Six Blue Helmets stood watch over the main gate of the compound outside of Bukavu. The United Nations compound, a mixture of permanent metal structures, temporary buildings and tents housed 300 soldiers from various countries all under the Blue Banner. Adjacent to one of the few paved roads in the Eastern Congo, it saw a lot of activity.
MONUSCO, the U.N. mission to stabilize the Congo had small base camps across the country with the majority in the East. Started in the late 1990’s, it never ran out of riots and human tragedy to monitor. Its ineffectiveness was a constant point of ridicule worldwide. Its enthusiasm to engage in confronting militias and protecting the civilian population, derided.
The scandals involving the soldiers never ceased. From Ivory trading, Arms Trafficking to the rebels they were there to fight, the smuggling of Gold out of Africa to the horrific allegations of trafficking in underage girls for sexual slavery. Many believed that they were no more than a token effort by the world to establish peace and the rule of law in a place where it could not be achieved. Profits were good for a large number of companies involved in the products of War Fighting.
Manned mostly by third world nations such as Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Pakistan, South Africa and countless others, the soldiers were in a situation that was not that far removed from conditions in their home countries. The motivation to bring peace, prosperity and democracy was skewed when their homes had little more to offer.
The rotation of the gate guards was on time. Six Pakistanis relieved six Egyptians, turning over the log books and demonstrating the readiness of arms for duty. Once the Egyptians had left, the NCO in charge of the gates went into the shack sat down and poured a cup of Chai to help keep him awake for the next 4 hours. A laptop was available and he quickly opened his favorite pages. The Nation, a leading newspaper in Pakistan, his personal Hotmail account and his favorite site..teeniefiles.com, which was updated every day. As a good Muslim, he of course admitted it to no one. Pakistan owned the world record, according to multiple news sites, for searching and viewing pornography on the internet. If his troops didn’t complain, he would allow them fifteen minutes each on the computer.
He opened his Hotmail account and searched through the spam to find a message from his wife. This deployment had been easier than in the past because they had managed to afford a home computer and communicated daily. The email was mostly dry, telling him about her day and her father and mother and their little boy, Hussein. Though housekeeping details were boring, he at least felt in touch.
“Sergeant, can I take a cigarette?” asked one of the soldiers manning a PKM Machine Gun.
“Yes, if you will give me one as well,” he said sheepishly.
The Sergeant took a sip of his Chai and stood up as the soldier handed him the cigarette and lit it for him. They both inhaled deeply and looked up at the night sky.
“Do you hear that?” The Sergeant asked. The sounds of a helicopter were coming from the east. They had no reports of any incoming aircraft tonight.
“Perhaps it is going to the airport and using the highway as a guide.”
“Let me radio the guard shack at the Helo pad.” After a short communication it was clear that nothing was expected this evening.
Dak-Ho Kwon sat in the cabin of the MI-24 Assault Helicopter. After receiving the all clear from Malouff, the two Russian built helicopters took off and headed across Lake Kivu towards their hard target. Fully armed, including two port and starboard machine guns configured to shoot out of the side windows, they would incapacitate the camp. Anyone left over would be held prisoner.
“Target in sight. Zebra 1, you have the ball,” Kwon heard across his headset. He shouted out to the seven other North Koreans to stand to.
The number two helicopter hooked left to prepare for a south to north gun run. The Command chopper crossed onto land and over the highway that paralleled the giant inland sea. Flaring at 800 meters from the front gate the weapons operator in the nose of the Hind lit up the Yak-B Gatling gun, spitting incendiary rounds into the guard tower and gun emplacements. Three bursts later, none of the guards were moving.
The Pilot hovered while the other made a fiery pass over the camp then circled counter clockwise, allowing the window guns to rip through metal buildings, tents and weapons caches, causing secondary explosions and fire. Through the Night Vision Goggles the weapons operator could see bodies stumbling around and falling. The pilot slid the Hind to the left and right giving the Yak B a chance to traverse the area. After another round or circling, Kwon gave the order.
The two flying tanks could have done much more damage to the point of leaving it a charred, lifeless pit but that wasn’t the plan. As the blackened up North Korean commandos inside the helicopters had rehearsed, they were set down on the north and south side of the camp and began to sweep with the Hinds hovering overhead, collecting what was left of the Blue Helmets.