The Civil War showed the task force commander—the individual commanding two or more brigades of troops (usually an RCT or other massive grouping of combat regiments)—a great many facts that had not been evident for quite some time. The reason why, of course, is quite simple. It had literally been centuries since the Inner Sphere had seen warfare as mobile and intense as that of the Civil War. Not even the Fourth Succession War exhibited the sheer ferocity and rage as shown during the Civil War.
Until the war began (and even well into Waves Two and Three), the typical battlefield commander thought of his military transport DropShips as little more than support elements. Moreover, the commonly held rules of civilized warfare dictated that DropShips were, for the most part, forbidden targets. While heavily armed, these behemoths are literally sitting ducks—large, immobile targets. As a result, most commanders used them simply as convenient bases and last-ditch defensive platforms.
As the Civil War progressed, the sheer intensity of the operations escalated. Commanders began to exhibit less traditional and more bloodthirsty tendencies. Enemy DropShips became targets of opportunity to either capture or destroy, if only to prevent an enemy from escaping or mounting a surprise airborne assault.
Once these attacks began to happen, many commanders rethought their DropShip usage. Initially, they made "leap-frog" movements, keeping up with the ground units' advances via sub-orbital flights. Unfortunately, leap-frogging is both dangerous and consumes a great deal of fuel. Soon, many commanders began to keep most, if not all, of their DropShips in orbit, providing them extremely quick-response mobile fire platforms or methods of escape. These ships could semi-perma-nently hold units that could be rapidly deployed to shore up a defensive position or take advantage of an enemy weakness. They provided orbital reconnaissance and a planetary blockade force. In space, a DropShip retained its full maneuverability, and if operating as part of a massive flotilla, could potentially deliver enough fire to scare off even a WarShip.
Best of all, by keeping the bulk of his Continued on p. 135
the world, Proserpina's people began to actively support the Federated Suns occupation forces. As a result of years of choices and actions, one of his most important worlds had turned on him, and with good reason.
The Coordinator wanted—needed—to take Proserpina back, and to do so with the absolute minimum of losses to the world's population. He had to win them back, had to recapture their hearts and their souls. To do so, he built a veritable army around the First Sword of Light and the First Ghost. Though the two units are almost diametrical opposites in doctrine and methodology, they represented something of a Yin and a Yang and actually formed the core of an incredibly effective invasion force. The First Sword of Light would appeal to the peoples' honor, while the Ghost waFriors would touch their souls.
Coordinator Kurita dispatched the invasion force in September of 3064. The force, under the command of Sho-sho Shin Yodama, landed on Proserpina on the 28th of October. The Coordinator expected a decisive, if somewhat extended, victory. What he got in actuality was a drawn-out affair that would soon tax the limits of his soldiers.
As important as Bulldog Enterprises was to the Combine's military machine, Yodama knew that he had to win Conqeror's Pride—both physically and emotionally— back from the Eighth Crucis Lancers if he were to have any hope of truly reclaiming the world. Unfortunately, Duke Sandoval had placed a significant occupation force on the world to contest any potential Combine invasion. In addition to the Eight Crucis Lancers RCT, he had transported a total of two combined-arms brigades of mechanized and foot infantry onto the world, including several engineer regiments that were tasked solely with the reconstruction effort on the world.
Yodama commanded a not-insignificant force of his own, however. He had not only his two 'Mech regiments, but a brigade of armor stripped from various front-line and free units, plus legions of infantry pulled from militia and other units stationed across the entire Combine. On the other hand, Yodama did not have nearly enough DropShips and JumpShips to transport his entire command to the world at one time. Indeed, his ships were ferrying troops to the world for months straight.
The assault began with a landing on the continent of Bragadin, hundreds of kilometers away from the planetary capital of Conqueror's Pride. Major General Marshall had recognized that Bragadin was the most likely target of any Combine invasion force—one that most assuredly would come some day soon—and had begun the strengthening of the continent's defenses almost immediately after conquering the world. Literally within minutes of landing, the Combine task force was attacked by Lancer aerospace fighters and armored and mechanized ground forces, followed very closely by 'Mech forces and a newly-raised regiment almost exclusively equipped with armored vehicles produced by Bulldog Industries.
This first battle on Proserpina lasted 39 very long and difficult days. During that time, Yodama had no reinforcements available other than what was already in-system. Worse still, his forces were confined to the Conn Plains, a large open area surrounded by thicker terrain quite suitable to defensive operations. Yodama's forces were literally surrounded on all sides and were being pounded from the air, taking heavy casualties while delivering relatively few in return.
Indeed, Yodama only broke the Eighth Lancer siege on his troops when he received his first reinforcements in the form of a single battalion of battle armor, two armored regiments, and three infantry regiments. In an operation designed to appeal to the population's traditional spirit, he launched a battalion of volunteer MechWarriors, backed up by battle armor and a regiment of heavy armor, against the Lancer position in Wei-Stram. Like the Divine Wind, these Combine warriors overwhelmed and crushed two heavily entrenched infantry battalions, supported by a heavy armor battalion, paving the way for a breakout that General Marshall's troops could not quickly stymie. On the other hand, only four Combine MechWarriors, and less than twenty percent of the rest of the troops committed, survived the attack. Their sacrifice, however, paved the way for Sho-sho Yodama and the rest of the task force to begin what could only be a long march to Conqueror's Pride.
That first month of combat was exhausting, difficult and costly. The next six would be just as difficult for Yodama, who up to that point, had never commanded such a large force. Worse, his lack of progress caused many within the Combine to call for his replacement, or worse. He had a viable plan, however, and the Coordinator was willing to give him the latitude to operate as he saw fit, certainly much more than he was willing to simply sacrifice half a dozen 'Mech regiments in the assault on the world.
Analysts and historians almost unanimously agree that, had Coordinator Theodore Kurita been able to decide the best course of action to deal with Duke Sandoval's invasion solely as a man and not the leader of the Draconis Combine, he would have concluded matters with the assault on Proserpina. Unfortunately, honor demanded that he repay the Federated Suns with blood. Even his closest advisors, those who personally accepted his almost friendly relationship with Victor Steiner-Davion, agreed that the Combine had to punish the Federated Suns and Duke Sandoval. Of course, Combine's populace was literally screaming for justice, led by the Coordinator's opponents—especially the so-called Black Dragon Society. ,
Though Kurita did not authorize his DCMS to cross the border en masse to put an end to the Federated Suns like Prince Hanse Davion had attempted to do during the War of 3039, he did give his commanders wide latitude to conduct their own operations, especially when it came to punishing the AFFS units that had participated in the invasion.
Thus began the Combine's first official foray across the border in almost a quarter of a century.
After leaving AI Na'ir, Major General Ariel Zibler lead her damaged but intact Twelfth Deneb Light Cavalry to Addicks, where the Rghting Urukhai's Eighth Striker had retreated to when they responded to Victor Steiner-Davion's orders to protect the Federated Suns. Unfortunately, both the former Prince and Field Marshal Sortek had almost literally abandoned the unit there, keeping it in place as a "strategic reserve." When the DLC arrived on-world, Zibler and her senior officers immediately berated the mercenaries for their cowardice and lack of commitment. In fact, the two units nearly came to blows themselves, that is until the Fifteenth Dieron Regulars and the Tenth Ghost arrived in-system on the 24th of January.
The two FedSuns units pulled back to the Loknar Military Complex, hoping to minimize civilian casualties by fighting the battle within the confines of the military post, still rebuilding since the action in the first phase of the Civil War leveled the entire base. With the friction between the two units preventing them from operating as a true team, the FedSuns troops attempted to fight off the Combine attackers as best they could. Unfortunately, the strain of the loss on AI Na'ir and the feelings of resentment toward the mercenaries on the part of Zibler's Twelfth DLC nearly brought the unit to ruin. The only fact that truly prevented the unit from falling was that it had taken so much Combine materiel from AI Na'ir that the DLC could quickly recoup its combat losses.
Tai-sa Samual Nöda hit the DLC in waves of hit and fade attacks, continuing to rotate battalions to keep his own troops fresh while wearing down the DLC soldiers and MechWarriors. While he concentrated on the DLC, Nöda used a few fast armored battalions to keep the mercenaries from lending significant support to the Deneb Light Cavalry, who, though beleaguered, refused to coordinate their actions with the Urukhai, whose MechWarriors they considered cowards.
Two weeks of concentrating on the DLC finally cumulated in a breakthrough in two locations. Before the Combine warriors could exploit those breakthroughs, however, General Zibler ordered a fighting withdrawal, pulling back some forty kilometers to better defensible terrain and literally leaving the mercenaries out to dry.
Seeing the opportunity to punish the Urukhai, Nöda quickly redirected the efforts of his regiments, who almost immediately isolated the unit from potential DLC relief. Two more weeks of battles wore the mercenaries down, nearly to the point of breaking.
Then the Davion Assault Guards appeared, the cavalry to the rescue.
The bulk of Marshal Cooper's RCT landed on 13 February, having made a doublejump into the Addicks system at a close pirate point. They landed that same day, halting Noda's push. Two days of incredibly costly battling with the most powerful unit in the AFFS was enough for Tai-sa Nöda, who withdrew in the early-morning hours of the 16th and returned to AI Na'ir.
The First Chisholm's Raiders had pulled back to Breed following their retreat from Marduk. The unit believed It was safe on the world, however, and made few preparations for a concerted defense of the world. That mistake cost General Neece and her troops dearly.
The Second Genyosha and the Sixteenth Galedon Regulars followed the Raiders to Breed months after the latter's retreat, having not only pacified the world but made good the losses they experienced on Marduk. The attack came as a surprise to the Raiders on the 6th
DropShip contingent spacebound, the commander's ships were no longer vulnerable to an enemy overrunning his LZ. He could keep his fighter squadrons operating from convenient space-bound airbases. Indeed, with the prevalence of Leopard and other aerodyne DropShips, a commander had at his disposal a force of craft that could deliver withering fire against an enemy ground post.
Unfortunately, our enemies were also been paying close attention to the lessons learned during the Civil War.
- Marshal Robert Felsner, In a Solder's Eyes, NAIS Press, 3067
of December. Several Combine ships jumped into LaGrange points around the planet Breed, landing their first assault troops less than sixty minutes later. The wholly unprepared Raiders could not even fully mobilize for a full day, giving Sho-sho Laura Nelson more than enough time to secure huge swaths of the world and fortify her command post within the city of Cahars.
General Neece made a few abortive attempts to push the Galedon Regulars and Genyosha back, but each time her assaults were turned back by counterattacks that only lost the Raiders more territory. Neece did finally manage to pull her unit together after a total of eight days, during which time she attempted to mobilize the world's militia forces. Sho-sho Nelson had launched dozens of fighter and special operations attacks against key communications centers all over the world, however, and had disabled most of Breed's satellite network, crippling civilian and even military communications. While throwing Breed's civilian population into chaos, those attacks made coordination almost impossible for weeks and forced the militia units to devote their energies toward civil duties rather than expelling the Combine invasion force.
Nelson made the best possible use of the period of communications blackout, setting upon General Neece and her Chisholm's Raiders. By the time the communications network had been brought back on-line, additional reinforcements from Combine-space had arrived, adding the equivalent of a mixed brigade to Sho-sho Nelson's force mix. Worse, Nelson dispatched several infantry and light armor battalions to stir up trouble elsewhere on the world, forcing General Neece to assign some of her own conventional force to deal with those problems.
For his part, Nelson fought an unconventional campaign, pushing her warriors to the brink of exhaustion for a week or two at a time and then halting the advance for another several weeks before starting the whole process again. In the "down" times, she relied heavily on several battalions of fast cavalry 'Mechs and tanks to continue the battle along Neece's flanks and in her RCT's rear areas. During the course of the Wave Four action on Breed, more and more Combine reinforcements continued to land on the world, including some units that were redirected from the Terran Corridor when the assault on Addicks failed. Nelson's control over the world steadily increased while Neece's shrunk. By the end of May, the Chisholm's Raiders were in a precarious position on the world. But General Neece had not given up hope.
The Seventeenth Avalon Hussars made landfall on Cassias on the 29th of January, just a few weeks after pulling off of An Ting. Exhausted by some seven months of fighting on both An Ting and Matsuida, Hauptmann General Evans and his RCT did not have much time to relax, however. As soon as they landed, they learned that the Fifth Sword of Light had just appeared in-sys-tem. Worse, the Third Crucis Lancers, whom they expected to be on-world, had relocated to Tsamma.
On the other hand, General Acabee Zardetto. Commanding General of the Third Lancers, had constructed additional defen sive fortifications on the world during the Seventeenth's time away from Cassias, at the same time training the world's militia in defensive operations. General Evans had few problems settling into the role of directing the planetary defense.
Based on DMI briefings. General Evans expected a relatively green Fifth Sword of Light, though the fact that the unit was coming in alone did give the general reason to pause. By the time the Combine unit landed on Cassias, he learned that the unit had gained quite a bit of combat experience against the Ghost Bears and had absorbed enough combat veterans to bring itself .up to full strength.
In fact, the unit was at more than full strength, deploying four 'Mech battalions plus additional supporting troops. Those facts allowed the Fifth to punch through Evans' initial spoiling attack and actually land on the world, though Evans quickly moved a demi-brigade of his own veteran Seventeenth Hussars against the Combine regiment.
As much as the Fifth Sword of Light tried tp break through the Hussars, Evans' troops held the better position on the world. That situation changed for the better when Colonel Vladimir Rostov arrived in-system with two Third Davion Guards combat commands, led by a heavy 'Mech battalion. Only when the Ryuken-Go arrived from An Ting on the 10th of March did the Combine troops gain any real ground on the world. Still, though, they faced a dug-in opponent. Moreover, this time the Seventeenth was on their own home soil, a world they had been defending for years.
Nevertheless, the Combine units battled on, slowly expanding out from their LZ in the Rassuen region, a grand plain bordered to the east by the Bayon Mountains. In four months of hard fighting, the Ryuken snatched half a dozen cities from the Hussars while the Fifth Sword of Light took three major firebases. General Evans employed an elastic defense, though, making the DCMS troops pay dearly for every meter they took and in turn suffering relatively few casualties of their own. As Wave Four came to a close, the Combine forces on Cassias had taken heavy casualties. With DCMS reinforcements undoubtedly en route to the Cassias system already, General Evans made an open call for additional naval support to put up a blockade before those reinforcements arrived.
Before Theodore Kurita became Coordinator, he was an extremely successful general and commander of the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery. In authorizing the reprisal into the Federated Suns, he gave his generals the forces they needed and the instructions to first punish those who took part in the initial invasion of his homeland and then punish the Draconis March in general for the operation. He did not specifically pick the targets of the reprisal, though, instead leaving that to those who would be prosecuting the war. Had he involved himself to that level, however, he likely would have shied away from Kentares IV,
His generals did not, however. Indeed, while that world has been a black mark on the honor of the Combine for more than two and a half centuries, it was also an extremely tempting target. Not only a significant world—and seat of the Kentares PDZ—it was woefully underdefended. The Third Benjamin Regulars won the honor of taking the world.
Kentares IV was held only by the irregular force that Duke Ian Dresari had lead to his homeworld, and reinforced by elements of the Clovis DMM and Fifth Donegal Guards that had surrendered or come over to the Duke's side when he liberated the world during Wave Two. This newly incarnated Kentares DMM had but two 'Mech battalions and two combat commands of assorted armor and infantry, but what they lacked in equipment they more than made up in spirit.
The Third Regulars landed on 23 January, immediately moving against Duke Dresari's Kentares DMM and their Fort Cameron headquarters. The Combine troops made good initial headway, pushing into the fort by the 26th, and expelling the DMM a day later, forcing Dresari's DMM, still inexperienced In the tactics of large-scale battle, back. The Benjamin Regulars continued to push forward, doling out heavy casualties to the DMM. Of course, the DMM did make the Combine warriors pay dearly for every kilometer.
But then the course of the battle on the world changed.
The Tenth Lyran Guards had been sitting on Robinson for quite some time, nominally protecting the world, though practically marooned there with no transport capabilities. Archon Katherine had stranded the Tenth Guards there years earlier by stripping their JumpShip contingent (much like she had also done to the Davion Heavy Guards on Galax), and Duke Sandoval did little to change that situation, both needing all of the JumpShips he could get for his assault into the Combine and knowing that the Tenth Lyran would no doubt leave as soon as they could to join the Allied war effort, and in doing so leave Robinson undefended.
With Duke Sandoval's attention turned toward the Combine Reprisal, the Tenth Lyran finally managed to scrape together and dragoon enough JumpShips to leave Robinson. Intending on making the trek to help Victor Steiner-Davion on Tikonov, the Tenth Lyran's second jump took the unit to the Kentares system, where several of the RCT's JumpShips were crippled by DMI saboteurs. Facing weeks of repairs in-system and an enemy force on the system's primary world, Marshal James McFarland came to the beleaguered DMM's defense.
As soon as the Tenth Lyran Guards landed, the Third Benjamin Regulars knew they were done for. The Combine troops nevertheless held out for an additional week, before falling in one of the only stand-up fights in the entire war. Facing their fate like true samurai, the Regulars formed up as a unit while Leftenant General Reinhardt Steiner (commander of the Lyran Guards' 'Mech regiment) and Duke Dresari did the same with their own BattleMechs. Four hours later, the Regulars were effectively no more, but in fighting the battle the way they did and sacrificing their command, they regained much of the honor that they lost in Coordinator Jinjiro Kurita's massacre on the world. Marshal McFarland took the surviving Regulars into cus tody, treating them well as prisoners of war. They remained interned on Kentares IV until the brokered peace with Coordinator Kurita.
Following the quick conquest of An Ting, the Twelfth Galedon Regulars prepared for a follow-on attack into the Federated Suns, much as the Ryuken-Go had done. The unit waited for additional support in the form of the First Amphigean Light Assault Group and then jumped out of the system. The two units hit Kesai in the last week of January, and immediately made a great deaf of headway against"the world's defenders.
The world's defense force consisted of the First Ceti Hussars and the remains of the Bryceland DMM. The Hussars had only one of their understrength Combat Commands (within the Hussars organization, a Combat Command is effectively a combined arms brigade) on Kesai, however—the rest of the unit had made the jump to Bremond to secure that world for the Allied war effort.
Within the first three weeks of the campaign, the five combined-arms battalions of the DMM were wiped out by the Ryuken while the Amphigean LAG and the Ceti Hussars played a maneuvering game, with each effectively keeping the other from contributing significantly to the battle for the world. Once the Ryuken eliminated the DMM, however, matters changed for the worse for the Hussars.
Leftenant General Alexander Malen nevertheless kept his Combat Command Bravo constantly on the move, striking out at the Ryuken's flanks when possible. While he fought his mobile campaign, the Combine troops gobbled up more and more of the world. In April, General Malen received some reinforcements from Marshal Lamont on Bremond, but more importantly, he received supplies and replacement equipment, allowing him to recoup most of the losses his command had suffered at the hands of the Combine units.
The fight for Kesai would continue on for some time, with the battle soon turning much more desperate.
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