Empire Of The Ring Chapter 265
“It’s weird that Chief Michael likes you so much. There’d be no one else in the European chapter that Michael likes, except you.”
“What about him?”
“Are you seriously asking?”
There would be no one in the European chapter who had not been reprimanded by Michael at least once. Since he was hot-tempered and used to be in the military, he would scold people for their bad job straight to their faces. That was why Michael’s office was dead quiet unless there was a conference going on. But Youngho could talk to Michael for hours while exchanging jokes occasionally.
At first, it was not easy for him to speak to Michael. He used to only deal with Michael for hours because Michael would not let him go. Now the two became friends that he could open his heart to him. Youngho rather felt comfortable to talk to someone like Michael now. Not only did Youngho shared a secret with Michael but he also saw Michael’s humane side, he developed a deeper friendship with Michael.
“He’s a soft guy if you get to know him.”
“You’re insane. Was that soft to you? The atmosphere was freezing cold.”
“But you laughed while we talked.”
“You were acting like a comedian there. Was I supposed to hold it in?”
“I’ll tell you this. That man likes our team very much. He feels sorry that we did not receive traditional training. He keeps telling me to change our nationality and go to the CIA University to get on the elite training course.”
“Eww, I refuse to. We’re American citizens on the outside now. The fake Russian passport, Azerbaijani citizenship, and even Kazakh permanent residency. We’ve got so many identities. We’re lucky that the Korean embassy is not recalling our passports.”
Come to think of it, Youngho carried too many passports that it sometimes confusing to know where he truly belonged. In fact, citizenships did not really matter when living busily in a foreign country. Everyone around him was foreigners, so he did not really think of himself as special.
A dog that had been raised inside a house by humans only was said to be taken aback when meeting other dogs outside for the first time. Thinking ‘why do other dogs welcome me so brightly? I’m a human,’ the dog would avoid other dogs. Even dogs would have an identity crisis. Youngho might be in the same situation as the dog.
“Michael’s got intelligence devices as well. I’m curious.”
“Whatever they are, I refuse to get nuisance that only take up spaces. I’m not even sure if we can even operate them.”
“I’ll take anything they’d willing to give us. Once we receive those, I’ll study to learn about them on my own, and if that’s not enough, I’ll go to the European chapter to learn.”
Jong-il wanted the devices so much that he was even willing to learn the technology of handling electronic information which was said to be extremely difficult. Seeing Uyghur people’s reality, he was alarmed to grow the Arirang Autonomous State’s strength.
As Youngho and his friends lived in southeastern Europe after leaving Korea as if they were chased by the difficulties of life, what they have learned was that any ethnic minority groups could protect themselves with the power of unity and military strength. The newborn independent nations of Caucasus were not touched by outside forces because their people were protecting their nations with united affection for their people. Any minority groups who held out until the end were able to claim their own country. Regardless of gender, all people were armed to protect their territory, and outside forces had to let them go since they would fight for their independence with arms day and night.
Chechnya and Afghanistan were great examples of that. Russia had let Afghanistan go but it was still suffering from Chechen terrorists since it was still holding on to Chechnya.
It was Youngho’s job to dress up the Arirang Autonomous State that was finally achieved with difficulties but maintaining it was also his job. Not only maintaining its thread of life but to also make this small state a role model to others, doing so would finally make his duty complete.
Youngho had a shocking event when he traveled to Switzerland with the Fatima siblings a few years ago. When he was there, he saw well-built air-raid shelters all over the city. A permanently neutral nation, Switzerland had no armies on standby. They would neither invade other countries nor have other countries attack the land. However, it was fully equipped with shelters in case of war.
Later, he found out that any men between 20 to 50 of age would become soldiers in an emergency. Since men in that age bracket would be about 500,000 people in the population of eight million people, no other nations would dare to invade the country.
The country was made up of Germans, French, and Italians, but they were not separated from each other. That was why they were doing so well as an independent country.
Ever since Youngho encountered the city of Switzerland, he had been preparing emergency facilities at Arirang Farm. The underground gym could double as a shelter and the high stone walls were built for protection. The underground facilities of the Archduke’s castle would be the final bastion.
After a little bit of inconvenience, the patrol boats were finally given to the autonomous state. Michael had gone through so much trouble to make that happen.
So, as a way to thank him, Youngho decided to give him the position of Foreign Affairs National Security of the autonomous state but it was flatly rejected by him.
Anyway, because of Michael, the autonomous state was equipped with the largest patrol boats around the Caspian coast. They were not as powerful as naval missile boats but it was still great strength added to the state.
Youngho wanted to bring the vessels at once but it would only be possible after the soldiers of the Countryside Force were trained to operate the vessels in the states. Lieutenant Commander Jun also got excited since those vessels would strengthen their naval power. He kept coming to the Arirang Wharf to convince Youngho to send some of the Kazakh navies to America to receive the training.
“Mr. Lee. Couldn’t you say that they’re also the citizens of the autonomous state?”
Youngho asked why and he answered that the sea police would be now affiliated with the Navy so that navies who were discharged would become sea police from now on. That way the Navy would be guarding the open waters as well. Youngho had a great idea at this point.
“What if the autonomous state became in charge of the sea police duties alone then? Any discharged navies will be accepted to the Countryside Force, and they’ll be paid by the autonomous state as well.”
As Youngho made a ridiculous suggestion, Victor was dumbfounded.
“It’s to save Kazakhstan’s national defense expenditure. Since the autonomous state has many freighters, they need to be guarded too. It’d be good for both parties. And of course, they’d be under the Navy’s control, so they’ll become your subordinate unit, commander.”
Youngho did not care who was officially in control since they would become the autonomous state’s strength anyway. The discharged navies would follow the one that would pay them. Moreover, if he offered housings to their families at the autonomous state, they would become the citizens of the state and would be added to the state’s strength in the future.
It was nonsense that the Navy was responsible for sea police’ tasks, prevention of contamination, and rescue and recovery service. When vessels were increased, other nations in the Caspian coast might misunderstand that Kazakhstan was reinforcing naval strength. This might trigger an arms race between nations in the palm-sized Caspian Sea.
It was not a good idea to combine the sea police and navy together. It was probably suggested to save the budget for both departments.
As Youngho raised a hare about the new policy, Lieutenant Commander Jun also agreed.
“That’d be out of my authority unless there was a president’s decree or related policies were changed.”
“If that’s the right thing to do, we should request to change the policies. If you think about the future, we need to act now to make the change.”
There was no problem in this era since Kazakhstan was still in its transition period but if the military authorities gained too much power, this might cause a huge problem in the future. It might revolt to the government if it had complaints.
In wartime, military strength should be prioritized but now was the time of peace. The coastal guard duty should be carried out by the sea police and Navy should focus on its own duties. What Youngho suggested was a reasonable point, although he was fulfilling his own desire as well.
The Navy had no reason to refuse Youngho’s offer. The icebreakers of the Arirang Autonomous State were still making sea routes to the naval vessels, and it was a huge help to the Navy. Because the Navy would still have the transfer of wartime operational control and it would save funds for the sea police, both the Navy and the president approved Youngho’s suggestion.
The authorities also had in mind the national budgets for the Navy and sea police that were not used properly due to corrupted Kazakh officials who embezzled some portion of the budgets in the middle. If Arirang Farm would be in control of sea police and its expenses, it would be a huge relief to the Navy.
There was an old evil that all of the Central Asian countries had. It was officials’ corruption. It was an ill tradition that was passed down from the time of the former Soviet Union and it never changed. That was why the national defense’ budgets were being wasted as well as other governmental budgets.
Arirang Autonomous State’s wharf was under construction now. A wharf that would be used by both Navy and Sea Police were being built.
Knowing that foods provided to the Navy’s first-line troops were terrible, Youngho was building lodging, cafeteria, and resting area for the navies. It was to make them an amicable group to the autonomous state.
Kazakh naval vessels were about 500 tons at max. It was not easy to live in such small vessels. It sounded, in fact, extremely suffocating. To resolve their inconvenience, Youngho was going to build the best facilities for the young navies. It would certainly increase the soldiers’ spirit and the reputation of the autonomous state. As they remembered the good time they had in the state, they would be more willing to move to the state.
“Mr. Lee. I’m afraid that all of the soldiers in our naval base would decide to stay here if you keep providing us a place.”
Not knowing Youngho’s intention, he was bound to be impressed.
“Just think of it as a short break when you anchor your ships at the Arirang Wharf. The Navy and maritime police are separated by their names but they are one body. It won’t be good for your soldiers if maritime police were treated better than the naval soldiers.”
“I’m honored to meet someone who’s so thoughtful and especially because you’re Koryoin too. Koreans and Koryoins are the same people. I’m proud that I’m a Koryoin. I appreciate your kindness very much.”
Youngho wanted to buy Lieutenant Commander Jun’s favor, and since Jun was proud of being a Koryoin, it seemed his strategy worked.
“Oh, it’s nothing. You should come to receive more food for your vessel from now on when you’re short. We have more than enough to provide for your ship.”
“That’s so kind of you. Then we’ll provide oil for your vessels as much as you need.”
Coming from an oil-producing country, the Navy was using oil as much as they pleased. The gas tanks in the autonomous state were filled up to the top already, so Youngho was considering building underground gas tanks below the wharf. There was already one near the wharf but it was already full.
“You’re not trying to sell oil to make money for food expenses, right?”
“Hahaha. I’ll tell the oil refinery to deliver you more oil.”
Youngho liked it that Jun understood what Youngho was trying to say.
When there was enough gas, patrol boats would do multiple patrols a day.
If the autonomous state would do more patrols, it would be beneficial to the navies since they would naturally gain more break time and spare that time to tune up their vessels to a nicety. Lieutenant Commander Jun seemed to have calculated all that already in his mind.
“Do you wish to become a commander in the future?”
“Well, I don’t know. I don’t even know if I can move up to that rank because I’m a Koryoin. I think I might just retire after serving as a fleet commander.”
It seemed that there was a limit to how high ethnic minorities could be promoted in the navy. It was not because Kazakhs discriminated Koryoins but it was because Koryoins were small in number and the Navy had political concerns in choosing their high officers. Moreover, since most of the navies were Kazakhs, having an ethnic minority as their leader was not encouraging to them.
Youngho bluntly asked a question at this point.
“When you retire from the Navy in the future, would you be interested in being in charge of the Department of Defense of the Arirang Autonomous State?”