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 Operation: STONEWALL FORD

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Bautizar

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Join date : 2010-10-22
Location : South Carolina, USA

PostSubject: Operation: STONEWALL FORD   Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:35 pm

[ This meeting is set before my post from 21 December in The Royal Herald thread. Please consider this an out-of-character "scene setter" for your personal reading, as these details are not public information. This thread will open to outside participation following the next post, though. For now, please be patient. Thanks. ]



In total, the 27 Corps commanders of the Royal Bautizan Army commanded an active-duty fighting force of some 1.7 million men, and three million reservists. It was the largest army ever assembled in the nation's 283-year-old history, commanded by a handful of men who'd seen years of service. They ran a remarkable age range: the youngest commander in the secure conference room at Fort Chatwick was the 43-year-old newly-appointed commander of XIX Corps. The oldest was the 65-year-old commander of XII Corps. These men had been waiting for roughly half-an-hour, talking amongst themselves and occasionally involving the Navy Admiral and Air Force general in their discussions. Both of the latter looked out of place, but all of the men and women present here wore their jackets. The base was situated in the mountains south of New Strathill, and it was always cold here.

A door at the head of the room opened, allowing a single lieutenant colonel to enter. Conversation, which until now had been a low hum, seemed to end as the assembled senior officers caught sight of him. He was a well-known regular at important meetings. "Sir," he said quite unnecessarily, addressing the highest-ranking general in the room as he rendered the appropriate lead-in, "the Chairman of the Imperial Military Staff." There was a rumbling of chairs shifting back and boots stamping on the cold metal floor as they collectively rose from their seats.

The name of “Imperial Military Staff” itself was, by and large, an anachronism. Like most things of a military nature within the Kingdom it traced its history to the 1800s reformations, which had come at a point in history when Bautizar's kings and queens looked at maps and dreamed of empire. There had always been that driving desire for the acquisition of overseas territory, wealth, and foreign lands. But something had always arisen to put the venture on hold: “brushfire conflicts” with hostile foreign tribes on the Kingdom's borders, political upheaval, and economic unrest had been only the most recent. Wildfires, floods, even an earthquake had come before.

The Chairman swept into the room, closely followed by his two top aides. At the head of the table the wall-mounted screen flickered once, twice, then blinked into light and filled with unmistakable military colors. The seal of the Imperial Military Staff was clearly visible, along with a classification code marking the contents as having a level-10 security clearance. Very few people in the Kingdom had such access: about a third of the total number were seated in this room. The rest would be made privy to what was discussed here in the coming days.

“Sir, good morning,” the lieutenant colonel said from behind the podium offset from the head of the table. He'd clearly waited for the Chairman to sit before beginning. “The topic of this briefing is Operation: STONEWALL FORD. Please note that this brief is classified: do not disclose it to anyone without a level-10 clearance.”

At a tap on the hidden controls behind the lectern, the screen changed. As they watched the camera zoomed in on Tiberiam, then Bautizar, only stopping when the country filled about a third of the screen. Arrows angling into the country appeared: three fat ones from Plot 8, and a skinny one from Plot 7. “In the last decade we've seen a significant increase in border raids originating from Plots 7 and 8. Last year attacks in outlying counties rose by 60% over the previous year, with 57 successful raids and 76 aborted due to intercepts of the raiding parties. The majority of the raids have been conducted by hostile tribes in Plot 8.”

In response the map shifted, scrolling down and to the right until Plot 8 was more prominently displayed on the screen. Several areas were highlighted in red. “There are now five hostile tribes within Plot 8, and intelligence suggests another four may join the coming year's raids unless they can be pre-empted. In the past the neutral and non-aligned tribes have been receptive to diplomatic efforts. Two days ago the Foreign Office issued a revised assessment, which suggests that a lack of visible reaction from the Kingdom to these incursions may be fueling greater animosity towards our interests in the border region. Based on the failure of efforts to increase our diplomatic ties with the neutral tribes, it was assessed in the report that a credible display of military force would serve to check this negative 'drift.'"

“Thank you colonel,” the Chairman said when it became clear the background portion of the briefing was over. He stood up and walked around the table towards the front of the room as everyone's eyes tracked him. Again the screen changed, this time panning up slightly as military bases in Bautizar appeared on the screen in addition to the highlighted areas. The man waved at the display. “His Majesty has directed two objectives for this operation. First, to deny the hostile tribes access to the mountain passes leading from Plot 8 into southern Bautizar. Second, to destroy their military capabilities in order to pave the way for sustained diplomatic engagement with the neutral tribes."

One large arrow extended from Bautizar into Plot 8 as he continued speaking, and it split into four smaller arrows just short of the highlighted areas. “The Military Staff has decided to mobilize the XII Corps for sustained operations in Plot 8,” he said with a gesture to the Corps Commander, who nodded in response. “Winter conditions haven't fully closed off the mountain passes, so the plan is for the Corps to cross near Old Redwarren and descend into the southern plains before the end of January. The Corps will winter over in large bases that'll be established before snow closes the passes, and in the spring will commence offensive operations against the tribes.”

“A winter crossing of the mountains?” the commander of IX Corps said, breaking the silence that'd fallen after the curt overview. There were similar looks of skepticism around the table. Moving military vehicles, even treaded ones such as the M-7 Crusader main battle tank, was bad enough. But transporting them through the mountain passes? There was no doubt that they'd have to move under their own power: no wheeled tank transporter could handle the trip. Logistics would be a nightmare.

“I like it,” the VI Corps commander said, leaning back in his chair. Heads turned to look at him as he went on. “The timing is good. They're settling down for the winter, and their militias have mostly disbanded and gone home. They won't be able to re-muster until the late spring because of how bad the weather is going to get - hell, the winds are always worse on the southern side of the mountains. And afterwards the rivers will begin to overflow in the spring. That gives us a window of what … five months to make preparations?” he said, looking at his neighbor.

The VII Corps commander frowned and looked at the table for a moment. He was more conservative than most of his colleagues, a man of detail and keen thought who was renowned for meticulous planning and scrupulous attention to detail before the annual wargames. Those traits often made him the unofficial "sounding board" at the corps-level conferences. “I'd have to consult the naval meteorologists,” he finally admitted with a glance at the admiral. “It's probably closer to four months.”

"I do hate to intervene," the Air Force general interjected from his seat near the back wall. Heads swung around and chairs creaked as the generals turned to look at the 'outsider.' "But those same winds that keep them hemmed up in their towns and villages are going to play hell with our aviation assets. Reconnaissance support will be available, but fixed-wing close air support will be damned tricky. And it'll play hell with rotary-wing assets too." A few heads nodded as discussion continued.

In the end the decision was final. XII Corps would commence an immediate mobilization, and would deploy into the field no later than 18 January. With luck, while the passes would be stormy they would still be passable. At least, that was the hope.
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Bautizar

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PostSubject: Re: Operation: STONEWALL FORD   Thu Dec 23, 2010 10:06 pm

[ This post is set after my post from 23 December in The Royal Herald thread. The first post in this thread still remains the "scene setter," and this was the post I referenced as coming before outside participation. Thanks. ]



They returned by the busload, in private vehicles, even in military convoys under armed escort. The gate into the base was lit up and hemmed with vehicle traffic. Bomb-sniffing dogs were inspecting inbound trucks, and the sentries were armed with both rifles and sidearms. A pair of tanks had been repositioned to bolster security at the gate, main guns leveled at the inbound traffic while their crews stayed nearby and tried to look less-cold. There were smaller vehicles patrolling the perimeter fences, and all the guard towers were fully manned. The base commandant was taking no chances with security.

No official orders had been issued or posted for everyone to see, but the idea of "deployment" hung over everyone's mind like a storm. Why, though, was a mystery even after the ample time that permitted discussion on the long trips required to reach the base. The Kingdom was still at peace with its far-off neighbors in the EU and GWA. Someone had had the foresight to check the news, and while there was a war on between the two sides it was readily apparent that the fighting didn't impact or affect the Kingdom's interests. So … what now?

"I tell ya, we're in trouble now," the sergeant at the motor pool dryly narrated when he caught sight of the soldier walking towards him. With a duffel bag in one hand, a pack on his back, and bundled up tight against the cold wind blowing through the base, the man looked like a new recruit. The sergeant quickly proved opposite however when he shuffled his clipboard into one hand and extended the other. "Welcome back gunnery sergeant."

"Sergeant Howell. Good to be here ... again."

"I thought they transferred you? Last I heard you'd checked out for the 6th Mech," he inquired, using the common slang for the 6th Mechanized Infantry Division, currently stationed near Yorkvasser. The gunny dropped his duffel bag and looked around for a moment.

"Yeah … something like that, then they transferred me back. So what's the scoop? What's with the activity?"

The sergeant shrugged. "Not a clue, but I got a call from a friend of mine with Alpha Company. They're getting ready to mobilize too. Whatever it is, someone's pissed off the Kingdom. No way this is just a drill … Potankei, watch it with that gunsight!" he exclaimed, diverted from the conversation by someone's negligence. "Excuse me gunnery sergeant. Hey, I'll catch up with you later, alright?"

- - - - -
The turboprops were finishing their turns through the air when the stairwell was unfolded from the side of the airplane. Almost immediately a blast of cold air howled across the open door, chilling the cabin and prompting the sole guest on board to pull his coat a little tighter. With a nod to the crew he stepped outside, quickly descending the steps.

With a glance he saw that this base was on alert. Good. There were rows of fighters lined up outside with crews swarming over them, despite the snowflakes that were whipping through the air. The hangar doors were open and lights were pouring out from inside, revealing tractors and forklifts moving crates and boxes to-and-fro. A pair of security vehicles were parked nearby, turrets unmanned but crews clearly visible within. All this activity at … 2100 local time, he confirmed with a glance at his watch.

He stopped at the bottom of the steps to return the colonel's salute. "Welcome to Fort Chatwick, General." The man fell in beside the visitor as they hurried towards the waiting vehicle, raising his voice as a jet engine began to turn over. "The base commandant wanted me to extend his personal greetings. He's sorry he couldn't make it but he had an important meeting to attend."

"That's fine," the general said as they climbed inside. As soon as the doors shut the vehicle was off and moving, whipping around the silhouette of a fighter as it accelerated towards the flightline gate. He removed his hat to scratch at an itch, reveling in the quiet silence that shielded him from the noise outside. "How's the general doing?"

The colonel's face fell. "The doctors said he'll recover, but the timing is terrible. Right now he's on medications and confined to bed for the next 72 hours." He paused for a moment. "I take it that's why you're here?"

The Chairman of the Imperial Military Staff nodded. "Yes, I'll be taking the Corps into the field personally. His Majesty wants this operation to proceed as directed, and doesn't trust any other commander to execute this."

- - - - -
The satellite passed over Fort Chatwick on its normal route, an imagery-collection pass over one of the Kingdom's more important military bases. Everyone knew it was there, and like all things during peace, but infringing on national sovereignty, its presence was tolerated. The technology was certainly there to jam it, or shoot it down, but the electronic equipment and interceptors remained silent for this pass. But as the cameras whirred into gear as the base poked above the horizon, they peered through the gloom of night and the cloudy haze of a rapidly-approaching snowstorm and found something interesting.

Vehicles were in the open, with large amounts of personnel nearby. Row after row of tanks and armored personnel carriers were pulled up in formation outside their assigned storage buildings. Self-propelled artillery was nearby. Heavy trucks were visible in the still-image captures, rumbling to who-knew-where. Ground-support equipment was clearly visible alongside the jets on the parking apron, and light was spilling out of well-lit hangars. The satellite looked and found this activity duplicated at three more nearby bases, all containing units of the Royal Bautizan Army XII Corps.

It looked, and documented all of this. Click. Click, click, click.
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Bautizar

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PostSubject: Re: Operation: STONEWALL FORD   Thu Dec 23, 2010 10:20 pm

[ It also just occurred to me that I need to clarify something about this. The ultimate end-goal of STONEWALL FORD isn't to occupy Plot 8, but to establish the bases and then beat the natives into submission. This is a strictly military campaign aimed at establishing bases, not settling colonists. Hope this clarifies my intentions. ]
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Bautizar

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PostSubject: Re: Operation: STONEWALL FORD   Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:48 am



The snow was beginning to come down a little harder at New Strathill Air Force Base as the storm continued its approach. Night had come to the area only an hour before, accelerated by the black clouds that dwarfed this key military facility in the Kingdom's northeast. Personnel were curtailing all nonessential activity outside as outdoor speakers blared a steady uptick in alert conditions. Thirty minutes ago it had been the setting of snow condition 4, the second-highest readiness posture. Most TVs on the base were tuned to the national meteorological channel.

Two hundred miles to the southwest though one UAV was already inside the storm, and it was having a rough go of things. It was battered by howling winds and blowing snow, threatened by mountains on all sides, and on top of it all visibility was less than a quarter-mile. One onboard radar was dedicated full-time to scanning the mountains and feeding course corrections to the pilot. The lieutenant's knuckles were white on the joystick as she fought to keep the little craft away from ridgelines and razor-sharp gullies.

"There!" someone commented with a stab at a screen in the back of the room. For a brief moment, a line of black vehicles with illuminated headlights could be seen through the curtain of snow. Then they vanished. To his side a lieutenant colonel lifted a phone, waiting for a moment for an acknowledgement. "This is Lieutenant Colonel Masterson in flight ops. We have confirmation on the local of Charlie Company, 1/15th Division. Now approaching checkpoint Bravo-3 … Roger."

- - - - -
On the ground it wasn't a much different picture from the UAV overhead. It was almost whiteout conditions outside, with howling winds that rocked the tanks and high-sided armored personnel carriers. All external belongings had been triple-lashed down by unspoken decree, only to be buried under all the snow that built up atop the hatches and flat upper surfaces and was driven into all the niches and crevices that permeated the vehicles. And there was no stopping: nobody wanted to be in a vehicle that got stuck in the mountains in this mess. The only breaks so far had been to change drivers. Even vehicle commanders and gunners were getting a turn to drive.

Inside Charlie 1-1, the APC that housed the company commander and his staff, they were busy pouring over the charts or catching sleep in odd positions. The staff had gotten used to wedging themselves into odd corners: against the locked-down rear doors, against the bottom of the turret, on the deck to the rear of the driver's compartment. Oddly enough the broad flat plate on the front of the vehicle, intended for use in amphibious operations, was becoming an effective snowplow. With engineering vehicles up ahead and intermingled on the flanks to keep the route a two-lane "road," the APCs were filling in the gaps and pushing aside the snowdrifts that were assaulting the column.

"Charlie 1-1, this is Foxtrot 2-4," the radio crackled. Someone at the front of the command compartment answered it, speaking in low tones to avoid waking any of the sleepers in the rear. Topside the antennas were whipping through the howling winds: it was playing merry hell with reception.

The driver was craning to see the taillights of the vehicle in front, red glows against the blowing curtain of white snow. Most of the time all he had to follow was tracks in the snow. A body moved beside him as one of the staff appeared beside his cramped little compartment. Whoever it was handed him something hot and steaming, for which he was grateful. "Another two miles to the next checkpoint. The column should turn about forty degrees left and begin to descend into another gully." It was so dark inside the vehicle that all he could see was an outline of a body, and then they were gone.
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