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Old 09-10-2008, 04:00 AM
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Default The Longer Version Part 2

Webstral 07-30-2008, 04:19 PM Once MG Thomason absorbed the extent of the bad news from the Brightlight Scenario Detachment, he considered his options. He could do nothing, or he could begin devising some sort of plan of action that might enable him to keep his post operational in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear exchange. At the very least, he could get enough damned rifles.

Thomason made the Brightlight Scenario Detachment a more permanent fixture on the post. He changed the name to the Contingency Detachment—a title that the detachment’s personnel much preferred. He charged the detachment commander with devising solutions to the most onerous of problems facing the post. The CD commander replied that he needed more personnel. He received a handful of “casuals”* and local students hired as temporary Government Service (GS) civilians.

*Virtually all MI MOS require a security clearance. Clearance reviews are periodic, ongoing, and unavoidable. At any given time, a non-headquarters company in the 111th MI Brigade will have 2-7 so-called “casual” soldiers attached to the company headquarters section. These are MI soldiers who have arrived for their schooling but whose clearances are undergoing investigation for whatever reason. Typically, the investigation yields nothing of interest. However, while the investigators are maintaining the integrity of the clearance system, the clearance of the soldier under investigation is suspended. While on casual status, the soldier is available for sundry administrative tasks and “go-boy” duties.

NCOs and officers who find themselves in casual status often end up in the battalion S-3s for the duration of the investigation. A few will end up in company staffs. I’ve seen battalion staffs with a half-dozen of these guys trying to find something useful to do that can be dropped when the investigation comes to a close. Divorce contributes enormously to the ranks of NCOs and officers whose clearances are being reviewed. Angry ex-wives or about-to-be-ex-wives can do a lot of damage with a single phone call. And they do.

The CD commander, 1LT James Walsh, divided his small detachment into teams and assigned each team to a problem area. He decided that post policy had to focus on obtaining the right resources for the post’s own survival in the event of a nuclear exchange. At the same time, the post’s sphere of concern had to include the nearby population centers. The meshing of these two ideas would guide the thinking at Fort Huachuca up to the actual exchange and beyond.

At the most basic level, Fort Huachuca needed enough equipment to make every soldier a rifleman. Beyond that, the post needed to have the right kind of equipment to provide security and disaster relief throughout at least Cochise, Pima, and Santa Cruz Counties. Security missions would require small arms of all types, including ammunition, parts, and supplies; heavy machine guns and possibly light mortars, including ammunition, parts, and supplies; adequate vehicles and the whole panoply of support for them, including perhaps some light armored vehicles; communications gear; medical supplies and personnel capable of medical support, engineering vehicles,… The list went on and on. It was quickly apparent to Walsh why the Army had chosen to skimp when it came to stocking Fort Huachuca. The cost of bringing the post up to speed would be considerable, to say the least.

Beyond equipping and supporting soldiers directly, there was the matter of the post infrastructure. Lifting water from the bottom of a well to the top is energy-intensive. Although in times gone by residents of the West had used windmills to run their pumps, it would not necessarily be practical for the post to rely on the wind for water. At the same time, it would not be wise for the post to rely exclusively on the municipal system. Walsh directed his people to create a series of models of water consumption at various levels for each household on post and for each barracks.

Energy would be a serious issue. Over the medium and long terms, the post had to have electricity. The local utility, Sulphur Springs, used natural gas-fired turbines to generate electricity. An interruption in the delivery of natural gas to the turbines would be an immediate problem. Backup generators could continue to power critical functions on-post for a time, but these obviously required fuel as well. Walsh directed one team to study electricity consumption on-post with an eye for conservation potential. At the same time, the team would create some models for replacing fossil fuel-generated electricity with renewables—chiefly solar and wind.

The investigations of post infrastructure and energy—separate yet connected—yielded some interesting results. Walsh was somewhat pessimistic at first. Everything his teams were researching would represent a very substantial investment. Where Fort Huachuca would get money the Department of the Army hadn’t been willing to spend so far was anybody’s guess. However, during the course of conducting research, the CD began to make contact with a number of agencies and organizations who had done much of the legwork already. Models for making use of southern Arizona’s spectacularly abundant solar energy already existed. Walsh’s people were able to save a great deal of time, as well as creating a great variety of models. More limited wind models also existed, as several soldiers already had put the proper equipment in place in several promising locations across the post on their own initiative. In addition, the CD stumbled across many promising ideas but unconventional plans for generating electricity in southern Arizona. In a surprisingly short period of time, the CD had a number of post water infrastructure and energy models ready for General Thomason.

The larger issues for the three counties were thornier. After much debate, the CD settled on grouping the problems into two categories: how to keep the population safe, fed, and sheltered in the immediate aftermath of an exchange, and how to keep the population safe, fed, and sheltered in the medium term. The first question was one of crowd control, albeit writ on a grand scale and with attendant issues of food, water, shelter, and medical care. The second issue was one of using local resources to hydrate, feed, and shelter the population for a period of several years—basically, until national recovery allowed tens of thousands of people to be moved to other parts of the country or until food grown someplace else could be shipped in. These issues were truly daunting.

The short-term survival issue revolved around managing the expected refugee crisis and distributing food, water, and medical care with the anticipated collapse of the economy. Obviously, rationing was the answer to the matter of food and water. The refugee crisis was something else entirely.

In early 1996, metropolitan Tucson had a population of approximately 400,000. Cochise County had a population of about 95,000. Santa Cruz County had a population of about 35,000. If half of these people jumped in their cars following a nuclear strike, the handful of arteries serving southeastern Arizona would become clogged with a quarter-million panicky, well-armed civilians. Once the roads were jammed, all efforts at providing relief would either slow to a crawl or grind completely to a halt. Violence would ensue on a scale hitherto unimagined as the gridlocked drivers and passengers lashed out at each other. In a crisis of that magnitude, all social constraints might break down entirely. The well-armed would pillage the poorly-armed along the road. Those fleeing their cars would plunge into the countryside, there either to die or seek shelter in the local towns. The towns in their turn would become embroiled.

Among those who chose not to flee, rioting, looting, and other violence almost certainly would rise to a fever pitch. Clogged traffic would back up into Tucson and the other municipalities of the area, preventing police and other services from moving. Criminal elements could be counted on to exploit the breakdown in social order, although they might become junior players in the big picture. Once the urban dwellers perceived that their social restraints were no longer in effect, gun battles might become pandemic both on the roads and in the cities. Arson could be expected to follow soon thereafter. The collapse of the power grid would badly weaken the ability of the water districts to maintain water pressure; the inability of firefighters to move would leave whole sections of urban area vulnerable to exactly the kinds of fires that seemed likely to start.

The 800-pound gorilla in this nightmare scenario was Tucson. If the population of the city could be managed, the problems elsewhere in the three counties would be vastly reduced. However, beyond Tucson waited a multi-ton elephant: Phoenix. Two million Americans lived in Phoenix and the adjoining cities and towns. Although controlling civil unrest in this part of the state was beyond the purview of Walsh’s study, refugees from metro Phoenix definitely would affect Tucson.

Fortunately, Walsh and his people were not starting from scratch. The Arizona Department of Public Safety in particular was willing to share a great deal of useful information. The work of other parties saved the CD from much time-consuming labor and enabled the detachment to proceed to the creation of some crude models.

Finally, Walsh directed a team to compile research on semi-arid agriculture. The US Department of Agriculture had a veritable bonanza of information on the subject. The University of Arizona at Tucson also proved eager to aid Huachuca’s efforts.

The results of the second report issued by the CD were interesting to MG Thomason, if not especially encouraging. Fort Huachuca would need massive inputs of cash to become sustainable, even in the short term. Additional personnel, both military and civilian, would be necessary. In the event of a nuclear exchange, Tucson probably would empty out and burn to the ground more-or-less simultaneously. The refugees would clog the roads, overwhelm relief personnel, and descend on the other communities of the area in such numbers that the other locals would be overrun. And there still wasn’t enough food for everyone for more than a few weeks. Although the massive fatalities resulting from the exodus out of Tucson would reduce the burden on the food stocks enormously, loss of food stocks in the chaos probably would offset any cynical advantage gained. The results of the research into semi-arid agriculture showed some promise, but little could be accomplished in the face of the other obstacles.

Thomason concluded that there was little Fort Huachuca could do with the resources currently in its possession. He decided that he would find allies where he could. Fortunately, the Sino-Soviet War was creating a political climate that would favor Thomason’s initiatives.



DeaconR 07-30-2008, 11:53 PM This is really good Webstral. It presents a number of the problems that would be presented at the inception of your Thunder Empire. I quite like the composition of the CD, which makes a lot of sense. Will your next installment explain how field investigations would be done?

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