Although his father had been reluctant to become a field operative, Jack Ryan Jr. wants nothing more. Privately training with a seasoned Special Forces drill instructor, he’s honing his skills to transition his work within The Campus from intelligence analysis to hunting down and eliminating terrorists wherever he can—even as Jack Ryan Sr. campaigns for re-election as President of the United States. But what neither father nor son knows is that the political and the personal have just become equally dangerous. A devout enemy of Jack Sr. launches a privately funded vendetta to discredit him by connecting the presidential candidate to a mysterious killing in the past by John Clark, his longtime ally. A shadowy mercenary team is dispatched to capture the former Navy SEAL. With Clark on the run, it’s up to Jack Ryan Jr., along with Ding Chavez, Dominic Caruso, and the rest of the Campus team, to stop a threat emerging in the Middle East: A corrupt Pakistani general has entered into a deadly pact with a fanatical terrorist to procure nuclear warheads, which can be used to blackmail any world power into submission. With the breakneck speed and military action scenes that have made him the premier thriller writer of our time, Tom Clancy delivers a novel of high-tech warfare in which the enemy within may be even more devastating than the enemy without.
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Tom Clancy is America’s, and the world’s, favorite international thriller author. Starting with The Hunt for Red October, all thirteen of his previous books have hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. His books, The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears have been made into major motion pictures. He lives in Maryland where he is a co-owner of the Baltimore Orioles.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Table of Contents
ALSO BY TOM CLANCY
The Hunt for Red October
Red Storm Rising
The Cardinal of the Kremlin
Clear and Present Danger
The Sum of All Fears
Debt of Honor
The Bear and the Dragon
The Teeth of the Tiger
Dead or Alive
Against All Enemies
Submarine: A Guided Tour Inside a Nuclear Warship
Armored Cav: A Guided Tour of an Armored Cavalry Regiment
Fighter Wing: A Guided Tour of an Air Force Combat Wing
Marine: A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit
Airborne: A Guided Tour of an Airborne Task Force
Carrier: A Guided Tour of an Aircraft Carrier
Into the Storm: A Study in Command
with General Fred Franks, Jr. (Ret.) and Tony Koltz
Every Man a Tiger: The Gulf War Air Campaign
with General Chuck Horner (Ret.) and Tony Koltz
Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces
with General Carl Stiner (Ret.) and Tony Koltz
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The Russians call their Kamov-50 helicopter gunship Chernaya Akula—Black Shark. The name suits it, because it is sleek and fast, and it moves with cunning and agility, and, above all, it is a supremely efficient killer of its prey.
A pair of Black Sharks emerged from a predawn fog bank and shot through the moonless sky at two hundred knots, just ten meters above the hard earth of the valley floor. Together they raced through the dark in a tight, staggered formation with their outboard lights extinguished. They flew nap-of-the-earth, following a dry streambed through the valley, skirting thirty kilometers to the northwest of Argvani, the nearest major village here in western Dagestan.
The KA-50s’ contra-rotating coaxial rotors chopped the thin mountain air. The unique twin-rotor design negated the need for a tail rotor, and this made these aircraft faster, as more of the engine’s power could then be applied to propulsion, and it also made these aircraft less susceptible to ground fire, as it reduced by one the points on the big machine where a hit will cause a devastating malfunction.
This trait, along with other redundant systems—a self-sealing fuel tank, and an airframe built partially from composites, including Kevlar—makes the Black Shark an exceptionally hearty combat weapon, but as strong as the KA-50 is, it is equally deadly. The two helos streaking toward their target in Russia’s North Caucasus had a full load-out of air-to-ground munitions: Each carried four hundred fifty 30-millimeter rounds for their underbelly cannon, forty 80-millimeter unguided finned rockets loaded into two outboard pods, and a dozen AT-16 guided air-to-ground missiles hanging off two outboard pylons.
These two KA-50s were Nochny (night) models, and they were comfortable in the black. As they closed on their objective, only the pilots’ night-vision equipment, their ABRIS Moving Map Display, and their FLIR (Forward-Looking Infrared Radar) kept the helos from slamming into each other, the sheer rock walls on either side of the valley, or the undulating landscape below.
The lead pilot checked his time to target, then spoke into his headset’s microphone. “Semi minute.” Seven minutes.
“Ponial”—Got it—came the reply from the Black Shark behind him.
In the village that would burn in seven minutes, the roosters slept.
There, in a barn at the center of the cluster of buildings on the rocky hillside, Israpil Nabiyev lay on a wool blanket above a bed of straw, and he tried to sleep. He tucked his head into his coat, crossed his arms tightly, and wrapped them around the gear strapped to his chest. His thick beard insulated his cheeks, but the tip of his nose stung; his gloves kept his fingers warm, but a cold draft through the barn blew up his sleeves to his elbows.
Nabiyev was from the city, from Makhachkala on the shore of the Caspian Sea. He’d slept in his share of barns and caves and tents and mud trenches under the open sky, but he had been raised in a concrete apartment block with electricity and water and plumbing and television, and he missed those comforts right now. Still, he kept his complaints to himself. He knew this excursion was necessary. It was part of his job to make the rounds and visit his forces every few months, like it or not.
At least he wasn’t suffering alone. Nabiyev never went anywhere alone. Five members of his security detail were bunked with him in the cold barn. Though it was pitch-black, he could hear their snores and he could smell their bodies and the gun oil from their Kalashnikovs. The other five men who’d accompanied him from Makhachkala would be outside on guard, along with half of the local force. Each man awake, his rifle in his lap, a pot of hot tea close by.
Israpil kept his own rifle within arm’s reach, as it was his last line of defense. He carried the AK-74U, a cut-down-barrel variant of the venerable but potent Kalashnikov. As he rolled onto his side to turn away from the draft, he reached out and put a gloved hand on the plastic pistol grip and pulled the weapon closer. He fidgeted for another moment like this, then rolled onto his back. With his boots laced on his feet, his pistol belt around his waist, and his chest harness full of rifle magazines strapped to his upper torso, it was damn hard to get comfortable.
And it was not just the discomforts of the barn and his gear that kept him awake. No, it was the gnawing constant worry of attack.
Israpil knew well that he was a prime target of the Russians, because he knew what they were saying about him—that he was the future of the resistance. The future of his people. Not just the future of Islamic Dagestan, but the future of an Islamic caliphate in the Caucasus.
Nabiyev was a top-priority target for Moscow, because he’d spent virtually his entire life at war with them. He’d been fighting since he was eleven. He’d killed his first Russian in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1993 when he was only fifteen, and he’d killed many Russians since, in Grozny, and in Tbilisi, and in Tskhinvali, and in Makhachkala.
Now, not yet thirty-five years old, he served as the military operational commander of the Dagestani Islamic organization Jamaat Shariat, the “Islamic Law Community,” and he commanded fighters from the Caspian Sea in the east to Chechnya and Georgia and Ossetia in the west, all fighting for the same goal: the expulsion of the invaders and the establishment of Sharia.
And, inshallah—God willing—soon Israpil Nabiyev would unite all the organizations of the Caucasus and see his dream fulfilled.
As the Russians said, he was the future of the resistance.
And his own people knew this, too, which made his hard life easier. The ten soldiers in his security force, along with thirteen militants of the local Argvani cell—each and every one of these men would proudly lay down his life for Israpil.
He flipped his body around again to shield it from the draft, moving the rifle with him as he tried to find some elusive comfort. He pulled the wool blanket over his shoulder and flicked the straw from his beard that came with it.
Oh, well, he thought to himself. He hoped none of his men would have to lay down his life before daybreak.
Israpil Nabiyev drifted to sleep in the darkness as a rooster crowed on the hillside just above the village.
The crowing of the rooster interrupted the transmission of the Russian lying in the weeds a few meters away from the big bird. He waited for a second and a third call from the rooster, and then he put his lips back to the radio attached to his chest harness. “Alpha team to overwatch. We have you in sight and will pass your location in one minute.”
There was no verbal response. The sniper overwatch team had been forced to close to within ten meters of the edge of a cinder-block shack in order to get a line of sight on the objective, another one hundred meters on. They would not speak, not even whisper, so near to unfriendlies. The spotter just pressed his transmit button twice, broadcasting a pair of clicks as confirmation that he’d received Alpha’s message in his earpiece.
Above the spotter, higher on the steep hillside, eight men heard the two clicks, and then they slowly approached in the black.
The eight men, along with the two-man sniper team, were troops from Russia’s Federal’naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti, their Federal Security Service. Specifically, this team was part of the Alpha Directorate of the FSB’s Special Operations Center. The most elite of all Russian Spetsnaz units, the FSB’s Alpha Group were experts in counterterror operations, hostage rescue, urban assault, and a vast array of additional deadly arts.
All the men in this unit were alpinists, as well, though they possessed more mountain training than they needed for this hit. The peaks behind them, toward the north, were much higher than the hills of this valley.
But it was the other training these men possessed that made them the ideal fit for the mission. Firearms, edged weapons, hand-to-hand, explosives. This Alpha team was composed of hard-core select killers. Silent movers, black operators.
Through the night the Russians had advanced slowly, all senses on alert despite the hardships their bodies were forced to endure on the journey. The infiltration had been clean; in their six-hour insertion to their objective waypoint they had smelled nothing but forest and had seen nothing but animals: cows sleeping upright or grazing unattended in meadows, foxes darting into and out of the foliage, even large horned ibex high on the rocks of sheer mountain passes.
Alpha Group were no strangers to Dagestan, but they had more experience operating in nearby Chechnya because, frankly, there were more terrorists to kill in Chechnya than in Dagestan, though Jamaat Shariat seemed to be doing its best to catch up to their Muslim brothers to the west. Chechnya was more mountains and forest, the major conflict zones of Dagestan more urban, but this location, tonight’s Omega, or objective, split the difference. Wooded hills of rock all around a tight cluster of dwellings bifurcated by dirt roads, each road sporting a trench down the middle to drain the rainfall lower toward the river.
The soldiers had dropped their three-day packs a kilometer back, removing from their bodies everything save for tools of war. Now they moved with supreme stealth, low crawling through the pasture just above the village and then bounding in two-man teams through a corral. They passed their sniper team at the edge of the village and began darting between the structures: a feed shed, an outhouse, a single-family dwelling, and then a baked-brick and tin-roofed tractor shed. As they progressed, the men eyed every corner, every road, every black window, with their NODs—night observation devices.
They carried AK-105 rifles, hundreds of rounds of extra 5.45x39-millimeter cartridges in low-profile magazine chest rigs that allowed them to lie flat on the ground to hide from either a sentry’s eyes or an enemy’s gunfire. Their green tunics and green vests of body armor were smeared with mud and covered with grass stains and wet with melted snow and the sweat of their exertion, even out here in the cold.
On their belts, holsters held...
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