Something reminded me of this story yesterday, so I thought I'd share it with Team STORMBRINGER - S.L.
This was back in the 90's; I was running a battalion S-2 shop in 3d Special Forces Group at Bragg. This sounds like real cloak and dagger stuff - "oooh, intelligence!" - but really it was mostly handling and storing classified material and providing intelligence support to the teams, to include briefings and after-action de-briefings. This is a two-way street in Special Forces because unlike most other intelligence operations, Special Forces teams are collectors AND operators.
My administrative duties included handling the team operator's official passports and making sure that visa requirements were met for OUR advisory missions, mostly to Africa. One day one of the team sergeants dropped by the office; his team was going to a central African nation (which shall remain unnamed as details herein may still include aspects of operational plans). His team's mission requirements included not only visas for their destination, but also visas for one of the neighboring countries.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because our bug-out plan is a bridge across the Niger River, into the next country over. If things go south, our way out is that bridge. No visa, you're not getting across that bridge."
"OK," I told the team sergeant, "we'll get you the visas, no problem."
But because I'm an operator and a planner as well as an intell geek, I wanted to see for myself if there was any other way across that river. An exercise in planning, if nothing else; I saw the bridge as a chokepoint, and I was interested to see if there was an alternate way across the river. So we sat down behind the big computer monitor - cathode ray tube; this was the nineties, right? - and switched over to the classified "red" net. This was before Google Earth and overhead satellite imagery was still classified. We zipped over to the city in question, located the bridge, and zoomed in; click, click, click.
"Why can't you take a boat across? A dugout canoe or something?"
"Zoom in some more."
Click, click, click.
Click, click, click.
"Hmmm . . . what are all those black dots in the water?" It looked like somebody had tossed a bunch of raisins out there.
Not everybody knows that hippos are responsible for more human deaths per year than all of the big game animals put together; to include sharks. The beasts are huge, they have no natural predators, and they are formidible on dry land OR in the water; you're not going to take one of these leviathans out with anything less than a fifty cal. Hippos are not on any endangered species list; there's no shortage of the things, and this place is the hippo breeding grounds for half the continent.
"I think I get it now . . . "
Imagine the scenario: it's getting medieval in the capital city . . . the natives are dragging the European expats down to the city square and chopping them up into monkey meat . . . Jean-Pierre the ex-Legionnaire is under seige at his bar le Petit Paris - he's holding them off with a couple of AK's and a stack of magazines; saving the last round in his Browning Hi-Power for himself . . . columns of smoke rising over the city as our heroes make their way toward the river . . . a river which happens to be full of horny hippos all pissed off because a bunch of white men are intruding upon their otherwise idyllic Ruebenesque orgy - the dugout canoe plan was simply not an option. The 5.56 rounds from their M-4s would simply bounce off . . .
"That's my story and I'm sticking to it." - STORMBRINGER SENDS
Today's Bird HERE