SoCal’s war council was not going well. Augie Ybarra , SoCal’s lead military officer repeated Chad’s after action report and outlined the challenges of stopping the Cali offensive. “Cali effectively integrated drones, artillery, and multiple columns of movement. They have become a formidable opponent that we are not well prepared to meet. The only bright spot was that the leading edge of the offensive was only moving forty miles on a good day.”
“Why are they moving so slowly?” McDevitt asked.
“Our best guess is that their drones cannot fly very fast. We have not been able to capture one so our understanding of their capabilities is incomplete, but we do know that most of them are built like kites and have very low wing-loading. We believe that is key to their incredible ability to stay aloft all day long. Lucky for us it makes them impossible to fly in windy weather.” Ybarra said.
“What do they use for air coverage on windy days?” Patricia Rodriguez asked. Pat was the Head of Industry
“They stay in camp and don’t move. Like I said, they only move forty miles on a good day. If it is raining or blowing they hunker down and stay where they are.” Ybarra replied.
McDevitt asked, “What do we know about their camps?”
Ybarra consulted his notes. “Each camp holds about 35,000 people. Most of them are conscripts. The camps are roughly circular and about 1.5 km in diameter…call it a mile.”
“So they are packed in like sardines.” Patricia commented.
“Yes and no. It works out to about 500 square foot per person but you have to remember that much of the square footage is used for paths, latrines, parking for vehicles and the like.” Ybarra said.
“My brother did a couple of tours in the ‘stans and he said one of the hardest things to deal with was the lack of sleep. They always had incoming through the night. Have we tried attacking any of these camps at night?” Patricia asked.
Ybarra sighed and shook his head. “We tried an offensive probe the very first night and we quickly found out that the drones have infrared capability. They wiped out our team.”
Patricia said, “I don’t mean to pick at a scab but we know more now than we did the very first night. My dad always picked windy days to go fishing because it kept the mosquitoes down. Have we tried probing them on a windy night?”
Ybarra cocked his left eyebrow as he considered the idea. “You know, I don’t think we tried that. Is there anything else you remember from your brother’s stories that might be useful?”
Patricia said, “Yah, maybe I do. I remember him saying Haseb rockets were the bane of his existence. I think he said they were 107mm…the number sticks in my memory because it is such an odd number. He said the insurgents launched them from improvised rails. They were not very accurate but they could be launched with a timer or remotely. Don’t know if that helps.”
Scroll ahead to the three minute mark.
McDevitt looked over at Ybarra. “Do we have any of these?”
“Yes, we pallets of them. We had been holding them back to keep the logistics issues manageable but I think they need to go to the front.
“Ok, people. We have a plan. Now it is time to execute.” And McDevitt broke up the meeting.
On the way out of the room Joseph Litzinger, the Head of the Health department caught up with Ybarra. “You know, those camps are ticking timebombs for diseases like cholera and typhoid, right?” he said to Ybarra.
“And your point is…” Ybarra asked.
“Are the people in the camp foraging?” Litzinger asked.
“As a matter of fact they are looting the surrounding area. My men have to go fully armed whenever they are scouting within five miles of the camps. Once again, I have a lot of work to do and you are taking my time.” Ybarra tried to shake him off.
Litzinger said, “We have had several outbreaks of a particularly virulent and nasty strain of cholera since Bona-Brown’s people started busting up the barrios. I would like to return the favor.”
“Isn’t that in violation of your Hippocratic Oath?” Ybarra asked.
“I am tired unto death of watching two, three and four year old children die. It would be a violation of my oath if I deliberately infected somebody but it isn’t if I warn a fellow professional about the risk. That professional might go to the UCLA medical center to assess the risk first-hand. I am not violating my oath if he decided to use it as a weapon.” Litzinger responded.
Ybarra nodded and then walked away. He had a lot on his plate.
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