I try to stay informed. The Iranians took 15 Britons, sailors and marines, hostage in contested waters. It wasn’t the first time. In 2004, the Iranians seized 8 Brits, 6 marines and 2 sailors, for a total of 8, and held them four days, or half as many days as detainees. Assuming that math holds, at seven and a half days the new Brits would be released.
The British claim the ships were 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters, the Iranians claim the ships were about a quarter of a nautical mile inside theirs. To put that into a number Americans can make sense of, there’s 2.27 miles of distance between the disputed points. However, a true consensus is impossible, as there is no agreed upon border between Iraqi and Iranian waters outside of the Shatt al-Arab waterway. In all likelihood, Iran had made a clerical error and was either trying to save face or gain an advantage, maybe get back some of their, ahem, diplomats.
I was contacted on the 27th. Due to multiple factors, including discretion and service record, I was given a no-bid contract for a pre-flight destruction of the passenger plane carrying the fifteen back to England. The contract was for $1 million a head, $15 million in total. Naturally, I informed my benefactor that this would start a war, and he, amused, responded that my concern was only an issue if we wanted to avoid a war.
Of course, the cutely naïve among us quickly ask who would want such a thing, so I’ll humor you, if only for a moment. The Israelis would like to see an international force bear down upon Iran to stop its nuclear program. Elements within Iran would like to escalate the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan into a region-wide Islamic struggle that could ultimately oust Western influences. Conservative hardliners in America and the UK may still want to go after the Axis of Evil. Al-Qaeda, being a Sunni movement, would welcome the mutual destruction of Western forces and its Shiite opposites within Iran. The Military Industrial Complex, being a largely apolitical international body, loves war, in all its flavors and colors, because to them we all bleed the same color: green. And the theories could continue until you’re beside yourself.
Discretion was emphasized as paramount, so personal involvement was discouraged, including a hijacking attempt or placement of an IED. I opted for an RPG. While I’ve been in love with the RPG-29 Vampir since I first saw someone pierce a T-90 with it, penetration on a civilian transport plane isn’t an issue. For maximum bang, an amateur may have opted for an anti-tank guided missile, but the weight constraints would have demanded extra crew, and no second shot. As a matter of preference, and perhaps nostalgia, as well as the fact that they’re easier to find in Iran than a Kosher meal, was the RPG-7, with a TBG-7V for the first shot- a thermobaric warhead. Thermobarics utilize ambient oxygen to oxidize an explosion, allowing for a greater explosive yield, but less predictability.
There are, of course, multiple redundancies. An anti-air battery has been seized a mile to the west. A “colleague” of mine is stationed on a rooftop with a ManPADS (Man-portable air defense system), probably a Misagh-1 or 2, because they’re local and easier to get a hand on in this area than more reliable Stingers or even surplus British Javelins.
Each of them subcontracted a hit on me this morning. They both arrived at my hotel room masquerading as room service, and may well have killed each other if I hadn’t detonated a claymore mine I’d rigged to the door (with several layers of plate and kevlar to make sure none of the shrapnel came my direction).
I’ve heard rumors that the Iran Air Force (whose plane list reads like the rolls of the UN) had one of their twenty four French Mirages stolen last night, and I know the only crazy bastard both stupid and skilled enough to do it, so if it’s true, there’s one last insurance plan in play. And I’d believe it, too, because he was gentleman enough to only try to poison my eggs, leaving me the toast and bacon for breakfast (although there was a distinct hint of goat urine in my orange juice- which goes back to an old fued and, honestly, I deserved that).
As for my long-term plans, $15 million is a lot of money, more than enough for even a man with my expensive tastes to retire on. But a Middle Eastern war zone, with several groups large and small vying for power and influence: that’s a hard prospect for a self-respecting contractor to pass up.