Copyright© 2010 by Sagacious
"Pardon me sir."
'What the fuck?!' I jumped and spun around grabbing my M-16 from where it was leaning against the track. I saw in front of me a thin dark haired girl holding her shredded blouse closed. There was blood on her lip and her eye looked to be turning a horrible shade of blue and swelling shut. She jumped back a bit and I realized that I was pointing my rifle at her. It took me a moment to recognize that she had addressed me in English.
'What happened to the guard?' I wondered, then I heard Stretch moan from the other side of the TACJAM and realized that they were at it again. I was going to have to have another talk with Debra about the advisability of sex with your squad mate while on duty. Well, back to the situation at hand.
"Yes miss, how may I help you?"
"Moya Zovoot Katrinka ... pardon, my name is Katrinka and I would like something to eat if you have anything. My house and family are gone and I am very hungry."
"Oh, sure thing." I reached into the cargo pocket of my BDU's and pulled out the MRE I had intended to have for lunch. I could stand to do without a meal, and it didn't look like this child could. The MRE may not be the tastiest meal you can have, but it provided more calories and vitamins than normal food.
The girl caught the brown plastic package and then looked at me with a baffled expression. "Chto?"
"Oh, sorry, come on over here and I'll help you with it."
She looked at me with trepidation, so I dropped the rifle to point at the ground and waved her to follow me as I stepped to the open door of the TACJAM hut. We had just set up in this little opening in the forest and were not expecting a mission any time soon. Our last assignment had been anything but effective and after our previous site was destroyed we were temporarily out of contact with the platoon ops. My two squad members had reacted to almost dying by coupling like rabbits. I looked up near the top of the hut where a piece of rocket was sticking out of the metal of the hut. That had been a little too close. Stretch's second sense had saved us from destruction. She had hit the "scram" button almost 30 seconds before platoon ops called to tell us that we had been targeted. This gave us enough time to get away before the Katusha rockets had arrived at our site. Debra had saved us all, so I guess I could give her and Jimmy a little slack.
I reached inside the hut and grabbed the bayonet we kept there to deal with branches. When I turned around the girl was standing there looking very afraid. "Come on, I'll open it for you and show you how to have a meal. If my associates have finished there should be some hot water ready." That's what Jimmy was supposed to be doing as we set up camp; I hope he had gotten that done before Debra distracted him.
The girl timidly handed me back the package I had tossed her and I slit the top with the bayonet. I then led her around the other side of the hut to the Gama Goat where my compatriots were sitting on the tailgate.
"Mickey, who the hell is that?"
"Sergeant Stretch, I have asked you to call me Sergeant Hill when others are around. This young lady surprised me while my guards were otherwise engaged. Her name is Katrinka and she wants something to eat, but all I have is MRE's so she'll have to settle for that. Please help her heat up the meal so she can eat it and I will try to keep anyone else from sneaking up on us."
That's me, SSG Mickey Hill. I was an EW squad leader for the 3rd platoon, B Company, 520th Mi battalion. Sgt Debra Stretch was my senior squad member and jammer operator and SP4 Jimmy Fallon was our 98C analyst. Together we ran one of two TACJAM systems still operational. After 3 months of combat we were the only jamming assets still working for the division. One of the TLQ17's had been captured while attempting to set up in an area they had been told was safe, and the other team hadn't gotten out of their area before the missiles arrived on target. The Battalion had three Quickfix airborne units as well when we first deployed. The Quickfix units had had no appreciable effect on the battlefield before 2 of them were shot down and the operator of the third was arrested for pitching his transmitter overboard. The Huey was useful though in getting us supplies.
I checked out the perimeter of our site and pondered what to do next. It was obvious that the method of jamming we were trying to employ was not going to work. Just sending out power had very limited use, and would never work for long. We knew that the Soviets had intercept and radio direction finding equipment, hell years ago at Ft. Hood I had worked in one that had been captured by the Israelis. In some ways their equipment was inferior to ours, but it worked, and their operators all spoke nearly flawless English while most of ours could barely manage simple Russian. The biggest advantage we had, and one I was dying to exploit, was radio operational security. We had it, and the Soviets did not.
For us this meant that I had to keep on my person at all times two books, one with all of the call signs for our platoon use along with specific call signs to use when contacting higher authority, and the code book. Every day we changed call signs, randomly generated numbers and letters, and we changed to ones assigned to us by our platoon using the codebook. All operational orders were sent using the codebook. This was a cumbersome method of communicating which had been mostly sidestepped by the use of encryption capable radios. These radios were in limited supply, so we didn't have one. Luckily for us, the Soviets had even fewer.
The Soviets seemed to be blissfully unaware that we were listening in to everything they did on the radio. They had not changed call signs since the beginning of the month, and not all of them then. Even when they did change call signs, we could recognize the radio ops by their accents and speech patterns and just by their voices. There were only two females on the Russian radios and we knew way too much about them for their own good. The chatter was very revealing. Our cumbersome methods of sending messages kept radio traffic to a minimum, but the Soviets would talk all the time, there seemed to be no radio discipline at all. I had even listened to one of their tanks targeting an Abrams and I heard the "YOBE" and the first bit of the explosion as the M-1 shot first.
I wanted to interject planned bits of misinformation into the soviet radio nets. I had discovered long ago in Turkey that Stretch could mimic Russian radio ops. I, and the other operators, had trouble distinguishing between Debra and the Russian speaker we had just heard. I wanted to use this talent while it was still available to me.
I had made my way around the site and saw the girl sitting on the ground eating the crackers and peanut butter from the MRE.
"Hey Stretch, see if any of Jimmy's clean clothes will fit the girl, I'll reimburse him later." Jimmy was the closest of us to the girl's size. Stretch lived up to her name by being almost 6' tall and rapier thin, still attractive, but thin. I was over 6' and anything but thin. If the war had not come up I would probably have been kicked out of the Army because I could not keep my gut down. No amount of dieting and exercise reduced my waist by more that a few inches. Anything of mine that went onto the girl would resemble a tent.
"Sure thing Sarge, come on over and get something to eat; Jimmy can do guard for a bit."
That sounded like a good idea to me. I grabbed one of the packs floating in hot water and the rest of the meal and got into the goat to sit down and eat. We got the goat the second week we were here because our jeep blew the seals on its old ford engine. The goat had been intended as an ambulance but was much too slow for that function, so they gave it to us to use to follow our system around. For anyone not familiar with the Gama Goat, it is an articulated 6-wheeled truck. It had a 3-cylinder diesel engine for propulsion, and was dog slow. The litters came with the goat so there was room for all three of us to sleep in it when in garrison. Right now one litter provided a seat for me and the radio was set up at the front of the compartment. I would listen for our call sign as I ate.
I felt the vehicle shift but thought nothing of it, probably Debra sitting on the tailgate.
There was a touch on my arm, and I turned to see Katrinka unbuttoning Jimmy's cammo shirt.
"I pay for the food sir, please don't hurt me too much."
I immediately put my hand against hers to stop her from undoing any more buttons. "No, Nyet! You don't need to do that, I was happy to help, no payment necessary."
She looked at me, "You don't want me? I am too skinny or ugly?"
"Not at all, but I can see that you have had a bad time of it and I don't want to hurt you more. I don't know what is going to happen to you, but you are safe here with us for now."
Anything else I was going to say was interrupted by a HUMV entering our clearing.