Chapter 5

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Heed the eyes of yin and yang. For it is there that one can see who is fighting the body for control. The Tao, the Aether, is formless, yet tangible. Light and abyss banish each other over a struggle, never-ending. Life follows the rules. Learn them and learn all you can. That is the path to light.


October 2, 2007

Deployment date: 336

KUWAIT. A shipment of 22 brand new AH-64D, Longbow Apache attack helicopters arrived at the port in Kuwait this week. At $18 million each, this represented an expensive upgrade to the lethality present in the country. The timing could not have been better. There had been a shortage of attack helicopters with the restructuring of units in the Assyrian Quarantine and Interdiction Zone. Two additional companies of AH-64 pilots and a maintenance section had been deployed to Baghdad without their own aircraft. This was a means to bolster aviation forces and ensure there were enough crew to operate and repair them.

However, as the aircraft were transported off the ship, they immediately began showing problems. To the horror of those disembarking the 64's, the first one to be pulled off snapped off the rear wheel, sending the frame crashing onto the cargo ships deck. As the technicians began removing the protective wrapping, half of the aircraft showed an impregnation of corrosion. Army Staff Sergeant Michael Kent, the senior AH64 mechanic, said, "It looks like the airframes spent a year at the bottom of the ocean. It had only been 30 days since the aircraft were loaded on the ship. Virtually no rust should have been present." The first craft prepared for flight crashed on its first flight, sending both pilots to the hospital and likely ending their flight careers. One of the drive shafts had corroded under the paint, and it exploded under the tremendous force of the engines, sending the aircraft careering into the ground.

Army General George Lammons, the Lethality Procurement officer, under the newly renamed War Department, stated that "the US Army will no longer honor any relationships or contracts regarding the AH-64." General Lammons cited the incident as a "mindless antiwar stunt, sending over $400 million in rusted trash, at our own expense of shipping." The general vowed to wage "all-out war, if necessary," with the aircraft's contractor to recover the cost to National Defense spending.

Mr. Preckler, Gatekeeper of War, declared the contractor "has blood on its hand from this day forward of every brave US Armed Forces member who falls because the [now canceled] 227 Apaches will not be placed into service."

- AP News article

"The preliminary reports of the CH-47 shoot down are in, and it does not look, good gentlemen. They were not shot down with RPGs, as we originally anticipated. They were taken down with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles."

"How would they have gotten those weapons?" One of the squadron commanders on the teleconference screen asked."

"Right now, we believe it has to do with Iranian intervention. Perhaps something they gathered from Afghanistan." Major Crinelas responded.

"Are we certain that it was a stinger and not some other missile system?" Another voice asked.

"We have recovered fragments from the crash site, and they are unmistakably from Stingers."

"Have we looked at the possibility of friendly fire situations?"

"That is a hell of an accusation to make. The likelihood of two US helicopters being shot down back to back by someone mistaking a completely unmistakable airframe is low. Unless you have evidence to the contrary, colonel." General Callahan snapped.

"No, sir, simply thinking of all the angles. Our aviation assets are taking quite a hit lately."

"I understand colonel, but they are aware of the risks of flying in an active combat zone. They are no more immune from risks than our ground convoys are. The problem is when a helicopter is shot down, they are typically unescorted by attack assets. We were hoping to change that by shipping in more AH64's. That process has been slow and has delayed even further.  Once we have more certain information, I will let you all know."

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