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Detachment DeltaOperation Aces Wild
By Sasser, Charles W.
Avon BooksISBN: 0060592206
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Major Brandon Kragle, tall and broad-shouldered, a striking example of health and Army Special Forces conditioning, stood spread-legged in the center of what appeared to be an ordinary living room -- a new sofa, television set, lamps, end tables, coffee table, clean carpet, framed photos on the wall. Appearances weren't always reality. The living room was actually one of four such rooms at the Shooting House, also called the House of Horrors, on the U.S. Army Delta Force compound at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Five sergeants preparing to enter the CQB (close quarter battle) phase of Delta Force training were positioned about the dimly lighted room among life-sized paper human targets and real-looking mannequins in natural "terrorist" poses. One mannequin crouched behind a student, its hand on the soldier's neck, the other hand pointing a pistol at the door. A second "tango," as terrorists were called, stood on his other side brandishing a stubby Uzi submachine gun.
"We're not peacekeepers or nation builders," Major Kragle barked. "We're the only unit in the military that remains on a constant war footing. We don't take prisoners in this business. It's serious business, and you have to kill and be damned good at it."
The major's tough, determined demeanor, indeed everything about him, suggested athorough professional. Thick mustache, cropped dark hair, and weathered skin gave him a craggy outdoors look. In a previous incarnation he might have been an Indian fighter or mountain man. Striking gray eyes swept a hard gaze over the five sergeant trainees. If they passed this final shooting phase, they became full probationary members of the U.S. Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta. Delta Force: the nation's crack counterterrorist unit.
The door crashed open and three other fit-looking armed troopers in jeans and T-shirts or sports shirts burst into the room. One of the students flinched. Major Kragle introduced the three as members of Troop One, of which he was commanding officer.
Staff Sergeant "Ice Man" Thompson, Troop One's weapons expert, was an average-looking man in his thirties with prominent scars on his left cheek, souvenirs obtained on clandestine missions into Afghanistan and the Philippines. In addition to being a master of both foreign and domestic weapons, he was a gourmet cook and former world title middleweight kickboxing champion. He was the kind of guy no one laughed at if he were caught in the kitchen wearing an apron. He carried an Uzi submachine gun.
Sergeant "Mad Dog" Carson was a communications guru. Outward appearances marked him as a real knuckle dragger, not exceptionally tall but with shoulders so broad he almost had to turn sideways to get through a door, arms as thick and as long as fence posts, upon whose ends were attached hands the size of a gorilla's. Long, dark hair curled up around his neck from out of a slogan T-shirt that read Kill 'Em All, Let God Sort 'Em Out. Dark eyes filled with surprising intelligence and cunning glared at the new meat.
"Fu-uck," he said, forming two syllables out of the word and thus amplifying its obscenity. "They look like a bunch of pussies to me."
None of the five dared contradict him. He wore a holstered 9mm pistol.
Sergeant First Class "Gloomy" Davis's most striking feature was his pale blue eyes, as cold and sharp as glacier ice. He was a wiry little man with great drooping blond mustaches and a web of laugh lines at the outer corners of his eyes that softened his appearance, if only a little. Underneath his black T-shirt inscribed with Love a Hooker Hogette he wore a single bullet on a chain. The "hog's tooth" identified him as a trained sniper. He carried a stubby MP-40 submachine gun.
One of the students tried to be funny and ease the tension. "Doesn't anyone in Delta have real first names?" he asked.
Major Kragle shot him a look that would have withered poison ivy, then ignored him.
"We're not cops," he continued. "We don't capture tangos and send them to prison so their asshole buddies can take more hostages to negotiate for their release. But if they want to be martyrs and go see Allah and his virgins, we're here to send them on their way. We drop them where they stand."
He paused to let his words sink in.
"In this scenario," he said, "you five men are hostages held by terrorists in this room. You are women and old men and five-year-old kids. In a few minutes you are going to be rescued and these tangos are going to be dead."
The sound of increased breathing filled the room. Major Kragle rewarded the trainees with an icy grin.
"Don't worry," he added, "we haven't shot a student all week. It would ruin my whole day if I had to explain to Colonel Buck, my boss, how we busted in and shot up a bunch of people we're supposed to be rescuing."
A cautious hand went up. "Sir? Are you using live ammunition?"
"You betch-um, Red Ryder."
He placed a handheld radio on the coffee table.
"Listen carefully when the radio comes on," he directed. "Watch closely."
He and the three enlisted men abruptly left, closing the door behind them. The trainees remained still and eerily intent, not knowing what to expect.
After a moment, the radio crackled to sudden life. "Stand by . . . Five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . Execute! Execute! Execute!"
An immediate blast blew the door open and filled the room with smoke. The four-man assault team, which had stood so calmly in this room only minutes before, exploded into action, hurling themselves through the door on the run, intent and deadly. Continues...
Excerpted from Detachment Delta by Sasser, Charles W. Excerpted by permission.
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