“When you walk into the room, remember the choice you made and the reasons for it.” CDR Walter Wiley followed Dakin’s gaze through the large window overlooking Pensacola Naval Base. The training aircraft carrier for the new SEAL training class would be disembarking soon. He could see the smoke from the carrier’s stacks increasing and the tugs move into position.
“I want to make a difference, sir. I want to do it here, in the United States.” Dakin took a deep breath. “I’m through with surgical removal of Middle East terrorists in the Middle East.”
“They may not let you. You may have to stay as you are or resign your commission. It’ll depend on how you answer their questions.” Wiley looked at the red light over the door. It turned green and began to blink. “Okay Wilson, go on in. I’ll wait here for you.”
Dakin entered the room. It was small with an oval table allowing seating for only the four Naval Officers. Like them, Dakin wore his dress blue uniform even though the Florida temperature in October was tropical. The fall dress uniform was really black with his Navy rank of two-and-a-half gold stripes on his sleeve. He walked in and stood at attention in front of the table and faced the highest ranking officer–Captain Paul Spada.
“Lieutenant Commander Dakin reporting as ordered, sir.”
Spada made eye contact and folded his hands on the green felt tabletop. His four shiny gold rank stripes glinted from the sunlight beaming into the room. “Let me introduce my colleagues.”
Dakin’s eyes followed the introduction from Spada’s right to the left of the table. The other three Navy SEALs had the rank of Lieutenant (Senior Grade), Commander and Lieutenant Commander, respectively.
“Please be seated.” Spada continued and motioned with his right hand to the Spartan ebony chair off center in front of the panel. He was young for a full Captain–not one gray hair dared present itself on his perfect haircut. Spada opened a thick file. “You have an impressive record. After service on the carrier JFK, you went directly into the SEALs. All assignments with every team were successful and you worked efficiently as a team player. You never got seriously wounded.” He put the file down. “Now you want out. Am I correct, LCDR Dakin?”
“No, sir. I was explicit as to my reasons for wanting to leave the SEAL-Team program.” Dakin offered no more. He would let them lead the discussion per CDR Wiley’s advice.
“All right, I’ll read a summary from your letter to the Department of the Navy.” He sipped from a frosted water glass and cleared his throat. “As part of a Navy SEAL Team for Middle East Operations, I learned from the insurgents and Middle East operatives that many terrorists, trained in Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan have assignments in the United States. Over the past two years I’ve interrogated hundreds of terrorists in these countries, some as they lay mortally wounded. Most interviews were under ‘truth serum’ prompting, but our orders were to never document this tactic. I have made a list of such enemy operative sites in the United States. I want to seek out and destroy these people before they create multiple September 11th targets and casualties. I propose to help create such a force as we have for Middle East operations. I strongly feel there is a need for Navy SEAL protocol against these enemies to be the same in the U.S. as across any ocean. There must be such a security force in existence. I cannot in good conscience continue fighting outside my country when I know a terrorist cancer is spreading within the United States.” Spada looked up from the file. “Your list of potential terrorists and sites is also in your letter. Have I read it correctly?”
“You sent after action reports in via your CO, CDR Wiley, about this. Did CDR Wiley tell you he would pass the information on to higher authorities?”
“He told me he would.” Dakin shifted in the chair. “I told him if he didn’t, I’d do it on my own sir.”
“You feel that strongly about this? You really believe such terrorist infiltration in the US really exists?” Spada looked right and left at the panel members.
“Yes, I do and I cannot in good conscience run tactical missions in the Middle East when my country is being directly affected, and I do nothing about it, sir.”
“What kind of solution would you propose for us, LCDR Dakin?”
“A clandestine Navy SEAL activity within our country, sir.”
“Wouldn’t you think our government would already be focusing on such an action? Perhaps the CIA or FBI?”
“I’m sure our national security is being scrutinized but I’ve identified a list of many sleeper terrorist cells in key cities. I think I’ve also identified a time table for their targets, sir.” Dakin stood up. “Dammit, these jihads have to be dealt with Navy SEAL-style, sir.”
Spada waved his hands palms down for Dakin to take his seat. “Would you resign from the SEALs to take such a change in occupation?”
“It wouldn’t be a change in occupation, sir–only a change in venue.” Dakin’s voice became louder with his last three answers. “I beg the boards’ pardon. I don’t mean to shout, sir.”
Spada sat back in his chair. “Sometimes, we have to raise our voices to be heard, Dakin.” He gulped his ice water. “You’ve been heard. We–the Department of the Navy and all the security agencies–have been listening. You’re looking at the SEAL Special Ops Domestic Insurgent Force-SODIF.”
Dakin’s pulse quickened. “Sir?”
“You’re not the only one who’s been in the trenches with open eyes, Dakin. Before you do something stupid like resigning your commission and becoming a civilian vigilante, we want to ask you directly–would you do what you do in your Middle East SEAL commando operations but do it in the United States? In many cases it would involve extreme sanction.”
“Sir, it’s exactly what’s needed.” Dakin scanned the others. “Of course, I would, sir: without hesitation, and with strong conviction.”
“In most cases, you would be expected to extract information before any termination of a terrorist operative.” The Lieutenant (Senior Grade) said.
“It’s what I’m trained to do, Lieutenant.”
Spada resumed, “On behalf of this board, I can tell you the Navy SEALs have created such a domestic force. We’re now ready to go operational and tactical. As to where to begin, we’ve identified several jihadists from your list and the lists of others like you. Would you be willing to be a part of our force?”
“Absolutely, sir.” Dakin stood up again.
“Please sit down. I must tell you up front, in order to do our job; we often take off the uniform. You’ll be under Navy orders, Navy pay, Navy scrutiny, and will move around the country sometimes on a moment’s notice.”
“Just like for the Middle East.” Dakin smiled.
Spada returned the smile. “Yes. Exactly. It will be business as usual but here at home. There will be some training to reduce collateral damage to civilians. In fact, we want no collateral damage unless it’s totally unavoidable. And we want no exposure. We operate in complete secrecy. The Navy SEAL Team model will in most cases not be operative. At first most operations will be by single SEAL members relying on Top Secret communications. What are your thoughts?”
“When do I start, sir?”
“You started when I made the offer. LCDR Dakin, welcome aboard.” Spada stood and extended his hand. The others followed suit. “Your orders will come directly.”
“Thank you, sir.” Dakin saluted, left the room, and walked to the seating area facing Pensacola Bay.
CDR Walter Wiley stood up. “How’d it go? I can’t tell by the way you look.”
“I’m getting a new assignment, Walt. I can’t tell you any more than that.” Dakin wiped the sweaty sheen from his forehead with his clean handkerchief.
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