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from Love's Critical Ground by L.K. Thompson, LTC (Ret.)

Copyright © 2017–2021 Lasrry K. Thompson

Chapter 1

2nd Infantry Division

Camp Casey, 15 km from the DMZ

Army Intelligence Detachment CQ Shack

Near Dongducheon, South Korea

0100 hours Sierra, Current Date



Comment of the Moment: “Both missions are very dangerous, and could mean fatalities.”



Camp Casey cantonment area consisted of three thousand five hundred acres of hilly wooded countryside in northern South Korea. It sat with Mount Soyosan looking over its shoulder. It was minutes away from the DMZ and thirty-five kilometers from Kaesong, North Korea. It was a major supply point along Military Supply Route 3, and it had more fire power stationed there than all the other nearby US military installations. The other military garrisons in its area were Camps Hovey, Humphreys, Yongsan, Stanley, and Osan Air Base. It was the home of the secret intelligence team, Team Fail-safe. That team occupied the Intelligence building at Camp Casey.

A streak of lightning flashed through the rain above Camp Casey. Its brief flash lit up the militarily precise camp, and it lit up a brooding Mount Soyosan as it loomed over the camp..

SFC Dutch Slover sat at the CQ desk in the Intelligence building. He had two CPLs assigned to him as Runners. One of them, CPL Rider, sat in a chair leaning back against the wall. Slover had sent the other CPL, Smith, to the main gate at Camp Casey. Smith was to escort an incoming senior officer to the CQ shack.

The CQ shack was not, in fact, a shack. Although Slover and his fellow soldiers routinely called it that. The CQ shack was actually the Orderly Room. It was in the administrative headquarters of the Intelligence unit at Camp Casey. It was part of the USFK Command in South Korea.

Slover had seen the list of the day’s arriving personnel. He knew that no senior officer was scheduled to report in to the Intelligence unit. He also knew how his boss, LTC Spence, the detachment commander, operated. Slover had sent the runner out in the light rain to escort the officer to the shack. And now, Slover was waiting. He waited to see if the incoming officer was who he thought it might be.

 The Executive Officer of the detachment was CPT Harvey. He had assigned Slover to be CQ on the duty roster. Like all other CQs, it was SOP to fill the slot from 1700 in the afternoon until 0600 the next morning. However, Slover preferred to think of himself as just occupying a chair in the shack instead of serving as CQ.

The overnight job of CQ wasn’t all that bad, he thought to himself. He resented it, though. He resented it because of the other US Army units there in South Korea. He knew sometimes they assigned their SFCs to CQ duty when the SFC had pissed off one of the brass. His current assignment wasn’t punishment. He was there because of the relatively small Army Intelligence detachment of which he was a part. His XO had ordered, with LTC Spence’s approval, that all senior NCOs, E5 through E7, would be assigned to serve a turn at CQ. That meant that PFCs, and CPLs would be runners for the CQ. It also meant Slover would serve his turn as CQ. Because he was intensely loyal to the chain of command and regular Army, he served without complaining…too much.

His detachment CO, LTC Spence, had led the detachment as it transferred. It had transferred PCS from the Middle Eastern Theater of duty to the Asian theater; South Korea. The purpose of the detachment was to investigate and resolve an issue that the Army’s Intelligence Support Activity Group was aggressively concerned about.

The detachment was a highly-specialized unit. It was an Intelligence unit that did more than gather Intelligence. It was a unit that could apply direct action to remove a perceived threat. The unit could remove the threat before it became a major problem. The detachment had the authority to engage in clandestine action to destroy the threat.

Spence and his team members worked in the Special Operations arena. They reported directly to the Intelligence General. The Intelligence General had hand-picked the specialized unit. He had arranged for their funding and travel. The General had been instructed by the SECDEF to establish a world class unit. The official name of the new covert group had been decided upon. It was named “TEAM FAIL-SAFE.” It was made up of eight active front line members. They were Spence, Harvey, Mungo, Slover, Wilson, Williams, Grayford and Wilhelm.

In Spence’s ten-year Army career, he had moved rapidly up the officer ranks. His reputation for completing assignments was well known by senior officers at the Pentagon. CIA recruiters had tempted him with recruitment offers. They wanted him to come over to their operations. However, Spence could not do it. He thought, and he had often said, there was more in the Army way of life with a predictable and reliable life style than the out-in-the-cold-spy-life for him. However, the occasional Army life-or-death assignment didn’t bother him. To him it was combat. His rapid advancement in rank sealed his decision to stay Army.

His detachment XO was his protégé. CPT James Harvey was gaining a reputation for getting things done as well. However, Harvey’s personal style tended more to the reflective side of thought before action,

As Slover waited for his CO, he thought to himself that life in the Army wasn’t too bad. After all, most of the time it was as boring as hell. Mostly it was nothing to write home about, if one had a home to write to. There were days and weeks of morning formations. There were Orders of the Day. There were boring filings of MRs and AARs. The boring days were punctuated by hours and days, and sometimes weeks, of dangerous special assignments. They were punctuated by Field Exercises designed to train the 28,500 US military personnel in South Korea. They were designed to repel, overcome, and defeat a very large North Korean Army.<...

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