ESCALATION Prologue

ESCALATION Prologue

In the third such killing in the last six months, Senator Tyrone Billings of Michigan was killed by a VBIED outside his Ann Arbor home last night.  This comes after three months of threats, following Billings’ vote against S.8853, the “Hate Speech” law that would bring the US into line with European Union standards.  Most of Senator Billings’ security was killed in the blast.  Police have no leads.

The War Planners

The War Planners

A good chunk of the middle of the book is devoted to the Red Cell’s planning, suiting the book’s title, The War Planners.  These people, from various intelligence and defense agencies, as well as private contractors, are getting into the weeds on not only military defenses, but psychological warfare, economic warfare, information operations, and infrastructure attacks and weaknesses.  Watts clearly put some research in, and understands at least some of not only the Chinese model of “Unrestricted Warfare,” but also something about how Chinese intelligence agencies work.Getting into the rest of the book might be getting too far into spoilery territory.  Suffice it to say that not all is necessarily as it seems, and it becomes a very Ludlum-esque thriller…

Setting the Stage Part 5: China and the West

Setting the Stage Part 5: China and the West

It’s not just Africa, either.  Chinese companies have taken over the bulk of the resource extraction from Afghanistan, and Chinese companies have done business with Mexican cartels for illegally mined iron, stolen petroleum, and other natural resources which have become a major source of cartel income.While there have been many scenarios about war with China published, any major war between China and the West will doubtless involve considerable combat in Africa and Latin America, to cut Beijing off from its vassals and the resources they can provide.On the cyber warfare front, there have been many indicators that have not been corroborated, but the Chinese cyber warfare unit has been active against the United States for some time.

Triple Frontier

Triple Frontier

They make the approach to their target in a pouring-down monsoon, with cammie paint on their faces.  As soon as they make entry, however, they’re dry, and there’s not a trace of camouflage paint anywhere.  The whole movie is rife with these kind of jarring missteps.While I’ve been mostly negative here, I should say it’s not a terrible movie.  It’s just not a good one.  It’s certainly not as good as I could have hoped it would be.  And the main reason is that the writers (and presumably the director) were just lazy.

The Triarii

The Triarii

As I’ve written before, writing about mercs or military NGOs provides a certain freedom of action in a storytelling sense that I don’t get with writing about regular military.  Call it a certain degree of wish fulfillment (I’ve characterized some of my fiction as “shooter wish-fulfillment” before), but it helps telling the kinds of stories I want to tell without the pains of dealing with a lot of the red tape and crushing bureaucracy of the actual military. I knew going into Maelstrom Rising that a small, special-operations-centered PMC like Praetorian Security/Solutions wasn’t quite going to do the trick.  So, The Triarii were born.

Setting the Stage Part 4

Setting the Stage Part 4

As the 21st Century has matured, the divide in the United States has gotten more and more pronounced.  While in many ways it is tribal (simply look at what either major political faction will scream bloody murder about when they are the opposition, and then look the other way when it is done while their people are in office), there is a fundamental fracture in the fabric of American society.  And that fissure is deepening. More and more voices call for the utter destruction of anyone who disagrees with them, no matter how petty or nonsensical the disagreement is.  A side with more and more power is demanding that things that are more and more demonstrably false and counter-factual be held up as right, true, and good, and threaten the livelihoods, or the lives, of anyone who refuses. The fracture appears to be largely along political lines.  But it has become much deeper than that, a cultural divide between people who assume the worst of each other, in some cases simply because of the color of skin.  And the politicians and tech giants who make their millions use that divide more and more, stoking the fires of the mob for

Larry Bond’s Cauldron

Larry Bond’s Cauldron

  I first read Cauldron in high school, and at the time, I remember that it didn’t make as much of an impact on me that Red Storm Rising, Red Phoenix, or even Vortex did.  A new war in Central Europe seemed somewhat more far-fetched at the time than chaos in Africa or East Asia.  (I was in high school; I didn’t know nearly as much as I might have thought that I did.) But in prep for Maelstrom Rising, I picked Cauldron back up.  And I’ve got to say, Larry Bond was a lot more prescient than he seemed, back in ’93. While the general scenario in Cauldron is the French and Germans enforcing their economic hegemony over Eastern and Central Europe by force of arms, effectively forming the European Union at gunpoint (referred to as the European Confederation, or EurCon in the novel), the fault lines that lead to the scenario are even now playing out, only slightly differently.

Setting the Stage Part 3

Setting the Stage Part 3

By the beginning of the Maelstrom Rising series, the global order as it has existed since shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact is disintegrating. This is happening for reasons cultural, political, and economic.  Culturally, the European Union is already fracturing as this is written.  There is no “European Identity,” no matter how hard the EU Parliament has attempted to enforce it, and the influx of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa has been a source of friction in France for decades, even before the more recent push to accept hundreds of thousands from Syria, which has resulted in an uptick of terror attacks, to include truck attacks on Christmas markets and other crowds in Germany.  An increasingly large segment of the populace of Western Europe is beginning to resent the imposition of the will of the elites, most evident in the Yellow Vest protests in France, which began over gas taxes, but became much wider in scope, including over President Macron’s signing of the UN resolution declaring unfettered migration as a fundamental human right, despite the majority of Frenchmen opposing such a treaty.

Setting the Stage Part 2

Setting the Stage Part 2

While the first-person narrative of the Maelstrom Rising series will limit each book or phase to a particular theater, the events of the series will have global scope.  The interconnectedness of current global politics and economics mean that when the order breaks down in one place, there will be ripples elsewhere.  And multiple simultaneous such breakdowns lead to the perfect storm that is Maelstrom Rising. The events in East Asia and the Western Pacific during this series will be rooted in current trends already happening over the last ten years or more.  While most open focus has been on China and North Korea (which will be dealt with in later installments of this article series), this article will look at the near future of Japan.  Specifically, the near future of Japan as a military power.

El Chapo’s Trial and Insight About War

El Chapo’s Trial and Insight About War

I’ve delved into Mexico a bit in my fiction.  The deepest was The Devil You Don’t Know, which not only looked at the overall situation in Mexico, but also the consequences of focusing too much on High Value Targets. We seem to be obsessed with getting the “leaders,” the HVTs.  (Not saying that there aren’t people working on “going up the killchain,” but culturally, our focus is always on getting the guy at the top.  Whether it was the “Thunder Run” to Baghdad, that was supposed to end the war in days, in a repeat of Desert Storm, or the focus on getting Bin Laden, or al Baghdadi, or El Chapo.  The idea seems to be that if you get the guy at the top, then the bad guys will collapse. Except that it doesn’t work that way.  It never really has.  Capturing and executing Saddam didn’t end the insurgency.  Killing Bin Laden wasn’t the end of Al Qaeda.  And from the trial of El Chapo, it’s evident that he really wasn’t that important to the Sinaloa Cartel, either. As of this writing, the prosecution and defense have finished their closing statements and we don’t know how it will end.