19 October 2012
Maracaibo, Venezuela (AP) - News reports from Venezuela, state The People's Liberation United Front (El Frente Unido de Liberación de la Gente - FULG) seized the Ana Maria Campos Petroleum Complex at Lake Maracaibo on 16 October 2012 and will not release the facility or the 145 employees they have taken prisoner until President Hugo Chávez resigns his position. This attack on the Lake Maracaibo facility comes after the 15 October election which brought President Chavez back for a fourth six-year term. FULG believes that the election was rigged and that the right wing conservative candidate Edmundo Real Sanchez should be the Venezuelan President.
PDVSA, Venezuela's national oil company operates the facility which controls the distribution of over 1.2 million barrels of oil every day. PDVSA exports 8% of all US imported oil through its subsidiary company CITGO. With six refineries operating throughout the country, the Ana Maria Campos Complex will halt the flow of roughly 1.2% of US oil imports. This is not as significant of an impact on the US economy as it has on the Venezuelan economy.
El Frente Unido de Liberación de la Gente (FULG) wishes for a more progressive pro democratic government and the resignation of President Chávez from the executive branch of government. In the winter of 02-03, the PDVSA, Venezuela's national Oil Company went on strike in an attempt to urge President Chávez' resignation. Managers and skilled highly paid technicians of PDVSA shut down the plants and left their posts, and by some reports sabotaged equipment, and petroleum production and refining by PDVSA almost ceased. Activities eventually restarted by returning and substitute oil workers. As a result of the strike, around 40% of the company's workforce (around 18,000 workers) were dismissed for "dereliction of duty" during the strike.
The 03 strike did not have the intended results and it has taken almost ten years for the people to arm themselves and attempt the same political goals through armed force. The Venezuelan government has begun mobilizing its military to interdict the FULG armed aggression at Lake Maracaibo. Thus far the military response has been mild. There are reports that many of the soldiers and middle level leadership in the Venezuelan Military are reluctant to fire on the FULG rebels holding the plant. President Chavez is seeking other alternatives to resolve the growing economic tensions in his country.
Decisive Outcomes Headquarters
Cayenne, French Guiana
1100 hours, 19 October 2012
Robert Gillet, CEO and founder of Decisive Outcomes retired from the French Army as a Colonel. He sat in his comfortable office in downtown Cayenne, French Guiana looking over the marketing results from Algeria, Dubai, Djibouti, and Morocco. The numbers looked promising. The revenue would keep them in the black this quarter. The company had sent trainers to three of the customer nations to help train their militaries. Algeria was employing a Personal Security Detachment for a VIP. The contract would need to be renewed in a month. The former French Army Officer read the morning's newspaper article about the rebel seizure of Venezuela's oil production and distribution facility at Lake Maracaibo and wondered if this might be an employment opportunity. He had never had contact with President Chávez, wondering if the Venezuelan would ever call on him for services like this. After viewing aerial photographs of the facility online, Robert Gillet began formulating possible methods for liberating the refining and distribution facility. It was an act any professional officer would do.
Ten minutes later, his telephone rang. "Yes sir, I read about what happened in the newspaper this morning. I was just considering this. I can fly to Caracas tonight if you wish. It will probably be late. Maybe meet in the morning? We can discuss DOs capabilities and what you want us to do and what you don't want us to do. I will bring my Director of Operations and my Director of Finance." Former Colonel Gillet listened to the person on the other end of the line. Within a few minutes he responded, "Yes sir. Good day, sir," and hung up the phone. Mr. Gillet was exhilarated upon hearing about the possibility for work for his unit.
"Mrs Caron, could you get Mr. Samson, Mr. Lefebvre and Jean Rey to come to my office ASAP?" Robert Gillet used the intercom to communicate with his executive secretary, Mrs. Eloise Caron.
"Yes sir!" came the reply.
Within twenty minutes, the three men stood in front of his desk. The elder CEO instructed his lieutenants to take seats. Louis Samson served with Robert Gillet in Morocco with the Legion. He currently held the position of Director of Operations. Guillome Lefebvre had also served with Gillet in Algeria and in the Alps. He held the post as Director of Finance. This meant Lefebvre was his logistician. He had all the contacts for moving equipment anywhere in the world. The third gentleman, was a bit younger at 35 years of age, Jean Rey. Mr. Rey served as the Platoon Leader for the LRRP platoon. He had previously spent time with the French SAS.
"Have you gentlemen read the newspaper this morning?" wondering if any in the room looked for possible hot spots in the world like he did.
Neither Samson or Lefebvre responded. Rey, raised his hand and spoke, "I don't actually read a newspaper, sir. But I did see a story online about a rebellion in Venezuela. Apparently they seized a petroleum distribution center at Lake Maracaibo."
"Yes!" Gillet grinned at Jean Rey. "You are correct, Monsieur Rey!" the CEO yelled with emphasis. "I just got off the phone with a representative from President Chávez, of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. They would like to speak to me about their little problem. Apparently, the Venezuelan Army has been reluctant about intervening with the rebels."
"What about the Venezuelan Army intervening with our attempts to relieve the facility?" Louis Samson asked.
"Excellent question, Louis," Robert Gillet stated. "You and Guy are coming with me. I need you guys to ask questions like that. Also, if they are interested in our services, we need to be able to explain to the Venezuelans what we are capable of. You two are my best resources." Then Robert Gillet looked at Jean Rey, the former SAS operative who wasn't exactly sure why he was in the room yet. "Monsieur Rey, I need one of your squads to come with us. Who would you like to send?"
"Surveillance on the objective?" the younger man asked.
"Oui!" the CEO responded quickly.
"Anderson's squad. He's former American Delta operative. He has a tight group of all former special ops soldiers from around the world. They would be a great choice for this."
"Wonderful," the CEO clasped his hands together. "Tell them I am meeting with the Venezuelans tomorrow. We are leaving tonight and he and his squad are coming with me. Tell them to pack their bags. They will do a HAHO insertion from 35,000 feet about 30 miles from their drop zone. They'll need to guide into their drop zone. It will be during limited visibility; probably around midnight. We'll take the Falcon. We used that for a similar drop in Africa last year. The pilot can slow to near stall speed so the boys don't whack their heads on the wing." Everyone chuckled. Jean Rey simply smiled.
Later, Jean Rey found Brian Anderson to brief him on the mission. "Monsieur Gillet wants you and your men to fly with him up to Venezuela. He will brief you on the operation enroute to the objective. Draw Ram Air squares from the Rigger's office, oxygen tanks and masks. Pack your rucks and draw your equipment -- Basic load of ammo for your squad. Take a basic Pyrotechnic package (parachute flares) and grenades. I believe the old man wants to be wheels up no later than 2100 hours. He intends to drop you and your team at 35,000 feet about 30 miles east of your objective. You will need to fly to the drop zone in your airfoils and establish your ORP in the woods north of the target. Bring plenty of batteries. He's going to give you a mini Satellite Transmitter, state of the art stuff, that will interface with your prick and a laptop." The term Prick was what the soldiers referred to their AN/PRC receiver transmitters. "The laptop will have the necessary video software so you can watch UAV images. If and when we get this contract with Venezuela, the rest of us will fly into the area. It could take three or four days. You will know we are in the area because we will have UAVs flying over the objective shortly after we land and unpack. This way you can see video feeds from the objective first hand. You'll need to bring food and water for three days. Any more than that the Supply guys are prepared to run resupply for you. He needs eyes on the objective. Like I said, the old man will brief you personally from the Falcon enroute. If you have any questions, you can get the answers from him. This is a surveillance mission. We don't have authority to be in there yet. Obviously, no contact with anyone. Sleep in the daytime and operate at night. Dig in and comouflage. Are there any questions?"
No. 1 Company Command Post
Julien Levigne served as a company commander and regimental operations officer in the French Army. He had served with the FFL Paras and with a mechanized battalion. His last assignment was with the 2nd Foreign Infantry with Robert Gillet. Julien Levigne last held the rank of Commander (Eqivalent to Major in USA). He stood at the front of his company and called them into formation outside the barracks. The formation area or quad was enclosed by the four barracks housing the Decisive Outcome soldiers. Mr. Levigne addressed his unit after he had their attention. "Gentlemen, we have a job." The words fell from his mouth casually and the 195 soldiers of No. 1 Company began hooting and hollering. This is why they signed up. They were thirsty for a mission; spending too much time training, honing their skills.
Once the yells calmed down, the Company Commander continued his briefing. "Rebels have taken over a petroleum distribution facility at Lake Maracaibo in Western Venezuela. Their intent is to force the Venezuelan president to resign. The rebel force took the facility on the 16th of October. On the 15th, the country held its presidential election giving Mr. Chavez a fourth six-year term in office. Apparently, many of the people believe the election was rigged. That is not our problem. Our problem will be to hand the facility back to the government regardless of who is right and who is wrong. We are all professional soldiers and signed on for a job."
The former army commander continued, "Robert is heading up to Caracas this evening to speak with their government tomorrow. We need to have our stuff ready to move at a moment's notice. If we get the contract, it won't be until sometime tomorrow. Most likely, we won't move out of here for another two days. Our vehicles need to get loaded up on the flat beds and shipped off today. Therefore, I need the vehicle crews and squad leaders to head to the motor pool and begin loading the VCBIs immediately. The XO will coordinate with the Assistant Platoon Leaders for loading vehicles. I need to see the PLatoon leaders in my office after this formation. Everyone else, pack your bags and make sure your stuff is ready. We may not leave for another two days, but I want everyone ready, ASAP!" Julien Levigne came to the position of attention; feet together, toes slightly canted outward, hands along the seams of his trousers with head and eyes forward. Then he yelled the preparatory command, "Company," followed by the command of execution, "Attention!" The company came to the position of attention. "Company Sergeant," he spoke firmly. The man who was responsible for ensuring the company was trained and ready to fight quickly moved up in front of the "old man". They exchanged salutes and Mr. Levigne left the grounds, returning to his office.
The Company Sergeant passed out information regarding the loading of vehicles and cleaning equipment. He mentioned the next meal time at the dining facility and then dismissed the formation. The platoon leaders made their way to the Company Commander's office.
Viktor Fedetov served in the Russian Army in Chechnya with an Airborne Brigade. He rose to the rank of Captain before leaving the Russian Army. Seeking outside adventure and running from a legal problem in Moscow, he next joined the French Foreign Legion. As a Legionnaire, it was quickly discovered that Viktor Fedetov possessed leadership ability. He was promoted as fast as possible for a foreigner. At 37 years of age, he was one of the older members of 3rd Platoon, No. 1 Company. He was also the platoon's leader.
The platoon leaders gathered in the Company Commander's office. "Have a seat gentlemen," Julien Levigne told his platoon leaders. "Have some cognac," he offered pouring liquor into the collection of Snifters in front of him. The liquor had a charcoal flavor to it, warm and biting to the tongue. The leaders appreciated the taste.
"It's not vodka, but it will do in a pinch," Viktor Fedetov remarked sipping from the wide glass.
"The old man told me to be prepared for an airborne or an air assault mission. We won't be taking the vehicles on this one afterall. Pass the word that we're going light and that chutes will be issued in the FOB. The colonel is taking a LRRP squad with him. He's going to drop them into the Objective AO. They will keep eyes on while we figure out what we are doing. Once he knows what is going on, he'll let us know ASAP which won't be tomorrow. Any questions?"
Jack Miller, Jean-Louis Reijnders, Guy Sauvage
Viktor Fedetov pulled his squad leaders into his room later and gave out the information he got from the Company Commander. He even passed around a bottle of Russian vodka for everyone to share from. "Use your driver and gunner as riflemen. Put one in your Assault team and the other in your support team. I'm sure they will be happy they won't be bringing their vehicles. We'll bring night vision gear, laser range finders and red dot lasers. As soon as we get more information from higher, I'll be more than happy to pass it on to you. For now, get your guys ready. I don't expect us to leave before Sunday.