One of the future books in the series is titled THE KURILE WEDGE INCIDENT and may turn out to be timely because of the behavior of Kim Jong Il’s son, Kim Jong Un.  It is the next book to be submitted into the acquisition process at Fireship and I hope that we – Fireship and I – may release it out of sequence.

I’ve written this before but it is worth repeating…  The books about Josh Haman is intended to be a series, but you don’t have to read them in order.  Yes, they refer to their predecessors, but when they do, there is enough explanation so that you know what happened.  In fact , there are even some nuggets in the later books that weren’t in the originals!

So, in THE KURILE WEDGE INCIDENT, it’s 1988 and Josh and his family are living in Japan.  He’s a newly selected, but not officially promoted captain assigned to the Seventh Fleet staff based in Yokosuka, Japan.  By this time in his career, he’s completed his squadron executive and commanding officer tours, is now the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans.

Like most Navy staffs, the Seventh Fleet staff is relatively small, i.e. less than a hundred and fifty officers in men and the flag ship is the USS Blue Ridge which  was originally built to be a command ship for  large scale amphibious landings.  In fact, the ship still, or at least in 1988 when the story takes place had a whole deck reserved for a Marine division sized staff to plan and execute amphibious operations.

To do its job, Seventh Fleet was (and still is) supported by a Dallas based Navy Reserve unit that had about one third of its three hundred and sixty people on active duty either on the Blue Maru as it was known in those days, or in South Korea, Thailand, or Philippines either running/participating in exercises or working on special projects. In 1988, employing Navy reservists that extensively was unusual but it was the only way the staff could meet is operation and exercise commitments in an operational area that stretched from the east coast of Africa and the North Arabian Sea to the middle of the Pacific.  Today, using reservists that extensively is the norm.  Because of the normal turnover of the regular Navy contingent who were assigned to the staff for only eighteen months to two years, the Reservists were the staff’s corporate knowledge.

The Soviet Union was just across the Sea of Japan and the Korean peninsula is as usual, just a short step away from the resumption of the Korean War.  Add in the dynamics of post-Vietnam War South East Asia and the machinations of the People’s Republic of China and one has an interesting volatilemilitary and political situation.

In its operational area in 1988, Seventh Fleet had the carrier USS Midway and its battle group that was home ported in Japan as well as at least one other deployed in its area of responsibility.  Our treaty with the South Koreans that is still in force requires that a carrier battle group always had to be within seventy-two hours steaming time from a point in the ocean from which can launch strikes into North Korea in case they come south.

The South Koreans and the U.S. troops stationed in South Korea would have, depending on the scenario between six and twelve hours of warning before the North Koreans invaded.  The United Nations Command is a holdover from the Korean War and each nation who fought the North Koreans and Chinese maintain a token presence in the command structure but in reality, the military power comes from the U.S. and South Korean armed forces.  U.S. and the South Koreans conduct military exercises every year, the largest of which is called Team Spirit and the start of it generates the usual threats and bluster from Pynongyang.  However, everyone involved takes them seriously because technically, a state of war exists between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.  This will continue until either the North Korean regime collapses or agrees to unite with its southern neighbor.

Also assigned to Seventh Fleet is an amphibious task force and submarines.  The twenty-five thousand men of the Third Marine Expeditionary Force and the First Marine Air Wing based in Okinawa meant that the vice admiral commanding Seventh Fleet had roughly thirty thousand sailors and marines, eighty plus ships and about three hundred aircraft and helicopters under his command.  At any one time, they participated in exercises with our other allies (Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Australia, etc.) throughout the Seventh Fleet area of operations every month while maintaining a focus on the Soviet Pacific Fleet and its bases.

If, when THE KURILE WEDGE INCIDENT comes out, you’ll get to meet senior North Korean officers who have two jobs – their military one and running a multi-million dollar illegal drug operation that pays Kjm Jong il millions.  The flag officers – one admiral and one general – come up with an idea to renovate an old Soviet base on the Kurile island of Simushir as fishing boat support facility as a cover for a drug factory.  Their primary market for their heroin and uppers and downers is the U.S.

But Kim Jong-il has other plans and therein lies the rub. And, in the middle of all this, Marty the bachelor fall in love….

THE KURILE WEDGE INCIDENT is already written and I plan to submit it as soon as I read it one more time and finish the first draft of CHERUBS 2.

Marc Liebman

June, 2013