Commander in Chief is a Jack Ryan, Sr./The Campus novel, written by Mark Greaney . It was released on December 1, 2015. In the Ryanverse novel series, it is preceded by Under Fire and is followed by Duty and Honor.
Abandoned by other international leaders, Jack Ryan alone counters the threat posed by Russian president Valeri Volodin. This isn't the first time that the dictator has threatened world peace, but this time he's playing a very nuanced game moving chess pieces around the board while isolating Ryan from the rest of the international community.
Fortunately, Jack Ryan, Jr. and the rest of his Campus team find themselves in the middle of action with a vital clue to the Russian's intentions.
In Russia there is a group of men known as the Siloviki. They are former intelligence and military officers that now essentially run the government. In a meeting with President Valeri Volodin, they express concerns that things are not going so well with the country, meaning that they are not making as much money from their state-owned investments as they used to. He reveals his plan to bring more prosperity to Russia via armed conflict in the region of the Baltic Sea. Meanwhile, he is also working with a financial expert, Andrei Limonov, to move some of his vast wealth around the world in case his plan doesn’t work and he needs to escape the influence of the Siloviki.
A ship named Independence is docked at Klaipeda, Lithuania. It is a state-of-the-art vessel for transporting natural gas. Prior to its inception, Lithuania relied largely on Russia for natural gas. Now the country is experiencing economic relief, while the profits of Russia’s natural gas concerns have suffered. While in port, an eco-terror group detonate a bomb, destroying the ship.
Jack Ryan, Jr. is in Rome, doing some investigation into Russia’s money networks. He is taking the opportunity to spend time with Ysabel Kashani, a woman he met on a recent mission. One day while heading to his apartment, he realizes he is being followed by someone. He confronts the man at his apartment building and finds out that his name is Salvatore, a paparazzo. The man seemed to only be interested in Ryan because he was recognized as the son of the US President. Nonetheless, Ryan decides he needs to close up his operation in Rome and move on to Luxembourg, where it seems his investigation was leading to anyway.
Kaliningrad Oblast is a Russian province on the Baltic Sea. Russia routinely moves military men and materiel to and from Kaliningrad via rail that crosses Lithuania. While one such train is making the crossing from Russia to Kaliningrad, it is attacked in Lithuania by a group that are adorned with the insignia of the Polish People’s Lancers. As a result, Volodin begins making public statements about Russia needing to protect its interests in the region, and Russia’s military movements in the area increase.
Director of National Intelligence Mary Pat Foley visits The Campus and requests that they send a team to Lithuania with an assignment: pose as internet technicians and travel along the Belarusian border, taking hundreds of pictures with a special camera at specific locations. Domingo Chavez and Dominic Caruso are assigned the mission and head over. Jack Ryan, Jr. is conducting surveillance on an attorney in Luxembourg named Guy Frieden. He discovers that Limonov has been meeting with him. President Jack Ryan, Sr. has a meeting with his national security staff. They are reviewing recent assassinations and other world events. President Ryan makes the observation that all of these events are having an effect on energy prices and are benefiting Russia.
In Luxembourg, Ysabel arrives to reconnect with Jack Ryan, Jr. What she doesn’t realize is that back in Rome, someone working with or for the Russians planted a tracking device in her purse and followed her to Luxembourg. She arrives at Ryan’s apartment when Ryan is not there, and a group of men attack her. Ryan arrives on the scene and fights them off, but Ysabel is grievously injured and is hospitalized.
A Russian spy plane flies over Sweden conducting routine surveillance on Swedish radar capabilities and military communications. It is flying in bad weather without its transponder on, and through a series of unfortunate circumstances it collides with a commercial airline mid-air, killing all on both planes.
Jack Ryan, Jr. heads back to the U.S. and gets a call from Gavin Biery. Biery tells him that he has tracked the plane Limonov left Luxembourg on to the Virgin Islands. Ryan deduces that he is going there to connect with Terry Walker, the inventor of the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange. He realizes that someone in Russia is trying to hide his money from Russian intelligence. He discusses this with John Clark and Gerry Hendley. They decide that Clark will go down and try to convince Walker to work with them.
Guy Frieden has arranged for Limonov to meet Terry Walker in the Virgin Islands. Limonov proposes that Walker move eight billion dollars for his unnamed client in and out of Bitcoin for a large commission. Walker is used to dealing with shadowy characters, but is concerned that the deal would draw too much attention to himself and turns the deal down. Kozlov, the Russian agent that has been travelling with Limonov, decides that they will need to be more forceful and arranges to kidnap Walker’s family.
Clark arrives at the Walkers’ residence in the Virgin Islands to find it empty. He finds the video surveillance recordings of the property and sees that Walker’s wife and son are kidnapped. Between he and Jack Ryan, Jr. they assume that since the Russians need Terry Walker for the Bitcoin transaction, they are probably keeping him somewhere nearby.
While Dominic Caruso and Domingo Chavez are photographing the border regions in Lithuania, they receive a call from Greg Donlin. He is the personal bodyguard of the local CIA chief of station Pete Branyon, whom they met when they first arrived in the country. Donlin asks for a favor: that they would go with him to escort Branyon to a meeting near the border with some of his agents working near the border.
Limonov and Walker begin making the Bitcoin transactions at Walker’s office in the Virgin Islands. So they can reduce the amount of attention they draw to themselves, they are going to make many smaller transactions over a period of weeks. Clark sneaks into the office building and speaks to Walker in the restroom. He gets some information from Walker and assures him he is going to rescue his family. At the meeting near the Lithuanian border, Branyon and Donlin are ambushed. Donlin is killed and Branyon is kidnapped. Chavez and Caruso see the action unfold from a distance and give chase. They catch up to the kidnappers and after a shootout escape with a wounded Branyon.
In the Virgin Islands, Clark does some inquiring with the local boat captains and finds out about a high-end catamaran that has been anchored at one of the nearby islands. Thinking that this may be the boat the Walker family is being held on, he takes his sailboat and follows it around. As he is planning to board the boat he is ambushed by a pair of men. They knock him out cold, damage his boat so that it starts to sink and leave him for dead. Clark recovers from his injuries and swims to shore, but is now without a boat, any gear and any idea where the Walker family has been taken.
At Campus headquarters Jack Ryan, Jr. has found Salvatore via video surveillance in a hotel in Brussels. Against orders he decides to head there to confront Salvatore. In the Virgin Islands, a vacationing couple rescues Clark, who then calls The Campus for help. Adara Sherman flies down and arranges to scout for the missing cataran by air. In Lithuania Chavez and Caruso meet Linus Sabonis, director of the Lithuanian State Security Department. He enlists their help in discovering the identity of a mysterious group that do not seem to be Russian but are working in-country in the Russians’ interest. An oil-products tanker headed for Estonia is torpedoed by a Russian sub. The USS James Greer is ordered to patrol the area of the attack.
Sabonis has come up with a plan to expose the men who attacked Branyon. Chavez goes to Branyon’s apartment while Caruso keeps a lookout. When Chavez leaves, a group of men in vehicles follows him. Chavez leads them to a roadblock that Sabonis has arranged for. Chavez and Caruso chase down the leader of the group and question him. He tells them that he is part of a group of Serbs. These Serbs are the ones that disguised themselves as the Polish group that attacked the Russian train.
The Russians begin their invasion of Lithuania. Chavez and Caruso scramble out of the country, and Hendley directs them to Belgium where they will assist Jack Ryan, Jr. in his operation against Salvatore. Russian submarines begin attacking the Lithuanian navy and sink four ships. The USS James Greer arrives in the area and begins to hunt for the submarines.
Salvatore heads to another hotel and the Campus men follow him. A group of eco-terrorists are in the suite that Salvatore goes to, preparing for an attack on a nearby oil and gas conference. The Campus men burst in and a firefight ensues. The terrorists begin their attack by using an explosive on the wall of the suite and rushing into the next building. The Campus men pursue them. As the terrorists attack and kill some people at the conference, the Campus men kill some of them and capture the leader. It turns out this was the same group that was responsible for the original attack on the Independence.
Sherman finds the catamaran, so Clark prepares to rescue the Walker family. He makes his way onto the boat and bests the men holding the family captive. Using a new computer program that directs deployment called Early Sentinel (which utilizes the pictures Chavez and Caruso were taking earlier), US forces are able to inflict great losses on the invading Russian forces in Lithuania.
The Campus men rescue Terry Walker and capture Limonov. After some coercion, Limonov agrees to divulge the details of Volodin’s money scheme. Meanwhile a naval battle commences in the Baltic between Russian submarines and American and Polish ships. At the end, the Russian submarines are destroyed by the USS James Greer. Meanwhile just as the US marines are being pushed back by the Russians in Lithuania, the Swedish Air Force shows up and puts a stop to the Russian advance. With Volodin’s plans essentially ruined, the rest of the Siloviki arrange for his assassination.
- Chapter 9 references the real-world events of Poland joining NATO in 1999 and Lithuania joining in 2004.
- According to chapter 73 the story takes place in 2016. In theory this would be an election year and President Ryan’s second term is coming to a close, though this is never mentioned and is not a factor in the story.
- In the first meeting with the Siloviki in chapter 11, Pushkin mocks Volodin by asking, “You are going to throw another lady punk band in prison for dancing in the Christ the Savior Cathedral?” In the real world, the band Pussy Riot staged a performance inside the Cathedral of Christ Church in 2012. Three of the band members were charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and were sentenced to two years in prison.
- The Red October is mentioned by Secretary of Defense Robert Burgess during a meeting with President Ryan in chapter 17. It reminds Ryan of his adventure with the Red October.
- In Chapter 58, President Ryan makes a comparison between the secret meeting Volodin wants with the Western powers to Yalta. This is referring to the real-world event where world leaders met in that city at the end of World War II to confirm the sovereignty of nations that had been liberated from Germany.