Monday, March 30, 2020
Quest: Wish list
“I need better intelligence” Quinn said as he looked around the small room at his “staff”.
Quinn’s staff was 60% Livingston County “retreads” and 40% tried-and-proven fighters from Capiche.
“How much intelligence do you need?” Timmy Scopazzo asked. “Seems pretty simple to me. Pour the fire on the lead elements of the invasion as they pass through, then a rear-guard action harassing their resupply.”
Quinn stared balefully at Timmy. Timmy had not spent much time getting shot at.
“It would be nice to know” Quinn enunciated carefully “if the invaders have drones and can see our defensive positions.”
“It would be nice to know if the mortars they are reputed to have can fire NATO ammo and what kinds of ranges we will have to counter-battery from if we expect to survive.” Quinn said.
“It would be nice to know when-and-where they stage the initial attack from. I, for one, function better when I have a couple of hours to prepare.” Quinn said. His tone had grown icier with each sentence.
“We can go through the motions, lose a lot of people and not give Capiche much relief” Quinn said. “Or we can get our shit together, kneecap the bastards and not lose too many fighters.”
The Livingston County retreads had a wide range of expertise. They were in agreement that a two-pronged attack was likely and it was a near certainty that one of the prongs would be along the I-96 roadbed.
Furthermore, they concurred that bridging any of the destroyed bridge sites was almost trivial for combat engineers. They also noted that Ann Arbor was famous for a university that hosted one of the top four engineering schools in Michigan.
They also agreed that a classic, 1860s style infantry march, unaided by mechanized support was unlikely. Rather, the attack was more likely to be like Operation Barbarossa where NAZI Germany invaded the USSR, but with minimal air support.
After arguing for two hours and starting to replow ground that had already been covered twice, Dysen held up her hand and asked to speak for the first time.
“Let me read back what I recorded as the consensus: Up to five-thousand attackers. May be one or two prongs. If two prongs, the prongs may be simultaneous but more likely to be staggered by four hours to pull defenders out of position before the main attack. I-96 is almost sure to be attacked. The other attack is likely to be on one of the paved roads because the top of the roadbed is 40 feet wide” Dysen summarized.
The men nodded in agreement. Some of them had argued otherwise but it had been in the vein of being the devil’s advocate.
“The only other notable thing is that one of you said that we needed to be able to, and I quote ‘rain death on them while they are still east of the river, as the cross the river, as they move west through our territory and we need to threaten their logistics enough that they have to send armor with every convoy.’” Dysen said.
“I think we are to the point to where we need to make a wish-list. What do we need to rain death and counter-battery their mortars if they are NATO units?” Dysen said.
That was the start of the second skull session.
Janelle was looking at the shopping list that Quinn had submitted to Chernovsky.
“They are insane” Janelle complained.
“What is the problem?” Chernovsky asked.
“They want 2000 IEDs with shaped projectile heads. That is 10,000 pounds of high explosive! They want another thousand pounds of high explosive in 2 liter soda bottles.” Janelle said.
“And get this, they want the mortars upgraded from 600 yards to 6000 yards. They are hallucinating.” Janelle said.
“What is the issue?” Chernovsky asked. Frankly, he knew the issue but wanted to hear it come out of her mouth.
“The amount of explosives.” Janelle said. “They are asking for twenty times the amount of explosives we used in the last conflict, all to defend a five mile wide strip of land.”
“It might be only five miles wide, but it is almost fifteen miles long.” Chernovsky said. “That is twice the area of Capiche and they don’t know where they will be penetrated.”
“So you see the problem as Benicio being tapped out on the amount of explosives...nitrates.”
Then Chernovsky smiled a wry smile, “Like my hero said, ‘If I can’t find a reindeer, I will have to make one instead.”
That is how Janelle found herself talking to Dr Sam Wilder. “I need to know how to manufacture nitrates.” she concluded her plea.
“Making nitrates isn’t hard” Sam said. “They show up on the framework of compost piles and chicken coops all the time. Your problem is that you need to manufacture LOTS of nitrates.”
“That is it in a nutshell” Janelle said, glumly.
“Nitrates aren’t hard to make if you have ammonia and ammonia was one of the first chemicals that was synthetically synthesized. The catalysts are not exotic; either powdered nickel or iron...I will have to look it up. The only difficulty is that it is energy intensive.” Sam said.
“Solar?” Janelle asked.
“Too intermittent. Once you get the process rolling you can’t afford to stop. Besides, you need methane as a feed-stock.” Sam said.
“Methane, like the gas they flare at the landfill?” Janelle asked.
“Which landfill?” Sam asked, the germ of an idea starting to develop in her head.
“The one by the river. You can see it from the freeway when you drive to Grand Rapids.” Janelle said.