0146 Local - DEA-USN JTF Regional Command, Panama City
The overhead fan turned in lazy circles, making no sound. Cigarette smoke wafting up towards it was inevitably captured, mixed, and dispersed by the slow moving blades on the plain white device, creating a low lying level of cloud. It almost looked like a storm cloud thought Derek Spragg, which given the circumstances is appropriate.
Seated at a long table, its top finished in a lavish glossy black, Derek risked another look towards the head. Seated there was one of the most powerful men in Panama; Robert Briggs-Jordan, head of Plan Colombia, the US multi billion dollar effort to combat narcotics and left leaning sympathizers in Colombia. A word from 'The Prince' could end your career, or set you on the fast track to a directorship. It could also end lives. With US military backing and Colombian political support, Briggs-Jordan and "Department 402" could exercise extreme prejudice in COIN operations.
In the prince's hands currently was an Echelon intercept of a NYTimes article, who's contents described in precise detail both the DEA's covert operations, and a list of current operatives. He lowered the brief back to the table, looking around at everyone seated. Derek swallowed slightly as the prince's gaze passed over him.
"Twelve years," Briggs-Jordan said quietly, "Twelve years." He suddenly beat the table with a closed fist that sent ripples through every glass of water on it, the sharp crack punctuating his shouted words, "Twelve Fucking Years down the fucking drain!"
Derek was glad for the subdued lighting in the briefing room, as were, he guessed, most of the other people at the table. It wouldn't have done them any good if Briggs-Jordan could see their faces clearly right now, be able to single them out. Better to be part of a collective, then an individual on the recieving end of this storm.
"Jesus, who the fuck does this bitch think she is, and more importantly, who fucking talked to her?" A photo of the bitch in question, a journalist who freelanced for the NYT occasionally, came up on the projector. "We're fucked ladies and gentleman, thanks to that fucking cunt. Twelve years of covert work, carefully planned insertion operations, wire taps, bank monitoring, out the fucking window." The photo on the projection screen changed, showing a man face down on the street, blood pooling below his lifeless body. "This was taken less then three hours ago, in front of our Embassy in Bogota. He's one of our agents, listed I will note, in that fucking bitch's raping of our operation here. And you know what the worst fucking thing here is?" The prince's eyes were full of barely contained rage, and every participant in the meeting studiously avoided them, just as they avoided answering the clearly loaded question.
"It's that we're being played up as the bad guys in this story. We're the big bad Americans, interfering in local affairs. Never mind that their shithole of a country would be even worse off if it wasn't for us, never mind the fucking drug operation we have to deal with because the Colombians can't be fucking bothered. No, we're the bad guys because we put a few grease haired drug peddlers six feet under." Briggs Jordan took a deep breath before continuing in a more measured tone. "Alright, so there's nothing we can do, this story is getting out there, we've put in place our contingency plans to help as many of our operatives as possible, but we're fucked, and we need a new strategy. I'm fucking sick of those pricks in their villas living the high life on the backs of American suffering."
"Well sir, we could attempt rebuilding the networks, they were quite successful, and we've got a good knowledge of how the cartels operate."
"We could increase our remote surveillance program."
"The Colombian government has promised to increase its efforts if we can provide them with new equi-"
Another sharp crack echoed through the briefing room, anger visible on the Prince's face, "Jesus fucking christ, what the fuck is wrong with you fucking people, we just woke up with our proverbial panties around our fucking ankles in some back alley, and you just want to roll over, rely on the Colombians, and continue the ineffective bullshit that got us here in the first place."
No one said a word, although Derek placed his laptop on the table, waiting for Briggs-Jordan to continue. "No, we hit those cocksuckers. They want to skip the foreplay, fuck em, let's hit them so they don't fucking forget it. I want a kill team proposal on my desk in six hours. Let's go fuck those assholes."
Someone cleared their throat, before beginning hesitantly, "Are you sure that's a prudent course sir, given the current exposure level of our operation?"
Derek quickly stepped in, "Actually sir, I have an idea that we might want to consider."
Brigss-Jordan looked down the table, "Who the fuck are you?"
"Derek Spragg, Unorthodox Warfare Analyst sir." Pressing on quickly, Derek continued while bringing up a powerpoint presentation for the projection system, "Sir, we are under scrutiny for our current operations, that is true, but I think we can work around that." A photo of an SA-15 appeared on the screen, "We know that the cartels have been investing in high level military equipment, and buying their own personal armies and air forces composed of less then reputable military contractors, or corrupt military divisions." The slide changed, showing a shot down FA-18E, "Even our own military strength is at risk from some of these formations, but we've never operated in an overt fashion, due to the mandate of conducting 'assistance and interdiction' missions only." The slide switched again, now showing the cover of a magazine, a tired looking, but smiling pilot standing in front of a jet with what appeared to be an eagle on it, "Why don't we do the same thing? Hire a mercenary army."
The room was suddenly punctuated by the buzz of hushed whispers as Derek let the proposal hang in the air. Robert Briggs turned from the projection to look at Derek, "Let me get this straight, you want us, representing the United States of America, to pay a bunch of cutthroats and playboys to fight a proxy war over a foreign country."
Derek fought against the inpulse to flinch under the Prince's gaze, "Yes sir, in a nutshell. You want to hit the cartels, let's do it. Mercenaries are more then willing to engage in this sort of operation, and we can pay them through shells and proxies, which limits our own exposure. We can, if we play our cards right, make it seem like a feud between the major cartels."
Robert-Briggs steepled his fingers, as photos of projection figures and cost tables flicked in succession on the screen. Finally leaning forward, he gave his answer, "Derek, right?"
Derek nodded quickly.
"I'm going to grant you this operation, codenamed "Urgent Sword" on Tessle-Blue authority. There are three conditions to this though." He held up a finger, "One, you pull it off exactly as planned, I want the public to be demanding we step in to stop the drug lords fighting in Colombia, not them wanting to crucify us. Two, I want those Cartels broken and bleeding, and their testicles nailed to my office door." He held up a third finger, "And three, I want the bitch who leaked this dead."
Derek nodded again, slower this time.
"Good, you're now in charge, as Director of Colombian Mercenary operations, don't fuck this up David, or I swear to fucking god, you won't be running anything but a hot dog stand in Somalia."
Echelon Intercept Bogota, Colombia - New York Times correspondent Rachael Mendillez was found dead in her home yesterday evening, the victim of an apparent burglary. Police are still looking for leads in yet another case of the violent crime epidemic sweeping through the capital city...