and get chased to us and into the killing zone we were setting up. Angelique was flying to Pretoria to get permission or a wink, it is enough, to escalate matters to kill even more and send a hard message. The then South African President was known to dislike the Baboon on principle, being a Zulu man first and surviving an assassination attempt when the Baboon sent highly trained sniper teams to get him – Angelique intervened and they died (Code Name Butterfly), I expected her to return before night fall with a few new (read nasty for her enemies) surprises in tow. I simply had to get the ambush set up, taking the vehicles south and get our assets in place for the returning patrol. We left within the hour and the heat was on, it was a race against time.

In wars fought since the end of World War II, 81 percent of all Americans who died at the hands of the enemy have been infantry: not soldiers and Marines, but infantry, a force that comprises about 4 percent of all those who wear the uniform. Collectively, this tiny fraternity of (mostly) men includes Army and Marine infantrymen and special operators. They receive about 1 percent of the defense budget to pay for gear they use to train and fight. Most Americans in combat die by surprise in ambushes and from snipers or enemy hidden in urban clutter. Too many infantrymen go into combat psychologically unprepared for the experience. Vladimir Putin’s mischief in the Crimea, Georgia and Ukraine is being accomplished by the “little green men,” mostly elite Spetsnaz, GRU, airborne and Marine infantrymen and Interior Ministry troops. These are infantry or infantry-like forces that comprise a small minority of Mr. Putin’s 800,000-man conscript army. He spends a large proportion of his budget equipping his infantry elite and he expects much from them.” Major General Robert Scales, US Army Retired, 2016

Chapter 2

Mozambique Manica Province, 16 March 2010

What is the use of having highly trained and specially chosen troops if you don’t use them properly? We will never understand the way the US Military is wasting their Special Forces using absurd tactics and the difference is clear to see in Syria, even NATO admits that the Russians are winning hands down and are achieving a lot more than the US & NATO efforts could do for many years. The Russians also won hands down in the Crimea, Georgia and Ukraine by the way, the US trained troops could not run away fast enough. Whatever Mr Putin is doing, is noticeably working. And whose fault is this but a White House unable and unwilling to say the words “Muslim Terrorist” among other things? If you cannot name something for what it is, you cannot deal with it, it really is that simple and it shows a deeply flawed personality trait often seen in jail where the inmates will tell you that they are all innocent, framed by the police and anyway not as guilty as thought by their peers on the jury bench. This is the classic denial syndrome which even a liberal will tell you, will prevent cure. If you cannot face where you are wrong or acknowledge you have a problem, you cannot begin to heal. Ask any drug addict or read any psychologist handbook, you will find the same methodology there, acknowledge your problem and then deal with it. Logically, if you don’t get your Muslim terrorism problem, you cannot do something about it, a personality flaw at best, sedition at worse. Take your pick and be happy, I know what I think.

Looking in from outside, I can tell you, the US is losing established allies left right and centre because of perceived weakness and a serious internal moral collapse brought on by weak and indecisive leadership and a liberal based mass media spreading propaganda. At the same time, Russia and China are gaining those nations, strategically outflanking the “Beacon of Freedom” on all flanks, one by one. Think about that and read my briefing again, it is tragic but what can you do when faced with barefaced fabrications by the turd brigade (politicians of all sides, they float in what they talk) being broadcasted into the world (and getting noticed)? Let me give you an example, soon to be forgotten by the public but not in my books. On Monday, October 3, 2016, Donald Trump replied as follows to a question on veteran mental health issues: “When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it,” he said. “But a lot of people can’t handle it.” He then went on to say that he supported assistance for such veterans.

Enter Democratic Party Vice President Joe Biden at a HRC rally a few hours later, growing over exited and acting like a spoiled child, just about shouting, raising his voice theatrically (the second most un-presidential behaviour we had ever seen on television on this continent, yes, we took note and I asked myself, is this fellow claiming to be a “heartbeat” away from leading the West for the past eight years? Really? Him? Nope, not you! Dream on.): “I don’t think he was trying to be mean (Mr Trump). He is just so thoroughly, completely uninformed.” Biden at that point proceeded to melodramatically show a list of names of wounded soldiers he gets every morning from the Pentagon, repeating a story of a warrior he had to deal with in Iraq or somewhere, all for effect and nothing else. The Clinton News Network (CNN to you) and many other stations, showed this pitiful scene repeatedly, broadcasting it into the world to get at Donald Trump.

The next day the man that asked Trump the question, former US Marine Staff Sergeant Chad Robichaux, a real warrior, came to the fore. He had an entirely different view on what actually took place that day: “I think it’s sickening that anyone would twist Mr Trump’s comments to me in order to pursue a political agenda. I took his comments to be thoughtful and understanding of the struggles many veterans have, and I believe he is committed to helping them.”

The independent (that they are not) Clinton News Network (CNN to you) cut the last part of Trump’s answer out (that he supports Vets with PTSD) and let it hang in the air, to his detriment – that he stated flatly “Vets cannot handle it.” Such blatantly discriminating editing is disgraceful beyond words, shocking actually, not even in Africa will that be allowed to stand. Trust me, that is the reason for every recent American failure and the outright mirth in the rest of the world whenever a US President or his many minions claim to be the “Leader of the Free World.” US White House, take note, the rest of the world is not looking up to you for leadership any longer as we once did during the Cold War, you proved you have no such ability and no one fears a line in the sand. People are urinating on your lines in the sand. You fell so far in respect that you don’t even rate a decent ladder to get out of Air Force One. The most calculating insult from China possible and if you think that was not a message to the rest of the world, think again. The world supports winners and that is not you at this stage. A new world order is rapidly approaching, sadly so, the burning beacon became a flickering candle, barely alive, we can only pray that it will not die out altogether. In many ways it reminds me of Rome at the end, the endless debates in the Senate, the barbarians at the doors, and history repeating again.

You cannot and should not blame the lads fighting on the ground, they are as good always and just as shackled, powerless to do what Spetsnatz will do with a smile and what is needed in war, brutality at times. I can hear the US Special Forces curses all the way to Africa and I feel for them as I do for the most abused people in the world, the American taxpayer now burdened with almost $20 trillion debt for the next how many decades? What does history tell us here? It took the UK up to 2006 to pay the Lend-Lease weapons of World War Two and they paid almost nothing back, more than 90% were written off (the burden carried by the American taxpayer, the Merchants of Death were fully paid, I assure you) and yet, it took them from 1945 to 2006 to break even, the “deferred” (skipped, not honoured, Angelique) payments a couple of times. The World War One debts were written off in 1934, it was never repaid. Do you think, seriously, that the Chinese, holding most of the US Government bonds, will do the same? Write the bonds off and say no problem? Money can be a weapon of war (see Code Name Bella Dawn) and a terribly effective one.

There is another way of looking at this. What does your enemy want most, what will make him happy? Think about it… a bankrupt foe or a strong one economically? The answer is so obvious that I don’t need to spell it out. There are many intelligence analysts warning that the current US state of affairs is exactly what Bin Laden prayed for as well as a US Air Force rapidly going down to second rate status being without pilots or enough new aircraft. You cannot win a war without air superiority, full stop, nothing further is needed to be said, you cannot win against a First World Nation (or combination of them) and will not if you don’t control the skies. It is so sad and yet, the liberals (we call them Demorats in GMJ Books, they don’t like that) cannot and will not see this aspect clearly. No, they worry more about getting “undocumented Americans” smuggled into their country by the millions and all of them must be non-Christian if possible (56 Christians from Syria versus 30,000 plus others?) and no background checks are done either – exposing the innocent citizen to what? Well, the future will show us. I keep on saying, don’t tell me how much you spend on your Military, show me the results on what you spent or I will fire your ass in seconds in business. Buying a new wave of gimmicks is not going to help the warriors that have to survive combat. No, new gadgets will overload the troops even more, making them slow to move and die in the process, it is ridiculous.

With every operation or mission, I always think logistics first. When you get above platoon level command, your life becomes boring, you are now an organiser (not a community one, thank God) and not a leader of men in combat anymore, miserably so. The old police never had a Staff Course, they had something similar called a “Major’s course” or “Colonel’s course” for a week or so. Yet, Geelslang and myself completed the South African Army’s Staff Course, we got ourselves assigned and went through it in record time, arguing long and hard with the professors on military history and in general learned a lot from the professional soldiers (it is rated as an MBA at a good business school, I did mine with the French Army, Angelique). In modern warfare, as always, even in the good old days, logistics is what will make you win or lose a war, troops cannot fight with sticks and stones, really not, we are past that stage. Nor can you train troops to survivable levels in weeks in an emergency, it takes a couple of months and then more to get to veteran combat soldier status. The one thing which the Arch Liar (Winston Churchill to you) always asks, in every book he wrote, go and look, is “where is the strategic reserve.” He knew that you have to reinforce success and cut your losses where you cannot win, his many shameful withdrawals are legendary. It is as an important aspect of modern war as anything else.

General Scales, quoted above, is quite obstinate in how he refers to “Mr. Putin’s 800,000-man conscript army” in what can be deducted, I hope wrongly, a disdainful and superior way. I have news to him and people like him if said in scorn, that is where your strategic reserve comes from, conscripts willing to serve their country cheaply for a few years, that is how you mobilise millions of trained men when in need to do so and that is how all the major wars were fought in history and how the Israelis and many other First World Nations do and did it. You will also find many graduates among conscripts, able to contribute a lot of skills the army never had before and again, cheaply. In addition, some, not liberals, obviously not, will tell you that a stint in the army or other military forces, will create a better and stronger nation in the long run, giving much needed discipline and guidance to youngsters as well as that hateful word (for a liberal), patriotism. I spoke to many and I am sure so did you reading here, younger lads, admitting that the army or police (same thing in my time) did them the world of good. I spoke to wives, parents and others, saying the same to me, the veterans stand out. I proved in one GMJ Book (Code Name Green 41) that Vietnam Vets did better than the non-vets in every way, education, money, whatever and yet your image of the average Vietnam Vet is what? Yes, the liberal media showing a man smoking heroin, about to explode and kill indiscriminately, he being a baby killer of note with ongoing psychological problems. Yet, official statistics disprove that theory entirely. So much so that we can say that they were lying when the created that image. Was that just another “misspoke” or is there a pattern? In my world we look for patterns to understand what is happening. It is an old police technique we brought over to our murky world. Guess what we found? Yes, the liberal mainstream media, tried the same old story with the returning Afghanistan & Iraq Vets in the last 10 years? Yes, exactly the same old fears, same old discussions and same old crap warnings of the 1960s and 1970s, they are boring by now and yet sprouted out by solemn looking men and women. There are even books, highly rated by the liberals and no one else, warning on the effects of gangsterism and drugs in the returning vets. Yet, I ask, show me the evidence and at that point they stop talking and become deplorable (hello Hillary).

I teach at college at times, at post graduate degree level – you can see them, you know, at any college campus, the veterans versus the mommy’s boys, not the same in outlook and in standards but anyway, General Scales is entitled in his opinions which I respect or I would not read them, as I am entitled to mine and you to yours. But let us not underestimate our future enemies please, that is how you see your ass in war, a rookie mistake if ever. I already showed clearly in my briefing how NATO never had air superiority in the last few years of the Cold War. Those are facts you can research for yourself, what would be next to be exposed? There is no US technical advantage anymore, that I know, none, wake up to that fact and do something about it. Become the Beacon again, or in other words, get your act sorted out, stand up and be counted among nations.

I had no doubts on the lads about to chase Geelslang and company, they would be as good as any even if having antiquated weapons, but then, if I shoot you with a M-14 or with a Garand rifle, will you not bleed? Some will say the heavier but older calibres, 7.62 NATO and 30-06, less Gucci to be sure, kill more effectively. The chasers, I know their army’s capabilities, will have either the old FN (or South African made version, known as the R1 – better flash suppressors and no carry handle) or the ubiquitous AK47, backed by light machine guns in the FN MAG (SW 240) or RPD, with probably Alouette helicopter support. The danger is the same and I was asking my men to give up their greatest asset of not existing, not being seen and moving only at night where they had every advantage with their advanced night vision goggles. It is not Special Forces’ job to fight but to conduct important reconnaissance without being found, there is no place for any other ideas. Yes, we can fight and better than anyone else but that is not our first task. On the other hand, the ambush had to be done, if we wanted to stir trouble and show the Baboon we would meet him and destroy him, anywhere, any time and time after time, we needed to escalate matters and cost him dearly. But where do you draw the line and keep to it? I am also on record to say that spy games are mostly silly and of no great use in the long run and a waste of time. Obviously, Angelique Dawson-Foxtrot will disagree most violently (she sadly shook her head at this paragraph).

Before we left the runway, I spoke to Mack (for Mackintosh) first. He was known as one hell of a good transport driver, flying missions all over Angola throughout the 1970s and 1980s before retiring as a full colonel in the SAAF (South African Air Force) in 1997. What made him rated so highly by us was navigation, he never got lost, not once. If you know the region we worked in, no beacons really, no outside help from satellites in those days, mostly dead reckoning and as flat as a billiard table, you will understand how good a navigator that was. He then flew in Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting the Coalition Forces and no doubt reporting to Angelique’s people on what he saw. He was helping us out on contract now, flying the C-130 Hercules Angelique borrowed from somewhere, sometimes as her co-pilot and sometimes as chief pilot. I knew the man well and despite his Scottish name he was as Afrikaans as I am, you find many of them, sounding Pommy and yet will lash out if you suggest Pommy blood, it is a serious insult to any Afrikaner – even “Cape Malay or coloured” blood is preferred. If you really press your luck he will say his great granny was undoubtedly raped or otherwise done in by the Khakis or that there is a curse on him but he will never admit love was involved and if this sounds strange to you, well, so it is. I had many fist fights about my own Pommy sounding name, Geoffrey, God knows what my parents were thinking. We are not English, we don’t want to be English and so it is. We fought two wars to get rid of them and will fight another if needs be.

“Mack, with that Zimbabwean MIG-23 overflying us a few hours ago (see Code Name Halloween 38), we need to get you and your old crate to safety. Would it be possible for you to drop some fuel for us by parachute on your way south?” I asked without wasting time, we go way back.

He nodded thoughtfully. “No problem at all, give me the coordinates and I will drop them for you, Foxtrot, static line and safely. We can fix a transponder to the cargoes, you can then home in and thank me later over a beer. Angelique already told me to bugger off to safety, so I am heading to Maputo (the old Lourenco Marques, Mozambican capital, 1,000 miles south of us) where I will refuel and wait for word to return. She told me, I was about to ask you anyway, that we, my crew and I that is, can stay at your house?”

I had quite a nice house in Maputo at that stage, overlooking the harbour and Indian Ocean. These days, Angelique and I, being married, still have the same house in Maputo, (damn right, I have all you have, Angelique). Whenever Angelique is there, the security is dramatically increased. We know from bitter experience, having done so ourselves many times, how easy the crack South African Navy can launch a missile attack from across the horizon with pinpoint accuracy. We have peace with them these days, sort of, but trusting is not our business, we respect our enemies. The first lesson is to get what they can do and how they operate and then to counter it. Such a missile will not get Angelique but we will then restart the Egg Breaker War.

“You are always welcome in my house, Mack, you should know that. Take Fernandes with you and bring him back when needed. With us down south this place has no need for him here right now. I will only leave enough men to safeguard Angelique’s return tonight but we are not defending the runway, if they attack us here, they will find nothing. It cannot be defended without a battalion of troops or the armour which I am taking with me. The missileers too, after Angelique landed safely.”

Fernandes, my chef or head houseboy if you wish to be politically incorrect, he is not a boy and the position not an unimportant one, was around. Angelique flew him and an army mobile kitchen in to feed everyone (Code Name Halloween 38) when it became clear we were escalating matters far beyond our usual shadowy world. We go way back, Fernandes and I, he served in our irregular battalion, in Geelslang’s recon platoon and afterwards, when we left South Africa for Mozambique, as Egg Breakers, he became my personal chef. It is a superior position, much more than preparing food, a trusted friend and confidante. It also meant he was in charge of the maids and gardeners, the house itself and the security of it, something he was entirely suited for being 20 years older than me if not more (he does not really know when he was born, a common thing in Africa). We had a wonderful life for a few years, me being a sworn bachelor until I met Marwa and then, after her unfortunate death, came Angelique Dawson, known to all as Senhora Dawson. She immediately got into the habit of reorganising everything in my house, shaking her head wisely and muttering to herself. She ensured that the curtains and mosquito nets were washed in her secret anti-mosquito mixture once a month, inspecting for dust and if finding any, waving her arms around in rare fashion. She also took the time to guarantee that I stopped eating healthily when she summarily took over the Maputo house during my widower days (Foxtrot was living on overdone steaks, beer, coffee, and potato salad, Angelique) and introduced garlic by the pound, making Fernandes a follower for life. We had long disagreed on garlic, Fernandes and I, I just got him weaned of garlic for his own good when Angelique stormed into our lives and he could go back to his normal food making habits which means garlic and even more garlic. I defended my manly eating habits gallantly. I told Angelique that only a mediocre cook uses garlic, it takes away the natural essence of the food besides causing kidney stones to innocent people, like me.

Her reaction was entirely predictable and since then we keep many tins of garlic in the spens (Afrikaans, pantry). She checks or brings her own, I assure you, and created a magnificent vegetable garden around the avocado trees at the back. And so the change of diet also meant many more vegetables than what I ever saw in my life combined with lots of fresh fish from the market, yuck, I suffered terribly despite the good health I enjoyed. Anyway, a chef, like Fernandes, in an African household, is a treasured fellow and he always eats first to prevent poison being added. He was glad, I would say, to have Angelique supporting him in his nasty garlic eating habits and it took him less than five minutes to realise she is the dangerous one between us, to be respected. He is still around, retired now as we all are (I am not, Angelique), glaring at the maids to clean up afore Senhora Dawson-Foxtrot arrives for her daily inspections. The woman absolutely hates dust and spider webs with a passion normally reserved for liberals and terrorists, same thing mostly. (Yes, it is a sign of a bad housewife and that I am not, I am a great mom and wife, Angelique.)

“Okay, I suggest that you talk to him in Portuguese first, Foxtrot. I will also need a dispatcher for your fuel resupply drop. Sniper will have to volunteer but you get that he is not coming back then? I know you need every rifle and he is worth ten or more. Once he boards my aircraft, he is lost to you.”

Sniper was the senior Special Forces non-commissioned officer, left in charge of the runway with his platoon commander, Mike Delta Three Eight, still inside Zimbabwe and Terminator, the platoon sergeant, leaving to join them. He was a bit older than the rest of the lads, a career Special Forces soldier. Sniper was indeed a brilliant shooter, heading their sniper section and as tough as nails. When not on the ground he was acting as Mack’s load and jumpmaster on the C-130 Hercules. As a senior man in age and rank, he was vastly respected by the rest. Someone needed to dispatch the cargo of fuel, Mack was right, it was a one-way ticket though. I left to find him, not far away, he was listening in, describing what I needed done.

He shrugged at that. “I suppose it cannot be helped, Sah, me being cheated out of all the fun during the last two missions. I am sure that Colonel Mack will come back here soon or perhaps Mrs Dawson can pick me up on her way here? Events will be sorted by themselves, it usually does. The Hercules has to get off this runway in the next hour or may be destroyed by bombing, she is an open target and a legal one, having been used with the ordnance drops before. I suggest we load the konkas (Afrikaans, drums, 55 gallons) of fuel, rig the cargo parachutes and take off to wherever. I will add a transponder and blinker, a remotely controlled strobe and you can find them later. How many konkas? Weight will never be an issue here.”

“That depends on the pallets we have left to mount the konkas (Afrikaans, drums, 55 gallons) on. We cannot build new ones, no time for that. Do you know?”

“Affirmative, we have two pallets left for immediate use, that is 20 konkas on each, eh, 8.320 litres of diesel fuel, each konka holds 55 gallons or 208 litres or 18,304 pounds in total for the two pallets.” He was working out how many parachutes would be needed as well as survivability, this was not a small drop. “Hmm, that is not much fuel for a convoy of vehicles, we will have to resupply you or you need to get back to the runway where we have more left. I tell you what, Sah, I will jump with them, the cargo, and meet you on the ground. You need my skills with a rifle and as a small unit commander more than what Colonel Mack needs me as a dispatcher right now. I am sure we can teach Fernandes to close the rear ramp for him before he lands.”

“Excellent idea, Sniper.” I nodded. “He knows about jumping and dispatching, Fernandes, he was in the Portuguese Colonial Paratroopers during the war, as a youngster and kept on fighting when the communists took over, this time as a guerrilla. He used to drive us nuts with his stories on jumping from their Dakotas and more than once with the Rhodesians, according to him, in combined operations. So he should know or get to learn how to close the rear ramp or the co-pilot must get his ass down to the cattle hold and do it himself. Good, good, I have a great need for you on the ground as you say. Also, take care of Lucy, she got it in her head to act as my bodyguard, she is odd that girl.”

“I know, Sah. I was told by your wife to do the same and keep an eye on both of you. She, ah, is worried about you for some reason and was most insistent. When I told her you can take care of yourself better than most men, she got ‘otherwise’ and I hurriedly agreed with her, she stared at me for a minute without saying a word (that can be very discomforting, trust me). With your permission, I am leaving two men here only to guide her aircraft in and to escort her wherever she wishes to go, they are from my sniper section, we protect VIPs for a living. We have no men left, two sections of ten men each are already deployed (Code Name Halloween 38), Mike Delta Three Eight is running for the border and that leaves us Terminator and my sniper lads and you, as well as Lucy. We need reinforcements desperately. Okay, let me get the pallets loaded and the parachutes fixed then, I will laisse with Colonel Mack. Send me Fernandes if you please.” He walked away, fully in control, a professional soldier, before turning back. “And another thing, Sah, why don’t you use one of those captured vehicles of yours as a fuel bowser? That will be another 5,000 litres, even if she is towed if she breaks down along the way, she will be very valuable as a fuel station.”

I never thought of that, to be honest. In a previous mission, Code Name Green 41, we captured and kept nine vehicles, eight Mercedes Benz L-300s (the large four-wheel drive trucks you get in the Sahara Desert and Middle East) and one lonely Toyota Land Cruiser FJ. They were not yet rebuilt to our standards – that would take a lot of time, two years to get all sorted but they were there, four of them anyway, the other four were at our base workshops at the Bilene Diving Lodge, a front company we operated from for years (at Bilene, the old San Martino – southern Mozambique). Sniper was correct, they could do the work, certainly they were configured correctly, they had 5,000 litre bowsers fitted onto the chassis of the legendary Mercedes Benz L-300, a vehicle with excellent off-road capabilities. I shook my head at myself, I was missing Geelslang, the perfect adjutant, always thinking ahead. That is how mistakes are made, when you try to be the commander and adjutant at the same time. Of course, I was also just back from a mission and had not slept for a long time but that did not bother me much, the wonderful thing about passing one of the hardest Special Forces Selections in the world is confidence, you know your limits and how long you can run or stay awake before it affects your judgment.

“Absolutely, kindly organise us a driver and guard for the best one they wish to choose for themselves. Also, Sniper, I would be grateful if you can take tactical command once Terminator leaves us to join Mike Delta Three Eight.” I replied and he agreed, already organising what was discussed.

I then started looking for Fernandes, he was in his kitchen, the place as clean as a theatre in major hospitals. He looked at me inquiringly.

“Você se lembra de seus dias como um pára-quedista? Você costumava nos nozes conduzir com suas reivindicações, sim? Você está indo com o Coronel Mack e Sniper para Maputo. Feche sua cozinha, por agora, você estará de volta, e ajudar Sniper cair uma carga de combustível para nós, também despachá-lo depois, você não pular, você cuidar do Coronel Mack em nossa casa. Pode fazer?” (Portuguese, Do you recall your days as a paratrooper? You used to drive us nuts with your claims, yes? You are going with Colonel Mack and Sniper to Maputo. Close your kitchen for now, you will be back, and help Sniper drop a cargo of fuel for us, also dispatch him afterwards, you don’t jump, you take care of Colonel Mack at our house. Can do?) I asked without further ado, time was terribly limited.

“É claro que eu lembro. Eu era jovem na época, mas eu era bom, o melhor, eu saltou 29 vezes, 19 em combate. Nós foram temidos e com razão. Sim, eu posso despachar Sniper e ajudar coronel Mack. Não se preocupe, mas da próxima vez que você pular, eu quero ir com, para mostrar aos meus filhos, eles não acreditam em mim.” (Portuguese, Of course I remember. I was a youngster then, but I was good, the best, I jumped 29 times, 19 in combat. We were feared and with reason. Yes, I can dispatch Sniper and help Colonel Mack. Don’t worry but next time you jump, I want to come with, to show my children, they don’t believe me.) He answered calmly, his completely grey hair betraying his age.

“Você é sempre bem-vindo para saltar com a gente, meu amigo, mas deixe Tenente Geelslang verificar primeiro a sua técnica, você tem uma família grande e eu tenho um dever para com eles também. Temos que ir em seguida, chegar a Sniper e ajudá-lo. Deus abençoe.” (Portuguese, You are always welcome to jump with us, my friend but let Lieutenant Geelslang first check your technique, you have a large family and I have a duty towards them also. Off you go then, get to Sniper and help him out. God bless.)

Geelslang, although he left as a captain and missed being a major by two days, is still known as Tenente Cobra (Lieutenant Geelslang) by the locals, his rank when we commanded the irregular battalion. Fernandes got his wish and holds the record of being the oldest jumper among us. When Airborne Day approaches on the Ukuthula Ranch, a couple of things happen. Angelique cuts her hair to decent bob length from where they normally are just above her shoulders. I will not allow her to jump with long hair and so it is (Foxtrot stares and sighs and then suggests and at the last minute I comply, it is too funny a ritual by now, Angelique). If her hair gets entangled in the parachute cords, it will break her neck and I will not take such chances, she either cuts her hair or I will do so with a knife whilst she sleeps (I will shoot you, my husband, Angelique). I also add a heavy diving lead belt around her midriff to ensure she floats down properly (she is not the heaviest of women) and into Lake Niassa where I wait with Geelslang in separate ski-boats to recover the jumpers and shoot the hungry crocodiles if needs be. As senior officer around she jumps first, it is her right and she claims it every year (damn right and Foxtrot insists to cover me with an enormous towel, Angelique. I do cover Angelique with the towel when she is fished out of the water, she is my wife and soul and mother of our twins, a senior officer to boot, not to be gaped at as happens at wet t-shirt competitions. I do the same for Lise and Odette and even Lucy, when she is here, which is often).

Angelique jumps with all her Frogs, they all are ex-Special Forces, and anyone else qualified and willing including Fernandes, usually following directly after Angelique because of his age (it is an African thing to respect the elderly). We like Airborne Day, it is a festive day for us and a static line jump at 1,000 feet, really easy and more symbolic than anything else, such jumps have nothing in common with combat or operational jumps.

With all the above sorted, we could leave the runway. I shook hands with Mack and the rest, and got into the Kwêvoël. Our convoy was impressive for the place. We don’t usually display much overt military strength, our world is very hush-hush and this was, until the Egg Breaker War broke out in 2012, highly unusual. First, leading the way, with Terminator and his lads, was the SAMIL-20, then myself in the armoured Kwêvoël, heavily loaded with provisions as was the SAMIL-20. We were not expecting landmines, the road, if you could call the sandy tracks roads, were travelled enough on to have detonated any landmine long before. Of course, inside the landmine proofed vehicles, we could not care less but we did have the bulk of the ordnance with us and if they went up, well, heaven awaits but to be sure not to cheat God, we buttoned the escape hatch firmly down. Following us was the big, it really is imposing, G6 self-propelled howitzer, then the Mercedes L-300 fuel bowser where it was most protected behind the armour, followed lastly by the two armoured Valkiri Mark IIs.

Every vehicle had all-wheel drive and the last ones had the worst time, the sand, already loose and thick, would be loosened further, especially by the heavy G6 coming in at 46,000 pounds. The vehicle selection in the convoy order was not done without reasoning, the Valkiris were based on the large SAMIL-100, a six-wheel drive truck of legendary off-road capabilities, as was the Kwêvoël I was in. However, with the Valkiris, the SAMIL-100 chassis and suspension had been strengthened and the transmission upgraded to a 5-speed automatic gearbox. According to DENEL, the engineers, that gave them a 45% better traction and 90% better gradient ability than a standard SAMIL-100, something I simply did not believe and wanted to see for myself. The Valkiri lads were adamant they could keep up, will keep up and probably rescue some poor bastard stuck in the sand. With this wisdom dispensed they stared hard at the G6 self-propelled howitzer crew in order for them to comprehend that 46,000 pounds on six wheels, will ensure rescue sooner than later. I was not so sure about that, the G6 is legendary on sand, the large wheels, they are as high as a man and as broad, I suppose, simply floats over most obstacles. The G6 crew smirked in their superior way and I interceded to give the standard convoy briefing.

“Listen up, we will keep proper distances, at least 290 yards away from each other and in radio contact. You all have long distance radios with you, you keep them switched off, zero transmissions, acknowledge!”

I keep on saying to you reading my books, don’t underestimate Africa because of the crap you see on the Clinton News Network (CNN for some). We have the same military electronics you have if not better and we know how to use them in this sphere. Show some respect. Whenever you smile at yourself at South African airports, yes, that nice large mirror in the toilets at arrival, we take your picture and feed it into our database. Whenever you smile at the camera reading your temperature (standard in African airports, to check for yellow fever and other illnesses), we also scan your face and Angelique’s people will know about you, a lot more than what you may realise since they are liaising with most agencies across the world. We had an idiot here, he was ex-Mossad and rather senior, shooting off his mouth and making a fool of himself with uncalled for threats, not realising yet that since 1994 when the changes came, South Africa supported Palestine, not Israel at all.

He was picked up on arrival (actually, we had prior warning of his arrival, from Russia, Angelique) and closely watched. The question to be answered was twofold. First, whether to TWEP (to terminate with extreme prejudice, assassinate, MI6 terminology) him or secondly, to leave him and see where he leads us. Angelique chose the second option and after that he was gently asked to leave and never to come back. He revealed all the local connections with that ill-advised trip instead of talking to Angelique directly (if you wish to understand how Muslim terrorism suddenly disappeared in South Africa, suspiciously so, read Code Name OST-M, you will be astonished and get why I write under a pseudo name). Radio games, breaking codes, triangulation, and satellite intercepts with very good analysis, is something of a South African Secret Service (and Military Intelligence) hobby, they do that all the time and although the Zimbabweans had no satellites and much older equipment, they could triangulate and did so successfully in the Seventies during the Rhodesian Bush War. We knew better than using long distance radios, even if encrypted and burst transmission capable. They all acknowledged that their long distance radios will not even be switched on until I change my mind, which I would, eventually but still, no chatter.

“Sniper gave you each an extra squad radio, the frequency will change every day but for now, they are where we are, listen in to my commands and follow them. If any of us get stuck, not that we will, we know about off-road driving, we help each other competently and without pointless comments. The Special Forces lads will give us all round defence automatically, the vehicle crews will do the digging, you get?”

They got, this was standard, you get stuck, you get unstuck, the infantry, and Special Forces are infantry when it comes down to it, provides security by surrounding the vehicle. If needs be I will abandon the vehicle and blow it with time delayed fuses or at the spot. Nevertheless, I would not want to do that easily, all the vehicles were designed to operate independently for a minimum of 14 days, having sufficient rations, stores and water on board for the crews, when you destroy one, you lose out and the logistics recalculations start.

“You keep your threat scanners on and your batteries charged, let the engines cool down, the turbos, before you switch off and lower your air pressure in the tires to compensate for the sand. Remember, the warmer it gets and it will, it is autumn now, we are in the southern hemisphere, the looser the sand gets, if you need low range and diff-locks, use them. Keep your engines as quiet as possible and no spinning of wheels.”

All the current military vehicles, such as the G6 self-propelled howitzer and Valkiris, have advanced threat scanners on them, they will know if they are being scanned by radar or by lasers and activate the ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) system which may be anything from jamming, chaff or firing off flares. You have to remember something here, the South African made military export vehicles are sold to every country which is likely to face Israel and thus, they are electronically as good as anything else anywhere in the world. Then there is the BRICS cooperation between intelligence agencies in the background, we have access to the very best Russia or China or even India, can offer and they to our technology (see Code Name Blue Tang how this intelligence is traded, Angelique).

Moving silently with a convoy of large diesel engine vehicles may sound impossible to you but not at all, we do so as standard procedure. If you keep the revs low and all such engines are designed to give almost all of their power by the time you reach 1,500 revs, the sound is muffled. You may hear them but with the naked ear it is just about impossible to know from where the sound is coming from. The best advice is to listen to trees cracking and breaking as they are being driven over and look for dust, sound alone is not going to help much and if you can hear them, you are already dead, they will scan the area with advanced imaging scanners and hunt you down.

I recalled that during training we were subjected to attacking Police Counter Insurgency Casspir infantry vehicles coming at us. The shock, I don’t care who you are, it is frightening in the extreme, is horrible. You are walking patrol and the next moment the diesel engines are heard, the turbos whine, the trees start falling down and the vehicles appear like ghosts. If for real, the heavy and light machine guns would now be hammering away, the policemen at the back hanging over the armoured sides (10 feet above you), shooting with their assault rifles, a helicopter gunship would be circling to direct events, the Rhodesian Bush War Fireforces concept perfected and you would be dead soon after. And this was the police, lightly armed and armoured vehicles, killing 90% of all terrorists during the South African Bush War and 98% of all terrorists in the counter terrorism war (not the same as counter insurgency, Angelique). Now imagine how the army did it with their fast moving eighteen ton Ratel Infantry Fighting Vehicles, at times backed up with air support, artillery, rockets and heavy main battle tanks, no wonder the Cubans could not run fast enough the other way - we rated them low as fighting men, below the Africans for sure and a joke of note.

“Agreed, Sah, who leads?” One asked, knowing that spinning wheels means a loss of traction, that means getting stuck.

Recovering a stuck vehicle is not an art, it is done quickly and in practised moves. All the vehicles had towing bars as standard – to be used only for towing a broken down vehicle and seldom for recovery, it being inefficient. For recovery we used heavy duty kinetic towropes, they stretch something almighty and then wrenched the stuck vehicle out. To use such ropes properly is training and even more training. I firmly believe in the British Army adage of Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance, every driver is responsible before God and me as ground commander, for his vehicle. He must have everything sorted and ready and know how to use the kit entrusted to him, if not, he will not admire my likely reaction to his bad soldiering habits. The heavy shackles must be lightly oiled to easily unscrew and never overtightened, you turn the knob until firmly locked and then half a turn back or the shackle will not easily get loose again. Always fasten the towropes to the designated and designed recovery points on your vehicle or the towrope will cause damage or injury to your crew and I will let Geelslang loose on you and you will regret most sincerely meeting me or him.

God knows (He does, I mean this as a witness, not lightly spoken) that such things are part of your life since born or since enlisting in Africa. For instance, when crossing a deep river, your wife is expected to walk or wade through first with the cable attached to the winch on one side and her midriff on the other. Since her husband knows her body, he can judge how deep the water is to the last inch by seeing how far she sinks and then follow with the family vehicle. When in trouble she can be towed out and after a cup of tea, off we go again, the sun waits for no man. Of course, in later years the kids take over. I fondly recall Lise and Odette, they were about 6 years old each (12 when combined, they had a wonderful childhood, Angelique), storming into the water tied to a lifejacket or inflated tire tube, to get the vehicle across and having exciting times. Being smart kids, they first arranged that their mom will shoot any inquiring snake or crocodile coming too close.

They still do so when visiting and cannot understand their boyfriends, all French Special Forces or Legion, wanting to spoil their fun by volunteering (as you do with me for years now? I am not allowed to cross flooded rivers anymore, sigh, I am too valuable according to Foxtrot and Colonel Annaud, it is bully boy tactics, I protested in vain, Angelique). Yes, she is too valuable in the War on Terror, a spymaster of her seniority will never be allowed to swim flooded rivers so I do so when Lise and Odette are away which is often these days. Traditionally and every Afrikaner girl reading here will agree, you can ask, the wife will also lock the free running hubs in the front (less important now that most vehicles are permanently in four-wheel drive) and then gallop after the Land Cruiser or whatever you have as family vehicle, until you get through the unexpected soft patch of sand or mud – you cannot stop once you have the momentum going. (I once ran four miles like that, Foxtrot only slowed down enough so he could admire my bouncing chest, yes, I know, Angelique.) Yeah, I did that, it was magnificent to watch and then I drove into the only tree in the vicinity, she was very distracting, I assure you, her chest was indeed bouncing and I am a man – it was years before I started thinking of HRC or Hilarious as we call the old liberal. She is the only woman I can think of able to inhibit all thoughts of what comes natural to a man below the belt when he sees his soul. We should be grateful for that as I admit in the GMJ Books. Through the years, with Angelique as desirable physically as she is, old Hilarious did remarkable duty, not always successfully so, I am glad to say. After my marriage with Angelique, when desire is expected and wholly welcomed, I completely banned the old liberal from my mind – she gives decent people like me heartburn and the mere memory of her still does so, it is damn uncanny but what can you do.

“Terminator with his lads in the SAMIL-20 will lead and navigate. The threat from landmines is insignificant and so they are quite safe. The threat from enemy forces too is seen as negligible at this stage but if attacked, follow the usual drills. Then myself in the Kwêvoël, Lucy will be driving…” I went on to explain what I wanted done.

The standard procedure for an enemy ambush is to move out of the death zone, first and foremost, call in the enemy contact and get past the shooters whilst returning heavy and accurate fire. The armoured vehicles may even fire smoke grenades to cover the retreat, they can see right through such smoke whilst most of the attackers cannot, not with normal eyes. You then go back, forming a skirmish line and simply annihilate the enemy, mauling around and shooting and driving right over them if needs be, it is fearsome but the problem here was the lack of mechanised infantry. Thus we would use the machine guns, each vehicle had a light machine gun mounted.

“I will have a drone up at 12,000 feet, Sah, impossible to see from the ground and listening to enemy transmissions, scanning down.” Terminator stated proudly.

At that stage they had two of the Skylark 1LE drones with them. That type of drone can reach heights of 15,000 feet, the wings are ten feet wide and is propelled by a small propeller getting its power from a substantial pack of batteries. It can fly for close to three hours or more if lightly loaded, using homegrown electronics, very capable ones, giving her a range of 16 miles (8 miles out and 8 miles back). From 12,000 feet her sensors will pick up a lot of stuff and from lower heights, say 5,000 feet, she will spot a man lying in the shade and mark him with a laser beam. The real-time data signal is processed through powerful laptops, searching for all known threats and frequencies. The drone could not be up all the time, so they will use one after the other, this was new to me, in my time we had no such things, we trusted our eyes.

“Good, let her scan and warn me if she picks up anything dangerous. Gentlemen, I don’t wish to insult you on radio voice procedures, we don’t get excited and we don’t chat away. Speak clearly and to the point, my call sign is always ‘Foxtrot.’ I answer to that name; I know the rest of your call signs as given to you by Lucy when you arrived. Sergeant Major Terminator will now brief you on escape and evasion if needed, listen closely, you are not Special Forces rated and never did this before and hopefully not in the future either. Terminator, carry on please.”

I stood back as he took command, his impressive height and size in contrast to a sharp as nails brain. I knew he held a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics, later that would go to Master’s level. He was in command, actually. I cannot order current Special Forces around at all. Special Forces in any military, are strategic troops, they do not fall under local command and will not even take orders from other officers. They only listen to their own and the Chief of Staff of the Army, able to deploy them. Angelique could and did call on them for assistance but she had to go through the channels unless she could not and we used our friendship lines (Code Name Butterfly is an example, Angelique). It can be said that tactically, Special Forces command themselves. Not even former members like Geelslang and myself will ever be allowed command of current members although we may advise from the side (only because of our relationship to Angelique). As a very senior South African Secret Service officer, Angelique and people like her would automatically be pointing out what they wanted done and then step back and Special Forces make it happen. Since Angelique was not there, I was automatically next in line, then Lucy (Geelslang being away too) to direct what happens at a strategic level. The command line system sounds complex when written down but it worked very well in practise. As long as you showed respect and remembered how much you disliked ancient (when young, a platoon leader, you see all men above 40 to be damn ancient and close to death) interfering, you would be okay. Of course, it helps to have a legendary reputation as did Geelslang and Angelique. We left immediately afterwards.

Lucy was driving, and never kept quiet for one second, my word. I recalled Terminator mentioning to me such behaviour during Code Name Celery 50, chatting away with the Special Forces lad assigned to us by Sniper. If she knew he was there to protect her more than me, she did not let on. Driving and changing gears automatically at the right time, I soon stopped watching over her and concentrated on the task at hand. The Kwêvoël we had was unlike most I saw before, being in a double cab configuration like the Valkiris a couple of hundred yards behind us, usually the vehicle is a single cab with a crane behind. This one had the crane, it really helped loading since the load bed is as high as your head, six feet above the ground but sported the unusual double cab configuration. We were heavily loaded as were all the vehicles and the sand thick and white, sun glasses were essential although the armoured windows were tinted green at the factory, that too helped a lot, especially against glare betraying your position, the reason why it was done in the first place. They are heavy, such windows, we used them as a method to punish wayward constables by giving it to him to carry. Such was our ways, if a man needs re-education, we will provide it for free, if not, we will reward him but we never carried grudges, if you screw up and own up, you will be treated kindly enough. If you happen to have liberal views on life, well, you will be made to understand what we think of such people, it is deplorable (yes, hello Hilarious). Some said our training, even for the non-rated police, was brutal. I don’t agree, it was fair and it was hard and it created a sense of belonging and the correct outlook on life. When dealing with terrorists, criminals and the odd lost liberal (to be kicked to his senses, he should be grateful), you need to be able to do what is needed and we did. I assure you that we were not known by our enemies as an “instrument of terror” without reason, we worked hard for that reputation.

The miles went past one by one as we moved south, Terminator was navigating and the rest of us following and checking on him. As you may imagine, navigating is what we do and especially my wife and soul is a walking compass, she never gets lost. You will never get through Selection if you cannot get yourself from one point to another accurately (less than 2 feet away from where you should be). The issued maps are never left open or marked, you memorise what is given to you and the map (paper) always folded back to the folds it came out of the print shop with, we learned this trick from our parent unit, the British Special Air Service (although the Police Unit had more in common with the Israeli Sayaret when it started). You never point with your finger to a spot on any map, that could show an area as large as several football pitches, way too inaccurate and will be binned on the spot, we used a grass blade which leaves no mark. We would be accurate in any condition, rain, snow, darkness, 140 Fahrenheit heat, and in any state of tiredness, it made no difference to the instructors. No GPS system was allowed during Selection and still is not, the same when shooting. You start off with bog standard iron sights and are expected to hit whatever you aim at and always use the “double tap” method of shooting.

This is a shooting method first used by the British Special Air Service in the 1970s when they became interested in counter terrorism, hostage rescues (after the Munich Olympics Debacle). They quickly realised that a standard military 9 mm Parabellum round is crap, it does not kill fast enough and adjusted by adding Special Forces ammunition (nice hollow points) and shooting two rounds so fast it sounds like one shot. We did the same even on our assault rifles and to me it is the mark of a professional. Full automatic fire is to me the mark of ill-discipline and of run of the mill soldiers not worthy of Special Forces where you often carry the ammunition to and from the target without guaranteed resupply. During Vietnam, at one stage, it took 100,000 rounds to obtain one kill (some studies say 250,000 rounds). We never used more than 20 rounds and a body without a rifle meant being arrested for murder. And that was the normal police, for us, in Police Special Forces, one bullet one hit meant exactly that and we expected death on the other side when we opened up or I would want to know why not. Except for covering fire and the first few crazy seconds of an ambush, full automatic fire was a luxury we could not afford and look down upon. We don’t get such a lack of fire discipline, it is pathetic, bad soldiering and we know how to deal with such people.

Lucy was a good driver (as a South African Secret Service agent she could drive anything, trains too) and a courteous one unlike Angelique (I beg your pardon, I am very nice, Angelique). No horrible ping pong classical music came from the stereo (the vehicle was civilianised and had a fairly decent one, not standard at all) as Angelique does from time to time to her passengers. Geelslang and I once spoke Zulu in front of her, innocently enough and for her own good, and she started playing her high-quality stereo system at full blast in revenge. After some hours of ping pong classical crap, we opened the doors to jump out and she promptly increased speed to more than 120 miles per hour, daring us to jump. Even then, we considered it an easier demise that that damn piano concerto murdering us slowly, Geelslang and I being Country & Western and decent music fans do not admire classical crap (Code Name Honey Bee). By tradition you cannot do such things to your passengers nor turn the air-conditioner on without invitation if a passenger, the driver controls the knobs (except if you are me, I am special, lol, Angelique). Perhaps you are wondering why we did not just shoot her stereo or switched it off, Geelslang and I being significantly larger than Angelique and able to take her if in a combined attack (you will regret such an attack, Angelique), you don’t get her likely reaction to such notions. She will break your fingers or get really “otherwise” and defend herself. She is a Krav Maga expert twice over or second black belt. That means you will not easily get to her physically, she will respond with vicious blows and kicks. Krav Maga, the Israeli Army export product, is a martial art designed to kill and maim and no other reason. It is not a sport and never will be no matter what they say, but simply the best offensive martial art known to man. Practitioners will not stop at a single blow and then step back, waiting politely for the victim to get up. That to me is the most revealing in their way of operating and intentions. They will attack and keep on attacking until the threat is deemed neutralised and unless very good yourself the kicks and punches will get through. And she could be extremely fast when attacking in earnest. I saw her floor men for touching her butt or holding her hand too long or saying something nasty (Code Name Willow Bay, Code Name Celery 50). Luckily for me, since I am her pet, she always missed or slowed down her punches when hitting out at me after days of tormenting, for me to duck in time. We stopped that as we grew closer although I am always ready to duck when she waves her arms around. Yet, starting such a fight in her Jeep Wrangler at high speed would have been madness. We reached another agreement after apologising for speaking Zulu (and broke it before the sun went down on the same day, Angelique).

Here, in the Kwêvoël, life was very civilised, Lucy would stop talking for a second, ask if the air was cold enough (it was wonderful – we were buttoned down in case the ordnance behind us exploded) and then carried on talking, my word, it never stopped. Fortuitously, during the “Dark Phase” where you are hunted like a wild animal and then captured to be abused further, you learn to switch off, I did exactly that, wondering how Angelique was doing. I was missing my soul very much; she is always around ever since she stormed into my life in 1998 (Code Name Foxtrot). I often say that old couples can look at each other across a room and know what the other one is thinking, souls do that from day one. Angelique’s sunglasses were not only to protect her eyes or to have a flying wonder look but to shield her eyes from me, trying to read them (Foxtrot would stare like a hyena in heat at me at times, it could be discomforting, Angelique. Yeah, only if guilty of shenanigans, Foxtrot.) I became aware of my issued satellite phone ringing and there was only one person in the world that knew that number.

“Speak to me, Mrs Dawson.”

I still called her formally “Mrs Dawson” as she introduced herself in 1998. In our culture you do not call a woman on her name unless asked to do so even if you knew her real name and her father well enough. That would come in 2012 and since then she was always “my wife” or “Angelique” and when speaking any other language than Afrikaans, “Honey” – the term of endearment just doesn’t translate over well. Before that, long before our souls connected, I habitually referred to her as my “issued girlfriend,” much to her annoyance. She felt as senior officer I was issued to her, not her to me which is woman’s logic at its best since I never was a member of her Service but an Egg Breaker and could not thus be issued to her. Sufficient to say she does not agree to this argument, entirely logical as it is (I was the commanding officer, I chose them, Foxtrot and Geelslang, not them me, it is logical, they are issued to me, Angelique).

I coined the phrase, having an “issued girlfriend” (she upped or downed it to fiancée and wife as the mood suited her) to explain our complex relationship. There are no real benefits in an issued girlfriend, really not. It is all make believe, a pretty girl talking to a man with their heads close together in some corner of a coffee shop. You may think they are a couple and at times we were together as a married couple on honeymoon (Code Name Angel) and others as engaged parties (Code Name Missa 72) but you don’t get the same benefits as being really involved. There is for example no sleeping together except for mutual warmth as in survival (Code Name Blue Tang). Then in the years to come, after we lost our respective souls to God, she started giving me odd looks, referring to me as “my Foxtrot” in private, then everywhere and after that we started holding hands and hugging even when she was not “issued” as such. We started joking about our coming marriage and what would happen then, she even had a few slips of the tongue stating she does not hurt her “pets or the one she loves” meaning me… we were so close that those around us began referring to me as her “husband” and her as my “wife” and leaving the “issued” part out, and she never blinked an eye. A few short years before, she would have reacted very violently but now it was easy and soulmate love is easy.

Since about 2009, three long years before we got married, she started saying she wanted twins, daughters and would name them Lise and Odette, after her all-time heroine, a French woman working for British SOE or Special Operations Executive, Mrs Odette Churchill (no relation to the Arch Liar.) Madame Odette’s operational code name in Occupied France was “Lise” and she won the George Cross (the same as the Victoria Cross or US Medal of Honour) after being captured and surviving Ravensbrück Concentration Camp for women. It is a story worth reading, a tale of honour, bravery and love between two spies, she had a relationship going with her commanding officer, also captured, Peter Churchill, beyond the normal. I knew better than to joke about Angelique’s motherly instincts when she mentioned her desires for children and agreed. But it felt silly, I must admit, to keep the charade ongoing when we both knew what we wanted. On the other hand, I had sympathy, there is no way I would have gotten involved in a female officer under my command and Angelique very much thought of herself as being the senior commander (because I am, it is logical, I am Mrs Dawson, Angelique).

“Did you miss me?” She asked in her husky voice, rather odd since she does not smoke and never did.

I could not help but chuckle, back in the day when undergoing basic training (six months) at the old Police College, our platoon sergeant (the devil in disguise at times) asked the same question every Monday morning and I would start sniggering, why the hell would I have missed him? Of course, such behaviour had consequences, I came out of the College (it is not a university college – it is a para-military training establishment, boot camp) able to do push ups at a rate and pace rarely seen since. Yes, we had fun in our youth. It became something of a game between us, the sergeant was not by nature a nasty fellow, a good God fearing Afrikaner man. He later retired as a warrant officer of the old school, still puzzled on my English sounding name.

“Yes, I missed you!” I admitted. “Very much.”

“Good, I suppose that is why you have the giggles when you hear my voice? It will go very bad in our coming marriage, for you that is, if you don’t always miss me. I am waiting!”

“You are beautiful.” I said for the second time that day, the first time was as we flew out of Zimbabwe in the early morning hours.

I forgot to tell her she is beautiful a year or two before this and she took swift revenge, denying me old Johnnie Walker (only hobos stink of Johnnie Walker and she does not kiss hobos), fed me to the sharks (Code Name Honey Bee), kissing me at 27,000 feet where there is no air, that was very nice, no complaints, by God (Code Name Willow Bay) and a myriad of other things too sad to recall in public. In my own defence, I was staring at her when she came down the stairs wearing a black number on our way to the US Embassy in Pretoria. I had no words, she looked so beautiful to me, I forgot to say a word. Geelslang, a happily married man for almost two decades then, decided that she must be told she is beautiful every day afore she tweps (terminate with extreme prejudice, i.e. assassination) both of us. He being an innocent party and all that just because I forgot to tell her that she is beautiful. It soon became an in house joke between us but I meant every word, she is in a class of her own.

“Damn right I am beautiful, but how would you know? Since you cannot see me, I may even be in the shower, nude?”

Now that is an image of his soul guaranteed, mark my words, to cause a physical reaction in any man. Through the years, Angelique got hurt in the call of duty more than once and I treated her when Geelslang was not close by, he being the best medic among us. I am a good operational medic, highly experienced, when you see your soul’s body exposed as you work on it, you try desperately to be professional and you are, yet, you still cannot help but note the female curves, being a man first. It is not lust, not at that stage, you are too busy, it is more an image you have in your head and cannot erase no matter how hard you try. I recollected the many times I saw her in a bikini top, reaching deep in myself not to stare too obviously, she does not like that kind of thing and may start swinging. I tried hard to shake the image out of my head and hurriedly thought of Hilarious, it worked like a dream, I really owe the old liberal even if she caused heartburn within seconds.

“I can hear the whine of the jet engine in the background.” I answered quietly. “You could not be naked in the shower right now.”

She switched to business. “I can see you are close to where you should be… that is good moving on your part. I will be there soon, landing. I am overhead actually, way above you at close to Angels 60.”

Of course, the satellite phone would also give her a GPS location, it was a special one, modified in one of her workshops for field use. Like all spy agencies, Angelique’s people had their gadgets, spies are like kids in many ways. Angels 60 meant she was at 60,000 feet, probably in the JAS39 Gripen multirole fighter she was fetched in earlier in the morning. Military jets fly that high, not commercial airliners.

“Okay, that is good, when you have landed, come over and bring the barge people with you.” I advised. “Don’t stay at that place.”

Angelique and I, it is odd until you recall that we are souls, always had the ability to speak in codes to each other and know what we meant. Translated I said she should deploy the radar and Starstreak lads to us, the ones I left at the runway to ensure she could land safely on her return. In the last week we increased our conventional capabilities dramatically (Code Name Halloween 38) and got, besides the artillery following the Kwêvoël, a Thales Squire radar system as early warning as well as a few batteries of the British made Starstreak surface-to-air and surface-to surface missiles. The radar was hosted on a barge on the nearby Lake Niassa; she would get what I meant. When I said to the lads they will be without air cover during our briefing, I did not mean against low ground strikes but high altitude bombing and no friendly fighters.

The Thales Squire ground radar system is incredible, there is no other way to describe it. First World in every which way, you can pick up a soldier walking at 6.2 miles, a vehicle driving and identified at 13 miles, a tank at 18 miles and so it went on. Even something as small as a scout helicopter will be spotted and identified at just over 13 miles and what is more, the system claims to be “virtually undetectable by enemy counter electronic warfare equipment.” Apparently, as the operators, from the Army’s Tactical Intelligence Corps (retired from active service, according to Angelique) explained to Geelslang, he understands such technical talk, the system uses “frequency modulated continuous wave Doppler radar.” It meant nothing will get close to them without them knowing and sounding the alarm. Of course, that alone, valuable as it is, is not enough. You still needed to act on the warning and that is where the rest came in.

Starstreak is a British system, a short range Man-Portable Air-Defence System (MANPAD). It is not as good, in my view, as what came after it when the missiles were replaced by the South African made DENEL V3E Agile Darter, the best short range air-to-air missile in the world (see Code Name Blue Tang). The original Starstreak is a missile that accelerates to more than Mach 4 once fired and it is said cannot be jammed by any known infrared counter measures or radar or radio signals from the enemy. They achieved this by going old school, the missile is semi-guided by the operator, he has to track the target exactly with the sighting unit aimpoint (SACLOS) and only then, at the last moment, it starts scanning by itself and it can be used against light armour also (I doubt if it will destroy a tank), not only aircraft. Because it is aimed with the operator’s eyes, the aircraft and armour will almost certainly not know it is tracking them until too late, nor will anti-radar missiles be effective, it transmits nothing at that stage or from where it launches. The British Army had them since 1997 and during the 2012 London Olympic Games, such a missile launcher was mounted on a block of flats, I am sure you saw the pictures. Many residents were intimidated, and wrote letters to the media to complain.

Starstreak has a major disadvantage, making it rather useless in my eyes, the missile has no proximity fuse and unless it actually hits the aircraft or whatever it is aimed at, it will not explode. That is not good enough although I understand the reasons for the design, this was rectified when the DENEL V3E Agile Darter replaced it. Unless the missile operator is an expert and that takes constant training, (look at history what happened in the Sinai Desert with the Egyptian anti-tank Sagger Missiles – see Code Name Devorah), the target may well be missed. The Starstreak System became known as ForceSHIELD in later years, I still have my doubts but with the Thales Squire radar linked to the Starstreak missile batteries (they are small, fixed upon vehicles or standing around, hidden), we had some immunity against low level air attack and especially helicopter borne troops. I wanted to shoot down the Zimbabwe Air Force Aérospatiale Alouette gunships, ironically, former South African Air Force airframes, given to them against all current international sanctions.

“Okay, I will bring them with me. I have a few surprises myself but will show you in due time.” She replied.

“You do?” That could mean anything, however, you never ask such things on the telephone, you wait and see. “I left the Pommy Goat alone at the campsite, you don’t want to be in his company more than necessary, so come over and show me, I will be waiting, I got your gear with me.”

I was quite proud of myself, I had her sleeping bag and assault rifle with me, she had to get to me to get them back. Proper planning and all that you know. Thinking ahead.

“Oh, well, I will then have to bunk with someone else, for survival, you get?” She answered rather smartly, that part I did not think through, I admit. “If I cannot leave tonight.”

“Eh, Lucy is here with me, the only other girl around. No, you will have to fly in. No need for survival training now, I am here, I will look after you! Besides, you don’t want to be alone with the old goat.”

I was referring to her MI6 colleague, Sir John McElroy. We call them “Six” in the trade) I left at the campsite. He arrived earlier that week to conduct operations in Malawi, across the lake from us, doing God knows what since none of the explanations Angelique gave me made any sense (Code Name Halloween 38). His presence was most unwelcome. It would be fair to say that Sir John McElroy is not my favourite person in the world. I blame him for the death of my first wife, Marwa and rightly so since he is guilty in my eyes even if not his own (see Code Name Foxtrot). I will TWEP (terminate with extreme prejudice, i.e. assassination, an MI6 term) him when Angelique allows me to do so and I hope it will be soon, he should not die of natural causes and is getting really old being a good twenty years on us. The bastard only survived me by luck and her uncalled for meddling the last time I went after him. Next time she will not be there to save his ass and I will blow him up as happened to Marwa or perhaps I will drown him slowly, as an ex-submariner, I know he fears drowning above all. The idea gives me much pleasure, we have a meeting with destiny, the old goat and I. God is merciful, He will surely grant me my wish.

In the meantime, he was a front man for MI6 and we met from time to time. Angelique disliked him, all decent Afrikaner girls dislike Pommies even though this one was a good man, it must be said. He started as a legendary nuclear attack boat commander during the Cold War. His missions, even if what I heard were half true, were truly amazing and after his retirement as a rear admiral he joined the shadows and came barging into our world. During the Egg Breaker War, he would almost be more trouble than what he was worth and Angelique watched me slugging him at a French Military Hospital breaking his nose for lying to me during operations (Code Name Dawson). I was serving as the Egg Breaker ground commander with Angelique in overall command, directing operations like always. He, the old goat, supplied the money, men and much unsolicited advice. No self-respecting Afrikaner, and all Egg Breakers are Afrikaners, will take orders from a Pommy. We don’t like them and we don’t consider them as anything special in Africa. The man just about caused a mutiny when he tried to usurp a wounded Angelique’s command. I had to jump with Geelslang and a few lads into northern Nigeria, from 40,000 feet (our highest HALO – high altitude, low opening, jump to date), to restore order and extract a female terrorist for interrogation. I don’t know what happened to that girl afterwards, she wanted to poison US water supplies and with a PhD in microbiology we got her just in time. I do know I never heard of her again but I also believe she changed sides and now lives under an assumed name, it is just a feeling and Angelique’s smirk when I asked straight. The unforeseen result of Sir John pulling rank all the time (Angelique was then reckoned to be in military terms, a senior colonel, perhaps a junior brigadier and pregnant with our twins too) was that the French promoted Angelique to equal rank, major general, so she could negotiate easily with the bastard. Before that she was simply known as “Mon Cheri Colonel Angelique” by her DGSE security team. Now she is “Mon Cheri Général de Division Angelique,” Retired (yeah, sure). The argument can be made that we owe Sir John a lot as does the free world. Without his help and assistance, I always acknowledged his role in the GMJ Books, the Egg Breaker War could not have been undertaken successfully. We were just too outnumbered, outgunned and out resourced taking a powerful nation like South Africa on. They had after all a superb Navy, Air Force, Special Forces and Angelique’s former people coming after us. We needed help.

Through the years Angelique had a love-hate relationship with Sir John, at times threatening to knock his head off his shoulders and execute him (Code Name Cadillac) and at others fairly decent and civil (Code Name OST-M). The counter terrorism game is international and Sir John a better proposition than the loud mouth Virginians as we call the CIA. None of them operated in Sub Sahara Africa without her permission, she protected her turf fiercely. If you want to infuriate Angelique Dawson, ignore her when she speaks or operate in her sphere without asking permission, she will react very predictably. Those that tried were warned to leave and others died, now they are making fools of themselves by targeting the wrong crowd and they are being fed mushrooms behind the scenes every single day. The sad reality is this; Sub Saharan Africa is not a place where any Western Intelligence Agency operates well. There is the natural detestation of the former colonial masters and then the Yanks are seen as runners, they will run for home when a few die. There is no respect, lip service yes, but no real intelligence flowing to them. Every now and then a “serious terrorist attack threat or warning” is issued by the US Embassy regarding forthcoming terror attacks inside South Africa. Thus far such warnings made utter fools of them, they are not respected – they would do better to read the GMJ Intelligence Briefings freely available in my books. Yet, I hope they keep on being wrong, we don’t want innocents to die.

The mere sight of Sir John emerging from the aircraft last week was enough to give me heartburn. I really hate the bastard and have a natural desire to shoot him at sight. Unlike Angelique, I don’t need to keep him close and ironically, she loves his mom, a dear old lady of good breeding. How Lady McElroy could have given birth to a bastard like Sir John is hugely perplexing to me. I mean, her husband was a decent Life Guard’s officer and minor member of the Pommy aristocracy, they should have produced better that that. I feel that the old goat’s neck should have been wrung at birth and saved me a lot of anguish in life. Recently we found out he had a child which his then wife did not know about. He had many wives, the horny old goat, three at the last count. The last one is a lovely Indonesian girl twenty-nine years his junior (scandalous behaviour). The child was South African and since he dislikes the Afrikaner as much as we dislike the Pommies in return, I am not sure how that happened, perhaps he was drunk or the woman was. I knew the love child, now about 30 years old, worked for Angelique which is a great irony. The old goat has a son also, born from the Indonesian woman and I am glad to say our twins, or rather Lise’s current boyfriend beat seven sorts of crap out of him years later. He touched her butt at a Naval Academy dance (she punched him in return and then her boyfriend got involved, ending it). I took an abrupt liking to the big Foreign Legion officer (he later made French Army Special Forces Selection) when he arrived at our place with her and I heard the story. The little goat, an RAF Intelligence officer, made it back to Pommy Island almost not alive from the incident that took place at a French Naval Base where the twins are stationed as naval aviators. Lise’s big legionnaire assured me he will get the half-breed one day, at the very next combined exercise, if at all possible. He is a man of his word and I am willing to bet you that the wanker will have further misfortune if they ever bump into each other. What is also highly entertaining since Angelique’s defection is what happens when Angelique’s French Security Team meets Sir John’s Pommy one. As spymasters they are always protected and there is no love lost between the two groups. In general, the French piss on Comte John, the “Runners of Dunkirk and Butchers of Mers-el-Kébir” as they call him behind his back or in his face (Code Name Caribbean). In such a fight, if it ever breaks out, Geelslang and I will join Angelique’s team automatically and kill Sir John with the opening shots. Especially Geelslang cannot stand the man and a large part of that is Sir John’s beautiful upper class Pommy Hooligan accent- it is resented here as “colonial speak.”

Colonial speak, it is a peculiar thing among English speaking Africans that we dislike a BBC Standard accent although we really admire the beautiful English which comes with it. Hearing a genuine Pommy bastard, not someone like Geelslang, speak like that, Sir John the old goat is a perfect example, is not good for our tempers. Such accents piss us off even in church. We recall the days when they strutted around as if they owned the place (they did, the bastards) and if an Afrikaner or have some sympathy, you remember the death camps for good measure, they had not apologised yet. I likewise found that some British Army officers speak louder when they work with African soldiers, it is not meant to be a racist slur by them but it comes across as one as they don’t know any better. And of course, there is the esprit de corps going on too. Our lads know they are the best in their sphere and no two ways about it. Their Selection is harder than the British or American ones, their Selection failure rates way higher and they are not about to let you forget it.

“Yeah, he is busy with other things. Don’t worry, I will fly in later with the blue job and monitor you on the usual frequencies. Let me speak to Lucy since you mentioned her.”

In the last week, Angelique got her hands on a SA.3210 Aérospatiale Super Frelon helicopter, we painted it blue to look like the Chinese Changhe Z-8 (the Chinese version is an exact copy) we knew were to be found inside Zimbabwe. This was deliberate, she wanted to look Chinese and even dyed Lucy’s hair jet black and had her sit in the co-pilot’s seat when she attacked the ambushers (Code Name Halloween 38). It was a classic PSYOP (psychological operation) mission. The helicopter was still at the runway and rather large, able to fly the lads and their missiles and radar in, we did not have reliable vehicles left, so they had to come by helicopter and be extracted later.

The Super Frelon is in the same category as the US Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King, a large 1960s transport helicopter, fairly conventional in design, the engines on top below the rotors, the rear end opening in a small ramp and the pilots up front separated by an internal partition from the cattle in the hold. She first flew in December 1962 but that meant nothing, this one was upgraded with glass cockpit screens and an advanced ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) system designed to defeat incoming missiles and jamming signals. She had the same aerials (they look like pipes running horizontally, Angelique) on her tailboom, as that you find on the South African Oryx (improved Super Puma) and she was armed, we added three heavy .50 machine guns in port holes, the Russian made Kords, they shoot faster and more accurately than the better known Browning .50 so beloved by Western Armies including us. Just the previous night we fired about 3,000 bullets at the ambushers and then came the mortars and that was that for them (Code Name Halloween 38).

Angelique Dawson is one hell of a pilot, instrument rated and dual (rotor and fixed wing) qualified and I suppose, it would not be wrong to classify her as a combat pilot, she often flew operationally. The problem was, she and all other flying wonders including my mates Boris, Geelslang and our twins, Lise and Odette (these days flying multirole fighters for the French Navy), always turn nasty in the air. They know they have you by the unmentionables and bray for coffee when they reach cruising altitude. And the non-aviator, me, is the designated baggage loader and coffee maker. I am abused in the air, I am sure, and then she does not always land properly or in one piece or in the water, the least said the better (you are still alive, Foxtrot, only liberals complain without reason and where we had emergencies they were traced back to you having undesirable thoughts, Angelique). In the meantime, she had Lucy on the satellite telephone.

“Yes, Madame. He got red in the face at 09H43 and took his blood pressure reducing garlic pill by 09H44…. Yes, he swallowed, Terminator witnessed this, yes only after an argument which I won…. Eh, he looks okay now but red in the face again…. Okay, I will most certainly do so, ciao to you also.”

Lucy handed me the phone and I switched it off, not even my mom worried that much over my blood pressure. It rang again seconds later.

“Foxtrot, it is very rude not to say goodbye to your fiancée, imagine that, putting the phone down in my ear? I will remember that, anyway, we have the go-ahead for Code Name Anika. See you just after dark, bye-bye.”

“Did you not say goodbye to Lucy? Roger that. See you then, bye.” I replied mildly.

She was laughing on the other side. Angelique never stays mad for long, she either tweps you or make peace and has a sense of humour as vast as the plains of Africa. I wondered vaguely how she got to that name, Code Name Anika and who Anika was and what she had to do with us.

“Impimpis (Zulu slang, police informers) are terrible people!” I muttered to Lucy, after making sure the phone is switched off. “They are deplorable, liberals and worse!”

“Grumpy old Majors are worse!” She answered darkly before switching on the music again.

We left it like that, she is about eight years younger than Angelique and I. Mind, I had sympathy for Lucy, Angelique is not one to ask a single informant on what took place. No, she would have several reporting to her, listen to each separately (they hardly ever know about each other, see Sniper and Lucy having the same job in looking after me) and then make her conclusions. Lucy, it has to be said, was well within her rights under our rules to report on Angelique’s “elderly Major” and truthfully so as Angelique will cross check.

We were making good progress and close to where we wanted to be, the terrain was becoming quite mountainous, green too. That would not be a major factor, the rainy season was almost gone and the vehicles able to get across easily enough, mud could be a problem, not sand nor stone. The nice thing about artillery is you don’t need to get them close, you can fire indirectly and the G6 can fire right over mountains, it is a howitzer, designed to do so. The two Valkiris, unfortunately, could not with their much flatter trajectories, they needed more open areas to be effective. I had an idea, studying the map and satellite pictures whilst Lucy drove on, still talking excitedly.

For you that don’t know the area well, Mike Delta Three Eight and his team, were on the wrong side of the small town of Nyanga, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe, about 29 miles from the Mozambican border (the town itself is 8 miles away). They were moving west, slowly, towards us and at this stage the Zimbabweans were still wondering what happened, it was less than 24 hours after the counter ambush took place (Code Name Halloween 38). They were mobilising troops and helicopters, conducting the same sweeps that we would have done. First to secure the crime scene, get the trackers out, start the hunting process, drop stopper groups to cut off stragglers and chase the bastards down. Yet, in their hearts they must have known it was too late. The helicopter was clearly seen during the attack, by design, and the landing marks the wheels made would have told them the entire story as much as you reading the book. The smarter ones and there were many, would have suspected that a small observation team may have been left behind and so they searched all likely places and found nothing, Mike Delta Three Eight already moved away, anticipating the counter reaction. They would also know that such a team will be tremendously dangerous if found. It is better to stand back, keep them trapped and call air support or armour to bomb them to pieces first. What you should never do is to try a fair gunfight or approach them in anything less than 20 to 1 in numbers, they will get you first and keep moving faster than what you can track them. Lay your ambushes in the likely direction they were going and get them cornered or injured, that is about your only chance but only if they can be found and it is known, they could run 62 miles a night and more.

“Terminator, have a look at this.” I said.

We were standing next to the G6 self-propelled howitzer, having stopped to unload the SAMIL-20 to establish a fuel and ordnance dump. We wanted to empty her by the time we got to Sniper’s reserve, he jumped with his cargo less than 40 minutes after we left, the C-130 being much quicker than us. It is not difficult to establish such dumps, you either bury or camouflage the contents, and then booby trap it with explosives to prevent it from being molested. Most locals, that part is not greatly inhabited anyway, would stay away if they see it by chance. They know that they may well die if they tamper with it. We likewise had an understanding with the local tribal chiefs, they received a small gratuity in reporting to us what moves around in their area and to leave our dumps alone.

In later years, after Thandiwe’s Clinic became operational, we treated all and sundry for free (the donated medical equipment and medicines came mostly from Europe). Thandiwe became something of a local legend for her temper and getting her Toyota Land Cruiser stuck in the sand, the mud and whatever else she could find, getting on the radio and shouting for help. At one stage, it rained a lot that year, we had Lise and Odette following her with one of the big John Deer tractors, towing her out. They must have been about ten years old each, also carrying a 30-06 Musgrave (a well-known South African company) with them for protection against the wildlife, anything from lion to elephant to rhino and the most dangerous beast of them all, hippopotamus. Thandiwe is not the gentle, loving Matabele girl Geelslang married so many years ago when working, she expects her hospital wards to be clean, neat and shipshape, her nurses and assistants (in the beginning that would have been us, being highly trained medics) to listen closely to what she wanted done. And if you wish to annoy her when you are her patient, don’t follow her advice to the letter. Mind, she never had much problems with that aspect. The locals could follow her Matabele if spoken slowly enough and she soon had a Portuguese speaking matron (a woman I am sure the devil is scared of, I know I am and not in a good way either) translating. We have much reason to be proud of what Thandiwe achieved in that place where a good medical doctor is scarcer than moon dust. Terminator’s wife, a former Royal Navy surgeon (see Code Name Caribbean where they met) also helps out as do many other visiting doctors, Thandiwe is after all, our age and past retirement, a grandma.

“I was thinking and feel free to disagree, it is your skin but if you can lead the bastards up this valley here…” I showed him what I meant. “I will be able to get them off your back.”

If you drew a line between Nyanga, westwards towards Mozambique, you will find the small village of Nhauche as you cross the international border into Mozambique, about ten miles inside the country. There is a ridge along the way, about 400 feet high, the area is mountainous and this particular ridge is exactly 770 yards on the Mozambican side. It was part of my plan to use the foot of that ridge as the anchor point. The border itself is not defended, a mere four-foot high farming fence a two-year-old can master and in a shallow valley. When it rains I am sure there would be a delightful rocky stream of water, for now it was dry enough. The ridge, I doubt if it even had a name, stretched for about 15 miles parallel with the international border, twisting and turning. At the ridge’s most southern point, just to the west of it, is an even smaller place called Cavalariqa. It was here where a smallish valley is formed with the first ridge on the eastern side, 7 miles wide with yet another ridge to the west, looking like a ripple from above, and moving north for about 14 miles, forming the perfect spot as far as I was concerned. I wanted Geelslang and mates to come out of Zimbabwe where the first ridge ended, it was relatively flat there, turn left or north and lead the chasers into my shells and rockets.

“It can be done. If you are spotting from this point…” He pointed at the first ridge. “You will see us crossing and running north with them chasing us.” Terminator acknowledged. “The G6 can be far away, say 30 miles, here, hidden behind these rocky outcrops and cover any area inside that valley we care to be in, I suppose we can call it Psalm 23 in our codes, the valley of death. I suggest, Sah, the Valkiris with their flatter trajectories, should be hidden here, closer to Cavalariqa, this gives us a deadly crossfire, the G6’s shells from the north, the Valkiris’ rockets from the south. The G6 must then not overshoot, she will hit and destroy the Valkiris if she does, they are much closer to Psalm 23. Let us get them in for a formal ‘Order Group’ if you don’t mind, Sah.”

An “Order Group” is where you call in the commanders, they can be any rank, as long as they command something or someone and you need to get them to comprehend what you want done. Sometimes this is a formal briefing with visual aids although we piss on PowerPoint presentations and at times it can be right next to a vehicle in the shade of a tree. In Special Forces you also have a “Chinese Parliament” where any lad, they are all experienced soldiers, can have his say but once the decision is made by the commander, you are expected to loyally and cheerfully make it happen. The “Chinese Parliament” is not a system that is open for abuse nor seen as a weakness but a strength. The artillerists were not Special Forces, they would not know about “Chinese Parliaments” but they were specially chosen and trained men, they were there because they had professional expertise we did not have. I recalled Angelique’s warning when they arrived at the runway the previous week: “I expect you to be honest with me regarding yourself and your equipment, do not bluff. As Major Foxtrot will testify, I don’t take kindly to such attempts and I know everything anyway, all of you for example, I know you. I know your weaknesses and I know your parents, your age and when you kissed your first girlfriend. You were specially selected a long time ago. If your equipment fails or you have a problem, first speak to your local commander, then to Lucy and then to any of us. We will help you but do not lie to me, ever, you become a liability when you do and I will wonder who you work for…. Get your gear sorted and report in when done. I did not bring you here for nonsense, our very lives depend on you (Code Name Halloween 38).”

“We won’t overshoot, Terminator, trust me.” The G6 commander stated flatly when we cornered him. “I will fire at any distance less than 45 miles and my shells will fall where you want them to fall every time and so it is. You wish me to shoot at 30 miles from this spot to this valley of death? Psalm 23? That is a wonderful code name. No problem. Sah, we can hide here and here as alternative firing positions…” He pointed out several different places after studying the maps and satellite pictures for a few minutes, memorising spots, clearly the professional, it was inspiring, reassuring.

“We did our Sergeant Major Staff Course together recently, Sah.” Terminator explained how they knew each other at my lifted eyebrow, normally, when in the presence of Special Forces, an extremely secretive unit, normal soldiers become stiff and formal, they don’t make promises easily. “He showed us his toys and he did hit what he said he would, more than 40 miles away.”

The army is not overly large and men get to know each other on courses and at times in the pub after a sport’s day. Part of the Staff Course is to show each other what you do, you visit the different Regiments (except Special Forces, they show nothing and will not allow you access unless part of the club). From time to time after that, you meet up and talk shop up to a point. Sometimes the meeting can be strained, you may be working undercover in civilian clothing and really don’t want to be greeted by a man in uniform, no matter who he is. Bad feelings are then assured but really, you should never approach a known operator without a discreet nod. It reminded me of something that happened during the first hours of the Battle of Gettysburg. Confederate Brigadier General James Jay Archer was captured and brought to Union Brigadier General Abner Doubleday of baseball fame (he did not invent the game, it is a myth, Angelique). Doubleday had an interesting war up to that point, he was the second-in-command at Fort Sumter where it all started, firing the first cannon shot at the Confederates in the entire US Civil War, he knew Archer well from the old army and greeted him friendly enough: “Good morning, Archer! How are you? I am glad to see you!” Archer, perhaps understandably annoyed at losing 400 plus men of his 1,200 strong brigade within two hours and being the first general officer captured, was less obliging, replying: “Well, I am not glad to see you by a damn sight, Doubleday!” The exchange never fails to bring a smile to my face, I can easily imagine that meeting and love history. Doubleday went on to have a long life after the war ended, achieving popular fame, Archer died soon after being released, in 1864.

“Yes, and that was with older model G6. This one is the export model, it is Gucci, especially in the fire control computer department. The problem I see here is that the terrain is mountainous, that means communication links may be difficult when using FM (it is a horizontal signal, short distance, a mountain will prevent the signal from reaching you, Angelique). I suggest, Sah, we either use our UHF main radios and let them bounce between the stratosphere and the earth, ensuring good signals or use our satellite comms or you put a relay station for us on this mountain top to relay the commands.” He concluded. “I must have clear and concise orders from you for the fire mission.”

“Use your satellite comms until further notice. I don’t have men for your relay station, if things change, I will let you know.”

I made the decision on the spot, once we called down the fire, we could not afford messages getting lost. The difficulty is this, when you bounce the signal like that, it keeps on travelling great distances. That can be good or bad, it does not necessarily betray your position, I mean you can be anywhere. On the other hand, when a short distance FM radio transmission is intercepted, you know the enemy must be very close to you.

“We won’t have that problem. It is flat where we would be, a clear line of sight from where I think the spotters will be on that ridge. If I may suggest, Sir, we can be in a rough L-shape. We take the G6 as the northern axis point, straight down, we place the first Valkiri here at this spot. Then I will get ten miles to his left, closer to Zimbabwe and form the final shooting point. Since that is the most exposed position, I will have to shoot and scoot, all of us actually, they may call in air support.”

The Valkiri commander had his own ideas and why not, I got their plan and approved of it. The shells would now come in from the north east, if you were the target and from your south. You will see the unguided rockets from the Valkiris if you happen to be looking that way. They leave trails and they make a horrible noise, you cannot escape them, if you see them they are over you and exploding and the wind will disperse the trails after a few minutes, yet, it is standard procedure to move away from the firing position long before the rockets even land. They better not overshoot though, none of them. I will be on the ridge doing the spotting, it was too important to leave to anyone else, the spotter literally had the Mike Delta Three Eight’s Team in his hands. I was glad Angelique would not be with me on the ridge, there was no way I would allow her close to Psalm 23 and the exploding shells and rockets. Mind, I expected an argument of note from her about that idea and was not to be disappointed but read on, she can be as crafty a pack of hyenas about to steal food from a pride of hungry lions.

The G6 lad went on. “We can refuel our diesel tanks from the fuel bowser and move off in our own direction. We don’t need you once we have divided the valley into our firing plan. This shooting exercise is rather simple in nature, we know the explosive radius of a 155 mm (6.1 inch) shell, we break the valley into small squares and that is your firing reference at all times, you all get? And if you can give us the GPS coordinates, via your Sophie Thales, Sah, it will even be better.”

The eight pound Thales Sophie (the name is interchangeable, Sophie Thales or Thales Sophie) is a long range surveillance and target acquisition thermal imager which South African Army Special Forces use. It is wonderfully effective and can spot humans at over 3 miles, tanks at 7 miles, helicopters at 9 miles and jet fighters at 12 miles and identify each at that range. There would be zero problems in marking the spots for the shells to fall, the squares were backups, old school and very much the same as the squares you call out when playing “Battleships.” It is standard procedure to use both systems and to get everyone to have one target reference. They would then fire on my command and at whatever reference I give them. There was no way they could actually see the shells exploding or even the target, this is known as indirect fire in military parlance and as you can imagine, the artillery spotter better not screw up. All Special Forces are trained extensively to call in heavy strikes, whether from ships, armour or aircraft and even cruise missiles, it makes no difference, we expect the explosions to happen exactly where we want and asked for (this is not open for debate, exactly means on the penny).

“On the fuel situation… I was thinking, why don’t you take the fuel bowser with you? We have the fuel dump right here as well as ordnance but we leave it as an emergency dump for future use. Your G6 is using more fuel than anything else here, not that I blame you, take the fuel bowser with as well as the SAMIL-20 with extra shells for your main gun. How many shells can you load on a SAMIL-20, they can stock up from the Kwêvoël before they leave.” I asked, logistics is a war winner, believe me.

The man looked at me, his dark face, another Zulu, there are many of them in the Army, they take naturally to soldiering, concentrating. “Well, Sah, each shell, without its fuse and charge, comes in at 95.23 pounds, eh, that is why the panzers are strong men physically, to work and load the shells, we choose them big. A SAMIL-20 can carry 2.5 tons over any terrain, right, that means 5,600 pounds in Pommy long tons, the system we use here, okay, that is about 58 shells because we need to include the fuses and charges too. They are all high explosive fragmented types, designed to kill infantry and lightly armoured vehicles.”

“I always thought you bastards had a self-loading device for the shells?”

Terminator, like Mike Delta Three Eight, was originally from the paratroopers. He asked innocently but with a hard stare, he too recollected being done in by the massive panzers on the rugby field.

“We do load like that under normal circumstances, it is technical, you won’t understand, Terminator. It takes more than stepping out of an open door in mid-air to operate an advanced armoured vehicle. But what if our mechanical loader breaks down? We practice manual loading for fun.” The reply came good naturedly. “And we practise it for real, especially in autumn to be fit and ready when the time comes (rugby is played in winter months, he meant using the heavy shells as gym equipment, Angelique).”

“How long does it take you to reload?” I asked interested.

He took a wider view of the question than what I meant. “To shoot, we can fire 5 shells one after the other on this model so that they impact simultaneously on the same target, destroying it. We shoot different trajectories to do so and at rapid fire, 6 shells a minute and then down to 2 a minute, it used to be 4 shells a minute when we started in the late 1980s. We load very quickly, Sah, really, the loader is automated to a large degree. In an emergency we only need 3 crew members, not the usual 5 to operate a G6 safely, that is how up to date the system is. We even have full NBC (nuclear, bacterial, chemical) protection including a highly efficient automatic fire suppression system if needed. We can fire within seconds of coming to a halt, the gun barrel is gyro stabilised like on a ship. To get a new load of shells aboard and into the ready use lockers, you have to get outside the vehicle to load them or someone has to, ten minutes flat, Sah, or I would want to know why not!”

The G6 self-propelled howitzer and its towed sister, the G5 howitzer, are not to be taken lightly. I saw them in action in Angola and the devastation their shells caused and you can do nothing in return, they outrange any other known artillery system in similar calibre by 20-25 miles. It is hard to explain to you what it feels like when 5 shells of 155 mm calibre burst simultaneously over you and there is no warning, you don’t see those shells coming nor can you hear the gun blast (too far away) and they leave no trails. Not that you will survive unless lucky or under decent cover by chance and God loves you. The acknowledged kill radius of an exploding 155 mm shell is 164 feet, the disabling radius, where you may survive but will be injured, is 328 feet, five of them exploding at the same time, covers an area of roughly 1,640 yards and remember, this happens all the time, not just once, the G6 will keep on shooting and the shells will be streaming in one after the other, exploding in the air above you for maximum rampage effect. Such shells are purposely designed to kill human beings efficiently and they do so by obliterating you (quick death) if exploding close enough, you will be dematerialised or by slicing you into pieces with white hot shrapnel coming at many times the speed of sound. It is nasty.

“You can reload all your shells into the lockers in ten minutes?”

I asked to be sure. That was astonishing fast, they have dozens of the shells aboard in armoured lockers.

“Yes, no problem, Sah, ten minutes flat. But that means also that the SAMIL-20 has about one reload for us besides the full load what we have already on board, it better be enough. You people will have to be accurate for once.” He now focussed on the Valkiri commander, listening with a smirk.

“Yes, well, G6, you worry about your stupid gun barrel bending under the strain of shooting at the moon, we will drop our rockets exactly where asked and wipe out everything underneath them with or without you. What height do you wish the airburst to take place, Sah?”

“Always forty feet unless changed. I don’t expect you to shoot that many shells nor rockets but let us keep our options open. Why don’t we leave two more loads for you here, G6? The SAMIL-20 can come back for it, yes, hard work to load but it cannot be helped.” I suggested. “Then you establish your dumps where you please and be ready to reload.”

“I will do that, Sah. Actually, I believe two salvos of 5 shells each plus the rockets from the Valkiris, will be more than enough. However, be assured, we will be ready to shoot a lot more.”

Terminator nodded. “It is not hard work for us to load a SAMIL-20, we can load more than that before breakfast, alone even. Good idea, Sah. You, G6, come with me, you will supervise what you want buried here and what you want on the SAMIL-20 and what must be retrieved later. Valkiri, you better come with too, what remains on the Kwêvoël will be your baby. Right, let all vehicles then refuel from the bowser in the interim.”

Terminator walked off, dragging the two men with him and we had peace for the next half an hour which is not the same thing as not working hard, they slaved away, using the Kwêvoël’s crane to split the loads as desired, establishing the dump for emergency use. The vehicles waiting for the bowser to refuel them, always easier to move one vehicle instead of an entire convoy, an old trick I learned by working with the panzers. We fragmented into three groups after shaking hands, an African thing.

The G6 self-propelled howitzer followed the SAMIL-20 (without Terminator, he was going south with the Valkiris and two of his lads as liaison). The fuel bowser following last again behind the G6, the safest place in theory, to their shooting point. The fuel bowser was weighing a lot less after refuelling everyone including themselves, she would find it easier going. Much to my surprise the Mercedes was holding its own and not overheating as I feared it would. I wished for a break in operations so that we could rebuild the large Mercedes trucks properly. But then, even if it does overheat and seizes the engine, it can be towed or left behind as a fuel replenishment depo, we had options available.

The two Valkiris left us too, they went straight south to be in position before night fall. As they boasted when we started off that morning, they had no problems with the thick sand, their fancy automatic gearbox coping well, also to my surprise. I am not fussy (yeah sure, lol, Angelique), Geelslang’s Unimog U-500, a brilliant off-road vehicle if ever, is also automatic, yet, I prefer manual gear changes, to judge the moment myself. I am old-school, I suppose. Each Valkiri had a full load of rockets in their tubes and one extra load in reserve, that should be enough but we would restock them after we fetched Sniper, about 45 miles to our west. He was waiting patiently enough, having signalled that he landed safely with his cargo many hours before and I wanted to reach him before sundown but it would be touch and go, the re-arranging of the cargoes took up valuable time.

I missed my SAMIL-100, it had the brilliant Mercedes (Geelslang is a Mercedes Benz fan of note) thermal imaging fitted and driving in the dark a pleasure. The Kwêvoël, although rebuilt, was not done to our specifications, she had good white lights yes, but no thermal imaging and thus we would be reliant upon our night vision goggles. The thick armoured windows worried me, needlessly as it turned out, we could see well enough to drive safely in the dark. On the other hand, you never drive at night in rural Africa, that is the golden rule. There are always people or donkeys or cattle around, I decided to call it a day when we reached Sniper just after sunset and spend the night there, waiting for Angelique to fly in and taking it from there. The other two convoys would do the same, we were in a hurry to get away from the runway because we expected an attack on it and needed to get the assets in place for the ambush. We had time to deploy and why take a chance of driving at night? We could afford to sleep over. As of yet, Mike Delta Three Eight only knew that Terminator was about to walk to them and they would meet each other in two nights from now. That part I left for them to sort out, it was his life.

I often wonder, the older I get the more I wonder, it is odd (yes, I agree, Angelique) if my readers appreciate the guts it takes for a man to walk into another country, a hostile one, where he will be hunted down, displayed on television and mercilessly tortured if captured, and do so on his own. We usually worked in sticks of two men and certainly we would be very uncomfortable to have more than that amount with us. The Mike Delta Three Eight group of three men were rather odd in our terms, he himself was there because he was the platoon leader and had that right. Lentliziyo spoke both Matabele and Shona, the local languages and Geelslang could follow Matabele, it is close to his native Zulu, and all three of course were fluent in Afrikaans and English (Portuguese also for Geelslang.) Because the Special Forces platoon was working with Angelique, Geelslang or someone like him, had to be there. Therefore, they were three men, a bit odd and I am sure Terminator would link up with Geelslang as his new buddy. What is more, you will very seldom find the platoon leader and platoon sergeant in one team but here, again, it could not be helped. Terminator too spoke what Lentliziyo speaks, Matabele and Shona, besides Afrikaans and English which is why he was volunteering to make the contact.

I had never, despite some accusations from liberals not liking reality, in any GMJ Book or others, said that South African Special Forces are the kings anywhere but in Africa. They would suffer blood in a place like Norway, being 80% or more black men and unable to speak the local languages (a very big deal in Special Forces working behind enemy lines). At the same time, I had full confidence that they would bring me my targets and survive the encounter, if I did not believe this, I would have forbidden Angelique to even attempt it. Such is our world, we don’t expect standards to be met… standards are exceeded and lifted all the time, otherwise you get complacent, a rookie mistake many in the West makes, they sadly underestimate their enemy routinely. In Special Forces, you train whenever not sleeping or in the gym, pushing the limits beyond what is expected and then it clicks, you become slick and people like Geelslang and Angelique are born slick, they are that good. It can be very exasperating for normal people to see them smirk around when you are covered in sweat and wondering if you will die in the next ten minutes. Of course, whether you do or don’t die is subjected to mission requirements, you will still get to the whistle on time and so it is. One of my instructors at Selection, he was an odd fellow, ex-British and Rhodesian Special Air Service, stated flatly in his wonderful (I had great difficulty understanding at times) Scottish accent that: “When the whistle blows, you need to be there, what possibly can be said more about this aspect? If you get there ten seconds late, laddie, you are compromising the mission, your mates, God (he said the Queen, but we forgave him) and yourself, the attack will continue without you. You are simply not worthy and a disgrace to the Regiment which he knows how to deal with…” and so, I promise you, physical fitness and endurance became a wonderful obsession to us, accurate navigation too. He also said: “Death can wait, the mission cannot, and will not and you get used to that laddie! We piss on death, Labour, wee Tories and the foiken Saxons!” I liked the man very much. He was a wonderful soldier, hard and able and of a type we seldom see today. Such men are lifesavers in battle where everything they hammered into you make great sense, I became known as a strict commander, at times called “Try Me,” fair but not one to cross lightly, I will respond, I assure you.

The problem with Geelslang and Angelique, it must be said, is that since they are naturals, they simply don’t want to understand that not everyone is like them. They absolutely believe it is a matter of mind-over-matter, weaklings and liberals don’t have the genes and so it is and they have a point. The Army Medical Corps did some experiments with us when we started out. They found out that every Special Forces operator had the ability to suck in more air than most people, a lot more. They went so far as to test new recruits before Selection by making you breathe through an air pipe whilst cycling on a stationary bicycle contraption. By the amount of the air coming into your lungs, they knew and this was proven beyond any doubt if you have the genes to make Selection or not. Mind, you try to convince Angelique and Geelslang that they are wrong and they will shake their heads and wisely talk of standards being dropped and they have a point as I said before (yes, and you don’t have one, Foxtrot, either your lads keep up or they are history, so it was always with you when in command, it is the only way, Angelique). But, and this is the crux of the matter, the lads are expected to keep themselves operational which also includes being fit. You don’t need to push them, really not, every one of them are overachievers with a dreadful fear of failing. They push themselves. As Angelique said above, the day you cannot keep up means you are “returned to unit” and that is a terrible threat, the worst thing that can be done to you since you suffered blood beyond description for a year to make Selection before you have three-years of training cycles and then (in between) you are on active operations and if you are good enough, beyond all the above, the senior lads vote to award you an “operator’s badge” which is worth more than the beret and parachute wings. Rank plays no part, the most experienced lad will have command on operations until they decide you may not be a fluke after all and actually belong to the unit. You really do not wish to let that go and become a normal puke again by getting unfit.

Geelslang said on one occasion that no woman will make South African Army or Police Special Forces Selection (Code Name Butterfly), not in our time anyway and he was right as far as it goes even if a braver man than me since Angelique was listening closely, glowering severely at that wisdom. You need immense physical ability besides the genes and mental acumen to pass all the tests demanded from you, day after day, some females will certainly make some of the tests but not all. In later years I came to believe that Angelique would have made it as well as a few other girls I can think of but they are exceedingly rare. Of course, she did make French Army Commando Selection which is hard enough but not nearly at our dropout levels if honest, more on par with the US Green Berets which we see as a low standard unit with dropout levels of 60-70%, not nearly high enough. In fact, we see any dropout rate below 90% as sub-standard and marginal. Not good enough.

We were camped, I suppose, on a flat plateau the parachute drop needed a level surface. He worked hard, Sniper, in the hours since the drop, manhandling the heavy konkas (Afrikaans, drums, 55 gallons) next to each other and then into three separate groups for safety, covering them with the large cargo parachutes and in general getting the dump sorted before moving 1,000 yards away to cover the area with his Dragunov sniper’s rifle. He obviously spotted us long before we got to him, getting on his short range squad radio.

“Sniper here, I have you visual.”

His voice suddenly came in our ears, we knew we were very close, the GPS was guiding us very accurately. We knew we were a few hundred yards away.

“Foxtrot, acknowledged, light the beacon, flickering mode if you please.” I replied, scanning around.

You would never have seen that strobe without night vision, it being infrared. With night vision, it could be seen for many miles, flashing merrily away. Asking for a certain mode is a safety precaution, the enemy may be close by, if they ignite their own strobes to guide you into an ambush, you will know by the mode or when using smoke grenades by the colour agreed upon. It is standard procedure. The human eye is designed to pick up movement, you will always notice a flickering strobe further and faster than a normal one. We parked next to the tree where he fastened the strobe a few minutes earlier, waiting, the turbo cooling down as we idled away.

“Sniper here, you may get out, area is clean. I am to your left as you face forward, approaching at command?”

He was too experienced to just walk over to us, that is how you get shot and although all of us were trained not to panic, he was not taking chances. I admired the man’s sheer professionalism, of course it is expected but to witness it being done automatically is always a pleasure.

“You may approach from our left, facing forward.” I replied and he appeared from nowhere really, walking towards us, his rifle held in his hand.

“Lucy, switch off the engine when happy. The rest of us will talk to Sniper so long.” I said as I opened the armoured door and got out, shaking his hand and walking a few yards away.

“Situation report?” I asked.

“Cargo safe, Sah. I landed and split them into three groups, tomorrow at first light we can establish the dumps and move out if we wish to do so. Colonel Mack asked me to tell you that he was scanned by Jaybird just before I jumped. I suppose the rest split to their shooting positions? I know that Terminator is infiltrating tonight.”

Jaybird is a code name for the search radar fitted to MIG-21s (NATO name Fishbed). The Zimbabwean Air Force, formerly the Rhodesian Air Force, had a squadron of Chinese copies of the MIG-21 operational. They are not rated anymore, any Fourth Generation fighter jet will shoot them down but against an unarmed transport or helicopter, they have a better than fair chance. The MIG-21 radar was first called the RP-21 Sapfir (Sapphire) and the NATO name would be “Spin Scan-A” and later “Spin Scan-B” – “Jaybird” is the latest version. Mack’s threat scanners told him he was being targeted and that meant the MIGs were around, searching and in airspace they should not be, it worried me.

“Did he inform my wife?” I asked.

“I suppose so, he had access to her via the radios. If she is still in the Gripen she left in, it is immaterial, nothing will get close and certainly not an old MIG-21.” He observed.

“She is flying in with the Super Frelon. I am expecting her soon. We need to set up a landing zone clear of any trees or rocks. Any news on the patrolling lads? Searching for the FARPs (Forward Area Refuelling / Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refuelling Point)?”

It was the US Army that started calling a refuelling base a FARP (Forward Area Refuelling / Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refuelling Point) – a safe space on the battlefield designated for the rearming and refuelling of aircraft and comes down to a place, usually within enemy territory or just outside it as was the case here, where your helicopters are refuelled and armed (not everyone has tanker aircraft by the dozen and you cannot replenish ordnance whilst in the air, you have to land). The perimeter of such a place is kept by a company or more troops and the helicopters widely dispersed against counter attack during refuelling or bombing up for obvious reasons. Such a FARP (Forward Area Refuelling / Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refuelling Point) can be established by vehicle or by air. Many times a couple of armoured avgas trucks and ammunition carriers would accompany the infantry fighting vehicles and wait for the helicopters to arrive. Once the helicopters land they drop extra troops for local defence and refuel immediately. It is a remarkably nervous time for any field commander to have his FARP (Forward Area Refuelling / Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refuelling Point) compromised and the helicopters destroyed (or their ability to refuel). Under normal circumstances, the remaining dumps are blown or left hidden if possible but the chances of using the same FARP (Forward Area Refuelling / Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refuelling Point) in enemy territory twice is really remote, so it is often blown with timed fuses.

The common factors of such FARPs are that they are hidden, temporary and every fighter pilot or armour commander would give his left nut or more, to find them with the helicopters on the ground being refuelled or being bombed up. It is the absolutely worst case scenario for the FARP (Forward Area Refuelling / Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refuelling Point) and very much like an aircraft carrier caught refuelling its aircraft, a wonderful attacking opportunity to praise the Lord for and believe me, we do go to church to thank God whenever we can get a FARP destroyed. We knew that if the Zimbabweans launch a helicopter assault against the runway, they would have to establish a FARP first, they don’t have inflight refuelling capabilities. We had one section of ten men split into five groups of two men each, searching the most likely spots. When they tried before (Code Name Cadillac), we actually found their FARP but let it go, Angelique did not wish to escalate matters, this time, I was rather sure we would destroy it.

“I set up the landing zone already, we have a strobe there and no trees or rocks, even loose ones, are close by. It is safe. On your question, Sah, I don’t really know, they will not come online unless they have something to say and thus far they are quiet. I do believe though, we will find the FARP, we know the general area where it should be. Once we find it, we will deal with it, I think the next few days will be interesting. I formally assumed command of the platoon five minutes ago as Terminator relinquished his command, being otherwise engaged. We have another long distance radio with us now, so I will keep you informed on what is happening.”

The platoon was spread out over hundreds of square miles. We had the four men with the artillerists, driving the SAMIL-20 and fuel bowser. We had the FARP searching section of ten men to our north west, to the south was another ten-man section moving quietly into place to rescue Mike Delta Three Eight’s team if needs be and also searching for the FARP. There were two lads at the Ukuthula Ranch Airport or runway, waiting to get Angelique safely down and then protect her. All the soldiers were reporting to Sniper now, and he would be informing Speskop (Army Special Forces HQ in Pretoria). As non-members we had no access to their signals or frequencies although I am convinced Angelique had illegal access, certainly during the coming Egg Breaker War, she intercepted their signals and broke their ciphers, pinpointing them too at times.

“Congratulations!” I said drily. “I suggest then we wait for my wife to arrive, she will then inform us about Code Name Anika, and no, I have no idea at this stage where she got that name from!”

ISIS has made clear that it’s closely following this election, too – and it has chosen a candidate. I ask Allah to deliver America to Trump.” Matt Olsen, former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, September 2016

ISIS is essentially throwing whatever support they have to Donald Trump… They hope (Trump) is the president because it would give even more motivation to every jihadi …” Hillary R Clinton the very next day and every speech since then

I know nothing about this. I can’t deal with every one of his conspiracy theories. But I hope you all have something to eat and something to drink on the way back to New York. Thank you!” Hillary R Clinton when asked about undercover videos linking her campaign to Democratic dirty tricks to cause violence at Donald Trump’s election gatherings, Washington Times, October 20, 2016, you will note, no distancing from such events, no condemnation either, GMJ

Chapter 3

Mozambique / Zimbabwe border, Manicaland Province, 18 March 2010

Matt Olsen is an Obama appointee and was first appointed to close down Guantánamo Bay, a place that has no intelligence value, never had any intelligence value and created a major headache in the War on Terror without reason. He is also a man with zero intelligence qualifications which I can see and typical of what is perceived in the US as an “expert” and then you recognize why the current intelligence mess is so great. You likewise don’t get to such appointments without showing loyalty to the party that appointed you, that alone makes his statements dubious besides the detached (non-US based) knowledge we have on counter terrorism. To me, it seems that the radicals are playing radio games (they know how, see what happened recently in Europe, they got played like violins) and the US Agencies are falling for it and what is more, publishing what should be classified information for political purposes to get at Donald Trump but you know, it could have been anyone standing in the way of keeping power at all costs.

It is a common line in history to fight dirty election campaigns with, we saw it before and note the same pattern. Who of you reading here will not recall the presidential election of Democrat Senator John F Kennedy against Republican Vice President Richard Nixon in 1960? Mr Eisenhower was popular, you would have thought Nixon would make it but he did not, why not? This was long before he said he was no crook, years before. During that election, the “Demorats” as we call them in GMJ (they don’t like that), kept hammering on the so called “missile gap” against the Soviet Union, supposedly allowed to take place under Mr Eisenhower, the same man that warned in his last speech against the rise of the “Military Industrial Complex” gone totally insane since then. There was no such gap, by the way. Kennedy, being briefed as much as Nixon by the CIA, knew it and yet kept on frightening voters with it. Richard Nixon, to his credit, kept quiet. He knew if he challenged the Demorat lie on the so called missile gap, spies and intelligence sources will die and so he lost the election by being way too honourable. It does not take much intellect to see the same deplorable (hello Hilarious) history repeating today, 56 years on. History, as I say in most books, always repeats, if you want to know the future, open a history book and read it, human behaviour never changes. They will do so in the future also but it gets worse.

The National Counterterrorism Center exists only to spy on US Citizens, empowered by the Obama White House under former Attorney General Holder. They have, and this is according to themselves: “The authority to collect, store, and analyse extensive data collections on US citizens compiled from governmental and non-governmental sources for suspicious behaviour through pattern analysis and to share the databases with foreign states.” It is a good idea, let there be no doubt and one I support. It is total nonsense, trust me, I have been hunting and killing terrorists for decades, that the terrorist’s family and mates are ignorant of his changing and hardening attitudes. Every one of those Muslim radicals that attacked citizens inside the US, went to places like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen where no American lost anything before they struck. They all started making nasty comments on gays and what is wrong with America (or Western Europe) from a strict Sharia viewpoint and they all display the same pattern of radicalisation, easily picked up by changing their dress code and getting themselves a foreign bride (mostly from Pakistan). The pattern is so clear it can just as well be flashing in red neon lights. Yet, they are not reported by their family and mates. A wall of cover-up exists because of the deplorable (hello Hilarious) liberal tendency of looking down on good citizens reporting what concerned them and what ought to concern them. And even when reported, seldom enough, the Federal Clinton Whitewash Bureau (FBI to you, incompetent as counter intelligence specialists worldwide, trust me, we ran circles around them often enough), fails to act, deplorably so (hello Hilarious).

As long as this status quo is allowed and those that should have known and ought to have known what was happening, are not prosecuted, ridiculed and ostracised by their community for being aiders & abettors, the attacks will always be a “surprise” and “work place violence by closet gay Muslims!” So you can take for granted then that the so called National Counterterrorism Center is either a cover for something else (make your own deductions on who they spy on and why) or pathetically inefficient since they have thus far failed to prevent every homegrown terrorist attack since they were first created. I warned often enough in the GMJ Books on what intelligence the West and especially the Yanks are being fed in Africa where such terrorist attacks are planned from at times, but enough of that, just keep this in mind next time you hear such statements from “experts.” We value such opinions as quoted above as much as we value used toilet paper except that the toilet paper had a useful function. And yes, we see right through the pattern and thank God we are safe in Africa, at least, here, we know who the terrorists are and what they look like.

I don’t much like Americanisms to be honest, I think and I wrote in many GMJ Books that the word “hero” is totally skewed these days by the US mainstream media where every second fellow is a “hero.” You have to have done something heroic in the face of your enemy and not merely served in uniform to be a hero in my eyes and many like me. At the same time, we often hear Americans talk of “warriors” and that I do get and support fully. There is honour in being a warrior and it comes from the ancient Japanese code of bushido, the samurai code of honour, discipline and morality which makes a man a soldier and not a murderer. In the West we had knights, yes in shining armour, King Richard the Lionheart and with acceptable Christian principles besides the well-known laws of war. It is important to understand the warrior code and culture, and one of the cardinal aspects is never to dishonour your enemy’s dead or take human life easily and without good reason. It was the French Statesman, Georges Clemenceau that claimed the right to decide on war for the turd brigade (they float in what they talk). He said: “War is too serious a matter to entrust to military men” meaning, the politicos have command. You often hear the US President, all of them, whining on television that he is the “Commander-in-Chief” and rightly so. What we don’t hear anymore is President Harry S Truman’s dictum: “The buck stops here.” Indeed, we do not hear this anymore, and let me explain how all this comes together since we also hear a lot of Hilarious’s 30 years of service to the public? Yes? What did you achieve during those years, I wonder? Let us have a look and let us start with respect because it is a matter of trust, in small things and large things.

The warrior code is a matter of respect installed in every soldier, every veteran and everyone except Hilarious and people like her that never served in any military and did their best to avoid service. (US Vice President Joe Biden, the one that made the histrionic and may I add, false, allegation against Donald Trump on veteran mental health issues as pointed out previously – he was studying law and coming just about last in his class and then got deferred because he suffered from asthma as a child, shame, all this during the Vietnam War. Barack Obama, well, he too was otherwise engaged somewhere unknown and so was Bill Clinton, not inhaling marijuana at Oxford where he failed to complete his degree but he did miss Vietnam because of it, how nice. He then had to ask former President Richard Nixon (a former Commander, US Navy, Reserve) on advice in how to return a military salute since he did not know how to do so despite his many years in public service. Hilarious, well, her lack of military service can be understood but not her dislike of her US Secret Service bodyguards – some of them are military veterans – her outbursts are legendary and well publicised. Of course, it is all a “vast right wing conspiracy” according to her as is Bill’s many sexual escapades and so the list goes on. I saw a video recording of Hilarious recently which I have to mention for reasons which will become abundantly clear in the next paragraph or two, bear with me.

This recording, it is well known and it is available online, search for it, is where she is snickering and talking “tough” on the death of Libyan Colonel Gadhafi. He was at that stage a key figure in the War on Terror and an ally of the United States, not the enemy he once was during the Cold War years. He had changed sides and paid compensation for the Lockerbie terrorist attack and handed over the Libyan agents responsible, they went to jail. By any account, under international law, Libya, was clean. The US State Department, under Hilarious was giving the Gadhafi government more than $100 million a year in foreign aid (for counter terrorism). You may then say that when he died, he was an undisputed ally of the USA and seen widely as one in our circles. According to most intelligence analysts, confirmed to me by my wife, Gadhafi was acting as an informant on Al-Qaeda to the Virginians as we call the CIA, we know this because of leaked conversations where he warned former British Prime Minister Tony Blair against Muslim extremists in the Mediterranean Sea (see Code Name Caribbean). And then, of course, came the Arab Spring instigated by one Hillary R Clinton, then US Secretary of State, and he was killed. Murdered by the way, there was no trial of any nature, in cold blood and whether he deserved that or not is beyond this debate but I wonder, if a Joe Biden or Barack Obama is murdered like that under the same circumstances, what would the reaction be? A giggling Foreign Secretary talking “tough” and showing no respect? Yeah, I doubt that, somehow. There would be shock and outrage. We saw the videos of Gadhafi’s murder and I am sure, so did you (there is a South African Secret Service connection here, unknown to you, Angelique). How did his ally, the US Government, the ones holding themselves to the standard to be followed by the rest of us, react to these barbaric execution scenes?

Well, take a look at that video recording of Hilarious I referred you to. Her leering face as she said, chortling, this was amusing to her: “We came. We saw. He died” and it is beyond belief. This was the US Secretary of State, in office at the time, pleased and trash talking the death of a man considered to be an ally before being attacked by the US on grounds which are even less defensible than the attack on Iraq of 2003 (something which Hilarious voted for, as did Biden, as did Obama, Angelique). It was the Duke of Wellington, the famous British General and later Statesman, that defeated Napoleon, that said in 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo: “My heart is broken by the terrible loss I have sustained in my old friends and companions and my poor soldiers. Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.” That is the warrior’s code summarised for you, an example taught at military school to all prospective officers, dignity, to respect your enemy and your mates, to act with honour at all times. I just cannot see a Mr Dwight D Eisenhower or Prime Minister Winston Churchill, acting in the same disrespectful way, I just cannot, not even Vladimir Putin but perhaps Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein.

I have seen thousands of dead in my years, I killed many myself and I know the warrior code by heart. I know what death looks like and I know what it smells like when you stand among the corpses, checking for intelligence. I know the blood and the gore and I heard the cries of men in agony often enough. To me it is not a computer game devoid of reality or something to witness from your air-conditioned office in Washington to cackle about, arrogantly, in front of a news camera. It is a husband, a father, a son, that gave his life for his cause, right or wrong, lying there waiting for you to show the final respect to bury him with dignity. I have never seen anyone else claiming to be well educated, caring and compassionate about human life and in a respectable position of power in a major nation priding themselves to be the “Leader of the Free World,” showing that much contempt being that far away from the warrior’s code we believe in. I wrote to date, many books, all of them quite lengthy and containing about four million words if not more and yet, it is beyond my abilities as an author to tell you what message that Hilarious video sent into the world about the top leadership of the “Beacon of Freedom” and not only to terrorists but to allies or what damage that did to the War on Terror.

Let me spell it out to you as clearly as possible. The message shows her as a woman devoid of the reality of war, she does not understand the warrior code because she is as far removed from it as is east from west. She and people like her, have no idea of what her orders bring on in real life and she has no respect for the dead she caused, none. And then you begin to comprehend why 96.5% of all US drone strikes miss the intended target, kids die, women die, innocents, all of them, it is murder under international law and no one cares at the White House or how much that is harming the intelligence efforts on the War on Terror. They don’t even get this in their superb example of arrogance gone mad. They don’t give a rat’s ass because they have never smelled death closely before and think for some reason it cannot come back at them in the future. They are as innocent as a new born baby and as brutal as a pack of hyenas but at least, hyenas are hungry, they have to kill to eat. We hold such people, breaking the warrior’s code at will and over a period of years and not even knowing it, following the very same pattern with no end in sight, in the utmost contempt and so should you reading here. And it is causing enormous harm to the US and the West, incalculable in fact, trust me, I know and we can see it happening from the outside. I ask, since I am a practical fellow and I actually know the counter terrorism game, I am not a political appointee and never was. What did Colonel Gadhafi’s death bring to America? What victory do you see here to cackle about so pompously? Are you safer now than before? Show me the results of the Arab Spring. You must be beyond delusional if you think you are safer now because you are under attack by Muslim extremists once every four months (hello National Counterterrorism Center, hello Department of Homeland Security and lastly, hello Federal Clinton Whitewash Bureau, are you sleeping safely in your beds?). Is that your legacy to be so proud of?

I can show you even more problems coming: “The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad,” Hilarious in an email as Secretary of State, 31 December 2012 (thank you WikiLeaks). What she was saying here and doing, was to ensure that a civil war broke out in Syria, a fairly neutral country towards the US, leading to hundreds of thousands dead and the current steady stream of migrants to fellow NATO allies, Western Europe as well as the US. She also desires to have a no-fly zone over Syria as do some right wing nutters, this quote is taken from an interview in 2015: “I am advocating the no-fly zone both because I think it would help us on the ground to protect Syrians; I’m also advocating it because I think it gives us some leverage in our conversations with Russia. The no-fly zone, I would hope, would be also shared by Russia. If they will begin to turn their military attention away from going after the adversaries of Assad toward ISIS and put the Assad future on the political and diplomatic track, where it belongs.”

Right, that sounds so Goodie-two-shoes, you have to clap hands and applaud her much doubted wisdom. Let us look at husband Bill’s efforts as US President and he was a good President most of the time, better than what followed, no doubt, he did very well with the economy, there was no “Obama Care” nor a $20 trillion debt, the books were balanced. Let us look at Bosnia and Herzegovina, Operation Deny Flight, taking place between 12 April 1993 and 20 December 1995, NATO pilots had flown 100,420 sorties and according to them and only them, stopped the war. Bill Clinton supported this tactic. It was not new, really not. There was a similar one on Iraq also, established by Mr Bush (39), to help the Kurds against Saddam Hussein. So now we know where Hilarious got this idea from, a no-fly zone over Syria, but read on, I am not done yet, we have interesting facts to cover. From a military history view, an engagement took place on 28 February 1994, USAF F-16 fighter jets shot down 4, some say 5, Serbian Republika Srpska Air Force J-21 Jastreb single-seat light attack jets. That was the first time NATO had an aerial victory since they came into existence in 1949. Without taking anything away from the F-16 pilots, the celebrated USAF Captain Scott O’Grady (shot down and rescued later on, his claim to fame and he did well) was part of the flight engaging the Serbs. They were taking on an aircraft so inferior (a weapon training airframe) that the results were a foregone conclusion and nothing else expected than total victory. God knows, this was like a modern day F-16 taking on a 1960s T-37 “Tweet.” They could not lose and did not, it was a Turkey shoot and yet, some of their famed Sidewinder missiles missed the targets (read Code Name Blue Tang what came out regarding NATO’s air-to-air missiles in the 1990s, you will be shocked beyond belief, Angelique). From this operation came the intervention in Bosnia, Operation Deliberate Force, everyone was happy and no lessons were learned since then, the answer to every conflict is no-fly zones, stop the local air force from attacking and killing civilians and so that the US arranged coup d’état can proceed merrily. Rather oddly, the chances of such a coup d’état happening in oil rich countries are 100 times (not percentages, times) more than any other country and that is not by chance, I assure you. And like most things a liberal will tell you, this sounds good, and should be supported but how? Let us look at the practical realities here.

Life has moved on since Operation Deny Flight, really, the Soviet Union after its collapse in 1991 became Russia. Many fairly obese American men scored a good-looking Russian woman for the price of a green card and then came Vladimir Putin, rebuilding his country and re-establishing a powerful military. Syrian airspace will not be undefended as was Iraq and Libya to name a few, Hilarious’s no-fly zone will have to be fought for. Russia, I said so before, according to NATO, research it, achieved more in the year they were in Syria, legally invited by the elected Syrian Government that Hilarious decided to overthrow to help Israel as we saw in her email, than what NATO could do in five years. The Russians are there, unlike NATO – the aggressors under international law, legitimately and they are going to react aggressively if such a no-fly zone is enforced or rather tried to be enforced. They are setting up their advanced surface-to-air missile batteries, the best in the world currently, the S-300 and S-400 as well as getting their allies in place. Turkey, after the 2016 coup attempt made peace with Russia (and not the US, another worrying matter), Iran is mates with Russia, so is Syria and thus the US will have to stage out from the aircraft carriers, vessels we know, read my briefing again, are extremely vulnerable or from Saudi Arabia I suppose. The Russians are also increasing their combat aircraft inside Syria, I say again, legally there, to the latest models and missiles well able to take on anything NATO or the US can field including the so called (stealth they are not) F-22 and F-35. They have warned openly and repeatedly that they will respond to any NATO attack on their aircraft that try and force them not to fly. Trust me, Vladimir Putin does not have empty lines in the sand and is not a Fifth World unable to fight back, NATO will be in a fight for its life and I doubt if NATO will win or if the US taxpayer is willing to foot another war, this time a with a major power and part of the BRICS Pact, without reason. In law, it is a declaration of war on Russia to enforce a no-fly zone or try to (the reason why the idea was promptly shot down as a viable method by the Obama White House, rightfully so, it will take at least – whenever a US General say one figure, multiply by five and you may get to the end figures – 70,000 support troops and they will be attacked wherever they are, Angelique). The Syrian no-fly zone idea, if defended by Russia, is hopelessly stupid in concept, if defended and every indication shows it will be, you will have a major clash.

I have to ask, what use is your one and only acclaimed (the most basic there is) law degree if you are too stupid to see what is seen by the rest of the world? No wonder that we failed to pass our New York Bar exam and never tried again, I am not surprised, really not and shows again, she is out of touch and her trash talking is risking a major war for what? A private and public view I suppose, a flip-flop of note? In addition, there are further problems with the constant baying for the no-fly zone in Syria, no UN backing and it is unlikely to be supported by either Russia or China, they will veto such ideas, which leaves Hilarious alone, isolated. The US is then seen as the bully and the US is not able to take on the entire world anymore, the rest of the world grew up, they are not under the top indebted nations in the world, they actually can afford to play hardball and they will. Many intelligence analysts are telling me that the US is being prodded into breaking itself financially by being over committed, yes, history repeating, a reverse of Mr Reagan’s idea to break the Soviet Union and it worked, we know what happened. Will it work in reverse? Can the US be broken without a fight? Think about it, since 9/11, $20 trillion in debt, a USAF unable to fly much and without pilots, a US Marine Corps scrounging parts for its F-18s in museums. Read what I revealed in Code Name Mel’s Choice on the Chinese Air Force flying 180 hours a month, more than a USAF fighter jock flies in a year and weep at the sad state of affairs, it is also in my briefings. Does it matter what happens afterwards where Hilarious meddled? Well, she is also on record saying that she does not care if thousands of Syrians die during the process – yes, research it, she said so more than once. She does not care, what does it matter now? When Chris Stevens and three brave men, US Military veterans, by the way, died because of Hilarious’s war in Libya, she denied it and then asked what does it matter? She lied openly because she was covering herself for greater things and probably because she really does not care, she cannot accept any responsibility for her actions, denial in motion, deplorably so. In Congress and elsewhere, afterwards, she could not recall much – her standard answer – many dozens of times, was “I cannot recall.” I am tempted to ask, what do you recall? Does it matter? I can tell you, take my words as a warning because that is what GMJ Books are, a warning and to be seen as warning, when the bombs start exploding in your malls and your kids are murdered in cold blood, and your servicemen killed, it will matter to you. Especially if you are not the one protected by the US Secret Service since the early 1990s and somehow “have lost touch with the middle class.” Yes, it will matter to you reading here, war, I can tell you, is terrible beyond anything most people can imagine, it is not a computer game where you press the reset button.

Libya was just another utter failure of policy, a home goal in the fight against terror which at least it must be said, Barack Obama admitted later on and I honour the man for his honesty. I feel sorry for him also, he was led by the nose by his Secretary of State, he listened to bad advice and all of us do, at times. Syria? Well, let us see what happens when the Russian Sukhois and MIGs take off armed with top notch South African made air-to-air missiles I warned about in Code Name Blue Tang, I predict a dreadfully rude awakening to the “OMG it is Patton” brigade. Hilarious’s bluff will be called and America will look like fools but it is worse than that, much worse. The results will make you lose even more face in the world, a world which is hostile and not admiring.

I know history better than most people, it comes out in my books, yet I cannot, and I will say this again, I cannot ever recall seeing Adolf Hitler or any of the world’s greatest mass murderers acting out like this, so irresponsibly, laughingly dismissing the death of an ally she caused. Nations left in ruins without reason or legal justification (not that Hitler had justification either, he was rightly condemned by history). Never, even the great dictators had enough dignity not to talk “tough” about death as if it cannot come back to haunt you in the future. They acted like grownups because most of them did actually serve in the military before they became turds. Take my word, I have sources that you don’t have, that the Hilarious video and other even more erratic statements now available for anyone to see on WikiLeaks, created more terrorists enlisting to the Muslim Extremist Cause than anything Donald Trump ever said in his life. Americans will die because of that heckling and cackling. What is more, it broke down trust between old allies, if that is what US policy is towards their friends, what else will they then do? How more erratic can the behaviour get? This is asked openly in my circles and this is the reason why countries are turning their back on the US all over the world from the Philippines to Africa and elsewhere. If there is one thing you cannot afford in counter terrorism; it is neutrality or losing allies willing to stand by you and help you like Gadhafi did in the few years before his death. Without intelligence, you are blind, unable to defend yourself and unable to strike first, you will lose the war. And lastly, apparently, it is believed but not confirmed nor denied (she cannot remember saying it or much else it seems – it is deplorable since any normal human being will remember such a malicious statement even if made on November 23, 2010, less than six years ago): “Can’t we just drone this guy?”

With a record like above and the ability to start a war (and lose one, Angelique), I would say Mr Assange of WikiLeaks has every reason in the world to be worried about his personal safety. It is correspondingly said that Hilarious’s State Department considered, seriously, offering a $10 million reward to have the fellow captured and extracted to the US to do what with him? I can only guess and I know people are murdering for less than one thousandth of that amount. Julian Assange is an Australian citizen, a liberal I don’t like much, and a world renowned figure. Australia is a nation which is an ally of the US since it first became a nation state, he is not a terrorist in a Third World hideout to be killed at will just like that. Yet, apparently, the suggestion was made and what is so utterly shocking, bewildering even, at US State Secretary level, that is right next to the Office of the US President. I doubt if you can imagine how that comes over to non US Citizens, people that are historically your allies and wish to stay your friends. The arrogance is pretty much unbelievable, where does the buck stop these days in Washington DC? In the rest of the world the above notions are criminal offenses called conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping, a felony but then, I suppose it is all a “vast right wing conspiracy” which she “cannot recall.” There is a saying in life, in the good book of Galatians: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return.” You also get the government you deserve by electing them every four years, remember that next time you are attacked and suffers losses you could have avoided and you don’t quite understand why it happened. And another thing, it does matter, by the way, if you look at history we will clearly find the answer. Many of my readers will recall the state of the US Military before the Vietnam War, perfectly set up to stop the Soviet tanks. And then? What did the US Army look like in 1972? Do you know that it took almost 18 years, a generation of new blood flowing in, to rebuild the US Military to the awesome display of power we witnessed during the First Gulf War? You cannot afford another setback like Vietnam breaking you with a rising China, Russia and their allies watching from the side.

Angelique landed an hour later, coming in low and fast and devoid of any navigational lights, a dark shadow appearing above the trees. The Super Frelon she was flying had a top speed of 170 miles and cruising speed of 155 miles per hour so she had left about two hours before. The helicopter was large, able to load 38 fully equipped troops and when acting as an air ambulance, 15 stretcher cases with their medical attendants, in fact, 7 feet longer than a World War Two bomber. Her engines, she came with three engines, quite odd that, Turboméca Turmo IIIC turboshafts, each pumping out 1,171 kW, were screaming loudly. I worried about them, they were not really enough for an airframe loaded to 28,660-pound maximum (empty weight is 15,130 pounds, Angelique) and prone to sudden failures too. Nevertheless, she had a very decent maximum load carrying capacity (including fuel) of just under 13,000 pounds. For her time and era, she was Gucci, used in all formats from military transport, anti-submarine and anti-ship roles with a flying range of 632 miles in any weather condition. She could be refuelled in the air, this one too, she had a refuelling probe extended, making her endurance longer than the 4 hour limit she had when not. With a full fuel load, she could reach a ceiling of 10,325 feet, climbing at 1,312 feet per minute, again, adequate for the time. She could also land on water and drift around like a damn boat, an incident we don’t discuss anymore now that we are happily married and wish to stay like that, it was nasty and the pilot, my wife and soul, forgot to warn her passengers about her intentions (I did not forget, people should know their equipment, Angelique, Code Name Halloween 38).

South Africa once had 16 such helicopters based in Durban (a city next to the Indian Ocean) and flown operationally by the South African Air Force (SAAF) 15 Squadron. In 1991 the decision was made to stay with the other main transport helicopter, the Aérospatiale Super Puma, then being developed into the Oryx and sharing parts with the Rooivalk attack helicopter by design. The Super Frelons were sold and became history. Angelique was obviously using the advanced FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) device mounted on the nose to see in the dark better than any night vision goggled could. The presence of the device indicated to me that that was no ordinary Super Frelon, such devices not only cost serious money, they are not sold to civilian operators, not that specific HD model incorporating target acquisition with it, it spelled military and First World Military at that. Yet, we don’t ask too many questions in my world. She had us cold though, long before she swooped in.

“I have you lot visual, boom, you are dead!” She announced her arrival and came roaring past in a tight turn.

Helicopters, it is odd, are virtually impossible to locate by sound in the African bush, by the time you hear them, they are in shooting range and already shooting. You cannot pinpoint where they are unless you see them, a catch 22 if ever. Even though we expected her it still came as a surprise.

“She does have an odd way of announcing her arrival.” Sniper muttered as he handed the infrared flare over.

We were standing right on the helicopter pad, a flat piece of ground and in the open, we wanted to be seen, obviously. We knew she had ample space, the closest trees and rocks were more than 200 feet away, she only needed about 62 feet, the rotor diameter of a Super Frelon. She was an excellent pilot even when crashing (I beg your pardon, I am an excellent pilot, Angelique).

“I am waiting, Foxtrot!” She radioed down, still circling and making a dreadful noise.

“You are beautiful?” I asked in return, for the third time that day.

“I know that, thank you. How must I land without a flare showing me the wind direction?”

I have yet to meet a girl that loves shooting flares or seeing them, more than my wife and soul. Every Bastille Day (we are French citizens these days), Guy Fawkes (to keep Thandiwe, Geelslang’s wife, happy) and New Year looks like the 4th of July at the Ukuthula Ranch. Then there are the birthdays of everyone including her lads comprising her Frog security team and Airborne Day. I drew the line when she wanted to celebrate her lads’ kids’ birthdays too. Something she did not take kindly to, by God, and so we agreed to fire a few flares just for good luck and to wave off evil spirits. Through the years she fired many thousands of flares, I am sure, and at times horizontally at people just to see them duck. We are so used to it we don’t even notice anymore but I can tell you, many others started running after falling flat on their faces. It never left her not doubled up with laughter, suffering from hiccups afterwards. Here, she just wanted to see a flare, she did not really need it and I was mildly surprised that she did not shoot one down at us. We were most certainly prepared to duck (I regret not thinking of that, Angelique).

“Roger that, one flare, infrared, fired, there is no wind!” I said as I shot the flare into the sky. “Land when ready, facing us.”

It switched on cheerfully as it drifted down, it is not a flare in the normal sense of the word, there is no burning chemical candle. It is a strobe, like a floodlight, dangling on a small parachute and it works only if you have night vision goggles on. She landed before the flare even reached the ground, the dust and debris flying through the air and the entire area around the large helicopter became brown with the dust and sand, our night vision lost her behind the brownout. It did not bother her the least. She sat the big bird down gently in front of us and started switching off the engines immediately after, not wasting any time. The helicopter was going to stay with us for the night. I ran to the cockpit to greet her formally, ducking without reason, the spinning blades were 22 feet above the ground, it is instinct.

“Oi, you lads, get out, I want to speak to you!”

I vaguely heard Sniper, he had local command, speaking to the passengers at the back. They came pouring out, walking away crouching also, to the side. I had other priorities.

“Did you miss me? Yes? Give us a hug then!” She greeted, opening the door when I knocked on the window.

In case you don’t know, it is damn awkward to hug your soul with night vision goggles on both parties, you have to twist your neck violently or a clash of goggles will occur. She was in her usual flying clothes, a green flight suit – the same type the USAF use, fire resistant with many pockets and then the combat vest bulging with paraphernalia from flares to emergency rations and other escape kit and her Glock 19 Generation 4. That too added to the hugging difficulties, not to mention my own combat vest but we managed, Hilarious times and all that. I was glad to see my soul; I hate it when she is away “on business” as she refers to the fine art of Murder Mayhem Inc. (spying to you) and I wait somewhere for her to return, worrying.

“So what would Code Name Anika be?” I asked sometime later, we made camp and felt pretty good, having dinner from our ration packs.

“Can I have your milkshake? You should be looking after your sugar intake at your advanced age (I am three months older than her). Thank you, you are welcome, strawberry flavour also? Good, I like strawberries. Code Name Anika? Three parts, destroying the Mike Delta Three Eight chasers with indirect fire from the artillery, destroying the Chinese helicopters inside Zimbabwe and making it look like the Baboon did it and the last part I cannot remember.”

I began to wonder what else she was not telling me and when to scratch the last toe crossing she had left for 2010, the one I gave to her on demand, my own. On a previous operation, later known in the GMJ Books as Code Name Honey Bee, I got her to show her hands so I could see for myself that her fingers were not crossed when she speaks. A childlike idea but one which she honoured under our code of conduct. She had found out, God knows how, that Geelslang and I considered crossed fingers as a reason to misspeak ourselves or to get out of a false promise when needed by crossing our toes. It is an excellent way of not lying under oath in court and at the same time ensuring a proper guilty verdict. God, I am sure, will understand and approve that when dealing with all criminals, terrorists and liberals (same thing, mostly), you have different rules relating to the truth which they anyway twist at will. To ensure that I survived the toe crossing aspect of her operations I convinced her she only has one legal toe crossing a year where she may say one thing and do something else.

Later she claimed that she had two toe crossings every year since she is a “tiny girl being bullied by two large ex-Special Forces lads, to wit Geelslang and me.” As any reader of my books knows, she never loses and always wins and is in no way being bullied then or now. She may be cheated out of victory at times perhaps, but that is not bullying. I must also state that the toe crossing method is not lying, I must be clear on this, not at all, not under our rules. In principle it means you can get out of your stated promise of intention without legal consequences. For example, I used mine once when we had an emergency landing with her “Tweet” early in 2009 and she wanted me to abandon the aircraft, leaving her alone to switch everything off. To keep peace, I crossed my toes and solemnly promised I would abandon her as soon as we landed, and did the exact opposite, staying and getting her to safety first (Code Name Blue Tang). The year before, she promised, solemnly, by God, to keep her head down and stay under cover, shooting at some rogue Assassins, and you can guess the rest, she did not stay under cover as promised, having invoked her one toe crossing (Code Name Sanford). It is a simple procedure in life, and needed, where she is concerned. She is not to be judged by normal standards and as smart as two trees full of owls, she will always have the advantage over the “first attempt” as she calls males. (Of course I am bullied! I am cheated out of my fun quite often. Whenever I come back from Europe they would have demolished something on the Ukuthula Ranch without giving me a fair chance to win the fair and agreed to, draw, to place the explosives myself. It is a nasty form of cheating to do such things to your soul and wife, a tiny girl and then showing me a video of the explosions as consolation price. And I would have won the draw if given half a chance, I know how to win such draws, always. I am excellent with any type of explosives too, an artist even, this is bully boy tactics, Angelique.)

A woman as smart as two trees full of owls will always have the edge on the rest of the world, you have to take whatever advantage you can as I assure you, she will do the same. In one mission, known as Code Name Bella Dawn, she solemnly agreed with me that she had no toe crossings left, leaving me feeling very cosy about life with no unexpected shenanigans waiting to attack me from behind as the Hittites did to the Israelites, and then utterly failed to inform me what she was up to (but telling Geelslang in order not to lie), which is honourable, it must be admitted, and therefore caught me totally unawares in the end but you can read the book yourself. (Foxtrot tried to drown me more than once during that mission, I almost shot him and most certainly will do so next time! And he refused to seduce me on request, Angelique.)

Mind, she does not lie and is the most honest spymaster I know and I knew many. Most are devious bastards and always forgetting (yeah sure), to tell you what they are up to but that is not lying, it all depends on viewpoint, I suppose. Our relationship was based on her telling me what was needed to complete the mission and nothing more. You don’t want to know everything regarding the mission to begin with. I mean what happens if you are snatched and you are tortured to reveal your knowledge? Such things happen in my world, a lot more than what you think. Those scenes of a few punches for the hero you see in Hollywood? Rubbish, you are beaten severely, raped (men and women), abused in the worst way, burned and what have you, starvation even (see Code Name Celery 50 what happened to one of Angelique’s agents, Lucy). My world is the theatre of the real and hence we were trained to resist interrogation but you have a breaking point, everyone does. So a certain amount of double-dealing is expected and entirely honourable but it must be said, we never lied to each other deliberately. Only weaklings and liberals feel the need to lie out of fear for the consequences. In my world, if you made mistakes, you own up and learn from it. It has to do with operational efficiency, lying makes things worse at the long run as it can take a mission in the wrong way and is severely frowned upon. It may cost you your life when you lie. People will wonder why you lie, and act accordingly. (Always confess, it is easier for you, I will know, anyway, I know everything, Angelique.)

This constant search of the truth from her changed over the years and for the better as our relationship changed. When she officially became my wife and soul, in 2012, after our marriage, I stated in no uncertain terms that I am entitled to know the truth regarding what she is up to at all times. I will gently insist on it, it is my right as her husband to be trusted and she respects that. As her operative or chief agent, the truth and nothing but the truth is an entirely different scenario depending on the mission and need to know. She decides what she reveals which is just enough to get by (it is endearing, caring even, when you think about it, Angelique). The best way to know how far she was not revealing the truth and nothing but the truth was to look at her head. I got her figured out as far as a man is able to figure a woman as “otherwise” as her out (complex, she says she is complex, not “otherwise,” but trust me). If her head is tilted ever so slightly left, she is misspeaking for your own good. Unfortunately, she suspected that I knew and once she knew I knew, she immediately adapted her stance never to tilt her head again or at times, being “otherwise,” tilting it to the right when misspeaking or the left when not and so it went on for years. You just did not know and at the end of the day it did not matter. She would do what she wanted to do and so it is, make peace or run away. Angelique Dawson, I can tell you, is the all-time master of the double and triple bluff. You take her on at your own risk. Moreover, if she puts her matt green Ray Ban aviator’s glasses on she is “official” and the feared South African Secret Service (or French DGSE in later years, they are even worse) spymaster, not your wife and soul and you would be very well advised to listen carefully what she says and not to annoy her. A tilted head with Angelique Dawson-Foxtrot, combined with her sunglasses, is bad news. And her head was now tilted, her aviator’s sunglasses hanging from her combat vest, it being night time but that was incidental, she had them firmly on in her mind, I was in for a very rude awakening but be patient, we will get there.

“You cannot remember? Must I call you Hilarious? More probably you don’t want to remember. Okay, why the code name then, who is Anika?”

“It is not who she is but what she is, in Hebrew, the name means ‘grace or favour’ and so also in Latin. You get? And I will shoot you if you call me that again, I am not fat, ugly, liberal nor stupid.”

“A gift from God, so what? All children are.”

“Foxtrot, those chasers, when they run into our shells and rockets, they are a gift from God, to be terminated to send a message, you get? And when I blow the Chinese Changhe Z-8 and the Baboon gets blamed, another gift, by the grace of God, you get?”

I shrugged, military code names have nothing in common with the actual operation taking place. It should not and it is silly to expect the name to mean anything or indicate anything in particular. Therefore, none of the GMJ Books have a name from which you can deduct the contents of the book and that is not by chance, it is written like that, it should be a hidden code, known only to those directly involved. But the code names used always had something to do with Angelique Dawson and it was always fascinating to me how she got to them. Unlike many other espionage agencies, no computer generates the code names at random in the South African Secret Service. They do so themselves and see if someone can guess what it means, if so, it is changed immediately. I like this system; it is fool proof. As an example – I have seen them sit at a pizza shop, look around, and decide the (entirely innocent) waiter is called whatever, and that “whatever” becomes the new code name. Unless you are there, you would never guess and that is the essence of a good code name, never to guess accurately the intentions behind it. Sometimes they even had personal code names referring to the official code name, you just don’t know what they meant and it is never on a computer, they do things by hand, writing it down because of security reasons, not backwardness. It is extremely easy to safeguard a paper file and almost impossible to do so with those made of ones and zeroes as we had seen in recent history when a low level NSA employee like Edward Snowden can steal a memory disk of information and run away with it. If he tried that with Angelique’s people, he would have been followed to Moscow and tortured to death with his family. They don’t take such insults lying down and the idea of amnesty or pardoning is entirely derisory, you do that and a TWEP (terminate with extreme prejudice, i.e. assassination) order is issued automatically. The Egg Breaker War kicked off because of such an order on all of us… unless you can defend yourself, and I really mean defend, they will get you and no court order will stop them, they piss on such things. There is a reason why Angelique is surrounded at all times by her Frog Security Team and men like me, it is needed (I am grateful for you, all of you, Angelique). She is much better protected than a US President because she needs to be and by genuine security people, not the Mickey Mouse US Secret Service.

“Honestly, no, I don’t but since it has no known link with the mission, I don’t care. May God bless Anika, wherever she is.”

I found out years later that Angelique’s explanation was not quite accurate (nor wrong either, it was both, Angelique). Lucy would later have a daughter with that name, Anika. For now, the heat was on. I explained the positioning of the G6 self-propelled howitzer and two Valkiri MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) vehicles relating to the small valley known as Psalm 23 to us. Sniper sat across us, he had to be there because of the way our command system works.

“I don’t have news on the FARP searchers, Madame. Terminator is walking in towards Mike Delta Three Eight as we speak. That will take two days and nights at least. As you may know, extreme care is taken not to betray your mates and the meeting spot is observed for 24 hours before contact is made.”

“You have to tell us about your ‘surprises’ you brought back. I must know the assets we have available to work out an operational plan with Sniper.” I added, staring at her head (Foxtrot looked like a hungry hyena trying to do a pride of lions in, Angelique).

“Eh yes, we have an air force now.” She replied. “All private, of course, we are deniable as always. My go-ahead command was more of a wink than a written order.”

“An air force? Consisting of one Super Frelon, a C-130 Hercules and pray what else?” I asked interested.

“You would have noticed I did not bring all the radar and missile guys with me? Yes, only enough for one team each, that is one radar team and one missile team. The rest are at the Ukuthula Ranch Airport.” She answered the African way, in a circle, it is endearing when used to it.

“Doing what? The place is open for attack, undefended.” I replied. “That is why we are here and not there.”

“Not anymore, I have two Dassualt Mirages there. Yep, two Mirage 2000D models, configured to air-to-air combat and also ground strike. And then, my personal aircraft will also arrive in due course.”

She seemed quite pleased and why not, the Dassualt Mirage 2000D is the conventional strike aircraft, developed from the Mirage 2000N, the same airframe but intended to drop nuclear weapons. Where they come in twin seat configuration, they are classified as multirole fighter jets and they are deadly enough. With two Mirage 2000D models at that runway, the game has changed, the Zimbabwean MIG-21 Chinese copies had no chance whatsoever. Not even their MIG-23s should get close to defeating a well handled Mirage 2000N, the MIG-23 is not a dogfighter. I felt pretty pleased about her air force. There was a problem though, with Angelique there always is, the Mirage 2000D was not on the open market but still in service with the French Air Force and no one else, not in that configuration. Of course, at that stage we did not know she was a DGSE penetration agent but we sure did suspect that she had an unnatural relationship with France, being able to call upon the Republic for help now and then. That was highly unusual, to be honest. She explained such matters away, where concern was raised or not, that the counter terrorism game is international, which it is, but there are very definite limits. On the other hand, I don’t ask stupid questions and always accepted her word. Geelslang followed my lead, we owe no loyalty to the new lot down south.

“How fast can they scramble?” Sniper asked. “The Zimbabweans will come in low and fast, that is there usual way.”

“The remaining radar will give them enough time. They can climb, on full afterburner, 56,000 feet a minute. If they even get two minutes warning, they will be able to scramble and dive down again. But we have other assets too inside Zimbabwe, launching a raid like that, be it bombing or air assault, will be leaked to me. I will have prior warning. Eh, we will know.”

I could sense that she was not completely honest. She was hiding something regarding her early warning systems, probably satellites. Yet, what she just said was impressive.

“A minute? Sixty seconds from earth to 56,00 feet? The vaunted MIG-23 can only climb 47,245 feet in that time.”

“Yes, the Mirage 2000D has an enormously powerful powerplant, the SNECMA M53-P2 afterburning turbofan. She is a good aircraft, twin seater and able to dogfight with the best and do ground strikes when called on, a true multirole fighter jet. Mind, they cannot go as high as a MIG-23, only 59,000 feet, the MIG-23 goes up to 60,695. Not that it matters, if they are close enough to each other the Mirage 2000D is going to win such an engagement every time. You will recall they came into being when the Rafale was delayed and is still soldiering on. They fought in every war France was involved with since 1993.”

“Are they armed, Madame? And under our command?” Sniper wanted to know. He was clearly not going to be bothered where she got them from, she had them and that was what counted to him. “What range do they have, combat range I mean?”

“Where did you get them? Those pilots, they would not be speaking French now?” I too wanted to know. “We don’t speak Frog.”

“French, you mean and you do speak it, enough to get by, I know. You have a dreadful accent last heard in the 10th century but I know you can understand me if I speak slowly enough. Therefore, I speak faster at times.” She turned to the soldier sitting across us, eating his supper. “Sniper, the Mirages are fully armed and combat ready. Each has two rapid fire 30 mm cannons for close range work. They have the latest Matra air-to-air missiles and then may have laser guided 2,000 pound bombs under the wings, we are waiting for delivery. They would be able to take on any older MIG and win the fight. I would say though that the South African Gripens will defeat them if they ever fight in earnest, the Gripens are closer to Fifth Generation fighter jets than pure Fourth Generation like the 2000D but they are not here to tangle with the Gripens. And they have the latest electronics and upgrades, these are operational jets.”

“Excellent, excellent. The combat range, Madame? I need to know if we can use them properly.”

“With a standard load, configured for dogfighting, they can fly 920 miles. Here you can double that, they have a centreline drop tank. With that they can stay overhead for a long time as long as we stay no further away than 350 miles from the runway. Look, the idea is this… the radar will warn them of any enemy aircraft approaching and none should, the place is isolated. They take off and they engage them if needs be, if not, they scare them away. The moment they switch their attack radars on, the incoming aircraft will know.”

“Yes, but what if they don’t stop coming?” I asked pointedly.

“Foxtrot, you ask the oddest questions, really. In that case they attack and destroy them. I will give the order myself and it will be obeyed. Scratch the MIGs and so it is.”

“And what if we find the enemy FARPs we are looking for?” Sniper went on, he too was aggressive by nature.

“That depends on where the artillery is. Any FARP found will be destroyed by conventional means if at all possible. No games, no espionage, no nothing. Your lads find the FARP for us, they report in, we strike with the G6 or the Valkiris from over the horizon and if needs be, the Mirages have cluster bombs but I would prefer not to use them, they are our backup plan.”

From experience, I can tell you, there is nothing more effective than cluster bombs dropped on a FARP (Forward Area Refuelling / Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refuelling Point) to ensure proper destruction. Our liberal mates are highly critical of cluster bombs. Every now and then, they will show you horrifying pictures of little Abduls and Aminas disfigured and maimed by such weapons (always, according to them dropped by those awful Jews they don’t like much in private, the Israeli Air Force). War is about killing human beings and taking his land and resources. You would think they would know that by now but then again, they complained about the atomic bombs and carpet bombing during World War Two also. Not at the time, mind, then they were all for vengeance and destroying the defeated German Nation completely, yes, the so called Morgenthau Plan. They just loved that plan so much that it is scary to see the subsequent denials these days. It was never implemented according to official historians and only briefly supported by Mr Roosevelt or was it? Let us take a closer look.

The Morgenthau Plan was first proposed by US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr and approved, signed off, by Mr Roosevelt and then brought to the other two Allied leaders, Stalin of the Soviet Union and Churchill for the British Empire for approval. The idea behind this plan was to eliminate Germany's ability to wage war for once and all. To do this, the country was to have no industrial base but only be a rural farming community. In other words, all the factories and industry were to be destroyed and kept destroyed for all time. No engineering of any kind except for farming would be allowed. If the plan worked as intended, nothing you see today in terms of BMW, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi or any other German car, train or engineering technology would have existed, nothing. The Arch Liar (Winston Churchill to you), at first flatly refused to go along, showing much more insight on post war problems than what he is credited for. He also realised quite quickly that only 60% of the Germans could live off the land, the other 40% will die of hunger and then what? Without industry they could not buy foreign food imports, they could not survive physically, it was and is that simple. The Morgenthau Plan was by any account a strategy to commit genocide in peace time even if that result may not have been the true intention it would have had that result. Stalin, as you may imagine, agreed completely with the Morgenthau Plan and Roosevelt made it clear that if Churchill keeps on snubbing the US strategy to destroy Germany, all further aid to the UK will be stopped. In what can only be described as blackmail among decent people, Roosevelt waved the new loan agreement to Churchill and asked that the Morgenthau Plan Memorandum (to implement it after the war ended), be signed first. Churchill asked crossly: "What do you want me to do? Get on my hind legs and beg like Fala?” He was not amused, he had to choose between signing the Morgenthau Plan Memorandum and then getting the loan, desperately needed, Britain was beyond bankrupt since 1941, or losing the loan because he was holding out for Germany. He signed, who in his right mind can blame him. You would have also, patriotism comes to all nations and Englishman is ahead in that choir, they will do anything for their Leech.

What is shocking for us today, looking back to learn from history, is that Roosevelt was a very ill man at this stage. He later said to US Secretary of War Henry L Stimson that he had: “no idea how he could have initialled this.” Such admissions show you that you are not always dealing with a functioning President but a human being behind the title and office. He clearly did not understand the consequences of the Morgenthau Plan and it was implemented in a changed format after the war (Britain refused, Anthony Eden got them out of it despite Churchill’s agreement and kept on refusing). Up to 1947, the Allied non-fraternization order as well as, and this is forgotten by the Democratic Party today – they must be reminded – something which Harry S Truman ordered, stated: “…take no steps looking toward the economic rehabilitation of Germany (nor steps) designed to maintain or strengthen the German economy.” Now if that is not a form of the Morgenthau Plan, what is? It was only when death of hunger and disease became rampant in the defeated Germany and the Cold War fear of an entire Germany going communist became clear to many, that attitudes changed with the Marshall Plan, saving Western Europe.

So no matter what you read in the history books, designed and written to make turds look good, it is not entirely correct to say the Morgenthau Plan was just an idea and never came to fruition. No, it was implemented by the Truman White House and many thousands died in the two years between the 1945 surrender and 1947 when the changes came. The US Army Generals, it must be said, protested bitterly against the order and there are many historians that state that the mere existence of the Morgenthau Plan, it was leaked and known to the Nazis, prolonged the war as did Roosevelt’s “unconditional surrender” statement, made without any agreement beforehand between the Allies. He just sprouted his mouth off, it seems it is a Demorat problem to this day, it is deplorable (hello Hilarious).

Many Western Countries, inanely so, banned the use of cluster bombs because it is so effective in killing large numbers of troops at one go. They don’t want to save the lives of their own troops I suppose because I assure you, neither Russia nor China or even us, will ever hesitate in using such bombs. Nah, the deluded liberal calendar girl would rather sit on an anti-aircraft cannon in Hanoi and then claim, seriously, later on, that she was so stupid in her youth that she did not know it is an automatic cannon used to shoot American aircraft with. They, including Hanoi Jane, also said at the time, research it, that the US pilots are lying bastards. They were not being tortured in the Hanoi Hilton (it is deplorable don’t you think, basket cases all of those captured servicemen, just another “vast right wing conspiracy” to say you are being tortured when not, yes, we do sarcasm also, Angelique). A cluster bomb spreads sub munitions (bomblets) over a wide area, each is designed to kill a human being and at least the US still have theirs, the AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon, George Bush (43) flatly refused to get rid of it, rightly so. I love cluster bombs and dropping them on a FARP or anything else worth the cost, well, why the hell not? I did it before, many times and on anti-aircraft cannons, unfortunately, not in Hanoi, that was before my time but I must say, Americans are remarkably able to forget and forgive their in house aiders & abettors. We are not that nice in Africa, we remember those that fought for the Leech in the Anglo Boer War, and made their kids suffer at school a 100 years on, why not, it was delightful.

“Oh good, very good, I just hope that the Zimbabweans don’t get your Mirages first with their flechettes.” I was enjoying this. We were fighting against the odds, but we would win, that I knew.

Back in the days of Rhodesia, they came up with an idea to drop a flechette type of cluster bomb from very high heights. What they had was essentially thousands of sharp needle-like heavy darts falling at tremendous speeds (known as “beehives” or “canister” by some armies) and causing hell where they struck. You can hear them coming, the falling flechettes make a sound like a swarm of honey bees and when you hear them, it is too late. They will slice you and every tree in the vicinity to pieces including normal (not armoured) vehicles. Unless you are under decent shelter (five feet of solid earth at least), you will die. It is not against the Geneva Convention to use such weapons, by the way, the American Army used artillery fired flechette rounds to great effect in Vietnam and also in the Civil War (both sides, it is not a new concept at all but the Rhodesian one contained no explosives, they used height to generate speed and mass, very effectively, at another occasion they dropped small iron pellets but that was from low level, same effect, Angelique).

“They don’t have their English Electric Canberra bombers anymore, Foxtrot. To drop the flechettes they have to be very high and we will pick them up easily on the radars they don’t know we have. I suppose it can be done with the MIG-23s but it is unlikely, I have not heard or read of such a conversion but theoretically they can do so. They still have their old Alpha Bombs too, that is lower level flight and they will fly into the Starstreak missiles if they try, however, the idea is for the Mirages to keep them away and they will. They will scramble at any sign of trouble and be airborne where nothing will get them.”

The Alpha Bombs were the South African version of cluster bombs, originally a Rhodesian idea, highly effective and replaced now by the South African made CB-470. This bomb can be released at extremely low level flight, it is unique, at 100 feet, and it will explode over an area of 870 feet in length by 230 feet wide, destroying anything human inside that area. To ensure the pilot’s safety, the attacking jet can come in and make the drop whilst going at 640 miles per hour. That is very fast for ordnance drops at extremely low level flight and they do so all the time, practising their skills. I was convinced that the Frog Mirages would be able to strike hard at the FARP if needed and if we could find them even if slightly higher and slower.

“Okay, sounds good. What else?” I asked, knowing her.

“What would their call signs be, Madame?”

Sniper had no qualms in using whatever he could to destroy the enemy. He was concentrating on the immediate issues. Angelique pre-empted him.

“They will not listen to you, Sniper, only to me. If you need them, you will have to relay to me and I will give the orders. There is nothing else, Foxtrot, what do you mean?” She looked at me, looking so sincere that I just knew she was tilting her head leftwards (I was not, Angelique).

“And then, my personal aircraft will also arrive in due course.” I mimicked her, having learned to take everything she said literally through the years. “Yes, and a short while ago you said, and I quote: ‘I was thinking of getting something faster like a two seater fighter jet, perhaps an old Dassualt Mirage or McDonnell Douglas Phantom II?’ and so now, I want to know! (Code Name Caribbean).”

“It is amazing really, on how much you recall these days. You should be thanking me for taking such nice care of you, yes, you are welcome. Now you see, Sniper, why I feed my elderly Major garlic and celery, it is good for his ability to remember.” That did not answer the question. I stared at her until she waved her hand dismissively. “Yeah, I am not explaining, wait and see and patience is a virtue. What happens tomorrow?”

“We move on with the first phase of Code Name Anika, that is to destroy the chasers once they are within our artillery range. You fly back to the runway at first light and ensure that you stay at a safe place from now on, in shelter. You are not coming with us for the actual shooting event, why should you? Things have changed, the runway is safer now since the Mirages arrived. You are only here to drop the radar and Starstreak operators with their equipment, thank you for that. Sniper and I will be on the ridge, the first one, calling in the artillery strikes on Psalm 23.” I had it figured out nicely.

“Just like that and I am reduced to a transport helicopter pilot under your command?” She queried softly, a danger sign if ever, shaking her head. “I am not Mrs Dawson anymore? The feared ‘Bitch of SASS’ commanding a complicated mission of international importance? How did the heroine of days gone by came to a fall?” She started chuckling for some reason, another bad sign. “And here I am thinking, what else can I do… that if I am not welcome with my fiancée, where I belong mind you, that I should fly back and help Sir John’s people in Malawi recover the missing phials, the biological warfare phials we are trying to get hold of ever since we raided the laboratory during Code Name Celery 50. Yes, all alone and vulnerable I will be among them but at least welcomed, I am sure. At least, I will be able to speak French to the lads, they are educated people, even Sir John, the old goat, speaks fluent French, quite fast too. I will have to remember to take my sleeping bag back with me tomorrow, or where will I be sleeping, I wonder….”

Angelique Dawson only has one weakness in life, French speaking bastards, she never dated nor married a man that could not or would not try, to speak French to her (I did not date much, men were scared of me for some reason and I married only twice, my word, I was born loyal to my soul, Angelique). The idea of her alone with the Pommy Frog speakers was not what I wanted to hear. Not that I did not trust her, she will never cheat and is not a cheat but I know what Frogs think when they see her and I know what Pommy Bastards can get up to with their charming manners and manly stares, wanting to play the game as fair as needs be, as long as their old Leech wins in the end. They are exceedingly dangerous bastards, trust me, they will ask your views as if interested in it and then whilst smiling politely, kick you in the family jewels until you confess your awful colonial sins. Yes, we know them from old, such men should be shot at sight or they will win in the end.

“Kungaba okungalungile kakhulu adalule owesifazane oziphethe Afrikaner ukuba Pommy Bastards, Sah. Futhi impela ungudadewethu ukuba sisale sodwa nabo vele, oda wakhe siqu, nokuma ukuze wakhe ukuthi yena kumele avikelwe.” (Zulu, It would be very wrong to expose a decent Afrikaner woman to Pommy Bastards, Sah. And she is never to be left alone with them anyway, her own orders, her standing order is that she must be protected.) Sniper muttered to me before walking away to brief his lads.

“What did he say? You better not lie to me, Foxtrot, I know your soul and can feel it when you translate wrongly.” She was immediately suspicious, staring at my head.

“He said you are ‘otherwise’ in the extreme and should not be exposed to foreign intelligence agencies like Six all by yourself. And so you will not be. It is good advice from a veteran operator, not to be discarded lightly, you get? You have to be protected against the Pommy Bastards, eh, by staying here with me. I will look after you. Your own standing order demands that. Yes, it does, it says your life must be protected at all times.” I nodded to show her the error of her ways. “You cannot go back alone to be exposed like that.”

“Okay, so I ask again, what happens tomorrow?” She smirked, quite happy with life now.

“We, that is you and I, will ensure that the artillery is set up properly and then wait for reports on the enemy FARP. Until we can find the FARP, we cannot attack it and even that must be timed perfectly when they land to refuel. In the meantime, Terminator will link up with Mike Delta Three Eight and they will lead the chasers to us at Psalm 23. We will know approximately when they should arrive and we will be there, at least 12 hours before, on the ridge. The G6 self-propelled howitzer and Valkiri MLRS vehicles will be in place tomorrow morning already, only needing to move into the final shooting position. Yes, they are a few days too early but that is good too. Once established, they just need to wait for us to give the command. We can use this place where we are now as a FARP for ourselves. We have some avgas here besides what you flew in and we can get more, it is not a problem. Mack can even drop extra loads, I am sure that Fernandes can dispatch the cargoes when told to by Senhor Feradi, your local translator. Sniper says Fernandes did a good job and you know how hard Sniper is to please. Yes, I will protect you from all harm and the khakis (Afrikaans slang, English soldiers). Tomorrow morning first thing, we put the nettings over the Super Frelon, we only fly after dark to keep our cover unless really needed. The missileers and radar guys can set up their scanners on that kopje (Dutch, hill) over there and protect the helicopter just in case something happens. If the Zimbabweans had one reconnaissance flight and they did, they will have two and more before they strike. They are good officers, good at staff work, they will want to plan this properly as they knew what happened last time (Code Name Cadillac) when we ambushed them.”

Senhor Feradi was a lifelong Portuguese communist and deadly enemy in previous years, I almost killed him in the old days but he somehow ducked my attentions, by luck only, I assure you. Senhor Feradi, even if retired or so he claimed, was the head of counter espionage in Mozambique and as it happened, my next door neighbour in our Maputo house. Angelique knew him well and he was very pleased when we finally got married and even more so when Lise and Odette arrived, playing Father Christmas to them for many years, rather oddly, he being a non-believer but such is life. When I raised the topic, amused at his antics, she elbowed me in the ribs as an answer (Senhor Feradi was already dressed for the part, that was no time to discuss politics, the man looks like Santa Claus too, Lise and Odette adore him, Angelique). Angelique used him at times to speak to Fernandes, my chef, since Fernandes cannot and what is more, will not and do not want to, speak English and her own Portuguese non-existent at the time. Since then, deplorable, I know, I sometimes refer to Senhor Feradi as her translator (he is a more honest one than what Foxtrot and Geelslang proved to be, Angelique).

I suppose it is a matter of respect and something the uitlanders (Afrikaans, foreigners, non-Africans) just don’t get. You simply cannot walk into an African country and not stand out. You don’t look like us and you don’t talk like us and you don’t get our ways. Nor do you show respect by following the old traditions which is designed to annoy us enough to kill you in return. It is also strange but true that most African countries have excellent counter espionage services because they have to, in order to survive. In every African country where the military took over in a coup d’état the spies were involved in the background. Before conducting a major operation, it was expected under our code, for Angelique as the ranking officer to ask permission to operate freely on his territory. Mind, she could operate in his sphere without permission. South Africa is capable of destroying any country in Africa and cannot be stopped military or economically, but it is our culture to at least ask politely (a lot of winking goes on at such times) and if refused, shrug apologetically and do so regardless. However, there is a surprising amount of trust between spymasters.

“Yes, Senhor Feradi is a wonderful man, not my personal translator, he merely volunteered to help, as a gentleman, you get? Should the missileers not split and go south with Sniper? Protect the G6 and Valkiris rather?”

“We don’t have enough missileers but that was my plan, just before the attack and when we move onto the ridge. I want them close by and someone to operate the Starstreak missiles against the Zimbabwe Alouette helicopters I am expecting and I don’t need radar scanning then, I will see them approaching with my eyes. The problem is this, the missileers are not Special Forces rated, I doubt if they have the field craft skills nor the physical stamina to keep up once we move off and into position. I am worried about that. Of course, we can shoot the helicopters down with the artillery strikes if they are in the death zone and low enough. Airbursts destroy aircraft too, very efficiently.”

“But you fear the helicopters may spot the missileers first?” She asked to be sure, her head tilted alarmingly.

That was indeed my worry, it is asking a lot more than what you may think to lay dead still for days on end in an observation post, not really moving and always waiting, scanning for the enemy, taking notes but silently, heavily camouflaged. Unless you did that for real, you cannot know how a man will react by the third day and cabin fever grabs him. Really, you don’t move more than even a few inches for a number two in nature. You don’t eat warm food, you make no fire, no smoking and above all, no talking or washing. You become one with the bush, rain or sunshine, whatever, you must not be seen and a human eye sees nothing faster than movement.

“Exactly, so one of us will have to learn how to operate their missiles and do so ourselves. We will never be spotted until the second we launch and that will be too late for the helicopters then.”

“So you expect more than one helicopter? Yes?” She shook her head at my suggestion to confiscate the Starstreak missiles. “They are bizarre weapons, Starstreak, Foxtrot. We only got them as some trade-off for something else flowing from the BAE weapons deal a decade ago, a mere stand-in weapon to be replaced with better home grown systems soon. You cannot get a crash course like that. It takes many hours to become proficient on Starstreak, on simulators first and only then in real life and you lose those skills rapidly when not constantly practising. They also have no proximity fuses; a miss is a clean miss. For experts, they may work, in real life like right now, nah, the risk is too great that you will miss. What you need I would say, is a fire-and-forget surface-to-air short range missile, one that you can fire and drop and run. The Zimbabwe Alouette helicopters do not have the latest threat scanners or ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) systems and will be sitting ducks. You don’t even need then the latest the world has available.”

When a military aircraft is targeted by MANPAD (Man-Portable Air-Defence System) missiles, the pilot would know it. The threat sensors will go off, beeping warnings and in many cases the defensive measures are automatic, they try jamming of the signal (where signals like radar tracking is involved) as well as the loosening chaff and flares to confuse the seeker head. The pilot will react immediately by diving away for cover or heading straight into the sun and a myriad of other things to break missile lock. He will also, if possible, be shooting a radar homing missile back at the missileers. Yet even with all this, he will be fairly lucky to escape unharmed if in range. The surface-to-air missiles came a long way since the 1960s and currently have the edge on the flying wonders. On the other hand, once the aircraft know you are there and identified your missile (their sensors will tell them immediately what they face if you transmit anything electronic), they may go high enough to be out of range and bomb the hell out of you, timing is everything. The other way is passive systems, where you track the target visually and the missile only go active, pinging away, when so close that it cannot be evaded. It is an endless circle of cat and mouse games.

The Alouette helicopters I expected to be chasing Geelslang and mates, first saw combat, ironically, not far from where we were right then. The Portuguese used the helicopter together with their paratroopers in 1963 first, fighting the communist nationalists, FRELIMO, today the Mozambican Government and as democratic and capitalistic in outlook as can be. The country is poor, one of the poorest in the world but also one with the fastest growing economies. They make mistakes, no doubt, you will never get rid of corruption in the turd brigade, they are dishonest people by nature, but not nearly at the scale expected of such places. For instance, no former Mozambican President ever went from being broke when leaving office (and having to steal from his official residency, yes, it is deplorable, hello Hilarious), to a multi-millionaire a few years later by making a few speeches. Yep, such sudden wealth would be seen as a reason for corruption audits in Africa if not the USA (hello Hilarious, no speech is worth that much without something else being involved, we know what happened behind the scenes, thank you WikiLeaks). Therefore, the Mozambicans made mistakes and they will make even more. Nevertheless, since the Mozambican Civil War ended, they tried hard to rebuild their country and it is worth a visit from you, white beaches, warm Indian Ocean, friendly people and 90% Roman Catholic. When we suddenly noticed the new Mosques rising in rural Mozambique where they should not have been, we knew something was wrong and discovered the influx of the Al Qaeda, hiding out in Africa (see Code Name VFO565). We expelled them violently, many died during the process (see the Egg Breaker War Series).

The Alouette is a small single-engine, light utility helicopter. She was first developed by Sud Aviation and then manufactured by Aérospatiale, the same large French Company that made the Super Frelon which Angelique was flying for the duration. In later years HAL (by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, in India) built the Alouette III as the Hal Chetak (also known as the Cheetah and then the Cheetal). The original model serves with about sixteen Air Forces worldwide, a good export product for France. Romania also built them under license during the Cold War and they were used for anything from air assault to medevac operations but they became famous to us, during the Rhodesian Bush War and subsequent South African Border War. We had many of them before they got replaced by the much more modern AgustaWestland A109 light utility helicopter.

Interestingly, the Alouette gunship idea was also introduced first by the Portuguese Army, they fitted a MG 151 20 mm automatic cannon at the back, firing sideways, a concept later copied by the Rhodesians and us (at times armed with a .303 four-barrel machine gun contraption). These Alouette helicopters became known as K-Cars (Killer Cars). But it was and always will be the Rhodesians that came up with their “Fireforces (also spelled Fire Forces)” idea where the Alouette became really famous, iconic actually, as much as the US Army Hueys were in Vietnam. You often see pictures of troopers jumping from them, FN rifle in one hand, scanning the area for terrorists. Surprisingly few were shot down, they were quite nimble and able to take punishment better than expected. At the same time, perhaps not surprising, it being a simple piece of equipment, the Alouette proved to be a very reliable airframe. The South African Air Force had theirs in continuous service for 44 years and they flew more than 346,000 hours during this time, about 70% in combat. Thereafter, they were demilitarised (well, sort of, the military radios removed, repainted) and by hook and crook given to their old buddies from their struggle years, Zimbabwe. In 2013 a court order would attempt to stop the shenanigans, Zimbabwe being subjected to a UN arms embargo to punish the Baboon (such embargoes mean nothing in the real world, and caused the strike on Pearl Harbour in history, Angelique). It would be fair to say that the Zimbabwean Air Force, antiquated as they are, would be able to field their old Alouette helicopters for the Mike Delta Three Eight chase and that is the problem you have in Africa when facing South Africans. We know exactly how you operate. We know what your likely reaction will be and we studied First World Nations correspondingly, we know how you think and what you do and we know how to counter such moves and yet, I bet that you knew next to nothing about us until you read GMJ. Be assured, whenever we read the “OMG it is Patton & Montgomery” brigade making absurd comments online on how they just need to arrive in theatre to win, their ignorance is sadly beyond belief, we smirk at each other. Keep on underestimating your enemy and see the results one day in the history books.

“There will always be two helicopters if not more involved, that is how they operate. Anyway, we don’t have such MANPAD systems, fire-and-forget surface-to-air short range missiles.” I replied and went on as she grinned even more. “Or do we?”

“Tell me, Foxtrot, what do you know about the FN-6?”

She had finished my milkshake and was mixing another one she got from Lucy, sitting quietly to the side, swopping Lucy a Tarzan bar (South African Army slang, candy) for her milkshake. Such things are common with ration packs, if you have an ex-British Special Air Service lad with you, the curry and Tabasco sauce are added to whatever they eat (and at great quantities) and then their afternoon tea, my word. That is another process of brewing that no other nation can copy, God knows, we tried and gave up in 1907.

“The FN-6? They are Chinese made MANPADS (Man-Portable Air-Defence System), Third Generation, passive infrared and rather good at resisting flares and chaff counter measures. But they only have a 70% first shot kill ratio and is limited to 546 yards’ minimum range, up to a maximum of 6,561 yards, including 4,374 yards straight up, eh, that is just over 13,000 feet. Each missile, the missile itself is very thin and dart like, weighs 35 pounds, including the launcher.” I replied, thinking hard.

“Yes, they are all that, and they are Chinese made too!”

She smirked knowingly and started drinking her milkshake with great relish (you prepare it in a plastic bag by mixing the water and the powder, and shaking it). I clicked immediately. Angelique, when she starts a fire, do so properly. She wanted the Baboon to believe that his new mates, the Chinese are doing him from behind. Her entire PSYOPS (psychological operations) were planned for that effect. When we counter ambushed the bastards during Code Name Halloween 38, the night before, many of the 120 mm mortar bombs we shot at them were Chinese made PGMM (Precision Guided Mortar Munitions). The helicopter she used, the Super Frelon, was painted exactly to look like a Chinese Changhe Z-8, and now she had Chinese MANPAD systems available from somewhere. I wondered again who was behind this, such weapons are not something you just buy at your local store unless in Texas, so I heard.

“Yes, they are Chinese made and if ever investigated, the Zimbabweans will find irrefutable proof, the discarded launchers and the fragments of the warheads?” I asked to be sure of her way of thinking.

“Damn right, it is deplorable (hello Hilarious) to leave such evidence on the field of battle but what can you do?” She was pretty pleased with herself, smirking all the way.

“You are wrong, the FN-6 cannot reach heights of 13,000 feet, they are limited to 11,428 feet, we tested them not too long ago. And also 49 feet, in the other direction, lowest altitude.” Lucy spoke for the first time since she stopped driving hours before. “They can turn at 4-Gs and move at 984 feet a second when chasing and 1,181 feet a second when facing a target head on, that makes up for the small warhead they have, impact, massed energy. She has a single stage solid rocket motor which ignites when you shoot, there is back blast to worry about.”

“And what else do you know about them, Lucy?”

I was not bothered on her contradicting answer, if I am wrong I am wrong and I can learn from my mistakes. Such missiles are kept closely guarded secrets and you get different estimates on performance. If Lucy actually fired one, she would know. All spies working counter terrorism have encyclopaedic knowledge on enemy weapons, they have to, jet airliners are great targets for terrorists. The back blast is another (I scratched this word out, Angelique) because it can betray your position and or scorch to death your mates behind you. Especially in dusty areas, the back blast is a problem on shoulder fired missiles or rockets. It betrays your position. You need to remember that.

“They were used in combat, successfully so, even downing a fast jet, a MIG-21 and military helicopters, all Russian except one Yank, in the Middle East. Some of those helicopters had the latest threat scanners and defensive systems on board and it got through, bringing them down. The missile, the up-to-date version, was essentially copied by the US although they deny it – the ground breaking UV (ultraviolet) seeker head guidance was incorporated in the US FIM-92 Stinger. The Chinese got there first though, undoubtedly with Russian help since they are leading the world currently. The Russian 9K333 Verba MANPAD is described by Jane’s as: “the most capable” MANPADS ever developed” and the Chinese missile’s upgrades was heavily influenced by it. There is a near constant flow of intelligence and technical know-how between the BRICS countries these days, they help each other against the USA.”

That, sadly is also true and I warned enough about it in the GMJ Books, the intelligence is flowing merrily. Yet, when you think about this and try to think like your enemy - no one doubts the flow of intelligence between the NATO countries - you really should not be surprised. As I keep on warning, there is no NATO technical advantage anymore and yes, US weapons are not necessarily being copied either as during the Cold War, it is the other way around these days. It was Winston Churchill that explained that it takes about three years of war to get the factories running at war production rates, you need to design and implement and then manufacture. Somehow, it takes many more years these days for the US Merchants of Death to get their act together even for the simplest of systems, blowing billions of taxpayer money on research and then going billions more over budget and what for? Is that how you measure success? By going billions over budget and then say you cannot stop now? In history, this is interesting, it cost the South Africans about 1% of what the US spent, to manufacture their nuclear weapons and they were in no way (not copies) the same, except in exploding rather nicely. Do you think that the South African nuclear technology cannot be given to a place like Iran nowadays? If so, see Code Name Angel in what took place in 2006 and notice with a smirk how the so called “experts” in Washington concentrate on other (rogue) states. They have no clue because they don’t know their history and are too racist, what else can it be, to believe an African Nation had had such skills since 1978. Spending money wildly is not the answer. If you run a business or your house budget like that, you will be on the street and bankrupt within months and your wife rightly kicking your ass. I get that playing & wasting other people’s money, entrusted to you to do good with, is something of a turd brigade speciality. I ask again, show me the results or you are fired. This is business 101 and yet we know the results in all countries. The other day I had to read the USA is now within a hairline of being under the top five most indebted countries (relating to GDP) in the world. Now that is a legacy no one in his right mind can be proud about.

“Tell him about our improvements, Lucy.” Angelique spoke gently, like talking to a child and Lucy, I can tell you, even in her middle age, looks like a child, diminutive and slender in figure. “The local enhancements.”

“We added an optional clip-on optical sight.” She said and went silent.

“Eh, the new optical sight improved the 70% you mentioned to a 98% probability of obtaining a first shot hit. It is marvellous stuff, works in the dark or in daytime.”

Angelique explained when it became clear that Lucy was not talking any further. She could be maddening, ignoring you for years if she wished.

“Okay, and we have such missiles here with us? You two know how to use them properly?” I asked in return.

“Oh yes, we know. I am a very good shot with missiles too.” Lucy suddenly came alive. “I can shoot the Alouette helicopters, Madame.”

She was that, still is, as you will recall, she won gold at a Commonwealth Game in her youth and what is more important, like Angelique and the rest of us, Lucy will pull the trigger (see Code Name Butterfly – a book on counter sniper fire – for more on Special Forces snipers).

“And I the other one if needs be. If there is more than one helicopter, one missile team would not be enough. Imagine that, Lucy, an all-female missileer team? We can shoot them all down.”

“Wait, wait, you won’t be there, she perhaps but not you!” I protested in vain.

“I will be there, my Foxtrot and so will Lucy. Either that or I will be with the Pommies speaking French, I need the practise. Make your choice or forever hold your tongue, it will go very badly for you in our coming marriage if you insist in banning me to a fate worse than death. Besides, you said that there will be at least two helicopters involved, did you not? Yes, don’t deny it, God is watching and He takes care of tiny widows like me!”

“It is agreed, Madame. We will hunt the Alouette helicopters.”

Lucy was not waiting for whatever I had to say, she never does, to be honest and I am sure she influenced Lise and Odette through the years to be the same (Lise and Odette are wonderful kids, they spoil their dad to pieces, Angelique). She got up and shook hands formally, as is our way, with Angelique and the deal was done. In fact, I had the distinct feeling that they were not only ignoring me, rudely so, I may add (only liberals complain, Foxtrot, Angelique) but had this figured long before Angelique mentioned it. And with that I knew, the Baboon was about to have a reduced Air Force.

This is a flashing red light of potential criminality, there was an alleged quid pro quo involving Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy and the FBI over at least one classified email. In return for altering the classification, the possibility of additional slots for the FBI at missions overseas was discussed.” Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, 2016

Comey has single-handedly ruined the reputation of the organization.” Retired FBI Agent Michael M Biasello, 2016, after the Hillary Clinton emails fiasco some call a whitewash

You can call us wrong, but don’t call us weasels. We are not weasels. So if I blew it, they blew it, too.” Mr Comey, FBI Director to the US Congress, 2016, trying to explain what cannot be explained

Don’t ever underestimate human beings’ faults but also, at the same time, don’t underestimate their potential.” Lucy the Lunatic, South African Secret Service Officer extraordinaire, 2010

Chapter 4

Mozambican / Zimbabwe border, close to Cavalariqa, 19 March 2010

I am not sure if Lucy meant the potential to do good or bad because humans are capable of both in equal measures. It has to do with cause, I suppose. The best way to get decent people to do horrible things, is to play on their patriotic feelings. As most practical men will tell you, there is nothing crueller in life that a justified man, Christian, Muslim, whatever, he will do what is needed, leaving you dumbfounded by his actions.

I often wonder how it is that some people, as much a human being as you and I, are destined (not pre-destined, that would be unbiblical, Angelique) to die for a message they probably did not even knew about. If you talk to the chasers, the ones that wanted to capture or kill the Mike Delta Three Eight Team, they would tell you they had every right in the world to search for those that wiped out dozens of their men during the Code Name Halloween 38 attack. All they knew was what they were told, “we got attacked, see the evidence, and now we will hunt the attackers and if they run into Mozambique, well, the law says we may conduct hot pursue operations if we wish to do so.” And so they would come walking towards certain death. Some call this destiny or fate and I call it Angelique Dawson crossing your path. She does not have red lines, she acts and she attacks and she will not stop nor lose out on an opportunity to do harm to her enemies if possible. These are wonderful attributes for a spymaster, I am sure you will agree. I long decided that is how nature made her and then she was trained as high as myself and the rest of the lads. I knew she would never have a problem moving with Sniper and myself towards that ridge. It was Lucy the Lunatic which bothered me. The woman is odd.

“Elle ressemble à un enfant, comment peut-elle mener à un missile de 35 livres, son fusil, et d’autres kit sur quelques montagnes dans cette chaleur?” (French, She looks like a child, how can she carry a 35 pound missile, her rifle, and other kit over some mountains in this heat?) I asked Angelique the next morning over coffee, speaking my bad French to be private.

“Elle est plus difficile que ce que vous pensez. Et nous allons prendre quatre missiles, vous et Sniper peut porter un supplément pour chacun de nous. Regardez, avec fusil et des engins, nous serons environ à 65 livres de poids. Dites 80 livres pour vous deux avec les radios. Pas de problème. Je l’ai fait pendant des semaines dans les Pyrénées il y a quelques années. (French, She is tougher than what you think. And we will take four missiles, you and Sniper can carry one extra for each of us. Look, with rifle and gear, we will be about at 60 pounds of weight. Say 80 pounds for you two with the radios. No problem. I did it for weeks in the Pyrenees a few years ago.)

During the years just before she got detained (Code Name VFO565), Angelique made comments which became clear in later years. In our code talking she just admitted being somehow involved in the French Army’s Commando Course, held in the Pyrenees and it is a hard one, on the same level as the US Green Berets. Many DGSE operatives undergo it, it is common for them, that is why they are able to work with their Special Forces at will. I decided not to ask stupid questions, if she wanted to run for weeks like a demented mountain goat loaded to almost half her body weight in France, well, she had the genes, her father was a superb Special Forces operator, first in the Police and then the Rhodesian Selous Scouts Regiment where he served as a liaison officer. Typical of the man, he went with on a few external operations (his lack of Shona and Matabele made him dangerous on internals) to experience the unit first hand. In later years he would, very seldom but at times, fasten his Selous Scout parachute wings below his gold Police Special Forces wings. (In all militaries, your parent unit’s wings are always above whatever else you are entitled to. For instance, Geelslang and I would add our Army Special Forces wings below our Police ones.) Men like me notice such things, we get a very fair idea of your military career by what is on your chest and we do look. A medal for long service and completing a PT test is not, repeat not, going to impress us much. If you have numerous valour awards of the same type, a US speciality that, then we would say the medal is made cheap and should not have been awarded so many times. In this we are not alone, we follow the British system and tradition, it is for instance, extremely unusual to have more than twice the same honour awarded and that is the way it should be in my view. Angelique, at times, would sport French Air Force wings on her flight suit and below her French Army Commando parachute wings when dressing formally. Whether she is entitled to the pilot wings I don’t know but no one ever told her to take them down (I am, entitled, long story, Angelique). It will take a braver man than me to get her to wear all her decorations, she does not like doing so, typical spymaster and only did so twice in our life together. Once when the French President wanted to meet with her, the little twat, I came close in flooring him for staring at her chest, she is a senior officer and my wife. And then when Lise and Odette graduated as naval aviators two decades later. They asked us to do so, including Colonel Uncle Annaud, Angelique’s Frog Minder issued to her and something of a favourite uncle to them. Geelslang also, he was there with Thandiwe, wearing his many decorations for valour and beaming proudly (as were you, Foxtrot, Angelique). Angelique must be saluted first as a holder of the French Legion of Honour no matter what your own rank but to be honest, she is not comfortable with such honours. However, she will respond with military courtesy when required and frequently do so as senior officer. I had no doubts on her abilities, she was, as they say, tried and tested. Lucy though, was not, she was not even an Assassin whose training I rate at US Army Ranger level, not much (dropout rate between 50% to 65%).

“It is rude to talk about me in a strange language!” Lucy muttered to us, not looking amused, cleaning her rifle with practised moves. “I can hear you.”

“Foxtrot wants to know if you can walk far in this heat carrying 60 or more pounds?” Angelique translated.

“Yes, especially since you hurt your big toe or something, when that weight fell on it three weeks ago.” I added, staring at her for an answer.

It was quite funny to me then and now, she had the accident, I cannot remember quite how after all these years and would hobble around on one foot, not looking amused at my laughter (Code Name Mel’s Choice).

She ignored me flatly, focusing on Angelique next to me. “Is he sightless besides his high blood pressure difficulties, Madame? Have I not walked the last two weeks without a problem for all here to see and admire?” She queried with a puzzled frown at my lack of sight. “My toe is healed, long time ago. I can walk easily carrying such weights. And I won’t speak either.”

“And so it is, Foxtrot, stop being silly.” Angelique declared, loyally defending her troubled agent. “She won’t speak and she won’t get tired and she will not miss when shooting with the FN-6.”

You never really speak on such missions, she had that right. A mere glance should be enough and a whisper is allowed once a week if really needed. Noise and smell, together with anything shining, will kill you on operations behind enemy lines. You also learn to see right through the bush by looking past it, something which comes with experience in bush warfare. Even the standard police counter insurgency patrols would jump up and down on the spot, the sergeant commanding (many times acting a platoon commander too) listening for any rattles or noise and taking appropriate actions when finding any. When 2,000 miles behind enemy lines, you do whatever is needed to become a ghost and don’t exist, there would be no air support nor hot extraction, you get discovered, you have to run out, shooting when you can and treating your wounds yourself since no one else would. And afterwards, you have to go back and redo the job. Yet, as suicidal as this may sound, it was done for years and not seen as anything special either. Many operators had dreadfully narrow escapes including Geelslang and myself, running hard for days. Others were cornered and men did die when that happened, they went out fighting all the way. I was not about to let Angelique become a statistic, nor Lucy for that matter off any of the others under my command just because the basic rules were not followed. God will not forgive such laxness and nor should He, commanders must be held at a higher standard. Of course, there was no real danger here unless we got betrayed or spotted and the Zimbabweans, good soldiers, turn a counter-counter bluff on us. Code Name Anika, thus far, was pretty much run of the mill and certainly, if this was official, no medals would be awarded for it.

We pulled and fastened the netting over the helicopter before first light, working in the dark and it took all of us to do so. The helicopter is large, she is longer than a World War Two heavy bomber and the rotors stretch 60 feet, 22 feet above the ground. There are many ways to get the heavy netting over a helicopter of that size, and all of them demand muscle power and coordination, a task my wife and soul to be claimed for herself by ordering the netting to be pulled on top the fuselage, and rolled out like a carpet towards the dropping blades (I was the aircraft commander and senior officer, Angelique). Lucy, a tree climber of note, Angelique too in her younger days (I can still climb trees with the best of them, unlike Foxtrot, Angelique), helping a lot. With some healthy curses and teamwork, Sniper snarling at a few of the non-badged lads, we had her covered and from twenty or thirty yards away, you would not have been able to see her. Those nets are really good at hiding things. We also ensure that the glass windscreens were covered by parachutes to reduce glare. We hate glare with a passion you will not believe. After that, coffee time.

“Let me speak to the radar lads… are we in agreement here? They protect this site which is from where we stage out.” Angelique asked of Sniper and myself, Lucy ignoring us loftily (she was ignoring you, not us, Angelique). “And they will then be split again to cover the G6 and Valkiris?”

“Yes, we are in agreement.” I nodded.

“Yes, Madame. I will take half of them now and cover the G6. When the time comes, we take the other half to the Valkiris and we leave the helicopter here for the time being since we don’t want her at the runway. She should be okay. In the meantime, I want to see your fancy Chinese missiles.” Sniper replied and called the men together.

“Life is always fun where I am.”

Angelique stated, not for the first time, speaking softly to the lads around us for the new briefing. The sun was up now, we had time. I have never believed in not telling my lads what is required and more importantly, why. I know everything about “security” and “operational security” and absolutely believe in such concepts, yet, there is a difference between explaining a mission and betraying it to the enemy. Each lad knew that they were standing into harm’s way and if the mission leaked, and they are ambushed, some of them will die.

Angelique went on. “The wonderful aspect of secret operations is how they evolve and how fast we can reinforce success or withdraw from failure. Not that we have failed before and we will not this time either but it is not the conventional military, with our small numbers, we have much more leeway. I understand your way of thinking, believe me, you were brought here a few days ago rather unexpectedly and away from your normal lives, to defend us against air attack at the runway. Then suddenly, you saw us returning from somewhere with the Super Frelon and the mobile artillery is moved away in great haste, where to, you would not know. And then I arrived back last night in JAS39 Gripen, escorted by the Mirage 2000D models, from a foreign Air Force since we don’t have them and we flew here and now you would be wondering what is next?”

“Adventure and fun?” One lad asked, quite bravely.

Sniper gave him a cold look. He had the typical senior non-com outlook on life you find in any good military, the correct addressing of a senior officer is number one in his way of thinking. In his warrior culture it is entirely acceptable to call a superior in rank and age by his call sign or whatever agreed to, but never nothing, you have to acknowledge who you are speaking to, it is not a husband and wife relationship. Angelique noticed but said nothing, she long ago learned that as a senior officer she will be seen first as a woman and then when she proves how good she is, as an operator. She also knew that if Sniper had a problem with the man, she better not get involved, he will sort it out in his own way and his way is an effective way. On the other hand, if she gets the feeling you are undermining her authority, you better be prepared for a vicious reaction and in our world it cannot be any other way. Really, every man and woman has a job to do, you utterly depend on them not screwing up, not taking chances, not being asleep on duty and not do anything but his best at all times and be there on time. In Special Forces, you take the above practically for granted, God knows, your mate will not be there, wearing the same parachute wings awarded after Selection if he did not prove himself reliable. The problem comes when forced to work with non-badged people, they don’t have the same outlook and never will. Some try to act tough – the so called Walter Mittys we find online and on television reality shows. There is not a single rated Special Forces Unit worldwide without a Wall of Shame where Walter Mittys are openly humiliated for maintaining they were part of something they were not. You know our figures by now, I repeat them often enough, 482 men made South African Army Selection from 100,000 that tried out in more than 40 years of existence. The Police Special Forces numbers are less than that – we know each and every one, you cannot pretend here, we will know you are a fake (the Egg Breakers were never more than 100 men, Angelique). We don’t like Walter Mittys, not because they could not hack it, God knows, there were times when even Geelslang had to pray and reach deep and it is not for everyone but because they are dangerous wankers. They cannot walk the walk and endanger those silly enough to fall for their war stories. They also are untrained in our eyes, untested and will screw up because of that. I was very glad that none of the missileers would be close to Psalm 23 but with the vehicles many miles away and that job they could do very well. You should always use your assets to fit their strengths, it is unfair to ask for something you know they cannot do. Angelique I trusted completely, I knew she had the genes and training even if I did not know exactly where and why at that stage. Lucy I could trust as long as she behaved and she seemed to be normal enough for now, always a worry when close to her but Angelique deemed her okay and so it was. Lucy was going with us, she seemed excited by the idea and why not.

“Yes, adventure and fun, always. I want you to split again in two groups. One radar team will stay here for a few days together with one Starstreak team, you protect the Super Frelon and warn us of any approaching movement. We will use this place as a FARP. I would suggest that you get your equipment on that hill behind me. The other team will go with Sniper and the Kwêvoël shortly to establish a safety zone for the G6 lads. The first team, the one here, will later move south to help the Valkiris. I cannot fly you in, the Super Frelon is noisy and will betray their position, so you are driving in, a lone Kwêvoël, they are sometimes used by NGOs, the curse of Africa, and can be explained. She is not in her normal South African Army colours.”

I am a cynical man, Western NGOs (included here is USAID and the rest) did more bad than good in Africa through the decades and the very worst of them is the so called “Christian” ones. To the missionaries, Africa is the great adventure and the place to come to for a selfie, earning bragging rights online for doing “God’s work.” Then there is and I am sure I said this before, the young Christian women from Europe and the US, good kids with good intentions but not able to comprehend that you simply do not talk to an African Elder, a man with grey hair, as if he is your mate, you show respect. We don’t take young girls seriously in rural Africa and you can do nothing about that, the laws are there, more progressive in equality than anything in Europe or the US but at heart, a woman will always have to prove herself here (yes, ask me, Angelique). Being brash and wearing almost no clothes when preaching the good message is not the way to do it, really not. Nor do we like or admire sexual immorality in any way shape or form, we are conservative in outlook and some of these people, not all, are here for sex in the sun with some Bible thumping in the background. You will have those listening to you because you represent money but how many will you get through the gates for processing with the Apostle Paul? I just don’t know.

The Muslims, when they arrived to establish themselves for the second wave to arrive later (see Code Name VFO565) were so much smarter, they kept a low profile, they lived with the people being poor themselves and certainly not bothered with money or selfies. They talked softly, wisely and respectfully, gave counsel and in general became dangerous enough for us to kill them. Whatever else you can say about the extremists, they believe in their cause, I respect that. And then there is the offices and vehicles, it is unbelievable to see how much luxury the NGOs allow themselves here, it is not about helping those you think you are helping when you donate, lol, no, wake up, 90% of your money will pay for their generously overly inflated salaries and fancy offices. It is the second biggest scam ever being run on the good folks trying to do good. We don’t allow any NGOs on the Ukuthula Ranch, they can donate to Thandiwe’s Clinic and we are appreciative but if they arrive physically, we will open fire without warning and knowing us, you can take for granted we will not miss. We have hungry crocodiles also, the beasts must be fed and are fed at all likely landing spots (Code Name Pour Angelique).

“Weapons free or not, Madame?” Another asked, one of the missileers, a good and steady man.

“No weapons free order unless on the command of the senior man on the ground which will be one of Sniper’s people. We will not hesitate to shoot but at the same time, we don’t want to betray our position, your missiles are short ranged and once committed, you are seriously committed, you better not miss. Your early warning capabilities are worth more to us than the shooting part at this stage, we are trying to stay hidden. Is that clear, I repeat, no weapons free order.”

They acknowledged and repeated the command, this was important, if the missileers panic and fire too soon or without reason, their position will be betrayed and a counter attack follows automatically. This will then endanger the artillerists and their Special Forces liaison members, our biggest assets and ability to destroy at long range. We don’t want that. Sniper now started talking, taking no prisoners on this aspect. Like all Special Forces senior non-coms, he is a very hard man to please.

“You follow the standard colour coded threat risk model which Lucy gave you when you arrived (Code Name Halloween 38). Starting with Green (no threat), Yellow (approaching), Red (imminent, load weapons, start tracking) and Red One (actual attack). You do not have a weapons free order; you follow my lads’ instructions or God will chase you away in disgust by the time I am done with you on earth. And when I see you again, wherever that may be, the lesson in following instructions will start again. Acknowledge, one by one.”

Sniper was looking at each man, making eye contact to get his orders home, an old commanding trick we use too (Foxtrot and Geelslang are especially good at such things, they read their people, Angelique). They did so again, you don’t argue with a man like Sniper, he will react in the approved old school style which I support fully (me too, Angelique). I could feel them warming up to the idea, it is fun to be with Angelique and working with Special Forces is a tremendous honour, most people will never get close. This was highly unusual.

“Men, do what you always do, give us an early warning and we will take it from there. As always, remember that we never lie to each other, if something goes wrong with your kit or you feel ill or whatever, speak to your immediate superior but never ever try to cover a mistake. We cannot deal with problems if we don’t know about them, really not. You will find at each artillery site a Special Forces lad commanding and reporting directly to Sniper until Mike Delta Three Eight is back where he belongs. I expect you to show the same respect to Sniper’s lads as if you are talking to Mrs Dawson herself. She will not be there with you, neither will I nor Sniper or Lucy. Where we are or will be, is of no concern to you but you will hear our voices on the radio network calling in the artillery strikes. Do your best and all will be good, a lifetime of memories for you never to talk about. Once the job is done, the vehicles will extract to safety, you go with them, we won’t leave you behind.” I explained before praising. “What you are doing for us is crucial. We really need advanced warning and the ability to defend against low flying aircraft. Our enemy is not backwards, they have old equipment yes, but we are outgunned if all of them arrive at the same time. In many ways, we are the terrorists here, not the conventional forces and the artillery lads must be kept safe, without them, Mike Delta Three Eight and his team are dead.”

They agreed, it was a foregone conclusion that they would. Of course, we were not in many ways the terrorists, we were the terrorists in every which way you look at it, attacking a neighbouring country’s armed forces. I think, looking back, we were terrorists, from that viewpoint, for 80% of our careers, doing what needed to be done, this was nothing new, I felt confident.

“So, Phase II, the destruction of the Chinese Changhe Z-8 helicopters?” I asked of Angelique as we waved Sniper goodbye.

After breakfast and our briefing, the lads had split into two groups. As agreed, the first group established themselves on a small hill about 290 yards away, their radars set up to scan around us. The Thales Squire radar system is a man-portable medium-range ground surveillance radar that requires at most two men to operate anywhere. It looks like a 55-inch flat screen television standing on a tripod, the men simply picked it up and walked with it to the hill. With the vehicles later on, they would do the same, establish themselves on an advantage point, and scan undetected the area around them, it is magic. The Starstreak, as you may have gathered, not my favourite, is the same, portable. The missileers had them (there are three missiles stacked on top of each other) fitted to a pole, also acting as a tripod. On the left of the pole and missiles, you will find the guidance system, the SACLOS viewer to track the target by eye, something which, as Angelique said the night before takes tremendous training and practise to stay current on. When fired, the missile releases three darts (the submunitions), each having only 16 ounces of explosives but when travelling at Mach 4 a second, the fastest such missile in the world, the mass of energy when hitting is the same as a 40 mm high explosive canon shell. The explosion itself is delayed to penetrate first, making it more deadly. It can take out light armour as well as aircraft and worked in tests, a versatile weapon then but the problem remained that it was unable to explode close to the target since it has no proximity fuse, a miss will be a clear miss and a wasted shot, against a fast manoeuvring target blending into the background, that may very well happen. The missiles had a 7,665-yard range which is not bad but again, you have to hit the target squarely or it will not work and in the African bush you seldom see that far without a tree or something being in the way. Despite my misgivings they would be working closely to the radar lads and give us cover and we were grateful for that. Without them, we were blind. The rest had driven off with the Kwêvoël, to meet with the G6 self-propelled howitzer.

“It is logical that the Baboon will suspect the Chinese of doing him in, he is a man that has a large inferiority complex and our fake Chinese helicopter was definitely seen during the Code Name Halloween 38 attack, that is why I had the flares fired, to be seen and identified and intercepts clearly shows that the Chinese are being accused. I am, eh, trying to establish contact with the Duval Group to sabotage the Chinese helicopters as soon as possible, if not, we will do so. It must be done soon, to look like retaliation.”

The Duval Group consisted of Zimbabwean Army Intelligence officers, wanting help from Angelique to overthrow the Baboon or to be ready to intervene once he dies, the man at that stage was 86 years old and not showing any signs of going to hell. They contacted her and struck a deal where we would supply the ordnance (munitions, they had the weapons, just no ammunition) needed. There was always, to me, something fishy about Duval and his people. Angelique was never and still is not forthcoming on what was happening behind the scenes but in the end we waylaid tons of castoff South African ordnance (Code Name Phantom), stealing it in fact, and then delivering it by clandestine flights and almost getting shot down in the process (Code Name Mel’s Choice). It was the last ambush which made Angelique go on the offensive and counter ambush them for their own good (Code Name Halloween 38) and directly leading to what we were up to now.

“Duval, according to himself is a former Parachute Group (the old Rhodesian Special Air Service) officer, surely he can sabotage helicopters without you supervising? I told you before, you will not be there inside Zimbabwe and I meant it then and I mean it now. Make peace, you are known in that country and wanted. They will do almost anything to capture you, so it is a no go for you. You get?”

I stared at her hard, she was not listening to good advice. Dismissing my suggestion (it was an order from Foxtrot, not a suggestion, Angelique) with a wave of her hand, for once I did not duck, this was important. I would make a stand over this aspect no matter what happens later. You cannot hide Angelique in public, she has an exceptional body and startling green eyes, she would stand out and she was well known.

“Yeah, yeah, I will not be there myself, we have someone else there able to liaise with them if needs be. You worry too much.” Her head though, was tilted left (no it was not, it was the shadows of the trees, an illusion, you get? Angelique).

“Right, because I know you and I will keep an eye on you. Where are those Chines Changhe Z-8 helicopters based?” I asked suspiciously but not enough, deplorably (hello Hilarious).

“They are all around, being used by the Chinese engineers and embassy staff as well as military officers. As you know, they are building a massive new military air base at Marange, as we discovered during Code Name Mel’s Choice. But mostly, they are based at Gweru-Thornhill Air Base. The place where the MIGs are too, I know.”

Thornhill, as it is known, was one of two main air bases in Zimbabwe. Most of their workshops are there and the place sprawling for several square miles. As she said, their one and only MIG squadron was there as well as the Pilot Training School and a few ancient transport aircraft. As far as bases go, this one was important and close to the city of Gweru, called Gwelo until 1982, in the Midlands Province. It is a place where we lost nothing, last time we got close we almost got intercepted and shot down, flying the C-130 Hercules and dropping ordnance by LAPES – Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System (Code Name Mel’s Choice).

“I would have expected them to be based there; it is not too far from Mazowe in Mashonaland Central Province.”

I replied, ignoring her tilted head and matt green Ray-Ban sunglasses she placed on her nose to show me she was Mrs Dawson, the feared spymaster (the sun was up, Angelique). Those of you that read Code Name Mel’s Choice would know that Mazowe, a small rural village in Zimbabwe, is the one place in Africa where the Chinese Military don’t want you around. You won’t get close; the Baboon’s goons will make you disappear if you try so don’t. The Chinese Military have a massive cyber military facility there, disguised as the “Robert Mugabe School of Intelligence.” In fact, they are checking on and tracking all ships moving around in both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and what is thought provoking, so are the South Africans at Silvermine, next to Cape Town. You have to wonder then why the Chinese felt the need to ignore the already functioning BRICS Partner facilities. To this date, we don’t know but I can make a few educated guesses which has to do with vulnerability and the way the Chinese think about life.

“Thornhill Air Force Base is also where the July 1982 incident took place. Strange how history repeats, Foxtrot?” Angelique stated.

In July 1982, the Baboon woke up to explosions he did not expect, eight of his brand new British BAE Hawk trainer jets, they arrived less than two weeks before, were destroyed inside their hangers at Thornhill. There were also bombs planted in another eight Hawker Hunters (obsolete fighter jets) and a Cessna aircraft parked on the apron outside. These did not explode, sadly so, and were defused in time. The Baboon reacted instantly in his usual hard-line communist way. He had four senior (and all of them white, not by chance, I assure you) Zimbabwe Air Force officers arrested and duly tortured into confessing their “involvement” in the sabotage attack. One of the arrested officers was very senior indeed, Air Vice-Marshall Hugh Slatter, the Zimbabwe Air Force Deputy Commander. About a year later all of them were found innocent at their trial – the confessions being inadmissible and they were most certainly not involved to begin with. The Zimbabwean Courts were not yet cowed into the rubberstamps they are today. Of course, many speculated what really happened. Most fingers were pointed to South African Army Special Forces and in later years, the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) under Archbishop Desmond Tutu, stated flatly they had the names of the four Special Forces operators involved but wisely declined to name them (probably a very real fear of being sued, I am sure, there is no evidence, only rumours). The reality regarding the sabotage of the newly arrived Zimbabwean Air Force BAE Hawks is that no one claimed responsibility, ever, and if South African Army (or Police) Special Forces were involved, every one of those aircraft would have been destroyed, not only eight of them.

Ironically, all of the aircraft destroyed were directly replaced at British taxpayer cost, so it did not change the status quo one bit and could not anyway. Some authors, they are not overly bright, claimed that South Africa feared that the Zimbabwe Air Force would establish air superiority via their newly arrived BAE Hawks and hence the reason for the sabotage. It is absurd to even suggest such things and Zimbabwe at its peak was a zero of a contract in any conventional war situation against the local Super Power and still is. Eight BAE Hawks, light training jets and barely armed, cannot and will not and could not establish air superiority against the very much larger South African Air Force’s dozens and more Mirage III, F1 CZ and Mirage F1 AZ fighter jets and then later on the Cheetah C and D (which outfought the US McDonnell Douglas F-15 E and Belgium General Dynamics F-16s in later years – see Code Name Blue Tang). Whatever the reasons were for the sabotage, because it happened, it had nothing to do with air superiority and probably more to do with embarrassing the Baboon and in the end of the day, losing the white skills because of stupidity seriously reduced his effectiveness – he got played. Mugabe’s overreaction to have innocent men abused caused him more harm than anything else. The world noticed his tactics and cried out, for once. The skilled whites started leaving in droves and the country went into the decline which it is today, a failed state. Air Vice Marshal Walsh, the Zimbabwean Air Force Chief, loyally resigned in disgust, a Pakistani took over and they were never the same again.

“Yes, that attack took place at Thornhill and I wonder which white officers he will blame this time! The man is way further down the road in dictatorship than in 1982, he cannot even afford to stand down, he will be executed by his enemies. You know, the more I think about it, the more I am beginning to realise it may not be a bad idea to be prepared for his death. I mean, he has to die and enter hell at some stage, Duval and mates can then either take over or keep peace, I am beginning to appreciate your thinking here but why blame the Chinese, a fellow BRICS Partner?”

Of course, if you knew she was a DGSE agent, working for France, all along you would understand why, to break the trust between the partners. But we did not know, we were two years away from her being detained, illegally so, I may add (Code Name VFO565). Here she had another explanation, entirely logical and true in her way of thinking.

“They are there, the Chinese, to be blamed, a God sent opportunity, an Anika if you wish. Also, we don’t like the countries around us having alternatives, it is South Africa or it is no one. Further, we are tired of the Baboon insulting our President and his hit squads moving around in our country, if the police are too sleg (Afrikaans, in this instance, pathetic) to act, then I will. If the Baboon chases his last remaining major partner away by overreacting, well, he can then only turn to us for help at a price. Not everyone in the ruling party admires him, to some, not enough, he is an embarrassment and his attempted assassination against the elected South African President (see Code Name Butterfly) did not help his cause. You will recall, Foxtrot, that he had a strained relationship with Nelson Mandela, being jealous of Mandela’s status in the world, everything he himself never had. You know for yourself, wherever Mr Mandela went, he was welcomed and listened to and why not, he was a wonderful man and leader. Under Thabo Mbeki (the one that followed Mr Mandela at his retirement - he became renowned for denying that HIV+ and AIDS are related) the Baboon did very well, he paid for Mbeki’s studies during the struggle years and it was payback time. Then when Mbeki got removed by his own party, he never finished his term as President. The Zulu became President and he dislikes the Baboon at sight.”

Sadly, the South African Police Force which Geelslang and I served in for many years, became the hopeless South African Police Service (God knows whom they service, we don’t know) known to be corrupt and in general very inefficient after the changes on 1994. They are not as corrupt as the rest of Africa (excluding Botswana, the only local success story) but in relation to us, where a bribe offered meant certain arrest, they lost their way completely. Today they are seen as a joke and in 2014 the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein had the shameful task to order them to arrest wanted Zimbabwean intelligence officers (from their CIO), committing assassinations inside South Africa on dissidents. Since then they arrested no one which I know of or heard about, they just gave lip service and turned away, not bothered, typical and sadly so.

About Mr Mandela, everything you read and heard about the man is true, he was as magnificent as the legends made him and beloved by all. Yes, there were the few (they are less than 1%) right wing whiners with other ideas (see Code Name Bella Dawn on the right wing history in South Africa) but most South Africans, by far, really honoured the man. He played two major roles in our story. The first was that he appointed Angelique Dawson, a white woman, as head of counter terrorism, she activated us, the Egg Breakers soon after and went on the offensive as is her nature. Secondly, he asked the Army Chief of Staff, on his very first day in office: “Where are my Special Forces?” That question became legendary in our circles. At that stage, they were hidden in the Paratrooper Battalions, unsure how they would be received, having been so effective in combating him. Because of his personal interest and orders, they were restored as the Army Special Forces Brigade, and never dropped their standards and even upped them – whatever else went wrong with the Army and National Defence Force, Special Forces remained to what they were once and by 2016 a new generation of professional military men had taken over. The modern South African National Defence Force, because of their new equipment and access to the major BRICS Pact countries, is a lot more powerful than what we were during Apartheid (this statement is guaranteed to make right wingers fume, they are deplorable, Angelique). The Police, the other devastatingly effective unit against the new lot during their struggle years, suffered a lot more. The turd brigade interfered so much that the police became what it is today and it saddens me, a nation is entitled to trustworthy upright men and women in police uniform but this is not my circus and not my problem. I left with Angelique in 2012 and never looked back.

“Once we are done with the chasers, we, Geelslang and I, will be able to get into the place and sabotage those helicopters for you. But I say again, it is time that Duval comes to the party.” I remarked. “Why should we be doing his job for him?”

“We will see him later, tonight. I have a meeting set up, him, me and Lucy.” She answered, looking up from her satellite phone, obviously having received some confirmation. “If you wish to tag along you are welcome.”

“Where, pray tell us?” I encouraged when she got quiet.

“Not close to this place, we will fly south, a fair distance and meet him at Chipinge Airport. Eh, that is close to the town of Chipinge, once known as Chipinga in Manicaland Province.”

She explained and she had the decency to look away first and damn right too, that place is not in Mozambique where it is relatively safe, the town is about 29 miles inside Zimbabwe, depending where you cross the international border. I was not amused but put a good face on. Angelique cannot be played; she will call your bluff but she can be nudged to realise she is wrong.

“Okay. When do we leave? After dark I hope.” I remarked, shrugging, it had an immediate effect on her.

“What is wrong with you, Foxtrot? Chipinge is inside Zimbabwe and I know that you know that. Why are you not waving your arms around, shouting and becoming red in the face, refusing me to do my job? Do you have a fever, yes, perhaps that is it? Wait, I have my medical kit here, Lucy, get us a thermostat please, my elderly Major has a fever.”


I asked sorely tested a few minutes later, spitting out the thermostat she pushed down my throat (I tried his ear first, he started squirming like a mating snake, Angelique).

“No, your body temperature is normal. Now focus in this here flashlight, follow it with your eyes. Perhaps we should draw blood, test for malaria?” She tried to sound puzzled.

“There is nothing wrong with me and you just used your last toe crossing ever issued to you never mind for 2010. Yes, you lied to me, you said you will not enter Zimbabwe and you did or you will and so it is. Admit guilt, I know the truth!” I retorted.

“How the hell can I have lied if I told you I am going where I am going?” She snapped back. “I have not used my latest toe crossing yet! You are insane and it must be malaria or perhaps meningitis on the brain. Now sit still whilst I draw your blood and you better not pass out on me, I have a good record, a perfect one where you are concerned, you never pass out on me. And why are you giggling like a schoolgirl now?”

“When were I ever on you? To pass out on you?” I was laughing so much that I must have been heard a few hundred yards away if not more. “And I will not, I assure you, pass out when on top of you. Try me.”

A few short years ago, such a comment would have made her swing or reach for her Glock to shoot me, now she merely shook her head impatiently.

“Shut up, this is serious, see, I have your blood. This passing out because of needles close to you is just so much crap, Foxtrot. You are a tough man, a highly decorated former Special Forces officer, mind over matter, you get? If you don’t stop howling like a hyena in heat, and I shoot such animals at sight, I will jab your ass with a tetanus injection just to be sure. Wait, I have a blood tester in the Super Frelon, Lucy, shoot him if he moves, he is not all there. On top of me? You should be so lucky!”

Well, I do pass out from needles, what can I say. It is a weakness I don’t get myself, I don’t mind stitching wounds or assisting with surgical intervention or jabbing people with needles. However, if you come close to me with a needle I will pass out. I am sure it is Geelslang’s fault, he always waves the needle in front of your face, stating that an unconscious patient is a silent one he can work on in peace, well, he got plenty of silence from me during the years. And then came Angelique Dawson, first in Code Name Angel, in 2006 I think, much to everyone’s surprise, she took blood without me passing out. Mind, she cheated, she would count to three and then draw at one, being done before I had time to pass out. Lucy was not taking chances, I noted her sniper’s rifle was pointed straight at my head and so I leaned back against the tree and waited for Angelique to apologise and admit guilt whilst thinking hard at the same time (Foxtrot is still waiting, Angelique).

“Eh, you don’t have malaria either and your blood sugar is normal, yet you act like a demented monkey looking for his mate.”

She announced what we both knew would be the result, with all her garlic pills no self-respecting malaria bearing mosquito would ever get close to me. I was not the one needing a dose of common sense.

“If I was looking for a mate, it bloody well will not be male, I assure you, I am not gay. Now explain again why we are flying and landing, mind you, inside Zimbabwe? That bastard can walk out and meet us somewhere else. Dammit, he can drive out even, the place is hilly and beautiful, they plant coffee there you know and there are many side roads, dirt roads no one will keep track of. Any decent four-wheel drive, even in the late rainy season, will get through, even your stupid Jeep! Tell him to get his ass across the border.”

The place is indeed something else, not what you would expect in Africa, green, with 45 inches of rain every year. They have besides the huge coffee plantations, also macadamia nuts and dairy cattle. There are forests, pine and acacia trees by the tens of thousands against the mountains and then the Birchenough Bridge (a steel structure, very modern, bungee jumping for the insane) about 30 miles away, crossing the Sabi River. Chipinge Airport itself was at that stage a dirt strip, not that it matters when flying a helicopter. I felt that for us to see this fellow, I was now ready to shoot him dead at sight even if Angelique protests afterwards – I can always apologise – that he should come to us. Once again we were breaking our rules for Duval. The last time we did that, broke the rules, we flew into an ambush and got shot down. (Code Name Mel’s Choice – we were not shot down, we crashed afterwards, not the same thing, I landed the Dakota DC-3 harder than usual because of the damage sustained during the ambush, Angelique.) Yes, well, you read the book yourself and see who is right, anyway, breaking the rules, designed to keep you alive was becoming a nasty habit for Angelique. Looking back, I cannot help but wonder if she was getting negligent with her own security. Spies under deep cover, for years and she was going into her 26th year as a double agent, sometimes react oddly, they make mistakes and they become resigned. I blame myself for not seeing and understanding her sometimes erratic behaviour.

“My Jeep Wrangler defeated your Toyota Land Cruiser at our impromptu off-road competition. I rescued you two clowns after you rolled and surrendered, don’t you forget that since I will not. Anyway, I will see what I can arrange, it is dangerous, mind, to use the airwaves, we can then fly into another ambush, you don’t want that do you?”

She did win that day with the off-road competition; it is a sad story first mentioned in Code Name Foxtrot I think. I refuse to talk about and she never forgot as promised. Even now, decades later, I offered to buy her a new vehicle many times, she flatly refuses. The old Jeep is standing at the carpark, still being used now and then and still in mint condition. She often looks at it and at us, Geelslang and me, and giggles in a knowing way and that is enough for us to wonder what her car will look like if we blow it to pieces by accident. Regretfully, she said, and she meant every word, that she will then blow Geelslang’s pride and joy, his Mercedes Unimog immediately afterwards into many thousands of pieces, claiming justifiable revenge (Code Name Bella Dawn – actually, I said I will free drop his Mercedes S-Class from a great height without a parachute if not worse and I will, you two leave my Jeep alone, I won and so it is, history cannot be changed, Angelique).

“Since you cheated by adding the extra diff-locks and not telling us, as fair play demands, your win does not count. Good, he can get to us then, this Duval Bastard. And I am going with…. Eh, you do know if you per chance still land at Chipinge Airport, I will know? My GPS will tell me where we are besides my eyes and you will then really have no toe crossing left for 2010. What will it be?”

I almost added, “What will it be, Angelique!” afore I remembered I was not supposed to know her real name. I never felt more fed up with our spy games, I knew I loved her, I could see in her eyes and behaviour that she loved me and yet, here we were. Playing silly games and both of us in our naughty forties and not innocent about life, we had good and happy marriages before God intervened and took our respective souls home. No doubt I was spot on, she stared into heaven for help and finding none. God does not help with such shenanigans unless it is for the cause to do a terrorist or liberal in (same thing, mostly), and then came up with a typical Angelique answer.

“In that case, you are not coming with.” She answered with devastating logic to save her last toe crossing. “Yes, I was thinking, we can do this alone, Lucy and me, a girls’ team, you get?”

“I thought so. Well, I am coming with, who else must protect you against yourself? You only have me when all is said and done, the one that will always forgive you and take care of you. Hug?”

“Yes, hug, and no cheating. I know you think of that dreadful old liberal when you hug me so that you can calm down what should be natural when you see me, I don’t mind to feel what I see in your eyes all the time.” Luckily she displayed this wisdom in French, with Lucy around, that could have been uncomfortable.

I know what you are thinking, reading here. Angelique always wins and always gets her way around me, she plays me like her grand piano. Yes, why not, she is my soul and thinking about it, flying a few miles into Zimbabwe looking Chinese would not bother us and did not. What did get us almost murdered before our time, was the rain. That night it was as if God opened the heavens, He takes care of the liberals also, the water came pouring down and the closer we got to Chipinge the worse it became. At first we saw the thunder flashes as lightning lit the sky in front of us, eerily so since you could not actually hear the thunder, and the wind became remarkably cold, so much that I closed the side door and rear ramp and started shivering which in that part of the world is a serious indication of a malaria attack or a terrible hailstorm approaching.

We know the veldt and we know Africa and in all my years I have never seen such a storm, not even that weekend when the old Oceanos (a smallish passenger ship) sunk in stormy weather near East London, a small harbour city next to the Indian Ocean. The Greek crew ran away first, all of them, not one (really, not a single one) stayed behind to help their passengers. Civilians took over and the South African Air Force helicopters rescued the passengers with the help of navy divers. By a miracle not one died but it was a close run thing and the human disgrace calling himself the captain came extremely close to being arrested. The sea, Geelslang and I were close by for other reasons, Angelique also but we did not meet, was pitch black that day. I have never seen seawater like that before or since with white crests rolling over them. It looked damn evil and ominous. This was the same, the evening became black and the lightning started to display their awesome power. We had the advanced FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) up front, very advanced GPS navigation and our night vision goggles, Special Forces types with four tubes, not two as in standard infantry models and still Angelique did some pretty amazing flying to keep us from crashing. The rain, when it arrived, struck us like a waterfall, I suppose, the windscreens went completely white, hail stones were hammering away also, sounding exactly like bullets hitting us. Not that it mattered whether she could see outside or not, we were flying on instruments but we still had to land, the place had no ILS (Instrument Landing System) or even lights to guide us in, nothing. We were shaking violently in all directions and if I was a fanciful man, I would tell you we were upside down more than once, the three engines howling fiercely. The two of us at the back, one of Sniper’s lads and myself, were not strapped in and holding on for dear life, it was exciting. Angelique had all the navigational strobes on, flickering away in full strobe mode, to look innocent. When you see a darkened aircraft flying, you wonder why, it is natural, it makes no sense. If you see one with her strobes fully on, she must be innocent. She had that planned all right and a few other matters, starting right after our makeup hug.

“Now look, Foxtrot, no Chinese Super Frelon is armed, you get? Now remove the .50 Kord heavy machine guns for us and stop complaining, we won’t be needing them. If we look Chinese, we will be okay.”

“And what if?”

“No if, if is iffy and so will you be if you don’t stop complaining, remove them. I cannot look innocent without them betraying me. Lucy will be up front in the co-pilot seat, she looks Chinese. Well, she has grey eyes but from a distance, she is tiny and in proportion and so am I, slender, we look like Chinese pilots. I will have the navigational strobes flickering away and land with my white landing light blinding everyone, thus helping us. No one will care, why should they? Anyway, Duval is a serving officer, a high ranking one, his lads will be around that airstrip safeguarding us. If he wants to meet with some Chinese officials in the middle of the night, why not?”

I could think of many reasons why not and each of them indicate that I would feel so much better with the heavy machine guns close by.

“I will make you a deal, we store them with their ammunition next to their port holes. I don’t trust that Duval Bastard and am in a good mind to shoot him myself, then you have no contacts left in Zimbabwe and we go home!”

She did not take this logic from my side well. “By all what is holy, you do that and I will not speak to you for a year! Hmm, perhaps two years! This is mutiny, Foxtrot. I am shocked beyond belief. If you shoot Duval without good reason, even if by accident, I will ignore you. I need Duval to be alive.”

And so it went on until we settled on leaving two of the three heavy machine guns on board. They are wonderful weapons, firing the standard Russian 12.7 × 108 mm bullet at a relatively fast rate of between 650 – 750 rounds per minute, using linked belts (each coming in at 50 rounds, you link them to say 250 round, 1 in 7 rounds would be tracers, depending on what you do). The original M2 Browning came in at 450 – 600 rounds a minute using the smaller NATO .50 calibre, 12.7 × 99 mm, also an excellent weapon. At the end of the day, the Kord would be very accurate to distances of 2,187 yards and more, the Russian heavy machine gun is odd, it has a butt which other heavy machine guns don’t have. The Browning bullet is faster through the air because it is lighter but that is just so much so, whatever the two rounds, no matter which calibre, hit in terms of human flesh, it will destroy. The standard ball 0.50 bullet will smash right through standard B6 level armour and bricks. The Kord heavy machine gun also has a bipod, something I have never seen on other .50 heavy machine guns, ever. All other heavy machine guns, the .50 calibre US Browning M2 “Ma Deuce” is a good example, are not mounted on bipods like light machine guns (FN MAG, SAW 240, M60 etc.), they have much heavier frames on which they rest or are vehicle mounted. I felt much better with the two machine guns close by and available, they will be able to give good account of themselves if so required. Just to be sure I had one of Sniper’s lads with me, ordered to protect the chief pilot at all costs and he took that job seriously.

There is not much you can do in such a storm when in the cargo hold. You hang on for dear life and keep quiet, that was no time to bother Angelique, not that I could see her but I could hear her through the noise cancelling Bose earphones I had plugged in as crew chief. The Super Frelon has an odd bulkhead, there is a door like gap you can lean through in the middle, but the two pilots are hidden from view unless you are almost horizontal and straining your neck to look around the partition. All you can see clearly is their hands and legs. From the movement of those body parts, I could she was flying and correcting against the storm all the time (air pockets too, we would fall a hundred feet and then go up again, it was bad, Foxtrot prayed and Lucy kept quiet, Angelique).

“Foxtrot, the weather is too bad for my coffee but when on the return flight, I expect better service. We are twenty minutes out, I have the codes, they are correct and we are feet dry since ten seconds ago. Lucy is monitoring the threat scanners, they are clear, no Jaybird or anything else.”

The Super Frelon had the very latest threat scanners or ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) systems fitted to her, it would warn us if being scanned or if a missile is locked on. Thus far we were in the clear and I hoped it would stay so, Lucy would be monitoring them and the system would act automatically if threatened enough, dumping flares, chaff, jamming and warning the pilots.

“Roger that.” I replied shortly and went silent again.

We were committed. “Feet dry” meant we crossed into Zimbabwe, hostile airspace. It is an old Vietnam War US Navy adage, when they crossed into North Vietnam from the sea, they were “feet dry.” I knew we had no chance of rescue if something went wrong on our flights, we would be on the run and get out by ourselves, denied by the lot down south as terrorists and rogue criminals. Such is life in the shadows, it is not for everyone.

“[But, I’d trade all of my tomorrows, for a single yesterday
To be holdin’ Bobby’s body next to mine
Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose”
© Kris Kristofferson, from the song “Me and Bobby McGee”]

Chapter 5

Chipinge runway, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe, 18 March 2010

He is a good man, Kris Kristofferson, a former US Army captain, helicopter pilot and a Ranger School graduate, from a military family that took a very dim view on his later successful music and film career but such is life, a man must follow his dreams. Geelslang and myself are country music fans, we like his songs and I felt some kinship as we flew into Zimbabwe for the clandestine meeting, we had nothing to lose. Duval, on the other hand, had everything to lose and was taking far more risks.

Living inside a police state like Zimbabwe is not easy. Even members of parliament are attacked and detained by the police at random, they would be lucky only to be beaten severely, many disappeared. Not that I care that much if the turd brigade is beaten and murdered, they deserve such fates, I am sure, mostly for promising the world and delivering a small turd but it shows you how hard it can be. It is easy to say you get what you voted for and in the free world, that is very true, you do have the ability to vote for what is right, Brexit is but one example where all the so called “experts” got it wrong and then wondered why instead of seeing the ground based anger against the professional liars. In a police state, not so much and not so easy to bring change, the playing field is not level at all. There you are closely monitored and even an innocent enough private comment would be enough for you to become a target. Of course, such things are expected in the Third World and Zimbabwe was not a Third World by this time, the place imploded to a nightmare of epic proportions, the inflation was something like 70 billion (yes billion, not million) percent, they had an exchange rate of $500,000 Zimbabwe to $1 US and then everyone stopped counting, the currency collapsed completely and is still gone. And yet, this was a country that exported food and minerals until the Baboon arrived with his hard line communist ideas, she was prosperous once. You would know, if you read the GMJ Books, about the Matabele Genocide, long ignored by the liberals that created the dictator Robert the Baboon Mugabe. Whatever promises made and signed to safeguard the minority white seats in parliament etc. were broken in 1987. The Lancaster House Agreement lasted about 7 years which was 7 years more than what we predicted it would. The British Army (see Code Name Mel’s Choice and weep) could not run away fast enough and is still running which made me wonder what Sir John, the old goat, was up to. He was not here without good reason. Angelique was very ambiguous on his unwanted presence. She first said they (Sir John and his men) were there to rescue someone, then she said they were actually there to recover the lost biological warfare phials which made more sense and she dropped them in the middle of Lake Niassa (as Lake Malawi is known in Mozambique) and almost slaying us in the process, my life was shortened considerably, I am sure. (I landed on the water, the Super Frelon helicopter is amphibious and like a boat, designed to do so, conducting rescues, there we fished or rather Lucy did, Foxtrot screamed in terror, Angelique.) We refuse to discuss that incident now that we are happily married. She did not warn anyone she was landing in the water. Who the hell ever heard of a water landing with a large helicopter anyway? Sir John’s people abandoned the helicopter with the rescue dinghy in undue haste, leaving me behind, and muttering to themselves and they were all ex-Special Air Service, tough lads. If I had a fright they had it worse, we were really under the very logical assumption that we were crashing and deliberately so, they will testify on my behalf. Angelique has a wonderful sense of humour, to be sure, but it can be dangerous to those around her (Code Name Halloween 38).

Whatever they were up to, Sir John’s people, concerned me. The last thing you want is for two Special Forces Units to walk into each other, a blue on blue incident is virtually guaranteed and what you stir this side may very well bother them that side and vice versa. You need constant contact and coordination and yet, as far as I knew, we had none. Nevertheless, they were here and Angelique was as imprecise as always. I knew something was up though, such men and a bastard as senior as Sir John, the old goat, are deployed like us, only for special occasions, we don’t do the Mickey Mouse work, normal agents do. I furthermore doubted their abilities as much as I respect them in other theatres, here they cannot speak the local languages even if some of them looked African. My mate Christopher for instance, is (or was, he died in the coming Egg Breaker War – Code Name Phoenix) was West Indian. However, when an African sees another, he greets him in his native language. If the man cannot respond or he responds in Zulu (Geelslang’s people), red flags are raised. The Zulu because he is feared and distrusted, being warrior like and aggressive people when riled or not and to be carefully watched at all times. The non-responder because he stands out, he should be able to speak a local language and if he does not, what is he doing here? This is tribalism at its best and it will never change, make peace. There was no way Christopher and mates could operate clandestinely here, they had no such skills. I shrugged to myself, time will show us on how many toe crossings Angelique lost this time (I beg your pardon, I am the most honest spymaster you know and you say so in every book, and I care, so I misspeak for your own good at times, Angelique).

“We are ‘feet dry’ and ten minutes out!” I shouted to the lad next to me.

He knew it anyway, having the spare headset on and showed me the thumb up, picking up his rifle, an AK47 (new – ours were captured stock) with advanced night sights on it. Angelique had my Heckler & Koch MP7, a silenced weapon with her, claiming it without asking, smiling at me and so it was, I asked Sniper for another rifle. She refuses to admit that the MP7 is better than her beloved MP5, being an only child and “otherwise” at times. Because the Heckler & Koch MP7 was chambered to a much better and more powerful calibre, the 4.6 × 30 mm, a unique calibre, giving you the same ballistics as the 5.56 mm NATO or .223 calibre, you could shoot a bastard accurately at 200 yards, you cannot do so with the MP5 in 9 mm Parabellum calibre, they are limited to 100 yards (at the very most, most people will give up after 70 yards). Yet, old school lads like Geelslang (and lasses, Angelique) believed in the Heckler & Koch MP5. To them it does not matter that the MP7 has so much better killing power. Firstly, they do not miss what they aim at, and secondly, they “double tap” two bullets so fast it sounds like one shot to the uninitiated. They will kill anyone within range and that is the problem, range or a lack of range and so the endless arguments started. It is also pointless to shoot a terrorist or a liberal, same thing mostly, and he survives, you want him dead. First shot means first kill (same with the “double tap”). Smaller calibres like the 9 mm Parabellum, in my view, does not hack it anymore, especially not if you feel bound by Geneva Convention rules and use standard military ball ammunition, it is rubbish to shoot a determined man with. Yet, at very close range, less than 50 feet, the 9 mm Parabellum, being utterly without recoil, will do the job but you really need to be sure that is all which will be required from you. We had endless discussions on this and the two not about to change their views. Angelique does not miss whatever she is shooting at or with whatever she is shooting with. In my life with her I saw her using a powerful crossbow, many types of sniper rifles, her Glock 19 Generation 4. You name it and she can use it very effectively indeed, often leaving us astonished. I rate her with Geelslang, the best sniper I know and I knew many. A reasonably good Special Forces sniper like myself will hit the target at any distance the rifle is capable of and bring it down with the first shot, they will also do so but ask mockingly which eye to shoot into and far beyond the recommended distance, time after time. They do so at any state of tiredness, cold, wet, dry, warm, wind, whatever, it makes no difference to them. And I say so in all GMJ Books, I know, but I don’t get her shooting technique… which I studied for decades and I know weapons, I served in Police and Army Special Forces for more than a decade and since then in our world. She does not aim or not for long anyway which is bewildering. Like Geelslang, she simply lifts whatever she is using and fires after a fraction of a second and she hits what she wanted to hit. In addition, she reads the wind somehow, it is impossible in theory but the best snipers do so all the time. Reading the wind, not Kentucky guesswork, is an art and a dark one at that, it cannot be taught. Believe you me, you can spot the difference between the best snipers and the rest like me easily, they stand out because they make it look simple, it can be annoying. Lucy had her DSR-1 sniper rifle with her and all of us our Glocks except Sniper’s lad, he had a Russian made MP-443 Grach as did all of them. Since we are all about killing humans, although some are not really human to be honest, the liberals that is, we only use whatever bullets will kill the best, decent hollow points that will not jam but cause the most terrible damage. The heavy machine guns were not mounted, I would say we were at a terrible disadvantage, a helicopter is vulnerable when on the ground landing. This made me less than happy, Angelique’s life was and is my responsibility but what can you do.

“Why don’t you fly past and scan for people!” I suggested.

From long experience, I knew you cannot order Angelique to do anything. She lifts her eyebrow at the order, lowers her chin and stand waiting like a spoiled child, about to explode in a flurry of blows and kicks if you push your luck further to make her do something. But if you are logical (she is like a super computer when not “otherwise”) and polite, reasoning with her, she may listen and change her mind (which is not an admission of being wrong, Angelique). Many would tell you she listens to me, that is true up to a point but listening is not the same as barking orders at her, I am not stupid nor suicidal. She listens and then decides if I am less wrong than her.

“Roger that.” She said and we kept flying, suddenly turning sharply to the left which was her side, hanging on one wing if we had wings and kept turning in a circle. “Yes, they are here alright, facing away from us, eight men including Duval, the runway is safe. Amazing, this FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) imagers, I am landing. Foxtrot, hang out and guide us in, will you?”

We flared and I opened the side door, poking my head out into the rain, the strobes were flashing merrily from the airframe, the green strobe just behind me. There would be one on the tail, a red strobe you can see clearly if facing the helicopter, another red strobe on the left side (where the chief pilot is) and a bright white one on top of the engines, also shining forward. The landing light, a very bright white (you can see it, not infrared) spotlight came on from just in front of the double front wheel underneath the pilots’ feet. It is a difficult enough task to land a helicopter and brownouts (where the rotors raise dust and blind the pilots), brownouts cost the US led Coalition Forces 400 plus aircraft since 2001 (see Code Name Halloween 38 where we discuss this phenomena). It was my task as crew chief to guide her down. The white light was not helping, it was reflecting back from the rain drops, the same as your car’s light would do when on bright, and the rotors were creating a small tornado of muddy water which would later have unforeseen consequences. I knew Angelique would not be landing visually, she would be sweeping her instruments with practised glances and listen to my voice.

“Okay, we are at about 150 feet, no obstacles, no wires, no water except the rain puddles. The bastard Duval is standing to your right, 270 degrees, do you have him visual?”

The man was indeed standing there, alone, and not making any move, his hands to his sides. He was as wet as man can be, wearing a poncho and wide brimmed hat in his left hand, now being blown sideways by the small hurricane created by the spinning blades. His teeth showing brightly as he grinned at us, an immensely likeable man, broad shouldered and tall.

“Yes, I have him visual and identified.”

“Make that your marker, confirm?”

“Duval is my marker, confirmed!”

The nose swung slightly to line up with the man, he better not move away. Now we could speak from the same reference point. This is damn important or you may drift into a tree or something, not that there were any around. I checked and I will call off a landing if needs be. I have no fear of command and never did, even at a young age, it comes naturally to me.

“Then come down and land, easy does it, you are clear, clear, ground is level, mud and more mud. Forty feet…” I counted us down until the wheels touched the ground and we were safe on the ground. “Okay, now you wait, I will speak to Duval first.” I unplugged my helmet, jumped out and walked over to the man to shake hands.

“Morning (it was just past midnight), you bastard. We almost got killed dropping your ordnance last week. This better be good or you will not leave here alive! Eh, this conversation is private, you get? Now follow me and get done talking, we are leaving in five minutes and we are never again meeting inside your country. This is breaking every rule we shook hands on, you can be glad Geelslang is not here, he does not like you. The other lad is neutral, being a Tswana.”

Well, I doubted secretly if we would leave that quickly. Angelique was switching off the engines, one by one, for some reason as well as the lights. She should not be doing that, helicopters are notorious for not starting again, they are horribly unreliable things. Geelslang, because of his wife and what we saw in Matabeleland, hates Shonas and Duval was a Shona. If this does not make sense to you, welcome to Africa. The Setswana is not as bothered and declared themselves neutral in that particular fight. If the lad was a Zulu, I would have asked him straight to behave. Zulus are fighters by nature, it does not take much but the Setswana are more laid back people, they can fight hard, but need a good reason, Zulus don’t, they don’t like your face, they swing and will keep on swinging until you kill them.

“Morning to you also Major Foxtrot, always good to see you. I had nothing to do with your ambush the other day, perhaps you should ask Sir John, the old goat, as you call him, what happened there. The leaks came from him, his people, not me. I warned your wife most seriously not to attempt that run. They informed the Baboon, as you call our esteemed leader, through Whitehall. Six was behind that ambush.

His words made my blood run cold in fury. I knew he was not lying, Duval was a good and entirely honourable man, even if a Shona Bastard as Geelslang referred to him in his face (Code Name Phantom). He would not lie and he was not lying which means someone else was losing yet another toe crossing she did not have. I know men, I commanded many like him for more than two decades in combat and there is a certain amount of honour between operatives. Of course, there could be a logical explanation, Angelique wanted to be found, she could have leaked the information herself via Sir John and forgot to tell me. With her, and her twisted world, you just don’t know. I was in for another surprise though, a really nasty one.

“I will most certainly do so, thank you. Now let us get done and leave.” I replied, keeping my voice steady.

“Yes, I have my men standing by and the target under close observation.” He answered, speaking perfect Pommy Hooligan (Standard BBC to you). “Entebbe Raid, eh?”

His comment made me stop in my tracks, looking at him abruptly to explain further. In the world of hostage rescue one word stands out, “Entebbe” and it refers to a rescue operation at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on 4 July 1976. An Air France plane with 248 passengers was hijacked by two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLO) and two members of the West German Revolutionary Cells, one which was an attractive woman called Brigitte Kuhlmann. As always with such things they wanted Palestinian and pro-Palestinian militants imprisoned in Israel (and other countries) freed and they disliked Jews a lot more than what is usual even for them. As always the so called leaders, Yasser Arafat, denied any knowledge of the attack and piously washed his hands, offering to negotiate. The terrorists told him to piss off in no uncertain terms and so did the Israelis, I am sure.

The Airbus A300B was captured after taking off from Athens (where the hijackers boarded) and flown first to Benghazi (Libya) and then Entebbe, the main airport of Uganda. The unique problem for the Israeli rescuers was to get to the aircraft to storm it. They had no refuelling in the air in those days and Uganda, a small African country under one fat bastard called Idi Amin, not sociable towards the Jewish State. The Israelis could not even land in Uganda legally and would be met with force as if they were invaders (technically they would be, if uninvited and such action an act of war). So they had two problems, getting there, and operating in a hostile country and then of course, the actual attempt to release the hostages. It was a mess and further complicated by Amin. The overweight dictator, acting as head of state, personally welcomed the hijackers and extended them some protection via the not so mighty Ugandan Army. I say “some protection” because the Ugandan Army, then and now, was a zero on a contract as a fighting force unlike what happened later with the South African Muslim Truce first exposed in the GMJ Books. If the South Africans were protecting the terrorists and the hostages, the Israelis would never have got in or left alive so this scenario was unique and not likely to repeat again. You cannot compare Uganda to the local Super Power, South Africa. It is like the island of Grenada versus the USA and luckily, the Israelis knew this and acted accordingly. They planned a commando raid, one of the most spectacular of all time.

The hostages were divided into two groups, Jewish and non-Jewish. The 148 non-Israeli hostages were released and flown out to Paris by another aircraft. The rest remained, 94 of them, under guard in the old disused airport building which still exists and still covered with bullet holes. There, Idi Amin visited them every day (publicity and playing the mug he was). By doing so he gave the Sayaret Matkal an idea which became legendary worldwide and movies would be made of it. They were going to use a maskirovka to get close and Idi Amin, unwittingly, was the maskirovka. Several Israeli Air Force transport planes flew in and landed without permission and at night without any lights (an amazing piece of flying for those years). The rear cargo doors (they used the same C-130 model we wanted to storm) was already opened and out of one came two Land Rovers and one Mercedes sedan vehicle, exactly the same model which Amin used on his visits and painted the same for good measure. The idea was to gain time, to get close and at the same time Israeli paratroopers and other Special Forces formed a protective ring against counter attacks from the Ugandan Army. The attack lasted 90 minutes, 102 hostages were rescued (including the Air France crew who refused to leave the hostages when offered the chance to do so). Sadly, one old Jewess was left behind, she was in a local hospital where she was taken to when feeling ill. There she was shot dead in her bed by Amin’s thugs. It took years to recover her remains and Amin was never punished, dictators seldom are. They stay part of the turd brigade when all is said and done, protected.

All the hijackers, three hostages and 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed by the Sayaret Matkal. Beyond this, thirty Soviet-built MIG-17s and MIG-21s of Uganda’s Air Force were destroyed on the ground and this was crucial. The Israelis were without fighter protection (no refuelling, they staged out from nearby Kenya and of course, they had no aircraft carriers). Hence the MIGs could have taken off and shot the transports down, this was good anticipation in planning and vital indeed. The jet fighters simply had to be destroyed and they were. Allied losses, sadly, were five Israeli soldiers wounded and one, the unit commander, Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu, killed. His younger brother, also a Sayaret Matkal member but not on this raid, would become the Israeli Prime Minister in later years. The operation, officially called Thunderbolt, is sometimes called after the slain commander or simply “Entebbe.” What also became the standard in rescues from thereon, was the “Entebbe Style” whereby the rescuers roar in whatever language known by most hostages (here it was Hebrew) to stay down. Those who did not stay down, including a young French Jew who did not comprehend, were shot dead. The roaring to stay down would be used by all Special Forces worldwide. Therefore, depending on whose aircraft you are on, you may hear Russian, French, American, Pommy or even Afrikaans being shouted as the lads come in via the doors. The best bet is to stay down at all times and follow orders if you wish to survive. Do not interfere with the assaulters, they will kill you.

“Duval, what the hell are you talking about?” I asked pretty sharp. “What Entebbe Raid? We are here to consult with you and then we leave again, not conduct rescue raids. Good Lord, there are only four of us here.”

“She did not tell you? Eh, this is embarrassing, old chap. I am not sure I should then tell you, this is your command lines being screwed up, not mine, I am sorry. Ask her yourself, Foxtrot. I am not getting involved between you two, she does not love me and may react violently. I am not protected against her wrath as you are but get done, time is of the essence here, very much so. We have to leave and soon.”

“That being entirely so! You stay right here and if you or any of your men come closer to the helicopter without my invitation, we will shoot you.” I snarled back, unamused, and ran towards the side of the cockpit where Angelique opened the side window at my insistent knocking. I wasted no time, staring at her before asking with great tolerance. “Entebbe, Mrs Dawson?”

“Entebbe, ah yes, a Sayaret Matkal Special Forces Raid, in 1976? In Uganda.” She answered after a pause.

“You are so comical, yet I am not laughing nor smiling. Start her up, we are leaving, straight back to Mozambique. You just pronounced your own Waterloo, yes, this nonsense and barefaced dishonesty to me stops right here right now. Scratch your very last toe crossing also, no, I am taking mine back, the one I gave you yesterday. Entebbe se gat (Afrikaans, my ass, no way).”

“Do you not know what is done to captives in this country, Foxtrot? Will you rescue me one day? If I am captive here or anywhere else? Breaking all the rules for me?” She asked reasonably, making no move to start the engines, knowing none of us knew how to do so. I had that figured too.

“Such an unfair question but to humour, me, I will ask again, ‘Entebbe?’ and this time I mean Mashonaland, Zimbabwe, 2010, not Uganda, 1976. If needs be I will carry you back across the border and safety and blow this helicopter myself.”

I don’t make idle threats but it would have been not as easy to drag Angelique for miles in a direction she did not want to go. She would have fought back hard and Lucy almost certainly taking her side. On the other hand, if I sabotaged the helicopter she would have had no choice and I know how to do such things. I knew Sniper’s lad would have followed my lead.

“They seized one of my agents, the one you know as Blondie. She was working liaison between Duval and Sir John’s people. And we will rescue her, we will fly to the farm where they have her, land, storm the building. Duval’s people will help and we fly her out to safety with her rescue team. They cannot walk out and in this rain and mud, driving in would be impossible, some low water bridges are destroyed with the flooding rivers. I was close by, as luck would have it (here she looked very guilty indeed) and I have air transport available and here we are. Hug?”

We first met the woman, Blondie (she also answers to Christen) and she has the bluest of eyes you can imagine, during Code Name Wrangler when she was one of the hijackers, working for Angelique and playing along for the cause. Her presence triggered immense problems for us, we had to rescue her and kill the rest in an elaborate mission disguised to keep her cover intact. The last I saw of her was when she disappeared with Mike Delta Three Eight escorting her to a waiting submarine (Code Name Casselberry) and I knew she had a connection to Sir John, the old goat, she was his daughter. I also recalled now, too late, that Angelique stated offhandedly to me when the bastard first arrived, that he “needed her (Angelique) more than ever before…” or something like that. I grasped why Sir John was there, why else would a senior spymaster be around, not for the recovery of the biological warfare phials, any lower ranking officer can do so. Such things are not worthy of his attentions, not personally. This was a well-planned setup if ever.

“No hugs, I am too upset with your shenanigans. I know what is done to such agents, especially female ones, and Blondie is not unattractive, men will notice her when she walks past, with lust. So that is why Sir John is here… tell me, where is Christopher? And you better tell me the truth and why them. We can have another Special Forces platoon here inside the day and do so ourselves, we don’t need Six.”

“They are with Duval’s people, waiting not far away. As soon as they arrive, we will leave and conduct the rescue. I don’t have time to get another platoon here, I already have used all assets known to man. She is family, Foxtrot, of course Sir John would want to be involved. I can use this against him later on.”

She did not even look repentant anymore, there comes a time when you have to own up and this was it, where you are past such emotions (I did what was necessary, I am proud of my actions, Angelique).

“So this is Phase III of Code Name Anika? The one you forgot according to yourself?” I asked incredulously.

“Eh, yes, and Phase II, the destruction of the Chinese Changhe Z-8 helicopters. I mean, we are here now, and can just as well do a good job.” She shrugged.

“And where, pray tell me the truth for once, would those helicopters be. We are now in Chipinge, Thornhill Air Base is 248 miles north of us and then we need to get out of Zimbabwe again, are you insane?”

“As luck would have it, there are two standing at Mutare, that is only 116 miles to our north. Easy as pie, we land next to them, I plant the demolition charges next to their fuel tanks, the prepared charges are in my flight kitbag and we leave, boom!”

Mutare is the fourth largest city inside Zimbabwe, right on the Mozambican border and once known as Umtali. Like the new lot down south, every vestige of colonialism and whatever made the white man happy, had to be changed immediately to be “culturally correct” whatever that means. The wasted costs and loss of history which go with such name changes are not important, they don’t pay for it, the taxpayer does so. Frankly, we expected nothing else and laughed it off cynically, you cannot erase memories and memories can be captured into books and images. Mutare is the capital of Manicaland Province, sprawling over quite an area like such places tend to do, the surrounding area rather beautiful, encircled by misty mountains and the place enjoys mild weather, the average temperature is about 66 degrees’ Fahrenheit year around, that is cold for Africa, jersey time for most.

“You will not plant those demolition charges, I will but not you, never. The only pilot we have, cannot be risked to be hurt or shot. That is stupid from any way you can look at it. Stupid is as stupid does, mind you. I cannot believe this… our short meeting becomes a captured agent rescue and then a sabotage one on the way out, just like that. Did your father not tell you that Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance?”

I even forgot I did not know her father was my commanding officer and our history together and somehow, I did not care anymore if she knew I knew. This was too much even for me, willing to forgive and forget anything in advance as far as she is concerned (Geelslang’s opinion, he is right).

“Yep, just like that and it is properly planned, I even have the demolition charges ready. Look, I have to stretch my legs, it is hard to fly a helicopter of this size (it is not, she admitted that a few days earlier) and as I stretch my legs, Foxtrot, I can just as well place the charges, you get? No? I will trade you that right for a toe crossing? I blew everything in life including a train (don’t ask, I don’t know), a large ship (Code Name Green 41), a small ski-boat (Code Name Missa 72) but never a helicopter.”

“Like hell you will! That is your penalty for lying to me, you will not be the demolition expert and so it is. Ha, no stories for your grandchildren on blowing up helicopters, none.” I nodded to get my point over. “And no hug either, eh, until daylight anyway when I have calmed downed and forgiven you.”

“You mean our grandchildren, I am sure.” She answered coldly, the spymaster again and past the stage of being repentant. “Now get Duval here and load Christopher when they arrive, we will discuss this later. Mind, you are rather funny when you are angry and I am waiting, it is after midnight, a new day. Get!”

It is the shortest sentence in the English speaking world, “get” and I walked away muttering to myself but in good spirits on my just reprisal plan. She will forever have to live with me telling her what she missed out on in destroying the two helicopters and I knew exactly how to do so and so did Angelique, to be honest. She is really good with explosives; it is not wrong to call her an artist; she also believes that C-4 or Semtex (the Warsaw Pact C-4) solves every known problem in world. When Lise and Odette were younger, less than 9 years old each anyway, she would often be found with them on our bomb range, blowing the old Bedford and other stuff to pieces. Colonel Annaud shook his head before joining in (they had a wonderful childhood, they say so too, Angelique). What she had prepared in her kitbag was a modern version of the so called “Lewes Bomb.” I was quite happy, even in our world it is seldom that we get to destroy helicopters like that, I was grabbing this chance with both hands.

Back in World War Two, the original Special Air Service (L-Detachment) had to scratch around for specialist explosives, the concept of moving highly mobile small groups of uniformed soldiers, not spies or secret agents, behind enemy lines to destroy aircraft and other dumps, was being tested. They had very little specialist equipment and had to make do or invent something which worked, the Lewes bomb was such an invention, a blast-incendiary field expedient explosive device as it got called. First used by Lieutenant Jock Lewes, the device consisted of mixing diesel oil and Nobel 808 plastic explosives with some thermite and I mean mixed, like putty, all together. The idea was to set it off inside aircraft cockpits, exploding and burning away. Another idea was to keep it lightweight so it could be carried in enough quantity to destroy dozens of found aircraft, and so in its original form, it weighed about 1 pound each. They used whatever containers they could find, from plastic bags, to old metal bowls, it made no difference really, when they blew, it was the end of that aircraft. Life has moved on since then, we now settled on modern C-4 or Semtex, the Warsaw Pact C-4, mixed with thermate and proper fuses (the weakest point of such explosives during World War Two, fuse failures saved Hitler’s life more than once). You simply set the explosives at the correct place (an art in itself) and press the detonator firmly into your package, set the timer or light the fuse, here was no need for pressure fuses or anything odd but anti-tampering devices are standard. Through the years and experience, you learn to use back up devices, absolutely, I knew what to do and nodded approvingly at her charges as she suddenly appeared in the cargo hold, having climbed over the middle console and out through the door space, staying dry, it was still pouring down. I had waved at Duval on my way back to the door on the other side, he was gathering his men.

“Foxtrot, I am not asking you again to hug me! Do so and open the rear ramp so that the lads can get out of the rain. If I told you the full truth, you would have waved your gorilla like arms melodramatically and I would have left you behind, and then you would have had reason to be mad. I am Mrs Dawson, I do things my way and so it will always be. Hug?”

You cannot stay mad with your soul for long, God knows, it is not possible, not when she had removed her flight helmet and was smiling at you, her green eyes twinkling. I was soon thinking of old Hilarious and getting heartburn. The lads arrived and soon after, Christopher also. The men from Six drove up in two old Land Rovers (also known in Africa as the British Revenge for losing their Empire), leaking oil something terrible and belching smoke.

I stood waiting, greeting and shaking hands. “Christopher, next time you tell me what she is up to or I will TWEP (terminate with extreme prejudice, i.e. assassination, an MI6 term) you myself at dawn. So tell me, what is your rescue plan?”

“Oi, hello Foxtrot, she asked me not to and I am not stupid, she is dangerous and she may react, she does not think of me as a ‘pet.’ Good morning, Madame, thank you for fetching us. Colonel Duval, morning to you also, Sah, we need you to get us inside the place, we not being as African as you.”

He meant nothing racist about his comment. Many people don’t get that you can even call a man a “bastard” and mean it respectfully. Such people, it is deplorable (hello Hilarious), see racism in everything. The other day I read that even calling a bona fide cupcake, the “President’s Cupcake” is now seen as racist, really? It must have been made of chocolate then. We need to lighten up, folks, really. Only liberals cannot take a joke nor laugh at themselves (they will never stop laughing, if they ever start, they are a joke, Angelique).

“Yes, we speak the languages also, Christopher. We will buy time for you to get in close and personal and conduct the rescue. What I suggest is this. We know they have your agent at a nearby farm and we can get there within a few minutes of flight time. Don’t worry Foxtrot, in this weather, it is God sent, they could not have heard or seen you come in, the place is 30 miles away to our south. My people are observing them, that is how we saw Blondie being dragged in after they captured her. I have the latest pictures of the place here, see there is no real security. The fence is dilapidated and broken years ago, they have a gate guard at this point….” He started explaining, leaving me in no doubt that he really was a Special Forces officer once and a damn good one. “Rules of engagement, war scenario, gentlemen. You are authorised to kill anyone and everyone on that premises except Blondie. You know what she looks like? Yes? Here is a recent picture of her, study it carefully anyway, we don’t want her dead.”

There is actually a colossal and an important difference between rescues of hostages being kept by criminals and war scenarios. With criminals you are sort of, it depends on the situation, forced to try and arrest them if at all possible. The wankers known as lawyers, they are deplorable people, stupid too, will accuse you of murder if not careful. There are always negotiations in the background and only then as a last resort or in immediate action (where the hostages are being murdered), will Special Forces go in. Once they go in, your chances of surviving are extremely small if you are the hijacker. We will do our best to kill you. In a war scenario, there is no negotiation beforehand, you arrive and do what is necessary (see the Jessica Lynch rescue, 2003 – discussed in Code Name Green 41 as an example of mainstream media fabrications, it is deplorable, Angelique).

“Once we open the doors, we will simply knock and identify ourselves, you take over, Christopher. That is what was agreed with Sir John and because of that, we cannot afford to leave anyone alive.” He sounded regretful, a man that had a job to do.

“That would be good, Colonel Duval. We don’t aim to wound and you can execute whomever you please afterwards. If you so prefer, we will do the honours and you can check for yourself, I understand and respect your position. For myself and my lads, we will form into two four man teams and clear the house with stun grenades and teargas. I have command of that part and we will let you know when you can approach to police the area.”

Christopher explained himself as follows when we first met during Code Name Cadillac: “I am a signals expert and he is a medic. We were eight years with the Regiment in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and other places. We are also snipers.” A former warrant officer, he joined Six and became something of an operational expert, doing jobs unofficially since they don’t have an executive arm like the Egg Breakers or the Virginians’ Special Activities Division (highly rated by us). When not otherwise engaged, he guarded Sir John and would later report to my mate, Special Boat Squadron Major (Retired) Graeme Something. Truth to be told, the Royal Marine Special Boat Squadron is rated higher than the better known Special Air Service Regiment in our world. Certainly their selection is tougher than any other Western Special Forces Unit including that of the SEALs and way above the Green Berets, more at our level. Nor does every second member write a “I-was-there” book afterwards. That alone is a very big deal to us. Publicity can kill you silently.

“That is settled, you go in and do what you need to do and I will move back at the same time. We can sort out the policing afterwards.” Duval agreed. “It reminds me of my youth (he is as old as me) when the stun grenades made the difference between life and death.”

When a stun grenade explodes next to you, we all played hostages many times, your body is indeed stunned. For a few seconds your ability to see is shattered by the two bright flashes and your ears are ringing a lot longer than that. You also feel the shockwaves going right through you and that can cause loss of intestinal control and nausea in liberals, all designed to distract you as this is happening at the same time from all entrance points, really you don’t even have time to say “I surrender” before the knights come storming in. The chances of you surviving if a hijacker are miniscule during such rescues. The black clad (the entire outfit is designed to shock & awe) knights are fully intent on killing you and it is most probably the last thing your mind will register before their bullets end your miserable life. The fact that you are female and pretty is not going to help you, we aim for your head to defeat body armour and to kill you as quickly as is humanly possible to do so. Some such hijackers end up being shot a dozen times as the following lads make sure that they won’t get up and attack you from behind as the Philistines did to the Israelites. There are always different entry points except in extraordinary circumstances. You really need to trust each other as a crossfire in such a confined space has extremely high risks of blue on blue incidents, that too happens but not often. You fire at targets only, not wildly and you hit what you fire at using the double tap method and nothing else, really, we piss on anything else.

“Okay, what about the gate guard?” I asked. Such places always have a gate guard sitting around.

“I will shoot him, eh, from a distance, with the Heckler & Koch MP7, it is silenced.” Angelique offered.

“No, Madame, you stay at the helicopter. We cannot and will not risk you. I will go with and do so, I am part of the sniper section.” Sniper’s lad said immediately, earning himself a glare from her which he ignored and a look of deep satisfaction from me. “Shooting gate guards from a distance is what I do. Mr Christopher (a warrant officer can be called “Mister” as a sign of respect) only had enough men to form two teams. I can help.”

“I can cover you with my sniper’s rifle or he can switch with me? A female may look even less dangerous. What if Colonel Duval arrested me and is bringing me for interrogation?” Lucy had joined us from the front.

“Now that makes even better sense, good, we should use all our assets. Lucy, you can come with as my prisoner and your sniper can cover us with that fancy rifle of yours, what is it, a DSR-1? I have never even seen one in my life, you people have such Gucci equipment. Right, this aspect slightly changes matters and the rain, of course. We cannot get to that farm from here with vehicles, the rain caused floods, this river is coming down…” he pointed at his map “usually it is a small stream, rather delightful, but now it is impossible to cross with a vehicle. The Super Frelon can swing load the Land Rover for us and drop us here on the other side. It is four miles away from the house, we drive in and shoot the gate guard dead. I cannot be seen walking in, God knows, this country is ruined but I am a senior officer, it is expected that I will drive in with one of my men. Lucy can sit in the back, the prisoner and perhaps shoot the gate guard for us. My men will get rid of your vehicles, the ones you arrived with here. We park and knock on the door, dragging Lucy with, the door opens and sniper here shoots him or her, whatever opens that door, dead. Yes, right past my head, I will give you enough room, you don’t need more than a foot? Then Christopher, you lads take over. You will be standing at the ready to penetrate the house and once you do so, I will wait outside with Lucy. You do what needs to be done after you contact me to come in. Any problems? Chinese Parliament?”

In later years, when you get older and have a cold beer and remember your past, Geelslang made the observation that training is indeed a substitute for race, it has no colour nor nationality. What he meant was we were from four different units, myself and the sniper lad from South African Special Forces, Angelique and Lucy from the South African Secret Service, Christopher and lads from the British (there are others also) Special Air Service Regiment and Duval and his lads all formerly the Parachute Group, once the Rhodesian Special Air Service (he would not have been there then, it was an all-white unit, more probably the Selous Scouts as was his mentor, General Mark Sithole – see Code Name Missa 72 & Code Name Cadillac, Angelique). Of course, Angelique could be said to represent French Army Special Forces but we did not know that and Lucy, well, Lucy is special in her own right. And it came together, just as I described it, a quick meeting, a working plan, and then execution and that is training combined with experience. Geelslang was, of course, with Mike Delta Three Eight about 200 miles south of us, moving silently to meet with Terminator and wondering what was up. He made his comment after we told him what took place and he was right.

“I assure you, Colonel, I need less than one inch of clear space with that rifle of Lucy, I tested it last week (that made me stare suspiciously at Angelique, she ignored me). I can be on this kopje (Dutch, hill), it is only 1,789 yards away and shoot the bastard opening the door. Who will spot for me, not that I need a spotter, I have a weapon free order when that door opens and will take it. The rifle is in .338 Lapua calibre, Sah, easily within range.” He explained flatly, not speculating, he could make such shots day after day. “But the bullet may take a second to reach you, mind.”

“Since Major Foxtrot will never leave his wife and she will not leave the helicopter and neither myself nor Christopher has men to spare, you are on you own. No spotter, lad, I am sorry. But I would like to have comms with you, Foxtrot? We will speak only English, it is our common language, is that agreed and clear to all?”

I handed my earpiece and squad radio over, he had that right, Angelique was not leaving the helicopter and I was not leaving her. Even if that meant missing out on the fun, it is fun to storm a house, shooting all the way, so be it. The rest agreed, they will speak English.

“It is agreed then, let us hook the Land Rover then and get going. My men know the house by heart, we practised this and we did this for real in many parts of the world, Blondie will be safe with us. You have her medical records though? You never know, what is her blood type and what allergies does she have?” Christopher asked of Angelique.

She gave him the answers and that is extremely important too as was her known weight. If you are subjected to anaesthetics and you don’t know what you weigh, you may overdose and die. Especially soldiers are fit people, in good shape, they have no extra weight or should not have and thus are more susceptible to overdose than a fat liberal. If she is hit or otherwise hurt, the closest Special Forces medic will work on her, keeping her alive until the doctors get involved. Many times the doctors, if Special Forces qualified, go with as doctors, not as operators but they are armed, obviously. I would also say and I mean it, that with trauma wounds your average South African Army Special Forces medic (they are known as Ops Medics) is a better choice than a junior European or US trained doctor that has never experienced trauma before. These people are simply brilliant at such things, highly experienced.

It was still raining and I was in one hell of a hurry now. We needed to rescue Blondie and then blow the Chinese helicopters on the way home. It was a lot of work for one night and already almost 1 AM. Hooking the Land Rover was easy, the vehicle was not overly heavy at about 3,210 pounds and as a military vehicle had the shackles already fitted. The helicopter could lift a lot more than that with relative ease. The old Land Rover had seen some hard service since the 1970s when she was manufactured, a Series III with free running hubs at front, to be locked manually and they were, and with no less than three gear levers. That to me was always sexy, the tall black knob gear change one (four gears and an overdrive, another lever), the yellow knob for four-wheel drive once the front hubs are locked, you push it down and you have high range (no green warning light on the dashboard) and then the red knob, you pull that lever back after double clutching furiously to engage low range (and wait for the engine to overheat minutes later, Angelique). Well, to be honest, they did overheat a lot but they tamed Africa too, we have to admit that. We had many of them in the old police, later replaced with million times better Nissan Safari (also known as the Patrol) and the best, Toyota Land Cruiser. However, the old Landy brought many memories to me, I surveyed and smelled (all Land Rovers smell of oil) her with great interest.

“Make sure that the quick release catch is working, if needs be, I will drop that British Revenge.” Angelique advised, she is not a Land Rover fan, as a scurry of movement took place. She was not going to impair her airframe if something goes wrong with the swinging cargo, she would simply release it and let if free drop. “And I am waiting, Foxtrot! How many times must a girl ask?”

“You are beautiful” I muttered back “and devious! But I like you.”

She was grinning unabashedly at that, pretty pleased with her shenanigans. We were busy examining our new weapons. The sniper lad had Lucy’s DSR-1 rifle, checking her magazines and looking delighted, making minute adjustments to the advanced optics and aiming through it. Lucy was checking Angelique’s (my) Heckler & Koch MP7 she wished to exterminate the gate guard with from very close range, whistling “Me and Bobby McGee” happily as she loaded the hollow points first. Lucy was never one to hesitate in pulling the trigger, especially where kidnappers, female agent abusers and porn watchers are involved. Angelique was checking the sniper’s AK47 she took for herself, as mentioned, I am sure, smirking happily at me and then we were ready, the lads at the back, dressed in what Christopher called “foiken Northern Island Informal” (jeans, light windbreakers, chest webbing, decent combat boots) and likewise sporting AK47s with advanced night vision. Duval’s lads had no night vision of any kind and stared in admiration and some bitterness at us. They were good soldiers, they knew it but stuck to 1980 because of their Baboon, carrying the paratrooper model FN rifle, also called the R2 in South Africa. I could not help but feel sympathy and then anger towards the Baboon, they deserved so much better than what freedom brought them. As always, the select few, the turd brigade got tremendously rich, it is deplorable (hello Hilarious, you did too, suspiciously fast being broke and all when you left with the White House furniture). The rest suffered even more than what they did before they got the vote, it is often the case in Africa, the continent cannot be saved and will not. You can show me nothing lasting from the trillions of aid money the West paid since 1960, the place is lost and the aid money stolen, it never reaches the guy that needs it and this is having a tremendously bad effect on the War on Terror.

“You can start her up and take off!” I said and that was that.

We were on our way and Phase III about to kick off. Phase II, the destruction of the Chinese Changhe Z-8 helicopters would follow directly after and then, Phase I, the counter ambush of the chasers. As always, Angelique’s operations were flowing one into the other at a rapid pace. I knew it would be a very short flight, 26 miles is nothing for a helicopter. We went straight up and this time without any navigational lights or rather not for long, she switched them off the moment she gained height and turned us towards the drop off point, mere minutes of flight time and it was still raining hard. At that point we would put the Land Rover down. The rest will depart and the games will begin, how it will end, well, we don’t often fail, we hate failure with a passion. Whatever the outcome, whether they succeeded or not, we will fly in and pick them up with Blondie in tow even if only her body. People are going to die in the next hour and so it is. Ours is a violent world, we don’t take prisoners. The Land Rover will be driven away by Duval and his lad, hopefully the rain would wash all track away. He left the rest of his men at Chipinge to dispose of Christopher’s vehicles. I did not ask too many questions, I had my own concerns in life, all of them sitting in the front left seat, piloting the helicopter through the rain.

As we flew on, the cargo hold was lit with very dim red lights, the rear ramp open and everyone sitting on the deck, I realised that they were dressed very lightly for the coming rescue. Normally, when charging a house or whatever, with chest webbing, chest armour, a Kevlar helmet if so desired, teargas mask, extra ammunition, assault rifle or machine pistol, backup pistol, knife, individual medical kit, two-way radio plugged into your ear, decent night vision (not the normal crap the infantry has) and extra explosives with grenades of all types, you are heavily loaded. Not that you feel it, you are so busy, it is organised chaos as the teams move through the place, roaring to the hostages to bloody well stay down and shooting the bastards at the same time. Your biggest problem by far is not the terrorists who will either die fighting or die hiding but meddlesome civilians, crying, standing up and grabbing at you, God know why they do such things. In 1988, Geelslang smacked a hostage so hard he broke his jaw in three places. The man complained bitterly but to no avail. Angelique’s dad arrested him for interfering in official police business and kept him locked up until he and his stupid lawyer, also arrested, apologised for their liberal ways (it is remarkable how much a liberal can complain without reason, Angelique).

Blondie, being highly trained in SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) would know never to interfere if at all possible. I wondered if she could, such interrogations are very violent, beatings, lashings, kicking and you name it, it happens and the agent needs to be rescued very quickly. I got Angelique out within three days and she had suffered badly during that time, I took revenge, I assure you, I tortured one and shot dead another and that was just the beginning (Code Name VFO565 & Code Name Pour Angelique). The malicious marks on her body went away with time, the marks on her soul took longer, love and God assisted and her training helped. We were also very busy and had no time to contemplate too much (I was lucky, I knew Foxtrot and Geelslang would rescue me and afterwards France looked after me, and I had Foxtrot as my husband and soul, Angelique).

I wondered how they got to the blonde woman captured. She was an experienced agent and well able to defend herself, not likely to betray her true function (she often worked undercover as a teacher of deaf kids). As added security, she held a genuine British Passport and frequently abused it, not that it helps much. But you know, not too long ago there was a time when you insult an Englishman and the Royal Navy arrived to shell the hell out of your mud hut. The liberals frown on gunboat diplomacy these days, why I would not know, it makes perfect sense to me. Men were men and lines in the sand were something you outgrew when you left kindergarten and realised there are some people left in the world that will kick seven sorts of hell out of you if you cross the line. It is when you start doubting their ability to react when you get loathsome. Sadly, the old British lion is not roaring anymore, even us, disliking them for the reasons mentioned, the 1901 concentration camps, feel their humiliation and shake our heads with some sympathy. How can you justify giving aid money to countries with their own space programs, countries that say straight they don’t need nor want your money and at the same time allow your armed forces to go to the gutter? Or have “advanced” Royal Navy ships unable to function in warm water where most of the wars are being fought? Submarines so old they break down continuously and are heard many miles away because of a lack of maintenance. What the hell is wrong with you? I just don’t get it and never will. Man for man they are brilliant soldiers, the best in the business and yet, so it is, the demise of a country great once. The sun is setting it seems.

“Foxtrot, one minute out. When I set the British Revenge (Land Rover to you) down and release her, jump out and guide me down.” Her voice came through the earphones and I waved at the rest and stood in the door.

“Roger that.”

I took for granted she would be scanning around with her fancy FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) for any enemy activity and also Lucy, still whistling, would be keeping a sharp eye on the threat scanners. From what I could see with my night vision goggles, all were clear but then again, nothing escapes thermal scanners, they are so much better for finding anything alive.

“We are clear, no enemy activity. Right, let us get this show on the road.” She must have been thinking along the same lines, we often do.

“Okay, the area below us is clean, a grassy meadow. Do you see that big rock looking like a banana (Angelique started giggling here for some reason, Foxtrot) to your right, 8 degrees? Yes? Make that your marker, acknowledge!”

“Yeah okay, a large banana rock, you are killing me.”

The helicopter turned slightly, she was lining her up and we dropped down slowly on my command and it must have been surreal. The rain was lashing down, the thunder still lighting up the veldt and the big transport helicopter without any lights showing, hovering, engines screaming away with the Land Rover below her. I was as wet as a man can be, cold too, from the wind chill effect and not bothered by any of that, when you have a job to do and this crucial, you do so. And then it became worse, there is always an emergency or something, you deal with it without having time or the inclination become overexcited. If you are that type, the classic whining liberal and right winger, you will never make Selection. Oddly, on this subject, we also noted that each man arriving with a flattop haircut, designed to look tough, failed in the first week. Geelslang and I discussed this at great length as it puzzled us, they were physically magnificent lads and yet they lacked the mental toughness we were looking for. We came to the conclusion they were inherently fakes, they had no heart and were more concerned in looking tough than actually getting the job done which is not to say they are not tough in the regular sense of the word. We found that the type that made it could not care what they looked like unless it had some advantage to them to complete the task at hand. They had, I suppose, their priorities sorted out before they arrived and you got two chances only. You fail the second time and you are gone forever. On the other hand, if a man shows really good promise and he injures himself, it happens, during the final phases, we would bend backwards to get him into expert remedial exercises to be healed and come back. By that stage you knew who had the genes who did not, really, it should be called deselection. We also noted leadership, the men standing up and be counted when the going gets tough. During PT sessions, and they are all gruelling, designed to break the gene less ones, we would immediately see who is encouraging his mates, trying to ease their lot by switching weapons (an assault rifle for a much heavier LMG), not doing so would be selfish, we don’t like that. As soon as the Land Rover touched ground (another problem, the vehicle spins slowly in circles, timing is important) I gave her the good news.

“Vehicle touched down, she is on the ground. You can drop the rope.”

“Foxtrot, the release catch malfunctioned, I tried thrice. Get down and release the rope by hand, if you please!” Angelique said on the intercom, not annoyed but serious.

The problem here was this; you cannot land on the vehicle below you, you will tip over and crash, killing yourself and your passengers. If the lifting rope is long enough, you can drop the vehicle down and drift sideways and land next to it. That is what Angelique did during Code Name Halloween 38 when we hooked the heavy 120 mm mortar tubes one by one as we loaded the teams. That too is fraught with danger, the helicopter may tip over if fastened to something and drifting too fast. This had to be dealt with immediately, the rope was not long enough to drift sideways and we cannot hover long, the engines will overheat quickly if you do. Here we would solve the problem the old fashioned way, by hand. We had a backup rope attached to the release catch but I removed it to look Chinese when I removed the heavy machine guns. Such is life, you never find a missing object until you find it (or ask your wife, Angelique).

“Roger that, you go down another six feet and I will jump. Do not land without having me visual, acknowledge!” I replied.

The Super Frelon weighs in at 28,660 pounds when fully loaded, you may imagine what will happen to a man standing below her if she slams down on him, he may as well be trampled by two African bull elephants. This was serious and I would not leave the airframe without her acknowledgment not to go down without seeing me at a safe distance.

“Acknowledged, Foxtrot, I will not go lower nor land without seeing you. Be careful and note I cannot hover forever either, the engines will overheat.” She warned.

“Bye-bye then!”

I jumped the last few feet and immediately turned under the belly of the helicopter, always a marvellous sight when right above you, and onto the Land Rover’s bonnet or hood as Angelique’s American mate, Melissa, calls it. The release catch was now just above me and loosening the rope was easy, the mud had jammed the release catch. I got it lose after a few vicious pulls and blows, damn lucky that was, the next step was to cut the rope (time consuming, the helicopter cannot hover for too long, the engines will overheat, Angelique). The heavy rope fell down and the big helicopter was untethered. I jumped down from the hood and scrambled forward, right past and underneath Angelique’s feet and ran another forty yards before turning facing her.

“Do you have me visual?”

I was straining to hear her answer, the helicopter, all of them are very noisy animals, the so called stealth ones (stealth they are not) are “stealthy” against radar, not noise as such. Another US Merchants of Death lie sold to the world and actually believed. It is amazing.

“Yes, I have you visual.” She said in my ear.

“Then move towards me, steady as she goes, follow my hand signals.”

I had my infrared handheld strobe out and on its very lowest setting not to blind her and walked backwards with the helicopter following like a well-trained dog, I suppose, before lowering her down and she landed safely. The engines being switched off as soon as she was sure that the double wheels would not be sinking too deep in the mud. It is a problem to take off again once you are stuck in mud or even water, after our impromptu fishing expedition (Code Name Halloween 38), we struggled a fair bit to lift off again. In the end she accelerated forward, like a flying boat, and lifted us off. I was about to make a few comments but forgot (lucky you, I would then have landed again to practise the technique, Angelique). As I walked back, the rest were jumping out without saying much, mounting the Land Rover after releasing the ropes from the vehicle’s shackles and placing them into the cargo hold, neatly folded. They could be used again and why waste, we hate waste, we don’t have a Congress and Senate hell bent on crippling our economy.

“You will be a bit overloaded.” I remarked as we shook hands, an African thing. “Good luck, Duval, not that you need it.”

During the Second Anglo Boer War, where the concentration camps blackened the British Army’s name forever in history, an American observer, Howard C Hillegas, made the comment, it is rather funny: “Someone called it the ‘hand-shaking army,’ and it was a most descriptive title. Many of the burghers could not restrain from exercising their habit, and shook hands with British prisoners, much to the astonishment of the captured.” We never stopped, shaking hands is something we do. Angelique giving Lucy a hug, they are very odd, the way her Service members hug each other instead of a decent handshake.

“Maybe, ten men and one girl on an old Garry (Rhodesian Army slang, Land Rover)? Surely not a record, we loaded more during arrests made a while ago, there were some riots. Okay, any last questions? No? Then let us go, Lucy, hide that MP7 after you shoot the gate guard, please. A prisoner cannot be armed; you have to trust me.”

Duval pulled away, the four wheels searching for grip on the wet veldt and then moving slowly off in the rain, leaving me with a remorseful looking Angelique. I never thought I will ever see that, although, I must say, she is quick to apologise if she is in the wrong.

“I am sorry; I could not tell you.” She said finally. “My occupation is silence and some skulduggery when needed. It is never personal.”

We were sitting on the fold down bunk seats in the cargo hold where it was dry, waiting for word from the rescue team. They had disappeared into the rain, the vehicles lights switched on to fit in. The Sniper lad would be dropped first and get into position at his hill, scanning the area. At the same time, Christopher’s assault teams would be walking in and then stop, waiting for Duval and Lucy to come driving past them and take care of the gate guard. In the end, all depended and started with the sniper being able to take his shot when the front door opens at Duval’s knocking. We were not there but we were listening on the radio and being experienced, we could visualise what was happening.

I shrugged in reply. “I understand more than what you think. I stopped thinking of you as a spymaster a long time ago. To be honest, I sometimes forget you are Mrs Dawson and see you only as a woman, such a desirable one also, fun to be with at all times. There is no need to apologise, really not. This is our world and the way it is played. One day though, I will pay your two roubles to get out and have peace.”

Once in the Great Game, you cannot get out easily, it takes two roubles to leave and only one rouble to get in (an old KGB saying). Angelique, I made peace, will never leave, she does not wish to. We paid many more than two roubles through the years I would say and she is still visited frequently by someone, asking respectfully if Mrs Dawson-Foxtrot may have a look at certain pictures or something. I walk away, trying to hide my annoyance with them but she loves it, it is what she does best. You cannot deny her the fun she is having. I was quite hopeful that she would be retired when she defected, such people are never completely trusted ever again, but then the Egg Breaker War broke out (Code Name Pour Angelique) and after that she discovered consulting work. And then there was her Mossad family, her late husband’s sister, Devorah Arik, always asking for help in matters which do not concern us (Code Name Devorah). Geelslang would have nodded wisely on my comment of her being a woman and not a spymaster and then talked about professionalism and my lack of it where she is concerned or perhaps not. He stopped so abruptly when he saw Thandiwe for the first time (watching “Days of our Lives,” would you believe), that I almost shot him by accident. Normally Geelslang would have had a word with the Security Branch (dreaded Secret Police) member showing us the wrong house to storm, searching for terrorists, but he was so glad to have found his soul that he was silent for the next two days, making frantic calls to his dad to start negotiating the lobola (bridal treasure) with her family – that took eight months to complete, we had time in Africa. You cannot keep souls apart, there is no force except God stronger than the love between souls. It is true by the way, I don’t think of Angelique Dawson as a spymaster, to me she is a woman, a soul, a wife, the mother of our twins and best friend ever. I don’t see her as a threat, “otherwise” yes and at all times determined, but never a threat.

“You are probably the only one alive that understands and forgives me, always unconditionally. Thank you.” She replied, holding my hand.

She had that right, there is not much you cannot forgive your soul and this was not a big deal when you think about it. I admitted so.

“This is what you do, being the feared and effective spymaster and I knew it, obviously, you warned me often enough that you are not without baggage, in your case your life in the Great Game. If I reacted violently in the past, it is for your safety, not for what you did, I am sorry if I come over as spoiling your fun, it is not that, I protect you. I don’t care actually about the cause much, I have no loyalty to the new lot down south and America’s War on Terror is not my concern either, we are neutral to that. I help you because you smiled at me and we have fun together, we are good for each other, I would say.”

“I am not sure where I stand these days, Foxtrot. In the beginning it was so exciting, like living in a spy novel….” She stopped talking, probably thinking on when she was recruited by DGSE first.

“Yes, I know the feeling and then the novelty factor wears off and you see the rot from all sides. I fought communism as did you, believing we were under attack and we were, the fighting and shooting were very real. I believed in our cause then, I was still young. The dominees (Afrikaans, pastors in Afrikaner Churches) said we were right. So did our so called leaders and teachers and everyone else. What did we know? The Army grabbed us at 14 and we fought honourably for a lost cause. I don’t want that to happen to our kids, they must have a choice if they want to serve or not. And when the changes came in 1990, Mr Mandela turned out to be the legend the enemy said he was, he reached out to us, the Afrikaner and people like us, the Zulu (Mr Mandela was a Xhosa, distant cousins of the Zulu Nation). Thabo Mbeki, following him, never reached out. He is perceived to have started the anti-white movement which will never go away in South Africa, we are not welcome there. When you arrive back from abroad, at the airport or the border gates, not that we use such entrance points much, you feel nothing but hatred against you. That is the real reason why we lost 50% of our number to emigration, 70% and more of our doctors, engineers, business people and scientists, the elite of a nation. I was glad to be out and then you came bursting into our peaceful lives….”

We sat silently for a few minutes, listening to the rain pounding the roof. By rights I should have been outside, away from the helicopter, standing guard and with her by my side, in safety. A helicopter is brilliant target when on the ground and defenceless, it is not armoured. However, with our FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) scanner we knew we were alone and the chances of a counter attack extremely low, I deemed it safe and besides, I could sense that Angelique wanted to talk to me, you don’t do that when standing guard in the rain, you shut up and stand guard. When you look past our bickering, which gave many the wrong idea entirely, we are very close. We know each other better than we know ourselves.

“But you were glad for me, when I reactivated you?” She asked finally.

“Yes, I was and I am still because I met you because of that. I knew you existed and I always prayed for you. Even when you kicked at my shins within minutes of meeting me! (Code Name Foxtrot)” We giggled at the memory, breaking the mood which was about to become darker than what was needed, we had said what we wanted and knew we could carry on, you either accept Angelique the way she is, or you leave her alone, she should not change. “Yes, we will have a lot of stories to tell our grandkids one day. Not that anyone will believe us. I may even write a book to inform them. Yes, the world should know about the ‘Bitch of SASS,’ don’t you think?”

She laughed loudly but not unkindly at this idea, very amused. “Foxtrot, you will need an entire series to describe the adventures of the ‘Bitch of SASS.’ But why not, the world should know about Foxtrot and Geelslang and men like them, serving for the better of mankind. For myself, I like the shadows but I suppose, I am part of the story and cannot be written out, what would you call the books? I know, after our code words.”

She is a major part of our story, no doubt. It was an eye opener to me to see how many women commanded secret units or agents. I am not sure these days why I was so surprised (chauvinistic pig ideas? Angelique), in Africa it is the female lioness that kills, mostly, not the male, used to roaring and breeding. We should remember that, women can be much more dangerous and tougher than men (Amen, we are eating steak tonight, Angelique). Certainly they are harder to break under interrogation, they get “otherwise” and unless reason is used, they will not break before they die just to prove a point. Lucy is the perfect example, Angelique too although she was only a few days in detention before we rescued her (Code Name VFO565). I am tempted to say that without Angelique in our story, there would be no GMJ Books. I am often asked by readers (thank you for taking the time) to write about Geelslang and myself, before she barged into our lives, our Special Forces careers, truth to be told, I am not much tempted and Geelslang way too professional to even consider it. Angelique is what makes the books, not us, she is still the centrefold and she is exactly as I describe her. We did use the code words as book names, why not, they meant a lot to us, the publishers, also “experts,” disagreed and so we waved them goodbye and good riddance, GMJ Books are unique.

“Then I set you up to attack my bodyguards! Just after our first meeting! And you did.”

She was shaking with laughter now, rapidly heading for hiccups and me thinking of the old liberal, a shaking Angelique can be extremely distracting for a man, her entire body shakes, anyway, she did too and pulled her Glock when Geelslang and I attacked them, covering us as she rolled away and onto her feet in a move we still talk about. We saw the bodyguards following her and felt bound, because of her dad if nothing else, I was still rubbing my shins wondering if she has some compulsive disorder disease, to intervene.

She admitted later it was a test to see us in action and to test our loyalty to her. She knew from our file, the remaining bits, we destroyed most when we left, that we could handle ourselves. Between Geelslang and myself, we cleaned many a pub and her overweight bodyguards, in no way the same as her current French Team, proved no match, they lost the fight badly. It was there where I first realised how fast she can move and how dangerous she could be. Angelique does not lose and will cheat to win, she will never give up. If you play cards or Monopoly or go for a jog, she wants to win (you also, Angelique).

“I am ready, Sah.” We heard the sniper come on the air.

I could easily imagine him lying flat on his stomach in the mud, in position, and scanning away. We can spot true snipers by the way they take their shooting position, they don’t care about a mat to lie on, they lie on anything, the mat is there to cover the muzzle flash, preventing dust from betraying their position. The wannabees don’t want to get dirty, they don’t even know about dust and muzzle flashes and could not care less. Like the US Navy SEALs, South African Army (and Police) Special Forces snipers can operate alone or in teams, it is the only way. Both Angelique and Lucy were officially trained as sniper spotters, all South African Secret Service members are, as well as in static line parachuting but as you know, both of them are good shooters too, Angelique world class. I don’t get it why Hollywood portray a sniper or assaulter as the knights (the ones storming the house or boat or aircraft) as a man wracked by indecision in whether to shoot or not. Making such decisions, when to shoot and when not, is damn easy. There is no praying, having flashbacks and God knows what else. Truth to be told, I am not aware of any commanding officer (usually young lads, platoon commanders are less than 27 years old) suffering from doubt before or after in making such decisions, life or death as they may well be for someone. That is what we do and that is what snipers do. It is really simple. When the hostages are being killed, you go in. When you have all the hijackers in sight, and able to take them down at one go, you do so and make an end before someone important gets hurt. Really, there is nothing to it and no reason to worry about it either and no one does. If I ever suspect a sniper may miss on purpose for any reason, I will bin him on the spot, his liberal ideas are not acceptable to decent men, such ideas are truly dangerous. I had no doubt whatsoever that the sniper lad was going to shoot whoever opens that door, as long as it was not Blondie and that he would do so with a single shot, in the rain storm at 1,789 yards and less than a few inches past Duval’s head. Nor did I doubt that Lucy will shoot the gate guard between his or her eyes twice, using our double tap method, and never look back. Really, if you cannot do that or put your faith in a man you never saw before, as Duval was doing and I admired his courage for doing that very much, we don’t want you close to us. Go home to mommy and be a proud member of the US National Counterterrorism Center and see how much respect we have for you in real life.

“And so it starts.” Angelique said and explained further. “We found out she was under suspicion by way of satellite intercepts and I gave the word for her to extract immediately. But they got her before she could and from then on it was chaos, organised chaos, mind. Sir John arrived to help her extract originally, not so much to rescue her, the rescue part became compulsory from need. I am fully committed resources wise already, Foxtrot. I am calling in favours everywhere and so is Sir John for these operations, it is not our usual way as you may have noticed. We even have top air cover or we will, once we pick her up. I just hope she is still salvageable.”

“You mean the two Mirages at the Ukuthula Ranch? They will be watching over us when we extract? That is excellent news, not that they should be needed, no one knows we are here and it will take time to scramble any MIGs but I hope they do, actually, shoot down the MIGs. They would have done better to take Blondie to a police station and not to at an isolated farm where we can strike surreptitiously. Those Mirages of yours, they will fight if challenged? No lines in the sand?” I needed to be sure.

“No lines in the sand, they are fully armed and ready to rumble. It was either them or the RAF, eh, they have an outfit flying clandestine missions (we would meet them later, Code Name Pour Angelique). Sir John was really pulling strings here, we need him, Foxtrot. We cannot compete with his contacts and his nephews’ deep pockets (she meant the CIA, they often pay for MI6 operations). It suits me to keep the old goat happy, after all, we have a common enemy…. But that does not make us shower buddies, you get?”

“Salvageable is the operative word here, how long did they have her? For myself, I will always hate Sir John. If he did not arrive in theatre uninvited and the helicopters grounded because of that, Marwa would have lived and our future would have been very different. As a man, as her husband, I cannot and will not let it go. As long as you desire so I will leave the old goat alone, but once you release me, he will die.”

She nodded in agreement. “When my husband died, I wanted to blame God, I had no Sir John around as you did, to hate. Geelslang told me in no uncertain terms that I was wrong in my thinking, God is blameless even if we don’t understand what just took place, He has a plan and we have to have faith. You at least have that hope, to take revenge. I have no such hope and I moved on, I accepted what took place. The past cannot repeat, I made peace, we have a new yesterday to write today. Every day tomorrow, we have as one, which is nice. The last few years were fun; I mean with you. Life should be like that. To answer you, they had her less than three days. She is safe.”

FBI statistics show us that close to 30% of all hostages will turn and suffer from the Stockholm Syndrome and they will do so after three days (which is nothing) and even less with feebler men. Some turn almost immediately to win favours, whether that is cowardice or weakness or a mental defect, I don’t know. What I do know is, I trust no former hostage, ever. We dealt with hostage mind-sets in great detail and especially the Stockholm Syndrome. Back in 1973 a robbery took place at the Kreditbanken in Stockholm, Sweden. Several hostages were taken and held for six days. Oddly enough, the victims & hostages became emotionally attached to their captors, so much so that they even defended them after they were freed. Since then this bizarre but common psychological condition is called the “Stockholm Syndrome” and closely monitored by the rescuing forces. We see it in movies as well as real life. In one old James Bond movie (Never Say Never Again) Sean Connery, (the most attractive man in the world when younger, according to Angelique Dawson-Foxtrot) rescues a woman and then gets stabbed by her immediately afterwards. That is classic Stockholm Syndrome behaviour on the rescued one’s side. Another example used is in the blockbuster movie, Bridge Over the River Kwai, where the colonel does not want the bridge destroyed. Hence he tries to find the bombs to remove it and this is against all logic, he should be glad that the bridge is destroyed, it is an enemy bridge. Then in real life we find Patty Hearst, a well-known Stockholm Syndrome victim. She was kidnapped by the so called Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA. What they wanted was guerrilla warfare against the US Government and destroy what they called the “capitalist state.” Observably, they were idiots of note but caused a fair amount of trouble for the FBI. Soon after her kidnapping, Hearst was seen (CCTV) robbing banks with her kidnappers, fully armed. When caught, she was sent to jail (her legal defence was not accepted by the jury, wrongly so in my eyes) for seven years of which she served two. In a lesser historical note, when Mr Bush (43) was inaugurated as new President he had to wait for Mr Clinton, late like always, busy signing official pardons by the dozen. Included here was Patty Hearst’s presidential pardon, rightly so, she should never have been found guilty.

You get the syndrome in many levels of severity and the classic example is one which every military veteran reading here will comprehend. You remember that nasty drill sergeant who abused you during basic training fondly? Yes? You really should not, he made your life hell, and yet these days you speak admiringly of the bastard – you have a mild form of the Stockholm Syndrome. We also see it with victims of abuse (and it was proven Miss Hearst was physically abused during her ordeal) where the wife keeps on forgiving her violent husband. It makes no sense to “normal” people when reading about it and yet it is common, one out of three hostages will turn. There is a reverse of the Stockholm Syndrome, called the “Lima Syndrome” where hostage takers develop sympathy for their hostages. It is named after a hostage incident at the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru in 1996. Within a few hours, the kidnappers released the most valuable hostages due to uncalled for (from their view) sympathy. This is obviously good for the safety of the hostage but it does not happen a lot. The Peru hostage event went on for months and only stopped when Peruvian Special Forces stormed the Embassy, using South African made equipment from armoured vehicles to assault rifles. Not one of the hostage takers survived the rescue. Blondie will be treated as a threat by Christopher until she is proven to be neutral and herself again. She knew the man, he was with us when we stormed the aircraft she played the hijacker on (Code Name Wrangler) and obviously knew Lucy, they could be considered to be friends and escorted her to Israel for treatment after she wanted to die and I had her knocked out (Code Name Celery 50), the incident that caused Lucy to ignore me for years.

“Then all should be well, three days is the danger point. I suppose we will fly her out to the Ukuthula Runway, there another aircraft will be waiting, an ambulance one, to fly her to a safe house for debriefing and treatment?”

“Yes, Mack will be back with his C-130 and a team of doctors from 7 Medical Battalion, she should be good.”

The South African Army prides itself in its medical services and with good reason, they are exceedingly good, First World and higher. Whenever a man had to be evacuated, enemy wounded also, it made no difference, they were and within minutes for world class treatment. But the problem was Special Forces, at times 2,000 miles behind enemy lines, evacuation was simply impossible and so the medics had to go with. Enter 7 Medical Battalion, they are the specialist Airborne Medical Unit of the South African Military Health Service and in our world very highly rated. Certainly they are to be found wherever the South African Special Forces and Paratroopers (not the same thing at all, paratrooper are conventional troops) are. You will find them in support of the combat troops but they do a lot of other things like Combat Search and Rescue (known as Para jumpers), CBRNE (Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives) agent detection, verification and decontamination, diving and aviation medicine. They can fight when they want to, being fully trained as soldiers in all weapons likely to be found. Interestingly, the Urban Combat Survival (SWAT) course they undergo is conducted by the Police Special Forces Unit whom they support with medical services when needed. Many Special Forces soldiers or policemen, go through their rigorous medical training programs. They are so good with trauma wounds that they always accompany the (Police) Presidential Protection Unit, in case something happens to the President (who cares, but they are there). Their training cycle is not seen as a Selection as such but that is terribly misleading, only 10% of all candidates who start the training cycle succeed, that calls for a 90% dropout which is marginal for our Special Forces standards but not by much. At the end of the medical course they have to make the normal static line paratrooper selection, anything between 3 to 14 days of hell on earth. Most go on to qualify for HAHO (high altitude, high opening) and HALO (high altitude, low opening) jumps to be able to accompany Special Forces when required. If wounded in action, you cannot find better help than with 7th Medical Battalion. Their winged snake medical emblem has a commando dagger instead of the usual staff to indicate their Special Forces connection, it is not easily bestowed and great things expected of you. As such they are the only non-badged unit that are allowed to go with the Special Forces lads on operations.

“Sniper? Are you ready, lad? We have killed the guard. Lucy took him out, great two shots by the way. May I approach the front door then?”

Duval suddenly came on the air, his clipped Pommy accent reminding me of the former Rhodesian Special Air Service (we had the British and New Zealand variant too) in the Army Regiment we got banned to. They all had to redo a shortened Selection, not all made it.

“Weapon is free, Sah, carry on and give me a few inches, I am shooting over your left shoulder as you face the door. Mr Christopher, stand by! I am ready to clear the way.” The lad answered.

“Standing by.” Christopher answered calmly and I imagined the scene.

The guard would be dead, lying next to the road in the bushes where he was dragged to by Christopher and his lads. Lucy would have left the MP7, now on safe but fully loaded, on the seat between herself and Duval. From what I later heard, Angelique told me, she demanded the keys for the handcuffs first, tested them carefully and then only handcuffed herself for the role of a prisoner, keeping the keys in her pocket. Of course, she had her pistol with her at all times and Duval at a disadvantage, the sniper lad would have killed him if he looked like betraying the operation, I noticed Christopher talking softly to him before they left. Ironically, they were using Selous Scout techniques on Duval and he probably knew it, by having him involved in the killing of his own. After that, I suppose, he had nothing further to lose either (or gained his freedom, Angelique). Christopher and mates would be crouching against the wall next to the door, four men on each side, teargas masks on, safety catches off, and night vision on. They were ready to pounce through the door the moment it opens and clears for entry. That did not take long.

“Target down! Target down! Target down! Christopher and mates are inside, heavy firing and stun grenades. Lucy also, no wait, Colonel Duval is dragging her back and out.” The sniper lad reported to Angelique, I saw her likewise talking to him on one side. “They seem to be struggling.”

I could imagine that scene, having seen Lucy in total fury, kicking out and shooting wildly at the deceased (Code Name Green 41) and her mate, One Alpha, the Zulu girl leading one of Angelique’s Assassin Teams, beseeching me not to kill Lucy “again” as the Assassins surrounded her physically in one of the most courageous acts I ever saw in my life. They came so close to death that night; the Army Special Forces laser dots were all over them, that I am sometimes surprised that they did not die there. For a long moment I sincerely believed Angelique had set them up for exactly that reason, to die under our gun barrels (she denies it to this day). Duval will win such a fight against Lucy, being much bigger and a tough man himself, no doubt, but she would be a handful until she calms down, swinging and kicking. I felt for the poor girl, she had a very rough time when captured and although we called her Lucy the Lunatic, we meant it in a sympathetic way, not disdainful at all. She likes the name, truth to be told, she sees it as an honorary badge.

“I hope she is not losing it again. She is not normal; you know?” I remarked softly.

“Who can blame her, Foxtrot? After what she went through no one will be normal but she is diagnosed now, she suffers from PNES. Let me start the helicopter up, we will be needed soon, one way or the other, we will be evacuating Blondie, dead or alive.”

She stepped nimbly into her seat and started strapping herself down, getting the systems online to start the engines, it is not like starting a car. I was in Lucy’s seat, reading the checklist for her and keeping silent when not. If you wish to annoy Angelique (or Geelslang or any other good pilot, Lise and Odette also), talk shop when they do pre-flights or checklists, taking off or landing. They get loathsome in the extreme and will tell you abruptly to shut up and leave their cockpits. It is the only way and gave me time to reflect on what Angelique just said about Lucy. I knew, from my own advanced medical training what PNES is but most would not. It is a type of seizure that looks like an epileptic seizure, the symptoms are very much the same except for a few important details only a trained eye can spot. The specialists call it Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES) and it is more common than what you may think, as common as is multiple sclerosis. It is not caused by abnormal brain electrical discharges as is normal epileptic seizures but by psychological distress. After Lucy was abused most horribly, everything we write about her in GMJ is true, she started suffering from this condition and although her trigger was indeed distressing, research shows that any genuine traumatic event, such as physical or sexual abuse, incest, divorce and death of a loved one can trigger it. There is an 80% chance of recovery, the good news and that takes a lot of love, patience and understanding from the nearest family, the husband or wife of the patient. The symptoms are rather frightening to those watching, the patient will have convulsions combined with falling down and shaking and not respond to any voice commands. The sufferer would be out for the count. Lucy, I am sad to say, did not get that type of love at first and only rejection. Her then husband told her to sort herself out, that she was an embarrassment to him, others kept away from her, not knowing how to deal with it and probably not in the mood either. So she struggled on, fighting all the way as is her way. In later years it got better and her poetry helped immensely, it gave her a reason to live, I suppose. I was not surprised over her reaction, all would have flashed back and she would have reacted predictably, I should have warned Duval.

“Okay, I am starting her up.” Angelique said and flicked a switch, holding it and the turbine started whining. “You get to the back, Foxtrot, the threat warner is on automatic mode, be good.”

I got out of the door and inside again through the side door two yards behind the cockpit. As I plugged myself in again, I heard Christopher calling us, reporting in.

“We got Blondie out, Madame, fetch us please. She is shaken but not hurt much, the teargas got her, I am afraid. Lucy is down though, shall I TWEP (terminate with extreme prejudice, i.e. assassination, an MI6 term) Colonel Duval? He says she just collapsed after swinging at him for no reason and he is working on her or is trying, we will take over. Colonel, please stand aside. Sniper, is his version true, yes or no?”

“Roger that, Mr Christopher. She collapsed by herself, he did nothing to her as far as I could see. I first thought she was shot after she started swinging and tracked him. She just collapsed but there is no one close by and he did not shoot her, I would have seen the muzzle flash. I am scanning the area, there is no one else there. Colonel Duval is blameless, he carried her to shelter and started treating her.”

I could imagine that scene; Duval was extremely close to being twepped. Angelique intervened.

“This is Mrs Dawson, Lucy is good, ensure she breathes and keep her on her side and nothing else, remove the handcuffs too. She has PNES, I believe it was triggered by the events. Christopher, leave Colonel Duval alone, he is innocent. I am on my way, acknowledge my orders!”

I wondered how many times I heard her say that before: “This is Angelique or This is Mrs Dawson,” and always expecting the receiver to know who she is. They mostly did and her words were always exciting to me, she was either coming to the rescue or she was about to unleash hell or both. Later, after our marriage, she started announcing herself as Mrs Dawson-Foxtrot, making me feel proud, there cannot be a higher honour than being her husband (Code Name Dawson).

“Christopher here, standing by and waiting for you. I suggest you land on the road outside the gate. Sniper, guide her in please, my medic will work on Lucy and Blondie. The rest will provide perimeter security. Colonel, shall we inspect the dead?”

I am not sure how far Duval took the threat to execute him personally, after all, we take care of our own and if he did do something to Lucy, he would have died that night. Such is our ways but by the time we landed, a few minutes later, we circled first to scan with the FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared), the inspection tour was done and there were no survivors, not one. Christopher and mates shot each multiple times and obviously, the door opener had no chance against the .338 Lapua bullet, his head burst open like an overripe melon falling on a concrete floor. It was a job well done. I expected nothing less.

“Good work, all of you. Load your men and my two agents, count them and report or I will not take off.” Angelique radioed after the sniper lad guided her in to land right in the middle of the dirt road, an odd sight, to be sure, the rotor blades hanging over the sides.

Blondie was walking, her long blonde hair (from where her name) blowing in the rotor wash, holding onto one of Christopher’s lads since she was half blinded by the teargas, that would sort itself out soon. Lucy was being carried on an emergency stretcher, the medic checking on her and bending low to protect her face from the rain, she was on her side to breathe better. I counted the sniper lad aboard, slapping his back and did the same with the rest. Leaving a man behind would be criminally stupid, you count each and you confirm.

“Christopher, confirm your men, please!” I requested.

“Give us a second, Foxtrot.” He jumped out and walked to Duval, standing alone with his lad next to the old Land Rover, saluted the officer, shook his hand, saluted again and walked back. “You may take off now; we are all accounted for!”

“All aboard including Blondie and Lucy. You are cleared to take off.” I said in the microphone to Angelique. “Heading for Mutare Airport, I presume.”

The engines howled in fury as we lifted off and turned north to get to Mutare and sabotage the two helicopters. The last I saw of Duval that night was him standing at attention, saluting us as we flew away. It was a sight that no liberal can ever grasp but I assure you, we could and did. We understood, I saluted back, standing in the open door. I am sure Geelslang would have approved, he gets the warrior concept better than most.

As of the beginning of this week the major networks had spent 198 minutes of news time talking about Donald Trump’s tawdry and offensive locker room conversation from yesteryear. Those same networks had spent a grand combined total of 11 minutes talking about Hillary’s leaked email information.” Tim Constantine, Washington Post, 12 October 2016

The left and the media weren’t bothered this week by the news that senior State Department officials tried to strike a secret deal with the FBI to change the classification on Hillary Clinton’s emails and thereby cover up her misconduct. They didn’t complain when one day last week the major network newscasts spent a combined 23 minutes on allegations against Trump, and a combined 57 seconds on Wikileaks’ damaging revelations about Hillary Clinton.” Newt Gingrich, Fox News, 21 October 2016

The publicity I have been getting, a good deal of which is untrue, and the rest of it ill considered, has done me more harm than good” George S Patton 1943

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.” Mark Twain

Chapter 6

Mutare Airport, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe, 18 March 2010

We needed no luck to destroy the two Changhe Z-8 helicopters, we knew exactly how to do so but we were without resources, oddly enough when you think who we had aboard. I recall the scene vividly, as I type here, the soft red night lights bathing the cargo hold, the Six medic bent over Lucy, stroking her hair gently, her grey eyes were open but she was seeing nothing and she would not for another few hours. Blondie was sitting on the other side of the stretcher, her clothes torn but holding Lucy’s hand and smiling to herself as if a job well done and why not, it was. The rest of the lads were sprawled around, holding their rifles and not saying much, it was anyway too noisy to talk without shouting and we were really motoring, the helicopter shaking more than usual. I closed the side door was after we saluted Duval goodbye, returning the military honour he bestowed on us, so we were at least not getting any wetter than normal. It was still pouring outside and the lightning strikes continuing. Christopher flatly refused to get involved in Phase II when I asked his immediate intentions.

“We are neutral in this coming fight, Foxtrot. I am sorry, our orders were to rescue Blondie and bring her home, not to start a war with Communist China. It is enough that they put the squeeze on us over Hong Kong and got away with it. We cannot afford to affront them much.”

“Which means you will stay on board and keep quiet?” I asked to be sure, not bothered much.

“Yes, Sir John told us not to get involved in anything else, he was very adamant at that point, I say again, I am sorry, old chap. This sucks, I would have loved to help you but cannot, we cannot physically blow up what belongs to China. We are, unlike you lot, official and current.”

“We don’t need you anyway. Stay out of the way and see how the job is done properly. Thank you for rescuing Christen by the way, and wanting to revenge Lucy. Mind, I am beginning to like Duval a bit more, as you may know, I side on Geelslang’s wife’s side in this, we don’t like Shona Bastards. Now let me see what else she made for us, ha, thermate grenades too.”

I was digging happily into Angelique kitbag, laying out the charges for one final inspection. We often used thermate as booster charges (the improved version of thermite, a World War Two formula, is called thermate, Angelique) and they burn through anything manmade. What is also scary about thermite or thermate is how easy it is to make at home. As far as homemade bombs go, it is astonishing that not more terrorists are trying it out and sticking to the old fertilizer bombs. Thermate burns at 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit even under the water since it needs no oxygen, it creates its own whilst burning, oddly so. Luckily the burning never lasts long but whilst it does, it fuses together any metallic parts it is in contact with. Therefore, thermal grenades are seen in the military as mostly a defensive weapon, to destroy equipment, not to burn humans to death (to keep liberals happy, I am sure). Thermite may also be used offensively, down the barrel of an enemy tank gun if you can get close enough (Geelslang once did in Angola, we were desperate) or as a booster charge in conjunction with normal chemical explosives, Angelique’s favourite method. Not many soldiers want to carry a thermal grenade with them, if hit by an enemy bullet, it may well go off as will a phosphorous grenade if exposed to air but not a normal high explosive filled anti personal grenades, they need a detonation to take place inside them and a bullet very seldom to never do that. It can happen but it is not common, more bad luck than anything else. Ironically, in our espionage world, thermate is often used offensively and especially in sabotaging something, that is an attack, offensive, not a retreat or denying the use of left behind equipment. This was the classic example and Angelique was going to miss out, I was enjoying the idea of telling Geelslang how I blew the helicopters with her sitting idly by.

“So, Christopher and mates will not help us destroy the helicopters? That is excellent news!” Angelique stated when I reported in, it was odd to see her without a co-pilot, Lucy was still at the back and no one else volunteered. “How are my girls doing then?”

“They are good, Blondie is bruised but not down, Lucy is down but not out. Why is that excellent news to you? It only means that myself and the sniper lad will place the charges, not you! Don’t think I forgot your shenanigans, you will not leave that seat and risk us walking home.”

“He cannot. He is new and never did his demolition course. He is scheduled when we are done with this mission. Eh, I mean advanced demolitions, not the standard one. Now I, on the other hand, am a proven artist with explosives. Yep, you can watch if you behave and don’t stare at my ass!”

“What the hell? You knew he was not a demolition expert? That is why you asked Sniper for him? I saw you skinnering (Afrikaans slang, to gossip) to the side yesterday before he arrived, innocent to your ways!” I retorted, shaking my head in disbelief.

She was not, she was quite proud of her shenanigans.

“Yes, of course, I am Mrs Dawson, thank you. I agree and you better ensure I am not shot or wounded because then you will have to walk out to safety. Maybe carrying me and you don’t want that now do you? It will go very badly with our coming marriage if you want me shot, mind, I expect to be carried over our house’s doorstep, we don’t want bad luck in our marriage. Anyway, it is up to us now, meaning me since you have to stand guard and protect me, standard procedures, don’t you know?”

“Nanguya ndlela kimi, indodakazi yethu Jikelele, yibo bonke okungcwele, mina futhi, kungenzeka kanjani lokho?” (Zulu, She is way too smart for me, our General’s daughter, by all what is holy, I am outplayed again, how is that possible?) I muttered to myself, shaking my head.

What can you do? She was the only expert in demolitions besides myself since Christopher and mates would not help, I began to get suspicious about their role also, something was not adding up but that could wait for later. The two female agents, Blondie and Lucy were not demolitions experts, they only completed the basic demolitions course, although in theory it is not hard to blow a helicopter, anyone can do so, your granny even. In the advance course you meet maths and engineering, to blow structures like bridges. The sniper lad was out as she said and that left Angelique and myself as she predicted and no doubt swindled all along. I had to be sure who does what once we landed, this was important. She had a point, if two of us did the demolitions, we split the time needed and time was of the essence here, you don’t fly in and wait around, no, you jump out and get the job done and bugger off. I belatedly recalled why Christopher refused and tried logic on my soul, it works sometimes.

“Eh, look here, you are a serving member you know, official and current. If you blow them, you may well start a war with China, it is their helicopters, you get? But I, on the other hand, am the hired help, so I will do so alone, I will be quick and you can stand guard or stay in your seat.”

“Yeah, good one. Now shut up and get my charges ready, we are ten minutes out and we will land next to them, strobes on to be innocent and all, we rush out, place the charges and I….”

We started losing height and at 2,000 feet, we had too little to begin with, something was wrong. We were all used to military helicopters, we flew on them for many years, decades, we knew something was wrong as we started falling and the engines going into a higher pitch. Christopher wasted no time, he jumped past me and opened the door, leaning down to see what was below us. He was one of those remembering the Special Air Service lads dying in the helicopter accident during the Falkland War, it was tragic.

“We lost an engine, no emergency yet!” Angelique reported as we levelled out and kept going. “She just died on me and the other one is overheating now, this is not good, you better pray, Foxtrot, that I don’t get hold of you as this is your fault.”

“Then abort the mission and turn right, fly west and into Mozambique where we can land and check what is wrong.” I suggested. “Christopher is ready at the door to guide you down. How the hell can this be my fault?”

“I am not diverting, like hell. Even if another engine dies I will still get to Mutare! This is all your fault, Foxtrot, God knows, you had ill thoughts about my helicopter and now we lost an engine and have another one overheating rapidly. You should be known as Jonah Foxtrot and never be allowed inside a cockpit! It is damn uncanny how I always have to crash land when you are on board!”

Her voice came back as one of the engines started stuttering and then picking up strongly. The rest of the lads and lasses, not on the headphones, looked up in alarm at Christopher and myself, the only ones with headphones on and knowing what was happening. From our actions they knew already, the medic assigning two lads to carry Lucy.

“Don’t be pig headed! What will we do at Mutare with a grounded 28,000-pound fake helicopter? Push her home perhaps? Get turning now and abort, we can come back later for the Changhe Z-8s, it is not a matter of urgency to begin with. Abort, I say and get us to safety whilst we still can!” It was good advice but perhaps wrongly worded in the heat of the moment.

“Pig headed? I beg your pardon? I am the most level headed person you know, including Geelslang. Pig headed you say? Now shut up and warn the rest to get ready for transfer.”

“Transfer to what? Oh, I see, well, it won’t work….” I ended lamely as her plan became clear.

She was long not going to forget my unfortunate description. “Pig headed? You are the pig headed one between us, my word, I will remember this mutiny for all time and eternity! And pray why will it not work? I land next to the Chinese Changhe Z-8s and steal one. We blow this one and the remaining helicopter to pieces, they will burn out, who will know? They look the same to the last rivet. Anyway, I have no choice, the number two engine is not going to make it and I cannot fly with one engine, I can land safely with one engine, now keep quiet and get ready!”

“Christopher, you will not flippen believe this….”

I started shouting in his ear, he nodded, grinned. He had heard all right, and turned to his men, barking orders. The effect was instantaneous, everyone grabbed his kit and got ready. The strobes went on as Angelique became just another Chinese helicopter for the second time that night although a sick sounding one, the engines were still coming and going. We lowered the rear ramp and waited. What can you do, you play the cards as they come.

I will never admit that I bring bad luck on Angelique’s airframes but through the years we crashed and ejected enough times to begin to wonder about it in private (you think? Angelique). Nevertheless, at the end of the day we always survived and in this case I was innocent, I never had dark thoughts as they (Geelslang and Angelique, our flying wonders) call it. The Super Frelon had a sterling reputation for overheating engines, that is why the South African Air Force, as good as the Israeli Air Force in turnaround time, maintenance and availability, very high standards, binned theirs and went with the smaller Super Puma, later upgraded to the Oryx I write about often enough. I knew this, I actually asked her about it when we saw the aircraft first (yes, you see, that is where you put the Jonah Foxtrot curse on them, Angelique) and she dismissed the thought (I made the sign of the cross too, it did not help much, Angelique). They will tell you, the flying wonders, that an aircraft has a soul, she is not a piece of metal and wires smelling (each military one has its own smell) of whatever. No, she is to be treated and pampered and fawned over. For the life of me, I don’t get it, it is a piece of metal and wires connected to a few engines (there we go again, Angelique). I once kicked the tire of her instrument of terror, her T-37 “Tweet” which her late husband bought her, God knows why, he was obviously not abused in it as much as me (because he never kicked her tires logical, Angelique) in justified revenge. She made me apologise twice in public. We don’t talk about that anymore now that we are happily married. Mind, we were in deep trouble here. Walking out carrying Lucy would be hard and what is worse, time extensive. Stealing the Chinese helicopter was actually a good idea, if it worked, not all helicopters can be boarded and started just like that. They may not even have fuel. And so we waited and waited and although only for about 9 minutes, it felt like hours.

Mutare Airport is very regional and not open for commercial flight at night, she was long closed when we arrived just after 3 AM, now struggling with the number two engine failing and not delivering. Angelique was flying and trying to get number three started and that engine was acting deplorably, not doing anything. No doubt we were committed now. If we could not get to the Chinese helicopters and start one, we were on the run. Exciting times awaited.

Being on the run is something we train for and it is a legendary course which all Aircrew and Special Forces undergo, secret agents too and in various formats and if you fail it, you will not be badged. There is nothing in this world, excluding saving Angelique or our twins, which will make me go through that again. It is not so much physical abuse, although a few smacks and kicks are expected for the cause but the mental part of it that breaks trainees. I got buried alive twice, the second time failed to excite me, I knew they had to keep me alive but your mind does wonder vaguely if these people, they are dreadful when working, realise that you are not really the enemy. After days of being awake, interrogated, shouted at, stripped naked, being cried over by the medics (also a trick), surviving stooges (real bastards) and just being in general abused, you have to reach very deep to recall that this will end even if in death. Of course, it is nonsense in our world, you will not keep at the old “name, rank, and service number” when we get hold of you. We, I mean the Egg Breakers, will follow the Spetsnaz methods which we admire where you are entitled to a quick death if you talk. Otherwise, believe you me, you will talk anyway and not die as quickly as you could have done. It is the old tried and tested cigarette system once we get hold of you. When we are satisfied that you told the truth as far as you know it, you are given a last cigarette if you so wish as well as a bit of time to make peace (seven minutes for Christians, six minutes for Muslims).

I have much experience in this aspect and note a few interesting things. A communist has by definition no need to pray to God before the end comes. He made his choices in life and should do the decent thing and stick to it. Hence no last cigarette either – smoking is a capitalist thing as he should know and God’s time must not be wasted. About atheists I don’t need to explain to you, he too made his choices and a liberal is always given twice as much time as the rest (fourteen minutes) since we are caring people. He needed more time to confess his peculiar ways, usually begging for mercy in between, not getting it that mercy is not what we do at that stage. We don’t have detention camps in Cuba and we think the Virginians lost the plot completely with Guantánamo Bay or GTMO as it is called. Radical Muslims, I found, died much easier and with much more dignity than most. They understood our rules better and seldom whined about fate but they disliked being twepped by a woman and so most were. It is ironical (see Lucy executing her tormentor in Code Name Celery 50).

These things go both ways, we don’t expect any different treatment but at least, no one was burned alive in a cage or any of the other well-known methods used by ISIS. They are beyond stupid, ISIS, if they kept a low profile, acted with Muslim civility (yes, that exists too, my first wife, Marwa, was a Muslim girl and a wonderful human being, disagreeing violently with the jihadis), no one would have been bothered with them. Floggings in public is very common in the Middle East, beheadings also, they are not the same as where you may be and we must respect that. If that is their religion, their way of life and what they want, let them do what they please. America’s great mate and ally, Saudi Arabia, the same guys that supplied an entire brigade of infantry to Syria during the Yom Kippur War to help wipe out Israel, is particularly well known for utter intolerance against gays, Christians and political enemies. They don’t have any idea of what a Bill of Human Rights is and we know they supplied 95% of the known 9/11 attackers, suspiciously so. I am not a man that have much faith in coincidence and neither should you, reading here, I look for patterns and tend to believe you are guilty until proven innocent. But, hey, just donate to the Clinton Foundation and you will get protected and fawned over by the US White House, up for sale to the highest bidder. Yes, even we Africans can read and write and see what is obvious to everyone except the contradicting liberals, trying to spin what cannot be denied unless, of course, it is a “vast right wing conspiracy.” Who have ever heard of a former US President being asked for five minutes of his time to be given a $1 million birthday gift, donated to his charity to make it look legal? Apparently, see WikiLeaks, that is what the Government of Qatar did for Bill Clinton whilst his wife was Secretary of State. Whether he accepted or not no one knows, I am sure that his wife can most probably not recall the incident, it is deplorable, really, when you cannot remember because then, legally, you cannot deny the incident either. Mind, we never expected this type of thing in the so called “Beacon of Freedom.” We were sadly disillusioned or perhaps not, we don’t see men like Mr Eisenhower and Mr Reagan anymore on television.

Training to escape and resist interrogation is essential to us. Working behind enemy lines means the chances are good of you being discovered and chased, if so, what do you do and if you are captured, what then? Probably the best known example of being on the run behind enemy lines is the ill-fated Bravo Two Zero Patrol of Andy McNab (as he calls himself) fame during the First Gulf War. As far as we were concerned, our opinion, they should have killed that shepherd boy silently and continued with their mission. His life was not worth what happened subsequently or them not completing a simple mission. I would have made a different decision and I did, in 1988 and I live with my decision, supported by those that were with me. Inside our community, the patrol leader, Andy McNab was harshly criticized. Many British Special Air Service senior warrant officers stated flatly he fucked up and was no hero in their eyes. One went further and said openly it was the worst led patrol in their glorious history. I don’t want to get involved in that argument, it is history and whatever else happened, we have to live with it. On this point, someone, I was speaking to a fellow the other day, he asked me if we ever executed our own to prevent them from falling into enemy hands? He mentioned that he overheard that the Russian Spetsnatz Regiments are formed on brutality, therefore, they do such things. I know many Russian officers in that Special Forces Unit, we rate them higher than the US Army Green Berets in viciousness and cruelty and they have their ways of doing things and the story most likely from a well-known book written by a defector, describing their harsh methods and training. But, and this is important, we must be careful about Western propaganda telling us that they are not formed on patriotism and only on fear. What I saw of them, their members are super patriotic towards the “motherland” and they are trained to be ruthless, to get the job done, but so is everyone else. We had the same horrible stories with us, anything from killing small puppies to having sex with goats, and it is all bloody nonsense, disgraceful rumours. I suppose any Special Forces Selection is brutal in the extreme, men are tested to their limits, men break and some cry in frustration, it is ugly to see but in the end you are dealing with the most professional of soldiers in the world. I recall Geelslang and I were conducting an exercise. As part of Selection the new recruits had to walk 62 miles in 24-hours, loaded with 100 pound Bergens and across steep sand dunes, to make them suffer more and only the water they could carry. We all did that, during our own Selection, so we did not feel sorry for them as we followed the recruits in a vehicle telling them to “f give up and die, they are wasting our time etc.!” As we went across another dune, we walked into an unexpected movie set, one of the actors, an American, tried to offer them water much to our disgust. Geelslang roared at them to keep walking and hurry up (well, something like that, Geelslang can be very persuasive). I believe this was in 1990, just outside Walvisbaai in Namibia. We had a secret police base there, at an oasis – all made it, it was at the end of that Selection and they were used to us. Being professionals, they would never have taken any water from a stranger, knowing they would be binned for cheating. I have another mate, he told me that during his Royal Marine Special Boat Squadron Selection, a group of hikers walked into them, running up and down mountains, they were so shocked that they wrote a letter to their MP (such a British thing to do, I admire their innocence). Nothing came of that letter. The Royal Marines said they will look into the matter and threw the letter in the dustbin. More recently men died trying out for British Special Air Service Selection. I noted the online outrage with much contempt, you cannot possibly lower your standards and then the man cannot hack it in genuinely warm places like the Middle East or Africa and this is in no way a condemnation of the men that tried and died, I honour them, don’t put words in my mouth which is not there, liberals do such things and should not be reading my books. Fact is and I admire this even more, none of their parents made a big deal about it, sad as it was, they accepted fate and that men will die during Selection. Now contrast this with another British soldier in the artillery, I think, I also read about, suing the British Government because he was born in Ghana (West Africa) and “thus is susceptible to being cold more easily?” Now it seems his human rights are somehow affected. Are you flippen insane, mate? Such a lawyer should be disbarred for being stupid, they all are, mind you, I often saw them at court trying to trick innocent policemen in admitting they forced the bastard, his client, into admitting guilt (I am a barrister also, you keep forgetting, Angelique). She is, but she never practised law and so can be forgiven. The answer to executing my own, no, I never did and never heard of that happening but I will give that order if needs be. It is by far a better fate than being tortured to death. All countries have nasty people, men and women able to torture without reason, it is not limited to our theatre. To be caught in Zimbabwe meant torture, I had my mind made up the moment the engine started failing. If we could not hijack another helicopter, we would do whatever is needed to get to Mozambique and safety, even if that means Christopher and lads go their own way, I will get Angelique out. We can move faster alone and perhaps steal a car. The two girls would probably follow us and then it suddenly clicked to me what Angelique forgot to tell me. Twice now Christopher talked about Blondie as if she worked for them, Six, and not Angelique’s people. He was a smart man, street savvy, he knew the lingua, why would he say that? All sorts of alarm bells started going off in my head but this was not the time, the engines started howling in their normal fashion once more just as we went over the outlying fences and across the runway.

“I got the engine started again!” Angelique announced triumphantly as we saw the Chinese helicopters in the distance. “Stand by to destroy the helicopters, we are back on track.”

“Are we stealing one or not?” I asked.

I was scratching my head under my flight dome. This constant changing of direction was astonishing even for her.

“Oh no, we don’t need to anymore, I wanted to steal one but with the engine restarted that reason went away, cessante ratione legis cessat ipsa lex, you get?” The answer came back, a bit bizarrely if you think what we were up to and where we were.

“No, I don’t, whatever, are you sure?” I vaguely recalled her saying the Latin maxim before.

“If the reason for the law disappears, so does the law, did you not study Latin at university or school, Foxtrot?”

“No, I don’t care, lawyers are stupid people, full stop. If they had brains they would have studied medicine or engineering. And most of the turd brigade started off as lawyers or preachers when you think about it. We don’t like them, are you sure on not stealing another helicopter?”

She clearly decided to ignore my views on lawyers, true as they were, I am sure you will agree, they are not people you should allow in through the front door. Perhaps the servants entrance.

“Yes, I am sure. We have advanced FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) on this one which may be needed in the future. And she is okay now, must have been your dark thoughts, you better stop that and note, we only have a few minutes idling time before she overheats again. I am not switching off, so you take the left side Z-8 and I the right one as we face them, Agreed?”

“Roger that!”

I turned to Christopher to tell him but he gave me the thumb up sign, having listened in on the spare earphones. There is a time to argue and a time to do and this was doing time. We came in low over the deserted field over the dilapidated fences, the place was closed. I stood ready at the door with Angelique’s charges, still in her kitbag, the sniper lad next to me, he still had Lucy’s sniper rifle with him. I notice such things automatically.

“Why don’t you take something with more bullets than five in the magazine? An AK47?” I suggested, his bolt action rifle outmatched.

“No need, Sah, Mr Christopher annexed our Kord heavy machine guns for perimeter defence.”

Christopher was standing behind us, looking out. “Yes well, you would not know this, Foxtrot, neither does Sir John but I am terrified of the dark. And so I am well armed whenever taking a leak, it is deplorable, I know. I also need people to protect me from all harm when in such a vulnerable position, perimeter defence and all that, old chap.”

He smirked at me and pointed to the back where four of his men were forming two gun crews, two shooters and two loaders.

“I want those machine guns back when done. Don’t shoot without my command, Christopher, we are trying to look innocent here but thank you!”

I grinned back, the man came through for us. Those Kord heavy machine guns are a great force multiplier. Yes, he was using half his 8-man team to man them but they are powerful weapons, able to punch very large holes in any human and light armour at a fair distance. From experience I knew they were accurate also, they even looked Gucci with their flat muzzle brakes, very much not the old Soviet Union models which worked but looked crudely made. Since each came in at only 56 pounds, the bipod included, they could be carried easily over short distances. The lads had this sorted in their usual professional way, slamming the ammunition belts into place, 250 rounds apiece (we linked them prior to this, one in seven tracer, one in five armour piercing). It was awesome to see.

“Yeah, no problem. You are welcome as the Americans say.”

“Kindly spread out and protect our escape helicopter above all as well as my wife, she is the only pilot we have here, if she is hurt, we walk.”

I suggested calmly as we flared, the two target helicopters about forty-five yards away, our flashing strobes reflecting back from the wet apron below us. His answer, casually given, would change everything, again.

“Not really, we have another helicopter pilot here with us, an emergency one. Sir John insisted, the lad used to be in the Parachute Regiment, so he came along, promising not to be in our way. It is a pity that we are neutral here, I mean, we could have stolen one of those helicopters easily if dictated by circumstances. It so happened he knows a Super Frelon well, he was on detached service recently with the Frogs, in Corsica.”

He stared at me and I nodded knowingly as I gave him a look of utter disbelief on the chances of having another Super Frelon pilot just by chance. Life does not work like that, not where Angelique Dawson is involved. I did what was needed, I called her on the intercom.

“Mrs Dawson, we have another helicopter pilot here with Christopher, ex-British Army Air Corps, do you wish to steal a helicopter? He just came back from flying Aérospatiale Super Frelons with the Frogs, by chance, you get?”

“So, they are not as neutral as we thought? Wait out, I am thinking.”

She was thinking PSYOP (psychological operation) here. We wanted to stir trouble between the Baboon and his Chinese mates. We had already mortar bombed the hell out of one of his ambush teams, killing most and using clearly identified Chinese made PGMM (Precision Guided Mortar Munitions). We will drop some of the used MANPAD (Man-Portable Air-Defence System), also Chinese made, during the counter ambush and now we could steal a helicopter and blow another. What would the Chinese think of this and what would the Baboon have ordered? He had no real air assets left, a Changhe Z-8 would help, certainly, if he could hide it somewhere until the fuss blew over and his people could conduct such a raid and fly away with one. I could feel the excitement rising, this could be done. This changed everything.

“Christopher, this is Mrs Dawson.” She called back as she landed, she does not take a long time to make a decision.

“Christopher here, Madame!”

“This helicopter is malfunctioning; she is good for now but we would be better off with another following us. I will deal with Sir John should it be necessary to explain further on choices made during the next few seconds. Major Foxtrot, do you support my view?” She asked formally and unnecessary.

“Yes, I do, two helicopters make a lot more sense.” I agreed, obviously, it is true. “We can then help each other across the border to safety.”

“Then I feel duty bound, Madame, to fly with you. It would be daft not to, an operational necessity, you may even say, to safeguard our passenger. We will keep to your port side, 800 hundred yards to the rear?”

Christopher covered his ass nicely and in more ways than one, we had the advanced FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) and should be in the lead, also the advanced threat scanners and ECM (Electronic Counter Measures). We did not know what the Changhe Z-8 would have or their capabilities. His comment showed years of experience in dealing with senior officers.

“Thank you, take the left hand side one if possible. Yes, the one Foxtrot now cannot sabotage anymore since you are flying it. Foxtrot, meet me at the doomed helicopter so we can get done.”

It occurred to me later, much later, that she could have stayed inside her seat and waited as I took care of the remaining helicopter but she was there as fast as a flash. As soon as I reached the Chinese Changhe Z-8, looking extraordinarily familiar, she was grabbing her charges from the kitbag, smirking happily at me and started placing them expertly. In fact, I placed not one of those demolition charges, I handed them out like candy (Foxtrot was shaking his head and muttering to himself in Zulu, Angelique). Of course, we now had too many charges and we used most, leaving only enough to blow our own helicopters if needs be. We are not Yanks, we don’t leave helicopters idling and waiting for the enemy just because something went wrong (Operation Eagle Claw, see Code Name Wrangler).

Christopher and another fellow were inside the other Changhe Z-8, going through starting up procedures, they certainly had electrical power, the instrument panels were coming alive (not a glass cockpit, still the old analogue dials). They were in a hurry and so were we, once we laid the charges and fuses, we ran over.

“Are you winning?” Angelique asked, standing next to the command-pilot, peeking through the window. “Same as the one in Corsica? I cannot blow the remaining one unless you give me the go ahead, we can still switch.”

I pondered how she knew he flew a Super Frelon in Corsica, home to the Legion’s Paratrooper Regiment and a place where she would be debriefed for an entire year after her defection (I suspect, I don’t really know), I missed her so much, working my ass off on the Ukuthula Ranch with Geelslang and Thandiwe, and then came the attack on us that started the Egg Breaker War (Code Name Pour Angelique). I vividly recalled that Christopher had shouted that information about his pilot to me, not spoken over the intercom where she would have listened in, no doubt (as was my right as senior officer and aircraft commander, Angelique).

The pilot did not even look up from his checklist, oddly, not written in Chinese as you would have expected. “Yes, I am very grateful now that they gave me their oldest model, the non-glass cockpit one. First I thought they were being Frogs but now, I am not so sure. It is exactly the same, Madame. Strobes on once we take off, we will follow you, Madame. I suggest that you let me take off first and you get going, I will follow and radio if something is wrong, use Christopher’s call sign on guard. I will close onto you; this is a bit unexpected but delightful, I must say. Major Foxtrot, please remove the chucks on the wheels.”

I wasted no time, ducking down and pulling the chucks away from the front wheels, running to the side rear wheels and shortly after held all of the chucks down to his front, where he could see them. He mentioned to the back, I threw them into the cargo hold and closed the side door. When I got back to the cockpit, having run right around the large helicopter twice, Angelique was gone, nowhere to be seen.

“Eh, where the hell is my wife?” I asked, looking around, not amused.

“In her helicopter, where else, see you later, old chap. We are starting the engines.” Christopher shouted across as the engines started to whine. “And count my men back in will you? Only us two are here, we don’t know this machine well enough to risk more.”

“Okay, see you!”

I ran back to our Super Frelon, Angelique was indeed strapping herself in and waving at me to join her at the front. I ran straight past and stood next to the open rear ramp, handing the kitbag and remaining charges (no fuses, they were dormant) to the sniper lad. She could wait for a few seconds.

“Hey, you, Sniper lad, check the men coming back, six of them, count each and my two Kord heavy machine guns. Lucy and Blondie still here? Yes? Okay, here, take the spare headset, I am up front, can do?”

“Of course, Sah, I was, I am still, a sergeant in my own Regiment. Carry on then. I will give you the command to take off.”

He responded with a smile of his own, many men dropped in rank to get into Special Forces, he was one of them. The men were now retreating back to the Super Frelon, being counted in, I nodded satisfied as I saw the two Kord heavy machine guns arrived and sprinted to the front, opening the door and proceeded to make myself comfortable in the co-pilot seat next to Angelique. This was going to be fun. Christopher and mate were taking off already, straight up, testing the controls and then moving away. She gave me the standard Angelique pre-flight briefing.

“Foxtrot, you touch nothing, not even yourself! You get?”

“Yes, whatever. How do I strap myself in?”

“Figure it out and then sit on your hands.” She started talking in her microphone as we lifted off too and drifting backwards for a few hundred yards, our strobes flashing brightly. We must have looked innocent enough at that stage. “Christopher, this is Mrs Dawson, note that I will detonate the charges on command. Acknowledge? Form up on me when ready.”

It is standard procedure to let everyone know that your blowing something, you often hear the range officer shouting “Fire in the hole” three times. It is actually more than that, he also needs to check around and see if everyone is indeed clear, sounding an alarm (see Code Name Phantom for demolition range procedures, Angelique). This was what she was doing.

“We are forming you, Madame” Christopher replied, they were indeed a few hundred yards away from us, their own strobes also flashing. “No glitches, we have half a tank load of fuel here. She is responding pretty much the same as the original.”

She pointed with her chin towards a radio control firing device lying on the panel between us, smirking at the same time. I grabbed it and pushed the button without thinking (yeah, sure, keep telling yourself that, Angelique). The subsequent explosion was magnificent, the white flashes of the charges detonating all at once, the thermate and white phosphorus burning merrily and then the fuel tanks exploded a second later as black smoke started rising, a wonderful sight indeed. There was nothing left of that helicopter, she was blown to pieces. Angelique’s reaction could be described as magnificent too, in self-righteous fury.

“Good Lord! What did you do? I did not say press the button! You cheated me! By all what is holy, Foxtrot, you cheated me out of blowing the helicopter, with my own charges too? I cannot believe this? My word….” She spluttered the words out, unable to believe her eyes. “Ek is bevark!” (Afrikaans, I am done in, hard done by.)

“You pointed towards the device, that is a command to blow it, you don’t have any of your hands free, you need all of them to fly. Now get us home! It is done and I destroyed the helicopter! Is that not a great sight!” I defended myself valiantly (I still do). “Look how she is burning!”

“Wonderful work, Foxtrot, what a nice explosion!” Christopher radioed, confirming what was clear to see. “The thermate and white phosphorous really worked well.”

“I am cheated most cruelly, you shyster you! Even Christopher thinks you did it on purpose, no, he knows and he is not even in this cockpit, that is how bloody obvious it is. This is mutiny and sedition if not outright revolt. Good Lord, I cannot believe this, revolting also. This is worse than stealing candy from a baby, you should be ashamed. Mind, you destroyed nothing… eh, it was my charges, I laid them, like the demolitions expert I am, and you… you, you pressed the firing button without my orders to do so, in front of my nose too…. I told you to touch nothing! Good Lord, I cannot believe my eyes!”

She was lost for words for the first and only time in her life as we flew straight to the international border and so started a disagreement that is still ongoing, happily married or not. She even refers to Code Name Anika as “the one where Foxtrot cheated me most cruelly.” Of course, anyone reading here will know I am entirely in the right. She pointed to the device and I had my hands free, I pressed the switch. You would have done the same, I am sure, it was entirely instinctive. Geelslang too, agrees with me, she gave the order by pointing with her chin, her actions showed her intent. (Like hell I did, I said to Foxtrot to sit on his hands before he grabbed the remote and blew my charges in front of me! Why else would I say touch nothing? Did he touch or not? Yes? A direct disobeying of my orders that was. I could not even grab the remote back as he well knew. By the time I had the auto pilot on only ashes and flames remained. This is shyster tactics 101; a tiny widow being bullied. Of course, Geelslang would take his side, it means nothing, he is worse, Angelique). Well, when she said to touch nothing, I thought she meant the flight controls as always. Besides, it is not yet written in the GMJ Series but she would blow another helicopter later on in our life together (yes, I did, but there can only be one first of everything in life and that was not the first anymore, I was cheated most maliciously, every woman reading here will agree, it is exploitation of the worst kind, bully boy tactics, Angelique).

“Eh, so how are the engines then?”

I inquired when she finally got silent, giving me odd looks and shaking her head. She still mutters in her sleep about the incident (yes, it was deplorable liberal behaviour, you should be ashamed, Angelique).

“What engines, they are good. They always were.” She snapped back, unthinkingly.

“They always were?” I asked calmly. “Really?”

“Yes, ahm, they are now, you see, all in the green. You cheated me, I am not speaking to you for the rest of my life, eh, to the end of this flight, anyhow. Kindly shut up and sit on your hands.”

And that is as far as she ever admitted faking an engine failure to get Christopher to steal the Changhe Z-8 flying to our port side and that was not all that happened that night. We crossed the border and I felt quite safe, being “feet wet” so to speak, when the threat scanner started beeping.

“What the hell is this?”

“Jaybird, the MIG-21s are scanning. I am not talking to you.” She answered a bit more sedately. “Christopher, we have Jaybird radar scanning us. Come closer to me and switch your transponder off, also your white lights, keep your infrared strobe on. Acknowledge.”

By now I gathered how the Jaybird radar is defeated, you fly low and slow and get lost in the ground clutter. But Angelique was not doing this, she kept us flying at a sedate 5,000 feet and also had her infrared strobes firmly on. We would be visible for many miles if you had the right equipment which presumably the MIG-21s did have.

“Acknowledged, Madame. Recommend going down to very low level flight, we have fuel.” The pilot, he was highly experienced, suggested.

Like all aircraft, a helicopter is using less fuel when cruising at constant speed at altitude, going low and fast burns considerably more.

“Negative on that request, stay here with me, please. We want the Jaybird tracked from higher above but follow me down when I react. The threat is still far enough away, we are safe.”

“Roger that.” He replied and stayed silent.

“Ah, the Mirages? They are honing in?” I got it.

“I am not talking to you but if I was, yes, they need to hone in and activate their own search radars. We are being used as bait.” She answered shortly.

“I hope you know what you are doing.” I answered mildly. “I don’t like being bait whilst in a greenhouse cockpit.”

The Chinese copies of the MIG-21 which the bastards were flying, had two 30 mm cannon and they could certainly shoot us down. Besides that, they would have old air-to-air missiles, them I was sure we could defeat with our advanced ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) system. The guns, well, we had several methods to defeat them.

“Ceci est Madame Dawson. Ilussions, où êtes-vous?” (French, This is Mrs Dawson. Illusions, where are you?” She spoke on the radio, having switched to the guard channel.

I got that she meant the Dassualt Mirages, you can translate “mirage” into “illusion” if speaking code. Clearly, she expected the top cover to be around or close by. I hope they were but only static answered us.

“Ceci est Madame Dawson. Ilussions, où êtes-vous?” (French, This is Mrs Dawson. Illusions, where are you?”

She repeated herself five minutes later and I began to get a very uncomfortable feeling. The threat scanner was going mad. If her top cover did not arrive soon, we would be dodging the MIG-21s and we could do not much more than dodging, to be honest, we could not really shoot back. However, we will survive, we could simply land and wait them out, they had short legs. But who warned them to scramble? Surely they could not do so in the time since we blew the helicopter, this was worrying on another level (you mean since you blew her, unlawfully so, Angelique).

“Nous sommes au-dessus de vous, à 60,000 pieds. Continuez à déplacer et aller bas. Nous avons ce que nous avons besoin. Activation de la recherche radars, maintenant!” (French, We are above you, at 60,000 feet. Keep on moving and go low. We have what we need. Activating search radars, now!)

“Roger que, rester en contact!” (French, Roger that, stay in contact!) She dipped our nose and we literally fell down to the ground only levelling out at 100 feet as I kicked against the floor to somehow level us again (Foxtrot went white, a delightful sight, Angelique). “Christopher, I think you may be tracked in some way, let us land at that meadow next to the hill in front of us. I will check it out first with the FLIR.”

“Roger that.” He replied.

We overflew the meadow, it was more a savannah type grassland, scanning with the FLIR and then landed, the sniper lad guiding us down. Christopher, lining up with us, landed too. Up above us a mini theatre of the real was playing off, the Mirage 2000D has very distinctive radar, the threat receivers on the MIGs would have given them clear warning that they were being scanned and locked on. From thereon it is a matter of bluff. You either keep coming, knowing you will be shot down, you are out gunned or you turn away and let things go. There was no way for us to know what was happening until the Mirage pilots tell us. In the meantime, I decided to make peace. I don’t like it when my soul is fuming and refusing to speak.

“Look, you…” I said to Angelique as she switched off, now silent again and pulling a Lucy on me “we need to communicate to survive. We are not out of danger yet no matter what your Mirages do to the MIGs. I am sorry about the misunderstanding with your demolition setup. Hug?”

Undeniably, it is written in the Bible, that if your enemy apologises and means it, you have to forgive and move on, if not, God will not and cannot bless you. I knew she would know that but it was touch and go for several minutes as she considered her options. In the end she gave up and started laughing.

“Okay, we can hug but be it known for all who have ears, I was cheated by you, done in and abused most foully. Regrettably, I cannot stay mad with you for long, I never could.”

We hugged next to the helicopter and then waited patiently. Christopher and his pilot were searching their helicopter, in the end taking out a fuse and declared themselves free of interference. Many aircraft, well, all of them if able to carry passengers, have transponders broadcasting their position. Some models have the ability to switch them off and especially military aircraft could do that, go dark as it is called. I can only guess that the Chinese Military did not trust their pilots or saw the device as a safety measure when in Africa, you had to take the fuse out and hope it did not have a battery standby mode, besides that the helicopter was identical to the last rivet, even the many instrument meters except the radios, they were different.

It reminded me of Stalin, the Soviet dictator who was in no way a nice “Uncle Joe” but a depraved killer. It is said that when he finally parted ways with earth to go to hell where he belongs, he choked to death, his nurse closed the door and left him to die. That brought Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev to the fore and the break with Mao’s China followed soon after. The two Communist States would have major armed clashes on their shared border and the rift only healed recently. But what made the Chinese Super Frelons interesting to me, from a historical perspective, was the Tupolev Tu-4 (NATO name – Bull). She was an exact copy of the US Boeing B-29 Superfortress. We often think that the Manhattan Project, to make the first atomic bombs, was the most expensive single project in the US during World War Two, in fact, the B-29 project overtook it in costs and rapidly too.

They stole the aircraft design, the Soviets, no doubt, they reverse engineered interned B-29s and from them came the Tupolev Tu-4, many hundreds were built and I suppose, no license fees were paid to Boeing. First they asked the US for the aircraft under the Lend-Lease Agreements and were refused twice (so you can say that is where the Cold War started, Angelique). Since they were at peace with Japan until 15 August 1945, the European War was done and over with, the Soviets were inside their legal rights to intern any American or Japanese aircraft landing in the Soviet Union as much as Switzerland did the same with German and Allied aircraft. Being of the very latest design and able to fly across oceans with ease, the US wanted their interned B-29s back. The Soviets refused flatly, although, it must be said, the bomber crews were allowed to “escape” and get back to US held territory. The “escape part” was to satisfy international law as they were supposed to be held as combatants, if not exactly prisoners of war, then also not free men, interned. All of the flight crew were escorted by the NKVD (later the KGB, secret police) back to safety, these stories were actively suppressed by the US after the war, quoting national security.

Now when a man like Joseph Stalin orders something to be cloned, it meant exactly that - to the last rivet and from this came an amusing story – there was an empty rivet which had no function, it was clearly made by mistake by the US workers and yet, to ensure survival, the Soviet engineers made sure to make the same hole in the same place whilst knowing full well that it was a useless gesture. Such is the ways of man in a totalitarian state. The engineers even asked permission to use Soviet made parachutes (not a clone of the US ones, technically speaking) during flight. Despite this and numerous engineering problems, they did well, the end product looked exactly like the original and was only 750 pounds heavier (less than 1% difference). The radios and electronics were Soviet made, they could not copy that aspect but they increased the remote-controlled gun turrets to fire the Soviet Nudelman NS-23 23 mm cannon, outranging the standard twin 50 Browning machine guns and later single M2 20 mm cannon in the tail on the original B-29.

The Soviets now had a strategic heavy bomber, combined with their atomic weapons, they could reach Chicago or Los Angeles on a one-way mission, the USA was directly threatened. The response was the Cold War weapons race, numerous single engine jet fighters (interceptors) on both sides and many more atomic bombs than what could possibly be needed. In the 1960s, most Tu-4s were withdrawn from service but China kept the ten they got from the Soviet Union, flying to the late 1980s. At one stage trying a primitive AEW (Air Early Warning) system on one of them. (The US out built them, where the Soviets could field 847 new “B-29s” the US at the same time, manufactured 3,970 airframes and delivered them to the newly created USAF. You just cannot compete or could not then, Angelique.)

“Blondie does not look much abused, thank God.” I remarked innocently to Angelique.

She was sitting next to me on a rock, the rain gone for the moment, as we watched Blondie talking softly to Lucy, now sitting upright and looking curiously around her. She reminded me of a meerkat (a small mongoose, lives in parts of the Kalahari Desert, Angelique). I was a bit surprised at Angelique’s lack of concern for her agent, she would have showed a lot more concern if this was for real. I suddenly feel tired, it was one hell of a long night, and I knew the truth. I shook my head sadly.

“No, she was not with them long, praise our Lord.” She answered.

“I have a bedtime story to tell you?” I said. “For our books in the future, you get?”

“Yes? There once was a beautiful spymaster. She was happy with her life of mayhem and murder, and then entered the evil shysters, two ex-Special Forces men. One would cheat her most cruelly from blowing up a Chinese Changhe Z-8 helicopter during the early morning hours of March, 18 2010?” She suggested helpfully, her head on my shoulder.

“Yes, that too. But this story started some time ago with Duval. In my story he had some enemies, like a different faction that had to die or perhaps they were impimpis (Zulu slang, police informants) but Duval, for whatever reason did not wish to kill them himself. Yep, and so he had an idea, he contacted his mentor, General Mark Sithole for advice.”

“Carry on, you are turning out to be pretty good at fiction.” She smirked.

“Bear with me. General Sithole contacted his friend, Mrs Dawson, and suggested that Sir John, the old goat, gets involved to TWEP all Duval’s mates or perhaps he merely asked for assistance and Mrs Dawson decided she could do a couple of things. First she could get Sir John, the old goat, in her debt forever and two weeks, you get, by helping him rescuing his daughter. He is a good father, even if a Pommy Bastard and he cares, she knew he would be bound to move heaven and earth to do that. A combined operation then. Secondly, Mrs Dawson decided she could get Duval’s enemies killed, all of them but not by using her own forces, no, by getting Six to do the dirty work for her, again for reasons which will never be known. And now, thirdly, she also has a fully working Chinese Changhe Z-8 helicopter, duly stolen because of engine problems which disappeared miraculously later on. But I wonder, what for though, we must wonder, there is nothing secret about the stolen helicopter, it is the same as the original Aérospatiale Super Frelon and well known to us. So the question is, why do you need a genuine Changhe Z-8 and had the need to steal one clandestinely?”

“Hmm, you are good at making up stories.” She said after a while, refusing to look at me, a sign of guilt if ever, and reflecting on life. “Our kids would enjoy your stories, I am sure.”

“I was wondering also. Twice now Christopher spoke of Blondie as ‘our’ agent. But she is not, she works for you. Why would he say such things? Why would he think she is a Six member when she is not? Did she turn? Is she a double, a penetration agent? You know what happens to such people when captured, in our world.”

At this she gave quite a start, a guilty conscience has such an effect on you, I am told (yes, as you reacted when you blew my helicopter without invitation, dropping the remote control device, Angelique). I often saw it in wayward liberals and the condemned. You inform them of their just verdict and coming execution, they are startled, giving a shake of guilt. Yes, as Geelslang explained once, that is the devil leaving the body for other victims.

“Foxtrot, you are so cute when you tell stories. Sexy even. Women dig authors, they are mysterious, of course, you are not, I know everything about you. I am waiting, we are in another country.” She finally answered, changing the topic and admitting nothing.

“You are beautiful! Hug?”

I sighed to myself, I did not really want to know and I most certainly could not care enough to force the issue. If she wanted Sir John, the old goat, in her pay, then so be it. In Angelique’s world nothing makes sense until it makes sense and then you wonder how you missed it. The Mirages gave the word a few minutes later and we took off again, heading for the Ukuthula Ranch Airport, the C-130 with the doctors on board stood waiting as was Sir John’s twin engine Bombardier.

“[If I could
Baby I’d give you my world
Open up
Everything’s waiting for you[
]From Fleetwood Mac’s Go your own way, 1977]

Chapter 7

The ridge close to the Psalm 23 Valley, Mozambique, 22 March 2010

I sometimes wonder how I survived my soul in those days, she could be pretty focused and narrow minded to get the job done at any cost. I am the same, obviously, but I would say I am less dangerous than her because she does not look dangerous. When you see her walking around, holding Lise and Odette’s hands among her flower beds, happily pointing out new blossoms, you don’t expect her to be the feared spymaster. She had something of a double personality as all good spies do (thank you, Angelique).

“Right, Foxtrot, be nice to our guests, they did good work when all is said and done and we are suitably grateful.”

She had radioed ahead as we approached, wisely clearing the radar lads and Starstreak missileers to leave us in peace. The runway was busy and it was ironic, for years it was abandoned, forgotten and then we discovered it and it was never the same again (Code Name Cadillac). The C-130 standing on the apron dwarfed the nimble Bombardier, a small executive jet. But that was not all, there were more, as the salesmen tell you. You had the two Mirage 2000Ds standing to the side, under the bombproof shelters where the MIGs once were. It was the first time I saw them and they do look like the old Mirage III in shape except for small canard wings. Both were twin seaters and painted in a greenish camouflage scheme I last saw in the south of France. Despite the similar look, they are years ahead of the old Mirage III, a 1960s era aircraft comparable to the Phantom II. The Mirage 2000D is closer to the F-16 in performance because of avionics, fly-by-wire controls and much more built into it. What I did not expect was a South African Air Force JAS39 Gripen to their side, getting ready to depart, the deadliest of them all by far and in light grey air superiority paint. It is a beautiful aircraft, but, perhaps I had a sixth sense, but every time I saw the Gripens I felt a shudder. Well-deserved too, a few years later they sank the old EBS Orlando under my ass and strafed us swimming in the water, the last part was uncalled for and we got the pilots later on. I mentally said goodbye to Angelique and our unborn twins at one stage, accepting death (Code Name Lise). I saw also, we note such things automatically, that all the fighter aircraft were configured to air-to-air combat mode with the pilots not far away either, ready to scramble at very short notice. Seeing those jets together was a rarity in our world and worth remembering. We landed one after the other to the side and switched off.

“I am nice, always. What is that Gripen doing here then?” I asked.

“She is flying CAP (Combat Air Patrol), about to take off and give top cover for Sir John until he is out and away from the danger zone.” She explained, not really answering either.

“What are you expecting? A full blown attack? We cannot defend this place with aircraft alone, well we can, up to a point.” I remarked, feeling uncomfortable being there.

“Yeah, all comes to him that waits, questions are for liberals. Now smile and look happy. You should be happy, Foxtrot, having done me from behind earlier tonight!”

I started laughing at this until she blushed and swung a fist in my direction, I ducked. Of course, she was talking about the demolition incident (men are one track minded, Angelique).

“Should we not get refuelled as soon as possible? We are leaving presently to get Phase I done, the artillery strike on the Mike Delta Three Eight chasers. I am sure with the havoc caused tonight, the efforts will intensify to find the patrol and kill them.”

She frowned, thinking, it can be endearing to see. “We have time I think. Terminator is still walking to them, they will only establish contact tomorrow night, perhaps tonight but more likely tomorrow night, so it will take a couple of days. Hmm, I will say the 22nd should be the day. However, you have a point and we should not stay longer here than necessary. Let us greet Sir John, hand Blondie over and then you can get us refuelled, both helicopters.”

“But that is a problem, is it not? I mean the other pilot is leaving with Sir John? What then, you have two helicopters and one pilot?”

“Yes, they are all leaving.” She answered, not looking as concerned as I thought she would be.

“What do you want me to do with the Chinese helicopter, it cannot stay here in the open. It will be spotted.”

We stopped talking as the Gripen took off, her strobes flashing and then going dark as she climbed away to patrolling altitude, the engine noise, the same that the F-18 Super Hornet has, impressive.

“Foxtrot, why not? Why can the Changhe Z-8 not be seen on the Ukuthula Airport runway? What will the Baboon think when it is discovered here? What will the Chinese think? They lost two helicopters last night. One is blown up and available for inspection and the stolen one is here with me?” She was hinting at something but I was not getting it, it was a long night after all.

“The Baboon? I don’t know, he knows it was not him behind those attacks, so he would say it was you or terrorists or something. The Chinese, they would not know who it was, except that it was not them and would want their helicopter back, they will know it is you if it is found here. Therefore, the helicopter must be hidden or sunk even, in Lake Niassa, the place is 958 feet deep on average. We fly in, we land, we launch the dinghy and we sink her with explosives. Besides, another point, how will the Baboon know? His MIG-23 will not get past the Gripen and Mirages to take pictures, unless you want him to, of course, or if they have their Special Forces close by, observing. You are doing exactly the opposite of what is expected.”

“Damn right, I am. It is PSYOPS 101, created confusion and let them accuse each other. I have a Super Frelon, it is known, I made sure they know (Code Name Halloween 38), they saw us during the counter ambush. They don’t have a Special Forces observation team close by, I would know, we are scanning for them, with the two drones.”

“I am not getting what you are saying then.” I admitted.

Angelique does not think like normal people, she plays chess with humans, always three moves ahead. By luck, I won against her once by having no logic to my moves, studying her ass as she walked away to make tea and deliberately not planning my game at all. I would see a bird fly past and then move the Queen to the left etc. because the bird went that way, without even looking what Angelique was doing. That led to years of rematches and my technique, brilliant as it was, just would not work again but for a while she was severely pissed off and could not figure it out (Foxtrot never explained like this, for years he merely smirked knowingly when asked, Angelique). She even brought my mate, Boris, a former Sukhoi Su 27 driver and now a boring Antonov-124 pilot and fellow ping pong listener, a cultured man, in to help her figure my technique out. Geelslang, a good player himself, knew what I did from experience, and tried to explain. They did not believe him, he being a brother to me first and hence not entirely trustworthy where I am concerned. They still do not believe that totally random moves are humanly possible (it is not, if it was, ciphers would be unbreakable, everything we know about physics and maths would be wrong, algorithms are logical, it cannot be done, Angelique).

“Okay, you need more garlic pills, Foxtrot. If the, or rather a helicopter, is here, which one is here and where is the other one? If it is standing here in the open, where is the other one?” She repeated, staring at me.

“You mean if one is here you can operate with the other one in secret? Because people will think you are here but you are not, you are flying with the other one, an identical twin, at another place. But, Mrs Dawson, they know you have two helicopters!” I protested the weak spot in her argument.

“They know nothing of the sort, they know I have Super Frelon and another Changhe Z-8 disappeared mysteriously.” She smirked at this wisdom. “Yes, I just became an Irish girl, I can be in two places at the same time.”

“Eh, that accent does not suit you even if perfect. But you are not an Irish lass, they know you have two helicopters!” I repeated the argument in a circular fashion, designed to make her belligerent.

“They may suspect that; they don’t know that! Unless you see the two of them side by side and they will never be side by side once the sun is up, then how can they know? Anyway, this is the way it will be, we will leave the Chinese one as a decoy inside a bomb proof shelter but with her rotor tips sticking out. So she looks like my Super Frelon, being here. But I am not here, you get?”

“Okay, you talk to Sir John then and I will get them refuelled and the Chinese one into the shelter. We have half an hour before sunrise and then the place must be emptied?”

“Yep, let us go. It is your job as my husband to greet guests when they leave! Mind, I am the senior officer and this business, get over to us when you can. I should not be exposed to Pommies without reason!”

Of course, I only got to be her husband about two years later and since then we often stood side by side welcoming guests, including Sir John, the old goat. It is an Afrikaner tradition. We were quite busy for the next half an hour. I got Angelique’s Super Frelon refuelled and then started with the Chinese one, being almost empty, she took longer than expected. The first orange glow of the sun was coming out when we finally pushed her into the remaining shelter where Geelslang’s Russian made Dakota DC-3 is standing today. I made sure to park her (Angelique had to steer and release the brakes) as requested, about three feet of her rotors poking out at the open front. I have to say, she did look like the Super Frelon, I mean they are identical and in the shadows I doubt if anyone could say which is which except for the missing FLIR, a large round ball shape device on the original. After that I hurried over to do my duties as husband, feeling at peace with the world, Angelique was now in an exceedingly good mood, talking politely and offering me coffee. At the same time, it was time for them to piss off back to their miserable island without sun, God knows, I feel sorry for anyone living on it.

“Cheerio, Foxtrot! We will see you again, I hope.” Cristopher said as we shook hands, an African thing.

“Yes, I am sure we will.” I replied dryly and we would, afore turning to the old goat behind him. “Goodbye, Sir John, God bless! Regards to the Missus then.”

The man was so surprised at my civility that he stared at me for a few seconds, not sure if I was sarcastic which I was not. I was just happy to see the last of him but sadly, he too would be back often enough. You know how it is.

“Of course, old chap, of course, thank you for saving my daughter or rather letting Mrs Dawson help us, I kind of expected more trouble from you. Goodbye. Mrs Dawson, you also, Foxtrot, bye-bye.”

We did not shake hands, African tradition or not. His bodyguards were still wary of me with very good reason and keeping a close eye, I usually do what I say I will and shaking hands can easily become a method of killing. The Sicilians apparently have a kiss of death, a real Judas move that and it will not work here. I assure you, we colonials don’t do the male on male kissing thing, no we shake hands, we will shoot any man trying to kiss us. But we do have our own methods, unknown outside our world, shaking hands with death. We practised that move often, Geelslang, invented it. You walk up to the hostage taker and put out your hand, he shakes it, it is damn bad manners not to and you hammer him so hard with the other hand, pulling him into you at the same time, that his mom would have trouble recognising him. Such is life, be wary of Greeks bearing gifts? Yes, perhaps, be wary of Afrikaners shaking hands when they should not, Geelslang Peter Ndebele, 1985. (Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, Angelique).

“And so there were only us left?” I stated, thinking of an old school play I was forced to take part in, much against my will. “We happy few, we band of brothers…” I added quickly when her head swivelled to me “and sisters!”

“William Shakespeare’s play, Henry V? There is hope for you yet, but, Foxtrot, you better not think of me as your sister. We will have a dreadful marriage if you have such desires, unnatural and liberal as they are.” She started chuckling at my look of horror. I never had any sisterly feelings towards my soul, not then and not now and never in the future. It is disgusting. “Let us say goodbye to Christen, she is also leaving.”

The blond woman was indeed leaving. She was inside the Hercules, one of Angelique’s senior agents with her, being attended by the medics. I once again wondered what was happening behind the scenes, she was not going with Six, obviously not, no agent will be left with another agency unless escorted. Perhaps this was a personal matter for Sir John, I just did not know at that stage but felt glad that the girl was not as abused as was Lucy. If my theory was correct, and up to this date, Angelique had not denied it (nor confirmed, Angelique), she must have walked into that trap with both eyes open, a very calculated act of courage or perhaps borderline insanity. After the customary hug, they are odd in Angelique’s Service, the C-130 rumbled down the runway and disappeared, also switching her strobes off. We were clearing the runway fast.

“And I suppose, that Gripen will now cover the C-130 from molestation?”

“Yes, and we are leaving too. We have work to do, some sleep to catch up on and a few days to wait out.”

We had a new co-pilot, he came in on the Hercules which took Blondie away, making me wonder how she knew she would need him but as you know, we are not liberals. Angelique grilled the poor man first before nodding satisfied (he had my soul’s life in his hands, even if he cheated me most cruelly, I love him, Angelique). We took off to land just more than two hours later from where we took off the previous night. Lucy and the sniper lad had switched rifles again, a merry-go-round of arms took place, to be honest, Angelique unceremoniously grabbed the Heckler & Koch MP7 back and in the end we looked like we were when we left.

Sniper stood waiting with a grin, he too was back after dropping the radar lads at the G6 self-propelled gun, the Kwêvoël parked under a tree and camouflaged. He interrogated his lad at length, nodding and slapping him on the shoulder which is worth a medal in other armies. Clearly, he was pleased with the lad’s single killing shot and why not, it was effective but he would get nothing officially for his actions (I wrote a formal letter to his Regimental Commander and the Army Chief of Staff to thank him for services rendered, Angelique). Since Lucy could not recall what took place and we, Angelique and I, were technically not observers, and the rest not available, the lad proceeded to explain at great length and detail how he made that shot, he even kept the brass cartridge, showing it proudly to Sniper. In the middle of his story I decided that being the oldest around may have advantages, I crept into our two-man tent I shared with Angelique, a tradition we started during a mountaineering trip, Code Name Honey Bee, I think, and never stopped. Don’t be fooled though, that did not translate into sleeping together, we had our own sleeping bags but it was very nice to know she was close by, Hilarious times even.

I woke much later, I slept rather well, to coffee and a debate on the merits of Lucy’s DSR-1 against the South African made Truvelo .338 sniper rifle. Everyone there were good shots, Lucy won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, the rest of us were Special Forces rated with Sniper and Angelique world class. As you may imagine, the discussion was intense with each one holding out to his favourite rifle. It was a silly dispute in some ways, all agreed that the Truvelos were better than the Barretts for many reasons (see Code Name Butterfly, the book is about counter snipers, Angelique) and so they became technical in the extreme. I felt sad that Geelslang missed out, mind, he always gangs up with Angelique so perhaps that was also good.

“Have we found the FARP (Forward Area Refuelling / Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refuelling Point) yet?” I asked of Sniper when they finally decided that the argument was a draw (it was not, I won, Angelique).

“No, Sah, my teams are still searching but we will in due course, we know where they are not which is also good. Mrs Dawson told me she heard, God knows from where and I did not ask, that there is a FARP somewhere in that area.”

This was good news and bad news, depending on your resources and level of aggression. If the wankers had a FARP (Forward Area Refuelling / Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refuelling Point) established, it meant that they were planning a strike at some future date. It also meant we could attack first, once it is found, it becomes a chess game, the decision being Angelique’s as senior officer. For now, it was cat and mouse, to find the FARP and to wait for the Mike Delta Three Eight patrol to make their dash, leading the condemned to us. The G6 self-propelled howitzer was in place and waiting, so was the two Valkiri MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System systems). But we were not.

“I suggest we move out and get established on the ridge next to the Zimbabwe border, the one next to Psalm 23, the death zone.” I said quietly to Angelique as she handed me my garlic pills for the day.

“Okay, walking in?” She asked in return. “Method of entry?”

“It is the only way, walking in, unless we parachute in at night and then walk in. The problem here is Lucy being unable to HALO (high altitude, low opening) in, she can only do static line jumping as far as I know. You on the other hand, can do both HALO (high altitude, low opening) and HAHO (high altitude, high opening) for reasons I don’t want to know about, I wish to think well of you. This gives us choices, limiting ones. I would say we fly to an infiltration point, say 38 miles away, this spot here should do…” I pointed on my map. “The helicopter can be left under guard and we walk further. The sniper lad takes the remaining radar and Starstreak people to cover the Valkiris as we discussed and all the assets as agreed to with Terminator, are in place. Once we are settled in on that ridge, we are there, and we can wait patiently.” I explained my ideas as she frowned at something I said.

“Yes, but the helicopter makes a terrible noise no matter where we land with her. Lucy cannot do HALO (high altitude, low opening) as you observed but what if we overfly the area first and jump in. Say a high static line jump from 3,000 feet as if the helicopter is flying somewhere. Who will know that we jumped? I know we usually do so from above 25,000 feet where the engines cannot be heard on the ground but we have to adapt here. The Super Frelon cannot fly that high, we don’t have on board oxygen and Lucy will die. Look, the pilot can come back later and fetch us at Psalm 23 after we sprang the ambush. After he drops us by parachute he can fly back to the runway and hide the helicopter in the hanger. I don’t fancy walking back, Foxtrot. It will take time we don’t have. Anyway, the locals would hear the artillery explosions and investigate, it suits me that the blue Super Frelon is then seen.”

That made a lot of sense to me. However, we had a weak link. “Can Lucy hack this? I have to ask; I mean no disrespect.” I asked straight. Angelique was always very protective over her people.

“Lucy is good again after her attack.” She nodded as she observed the troubled agent, now lying of her stomach and studying something on the ground. “We jump then and walk in. I will take care of her, water and food for a week?”

“At least yes, we don’t know exactly when Mike Delta Three Eight will come out, we only know that Terminator met with them just now and that they agreed to our plan. They also now have to search for their chasers and shoot a few and then start running towards us but not too fast. By that time, we must be in place already. They are waiting for us, essentially, to confirm that.”

I knew how Geelslang would think, we worked together then for more than two decades. He would not advise Mike Delta Three Eight to start the run until he heard me give the go ahead and I will not do so unless I knew the assets were in place. What they were about to do was awfully risky, if they are too slow, they will be killed, if they are too fast, the spoor will be lost and their mission a failure in our eyes. They needed to stay a mile or two ahead and at the same time dodge all stopper groups and the Alouette helicopters which we expected will be present. Then, they had to get past Psalm 23 and into serious cover so that I can call the artillery strikes in behind their asses. Honestly, if anyone asked me to do that, I would have refused and shot the bastard when I see him face to face. It could be done but it was insane.

“I was thinking along the same lines, it is no use to wait here and do nothing, we can just as well be useful. Right, let us jump in tonight and then walk further in. After this, we hit the FARP if found. Ideas on that?”

“You have choices here, four of them. The first is to do nothing, mark the spot and keep it under observation. Second, you sabotage the fuel and the ordnance, but not to destroy it, let it down their helicopters when they use the contaminated fuel. Thirdly, an airstrike by any of your multirole fighter jets, one cluster bomb and that FARP is gone, even if dropped from the Super Frelon if in need for adventure. Lastly, the G6 and or Valkiris, any one of them will destroy the FARP from a long distance away once we give them the coordinates. The only question is, with the aircraft on the ground or not.”

“What would you do?”

“I am not you, at your level. If this was a simple operation, as you maintain and I wish to believe since I like you, a lesson in PSYOPS, then I would destroy the aircraft too. I would mark the place, keep it under observation, wait for the helicopters and when they land to refuel and re-arm, open up and destroy them. This is the standard military approach answer.”

It was also the one I gave her during Code Name Cadillac, General Mark Sithole, a man I really admire and have an odd history with, Geelslang and I saved his life once as a younger officer (Code Name Missa 72) when I we should have executed him, had another approach. He advised her not to escalate matters and so the Gripens went on afterburner and dropped a string of flares over them at Mach 2, a clear message and they left in great haste, calling off their strike (Code Name Cadillac). I am not in disagreement with General Sithole, by nature I am aggressive, I will always attack first and I realised when I became a company commander (far below flag rank, I would never have gone past lieutenant colonel, above that politics come into play) that there is more to life than swinging and shooting. At Angelique’s level, she considers a lot more factors than just a simple artillery or airstrike, it had to fit into whatever she was up to. On the other hand, the Baboon had to comprehend that he was really zero on a contract, we can destroy him at will when we please to do so and that goes for any country in Africa. She was on the same wave length.

“That is the problem though. We are not interested in starting a conventional war, just to teach a lesson. Of course, the Baboon cannot do much anyway, we will destroy him as surely as the sun comes up tomorrow but losing half his helicopters may well drive him over the edge, which is what I want. It will break his economy even further. I will make the decision later, let us get the assets in place and decide then. We know there is a FARP, my intelligence sources are adamant but there is no counter strike planned yet.”

Her last sentence was interesting to me, a great believer in military history “We know there is a FARP, my intelligence sources are adamant but there is no counter strike planned yet.” When we look at Gettysburg, the place where Union General Meade broke the Confederacy and Confederate General Robert E Lee lost, we wonder why, what happened and as always there are many answers. As Africans we don’t actually have any preference to the two sides although the Afrikaner would have always felt sympathy for the Confederates because they were the same type of people less slavery. The rest would have favoured the Union for destroying slavery, it is a bit of a political thing even today but from a Military Academy view, the studies were only to learn, not to take sides if you can understand the difference. Now the Battle of Gettysburg is very interesting to us in Special Forces because our only reason for existing is to gather intelligence behind enemy lines. Yes, we do the rest also, sabotage, rescues etc. but our first love is and always will be intelligence gathering and then come the conventional lads in armour and paratroopers backed by the crack line infantry battalions to strike at our direction. At Gettysburg, General Lee had for the first time in the war, not his cavalry with him and the function of cavalry is scouting, intelligence gathering, the same as us then. General Meade, in contrast, had all the intelligence in the world, Pennsylvania being a Northern State, the locals were reporting all the time what the Confederates were doing. And so General Lee, without his cavalry lost the battle but there is more and this is crucial. Confederate General Stonewall Jackson (Geelslang’s favourite), died a few months before Gettysburg at Chancellorsville, he made a comment during that time, largely forgotten today, coming down to the fact that the Confederacy’s undermanned armies had no reserves to exploit successes: “We have to put in all our forces, and never had the time most needed,” General Jackson said and it was true, you have to reinforce success and if you cannot, we saw it often on the Western Front in World War One also, you will lose in the end as the Confederates did and this brings us back to Winston Churchill always asking: “where is the strategic reserve?” As long as it was not his own history, the man was actually quite good at connecting history to modern life. In our story, what this comes down to is that once you find the FARP, you have to do something about it or the intelligence gained is wasted. I knew Angelique understood this principle as thoroughly as I did and for once we had (for us) massive conventional backup. We could destroy the FARP conventionally and not by our usual infiltrate and sabotage techniques and that I can tell you will make a man like me much more aggressive than usual (me also, when you have assets, use them, always reinforce success, Angelique).

I gave the standard briefing before we left for the final phase of Code Name Anika. “Listen up, we will lay low during the day and walk in during the night using our advanced night vision goggles. The purpose here is twofold. Once we are on the ridge, we will split apart, the girls forming their helicopter hunting group with the Chinese MANPAD ((Man-Portable Air-Defence System), the FN-6. You will recall, they are Third Generation, passive infrared fire-and-forget surface-to-air short range missiles, modified with an optical sighting system to make them much more effective. The missiles better be accurate, we only have four of them, make every missile count. We need central command & control here, we cannot each be shooting as we please and I have local command for the duration. Nor will we be speaking much on the radios but when we do, we will use Lucy’s code system, you know it by heart but let me repeat them. Green (no threat), Yellow (approaching), Red (imminent, load weapons, start tracking) and Red One (actual attack). With Red One a standard weapon free order is normally given but here it is not, repeat not, you may only shoot on my command. Acknowledge?”

I stared hard at each woman, they nodded, this was serious business, no time for playing the fool.

“Remember the back blast of those missiles will betray your positions once you launch. Yes, I know it may also not, depending on where you are and what the condition of the dust is, with all the recent rain, probably not, but with the humidity the missiles may leave a clear trail back to you. We don’t take chances, you shoot and scoot immediately to your back up positions where you would have left the remaining missiles. Acknowledge?”

“Yes, we will do so.” Angelique said. “What about the artillery strikes?”

“My plan is to time the artillery strikes so that the G6’s shells and the Valkiris’ rockets arrive at the same time on Psalm 23. It will take time to travel through the air and communication is vital, in fact, they will not shoot simultaneously. The G6, being 30 miles away against the Valkiris’ 18 miles at last count, will fire after them. They got the maths worked out on this. As soon as I give the shoot command, they will do what is needed. If at all possible, we will destroy the helicopters with the artillery, if not, you lasses have a chance to become famous.”

“Yes, we got that, we will be very famous. Just make sure you call the correct coordinates on Psalm 23 so that they don’t overshoot and hit us.” Angelique said quietly.

“I won’t make a mistake but that is a good point, blue on blue accidents do happen. Ensure you have decent cover behind a large rock protecting you. We will be about a mile away from the death zone and out of shrapnel reach, I am using airburst, but stay in cover on my warning. The effective range of your missiles is anything between 546 yards minimum up to a maximum of 6,561 yards, one mile is 1,760 yards and thus the killing field is entirely within your range. It is very possible that the helicopters may be on the flanks further away, if so, if you can take the shot, do so. Questions? Yes, Sniper?”

“Lucy, I would like to trade you, my Dragunov for your DSR-1?” Sniper asked. “You won’t be shooting with a rifle but with your missiles. I can use the longer range .338 Lapua much better if needs be.”

“Okay, I want her back when done!” She replied and handed her rifle over, taking the Dragunov in return.

Sniper knew his trade as well as anyone. The .338 Lapua will outdistance the Dragunov, shooting the Soviet 30-06 bullet, the 7.62 × 54mmR, by a fair margin. Whereas the Dragunov should be deadly up to 875 yards, perhaps more, depending on the shooter but let us say 1,000 yards’ absolute maximum, the .338 Lapua is rated for 1,968 yards, depending on ammunition and the shooter. Most good snipers can shoot accurately at further distances than claimed and interestingly, the Dragunov is semi-automatic. The purists under us (Angelique, Sniper, Geelslang etc.) see that as wrong in principle, they prefer bolt action single shot sniper rifles, a never ending argument between us. They say they only need one shot and so what does it matter (hello Hilarious) further? The target is down and he is dead and so it is, they can have ten shots remaining but so what. On the other hand, what if there are many targets and you need to keep on shooting? That too happens (Code Name Pour Angelique) but as I say, the arguments are sound on both sides and I doubt if we will ever reach complete agreement (see Code Name Butterfly, where we deal extensively with sniping if interested, Angelique).

“Yes, agreed. I suppose Mrs Dawson will keep her silenced Heckler & Koch MP7? Okay, what about you, Sah?” Sniper was thinking logistics already.

“I was thinking long and hard on this, my AK47 will do. I will be most happy though if we never fire a single shot between us but if needs be, you know what to do. Sniper, you lead after we land, we will drop in by static line parachute, a separate briefing I will get to. I will follow you and then Lucy and lastly Mrs Dawson.”

I did not say so but I wanted Angelique to keep an eye on Lucy, usually she would be following me and be close by where I can take care of her (or me of you, Angelique). Standard doctrine also said we should move in two separate groups of two each, meet up at the last second to hand over the extra MANPAD missiles and then split again. If we were in genuine enemy territory, I would have done that. Angelique and Lucy were very able to navigate themselves across any terrain, silently. However, we were and would be, always, at least half a mile inside Mozambique, to us, friendly country.

“I advise you to be lightly loaded, it is not cold here, you don’t need more than a poncho in case it rains and if it rains, you fill up your water bottles. Remember at all times that the water available may be poisonous, so use your purification tablets and to combat the heat, take your salt tablets, suck on your glucose sweets and drink water when necessary. Mrs Dawson will act as patrol medic (I meant she will ensure everyone drinks enough water, including myself, and take their malaria and salt tablets). If you feel dehydrated or unwell, inform me and we will stop and treat you. Agreed? We help each other but we also do the basics right, we are not normal troops, we are chosen.”

I am actually a fairly nice person once you know me but if you go down because you did not drink enough water, despite having water to drink, God will not help you against my wrath. You run a very serious risk in being returned to unit, it is a self-inflicted wound and egotistical in the extreme. Then we have to carry you or stop to treat you, usually with a drip consisting of a glucose, pumping the contents directly into your veins and you better hope you are not a diabetic as it will kill you. The instantaneous effects of such treatment are close to miraculous but we will be most unhappy at such bad soldiering. Despite what many say, you can never drink enough water when on operations, your body will get rid of waste and even that is another story, there are no flushing toilets and you are vulnerable when answering the call of nature. Your teammates form a protective circle around you. At times you may even have your mate catch the contents and stow it away, carrying it out and many a joke is later invoked about that function.

“Remember to freeze in the shadows when you hear a helicopter, wait for it to bugger off again. Do not move after getting into the shadows, stay down and freeze.” I cautioned.

They knew that also; it is standard training, you freeze in the light of flares at night too, of course, if the bastards have night vision, you would be dead. It is an old tactic but still taught, you cannot presume they have night vision or not, you need to know beforehand.

“We will not be seen and we will be silent, no noise. If we hit trouble, open up and double back, break contact at all costs. You know the drill.”

We were trained in this as is all current Special Forces. You have to move back from superior forces. There is no way two or four men will stop an entire platoon or company hunting you. Yes, you will kill many but it is better to run and that is called “breaking contact” in our world (“shoot and scoot” also, Angelique). When you walk into the enemy, you try to be not noticed, standing still, looking past them (people, humans, feel when being stared at). If that does not work and you are spotted, you shoot and fall back. The two man teams taking turns to cover each other. It is really practised until it is absolutely second nature to you.

“If we break contact, we will meet at our emergency rendezvous points, designated as we move along, if not there after a reasonable time, you keep going and complete the mission. Let me show you the first and second one so long…”

I had my map out, waterproofed and in the original folding like always. If you cannot read a map by staring at it, you will never make it with us. GPS is used, but you still need the old skills. Emergency rendezvous points are always in the back of your head no matter where you are, and you better always know where you are, if something happens and we split to escape, we will always meet somewhere else. From thereon we will then move forward or out to safety or whatever. God will not help you if you cannot tell me where the closest emergency rendezvous point is. During Selection, in the later phases, advanced infantry training and small unit tactics (and I mean small units, two men or even alone for long periods of time) the instructors will smirk and inform you that you were found, now get lost. There is no time to waste, you acknowledge the new development, and move off to your emergency point, from thereon, you move further. Sometimes they would chase you and if they can get hold of you, you are binned. I cannot tell you how serious this is in our world. We don’t see nature either, I lost that ability when I did the normal Police Counter Insurgency Course, you become animal like, you see dead ground, crossings, ambush sites, camouflage, and so on. It becomes entirely automatic never to be exposed against a ridge for instance, we would be found not on top (unless exceptional reasons exist) but halfway or three quarters up and we know exactly where the sun will be at any given time (to counter reflections).

“Okay, cold routine, I am afraid. No cooking fires, eat your rations cold and keep the wrappers with you. No tooth brushing and no deodorants or hair shampoo, such smells can betray you at great distances. Remember to wrap underclothes and socks in plastic bags, twice. You get fresh socks on every day or I would want to know why not, your feet are your life. Since none of us smokes except Lucy, no cigarettes either. None for the duration. Can do?”

“Yes.” She answered shortly.

I once shot at Geelslang during a night exercise, I saw his white teeth half a mile away. He shot back and we stalked each other until dawn. He never smirked again at night, lesson learned. During training, the basic police counter insurgency one, the instructors would designate a lad to smoke and guess what, you can see him clearly hundreds of yards away at night, really, I get anxiety attacks when I see young soldiers walking patrol smoking and talking crap instead of concentrating (and then he gets furious, Angelique). Also the odours of civilisation, you will not believe how far a man’s aftershave can travel in the bush, you smell him hundreds of yards away and without sounding racist, there is a different smell between the races, no doubt and we know it. Even snoring, if you have a snoring problem, we would bin you on the spot or have the medics operate on you, removing adenoids. These things are basic soldiering, God knows, Angelique is accurate when she says I get furious, what type of command line do you have in place if you cannot even enforce the basics? I often see a lack of camouflage also, the single tiger stripe across the nose to look tough. What about your hands, your arms, your bald head, your neck (the back also) and ears? That piece of grass you have in your bush hat to look like John Rambo, it died yesterday already and now you look like the long lost bush monster, sticking out and you will regret me spotting you. Even your rifle and especially anything that can rattle or reflect in sunlight (and moonlight) will be taken care of. Speaking loudly or at all will annoy me, don’t you know hand signals? Having a squad radio on its loudest setting so that the entire world can listen in, my word, I have reason to get furious. I really do and so should you if reading here and serving in any type of command position. Get your act together before it is too late, you are not taught the basic skills for nonsense, they are designed to save your life in combat.

The other problem you have, then and now, is battery power when out on patrol, they run out unless charged and all sorts of techniques exist to recharge them during operations (even urine, Angelique). Without decent communications you are useless – you must be able to report no matter how far from home. Today this is much less an issue with satellites but in my day you worked miracles to get signals at strength five at all times (five means the best signal, clear and without interference, Angelique). Not that you used your radios ever without reason and if you did, it was extremely short messages, encrypted and burst transmissions many miles away from where you were. We were practically paranoid on this; we knew how good radio games the Soviets could play. Before making a call, you may walk three days out and three days back and so it is. To get the signals out you were trained to understand the earth’s magnetic field and whatever is known to man about signalling and hence could work out mathematically what to do. Even lads like me, unable to do much more than count properly, was able to make the calculations in my head and accurately too. It may also be shocking to you reading here but South Africa leads the world in military communications and did so since the 1970s. The radios would work and each had a short range squad radio and a long distance one for each group, that is Angelique had one and so did Sniper. We took every precaution we could, our combat vests were stocked, our weapons cleaned and loaded. Each individual GPS device working (you test them with the radios), the Sophie Thales (two, one for me and one for Lucy), tested and charged. Satellite phone and many other goodies, advanced night vision on rifle and head. All this adds up in weight. I worked out later that the girls had 65 pounds each including their missiles (and not one of them weighed more than 120 pounds). Sniper and I came to about 80 pounds each, but then we were over 200 pounds in weight, myself at 240 and he about 210. The ratio was in our favour, you try to carry almost sixty percent of your body and see how it goes and yet, I know of Army Special Forces lads walking hundreds of miles behind enemy lines for months with 140 pound Bergens, that is more than what Angelique weighs when not pregnant with our twins. With them she put on remarkable weight especially in the chest area, I was astonished (you liked that, Foxtrot, Angelique).

And that was that, each having his Bergen sorted, his chest webbing and weapon also, including cleaning the magazines, talking to each other whilst sharing a last carefree chat on what to do when. It has been proven, so many times, that only a liberal will argue, that you should visualise the different scenarios, it helps when doing it for real. This is how we do things when parachuting also, you work out what to do and woe betide anyone talking to you without reason, you have to get into the mode. My Spetsnatz friends told me of their tactic – they would go to sleep before a mission – and when wakened like being on honeymoon (that was his exact words, Angelique). He meant not like basic training where the harsh white lights go on and your bed is kicked by a roaring drill sergeant, no, here you are woken gently and helped along to get moving. They are in the operational mood from the moment they go to sleep. This alone proves to me that we should not believe everything the media has to say about Spetsnatz, no unit built on fear alone will get far, not in our world. They have the same patriotism that an American Green Beret has towards his country, we must respect that aspect.

We flew out with the Super Frelon just after sunset, our parachutes already on. The sniper lad would act as jumpmaster and then the next morning be taking the remaining radar and Starstreak lads to the Valkiris with the Kwêvoël to provide air cover and stay there to help them extract. We were not using our normal free-fall rigs, the MC-4 but the older model T-10 parachute which is a good chute for the purpose it was designed for. The entire idea of military parachuting is to get troops on the ground in one piece, with their equipment and able to complete the mission, whatever it may be. The problem is to get them together again at the same place. They can drift miles off course or the damn inbreed pilots get lost and drop you at the wrong spot. We don’t like transport plane drivers, helicopter load carriers or fixed wing, that cannot navigate to save their lives. God knows (I am serious, only He does) how they even find airports as they always dropped me on the wrong field many miles away from where we agreed I wanted to be. Angelique, despite her own piloting skills, shared my views entirely, she also had to navigate her way from unexpected drop zones to where she wanted to be many times. She baptized the pilots “inbreeds” and not always meant as a compliment, to be honest. On the other hand, there is not a paratrooper reading here that will not agree that the conspiracy to make us walk many miles further than necessary, exists. It is an immense conspiracy, I am telling you, jealousy too, I am sure, our wings came with much more blood and sweat. It is also highly suspicious to me that the bastards always manage to get back to their home base in time to catch the open bar. Here we made sure to tell the pilot, he was an experienced man, to drop us exactly at the right point and at 3,000 feet and at less than 173 miles per hour or we would want to know why not. The speed was important, a T-10 will malfunction if you are dropped at a faster speed, we agreed to the standard 155 miles per hour cruising speed and we will check, make no mistake, our GPS devices will tell us. Such a pilot will then explain his liberal ways to me and to be honest, really struggle to calm me down, it is attempted murder to be too low, too fast and in the wrong spot (wind also, strong winds will kill you, Angelique). Geelslang once lost a few members of his platoon to hospital after a drop went wrong and the pilots went into hiding as he hunted them down for a private chat, I went with to help abuse them and then Angelique’s dad stopped us from doing what was justified.

In the darkness, it is a major f (I scratched this out, Angelique) to find each other again – even with night vision on the drop zone. You need to form up very quickly and move out. Injured men and equipment must also be found and dealt with. To get everyone onto the same drop zone, you jump on top of the lad in front of you or in our case, being only four, we would jump together from the rear ramp. Really, when that light turns green, you step out, arms folded across your chest, chin pulled in and Bob is your uncle, the windstream will separate you enough to be safe. Then you may or not land in a tight area and run like hell for cover as the rest are coming down.

The absolute limit for the T-10 parachute is 360 pounds and rig itself weighs in at 31 pounds, we were loaded for bear, I suppose and every man (and woman, Angelique) packed his own parachute, you screw up and you die, it is your own fault. You may be sure; at such times you don’t talk or play the fool. I was checking mine and Angelique’s for tears, damage or anything strange. I took note that the static line was the 20 feet version and not the 15 feet I was used to, fair enough, it makes no real difference (it allows the jumpers to be spread further apart, at times we reduced it to 10 feet, Angelique). The reserve parachute is clipped onto your chest, at 3,000 feet you would have ample time to cut loose from the main canopy (if it does not work) and pull your reserve. It happens and it is nasty but almost always your own fault. Our Bergens were between our legs, they would be dropped to dangle below us once the canopy is open and deployed as designed. You listen for that Bergen hitting the ground, you will do so a split second later, it is a good indication to close your mouth (it should not be open anyway unless the village idiot, Angelique) or you will bite your tongue when you land, earning no sympathy from your mates unless bleeding to death.

The sniper lad, now promoted to jumpmaster, took his job very seriously, checking his GPS and talking to the pilot on the intercom now and then. He had the right to refuse the jump and like all such people, would do so. I must admit, it felt odd to have Angelique not flying even if she crashes now and then (we are eating garlic fish tonight, Angelique). She looked very desirable to me in the RENAMO camouflage uniform we were using (a counter revolutionary movement we supported during Apartheid, they had a very distinctive and effective disruptive pattern type of uniform). She also looked the part, heavily camouflaged, her hair in a ponytail (as was Lucy’s) and geared up, her rifle tied to her right side, it does not matter which side it is, as long as you remember to roll the other way when landing. There are people out there who will claim they stood upright after jumping with a T-10 rig or similar and loaded for combat. They are all liars if you ask me, you flare as much as possible which is nothing, you turn into the wind to slow down somewhat, you duck your mate if possible and you roll when you land to break the fall. It is the same jumping from an eight-foot height. Even with a fully deployed canopy you are still falling at 22 feet a second every second and you need to be fit to survive that without serious injury. Otherwise, expect the hurt locker and with the years your ankles and knees will pack up. It is also a known fact that more women than men are hurt parachuting, no one really knows why. (Foxtrot often said in the old days a woman cannot jump properly because she is unevenly balanced, having an issued chest or bosom, it is better than having a nut cracker and anyway just so much baloney, Angelique). Yeah, we don’t speak about that anymore, now that we are happily married. A nutcracker is where the parachute opens, you slow down significantly when that happens and the straps between your legs get hold of the family jewels in a vice grip from hell. By God and all that is holy, that will make any man wince and scratch himself just reading here. I saw tough lads plunging down without making any effort to roll away from the drop zone for a few minutes, red faced and in agony, instead of landing and running as expected. Obviously you should move the parachute straps to an acceptable position before you jump no matter who is watching and politely looking away (men can be gross, Angelique).

The other thing, I am sure I say so in every GMJ Book where parachuting is involved, is the dreadful hoo-ha sound Yanks make when their parachutes open, God knows why. I just cannot get why some men feel the need to shout just because their parachutes opened. God knows, you are betraying your position. There are no angels in the African sky making such noises and once discovered, you are on the run, unable to complete the mission and must come back later. That is failure with a capital F and questions would be asked why. I will shoot you long before you have a chance to explain. Even if your parachute fails and you are out of options with your reserve as well, we expect you to die with as little sound as is possible, a man should not be selfish, liberals are selfish, not men.

We sat holding hands during the flight, it is nice but to be honest I would have felt better if she was not there, endangering herself. Of course, you may wonder why Angelique was allowed on the ridge after I told her more than once she will not be. I had no choice. She knew how to use the Chinese FM-6 missiles and she was there to command when all was said and done. It had nothing to do with her veiled threat of staying with the Frog speaking pilots, she is not the cheating kind and we know that foreplay for a fighter jock is three hours of nonstop begging if not a small financial gratuity. No, we needed her to abort the mission or to complete it and the best way is always to see for yourself (and you felt bad in cheating me most cruelly with the demolition charges, Angelique).

The jumpmaster waved his arms at us and we stood up, waiting. He made a sign and we hooked up, slamming the static lines into the cable hanging from the ceiling and pulling hard on it to ensure it is properly hooked. I can tell you, if that cable snaps or you are not hooked in properly, you will fall all the way with closed parachute and have to manually pull it or your reserve. Because of the full moon still ongoing, we decided not to use our night vision during the jump nor strobes, there was no need which is not to say you would have seen us easily either. We felt we could see well enough, sitting in the faint red glow of the cargo hold lights to get our eyes adapted to the darkness outside.

The jumpmaster made another sign and we turned to each other and checked the gear one last time. The reason why everyone looked the same, you can easily spot something amiss. Angelique looked good to go, I grinned and slapped her shoulder, she did the same back and opened her arms for an awkward hug, the many pieces of gear in our way but we managed. It was time and we moved to the edge of the ramp and stood waiting after the jumpmaster checked each jumper again. The red light came on, a warning we were getting close to the drop zone. At the green light we stepped out, jump is not really the correct description. All of us at once, Sniper to the left, then Lucy, Angelique, and myself. The helicopter was not hovering but moving at a fair speed, that made it much easier, you tumble violently in the slipstream which is nice, not falling straight down (an entirely horrible feeling). I kept my head firmly tucked into my chest, arms folded across the emergency parachute and waited, legs together, the classic static line jump posture. The rest did the same, I am sure, they were very experienced, Angelique more than us, having jumped for fun most of her life and forgetting at first to tell me.

In Africa, I say this in other GMJ Books too but with the Series so long now, you may not have read all, you have another problem or two when descending in a parachute. The first is anthills, my word, they are ankle breakers and abusers of knees, as hard as a rock and up to eight feet tall but not all are that tall and those were the real (I scratched this out, Angelique) in the story. Some anthills are hidden among the grass and you just don’t know where they are until you fall on them, over them or roll against them. You are not landing on a nice freshly cut lawn, no the ground is hard and uneven. There may well be the ever present the “haak-en-steek” trees (Afrikaans, a vicious thorn tree, inches long thorns) which you most certainly don’t want to land on, such trees will assassinate you slowly. The thorns burn something terrible where they enter flesh and sometimes must be surgically removed, cut out and that is no excuse not to carry on with the mission, stitches or not, you should have avoided the tree. Then, the wild animals in a class of troubles on their own and you better look for them during descent. If you land onto a herd of elephant, or a pride of lions or numerous other wild animals, they may very well eat you or try to trample you to death for your arrogance. Shooting back at them is an option but that betrays your position to the enemy and to be avoided at almost any cost. Field craft is a very important part of your training and probably unique to us in the light of what we face here. Unless you have seen an African elephant towering above you and weighing thrice as much as a Ford 150 truck, yes, 15,000-pound elephant bulls are common, and they move silently (I mean silently, you look up and they are there, it is uncanny), you cannot comprehend their menacing presence or that a lion is 600 pounds of muscle or an African buffalo 1,400 pounds of fury on average, the meanest animal known to mankind. This makes your own 200 plus pounds seem a bit outclassed in their territory. Some of the animals, because of poachers abusing them, dislike humans at sight and smell and when you reach a river or water, you find people (reporting to the enemy), hippopotamus that kills more humans than anything else, crocodiles, yes, up to eighteen feet and always hungry, and horrible snakes besides the bilharzia in the water and God knows what other bacteria not known to decent people. Oh, and after all that you have the burning sun, the relentless heat when not freezing, and the odd terrorist to hunt down. Welcome to my world.

As soon as the parachute opened, it made a loud and very satisfying crack, I released the Bergen to have it fall down, stopping abruptly when the rope ended twenty feet below me and reached up to check the canopy, rigging and grab the toggles, looking around for Angelique and the rest, counting the parachutes automatically. They were all deployed and all forming on Angelique as far as possible, you cannot really steer with a T-10, you go straight down. Mind, it is a nice feeling until the ground comes at you with incredible speed, it is hard to explain but if you take your hand and rush it toward your face, that is how it feels. One moment you are hanging comfortably around in your harness, quite relieved because you did not experience a “nut cracker” and also the natural relief that the canopy is fully deployed and then you see the ground coming at you and it gets interesting because landing is everything. The rest of the flight you may survive but landing is where the real deal is. Any educated man will tell you, the connecting with the ground is where you die or live. Luckily we did this many times before, we all landed in one piece, rolling splendidly, only a Sad Sack plumps down (the South African Army parachute instructors use much more colourful descriptions, Pommy Bastards are involved, Angelique).

“Right, good landing everyone? No injuries, all good?” I whispered.

We were stowing our parachutes away for later retrieval, we never leave anything what can be traced to us or used later. At the same time, switching our night vision on and retrieving our rifles. A pistol, and we had them, is rather useless against an assault rifle. Sniper was already checking his GPS, he was leading and navigating, waiting to go.

“Yes, we are good. Let us go.” Angelique answered first, smiling at me.

She was swinging her Bergen on to her back, Heckler & Koch MP7 at the ready, Lucy was doing the same with her Dragunov and so was I with Sniper’s DSR-1, we had decided during the flight that as point man he needed the high capacity AK47 perhaps more than the bolt action DSR-1 and so we swopped. We would do so again when in position at the ridge. He would be able to shoot and kill many at a much longer range than an AK47 but if he walked into something, the fast firing AK47 would be better. The MANPADS, the Chinese made FM-6 missiles, were awkward, they don’t carry easily but we managed by tying them to our Bergens and got comfortable, tabbing away at a leisurely but fast pace. This was fun but in no way the same as walking to the local fish & chips shop, you are scanning for enemy activity, wild life and whatever else and you are silent, trying to be a ghost and I am sure some tribal legends had their origin in a lonely herd boy walking into such a patrol, seeing the silent and ghostly figures going past (and fortuitously ignoring him). Because you are so heavily loaded at times, you look twice your normal size and not really human, beards are common to break your non-African silhouette, water is anyway scarce, not used for shaving but to wash the essentials to prevent rash and then for cooking. If you wish to have an easy life, become a liberal or a turd, same thing mostly, both smell and have a limited use in life.

We walked all night, taking a less than straight line towards our objective (you never do, you can be cut off, Angelique), the ridge, before spending the day resting at a very nice and secluded spot. It was rather nice, that hike, seeing the wildlife but still serious business, more than once we had to stand dead still and wait for a herd of elephants to go past. I suppose each of us was out to prove himself, me that I could hack it even if older than the rest, Sniper because he was current and knew he would be judged at a very high standard by me, and the two women, well, they probably felt some discrimination against their gender in prior years. We walked in our patrol formation, taking breaks once an hour, drinking the fluids and doing what is expected. As with all infiltration methods, the real job starts at the objective, the rest is just so much crap, needed but nothing special. The next night we arrived where we wanted to be and as far as I was concerned, the dangerous part of the mission now behind us, crossing Psalm 23 in a wide arc, to avoid our tracks being seen. We knew from experience that African soldiers are enormously observant of nature and would notice any strange tracks (by training, most would have grown up in what Americans call “ghettos” and never seen a wild animal or the bush until the Army grabbed them). We took no chances.

“Okay, you two go your own way now, I suggest that little sub ridge just below us, you want to avoid ground clutter when shooting your missiles, rather shoot parallel than down, you get?” I suggested softly to Angelique.

I passed my FM-6 MANPAD missile on to her, the extra one I carried. Sniper was doing the same to Lucy, also taking the DSR-1 from me with obvious pleasure. I checked the AK47 he gave me, already loaded and on safe, our normal way when carrying weapons. The AK47 has a way where you can pull the bolt slightly back and be sure it is loaded, a brilliant design feature and soundless too. We swopped magazines and felt happy with life.

“Yes, I left you a surprise in your left pocket, be good, bye now!” She answered and walked off.

Lucy was behind her, a few yards and looking rather funny to me, she was not much taller than the weapons she carried, the two FM-6 missiles fastened on both sides of her Bergen, the Dragunov sniper rifle in her arms, chest webbing, water bottles on the side including pistol and knife. Mind, Angelique looked the same, holding her MP7 against her shoulder, scanning around and betraying her commando training, she was not taking chances. They disappeared from view seconds later, silently and then we were alone.

“Okay, I am leading. I have the fast firer with me, all good?” I waited for Sniper to grin at me and off we went.

It was still dark when we found a good position with two backups to settle into about 30 minutes later. First we tested the Sophie Thales, absolutely crucial to us and then the long distance radio. If you will recall from my prior description, we were now in a line between Nyanga, Zimbabwe and Nhauche in Mozambique, and to the south of the ridge, right where it petered out. The ridge itself followed the international border and is exactly 770 yards on the Mozambican side. Geelslang and mates were to come past it and turn left, or north, and they would be inside Psalm 23, the death zone. Therefore, we had to be able to see on both sides of the ridge, one of those extremely exceptional circumstances where we would be not halfway up the ridge but on top and staying low (on our stomachs). I now had an excellent 270-degree view all around us. Angelique and Lucy had no such need to see what is happening in Zimbabwe, they only needed to face Psalm 23, the death zone on the eastern side, 7 miles’ wide. However, with the back blast from the missiles, they were limited to where they could be, they had to find a spot which was level enough to compensate for the back blast no injuring them but also high enough to have a clear firing view. This took hours of studying and scanning the satellite maps. They also needed to be in contact with me at all times, another limiting factor as their long distance radio was the backup radio, not to be used unless needed. With our encrypted squad radios, they had to be within a mile and yet so far away. They found two spots about 300 yards away and a third one giving various degrees of protection against overshoots. Like with many things in life, it was a compromise and the best we could do. What was certain was that you would not have spotted us easily, we were taking extreme precautions not to be seen.

“This is Mrs Dawson, we are in position, thank you.” Her voice came through the earpiece and went quiet again.

I knew she found the many milkshake sachets I left for her inside her Bergen, we often did such things during operations and even today and why not? When in love and you are always in love with your soul, you see her and you fall in love, thanking God for issuing her to you, you do such things. I ate my Tarzan bar (South African Army slang, candy) with great relish, offering a bite to Sniper who politely declined. Four hours later, just before first light I made my move, I first confirmed on the long distance radio that the G6 self-propelled howitzer and two Valkiri MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System systems) were in place and under Starstreak protection, after that I called Geelslang directly, bouncing the signal via UHF towards him.

“Geelslang, lokhu Foxtrot kuyinto, ngingene, phezu.” (Zulu, Geelslang, this is Foxtrot, come in, over.)

“Geelslang lapha, Ngiyezwa, phezu.” (Zulu, Geelslang here, I am listening, over.) His deep baritone voice answering immediately and speaking very softly indeed.

“Foxtrot, amafa endaweni, okuzoqala run yakho, hlala usondelene yokhalo yami.” (Zulu, Foxtrot, assets in place, commence your run, stay close to my ridge.)

I wanted them closer to us, so that the helicopters, if around and I fully expected them to be, can be within Angelique’s missiles’ range.

“Geelslang, wavuma, umkakho ukweleta mina ubhiya, nginibone.” (Zulu, Geelslang, acknowledged, your wife owes us a beer, see you.”

“Foxtrot, bavumelana ETA?” (Zulu, Foxtrot, agreed, ETA?)

“Geelslang, ETA kusasa ekuseni, 10H01 (Zulu, Geelslang, ETA tomorrow morning, 10H01.)

Typical of the man, he had it worked out to the last second and so we waited, patiently. I was studying the area, ensuring that I knew exactly what was where in relation to the agreed firing plan. It was at times like this when all the training and experience get together. I understood that this was what I was born to do, I pity those in an office facing the heavy afternoon traffic every day, year in and year out. When in the African bush I am alive and I feel welcome, when I look up and I see the Southern Cross (a bunch of stars, you work out where is south from them, Angelique), I feel at home. I slept very well indeed and a good thing that was too, we were in for an exciting day, the lads had found the FARP (Forward Area Refuelling / Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refuelling Point). It was show time.

If the enemy is there tomorrow, we must attack him.” Confederate General Robert E Lee to Lieutenant General James Longstreet, meaning Cemetery Ridge west of Gettysburg, July 1864

If he is there, it will be because he is anxious that we should attack him – a good reason, in my judgment, for not doing so.” Lieutenant General James Longstreet in reply

General, I have been a soldier all my life. I have been with soldiers engaged in fights by couples, by squads, companies, regiments, divisions, and armies, and should know as well as anyone what soldiers can do. It is my opinion that no 15,000 men ever arrayed for battle can take that position.” Lieutenant General James Longstreet

I shall lead my division forward, sir. I do not want to make this charge. I do not see how it can succeed. I would not make it now but that General Lee has ordered it and expects it.” Major Genera George Pickett just before leading his men on what became immortalised as “Pickett’s Charge.”

Chapter 8

Psalm 23, Manica Province, Mozambique, 24 March 2010

Well, you know, events and people are unpredictable. One of Angelique’s favourite stories is about Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley. He tried to figure out if folks can predict the future accurately, not vaguely, accurately. He fashioned an experiment and concentrated on those experts making their living by giving advice and or commenting on political and economic issues. These selected lab rats included famous journalists, lauded economists, foreign policy experts and retired intelligence analysts or in other words, those sprouting their big mouths off in every mainstream media prediction you read, see and hear every day.

It was a large group, including some 284 of them and done over a period of 20 years. My dislike of psychologists is well-known to GMJ readers, they are not overly bright people to begin with and have the highest suicide rate in the world, not that I care but this fellow did very well with his research. The conclusion was that the so called experts were utterly useless, they could just as well have been reading tea leaves and would have done better. They got almost every prediction wrong when checked with hindsight. They predicted, depending from where they stood politically and they were mostly liberal twats, total opposites and education played no role here. The PhDs were as stupid at this as was the guy having no college degree, they were all wrong. As an example, none predicted that Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy toward the Soviet Union, to break her financially, would work. They completely missed the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev and glasnost and everything in between up to this very day. So you cannot really predict the future, it is guesswork at its best but you can trust someone to do the right thing – that is something else entirely. I knew that when Geelslang Peter Ndebele stated his patrol would arrive just after 10 AM, you may be sure, that patrol would be there.

We heard the gunfire long before we saw them. The short bursts of Geelslang’s RPD light machine gun, I would recognise his bursts anywhere, it is unique to every gunner, came first and not entirely unexpected. A command detonated Claymore mine went off first and then many smoke grenades, enabling me to pinpoint the fight about three miles away. In between was the AK47s and the enemy’s old FNs, making a much louder sound. Clearly, a fire fight was happening, it was an ants nest.

“This is Foxtrot to all, Code Red, acknowledge.”

They all did so, one by one, the two girls first, then the G6 self-propelled howitzer and then the two Valkiris, they would now load their weapons and start scanning for the enemy (Sniper and I, we could see the enemy directly), the artillery waiting for the precise coordinates, making minute adjustments. They were many miles away, over the horizon but they were in position to shoot at my command.

“Geelslang here, stand by to cross the border, they are shooting at each other. Do you see my mirror?”

He was flashing with his rescue mirror towards us, the ridge. He knew where we would be approximately, if not exactly.

“Foxtrot here, yes, I have you visual, sort of.”

What I had was his flashing mirror, not him as a human, they were too well camouflaged but the thermal scanning was picking them up.

“Geelslang here, eh, wait, we may have a problem.”

Indeed, a Zimbabwe Air Force Alouette helicopter was rushing towards us across the international border, they had no idea we were waiting, to offload men to cut Geelslang’s team off. That was standard procedure, called “leap frogging” in counter insurgency. One group, the largest, chases, the rest are dropped in the general direction of where the chase is going (why you never walk directly towards your target, Angelique). The effect is to box the terrorists (Geelslang and mates) in, and wipe them out in a classic ambush. This was a bit of a predicament, I did not wish to shoot the helicopter down yet, it would betray our position. But there was another way.

“Foxtrot here, we will take care of that for you.” I replied. “Move closer.”

The flashing stopped abruptly, they were moving again.

“I am ready, Sah.” Sniper said immediately, speaking to me on the radio, followed by Lucy over the radio. “Us too!”

I suppose he said that on the radio to let Geelslang know what he was planning, no doubt the patrol would have recognised his voice and as the number one sniper in the platoon, put two and two together. Lucy’s presence and that of Angelique, Lucy said “us” which meant Angelique was included, was welcome but mildly exasperating. I hate it when people move without telling me, that is how you get blue on blue incidents. Yet they were now on the wrong side of the ridge, facing Zimbabwe. God knows how they got over the ridge and into position but they were there and waiting and welcome (anticipation, we were on the ridge, not over it and concealed, it was my idea, Angelique).

My plan now was to see if a sniper team can shoot down a helicopter with normal rifle calibre bullets, they had between them the DSR-1 in 338 Lapua calibre, the Dragunov in the Soviet 30-06 bullet, the 7.62 × 54mmR, and Angelique with the Heckler & Koch MP7, outranged to be honest, in 4.6 × 30 mm, giving you the same ballistics as the 5.56 mm NATO or .223 calibre, that was much less than the rest. She would be shooting beyond the guaranteed range but that to Angelique is relative. A while ago (Code Name Halloween 38), I wrote that a helicopter’s rotors will never create enough wind draft to deflect a bullet. I knew it from experience and I expected Sniper at least to shoot the pilot at 770 yards, really, an easy target in a hovering helicopter, your granny can do that or should. I was not going to waste time arguing where my missileers should be or not, two extra rifles were always welcome.

“Foxtrot, you two girls, do me proud. When she hovers, open up, Sniper has the lead, acknowledge.”

I was commanding the operation, I had no to time to shoot with but to track the events and work the radios. Delegating is always the best idea during such times.

“Sniper here, I have the target in sight, when she hovers, you open up at my command. Wait! Wait! Wait!”

Sniper had that Gucci DSR-1 rifle in his shoulder, calmly tracking the Alouette, a small single-engine, light utility helicopter with a large bubble canopy and in no way bullet proof. She was coming in low at about 400 feet, the same height we were and began to drop down to drop the stopper group, four of them sitting at the back, their legs hanging out. The sight certainly stirred memories to all of us, we were too young for the Rhodesian Bush War but Geelslang and myself met the same bastard in 1987, we were not too far away, commanding our irregular battalion of RENAMO troops (Code Name Missa 72). There are times in life when you wait for bloody ever. When our twins were born, that was a long wait for me, pacing up and down when not holding Angelique’s hand (why, I told you when they will arrive, Angelique) and now also. I was busy, I knew Geelslang and team would come crashing past soon.

“Foxtrot to artillery, standby for Red One coordinates.”

I wanted them to be ready. They acknowledged with one code word. I could imagine the lads waiting, ready to write the coordinates down and then into their fire control computers or even directly but someone would cross check, the barrel and rocket launchers moving ever so slightly.

“Sniper, on my count to zero, three, two, one, zero!”

He fired a single shot at zero and immediately reloaded, working the bolt, and fired again. I did not really hear Angelique and Lucy firing. The helicopter was making a racket and the DSR-1, a few feet away, one hell of a boom, followed by two more shots, rather unnecessary, the first shot took the pilot out. I was observing with the Thales Sophie, a wonderful instrument and saw the glass bubble go red as the .338 Lapua slammed into the pilot’s helmeted skull – there is no helmet in existence able to stop a full power military bullet. Death must have been instantaneous, the Alouette turned to on its side and crashed down, throwing the men out, the rotors breaking off in a great show of destruction, a deadly black smoke pillar rising into the air. The reason for the sustained shooting soon became clear.

“All are dead, Sah, Mike Delta Three Eight may commence his run.” Sniper said to me, still scanning away and reloading with new magazine and then pressing three new bullets into the one he removed. “Yes, we shot the survivors too or Lucy and Mrs Dawson did. I shot the fuel tank and radio lad. Sniper here, cease fire but keep tracking.” This was to Lucy and Angelique.

“Geelslang, Foxtrot here, start running mate, freedom awaits!”

“Better have cold beer also, Foxtrot, Lentliziyo is wounded but still moving fast. We treated him as much as we could. Right, thank you to all, we are breaking out! Confirm!”

“Confirmed, Foxtrot to all snipers, hold your fire, friendlies approaching.”

As much sympathy as I had for the young lad, Lentliziyo, he could not have been dying, he was still moving. If you cannot ignore pain and go through the barriers, you will never make Selection and we don’t want you. When you add the years of operating behind enemy lines, your chances of being killed or wounded were above 80%, that was part of the job and yet most survived. I saw them first, Terminator burst out into the open and over the fence in an almighty leap and kept running flat out into cover before turning, kneeling and shooting towards the country he just left. He had an AK47 with him, we could clearly hear his double taps below us.

“Foxtrot to snipers, cover fire where possible!”

I meant to be damn sure who you shoot at. Sniper immediately shot round after round off and I am sure so did Lucy with her Dragunov, luckily the rifle had much better optics than what it came out with, much better ammunition too, boat tails all of them. They were certainly devastatingly effective, it concerned me, according to the enemy only Terminator was able to shoot at them from that area. On the other hand, in the heat of the moment and half deaf from your own shooting, you may miss what is clear afterwards, I decided to let my order stand for now.

“Thank you, it is appreciated. Lentliziyo is next!” Geelslang said, he must have heard the sniper order and came to the same conclusion or would have stopped it. “Off you go lad, see you soon!”

Lentliziyo came running now, his left arm hanging unusable, tied to his chest with a green bandage (no white bandages when on operations, Angelique), and made a running dive across the fence before picking himself up, slower than expected and joining Terminator, he too was shooting with his AK47, double taps as expected, aimed shots. Mind, he would have a problem to reload fast with one hand but he was trained to do so, there are specialist techniques and I am sure Terminator would have helped. Geelslang and I introduced that part of the training, it was logical to us. As policemen we knew we could be stabbed or lose a hand in a fight with a criminal and so we knew how to reload and cock weapons one handed against your heel or your belt buckle, many ways. We taught our Army Regiment and they spread the word, it became standard doctrine to us.

Geelslang followed Lentliziyo, as always making the rest look like they were stumbling around, sprinting flat out, holding his light machine gun with both hands as he vaulted over and into cover, pausing only to toss two white phosphorous hand grenades in the downed Alouette helicopter’s remains, destroying it completely and making me smile. Geelslang was always like that, so good, so effortless. His platoon could not do enough for him, they knew that Lieutenant Geelslang would lead and expect them to beat him, an impossibility to be sure but for over achievers like them, a challenge they loved. Many times the other platoon leaders complained bitterly that Geelslang was making them look like fools, which they were not. I told them to up their game then, take him and his lads on! They did and lost but I had a dream company, the Army took note of us, they knew me and Geelslang anyway and started trading us people and then Angelique’s dad got kidnapped. Mind, I would have left anyway, I knew I was reaching my limits when my name was on the lieutenant colonel list. I had no connections and no desire to suck up to generals and neither did Geelslang. Yet, he was always going to be the next Regimental Commander on merit if the changes never came. If I had my life over, I would have done the same and so would Geelslang. Whatever else was said, we kept our honour.

As Geelslang turned around, he was shooting short bursts from his shoulder and he can do so accurately, before falling flat on his stomach, still shooting, Mike Delta Three Eight broke cover. I was not surprised, as platoon leader he would never leave the enemy country not last, it was his right and he too was good. He went over that fence in a magnificent leap, rolling along and sprinting hard away in a move I dare anyone, him included, to repeat for the cameras. He had Geelslang’s sniper rifle, the Russian made Vintorez, a semi-automatic like the Dragunov and was also shooting back, aimed shots as well as the long distance radio which Lentliziyo would have had before being shot. Terminator, I noted now had the Sophie Thales. They were all dressed the same way as us, in RENAMO camouflage, much dirtier and scruffier looking, heavily camouflaged. When they went down they simply disappeared from normal view.

“Welcome home! Now move past the ridge and up into the valley of death.” I suggested from my advantage point, able to see much further than them. “Snipers, stop shooting once they are past Cape Point.” I meant the horn below us, where the ridge stopped.

I wanted the Zimbabweans to follow them, praying for that, as we could not shell them inside their own country (an act of war Senhor Feradi, the Mozambican Intelligence Head, flatly forbid, Angelique). We had to get them across and where we wanted them and they would not do so if the snipers kept shooting them down. The problem was also, who was shooting if it was not the extracting Special Forces team.

“Yes, we aim to please, tell your wife to bring the medics in for Lentliziyo or he will lose use of that arm.” Geelslang said, unhurriedly.

“Roger that, medevac is ensured both ends.” Angelique spoke on the radio for the first time since she said they were in position many hours ago.

I could imagine her on her satellite telephone, calling the doctors from 7 Medical Battalion and their C-130 back to the Ukuthula Ranch Airport. The Super Frelon was already close to us, 40 miles away and waiting for the command to extract us. It really is like playing chess on several boards at the same time and always remaining on top. I knew the Mirages were also circling not too far away and then there was the discovered FARP (Forward Area Refuelling / Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refuelling Point). A busy morning.

“Missileers, get back in position and confirm you are there. Thank you for your assistance. Geelslang, move please! The chasers will stop at the border and check things out first and also secure the helicopter crash site. This gives you a wonderful opportunity to get to cover. Leave us an easy to follow trail, look careless or tired in spoor!”

When a man is tired, he does not lift his feet, he stumbles around and if he is wounded, his mate would help him. Any tracker would instantly notice this and report it, lifting the mood of the chasers considerably. After all, that means the terrorists are slackening and you can run them down and kill them. Both Geelslang and myself completed the Police’s advanced tracker course, not rated as Special Forces, it takes a lot more but known as one of the harder “normal” courses, taking place over three months. By the time you are done you will survive in the bush for months without any assistance, you will know the age of every dead branch and grass blade you see (they break the branch off and you study the discolouring, so you know, at a glance, that branch was broken whenever days ago) and then there is the actual tracking. Yes, the training was world class and those that made it, got an insignia consisting of two small spoor to be worn on your uniform. We wore ours below our gold Police Special Forces wings, then the silver Army Special Forces wings and then the tracker badge and dog unit emblems below them and then only medal ribbons. In our world, those insignia signified tremendous physical courage and stamina but that was not enough to become a good operator. Oddly, for liberals if no one else, the average Special Forces operator anywhere, not only us, will easily get to Master’s Degree level in any Ivy League College. You cannot have less than bright people working with explosives or doing what we do, you need significant brain power besides the genes.

“Roger that, Foxtrot.” Geelslang answered patiently, leaving his microphone pressed in. “Lentliziyo, drag your feet, lad and remove that bandage every forty-five yards to bleed a bit, you get? Terminator, help him along as if he cannot walk properly. Yes, look drunk, I will take the point and navigate too, keep close to me. Foxtrot, be aware, they have mortars, get into cover and stay there. Okay, we are moving. Mike Delta Three Eight, I apologise, shall we go then? At your command.”

Typical of Geelslang, he would always defer to the current platoon leader, Mike Delta Three Eight, it stays his men and his command. Geelslang was acting as Angelique’s liaison officer, unable to command directly. But his advice was valued, a lot. Geelslang was when all is said and done, a legendary operator, a man they still talk about over a beer and still greeted with respect. I heard Mike Delta Three Eight answering “that he is in full agreement and will follow them, no problem” before the radio went dead.

The Zimbabweans followed the same procedure we would have done at that time and exactly what we expected. They came rushing up to the border and spraying the area where Geelslang and mates were last seen with accurate rifle and machine gun fire. Another Alouette helicopter was circling high, out of small arms fire, spotting and then came the mortars. From their explosions, 60 mm Patmore types, high explosives, saturating the foot of the ridge in covering fire as the main element. I counted three platoons, 90 men, crossing under this cover and set up a perimeter defence. A squad of 10 men broke off and surrounded the burning helicopter, an officer (no rank, his demeanour betrayed him) searching for survivors and shaking his head. He was damn lucky, not knowing he was being tracked by Sniper all the time as he spoke on the radio, another lad carrying it, all of them in the standard Zimbabwean Army uniform. I now heard the sound of vehicles and soon spotted four old Mercedes Unimogs, camouflaged, arriving. The fence was flattened and the vehicles crossed, the men rapidly replenishing and at a shouted command forming an arrowhead formation (the first platoon and trackers leading, the other two platoons spread out on the flanks and the vehicles about half a mile behind, Angelique). They were committed and so were we. I tracked them all the way and ignored the helicopter buzzing around, they had lost twenty minutes and that was all what we needed, Geelslang and company was moving swiftly and were close to their cover position (or last stand if I screw up).

“Foxtrot here, missileers, are you tracking that Alouette?” I asked.


The answer came rather aggrieved back, they were tracking her, what a question but I had to know for sure. The arrowhead was now moving into Psalm 23, the trackers obviously excited, they noticed the signs.

“Foxtrot to artillery, fire mission, over!”

There is a very specific way of speaking on the radio network when shooting artillery, you don’t just shout fire and expect them to do so. They need to know where to and what ammunition to use and how many rounds. This is basic soldiering any graduate of even the normal Police Counter Insurgence Course would be able to do. For us, a way of living.

“G6, acknowledged, fire mission, standing by.”

“Valkiri One, acknowledged, fire mission, standing by.”

“Valkiri Two, acknowledged, fire mission, standing by.”

(They used other call signs, this is used for ease of writing, Angelique.)

“Foxtrot here, fire mission, airburst forty feet, full rocket salvos and five rounds rapid respectively, high explosive pre-fragmented, fire on coordinates…” I read the coordinates, ten figures long, I was marking the spot in the middle of the arrowhead formation, using the Thales Sophie.

You will recall, I am sure, that the sub munition warheads on the 127 mm rockets will each release 9,700 small steel balls, and completely saturate an area of 16,145 square feet with 388,000 anti-personnel bomblets in less than a minute. This was from one salvo, we were firing two and then there were the 155 mm (6.1 inch) G6 shells coming in. This was going to be hell on earth, make no mistake. They were plotting the targets now, the fire control computers would work out the angles and even charges (for the G6) and load the main gun on command. This took mere seconds.

“G6, acknowledged, fire mission, standing by for firing order.”

“Valkiri One, acknowledged, fire mission, standing by for firing order.”

“Valkiri Two, acknowledged, fire mission, standing by for firing order.”

They meant they were ready, the artillery was tracking, it was up to me and Geelslang now. We could not wait forever, the targets were moving, not fast, but you need to keep on correcting the coordinates. At last, were ready. His call came in about 30 seconds later.

“Geelslang lapha, konke kungokwakho, Foxtrot, kungenzeka Nkulunkulu ngihawukele imiphefumulo yabo. (Zulu, Geelslang here, all yours, Foxtrot, may God have mercy on their souls.) They were finally under cover.

“Foxtrot to artillery, fire at will.” I gave the command and waited.

The artillery lads would be shooting and the Valkiris could do so from inside their armoured (buttoned down) cab or from a distance away outside the vehicle. Each Valkiri MLRS system had 40 launching tubes for their 127 mm rockets. They fired full salvos at my command, all at once, 1 rocket every 0.5 second, 20 seconds in all to empty the tubes. When they fire it is as if the gates of hell had opened, the rockets make a terrible whining noise and you can see the white smoke trailing behind them as they disappear into the distance and over the horizon. The entire area behind the launch tubes is on fire, it looks like yellow flames gone mad and when the last rocket is off the crew starts moving. They extract the vehicles’’ stabilisers (with the switch of a button, it is hydraulic, Angelique) and load their equipment in seconds and move off to the next firing position where they will stop and reload as fast as is possible. The G6 self-propelled howitzer, when she fires the sound is incredible, a booming noise you hear miles away and the vehicle is surrounded by brownish smoke coming from the large muzzle brake. Here they fired five shells one after the other, moving the barrel (it is entirely autonomous) slightly to change the arcs so that all shells fall and explode on target at the same time. As you know, the kill radius of an exploding 155 mm shell 164 feet, the disabling radius, where you may survive but will be injured, is 328 feet, five of them exploding at the same time, covers an area of roughly 1,640 yards and those infantrymen were dead from the moment I gave the order. Yes, they had a minute or two to live as the rockets and shells travelled towards them but they could run nowhere. It was too late for them.

“Valkiri One, shots out.”

“Valkiri Two, shots out.”

The calls came in, indicating that the Valkiri MLRS vehicles had opened up and that 80 rockets were coming at us. They would not say what they shot off, the enemy may be listening in even if the radios were encrypted. That too is standard stuff. You give the enemy no chance, it is never a fair fight, you do what needs to be done to win and so it is. I am a firm believer in General Patton’s dictum of: “No dumb bastard ever won a war by going out and dying for his country. He won it by making some other dumb bastard die for his country.” That is me, I will make the rest die if I can.

“G6, shots out.”

The last call came in, they had to wait a few seconds, don’t ask me about the artillery math involved but the timing was perfect. We all knew we had to wait, to make sure we were under decent cover and open our mouths for the undoubted shockwaves coming. Such an artillery strike is hell on earth, it cannot really be described but imagine a whining sound approaching very fast and you look up, startled and the explosions begin, leaving brownish smoke in the air above you. The earth around you looks like it is erupting, little geysers of earth bounce into the air as the sub munitions slam home, displacing the soil (like heavy raindrops on water when it turns white, only here it was brown, Angelique.) Yes, it looked like that, the enemy soldiers looked up, some, the most experienced tried to run and then their position was covered in dust clouds and you could see no more, the sheets of flame spreading around them like a scene from Dante’s Inferno where the veldt, wet as it was after the rain, started smoking as well as the old Unimogs, ripped to pieces, gasoline leaking out and then burning merrily. It was only for a few seconds but it felt longer, like an eternity, the sound of the airbursts hammering home continuing unabated and the 155 mm shells exploding in dark brown blackish smoke. Subsequently the cries of agony reached us even at a mile away. I was looking for the helicopter and found it just as Angelique and Lucy shot off their FM-6 missiles, both tracking and slamming home on the hot engine exhaust, the 1970s technology unable to defeat the modern missiles. The Alouette had no chance, she probably did not even realise she was being tracked and may or may not have seen the missiles coming, I don’t know, bursting into flames before she even reached the ground and exploding loudly.

“Geelslang, Foxtrot, damage report, mate.” I wanted to know they were okay, they were less than half a mile from the strike.

I knew they should be but the effect of such shells and rockets is dreadful when that close to them, you feel physically shaken up, the air punched out of your lungs and you may be thrown several feet into the air. It is beyond dreadful to experience such strikes close to you for the first time. Some armies practise this, they make the lads sit in a crater and then explode by remote control a large shell close by. Even when you expect it, you go into shock.

“Geelslang here, I suggest another salvo for effect. We are okay, a bit shaken and working on Lentliziyo, get that chopper in, Foxtrot.”

I was now worried about Lentliziyo. Geelslang would not appeal to me for the medical evacuation without reason. I noticed in my career that as long as a man is busy, running, shooting, scheming to survive, he is good. The moment he stops the adrenaline, he collapses and goes into shock. I hope that was not what was happening. If so, he was in good hands, Geelslang had the usual Special Forces medical kit with him (it rolls out like a sleeping bag) and would be doing what could be done.

“Mrs Dawson, any news on the Super Frelon?” I radioed.

“On its way.” She switched to the wounded directly. “Geelslang, the Super Frelon is eleven minutes out.”

Of course, the Valkiris were still reloading and so I called the G6 and fired another 20 rounds over the death zone, something which they did with their usual aplomb and would forever take the Mickey out of the rocket people for being unable to respond. The rounds came in for the next ten minutes and I called it a day, the Super Frelon was getting close and there was nothing left to shoot at (and just when the Valkiris were ready, they complained bitterly to me in private, Angelique).

“Foxtrot, confirm that the guns are cold, we need to police the area.” Geelslang asked calmly.

“Foxtrot to all, guns cold, guns cold, confirm?” I asked.

The calls came in and the vehicles started moving to our original rendezvous point where we split up a few days ago. We would need them to attack that FARP we found. We met with Geelslang and shook hands as our tradition indicated, his bearded face (they were a week behind enemy lines) looking grim, covered with dust and sweat.

“You owe us a cold beer each, Mrs Dawson.” He greeted with his usual smile. “Did Foxtrot tell you that you look beautiful today? We had enough trouble already if he did not. Good shot on the Alouette, by the way, you too Lucy. Lentliziyo’s wound is through-and-through (the bullet exited, Angelique) but it shattered his collar bone and his scapula as it went out and he needs surgery to clean up the mess. FN, 7,62 mm NATO, I would say. We ambushed them and they fought back hard, of course. They are as good as always, the Shona Bastards.”

“No problem, a cold beer apiece awaits. Thank you and no, no telling me what I look like. And what is more, he cheated me most cruelly the other night. I am still in shock. Let me help Lentliziyo.”

She smirked back after hugging him and kneeled next to the lad, sometimes the touch of a woman’s hand can have a miracle effect. It makes you think of your mom, really, and you feel better even when dying.

“Lokhu yayingumngane oseduze, Foxtrot. La madoda ayakufanelekela indondo ngamunye. UNkulunkulu uyazi, benzela ngesibindi.” (Zulu, This was a close run thing, Foxtrot. These men deserve a medal each. God knows, they acted with courage.) He said softly, his face suddenly strained, showing the last week’s adventures.

“Yebo, kodwa niyazi izwe lethu. Sizokwenza luthathe kuye bese abhubhise FARP sathola, futhi thina amaphuzu enye helicopter…” (Zulu, Yes, but you know our world. We will extract him and then destroy the FARP we found, and we scored another helicopter…) I rapidly explained the Changhe Z-8 misunderstanding and he nodded in sympathy to my innocence (my ass, it was on purpose, Geelslang started laughing so much he got hiccups and so did the rest when they found out, it was a man’s world, I was abused, Angelique).

“This is Mrs Dawson, medical evacuation, pronto!” She was talking on her radio to the Super Frelon, the same type downed pilots used, making it clear he had to bust his ass before turning to me. “I am waiting, my Foxtrot.”

“You are beautiful. Here is a smoke grenade and a flare. Get your helicopter in and get directly to the runway with Lentliziyo. We will then come back and meet with the lads to destroy the FARP.” I pre-empted her, handing the items over, this was no time to waste.

“Yeah, I know that, I am often told I am beautiful. I am still waiting, thank you.”

She answered peacefully, now putting her matt green Ray-Ban sunglass on for effect, staring at me for something.

“What the hell for? Geelslang said the Army lads deserve a medal.” I translated belatedly. “And that I was entirely right to blow the Changhe Z-8 on your command.”

“Yeah, I know that he said the first half anyway, Terminator translated to me, precisely, as it turns out. The second half he did not! I am waiting for you to congratulate me on shooting the helicopter down. It is not every day that your fiancée does such things. Not even me!”

“But you did not, Lucy shot at her also!” I retorted without thinking.

“Yeah, look here, Foxtrot, it will go very badly in our coming marriage if you cannot differentiate between my missile and others. I fired first and I hit her first, you get, she was already going down when Lucy’s hit.”

“No, I fired first.” Lucy now spoke, she was standing with Mike Delta Three Eight, sharing a water bottle.

The two were quite close but he was bad company right then, worried about Lentliziyo and listening to Sniper reporting what took place the last week and what was going to happen soon, the FARP attack. Terminator was still kneeling at Lentliziyo’s side, wisely declaring himself to be neutral and Lentliziyo, now heavily bandaged and on drips, in his own world but still holding on to his rifle with one hand.

“Then, Lucy, you fired without orders and that nullifies your shot, you get? If you cheat, it cannot count, ask Foxtrot.” Angelique countered and so started a disagreement lasting to this very day. Angelique would forever be claiming she hit the Alouette first, Lucy denying so.

“Like hell I did, Madame. I had a weapon free order from Major Foxtrot!” She answered, smirking at this wisdom. “Yes, and I tracked my missile in all the way too. Yes, Lucy shot down that Alouette, Mike Delta Three Eight saw it. Did you not?”

The man looked like he did not know what to say, he had no way of knowing and yet wanted to agree. It was remarkably funny. Both women staring hard at him and to this day he never answered. He was an Academy man, quite civilised and knew when to keep silent, that was one contest he was not going to win.

“Maintenant, vous voyez, Foxtrot, une mutinerie à l’intérieur de mes propres rangs. Dieu sait, vous apporter la malchance sur plus de fuselages mais je vous encore. Merci pour les milk-shakes aussi. Je sais que vous les volé packs de rationnement du repos.” (French, Now you see, Foxtrot, a mutiny inside my own ranks. God knows, you bring bad luck on more than airframes but I still like you. Thank you for the milkshakes too. I know you stole them from the rest’s ration packs.)

“Embrasser?” (French, Hug?) I countered, not wanting to admit I did not track their missiles either, I was scanning to see who survived my first salvos.

“Why not, I know I shot her down first, that is enough. I would have expected you to notice, you had the Sophie Thales but clearly you did not. Look, there is the Super Frelon, let me throw the smoke grenade first.”

I stopped thinking of old Hilarious a while later when Geelslang handed me a Rennie to treat my sudden heartburn, she really is dangerous to decent people. We were flying fast and hard, Angelique at the front again, towards the Ukuthula Runway but it would take almost two hours.

Lentliziyo was not in any danger of dying on us but he was in pain, as you may imagine. We were feeding him small doses of morphine and doing what we could. Especially Geelslang is a good medic to have around, the rest of us assisted. I noted that Angelique and Lucy had left their fired FM-6 tubes on the battlefield, she was hoping for them to be found and the Chinese to be accused by the Baboon for his latest problems in life. That though was in the future, our immediate need was to get the lad to safety which was done the moment we arrived at the runway. The Hercules stood waiting, making me wonder where Blondie was, that aircraft could not have flown in from Pretoria that quickly, they had to have been closer, probably Beira. Whatever, we were glad to see them and hand Lentliziyo over. He would recover and become his old self again many months later. How he ran and shot back at the bastards with the fragmented scapula bones rubbing against each other and only a local pain reliever hastily administered, I would not even try to explain, such things are expected and more common than realised.

“Right, the last phase, we destroy the FARP (Forward Area Refuelling / Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refuelling Point), yes?” I asked of Angelique as we waved the Hercules off.

“We do, well, I am waiting for instructions from down south. In the meantime, I think we did very well the last few days. Did I tell you, the Mirages ran into the MIGs on the way here?”

“No, you must have forgotten, again.” I answered with a wry grin, holding her hand and feeling oddly at peace. I mean, what else can she pull out of her hat? “I am sure you had other things on your mind, it happens.”

“Yeah, they won and so it is, scratch two MIGs, those pilots, the Mirage pilots, they really owe me for this victory. Such victories are very scarce in modern times. But I was thinking whilst I lay in the OP (observation post) on the ridge, I had some time to take a step back and analyse a few things. You need more garlic in your food, Foxtrot. You somehow developed dreadful spasms in your old age (I am three months older than her). How I would not know unless you cheated in taking my garlic pills, did you cheat? Remember, God is watching and He takes care of tiny widows like me. No? Why else would you then have pressed my remote control firing device without my direct orders? Surely you would not want to do me in and spoil my fun, your fiancée and soul? That is not like you at all. Yep, we will increase your garlic intake, just to be sure, you get? No? Well, whatever, you can be grateful that I am so concerned over my elderly Major, spasms and all. Yes, you are welcome!”

The End

About the Author

George M James is a pseudo name for the Author. It is used for professional reasons and for the safety of his family. All GMJ Books are based on facts, they contain a lot of research and written in the first person narrative. You will learn about Covert Operations, Special Forces techniques and military history not known outside the select few. The GMJ Books may very well change the way you look at counter terrorism and espionage. Some authorities call the GMJ Books “dangerous fiction.”

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Extract from the first GMJ book, Code Name VFO565

The unmarked helicopter dropped us off at a nearby submarine. We had to jump into the ocean and wait for rescue and came close to drowning. This time we hugged for warmth, cursing the Navy at the top of our lungs until too tired to say anything and too indebted when they surfaced right next to us hours later. By that time, we were speculating whether the pilot was not perhaps trying to murder us by voluntary drowning. After all, dropping us into the middle of the ocean in the darkest hour of the night took a lot of faith which we simply did not have in him. Still, we jumped and floated and cursed and almost howled with relief when the submarine surfaced right next to us. They did not even have to launch a rubber dinghy to get us on board. Mind you, they did fish us out of the water with a long hook which was somewhat undignified. And told us “to bloody shut-up and verify the emergency code words or be thrown back in the ocean.” That is not civilised behaviour from a Silent Service that prides themselves on being a cut above the rest. Why, they even eat with a knife and fork in their mess and have all sorts of strange Pommy rituals every Friday night. I asked, a bit taken aback, who else they expected to find swimming at that spot more than fifty miles away from the shore? With a sonar transponder tied to his left ankle? I had to restrain Geelslang from getting obnoxious when the answer came back to “f answer the code or piss off.” We gave the code in unison and were told to “get f down the hatch and touch nothing” as if we were never on a submarine before.

My issued girlfriend was waiting in the small but brightly lit wardroom, looking all concerned and motherly, as far as she is able to and she tried really hard – even had her aviators’ glasses off for once. She explained that they had an internal leak which they took care of (I hope in a permanent and most painful way) and formally apologised. It could be so. Who knows? Fact is her communications network was compromised and we on the run for five days with a homicidal crowd of nutcases trying to slay us. Hence this was a serious question from Geelslang who did not trust her an inch and said so often, though never in her presence. As an African man, he would never be that disrespectful. It is just not done. He also heard from me how violent and unreasonable she could get being “otherwise.”

I had no real choice in the matter anyway so the answer was easy. She would want to know and if I did not tell her she would probably find out and react aggressively to protect her, read South African Government, interests. That would be bad for the mission and business. I did not need such troubles in life. Every so often, with that girl, I think she felt scorned because I did not try my luck again after the first two kneeing incidents. Women are like that you know. They want to feel wanted and admired all the time.

Thing is, as long as she worked for SASS she was off limits, and worse, she was sort of used to being in charge – ordering me around at her pleasure. As her husband or even lover, I would not take kindly to that. I am, after all, an African male where the wife is an honoured helper, never the boss. I patiently explained this to her, she being an Afrikaner girl who should have known what is obvious from the day she noticed boys. However, she became terribly annoyed if not plain nasty and upset with my explanation on the facts of life and her role in it. Offered to show me who the boss is, and that isn’t me by the way, just so I know. She even took a few swipes at me. I succeeded in ducking the second one. I just don’t get her. As the man I am in charge; that is how I honour my wife, by taking care of her, the kids, and everything else. It is not a boss thing though I am the boss; it is my right as man ordained by God in His wisdom. She retorted furiously she did not believe that God ever said that and I had to show her St Paul’s passage in the New Testament where he clearly stated he will never allow a woman to order a man around. That wisdom she dismissed with a nonchalant wave of her hand (making me duck hastily, I assure you) stating he was a suspected homosexual who could not find a wife at which point I deemed it wise to take a walk to calm down.

I sent her a message to meet me at my rondavel and told Geelslang to get lost for the day. Well not in so many words – he had a tender soul at times. I asked him to arrange a few things for us whilst I talked to the “traitorous bitch” as he called her. However, I believe he was glad to leave, shouting over his shoulder “that the rancher is a much better choice than the scrawny snake from SASS, she has child bearing hips and blah” but anyway; it is not his choice to begin with. Love is blind and all that. I stopped listening. I had heard his arguments before, many times.

She and her two issued thugs duly arrived by car the next morning and asked all sorts of probing questions before leaving to report to her superiors. As is usual nothing was committed to paper by me, but I knew that she would spend hours writing a report on what we had said to each other – the official bits that is. She furthermore told her thugs to piss off after I stared at them without saying a word to answer her questions. As an honoured guest in my house, she would be safe and had no need for them. It is the African way. They left to wait outside under the trees.

Just to be spiteful, I elaborated as much as possible, thus increasing her workload three fold. They don’t use computers in the Counter-Terrorism Desk where she works. It is just too dangerous and can be hacked if on a hard disk. For black operations, and this was the deepest black ever, they went back to the old tried and tested system of writing everything down on paper. It suited me. I told her about my new found love for chess in Dubai leaving the part out that I lost every game. I expected her to say something about my Russian Chess Master but apparently she could also play Mrs Cool with the best of them. I even described her chest, the Chest Master that is, in great detail to her to see her reaction. She did not seem to mind. I just don’t get her but took good care to be ready to duck in case she got violent again. But she just smirked and told me to get a move on then. So I gave up and kept to the basics. I was rather disappointed by her lack of reaction.

However, when she left, I walked with her to her car, it is good manners and to make sure she actually leaves; she unexpectedly turned around and kissed me. Told me to be careful and trust no-one except her and not to take stupid risks no matter what. That was no sisterly kiss either. Somewhere she learned the fine art of French kissing and it was with much regret on my side when she stopped just as suddenly and drove away without a further word or even a look in my direction. As said, I just don’t get that girl. She is dangerous to my mental health. She did not return my wave, but I long remembered the feeling of her firm body against mine. It made me smile for two days and had Geelslang staring at me suspiciously. He knew something happened.

Extract from the second GMJ book, Code Name Pour Angelique

“Telstar orbiting the Ukuthula Ranch, respond, over.” Geelslang did the honours and the talking. I had no doubts, and neither did he, that the recording would be taped and listened to for many years to come. Hence he revised back to the Special Forces officer he once was by using correct and accepted radio procedure. He could speak very decent English, since he married Thandiwe he lost most of his Zulu accent which is a pity and I take the Mickey out of him whenever possible. He just grinned back and shrugged his broad shoulders and said he has kids and they need an example. The man had a point.

The startled response came quickly enough. “This is November Yankee Two Zero. Get off this frequency. This is an official channel and you are interfering with important operations.” He sounded slightly pissed off and well he should. The call came via their radios and that meant bad news for the assault team.

We could see the aeroplane orbiting at forty thousand feet on the radar screens. That made it, a correct guess as it turned out, one of the several Boeing 737s the South African National Air Force used as Telstar aircraft. In essence it had banks of sophisticated communications gear on board and a small private office for the mission commander from where he could speak to the president and whoever else he wanted to. It had no offensive weaponry or even defensive ones except the usual flare dispatchers against missiles. In such operations it is worth its weight in gold and acted as a relay station.

“November Yankee Two Zero, this is code name Geelslang. Please standby to note down the casualty list of your raid on Ukuthula Ranch.” He went on in a flat and emotionless voice after a second or two “No survivors, I repeat you have no survivors.”

There was a shocked silence from above and then a new voice came on the air. “Geelslang, this is Yankee Two Zero. I am the mission commander. I request that my team’s earthly remains are treated with proper respect. Is that agreed?” This was interesting and we got the message. It was one old soldier to another pleading for his men not to be fed to crocodiles as we planned to do. It was not an official request; the team was deniable and would be denied as mercenaries. The correct burial procedures are a very African thing and have to do with the journey to the ancestors. Feeding them to the crocodiles would be an insult they will pay for in the afterlife.

Geelslang looked at me who nodded in agreement. They died bravely enough and we had no personal feelings about them as such. I actually felt sorry for them – I know how it feels to be used and abused by lesser men in higher positions. You get a mission, whether you agree or not made no difference. They were probably told we were terrorists and had to be sorted out. That is the problem when serving Satan; you never know who is lying to whom and what the consequences would be.

“Yankee Two Zero, this is Geelslang, your request is noted. I repeat there were no survivors. Full military honours, as far as possible will be initiated and you can observe it if you wish. We guarantee you safe conduct for the ceremony only and in civilian clothes. “

“Geelslang, this is Yankee Two Zero. Thank you. I may have a solution for us. Please ask Major Foxtrot to meet me at Ukuthula Ranch Airport in forty minutes. I guarantee safe passage and the meeting is for humanitarian purposes only.” He came back quickly and as expected. Such men usually never take a long time to improvise or to adapt to changing circumstances.

I took the microphone from Geelslang. “Yankee Two Zero, this is Foxtrot. You may land at our airport and meet me in forty minutes from now.” I looked at my watch and gave the time to start counting down to zero. “You alone will disembark from your aircraft. Do you copy and do you need a vector?” They would not need a vector which is a direction to fly to the airport as seen from the pilot’s eyes. It is only when you are lost or have an emergency that the air controllers will help you out at your request and tell you the shortest direction to where you want to be. The beacons on the airfield, after I switched them on, will act like a guiding star to them. We could already see them flying to the west to circle back for a normal approach and rapidly losing height. The Hercules has left the area and would be on its way back. It occurred to me that they may have planned to land at the airport to exfiltrate that way.

“Foxtrot, this is Yankee Two Zero. Roger the meeting and who may leave the aircraft. Note, we do not need a vector but would appreciate the beacons and landing lights. Out.” He sounded resigned and I wondered what he wanted. Obviously something that could not be said on the airwaves but such truces are not uncommon in our world. Many times we would sit down and sort out things over a few beers or Jack Daniels for me. I wish he contacted me before his raid for we could have worked out a mutually agreeable concept. His voice sounded familiar but I could not quite place it. Ours is a small world and mostly we know each other or about each other. Your reputation starts at Selection but it is ongoing. He would probably know a lot about Geelslang and me. Well anyway, so be it.

Extract from the third GMJ book, Code Name Phoenix

I heard a loud whoosh sound and saw a Milan out of the corner of my eye heading straight for the same 76 mm cannon. I lost track of it for a second and found it when the 76 mm cannon went up in flames as the Milan hit it. Seconds later the second Milan team had a missile entering the area where the Umkhonto Missiles were stored. All in all, they fired nine Milans into that area and it must have been effective for not one Umkhonto missile came back at us. They did not explode much to my regret but not surprise, military explosives are very stable, but dark oily smoke was seen to be coming out of the launch holes. Definitively something terrible was happening inside those vertical launchers. Perhaps the solid rocket fuel was going off. The flames did have a reddish colour before the smoke obscured them. They then switched to the Exocets amidships which took three hits and that was the end of that particular threat. It was rather useless as a close in weapon system. They should have fired at us when the firing control radar locked on us.

All this made the semi-rigid boats approaching the Orlando to make an abrupt turn and opening up the throttles to get back to the Amatola. They would have been better off to come closer to us but from their view all hell broke loose and they wanted to get away. All three of the ZU23-s were now firing and the tracers were curving onto the Amatola and going over their heads. Unless you have heard that sound before it would put the fear of God into you. If they were Special Forces, they would have approached us and shot the gunners and thereby saving their ship. But they did not do that. They rushed back for safety.

I heard an almighty roar right on top of me. It drowned out everything else and left the ship shivering. It was the M46 130 mm gun shooting right above us. For a short time, even wearing noise cancellation earphones, I was completely deaf. I only noted the two .50 DShKMs shooting by the tumbling cartridges. They were raking the Amatola from side to side. The starboard DShKM gunners, feeling left out because they had no target that side, grabbed their RPD light machine guns and engaged the fleeing rubber ducks. It was a massacre. One exploded almost immediately and the other started to deflate with crew members diving overboard to escape the bullets. They all died from either drowning or gunshot wounds. Only one of the boats reached the Amatola but then drifted away.

The big 70-pound high explosive shell of the M46 cannon suddenly hit the Amatola’s aircraft hangar with a huge flash starting a fire. I figured out later that they never flooded the helicopter avgas pipes with carbon dioxide as they should have done. It is standard procedure in all carriers anyway. The moment you expect to be shot at, you dramatically reduce the risk of fire by flooding it with something which cannot burn. This was learned the very hard way in the Pacific Theatre. Yes, avgas is not as flammable as was 100 octane petrol but still, it will burn, and burn it did covering Amatola in greasy smoke. That would take a long time to put out if ever for the DShKMs were effectively preventing anyone from standing upright to hold a fire hose. I could see that someone activated her sprinklers for water was cascading down her sides, mixed with reddish colour. It was human blood.

Then the twin 35 mm shells from the Amatola started to hit our bridge above me. Geelslang later said they could do nothing but steer and pray and the whole bridge turned dark grey with shrapnel and exploding glass. He suffered; as did all on the bridge, significant flesh and cut wounds because of it. How they survived was in fact a miracle. Those shells tore out windows struck the double Hesco barriers and caused major problems for us. The twin 35 mm had to be stopped, it was proving to be as effective as we have feared but in retrospect, they should have fired on the ZU23-2s. That would have eased the fire on them. However, sailors are trained to go for the command centre, to hit the bridge. So they did.

Our aft ZU23-2, on the helicopter deck, now opened up firing short bursts to the Amatola. It was the last one to do so and started hitting the area around the twin 35 mm but could not stop it from firing. The angles were awkward for us and the twin 35 mm protected by the high walls of the helicopter hanger deck. Those lads were throwing everything back. They poured the metal back to us and for a short while the battle hung in the balance. What saved us were the Milan teams who switched both launchers onto the twin 35 mm and destroyed it with two direct hits seconds after each other. I could have kissed them and so did everyone else. That 35 mm was really hurting us in the three minutes it fired. We counted no less than 257 hits around the bridge area which was excellent shooting.

Extract from the fourth GMJ book, Code Name Lise

“Commodore, I want you to take the trucks away and across the border into Mozambique. Once you are there you cannot be attacked by the South African forces and will be able to come down south and meet with us or we will run to you but only in an emergency. We really want to take our heavy weapons with us.”

As expected the old Commodore did not take kindly to this idea. “I say old chap, first it was Peter chasing me off my bridge and now you chasing me to safety. This is not done old fellow. I can load a gun as good as the next man.”

I doubted that but was too polite to say so. The magazines for the ZU23-2s weighed more than what I thought he could possibly load continuously but with Pommy bastards you never know. They are a hardy breed and not to be taken lightly. The 130 mm shells weigh about seventy pounds each and then the charges which were admittedly much lighter. I looked at Graeme for help and he immediately agreed that this was an excellent idea…who else could be trusted to rescue us when the time came and that settled it.

I gave the Commodore the GPS reference where the trucks should wait which was two miles inside Mozambique under fairly large trees…the only ones in the area normally more known for its flat bushes. He was not completely safe, you never knew with the South Africans and in law they did have the right to cross an international border when in hot pursuit. There was a crucial difference though, if he left before the attack there cannot be any legal justification for a hot pursuit operation. It was a technical point but one which would make the difference in condemnation and reparation claims at that useless liberal organisation, the United Nations.

I took the time to carefully scrutinize the beach and our hidden guns. As far as I could see and I looked really hard, everything was normal enough. Yes, the vehicles left tyre marks on the beach but so what? Many vehicles do so even if illegal under South African law to drive on a beach. Geelslang signalled he loaded what was needed and started to drive to the guns offloading the ammunition. A SAMIL20 immediately approached the Orlando to load the crew’s kitbags and cat which I did not know we had. I just shook my head. If only it could talk.

“Commodore, I propose you follow the beach north. There is no river to cross and if you keep on the hard wet surface your tracks will be washed out in minutes. Once you reach your waypoint, turn left and go inland for one mile. The GPS will lead you but you will note the tall trees. Do not move from that spot under any circumstances but if you have to, here is the secondary rendezvous point. If we are not there by this time tomorrow, get out and get back to London. Do not attempt to cross the border into South Africa. Sir, do I have your word on this?”

“Yes Foxtrot, good luck.” He turned and walked to the beach without looking back. I knew his soul was crying for his last command.

The men were waiting for Graeme and me at the beach. They formed a small circle around us. I have always believed in keeping the lads informed to what we were up to and what we thought would happen. In the end such tactics leads to better results.

“Gentlemen, we have come a long way since we got the old Orlando in Djibouti Harbour. We sank the SAS Amatola as we said we would and now we are going to sink another South African Navy warship or perhaps two of them.” At this a few cheered and smiled knowingly, yes, if given a chance they will become legends.

“We have suffered grievously too and lost too many good men during the sea battle and the subsequent ambush. Let us have a moment of silence for our brothers.” I bowed my head as did everyone removing their hats. It is a military thing which civilians don’t get. After a minute Geelslang said “Amen” and I continued to explain what was happening now.

“The Orlando has one last purpose, to act as a sacrificial lamb. We have activated the distress beacons and we expect the enemy to investigate. They will most probably come by helicopter first and drop Special Forces onto the Orlando. The frigate will stay away but we expect the fast attack craft to come close enough to engage them. That is what we hope will happen but as you know, they may also approach with ski-boats or just shell the Orlando to pieces.”

“I have a stratagem for that last scenario, to prevent it. As you know we captured an enemy soldier as well as the patrol’s long distance radio. I plan to place him, suitably tied down on the Orlando and let the enemy know he is there. That may prevent the offshore shelling and to initiate the first wave of soldiers landing by helicopter to rescue him and gather evidence to be used for propaganda purposes.”

I did not feel too bad for the captured lad. Angelique only ordered me not to kill him on the spot, not to keep him alive forever. If his mates want to shell him to pieces knowing he is there, well, that is their problem. If they can shoot at a clearly marked ambulance I can use their lads as hostages. They are serving evil anyway.

Extract from the fifth GMJ book, Code Name Dawson

I was beginning to worry about this fellow. He may be worth more to us alive and I look at Geelslang for inspiration. He was listening on the extra earphone and scanning the area all the time. He was frowning and went rigid when his wife’s name was mentioned. We were pissed off when they issued a TWEP order against her for treating Angelique after we rescued her. It was uncalled for and we had to smuggle her out leaving her clinic behind. She was not pleased. On the other hand, going against Angelique’s instructions was dangerous, very dangerous. She would react furiously or perhaps not. We were good because we could make independent decisions in the field and I have the power to declare a cease fire. Still, I would not stand close to her explaining this; she may get “otherwise.”

“Foxtrot, I would like to go down there and speak to this fellow. He may be crucial to us in the future. We may have discovered the only cadre employee worthy of his job.”

“How are you going to get in there, Geelslang? The place is staked out.” I asked a bit shocked at his audacity. I have not even agreed yet to saving this fellow’s life but he knew I was thinking about it. We needed to get him out before we blow it. He would anyway then be under our influence since we saved his life.

“I have my NIA (National Intelligence Agency – the local counter-espionage unit) card with me. Once I am inside I will get him out and you blow the rest up. Once we leave, you blow it and I will escape in the chaos.” He started to move to the door and I bellowed. “Wait mate, can we not rather call the bastard? After all we can see his reaction from here. We don’t need to walk to him.”

“Ok, let’s make the call.” He picked up the phone and dialled the hotel. The jammers only affected Wi-Fi and mobile devices, not landlines. At first he had problems getting through but after a few choice words and no doubt his Pommy accent he got put through.

In the meantime, the conversation in the boardroom became quite heated with some of the Muslims stating their great disappointment in the state of affairs. Well, it would not last much longer. It was surreal to see and hear the phone ring on the hacked CCTV screen. The moment the SASS head stretched his hand out to pick the phone up I cut the bug connection. I was scared of interference and him guessing we could see him and had the place under observation. On the other hand, he would know soon enough and probably guess we could hear him. That speech sounded a bit prepared to me.


“This is Geelslang. Get out of that room or die with the rest. I will contact you within 48 hours to talk. Agreed?”

“Yes. Thank you. I meant every word. I will be at my office. Yes, the same number as my predecessor who left for France.” He meant we could use Angelique’s old numbers to contact him.

We saw him turn towards the terrorists as he placed the telephone back. I switched the bug on again. Everyone was looking at him.

“Gentlemen, you will have to excuse me for a minute.” He smiled or tried to. “I have a personal phone call to make – family problems you know?”

“I am warning you again. We expect you to comply with our demands or we will create havoc here. We are not to be played with. We helped you bastards in the old days and now we expect a return on our investment.” The obnoxious lawyer wanted the last word instead of saying he is sorry to hear about family trouble as a decent man would have done.

Extract from the sixth GMJ book, Code Name Foxtrot

Of course, I did not know about the above events. I would like to say I knew when my wife died but I did not. I had no magic whisper in my ear and I only found out when my SASS handler, Mrs Dawson, called me to ask for an emergency meeting. We often met before and we needled each other every time. She was unlike any Afrikaner girl I have ever seen or met before and not the least impressed with my Special Forces background as most should be. She made it clear she thought we excluded women from Selection because we were afraid they would do better. I have never heard such an argument before and felt sure her husband did not know who the leader in his house should be. Certainly no other Afrikaner girl ever said that to me. I was so taken aback I did not know how to respond. Of course, she had some elements of Special Forces training behind her, like static line parachuting but so what? My grannie can do that too. Not that she would want to; she knew her place in life.

Truth to be told I pitied my handler’s husband as I am sure he would have been henpecked. Quite often I said to her she has to realise, I am a man and I am the head of my household. There is no way a woman, even one as smart as she will command me to do something. She may ask and suggest and if clever enough manipulate me into what she wants me to do but tell me? Nah, it does not work like that in our Afrikaner culture.

Those comments never failed to rile her and she would put her dark glasses on and suggested I go on some horror mission on her behalf. Of course, since she asked, I could not really say no. She was, in a way, my commanding officer and refusing would have dire consequences. It was just last year when I was rudely made to touch my toes in Athens whilst a big fat Greek did an indecent cavity search in an area normally reserved for things coming out of. Obviously I did not submit to this insult without a rifle against my head before and after. Still, I managed to slug him before being kicked out of the country and told never to come back. Worst was when I reported it to her, the Bitch of SASS, and she laughed so much she had the hiccups. She found it hilarious which shows you she does not understand what an insult it was to a proud African male.

There was nothing to laugh about. I kept on explaining the abuse but she was having none of it. At least Marwa kept a straight face for two minutes before laughing too. Perhaps women don’t get it. They are different from men and the idea not so gross to them as to us males. Yeah, that was it. They did not get the point. I decided to explain again, this time patiently and with great restraint on my part but the results were the same…they giggled uncontrollably so I gave up and kept quiet in disgust.

I saw one of my handlers’ thugs snickering too. Now him I could sort out and slugged him on the way out breaking his jaw. Yep, the bastard will not laugh again when not asked to. Only hyenas and liberals do such things. My old drill sergeant, bless his dark soul, explained that to us every day and we soon learned never to be a hyena or liberal unless commanded to laugh. Besides, who is this thug to listen to what is said privately between me and the Bitch of SASS? The man obviously had no manners and he avoided me from then on. Mind you it felt quite good to slug someone. I was smiling for a week. It was a great jab and made the others reach for their pistols. They stopped that when they noticed my mate Geelslang standing behind them with his Glock 19 already drawn. They knew his reputation for violence and my handler jumped up to interfere before it became serious. She had guts that girl. I just don’t understand her ways.

Being called by her after dinner was not that uncommon. The woman had no decency when working which was always, we never met socially. We were soon at our local coffee shop in Pretoria where I noticed her thugs first. As always she was discreetly surrounded by her bodyguards I called thugs. They started to give me the evil eye because of the jaw breaking incident. I suppose they have other reasons too for my mate Geelslang once threatened to TWEP (terminate with extreme prejudice, i.e. assassinate) their principal, Mrs Dawson, and it was well-known that the two of us were closer than blood brothers. Not that I blame him, he had good reason for his anger. She did experience a breach in her secure communications which caused us to be on the run for a week. We just made it too. I ignored them and looked for my issued girlfriend who sat in a corner nursing a cup of coffee. She looked distressed but then she often did these days.

“Foxtrot.” She stood up and shook my hand firmly as Afrikaner girls are taught to do. She must have been about my age, 39, but looked younger. I am sure, if you look at her twice, and most did, she could be very attractive with a slim body and firm chest area. Not that I cared, I had Marwa who was undoubtedly an attractive woman too and we were married for less than two years. Whenever we met which was not enough these days with her constantly in Iraq it was honeymoon time. Why would I want to note other women? She did not note other men.

She took her glasses off which was always a bad sign for it signalled she was not yet ready to be the hardnosed bitch we got to know in the last seven years since we officially met. This made her very unpredictable and she may even try to be nice for some unholy reason only she understood. I knew who she was, in real life, her real name besides the formal “Mrs Dawson” she used but kept the knowledge to myself. At times I called her “princess” which I knew would annoy her. We have been needling each other since we met but lately it became more noticeable.

For once she did not look her usual confident self, it was as if she was searching for words and not finding it. I wondered what she wanted, she was never like this before and always ready with a wisecrack or to start an argument. Another reason I pitied her husband who was a kind soul, I met him once or twice and heard he was very ill with cancer. Since then my issued girlfriend became even more obnoxious. I get that too, he was not going to make it and it was sad. Like me she married late in life and wanted a child and now it will never happen for her. I was glad I was not in her shoes; I was happily married and trying to become pregnant. I could afford to grin.

The “issued girlfriend” relates to us being seen together, heads close to each other and at times in heated arguments. As a spymaster and case officer she was my direct link to SASS, a place I tried hard to forget I had any links with. Her presence was too well-known to be explained to anyone in my world but for the rest of the world she looked like my girlfriend. That could be explained and would look innocent enough from a distance. Since we were both wearing wedding rings I am sure many thought we had a fling going which we did not. We talked about missions, future and past, not love. She is anyway way too “otherwise” for me. I knew from bitter experience, that was before I met Marwa, that she would become violent if you held her hand for a second longer than what she considers being good manners. I once saw her floor a Pommy bastard who grabbed her ass in a moment of madness (a delightful sight, the bleeding Pommy). It was a really nice left hook and he left for further punishment muttering threats over his shoulder. If he knew what was coming, he would have run the other way but he did not.

We, Geelslang and I, ambushed the fellow in the alley as he came out and kicked seven sorts of shit out of him. He should know that a Pommy bastard does not touch an Afrikaner girl without her permission. We have not forgotten the concentration camps of 1901 where close to thirty thousand Boer women and children died. The British Army said they did not mean that to happen, disease and hunger got the innocents, not they, but in the end what difference does that make? They died and we are waiting for them to apologise. They have not and so the dislike of them continues up to the fourth generation. It is a very fair system taken from the Bible and as far as I am concerned, until the leeches in Buckingham Palace apologise, the countdown to forgiveness has not started. The Afrikaner dislikes the English, it is a great tradition and traditions must be kept. The Pommies taught us well.

We spoke Afrikaans to each other as we did when alone. She did not waste any time to rock my world. “Foxtrot, I am sorry. There is no easy way to tell you but Marwa was involved in a massive IED a few hours ago. She died on the scene. I am so sorry.” Her voice barely registered to me, all I heard was Marwa died.

Extract from the seventh GMJ book, Code Name Angel

She opened it immediately. I had Thandiwe wrap it and Angelique clapped her hands in delight with me looking at her rather suspiciously. I never knew the woman was that great an actress. She had the looks, of course, but this was world class. I supposed it came with the job but was pleased nonetheless when she noticed the engraving on the blade and the fact that I had it specially honed to razor sharpness. It is an art to get a knife that sharp. You could literally cut paper with it. It took me hours keeping everyone awake at Geelslang’s place the night before we left for Bilene and a few good-natured comments from Thandiwe about goat’s eyes.

“Why thank you, Foxtrot. I will use this gift to great effect I am sure. It is great. Just feel the balance!” She said it whilst swiping at the shadows around me as she did in the shop.

It was getting to be a habit and a scary one. Most onlookers gave a step backwards. She then went into a complete series of moves at lightning speed. I made sure to stand still and smiled rather proudly at her antics. Arik nodded impressed, he too recognised her stance.

“Krav Maga, how high is she qualified, Foxtrot?” Arik asked me as we stood alone under the tree after she went to her tent, presumably to fetch my present.

His wife was also an expert who competed internationally when not working for the “Jerusalem Water Works.” He would have recognised it blindfolded.

“Black belt second Dan or Expert Two as it is known in some circles” I replied knowing he was one himself and used to be an instructor.

I wondered suddenly if the bastard could speak French. Her only known weakness in life is French speaking men and he would need some watching. Unless his wife changed him he was quite a lady’s man in his youth.

The art of Krav Maga, it is not really a sport but a killer martial arts system, is taught by the Israeli Defence Force as stock training. For Sayaret members it is a way of life and what makes it so effective is that it is designed to finish a fight as quickly as possible. All counter attacks, and it is immediate, are to the most vulnerable parts of the attacker’s body. Nor are they at all interested in limiting injury. No, it is all about severely injuring or death to you opponent and they will not stop just because you stagger back or crumple down. They also don’t mind attacking first acting pre-emptively if required. It is in any language a fight to the death which a Krav Maga expert seldom loses and it does not take very long either. You have to shoot such an expert at a long distance or you would be really in for interesting times. I knew the moves but not at the level which Angelique and Arik were. For them it was a lifestyle.

“Where did she learn it?” He asked with a smile.

There were many schools across the world but the heart of Krav Maga is in Israel where a fellow by the name of Imi Sde-O created the technique in the middle 1930s when he was still living in Europe. He was and is still a legend and highly respected. There really is nothing better for defending yourself with your bare hands.

“Arik” he looked at me and I continued in a serious tone of voice. “Don’t ever ask her such questions. She is different from any other woman you have ever met in your life, including your wife and much quicker to react. To answer your question, I have no idea but her stance shows orthodox training by her instructors.” I shrugged; you simply did not ask her too many questions. She would get obnoxious and “otherwise.”

“From her stance she was trained either in Israel or in the French Army Commando School not far from Bordeaux. They kept to the true traditions more than anyone else…the system as taught in other parts of the world is unfortunately not as close to the traditional one as it should be.” He said it speculatively which meant to me she could not have been trained in Israel, he would have known. At that level they all know about each other. “And I will tell you another thing mate; they loved her on that submarine. I don’t speak French but they went nuts over her. They even saluted her once she was down in the control room. I was not supposed to see it but I did as I went to the heads.”

He shrugged at my stare as I dismissed his obvious misgivings about our Mrs Dawson. “Of course they would go nuts over her. They are Frenchmen and have not seen a woman in two months. And she is undeniably attractive. And if they want to salute her then they can do so. That is their problem and probably done to please her. I would not worry about it if I were you. She is unlike anything you have ever experienced.”

I was not overly impressed with his views but in later years it made a lot more sense and I got used to her, as the ranking officer between us, being saluted at times with me standing next to her watching closely who was staring at her chest. She was at that time a legend and as a holder of the Legion of Honour entitled to it beyond her flag rank.

The commissioned ranks for agents was something started by the Pommies in the Second World War. They well remembered Nurse Edith Cavell who was executed by the Germans in 1915 for helping British soldiers escape. Many thought that a commissioned rank may have given her more protection. As the long list of executed female agents in World War Two shows, that was wishful thinking. Still, most Intelligence Agencies follow that route, even today. And although the South African Secret Service had no military ranks, being a civil intelligence unit, all agents automatically gained commissioned officer status and she was a high ranking intelligence officer entitled to be saluted in a secure environment where such action would not blow her cover. I did not say to him that she was the best counter terrorism spymaster we ever had. He figured that out himself.

“Foxtrot, I have your present in my tent…come and fetch it. Arik, please tell Ariel you two are invited for Chinese food later today. Don’t worry, it will be kosher. My late husband was Jewish. You do eat Chinese food on Christmas don’t you?” She suddenly spoke behind us and I wondered how much she heard. “And Geelslang will fetch you just now, if you two could be ready to go with him that would be great.”

Extract from the eighth GMJ Book, Code Name Odette

“Yeah look here, Foxtrot. We are in a Cessna T37 as I explained to you when we got into it. Sometimes I wonder if you really listen when I talk. Therefore, we have the standard Cessna ejection seats and not Martin-Baker’s so that is not possible. They won’t give you a tie and Cessna does not have such a club. Anyway, there is no emergency…I am in full command of the airframe. You just sit there and think on how to say sorry properly for your disgusting behaviour and I may let you off the hook. You have fifteen seconds to decide before we begin again and note I can refuel this aircraft in the air if you prove foolhardy. We still have hours of fuel left for you to suffer the logical consequences of your dastardly deeds.” She said it slowly as if talking to a child or her pet as Geelslang described me once.

“Ok I am sorry.” I said it after ten seconds thinking that the confession was given under duress and hence does not count. Just to make sure I even crossed my fingers with the full intention of denying it once safely on the ground again. I had this figured out and felt quite proud of my stratagem.

Unfortunately, she saw that, the finger crossing and ten minutes later I reluctantly agreed that she had a point. I had enough. I duly repeated after her that: “I admit she was cruelly and deliberately cheated out of victory on the shooting range in 2003 by Geelslang who was in cahoots with me. I further acknowledge that she did indeed make the last shot which meant she won the bet as I now freely admit without any form of duress and only because of my guilty conscience which is a saving grace even for a man like me who cheats tiny girls. Furthermore, and above that deplorable incident, which was not insignificant at all as I claimed, I would from this day on and forward never again declare publically or otherwise that she cheated to win the said foot race either. I also stated that as far as I know, and I knew since I was the guilty bastard, sorry make that culprit, she was intentionally and most foully tripped by me during the afore said race and she then, because of that reprehensible act on my part, suffered a badly sprained ankle which really hurt. That deliberate, not to mention most foul, tripping of innocent people, last used overtly and shamefully it must be said, against Syd Nomis in 1970 at Newlands Rugby Stadium by the touring All Blacks rugby team was the reason why she did not win by a much larger margin as she would have, if not most foully tripped by me.”

I was a bit surprised that she even knew who Syd Nomis, the great South African Springbok rugby player was and not so sure that he was tripped in that match either. However, there is no doubt that some other players were tripped during the tour much to our disgust at such underhanded English sounding tactics. The game she referred to was played on 8 August 1970 at Newlands in Cape Town and was the second test against the touring All Black side. Syd Nomis, chasing the rugby ball, was brutally side swiped by the All Black fullback, Fergie McCormick and he lost two teeth during the mugging. Obviously McCormack maintained it was an accident which it could have been but we preferred to not believe him and it caused much angry letters in the newspapers. The match referee, a dentist in real life, straightened the remaining teeth on the field and this later directly led to players wearing mouth guards. Nomis himself described that rugby test as “‘the dirtiest game of rugby I have ever seen or been involved in” which says a lot as he had an inordinate reputation as a hard man on the field.

The Springboks retaliated in the next game in the form of Jan Ellis, Piet Greyling and Hannes Marais. They all attacked McCormick at the same time and these were not small men and the referee looking the other way according to the angry New Zealand supporters (they had a point). The men were deliberately targeting McCormack the entire match. Nomis also got a few blows in for good measure but McCormick, like every other All Black known to man, was a tough bastard too and somehow survived their attentions. It became part of the legends of the game and very much unlike the wankers wearing Springbok jerseys these days when men are “metro men” and women not too sure what they are most of the time. This one though knew exactly what she was and it is spelled BOSS and she wanted a confession without crossed fingers. I gladly gave it as my toes were also crossed in my boots. It is an old police witness box trick she never knew about.

“Ok, so now that you had admitted your horrible guilt you need to say you are sorry. And you better mean it too, Foxtrot, so you may feel better about life. I know I do already after hearing you voluntary confessing. It is amazing what difference it makes to a guilty conscience. Yes, it is.” She went on displaying her legal knowledge. She was entitled to be called a barrister as one of her degrees was in law (LLB or JD as the Yanks call it since 1974).

“I am sorry.” I smiled at this as I meant to say “I was sorry to be caught out.” In fact, I was not the least sorry for my actions but this was about survival. I knew she would not stop until she got what she wanted and what she wanted was a confession and apology.

I have long since learned to humour her unless she endangers herself like the times she wants to parachute without cutting her shoulder length hair first. Then I would put my foot down and after a long while and much arm waving she would change her mind and declare that I may have a point. Her hair may ensnare in the parachute cords and wring her neck leaving me a widower again. She does listen to me at times I am proud to say. Being “otherwise” is what Angelique does best most of the time. You get used to it and I knew how to press her buttons. In her defence, she always supports her man in public.

Extract from the ninth GMJ Book, Code Name Sanford

After filling up our bottles and camel packs we set off again and this time we only stopped when the bastard collapsed making delightful retching noises and looking white in the face. He was beyond caring and that only after twenty-three miles. My word, he was not Special Forces material but anyway, the rest were not happy either. I called a break and we dragged the bastard into some shade.

“Yeah he is overheating a bit. You men come here and urinate on him. You girls keep a sharp eye now to the sides now.” Geelslang barked.

It is the advised treatment and will help if a slight breeze is blowing as there was. The urine, though warm, lowers the body temperature. As with many I suffered from bad stage fright when told to urinate in public on demand so to speak. I am a man, not a circus animal and still have vivid nightmares of nearly bursting an artery trying to get the liquid out with a sneering instructor roaring “Come on lads, we don’t f have all day, piss and get done and do your buddy a favour, OK?” And then there was the time when we were shooting at a Soviet made tank with a 23 mm ZSU anti-aircraft cannon or rather Geelslang was shooting and I loading and the barrels overheated. Angelique suffered too, from hiccups, when she heard the story on how I tried manfully to get the barrels cooled down again with Geelslang roaring instruction distracting my concentration more than the oncoming tank.

I suffered to keep a straight face as the lads formed a circle and did the job admirably aiming straight at his head. The bastard was not as popular as he thought he was and some really enjoyed doing so. They were grinning at each other which is always a sign of natural justice taking place.

“Foxtrot, we need to evacuate him or he will die.” Geelslang said formally to me as he knelt next to the bastard. “I suggest you activate the emergency beacon and call the operation off.”

“No, we want to finish this.” It was again the female who took the lead giving me a much appreciated opportunity.

“Fair enough, let us compromise. We evacuate him and finish our walk to the RV point. Geelslang, as medic, you will have to accompany him to keep him alive when he is exfiltrated. Now look you lot, how this usually will work in the field is that the team leader will decide to discharge the incapable from the team and carry on. On the other hand, if a helicopter can reach us all of us will leave with it. Since this is an exercise we have certain lee way but don’t take that for granted. It is like in the old French Foreign Legion, if you cannot march, you die. That is the rule.”

I liked the idea of Geelslang going with the bastard. He will take over my bodyguarding duties and protect Angelique until I get there. As team commander I could not relinquish my command and leave with the bastard. Such things are not done. Geelslang had to leave with his patient to ensure he lives until they reach safety. Ordinarily you have a good medic on the flight and then this is of no consequence and the question won’t even arrive. You hand him over, say what treatment he got in terms of morphine and wave them off. We did have an excellent medic in the form of Angelique Dawson on board the helicopter. Here this was not the point. We wanted the bastard alone and able to speak to him without anyone expecting any foul play. By carrying on with our exercise I was giving Angelique valuable time to do so. Fortune was smiling on us and I grabbed it with both hands. Geelslang comprehended it also and did not even protest. Under other circumstance you would not easily get Geelslang to leave my side.

“Major, what do you mean when you said he is ‘discharged’?” Again the female asked. I was beginning to like her more. She was showing leadership and was fully aware of her surroundings no matter how tired. Perhaps her broad bum gave her stamina.

I later asked Angelique and she reacted predictably with an extended self-righteous speech on how women are designed differently by God in His wisdom. A large bum does not imply that she cannot move her ass as fast as any man. In the end I had to apologise regretting ever asking. She likes her own gender being a tiny girl bullied by shyster former Special Forces lads since 1998 or so she said. I wanted to say she gave as good as she got and more but she was about to get “otherwise.” So I kept quiet that her own ass is rather enchanting and not at all overly large for her slender body.

“He would be killed by lethal injection or a gunshot to the head if a silencer is available. It is an old Soviet Spetsnatz method used with seriously wounded men. You should see it as an act of mercy. Your enemies will torture you to death and use you and your body as propaganda. So he is discharged dead from the team.” I replied softly.

Extract from the tenth GMJ Book, Code Name Honey Bee

“There is always a chance that the rogue teams may try to intervene as our communication lines are never totally safe. I am not worried about me but the people we are meeting…” She dug in her pocket and her hand appeared with six glow sticks, three infra-red and three a dull red colour or would be if broken (activated, they are broken to mix the chemicals producing the glow). “No I don’t mean my guests may act against me but they are, ah, foreigners and may not quite understand our ways. Now stand closer so that I can clip the glow sticks on your shoulder rings so we can see each other if a snow storm catches us. Stand closer, Foxtrot, and stop flinching when I touch you. My word I don’t comprehend you always ducking when I am close.”

She reached up and clicked the two glow sticks high on my harness so that it could be seen from the front and rear dangling loosely. I turned to Geelslang who was grinning mightily and heard the clicks of the glow sticks as she fastened it on his left shoulder also. She deducted correctly we wanted our right or shooting shoulders free from anything resisting the butt of our machine pistols. The glow sticks could burn for many hours once activated.

“Eh, wait, what about you then?” I asked as she turned away and started walking. We had to follow or the rope would pull us off our feet. She stopped and waited for me.

“I am the target here Foxtrot. I don’t want to glow in the night. You two clowns will make such excellent targets that I feel quite safe.” She giggled for some reason and then waited patiently for me as I clipped her own glow sticks onto her shoulder. I made sure they were firmly attached and checked her rope again. It was good.

“Well now you are tagged, Mrs Dawson. So don’t try to run away. If something happens just go down and I will get past you giving covering fire. Stay down where I will take care of you. No silly games from your side. Promise me and show me your hands since I know you by now.” I said semi-seriously not expecting her to comply.

“I can still cross my toes you know” she replied crossly as she showed me both hands as to indicate she will not later claim she had her fingers crossed negating the purpose of making a promise. Not that it mattered much, she will do what she thinks is right anyway. I also noted she ignored my “tag” comment flatly much to my regret. I wanted her to know I tagged her.

“You can do that, cross your toes. It won’t count or help you so go ahead.” I replied with a knowing smirk.

As expected she took the bait. “Why not, pray tell me?” I could see she never expected that answer and it caught her by surprise. “And this is not an admission of guilt, I am just curious to understand your devilish mind. And don’t think I did not hear the ‘tagging’ part either. Be careful for what you hook, my Foxtrot. You know I am in my youth still and you are not. You may not survive me.”

I knew I would survive her and ignored that bit. “You only get one toe crossing a year. Everyone knows that, ask Geelslang. After that it does not count and you used yours a month ago when you failed to stay under cover as you promised to do, during the ambush when you promised to give us covering fire and I discovered you next to me where you should not have been.” I said and waited for her reaction which did not take long to arrive.

“My ass, there is no such rule. Geelslang, is this true? That you only get one toe crossing a year and don’t lie with Foxtrot, I will Google it when I get a signal again. This is 2008 and I can check on you.” She asked staring at him for an answer.

Geelslang looked serious as if preaching the gospel. “That is the rule Mrs Dawson and woe betides him who crosses it. Bad things have happened to such people. It is written.” He even nodded his greying head as he said it whilst I smirked behind her. There is no such rule, I just made it up or that is what I said to the twins when they tried it on me.

“So you see, I am right and you are now educated in toe crossing. Eh, shall we leave then. We need to make camp before the storm arrives.” It was indeed getting darker and we still had two miles to go and I did not want her to get technical. She may get it that it is not true.

“Ask my brother Geelslang, he lies just like me!” Angelique muttered suspiciously and we started walking again with her checking her GPS now and then.

Extract from the eleventh GMJ Book, Code Name Devorah

The target was larger than a normal African outhouse, about two hundred square feet. The HE shell exploded with a blinding flash leaving us blind for a second. The six-meter flame thrown from the barrel as we fired lighted up the entire gorge and made the night vision flare out for a second or two. In that second, with the area lit up by the flash I saw the first T55. They were not coming down from the warlord. They were already there and waiting for us. It was very bad news, the bastards were right on top of us and hidden behind a slight knoll. We did not see them and it was only the flash on metal which drew my eye to it. It took less than a second to clearly see it now on the thermal imaging and the bastards behind it forming up to attack.

“Switch targets! T55 at forty-one degrees, range 800 meters, APTC (armour piercing tungsten carbide) and fire for effect.” I shouted urgently as the vehicle commander saw the T55 at the same time as I did.

Now Geelslang or rather his Ratel-20 opened up with the 20 mm towards the side with red tracers (it looked like white fire balls with the thermal imaging) coming from it. Whatever they saw and shot at I could not immediately make out but they would be well advised to duck for cover as the shells streamed out of the Ratel-20. It looked like a solid laser beam and where it hit the ground it either exploded in a shower of sparks or bounced upwards and away into the night before dying out (but still travelling). The Ratel-20 was also moving but that was expected, Geelslang would have kicked the driver against the head or something within a second of seeing the tanks. And yet, they were not shooting at the tanks, at that range the 20 mm would not make a dent in the armour and from the explosions where the shells were hitting I deducted they were firing HE, not AP, hence they were shooting at enemy combatants. So there were two groups of enemy infantry, one with the tanks and one closer to Geelslang and he was engaging them. We just relearned the age old battle philosophy, after the first shots all plans are gone and it is down to the individual to make the difference.

I started scanning for the enemy Geelslang was shooting at whilst at the same time trying to keep my balance as the turret moved to the right to shoot the T55. It was a race against time for us. If the T55 could traverse its gun first and fire, we would be in trouble. He saw the flash of our first shot and was indeed training his main gun in our direction. We should move to another location immediately after the second shot and if I was in command after the first shot even if only ten yards. At that distance the 100mm main gun of the T55 will destroy us with a single shot, it was point blank range for them. We were in deep trouble and the anti-tank lads with their capable RPG32s would not be able to get to the T55s in time, they were almost a mile away but moving, I could now see their strobes as they sprinted flat out to the tanks. It was a very brave sight and a foolish one, the tanks were not alone but surrounded by enemy fighters to keep them away.

Things were happening fast now with the other Ratel-90 engaging the T55 almost at the same time and they got their shot off fractionally before us. It hit the T55 a glancing blow on the turret with many sparks flying stunning it no doubt but it was far from being knocked out. We now fired and reversed violently backwards for thirty yards. The T55s return shot missed us by a few yards to explode next to us with a blinding roar and a flash which blinded me for a few seconds. The Ratel-90 shook and the stones and shrapnel pinged off the armoured sides with a small piece slicing through my knee. By this time, I was alone on the turret roof. The vehicle commander was already inside scanning with his optics leaving me with a choice to jump off the turret and run for cover or to run to the rear compartment hoping to find an open hatch to get inside. I could not jump through the turret hatch and land on top of the lad directing the gunner but I sure felt like doing so.

Our own armour piercing shell hit the T55 firmly but on the sloping armour at the front and did not penetrate as expected it would not. The beast was shrugging it off and already moving forward towards us and firing again. We were, as they say, in deep trouble as the other T55 fired at the compound and straight into the house where Yehuda and his lads were searching for the hostages. It was rapidly turning into a nightmare as I found the hatches securely locked down as they should have been and I said they must be.

So I took the next best option and jumped off rolling to break my fall (it is a substantial jump, eight feet at least) and ran for cover still holding the night vision binoculars in one hand and my rifle in the other. The pain in my leg could wait, I was not dying or even incapacitated but I was severely pissed off. Somewhere our intelligence failed us terribly or the captured lads broke under torture and revealed our presence. If so I don’t blame them, it happens, but then we should have thought about that and called the operation off until properly reinforced. Improvising is a good thing but it only works when you have the benefit of surprise and we did not. The presence of the tanks and the wankers beside them indicated an ambush. Well, it was not the end of the road, we were the better soldiers and about to show them who’s who. They will regret this insult.

My Ratel-90 came to an abrupt halt and fired again at the T55 with the flash brightly lighting the area for a second. I saw now what Geelslang was shooting at…there was another group or horde of fighters coming out of the desert and they were shooting back. I could clearly hear their AK47s and then came the RPG7s streaking towards the compound and Geelslang’s Ratel-20. It was a mess and a total SNAFU. We walked into a trap. It was nasty and with Yehuda inside the compound he could not command properly and hence the second in command who could see everything from my Ratel-90 took over and started barking orders in Hebrew. The snipers immediately got up and ran flat out to the compound to regroup with their mates. That was a smart move. They did not want to be isolated and the compound, once the heavy tank guns of the T55s were taken out, be defended. But they were also running to a place being shelled by the second T55.

It came down to the Ratels and whatever air support they could get. The Ratel-90s kept on engaging the two tanks moving fast, firing and moving again. I was proud of the lads, they did very well. It was text book but without decent hiding places it was Russian roulette and if the T55 tankers could calm down and concentrate their combined fire on Ratel at the time they would be blown apart rather quickly. Geelslang was doing the same, shooting constantly with either the 20 mm or the .50 Browning and moving rapidly to and fro. He, of course, could fire on the move whilst the Ratel-90s had to stop and he was not stopping for anything, all the time hitting hard at the bastards. I suddenly recalled him coming to my rescue when Angelique was shot with the bullets shrieking off the armour and he firing back all the time. He had an old armoured truck that day, a Kwêvoël as we called it but used it the same way as he was using the Ratel-20 now His charge made the difference and also the ZSU-23 we got firing just in time (Code Name Phoenix).

Extract from the twelfth GMJ book, Code Name Willow Bay

It took from the time the dummies were shot to the bridge taken over was less than a minute and for the startled bridge crew…from the moment they saw the black figures vaulting over the rails to having a sub-machine gun against their heads took four or five seconds. They were doomed from the moment the men boarded and the objective was to take the bridge. Taking the rest of the ship may have been harder but if you think about it the crew is not armed and up against highly experienced Special Forces lads well able to find their way on ships and willing to kill them on sight. It may have taken time but they would have, in my view, rounded the crew up if needs be. It can be done and we did it, we captured a modern warship on the open sea. We made history.

“Mrs Dawson, the ship is secured. Please join us on the bridge.” Mike Delta Three Eight’s voice betrayed nothing of the satisfaction he felt and would later display. He was still in operational mood and focussed.

The rest of the lads were covering all entrances also not saying a word. We arrived shortly after with me handing her up to the Terminator as I now officially christened him much to his delight, he still has that name. He pulled her up first and then helped me. We entered the bridge a second later, rather pleased with proceedings. Geelslang’s grin also said what he was thinking. Mission accomplished and for real, not a stupid banner, we did what most experts reckoned could not be done. Once again and not for the first time we proved them wrong.

The bridge crew were shocked beyond belief and one, a female sailor, was crying softly as she lay on the deck with her hands behind her head and a rather large Special Force lad pressing his knee in the small of her back. She was not being hurt, it was pure shock. Women should not be exposed to such things and I felt for her. On the other hand, we had a job to do and if she was the enemy she would be extremely lucky to survive. If this was for real she would have been at a better place (I hope) already.

“Do you know how to operate this ship?” Angelique asked in general looking at each man with a grin which meant no good to the captain still asleep in his cabin.

“I do Madame, what do you want done? The watertight doors are already closed and locked into position.” One lad said and stood eagerly closer after a nod from Mike Delta Three Eight.

“I want you to rudely wake up the captain by doing an emergency stop. It is said that these frigates can stop at one and a half time their own length. In fact, I saw it happen when she was shown to the liars & turds brigade! Now you do the same here for us.”

Just after the new frigates arrived the Navy decided to show them to parliament (her definition for parliament is the “liars & turds brigade”). One of the manoeuvres executed that day was a sudden emergency stop. It is very dramatic, the water jet propulsion system is reversed and the ship stops as if it ran into a reef. Also the water spray from the stern will drench everyone and everything on the flight deck. The manoeuvre left the dignitaries thoroughly wet much to everyone’s amusement. Most also shouted like girls from fright and shivered from the cold water, it was a delightful sight to see.

“We may need the engine room’s assistance for this. Pardon me, Madame.” He stepped forward and pulled a panic-stricken deck officer, a lieutenant, roughly on his feet and growled. “You heard the request…now fucking stop this ship or I will execute you and then every member of your crew by shooting them in the stomach. Now give the orders to the engine room and I will be watching you. Fuck up and God will soon meet you to sentence you to hell for trying to lie to me.”

The man did not even try to protest (making him very smart in my eyes) and lifted a telephone and started speaking in it ordering a crash stop. “Hold on, all of you.” He said politely (the navy is cultured) and Mike Delta Three Eight repeated it to his men over the radio. The next moment the SAS Mendi started slowing down so much that many of the crew including the captain was thrown out of their bunks. Quite a few suffered bruises and one lad a broken arm (for which we duly apologised and blamed his feckless crew allowing themselves to be captured).

We held on and waited for the captain to find out what was happening. We did not wait long. The red telephone started ringing and Angelique picked it up and after listening for a few seconds snapped back. “This is Mrs Dawson, not John. Now kindly shut up and come to your bridge and bring my Johnny Walker with you. We are in control of your ship and have been for the last ten minutes! I am waiting and bring your doctor too…no we did not hurt your crew; it is for my hand!”

The captain arrived shortly grinning sheepishly at us and taking in the scene with a glance. Until we hand back control he was merely tolerated on his own bridge.

“Good morning, Mrs Dawson. May I have command again? I would love to know how you did this but I need to get my ship back again before we bump into something.”

He said the words in good grace wearing a hastily donned attire of clothing but still managed to look debonair. If he was concerned about us taking his ship, he hid it well. The man was very well trained but so are most Navy ship captains. They need to be diplomats when showing the flag, not just good seamen and this one was a rising star. It showed.

“Good morning, you have command, Commander. My lads will now retire if you don’t mind. The exercise is over, I say again, the exercise it concluded. Mike Delta Three Eight, you are required to stand down. I thank you and your lads.” She replied courteously enough considering her words on the telephone a minute or two ago.

“Acknowledged, Mike Delta Three Eight to all, stand down, the exercise is concluded. Thank you to all.” He repeated and the tenseness went away as the men visibly relaxed.

Extract from the thirteenth GMJ Book, Code Name Missa 72

“It was a spur of the moment decision, Foxtrot?”

Angelique asked as we drifted back to the waterfall and I became quiet at the memory of my split decision. She wisely knew I was far from finished with my story.

“Yes, up to a point. It was a snap decision but it was also calculated. What made the difference was not his medal although it played a large role as did his pukka Rhodesian Army bearing but mostly his ability to speak Matabele. We did not know he was a Shona at that stage or he would have died no matter what. It was, if you remember, during the time when the Matabele genocide was ongoing and we knew about it. We were actually there, Geelslang and I, observing, the previous year and he was married to Thandiwe whose family suffered tremendously. We even dug out some of the bodies to take pictures, the graves were not very deep.”

I replied staring into the now dark night hearing Geelslang’s deep voice urgently talking to the wounded officer.

“Colonel, where do you hurt? Tell me so I can treat you before we leave.”

Geelslang took out his personal medical kit treating the man as I switched the pilot’s rescue radio on and still deliberating what to do. It is a hard thing when a man’s life is literally in your hands. Matabele speaking or not, he would die if I so decide, Geelslang might disapprove but he will not refuse orders and besides, I would do the execution myself to absolve him from any possible blame.

The airwaves were filled with calls. Obviously a rescue mission was on its way with assets being scrambled all over the place. They kept on calling a “Mike Sierra” which I took to be Mark Sithole, now being treated by Geelslang and his medic who joined us staring at wonder at the Zimbabwean officer.

“You better hurry up, mate. The rescue effort is in full swing; we need to leave shortly.”

I said from the side as he tied the colonel’s ribcage tightly to prevent the broken ribs causing more damage. The cut in the face was easy, it was disinfected and bandaged in record time. The specialist sticky plaster pulling it together as we had no time for proper stitches. He would have a nice scar to remind him of this day for the rest of his life and his leg was splinted in record time. In fact, he was rather comfortable after Geelslang finished with him.

I had to make choices, obviously we were not going to execute him now. So we could leave him and let him be rescued or we could take him along. If we take him along we would surely be chased all the way and he would become a liability and be killed. Worse, he was a smart man, educated as are most Zimbabweans and able to observe our tactics and find out more about Geelslang and I. He could not come with us and if he did we may be forced to hand him in to our local superiors and that would be a death sentence. I could just as well shoot him now and be done. It may even be seen as a mercy killing.

“Colonel, we have to leave and I hope to never see you again in my life. This is not a truce; it is common decency. Be assured, if I see you again I will kill you and I expect the same from you. Now Tenente Cobra (Lieutenant Geelslang, I used his Portuguese rank and name trying to maintain what was left of our cover) here will send a message to the rescue group where you are. I will leave you your pistol as defence against wild animals and the pilot’s survival radio together with the rations as well as some flares and smoke grenades. You should be good.”

“Thank you, I wish you luck and stop moving west, we are not stupid. Next time you may not be as lucky as the last few days.”

He replied with a slight smile not betraying any relief on his life sentence. I admired that. It was a simple “thank you” between professionals and not betraying military secrets.

Now Geelslang took over, speaking urgently. “Colonel Sithole, you are not dying but you have a serious concussion, soon you will be throwing up and have a terrible headache. Drink these pills when the pain is too much but they will knock you out so try to stay awake as long as possible. Your ribs are broken and tied down securely, they will heal. The cut in your face is treated and you will need a tetanus injection or two. Your leg is immobilised. You have no morphine, do you read me? No morphine and I am leaving this note for your medics to read.”

Geelslang stuck a note in the man’s upper pocket underneath the rows of ribbons ensuring it stick out and was easily visible but unlikely to blow away in the rotors of a helicopter. He then grabbed the survival radio from my hands, he knew his clipped BBC English accent would go better than my harsh Afrikaans one (betraying my heritage). We were playing the game to the end.

“Telstar, this is Tenente Cobra, I have your Colonel Mark Sithole under my control. Standby for a list of his injuries.” He said flatly and without any emotion, the professional Special Forces officer and staring at the sky.

During counter insurgency operations the Rhodesians and later on us, always had an airborne command post. The name used for that circling aircraft was usually “Telstar” and he would make the same call years later after the attack on the Ukuthula Ranch which started the Egg Breaker War (Code Name Pour Angelique).

“Go ahead, Tenente Cobra, we are standing by for list of injuries.”

The voice came back immediately and sounded almost bored. I noted it was a white man on the other side speaking very decent Pommy himself. Geelslang promptly repeated what he said to the colonel and gave the grid reference of the shot down Alouette (which they already had). “Now note, there is a large Mopani tree forty yards to the north of the Alouette, you will find Colonel Sithole there, his wounds are treated, no morphine, repeat, no morphine. Acknowledge my last, over.”

“Your observations are noted and acknowledged, no morphine, I repeat, no morphine. Now piss off before we get you…God speed and thank you. Telstar out.”

It was rather important to tell the new medics what he did with the colonel. If they then add their own morphine the injured man may die of an overdose. Most soldiers are not used to drugs and extremely fit, they overdose easily. What Geelslang did was to ensure that he could be treated with morphine for pain. In combat, at times, you simply write “NM” or “M” on the patient’s forehead so that the surgeons get the message. Such a handover can be a life saver. It is not taken lightly.

“Colonel, we are blowing the Alouette, it will burn and you should be safe with the tree between you and the wreck. Here is your pistol (it was a South African made eight shot Starr) and radio and everything else. Do not try to shoot us in the back, my men are covering your every move. Goodbye and good luck. Remember my warning and that goes for your entire army.” I stated and walked away leaving Geelslang with his patient for minute.

Extract from the fourteenth GMJ book, Code Name Cadillac

I saw again in my mind Angelique smirking as the two C-160 Transalls came roaring in and the paratroopers started jumping onto us. It was damn impressive and they jumped at a much higher height, I would say 3000 feet instead of 400 feet to ensure they could be seen many more miles away sending a message which was clearly understood. Geelslang, of course, had no idea who they were, they were too far away to make out but he could see we were either dead or on the run or massively reinforced.

“The problem with that girl is not that she is ‘otherwise,’ most women are to various degrees. Nope, she is also smart and way ahead of me. They did not hand out her degrees on a platter and she is crafty by nature, she has to be or someone would have twepped her long ago. But it does not matter what she claims, I won half the bet and I will claim my half no matter what she says. You just land this old flying crate and we can quickly get the woodworking and the jobs on her list done before she returns. In fact, I am for once ahead of her here. I telephoned Fernandes (my Mozambican chef and one-time member of my battalion of terrorists) to bring a few lads with him down South. Yep, we will get that list of hers sorted in no time and you just ensure the CCTV cameras are disabled so she does not see us cheating. Not that we are cheating, not exactly, but I am not taking chances. She was born ‘otherwise’ she was!”

“Yeah, look, Foxtrot. It is you cheating, not ‘us’ and I will disable the cameras to ensure privacy. You likewise ensure her dog does not attack Fernandes and mates. The beast does not like strangers which do not look like you. I am excluded obviously, I am likeable and speak fluent Afrikaans if I wish and the Beast understands decent Afrikaans.”

He meant white people and this is another odd thing we noticed in the police. Although dogs are colour blind, they dislike anything not looking like their owners. Many times as a young policeman, before I went on Selection, I raided drug dens and a few other places inside traditional black living areas. Every time the guard dogs went for the white policemen first and every time they were shot dead on the spot and their owners a bit later when they complained. When in white areas, the reverse happened and Geelslang apparently had to shoot a few guard dogs himself. We often joked about that, him a black Zulu man and I a white Afrikaner and yet closer than brothers. It is a stupid dog which will attack us but anyway, you get them too. Mind, some dogs are protected by their mistresses and that is a big advantage for the dog.

“Brutus the beast likes you, does he not?” I replied sorely tested, the dog never attacked Geelslang. He attacked me and at the worst moments too, like when I arrived freshly shaven for my kiss (Code Name Honey Bee).

“I have personality and I will choke him to an inch of his life if he tries to bite me. He knows that and that I am not about to grab his mistress, one Angelique Dawson, as you will given half a chance. Yes, holding hands etc. a dog sees that as an attack and will defend his mistress. You know this, Foxtrot. How many years were you with the Dog Unit before Selection?”

“Two years, almost. I would have stayed if ‘Seun’ (Afrikaans, son, the name of the police dog) was not murdered most foully. I got the murderer, emptied an entire magazine into him. Essentially I started shooting at the same time as him but he was aiming at ‘Seun’ and not me as I expected.” I replied bitterly. I really loved my dog more than humans and we kicked and bit many before his unfortunate demise.

“A pity the bastard died so quickly though. A dog abuser should suffer. She is not wrong to have threatened to shoot you in the stomach with a hollow point just in case you get such ideas. Ah, I got another message from your issued wife or is she still your fiancée? Strange that she texts me, is your phone off?” He looked at his mobile, it works high in the air and frowned. “She says I must test you for AIDS, hmm, I am sure you will pass out again and you need to get her a DVD which she wants you to watch and tell her about later. Actually, she says ‘us,’ we should watch it and tell her later. What is the hidden code here, Foxtrot?”

I checked my phone and saw it got the same message but it was on silent mode, something I changed immediately. Sending the message to both of us meant she wanted to be sure the message got through. Geelslang was right, this was a code. The coded message was bothering me now and I could feel the hair rise in my neck. Something was about to happen and she was either in trouble or scheming.

“Geelslang, what movie does she want us to look at on her behalf?” I asked sharply still busy with the settings of the new iPhone she made me buy, it was not my first choice.

The code was in the movie, I was sure. I was not about to dwell on the coming blood tests, it had to be done. Angelique shot two bastards during the last mission right in front of me and their blood spattered all over my face. AIDS tests are standard then for a few months. I do pass out from needles, it is sad and because of Geelslang’s lack of proper bedside manners when taking blood samples. Although a great and highly experienced medic (we all were) he had a nasty habit of waving the needle in front of my nose to see me falling over. It never failed to leave me unconscious and I have no idea why, blood does not bother me and neither do needles on others. Only Angelique has the ability to draw blood and keep me awake at the same time as she once proved much to my amazement (Code Name Angel). Mind you she cheated, she drew the blood sample on the count of one when she said it would be done on three. Whatever, it worked.

“She wants ‘Force Ten from Navarone.’ If I remember correctly it was a book, a good one, written by Alistair Maclean as a sequel to ‘The Guns of Navarone.’ The movie was not good though. As you know, the book is always better than the movie.” He answered staring at the dials in front of him, we were still at ten thousand feet and droning on.

Extract from the fifteenth GMJ book, Code Name Blue Tang

“What we want with the Air Force wankers, then?” I asked hurriedly to get away from the needle idea. It can wait a few days; I knew I was healthy.

“They invited me, the Gripen pilots, to a Mess night. You were there, giving them the evil eye wondering if they can speak French, according to you my only weakness in life regarding men. You really cannot help yourself, it is endearing, but they felt very uncomfortable. You and Geelslang are known to be dangerous to men disrespecting me. Yes, you do, you ambush them and kick them into hospital and then make them apologise.” She replied and added a heap of garlic on my food for good measure.

I was indeed there with the invitation. We stood at the runway of what would later become the Ukuthula Ranch Airport and she was not even supposed to be there. She got off the Oryx helicopter taking her to safety to stay behind commanding her lads. I was not thrilled but also pleased. As commanding officer her place is with her lads on the ground. Right where the bullets fly and so she told me when I stared angrily at her for an explanation on her presence after handing command to me. I get it, but it complicated matters in keeping her safe. She sometimes forgets she is a senior officer and should stay behind instead of leading attacks. She also worries too much about her lads, in our world casualties are the name of the game, it cannot always be avoided.

I recalled her talking to the two Gripen flying wonders and them inviting her to their Mess. At that I stood closer before they forgot she was a widow and a senior officer, not on the market so to speak. Air Force officers (you must be commissioned here to pilot an aircraft) are educated bastards, they may well speak French which is indeed Angelique’s only weakness in life and mine none too good at that stage. I hid the fact that I could at least follow French if spoken slowly, from her. She speaks it fluently and passionately (waving her arms and making everyone duck). I don’t trust the young guns an inch, they firmly believe they are God’s gift to the world and full of self-confidence about their abilities in life. As you might know, a fighter pilot will always tell you he is a fighter pilot flying (whatever fighter jet) and he is simply the best ever and that includes you, in case you don’t get his point.

Well, he isn’t – not on the ground where I can take him out in any number of ways he never heard about. In the air he may well be as good as he thinks he is, that must be admitted and he would be well advised to stay there if he pisses me off by speaking French to my soul. Both Geelslang and I, after a revolting incident with a Cuban MIG-23 in Angola and the Zimbabwean Hawker Hunters in Western Mozambique chasing us, swore to shoot one down and execute the pilot for his own good. They are nasty buggers, they are. Always elucidating how they got the dirt on an innocent mate whilst diving from the sun (or coming in low and popping over a ridge or any of a myriad of tales designed to get the girl in bed without paying her).

I know my twins suffer from that syndrome too. They tell everyone they trust that they are French Navy aviators and the best in existence. Yep, there is not one Air Force puke in this world coming close to them! I asked them, logically, what will happen if they then meet each other at whatever feet above the sea, both being the best in existence and all that? They gave me a smirk combined with a look of pity (learned from their mom, I am sure) and rolled their eyes (that is entirely their Uncle Geelslang’s fault) and waved both arms (attributed to their French Uncle Colonel Annaud). Apparently they have met, many times for air combat manoeuvres as dogfighting is called at any height from no height to fifty thousand feet (my word, I am too old to hear such things and regretted asking). The tally is equal, both got each other the same time and both almost ran out of fuel and broke every rule in the book to win (from their mom, she hates losing) and totally expected, they fly the same jet type and have the same reactions, being twins. In fact, so I am told reliably by Angelique who knows everything they do, they once landed and started a fist fight on the flight deck much to the amusement of their service crews who loyally joined in supporting their respective pilots. It took a platoon of hard-hitting French Marines to break the mini riot.

The last bit did not surprise me the least as I recalled Lise throwing Odette with a tennis racket (or Odette throwing Lise) and lots of bouts in Geelslang’s boxing ring to settle disputes. Their commanding officer, the former Lieutenant Abeille now a rear admiral and close to retirement, confined them to their quarters the entire deployment as punishment. Why I would not know, they always kiss and make up within minutes of such mix-ups. She probably disciplined them because they are expected to behave like the naval officers they are and not thugs. Anyway, since their quarters consist of one shared tiny cabin I am not sure how it worked out further and flatly refused to ask. I knew they already suspected, wisely so, that Abeille will account their misconduct to us being one of our oldest friends. Blowing one of Angelique’s “agents” is asking for trouble and so I kept quiet on that score just shaking my head. Abeille and we go back a long way (Code Name Lise & Code Name Devorah).

“Okay, we can go to the Air Force Mess then.” I said without thinking.

“We are indeed going, your permission is not required, my Foxtrot. They did excellent work during Code Name Missa 72 and Code Name Cadillac. It is just right that we go and you to thank them on your men’s behalf. It is expected and you will enjoy it, no doubt.”

She stared at me until I nodded. It would take years before she got it that my comment had nothing to do with giving her permission because I was a man and she a woman. It was about risk for me, working out how far they may be a threat to her. For reasons which became abundantly clear later, I instinctively mistrusted them and their jets looked evil to me. (They would later sink the EBS Orlando under my ass and then strafe us swimming in the water. If Lieutenant Abeille did not arrive with her wingman and attacked them I would have been dead, she would have not met her future husband, Commodore Octavius (an odd couple if ever) and their three sons not born. That is life for you. One tiny mishap can have a lot of consequences.)

Extract from the sixteenth GMJ Book, Code Name OST-M

“What are you on about? I have two toe crossings left. Where did I use my quota this year? Now kindly shut up, I am busy here. Oi, someone is scanning us with an attack radar, now painting us. (The threat receiver started bleeping.) Must be a submarine as I did not see any surface warship or even an aircraft around. Good Lord! Foxtrot, our MAW is bleeping now. Someone is shooting at us! Hold on!”

That comment made me shut up really quickly and in later years I wondered about it, an emergency arriving so quickly. You sit and banter away, happily, and the next moment you are fighting for survival as we did that dreadful afternoon which different alarms bleeping away. The MAW going off, that was as bad news as possible. It stands for “missile approach warning” which means someone fired on us and the missile was now actively scanning for the airframe. MAW is an automatic warning to start defensive manoeuvres and deploy the available countermeasures to disrupt missile tracking, in our case decoy flares and chaff as well as her turning us upside down to get a better view to spot the missile visually and all this within a second of that MAW going off.

I looked down (up, we were upside down) and saw we were indeed over the ocean, about twenty miles I would say and in international waters, as she said we were. Like most countries, South Africa follows the twelve-mile standard and I know there is a shelf there, the water was way deep enough for a nuclear submarine to feel safe coming in that close. It was a clear winter day, the months of May & June being winter down south, and we could see for many miles, the cloud bank still twenty miles away to the south. I started looking for incoming missiles and warships, on the surface but could see none. That though was not what was bothering me. No, the trail of smoke following us was bothering me a lot more than anything else right then. I twisted around in the seat to see better. We were not flying a Phantom II, the famous Vietnam Era fighter yet, the L-39’s Ivchenko AI-25TL turbofan engine does not leave such trails.

“Eh, Mrs Dawson, we are on fire!” I said calmly and saw her head swivel to the sides as she checked also.

“This is strange…you may be right but where is the fire alarm? It should be screaming its head off. Help me look for the missile, Foxtrot. If I can see it, I can defeat it. Look for anything unusual, a glint, whatever, and tell me!”

An ear-piercing sound suddenly erupted and a red light, clearly marked FIRE came on. I said nothing, she looked busy flicking switches to dump decoy flares and chaff taking violent evasive action as I saw something sparkle to our right and a few thousand feet below us.

“Missile, inbound, forty-three degrees, six thousand below.” I snapped.

“Roger.” She grunted and went straight at it as the flare dispenser started to release flares with loud thumps. “Foxtrot, hold on!”

The L-39 Albatros went nose over again and I guessed she was trying to dive underneath the missile whilst releasing a curtain of burning hot flares behind and above her to distract the missile. The small front of the L-39 certainly would help. In the end it did not work but I suppose could have worked if we were less of a target, that we failed was not her fault. The missile exploded right next to us in a black flash of cordite and RDX, I know the sight, the smell and it happened so fast that I only saw the dark flash as went past it. “Infrared and approximate fuses, they don’t have to actually hit you to hurt!” I said to myself as the aircraft started shaking violently and wind noise increased dramatically, we were definitely holed.

“Mayday Mayday Mayday, ‘Sanford One Nine Seven Three,’ on fire at position…” Angelique gave a ten grid reference number and waited for a reply. “Foxtrot, look for another missile, quick!”

It did not take long but it felt long, to get a response on her mayday call on the guard frequency. We were upside down again scanning hard for another missile and from the smoke trail I suspected we were now burning properly.

“This is the SAS Mendi, how many souls, Mrs Dawson?”

The SAS Mendi was then still almost new and the latest addition to the frigate squadron. She acted at times as the flag ship for the navy. We often worked with them, the SAS Isandlwana helped us recover the nuclear weapons and Angelique threatened to floor the commanding officer (Code Name Angel) when he did not listen to good advice. In later years I sank her sister ship, the SAS Amatola, in an unfair fight on the open seas, I ambushed her with a Q-ship called the EBS Orlando (Code Name Phoenix). The SAS Mendi herself became infamous in our circles when Angelique led an attack on it, during a training mission, taking it on open waters and without helicopters. It caused shock waves in naval circles and rightly so (Code Name Willow Bay).

The large frigate was manufactured by the German consortium of Blohm & Vos in Kiel, Germany. Like all the vessels in her class she had both screws and water jet propulsion which is damn odd. Her stealthy design gave her a very low radar reflection signature for her size. And she was heavily armed with an Otobreda 76 mm gun backed up with a dual purpose 35 mm twin-barrelled automatic cannon manufactured by the South African armaments company, DENEL. This was reinforced by two 20 mm Oerlikon cannons for short range work and then came the missiles which almost sunk the entire Royal Navy during the Falkland War.

The SAS Mendi had eight surface to surface Exocets and sixteen Umkhonto surface to air missiles making her a handful for any opponent and a lot more of both missiles in her magazines. The ship weighed in at 3700 tons and had a cruising range of almost eight thousand miles. She was perfect for her role of patrolling the long coast lines and was fast enough to overtake any civilian ship. She was also impressive enough to show the flag as she frequently did. Best of all she had two SuperLynx helicopters optimised to find submarines or conduct rescue work as we were in need to be rescued, I could not see us landing again or even making the shore. The ship had obviously recognised her call sign and her voice but they were nowhere close, I would have seen them. Yet, it was good to hear the calm response.

“Mendi (she used the Mendi’s call sign), this is Mrs Dawson. Two souls, myself and Major Foxtrot. On fire and about to eject, eighteen miles south of Koeberg. We were fired on and hit by a missile, unknown source and type. Confirm message!”

They replied something and then the radios went dead as did the instruments in front of me. I heard a pop sound as the RAT (automatic ‘Ram Air Turbine’) deployed. It pops out of the fuselage and spins a small propeller generating enough electricity to get the instruments going again. However, that was not our problem, the cabin was now filling with smoke and the wires burned through making further radio communication impossible. I could see sparks and flames in front of her panel and now understood why she absolutely insists on wearing flame resistant gloves whenever piloting, it saves your hands, for a short while anyway. (Avoid sweaty hands also, disgusting! And in emergencies can act as water carriers. Angelique.)

We were level again, not upside down, but covered in smoke inside and outside. Her head twisted back and upwards to look at me, she had to turn in her seat and she showed me the “get ready” sign to eject. I nodded, closed my visor, and made sure my head was firmly against the backrest of the seat, chin down and relaxed, arms next to my side.

“Eject Eject Eject” she shouted.

The aircraft started to shudder and spin wildly, not out of control but doing its very best to murder us. It was happening all at once. No more than two minutes passed since the threat receivers went off. The launch came seconds later and I thought it was exactly what she said, my glass canopy came off first (my eyes were still open at this stage, it was damn surreal) and I slammed into the seat as it accelerated against the railing up and away and after that it went black for a while.

Extract from the seventeenth GMJ Book, Code Name Wrangler

We turned the ship into the wind and the drone launched with an impressive roar just as the sun rose in the distance. I stood watching the small screen, their fancy ground station looked very much like a small laptop with a joystick to me. As the drone circled higher and higher we could clearly see around us from the drone’s on board camera. The Triggerfish was indeed hard to spot with her grey decks but the flashing navigational strobes came up easily. I was impressed, we were really blending well into the sea. Geelslang was right on the deck colour choices when we painted her.

“I told you that naval grey decks are better than yellow ones!” I remarked without thinking to Geelslang, completely forgetting who was standing next to him. “See how we are blending in, you were right.”

“Say what? You wanted yellow decks, Foxtrot? Yellow? The colour of cowardice, to turn yellow and to run!”

She has ears like a fox hound, that woman and pounced like a lioness. I could just see where this was going and regretted the words. I even scratched my head to signal Geelslang my sincerest apology.

“Yeah well, yellow also means joy, happiness, intellect, and energy!” I retorted quickly. “Yes it does!”

She had an evil glint in her eyes and even removed her Ray-Ban sunglasses for us to see the amusement in them. And we saw it very clearly indeed. She was not going to let this go. Geelslang gave me some distinctly odd looks before jumping in to defend our honour. He interrupted loftily and smugly.

“And, Mrs Dawson, what is more, a yellow ribbon was the symbol of freedom once. Yes, with the 1979 US-Iranian hostage crisis. It was tied by Penne Laingen, wife of hostage Bruce Laingen, against a tree. She got the idea, if I remember correctly, when some Iranian students protested against Mr Carter banning all Iranians further entry in the US and loyal college students threw dog food at them, the Iranian protesters, that is. Obviously the US students were a tougher generation than the feeble minded lot we see today!”

Mr Laingen was the most senior American official held hostage during the Iran hostage crisis, his official rank was that of Chargé d’affaires (head of diplomatic mission). By that time, Mr Carter had already fired the ambassador and previous Chargé d’affaires for some reason and Laingen took over almost by default. His wife did indeed start a movement to tie yellow ribbons around trees as inspired by a folk song of the same name, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” which was a 1973 hit about a convict returning home after serving his time. Since then, in the US and the UK, yellow ribbons have become a symbol of support for soldiers fighting abroad. It may well have been a cowardice colour once, but not anymore. I took over from Geelslang, hurriedly dismissing any idea of cowardice before it takes hold in her devious brain.

“That is true, that US generation stood up for their cause. We only have to look at Vietnam. For a long while, years actually, they fought without complaining and when the liberal wankers did complain Stateside, they did a good job in running amok also, it must be admitted. Yellow is an entirely honourable colour, Mrs Dawson. See how nicely it fits into our current mission, Code Name Wrangler! Hostages coming home and all that jazz. I would say it was prophetic, even.”

She was sniggering openly now and not the least impressed with our explanations, good as they were.

“And pray tell me, Foxtrot. Did you know about Code Name Wrangler when you chose the yellow colour? Nope? Of course not since you are not prophetic except in that I will always win. So the yellow ribbons played no role in your thinking. Nice try Geelslang. Yellow? My word, you two just never learn do you? And then you repainted the decks grey? In any case, I knew about it! Yes, I was testing my new satellite and took some pictures of Maputo Harbour and guess what I saw? The sun coming up vertically, we were almost blinded! I had hiccups laughing and for two weeks watched you removing the paint. And yet you thought you could hide your indiscretions from me, Mrs Dawson?”

Geelslang was not a man to give up easily. “I will have you know, Mrs Dawson, yellow is a great colour. Look at my name, ‘Geelslang’ Peter Ndebele.” (Geel translates to yellow in Afrikaans.)

He was trying hard, but no avail, Angelique Dawson can be very one track minded. She was not about to fall for that.

“Yeah? And does ‘Geelslang,’ your full name and not half of it, translate directly to ‘yellow snake?’ Nope, it translates to Cape cobra in Pommy. Nah, Geelslang, I got you two and so it is. My word, from dark pink to yellow! What is next, white? Wait, you tried white before, with the ‘Pink Slut’ and white traditionally means surrender. It rhymes with yellow! I got it, the two homos who surrender after running away!” Now she was shrieking with laughter and attracting unwelcome attention from everyone else, also roaring.

Geelslang gave up and muttered to me. “Ingabe wena mtshele namuhla yena muhle? Neya? Yini engalungile kuwe, Foxtrot. Nanguya ‘ngenye’ futhi eziyingozi.” (Zulu, Did you tell her today she is beautiful? No? What is wrong with you, Foxtrot. She is ‘otherwise’ and dangerous.)

Terminator interpreted as she stared at him, obviously expecting a prompt explanation on Geelslang’s words. She had stopped laughing very abruptly (which is why Geelslang spoke in Zulu, to change the subject).

“He says, ah, that the Major should not forget his duty of care, i.e. that you are beautiful, towards you. Their, ah, survival depends on it.”

Her head now swivelled to me, a warning sign if ever. I got ready to duck.

“Really? Is this true, Foxtrot? You tell me I am beautiful out of duty and fear? Not because I am beautiful, in your eyes?”

“I do not fear you, never did and never will. And you are beautiful! Ask anyone if you don’t believe me or look in the mirror!”

I stated flatly whilst giving Terminator hard looks for his translation which dropped me squarely into unsolicited trouble, once again. Mike Delta Three Eight now rescued us. He was watching with an amused smile and probably wondering if he too will one day meet his soul and she turns out to be “otherwise” in the extreme.

“Eh, we are picking up search radar, E-F band, Doppler effect also. Distance 41 miles south east of us. That is typical of a Royal Navy nuclear attack submarine or their new long range Type 45 destroyers. Mind, it may be on a spy vessel but it is English, definitely. How strange.”

Extract from the eighteenth GMJ Book, Code Name Casselberry

The next morning, after a good breakfast, we stood under the wing of the Hercules, talking to the Pommy mechanics. They were in a state of considerable excitement. One, the senior lad, stared briefly at Angelique, remarkably attractive in a white t-shirt under her flight suit and then addressed me as the oldest around.

“I say, old chap, you do know you have a snake on board?”

“Why are you talking to him, Blue Bell (mechanic, Rhodesian Army slang), I am the aircraft commander.” Angelique snapped back before I could confirm that I knew of the cobra.

She was standing between Geelslang and me with Terminator behind her glaring at the Pommy over her head. It must have looked odd. She was much smaller than us (I am still much smaller, Angelique), surrounded almost. The two flying wonders were wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses, Angelique’s a mat green I bought her after she lost hers when we got shot down (I was not, repeat not, shot down, Angelique).

“Yes, she abuses me, look at my eye! I am her pet, not her commander.” I said with sad voice and ducked as her head swivelled to me.

My eye was now black and blue and swollen badly despite the ice she applied all night (you try and sleep with that pressed on your face). It was also alive, meaning it competed with my ribs in aching. However, you can always ignore pain as Angelique maintains (she is wrong, if bad enough you will get nauseated from it). She was most unhappy with my frivolous answer, reminding me of the time when I likewise sported a broken nose and two black eyes (we made a forced landing on the water, smashing my face in) and I told her best female friends she assaulted me. They were so shocked they gave her the number of a good psychologist for anger management which did not, repeat not, please her at all (Code Name Sanford). She was not happy with my answer.

“Foxtrot, you cannot seriously admit, in front of a Pommy bastard of all things, that a tiny girl abused you? You, a highly decorated former Special Forces officer? And I don’t abuse my pets, I am kind to my animals, even missing links like you who tender for a smack against the ear most of the time.”

She was speaking Afrikaans and Geelslang, able to understand the language as well as did the other two, Terminator and Sniper, burst out laughing. The Pommies stared at us, thank God, unable to comprehend and not yet taking offence. They can be wonderful people and then you remember the concentration camps insult their leeches will not apologise for. It is a damn disgrace, it is.

“Eh, yes, you have a point there. I am sorry, but the words are out and now they are wanting an explanation!” I responded hastily, in the same language. “Say something nice now.”

“He is just facetious! I would never hit him in the face, he forgot to duck a rather slow bouncer (a cricketing term, a short and fast ball bouncing from the pitch, rising to head level designed to intimidate the batsman).” She beamed happily at the mechanic to show how innocent she is of violence but spoiled the effect a bit with her next utterance. “No, I will shoot him, first in the knees, then in the tummy and after two days of constant suffering, in the head. Now what about the snake?”

“I guess you would, Captain.” The man said appreciatively, using her aircraft commander designation, she never wore any rank on her flight suit. “We were working on the brakes, all done now, and then filled the fuel tanks as requested. You will need to sign here on this form so that head office can bill you. The snake, it must have been ten feet at least, went sailing out of the rear ramp and out into the bushes. By the grace of God, we were on the wings, busy with the fuelling.”

She looked unimpressed, signing only after carefully checking what she signed for. “Yeah, that was my pet Cape cobra which you let escape. I am not amused, now I have to catch her again. It is animal abuse. What else?”

She was in one of her moods which never lasted long, to be honest. She would always calm down and start laughing and I could see her lips starting to twitch, holding a smile back. The man was frankly incredulous, that was not the reaction he expected although he should have clicked we were not normal inbreeds as we call transport pilots. Although we were not openly wearing our combat vests we looked the part. I was mildly surprised that he did not recognise what he was dealing with, as a former Royal Air Force member he would have worked with many like us before in his life. They say we have an aura and it is correct, we do.

“A pet Cape cobra? You must be insane, that snake was terribly dangerous, not a pet. One of the locals wanted to eat it and it reared up, as if ready to strike, before sailing off. No way that thing could have been a pet. I have never seen a snake that angry in my life!” He looked at her dubiously and then to me for help, the grey hair I suppose.

I shrugged. “She is dangerous, mate. What can I say, she has strange pets!”

“Yes, she has strange pets, Blue Bell, she collects love sick donkeys with goat’s eyes, you don’t want to know.” Geelslang confirmed gravely.

His Pommy Hooligan accent made the mechanics look at him in wonder. He was one of those men who got “commissioned officer” written overall him, you want to snap to attention at a mere glance. My mate, Graeme Something, the former Royal Marine officer, is the same. The mechanics probably thought they were dealing with Six, especially when Terminator now also explained, in his beautiful English accent, that she is indeed dangerous. He should know. Yes, he saw her doing things which would make grown men cry (he did indeed). That pet snake of hers, he was sure, was trained like a dog, to attack on command and command only. She glowers at it until it behaves, which he can testify, is frankly bloody amazing to witness at thirty thousand feet (and bloody well impossible, no air for the snake, Angelique). He was even nodding his head to show how amazing the sight was.

“My word, indeed? Well we are out of here. You have a good aircraft, Captain. She is old but she is well maintained. I note from her flight records she needs a major overhaul though (aircraft have records – they are extremely well recorded in case you crash). I will see you again in Johannesburg, no doubt, when you bring her in, no snakes or other pets please. We are peaceful people.”

“We will bring her in before the week is over, don’t worry. Just a few short hops and we are home free. Thank you for your efforts here, we need to go now and save some of your countrymen. Terminator, check the straps and chains on the cargo and report to me. Goodbye, Blue Bell. Angelique replied with a smirk and walked to the aircraft door, the front side door through which Mike Delta Three Eight burst in during the rescue the week before.

We stood watching in silence as she climbed on board and disappeared from view. (you mean stare at my ass, Foxtrot, I felt your eyes, Angelique. Well, why not, it is delightful.)

“What a woman, she, ah does not have a sister perhaps?” The mechanic finally asked, admiringly.

“Absolutely not! She met Foxtrot here two days ago and he turned grey, he aged considerably since she barged into our peaceful world. There is only one of her around, thank God. She is ‘otherwise’ and not for sane people, I feel dreadfully sorry for her husband, he must be abused, I am sure. Okay, let us go. As she said, we have people to rescue, daring do and all that. Goodbye, Blue Bell, see you at Lanseria (an airport close to Johannesburg).” Geelslang shook hands and left.

The rest of us removed the blocks from the wheels, and got inside as Geelslang and Angelique got out again to check everything (you cannot trust shysters, Angelique). They took no chances, draining fuel and Geelslang kicking the tires whilst she watched with a smirk. It is a man’s thing. Shortly after we took off, destination Pemba Island, “Code Name Casselberry” had begun and trouble awaited.

Extract from the nineteenth GMJ Book, Code Name Bella Dawn

Years ago, at our first Christmas, we were not involved then, just sort of colleagues, I gave Angelique a very nice Christmas gift, a couple of hundred hollow point bullets for her Glock pistol. I noticed she had not loaded it with what I considered decent ammunition, so the Blazers were a damn good choice as a present and I rather proud of myself. She returned the compliment by giving me a crate of expensive South African red wine, God knows why, since red wine tastes like cat pee mixed with vinegar to decent people, and sour vinegar at that. Thandiwe, Geelslang’s wife, shook her head sadly when I complained bitterly at the inappropriate gift, asking if I was born stupid. Since then I learned a lot but I still had many bottles left, Angelique had them already dusted off and available for dinner when I returned from Senhor Feradi, waving one in front of my nose.

“I see our house is going down the drain, Foxtrot. I found dust everywhere and the flowers are not growing properly, did you play Beethoven’s 9th Symphony for them as I advised you to do? No? It is a good thing for our coming marriage that you are not trying to evade your guilt as expected since I found the CD I gave you still wrapped on your desk. Yes, so now we will play a nice piano concerto for them as long as I am here, I had already started the growing process with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major. Is it not beautiful?”

I honestly thought it was someone banging away at the trash cans like my old sergeant, bless his dark soul, did for months during basic training to wake us. My word, what a noise but better than teargas or stun grenades as happened during counter insurgency training.

“Eh, yes, marvellous indeed. I was a bit busy you know, helping you out to kill radicals.”

She gave me a suspicious look and went on, happily. “Which reminds me, I need to go down to the harbour to use Triggerfish’s radios, we really need to install upgraded ones here. Yes, I decided that the study can be converted to a secure communications room. You need to tell Fernandes what I want, a heavily padded armoured secure door, alarm system around it and inside, extra air conditioner to keep things cool and a few other things, like a better and decent safe. And get dressed properly and shaven for tonight, we have manners and so does Senhor Feradi. Let us go then, I need to wash my hair also. Be warned I will use my hairdryer, last time you dived for cover. I know you dislike the sound!”

She had that right. Since we got chased by jet fighters and one particularly nasty MiG-23 in Angola, Geelslang and I disliked any sound from hairdryers coming at us unexpectedly. We dive for cover, no questions asked (Code Name Missa 72).

Triggerfish was an ocean going vessel, not large, but capable of 18 knots and withstanding the worst the Indian Ocean (and Atlantic) could throw at her. We bought her a while ago and had her repainted and modified for our use. This included some very advanced radios, capable of great encryption. During the years she was used extensively for covert missions all over the place (Code Name OST-M, Code Name Wrangler, Code Name Casselberry), paying her own way. Informally, we called her the “Pink Queen” and she was lying at anchor, waiting for her next cruise, a skeleton crew on board to keep her shipshape. She is still around, being used for charters when we are not on her. During the Egg Breaker War, she played no role and never left harbour. The chances of her being torpedoed or captured by South African Forces just too great, they were actively searching for motherships.

“Okay, after you then.” I said patiently, glad to escape the ping pong crap sounds coming from the garden.

“And I don’t want to drive down there with my Jeep, let us take your Land Cruiser, it fits in better.”

It did indeed, having Mozambican registration plates and a regular sight for other drivers. We loaded the DUKW parts on the back and drove off, the air conditioner working as it was rapidly becoming summer with warm temperatures above 85 Fahrenheit and several inches of rain, I knew it will grow hotter and in February peaks at 110 – 120 Fahrenheit. It is though the humidity which gets you, the cold air was very welcome and kept us in great comfort. One sterling aspect of any Land Cruiser is the big radiator which comes with it, it will not easily overheat, even with the high temperatures and air conditioner working in heavy traffic. We first dropped the DUKW parts at a mate whom we trusted not to cheat us before stopping at the harbour where Triggerfish looked rather good, gleaming and in perfect shape. Geelslang chose the lads himself, they would not want to disappoint him, he has such an effect on people. What she said on the radio I would not know, she gave me an odd look and closed the door in my face, but it soon became clear she had another meeting planned for the day after. She made it clear she wanted to sail out the next morning and be back the next day. Such quick decisions are also normal with her.

“Foxtrot, I congratulate you, the Triggerfish is looking spotless. Tomorrow morning at high tide we sail out for a day or two. Is that clear? Now back to our meeting with Senhor Feradi, I expect you to let me do the talking. Is that clear? I am in command here.”

Angelique is a special creature, she cannot help herself, command comes naturally to her. You either resent her (at a terrible risk of her getting “otherwise”) or accept her good-naturedly. When the chips are down and she needs advice, or are about to do something stupid, I step in, regardless the consequences which can be anything from a scowl to a nasty swing at my head, to her pulling her Glock to start shooting in my direction. She always misses and laughs about it later, sheepishly. Our system works well for us and we are as close as two humans can be. As her husband she respects me and as her soul, she loves me beyond words. Obviously, the feeling is entirely mutual but for some, our marriage came as a shock – they never saw the real Angelique as I did, a wonderful human being, quick to laugh and forgive, they never knew as did Geelslang and the rest, how close we were for years.

“You have command, Mrs Dawson. What else?” I replied formally.

“You better not be sarcastic, Foxtrot.” She snapped back. “It will go very bad for our coming wedding if you are sarcastic. No? I thought not.” She relaxed suddenly, grinning. “Foxtrot, you sometimes look at me so seriously, are you not used to me by now?”

“I will never get used to you, you are the most beautiful woman I ever saw in my life, smartest too, exotic. I meant what else do you need? I assist you, not your Service or political leaders. If it was not for you I would be neutral in this fight with the Muslim radicals and or right wing whiners, and so would Geelslang. We don’t need the money.”

It was true, we made excellent money with our various ventures and believed in buying with cash only, doing as much ourselves as possible. Angelique covered our costs and paid us an agreed fee per mission, in USD, but we did not need the money by that time, it was for her only, from my part. Geelslang, loyally, followed and saved me (and me, Angelique) many times. We held no loyalty to the new lot down south, never took an oath or saluted the “jockstrap” flag. Most Egg Breakers felt the same, at all relevant times the new lot talked of the “great” services rendered by South African Security Forces to the country since 1994, or since they took over and almost succeeded in ruining everything. Our own years of honourable service never featured publically.

Extract from the twentieth GMJ Book, Code Name Green 41

“Sniper to all, we will fire on zero. Assassins, stand by, do not move without my orders. Four, three, two, one…”

The effect was clear to see as four drivers fell down, shot in the head and one police lad jumped on the sidestep, shooting the first truck driver twice in the head with his Grach pistol. The other lad covered him with his AK47. I had just enough time to see the first bastards going down when the sniper teams switched to the second lot, firing aimed shots, rapidly. I have no reservations that a semi-automatic sniper rifle is better under such circumstances than a bolt action one, sometimes rapid fire, aimed, is needed.

The problem was with trucks four, five and six, across the Assassins, they were not targeted yet by the snipers but all the others around them were. They did not know they were under attack until the second volley came a few seconds later, aimed at the dead drivers’ guards, the idling diesels deadening the sound of the bullets striking home. The Dragunovs were silenced but they made a flash every time the bullet fired, easily seen in the dark by even the naked eye. Undoubtedly the crew of truck number five noticed something and tried to take off by revving the engine and turning the front wheels thirty degrees to the right, towards the Assassins who reacted straightaway, they could not wait to be crushed to death or a truck escape.

“One Alpha, we are moving in! Snipers hold your fire on four, five and six! Move! Move! Move!”

She radioed and the three teams of two each, ran flat out to the trucks, weapons at the ready. They got out of their stomach positions very fast indeed and the two remaining Assassins gave cover, it was a slick move.

“Sniper, roger, leave four, five and six, give general cover.”

The Assassins shot the guards on four, five and six, and then Lucy came running hard down the track, her hair flying behind her, and holding the Kel-Tec PMR in both hands. A fusillade of shots was echoing through the night, the Assassins were opening up with their AK47s, a flat sound, much different from the booming noise made by Western assault rifles. They were firing in short bursts, not double tapping proper, I noted with some annoyance. However, they were effective, the drivers and guards of four, five and six went down and were dragged out of the cabs immediately, to prevent their blood from becoming a problem later on.

“One Alpha, four, five and six, secured!” Her people started to arrange the bodies to a long line next to the trucks to be searched before disposal. The ambush took less than two minutes.

“Sniper, trucks secured! We are standing down on trucks. All round defence, area clear.” They would be scanning the area for any movement and let me know.

“Terminator to all except sniper teams, move the bodies over to one place for intelligence gathering. Good work. Switch the trucks’ lights off.”

The vehicles lights began to go off, one by one as the lads got into the cabs but kept the engines running, you never know if they would start again or have some strange way to start them (common in Africa, the ignition may be two wires only the regular driver would know). From the corner of my eye I saw the Land Cruiser arrive back, following its own spoor as the lad said he will do to miss any landmines. He was grinning weakly at me when I called him “Landmine Detector.” Such things are expected in our world, to take the Mickey out of each other, it is not meant as an insult. He too switched his headlights off on Terminator’s command. We all had night vision goggles on, it made no difference to us but for a normal bystander, the vehicles would have disappeared into the darkness. I became aware of a commotion to my left, I was scanning the area around us and a bit more relaxed I suppose than what I should have been. But then, I am used to people around me acting reasonably.

“Let me go you bastard, I want to shoot them!”

Lucy was yelling at some lad, I presumed her assigned bodyguard as she kicked out at the corpses. She had arrived, running flat out from her position at the other end of the ambush site.

“Lucy, they are dead! Don’t waste ammunition.” I called as I ran over.

“I want to shoot them, Mrs Dawson promised me!” Her fury was plain to hear. “Mrs Dawson told me I can kill them when she signed for me! And now I am going to shoot them!”

“Behave! They are dead, there will be many more to shoot. Lucy, behave or I will have you removed from operations!”

I replied angrily, all operational secrecy was now gone, the gunshots could be explained, poachers, but not a women shouting at the top of her voice. My words had no effect. She was in total meltdown.

“I will eradicate the bastards! Do you see this one? He is called Aramid, he raped me, every day for weeks! Sodomy on the side! He is an animal! Ha, I got you now you Aramid! Die you bastards, I got you, I got you!”

She fired shot after shot into him, aiming for the stomach and groin area, the silenced pistol making almost no noise but we could see the flashes as she pulled the trigger and she had 30 rounds in that magazine. A red dot appeared on her forehead, it was the snipers getting ready to kill her if she went completely nuts and aims at us. They had no need to activate their lasers, they could have done so with passive dots only they can see, this was as clear a warning to Lucy as anything, to get her to her senses. I truly had never seen the like before, usually soldiers and or agents listen when I speak. I don’t need to repeat myself. For a moment I was tempted to give the order to make an end. It would be merciful for her, she was now shooting at the other corpses at our feet and more dots were appearing on her body, one at the heart, the other at her forehead just above her night vision goggles and yet another on her throat. It was decision time.

“Lucy, give me the pistol. They are dead, they cannot hurt you anymore. We are going home, okay! It is okay, Sweetie, I have you.” One Alpha ran to her, Lucy was still shooting, and put her arm around her tiny shoulders. “It is over, stand down, stand down, all of you. Snipers also… stand down… Don’t shoot her! Major Foxtrot, give the command, please. She is not dangerous to us, I am telling you, don’t kill Lucy any further, please!”

One Alpha had seen the red dots on her fellow agent as did the rest of the Assassins. They formed a circle around Lucy, as if protecting her as you would a President or other VIP, a human shield and at the same time looked as if they would shoot at the Special Forces lads who aimed their assault rifles right at them, backing Sniper and his teams. There were so many laser dots on the Assassins that I had no illusions who will win such a firefight and what I would say to Angelique when she sees their corpses in the morning. Even the RPD light machine guns had turned around from perimeter defence and were about to unleash a wall of lead the Assassins could not possibly survive, they may get a few shots off but that was it. Lucy had stopped shooting but was still struggling violently, lashing out and kicking whilst making unearthly noises I never wish to hear again in my life. I suddenly felt tired if not shocked as the realisation of what happened hit me, I knew now why Angelique’s head was tilted.

“Stand down, all of you. One Alpha, you will take care of Lucy for us, sedate her if you wish so she can calm down. She will not be armed further and flown out as soon as possible for proper care, she is going back to where she came from. Drivers, get into the trucks and check them out, we are about to leave this place. The rest of you, all round defence and load the bodies on the Land Cruiser’s load bed. Yes, all sixteen if possible, like bloody sardines for all I care. Terminator, a word please.”

I walked away to speak to the big platoon sergeant in private, he listened with a serious face, I noted he had his AK47 on fire and only now made it safe

Extract from the twenty-first GMJ Book, Code Name Celery 50

That afternoon was fun, I suppose. Geelslang and mates drove the two vehicles down to Thandiwe’s Bay. The place looks something like the tidal pool in Magnum PI, engaged four-wheel drive, and straight into the water. The four pontoons were previously inflated and taking the strain as they finally floated but hanging awkwardly in my view, not supported enough and barely above the water. I knew however to keep quiet and see what else they do, Geelslang and mates were long not done and had it figured out.

There are different ways of doing such things, some would have built a platform between the pontoons and kept the vehicle on it, like you would do with a raft. Or you could have used a purpose built steel frame hanging in U shape between the pontoons, holding the vehicle up, or, as they did here, fastened the vehicle between two pontoons, and when in the water, tightened the ropes and adding another deflated pontoon underneath the vehicles. This one, when they inflated it with air from the SAMIL-100’s air pumps, pushed the vehicles up and out of the water. The pontoon itself was firmly trapped between the chassis and the hanging wheels next to it. It worked well with the men standing bare chested in the water building the contraption. Arik and his wife were scanning the water with the two sniper rifles for any hungry animals and the rest of us now making unwanted suggestions from the side. Even Lucy and her team were inside the water, trying to help or learn from the sappers, I am not sure, but they had fun. Angelique and I were standing on “Pink Slut,” observing. She again being told, suggested rather, by myself, to act like a senior officer and not the hired help (it is insurrection, it is, Angelique).

“Oi, Geelslang, remember a quick release knot for the two tow ropes!” I shouted across.

He waved good naturedly back, shouting for his sun glasses (on his nose) since he could not see against the glow and by God, the sun was setting to the south (where I was standing) and quite a few other things. All in all, a good day and if you ever want to see a peculiar sight, imagine a green Mercedes L-300 four-wheel drive truck and a white Land Cruiser FJ floating between two gigantic black rubber pontoons, and a patriotic blue ski-boat next to them on water as turquois as any in the Caribbean. It was damn unreal but so is life with Angelique Dawson-Foxtrot, I am blessed.

We left just after 22H00, rather crowded until Geelslang released the rubber rescue life raft and told the Assassins to get on it which they did without a word, realising why and that they would be as safe on it as they would be on a cramped ski-boat, unless a crocodile got them. We then towed them too and now had three tow ropes behind us and Lentliziyo acting as the original SCRAM man, this time with the machete to cut the ropes if something goes wrong. The two sappers sat with the sniper rifles on the roof of the “Pink Slut” to shoot any attacking crocodile or hippopotamus. I had no doubts that the silenced rifles were more than able to cause serious damage and loaded with expanding bullets. They would go for the brain and they would not miss. Everyone had a bit of a rest period after the floating session, a full and healthy meal (garlic, by God) and I would say looking forward to completing the mission. Especially Lucy was raring to go and torture Abaskuul to death, she made everyone take an oath to leave the bastard for her, and not to cheat her again (she meant when we killed the original occupants of the trucks and left her with corpses, she was not amused – Code Name Green 41).

I can tell you, at night, with night vision goggles on, or looking through an infrared scope, you will be thoroughly shocked to see the many evil eyes of snakes, crocs and yes the odd hippopotamus, watching your every move, even lions. When we get visitors on the Ukuthula Ranch, we always explain that the animals are wild, and hungry for Uitlander (Afrikaans, foreigner) meat. For good measure we show them what is staring at them at night, they seldom leave their rooms for a skinny dip. Mind, during the Egg Breaker War, still three years away, Angelique had two French female analysts assigned to her command post, dealing with satellite intercepts and they decided to skinny dip against my advice. Two things happened. The local lads I assigned quietly to protect them, shot and killed a large crocodile yards away from their frolics, and they ran on the water for the shore, an event still talked about today by the tribesmen. A shot crocodile thrashes around a bit, it does not die silently even with a decently aimed head shot, they had the fright of their lives. Then they suffered severe sunburn on their exposed chests, the harsh African sun not being what they were used to in the south of France. That part I obviously did not see but Thandiwe clicked her tongue in sympathy and so did Angelique before treating them, they stayed in bed for two days, poor things. Africa is a wonderful mistress but she can be a (I scratched this out, Angelique) if you don’t listen to good advice.

“Take it easy, steady as she goes.” I advised Angelique who was steering.

“No problem, steady as she goes.” She said and looked over her shoulder, gradually increasing speed.

The two vehicles were following obediently, the infrared strobe on each flickering every five seconds but that was for in case the tow ropes broke, so we could find them easily again. We had a strobe, they are watertight, on the towing ropes too, half way at 75 feet. That helped and I refused any human on or inside the vehicles, if the vehicles do go down, they go down fast and fetching someone out the water would be extra trouble for us. I deemed the risk too high. Moreover, if we needed to cut loose in an emergency, shoot the pontoons out and leave in a hurry, I wanted everyone extracted with us, not floating around to be captured and interrogated.

“Now look at this, Foxtrot. Basic science, as the momentum increases, the towed objects will slam together.” Geelslang muttered to me.

And so it was, we pulled away, the engines doing excellent work and the stern digging in, the towing ropes, very decent and strong woven nylon types, stretched and took the strain and the two vehicles thumped together, not violently so, but close to each other.

“Why not like a train, one tied to the other?” I wanted to know.

“Couple of reasons. The strain would be double on the towing rope, and the train so much longer and harder to control when you decrease speed, smashing into each other. With this method, we can see both all the time which is important, we are not high above the waves, we have limited visibility. This method gives us some duplicity built in, reducing risk.”

“Okay, makes sense. What speed we towing?”

Angelique answered first. “Between 10 and 15 knots, we have 46 miles to go, hence between 3 and 4 hours to where we want to land unobserved. Not that it matters, we would look like smugglers and people would stay away. Yet we need a good lookout. Help me check the radar and fish finder and I will concentrate on navigating and towing. Geelslang, use your special eyes and Thales Sophie to spot for your sniping team, please.”

Geelslang was the best small boat handler among us although not by far, Angelique and I following close behind and so would the rest. Normally you would have expected him to steer us but not here, we needed his eyes more than his boating skills. Technology can save your ass if used correctly. The eight pound Thales Sophie is a long range surveillance and target acquisition thermal imager. It is one hell of a piece of equipment and can spot humans at over 3 miles, tanks at 7 miles, helicopters at 9 miles and jet fighters at 12 miles and identify each at that range. With Geelslang spotting, I was very sure no animal or fisherman will ever get close to us, the radar will warn us of anything big approaching and the fish finder of anything under the water trying to eat our pontoons. Obviously our powerful visible strobes were firmly switched off but the radar deflectors stayed on. He too climbed on the roof leaving us inside the cabin to steer and hold hands. I like holding my soul’s hand, it is endearing, even on missions.

I know that in Hollywood there would have been a massive squall from nowhere or an enemy patrol vessel arriving or a desperate gun battle with something or someone. Even the perfectly tuned Yamaha outboards will overheat or the mission betrayed by someone nasty, setting us up for disaster. Such things have been known to happen but I am afraid our crossing of Lake Malawi was boring, no such things happened. It is a matter of planning and execution, some luck and working with experts, you can achieve amazing things when you do that. We were highly experienced and treated the affair as a covert landing, which it was and designed to test her Assassins’ skills, they did not disappoint. With the South African Navy dominating the coasts, with modern surface vessels and submarines, such landings are almost common place. Angelique also made sure she called her best Assassins in, from operational areas, for Code Name Green 41 and Code Name Celery 50. She wanted to impress and they wanted to get the experience, then even a shotgun marriage can be bearable. I could not help but note though that the two snipers and Geelslang, and Lentliziyo for that matter, kept a very close eye on the life raft. The Assassins themselves were in a totally neutral position, not displaying their arms (only pistols and other spy trade goodies), having noticed too.

We simply kept on towing, kept on steering and after a few hours reached the Malawi coast and the fun began on how to land the vehicles. Lake Malawi is not always beaches; many places are like sheer rock faces, almost fiord like and there you can climb the rock face, all of us were experienced mountaineers, especially Angelique (see Code Name Honey Bee) but the vehicles will never get up such a mountain. Luckily, or as expected, Angelique had thoroughly scouted the beaches and got us to a deserted one where we could reasonably expect the vehicles to land in peace. Yet it was not as easy as it sounds. We have our ways of doing things and you most certainly do not barge in US Marine Okinawa style with guns blazing and roaring for our lads to follow, that is conventional warfare, not the Special Forces and espionage way at all. First we lay a mile offshore for an hour, drifting silently whilst Geelslang scanned the beach area. Then we moved in, slowly, making hardly any noise and more importantly, no phosphorous wake. We beached the “Pink Slut” firmly at 03H50 AM and the fun began, a lot of things at the same time.

“Get the anchor out and tie her down.” I said to the axman called Lentliziyo, he scrambled forward and ensured we would not be pulled off the beach by the vehicles behind us. That done he would cover us from the land side, scanning his arc with the silenced Vintorez he took from a sapper. Normally you would want many more men spreading out to the landside but you make do with what you have, adapt or die. It was not an opposed landing, if it was, we would have moved back to deep water and tried again the next night.

“Haul the trucks in lads, there are no exotic creatures about except our walking light bulb, my elderly Major!” Angelique quietly told her Assassins, breaking any tension, as they piled out into the three feet water, grabbing the towing ropes and hauling away in practised moves. The vehicles soon reached shallow water and stopped abruptly as the middle pontoon got stuck on the bottom. “Okay, tie them down so they don’t drift off. Lucy, get your drivers in the vehicles,” Two lads waddled to the vehicles, climbing inside and waited, winding down the windows to hear better.

“Okay, keep watch, we will be back.” Geelslang said under his breath and also went into the water with his two sappers following.

They were to untie or cut the ropes holding the vehicles, now about ten yards from the shore. Since they built the rigs, they demanded the right to undo it, otherwise the Assassins would have cut through and got done. Geelslang is a man who gets the job done with panache, not brute strength unless required. I watched with great interest as they moved in and started working in utter silence. First they deflated the middle pontoon under the vehicles, and pushed with the Assassins help, the deflated pontoon closer to the shore. Lucy, being shorter than most, was dumped a few times but showed no ill effects, shaking her head to clear the water, smirking. Angelique was commanding from the ski-boat, again being told by me to let her people experience the joys of achieving something without her direct involvement, that comment or advice gained me a few “Angelique looks” but she saw the wisdom. She does listen to me when it suits her, she is obviously never wrong, but she changes her mind at times. I had the M-21 sniper rifle, scanning for crocodiles and other nastiness. Thus far I saw nothing of immediate danger. She confiscated my MP7, being shorter, suited her better but she is good with both weapons.

Extract from the twenty-second GMJ Book, Code Name Caribbean

“He did very well.” Angelique confirmed. “It is a simple assault to take the bridge, not much to it. Just make sure nothing gets out of hand, kidnapping Sir John is going to rock the boat enormously. He is not expecting it although I warned him more than once.”

“The man should learn to listen!” I said with great satisfaction.

“Then so be it, he takes the main group. I don’t need more than three others, and Jacqui to ensure we don’t hurt anyone. Lentliziyo takes the remaining six men, with Captain Geelslang observing, to the bridge and CCTV room. It is basically one place anyway with only two entrances. He gets in with his group, safeguard the place, lock the doors, and wait for the command from Mrs Dawson to end the exercise.” Terminator looked relieved.

“And where will you be?” I asked of Angelique. “Now that we know where the rest will be.”

“Oh, I am going with when we grab Sir John. ‘Lemon Balm’ too, so that there are no misunderstandings from Sir John’s side, she has to agree, as an observer. She does not admire him anyway.” She answered lightly with a wave of her hand.

“No problem, once the word is given that he is under control, we fetch ‘Lemon Balm’ and walk down and knock on his cabin door. I think the bastard has one of the better cabins. Yep, his large balcony is going to be his end.” I smirked at this and then stopped as Angelique shook her head firmly.

“I am going with, not commanding, but with. And so is ‘Lemon Balm’ or she will be furious in being denied her fun in life. I suggest when we rappel down, Terminator, we use Australian rules, walk down and lean over and throw the canisters after the windows are blown. Then we jump down and accept the surrender. Easy as pie.”

“Eh, that is upside down, Madame, and there is a wind blowing outside, the ship is moving at 18.5 knots.” Terminator was way too polite to refuse outright, she knew his mom, he merely mentioned the most obvious dangers. “The movement of the ship generates extra wind, and the ship is moving, up and down, sideways, and the sides will be wet, slippery. You feel that when climbing the sides or going down them more than standing on the deck.”

“And if you fall down? All the way into the bloody Indian Ocean 150 feet below you? Breaking your neck? Then what? No way, you leave this for the young lads and Geelslang. Like hell you will go with.” I snapped. “What would you anyway know about rappelling down ships? You will be in their way. It is nice and warm here in the cabin, I can keep an eye on you.”

“Foxtrot, what happened on the Colum Escarpment Arête, Drakensberg, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa on 22 June 2008? That is exactly 583 days or 1 year 7 months and 4 days ago, 50,371,200 seconds and counting, you should clearly remember!” I stared at her astonished, who the hell works out time like that? But she was long not finished. “Did I not abseil down a tall cliff, in the dark and faster than you two old crocks could manage? And don’t think I forgot that you did not kiss me goodbye either when I leaned over the edge! Yes, I went down, safely, I may add and thus proved I know about rappelling.” She stuck her chin out aggressively, a sure sign to be ready to duck.

“I am younger than you, Mrs Dawson, not an old croc.” Geelslang pointed out, reasonably, but we barely heard him.

“That was different, you were being hunted and had to get off that cliff, during Code Name Honey Bee that was. Your insane mate from the Jerusalem Water Works, Mrs Arik, suggested you do a base jump to get down quicker. I agreed to the lesser of the two evils, abseiling or rappelling down, same difference, with Geelslang leading and then you and then I to ensure they don’t cut the rope and let you fall to your death. And you started rappelling just as I leaned forward, at great risk to myself, to kiss you. This here is different. You have no need to get out of this cabin down the side of a fast moving ship in the dark! You are not in danger but you will be if you are not careful. You are a senior officer, act like one! Your idea is entirely baseless!”

“Il a l’air très attrayant quand tant le visage rouge, protestant furieusement. Avez-vous le nourrissez ses pilules d’ail aujourd’hui? Il obtient une crise cardiaque.” (French, He looks quite attractive when so red in the face, furiously protesting. Did you feed him his garlic pills today? He is getting a stroke.)

Without looking up I knew “Lemon Balm” had arrived, keeping Angelique’s green eyes, now glazing over in annoyance, locked in mine. It is entirely odd how her eyes can change colour depending on her mood and she was swiftly getting mad here. She always does when denied “her fun” in life. She does not always get that she is not at the level where tactical action is expected of you anymore, she wants to be involved no matter what the risk. This was unnecessary.

She answered, deliberately speaking slowly to ensure I get the full picture. “Il aura besoin de plus de pilules d’ail s’il continue à me refuser la permission. Combien de fois avons-nous des navires et descente en rappel des falaises dans le passé, ‘Lemon Balm?’ Je tiens toujours le record pour le descendeur le plus rapide dans le dossier. Dites-lui avant que je lui tordre le cou.” (French, He will need more than garlic pills if he keeps on refusing me permission. How many times did we abseil from ships and cliffs in the past, ‘Lemon Balm?’ I still hold the record for the fastest abseil in record. Tell him before I wring his neck.)

“Oui, vous avez laissé tomber comme une pierre, plus comme descente rapide, et causé Commandant Annaud une crise cardiaque, il n’a pas été amusé. Foxtrot est correcte, vous ne pouvez pas faire cela. Nous allons descendre en rappel plus tard, lorsque le tout clair est donné. Il peut vérifier ses cordes lui-même, nous ne voulons pas être vu par les caméras de vidéosurveillance dans le passage, les points stratégiques ne sont pas encore prises.” (French, Yes, you dropped like a stone, more like fast roping, and caused Major Annaud a heart attack, he was not amused. Foxtrot is correct, you cannot do this. We will abseil later, when the all clear is given. He can check your ropes himself, we don’t want to be seen by the CCTV cameras in the passage, the strategic points are not taken yet.)

“What are they saying?” Geelslang asked of me before turning on the two women. “It is rude to speak mumbo-jumbo in front of civilised people! Now all calm down. We can resolve this easily.”

I did not know her Frog Minder, Colonel Annaud then, obviously not, but I liked the man nonetheless when I heard of his reaction. Years later he told me the story. They were abseiling down an inverted cliff and practising all day, taking it easy and building up to where he wanted them to be. Angelique, always one to show off (I pushed the envelope, Angelique) got bored and dropped down in a freefall almost, and stopped just as she reached the ground, smirking at everyone. In fact, she did use fast roping techniques with abseiling as “Lemon Balm” observed, which is theoretically, because of the harness design, not possible. He knew that and on inspection found that she cheated by taking the safety devices out, he was rightly furious with his star pupil. She still holds the record as she claims, yes, only because no one else was stupid enough to try and break it, her antics are used as an example to new troops on what not to do (we are eating garlic fish tonight, Angelique).

Extract from the twenty-third GMJ Book, Code Name Butterfly

We did all types of sniping during our service years. We specialised in counter urban warfare as much as in counter insurgency and sabotage behind enemy lines (including our main objective, reconnaissance, where you do nothing but observe). There are different scenarios which you are trained on, behind enemy lines chance encounters, deliberate assassination, the patrol cover (same as covering a VIP somewhere – a police technique), and hostage rescue (a police technique). The way snipers sometimes operate behind enemy lines is to take a chance shot, you see a high ranking officer or target of high value somewhere, and you kill him but he has to be exceedingly important. Once you fired that shot, your presence is known. I assure you, the mission comes first, if you are to scout out a terrorist base, a target like a house or whatever, you will never take that shot and get away with it from the higher ups even if successful in killing the devil himself. Reconnaissance was reckoned to be more important, rightly so. It is seldom to never that killing a single man is going to change much, really not and especially not where a turd is involved, he can be replaced in seconds.

Of course, it depends a lot of what is happening around you – during the First World War, with the snipers facing trenches – the sniper lurked somewhere in hiding and really not always in no man’s land. When a soldier or an officer (preferred) is spotted, the shot is taken and the target goes down. It meant snap shooting, waiting and waiting and suddenly there he is, you shoot. This a completely different mind-set as the mission object is not to recon the trenches but to kill any worthy target of opportunity. From this a wide variety of counter measures originated, generally an artillery barrage followed onto every spot where the sniper could be hiding. So they caused a lot of trouble for their mates also and if too active, counter snipers would try to get them first. Many trenches, the bulwarks above the trench, had carefully hidden holes in them through which the sniper shot back, so the story of the sniper crawling into no man’s land is dramatic but not always true, it happened, but not always.

Then we have the times, and this is also likely, where a sniper team is instructed to kill someone specific behind enemy lines, in this case you talk about Special Forces or secret agents (many times the same animal, doing the job) for you. Historically, we think of Operation Foxley as the supreme example of this type of sniping, but there are many others. It was a 1944 British plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler, wishful thinking to be honest, neither the Brits nor anyone else except the Soviets had much of a resistance movement inside Nazi Germany during the war to help them get close or get away. Hitler, as odd as it sounds nowadays, was extremely popular as a leader, he was supported and the anti-Nazis mostly came to the fore after his death when it was safe and expected to do so. The plan was to drop two snipers in the Bavarian Alps surrounding Berghof, Hitler’s private residence, and shoot him dead at longer range, during an exercise walk he took every morning.

The half-baked plan was conceived by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and never came to conclusion, no actual attempt was made to implement it. After the war, many stated it was not worth it because Hitler was causing more damage with his unsolicited interference in the war, to his own side, alive, than dead. This will be disputed for a long time between historians, to me, Operation Foxley was a silly notion for other reasons. Nazi Germany was in no way depended on Hitler alone. We have this idea of an omnipotent Fuhrer in our heads but in fact his country was feudal almost in management style with different role players fighting each other for a place at the court. I feel that like most turds he could have been replaced but whatever, the attack never took place and would probably have failed if it did for reasons we will discuss later on. Nevertheless, the idea to snipe him out, shows you the danger of a good sniper team, the mere thought of such a team close by would have locked the place down as we saw during the Battle of the Bulge where General Eisenhower was virtually kept a prisoner to prevent his assassination. He finally stopped the madness after a week of total over reaction.

Incidentally, Berghof, the private Hitler residence, was hit on 25 April 1945, by bombing raids conducted by the RAF, why, no one knows, he was not even there and known not to be there. By that time, the bomber fleets ran out of proper targets, the attack was as pointless as was the attack on Dresden, carpet bombing for the sake of carpet bombing. The SS then burned the house further down after Hitler’s death a few days later became known. The area was never defended against ground forces, the so called “National Redoubt” never existed. The Yanks arrived and looted the place properly. By 1952 the West Germans dynamited the house completely to prevent a shrine developing for the deceased Fuhrer, presumably still a threat in their orderly minds. Today you can hardly see anything of the place, trees are growing where the German Chancellor once relaxed, such is illogical the fear of the man and his evil movement.

About the only military lesson that we can learn from Operation Foxley is what weapons they wanted to use, the reason why I said it would not have worked anyway. You have to keep in mind that if the sniper team die during or after the attack, that is counted as a failure to me, responsible for the lives of my men. Of course, the turd ordering the hit, as happened with Operation Anthropoid two years before, does not care that much. Here, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated, not by sniper, but relatively close range in Prague on 27 May 1942, once again by SOE agents. They ambushed his unarmoured vehicle with hand grenades and submachine guns, one of which jammed during the attack. Sometime later, the two SOE agents got trapped in a church in Prague, both died fighting valiantly and many others died afterwards, the after effect of Heydrich’s death was the death of 5,000 innocents in German reprisals (some say more, some say less, Angelique). Before the two agents were found, the small villages of Lidice and Ležáky were wrongly linked to them. All the local men were murdered, the rest, women and children, sent to concentration camps from which few came home. The villages were utterly destroyed in an act of terrorism unheard of in the history of warfare and never rebuilt. It is said that Winston Churchill, then still the British Prime Minister and ultimately responsible, wanted to level six German villages for the destruction of Lidice and Ležáky in retaliation. He was always a fan of destroying villages and towns, if not with poison gas, then carpet bombing. Despite what the Western Historians say on the Luftwaffe attacking cities first during World War Two, it was actually the Soviet Air Force that first bombed open cities, a year before the Luftwaffe attacked Rotterdam.

The weapons to be used in the proposed Operation Foxley attack, were not Gucci even for the time. The agents had to look like German Alpine Corps soldiers, hence they had or would have had, a rebuilt Mauser K98 rifle to shoot Hitler with, the standard infantry rifle of the Wehrmacht since 1935. They say they made the rifle more accurate but do not explain how, so I don’t know. The German Army had sniper versions of the rifle available but this was not one of them. All such rifles, the infantry one and the sniper one, came in the standard 7.92 × 57 mm Mauser cartridge and were effective up to 550 yards with open iron sights, presumably the distance the SOE agent had to get then to make the shot. That is very close, especially when shooting downhill. With a telescopic sight, the effective range increased to 1,090 yards but there is no indication that the SOE team had such a scope fitted. It was not easy to attach a telescopic sight either, it had to be done by an expert armourer. At first the genuine German Army snipers used the Zeiss Zielvier 4x (ZF39) telescopic sight, that increased as the war went on to Zielacht 8x telescopic sight, but note, still the same caliber, the sniper merely could see better at longer distances, not shoot further. In the end, roughly, we are not totally sure, 132,000 sniper rifles were manufactured, almost nothing in relation to the millions of standard ones. Decades after the war we found captured Mauser stock being used all over the world, even during the Iraqi Invasion of 2003 such rifles were found but the sniper versions are rare. Of course, many thousands were converted to hunting rifles, they are very common.

Extract from the twenty-fourth GMJ Book, Code Name Phantom

“She does not think like us, that is the problem and someone trained her so highly in explosives that it is scary. Well, shall we go and be educated? Make sure you understand her technique so we can copy it if needs be.” I advised as we walked towards her dump.

She was indeed cheating (I was not, how rude, Angelique). We knew that before we even arrived, having smelled the kerosene long before we reached the site where she stood smirking. I had the distinct impression that she was not blowing the ordnance but burning them, therefore she would use no C4 booster charges at all, hence she could not lose. But if there is ever a dangerous method, in my view, to destroy old ordnance, it is burning it, a highly technical method which comes down to this – the critical depth – where the explosives will detonate when burning, must be avoided at all costs. You cannot mix different types of explosives together either. The results if you do, will be awesome and used against you at your court martial if you survive the explosion. Whatever else you do, the explosive should be burnt at a depth not exceeding half the critical depth which in normal Pommy translates to the shells being packed close together but not on top of each other. When you burn bullets, cartridges, you first remove the packaging, then spread them around with a rake if needs be (imagine sun drying spices, spread out over a large flat surface, same thing, Angelique). You cannot stoke the fire once stared, it must burn out first before you get close again, hours later, it just too dangerous to approach. Therefore, your fire material better be worked out to perfection beforehand or you will have a mess I don’t even want to think about. The entire area around Angelique was covered with kerosene soaked wooden shavings, discarded cardboard and shredded paper and on this bed of fire to be, they were spreading her shells. It was enormously large in my eyes.

“You cannot possibly burn so many shells at one go, only small quantities may be burned at the same time (the manual says that). It is a stupid method.” I remarked sharply and even before Geelslang could object, his mouth already opened to protest vehemently at this cheating method. “This will take days and we don’t have days, start packing them in smaller groups or be disqualified on the spot, this is too dangerous.”

“Yeah, kindly show me the same courtesy you did to Geelslang. Be quiet, I am working here and not done yet, I need to concentrate. I am working with more than a ton of high explosives, Foxtrot!”

“But this method is never used on shells of such a large calibre, cartridges perhaps, nitrocellulose or guncotton if wet enough and…” I retorted not amused, as range safety officer this was in violation and even if she was my soul, I will override her if needs be. “And why more than a ton of explosives? You have the same issued to you for disposal as was Geelslang?”

“Yes, why?” He too wanted to know.

“Trust me, Foxtrot. We are just preparing it to burn since we have such wood shaving lying around, but it will explode.” She stared at me, her arms on hips, a dangerous sign. “I am not done yet, you cannot judge unless I am done and I will tell you when I am done why I have more than a ton.”

That sounded fair enough (damn right it was, the rules of natural justice, Angelique). “Okay, carry on then but I have the last and final call of safety, you get?”

“Yes, agreed. Now stand back and learn from the best.”

She now started whistling her second favourite song, Roxette’s “Dangerous.” They had it wrong, did Roxette, the pop group of the eighties, she is not “a little bit dangerous” at all, she is truly destructive if riled.

“I would like to see what she is up to.” Geelslang said softly to me, shaking his head. “We can learn from this odd technique, Foxtrot, what is she doing? A fireball? That won’t work, you need constant heat from the fire, a fireball is a flash burn, spectacular yes, but ineffective. Hollywood crap.”

We stood watching, fascinated, and finally clicked when she showed us 50-pound bags of ANFO (ammonium nitrate / fuel oil), a popular bulk industrial explosive mixture. About 80% of the US market uses ANFO, not dynamite, interestingly enough (dynamite is hard to manufacture safely), it is very common and looks like large granules or small pellets. It is especially useful in open area coal mining being low cost, having good water resistance, the right oxygen balance (see the smoke afterwards, if too black, it is bad, Angelique) and a high detonation velocity. The way she was applying it was unique and something we never saw before, she was sprinkling it out like seed, I suppose, all over her widely spread shells. Generally, ANFO is dropped into boreholes, like you would pour sugar in your coffee, it is grainy like and pink in colour.

The media has another name for it, fertilizer, and see it as homemade explosives and it can be, fertilizer can be abused and was, we only have to think of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing where ammonium nitrate with nitromethane (ANNM) was used. In fact, you will find fertilizer in most homemade bombs. There are many other instances of terrorism besides Oklahoma, especially the IRA used it very widely during the troubles but oddly, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is the place where it was first used as a terrorist weapon in the US. Protesting students, against the Vietnam War, car bombed Sterling Hall in 1970, killing one innocent man, Robert Fassnacht. They used 2,000 pounds of ANFO packed in a stolen vehicle. Two of the culprits ran to Canada, where else, but in the end three of them went to jail for ridiculously short periods considering their crime in murdering a man. They also tried to bomb the Badger Army Ammunition Plant (Wisconsin) from the air, the homemade bombs failed to explode which is perhaps a good thing, they clearly did not understand what will happen to a slow low flying aircraft if an ammunition dump blows below it. Yet, they are wrong, the media, ANFO is not a fertilizer bomb, it is much more powerful, purposely made and not to be abused.

“And how do we detonate this?” I asked perturbed, the usual method is an electric detonator, lowered into the bore hole first, and then the granules are poured around it.

She answered in her African way, round about, it is endearing. “I wanted to use Pentolite first, you know, a mixture of 50% PETN and 50% TNT. It is very powerful, I think, help me if I a wrong, Geelslang, the detonation velocity is 25,590 feet per second. Yes?

“Yes, it is about that, 7,800 metres per second, the faster it travels the more powerful, as a basic rule of thumb.” He agreed.

“So how do you detonate this?” I asked again, scratching my head and stopping abruptly when she gave me a curious look.

Last time I did that, signalling to Geelslang in a private code, she decided I had head lice and washed my hair for days with a burning shampoo solution she got from hell. I suffered terribly, she came close in shaving all my hair off. I felt like a primate the way she combed my hair with a fine tooth comb, refusing to believe I could be that nasty in signalling Geelslang behind her back (Code Name Wrangler).

“Electric detonators, many of them. Now look and learn.” She went on placing her charges, such as they were, leaving us shaking our heads, making small heaps, tightly packed between her shells.

“I am not sure this will work, what will you do if there is no detonation?” Geelslang asked after a while.

“Fire a flare into the mixture, burn it, but it will work.” She waved her hand dismissively at us. “I did this before. No, I am not telling you where, curiosity killed the cat, eh, Djibouti.”

Djibouti is where the Foreign Legion had a massive base before moving to Dubai for political reasons. What she was doing there, came out later (Code Name Devorah). She loves shooting flares and so it is. She will even shoot them at humans, given half a chance. Our twins told me after basic training when they decided to become French Navy aviators that they missed their mom when the instructors fired at them with flares one afternoon. Unlike the rest of their class, they did not flinch, being used to such things since they can remember. In fact, they did not even fall flat but looked around for “Mon Cheri Général de Division Angelique (Retired – yeah sure),” also known as their mom. They felt quite home sick (they had a wonderful childhood, Angelique).

“Okay, carry on.” I decided to give her a fair chance, if her odd mixture does not work, I will keep her company whilst Geelslang or someone else blows the dump by conventional methods.

Extract from the twenty-fifth GMJ Book, Code Name Mel’s Choice

“Yeah, Foxtrot, I believe we should have more drogue chutes. We cannot fly high enough to reach deep enough inside the target country even with oxygen, the glide range is too limited, what is it, about 50 miles at the very most? I like your idea of GPADS but it will not work, no, we will need to penetrate the airspace and we will. Make peace, it will be fun.”

“Okay, translated to decent Afrikaans, you propose to conduct extremely low velocity drops then? LAPES (Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System)?”

I made sure she noted I was staring at her fingers and head, in case they are crossed or tilted. I could not see her toes, sadly so, inside her light flying boots. If she noted and she did, she dismissed my stare with supreme aplomb.

“Yes, eh, that is if I cannot land and take off again. We can land, offload, have a private conversation and take off again. You should not worry too much; it is a Third World country we are up against. Yes, they have good men and women in their ranks, we respect them, but they are limited to their old 1970s radars and equipment. If they had decent airborne radar, scanning down, I would have done it differently… Now see here, Foxtrot, stop frowning like that, you will scare the youngsters not used to your ways. I know if I go in low and fast, I will make it. I know their air defence plan, Duval gave it to me.”

When you plan your flight as a civilian pilot, always, you work out to get from where you take off to where you land in the most efficient way, that is avoiding high mountains or known the dangers, getting as high as needs be to be safe and within the flight envelope of your model of aircraft. When flying combat missions and this was the same for all intents and purposes, against a hostile nation, you plan your flight path to avoid radar coverage, known anti-aircraft batteries be it missiles or guns and whatever else can harm you. You do that by going low and fast and in the darkness of night. Pilots call this NOE or Nap-of-the-earth flying. In World War Two, before fancy names arrived for what spirited pilots always did, it was known as “hedgehopping” and before that, “barnstorming.” It is also described as “skylining” since you keep below geographical features like mountains and even trees to use them to block you from the radar stations. As you may gather, with a helicopter this is much easier than with a fast flying lumbering heavy cargo aircraft. Helicopter attack pilots do such flying for fun if not survival, every day. Transport pilots normally do not, they fly extremely boring commercial patterns because the health and safety bastards got to them in a big way, in war, this may very well kill them but such is liberal thinking, not overly bright. Since Duval gave her the Zimbabwe air defence plan, she worked out the best routes and that worried me also, how did she know the drop zones and why that long in advance, they should have been given a few hours before take-off, not a week before or more. I was seriously concerned on operational security and with much reason as it turned out. There were indeed shenanigans ongoing which no normal person could figure out.

“What ails you now?” Geelslang asked of me. “You look like a man that has seen a ghost and the ghost reminded him of himself.”

We stood watching the aircraft being refuelled by Mike Delta Three Eight, I also noted Sniper and his men a discreet distance away, not doing anything but watching over Angelique Dawson. They were not overtly armed, only having pistols with them, but that was enough for the threat faced at that place. No one knew we were going there except the parachute bringers, the chances of an assassin waiting would be non-existent but she did have an open TWEP (terminate with extreme prejudice, i.e. assassination, an MI6 term) order on her, any CIO officer seeing her, may take the shot. And so will we, if we see him first, he will die.

“I don’t like the idea of us flying into Zimbabwe. Yes, we will get away with it a few times, I am sure, but then the operation will leak, they will make their moves, lay a trap. This is not a good idea for a senior officer like her to begin with, it can be done by junior pilots. This is stupid.”

“But since it won’t be flown by junior pilots, but me, you better make peace.” Angelique interrupted brusquely and walked off to sign for the fuel, leaving me alone with Geelslang, still shaking my head.

She was staring at her mobile screen, shaking her head slightly. I noticed.

“We are heading into a trap, Geelslang. Don’t ask me how I know, I just do. Make sure you have all the kit you need to be on the run, I will check hers also, myself. I will speak to Terminator and Lentliziyo myself, privately.” I cautioned, holding his eyes, I saw the same concern in them, we go back many years, we know each other and more to the point, we knew the “Bitch of SASS.”

“I have to agree, there is something wrong with her. She is flying erratically, not by much but I can feel it, very much unlike her normal smooth self, hell, Foxtrot, she is the smoothest pilot I know, a natural. Make sure you speak to Mike Delta Three Eight as well, she used very peculiar wording when she denied him permission to enter the place to meet us halfway, that was a message if ever. And remember, Foxtrot, we established dumps all over that part of Mozambique, next to the Zimbabwe border, dumps you and I know how to find and disarm. Trap or not, it is going to happen, the flights. If we have to be on the run, and I pray not, we will make it out alive as we did before against worse opposition. Of course, we are older now, wiser.”

We did that, like the Israelis did when they had to leave conquered territory, we left ammunition, water, food and medicines behind, stashed away for shot down pilots or others in need. We also booby trapped the caches. I never thought I would use them again, although we did as Egg Breakers, oddly enough, through the years (Code Name Phoenix, Code Name Odette, Code Name Cadillac). What Geelslang was saying was that he reckoned the odds were in our favour if we could survive the initial crash and that is in God’s hands, really, you just don’t know but if at all able to move, we would make it. So I believed.

“I will programme her GPS with the coordinates for the caches. I also have a feeling we are missing something here but as you say, we have no choice, we are not called Mel, are we?”

“No, we never had a choice. Not since she barged into our lives in 1998, that is for me since I am linked to you, we are brothers. You never had a choice since you saw her first in 1991, her picture, you knew as I knew when I saw Thandiwe watching ‘Days of our Lives.’ He laughed suddenly, “Yes, do you recall you almost shooting me when I stopped so swiftly?”

“I do! It was very odd behaviour from you. You stopped so suddenly that I slammed into you. Mind, I don’t think the bullets would have penetrated through your body armour, I had hollow points loaded, nice bullets to shoot liberals with, mind, their brains are in their arses. Which reminds me, make sure that we take silenced weapons with on the flights. I have my Heckler & Koch MP7, it has a silencer (sound suppressor) fitted as standard. You take your Vintorez or M21, I wonder what she would want? Grey option?”

Extract from the twenty-sixth GMJ Book, Code Name Halloween 38

“Okay, I have her in sight, well, it is the only boat around us. I will line the lads up for the jump!” I said into the microphone to Angelique. As crew chief I had the extra flight helmet on, plugged into the intercom system. “Stay at 8 to 12 feet if you please, moving slowly forward and I will dispatch the, no crocodiles around as far as I can see.”

“Yeah, belay that, Foxtrot, I am landing next to the boat, they can then come closer and take the passengers off!”

“Landing where? You cannot land on that stupid boat and there is no land in sight?” We kept sinking down closer to the water. “Pull up! Pull up! Pull up!” I shouted frantically as I realised we were going down and into the water, my worst nightmare. “There is water under you, Mrs Dawson, the entire Lake Malawi, by God! Pull up!”

“Kindly stop shouting, Foxtrot. I am busy here, give me the height, Lucy, forty feet?” She retorted. “And don’t use God’s name in vain, Foxtrot, that is why you are always bringing bad luck on airframes! I am landing.”

“Christopher! Get your lads ready, we are going down into the water! Pull up! Mr Dawson, what is wrong with you? Pull up!”

I climbed over the jump seat and stuck my head around the bulkhead, at the same time removing the rescue dinghy from the sidewall and throwing it to Christopher, they were jumping up in alarm. Yet the engines sounded like always, not misbehaving or anything but we were dropping down. I began to think about that ground effect phenomena they spoke about. It was pulling us down, she had to gun the three engines into full emergency power and get us out, even moving forward to gain lift at great speed. That was not happening, we were dropping even closer to the water. She looked at me, serenely, not the least excited.

“Shut up, Foxtrot, I am landing in the water, calm down!”

“Good Lord, can you not fly anything without crashing? By God, how do you land in the water with a heavy helicopter! We will flip over and go down and drown unless we can escape…. Pull up! Lucy, pull up that cyclic thing!” I shouted desperately we were now getting rather close to the water. “And you, unstrap yourself and open your escape hatch!”

I could even see some small waves forming from the rotor wash, the spray whitening out the windscreens a second later, she reached out to switch the wiper blades on, not that it helped much, whiteout! That too! How much worse can this get? I wished Geelslang was here as co-pilot, he would have reacted already.

“On no account, I am not touching anything.” Lucy spoke calmly, shaking her head. “My hands are the most powerful part of my body except my brain. Do you know, Major Foxtrot, with my hands I can feel, touch, work, make food, caress, hit someone, pull the trigger, design, create and defend myself. But I am not touching any of these controls without orders, 25 feet, Madame.”

“Lucy, just pull that damn lever thing for us, all the way up! We are crashing!” I bellowed.

“The collective you mean…, not the cyclic. We will not sink, Foxtrot, the airframe is a boat also, she can land on the water. Remember the pontoons at the back, the boat like nose? Now behave, you are very red in the face, did you take your garlic pills this morning?” I suddenly recalled Lentliziyo’s words as we inspected the helicopter in Beira. “No Sah, but we often fly with helicopters that do have skis instead of wheels. None had these pontoon things though.” In the meantime, Angelique went on, not amused. “And don’t think I will forget your latest insult on my flying abilities, crashing, like hell I am crashing, I am landing in the water, a difficult feat! Yes, she can float like a boat, many helicopters can, the Mil Mi-14 Haze for instance. How else must we fish? Lucy is a champion fisherman, eh, fisherwoman, not a helicopter pilot, leave her alone. I thought you knew we would land on the water. Did I not tell you? Eh, perhaps not but anyway, get lost.”

Yeah well, they can do that, the concept is called an amphibious helicopter. They have a waterproof or water-resistant hull like a flying boat and obviously large pontoons as I now recalled, belatedly (you don’t say? Angelique). Such helicopters are specialised in the sense that they can float on water, not for fishing, obviously, but for rescue work and they are designed to do so, it is not about deploying emergency floats. It is entirely odd that helicopters can fly in rough weather, more so than fixed wing aircraft and they can get to the calamity scene directly, all these factors save life. When you land in the water, you can load a lot more people more quickly than hoisting. But it is limited, no helicopter will survive large waves like some flying boats did frequently enough, she will turn turtle and sink, on calm seas, perhaps, on anything else you are taking a real risk. That is why the airframe is abandoned even if she lands intact and the rubber floats deploy automatically. The dinghies and rescue rafts are launched, you don’t want to be trapped inside a sinking helicopter, ever.

In history, the Sikorsky S-62 Seaguard was the first fully amphibious helicopter incorporating a flying boat hull, more than 1,100 were manufactured under various licenses. The last such helicopter, amphibious, was retired by the United States Coast Guard in 1994, the Sikorsky HH-3F Pelican. The Canadians called their landing technique “water bird” which seen in the light of “water boarding” may lead to confusion, I suppose. Probably the most famous water landing helicopters today is the Boeing CH-47 Chinook, you often see them landing and retrieving Special Forces, they are not fully amphibious though, they have somewhat increased buoyancy because of added sealed compartments along each side of the fuselage. Salt water, as you may imagine, is terrible for the aircraft’s life span, not at all a good thing.

In the meantime, Christopher and mates were not waiting, not being switched into the intercom, they too thought, very reasonably, that we were going down, all the way to the bottom 958 feet below the surface. I will tell you this, the episode shortened my life for more than a few years (don’t worry, I will feed you more garlic to make up for the lost years, Angelique). I was convinced we were crashing and so was everyone else in the cattle hold. Christopher had that dinghy deployed, it literally hissed into life as he pulled the lanyard within seconds of catching it and long before I finished hearing Angelique’s long overdue explanation. I have sympathy, I was frantic when I threw the raft at him and they, the British (there are other such units, Rhodesian up to 1980, Australian, New Zealand) Special Air Service, lost many men when a helicopter went down during the Falkland War. He and his mates were out of the cargo bay the moment we touched water, floating away, leaving me standing with my arms on my hips at the edge. The engines were being shut down and the rotor blades slowing down fast. We were undeniably drifting on the water and that must have been one hell of a sight, being 75 feet in length and 22 feet high, the strobes still on, flashing merrily.

“Eh, Christopher, she is amphibious you know, she can float, eh, like a boat you get, where are you lot going then?” I called over to him.

“By all what is flippen holy, Foxtrot, your wife is flippen insane! We are leaving, goodbye and good luck!” He replied, sort of, it was more colourful but I am sure you get the idea, his West Indian face white with shock. “And you tell her to flippen warn us next time too!” He shouted over his shoulder as they rowed away muttering to themselves, well, as I said, I have empathy.

“Foxtrot, where are our fishing rods?” Angelique now asked, she was crawling hands and knees over the jump seat towards me. “Oi, where is Christopher and the rest, I did not say abandon my helicopter? It is damn rude to leave without saying goodbye.”

End of Extracts – all GMJ Books are available online and in print

Code Name Anika

No GMJ Book is just written; the topic is carefully chosen to enlighten the reader to current dangers. In this book we take a hard look at the way secret agents combine with conventional forces, in this case self-propelled artillery, and cause mayhem. It is something which happens more often that what is believed, it is not always the cloak and dagger, it may well be heavy shells and rockets raining down. Angelique Dawson and her team are setting a trap for Zimbabwean forces chasing a South African Army Special Forces Team towards Mozambique. As is expected, she is up to other things also, not telling the narrator, her later husband and soul, Major Geoffrey Foxtrot. Code Name Anika follows closely on Code Name Halloween 38, GMJ 26. If you wish to read about Covert and Special Forces Operations in Sub Saharan Africa, the GMJ Books are the place to start. You will learn about covert operations, Special Forces techniques and military history not known outside the select few. Code Name Anika is the 27th book of the popular GMJ Series.

  • ISBN: 9781370000166
  • Author: George M James
  • Published: 2016-10-22 10:50:15
  • Words: 164051
Code Name Anika Code Name Anika