Friday, March 16, 2018
Book Review: 'Stinger' by Bill Fortin
Maryland author Bill Fortin has worked for Bell Labs and is now the CEO of IBS, Inc. specializing in systems engineering, having earned his Master’s degree in the Management Sciences from the University of Baltimore. But more pertinent to this, his second novel in the Rick Fontain Series is the fact that having served in the US Army 3rd Armor Division from 1968 to 1970 he understands and has witness the horrors of war and its aftermath on soldiers
This being Book 2 of Bill’s series it is helpful that he brings us up to date with a brief author’s note: ‘Many people forget that during our respective histories with Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan there was another theater of conflict taking place. An almost bloodless combat … a mental combat, but combat none the less. The Cold War, sustained mainly on the European landmass, was fought silently for well over 40 years. On Christmas Day in 1979 the Soviet Union decided to try their hand at genocide in Afghanistan. This attempt at invasion would fail in a full retreat in February 1989. Some historians say that the proverbial beating of their feet back across the Amu Darya River, utilizing the infamous Friendship Bridge, signaled the end of the Cold War. I, for one, did not believe this to be the case. And since 2014, neither have the people living in the Ukraine.’
Bill’s writing style is that of a seasoned war historian as well as a man who understands engineering technology. To provide further background information he opens his book with a Prologue set in the 1960s in Ukraine and then opens the nidus of the tale with a conversation between on Alexi and Khrushchev, moving quickly on to 1985.
The novel is complex and to understand and appreciate the impact of the message, Bill offers a synopsis on his book’s back cover: ‘Rick Fontain is back. STINGER is a Cold War adventure that peers inside the exploits of Congressman Charlie Wilson and CIA's Task Force Chief Gust Avrakotos. Strange bedfellows they were.... Their alliance proved to be one of the most successful partnerships in the history of the CIA. "Stinger: Operation Cyclone" centers on the results of their efforts. The adventure begins with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1979. This was the same year that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Early in 1982 POTUS called for a plan of action to arm and finance the Afghan Freedom Fighters known as the Mujahedeen. Operation Cyclone was the code name assigned to this project. CIA Officer Mike Vickers, not a participant in this story, was solicited by Avrakotos to help design and rollout the blueprint to equip the Mujahedeen. Included in this Covert Action program was the Stinger guided missile. This weapon system would be credited as the major factor in the Russian withdrawal in 1989. General Gerald Bushman returns as the Director, Defense Intelligence Agency. Rick Fontain, who is now a Member, Technical Staff, of AT&T's Bell Labs, is brought in for his expertise with the Stinger technology. His familiarity with the Russian gunship, the Mil Mi-24is just icing on the cake. Rick is re-united with his Redeye instructor, Andy Davis, and together they lay out a plan to kill buku Russian aircraft. However, the operation stalls in 1982 and does not move forward until Rick thwarts an assassination attempt on one Maalouf Torki bin Taisei. Mr.Taisei is a Malaysian government official. He is also the largest arms dealer on the Pacific Rim. The KGB gets wind that the Pakistan ISI has agreed to support Operation Cyclone. Their attacks are fierce. However, the result is not what they expect. President Reagan issues a change to the original operation requirements. The gloves come off. Rick Fontain is told to do whatever it takes to get Stinger into the hands of the Afghan Freedom Fighters. In 1985, Pakistan's President Zia finally OK's the American plan to provide the Stinger technology to the Mujahedeen. American Special Forces, the Green Beret and DELTA, are assigned to the training center at the ISI's Ojhri Camp. The CIA's LTC Jim Pezlola and CWO Gary Larson solicit the Mujahedeen Command to provide students for the very first class of Stinger shooters. Rick takes the graduating class into Afghanistan to the Russian airbase at Bagram. The rest, as they say, is history. Operation Cyclone may not have ended the Cold War, but it certainly weakened the Soviet Union's resolve. So much so, that in 1993 it financially collapsed.’
Bill Fortin places the facts of the Cold War before us in a manner that will prevent us form forgetting that period in history and its impact on global politics today. Not only is he a very fine writer, but he also is a standard bearer who reminds the reader of the atrocities of the Cold War and the manner in which we as a country dealt with it. Very highly recommended. Grady Harp, March 18
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