Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Feri Campaign

The focal point of the invading Vargr fleets during the early months of the war was Feri. Not just a key defensive system protecting Regina, Feri was one of the economic centers of the subsector. Its tech level 11 industrial base, rich mineral resources and large population creates an prize the ‘free-booting wolves of space’ could hardly resist.

The Feri campaign consisted of a number of distinct phases.

Phase 1 - Dance in the Shadows (the years leading up to the war)
The Ine Givar guerilla movement is active through the Spinward Marches. While the action on Efate get much of the attention, the Zhodani carefully nurtured the movement on Feri as well. As war neared, the insurgency had grow to the point where it fielded about 10% combat power of the combined Feri Planetary Defense Forces. More than just an insurgency, the Ine Givar capitalized on the anti-Imperial feelings within all of the major powers and had successfully diverted military hardware from each to equip various insurgent units. The insurgency was mostly political, but a campaign of sabotage and harassment of Imperial interests becomes commonplace. Some of the insurgents can be classed qualitatively as regulars – as capable as the troops of the PDF and the various national armies.  

Phase 2 - Invasion (Week 3)
The first phase of the campaign has the Vargr fleet jumping into the Feri system from hyperspace. Stopping briefly to  allow the tanker squadron to re-fuel the Batrons and assault carriers, the battle opens with a skirmish between the cruiser squadrons and the 12 system defense boats (SBD) defending the system.

Space Combat
While Feri does deploy significant numbers of SDB, the relatively low technology level at which they were built makes them fragile in the face of a capable star fleet. The SDB will either conduct a rearguard action (fight a short action, then flee into the asteroid belts in the outer system) or elect to be passive from the outset. Per standing doctrine, the 12 SDB should race for cover and hide in the asteroid belts. Fighting a fleet action is NOT in their best interest. But their day is coming in the next phase of the campaign!
Once the short space combat has been resolved, the actually planetary invasion opens with the
Vargr fleet moving into proximity with the planet of Feri. The cruisers take a high guard position and prepare for bombardment while the assault carrier disgorges landing boats and assault riders (think a mix of LCVP, LCI and LST) to descend on the planetary system.

The initial landings
It’s raining dogs! Well, it’s raining Vargr and by raining, we mean that a complete field army is hitting the surface. Job one is reducing the defenses of Feri. Following a quick surface bombardment of the PDF bases, the landing boats and assault riders drop this massive Vargr force into the region around the starport. The initial landing force consists of the Vargr 101st Army, the 105th Armored Corps and two divisions – the 1st Cavalry and 2nd Armored Cavalry.

The 101st and the 105th bring a decide tech edge to the battlefield with their TL13 standard equipment. The 1st and 2nd Cav are actually fighting at a disadvantage with their TL 10 equiement. These units are held in reserve or serve to ‘soak off’ casualties and protect the irreplaceable hi-tech troops.

Phase 3 - Conquest in the balance (Weeks 4-9)
The Vargr fleet departs to retrieve the remaining troops. They will be gone for 6 weeks - a significant amount of time for the soldiers on the ground. This leaves the ground troops 6 weeks to complete the capture of the world. This is no idle timeline. Without control of the planet, the Vargr squadrons cannot refuel and without fuel, they cannot jump to another star system. The CruRon’s are already committed to staying in the system with the now empty tanker squadron. They have enough fuel for the power plant and maneuver drive, but cannot jump.  There is no gas giant in this system. The only way for the fleet to leave is for the planet to be conquered.

In the absence of the battle squadrons, the 12 SDB have a slightly better chance to hit the Vargr cruisers. This is a crap shoot. The cruisers had most of the firepower to thwart the SDB’s in the initial invasion. But each successful strike reduces the bombardment ability of the cruisers and will enable the PDF to hold on a little longer.

The other option weighing on the SDB commander’s mind is the long term option. The Vargr fleet won’t stay in Feri indefinitely. If the SDB can survive long enough, they can return after the Vargr have left, bomb the doggies back to the stone age and liberate the world from the Vargr.

Back in the dirt, the Vargr ground commander must push hard. The 101st must aggressively destroy the numerous PDF battalions, while the 105th Grav Tank Corps engages the Feri Armored Lift Cavalry Corps.

The Imperial Governor-General faces a similar problem. The Vargr must be defeated – and quickly! The PDF must preserve its strength for the inevitable follow up wave of attacking Vargr. Better to deal with them piecemeal than allow all the Vargr to mass their fighting potential.

Hanging over both commanders is the critical issue of supply. The Vargr have none and the Feri PDF either must defend theirs, torch it, or lose it to the Vargr. In some ways this campaign is like Rommel in the desert. If you have supplies you can attack. Without supplies you sit on the defensive. Battles rage over sources of refined hydrogen, refinery complexes and access to water resources.

What can happen during this time? Does the Duke of Regina divert critical troops from the larger battles raging against the Zhodani and try and stop the Vargr? One possibility is a “Tiger Run” in which a small battle fleet dashes into Feri, swats the defending Vargr ships out of the way and delivers some badly needed reinforcements.

What’s available? Imperial Marines? The 4518th Lift Infantry? Army forces ranging from lightly armed jump troops to a brigade of lift infantry?  Whatever it is, it needs to turn the tide of the battle and provide a rude shock to the returning Vargr.

Do the Zhodani push on from Efate and perform a ‘drive by’ to finish off the last of the resistance on Feri? It’s possible that one of the fleets is moving rapidly in an effort to meet the Imperial Navy as close to Rhylanor as possible.

Lastly, it’s entirely possible that both sides are so badly battered that the campaign grinds into a stalemate in which neither side can gain the advantage. While grueling, this is actually a short term win for the Imperium as the PDF is slowing the Vargr advance deeper into the Spinward Marches.

Phase 4 - The Vargr Fleet returns
The additional two corps and two divisions are too much for Feri’s weakened defenses. Barring a miracle, the planet will fall to the Vargr invaders. While there is some degree of looting, the weary victors refuel their fleet and embark upon their warships, leaving a division behind as garrison for the world.

The Occupation
Occupation is a bitter pill for the Imperial citizens of Feri. Sure, the Ine Givar collaborators are savoring their victory against Imperial oppression. But all is not lost! Small bands of the PDF remain intact, hiding in the remote recesses of the planet. Using their encrypted communications gear, they are in contact with the SDB that may still survive in the outer system. A daring plan is formed to designate targets for the SDB in an attempt to destroy the occupiers from space.

Optional events: Units of the IISS may be available to perform bombardment at this time. A scout squadron could slip in from coreward and lay down the hurt on the Vargr occupiers. Combined with any surviving SDB, this could make the occupation a short lived affair. But the Scouts don’t take ground and they don’t hold ground. If the Vargr and Zhodani follow up the campaign with additional forces, Feri could change hands again.

If the war goes badly for the Zhodani, an Imperial counter-attack could push back into the Regina subsector – maybe even onward into Gvurrdon Sector and the homeworlds of the Vargr invaders. The appearance of a substantial Imperial battlefleet with several squadrons of state of the art dreadnoughts paired with several Tech level 15 field armies will quickly end Vargr aggression in the system.

This generally marks the end of the campaign, but can the Empire hold against a last ditch Zhodani counter-attack? Or must the new liberating garrison hunt down smaller bands of Vargr and their Ine Givar allies that have ‘gone to ground’ in the unsettled wilds of Feri?


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