Admiral Russ Corbett scrolled through the messages on his cell phone as he waited in one of the booths at the back of his favorite restaurant in Washington, D.C.  He was off the clock, wearing a polo shirt and khaki pants.  The JSOC commander was a busy man.  He oversaw the military’s top priority Counter-Terrorism units as well as managed a number of highly classified special access projects nestled within his command.

At the moment, he was using Libya as a battlefield laboratory for JSOC’s new ground-level architecture.  The CIA’s drone based targeted-killing program was falling out of favor with the administration due to political fallout in places like Yemen and Pakistan.  Meanwhile, JSOC provided a working model of up-close and personal assassinations that slipped completely under the radar.  The program was already spreading to Yemen and Jordan, but the bureaucrats were dragging their feet way too long with Syria.  He needed to get his boys into the country so that they could start cutting the grass, otherwise Syria would become a straight-up terrorist stronghold.

Every study confirmed that the rebels would be defeated within another year by Assad’s Hezbollah-backed regime, so the President finally made a decision.  They would begin backing the Free Syrian Army, first only covertly, but now they would overtly assist.  Still, no authorization for JSOC to play, just support.  Like Angola during the Cold War, America’s policy was not to win in Syria, but rather to deny the enemy an easy victory.  If that sounded Machiavellian, that is because it was.

Corbett set his cell phone down as he saw his old friend approach.

“Jim,” Russ Corbett said as he got to his feet and shook his friend’s hand.  “Thanks for coming.”

“Anything for you, Russ.”

As the two sat down the waiter came over to take their drink orders.  Russ ordered a Blue Moon.  Jim asked for a glass of water.  The retired General was known to be a long-distance runner who kept an immaculate diet, even since separating from the military several years prior.  The two Officers had first crossed paths way back when Jim McCoy had been the commander of 2nd Ranger Battalion.  Then, later, they’d worked together in JSOC.  McCoy had the honor of being JSOC commander for an unprecedented six years.  Someone liked him in that position.  Really liked him.

Then, it all came crashing down and Corbett got tapped for the job.