CARRIER 7: AFTERBURN By Keith Douglass

are naming it, incidentally, Operation John Paul Jones. Those of you up

on your Navy history will remember that after the American Revolution,

John Paul Jones accepted a commission as a rear admiral with the Russian

navy, under Catherine the Great. It was a difficult period in his life,

one during which he was forced to serve under the orders of a foreign

sovereign. It was also, I might add, a time when he was struggling

against adverse politics as much as he was against any maritime enemy.

“Now, here’s the gouge. Our initial orders call for MEU-25 to reembark

its Marine forces and join this battle group. Together, we will take up

a new position, designated Victor Station, one hundred miles south of

Sevastopol. Technically, we are still responsible for the Georgian

no-fly zone, but in practice we’re going to ignore it, at least until

additional forces join us. The Marines will remain aboard ship as a

mobile reserve until the UN decides where they may be best employed. One

possibility now being discussed is a Marine amphibious landing north of

Sevastopol. This landing would be aimed at securing the port facilities

at Sevastopol, the large airport inland at Simferopol, and,

incidentally, denying the Ukrainians a landing beach on the Crimea’s

west coast. The idea is that if the Ukrainians know we’re already

ashore, they’ll give up on their plans as a bad business.”

Tarrant looked down at his notes on the podium. “At this time, there are

still some details to be worked out with Boychenko and his people. A UN

diplomatic mission is on its way to handle the final negotiations. Until

those are completed, our role is mostly passive. We’re here to show

Boychenko–and the Ukrainians–that the UN has a carrier battle group in

its pocket to back up the surrender agreement when and if it is signed.”

He spread his hands and gave the room a wintry smile. “What happens

after that is anybody’s guess. When I know what our role is, I’ll let

you in on it. Questions?”

Hands went up. Tarrant acknowledged Captain Henry Dorset, the new CO of

the Aegis cruiser Shiloh. “Sir, how are the Ukrainians going to react to

this? I mean, if they really are claiming ownership of the Crimea,

aren’t they going to be pretty damned pissed at the UN stepping in like


Tarrant didn’t answer, but Sykes, standing to the side with his arms

folded, nodded. “It’ll certainly complicate the whole issue,” the

intelligence officer said. “The best guess we can make is that Kiev will

try putting political pressure on the UN as soon as the surrender goes

through. Exactly how they’ll frame it. .. well, that could go a lot of

different ways. They might try to press their claim directly, or they

might come forward with an offer of taking the lion’s share of the

peacekeeping burden themselves, possibly in the name of looking out for

Ukrainian nationals.”

“It all comes to the same thing in the end,” Tarrant added. “It’ll be

critical that the surrender and the transition to UN control both go

smoothly, because you can bet that if there’s any kind of

trouble–riots, or another neo-Soviet mutiny, or whatever–the Kiev

government will jump in with both feet. They could claim they’re moving

into the Crimea simply to stabilize the region or to protect Ukrainian


“Do you think the UN will go along with their demands?” Dorset pressed.

“That will depend on who the Special Envoy is, and what kind of

instructions he has from the Secretary General,” Tarrant replied. “I’d

say the odds are that the UN will want to keep the Crimea an

internationally controlled zone, at least over the short haul. They have

a vested interest in looking strong, well organized, and tough enough to

make this whole thing work. But that’s just my read on it.”

“A lot will depend on just how Ukraine applies pressure,” Sykes added.

“It may amount to nothing more than saber-rattling, or they could try

testing the UN’s resolve directly with an attack. None of us have

crystal balls good enough to make any really solid predictions right

now. Hell, Boychenko might not go through with the surrender after all,

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