CARRIER 7: AFTERBURN By Keith Douglass

Chief of Staff, said. “Ranger units to seize key airfields. The 101st to

grab Istanbul and its approaches. This thing is doable.”

Reed looked at the general with distaste, then turned to Admiral Scott.

“Surely you gentlemen aren’t seriously suggesting we declare war on

Turkey? The last I heard, they were on our side.”

“That seems to be debatable, Madam Secretary,” Scott told her, “at least

in view of their refusal so far to allow us overflight privileges or

access to our battle group. I believe an amphibious operation may be the

only way to secure the safe extraction of our people.”

“The worst aspect,” Admiral Magruder pointed out, “is the length of the

entire Dardanelles-Bosporus channel. It’s three hundred kilometers–make

that a hundred eighty miles–from the Aegean end of the Hellespont to

the Black Sea end of the Bosporus. Most of that is the Sea of Marmara,

in between the two, but we’d still have several hundred miles of

coastline to secure, a mammoth operation. And it’s not like we’d be

facing some third-rate, minor country, either. We’ve counted on Turkey

as NATO’s right flank for so long that we’ve equipped them pretty well.

Worse, we’ve trained their people pretty well. An op of this scope would

be no walkover.”

“You’re not suggesting that we give up, are you, Admiral?” Scott asked

sharply. Magruder heard in that tone a bit of desperation; Scott needed

support here and was afraid that Magruder was backing off.

“Certainly not. But there are other governments in the area that we

could approach. If we could convince Greece and Bulgaria to go along

with us on this, we might manage an air-mobile op against just the Black

Sea end of the Bosporus. We could land north of Istanbul just long

enough to clear the shipping channel.”

“We’d still have the problem of extracting our ships,” Scott said.

“But it would buy us time and open some new possibilities, I think.”

“There’s also,” Kirkpatrick said, “the option of striking directly at

the problem. Hit the Russians, threaten them with an expanded war

against a real enemy, not just Ukrainians or other Russians. Hit ’em and

hurt ’em until they yell uncle and let our people go.”

“Difficult, General,” Scott said, “without a nearby base of operations.

Or are you suggesting we invade Russia from eastern Europe or the


“Unacceptable!” Reed said sharply. “Remember, the whole point of this

exercise is to avoid becoming involved in a war over there. It would be

easier and cheaper to go ahead and let the Russians have our damned


“Gentlemen,” Waring said, shaking his head. “I have to weigh in and say

that I’m completely opposed to any operations against Turkey anywhere

along those straits. There’s historical precedent not to try something

like that, you know. Anybody here remember Gallipoli?”

“What’s that?” Reed asked him. “A city?”

“A battle, Madam Secretary,” Magruder said. “In World War I.”

“That,” Reed said with a lift of her chin, “was a bit before my time.”

Gallipoli had been one of the bloodier failures of the First World War,

an attack by Great Britain against Germany’s Ottoman Turk allies in

1915. Brainchild of the British First Lord of the Admiralty, one Winston

Churchill, the idea had been to land on the Gallipoli Peninsula at the

Aegean mouth of the Hellespont and seize the straits, isolating Istanbul

from the Asian portion of the Turkish-Ottoman Empire, knocking the Turks

out of the war, and opening a new line of supplies to the embattled

Russians. Simple in concept, the plan had been wrecked by hesitation and

slow-moving commanders. After seizing a beachhead with few casualties

against light opposition, the invasion force had failed to move inland

off the narrow thrust of the peninsula; the Turks had closed them off,

and there’d followed an extended battle by attrition.

Some 252,000 men had become casualties on the Allied side alone. Nearly

as many Turks had been killed or wounded as well, and the entire

operation had accomplished exactly nothing. The most skillfully handled

part of the entire campaign had been the British evacuation of the

beachhead at the end, early in 1916.

“Gallipoli failed,” Magruder said carefully, “because of a failure of

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145

Categories: Keith Douglass