Deckard didn’t own a suit and Adam left his at home, so instead the two arrived at the Sultan Ismail Train Station in American style outdoors clothes, looking like a couple sweaty vagabonds. Struggling in the humid air that permeated throughout Kuala Lumpur, or just KL as expats knew the Malaysian city, they looked at their map.
Today was the first day of the Defense Services Asia Exhibition and Conference, the kind of place shady arms dealers, the kid’s of Third World dictators, and intelligentsia liked to hang out.
Deckard had spent time in Malaysia years ago, spending almost a month at a staging area in preparation for a hostage rescue.
Adam insisted he had worked here a while back as well, as a telecommunications specialist or some such. Deckard had to wonder. They ran out into four lanes of traffic to get to the Putra World Trade Center where DSA was being held.
“I don’t know about this, man,” Adam commented under his breath.
“Yeah, me neither. Do you know where the hell you are going?” Deckard asked.
“It’s through this brush,” he replied, wadding into something that looked suspiciously like triple canopy jungle. “But what I meant was DSA. You heard what happened to Max two years ago at this place, right?”
“Max Kishiro? I heard he fronted for the Agency, carrying several large arms deals on their behalf.”
“Yeah. He got gunned down in an abandoned building not far from the conference center.”
“I heard he got wasted, no surprise there,” Deckard commented, sliding down into some undergrowth. “You make a lot of enemies in that line of work.”
“But do you know how it went down? He was meeting with the Deputy Chief of Science and Technology.”
“Yeah, some people thought it was a tech transfer that went bad when Max tried to play fuck- fuck games with Wen and his boys. The real deal is that the Chinese were trying to stage a coup in Equatorial Guinea before a British firm beat them to it.”
“You got it. It was the son of a fairly notable politician who organized the whole deal on the Brit side. After the operation went to shit, Wen wanted any loose ends tied up, not wanting his name involved in any subsequent investigations.”
“You said it.”
Finally, they came out on a road leading up to the futuristic looking conference center. With over seven hundred companies from fifty nations represented, the expo acted as a barometer for what direction militaries in Southeast Asia and beyond would be heading in the next few years.
Adam began walking toward the front door with Deckard’s shopping list in his hand.
He wasn’t surprised by how dialed in Adam was in the intelligence community. He had started off in a black side commo unit in the Army that worked under NSA, before getting picked up by the Special Collections Service, or College Park as members called it. Before getting kicked out, he had learned Spanish, Arabic, as well as Pashto, and traveled all over the world. SCS mostly handled technical surveillance, which required him to be skilled in lock picking, safe cracking, cryptography, key impressioning, various bypass methods, and other forms of surreptitious entry.
Adam had even trained Deckard on a few systems when he was with the Agency. A few years ago during the economic crash, Adam had found himself caught up in the real estate racket and went heavily into debt, causing him to lose his security clearance, and thus, his job.
The US government’s loss was Deckard’s gain.
The inside of the cavernous expo center was sprawled with vender stands and displays, a GI Joe fantasy for generals and defense ministers.
Walking down the aisle, he spotted one of the items on his list.
On one of the display tables was what looked like a giant revolver, painted a dull matte tan color. Balancing its weight in his hands, Deckard examined the Milkor multi-shot grenade launcher. It fired six 40mm low-velocity grenades from a rotating cylinder and was accurate out to a hundred and fifty meters for a point target, such as a window or enemy combatant on a rooftop.
“How fast can you ship out twenty-four units?” Deckard asked the sales representative working the booth.
“As fast as you can fill out the paperwork,” the balding man replied, with a smile.
“Hey,” Deckard snapped his fingers at Adam who was inspecting an automated turret system at another stand. “Exchange information with this guy.”
Moving on, Adam spent the next hour chasing after Deckard who acted like a kid in a candy store, placing orders with a dozen manufacturers for everything from shotguns for ballistic breaching, to MP5 submachine guns, to RPG kit bags to carry extra rockets.
Stopping for a twenty minute argument over whether the battalion should invest in .300 Winchester Magnum or .338 Lupua Rifles for their sniper section, they finally compromised by calling Piet back in Kazakhstan and letting him decide. Arguing for another ten minutes, the South African finally told them to place an order for the SIG Tactical Two rifle, with its modular barrels, if for no other reason than to stop the discussion in its tracks, which was probably just as well since the two of them were starting to draw stares from the expo patrons.
Finding a Virginia based company that made an assortment of grenades, Deckard next set about placing an order for flash-bang stun grenades. He was also sold on the company’s 40mm High-Explosive Dual Purpose grenade that featured a internal shaped charge as well as a specialized propulsion device. The perfect grenade to fire from the Milkor launchers, once they shipped.
Also on order were a variety of specialty rounds, such as smoke, IR smoke for masking targets using night vision, non-lethal bean bag rounds, day-night marking grenades, flare rounds, and 40mm shotgun rounds, all of which were ordered by the pallet load.
Shaking hands with the company’s chief executive and owner to seal the deal, the battalion commander turned to leave and saw a banner for a company called Special Security Solutions, or SSS for short. Deckard frowned. The booth was manned by two Eastern European men in black jumpsuits.
He had never heard of SSS, but they were advertising themselves as a private military corporation, like Samruk. PMCs were big business since the industry went corporate with the advent of the so-called War on Terror.
Deckard knew from experience that most of the firms out there existed as proxies for MI-6 and the CIA. Mostly, they put a disabled African American veteran as their own on-paper president since the US government offered special interest group priority when it came time to sign contracts. In the revolving door that was government service, everyone got rich at the taxpayers’ expense.
The firms that didn’t play ball got put out of business, quickly finding themselves tied up in legal litigation clear into forever while firms that knew the game and played by the rules were nearly given carte blanche.
A company like SSS was a different animal all together. Serbia was one nation that did not even bother with the appearance of regulation in regards to private military corporations. Some of them were on the level; others a haven for war criminals and thugs providing private security for crime syndicates the world over.
Turning away, Deckard knew that no matter how much people back home kicked and screamed, private security was going to continue to grow as governments and old institutions continued their descent into irrelevancy.
“I like their recruitment video,” Adam quipped, at the hastily edited video of security guards in ninja outfits, firing guns overlaid with Serbian techno music that blared in the background.
“Maybe you can get a job application. You can use me as a reference.”
“You’d do that?”
Rounding a corner, they walked into the section of the expo that had a few dozen military vehicles on display. Deckard and Adam split up, talking to representatives from a half dozen companies. They knew what specifications they were looking for ahead of time; it was just a question of who could deliver.
The Polish AMZ Zubr was interesting. Built upon a v-shaped chassis like the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles currently in service in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was armored against explosions and .50 caliber gunfire. Most importantly, it could be transported by C-130 military aircraft and be rapidly delivered in any theater of operation.
The drawback, Deckard thought, looking it over, was that it had an automated turret. The gunner sat protected inside the vehicle and essentially played video games on a monitor, trying to find and shoot targets. He knew the idea of leveraging technology against the enemy in place of focusing on hard training and discipline was an intoxicating one, especially for those employed by the Pentagon.
However, bottling troops up inside a missile magnet was not the direction he wanted for Samruk. Too many professional soldiers forgot that the most important part of maneuver warfare was to be able to maneuver.
Circling around a smaller armored car on display, he looked at the plaque that read ‘Panhard Véhicule Blindé Léger‘ or Light Armored Vehicle. Remembering his days in Bosnia, Deckard recalled that the troops had dubbed it the Sarajevo Taxi, as it was so ubiquitous among the French troops stationed there.
Lightly armored, it featured four wheel drive, a manual gun turret, and was amphibious with a waterborne speed of five and half kilometers an hour. If they survived long enough, Deckard intended to make one company of the Kazakhs into a mountain company, another a mobility company, and the third a maritime company, to increase versatility. Taking a sales brochure, he made a mental note to keep the VBL in mind, but at the moment he needed something with more carrying capacity.
“Check this out,” Adam called.
Looking up from the brochure, Deckard found himself looking at an Iveco Light Multirole Vehicle, modified by a third party, a UK based company, as an assault vehicle. He had seen the standard model which was built on the same frame as the Zubr but was instantly impressed by the assault variant.
It didn’t float like the VBL but did damn near everything else. It featured armor plating and a v-hull like the Zubr and had an operational range of five hundred kilometers. Scrutinizing further, he saw that run flat tires and the winch came standard. It also had a gun ring for a machine gun or grenade launcher, but what interested him the most was the assault variant package he was currently looking at.
The back of the vehicle had been lopped off, and in its place were eight seats sitting back to back, four on each side behind the gun ring where assaulters sat facing out. Arriving on the objective they would simply push off their seats onto the ground. While in transit they could return fire with their rifles or make use of several pivot mounts to place light machine guns on.
“I want one,” Deckard said, smiling. “Actually, I want sixty.”