When the Rogue Warrior travels to India to help supervise security arrangements for the upcoming Commonwealth Games, he and his team find themselves up to their skivvies in terrorists of all types―Pakistanis. But it's not just the Games that are being targeted for disruption―Demo Dick and his young bucks uncover a plot to steal all seventy nuclear warheads the Indians have amassed for war against the Pakistanis.
The Rogue Warrior must overcome various obstacles to prevent disaster: a high-tech remote controlled attack helicopter that makes the Apache look like a child's toy, an ominous chemical factory about to go boom, and tea and crumpets with the Queen.
We're just kidding about the Queen.
Marcinko and DeFelice sprinkle the action with trademark Rogue Warrior humor and non-PC asides in the latest installment of the bestselling series. As usual, the plot mixes fact with fiction, and incorporates some of the original SEAL Team 6 skipper's recent experiences in India.
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RICHARD MARCINKO is a living, breathing hero―he was honored with the silver star and four bronze stars for valor, along with two Navy Commendation medals. After serving in Vietnam, he started and commanded SEAL Team 6, the Navy's anti-terrorist group, and Red Cell, a high-level anti-terrorist unit whose exploits, fictionalized for security and legal reasons, have formed the basis of his novels. Besides an active speaking and consulting calendar, Marcinko keeps his hand in the field as the president of a private international security company. He lives in Warrington, Virginia.
JIM DeFELICE is the author of many military based thriller novels and is a frequent collaborator with Stephen Coonts, Larry Bond, and Richard Marcinko, among other New York Times bestselling authors. His solo novels include Leopards Kill, Threat Level Black, Coyote Bird, War Breaker, and My Brother's Keeper. He lives in New York.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
( I )
If there’s one thing my sea daddies taught me, it’s that life is short. You gotta grab it by the balls while you still can, enjoy those little moments of pleasure.
You know the moments I mean. Whether you’re drop-kicking the butt of some tango who’s dreaming of paradise while fondling his suicide vest, or maybe reaming a new orifice for a C21 officer, you have to make the most of the opportunity. Savor it. Life just doesn’t contain that many moments of personal triumph.
But there are also moments when you have to relax and just let life flow by.
Like, for instance, when you’re hurtling over the countryside in an Mi-8TV/India helicopter so close to the ground that the crew chief’s spit can rebound off a rock and hit the pilot in the face.
Those tracers in the distance?
Nothing to worry about. They’re not even firing in your direction. Yet.
The surface-to-air missile battery looming to the right?
What’s the fuss? That’s designed to shoot down airplanes, not helicopters.
The fact that you’re flying over the disputed area of Kashmir, across one of the most volatile borders in the world?
Certainly a plus.
You don’t think?
Then maybe it’s a good thing you weren’t with us.
But truth be told, I couldn’t have been more relaxed if I was back at Rogue Manor, sipping a medicinal Sapphire prescribed by the good Dr. Bombay himself.
There were plenty of reasons to relax. For one thing, I had no direct role in the operation. On paper at least. I was just there to observe, a guest of the Indian government.
Of course, we weren’t in India at the time, but I’m never one to stand on technicalities. I was certainly ready to observe — watching the bullets fly out of my MP5 counts, right?
So why shouldn’t I relax and let the helo toss me around a bit?
* * *
This would normally be the part where I’d explain what the hell I was doing in Kashmir. But my editor likes it when I get right to the action, so we’ll save the explanation for a little later.
For now, let’s just say I wasn’t in Kashmir, or India for that matter, to knit sweaters.
* * *
The helo banked into a sharp turn to tuck around the mountain. Treetops scraped the undercarriage, tussling it a bit before letting go. Our Mi-8TV/India was a special demonstration version of the Russian Mi-8TV, which itself is a souped-up Mi-17 with guns, missiles, and assorted nasty shit designed to complicate the enemy’s day. You can think of it as Russia’s answer to the MH-60DAP, the armed Blackhawk hand-built to ferry spec op troops deep behind the bad guys’ lines (DAP = Deep Armed Penetrator, or some vulgar variation thereof).
The Indians had recently purchased several Mi-17s and were reviewing the Mi-8TV/India as part of their plans to upgrade their military. Helicopters have a problem flying at high altitude, which can be a problem in the Himalayas, since even when you’re low there you’re pretty high. Kashmir ain’t the Himalayas, but some of the valleys there clock in at five thousand feet, so it ain’t low either. I’m happy to say the Mi-8TV was doing fine. Better than my stomach, even.
I’d mentioned tracers.
These were actually not being fired at us, even though they were in the general vicinity. They were part of a training exercise being conducted by the Indian army close to the border of the disputed area it shares, or rather doesn’t share, with Pakistan. Kashmir-Jammu is claimed by both Pakistan and India, and occupied by both ... and China. Just to keep things interesting.
That’s right. China controls about twenty percent of the historical demarcation of the region claimed by India. That’s not quite as much as Pakistan, which I believe has between thirty-five and thirty-nine, but it’s more than enough to keep things interesting.
(And complicated. The State Department used to have some good backgrounders available to the public, but you won’t find them online anymore, at least not unless you have my intel and computer geek Shunt’s skills. If you care for a book, Victoria Schofield’s Kashmir in Conflict is among the better choices.)
Pakistan and India aren’t at war right now, but tensions are always high between the two countries. Both armies have been known to hold maneuvers on their respective sides of the line, partly to keep their troops sharp, partly to show the other side they’re not taking guff, and partly just because.
Tonight’s action was none of the above. The maneuvers, with live ammo, were being staged to draw the Pakistan army’s attention away from our little op. While all eyes were focused on the border area, we were dropping in on a little schoolyard roughly fifty miles behind the Pakistani lines.
Generally when you’re a passenger in a helicopter, you don’t measure distance in miles, or kilometers for that matter. You measure it in time and stomach acid.
It took us roughly fifteen minutes and two Maalox moments before we cleared the mountain and slid down into the valley that ran up toward our destination. It was a long fifteen minutes. Every one of the fifteen people aboard, including yours truly, felt their intestines steadily tighten with every minute that passed.
That exception was Shotgun, aka Paul “Shotgun” Fox, one of my young bucks who was shadowing me on the mission. Besides his mandatory Twinkies and a slightly crushed package of Drake’s cakes, Shotgun had brought along a huge bag of peanuts for the mission. He ate them the entire time we flew, cracking each with his fingers, pinching the nuts into his mouth, then tossing the shells on the floor. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a helicopter that smelled just-roasted before.
One that wasn’t on fire, I mean.
I have no idea how he managed to eat them. In my mind, you can’t eat peanuts without a cold beer to savor the flavor.
None of the Indians we were with complained. It wasn’t surprising. Shotgun stands maybe six-eight in his bare feet. He weighs three hundred pounds, give or take a side of roast beef or two. Which he’d had a particular hankering for ever since we came to India.
Not to give you the impression that the Indians we were with were small guys, much less that they were wimps. On the contrary. We were observing the inaugural mission of India’s Special Squadron Zero — the rough Indian equivalent of my old Red Cell outfit. And they were about to take action against a terrorist cell that was using Pakistan as a safe haven.
Our target had once been a small farm on the outskirts of a village I’ll call Heartburnville. I’m using a fake name because the village was not affiliated with the terrorists, and in fact was exploited by them. The tangos would go into town and take what they wanted from the stores without paying — not usual tango practice, I might note, and a real mistake in this case, since it stirred up feelings against them. At the time, I thought this had helped lead to our receiving the intelligence on their plans. That little ass-u-me assumption proved incorrect.
But I’m getting ahead of the story.
The helo took one last hard bank and pitched forward, pirouetting into a small field at the base of a hill. “Go! Go! Go!” yelled the team sergeant, urging the men out of the chopper.
The sergeant was Sanjin Phurem, a fortyish army noncom who’d served in Kashmir before being assigned somewhere in southern India. Like everyone else in Special Squadron Zero, he was a volunteer.
Shotgun and I followed the Indians out. There was just enough moonlight to see the rocks that littered the field. I moved to my left, looking for the unit’s commander, Captain Dyas Birla.
Birla was an Indian naval officer who had been part of Marcos — the Indian Marine Commando Force or MCF as it’s often called in India. You can think of MCF as a marine recon unit with SEAL aspirations. His skills were more administrative and political than actually combat-related, an unfortunate by-product of the Indian military system. Still, he did lead from the front, the number one characteristic you need in a special warfare officer.
“Good so far, yes, Commander Rick?” he asked as I ran up.
I’m not sure exactly why or when he had decided to give me the title — he must have skimmed my first book,2 stopping about midway, then put three and two together — but he meant it as a compliment, so I grunted. Things were looking decent, but we had a bit of a walk ahead of us — so as not to attract too much attention, the helo had dropped us a little more than three miles from the actual target. The chopper’s muffled engines would have been almost impossible for anyone there to hear.
“We will commence our operation at exactly 0300,” Captain Birla told his men as they set out. “We will observe strict radio silence until this point, unless there is the necessity of communication.”
That gave us two hours to walk exactly 3.2 miles, or 5.15 kilometers. Piece of cake.
Shotgun smirked at me.
“No communication until Murphy steps in,” he said.
“Murphy doesn’t use a radio,” I told him. “He’s everywhere.”
“Kind of like Santa Claus,” said Shotgun. “Or the Good Humor man. Want some peanuts?”
I shook my head and started walking. Shotgun’s reference set is a little different from most normal human beings.
Roughly an hour later, we arrived at the fence of a madrassa — or “a Muslim school, college, or university that is often part of a mosque” as Webster succinctly puts it in his...
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