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Calendar >  Mission Objective -Thomas Calabrese

Mission Objective -Thomas Calabrese

By   /  August 19, 2023  /  11 Comments


Danger Close

Thomas Calabrese- Mike Randall had been to Afghanistan eight times during his 12 years career as a Navy Seal and on every deployment, he saw combat. It was May 11, 2021 and there was scuttlebutt that the current administration was pushing hard to withdraw all American forces by the end of August. The American officials in charge of the stand-down were much too concerned with making that unrealistic timeline than doing it right or safely. They entrusted the Taliban with sensitive details of troop movements and were cutting a lot of corners with security while ignoring the red flags that were popping up all over the place.

This withdrawal was a serious error in Mike’s opinion, but it was just one of many that were made in this war.  A lot of good men and American loving patriots had given their bodies, hearts, minds and emotional well-being to achieve victory, but to no avail. There were 2,402 military personnel and 18 CIA operatives who made the ultimate sacrifice and 20,713 were wounded in the 20 year conflict. If it wasn’t for incompetent and corrupt politicians and the powerful military industrial complex, the war would have ended years ago, saving billions of dollars and thousands of lives. You would wonder why the mistakes made during the Vietnam War were repeated in Afghanistan. Then you would have to think, is there an ulterior motive to keep a war going longer than it has to…and the first answer that comes to mind is money. Some evil creatures were making a lot from the Afghanistan War.

Mike’s team was scheduled to stay until the end and every Navy Seal viewed the withdrawal as a defeat and a personal insult, but the decision was above their pay grade so when they expressed their frustration, they kept it in house.

Riley Randall worked for Shepard International Animal Rescue, an organization funded by the Shepard shipping empire, thanks primarily to the efforts of Dana Shepard, heir to the multi-billion dollar fortune and animal lover who sat on the board of directors.  Riley was being sent to Afghanistan to help with the evacuation of the several animal sanctuaries that were supported by her rescue organization before the Taliban took control of the country. She contacted her brother, Mike and told him about her arrival date, “I’ll be there the day after tomorrow.”

            “It’s getting dangerous here,” Mike informed her, “Can’t you tell your boss to send someone else?”

            “I’ve got a job to do just like you,” Riley bristled, “If you were told to go somewhere, would you tell them that it’s too dangerous? We go where we’re needed…I’ll see you soon.”

The brother and sister had an emotional reunion and a pleasant dinner at the Park Star Hotel in Kabul. Mike re-emphasized his concern for his sister, “I don’t feel right about this, Afghanistan is a powder keg ready to blow at any time.”

            “I plan on getting out of here as soon as the animals are safe and not before,” Riley said.

            “I can see that you’re as stubborn as always,” Mike smiled.

            “You call it stubborn, but I’m just honoring my oath to the organization,” Riley said.

Riley and her team were being escorted by five civilian security contractors and all of which were former military personnel. Nathan Leslie was a former Marine and Mike approached him, “Riley is my sister, I’d appreciate it if you looked out for her.”

Nathan smiled, “Affirmative…I’ll guard her with my life.”

Scientist Albert Newton had been working on a plasma induced magnetic field for almost eight years and he was in Afghanistan to test the innovative piece of equipment under actual combat conditions. The primary purpose of his invention was to neutralize the devastating effects of IED’s (improvised explosive device) on our military. A force field, sometimes known as an energy shield, force shield, energy bubble, or deflector shield, is a barrier made of things like energynegative energydark energyelectromagnetic fieldsgravitational fieldselectric fieldsquantum fieldsplasmaparticlesradiationsolid light, or pure force. It protects a person, area, or object from attacks or intrusions or even deflects energy attacks back at the attacker.

There are only two forces in nature that have a longer range than nuclear fallout and those are gravity and electromagnetism. Plasma in combination with a powerful induced magnetic field has the ability to deflect radiation and repel projectiles. But a protective bubble would use a ludicrous amount of energy to stop a missile, bullet or explosion and the shield would have to exert enough power to equal to the impact force. Another problem besides the shield’s energy consumption is the overheating of essential components. It would be more plausible to have sensors that detected projectiles or radiation bursts and activate the shield specifically in that direction. At the current time, Newton had developed his prototype shield to be operational for one minute before having to shut it down for five minutes. He hoped to get the effective time up to two minutes and was re-evaluating his theories to achieve that goal. Being the eternal optimist and relentless researcher, Newton was confident that he could solve the problem.

The scientist was given a section of Bagram Air Force Base to conduct his experiments and it wasn’t far from where the Navy Seals were billeted. Mike Randall was a curious individual and while he wasn’t a scientist, he knew how to make detailed calculations for long range sniper shots. Eventually Mike and Albert became friends and when the Navy Seal wasn’t working with his team, he usually could be found helping the scientist with his experiments.

Albert placed a ten gallon bucket filled with water on the ground and activated the force field around it. He told Mike to hit it, first with a rifle, then with a machine gun and finally with a grenade launcher. Each time the projectiles bounced off the shield.

Mike said, “Works well from the perspective of a non-scientist.”

While looking at screen and the countdown on the clock, Albert replied, “For exactly one minute, it is perfect. After that…not so much.”

Mike got the word that his team was pulling out in five days so he went to Lieutenant Commander Kipp Trimble to verify that Intel, “I thought we were staying until everyone was evacuated.”

            “Our orders have changed,” Trimble said, “We’re heading back to Coronado then to Pendleton for some training with the Marines.”

            “I was hoping my sister would be out of here before I was,” Mike sighed, “I better give her a call and give her the news.”

Mike called Riley and told her about his new orders and she responded, “We got delayed because some of the animals caught a virus and we had to quarantine them.”

            “What about the Taliban…have they been giving you any trouble?” Mike asked.

            “Not really, they’ve been watching us very close, but so far they’ve been keeping their distance.”

            “That could be good news or bad news,” Mike said.

            “Explain yourself.” Riley ordered.

Mike said, “The Taliban may not want to cause any trouble while the stand-down is in progress, but once we’re gone, they are going unleash the whirlwind. There is no doubt in my mind that Afghan soldiers are not going to fight. Many of the Afghan units have already been infiltrated by Taliban fighters.”

            “We’ve got a freighter waiting at Port Qasim and our cargo plane is waiting to transport the animals the 685 miles,” Riley reassured her brother, “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”

Unfortunately, that was not the case, one day before Mike and his team were scheduled to leave the country, Taliban fighters attacked the animal sanctuary. Three civilian contractors were wounded in the firefight and two of the animal rights workers were kidnapped.

Riley called her brother and explained what happened then added, “We’re going after them.”

            “I’m sorry for your friends, but you’re qualified for a search and rescue mission into hostile territory,” Mike said.

            “I am in charge of my team and those people are my responsibility,” Riley snapped back, “I’m not going to just leave them behind!”

            “I understand, can you do me one favor first?” Mike asked.

            “Yeah,” Riley replied.

            “Don’t do anything for 24 hours,” Mike said.

            “I can do that,” Riley said reluctantly, “but no longer.”

Mike went to see Kipp Trimble and asked, “Permission to speak off the record?”

            “Permission granted.”

Mike explained the situation with his sister and Kipp responded, “I can’t authorize you to go help her.”

Mike rubbed the right side of his head and said, “I’ve got this inner ear infection and I don’t think I shouldn’t fly.”

This was the opening that Kipp was waiting for to help his fellow warrior, “In that case, I’d recommend that you catch one of the later flights when you feel better.”

            “If you think that’s the best course of action then that’s what I’ll do,” Mike smiled.

Kipp strongly suggested, “Be extremely careful…these types of infection can be dangerous especially the Taliban strain.”

Albert Newton saw the Navy Seals packing up their gear and walked over to say goodbye to Mike, “It looks like you’re leaving, we should get together when I get back to the States.”

            “My team is leaving, but I’m staying,” Mike answered.

            “Some problem?”

            “My sister works for the Shepard International Rescue and…”

Albert interrupted, “My wife loves that organization and contributes to them every month!”

            “Like I was saying, my sister is having some trouble with the Taliban and I’m going to stay and help her,” Mike said.

            “May I go along?” Albert asked.

            “You know that this could be extremely dangerous?”

Albert smiled, “My wife would never forgive me if I didn’t help and if we do run into a problem, it will give me the opportunity to use my force field under actual combat conditions.”

            “You’re the man, Big Al. I’m getting everything ready for a sunrise pull-out,” Mike informed the scientist.

            “I’ll be ready,” Albert said.

The M1097A2 Humvee can carry a payload of 4,400 pounds. Mike made good use of that capability by loading a .50 caliber sniper rifle, M-60 machine gun and M-19 automatic grenade launcher and hundreds of rounds of ammunition for each of them. He also loaded extra fuel cans and plenty of water and food and various other essentials, but made sure there was enough room for Albert’s equipment. At sunrise on August 24, 2021, the duo left Bagram for Kandahar, which is about 280 miles from Kabul.

Three hours into their journey, they encountered a Taliban roadblock with five trucks blocking their route. Mike pulled off the road and looked at the armed men. Albert was visibly nervous, and asked, “What do we do now?”

            “Get the force field ready,” Mike told Albert and stepped out of the Humvee. He yelled out in Pashtu to the Taliban fighters then got the automatic grenade launcher ready for action.

Albert asked, “What did you tell them?”

            “I told them that they had 90 seconds to move or we were going to kill them,” Mike said calmly, “I suggest you get the force field ready if you want to stay alive.”

Albert quickly set the boundary of the shield to encompass the Humvee and said, “We’re ready.”

Mike yelled to the Taliban again, “Time’s up,” and fired a dozen high explosive grenades at them and three of their trucks exploded. When the Taliban returned fire, their incoming rounds failed to penetrate the shield. One minute passed and the shield shut down and Mike riddled the remaining vehicles with machine gun fire as the surviving terrorists ran away on foot.

Albert commented proudly, “That worked out well.”

            “Stay sharp, it’s probably going to get a lot worse and never get better,” Mike warned.

 Mike drove over to the burning vehicles got out and began loading the Taliban’s weapons and ammunition into the Humvee. Albert questioned the action, “What are you doing…I thought we had enough weapons.”

            “If I leave the weapons, they will just end up in the hands of some other terrorists. I’ll destroy them later if I don’t have any use for them,” Mike explained.

The two men drove for another twenty-five miles before Mike stopped at an elevated location  and looked back at the road that they had just traveled with his high powered binoculars. He handed them to Albert who saw ten vehicles heading in their direction and asked, “Are we being followed?”

            “Yup,” Mike said.


            “Yup, unless you ordered pizza,” Mike said, “The truck mounted machine guns are also a good clue that this is not a social call,” then pulled out the Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle and set it up, “Now it’s time to for me to show you how range to the target, wind direction and velocity, altitude, elevation and ambient temperature are part of my mathematical equations,” Mike wrote down a list of numbers, made some quick calculations then showed his answers to Albert.

Albert asked, “Are you going to give me a demonstration?”


The range to the vehicles was 920 yards and closing. Mike took aim and emptied the ten round magazine, popped in another one and fired another ten rounds. Albert watched as seven of the vehicles went up in flames as armor piercing rounds hit the engines.

Albert commented, “That’s some mighty fine shooting.”

            “I wish I could take more credit, but it’s all about the numbers. If the calculations are correct, all I have to do is point and pull the trigger,” Mike quipped.

            “I believe it is a little more complicated than that.”

Mike responded, “That should discourage them a little.”

Mike and Albert made it to the location where Riley was waiting and after a quick and emotional reunion, Mike introduced Albert to his sister.

Riley commented, “We received word from the Taliban, they want a ransom of $25,000 dollars for each person.”

            “I’ll go see them,” Mike suggested, “You need to get the animals ready to go because when I get back we won’t have much time.” Mike turned to the three civilian contractors, “Two stay here and one come with me.”

Mike was unarmed and walked down the road and was stopped by a group of armed fighters. He told them he had to make sure that the hostages were still alive before he could authorize the ransom. One of the Taliban hit Mike in the stomach with the butt of his rifle and his legs slightly buckled. One of Taliban led a young woman and man out for inspection. They looked scared, but otherwise they were unharmed.

The Navy Seal waved and Albert reminded his companion of the plan as they drove forward. “Mike is going to grab the hostages and that will be your cue to take out as many Taliban as you can. Once everybody is in the vehicle, I’ll activate the force field. Any questions?”

            “I’m good,” The contractor said.

The Humvee drove up and stopped between Mike and the Taliban fighters. Mike made sure he was within arms’ reach of the hostage. He winked at the civilian contractor who immediately shot three fighters.  Albert swung open the door and Mike pushed the hostages in and dived in after them. The force field was activated and the hundreds of rounds that the Taliban fired at the Humvee bounced off it. In fifty seconds it was out of range.

They made it back to where the plane was waiting. The animals were already aboard and the two rescue workers quickly ran up the ramp. Riley kissed her brother goodbye and followed. The plane taxied for takeoff as the Taliban arrived and opened fire on the aircraft. Mike unleashed a barrage of small arms fire and grenades at the terrorists and neutralized the threat. When the plane was airborne, Mike and Albert headed to Kabul.

By the time Mike and Albert made it back to Bagram Air Base, the place was in chaos as people were doing their best to get to Kabul Airport, the designated evacuation center. Bagram was much more secure than Kabul Airport and there wasn’t one good reason to move it there. Mike found out that Taliban leadership promised to provide security if the United States moved its operations to Kabul airport and they accepted the offer.

 It was 1800 hours, local time on Aug. 26, 2021 when a suicide bomber killed 170 Afghans along with 13 U.S. troops. Mike and Albert heard the massive explosion and saw the smoke and knew it was bad news. They quickly restocked the Humvee with ammunition and food before driving to Kabul Airport. When they got there, they were stunned by the extent of the human carnage and property damage.

Mike and Albert had top priority for evacuation from the country, but Mike declined to go. “After seeing this, there’s no way I can leave now. There’s a lot of people who are being left behind and I’m going to help them. I’m also going to kill me as many Taliban as I can in the process. There’s no reason for you not to stay, get on a plane and get the hell out of here before it’s too late!”

Albert thought for a moment then replied, “I’d still like to do a little field testing on my invention, so I’ll stay too.”  He looked around the area and saw hundreds of armed enemy fighters and thousands of fearful Afghans and added. “I don’t believe that history is going to look favorably upon the United States for the way it handled this situation.”

Mike was a lot less diplomatic, “I think you’re being much too kind. In my opinion, I believe there’s a special place in hell waiting for those responsible for this. I’m not just talking about the enemy, I’m talking about the monsters in Washington who put us in this position!”

As they drove off, Albert asked, “What do we do now?”

            “We’ve got a new Mission Objective and are in a Danger Close environment. The Taliban is in front, behind, on both our flanks and outnumbers us 100 to1. That the bad news… the good news is we’ve got a lot of ammunition and your force field.”

Nobody knows for sure how long Mike Randall and Al Newton stayed in Afghanistan after the main evacuation ended, but while they were there, they helped hundreds of stranded individuals who had been abandoned by the United States government. They also gave a lot of Taliban fighters the opportunity to die for their radical beliefs.     

The End


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  1. Robert says:

    Enjoyed this story. Glad you’re back writing. Always enjoy the weekend stories.

  2. John michels says:

    Nice story Tom. People responsible for that debacle are sadly still in charge

  3. Steve says:

    Our withdrawal from Afghanistan in the matter we chose to leave was a national disgrace. This was a good story about the men who were left behind to deal with our government’s failure.

  4. wolf says:

    great story

    The Kabul evacuation will go down as one of our greatest failures and falls directly on the shoulders of our incompetent commander in chief.

    I was The Maine liaison Officer. to Picatinny Arsenal where weapons ammunition was developed.

    one project was. picatinny arsenal magnetic propulsion

    It was supposed to increase the range and velocity of projectiles.

    When I left it was it was still in the testing phase

  5. Tom says:

    An excellent story…with far too much truth in it. I recall spending 3 weeks in Kabul in 2004 as part of a UN delegation observing the elections. We always traveled in an armored convoy, wore armored vests and helmets. We stayed in the CFC-A (CJTF-76) compound. An occasional IED would explode in the area but we seemed to be in a safe zone. I would not say the same for 2021! And I would never have trusted the Taliban to honor the truce. We were naive and stupid. The “senior leadership” at the helm today are not worthy of that title. We need warriors, not ass-kissers.

  6. Joe says:

    Another engaging story Tom. Keep it up!

  7. Bart says:

    Good one, beats tv shows

  8. Jeremy says:

    I really enjoyed the story. Great message as well.

  9. Tony says:

    Another excellent story in this Sunday’s Vita Press by Mr. Thomas Calabrese that seems all to real an is for many people that fought in in Afghanistan for the past 20 years to rid the county of the Taliban only to witness the USA having them seated at the head of the Afghan Government Government again? There are a lot of “Tick” off Military and Civilians . about the way this was handled and I for one can not blame them fro their anger. What has happened since WW 2 when the only acceptable option was to Win. Mr. Calabrese has hit some nerves with many folks with this story and I am certain they nerves are favorable for his story. Mr. Calabrese must have been in tears when he researched this story.
    I know the people that fought in Afghanistan will not forget their sacrifices and their friends that gave their lives fighting alone side of them during their service. The people of America should not forget either about these loyal American Men and Women. God Bless them All. Thank you Mr. Calabrese for this story and keeping certain incidents fresh in our minds.

  10. Clyde says:

    I know that I’m not the only one that is still angry about the Afghanistan mess. God bless those who served and sacrificed so much.

  11. Jon Gregory Nielsen says:

    Thanks yet again for another thought provoking story with this month marking the 2nd anniversary of the absolute fiasco by the U.S.in Afghanistan.

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