The Marine Corps acts like its own little army, of courseit even has its own air force, small, but possessed of sharp fangsand that now included a chief of intelligence, though some uniformed personnel regarded that as a contradiction in terms. The Marine intelligence headquarters was a new establishment, part of the Green Machine's effort to catch up with the rest of the services. Called the M-2 "2" being the numerical identifier of someone in the information businessthe chief's name was Major General Terry Broughton, a short, compact professional infantryman who'd been stuck with this job in order to bring a little reality to the spook trade: the Corps had decided to remember that at the end of the paper trail was a man with a rifle who needed good information in order to stay alive. It was just one more secret of the Corps that the native intelligence of its personnel was second to noneeven to the computer wizards of the Air Force whose attitude was that anyone able to fly an airplane just had to be smarter than anybody else. Eleven months from now, Broughton was in line to take command of the Second Marine Division, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The welcome news had just arrived a week before, and he was still in the best of good moods from it.
That was good news for Captain Brian Caruso as well, for whom an audience with a general officer was, if not exactly frightening, certainly reason for a little circumspection. He was wearing his Class-A olive-colored uniform, complete to the Sam Browne belt, and all the ribbons to which he was entitled, which wasn't all that many, though some of them were kind of pretty, as well as his gold parachute-jumper's wings, and a collection of marksmanship awards large enough to impress even a lifelong riflemen like General Broughton.
The M-2 rated a lieutenant-colonel office boy, plus a black female gunnery sergeant as a personal secretary. It all struck the young captain as odd, but nobody had ever accused the Corps of logic, Caruso reminded himself. As they liked to say: two hundred thirty years of tradition untrammeled by progress.
"The General will see you now, Captain," she said, looking up from the phone on her desk.
"Thank you, Gunny," Caruso said, coming to his feet and heading for the door, which the sergeant held open for him.
Broughton was exactly what Caruso had expected. A whisker under six feet, he had the sort of chest that might turn away a high-speed bullet. His hair was a tiny bit more than stubble. As with most Marines, a bad hair day was what happened when it got to half an inch, and required a trip to the barber. The general looked up from his paperwork and looked his visitor up and down with cold hazel eyes.
Caruso did not salute. Like naval officers, Marines do not salute unless under arms or "covered" with a uniform cap. The visual inspection lasted about three seconds, which only felt like a week or so.
"Good morning, sir."
"Have a seat, Captain," The general pointed to a leather-covered chair.
Caruso did sit down, but remained at the position of attention, bent legs and all.
"Know why you're here?" Broughton asked.
"No, sir, they didn't tell me that."
"How do you like Force Recon?"
"I like it just fine, sir," Caruso replied. "I think I have the best NCOs in the whole Corps, and the work keeps me interested."
"You did a nice job in Afghanistan, says here." Broughton held up a folder with red-and-white-striped tape on the edges. That denoted top-secret material. But special-operations work often fell into that category, and, sure as hell, Caruso's Afghanistan job had not been something for the NBC Nightly News.
"It was fairly exciting, sir."
"Good work, says here, getting all your men out alive."
"General, that's mostly because of that SEAL corpsman with us. Corporal Ward got shot up pretty bad, but Petty Officer Randall saved his life, and that's for sure. I put him in for a decoration. Hope he gets it."
Reprinted from The Teeth of the Tiger by Tom Clancy by permission of G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2003, Tom Clancy. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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