Hammish Civil War
|Hammish Civil War|
The Prime Minister's Residence bombing, via local TV station in New Kirrie.
| National Provisional Authority|| Hammish Republican Army|| National Salvation Front
The Hammish Civil War is an armed conflict that took place in Hamland, now Caputia. The unrest grew out of the sudden disappearance of multiple government officials and leaders across the country, namely the Seneschal Juan Teaodir and Prime Minister Lewis. It escalated to armed conflict after the Minister of the Homeland and Governor-General of Monovia, Donat Ravaillac, and various supporters suspended the Constitution and installed themselves as the new government of Hamland. The conflict was nearing its end until the assassination of Donat Ravaillac led to the rise of martial law under General Augustus Eliphas.
The war is being fought by several factions: the National Provisional Authority and its various supporters and groups throughout Hamland; an alliance of rebel groups from Israat, Anglia and San Luis de Hamlandia (including the National Salvation Front); groups loyal to the Ravaillac family led by Regina Ravaillac, daughter of Donat Ravaillac (including the Hammish Republican Army and the National Congress of United Monovia).
The NPA, having begun the war with control of the National Armed Forces and the state security apparatus, appeared to enjoy an overwhelming advantage in personnel and military hardware. This advantage, however, was offset by low morale in the regular army, the hostility of a large part of civil society and the inherent advantage of surprise and the initiative enjoyed by guerrilla fighters amongst the rebel cadres.
Within the first month of the uprisings and civil war at least 10,000 personnel defected from the armed forces to the HRA, with still more deserting and elsewhere units serving with such reluctance that they were deemed non-effective and unsuited for counter-insurgency operations. Instead, the NPA increasingly relied upon the paramilitaries of the Home Guard and the ruthless application of air power.
The Hammish Air Corps was a large, albeit increasingly tending towards obsolescence, air arm by Micras standards, comprising of 919 3rd generation jet-fighters and 1,094 Canberra bombers and Tornado strike aircraft, in addition to which were a motley assortment of maritime patrol and transport aircraft, some of which, such as the venerable Short Sunderland flying boat, belonged in the scrapyard or museum.
The factions receive substantial support from members of the international community. Shireroth has provided support to the National Provisional Authority. Traditional Hammish allies like Alexandria and Stormark have provided only humanitarian and medical aid to the National Provisional Authority, but has also extended some funding to the Ravaillac Loyalists. Passio-Corum is providing support to the National Salvation Front. Humanitarian organizations have accused the National Provisional Authority, the Hammish Republican Army and the National Salvation Front of severe human rights violations and many massacres. Over the course of the war some peace initiatives have been launched, including the Weanburg Conference and the Geneva peace talks led by Alexandria, but fighting continues.
- 1 Background
- 2 Armed Insurgency, Sectarian Divisions
- 3 Weanburg Conference
- 4 Operation Morning Dawn
- 5 Macsen campaign
- 6 Neo Patrovan Campaign
- 7 Failed Countercoup, Purge of the Hammish Armed Forces
- 8 Operation Churn
- 9 New Kirrie Campaign
- 10 Geneva Peace Conference
Disappearance of the Seneschal and Prime Minister, National Provisional Authority
Hamland entered a period of chaos and instability with the disappearance of the Seneschal Juan Teaodir and Prime Minister Lewis. The country has enjoyed an uninterrupted period of peace and stability until the disappearance of key national and regional leaders led to a power vacuum.
At the behest of all the political parties in Hamland, the military and regional governments, the sole surviving member of the Hammish Government, the Minister of the Homeland Donat Ravaillac, issued a state of emergency across Hamland and suspended the Constitution.
While there was some armed opposition over what some groups believed to be a coup d’état, Ravaillac’s state of emergency was welcomed, and it established the Council of State for the Salvation of Hamland. The Council of State for the Salvation of Hamland was folded into the National Provisional Authority, which would act as Hamland’s new government with Ravaillac as Interim Prime Minister.
Under Ravaillac’s brief tenure as Interim Prime Minister, unrest broke out in parts of Haifa, Israat and Neo Patrova. Through mediation, the unrests in Israat and Neo Patrova were quelled. Ravaillac assured that new elections for Parliament and constitutional reforms would be proposed to replace Juan Teaodir as Seneschal, which was not provided in the Hammish Constitution, and ensure that the state would never again be endangered.
Ravaillac soon encountered fierce resistance from military leaders, notably General Augustus Eliphas, on the promises made to hold new elections. Ravaillac’s government survived a series of armed revolts by the Order of Rochefort, secretly funded and instigated behind the scenes by a misinformation campaign by Hammish top military brass under the direction of General Eliphas to bring down Ravaillac.
However, when Ravaillac met with the Order of Rochefort in New Kirrie, the revolt came to an end after assurances were made that elections for a new Parliament would move forward. The Ravaillac-led government opposed the heavy-handed tactics of the Hammish military in the securing of Haifa and other parts of the country, which led to severe clashes inside the government.
The delicate balance between civilian and military leaders in the government was undermined with the suspicious death of Gerardo Lopez, a popular leader from San Luis de Hamlandia, who was serving as one of the top negotiators and advisors to Ravaillac. After the death of Lopez, the cadre of military officials were really the ones running the country with Ravaillac serving as the unwilling face of the operation.
Assassination of Donat Ravaillac, Rise of General Augustus Eliphas
A smaller wave of unrest began in Anglia and Israat after the death of Gerardo Lopez. The Hammish military had been obstructing Ravaillac’s independent investigation of Lopez’ death, which increased political tensions throughout the country.
The wave of unrest in Anglia and Israat threatened to reignite tensions around the country, and discussions on how to handle the problem became a point of contention inside the National Provisional Authority, especially inside the Council of State for the Salvation of Hamland.
Ravaillac and his loyalists in the government advocated for a measured approach consisting of negotiation and speeding up the promised elections and constitutional reforms. Hardliners in the government, led by General Augustus Eliphas, advocated military action and postponing the elections until the security situation in the country was stabilized. They also advocated for a new Constitution, to be written by the National Provisional Authority and approved by the future Parliament.
At a military review held in New Kirrie to commemorate the pacification of Haifa and to send off troops to ensure peace and safety in the country, Ravaillac was protected by four layers of security and twelve bodyguards. As Air Force jets flew overhead, distracting the crowd during his speech, a sniper shot Ravaillac. Several bombs detonated throughout the city of New Kirrie that destroyed the Prime Minister’s Residence and took out some of the roads leading outside of New Kirrie.
Ravaillac and ten others were killed outright or suffered fatal wounds. The Alexandrian ambassador to Hamland, Josef Droz, was injured but recovered. Security forces were momentarily stunned but reacted within 45 seconds. Ravaillac was airlifted to a military hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.
The Council of State for the Salvation of Hamland met at a secure location in the city of New Kirrie and declared General Augustus Eliphas as the new Interim Prime Minister and leader of the National Provisional Authority.
Socioeconomic inequality increased significantly after the disappearance of key government officials like the Seneschal and the Prime Minister. Government policy was set on an “auto-pilot” during the time, placing an emphasis on the service sector. These policies benefited a minority of the nation's population, mostly people who had connections with the government, and members of the merchant class of New Kirrie and other large Hammish cities.
This has coincided with the most intense waves of droughts and heat ever recorded in Hamland that have resulted in widespread crop failure, increases in food prices and a mass migration of farming families to urban centers.
Through the Alliance Fund established by the Council of Free Nations, Hammish allies like Alexandria and Stormark have been supplying humanitarian aid consisting of medicine, food and other supplies to ensure that the National Provisional Authority can cope with the mass migration of farming families to urban centers. Shireroth's Agricultural Mission has been providing direct support and assistance to Hammish agriculture, while helping the National Provisional Authority restore order. Meanwhile, Passio-Corum has overseen the establishment and management of the Commonwealth Diaspora Fund, which provides for the essential needs of Hammish peoples displaced by the war. A portion of the goods distributed by the Diaspora Fund are funneled into the war-torn regions of Hamland, in particular the former Barony of Anglia and Israat and the Principality of San Luis.
Armed Insurgency, Sectarian Divisions
After the assassination of Ravaillac, a small paramilitary force that provided support and assistance to the National Provisional Authority defected, aiming to remove General Eliphas from power with united opposition forces, abolish the monarchy and create a United Republic of Hamland. Hammish Air Force units at Kirnoa Air Base defected to the HRA in what was a crushing blow to the National Provisional Authority. This was followed by a nationwide crackdown nicknamed “the Bloody Massacre", which resulted in the death of at least 142 people and hundreds of injuries.
National Salvation Front was created in response to the creation of the Council of State for the Salvation of Hamland, initially as a political organization that hoped to serve as a check and balance to the CSSH and help usher a restoration of democracy and normalcy. Defiance to the martial law heightened and the group formed a strong military wing, supported by incoming fighters and assistance from the neighboring Green. Other Armed Forces defectors, encouraged by the unification of efforts to bring down General Eliphas in the east, joined the National Salvation Front, with support from the Greater Pallisican Trade Assocation, the National Labour Association and a newly emboldened Order of Rochefort.
Initially the Hammish Republican Army and the National Salvation Front were working together in their common goal to take New Kirrie and remove General Eliphas from power. Infighting and regional rivalries ended what was dubbed the “Grand Hammish Alliance” and both groups split from each other.
Led by Regina Ravaillac, the Ravaillac Loyalists and the National Congress of United Monovia aimed to be a peaceful political group that would attempt to bridge the sectarian divides between the National Provisional Authority and opposition groups, and between the opposition groups themselves. The Ravaillac Loyalists wanted above all to implement the Ravaillac Plan. The Plan would call for national elections for a Constituent Assembly, draft a Constitution, ratify it by a national referendum, and begin a transition back to democracy and stability. The Loyalists draw on vast financial resources, mostly from the massive Ravaillac family fortune and access to Alexandrian financial markets.
Representatives of the National Provisional Authority, the Hammish Republican Army and the National Salvation Front met in the city of Weanburg for a peace conference that was mediated by the Alexandrian ambassador to Hamland, Josef Droz, and Regina Ravaillac.
The Weanburg Conference descended into bickering and disunity. Soon, the groups attending the conference began to prepare to withdraw. In the last night of the conference, a member of the Weanburg Militia, Gene Letdorff, attempted to kill Regina Ravaillac and the Alexandrian ambassador to Hamland, Josef Droz.
The Weanburg Militia was formed by a self-declared Generalissimo Ignace Denueve. In the chaos that ensued the Weanburg Conference, they seized control of the city and chased out weakened government forces. Fearing an insurgency at the heart of the pacified territories, the National Provisional Authority entered an accord with the Weanburg Militia where the Militia would provide assistance and intelligence to the National Provisional Authority in exchange for impunity for its looting and criminal activity.
Operation Morning Dawn
National Provisional Authority forces stormed major urban centers and regions under opposition control in the east and the west in what was dubbed “Operation Morning Dawn”. Soon the Hammish Navy became involved in the military crackdown for the first time in the Siege of Ersoy. Gunboats fired heavy machine guns at waterfront districts in Ersoy, as ground troops and security agents backed by armor stormed several neighborhoods.
After the launch of Operation Morning Dawn, the National Salvation Front started to receive active support from the government of Passio-Corum, and it mounted an offensive to take the city of Macsen, a weakened government stronghold.
In early February, the National Salvation Front (NSF) began an offensive to take the city of Macsen. The attack combined infiltration tactics with a campaign of sabotage and car bombings that targeted hospitals, schools, and a civilian neighbourhood, killing 1,645 and injuring 780, including children. This had the effect of unhinging the Army of Attirus, whose regiments of light infantry were neither appropriately trained nor sufficiently equipped to offer a timely response.
On the 4th of February, the Hammish Police Service's Counter Terrorism Task Force (CTTF), led by Brigadier Ormonde Johnie Paul, cornered NSF field commander Fabio Dukes, near Macsen. Dukes blew himself up, and Brigadier Paul reported to General Eliphas that the brains behind the Macsen offensive had been removed from the equation. However, at 4 in the morning on the following day, NSF convoys of pickup trucks, each carrying eight fighters, entered Macsen by shooting up the city's police checkpoints. Although Macsen's outer defensive perimeter was supposed to have been manned by 4,000 soldiers from the 41st Regiment, the rate of desertion had soared since the end of January and only about half that number were available. Worse still, the majority of the armour and artillery assigned to the defence of the city had been pulled back across the Caledon River to defend New Kirrie against the rising of the Hammish Republican Army (HRA) in the west of Hamland proper. The Land Forces left in the city, therefore, had little more than light machine guns and grenades with which to repel a determined assault.
Additionally, the tactics of the NSF were designed to engender fear and panic amongst the defenders. At the first outpost overrun by attackers carrying the NSF's oriflamme banner they hanged, burned, and crucified the terrified soldiers they had captured during in the assault. These atrocities were all filmed on hand held devices and clips were sent by the militants to the entire contacts list of the mobile cellphones belonging to the murdered captives. The effect on the moral of the remaining defenders was precipitous and dramatic. What remained of the 41st Regiment dissolved into a panicked rout, with officers leading the headlong flight northwards or across the city to the river ferry terminals.
As dawn rose on the 5th of February, martial law and a curfew were imposed on the city. Outraged, General Eliphas personally ordered the attack helicopters of the Riverine Forces to strafe the militants with rocket and cannon fire and to sink any boats seeking to cross the river, resulting in the sinking of four boats, the burning of the ferry terminal and the death of at least 105 fleeing civilians and deserters. Even with the collapse of the 41st Regiment, at least 27,500 employees on the Ministry of Security payroll remained in the city, these being:
36th Regiment (Army of Attirus): 4,000 infantry
110th Regiment (Corps of Logistics): 4,000 soldiers
Counter Terrorism Task Force (Hammish Police Service): 1,800 officers
Macsen District Police Force (Hammish Police Service): 11,045 officers
Macsen Detachment (Facilities Protection Service): 700 guards
Macsen Civil Defence Brigade (Civil Defence Corps): 5,955 watchmen
The attacking column of militants however only totaled 2,000 fighters, outnumbered by the defenders by 14 to 1. Two car bombs exploded, in Tanworth, a village near the city, killing twelve civil defence watchmen. After that attack, the fighters retreated into the countryside before reinfiltrating the local population in an adjacent district.
On the 8th of February, a column of one-hundred vehicles entered Macsen, carrying at least four hundred fighters. Sleeper cells hidden within the city were activated and began to rally the disaffected in the city, taking over entire neighbourhoods and leading mob lynchings and assassinations of known police and civil defence officers, leaving the city's defenders leaderless and terrified.
The attackers followed up on the 9th of February with a bomb attack on the police barracks of the CTTF. The attack itself was a novelty, the bomb was delivered by a hydraulic excavator whose driver's cabin and engine compartment had been covered in improvised steel armor, and the bomb itself was packed into the bucket attached at the end of the excavator's hydraulic boom. Under heavy, but ineffective, small arms fire from the barrack's desperate defenders, the excavator rammed its payload of acetone peroxide into the barrack's gatehouse, triggering a detonation that demolished the gatehouse, killing eight CTTF officers, burying dozens more and killing the driver of the excavator, who had been decapitated by flying debris as he had panicked and jumped from his armoured cab as the bomb detonated - creating, unintentionally, the NSF's first suicide bomber, who would subsequently be lauded in the movement's propaganda and be held up as an example to emulate.
On the 10th of February, the NSF executed 15 captured police officers. Concurrently, NSF fighters armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers, stormed the provincial government offices in the city. Lacking plans and ammunition, the surviving officers of the CTTF, by now the last remnant of the security forces not to have defected or run away, under the leadership of Brigadier Paul, made preparations to retreat northwards out of the city. On the same night, as they began their evacuation, the NSF began their final assault, causing heavy fighting as fleeing security forces were pursued by exultant militants. The Hammish Land Forces had crumbled in the face of the militant assault, behaving so cravenly as to, in many reported instances, abandon their weapons and attempt to disguise themselves as civilians to blend in with the population.
By midday on the 11th of February, the city of Macsen had fallen entirely under the sway of the NSF.While capturing the city, the group freed nearly 1,000 political and civil prisoners, some of whom were subsequently recruited by the fighters. The oriflamme was flown over government buildings. Numerous accusations of war crimes followed the takeover. The accusations included targeting and killing civilians, public executions of political opponents and captives, throwing prisoners off high-rise apartment buildings, fighting in hospitals, the execution of suspected government soldiers found in hospitals and clinics and using ambulances to move militants around the city while avoiding attack by government helicopter gunships.
The humiliating collapse of a garrison of nearly 30,000 men facing a force a fraction of their size, was a desperate humiliation for the regime of General Eliphas and the NPA as a whole, emboldening the various rebel groups throughout the Commonwealth. In retaliation, from the 12th of February through to the 23rd of the same month, the city was subject to day and night bombing sorties by the Canberra bombers of the Hammish Air Corps, as well as marauding overflights by Apache helicopter gunships of the Riverine Forces, which would shoot-up vehicles moving on the streets, including ambulances once the militants ruse became common knowledge. The bombing sorties would typically leave behind a mixture of incendiaries; delayed action fused explosives and cluster munitions, all designed in combination to make entire neighborhoods uninhabitable.
After the 23rd the rate of air attacks would begin to slacken as assets were called away for the developing battle for control over the Lordship of the Islands in the delta estuary of the Caledon river.
Neo Patrovan Campaign
The Gabbnorship of Neo Patrova, a neglected and overlooked portion of the Commonwealth, had remained in the hands of the Ravaillac Loyalists since the beginning of the civil war.
That however was soon to change when a force of seven hundred small boats escorted by twenty-seven floating gun-platforms, eighteen armed trawlers and fifteen merchant vessels, all flying the Hammish flag, came into the vast estuary of the northwards flowing Camoleo river on the night of the 18th of February. Their target was a Hammish naval base and coastal artillery fort which faced towards East Gerenia on the opposite banks and dominated the river traffic that sailed from Jingdaoese and Senyan ports on Lake Lamantia bound for the Northern Sea.
The armada was in position by midnight whereupon all engines were stopped, the troops given a meal and then, in an orderly fashion, embarked onto the small boats.
The outer forts of the rebel held base were bombarded on the 19th of February and a number of small islands in the Camoleo estuary were occupied as a base. Treacherous weather delayed operations but at midday the 80 mm field guns bolted to the decks of the gun-platforms opened up a steady bombardment of the naval facility and barracks.
The first landings were made to the north of the naval base. Owing to navigational errors, the "little ships", confiscated yachts, pleasure cruisers and packet steamers, had begun to land troops in an area that consisted mainly of steep sandy cliffs, rising from the sea to a height of 30 to 90 metres. Noting the unexpected difficulties of the terrain, two regiments were left to hold the beach while the main force reembarked and, by four in the afternoon, began a second landing south of the base.
Despite being unaware of the enemy's dispositions and ignorant of the terrain the volunteers, comprising the 2nd NPA Army Corps, were brought ashore in strength. Each regiment, once landed, had to make its own decisions until the communications network had been established, with the result that one regiment, though only separated a short distance from the next, could be unaware of what their comrades were attempting. The revised landing zone was bisected by a rocky headland further complicating the command and control situation. Nonetheless, six regiments were put ashore over the next four hours, a total of 7,200 men, who then began the arduous scrabbling up the mountainous headland overlooking the naval base that was to be their objective.
Meanwhile the naval force supporting the landings made further efforts to secure the Camoleo river estuary. The armed trawlers, equipped with heavy calibre machine guns were deployed laying mines in the estuary channels.
By three-thirty that evening the loyalist shore gun emplacements had almost all been battered into silence. The rebels however, gained some signal successes in retaliation. A mobile rocket launcher had fired off a salvo which struck the merchantman 'Aigle' amidships. Fires were soon burning uncontrollably and by three-fifty five the order to abandon ship was given. The trawler Nepomuceno, attempting to come alongside to rescue survivors, was struck by an anti-tank missile fired from the shore and was obliged to abandon the rescue effort.
By eight o'clock that evening the first wave ashore had secured the headland and moved off in a night march to attack the loyalist naval base from the landwards side. Surging downhill and crossing the bed of a dried river brook, three regiments, were committed to attack on the base, and approached from the adjacent settlement which had evidently housed the base's officers, dockyard workers and their families. The volunteers were obliged to advance through a tangle of metal, concrete rubble and dismembered bodies, in the wake of the sustained hours long bombardment that had presaged the main attack. The few stunned men, women and children who had not fled offered no resistance. By about ten at night the attackers had reached the perimeter of the artillery fortress which defended the dockyards of the naval base.
The ramparts and parapets of the fortress were protected with massive barbed wire entanglements. Hammish soldiers from the garrison as well as the naval ratings began to rally after enduring the day long torments of the bombardment and, once the alarm was raised, took up positions from which to resist the attackers. As the volunteers attempted to climb the gently sloping glacis towards the first rampart, they encountered the wire obstacles in the darkness and found themselves the target of snipers who had taken up station on the parapet. Enduring heavy losses, the attackers gradually cut their way through the entanglements only to reach the precipitous drop into the deep ditch that stretched for a distance of eighteen metres between the counterscarpe, which they now held, and the first rampart, which remained in the hands of the enemy. As the volunteer regiments took stock of their position they came under heavy machine-gun fire from the ramparts and were further subjected to the lob-firing of rifle grenades by the defenders crouching behind their own parapets.
In addition to the ramparts, parapets and ditches, which ringed the artillery fort, the position also consisted of a number of reinforced gun-emplacements and, although these had been wrecked by bombardment from floating gun-platforms, there remained five concrete pillboxes with two heavy machine guns in each. With the volunteer regiments now being subjected to a withering hail of machine gun fire, casualties were passing the point of what was deemed tolerable and whistles were blown to signal the withdrawal. The first night attack had been a failure.
Nonetheless, the artillery fort's gun emplacements had been bracketed by a heavy bombardment, effectively silencing them, the river Camoleo had been mined, and the volunteers were ashore and in possession of a beachhead.
At about 7am, four days after the landings had begun, an unidentified MiG-29K, whose insignia had been painted over and transponder had been turned off, flew a low altitude reconnaissance sortie over the beleaguered Samerican garrison trapped in the naval base. Below him the pilot saw a scene of utter devastation. The sandstone plateau beneath the NPA occupied headland was pitted with shellholes, and the shells had smashed the thick walls and concrete pillboxes of the artillery fort which was the defender's main bastion. The dockyard of the naval base and its attendant hangers and fitting yards had also been smashed into an indeterminate jumble of rubble. Yet, even in the twilight of morning, the area still swarmed with militia men, who turned their machine-guns skywards in a futile attempt to lash out at the fast flying jet.
The massed soldiers of the NPA's 2nd Army Corps collectively cursed the ill-timed interloper as the mystery jet banked sharply and headed back out to sea on a north easterly bearing. The defenders would now be thoroughly awake and alert. Forty regiments, grouped into four divisions, encircled the defenders, and the first wave of attackers had crept forward during the last hours of darkness to take up positions concealed in a defile beneath the eastern wall of the artillery fort. There was no turning back.
At 7.01 am 300 80mm field gun opened up a heavy barrage on the defenders. The shelling was synchronised so that the gun batteries fired at differing intervals based on their positions so that the high explosive shells struck their target at the same devastating moment. This saturation bombardment lasted for five, maybe ten, minutes and then was over as soon as it had begun. It was followed by the shrill reverberation of innumerable whistles being blown.
The shock on the defenders had been absolute, distracted by the passing naval fighter and caught in the open by a fierce shredding bombardment, they were taken unawares as the NPA troops began to pour out of the defile, the lip of which came to within 50 paces of the ruined rampart and collapsed glacis.
The belt of barbed wire, 12 metres deep in front of the tangle of collapsed walls, partially buried trenches, and lunar landscape of shell craters, remained a formidable obstacle. Cedrist priests, with icons and banners, blessed the volunteers as they passed through the defile, boosting their morale. Within minutes, a wave of troops overran the glacis and covered way. Then, as they had been instructed, the volunteers stormed across the ruined and collapsed masonry of the inner rampart, which had collapsed in and partially filled the ditch which had foiled the previous nighttime assault, before stopping to consolidate.
Stunned by the barrage and the swift attack, many militiamen gave up, but others, particularly around the ruined pillboxes and gun emplacements fought on grimly, withdrawing into the interior of the fort and down into the bunkers beneath it that snaked outwards into the bowels of the earth. There, every attack was repulsed. Under constant shell-fire, attacks with grenades, gas and flame throwers, these few men raked their enemy with machine-gun fire.
For those trapped inside however, conditions, as the day wore on, became increasingly impossible. The small garrison had been swollen by those who had fled from the perimeter seeking refuge. Crowds of wounded and dying men laid huddled together in the half-dark of the barracks and main corridor. Worse, there was a desperate shortage of water.
Relentlessly the attackers forced their way into the fort, using grenades and flamethrowers, but the defenders had barricaded the passages as they were forced to retire, and machine-gunned anyone who tried to clamber over.
Eventually, rather than waste time winkling out these last desperate defenders. The attackers had pumped chlorine gas into the air vents, which they then welded shut. At the same time they rigged explosive charges to collapse the access tunnels and seal in the surviving enemies in their last subterranean bastion, which would become their tomb.
With the fall of the artillery fort, the clearing of the ruined naval dockyards was a simple mopping up operation. However, heavy casualties were endured by both sides, and in the end quarter was neither sought nor given.
With the fall of the fort the road was open for the landward contingent to advance eastwards towards Freedom City. For its success, the 2nd Army Corps had endured heavy casualties; 2,740 fatalities and 6,500 wounded, during the six day operation as well as the loss of a merchantman and an armed trawler on the first day of the landings.
Alignment of forces
Under the guise of attending the state funeral of Kaiser Dominus the Natopian Minister of Defence, Isabella Simrani-Kalirion-Osman met with her Shirerithian counterpart Daniyal Sikander Dravot and the Khanum of Goldshire in the city of Ardashirshahr to discuss the strategic situation in Hamland from the perspective of the two allied nations and of the ESB Group. They were joined by a number of staff officers and strategic analysts in the Palace of One Thousand Columns.
The Natopian Defence Force had been tasked with cooperating with its Shirerithian counterpart, the Ministry of Military Affairs, to provide safe and unfettered transit for Shirerithian merchant vessels passing though the international waterways of the Sea of Storms by any means necessary within the limitations of international maritime law.. At the same time, the St Andre Trading Company had received a request from the Natopian Empress to organise shipments of humanitarian aid to a "a friendly and free Hammish port".
The allied commanders discussed the conduct of General Augustus Eliphas and the threat posed by a victorious National Salvation Front backed by the Realm of Passio-Corum. It was agreed by the parties to these secret talks that the mandates received by the various entities under their command would be interpreted in a manner conducive to bringing the NPA, the HRA and the Ravaillac Loyalists back to the negotiating table whilst degrading the operational strength of the HSF, as well as its sponsors if necessary.
Reports of atrocities committed in the war by the NPA and HSF emboldened certain governments to claim a right of intervention off the back of public opinion. Jingdao and Gerenia claimed that they blamed Shirerithian involvement for contributing to the destabilisation of the Hammish territories on the Apollonian continent. On 25 February 2017 a joint declaration was made that a naval blockade would go into force to protect Neo Patrova from further foreign meddling. Those nations found a common ally in Passio-Corum, which sought to expand its economic interests around the Sea of Storms, namely the self-proclaimed right to levy taxes on shipping in international waters, as well as arming the HSF in Keltia, placing Jingdao's objections to the Sxiro-Hammish Agricultural Mission in an interesting light. They were joined by Xang Muang, which felt concern at the increase in Shirerithian naval activity, and the humanitarian efforts of Craitland. The establishment of the USSO, after the 26th February, meant a sudden increase in logistical and moral support for the National Salvation Front. The Jingdaoese-Gerenian Northern Mission was established to blockade any transfer of military personnel and goods to the region, but this would bring the USSO in a direct confrontation with the Eastern Armada.
Operation Reverse Ferret
On the 25th of February 2017, Magister Royston Merrick returned from a staff conference in Ardashirshahr with news that he had been ordered to end offensive operations towards Freedom City and instead to focus upon bringing the captured "Fort Camoleo" facility back to readiness. As tensions mounted with Jingdao and Gerenia the Shirerithians were keen to see the civil war terminated at the earliest opportunity.
With a declaration of a unilateral ceasefire being publicly broadcast, arrangements were put in motion for a meeting with Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell, Merrick's opposite number in charge of the Samerican Militia in Neo Patrova in Freedom City for the following day.
General Eliphas, meanwhile was beside himself with rage when he learned of the betrayal and vowed to gain satisfaction against the ESB and the Shirerithian government by whatever means necessary.
On the 26th of February, following lengthy negotiations, hosted at the Hotel Clarence in Freedom City, Magister Royston Merrick and Lieutenant-General Ewell made a joint statement, the key points of which were as follows:
- The Sxiro-Hammish Agricultural Mission and the Samerican Militia would cooperate with the combined land forces being placed under the command of LTG Ewell and the combined naval forces, including assets deployed from the Shirerithian Eastern Armada and the Kingdom of Goldshire, placed under the command of Magister Merrick.
- Neo Patrova to be administered by an elected civil government, itself to be in alignment with the forces loyal to Regina Ravaillac.
- Martial Law however would remain in effect until the Jing-Gerenian blockade is lifted.
- If the blockade on Neo Patrova is not lifted, a counter-blockade on Gerenia will be imposed.
- As a confidence building measure - all aid to Neo Patrova, whether Shirerithian or Craitish, would be received via neutral shipping, the possibility of the Council of Free Nations (Alexandria and Stormark) having responsibility for the inspection of humanitarian aid prior to delivery was mooted. The delivery of aid via Jingdao was explicitly rejected.
- In the event of any attack on Shirerithian shipping or Hammish shore installations by the forces of the USSO a formal state of war would be declared affecting the seas around the Fifth Isle, Bruges Bay, the Northern Sea and Hyperion Bay, as well as the catchment area for the River Camoleo and Lake Lamantia.
The Northern Sea
By the morning of the 2nd of March, the massive Shirerithian and Natopian reinforcement of the Sxiro-Hammish Agricultural Mission was substantially complete. With near parity in naval forces, and no sign of Jingdaoese aligned forces backing down, the decision facing the commanders in theatre was whether to seek to break the Jingdaoese blockade of Neo Patrova's ports or else to impose the threatened counter blockade on the already mined Camoleo Estuary and the Gerenian coast.
Neo Patrova Campaign resumes
09 March 2017. - Shirerithian scouting boats approach the Gerenian coastline on reconnaissance missions.
12 March 2017. - A violent and primitive tribal horde in the Shirerithian overseas territory of Crowsilver is hired by Regina Ravaillac and Daniyal Dravot to escort thousands of wagons of grain and herds of cattle overland to Neo Patrova, by-passing the naval blockade, which a separate blockade busting naval convoy is being organised to face down.
The large force of 34,000 locally recruited Krufnsilfr tribesmen were led out of the town of Fyrstavilltr in Crowsilver.
A far smaller force of 1,000 horse warriors had assembled in Hjartahom to parade for the Shirerithian Steward and his wife and would have to travel hard to catch up with the main force.
The main force comprised of 33,600 warriors in organised into 28 regiments (280 squadrons of 120).
Twenty of the regiments were brigaded into four vexillatios of 6,000 men each in five regiments to guard the flanks and provide the vanguard and rearguard for the relief column.
Three squadrons, comprising 360 men altogether, were assigned as baggage guards and were responsible for keeping discipline amongst the campfollowers travelling with the convoy and to guard the wagons against thieves and any bandits which may have slipped past the escorting regiments.
Travelling with the Relief Convoy was a forty man party of Auxiliaries from the Shirerithian Supplies Service, led by Legate Constantine Loup. The Legate had been disgraced and cashiered from the Imperial Army for his potentially complicit part in the disappearance of Tokaray al-Osman, a notorious terrorist. This team was the forward deployment party of a larger force of Auxiliaries who would follow in the wake of the native levies to secure the land corridor and lay down a metalled road that would link the Shirerithian territory of Crowsilver with the Hammish exclave of Neo Patrova.
The remaining eight regiments, comprising 9,600 men, were assigned to an independent command to roam ahead of the convoy to scout the route to Neo Patrova, to identify settlements in the wilderness, deter hostile raiding parties and to forage so as to reduce the army's dependency upon the supplies it was carrying towards Neo Patrova.
18 March 2017. - The Apollonia Command formally "stood up" by the Joint-Military Command of the Western Alliance to coordinate operations against Jingdao and its allies in the Northern Sea and its littoral hinterland on the continent of Apollonia.
25 March 2017. - Krufnsilfr warriors, scouting ahead of the relief column approached the outskirts of Tyrador, a ruined Gralan city on the southern shore of the Northern Sea. The Shirerithian Overland Relief Convoy, following in the wake of the scouts, is about midway along its line of march from Crowsilver to the borders of Neo Patrova. A forward deployed party of Shirerithian Auxiliaries is embedded with the vast tribal horde escorting the convoy to ensure that it adheres to its purpose and delivers the promised grain and cattle to the Samerican Militia before veering off to plunder northern Jingdao and Gerenia as the Shirerithian Steward promised the native chieftains of Crowsilver as a portion of their payment.
Failed Countercoup, Purge of the Hammish Armed Forces
Despite the ongoing attack by the National Salvation Front and the Hammish Republican Army on NPA-held territory, the Hammish Armed Forces, the National Provisional Authority as well as military-related industries were subjected to purges by General Augustus Eliphas. The Committee for Public Safety, under its chief Gregory Beauchamps, started a series of purges that initially hit the Committee of National Security, the Committee of Media and Communications and the National Armed Forces. High-level officials began admitting guilt, typically under torture, and then testified against others in the National Provisional Authority.
Because of the investigation and initial purges under Beauchamps, General Augustus Eliphas issued orders for mass arrests based on fabricated charges of “anti-Hammish” activity, sabotage, spying and incompetence.
Several different groups were disenchanted with the purges that had come about. These included those who enjoyed patronage jobs under Donat Ravaillac and had been discharged, army officers who had risen from the ranks and were no longer being favored over officers who had close ties to General Augustus Eliphas, and those who felt threatened by the more violent and erratic atmosphere that Eliphas had begun to create after the fall of Macsen.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators against General Eliphas gathered in New Kirrie and outside Pratchett Hall, while other demonstrations were held in the cities of Weanburg, Petrynsk, Tonar, Keybir-Aviv and Porapa. Some police officers wearing their uniforms joined the anti-Eliphas protests.
In a national broadcast, a young military officer Joseph Abib gave General Eliphas 12 hours to resign and name Regina Ravaillac as the new Interim Prime Minister. The Minister of Finance and Economy resigned in protest.
Military jets were witnessed flying over New Kirrie, and military forces closed all the bridges and highways in and out of New Kirrie. These actions were being taken outside of the chain of command led by Eliphas.
Early reports confirmed that General Augustus Eliphas was safe and secure in a military facility in Porapa, where he was inspecting troops.
The buildings of the state broadcaster, the Hammish Radio and Television Corporation, were seized by military units, but forces loyal to General Eliphas retook it and start pushing military units that were part of the coup plot.
General Eliphas marched triumphantly into New Kirrie and dismissed several commanders, including the head of the Air Force. About 300 commanders were executed and others were sent to Weanburg for confinement. The plot soon fell apart and General Eliphas ordered the mass execution of all arrested in connection with this attempt to overthrow him as “treasonous and subversive”.
The NDF had been tasked with suppressing piracy and providing logistical and humanitarian support. Taking a broad interpretation to the mandate, at 1123hrs on the 26th of February Isabella Simrani-Kalirion-Osman, having travelled by shuttle to the Natopian outpost of Farpoint established contact with the Natopian Aerospace Command, and passed on to them orders to initiate air strikes and an orbital bombardment of NSF positions around the Captive Sea. The main focus of the operation was the city of Ersoy and the island on which a NSF garrison had been subjected to an ineffectual siege by the NPA aligned Hammish Navy. The NDF, which had been quietly moving air assets into the Skerry Isles following the Ardashirshahr Conference, was ordered to significantly degrade the ability of the HSF to receive support from outside sponsors.
At midnight on the morning of the 2nd of March, the Natopian orbital and airborne strikes on the NSF command and control infrastructure were joined by the first salvo of cruise missile strikes from the NDS Chalasda and the NDS Ombrios, two Vista de Nada Class destroyers of the Natopian Navy which had now arrived within long-range striking distance of rebel held Ersoy, having sailed into the O'Rear Strait in an attempt to avoid New Zimian War Leaque patrols in the vicinity of the Captive Sea.
New Kirrie Campaign
Late in the evening on March 2nd it was reported in the New Zimian Standard that the New Zimian War League had deployed its primary aircraft carrier, the PASN Anatina, to the coast of northern Passas, in an apparent shift in disposition regarding the Hammish Civil War. Whereas the New Zimian military had formerly provided only indirect support in the conflict, in the form of funds, intelligence, and non-combat related tactical support, the presence of the PASN Anatina indicated to virtually all observers that the War League would soon begin providing tangible material support for forces opposed to the increasingly isolated National Provisional Authority. These suspicions were apparently verified, when early in the morning of March 3rd, the city of New Kirrie and the surrounding country-side was rocked by a series of large explosions. Within mere hours, it became apparent that the positioning of the Pallisican aircraft carrier had been a diversion, and that the defensive infrastructure surrounding the Hammish capital had come under attack by paid saboteurs within the NPA.
The destruction wrought by these saboteurs, who had been recruited and directed by agents employed by the Eastern Eura Trade Association to plant plastic-explosives and incendiary devices at locations which were crucial to the defensive operations of the NPA around New Kirrie, included at least a dozen air fields and air defence radar stations, as well as several command and control, and communications facilities. By 3:36 PM on March 3rd, nearly twenty-four explosions had rocked the city of New Kirrie, causing heavy devastation in their wake, crippling the NPA's chain of command and ability to direct its forces in a coherent manner. By the end of the day, furthermore, nearly 1,500 security personnel had been arrested by the NPA on suspicion of treason and terrorism related offences, to await a predictably grim fate. The day's violence, however, was far from over.
At 5 PM on March 3rd, three hours after the last of the attacks against its defensive infrastructure, the skies were filled by the roar of helicopters, as two Pallisican- controlled Aead Class Attack Helicopters passed over the city, inviting extremely heavy gun and rocket fire as they travelled. The helicopters made several passes over the city before departing around an hour after their arrival. Having attracted the ire of every anti-aircraft gun in the city, they had come away having sustained heavy damage to their air-frames but nonetheless were able to return to HSF held territory. This show of force by the New Zimian War League served to unnerve many in the Hammish capital, where large numbers of security and military personnel remained engaged in restoring order following the day's earlier attacks. As the cacophony of machine-gun fire and flak died down, giving way to the - premature as it happened - sounding of the all-clear by sirens throughout the city, it became apparent that the two helicopters had not in-fact launched anything more than missile decoy flares during their overflight. Concern mounted in the Ministry of Security, as to whether the overflight had been a show of strength or a reconnaissance. In either event, nerves frayed throughout the city.
In an attempt to gain a better picture of what was happening, and prevent any further surprises the General ordered an Sentry AEW&C aircraft to take up station over the city, to be escorted by whatever the Hammish Air Corps' Fighter Command could scrape together. This move was aborted as the Sentry detected the faint ghost of a pair of signals tracking towards its present position. Suspecting the worst, the Sentry's commander made the prudent decision to order the flight crew to flee northwards towards Weanburg. It was a wise choice, but one that came too late for two of the escorting Harrier jump-jets which were lasered out of the sky by a pair of Natopian N-1 fighters which had swooped down on them at speeds approaching Mach 2.
For three hours after the appearance and subsequent disappearance of the Aead Class helicopters - named for the demons which are believed to inhabit the planet Indigo - the city of New Kirrie sat in a state of quiet suspense, as residents and officials nervously anticipated what might follow after a day of sudden violence. This silence was broken around 8 PM, by an unfamiliar whir upon the air, not unlike the sound of the propellers of a helicopter, but not altogether similar. Intrigued by the noise, the city's residents emerged from their homes, interrupting dinner as they did so, to observe what might be making the strange sound. This curiosity rapidly degraded into panic, however, as the quiet whirr upon the air became the roar of gunfire, and the city's residents realized that the city had come under attack by a squadron of Pallisican-controlled armed drones.
Around twenty-one drones were involved in the March 3rd assault against New Kirrie. These twenty-one unmanned aircraft were divided into seven squadrons of three drones each. These squadrons, like the Aead Class helicopters which had preceded them, drew immense gunfire from defenders as the flew low over the city's streets, just above the tops of the many buildings which now sat empty as a result of the war. Unlike the helicopters which had flown over the city earlier, however, the drones which now buzzed around New Kirrie eagerly returned fire against the NPA soldiers who fired upon them, who entrenched themselves in alleys and houses, behind dumpsters and in sewer drains. As a result of the extensive devastation which had been caused by the bombings against its defensive infrastructure, including its airfields and radar stations, as well as the roaming Natopian combat air patrols (CAP), the NPA was unable to bring its overwhelming numerical advantage to bear against the drones and other intruding aircraft.
Nonetheless, during the course of the day, a number of Hawk light attack aircraft, made an appearance over the city. However, operating in a crowded urban environment, they were not able to acquire a lock-on of the loitering Pallisican drones and instead, unwisely, attempted low-altitude strafing runs. This had the inevitable effect of causing additional heavy damage to the city's roads and buildings.
The heavily armoured drones, furthermore, were proving to be invulnerable to small-arms fire, moreover the nimble Petal Class Unmanned Attack Aircraft proved extremely difficult targets to for the 264 heavy AA guns available to the Home Defence Command to aim at without the benefit of radar tracking.
One-in-three of the Pallisican drones, furthermore, was equipped with a handful of high-explosive incendiary grenades, which were deployed with great impact against crucial targets civilian and military targets across the city, including governmental and military headquarters such as the Ministry of Security and the Ministry of the Globe. Within hours large portions of the city were set ablaze. Security and military personnel, at this point, were required to devote virtually all resources to eliminating fires and restoring a sense of order in the now chaotic city.
Like the Aead Class helicopters which had come before them, the drones which laid waste to New Kirrie seemed to vanish as soon as they appeared. The attack, in total, is believed to have lasted no more than forty-five minutes. Six drones were destroyed during the attack. Of these six, only one was even partially recoverable, owing to a failure in an apparent design mechanism which caused heavily damaged drones to self-destruct. The fires caused by the attack, as a result of strong winds corresponding to a cold front which passed through the city only hours earlier, spread rapidly around the city, out-pacing the best efforts of the security forces which sought to contain them. Fully expecting further attacks, citizens who could escape sought to leave the city en masse. Nearly 1,000 people are believe to have fled from New Kirrie during the evening of March 3rd. Those who remained would unfortunately be required to endure their most difficult trials yet, as the National Salvation Front, which had been rapidly advancing westward since its capture of Macsen, began a bold river crossing as part of a strong advance towards the outskirts of New Kirrie, with the now demoralised and disorganised NPA forces scattering along the NSF's line of advance.
The Natopian intervention meanwhile had only begun as the day had progressed and the extent of the disarray in the NPA hierarchy was picked up by eves-dropping satellites and electronic signals intelligence gathered by its warships in the O'Rear Straits. Although the Natopians and the Shirerithians had already made the decision to abandon General Eliphas and switch their support to the Ravilliac loyalists, the decision had not yet been made to begin targeting the NPA itself. With the Pallisican attack unfolding however, the Court of the Verdant Garden, the Natopian defence ministry, had decided that the end game was at hand, and if the HSF was allowed be the first into the capital, ahead of its own preferred clients, the Realm of Passio-Corum and the USSO would be the main beneficiaries of the post war settlement. Accordingly, the plans for an overt intervention, using the orbital assets available to the Natopian Aerospace Command were hurriedly brought forward.
Aiming to boost job creation through massive infrastructure spending, the National Provisional Authority implemented a policy called “systematization”, which consisted largely of the demolition and reconstruction of existing villages, towns, and cities, in whole or in part, with the stated goal of turning Hamland into a "multilaterally developed society".
An Alexandrian minority in the city of Hurat began holding public protests in response to an attempt by the NPA to bulldoze the Cathedral of Saint Catherine, an important church for the minority that followed the Church of Alexandria in the city.
With all radio and TV stations being controlled and managed by the National Provisional Authority, footage and coverage of the protests did not reach many. However, an interview by Bishop Edmond Crecy with a local affiliate was broadcast live in defiance of tightly controlled government standards. In the interview, the Bishop called for all Hammish people to “rise up” and “end this civil war once and for all”.
The interview had a shock effect upon all Hammish people, including the Committee for Public Safety and the internal security apparatus of the NPA. The government responded by saying that Crecy was inciting hate and rioting, labelling him a “subversive figure”.
In the late hours of the night, the Bishop was arrested by government authorities. However, protesters gathered around Crecy’s home prevented authorities from exiting the home with Crecy. Police and internal security forces showed up at the scene to facilitate the arrest, but by the time they arrived, the protests were beginning to spread and the original cause began to become more and more irrelevant.
The Natopian air war
|Part of Hammish Civil War|
| Aerospace Command|
| Hammish Air Corps
Corps of Artillery
84 N-1 Fighters
40 Covrigi Jump Jets
36 F-22A (HRA)
28 orbital shuttles
24 C-17 transport aircraft (HRA)
20 LB-2 Light Bombers
12 E-3B AEW(HRA)
12 HB-3 Heavy Bombers
5 Black Angel Fighters
2 light carriers
1,330 Hamish Electric Canberra bomber/reconnaissance aircraft
844 Panavia Tornado GR4 strike aircraft
|Casualties and losses|
86 fighter/strike aircraft shot down
110 bomber aircraft destroyed
137 flying boats
16 maritime patrol aircraft
6 AEW aircraft
30 anti-aircraft batteries destroyed
Between the 3rd and the 9th of March, the Natopian Defence Force's Aerospace Command conducted eighty-four sorties over NPA controlled territory, primarily over New Kirrie, Guul, Hurat and Porapa, as well as the island settlements of Port Tablot, Port Karsten, Gotfriedplatz, Ulrichstadt and Minas Sul. The purpose was to create a so-called no-fly zone over the capital region, in order to negate the NPA's nominal air supremacy in order to facilitate the first shipment of humanitarian aid, organised by the Saint Andre Trading Company (SATCo) to the port of Kirnoa, held by the Hammish Republican Army.
The imposition of the no-fly zone by the Western Alliance was also intended to increase the pressure on General Eliphas to begin an orderly transition of power to Regina Ravaillac & Jorge Felicitas.
The retaliatory bombing of Kirnoa Air Base on the 6th of March developed into a major air battle over HRA occupied territory, drawing out the 3rd Air Wing to defend its own base facility and drawing in the carrier borne aviation of the Natopian 1st Exploratory Fleet. A strike package of 36 Canberra bombers and aircraft, escorted by 16 Tornado ECR electronic warfare aircraft and 40 Harrier GR9 fighters (each armed with 6× AIM-9 Sidewinders) formed up at a height of 25,000 ft above Alpenburg. This formation was detected by the air defence radar network of the Duchy of Normandie, a territory of the High Realm of Stormark, a member of the CofN. It is therefore a matter of conjecture as to how a flash report to the Storrish Hall of Freyja found its way into the possession of the HRA's Supreme Commander, Jorge Felicitas.
The Quick Reaction Flight (QRF), comprising of 3 F-22A stealth fighters was immediately scrambled, with a further squadron of 12 fighters moved out of their hangers and prepared for immediate take-off. Not long afterwards, the HRA received confirmation of the inbound NPA strike package from its own AEW aircraft on patrol at 30,000 ft over the mountain ranges south east of Hurat. Immediately after confirming contact, the E-3 Sentry aircraft found itself subject to jamming from the attacking force's ECR aircraft. The targeted electro-magnetic interference began bombarding the E-3's passive electronically scanned array with false signals, that curbed its coverage area to a radius of a mere 50km. Without the guidance of the AEW aircraft, the QRF fighters would either be obliged to turn on their active electronically scanned array (AESA), and thus negate their primary advantage, that of stealth, by illuminating their own position, or else to rely upon the passive radar warning receiver to identify searching enemy fighters. The danger then being that some or all of the attacking aircraft, especially if they maintained radio silence, might evade detection and reach their target. Under those circumstances the QRF decided to take the risk of turning on its active search radars, even though doing so would act as a beacon for the attacking enemy, as they could use the range advantage enjoyed by their onboard AIM-120 AMRAAM compared to the sidewinders available to the NPA fighter aircraft.
At 372 km south of Innerschwand, the warning receivers began to pick up the signals of the Tornado ECRs doppler radars in search mode. The F-22As went to full active scan mode and began a sharp climb to 50,000 ft in order to gain the height advantage over the attackers in the game of "3D chess" that was now developing. Within seconds of coming online the AESA was picking up multiple radar signals, 16 ECRs in groups of four, with the 40 harriers distributed in a similar pattern forming a delta shaped wedge over an area of 150 km approaching from the north. The ECR aircraft were acting as spotters for the Harriers which, although intended as ground attack aircraft had been pressed into the air defence fighter role after the defection of the 3rd Air Wing to the HRA.
The F-22As jettisoned their fuel tanks and went into a shallow dive from 50,000 ft at Mach 1.3 towards the approaching sub-sonic attackers. As the ECRs picked up the searching AESA signals the Tornados and Canberras accelerated to their maximum speeds and dove, leaving the Harriers to face the brunt of the attack. Each of the attack QRF fighters released three AMRAAMs apiece, before turning sharply away to keep out of the far shorter range of the Harrier's own sidewiders. The Harriers broke formation and deployed counter-measures but with too little time from warning to response, the initial salvo was devastating, with seven kills to the nine missiles launched. It was now the QRFs turn to receive a nasty surprise as the ECRs turned about and engaged. During the brief moment of cooperation between the NPA and the ESB corporation, a consignment of AA-10 Alamo missiles had been delivered, and a salvo of six were unleashed, causing the missile launch detectors on the F-22s to go haywire. Hurriedly disengaging their AESA radars caused most of the radar tracking missiles to lose their lock, albeit one that was too late and suffered a near proximity detonation, forcing the fighter to disengage from the fray.
By now the remaining 12 F-22As from the scramble had arrived on the scene and the result, inevitably, was a missile massacre 72 AMRAAM missiles being launched consecutively into the oncoming waves of Canberras and Harriers, blotting them out consecutively until only four Harriers remained to join the nine Tornadoes in headlong flight northwards.
It was however as the triumphant victors of that engagement returned to land at Kirnoa Air Base that the diabolical calculations of General Augustus Eliphas became apparent.
The strike package paraded at high altitude, in the full view of the air defence networks of the HRA's foreign sponsors, had been a lure, designed to draw out the defenders from their lair and have them committed, leaving the airbase itself vulnerable to the main blow which was now to be delivered.
In spite of impressive successes achieved in the suppression of the NPA's air defences, the mounting attrition on the N-1 and Covrigi fighters through airframes being rendering inoperable by enemy action and operational mishaps placed an increasing pressure on the technologically advanced but numerically small force. This combined with the shooting down of the Black Angel stealth fighter on the 7th of March, marked the moment at which aggressive combat air patrols over Hammish territories by the Natopians started to wind down.
Moreover, the damage inflicted on Kirnoa Air Base, particularly the manner in which the main runways had been effectively cratered, had been a significant success for the NPA, for even though the 3rd Air Wing remained a force in being it was unable to conduct sorties until the runway and ancillary facilities had been repaired, denying a base and valuable support to the Natopian efforts at enforcing a no-fly zone.
Nonetheless, the resolve of the Hammish Air Corps, already weakened by the defection of its only modern fighter squadrons, had been severely undermined by the casualties incurred during the operation, the destruction of a significant portion of coastal command and the forced relocation of fighter and bomber aircraft to locations away from New Kirrie, with some squadrons being evacuated all the way to to the province of Haifa.
Effectively the NPA was left with only its substantial fleet of helicopters to carry on counter insurgency operations against the HRA and especially against the NSF.
Shirerithian Special Forces inserted into HRA territories
S.W.O.R.D. Paramilitary teams entered HRA held territory on the 28th of February via Natopian shuttles in the wake of the decision to shift Shirerithian support away from the NPA. Once on the ground they prepared for the subsequent arrival of special forces detachments. S.W.O.R.D. teams then combined with Rrakanychan Watch special forces arriving from the 3rd of March onward, to organise the HRA militia.
S.W.O.R.D. teams also conducted high-risk special reconnaissance missions behind NPA lines to identify senior leadership targets. Of particular interest were the senior members of the Committee of National Security and the Committe for Public Safety as well as the general staff of the armed forces and officers of the rank of colonel and higher in the formations identified as being especially loyal to the General, including the Riverine Forces, the Armoured Corps and the Corps of Artillery, upon whom the regime placed the most reliance for the defence of New Kirrie.
S.W.O.R.D operations officers were also tasked with identifying disaffected officers who could be prevailed upon to surrender their units or to defect to the HRA or one of its allied militia groups. Owing to logistical difficulties, including the distances involved as well as the need to maintain the majority of forces in a defensive posture against Jingdao, the S.W.O.R.D. and Rrakanychan Watch joint teams and the HRA volunteers constituted the entire Western force facing against the NPA forces. In spite of this their objective was to reach New Kirrie ahead of the USSO sponsored NSF in spite of that militia group being considerably closer to the capital following the fall of Macsen.
Western Front erupts
A broad offensive along the entire length of the western front to which the entire strength of the HRA was committed. 23–28 March.
The attack opened in the early hours of the 23rd of March, with an infiltration under the cover of darkness of the Lacedaemon Regiment of S.W.O.R.D. behind the positions of the 70th Regiment of the Army of New Kirrie, which had been ensconced on the northern edge of Hamland's central massif to guard the approaches to a still restive Hurat. Put in place to defend against and deter the infiltration of guerrilla fighters into NPA held territory, the 70th Regiment, a formation of light infantry, had been hopelessly ill-equipped to face a determined special forces assault and had suffer a devastating rout, its positions overrun and its commanding officers systematically hunted down and butchered. 
Details to follow.