Florian invasion of Port Balaine

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Operation Python
Florian invasion of Port Balaine.png
Clockwise from top left:
Python offshore of The Promenade · Bombed-out apartment in Wellingdon · Florian troops on Wells
Date 7.VI–19.XIII.1706 AN (7 months)
Location Port Balaine · Liberation Islands
Status Florian victory:
Belligerents
Floria Floria Port Balaine Port Balaine
Units involved
Floria Fleet Command
  • Coastguard
  • Norfolk Isles Squadron

Floria 205th Army

  • XXIV Corps

Floria 1st Expeditionary Air Group

  • 9th Fighter Regiment
  • 31st Transport & Communications Regiment
  • 624th Reconnaissance Regiment
Port Balaine Gendarmery
  • Port Balaine Constabulary

Port Balaine National Railway Service

Strength
50% of available naval assets, including:
  • 10 frigates
  • 12 coastal submarines
  • 40 troop landing ships

Initial landing force

  • 4,800 infantry
  • 2,400 combat support personnel

Second & third wave landing forces

  • 9,600 infantry
  • 4,800 combat support personnel
  • 278 armoured fighting vehicles
  • 48 self-propelled guns
*6,500 (armed forces)
  • 9,000 (paramilitary)
  • 23,000 (reserve)

The Florian invasion of Port Balaine was a military operation in Port Balaine by Floria with the objective of reclaiming the Norfolk Isles back into Florian control for the first time since the occupation of Los Liberados.

The invasion was internationally condemned by organisations such as WANC and Xäiville Convention whilst the majority of Floria's allies stayed silent on the situation.

Background

After the successful territorial claim of Outer Mesoun. Florian President Ronald Trueman ordered Florian Navy vessels to swiftly surround Port Balaine and the Norfolk Isles plus increase military presence in the Liberation Islands. Floria had a previous history with the Norfolk Isles formerly occupying Los Liberados which is now partially part of the Liberation Islands. However, the southern islands of the Norfolks became the independent nation of Port Balaine angering Florian ultranationalists and a large section of the United Party of the Republic. Trueman in a statement to Florian media such as the international TV network Floria Today said that there was 'Unfinished business' with the archipelago.

After Floria was put in martial law by President Trueman in 1706 AN, Florian naval vessels proceeded to block routes out of the archipelago only allowing Florian ships to pass. Two days before Founders Day, Florian vessels began the attack with President Trueman planning a swift annexation of the territory to be celebrated on the national holiday.

Events

First Offensive on Wells

After the initial shelling of some settlements in Wells, landing parties formed from units of the XXIV Corps arrived from Augusto and, upon disembarkation, immediately commenced raiding the villages in the north of the island. The first settlements to fall into Florian control.

Whilst the northern settlements were relatively straightforward to capture it was obviously the more populated cities of Wellingdon and other settlements in South Wells which became an issue due to the local terrain and more densely populated urban areas which afforded a defensive advantage to the local resistant forces.

The initial landing force, drawn from the 42nd Florian Assault Grenadier Division, comprised of 4,800 light infantry. Until such time as a viable port was captured, the heavier mechanised elements of XXIV Corps, including artillery and air defence systems, could not be brought ashore. Moreover, the first landing parties only went ashore with sufficient rations and ammunition for three days of operations. Again, without the capture of a deep water port, supplies needed to be landed on a suitable beach or airlifted in by helicopter. Personnel from the 13th Corps Commissariat Brigade took the first captured village as their base of operations but they struggled to establish a functioning logistics supply chain under these conditions as early attempts to capture Wellingdon were unsuccessful.

More ominously, the invasion was being conducted against the backdrop of the impending summer monsoon season which interrupted the already tenuous flow of manpower and material to the forces ashore.

Capture of St. Peter and Herm

Frustrated with the lack of progress in Wells, Trueman ordered Navy vessels to box in the isles of St. Peter and Herm with the vision of capturing these less populated isles and claiming the capital of the nation in the process. With weakened defences in these islands and the eventual end to the humanitarian ceasefire, Florian soldiers proceeded to arrive on the islands to capture them. St. Peter was the first to fall under Florian control with settlements captured despite courageous resistance by Port Balaine Gendarmery and citizens who decided to stay behind and fight. After the capture of the island, resistance moved to the bridges connecting both Herm and Wellingdon.

That resistance on the bridge would be deemed useless overnight as Florian soldiers took amphibiously approaches from three angles both directly and indirectly attacking The Promenade. With resistance stretched the nation's capital became under Florian effectively dealing a crushing blow.

Second offensive on Wells

On the same day that members of the Micrasian community officially began to impose sanctions on Floria, Florian troops arrived in the southern and western parts of the island having captured the nation's capital the day before and made slow amounts of progress. However, after official sanctions by the Xäiville Convention were imposed Florian troops agreed on another ceasefire in hopes of official peace talks.

Once again the Arcadian mountain range, dominating the interior of the Isle of Wells, had proved an obstacle to the advance, bestowing a defensive advantage upon the gendarmes and volunteers and providing a location from where small bands of resistance fighters could organise attacks against Florian logistics convoys and checkpoints.

Peace talks

After the announcement of a second ceasefire peace talk proposals were submitted by numerous parties. Sanama who was one of the first nations to condemn the invasion offered to host the peace talks in Semisa City, the nation's capital. However, the Florian administration declined the proposal due to the sanctions imposed by the Sanaman Government and felt that hosting peace talks would be some 'reward' for its attempt to affect the Florian economy.

After the capture of The Promenade, the Florian administration proposed talks to be held there with no options for peace talks to be held in the mainland. However, by 22.XI.1706, peace talks broke down for a second time after Balainese officials refused to agree to a conditional surrender in favor of Florian annexation.

Third offensive on Wells

Florian progress in the first day of the land offensive.
Florian progress after the capture of St. Peter.
Florian progress after capturing The Promenade.
Florian progress before the second ceasefire.
Florian progress at the Commonwealth's surrender.

Following the failure of peace talks, Florian troops began a third offensive across Wells. Following the open Wellish Plain, the XXIV Corps found easy progress on the road to Wellingdon, aided by the collapse of the Balainese chain of command. By 10.XII, the Florian army captured the Wellingdon suburb of Waderlo, and on 15.XII, the town of Ludgate on the southwest outskirts of the city.

Shelling commenced during the Siege of Wellingdon. Significant portions of Abona Pilotus International Airport were destroyed following rocket fire on 19.XII. Yet, Florian troops faced stiff resistance on the A-1 Motorway running on the north of Wells, failing to capture Honey Springs, and Virginia City in the Arcadian Mountains. However, the Norfolk Islands Squadron blockaded Wellingdon Harbor, encircling the city by land and sea. On 1.XIII, elements of the 13th Corps Commissariat Brigade encircled the last Port Balainese ground forces at Tunley to the east of Wellingdon.

Surrender

Street fighting on the border of Wellingdon followed for weeks. On 7.XIII, a spearhead of the XXIV Corps took the southern banks of the Lower Jimland River near the neighborhood of Chancery . The failure of Port Balaine's urban troops to hold back the Florian army, and facing the destruction of Wellingdon, the Commonwealth government sued for peace on 8.XIII. The Commonwealth finally surrendered on 17.XIII.1706, and the guerilla resistance in the Arcadian Mountains, laid down their arms on 19.XIII, shortly after retaking the mountainous village of Saratoga.

Establishing the occupation

During the second ceasefire a bulletin was circulated to the gentlemen of the press informing that Vice-Admiral Runncy Thorpe, lately of the Norfolk Isles Squadron, and Lieutenant-General Westley Stephens, formerly commander of the XXIV Corps, had been taken into custody on the authority of the Apollonian Continental Theatre Command so as to answer for their conduct of the initial invasion - particularly with regards to the failure to capture the Island of Wells within the first week of the landing force going ashore.

As a part of efforts to secure the peace, Apollonia Command established, with effect from 10.XI.1706, an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) encompassing the entirety of the Norfolk Isles, including Port Balaine. All aircraft transiting the declared ADIZ would be subject to challenge by ground-based Florian air-traffic controllers, followed by interception and visual verification by Confederate fighter aircraft operating out of the Augusto aerodrome. To support this new mission, the 9th Fighter Regiment was reinforced by a flight of four F-17 Axarana making their first operational deployment in Florian service.

To alleviate some of the burdens places upon the Florian logistics system by the failure to capture the harbour at Wellingdon, the Commissariat Regiment deployed on the Isle of Wells began to task civilians in the occupied parts of the island with the baking of bread for the invasion force, as well as with duties of porterage and construction work in line with the directions of the Confederate Army. Furthermore, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Blackwell, an officer of engineers formerly in half-pay prior to the war, was appointed commandant for the occupied part of the Isle. Representatives of the civil authorities instructed to report to his headquarters to receive direction as to their duties until such time as a final peace was achieved.

Lieutenant-General Benedict Spencer, the newly appointed commander of the XXIV Corps, made his headquarters at the Promenade and moved to deploy a regimental-strength contingent of the 13th Corps Commissariat Brigade to the city supported by elements of the 51st Volunteer Cavalry Division, who were finally able to deploy now that a viable harbour had been secured on the Isle of Herm. The failure, whether by neglect or intent, of the Port Balaine Gendarmes to demolish the bridges and causeways prior to their capture by the Florian forces now permitted reconnaissance vehicles brought ashore on Herm to be driven across to the tip of southern Wells. The arrival of Universal Carrier Scouts, LAV-1 scout vehicles, and LAV-2 armoured cars on the southern edge of the Wellish plain now betokened the promise of improved manoeuvre and fire support for the exhausted infantry of the 42nd Florian Assault Grenadier Division who had fought their way south from their landing point at the northern most tip of Wells during the course of the preceding months.

The capture, comparatively intact, of the Promenade Helidrome and the Verlocke Cosmodrome with its a 2,500 m support runway had dramatically improved the supply situation - with airlifts now being constrained mostly by the inexperience of the Florian Air Force when it came to organising such logistically complex operations. The absence of dedicated transport aircraft from the strength of the air arm was also a decided weakness - with the majority of the heavy lifting being conducted by rotary-winged aircraft in a series of hops from Diamond Harbour and Port Farrar to Augusto and thence onwards to the occupied sites. To ease some of the burden on military aviation, Florian Airlines was chartered to take over the delivery of stores and munitions to the Augusto Aerodrome, allowing the Florian Air Force to focus its attention upon the airlift of cargo into the theatre of operations. It was a fortuitous arrangement, seeing that Florian Airlines was now shut out of the majority of its primary international routes owing to the unexpectedly severe sanctions imposed by the Xaiville Convention.

Establishing a formal occupation government was something outside the experience of the experience of the Confederate States Armed Forces. Indeed this aspect had not featured greatly in the planning prior to the invasion - the assumption being that a swift victory would have been immediately followed by the incorporation of Port Balaine into the civil system of administration established over the remainder of the Florian Norfolk Isles. The operational failure of the initial landings, combined with the on-again-off-again process of diplomatic negotiations for the resolution of the conflict now placed the military under a series of obligations for which it was ill-equipped. After casting about amongst its Raspur Pact allies for advice the most detailed response was received from the Benacian Union Defence Force - however the Benacian suggestions with regards to "total population management" were considered to be a little on the severe side for the delicate political situation the Florians now found themselves in.

Ultimately the decision was made to establish a Military Governorate as an interim solution. Commodore Bernard Higgins, a retired naval officer and veteran of the Verionian-Raspur War who had subsequently preferred the quiet life down in St Edwin's, was recalled to the colours with the promise of promotion of the rank of Rear Admiral and a generous financial settlement. Rear Admiral Higgins had been fifth in list of names put forward by the Defence Committee, those ahead of him having turned down an appointment widely considered to be a poisoned chalice. Underneath the Commanding Officer of the Military Governorate was its Executive Officer, Brigadier Gerald Langford, a supernumerary officer hitherto attached to the Republican Guard Corps. A political officer, trusted by President Trueman, Langford was expected to ensure the continued reliability of the Florian forces deployed to the islands as well as ensure the correct operating of an occupation government. Reporting to the XO of the Military Governorate would be the Commandants appointed to each of the three island bailiwicks: in addition to Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Blackwell on Wells, there would also be on St Peters Colonel Loy Smith of the 2nd (Florian) Division, and on Herm the Brevet-Colonel Richard Nolan who hailed originally from the 31st Transport & Communications Regiment of the Florian Air Force.

To provide manpower for the administration of the Military Governorate, five of the Home Service Regiments, these being the Army Commissariat Regiment, the Army Signals Regiment, the Army Engineering Regiment, Army Provosts Regiment, and the General Service Regiment, were ordered to assemble a squadron-strength detachment of four officers and 120 other ranks for deployment to the Promenade. Upon arrival these personnel would be broken down into forty-man troops by specialism and those troops allocated to each of the three island bailiwicks so as to ensure that each specialism is represented. In addition to these contingents drawn from the Florian Army, the Navy and Air Force have also instructed to collect together the equivalent of a regiment apiece of surplus personnel without current postings to serve as support troops. The Military Governorate is to be supplied for its military needs through the same logistics infrastructure established by the 13th Corps Commissariat Brigade which is supporting the deployment of the combat echelons of XXIV Corps drawn up to the south, east, and north of Wellingdon. For food, fuel, and other needs, such as construction materials, the Military Governorate is expected to requisition from the local populace, or else procure from commercial sources.

The remit of the Military Governorate is to maintain order in the occupied territories, to facilitate the maintenance and repair of essential services, including amenities and utilities which may have been interrupted during the fighting, and to liaise with the civil authorities in the captured settlements so as to ensure that these objectives were achieved. The standing orders issued to the Military Governorate strictly forbade, again disregarding helpful Benacian suggestions on the matter, all forms of collective punishment and reprisal directed against the civilian populace.

An army garrisoned

With negotiations ongoing, and with reports of the dispatch of the Maritime Armada to enforce the peace, the Florian contingent ashore moved out of the field and into designated cantonments, established for regimental and brigade sized formations, that were placed throughout the occupied territories so as to be mutually supporting and convenient to resupply.

With provisions now arriving in regular and sufficient quantities, the ration situation for the Florian soldiers rapidly began to improve.

The garrisoned troops received several different types of rations. There were per man daily rations, weekly rations per man, and then there were per squadron per week rations. The daily ration would include a meat component, usually 432 grams of beef, or 500 grams of salt pork or of salt fish. Another part of the daily ration would be the loaf of bread per day, and if bread wasn’t available then they would get a substitution of 400 grams of oatmeal. And to round out this daily ration, they were given a half-litre of milk and a litre of pale ale, suitable for the tropics. The per squadron per week ration consisted of barrels of rum, wine, vinegar, and lime, made over to the commanding officer directly by the Commissariat. The weekly consignments for distribution to troops at the squadron level included care packages containing chocolate, amphetamines, paracetamol, and sundries such as razors, soap, fresh socks, items that the men would need that weren’t food items. The per man per week rations meanwhile came in the form of 1kg bags of peas, beans, rice, or oatmeal. Whenever possible, the soldiers would also supplement their diet with whatever items they could procure locally from nearby fishing villages, or from farmers or even from the wilderness around them - when garrisoned in the Arcadian Mountains.

In spite of the improving supply situation, there had still been an evident market for enterprising individuals. Amongst the first commercial vessels to reach Port Balaine as hostilities wound down was a container ship bearing sixty-two thousand cases of tinned Superabundance High Energy Meat Substitute sold to the Blackfriars' Redux in the International Mandate ended up, by means unclear, being resold to Florian occupation forces by the enterprising factors of the ESB residency recently established on The Promenade of Port Balaine.

Reactions

National responses

  • Ashinthael Ashinthael: The King decried the invasion as a unnecessary violation of peace on the continent. Although exchange with Floria is minimal, the King immediately imposed strict sanctions and seized all Florian assets within Ashinthael.
  • Benacian Union Benacian Union:
    • The legatine mission of the Benacian Union in Northcliff is reported to have advised the Florian foreign ministry that, while the objective of conquering the Norfolk Isles is a worthy one, long term structural obstacles may delay or prevent the recognition of any changes to the status quo by the international community.
    • The Commission for Foreign Affairs subsequently issued a statement recognising the Norfolk Isles as lying within the legitimate Florian sphere of influence and exhorted third party nations to refrain from any forms of undue interference in the ongoing Florian effort to restore the harmonious society in the region.
    • On 1.I.1707 AN the Benacian Union formally recognised the annexation of Port Balaine and appointed a Tribune, Albrecht Haas, to represent the interests of the Union-State amongst the islands.
  • Hurmu Hurmu: Lyudmila Eduardovna, chair of the Senate's diplomatic committee, deplored Floria's invasion, and urged Floria to respect the territorial integrity of Port Balaine. Hurmu would be open to discussing sanctions against Floria within the WANC framework but would find difficulties in doing so due to the Hurmu–Raspur Pact Free Trade Agreement. Moreover, Hurmu's embassy in The Promenade called for all Hurmu citizens to leave the islands, if possible. Moreover, Hurmu citizens were recommended to avoid travelling to Port Balaine.
    • Chaghagan Khoga, the senior of two Humanist delegates on the diplomatic committee, condemned talk of sanctions as being premature and liable to foster the growth of extreme ultranationalist sentiment in Floria.
    • On 20.X.1706, Hurmu's Senate denounced Floria's invasion as an "illegal war of aggression" and instituted sanctions
      • Ban of Florian businesses operating in Hurmu
      • End of visa-free travel for Florian citizens in Hurmu
      • Freezing of all Florian assets in Hurmu
      • Ban of Florian trains on Hurmu tracks
      • Ban of Florian ships in Hurmu waters
      • Ban of Florian use of Hurmu airspace
    • A few hours later, the Xäiville Convention, of which Hurmu is part, introduced sanctions on Floria as well (see below)
    • On 24.X.1706 AN the Hurmu government introduced sanctions relief measures for Florian personnel attached to the Allied Mission in Eastern Apollonia, Hurmu & Lyrica, in view of their ongoing contribution against the 1706 Vanic insurgency.
    • Following the initiative of the Humanist List in early 1707 AN, the Senate eased Hurmu's sanctions against Floria to be in line with those of the Xäiville Convention. This restored the right of Florian businesses to trade with Hurmu (though kept the import ban of Florian products), visa-free travel for Florian citizens, and the right of Florian trains and ships and airplanes to access Hurmu. Moreover, the Senate directed its representative to the XC to begin dismantling the remaining sanctions against Floria.
  • Jääland Jääland: Petri Pukki confirmed neutrality in the conflict stating that support for Floria could have large implications regarding economic sanctions.
  • Kildare Kildare: The people's government of the Kildarian republic was shocked, but not surprised, by the imperialist behavior from Floria towards the Norfolkians of Port Balaine. The isles, once Kildarian, are seen as brothers and sisters. The government warned for harsh retaliation and offered both humanitarian and military aid to the invaded nation. Together with its allies in WANC, it seeks to revolve the matter in a peaceful matter. The People's Revolutionary Army was moved in heightened readiness along the Kildari-Florian border, in fear of Florian aggression.
  • Lac Glacei Lac Glacei: Lac Glacei condemned the invasion and declared the event an act of tyranny. The Grand Duchy has offered to provide transportation of Balainese fleeing the country to refugee camps in Lac Glacei.
  • Meckelnburgh Meckelnburgh: The Queen condemned the invasion as "one of the gravest violations of self-determinations seen in my rule." The kingdom's foreign minister opined that "aggressive actions by powerful alliances reaffirms the need for unity amongst the non-aligned nations of the world."
  • Pacary Pacary: Anti-occupation protests were held throughout the year.
  • Phineonesian Confederation Phineonesian Confederation:
    • President of Phinbella, Muhammad Furkorn Mat Jeen strongly condemned Floria’s invasion of Port Balaine which is a sovereign state. He said that although this country was part of Florian history, it did not mean that it arbitrarily invaded the country, this was a war crime offense under Micras law.
    • On March 13, it was also a BoBoiBoy Day celebration, in the grounds of The Istana, a demonstration was conducted and accompanied by Furkorn and Chairman of the Council of Ministers, this demonstration was to oppose Florian aggression. At the King Sapphire IV Building, Kuala Forajasaki, a similar demonstration was also held.
    • On March 26, Furkorn also regarded Florian occupation of Port Balaine as a new form of colonization, and it was Port Balaine itself recognized by the Phinbellan government as a sovereign state, not part of Floria. The Balainese provisional government, the Balainese government-in-exile, was invited to be based in Longhïa'pyōn Tawao which also had refugee settlements.
    • The Phinbellan government had planned to join the sanction against Floria which led by the Xäiville Convention, along with the Forajasakian government.
  • Sanama Sanama: The Sanaman government issued a condemnation of the invasion of a sovereign nation, and would bring up the issue of sanctions against Floria with the members of WANC, most notably Kildare. Sanama later froze all Sanaman assets belonging to President Trueman and his closest supporters, as well as restricted travel to Sanama for the same people. The Foreign Relations Committee also summoned the Florian ambassador to receive a diplomatic note condemning the invasion and calling for a peaceful resolution. On 3.XI.1706 Sanama harmonised its sanctions with those imposed by the Xäiville Convention nations, while also maintaining its own set of sanctions.
  • Suren Suren: The Maijis-e Suren passed a resolution which expressed its support for the Florian invasion, in spite of seemingly having only a hazy grasp of the actual location of Port Balaine.
  • Thraci Confederation Thraci Confederation: The Thraci government officially condemned the invasion. With the Project Gama and Kadim Treaty moves in the region, it is planned to secure the Apollonian Express and to end the invasion movely.

Domestic responses

Anti-Trueman Administration protests.
  • Widespread riots throughout Northcliff occurred throughout the city throughout the invasion with protestors raising issues against the rise of Florian ultranationalism and the recent lack of Florian democracy before the invasion.
  • Outside the Presidential Palace, protestors held up banners of President Trueman with a Jeremy Spencer moustache, branding him as Jeremy Spencer 2.0
  • However in Southern cities, the invasion encouraged rallies of support in city squares further dividing the nation.

International bodies

  • Raspur Pact Raspur Pact: Following the surrender of Port Balaine, warships of the Maritime Armada were observed taking up station off-shore to the south and west of the Promenade. Initial reports circulating in the Florian press suggested that the allied warships were there to guarantee Floria's continued access to the sea following the Cakaristani annexation of the Thraci holdings in the Norfolk Isles. However a persistent rumour had also begun to circulate that the fleet was also there to guarantee the safety of President Trueman, and his family, on the occasion of his imminent departure from high office. Reports emanating out of Lindstrom strongly hinted at the emergence of a consensus on the Pact's Permanent Commission - that for the new status quo in Port Balaine, enjoying full autonomy under Florian sovereignty, to be recognised, Mr Trueman himself would be required to relinquish the presidency in favour of a quiet exile in Aqaba, provided for by the Honourable Company.
  • Xäiville Convention: On 20.X.1706, the Xäiville Convention introduced sanctions against Floria, due to its "war of aggression" on Port Balaine. The sanctions included an import ban on Florian products, a release of copyright on Florian products already in the XC is lifted (making piracy legal), and no broadcasting of Florian football games, and no audience for Florian games taking place in XC countries. The XC also agreed to organize a football tournament with proceeds going to the victims of the war.