A FICTIONAL SCENARIO
Photo Credit: Gertrud Zach/US Army
By any rational measure, it was a crushing defeat. Elite Russian ground forces had swept across the Poland-Ukraine border with staggering speed, overwhelming front-line NATO troops in a matter of hours. Allied air power had slowed the attack on Day Four, but a rash of maintenance problems quickly grounded a full U.S. Air Force fighter squadron.
Now, Russian artillery, armor and crack infantry units were again on the move, threatening to decimate a dug-in U.S. Army battalion that had tried to retreat, but was halted by a cascade of equipment failures. NATO commanders had been forced to abandon the Americans or risk losing the rest of their already weakened forces.
“Sir, if that battalion is overrun, it’ll be the worst defeat in U.S. Army history. I will not let that happen on my watch!” Major General T.J. Thorn yelled into his Iridium sat-phone.
“Settle down, T.J.,” the four-star European Command chief said. “I’m sure it’s not as bad as you’re making it out to be. America has the most powerful military in human history, and our soldiers are the best on planet Earth. Our guys are far better than peasants sporting red stars on their fuzzy hats!”
Thorn spit, “Were the most powerful and were the best, sir! That’s ancient history! And we must be wary of inappropriate terminology, general. We no longer have guys in this army. We have a gaggle of trans-something-or-others. Men who think they’re women, and gals who use men’s latrines. Then we have the ninety-eight-pound twerps looking for safe spaces, because some mean old sergeant committed a micro-aggression by ordering him, her or whatever to ‘man’ an M-60 position.”
“You’re flat-out mistaken, T. J.! Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policies have built the strongest, most-capable fighting force America has ever fielded! Get a grip, man! Those soldiers will make you proud, if you show ‘em a little respect, sensitivity and understanding! And if you’re not up to leading a modern army, I’ll replace you with someone who is!”
Chastened, Thorn replied, “Copy all, sir. Sorry, I’m old-school. Yes, I sat through the same BS classes on ‘diversity, inclusion and equity’ that you did, but they didn’t ‘take.’ I concluded their cute li’l acronym really translates to DIE! And die is exactly what almost a thousand acutely woke—and very poorly trained—troops are going to do, if we don’t get off our color- and gender-sensitive tails and take immediate measures to save their olive-green butts! Sir!”
“T.J., you’re skating dangerously close to the insubordination line. You’d better shut up and do your job! Get those troops and their equipment out of harm’s way, then whip ‘em into shape. The Big Guy himself has ordered us to counterattack and wipe out every damned Ruskie in Poland!”
The Iridium connection dropped. Did Thorn just hang up on his commander? No, he wouldn’t dare. He may be old school, but, like every career military officer who’d survived the Obama and Biden Administration purges, Thorn would wise up, step up and do whatever was necessary to get promoted and cross the retirement finish line. Or so the European Combatant Commander hoped.
CENTRAL POLAND — U.S. ARMY COMMAND POST
Major General T.J. Thorn scanned a half-dozen wall-mounted LED monitors, only too conscious that the hot, stuffy room’s uniformed occupants were sweating proverbial bullets. The Russians were moving much faster than their brethren had in Ukraine. Obviously, the units now inside Poland’s borders were much more capable than those in Ukraine, the green troops that news pundits and so-called “expert” talking heads had disparaged and dismissed. No, these surging through Poland clearly weren’t the pimple-faced conscripts who had rolled into Ukraine in February and promptly outrun their logistics tail.
God, was that only a few weeks ago? Seems like years, Thorn grimaced. He caught the eye of a frazzled officer.
“Major! Any change in the battalion’s situation? Are they pulling back?” Thorn barked.
“Not really, sir. We got parts to them, but…”
“But what?” the two-star asked sharply. He hated buts. Nothing good ever followed buts.
The major’s eyes flashed, angry. “But the maintenance troops can’t fix tank treads, change tires or do a damned thing that requires a little muscle, sir.”
Thorn shot the officer a withering glance. “Better be a good reason…” He hesitated, noting abject disgust flash across the major’s mad-face. “Because that team is made up of ‘new Army’ recruits?”
“Yes, sir. Most of those troops came through boot, after the new physical standards were imposed.”
“Damn!” Thorn grumped. “The gender-neutral Army Combat Fitness Test. Designed to be ‘more fair’ to women…and our beloved trans-soldiers, of course. A mere ten pushups now, not thirty. Cutting the old throw-distance requirement by two-thirds. More time to complete the two-mile run, and the ‘plank’ instead of knee tucks, right?”
“That’s it, sir. Seventy percent of female soldiers failed the old test, so our esteemed ‘woke’ leadership knuckled under to civilian cancel-culture weirdos and relaxed the Army’s physical requirements,” the major said. “And we’re about to pay for that enlightenment. Hundreds of kids stuck out there can’t pull back, because no maintainer’s stout enough to break loose honkin’-big nuts on wounded tanks and reset a thrown tread,” he rattled at full-auto rate. “And for want of man-muscle, those soldiers are going to be pounded into Poland’s dirt!” The professional warrior was seriously PO’ed.
Thorn scanned the monitors again, silent. Ruskies would overrun that hunkered-down, immobile battalion before morning. “Any way to get those kids out of there? What are my options, major?”
“Sir…,” the officer paused. “We have no quick-reaction force to send in. We no longer have air superiority. If we launch our last few F-35s and Vipers for close air support, they’ll get whacked. We just don’t have enough ‘up’ birds to take on Russia’s gaggle of fighters. And our NATO buds took off with anything that could counter the rockets, missiles and artillery Ivan’s firing. General, I don’t see any good options.”
“Nor do I,” Thorn muttered. The two-star reluctantly issued an order he never dreamed he’d have to mouth. The major’s jaw dropped, but he nodded sharply and took off.
Twenty minutes later, four F-16 Falcon fighters sitting hot alert at a dispersal airfield in Northern Poland launched into the night sky and headed southeast. Because each pilot had a different target set, the fighters split into two elements. All maintained radio silence, streaking over the Polish countryside at tree-top level. Fortunately, Russian fighters were patrolling closer to the eastern border, covering for yet another wave of ground forces rolling in from a devastated Ukraine.
Following guidance cues on their head-up displays, four U.S. fighters pulled up, lofted their deadly payloads in a steep climb, rolled to wings level and pointed their noses at Germany. The Vipers were hugging the Earth, in full afterburner and supersonic, when the first weapons detonated. A pitch-black night sky instantly became brilliant daylight.
CENTRAL POLAND — COMMAND POST
Major General T.J. Thorn watched those massive explosions on a feed from an imaging satellite in geostationary orbit. Without question, targeted Russian forces had been obliterated by white-hot, kiloton-level blasts. The first time tactical nuclear weapons had been used in combat. And on his orders.
Thorn stared at his feet in disbelief. How did the U.S. ever get forced into a nuclear nightmare?
You woke SOBs left me no conventional options. Weakness and policies of appeasement superseded time-proven peace-through-strength truths. In two years, a world-class military lion has been systematically reduced to a toothless, second-class alley cat. Academy graduates and young troops who had had Marxist nonsense crammed down their throats in the name of “equity” were no longer warriors. America’s vaunted military had been destroyed from within.
America, your “leaders” did this.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.