The North Koreans
When Jones told Went that he had told Heike about the mission, Went replied, with feeling,
"Jones, I'm really glad that you've gotten it together with Heike to that extent, but you never tell wives anything. Not anything of importance. And, most particularly, you never tell them anything about future missions!"
"I know now, but it's too late. It started when Barbara caught you revising your will. She told Heike that something dangerous was afoot."
"Double shit! I told her I was just cutting my young cousin out of the pittance I was going to leave him."
"She didn't believe you."
"Triple shit! Well, Barbara's a true sailor's wife. She won't try to blow the mission."
"Heike isn't a sailor's wife. I don't know if she actually has approached Barbara, but it sounded as if she would. So I thought I'd better warn you."
"What lengths will Heike go to?"
"She does know that I'll be in for a shitload of trouble if it comes out that I've revealed a secret like this to her. She also talked about breaking my leg with a baseball bat."
Went laughed and replied,
"These people without service backgrounds get the funniest ideas. Better not let her get behind you or go to sleep when she's around."
"No. But there's a lot I don't know about her. I really don't know how far she'd go."
"There is, in fact, a fairly simple solution. When we leave in two weeks, we'll tell both ladies that problems have come up getting the floating drydock through the Great Belt of the Kattegat, and that, in the light of that difficulty, we're going to reassess the feasibility of the operation."
"Heike will get out her world atlas and look at the Kattegat."
"And she'll see that it's damned narrow and shoal in places. She won't have access to charts showing the channels."
"Yeah, that'll at least delay them. Then, they'll read in the papers that an American submarine is visiting Leningrad."
"Okay. Now think hard, Jones. In whatever transports of passion you mind find yourself, DON'T SPILL ANY MORE BEANS."
"Right. I'll let you tell your story to Barbara first. She'll tell Heike, and I'll confirm that plans are being changed."
For the next two days, Heike didn't say anything about the forthcoming operation. In fact, they both stepped back a little from the prospect of the immediate marriage which had seemed such a good idea when they were entwined together in the cool water of the Potomac. It had been super sex, both agreed, but, after all, it wasn't the sort of thing one could do thrice weekly.
They happened to be at CASP on the Saturday evening when the news broke. The North Koreans had come over the line in force, and were invading South Korea.
CASP suddenly became frantic. Its members, called in from dinner parties and quiet evenings in their dens, arrived in all sorts of costumes. Secretaries arrived in party dresses, and were immediately sent out to get sandwiches and other logistical support for an all-night operation. Officers scurried everywhere, waving their arms. The State Department and the army were both taken completely off-guard. Ever since the Berlin airlift, policy and defense measures had concentrated almost entirely on Europe. There were no intelligence warnings whatever of any possible crisis in East Asia, much less an invasion.
Some officers were busy pointing fingers. Secretary Acheson had publicly listed the countries that the United States was committed to defend militarily, and he had unaccountably left South Korea off the list. That virtually gave Stalin, and no one doubted that it was Stalin, an invitation to attack.
Amid the maelstrom that CASP became, there was one man who was relaxed and in good spirits, smiling at everyone. General Smith. Inviting Heike and Jones into his little office by the computer, he said,
"This is just what we've wanted. Not only that, Stalin's revealing his long-range plan. Attack us, not in Germany with the full force of the Red Army, but with surrogates along the perimeter. Most especially, perhaps, in Asia. The army can handle that, and we're already calling up our reserves."
"No one seems very likely to call retired PT boat captains back to active service."
"No. The North Koreans don't have any ships to sink. I'm going to do my damndest to get a command in Korea, but I probably won't get it. I'm too senior for a division, and the larger formations will already be spoken for."
"Won't General LeMay want to launch his strike immediately?"
"Very likely. There's a big meeting at JCS in the morning. It'll there be decided what advice to give to the civilian leadership and the president. I've been invited to attend, and I'll have the results of your simulation with me."
"The results we've given you so far are only preliminary, general. We'll run all night and give you material that's as complete and convincing as possible."
"Very good. I doubt that President Truman will want to launch an atomic attack over this, but we'd best give him all the support we can. Remember, there are a number of highly placed people, both military and civilian, who agree with General LeMay."
Went came in around one in the morning, at which time the programming was all done. The simulation was being run, about six times an hour, with slightly different starting assumptions, and it was relatively easy to collect and sum up the results. General Smith had gone down to his main office to get some sleep, but most of CASP was gathered around radios and telephones. It was soon learned that the North Koreans were being supported by Russian T-34 tanks, and that the defense had given way to panic.
It was Went who gave voice to the chilling thought that was sweeping the building,
"I wonder if the gentlemen in those tanks are speaking to each other in some funny Korean language, or in Russian."
A little later, there were reports of Soviet jet fighters, albeit with Korean markings, over the battlefield. Went then said,
"I can imagine their training Koreans to operate tanks. But it wouldn't be so easy to train them to be fighter pilots."
"They aren't likely to be shot down, so no one will know."
"The South Koreans also aren't likely to capture even one tank. So there's deniability. That's what both sides like."
General Smith had suddenly appeared in his quiet way, and he said,
"Quite correct, Commander Thurmond. We and the Russians aren't going to admit directly fighting one another, even if there are a few duels in the air."
Went then asked,
"What sort of war will it be, sir?"
"It'll be a long one. Our troops in the area are pretty hopeless, and they'll be overrun, along with the South Koreans. General MacArthur will eventually pull things together, but it'll take many men and many months."
General Smith then wandered off, seemingly not at all unhappy at the prospect of a long war. Heike whispered to Jones,
"The longer it goes on, and the bigger it gets, the more likely he is to get a command in Korea."