[By Dan Verssen]
2035 – Washington D.C. – The Pentagon
General Horace Blackwell, Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pushed through the briefing room’s double doors gripping a three-foot long black case in one fist. Silence descended on the nation’s top dozen defense contractors as their eyes turned to greet Blackwell. They had all served in the military before retiring to the salaried life representing their mega-corporations to the Department of Defense.
They all recognized the case.
Of course, no one in their right mind walked through the Pentagon’s hallowed with a rifle case, but then again, Blackwell’s career was filled with “no one in their right mind” stories.
Blackwell strode to the front of the long wooden conference table and slowly lowered the case on to the table’s polished surface. “Good. I see I have your attention.” His lips drew back in a smile, that wasn’t a smile.
“I will keep this short and to the point and leave no room for misunderstanding. Five years ago, the Chinese nuke took the world down an unexpected path. The United States is now engaged in localized hostiles all over the planet. And it’s going to get worse.”
Blackwell paused to pour a glass of ice water from a nearby pitcher. A contractor leaned forward in his chair to talk over the tinkling ice. “General, if I may…”
He was cut short when Blackwell snapped open one of the catches on the rifle case. It echoed across the chamber like a shot, and was soon followed by a second shot when Blackwell snapped open the other catch.
A few contractors leaned back in their seats as Blackwell eased open the lid. His hand emerged seconds later holding a steel and wood assault rifle. It was battered from being used in combat and coated in mud and grime. With a practiced hand, Blackwell pulled back on the charging lever and peered into the chamber to make sure it was empty.
“Gentlemen, this is a Soviet Union AK-47 assault rifle. Mikhail Kalashnikov designed this weapon in 1947, almost 90 years ago. It is still one of the most efficient killing tools ever to appear on the battlefield. It is not fancy. It is made from wood and steel. It has no plastics. It has no electronics. It has no carbon fiber alloys. It just works. Peasants all over the world have been using these rifles for 80 years with no training, and bare bones maintenance, and they have done just fine. If I were to load this rusted dirt encrusted weapon and pull the trigger it would function as designed… and people would die.”
Blackwell, placed the rifle on the table, pulled a scratched-up gray pistol from the rifle case, and racked the slide to ensure it wasn’t loaded.
“This is a Colt 1911 45-caliber pistol, designed by John Browning in 1911. It is well over 100 years ago, and it remains one of the finest pistols in the world when it comes to shooting a person once and making sure they don’t get back up.”
Blackwell returned the 1911 and AK-47 to the case.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the days of 10 year development programs based on lucrative government contracts are over. We don’t need the next flashy thing in weapon tech. We already have that with the Valkyrie program. What we need are weapons that have already proven themselves on the battlefield and that have had the bugs worked out. And, these updated weapons will continue to function with the shortest supply tail the US military has had in 100 years. You are going to build more of what we already have, Abrams, Stykers, Apaches, and all the others, and you’re going to make them more reliable, cheaper to operate, and cheaper to buy.”
Contractors launched from their seats in protest. Angry voices filled the room. Each trying to talk over the others.
Blackwell snapped both catches closed and the room was silent before their echoed died.
“No, you can and you will. The United States is in the darkest hour in our history. We are no longer fighting for political points or voter approval. We are fighting for the survival of our country. The President has given me extraordinary powers to make sure these new, or should I say, old weapon programs go forward at full speed without delay.”
He tapped the case a few times with a closely trimmed fingernail.
“I, for one, hope we don’t a need to have a second meeting on this topic, and I sure as hell know you don’t.”