Читать онлайн "Vortex" автора Бонд Ларри - RuLit - Страница 80

 
...
 
     



Выбрать главу
Загрузка...

It has substantial military and economic interests in the region. ” He glanced in Nicholson’s direction.

“It also has a top-notch intelligence service. They may even have data we’ve missed.”

The CIA director frowned slightly at that, but nodded his reluctant agreement.

Forrester held up a hand.

“Let’s hold off on that for a week or so, Ed.

Just until I’ve had a chance to get some feedback from the President.”

He scanned the table one last time.

“Anyone else?”

General Hickman cleared his throat and leaned forward.

“Let me get one thing straight, sir. Is our basic assumption now that things in South

Africa are going to get a lot worse than they presently are?”

” Yes. “

“Then I recommend we start moving out any U.S. citizens we can. Without delay. They could be a real liability for us if we have to take direct action against these bastards. “

The room fell silent. Direct action. Nobody wanted to ask exactly what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs meant by that. Forrester wondered if the

Pentagon had finished working up the contingency plans he’d asked for.

He made a mental note to check later-when there weren’t so many prying ears around.

Hurley frowned.

“I’m not sure how much more we can do to persuade our tourists and businessmen to stay out of South Africa. We’ve already issued a travel advisory for the whole region. Anything more, like an outright ban on travel or a forced evacuation, would require either congressional action or a presidential National Security Decision Directive. “

Forrester matched the shorter man’s frown. A travel ban made military sense, but it might also fan the flames of hysteria in the world’s financial markets. He turned to Hickman.

“Look, General, your point’s well taken. We certainly don’t want too many of our people getting caught in the cross fire over there. I’ll raise the issue with the President next time I see him. Fair enough?”

Hickman shrugged as though he hadn’t expected immediate agreement.

“All right. Does anyone else have anything to add?”

Silence.

“Fine.” Forrester flipped a small leather date book open and scanned it for a moment.

“We’ll meet again in a week unless events dictate a change in schedule. In the meantime, keep me posted on all significant developments. And let’s move ahead at full speed on those options packages. The President’ll expect us to have some concrete recommendations by then.”

He looked up at the cluster of grim, worried faces around the table. Time for a quick pep talk.

“Relax, people. I agree that what’s happening in southern Africa isn’t very reassuring.

But at least we have some idea of what’s coming for a change. “

He was wrong.

SEPTEMBER 17-ARMY HEADQUARTERS, AVENIDA SAMORA MACH EL MAPUTO,

MOZAMBIQUE

The old stone fortress left by the Portuguese-Mozambique’s former colonial masters-now housed the Army’s main headquarters. Sentries carrying AK-47s ceaselessly patrolled the fortress’s ramparts and bastions-looking strangely out of place on walls originally built to fend off muzzle-loading muskets and cannon.

Capt. Jorge de Sousa returned the crisp salutes of the guards and limped briskly into the fort’s shadowy interior. A small, square-faced man with a tired smile, he had fought the Portuguese, and now Renamo. Although only in his early thirties, he had been a soldier for fifteen years.

The summons to appear at headquarters had come as no surprise. His convalescence was nearly over, and experienced officers were badly needed with a war going on. But he’d expected an interview with the staff flunkies of Officer Command, the bureau responsible for assigning officers to active duty posts. Not a personal interview with General

Cuellar himself.

De Sousa was confused. His wounding in a failed ambush had been honorable, and he knew of no cause for a reprimand-or for any special praise. Like many combat veterans, the Mozambican captain was a fatalist, so he decided to wait and see what the general wanted. After all, he didn’t have long to wait.

Even in the Mozambican Army, which was small and poor, the chief of staff’s office was richly appointed, almost to the point of opulence. De

Sousa saw nothing wrong in such inequity. The general wielded almost absolute power over the Army, and such power was entitled to its rewards.

Cuellar wasn’t alone. Another man stood at ease near the

chief of staff’s beautifully polished teak desk-an item “liberated” from

Mozambique’s last colonial governor. Tall, with a swarthy complexion and a thick mustache, the man wore a civilian suit and tie. Nevertheless, his erect bearing marked him as a military man.

De Sousa saluted and Cuellar waved him in.

“Greetings, Jorge, I am glad to see that you are active again. You are recovered, then?”

“Completely, General.” De Sousa was lying, but it was the only answer he would give. His left leg hurt when it rained, and it rained a lot in

Mozambique.

Cuellar arched an eyebrow in polite disbelief. He mentioned toward the man standing by his desk.

“This is Colonel Jose6 Suarez of the Cuban

People’s Army.”

A Cuban, eh? Interesting. De Sousa stepped forward and shook hands with the colonel. He was genuinely glad to meet the Cuban officer. Castro’s long opposition to South Africa and Western imperialism made him something of a folk hero in lands where censorship suppressed unpleasant truths.

Suarez responded in kind. The two men had time to exchange compliments and a few pleasantries before Cuellar coughed lightly, cleared his throat, and came to the heart of the matter.

He motioned them into two leather-backed chairs placed squarely in front of his desk.

“Captain de Sousa, while you were in hospital, the Cuban government approached us with a proposal that would dramatically alter our strategy against Renamo. ” He glanced sideways at Colonel Suarez.

“I

reveal no secrets when I say that this proposal has prompted considerable debate at the highest levels of our country’s leadership.

Suarez nodded once, a thin, meaningless smile fixed on his narrow face.

Cuellar folded his hands.

“Cuba’s recent victories in Namibia made us want to listen. And South Africa’s recent aggressions against us have compelled us to agree to President Castro’s proposal. “

De Sousa’s questioning look was all the prompting the general needed to continue. His voice grew deeper, more dramatic.

“Essentially, Captain, we are going to cooperate with the Cubans and their other socialist allies in launching an attack against South Africa. We shall advance into their territory, capture their capital, and knock

Vorster and his racist cronies from their thrones.”

Stunned, de Sousa sat up sharply, ignoring the pain in his leg. The

Mozambican Army was in a pitiful state, only able to mount occasional raids against Renamo strongholds. The idea of invading South Africa with such a ragtag force was so outlandish that Cuellar might as well have talked of invading Russia or North America.

Colonel Suarez saw his dismay and hastened to reassure him.

“Cuban and other troops will be used to make the actual assault, Captain. Your men are needed too badly here, close to their homes. We understand this. But we do need your country’s cooperation for bases, intelligence, and security. In return, we offer the material and training cadres needed to upgrade your forces. In addition, President Castro has promised that

Mozambique will receive significant trade concessions from the new South

African government-once we have installed it in power.”

     

 

2011 - 2018