“We have made a dark bargain with ourselves to let one of our cities die.”
THE TECATE TRUCK was just like all the other Tecate Beer trucks that went back and forth daily at the border crossing, except that it was not owned by Tecate. The driver of that truck spoke fluent Spanish and the truck was always loaded with Tecate. In time the US border guards got used to the Tecate trucks. The difference was that this Tecate truck had, at its center, a narrow, hollow space shielded with thin sheets of lead so that no ambient radiation could escape.
It had cost The Base over $150,000 to convert the truck at a garage in Ensenada a year before. That was little enough when it came to securing the device which had cost the same group more than $45 million in Ukraine in 1997. In any event, the truck did its job and passed without incident over the border and into the United States at Tecate, California on August 6th. Dates were important to The Base, and this date was especially significant. After all, what could be more significant than the day on which Hiroshima was destroyed?
After clearing the border the Tecate Truck followed Highway 94 north to its merge with Highway 8 at La Mesa, California, and then drove west towards Highway 5. It pulled off the road at a rest stop where it picked up a technician in a Tecate uniform who was carrying a case with the necessary electronics and a couple of weapons. After that, the two men followed the road that ran straight towards the heart of San Diego. It got off the freeway downtown and quickly made its way to the intersection of North Harbor Drive and West Broadway. Its total travel time from the border to downtown San Diego was just over an hour. It was running close to schedule. It was about 11:30 in the morning.
The truck pulled over and parked along North Harbor Drive and the technician took out some binoculars and scanned the harbor beyond the Navy Region Southwest Complex whose entrance was less than 100 yards away. Intelligence was correct. The USS Ronald Reagan was in its home port and riding comfortably at anchor.
The technician opened his case and took a wire that ran from the back of the truck along the floorboards. He plugged it into a jack in the simple switching device in the case. He looked at the driver and smiled. The driver smiled back. They both began to recite a prayer in Arabic while looking over the San Diego harbor. At some point in the prayer, without really thinking about it, the technician threw the switch. In the next instant, at the intersection of North Harbor Drive and West Broadway in San Diego, California on a warm August morning, a miniature version of the Sun appeared on the surface of the Earth.
During the following brief moments, everything within a quarter-mile radius of the truck was heated to a temperature equivalent to that found at the center of the sun and became, essentially, vapor. Beyond that, for about four miles, every living thing was blinded, then incinerated and crushed to death. This included all the exotic animals at the San Diego Zoo, a myriad of birds, reptiles, cats, dogs, fish, and marine and plant life. It also included about 500,000 men, women, and children. Those that survived close to, but outside of, this killing zone came quickly to wish that they too had died.
The blast not only destroyed most of downtown San Diego but the Navy and Marine bases, along with capital ships, cruise ships returning from Baja, and civilian and military airplanes as well — including those on close approach.
Beyond the immediate blast zone, the 250 mph wind and 700 F. heat created a moving vortex of flame. From this, a firestorm soon formed and grew to engulf all flammable structures for a distance of ten miles. The light from the blast in the first few moments blinded all who had happened to be looking in that direction for a radius of 15 miles. The cloud that rose up over what had been San Diego to a height of 12 miles was visible from Los Angeles, 120 miles to the north.
Along with many of its citizens and buildings, communication with the San Diego metropolitan area evaporated, but the cloud hovering above it left no doubt as to what had happened.
Of the 3,000,000 people in the San Diego area, it was later determined that nearly 60% had been killed or severely injured. But that took a number of years to determine. The number who survived but were exposed to radiation that shortened their lives is still being worked out today.
By any scale of measurement, the August 6th destruction of San Diego by the Islamic members of The Base was a good day for The Base and for its vision of a Muslim-dominated world. It revenged them for the hundreds of thousands of Muslim militants the US has slaughtered in the years of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Yes, it was a very good day.
It was to be the last very good day for The Base, for Islam, and for the world for quite some time.
As a target, San Diego had several things to recommend it. It was, first and foremost, a city and as such home to millions of Americans. Since killing Americans in wholesale numbers was one of the goals of The Base, San Diego qualified. But San Diego was not normally thought of as a “first-tier” target; that “distinction” was reserved for New York, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles. As a result, local security was more likely to be lax within the city limits. After all, there had been no attacks on American soil since September 2001.
At the same time, San Diego sat on a west coast port of considerable military significance and held a number of navy and marine bases within its limits or close by. Hence, The Base could be assured of destroying a significant number of strategic military assets along with a goodly number of soldiers, sailors, and marines. In this, their expectations were exceeded only by reality.
Assets destroyed or crippled in the attack were the Naval Air Station at North Island, the Naval Amphibious Base at Coronado, the Naval Station at San Diego, the Naval Base at Point Loma, the US Marine Corps Recruit Depot, the US Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar, the US Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton, the Fort Rosecrans Military Reservation, and SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command). Taken together in terms of men, materials, assets, and experience, it was the greatest strategic disaster for the United States Military in history. The military loss was, in many ways, the least of it. Taken in all its enormity, the destruction of San Diego was the greatest disaster ever suffered by any nation in history.
Up to that point on August 6th in the year of our Lord 20_ _.
There would be greater disasters. In other nations. And it would not be long before they would begin. It took only 40 minutes from the moment of the explosion for the US military to move to DEFCON ONE. It would be some years before it changed this status.
Within 18 hours of the killing of San Diego, while the United States and the world reeled in panic, grief, elation, applause, and disbelief; before even the first images and on-site reports began to proliferate over the airwaves and across the internet, US diplomats in capitals around the world delivered terse previously drafted notes warning all nations to avoid seeking to exploit the disaster in any respect. Special attention was given to the Russians and the Chinese, underscored by personal calls from the President of the United States or his factotums. Iran and a number of other nations received neither notes nor calls.
The surviving US carriers with their support groups already at sea dispersed to different stations in accordance with plans long settled at the Pentagon. All military bases at home and abroad went to war status, again according to Pentagon plans. The all airborne troops and US Marines were recalled to their bases and prepared to launch Operation Stick.
Then it was the time of the ballistic missile submarines. Each Ohio-class submarine carried 12 missile tubes and each missile in each tube could carry up to 20 nuclear warheads. Each warhead could be aimed at a separate target with an accuracy measured in yards. Each warhead could be a classified number of megatons. Thus each ballistic missile submarine could carry up to 240 nuclear bombs. The United States had 14 of these submarines, submarines so powerful they were not listed as a “ship,” but as a “strategic asset.” Each submarine was, in and of itself, the end of the world.
Soon after the US military had finished its initial preparations, a long sequence of numbers was sent via the underwater ELF and VLF broadcast systems to all US Ballistic Missile Submarines on station throughout the oceans of the world. This sequence of numbers was repeated at regular intervals for four hours. Then it stopped.
Upon receiving, decoding, and verifying this sequence of numbers, each submarine released a small microburst signaling buoy to the surface to confirm it had received the signal, then moved at top speed to the designated location. Once on station, it stabilized itself, hovered deep under the ocean’s surface and waited — along with the rest of the world — for a second much shorter string of numbers to come to it through the water. It would not wait for very long.
To be continued?
First published: October 2004
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