So we’re now getting introduced to a new character who seems like he should be pretty relevant for the final half of the novel, but will only be with us for a couple of scenes.  In this respect, his role will mostly be to endorse the sheer awesomeness of Bland’s preferred characters with a special forces stamp of approval, but otherwise not interfere with the novel’s pre-ordained plot line or thesis.

Lieutenant Colonel Campbell stood before the planning boards comparing the maps of the James Bay region with the satellite images he had just received from Special Operations Forces Command.

As we mentioned before, the Canadian Airborne Regiment (CAR) was disbanded in the 1990s, to be replaced eventually with the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR).  I’m not sure if Bland created the Canadian Special Service Regiment (CSSR) as a kind of alternative unit to avoid offending the real life CSOR, or if he settled on CSSR because the name for CSOR hadn’t been decided upon yet.[1]

CSOR Cap Badge
The current Cap Badge of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment.

CSOR shouldn’t be confused with our special forces counter-terrorism unit, JTF-2 who are our full-blown cloak and dagger crew.[2]  Those are the guys who “don’t exist” and carry out all the shadowy missions around the world.  JTF-2’s omission from the novel is a strange one since this is exactly the sort of thing they were made for.  I’m not sure exactly what legal mechanisms would have to be invoked in order to deploy ‘the Dwyer Hill boys‘ domestically, but you’d expect Gen Bishop to be agitating for Jack Hemp to activate them immediately.[3] 

So our single-serving character here is LCol ‘Rusty’ Campbell, the Commanding Officer of CSSR.  We join him (naturally) in his headquarters as he contemplates his impending mission.

He was interrupted by his operations officer, Captain Maggie Harkness. “Here it is, sir, the warning order in hard copy.” She handed the formatted message to her CO and stood aside as he read the order in silence.

Given that ‘Rusty‘ Campbell is being identified by a nickname as well, we can forgive Bland for having this scene’s token female officer being called ‘Maggie.’

In a real-life situation I wouldn’t be surprised that the official warning order would find LCol Campbell already staring hard at a map of his objective.  That is, the very warning order that is supposed to inform him about his objective. 

Whether it’s formal or informal, Frag-Os will regularly be pushed down the chain of command so that situations can be studied and contingency plans can be laid.  Ideally, when the official Warning Order hits, the reaction should be “Okay everyone, it’s confirmed.  We’re going to Radisson and Chisasibi!” as opposed to “Chisa-whaaa?  Shit!  Pull up google maps, I’ve never even heard of this place!

I am a bit surprised that that it was Gen Bishop who has been pushing these Frag-Os, given his tendency to hang on to information like his life depends on it.  Then again, I suppose LCol Campbell is important enough to justify getting some advance notification, even if he is just a light colonel.

Douglas Bland spent most of his career as a staff officer, so this should be good.  I’ve seen a bunch of warning orders (including one or two in Kandahar) so I can say the format here is mostly correct.  As for the content…

SECRET
0855 HOURS
SOFCOM OPS 023
DISTRIBUTION LIST A
WARNING ORDER – OPMERCURY

SITUATION:
Enemy Forces: A force estimated at near 100 persons, some former CF Rangers and CF soldiers, have attacked the Hydro-Quebec facilities at James Bay/Radisson region and the roadways into the area. The force is believed to be lightly armed, but well organized. A detailed int assessment will be forwarded by secure means later this day. [Emphasis mine.]

It’s a bit weird that the government has near-perfect numbers for Will Boucanier’s force, but is treating it like it’s some shadowy, half-understood threat here.  The ITAC already knew that the local Ranger patrol who resigned en mass a few weeks back are forming the core of the NPA force in the region.  This mass resignation should have been huge news in Canada (especially in the CAF) following the Railway Massacre. As far as the CAF goes, you’d almost expect this group to have some kind of informal nickname within the CF. 

So why this ambiguous description of the ‘Bay Bombers’?  You’d expect the enemy forces heading here to read something like “the rogue force of Canadian Rangers has attacked the James Bay hydro-electric dam.  They appear to be taking this action in coordination with other Indigenous radicals in Southern Québec” or something like that.

On top of that, they have already identified that the Will Boucanier (He’s just so cool, you guys!) may be with the Rangers.  Boucanier only left the service a month ago.  There should be people in CSSR who will feel personally betrayed by this. 

You’d think that would be relevant?[4]

Well, let’s bash on:

Friendly Forces: At present, the community and the facilities are guarded only by local police and a small detachment of SQ. Hydro-Quebec employs approximately 20 unarmed security guards of unknown reliability. Other national communication security assets are active in the area. Their information will be made available to assist planning as security procedures allow.[Emphasis mine again.]

This is straight up wrong.  The police and security guards aren’t guarding the Dam because the Dam has already been captured!  The attack was launched at 0630 and was over by 0730.  This is now 0930 according to the heading to this section.  Now, nobody knows about all the explosives yet, but they would probably assume as much.[5]  But the capture of the Dam makes the operation a lot more complicated right off the bat.

Furthermore, those local police from Radisson and Chisasibi?  They’ve been taken prisoner as well and are now being held by the rebels.  The security guards are being held prisoner inside the generating facilities themselves, along with the government’s best local informer (and self-hating misanthrope) Bob Ignace. 

There are literally no friendly forces currently operating on the ground in the James Bay region.  What’s worse, the wording here makes it sound like these friendly forces are not only still free, but are defending the Dam against Boucanier’s forces.  The enemy forces paragraph only says that the Dam has been attacked, not that it’s been taken over.

And it’s not like they wouldn’t know about this.  In last week’s post, it was emphasized that the so-called ‘Bay Bombers’ took their time entering the Dam so that the alarm could be raised.  This is part of the Movement’s cunning plan to draw government forces into Northern Québec.  They deliberately want the government to know what they did in order to lure them in. 

Spoiler alert, it will totally work.

Relief In Place (RIP) is the official term for an operation where an incoming military force takes over for another force already on the ground that is currently in contact with the enemy at the time.  RIPs are extremely complicated in that you not only have to coordinate two different chains of command,[6] but you also have to do it while the enemy is actively trying to fuck your shit up.[7]  As complex as a RIP may be, however, attempting a RIP when there are no friendly forces to relieve is going to be significantly worse.

Attachments and Detachments: Special Service Regiment is placed under OPCON to Comd Canada Com as of 0930 hours.
8 Wing, CFB Trenton, is place under TACCON to Comd Canada Com as of 0930 hours until completion of Phase I of Op Mercury.
MISSION:
Special Service Regiment will mount a regimental combat airborne assault on the James Bay Hydro-Quebec facilities at Radisson to secure and protect the facilities.
CONCEPT OF OPS:
The operation will be conducted in three phases. Phase I – airborne assault to secure the Radisson facilities; Phase II – airborne or ground assault to secure the airfield at Chisasibi; Phase III – the relief of the Special Service Regiment by other CANCOM units at the direction of Comd CANCON.

See?  The Warning Order goes on to say that CSSR will be assaulting the James Bay Hydro-Quebec facilities, but it doesn’t specify that these facilities are in the hands of the enemy, that the friendly forces are being held hostage in the facilities, or that there are no friendly forces in the area to relieve.

Phase I will be mounted from CFB Trenton and completed when the facilities are secure. Phase II will begin EITHER concurrently with the assault on Radisson facilities or later depending on the CO SSR assessment of the situation at Radisson after the initial airborne landings. Phase III will begin on order of Comd CANCOM.
TIMINGS:
Phase I: Airborne landings no later than Wednesday 0630 hours. Phase II and III on order.
Timings for aircraft loadings, air approach plan, and dropping zones to the coordinated by CO, SSR with Comd 8 Wing.
All units on six (6) hours notice to move as of 0930 hours today.
ALL ACK.

The fact that they will be attacking Chisasibi airport is dropped into the Warning Order without any comment, even though there is nothing in the Situation section implying that the enemy force has threatened it.  Remember Chisasibi is over a hundred kilometres from Radisson, and the ‘Enemy‘ sub-heading in the order are only mentioning the Dam and the roadways into the area.

This is fucked.  Well, realistically it’s probably just bad writing but in the context of the story line for Uprising it’s fucked as well.  Nothing in the orders gives any indication of enemy activity in Chisasibi, so the fact that the Warning Order includes an assault on Chisasibi’s airport should raise some eyebrows.  Either there’s more to the situation than is being described in the orders, or the entire region is being treated as hostile without any evidence.

Rusty Campbell looked over the maps and turned to his regimental ops officer. “Okay Maggie, let’s get the drills moving. Draw up a warning order for me along the lines we discussed last night. Add in the the timings. O Group here at…” He checked his watch. “…At ten hundred. Ask Comd 8 Wing if he and his air ops officers could join us and tell him that you and I will be at his office in thirty minutes to go over the outline. He’s on the distribution list of course, so I suspect he’s moving on his own battle procedure as well. Any questions?”

Maggie looked over her notes. “No, sir. I’ll have the regimental warning order out ASAP and then join you here once I can confirm the meeting with 8 Wing.”

This part here is…a bit more accurate.  As you can read in my post on airborne operations, overall command is vested in the Task Force Commander, then split between the Airlift Commander (the air force guys who deliver the troops) and the airborne commander (who commands the troops jumping in).  It’s entirely appropriate for LCol Campbell to reach out to 8 Wing’s Commander (no name for this person here or anywhere else in the novel).  I’m not sure how much they’re going to accomplish in less than half an hour though.

I’m going to end this post with the next section in the novel, just over a 50-word paragraph that foreshadows the ultimate depressing end to this novel:

The White House National Security Advisor held his red phone, waiting for the president. “Ms. President,” he began as she answered, “we may have a major national security threat to the United States developing in Canada. I recommend that you convene immediately the full National Security Committee at the White House and increase the armed forces alert status to State Orange.”

The Americans have taken notice.  And put the country on Alert State Orange. 

I remember the colour-code system.  Those was…really something.

***In today’s featured image, Charles Bronson contemplates the mission in the 1977 Film ‘Raid on Entebbe’ (source).  If you’re interested, I took a closer look at this oft-overlooked classic here.***

_____________

[1] CSOR existed for a while in a kind of proto-form regiment for a while before they finally settled on the name it now holds.  Since then, they’ve also established a cap badge, a unique beret (tan), and a separate camouflage scheme and garrison dress uniform.

[2] JTF stands for ‘Joint Task Force’ with is a standard prefix for any multi-service mission in the CAF (such as Joint Task Force Kandahar).  The 2 comes from the fact that they’re permanently stood up regardless of what other missions may be happening at the time.

[3] Hell, if the CDS had listened to the PM’s implied orders and warned the Québec government to garrison to the Dam, then CSOR could have been freed up to support JTF-2 in a raid to seize the compound in Akwesasne instead of flying into Norther Québec.

But who’d want to end the uprising with a single, decisive knock-out punch?  Certainly not Gen Andy Bishop…

[4] Campbell would probably want to get out in front of the news that a legendary figure like Will Boucanier was their enemy now, given that many of the senior members of his command likely worked with him personally, while younger ones know him by reputation.  There’s also the question of paranoia and mistrust that might be directed at Indigenous troops currently serving in CSSR.  He might want to get ahead of that issue as well before they all jump together.

[5] They should also be assuming that the Hydro-Québec workers are being held hostage and will be killed in the event of an attack, but that’s another (darker) train of thought entirely. 

[6] Add to this the fact that this particular RIP will be an airborne operation, which will add several additional layers of command.  See here for more on the subject.

[7] The US military has a delightful saying: “The enemy gets a vote [on your plans].”

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