Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 15
A cold war was occurring in Clemenceau’s Information Center (CIC).
“Why are you saying that we can’t? The flight deck is 265 meters. The deck and catapult are capable of supporting a C-130.”
A vein bulged in the neck of Air Force Supreme Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Rubril.
“I said, no. Clemenceau’s full weight displacement is only 33,000 tons. It is not at a level of the Nimitz.”
“There’s no precedent of a C-130 landed on Clemenceau. Even if the catapult and deck haul *ss, something so fat won’t be able to get enough speed for take-off.”
“Look, Lieutenant, even the Yankees were capable of doing it. Don’t you think we French would be capable of doing what the Yankees did? Get the deck ready, now.”
The deck officer didn’t move an inch. First Lieutenant Petain wanted to kick Lieutenant Colonel Rubril to the floor for arguing about something of which he knew nothing.
Rubril was mad. That chicken head was him. He wanted to smash Rubril into the floor because he was arguing without thinking first. He expanded his patience as much as he could to maintain his composure as a lieutenant colonel.
“Look, I’m not asking you to contain the C-130 with a lift. I know the lift is too weak. I’m only asking you to do the take-off and landing.”
“No. If you must insist on using the Hercules, fire me before you do.”
First Lieutenant Petain grabbed the back of his neck to try to calm down about Rubril’s insisting on this plan without knowing the details of the takeoff and landing system. Their quarrel did not end easily.
Lieutenant Colonel Rubril was in a hurry. Moving troops overland complicated matters. He was going to land in military court if he didn’t move the soldiers as ordered.
The C-130 has a range of over 6,000 kilometers. Landing near Cameroon by ship made it possible to go round trip to N’Djamena or its base without refueling. He was simply thinking about Hercules’ range, not its weight, in his calculation. That was his mistake. He started to appease the deck officer. This was how the Deuxieme Rep began to break apart from the very beginning of its deployment
In the meeting room connected to the CIC battle intelligence room, regiment commander Colonel Philip of the Deuxieme Rep, Chief of Operations Lieutenant Colonel Louis, Lieutenant Commander Pieff Commander of the fourth regiment, Lieutenant Pedan of Operations and First Lieutenant Regiment Commander Armang were assembled.
“It seems like I can’t cheat out my age anymore.” Colonel Philip grunted as he looked at Colonel Louis.
The Operations Chief just smiled. The regiment commander was on his third complaint.
Colonel Philip, in his mid-50’s, tugged on his face, stiff from fatigue and stress, with both hands. He was fed up dealing with reports of operational meetings, briefings, tactical simulations, and mountains of documents for nearly a month. He felt as if he had aged ten years.
“Armang, how much longer?”
“There’s two hours before we reach the 10-kilometer point on the shores of Malabo.”
“Then let’s hurry up and finish this in time for lunch.”
Even the staff sitting around the table looked tired. Colonel Philip wanted to kick the damned conference table. He missed the kind of battle like the one in Algeria, 30 years ago, when he ran forward on the front lines with his Lee–Enfield, an English repeating rifle used during WWII, a favorite weapon among mercenaries.
This Chad operation was a scam. They weren’t asked to fight against the enemy or return with their surrendering flag. Their task was to relocate their regiment to the N’Djamena base and procure public peace. A passing dog would have laughed at seeing the Deuxieme Rep act as public security officers.
The problem was the order for the secret operation.
“Return to N’Djamena after saving the 11th member of the council of FROLINAT, council member Makumbo.”
This was the absurd order he received from the Air Brigade. Philip was irritated. Did they move the navy, too, just to save some fat old man?
Makumbo’s nickname was “mass slayer.” The regions Makumbo managed to get his hands on were left barren. He was no different from that bastard, Habib, who was called a “slaughterer.” He was put off thinking about having to protect someone who robbed, kidnapped, and killed citizens!
The order also said to enter enemy grounds deep where that bastard was and escort him back safely. It was from that moment that Colonel Philip started to express his displeasure.
FROLINAT was a warlord coalition with a focus on FAP. At present, FROLINAT was stronger than the Chad government. Makumbo was the sixth-ranked member in power of the 11-member committee that moved FROLINAT.
While Philip continued his grumbling, a piece of emergency intelligence from DGSE Overseas Operations came in. It was information that said that Makumbo was leading his subordinates down south and that the FAP was on his tail.
The meeting sped up. Lieutenant Officer Pedan spread out the large map used for briefing.
“Today’s meeting has two purposes. The first is to confirm the intelligence that Makumbo betrayed FROLINAT, and the second is to avoid being seen by FROLINAT, which is blocking the Sahel belt north of Chad. Tibestik, in the North, has become the living room of FROLINAT, and the northern part of the province Kanem has also fallen under their influence.”
“Pedan, who does the group that’s tracking Makumbo belong to?”
“It’s that slaughterer Habib’s forces.”
Philip’s face crumpled. Even within FROLINAT, Habib was known to be the cruelest person by far. Even his subordinates took after their master and acted similar to hyenas, shedding no blood or tears.
“It’s the main force of the FROLINAT. How annoying. What’s the source of the information that DGSE sent?”
“It is information that was given by a black skipper stationed deep inside the Northern Oasis city, Paya Largo. DGSE rates the credibility of the information at 80 percent. ”
The Legion Etranger has its own line of information, but once it entered the operation, it moved based on the information given by the DGSE.
“They’re not trying to fool us, are they? Like double-crossing us, or something.”
“According to the skipper on our side, there was an intense internal conflict between the Makumbo army and the Habib army. It does not appear to be fake information.”
Philip organized his thoughts. Currently, there were 11 FROLINAT warlords. Each member had his own army. DGSE estimated the total number of troops to be around 15,000.
Colonel Philip was skeptical of the plans made by the DGSE and the Brigade Operations Staff. The goal was to deploy as many platoon unit commandos as possible to disrupt the rebels’ main camp so that another team could extract Makumbo during that distraction.
The cities of central-northern Chad, Kanem, and Borkou had fallen under the influence of FROLINAT. It was too great a risk for a minority commando to go deep into the rebel forces’ main camp.
Even if the Deuxieme Rep was an elite airborne force, this plan was far from reality. The possibility was too great of the elite force being defeated in the large empty northern lands, even with four squads with 30 members each. The problem wasn’t the enemy but the inadequate environment of the northern African lands. The heat, cold, and disease were feared more than guerrillas.
“Why doesn’t the regiment push north with armored warfare at the front?”
At Philip’s bold statement, Pedan freaked out.
“Colonel, just the FAP alone, at Kanem in the northern Sahel, has 5000. On top of that, the Libyan airborne forces are guarding the entirety of northern Kanem and Borkou. If you give Libya a reason to interfere, both you and I, Commander, can forget about receiving our salaries.”
“Why are you so gullible? I was joking out of frustration.” Philip smirked.
Lieutenant Pedan wanted to smack the back of the Colonel’s head with the butt of his gun.
“If we can’t move a large military operation, then we should move a small group of elite snipers.”
Colonel Philip shook his head at this suggestion from the sniper company’s Lieutenant Commander Pief.
“You watched too many Hollywood movies. Deuxieme Rep might be strong, but this isn’t a Rambo movie. Whether it’s a small unit or a large unit, they’re going to meet in the Sahel.”
“But we can’t have you push through with tanks and aircraft, can we? That will be giving them a reason to go to war immediately. The entirety of Kanem, Borukou, and Tibesti is larger than France. Their current net is terrible and has holes everywhere. Squeezing through that gap and deploying some snipers would be possible.”
Pief did not back down. There was no Rambo, but there was something stronger called Black Mamba; the one who could get him promoted to major. Pief heated up the room, but Colonel Philip didn’t react. Pief was someone who would chew up his own finger to get a promotion.
“There’s intelligence about that damn Gaddafi supporting them with 2000 desert bikes. Those moles are mobile. Sahara’s lizard has become an ostrich. If anyone gets surrounded by them without cover, even our most elite members, won’t be able to escape. And they are not stupid. Most of the troops will be stationed on the border between Kanem and Borukou. Louis, what do you think their plan of action will be?”
The commander looked at Lieutenant Colonel Louis, Chief of Operations.
“They will scout in squadrons or regiments to cover the wide Sahel belt. They’ll do that while maintaining a reachable distance between each other. If we hide our bikes in our bases and use them as a group, we’re more likely to lose by their hit-and-run strategy.”
Philip’s expression crumpled. There was no good solution or some sharp method.
“Hm. You’re saying that if we move on a larger scale, Gaddafi or that northern bear would immediately start their intervention. It becomes troublesome if Gaddafi starts all-out warfare. This is driving me crazy. Where’s Makumbo right now?”
“According to the information given by DGSE, he is currently hiding somewhere in Baudelaire. He lost most of his guards and, in fear of getting caught by the FAP, is hiding his neck like a turtle.” Louis answered.
“Good, Makumbo’s betrayal looks certain. Seems like we don’t have to worry about getting double-crossed. His forces?”
“The two-platoon escorts are said to have been killed by the Habib army. The main body of the force moved separately and are numbering 670. They are currently moving down southwest of Lake Chad. We have now reached 200 kilometers north of Mao.”
“Has the AFP noticed yet?”
“There is no conflict yet, but Makumbo is isolated.”
“So they noticed. What is the status of the armed forces of Habib?
First Lieutenant Commander Armang confirmed the files on the table.
“They don’t seem to have any armored warfare, but they do have a dozen BTR152s. They’re armed with several Soviet heavy weapons, including antitank rockets.”
The BTR152 was an armored vehicle made by the Soviet Union in the 1950s. It was made without any know-how, according to the Soviet spirit of “Shut up and put on your gloves.” It could be called a poorly made armored vehicle.
The BTR152 can carry 15 armed infantry and run 60 kilometers in the desert. It had a maneuverability and troop transportability that could not be ignored in a desert battle. It had 13 millimeters of front armor and 8 millimeters of side gloves. The 7.62-millimeter heavy machine gun mounted on top was a nightmare for infantry in the desert terrain that lacked sufficient cover.
In short, it was a can that was equipped only with heavy machine guns, but it was a vehicle that couldn’t be ignored in the desert. This Soviet “can” was used by Chad and many other poor Africans because the Soviet Union supplied them for free.
“BTR! Then we would need an RPG. ”
“You don’t even need an RPG. Black Mamba has been given a depleted uranium bullet. Since the vehicle is weak defensively, it could probably be taken down with Black Mamba’s sniping skills. They are struggling to trample villages and replenish troops with the BTR. It’s the same with Makumbo. His troops are also raiding the villages to the south.
At Louis’ report, Philip took off his hat and slammed the table. Colonel Philip was a self-proclaimed gentleman. He hated African leaders more than camel poop.
“I have to bury my soldiers in the sand to save and escort a dirty bastard. Must I save him?”
Colonel Louis shrugged at the commander’s violent reaction.
An agent from DGSE was sitting at the end of the table listening; he raised his hand.
“Captain, Makumbo is the key to Chad’s stability. We can no longer delay operations.”
“Miguel, shut up. It’s we who have to use our hands and feet, and we who have to bleed. Why don’t you guys go in then if you think you’re better? I hate the DGSE that is asking us to save such a bastard as much as I hate that bastard.”
Colonel Philip screamed. He was a gentleman who had an allergic reaction to the DGSE. Philip was sorry for the ignorance and cruelty of African leaders and the hard life it made for its people. But the suffering of Chad and other African nations emerging in the 20th century was entirely the responsibility of the Western powers.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, European empires, including Britain and France, plundered Africa. They used Africa as feedstock. The colonies’ well-being was not taken into account. The colonies were both a source of materials and a consumer of finished products. In short, they were exploited.
The European powers made arbitrary borders on their lands. The existing tribes, land features, races, and religions were not considered at all. The borders were drawn to help the European businesses rule the locals.
After World War II, the emerging African independent nations from which the European powers departed became a mess of religious, ethnic, and national conflict. The nations caught up in civil wars of hate and bloodshed for religious and ethnic reasons were crushed.
But neither Philip nor anyone in Europe recognized the suffering of Africa because of their invasion and exploitation. In their predecessors’ eyes, Africa was just a black continent inhabited by inferior souls.