What follows is a bit of fun I had after finishing The Ghost Fleet by P. W. Singer and August Cole. Overall, I give the book 4 out of 5 JPRs (John Patrick Ryans, the only official method of judging military fiction). If you get the chance, give it a read.
This goes without saying, but spoilers lie ahead.
“Mr. Prime Minister, Accusing the Russians of an insane scheme such as this will only cause our already strained diplomatic relations to collapse”
“Not to mention the possibility of further economic harm. The foreign minister is right. If we accuse Moscow of taking these unbelievable actions, they will sanction our agricultural industry even further”
“Which part is unbelievable, Minister Wasiak, the fact that Russia has half of their land forces in Belarus for an unscheduled training exercise, or that our Ukrainian allies have intercepted ‘Training Documents’ outlining a campaign plan to take Warsaw?”
Tomasz Kowski grew tired of the back and forth between his Defense and Foreign ministries. During his two years in office as the Prime Minister of Poland, he had found only one thing that could be relied upon; that the Council of Ministers would fall apart whenever a Russian topic was discussed. This was not without reason, but the predictability of the outcome was never in question.
“Defense Minister Malinowski, if the threat is real as you say, then where are the Russian Air Forces?” countered Minister Skalecki, head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Your own intelligence indicates that though we don’t know where they are, we know where they are not. Their European and Black Sea Bases are nearly empty.”
“Not to mention the lowest Naval Presence in the Baltic or Black seas have seen sense 1995” added Piotr Wasiak from the Ministry of the Economy.
“You both seem to have a very tenuous grasp on reality, my fellow Ministers”, Grzegorz Malinowski calmly retorted, “Your knowledge of trees causes you to miss the forest in front of you. If they do intend to make a move on us, they will not need their Naval or Air forces. Their S-400 systems would knock our Air and Missile forces down before they could be effective just as our PATRIOT and AEGIS systems would. My colleagues, this war would be a battle on the land”
“This war? You talk as if this is a foregone conclusion. Do you wish to invite this?” said Minister Skalecki, badly masking his rage, “If we demand and threaten the Russians, they might just take your offer, Minister, and…”
“Gentlemen, stop” Tomasz finally said, tired of the debate, “Minister Skalecki, there is no reason we cannot simply talk to the Ambassador and demand an explanation. And Grzegorz, any Action taken against us would invoke an Article V vote”
“Mr. Prime Minister,” Interrupted the defense Minister, “We cannot trust NATO. And we must remember, the last time we trusted an Alliance to stop an enemy, we found ourselves invaded from both East and West”
“Grzegorz, this is not 1939. And even if we cannot trust NATO, we can certainly trust our American Allies.”
“Who only have sent one Brigade after we asked for a Division! The new garrison area at Drawsko Pomorski has been finished for more than three years now, and yet it remains nearly empty!”
His headache was building again. He knew that bringing on Grzegorz as his Defense Minister was a bold choice, but he also knew that his skill in Military Affairs was matched only by his recklessness in the political world.
“Enough. Minister Skalecki, contact the Russian Embassy. Summon the Ambassador to explain this exercise to us tomorrow”, Prime Minister Kowski calmly, but with a hint of annoyance in his tone. It was already past midnight, and this emergency session needed to come to an end.
“Sir, that will not be necessary” Minister Skalecki said, looking at a message his watch relayed to him, “It seems that the Russian Ambassador is already here, demanding an audience with yourself and the President. And he has the Chinese Ambassador with him.”
“A declaration of War, I am sure” Minister Malinowski snorted, “And while their troops take Bialystok, we debate in this damned palace”
“Grzegorz, stop. Minister Skalecki, bring them in.”
“Without the President? Sir, let me call his aide and get him on the Vis from Washington. This will not look good if you go around him on diplomatic issues again.”
“No reason to do diplomatic work from a Vis screen. It is better that we receive whatever news these two have without it being on the net. Please, invite the good Ambassadors in”
Minister Skalecki waived to one of the aides to bring the Ambassadors before the Council. The aide tapped a panel on the wall, signaling the guard outside to open the door. Two figures rounded the corner and entered the room with a third, much taller man behind them carrying a briefcase that seemed to be shackled to his wrist.
“Ambassadors, what is the meaning of this?” Prime Minister Kowski demanded.
“Prime Minister Kowski, I was instructed to pass this joint message to both yourself and your President. Please have him join our conversation immediately, as the contents of this message are extremely time sensitive” stated the Chinese Ambassador.
“You may not make such a request. In fact, I question your purpose in being here. We know well of the massed Russian formations in Belarus, and we have seen some very troubling documents. We require an explanation from you, Ambassador Ovechkin.”
“Prime Minister, the contents of our message will more than answer your questions” Ambassador Ovechkin mumbled. A bead of sweat appeared near his right temple, slowly traveling towards his jawline.
The Prime Minister grimaced with annoyance, “Well then, tell us what you came to say, Ambassador. I am authorized to act on behalf of our President in his absence for matters of Foreign Policy, or did your government not teach you that?”
The Ambassadors looked at each other, Ovechkin nodding to the Chinese Ambassador after a slight pause.
“Mr. Prime Minister,” started the Chinese Ambassador, “As we speak, a combined Russian and Chinese force is conducting Air Strikes against American bases in Japan, Korea, Guam and Hawaii. A force of Chinese Infantry and Armor have landed at Honolulu, and we have significantly degraded the American Global Positioning Satellite network. Within the next days, we will be in possession of Hawaii and the American Pacific Fleet will be destroyed.”
The board erupted into near chaos as every member was outraged by the information, seeming as it could not possibly be true. The room became nearly inaudible when the defense minister slammed his fist on the table, pointing an accusing finger towards the Russian Ambassador.
“Speak your words, Ovechkin.” growled Minister Malinowski, “Deliver your message so that your service may be complete and I can have you arrested for the scum that you are.”
“Mr. Prime Minister,” continued Ambassador Ovechkin, straining to stay composed as sweat started to pour down his face “The message we are delivering is being delivered to every member of NATO and the Organization of American States as we speak.”
“But the point of the message is this,” the Chinese Ambassador interrupted, annoyed by the Poles arrogance and Ovechkin’s incompetence, “We know that NATO is on the brink of collapse. Your alliance will not survive the next Atlantic Council meeting, where your ‘Allies’ will vote not to come to America’s aide. Poland’s Nuclear Umbrella will be gone, and you have the bulk of the Russian land forces knocking on your border.”
“We do not want war, Prime Minister Kowski,” said Ovechkin, “but if you vote to activate Article V, or you support the Americans, we will have no choice but to move against Warsaw. I have been directed that if you do not comply, I am to issue a declaration of war.”
The third, taller man lifted his briefcase to show the cabinet. A silence fell upon the room. The entire cabinet was in shocked disbelief.
“Tell your governments” started the Prime minister, standing slowly with tips of his fingers touching the top of the table, “That Poland stands by her Allies. This disgusting act of aggression will not stand. If you are to issue your declarations of war, issue them now.”
Skalecki looked up at Kowski in near panic. Malinowski looked up, nodding approval behind a mask of anxiety.
“You are not a wise man, Mr. Prime minister. You have twenty-four hours. If your country does not comply, you will regret it” the Chinese Ambassador stated in a disgusted tone.
With that, the Chinese Ambassador turned and left the room in a huff. The Russian Ambassador, attempting to maintain a stoic look but failing badly, looked at the Defense minister, quickly darting his gaze away when the prime minister met his eyes. He left the room, with the third trailing behind him.
As the doors closed, Foreign Minister Skalecki stood to speak, but the Prime Minister raised his hand, signaling him to remain silent.
“We are at a crossroads gentlemen. We hold the fate of our People in our hands. Minister Malinowski,” said the Prime Minister, using the Defense Ministers full title and name for the first time, “What course of action to stop the Russians do we have, without NATO?”
“Sir, our people will fight the Russians till their last breath… but I fear that we could not stop them with only unilateral action. We will be overrun before the American units in the West and Germany can take effective action, and if what they say about NATO is accurate…”
“It is, Minister Malinowski” interrupted Minister Skalecki. “The Alliance has been on shaky ground since Syria. France, Spain and Turkey will not support the Americans.”
“The Germans and British?” Asked the prime minister.
“The British will help, but their hands will be tied by Geography. As for the Germans? There is no way to know for sure, but what can they bring to the fight? They are as restricted by Geography as the British, and they have a land border to worry about, should the Russians make it past us” stated Malinowski.
“Our first concern must be our People,” started Skalecki. “If we can avoid a war that we will likely lose, we should, even though our ties to the American run deep.”
“Our lines of communication run long. If we commit to war, we must know that America can continue to logistically assist us. We cannot guarantee that they will have the ability to do so, especially if NATO dissolves.” Stated Malinowski, starting to regret his aggressive stance.
The Prime Minister sat, resigned to the impossible situation he was presented with.
“We must help the Americans, yet we must ensure our own survival” he mused, “Get our President on the line, he must be made aware. Grzegorz, work with your chiefs and develop a plan to support the Americans covertly. Work back-channels, find out what we can do to assist the war effort. Minister Skalecki, summon the American Ambassador immediately, and tell him to bring his Defense Attaché with him.”
“Gentlemen, we will support the Americans. But we cannot support them if we are destroyed in the process.”
“There may be a way that we can ensure our survival and help the Americans,” the Defense minister started, “but it will be very risky.”
“And what is that?”