Behind the Scenes:

The War Stage

Book 2 of The War Planners Series

By Andrew Watts

The War Stage is the second book in a series about a hypothetical world war between the two great military superpowers of the 21st century, China and the United States.  While book 1 focuses on technologist David Manning, the series becomes more action-focused as we are introduced to the members of his family:

  • Chase Manning - David's brother, a former SEAL now working for the CIA's Special Operations Group.
  • Lieutenant Commander Victoria Manning - David's sister, a Navy helicopter pilot and the Officer in Charge of the USS Farragut's air detachment.
  • Admiral Arthur Manning - the father, and the commander of a US Navy carrier strike group.  

From the author, Andrew Watts:

I wrote the first draft of The War Planners while deployed on an aircraft carrier.  It was 2012 and I was the Air Operations officer for Destroyer Squadron Two, embarked on the USS Enterprise.  We were deployed the Middle East at the time.  Fast forward several years and I've made the USA Today bestseller list, and sold thousands of copies to amazing readers like you.  I hope you enjoy the books!  

Read on to find out about some of the details behind the War Planners series.

IDEAS & Technology


The history of cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin in particular, is fascinating.  Bitcoin really was begun with a simple white paper by a person or group of people known as Satoshi Nakamoto.  Unfortunately, I don't know his true identity.  But I'm pretty sure that he wasn't really killed in a secret Chinese-Iranian plot.

You can read about the NSA using their incredible capabilities to identify him here: What's more interesting?  That the US government asked the NSA to unmask him because they were worried Bitcoin / Satoshi might be a Russian or Chinese agent.  (Come on, someone in DC had to have read my book...)

A grouping of Bitcoin / Satoshi conspiracy theories: 

China is the overwhelming leader in Bitcoin mining:

When I wrote The War Stage, Bitcoin was booming, and I thought that the mystery surrounding its founder would make a great premise for a thriller.


Abu Musa is an island in the eastern end of the Arabian Gulf (aka Persian Gulf).  The Island is strategically valuable, because of its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz.  The Iranians control the island, although there have been territorial disputes between them and the United Arab Emirates.

The Iranian military has deployed its forces there.  You can see more here:

Youtube video of Iranian air defense on Abu Musa

FAS article about Iranian military buildup in 2012, including Chinese anti-ship missiles.

Iran has been threatening to "close" the Strait of Hormuz for a very long time.  It's one of their biggest threats, because it would shut off merchant (oil) traffic in and out of the gulf. 


I deployed to the Middle East on US Navy ships in 2009 and 2012, performing multiple transits through the Straits of Hormuz.  Some of my transits were in helicopters, and others were in command and control rooms on board aircraft carriers.  These evolutions are "game day" for the US Navy.  They are meticulously planned, and all personnel involved are well-prepared.​​ 

Here is a Business Insider article on Iranian naval tactics.  (link)

Every time we went through the Straits, the Iranians were so excited to greet us.  Below is an image from our helicopter of a nice Iranian pilot welcoming us to the Arabian Gulf.


From what I could find out open source during my book research:

The CIA's Special Activities Center, formerly known as the Special Activities Division contains two separate groups.  The Special Operations Group is the highly secretive, elite paramilitary arm of the CIA's clandestine services.  SOG conducts direct action missions (raids, assaults, and unconventional warfare).  The Political Action Group is the other half, responsible for psychological, political, and economic operations.  SOG fills its ranks with former elite US special forces members.

Medium article describing the differences between military and CIA special forces.

Wikipedia article - interesting history


I've been to Dubai multiple times while on Navy deployments.  It's a great city to visit.  While the weather is intensely hot, the hotels  and restaurants are top notch.  And there are some world-class sights to see.


The Dubai Mall (be sure to check out the 32 meter long fishtank)

Indoor ski mountain at the Mall of the Emirates

Burj Khalifa (pictured  below)



A CIA operative joins a Marine special operations team to infiltrate a secret Chinese base in the jungles of South America. A female navy helicopter pilot is thrown in charge of her destroyer when an unthinkable catastrophe strikes. And the Admiral of America's newest aircraft carrier strike group must save his daughter from a Chinese naval attack.

Read it Now HERE

Thanks for reading!

I know I've said this a lot to many of you over email or on Facebook.  But I really do appreciate you letting me make up stories for a living.  I hope you find them entertaining, and I'll do my best to keep quality work flowing.  Thanks and take care!

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I write two different series, with seven books total as of early 2019.  You can make sure you've read all of the books here.