Mars | Soldiers Locked Down

**Part of the Mars Chronicles – more found under Writing in the Nav

“Here sir, the FRAGO just came down,” said Sergeant First Class Howard. He handed a memo to the company executive officer, or better known as the XO.

After looking it over, the XO told him to round up the leadership. Then he walked into the company commanders office and closed the door. 

“What’s up?” asked the commander.

“FRAGO. We need to change our a Force Protection Status and we should probably brief the guys to keep their eyes open,” said the XO handing the commander the memo.

The commander reviewed the FRAGO. “Whoa! What the hell is going on here? It’s not as if we are still in Afghanistan.”

“I know.”

“Well, round the guys up and let’s get them alert.” said Captain Parlay. 

“Already did. They should be in the conference room now.”

Lieutenant Mars and the commander walked out of the office and across the hall to the conference room. Mars noticed that SFC Howard had already changed the posted threat condition from the light puke green colored Alpha placard to the bright orange Bravo placard in the main office. Howard was currently changing the one on the front door of the armory. 

There are five different force protection conditions ranging from no-threat to imminent attack: Normal, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta. Since September 11, 2001, Mars couldn’t remember being on any military installation showing the green Normal placard. He had seen the signs change from time to time on bases in the United States from Alpha all the way to Charlie, but these were usually done as drills. Alpha, represented with a puke green color, means there is possible terrorist activity threatening personnel and installations. Bravo, bright orange, signifying there is an increased predictable terrorist threat. Charlie, represented with the color red and the word Charlie, indicating that there is some form of terrorist activity targeting personnel and facilities. And then there is Delta, a red placard with the word Delta emblazoned on it,  which notes that a terrorist attack has already occurred or intelligence indicates that there is an imminent terrorist action against a specific location. The change from Alpha to Bravo on a normal military installation wouldn’t have even raised any eyebrows. The National Guard armories were usually at threat condition Alpha. So, the change from Alpha to Bravo at this remote U. S. Army National Guard armory would be noticed. 

Mars could see the platoon sergeants and platoon leaders sitting in the conference room. He and the commander walked in. CPT Parlay went to his normal chair at the head of the table while Mars went over and stood in front of the white board. Everyone quieted down and brought their attention to the XO.

Mars scanned the faces in the room and said they would wait a second for Howard, the readiness NCO, and Crowling, the supply sergeant, to get there. Everyone went back their conversations. 

Staff Sergeant Crowling followed SFC Howard into the conference room and closed the door. They took their seats and silence once again fell on the room. All eyes were directed to the XO.

SSG Crowling said, “Sorry, sir. I was in the vault inventorying the weapons.”

“No problem.” said Mars,  “Alright everyone, let’s get started. A few minutes ago, we received a FRAGO from battalion upping the threat condition across the Virginia Army National Guard from alpha to bravo. This increase in threat conditions affects us directly.” The eyes of the platoon sergeants and platoon leaders widened.

“Early this morning there was a shooting in the Walmart parking lot in Richlands. Literally, right down the street. There is a police report noting it as a possible terrorist action. Probably created by some over anxious county cops. But, what led them to categorize as such came from the situation. A couple of Walmart patrons heard the shots and heard a man yell, ‘Allah Ahkbar,’ in the parking lot during the shooting. The man that was shot was, apparently, just sitting in his car. Battalion operations have requested for the policeman-in-charge to come meet with the commander in order to discuss the situation. We’ll see if that actually happens. Until we can get greater clarification on the situation, I recommend that you brief your guys and tell them to keep their eyes open especially at anytime they are outside the armory. While in here they should be fine. We’ll keep all the hatches….” Some of the soldiers let a quick smile appear on their faces as they noticed the XO’s slip back to Marine-speak. “I mean doors and gates to the compound locked. We don’t know if this is an actual terrorist action. It could be stemmed from that Yemenis Al-Qaeda leader’s call for random acts of violence in the U.S. However, it seems a little odd for it to be influenced by him. We are not exactly in a major city, if this one-traffic-light town even constitutes a city. It could just be a crazy guy or fall out from one of the mountains drug lords.” LT Mars paused.

SFC Harper broke in, “Well, if it is a terrorist act. Doing it out in the middle of nowhere could be more frightening than in a city. People get shot everyday in major cities not so much in small towns. If this is the start of something it could be terrorists attacking hometown America. There could also be a terrorist training camp out here in the mountains. Or it could be someone gaining the balls to go launch attacks in the city. This guy could be just popping his cherry.”

“Or it could just be some nut bag.” First Sergeant Baker, better known to the troops as “Top” or behind his back (but well-known to him) as “the Iron Fist” chimed in.

Harper replied, “Yeah. It could be. But, I am willing to bet this story has already made its way around town and people are scared and are pulling out their guns as we speak.”

Mars interrupted, “You are both right. We don’t know enough of the details and until we do, everything we discuss is just speculation. So let me reiterate, Sergeant Crowling, I need you and Sergeant Howard run a physical security check on the building and lock all the doors. Platoon sergeants and PLs, I need you to brief your troops. Don’t speculate, just tell them the situation and tell them to keep their eyes open. Don’t speculate.” He turned to Top, “You got anything?”

Top stood from his chair, “Right now, there is no reason to get worked up. We are all combat vets here, we have all deployed, some of us numerous times. We are not in Afghanistan or Iraq and we actually have a police force that is on our side. Let them do their jobs. And don’t let me hear of anyone trying to go outside the building and play detective or Rambo. If I catch wind of that, all of you will come answer to me.”

Mars looked at the commander, “Sir?”

CPT Parlay looked around the room and leaned forward, “Look guys, right now you know everything we do. We are simply taking these precautions to make sure nothing happens. Harper hit the nail on the head when he said that this has probably already made its way around the town. This is a small mountain town, so you know everyone owns a gun. And everyone is probably carrying one now. And… everyone is speculating on who is the terrorist. If there are any people of dark, or should I say, darker than white skin around here, the people of this town are already going to be guessing it was one of them. And those with the darker complexions probably know it. Until we get further word on this we are going to do just what the XO said. However, I also want a door guard, not armed, just set up a rotation to have soldiers from the platoons to sit by the door and monitor people coming and going. Have them check IDs. Top, get that together. And a sign-in/sign-out roster to be managed by the door guard. Everyone coming in and out of the building will sign in and out with times and locations.” He paused visibly thinking, “That’s all I got guys. XO?”

“Alright, that’s it. Let’s make it happen.” said the XO

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