Insider threat the mogad.., p.7
Insider Threat: The Mogadishu Diaries 1992-1993, p.7E. Clay
“Dad, that’s great that you are a General, but Joey’s dad…is a Gunnery Sergeant.”
Everyone in the room had a genuine laugh, and not the scripted “laugh on queue” response required for General Officer jokes.
“I’m a very busy man these days but I wanted to acknowledge you for your contributions to the Force Protection mission. Operation Black Boots has been a tremendous success and it truly exceeded my expectations. I don’t know how you pulled it off, but it worked. Our patrols have seen almost a 50% reduction in harassment in the rural areas and almost a 75% decrease in hostile activity at the LDCs (Local Distribution Centers for relief supplies). The militias have displayed indecision and hesitation in challenging patrols escorted by The Black Boots. In fact, the militias have given them a moniker, which translates to Devils in Black Boots.”
General Jones then pointed to Major Haycock.
“I knew Mike was the right man for the job and I requested him by name. As members of the Sixth Counterintelligence Team, I know Somalia is not within your AOR (Area of Responsibility) and I appreciate the learning curve may have been steep. However, tomorrow immediately after the President’s visit I will be flying back to Washington to brief the Joint Chief of Staff on a myriad of issues relating to Operation Restore Hope. One thing I promise, the JCS will know who the Sixth counterintelligence Team is and what they bring to the fight. As I just mentioned, I have a tight schedule, but I would like to present the Team a Commander’s Coin as a token of my sincere appreciation. Mike, you have a fine team and I salute every one of you. SEMPER FIDELIS Marines,” the General bellowed.
General Jones then shook Major Haycock’s hand and marched toward the rear hatch where his aides were posted.
“Aten…HUT!” Pritchard commanded as everyone stood.
“Carry on, Marines!” The General said as he marched out of the office spaces.
Marines of 15th MEU on Night Patrol “Black Boots”
Witch Doctors and Healers
26 February 1993
The General’s visit made an impression on me; it made me realize the significance of tactical counterintelligence support. Major Haycock remained at the front and had a few comments of his own.
“Well done. As a team, we have hit the mark and I would like to echo the General’s comments. We are the right team for this mission. We have done an excellent job of identifying threats that place our troops at risk, but there is more work to be done. Three hours ago, Whiskey Tango was compromised,” the Major said as he looked down in a brief pause before looking up again.
The Major had my full attention but he used terms and acronyms that I didn’t understand.
“What’s Whiskey Tango?” I asked Lieutenant Stein.
Lieutenant Stein leaned over discreetly and whispered, “Whiskey Tango is a safe house just outside the city limits.”
Major Haycock continued to voice his security concerns to sensitize team members.
“The snatch operation we supported at dawn was the epitome of precision. Controlled chaos at its finest. The downside was, we snatched Osman’s double. This leads me to believe that Osman had inside information. These incidents validate the General’s concern for the potential of a collaborator within our ranks. Gentlemen, I have two words for you. Find him, or her.”
Major Haycock then whispered something to Pritchard handing him a brown folder just before retreating to his backroom office.
I had many questions but the one question I had to ask was…
What was Operation Black Boots?
After everyone vacated the conference area and returned to duty, I asked Lieutenant Stein to explain to me the concept of Operation Black Boots.
“Operation Black Boots was conceived during the operational planning phase of Restore Hope back in Tampa. Major Haycock was instrumental in selling it to the Pentagon, but it was Dr. Louis Johnson who originated the idea. You know who Dr. Johnson is, don’t you?”
“No. Never heard of him,” I replied.
“Wow. Dr. Johnson is an intel genius. He convinced Major Haycock to take it onboard and run with it.”
Lieutenant Stein continued to explain.
“Operation Black Boots was designed to instill fear in the hearts and minds of the militias and warlords. Because of the success of the Operation, militias were much more reluctant to challenge patrols escorted by Marines wearing black boots.”
I was somewhat confused because we were all issued tan desert boots prior to the deployment. Only recently did I see Marines wearing black boots.
“Okay, I still do not understand.”
“It’s simple. The militias believe if they kill a Marine wearing Black Boots, then disease and famine will fall upon their descendants. The challenge was getting them to buy into the idea.”
In my attempt to use critical analysis, which was limited to knowledge gained from reruns of Barnaby Jones and TJ Hooker, I proposed a theory for how counterintelligence got the buy-in.
“So, did they drop pamphlets from the sky from a military plane?”
“No. About two months before we landed in Mogadishu, we sent an advance sub-team to develop a source network. A source network that could get the word out effectively.”
“Oh. I got it. Like politicians and journalists.” Lieutenant Stein shook his head as I was speaking. “Try witch doctors and healers. We paid them handsomely to prophesize of a darkness that would inhabit the city. The messengers of this evil spirit would be identified by their black footwear. When the Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) arrived last month wearing black boots, the militias immediately recognized them as the messengers of death and famine. The buy-in was sold, lock, stock and barrel.”
Things started to make sense and it almost seemed too simplistic, but apparently, the impact was huge.
“So the MAU was in on it from the very beginning.”
“No. Operations Black Boots is a Special Access Program. Not many people outside this room are aware of Operation Black Boots. Due to budget shortfalls, the MAU was not issued desert boots so they had to wear their everyday black boots. The MAU Commander personally made a trip to Tampa to lodge a formal complaint over the funding issue. Dr. Johnson became aware of the issue and the rest is history.”
Lieutenant Stein then excused himself and Pritchard was walking toward me with a brown folder under his left arm. I stood and grabbed my bush cover.
“Gunnery Sergeant Thompson, the Team Commander asked me to give this to you,” Pritchard said as he handed me a brown folder.
Inside the folder were two sets of paperwork. The papers on top were templates for future counterintelligence information reports. The stapled package at the bottom was a counterintelligence application package.
I was surprised and very pleased to be considered for a career in Counterintelligence. I had been thinking about a career move for years. It was also nice to finally have my clearance work in my favor. I just needed to find out what was required to meet the criteria.
“Master Guns. This is an excellent opportunity for me. What do I have to do?”
“Well. First, we would like you to write a condensed version of your autobiography in the third person. Secondly, fill out the application. And lastly, you will have to sit for a counterintelligence interview. A screening board.”
“So what do I need to study to prepare myself for the board?”
“It’s not like any board you ever sat for. We just want to know what kind of person you are. At times the interview may seem invasive but we all go through it.”
The thought of sitting in front of a board without any preparation did not sit well with me. I always took pride in board preparation and it was exhaustive preparation that gave me confidence.
“Master Guns. There must be something I can do to prepare.”
“Yes, there is. Know the Marine Corps Order for Counterintelligence, 3850, and know the Sixth Counterintelligence Team motto.”
“Tomorrow. Tomorrow at 1100 hours.”
“Okay. I will be there. Just one last question, what’s the Team motto?”
“Detect, Deny and Deceive.”
Pritchard then escorted me out the office spaces and I kept silently repeating to myself those two items of information I needed to know.
Marine Corps Order 3850 and Detect, Deny and Deceive.
No Need to Know
26 February 1993
On the way the Operations Center, I saw Eric accompanying Lance Corporal Sullivan to his tent. Eric and Sullivan deployed together from the same unit in Cali. Strangely, I detected something was wrong by the look of concern on Eric’s face. Sullivan looked as white as a sheet, as if he had seen a ghost. I had to find out what was going on.
“Eric. What’s the matter with Sullivan?” I asked as I approached them in front of the tent.
“Bad news. Red Cross relayed a message about Sullivan’s wife being in a car crash last night. She’s on life support and things don’t look good. I asked Major Lewis to sign off on Emergency Leave papers and he wanted to know specific details before he would sign the papers. What is his deal? I went straight to the Chaplain and got it approved. Major Lewis can kiss my White ass,” Eric said angrily.
“Damn. Is there anything I can do to help?” I asked.
“Don’t think so. There is a plane leaving for the States in about two hours; gotta get him on that bird.”
I looked at Sullivan and he was shell-shocked. I offered my condolences.
“Alright then. Hey Sullivan, I’m praying for you, man.”
Sullivan didn’t even acknowledge me, he was almost catatonic, completely unresponsive.
“Hey Eric. Check you later tonight. Maybe some cards or something?” I said as they both continued by me.
“Not tonight. I’m hitching a ride to the University to see the little lady. Catch me on the rebound,” Eric said as he and Sullivan hurried into the tent.
Right then and there, I experienced a tinge of selfishness. As quickly as my morale improved at the thought of having my best friend in Mogadishu with me, it began to drop off because we were not hanging out. I wasn’t jealous of Tootie, but I was disappointed that our friendship took a back seat to a girl. Eric had was always been balanced in that respect, until he met Tootie. I sighed and tried to shrug it off but, it bothered me.
As I continued on to the Operations Center, I became aware of rustling papers in my cargo pocket. I couldn’t remember what I stuffed inside my pocket so I decided to retrieve them and place it in the brown folder with my blank reports and application package.
They were the divorce papers I was supposed to hand to Sullivan. I had completely forgotten about them with everything going on. There was no way on this earth I would pile that on him. No way. If she were to die, I wanted to preserve his memory of her. He didn’t need to know.
I had only been in the Operations Center five minutes before I heard Major Lewis called my name from his office. His voice irritated me and I rolled my eyes every single time he opened his mouth.
“Gunnery Sergeant Thompson. Gunnery Sergeant Thompson are you out there?”
“Yes, sir,” I said standing in the doorway.
“You better tell Gunny Sherman to watch it. I will have his ass if he smarts off like that again. I heard he jumped the chain of command and got the leave papers signed.”
“I don’t know. Couldn’t tell you, sir.”
“Did you give Sullivan the legal document like I told you to?”
“Sir. Sullivan’s wife is in a hospital, on life support. I think he has more pressing issues to deal with at the moment,” I complained.
I didn’t think what I just said was disrespectful. But Major Lewis’ head almost exploded and he couldn’t wait to come from behind his desk and jump down my throat boot camp style.
“What did you just say? Let me remind you, you are addressing a Major in the United States Marines! If I want an opinion from you, I will read it in your entrails. Where is Lance Corporal Sullivan now?” Lewis demanded.
“He is on his way to the airfield. He flies out in about an hour.”
“Find him. And make sure he gets the papers. That is an order. Do you copy?” Major Lewis said staring me straight in my eye.
His breath stank. Like an ashtray. I needed to get away from this idiot quickly. He was on my last nerve and I think he was happy to be there.
“I copy,” I said, letting him win the stare down contest. I walked out of his office cracking my knuckles.
My internal frustration was building and I needed to watch myself he was in my head.
I was given a direct order to deliver divorce papers to a Marine whose wife was dying. I had to make a decision.
In the words of the infamous Major Lewis himself:
“The Marine Corps pays me a lot of money to make tough decisions. This is an easy one.”
Would I deliver the papers? Not a chance. I waited until the plane left and hitched a ride to the airfield, knowing that I would fail in my mission.
When I returned, the Major asked me if I had accomplished the mission. I told him the truth.
“I hit traffic on the way.”
I did not lie. I just neglected to mention it was light traffic.
I made a trip to the latrine and conveniently dropped the document into the 55-gallon waste drum below. I was confident no one would retrieve it. Sullivan’s wife never regained consciousness and died of massive head injuries. She died while he was in flight to the States.
When Death Knows Your Name
26 February 1993
It was seven pm and the night shift was reporting in for duty. I wasn’t very hungry so I skipped chow and decided to catch up on my journal entries. Since my arrival in Mogadishu, most of my entries were monopolized by my desire for Ayan, my contempt for Major Lewis and my respect and fondness for Dr. Gaye and Crocket.
As I signed off the day’s destruction report, a female Sergeant who I did not recognize tapped me on the shoulder.
“Excuse me, Gunny. I am looking for a Lance Corporal Jones. Do you know where she is?”
I paused for a second because the name did not ring a bell, but then I realized she was looking for Crocket.
“You mean Crocket. Yes, she works here. I think she’s on nights so she should be here soon. Is there something I can help you with, Sergeant?”
“I found her wallet in the Women’s latrine. She must have dropped it. Can you give this to her?” asked the Sergeant.
“No problem,” I responded as I accepted the camouflaged wallet.”
After ten minutes or so waiting for Crocket to report for duty, I asked troops in the office if she was expected anytime soon. I was informed that she was picking up mail from the airfield. No one knew exactly when she was due to return.
As I fiddled with her wallet in my hand, I became conflicted. I wanted to respect her privacy, but I wanted to pry more. I wanted to know who Jessica was or at least find out what she looked like. Maybe there was a picture of her in the wallet. Curiosity won me over. I opened the wallet, and there were several pictures inside. One particular woman was in almost every single picture. She was an older woman with short reddish-gray hair. There were also a couple of pictures of Crocket with children. The one picture that caught my attention the most was a photo of Crocket and the woman holding hands in front of a museum. They really looked happy. It really didn’t matter what Jessica looked like, I was just curious and nosy as hell. I buttoned the wallet up and handed it to the oncoming Watch Officer to make sure it was passed to Crocket.
I just finished writing in my journal and decided to return to work to bang out another counterintelligence report. I realized that I inadvertently omitted information in my initial report that may have been useful. I wanted to address the interpreter’
Howard mentioned that he worked extensively with the Italians in Baidoa and they invited him over for a late dinner. The Italians were co-located with us on the compound and they deployed with a chef to cook their meals. They had wine with their meals as well. No one turned down an invite from the Italians. Howard asked me if I wanted to tag along. Since I skipped chow, I was more than happy to partake.
On the way to the Italian side of the compound, I could smell the lasagna and parmesan cheese. Once we arrived in the chow tent, I almost resented having to make small talk because I just wanted to gorge myself as soon as I walked in. The feeding frenzy began and I think I embarrassed myself by the amount of helpings I had.
“No more for you. You greedy,” said the chef. Howard looked at me with a strange look on his face.
“I think you have an eating disorder, Gunny T.” Howard said as we shook hands with the Italians before we left.
I was so full, I could feel the pasta sloshing from left to right inside my belly.
“Yeah. Sorry about that. I don’t know what came over me. That was some good grub, I won’t have to eat for a couple of days now,” I responded as I unbuckled my belt and held my stomach like a pregnant woman.
As Howard and I walked toward our quarters, he expressed his appreciation for respecting his privacy and not blabbing his business.
I knew exactly what he was alluding to. Howard had an incredible story that no one would believe unless it was witnessed. As far as I knew I was the only one that had the whole story.
Howard was a survivor in four aircraft mishaps. Three mishaps were on land and one at sea. In two of those collisions, he was the only one that survived. I remember when his chopper fell from the nighttime sky just off the coast of Okinawa, Japan during a training exercise. The chopper’s engine failed after it took off from the ship and plunged into the darkness of the sea. Seventeen of the eighteen Marines on board the chopper still lie at the bottom of the ocean strapped inside. Howard was flushed out the back aft of the chopper, and he alone. He revealed the other mishaps to me from his hospital bed in Okinawa. As a result, Howard had a unique philosophy about death.
Insider Threat: The Mogadishu Diaries 1992-1993 by E. Clay / History & Fiction / Thrillers & Crime have rating 2.5 out of 5 / Based on35 votes