Historians may never know the true motivation behind Duke James Sandoval's assault upon the Draconis Combine. Supporters and critics alike are divided on the issue. Some point to the centuries of hatred between the peoples of the Draconis Combine and the Federated Suns' Draconis March, and especially to the transgressions perpetrated by the Combine's soldiery: Kentares IV, Robinson and a dozen others. The people of the Draconis March had always been ready to punish their neighbors if given the chance. A decade of rapport couldn't possibly change those deep-seated hatreds; in fact, by late 3062, some studies showed that the common citizen's hatred for the Draconis Combine had actually grown in the years since the end of the Clan War.
On the other hand, others could not believe that Duke Sandoval could ever give in to those stereotypical hatreds. They point to his decades of service within the AFFS, and especially to the level-headed and inspired leadership he displayed when he built the FedCom Corps of twelve RCTs. When he inherited the Draconis March from his father, he continued to display nothing but fanatical devotion to the Federated Suns and to the Federated Commonwealth Alliance. He was an incredibly intelligent commander who sought nothing but the best for his men. He obviously recognized the growing rent within the AFFC and. rather than let it tear itself apart, he quite ably focused his men on an outside threat. So, instead of taking their frustrations out on each other, they vented their anger at their ancient enemy.
No matter which theory was correct, the end result was the same: the DCMS was taken by absolute surprise. While Coordinator Kurita had reinforced his border with the Federated Suns by some dozen BattleMech regiments following his annexation of the Lyons Thumb, he had to move those units right back to his other border to defend the Combine against the Ghost Bear assault. That he was forced to do so bothered him little—by all accounts, he had bolstered his Federated Suns border simply to distract Archon Katherine somewhat while Victor Steiner-Davion began his long crusade. He could never imagine that anyone in the Federated Suns could order a massive assault into the Combine while their own nation was on the verge of Civil War.
Of course, Duke Sandoval did just that in December of 3062 following the attacks upon Robinson and the assassination of Duke Arthur Steiner Davion. On 12 December 3062, the equivalent of four RCTs lifted off from worlds throughout the Draconis March, bound for targets within the Combine.
Duke Sandoval targeted four specific worlds in his initial assault: Al Na'ir, An Ting, Marduk and Proserpina, each significant Combine worlds in their own rights— either home to a major Combine command or a large military production facility. Not only did the Duke have complete surprise on his side, but he caught the DCMS in a state of flux while they were mobilizing to counter the Ghost Bear threat. Mostly faced by green troops, the FedSuns troops rolled over most of their opposition in just a few days. Only Al Na'ir held out for longer, but even then the Combine troops there were out-matched and out-gunned.
Spurred on by their incredible victories, the people of the Draconis March rallied behind their Duke, who in turn prepared his men for an even deeper push into the Combine. No matter his reasons for launching the attack, Duke Sandoval easily won the support of the majority of his people, who put aside their political and personal differences to punish their ancient enemy.
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