APAGear II Archives Volume 4, Number 6 August, 2002


The Second Round

Beating the Colonial Expeditionary Force Thirty Years Later

Josh Peters

Note: These are transcripts of a lecture Dr. Darven Tsimmermann delivered to the Westphalia Cabinet General Staff on 15 Winter 1944.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Westphalia Cabinet,

Ever since those fateful days in 1917, you have expected the Colonial Expeditionary Force of the New Earth Commonwealth to resume hostilities. Indeed, you have been proven right. The destruction of Peace River and the attack on Terranovan space assets this past cycle has demonstrated to all Terranovans that the Earth still dreams of conquering this planet. Your forces operating on Caprice have only confirmed what you have been warning us about all these cycles: the CEF has grown in strength, resolve and skill.

And yet, I don't think you're listening to your own advice.

Certainly, the Black Talon program has been a huge success. Not only has the Terranovan public shown its overall support of the Talons, but also recruiters are reportedly working overtime. Polar governments have diverted funding and other resources to the Westphalia government as well. The Talon teams have provided valuable information and allies, and they have also caused considerable damage to the NEC war effort.

But that's good. Why, you ask, is this old professor coming down from his ivory tower to lecture us?

The Black Talon Program is a guerrilla warfare campaign in the classic sense: highly motivated fighters operating with little to no support, striking a vastly superior foe using surprise and stealth to sow confusion and wreak havoc before disappearing. There is nothing new in this. But the Black Talon Program will not preserve our freedom as Terranovans. As you know, no guerrilla campaign has ever won a war. In order to vanquish an enemy like the CEF, one has to field an army that is fixed in both space and time. Guerrilla warfare is neither of these things. And I would guess that you are already considering these things as you formulate a grand strategy to defeat the NEC aggressors. I'd say you're trying to find allies among the other colonies. I'd say you're trying to develop an underground network of bases and agents all over the colonies to serve as rallying points when you decide to strike up the colours and turn the guerrilla war into a stand-up fight.

This is where I become concerned. How are you planning to win this stand-up fight? We last fought a CEF that considered us little more than backward upstart colonists. The CEF has evolved since 1917. The next war won't be fought only by GREL's and hovertanks. We will face those, of course, but also their Frames, as well as their more advanced supersoldiers, the SLEDGE's. We will not be facing an army of disposable soldiers who will willingly throw away their lives. We were lucky last time in that we could see patterns in GREL tactics. However, the CEF has always relied on an improvisational battle plan to carry the day. Their units are fast, powerful and well led. If we fought like we did last time, by ad hoc methods like the famous bag-of-white-sand-in-the-intake-fan trick, we are going to lose. Courage and daring are important on the battlefield, certainly, but they do not create the strategy that wins wars. We have to examine the overall tactical, operational and strategic weaknesses of our enemy. Unfortunately, there are not many.

Tactically, we are once again facing a superior foe on a conventional battlefield. The CEF fields advanced, highly mobile, high firepower technology on the battlefield. Its soldiers, genetically modified or otherwise, are highly motivated, trained and well equipped. The CEF learned well from the War of the Alliance. It now fields a rough equivalent to our Heavy Gears. It still fields hovertanks, mechanized infantry and mobile artillery. A CEF unit can outgun, outmaneuver and outflank any equivalent force on Terranova, in both the attack and the defense. It will be a tremendous attack or dogged defense for any Terranovan field commander fighting a CEF unit.

It is at the operational level where we start to see opportunities. CEF hovertanks and frames are fuel-hungry and hard to maintain. The CEF's units all have an operational radius equal to about half that of ours. Battles require endurance, both for the soldiers and the vehicles involved. For the CEF, the quicker the engagement is over, the better. We must force the CEF fight for longer periods of time. Even a hovertank standing idle in a hull down position is still expending enormous amounts of fuel to stay aloft. And since their vehicles' engines recharge their energy weapons, and this applies to the individual soldier's battlefield laser rifle as well, their operational endurance is hampered all the more.

CEF vehicles are also more difficult to maintain in the field. One of our damaged but functional Gears can be easily repaired and quickly fielded. A hovertank or frame that takes a hit is out of action for a considerably longer time. As well, it is harder to replace important components, such as high technology particle accelerators, that have been damaged in the field.

What this means is that we must force the CEF to fight longer engagements. We must also concentrate on denying the enemy the ability to rest and repair. Our main weapons have to be surprise and stealth. Night attacks by small units against the enemy's supply network will be crucial. When forced to fight a standing battle against the CEF, we must be prepared to use hit and fade tactics to draw out units and wear down their morale and their supplies.

Above all, we must be prepared to relinquish ground and defend in depth. I cannot stress this enough. The only way to soundly beat a rapid armoured thrust is to defend in depth. Our defensive lines must be sparse, mobile and above all, flexible. We cannot expect the attack to shatter against our defensive wall, because it will be our defensive wall that will shatter instead. Rather, we must be able to bend enough to allow the initial momentum of an enemy attack to falter. Then we can counter attack, and catch the CEF on the defensive, and hopefully out of fuel and ammunition. We cannot be ashamed of a temporary withdrawal from a forward position. The honour and glory of victory will only come at the end of the battle after we retake our lost positions and carry on to the now weakened enemy lines.

Strategically, our goals are similar. We must destroy the enemy's collective will to wage war. We have to grind down the CEF and the NEC, morally and physically. We have to undermine their propaganda campaigns on Caprice and any of the other former colonies that fell to the CEF invaders. Black Talon teams have to be ambassadors to prospective allies, not just commandos. We must deny the Earth access to all resources, with a focus on the interstellar gate network, and other means of travel and communications. Operations against strategic resources, like gateships, waystations and supply vessels should be made high priority.

In order to break their will to fight, we're going to have to show the NEC, or at least a sizeable portion of it, that their dreams of conquest are not going to be realized. We have to make it more costly, in all ways, for the CEF to operate. Once the NEC is forced to negotiate, forced to recognize that it cannot wage war against us and win without great cost and without committing irreparable damage to the planets it wants, only then will we have won.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 4, Number 6 August, 2002