Conspiracy at Desert One
By Bernace Charles
Joint Task Force
In Arizona, it was a winter day with crisp, clean air. It was good to
be out of the bowels of the pentagon. The sky was clear and the air not
laden with the foul smell of tobacco smoke. As Kevin Keller exited one
of three C-130s that landed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, he was glad
to be back in the real world.
The next morning he and others arrived at the hanger of the Army Airfield
at Yuma Proving Grounds. For the first time, they knew they weren't in
the world of everyday activity. Men dressed as civilian sat along a wall.
They looked intent and dangerous. "They're Delta Force." Keller
turned to face a major making the statement. The major was an AC-130 operations
officer. He was one of those overseeing the first live training exercise
to bring the first pieces of a complex puzzle together. General Wallace
walked to Keller's right.
Keller said, "They look like hardened criminals."
"That's what sets them apart."
Kevin felt sorry for any student who came face to face with one of the
men. But it wasn't the time to muse over the hard faces of Delta Force.
Delta Force was there for the first exercise to rehearse with fuel bladders
that were to airdrop to the desert floor. They were there to position the
fuel bladders for waiting helicopters. Delta Force was to practice the
procedure for setting up the pumping stations. Keller asked, "Are
you certain it's safe to hang around these guys?"
General Wallace answered with, "Trust me. Right now, we need to
get loaded and check the drop zone. We need to make sure we get it marked."
"Delta needs to be familiar with the firepower of a Spectre Gunship.
They need to know how to coordinate it, and how to set up a drop zone for
the C-130 Talons." With these words, Keller followed the general and
several others to a helicopter.
With the end of an exercise having to go into a second night, it was
obvious the plans to airdrop fuel bladders out the back of a C-130 were
looking grim. There had to be a better way of getting fuel to a site where
the helos could gas-up before proceeding to Tehran. The problem simply
needed a better answer than the one they rehearsed. Fuel bladders bouncing
across the desert with men trying to police them up weren't going to work.
In addition, there were other problems. Colonel Keller knew the helicopter
pilots were experiencing disorienting dust storms kicked up by the rotor
downwash. The Navy pilots weren't up to the task of blacked out flying.
The second night's Spectre Gunship demo went off with spectacular results.
A Spectre would be in the air above the American Embassy in Tehran. It
would be there if the embassy takedown became a reality. Nevertheless,
Keller wondered if there wasn't an element of insanity to it all. Why couldn't
they find an unused airfield or a strip of isolated desert on which the
C-130s could land? Once landing, huge fuel bladders carried within the
planes could supply fuel through a series of pumps and hoses directly into
the helos. Unknown to Colonel Keller other military planners were already
studying the possibility >>> Go
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