Sanaman intervention in Drak-Modan
|Sanaman intervention in Drak-Modan|
|/ Operation Sanctuary|
|Casualties and losses|
Prior to the crossing of the border on 8.II, units had forward-deployed to Western Shimmerspring in anticipation. The 1st Rapid Response Force had moved to Jakovita base to provide base and rear security for the advancing forces, whilt the 5th RRF would provide the same support at Mortis Mercatoria. The 5th Army Aviation Brigade had also moved to Jakovita Air Force Base. Furthermore, 103rd Armoured, 5th Mechanised and 20th Light had moved to Mortis Mercatoria for a southern route into Eastern Shimmerspring, with goal Jugensk. To the north, 23rd Armoured, 25th Mechanised and 27th Light had deployed to Jakovita for a push to Nor. All in all, closer to 40,000 combat troops supported by almost 80,000 support troops had amassed in the Sanaman territory. On the other side of the border waited an irregular force of between 15,000 to 27,000 insurgents. Due to neglect from Drak-Modani national authorities, Eastern Shimmerspring was close to a lawless area, more or less controlled by insurgents. These groups only shared one common trait, the desire for an independent Shimmerspring, apart from that they differed on almost every issue. After Sanaman forces started to gather across the border, the groups added a second common trait: opposition to Sanaman intervention. The situation on the ground therefore looked vastly different from that encountered in So-Sara. While the insurgent forces were quite unorganised and had no central command, leaving each organisation its own island, the Sanaman forces still expected heavy resistance in the wooden areas of central Shimmerspring. Insurgent groups were known to field Technicals, usually regular pickup trucks fitted with a machine gun, RPG, ATGM, or other weapon on a tripod, or less frequently, stripped down Snatch Land Rovers. Hand-held weapons included various handguns, automatic rifles, and older RPGs. Against this, Sanama fielded over 170 tanks and 1,300 Horjins and other armoured vehicles.
Crossing the border
On 8.II.1690 the Sanaman forces crossed the border into what was previously, and still was in the minds of its residents, Eastern Shimmerspring. Shimmerspring is a densely forested highland area, with a few mountain ranges and valleys. The connecting roads between west and east goes through these valleys, and this was where the columns of Sanaman vehicles made their way towards Nor and Jugensk. With dismounted infantry clearing the forest ahead of the armoured vehicles, wary of any insurgents armed with RPGs, progress was slow. It was one of these infantry soldiers that found the first minefield. After the smoke had cleared and the remains put into a body bag, several mine-clearing armoured vehicles from the engineer battalions were sent in to clear paths through the field. Meanwhile, reconnaissance drones and high-flying surveillance aircraft scouted the area ahead of the forces for any possible contacts. The drones and aircraft relayed information to the three FF-380 Buzzards loitering in the area. In the north, drones had spotted a larger group of insurgents moving into position among some abandoned buildings approximately three kilometers behind the minefield. The information was sent to the Buzzard in the area and the all-clear to fire was received from command. After spotting the group of 25 insurgents setting up attacking positions in three buildings along the path, the SAI 40 mm rotary cannon gunner opened fire. At over 240 rounds per minute the cannon caused extensive damage to the wood and stone structures. The first burst of fire killed 12 insurgents. After this initial strike, the rest of the team tried to scatter into the woods. They were then fired upon by the two SAI 20 mm rotary cannon gunners, who managed to take out the remaining 13 insurgents. The action was fully visible by the front units in the ground forces column.
In the south, the approach was initially stymied by a wide river. Scouts failed to find viable fording across the river. Again the engineer battalions were sent forward, in this place the mobile bridge vehicles. After having put down and secured several bridges, the vehicles started crossing, but were immediately fired upon from a group of buildings further up the road. The vehicles kept moving forward, but when an RPG bounced off the turret of an MBT-2 Victoria, the self-propelled artillery was ordered to fire back. Luckily for the Sanaman tank, the RPG-wielding insurgent had a premature trigger finger. Having the buildings within visual range made it comparatively easy to aim. The first salvo destroyed several vehicles and smaller buildings, while also suppressing the insurgents in the buildings. Two loitering F-9 Ashavan II's from Jakovita Air Base were called in, and within minutes the front line of houses had been destroyed by S-2 missiles. The initial wave of vehicles crossed the bridges and dismounted infantry cleared the forest on both sides of the road. Surviving insurgents could be seen speeding away in Jaap technicals. Medical personnel discovered nine killed insurgents in the rubble. Learning from the discovery of the northern minefield, the column in the south was lead by mine resistant clearing vehicles, in case the same surprise would be found there. No minefield was found in the south, instead a Snatch Land Rover from the engineer battalions struck a roadside IED, injuring all four passengers. An HH-76 Dromosker from the 5th Army Aviation Brigade was dispatched and transported the wounded to a field hospital just across the border. Further up the road, drones and surveillance aircraft reported an amassing of insurgent forces, believed to be from the Shimmerspring Republican Guard. Initial reports suggested as many as 1,000 insurgents were dug in on the other side of a small hill just outside the tree line. Relayed imagery from Natopian satellites showed approximately ten recovered Horjin CV35s, several towed artillery pieces and various infantry weapons and RPGs. A few ATGMs were also reported along the line. The Sanaman force was ordered to form up on a line several kilometers inside the forest. The artillery was stationed close to the recently destroyed buildings. Using coordinates relayed from surveillance drones and Natopian satellites, the 12 SAI Bigbaddaboom 155s from the first and second Field Artillery Batteries of the 103rd Armoured BCT, started firing targeting the insurgent trenches. These were the opening shots of the Battle of Jugensk Approach.
Battle of Jugensk Approach
The first assault, spearheaded by the 103rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team, began at 8.14am on 10.II.1690. The six armoured companies of the 103rd had lined up just inside the forest. Four attacked the northern flank while two attacked around the hill to the south. They were backed up by six infantry companies equipped with Horjins, whose main objective was to secure the hill and hold it so artillery could forward deploy. The insurgent force was deployed in deep trenches, with several jagged lines running north-south, the first ones only ten to twenty metres apart, with further trenches at 40 to 50 metre distances, with connecting trenches running west-east. The front lines also had defensive fighting positions at irregular intervals, consisting of wide foxholes covered with earth and supported by woodwork. The trench system was centered on an abandoned stone village, with deployed small calibre howitzers behind sandbags. While the MBT-2 tanks of the Sanaman troops could fire while running at almost full speed due to the stabilisor system, the insurgent howitzers were manually aimed and fired. As the insurgent forces saw the assault, the lack of dismounted infantry and abundance of armour, the infantry pulled back leaving RPG teams at the front trenchline. Employing a coordinated approach where several teams would target the same tanks, they managed to disable five advancing tanks. The crews from the disabled tanks bailed out and retreated under cover. Meanwhile, fire from the 120mm tank guns as well as heavy machine gun fire picked off several RPG teams, seeing most of the other ones retreat. As the first tanks reached the first trenchline, they took up position to cover the advance of infantry from the 27th Light BCT, intent on getting into the trenches. At the middle of the line, a platoon of tanks entered the abandoned village to seek and destroy howitzers and machine gun nests. The four tanks entered in a staggered formation, covering all angles. While the houses were abandoned, the insurgent forces had prepared covered foxholes on both sides of the main village track. The RPG teams hidden in these simultaneously fired from their concealed positions, targeting all four tanks from just a few metres distance. All four were completely destroyed. This caused the rest of the batallion to pull back and regroup. Direct fire from a loitering FF-380 Buzzard caused extensive damage to the structures in the village. As an afterthought, an airstrike was also requested and carried out by a team of F-9 Ashavan IIs. The resulting crater made the area difficult to pass for tracked and wheeled vehicles. To the south, units from the 27th Light had taken the hill without much resistance, and artillery units deployed to the hill. The focus now shifted to clearing the trench system slowly using infantry supported by tanks and fighting vehicles.
As the infantry entered the maze of tunnels, trenches, and earthworks, the attack slowed considerably. Trenches would be cleared by four man fireteams, going the length of a trench and checking any spaces along the walls for hidden entrances. Any insurgents found would be disposed of. Tunnels were cleared by special teams equipped with nightvision goggles, while earthworks were usually cleared by double grenades. The advance was coordinated over radio network, with headquarters mapping out the frontline in real time. If pockets of resistance were encountered, the rest of the line would halt. Aside from a few booby traps killing four soldiers and injuring a further eight, the infantry found and disposed of 45 insurgents. As it grew increasingly clear that the insurgents would not be able to halt the advance of the Sanaman forces, they made a disorderly withdrawal to the outer suburbs of Jugensk. As they did so, they came under strafing fire from Sanaman T-2s causing a further 89 casualties. All in all, the Battle of Jugensk Approach inflicted heavy casualties on the insurgent side, but also several on the Sanaman side.
After suffering heavy losses in the Battle of Jugensk Approach, the insurgent forces pulled back under strafing fire from Sanaman T-2s. Being an irregular force, the insurgents melted into the civilian population of Jugensk. The retreat marked the end of regular military engagements in Shimmerspring.
As Operation Sanctuary commenced on 13.II.1690 the General Staff of Benacia Command communicated to the deployed Sanaman Armed Forces via the 18th Army's commander, the Frainan Hohmin Rikard Lange, that the island of Sabatini, and the cities of Drakorda, Modan Hamlet, and Point Raynor, including an area of fifty kilometres around these sites were to be avoided by deployed elements for the purposes of ensuring deconfliction with a concurrent operation.
The Sanaman response, communicated through the mission commander Shenerel Meyshur David Kamira, was transmitted shortly after. The SAF did not intend to move beyond the borders of the So-Sara archipelago, and would in any case respect the buffer zones proposed by Benacia Command.
The first action in So-Sara by the Sanaman forces began on 9.II.1690 and aimed to move to secure harbours and airstrips on So Sara Isle and Thanidor. The 3 and 4 Marine Expeditionary Regiments deployed from Rhodondra-class amphibious assault ships, with the 3rd moving to land close to Sara-Nyl, while the 4th landed on the east coast of the island, aiming to secure an airfield further in land. Simultaneously, the 5th and 6th MERs deployed to Thanidor, with the 5th landing at Thanidor City targeting the city and its airport, while the 6th landed at Arg-e Miranda to take a fuel depot. The forces encountered minimal resistance. Operators from Military Intelligence and Security Command, maintaining contact with local sympathisers, as well as monitoring online chatter and radio communications, had concluded that resistance would be concentrated to the two main islands, and would be highly irregular in nature. The forces were not expected to encounter much resistance out in the open, with most coming in urban areas through attacks against patrols, checkpoints and bases. Meanwhile Commando 1671, the Sanaman Navy special forces unit, deployed operators to Sara-Nyl with the purpose of locating Draconian Power leaders in the city. On 11.II.1690, the 3 MER had taken several neighbourhoods in Sara-Nyl, encountering scattered resistance from insurgents. The 4th in the east of the island had secured the airstrip and its surroundings, and the first Army unit to deploy was the Fourth Rapid Response Force, aiming to take over responsibility for the airstrip so the 4th could move further inland. This would also become the base for the 4th Army Aviation Brigade. On Thanidor, the 6th had secured the fuel depot. The 5th meanwhile encountered unexpected resistance at the city airport, resulting in a fierce but brief firefight with insurgents, injuring three Sanaman Marines and killing 13 insurgents. Ultimately, the airport was seized and units could move in on the city.
It was a source of mild inconvenience and irritation therefore that the command echelon of the deployed forces received a priority tasking from Benacia Command. Ira Rasputin, the Magister militum per Draconis and commander of the Southern Banner Group, had long been concerned by the infiltration of Draconian extremists into the ranks of the Drak-Modani Defense Force and the erosion of the effectiveness and reliability of that force accordingly. Nowhere was this concern more pronounced than in the naval arm. The relevancy here being that the So-Saran Isles was also the location of the two home bases of the DMDF's small but potent submarine arm, with the Kaiseress Noor Naval Base in Arg-e Noorand the Kaiser Ayreon IV Naval Base at Bandar e-Kalirion housing the crew and armaments of six Type XXV U-Boats. In the absence of firm political guidance from Drakorda the request from the Southern Banner Group was to secure the naval bases and to ensure that the U-Boats remained in harbour or were put beyond use if their crews attempted an unauthorised sortie.
As a response to the request from Benacia Command, operators from Commando 1671 were dispatched to Kaiseress Noor and Kaiser Ayreon IV Naval Bases for covert surveillance and information gathering. After several days of close monitoring the two units had concluded that the naval bases had heightened security protocols in place due to the intervention, but that command of the bases was lax and aimless due to lack of guidance from national leadership. They also observed that all six submarines were in port, with two of them undergoing rather extensive maintenance work. This meant that only four boats were operational. Operators from both teams gained access to the facilities by posing as inspection crews from Benacia Command, using forged identification documents. The assessment previously made was that the boats would need to be disabled, but preferably with minimum damage. After entering the boats, the operators disabled the motors in a way that would be very difficult to detect, and easily fixed if discovered, but extremely destructive if the motors were started. As the operators exfiltrated, they were replaced by units from the Kalisa Rrumëli field brigades, seizing control of the naval bases. With the aforementioned absence of firm guidance from Drakorda, the bases were surrendered with minimal opposition. One submarine crew did try to depart from Kaiseress Noor Naval Base, causing a massive explosion in the motor, injuring two crew and permanently disabling the boat.
As 4 MER moved inland on So-Sara from the recently secured airstrip, after having handed over responsibility for the airstrip to 4 RRF, forward-deployed reconnaissance units spotted a fortified structure along the road. After a cautious approach they encountered heavy machine gun fire and were forced to retreat. The lack of an insurgent air force meant that the Navy Aviation Corps had air superiority simply by being there. A request from 4 MER was passed along the chain of command to the flight commander aboard one of the Rhodondra-class ships anchored off the coast. Within two minutes after receiving the order, two F-9N Ashavan II took off with destination set for 4 MER. A concealed unit from 4 MER indicated the location of the fortified structure by laser, and the position was relayed up to the pair leader. After seven minutes of flight time, both aircraft simultaneously fired two S2A missiles aimed at the fortified structure. Being made entirely of stone, the blast was impressive, reducing the structure to rubble and a crater. The 4 MER advanced, and medical units confirmed 12 casualties in the debris.
With a secured airstrip on So-Sara, the 4th Army Aviation Brigade deployed to provide air support to forces on the island. The airstrip also served as an access point for the 17th Light Brigade Combat Team, deployed to the island to find and defeat any insurgent forces on the island. In addition to these forces, the 3rd Kalisa Rrumëli Field Brigade also deployed to the island, to provide both base and force security as well as patrols and civilian protection against insurgents. On Thanidor, the capture of the city airport enabled the 3rd Light Brigade Combat Team and 4th Kalisa Rrumëli Field Brigade to deploy to the island, with the same mission as the forces on So-Sara. The primary mission of the 3rd LBCT was to take and hold Thanidor City. Military intelligence reported a non-zero insurgent presence in the city, primarily cells of Draconian Power. Being a light brigade, the 3rd could move from house to house, clearing the city block by block. While this approach is slow and tedious, it is also very effective. Lacking solid support among the population, Draconian Power cells were forced to hide in the open, or to hide in industrial and commercial areas. Being an irregular force, the only thing standing out were the weapons. Civilians on the island do not normally carry weapons, and the Sanaman forces had made clear early on that armed civilians would be treated as hostile. Some insurgents from DP were killed in street shootouts with Sanaman forces, while many more were captured. Street action from the DP also caused the first Sanaman death, when a Snatch Land Rover from the 8th Infantry Battalion struck an IED, killing the driver and injuring two passengers. In the ensuing ambush, a further two Sanaman soldiers were injured, while three insurgents were killed and nine captured. In another part of the city, operators from Commando 1671, the Navy special forces branch, had zeroed in on DP leadership on the island. In a clinical assault on a fourth floor apartment, involving one operator coming in through the balcony door, another through the wall from an adjoining apartment, and the door being blown off its hinges by shotgun blasts, the two top ranking DP leaders on the island were captured. They were swiftly transported by the Extraordinary Rendition Bureau, Military Intelligence and Security Directorate, to Site 307 for debriefing. Meanwhile to the northeast, the 6th MER had successfully secured most of Arg-e Miranda, encountering pockets of insurgents armed with revolvers and other older handguns.
With most of So-Sara and Thanidor secured, focus shifted towards the final major island with its capital city Bandar-e Kalirion. With the Kalisa Rrumëli in control of the Kaiser Ayreon IV Naval Base, the base provided a perfect launching spot for a larger deployment to the island. After having secured large parts of Thanidor City, 5 MER was dispatched to Kaiser Ayreon IV Naval Base to spearhead the assault on the island. Disembarking from the large Rhodondra-class ship in port is much easier than deploying via air or landing craft. Regardless of this, the 5th encountered heavy resistance in the western suburbs of Bandar-e Kalirion, resulting in the fiercest battles during the entire intervention in So-Sara. With insurgent forces dug in, having occupied several tall, older stone buildings along the main and secondary approach routes into the center of the city, the 5th's initial approach was repelled due to heavy machine gun fire. Wary of unknown anti-air weaponry, the 5th opted for strikes from F-9N Ashavan II instead of close-air support from AH-75 Cobras. While 135mm rockets pounded the stone buildings into rubble, fire from 5th MER's Horjin CV56 fighting vehicles picked off insurgents moving in the open. Given that the So-Saran islands receive plenty of rain, one of the Horjins got bogged down in a mudpit, leaving it vulnerable to RPG fire damaging the left side tracks. The Horjin was rescued when a Horjin CV56 MGS fired at and destroyed the entire team responsible for the RPG fire. The final toll for the battle was approximately 60 insurgents killed, another 20 injured and captured, while one Marine was killed and six injured. The Marine was killed by a sniper when he removed his helmet in the field. With Draconian Power leadership on the island becoming increasingly disillusioned against overwhelming force, on 23.II.1690, the Draconian Power militia on the island surrendered to the 5th MER. Military intelligence operatives reported that the surrender had a profound effect on insurgency leadership on Thanidor and So-Sara as well, forcing their movements to abandon open street warfare for underground guerilla operations. The conquest of Bandar-e Kalirion signalled the end of open and organised resistance to the Sanaman forces.
Consolidation and ceasefire
With direct military action all but terminated, the general objective in So-Sara became the maintaining of public order, security, safety, and to facilitate the referendum on the political status of the archipelago. Regular patrols began almost immediately, augmented by tanks and fighting vehicles in more volatile areas. The task of finding as many armed insurgents as possible, that is to say those that hadn't melted back into the civilian population, fell on the Kalisa Rrumëli special operations teams. These teams, often operating in plain clothes and in conjunction with staff from the MISD, Commando 1671, Special Army Corps, and other elite units, would become the precursor to the Counter-Insurgency and Counter-Terrorism (CICOT) units that would later be created in the Kalisa Rrumëli.
After inflicting heavy casualties on insurgent forces in both So-Sara and Shimmerspring, the mission of the Sanaman forces changed focus to consolidating control and enforcing Sanaman law in Shimmerspring and So-Sara. While the general population in So-Sara was generally positive or at least neutral to Sanaman forces, Shimmerspring had a long history of anti-Sanaman sentiment. This prompted the Shimmerspring Insurgency against what a large minority in Shimmerspring considered the illegal occupation of the independent Republic of Shimmerspring. Since Drak-Modan abandoned their responsibilities in both territories, Sanama annexed the areas. In Shimmerspring the military action became a police action against insurgency, spearheaded by the CICOT units of the Kalisa Rrumëli. In So-Sara, the Kalisa Rrumëli started to deploy units to supplement the local police forces. The naval action against piracy also continued. While the united Shimmerspring got the same status as Western Shimmerspring, a territory directly under the national government, So-Sara began a process of integration in Sanama proper as several provinces.