“Tell us again daddy about the Missiles of October.”
The year was 2030 and the Internet was a dim memory. For that matter, so were ATMs, supermarkets and running water. In that dark and diminished age campfire stories had made a comeback. People especially liked stories about the good old days. How good it was and all the magical things everyone had. Talking about them almost brought them back.
The family sat round the wood fire amid a small cluster of houses in Nebraska and daddy, who was formerly a history teacher at a community college, had a particularly good recollection of 2015. So he told a tale of the crucial events of that year.
“They say that in 2015 president Obama was at a loss over how to the Russian president’s expansion into Syria, which was in a place full of riches and strategic importance to Merica. The president couldn’t just kick him out, because as you know, Russia had nuclear weapons.”
The children shuddered. They did not need to be told. Daddy continued.
“Not knowing what to do and seeking inspiration, Obama took to walking the corridors of the White House, a grand place full of old treasures and things. In one particular spot there was a portrait of an earlier president: John F. Kennedy. It wasn’t much of a picture. Just a painting of a man in a gray suit thinking hard on a problem. And strange as it may seem the rumors said the portrait spoke to him!”
“Did the JFK painting really talk to Obama Daddy?”
“It might have been imagination, but then again years before president Kennedy had been in the same fix. In October of 1962 Kennedy had to figure out a way of pushing Russia back from the island of Cuba without starting a war, and he succeeded. Whether the picture simply suggested ideas to Obama or actually spoke in words, we’ll never know. What’s for sure is that a lightbulb went on in Obama’s head. He rushed back into the situation room and asked his military advisers. He had one question for them: “how did Kennedy back Khrushchev out of Cuba?”
“Mr. President,” they said, “he imposed a naval blockade. And if you’re ready to consider military options now, we can show you the plan we’ve worked out for squeezing the Russians out of Syria.”
Now president Obama didn’t really understand the meaning of blockade and retorted: “I don’t want military options.” So his advisers explained.
“A blockade could be construed as an act of war, legally speaking.” President Obama frowned at this news. “But it doesn’t look like war and that’s why president Kennedy used the tactic in Cuba. You can use it and not be shooting.” Obama’s face brightened up at this intelligence. Seeing the president’s mood had changed, military aides pressed on.
“As you know Mr. President the Russian expeditionary air force in Syria is militarily insignificant compared to ours. It has 32 fixed wing combat aircraft — a token force — and it can hardly sustain more than a handful of sorties per day for any length of time.” They quoted an estimate which elaborated the point.
While much of the media attention has focused on advanced Russian warplanes like the Sukhoi Su-30SM Flanker-H multirole fighter and Su-34 Fullback, U.S. Air Force officials note that there are only four each of those late-generation jets present in the theatre. Russia’s real combat power in the region comes from its force of two-dozen Su-25 Frogfoot close air support aircraft and Su-24 Fencer bombers.
Another recently retired U.S. Air Force official said, “Four jets might buy you eight to twelve sorties in a twenty-four hour period for a few days, but the pace wouldn’t be sustainable,” the former official said. A typical squadron needs a minimum of six aircraft to sustain operations. “More likely they brought four to launch, plus two reserves—one spare and one in repairs.”
Obama knitted his brows in perplexity. “I don’t see where this line of reasoning is going. Isn’t a blockade a navy thing? Why should it affect the Russian air force?”
“Well Mr. President,” the advisers continued, “if the Russians are every going to have an expeditionary air force worth a damn, they are going to have to expand and support it heavily. There are rumors that the Russians will bring in 50 more aircraft and maybe a motor rifle regiment to guard the airfield.
“That would bring the total number of personnel and aircraft involved up to about the same size as a United States carrier air wing. A force that size needs ships — and plenty of them — to bring the food, fuel, bombs and spares it would need. Even as it is, they’re straining their shipping already.” The military men dug up another citation from a newspaper account.