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The Trojan Bombardment

General Pier S. Hardesty placed his finger on the map.

"Here, at Karnak City. A twenty-hour bombardment, and bombing round the clock until I say 'Stop.' Also at the road junction north of Hellcat Pass. I want the defenses there plastered."

Burns, the artillery officer, shook his head. "We can do anything you want to Karnak City. But we can't hit that road junction till we either capture both ends of the pass or get some kind of position on the south slope of the Hellcat Mountains. There's a little matter of lofting those shells over that mountain range."

"What's the matter?" Hardesty demanded. "You've got 915 mm. howitzers running out your ears."

"Yes, sir. But the shells have a somewhat different trajectory from what you might expect. I'd like to take the lot of these 915's and—" Burns told in short language what he would like to do with them. Hardesty listened critically, then shook his head.

"You couldn't do it," he said. "They wouldn't fit. Personally, I'd like to—"

The air officer put in, in a purring voice, "If Colonel Burns feels that his artillery can't make it over the foothills, I'm sure we can plaster this road junction, General. With any kind of explosive, incendiary or distractant you care to use."

"What we're up against is a collection of half-starved, communized fanatics here, and semi-lunatic do-gooders at home," said the general. "Personally, I'd like to take these Kazang rebels and slaughter the lot of them. But they pop down holes like rats, bob up somewhere else, to put a bullet through the back of your head, and if we give them what they deserve, everybody's afraid their coreligionists will rise up and the thing will spread instead of ending." He shook his head. "So—we're using distractants only."

"Yes, sir," said the air officer. "Well, we can reach that road junction, sir."

Burns, the artillery officer, said, "Live distractants. They have to hit the junction with a reasonable facsimile of pinpoint accuracy."

"We can—"

"Without jarring."


"Parachutes won't work. Vaned containers induce nausea and make a bad psychological effect. Our 915's have a rotating base and tip, stabilized canister and proximity-controlled shortlife superrotating pop-out blades. They land the load gently."

The air officer snorted. "But at the beginning, this same load starts off how? It's shot out of a gun."

Burns nodded. "Using microtimed charges and safety vents to insure smooth acceleration, with internal cushioning in the canister, rocket-assist units, and a barrel proportioned to fit a coast-defense gun instead of an honest howitzer. These 915's may burn the ears off an artilleryman now and then, but they don't hurt the charge."

The air officer shook his head in disgust. "What a war."

General Hardesty eyed him speculatively. "Can you air-drop these distractants on that road junction?"

"Well, sir—"

"Our canisters," said Burns helpfully, "are armored, to prevent unfortunate incidents."

The air officer said in disgust, "No, sir. I'm afraid we can't compete under these conditions. Not yet, at least."

"All right," said Hardesty. "Let's get this mess straightened out and get squared away. First we hit Karnak City. Twenty-hour bombardment and bombing around the clock, until I'm satisfied they've had it. There's three battalions of the Kazang Death's Head Elite Guard holed up in there, and they aim to make a house-to-house defense and then afterward claim we desecrated the temple when they left. We want to be sure they're well softened up before we move in."

"Yes, sir. As—the charges?"

"A, B and C, but no D. I have to reserve D for that road junction." He eyed Burns coldly.

"Sir," said Burns, "the 915's just won't reach that junction. That's all there is to it. But if you decide to soften it up with A and B distractants, out of 155-S howitzers, we can do that for you."

Hardesty nodded. "All right. Hit the pass with A and B for a couple of hours, then walk on back and plaster the junction."

"When we move up later," said Burns, "we can hit the junction with all the D you want. Ah, that is, with as many D canisters as you can load."

"All right. That will have to do it."

Burns saluted and left at a trot. The air officer saluted and ran off in a different direction.

A perspiring individual in fatigues, with "Correspondent" sewed at his shoulder, scribbled frantically in a notebook and eased closer to the scowling general.

"Ah—General Hardesty. May I ask, sir, how do you feel about the effectiveness of this new and advanced means of—er—settling international conflicts?"

"I've been directed to use it," said the general, "and I'm using it."

"Yes, sir, but how do you feel? What is your assessment of the effectiveness of this method?"

Hardesty squinted at the correspondent like a large dog eyeing a small porcupine. The fellow was a nuisance, all right. And there was no question but that Hardesty could obliterate him. But in the process, he might collect some painful mementos that would fester for a long time afterward.

"It works," said Hardesty abruptly, "in the short run. In the long run, I foresee some difficulties."

"H'm. Might I ask, sir—"

"I can't tell you what's going to go wrong without tending to precipitate the very thing I want to avoid. Just stick around. You'll see."

"M'm." the correspondent was scribbling fast in his notebook. The general suddenly wondered how much of that was going to be legible later and how many illegible sections would be bridged over by the correspondent's imagination. He glanced at his watch and saw that there were still a few moments till the 105's opened up and the air arm went into action. He frowned back at the notebook. "What system of shorthand is that you're using?"

"Shorthand? Oh, my own, general. I leave out all the vowels and capitals, and don't bother with the punctuation."

The general nodded. "Just as I thought."

Underfoot, the ground jumped.

A few moments later someone shouted, "Drones out, sir!"

The general nodded.

A thunderous concussion rolled out across the flat green land and echoed back from the hills ahead. There was a continuous trembling underfoot. Dark forms blurred into the sky, to vanish in the direction of Karnak City, the Kazangs' ancient capital and religious center. With a roar, the aircraft began to take off.

Someone shouted, "Drones transmitting, sir!"

The general nodded and walked fast for the TV shack. The correspondent stayed close at his heels.

"Sir!" shouted the correspondent. "Would you say this new and more sophisticated means of—ah—settling disputes is an outgrowth of the spectacular increase in our productive capacity, consequent upon progressive scientific and technological advances, and the rationalization of productive methods?"

"I suppose so."

"Would you say that it represents a hopeful development in relations between states and differing ideological systems and viewpoints?"

"That I don't know." The general ducked past a guard and through a doorway. Behind him, there was an angry outburst as the guard stopped the correspondent. The general ran down a flight of steps, turned a corner, went by another guard, and through another doorway. Before him were about a dozen big TV screens, arranged in a semicircle, with operators adjusting the screens for clarity and speaking through headphones to the drone-controllers overhead. Roughly half of the screens were already lit.

The nearest lighted screen showed a street of small shops, with a trench across the street, the heaped-up dirt forming a parapet, and the crowded figures of Kazang rebels armed with tommy-guns and bazookas peering out over the dirt. Down the street, others looked out from barricaded shops. One of the men pointed up and shouted, as a small parachute drifted down, supporting some kind of dangling burden.

Instantly a fanatical-looking soldier raised his gun and shot at it, creating a dazzle of flying fragments and a splash of something dark on the front of the parapet. A second soldier bent over the parapet, straightened, and shouted something. The first soldier took aim toward another parachute drifting down. A third soldier changed grips on his gun and smashed the first soldier over the head.

The small parachute drifted closer, and was immediately snatched from the air. For an instant, its burden was clear on the screen—a bottle suspended on a cord and labeled:


Govt. Issue
For offensive use only.


More and more parachutes were drifting down, and more and more enemy troops were rising from holes to snatch them out of the air.

Officers appeared, shouting furiously, to be hit on the head by drifting bottles labeled, "Govt. Issue—RUM—For offensive use only."

The populace was now reappearing in the streets, to snatch at drifting bottles.

Discipline and order were clearly giving way, save where one grim and burly officer dealt out a savage harangue and then cautiously tried a sip from a bottle, and spat it on the ground. Obviously he was warning that it must be poison. Now, however, a surprised look crossed his face, and he tried again. He raised his eyebrows, took off his helmet, eyed the bottle with a frown, and tried a third sip.

More small parachutes were now drifting down, marked with concentric stripes, where the first had been in solid colors. These latter bore small cartons lettered:

Govt. Issue
For offensive use only.
*Caution: May be harmful to your health.

The general watched alertly. Surely in this religious capital something would happen to prevent the distractants from working unhindered. But if it was going to happen, it would have to happen fast. The troops had not left their posts yet, but they were making good use of every drifting opportunity as it wafted by.

Now came a third set of parachutes, marked with varicolored rays and bearing boxes of assorted sizes, that troops and populace alike tore open, at first warily, and then with wild abandon.

Inside was a variety of different things, some boxes holding big flashlights that lit up brightly, others containing box cameras, and others clocks, already showing the correct time. All of these things were somewhat large and breakable, but useful and good by local standards.

The general glanced from screen to screen. To his experienced eye, it now seemed clear that resistance in Karnak City would fold up without any serious struggle. So much for that. But there was still the pass on his left front. Once he had that, and the road junction beyond, any counterattack would have to proceed by awkward detours. But the road junction was held by an enemy general who knew exactly what the situation was, and he was there in person.

From behind General Hardesty came the sound of loud arguing, and then the correspondent, shoving passes and authorizations back into his pocket, thrust into the room and stopped to stare at the screens. From his face, it was evident that he had heard the theory of this procedure but had never seen it in action before.

"Ah—ah—General," said the correspondent. "Ah—this is a bombardment with A, B, and C charges?"


"But no D charges?"

"That's right. No D."

"A is—ah—"


"And B?"

"Cigarets. C is bulky breakable objects of local value."

"Why bulky and breakable?"

"When the enemy soldier has something bulky and breakable that he values and wants to hang onto, it cramps his style considerably. Picture yourself trying to fight a war with a portable TV in one hand."

"I see. What is a D charge?"

"Stick around. You'll see."

"And the object of this 'distraction attack' is—?"

"According to the book: 'Vast quantities of wealth and productive effort are expended in the production of munitions, only a tiny fraction of which ever strike a living target. Much is wasted, even in attacks upon inanimate objects. Where these objects are hit, valuable structures are destroyed and must be replaced at considerable expense by the victors, when they occupy the conquered territory. A railroad, for instance, destroyed in the attack, must be replaced in the occupation. This all creates much waste and duplication of effort. Desirable objects, however, like the Trojan horse, will be actively sought by the populace, and each one will, in effect, strike its target. A more desirable way to block a road or railroad is to place thereon an object of great value to the defender, who will feel impelled to remove it carefully. Much can be accomplished by using objects of local value to block facilities of national value. In this way, one interest in the country can be led to oppose another. By judicious use of this method, a chaotic situation may be created wherein the united enemy fragments into local groups. Since comparatively little killing of the enemy is involved, the actual aggressor using this method incurs comparatively little ill-feeling. It is a method which, of course, can by effectively used only by a highly productive and well organized power, with highly developed technology and reliable and flexible transportation system.'"

The correspondent wrote urgently in his notebook, then looked up. "And this method is what we're using?"


"What if someone shoots at our men?"

"If it's serious, shoot back."

"Doesn't that create ill will?"

The general shrugged. "Consider this present setup. An inefficient but at least anti-communist government is overthrown by fanatical communist rebels, who seize the capital and drive the legitimate but inefficient government to the coastal city from which they now rule what's left of the country. The efficient but communist rebels take over, have a blood purge, exterminate anyone unfortunate enough to have possessions, and make so much bad feeling that they're afraid of being overthrown themselves, so they efficiently create a murderous dictatorship. Meanwhile, the legitimate government invokes our mutual-defense treaty and urges us to come in and slaughter every rebel Kazang with a head on his shoulders. Are you under the impression that anybody can do anything in a such a setup without creating bad feeling of some kind?"

The correspondent blinked. "Yes, I see."

He scribbled desperately in his notebook, and the general said, "Why not a tape recorder?"

"I had one, but I got too close to one of those 915 mm. howitzers. Now, General, when you explained the theory of distraction warfare, you said 'according to the book.' Is there another explanation?"

"Sure. Have you ever heard of Sheridan's ride?"

"I've heard of it, but I don't know what it was."

"Sheridan's troops were defeated by a Confederate force under the command of Early. Sheridan was away at the time, but rode to the battlefield, turning his retreating troops back as he went. When he reached the battlefield, he found Early's troops, who were suffering from want and hunger, plundering his camp. While they were still in a state of disorder, Sheridan attacked and routed them. Throughout history, armies capable of standing great deprivation have been torn apart by sudden plenty and then quickly defeated. This has almost always happened by accident. The present idea is to use it on purpose. So far, it seems to be working. But believe me, it goes against the grain."

"But doesn't this method strengthen the enemy?"

"What—liquor, cigarets and cameras, delivered to him when he needs maximum alertness? Strengthen him? How?"

"Don't you ever use food?"

"Certainly, after we've got control of the place, or for some definite purpose. The idea is to cause the maximum distraction at just the time he can least afford it, if you follow me."

The correspondent frowned, and nodded. The general glanced briefly at the screens, then looked back at the correspondent. Somewhere, the general had heard the saying, "He is a fool who cannot hide his wisdom." Now was this correspondent really such a dolt as he seemed to be, or was he merely seeming to be a dolt in order to get his victim to lower his guard. And then what would happen? Would he send back such a report that the do-gooders would all complain because the poor Kazang rebels were being fed liquor instead of a balanced diet?

"Ah—" said the correspondent—"these reports of—immoral practices—"

"What reports of immoral practices?"

"There have been rumors."

"Get to the point."

"Well, it's said that on some battlefields, beautiful women have been driven along ahead of the troops."

"That was the Kazang's stunt, not ours."

"H'm. Well—"

The general glanced at his watch. A few moments before, he'd noticed another screen flicker on. That view was of the pass. Out of the corner of his eye, he took occasional glances at the screen as the correspondent asked more and yet more questions. Was this method moral? Was it humane? Wasn't it really, in a way, more cruel than to shoot a man? Was it fair? Meanwhile, disorganization at the pass progressed rapidly. Now the attacking troops approached, ignoring the liquor with a disinterest that spoke volumes for the regulation chemical in their bloodstreams that would make them sick if they drank that particular brand. And then the troops were in the pass.

Somewhere the TV observers watched the effect of the bombardment further ahead, taking pains to see that the bombardment was accurate, as usual, and that it was having a real and not only an imagined effect. But that collection of staggering drunks, guns lost or slung at their shoulders, packs bulging and bottles in both hands gave testimony that Intelligence had correctly estimated the tastes and psychology of the Kazang ordinary soldier. The best general officer of the Kazang, back at that crossroad, was another matter. Again General Hardesty glanced at his watch.

" . . . so don't you feel," the correspondent was saying, "that really this is a heartless and callous exploitation of human weakness, human frailty, to subvert the mind and morals of your opponent from his true loyalty, to degrade . . . ."

"Phew," said the general. "Not enemy, but opponent. How did you degrade an opponent who delights in torture, who in peacetime considers himself clever if he strains ditch-water for a particular type of intestinal parasite, then bribes a servant to put it in his competitor's food? We are supposed to use only the most knightly of methods, while our own men are carried off by the thousands, bloated from barbed darts, smeared with the dung of specially infected monkeys? Is that your argument?"

"Well, of course, they are primitive. It's up to us—"

The conviction was gaining ground with the general that this particular correspondent, actually was a real, genuine, Grade-A boob. In that case, the fellow's boobishness could be put to use.

" . . . if not more honorable," he was saying now, "to first send them a note stating clearly your own intentions and frankly asking them for theirs. Then you could offer them, freely and openly, an equivalent amount of goods to what you are using now. That is, if they would agree to step back a distance, as it were. Then, they would get something and we would get something, and it would be honest and aboveboard and both would profit."


"Why, in that they would give a little, and we would give a little, and—"

"And when they wanted more, they'd grab territory, and we'd bribe them to give part of it back again?"

"Well, what's the difference between that and his present method?"

"This present method does not give them what they need to make trouble. It gives them what the individual soldier momentarily wants. What they need and what they want can be two entirely different things. We use that fact to split them wide open. While they're split wide open, we move in. Before they know what hit them, we do our best to set up an honest government, which is something this country hasn't seen for the last one thousand years."

The correspondent appeared momentarily dazed.

The general glanced at his watch, and frowned. "Outside, the artillery should be getting set pretty soon to let fly with those D-charges. Better stay down here when they load them."

The correspondent looked crafty and shot out the door and up the stairs.

The general shook his head. A genuine boob. Already, on one of the screens, the first of the gigantic howitzers was rolling toward the pass. By the time the fellow got to the spot where the big howitzers had been, they'd be set up elsewhere, and the view would then be coming in on the screen.

The general watched the screen with interest. Already the road junction was coming into view as the drones moved forward. For such a valuable piece of real estate, it didn't look like much. To left, and right, the north-south road, a long strip of dust, stretched out over the mountain slopes, high above the low, wet ground. Straight ahead, the east-west road gradually descended from the pass onto the one reasonably solid causeway through swamp and jungle to the neighboring state of Cuchang. The Cuchang and Kazang mutually despised each other, and if one threatened to make progress, the other kicked his feet out from under him out of sheer jealousy. But, having the same religion, they obviously might unite to flatten any outsider with the gall to bring a new idea into the region. It followed, the general concluded, that he had better get a firm grip on that nearby narrow gateway from Cuchang into Kazang. Unfortunately, the Kazang had a general of their own who had already got a grip on this road center and intended to keep it himself. How to pry him loose?

Already, the screens showed the pass, from end to end, and the nearby slopes dominating it were in friendly hands. Already, the bombardment of the road center—using these shells originally intended to shoot supplies into besieged outposts—was producing a whirl of gaily colored parachutes.

But not a single individual reached out to sample the temptations offered him.

Obviously the enemy general had his troops well under control.

There was a faint distinct jolt underfoot.

Someone murmured, "There go the nine-fifteens."

On the screen, a new type of shell spun down, the sunlight flashing on its whirling rotors. Then another and another dropped down, till they seemed to be landing everywhere.

General Hardesty watched closely. This was the acid test.

From behind him, a familiar voice said, "Those are the D charges?"


The correspondent said, "What's going on?" He sounded intent and serious.

The general said, "Whoever has that crossroad controls whether troops move north and south on that road and whether they go east and went on the Cuchang road."

"Can't they go cross-country?"

"Yes, of course, but the country is bad. The Kazang general who had that road junction wants to hold it till help can come across from Cuchang. We want to take it away from him. But he's dug in. If he can hold it till the Cuchang get their armor across, he can make trouble for us. We have to split his position wide open now. Once we break up his position, we can get through to blow up the causeway. This will present the Cuchang with something of a problem."

"But how are you going to capture that position, if their general can keep his troops in order? But, then, how can he control—"

General Hardesty watched the screens. "Either he's convinced them that anything we send is poisoned, or he's got some special troops who'll shoot anyone they see so much as reach for the stuff."

"So these D charges are to crack their resistance?"

"That's the idea."

"What are they? Explosives?"


"Gas shells? Tear gas?"


"You say they're live, right?"

"That's right."

"Hordes of plague rats?"

Hardesty snorted. "That would be bright, wouldn't it? We're here, too. Wouldn't it be shrewd of us to start a thing like that with us in the middle of it?"

"Then what is inside?"

"Bear in mind, we supply what they want. Not necessarily what they need, but what they want. What does any soldier of any nationality, with weeks of hard labor and deprivation behind him, and stuck in some desolate hole—what does he want?"

"I don't—"

On a nearby screen, a tall figure appeared out of the ground, walked slowly out toward one of the brightly-colored "shells," and turned to shake his fist. He appeared to be looking out of the screen almost straight at Hardesty. Silver insignia glinted at his collar as he glared angrily back toward the pass. Then he bent at one of the shells, worked a release of some kind, and the top swung up.

A slender woman in a long black dress slit up both sides rose up out of the shell and threw her arms around him.

General Hardesty glanced at the correspondent. "That's his wife. We captured her two weeks ago." He studied the correspondent's face. "We only get the best value out of the D shells toward the end of a campaign, and a lot depends on Intelligence."

The correspondent stared at the screen. Men were appearing from the earth like ants and snapping open the big shells. Out of each climbed someone the men seemed very glad to see.

"How do they know—"

"Each of those shells has a loudspeaker; each one is labeled, and this bombardment was preceded by dropping leaflets and an armored broadcast speaker."

The general smiled. "So now you see, we reunite families, and promote romance, at considerable expense to ourselves. Isn't that considerate of us?"

The screen had taken on the look of a huge picnic. Into the midst of this reunion dropped a barrage of freshly heated food, swinging on parachutes.

And in the midst of the confusion, there raced down the road in a cloud of dust half-a-dozen loaded jeeps with no drivers visible. The first four blew up. The last two bounced, crashed, swerved, made it to the crossroad and started back.

"Remote-control," said the general. "To check for mines."

The two remaining jeeps again roared up the road, and this time successive little groups of jeeps boiled up the road after them, bristling with guns. Behind the jeeps came a gigantic howitzer.

From the direction of the jungle swamp and Cuchang, a big tank crawled up the road. Then, as the driver got a look at the howitzer, the tank turned around and headed back to Cuchang again.

"Just barely in time," said the general.

The correspondent was still staring at the reunited families, feasting on the specially provided meal fired at them in place of bullets.

"Phew," he said. "Now I see it. It's all calculated. They always get what they want when it so happens that what they want will wreck their position. Holy—"

Then his eyes widened even further.

The general nodded. Not a boob after all, he thought. Now, had he earlier just made believe he was a boob?

Or had he actually been one, and now the shock had jolted him out of it?

"And," said the correspondent, "that's the flaw!"

"The what?"

"What's wrong with this. The long-range drawback of the short-range advantages you spoke of."

The general nodded slowly. "And what is that?"

"What happens," said the correspondent slowly, "is we make this too satisfactory, too painless. Just suppose—"

The general listened critically. Here it came. The very thing that he had to throw out of his mind every night in order to get a little sleep.

"Here we are," said the correspondent, "trying not to be brutal. We've hit on a system that actually makes it pleasant for the opposition to get beat. It's an expensive method, but wars are always expensive. The difference with our method is it's comparatively bloodless and even pleasant. It's designed to make no unnecessary enemies. Half the trouble in the world comes from the enemies you made in the last fight."

"Yes," said the general. "That's it. And—"

"And," said the correspondent, "now that we've got this comparatively bloodless, pleasant way of waging war, this is still ruinously expensive, however, what do we do if—"

The general nodded. "Go on."

"What do we do," the correspondent concluded, "if we make it so pleasant that everyone wants to fight us?"

On the screen, the liquor bottles whirled past like snowflakes in a blizzard. The correspondent listened alertly, and the general listened with him.

But no one stepped forward to provide an answer to that question.


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