NATION

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Blood and Dust (Earth II)

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Blood and Dust (Earth II)

Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Sun May 10, 2020 5:47 pm

Lieutenant Sebastian Wood
Observation Post 6, Ceasefire Line
The East African Republic
Friday 8th May 2020, 0900hrs Local Time




“Another beautiful day in paradise.”

Lieutenant Sebastian Wood, of the 1st Battalion, Royal California Fusiliers, glanced up from the pop-up camp chair that he had acquired for himself where he was working on a field packet worth of paperwork as his Platoon Sergeant entered the observation post. Woods was a year and a half out of the Royal Military Academy, Kingston, six months into his posting as Platoon Leader of 2 Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, and was incredibly grateful for Sergeant Joe Marshall. Although Wood had spent his secondary education at the Army Foundation College, Roswell, from the age of fourteen before accepting an appointment to Kingston, and as such had a solid foundation upon which to build the fact still remained that he was nineteen years old, holding the King’s Commission and responsible for the twenty-seven men under his command, both in combat and administratively. Kingston provided a world-class standard of training for prospective officers, however there were many things that only practical experience could provide and, as such a good officer sought to the advice of his senior NCO. Eager to be a ‘good officer’, Wood had immediately done just that upon assuming command over the platoon and the two had developed a good working relationship.

“You have a weird sense of humour, Joe,” Wood smiled. “The patrols get off okay?”

“Just fine, Sir,” Sergeant Marshall nodded.

Every day, as they had for the months that had passed since the beginning of the peacekeeping operation in the East African Republic, keeping the rebels and the Government apart whilst the Ministry of Foreign Affairs worked to achieve a diplomatic solution, the battalion had relieves their counterparts from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Texas Fusiliers, and manned the chain of observation posts along the ceasefire line. Each of the battalion’s platoons had manned a particular observation point, and send two of their three sections on patrols along the ceasefire line in both directions, keeping their third section in reserve in case they were needed. Six months had passed since the Apilonian forces had assumed their positions along the line without incident; the East African Army’s leadership was clearly aware that the troops themselves, and the air and naval support present at Camp Lemonier, whilst comparatively small, were more than enough to prevent any breaches of the ceasefire and had avoided doing exactly that. It had also been made plainly clear by His Majesty’s Ambassador to the East African Republic that any breach of the ceasefire would bring the Kingdom in on the side against the aggressor, and President Emmanuel Xavier wanted to retain his grip on power.

However, every officer and man in Apilonian Forces East Africa was well aware that the East African Civil War had been caused by President Xavier undergoing some form of mental break, and no one was prepared to say that it was outside of the realms of possibility that his mental health would deteriorate further. It was for that reason that each of the Observation Posts had been carefully sited to give the best possible fields of fire and, at any given time, one soldier from the section kept in reserve was manning a M2 Browning .50 calibre machine gun and responsible for keeping an eye on the ceasefire line whilst the rest of the section was able to relax and the command element to get on with their own duties. In the event of an attack, each company’s weapons platoon was sited at the company command post, a mile or so further back than the observation posts, and could provide supporting fire, long enough for the battalion command post further back from the line to get a handle on the situation and direct a response. Given that modern Fusilier battalions, which served as the backbone of the Army’s lighter brigades, were officially designated as ‘protected mobility infantry’ and equipped with the Foxhound protected patrol vehicle, the battalion had good operational manoeuvrability to respond to an attack.

No one on the Ceasefire Line knew it yet, but they would find out how important that would be sooner than they expected.

“I will say, I’m so glad we were allowed to put up an awning, the sun would have been murder otherwise,” Wood commented, glancing up at the awning in question that had been erected above the sand-bag surrounded OP. “I know we’ll have to take it down before Private Harper can fire his mortar, but even so…”

Sergeant Marshall chuckled.

“Looking after your men is important, Sir, better to take a few seconds to get a mortar off than be down a few men from heat stroke,” He replied sagely. “Besides, we’ll realistically have enough warning to get the awning out of the way if push comes to shove.”

“They might have mentioned something about that at Kingston,” Wood commented dryly, albeit his smile betrayed his tone.

“Indeed,” Sergeant Marshall sniffed. “But you only truly understand in the field, right, Sir?”

“Whatever you say, Sergeant,” Wood grinned. “Anything from intelligence whilst you were at Lemonier?”

“Nothing worth reporting, the Government looks like they’re shuffling their troops around again, but nothing serious,” Sergeant Marshall shook his head. “I will say one thing, that staff intelligence officer is damn fine, so anytime you need me to go trawling for intel…”

Wood rolled his eyes and fixed his Platoon Sergeant with a pointed look. Captain Rebecca Longstreet, a fiery (in both temperament and hair colour) but equally intelligent Texan, was the staff intelligence officer for Apilonian Forces East Africa, leading a detachment from the Intelligence Corps, responsible for keeping the Apilonian peacekeepers fully apprised of any developments on either side of the ceasefire line. He knew full well that half the battalion doubtless had a thing for her, but he really couldn’t have his second-in-command saying stuff like that, not with Private Marston manning the Browning almost certainly within earshot.

“I’m sure I should have to remind you, of all people, that that is an officer that you’re talking about so crassly,” Wood said after a few moments, but unable to keep his amusement of his tone. “Besides, I think we all know that she’d eat you for breakfast if you tried.”

The snort of amusement from Private Marston, who admirably did not turn away from his post, confirmed to Wood that the young soldier had indeed been able to hear their conversation.

“That’s enough from you, Marston,” Sergeant Marshall snapped, re-asserting his authority, before turning back to Wood. “Just keeping you on your toes, Sir.”

“Sure,” Wood smirked.

There was no warning to prepare any of them for what happened next. Shortly after zero nine fifteen, OP6 and every other observation point along the ceasefire line came under artillery fire. Under cover of night, the East African Army had moved several batteries worth of M-46 Howitzers, long-ranged 130mm towed field guns, into position at the extreme edge of their twenty-seven kilometre range and camouflaged them well to miss the early morning Apilonian reconnaissance flights. In what was clearly a pre-arranged offensive, these batteries opened fire simultaneously, each targeting one of the forward observation posts along the ceasefire line, doubtless intending that, shortly after the duty watch handover, the first line of officers would be at their command posts and be killed in the opening salvo of the attack. Fortunately for Lieutenant Wood, Sergeant Marshall and Private Marston, although the position of the observation posts had been impossible to keep a secret the advanced age and relative simplicity of the artillery pieces themselves meant that the first few rounds targeted at OP6 peppered the ground around them rather than hitting directly. Outside, the rest of 3 Section were picking themselves up from the ground where they had thrown themselves and were hustling into a defensive formation.

Even as the shouts and exclamations died down, Wood found himself sprung into action on instinct. It stood to reason that the enemy, he had no qualms calling them that now that they had opened-fire upon him, would have forward spotters who would pass details back to the artillery gunners to adjust their fire. Which meant that staying at the observation post, upon which the fire would almost certainly be dialled in, was suicidal and as much as it went against the grain to leave a fortified position the prospect of getting blown up by an artillery shell was even less appealing.

“Marston! Dismount that Browning and lug it with you, Sergeant Marshall, assemble 3 Section by the Foxhounds and get ready,” Wood ordered sharply, getting a handle on the situation. “Signaller, report contact to battalion!”

After confirming that Private Marston had indeed dismounted the Browning, and was making good progressing lugging the heavy weapon over to where the rest of his section was waiting, Wood took one last quick look around to ensure that he had not left anything classified or important, before ducking out himself and scrambling across the dusty ground towards the Foxhounds that 3 Section was taking cover behind. Mere seconds later, an artillery shell dropped itself onto the observation post, destroying it and throwing up a cloud of dust and throwing Wood to the ground through the force of the explosion, knocking the wind out of him and leaving him dazed in the dust.

The next thing that Wood knew was two sets of hands on him as he was pulled to his feet and half-dragged the last few yards to the cover of the Foxhounds. Shaking his head a few times to try and shake off the lingering effects of the explosion he looked around him, seeing Sergeant Marshall and 3 Section hunkered down behind the small rock formation as artillery shells continued to rain down on what had been their observation post.

“Are you okay, Sir?” Sergeant Marshall asked, it was obvious that he had asked a few times without Wood noticing.

“I’m fine, Sergeant,” Wood said firmly as he got his bearings. “Signaller, what’s the word from battalion?”

“There’s reports of artillery bombardment all along the line, all of the observation posts have been destroyed or abandoned for safety,” Private Jack Dawes, from the Royal Signals, reported. “Battalion is ordering all units to pull back to the second defensive line.”

Wood was silent for a few moments as he considered the implications of this order; for starters it suggested that the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel James Donovan, clearly believed that the artillery bombardment was the precursor to a general assault across the ceasefire line and the observation posts were clearly not going to be able to provide an effective position from which to fight. It also stood to reason that the East African Government’s would follow-up this surprise attack in order to try and push the Apilonians out of country as quickly as possible, clearly banking on the odds that if the Apilonian forces already present were wiped out quickly and decisively, the Kingdom would be loath to send more troops into what had already proven to be a bloodbath. Wood wasn’t too sure the logic tracked on that, as the Kingdom not only had history in East Africa, as it’s former colonial master, but if several thousand Apilonian servicemen and women were killed the public, not to mention the Senate, would be screaming bloody murder and demanding retribution.

Of course, for the troops on the ground that was academic at this point; they had a war to fight.

“Any word from the rest of the Platoon?” Wood asked after a moment.

“They reported sighting of enemy infantry and technicals advancing towards the ceasefire line,” Sergeant Marshall replied promptly. “They’ve not yet been engaged, and I’ve taken the liberty of ordering them to regroup here.”

“Good, get 3 Section into their Foxhound and on their way to our fighting positions on the defence line, you go with them” Wood ordered crisply, his decision made. “I, Private Dawes and Private Harper will remain here with the other Foxhounds for 1 and 2 Section.”

“Roger that, Sir, don’t get yourself blown-up,” Sergeant Marshall replied wryly. “Corporal Wilson, get 3 Section, mounted up!”

Wood watched as Sergeant Marshall and 3 Section mounted up in one of the Foxhounds and set off for the second defensive line, several kilometres back from the ceasefire line, roughly halfway between back to Camp Lemonier. Once they disappeared behind a rock formation, he turned back to watch rise in the terrain, upon which the remains of the observation post was smouldering, over which his two other sections would appear. As he waited, Wood listened carefully and could hear artillery fire continue to impact in the distance; the shellfire had ceased on the remains of his observation post; clearly the spotters had reported its destruction and the East Africans were smart enough not to waste ammunition that they would soon need. But that was all there was, so far, no small arms fire indicating direct contact between Apilonian forces and East African troops. That, Wood considered thoughtfully, was their first mistake; rather than following up their apparently successful bombardment with an infantry assault, that would have broken the entire battalion, they were allowing the Royal California Fusiliers to regroup and man prepared defensive positions.

The days of the King’s African Rifles, the elite colonial light infantry force that had helped control the then Crown Colony of East Africa, were well behind them it seemed.

“Sir!” Private Dawes called out, dragging Wood from his thoughts. “2 Section.”

Sure enough, 2 Section was withdrawing quickly but carefully over the rise between them and the Foxhounds, one fireteam providing overwatch would the other ‘bounded’ forwards, in what was known as a bounding overwatch, until they joined the small perimeter that the remaining three members of the platoon command element had formed around the Foxhounds.

“Corporal Watson,” Wood said by means of greeting as the section leader knelt down beside him. “Good to see you boys.”

“Sir,” Corporal Watson nodded his agreement. “We saw a company-sized force moving this way, backed up by three technicals.”

“We’d better get to the defensive line then,” Wood commented dryly. “Did you see 1 Section?”

“I think so, Sir, a group of eight moving tactically a kilometre and a half to the east,” Corporal Watson nodded. “If that was them, they’ll be here any minute.”

As if on cue, 1 Section appeared over the rise by the smouldering observation post and moved quickly past it to join the rest of the platoon gathered around the Foxhounds. Wood took a quick report from Corporal Adler before ordering the two sections into their Foxhounds and Privates Harper and Dawes into the command element’s vehicle, taking the wheel himself. It only took a few minutes for the three vehicles to cross the distance to the defensive line, which gained them valuable time in which to prepare for the advancing East African infantry. Right now, the concern of the troops along what was effectively the frontline was to resist, and ideally repel, the offensive that was about to crash into the defensive line. By all accounts, the battalion had been able to retreat in good order from the observation posts, for the most part, and were manning key defensive positions that were not pre-sighted for enemy artillery and, as such, would need to be advanced upon by the enemy infantry. As per the general operational plan that the Apilonain Forces East Africa were operating under, the idea was that the battalion on the line would hold off the enemy long enough for the additional forces based at Camp Lemonier to get their arses in gear to allow for a counter-attack.

Right now, however, it was all about surviving the next hour.

“Marston, get that Browning mounted again, Gunners set up firing positions for those LMGs, Harper, get that mortar of yours placed,” Wood shouted orders to his men who were already making some preparations. “All sections stand-to on the firing line!”
The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:04 am

Lieutenant Sebastian Wood
Forward Defence Post 6, Defensive Line ‘Bravo’
The East African Republic
Friday 8th May 2020, 1000hrs Local Time




“Got movement on the ridgeline, Sir.”

Lieutenant Wood looked up from the field map that he had been examining with Sergeant Marshall as Private Marston called out a report from his position manning the Browning. Standing from his kneeling position, Wood moved to stand next to Marston as he pulled out his field glasses and peered down them in the direction he was pointing. Sure enough, the first of the East African infantry were advancing over the rise in the terrain that had once been occupied by the observation post, a section detaching to search through the wreckage for anything of interest, although they would not find anything due to Wood taking anything of military value prior to evacuating. They were maybe three kilometres away, a dusty expanse of mostly open ground separating them. Which was, of course, why the Apilonian Forces had chosen to place their secondary defensive line where they had done, and a detachment of Royal Engineers had spent several weeks clearing what little cover there was to make it even more open and unobstructed. When it came to counter-attack, the Apilonian forces would use their vehicles to cross the ground in short order to avoid falling victim to it themselves, but as intelligence had predicted the East African Military lacked the vehicles to do the same.

Wood watched as the enemy infantry assembled on the ridge, as his two section leaders had advised him the enemy force was approximately company-strength, backed up by two technicals. Which meant that they outnumbered his platoon over three-to-one, although he knew that he had the superior position. Although he was far too far away to see any details he suspected he could pick out the enemy company commander observing the defences he was tasked at attacking, probably for the first time as it was unlikely that the East Africans had been able to get reconnaissance parties past the observation posts in the preceding days. It would quickly become obvious that the Apilonian defensive line possessed at least twice as many posts as the observation line had, designed to not only give overlapping fields of vision but overlapping fields of fire that would make it difficult for the enemy to outflank them. Of course, until reinforcements arrived half of those posts would be unmanned but additional Apilonian troops were already on the way, specifically those of the 2nd (Cascades) Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Highlanders, the other line infantry battalion stationed in the East African Republic.

The Royal Regiment of Highlanders was one which recruited primarily from mountainous regions and had a distinctly Scottish heritage, tracing its linage back to early Apilonain settlers, a proportion whom had been of Scottish descent.

Wood returned his field glasses safely into their pouch on his webbing and thumbed the push-to-talk button on the personal role radio (PRR) that provided communications between all the members of the platoon, both on section-only channels and a platoon net; unlike the BOWMAN system used by Private Dawes, the PRR was unsecured so was only used for non-secure messages and co-ordination.

“Section leaders, on me,” Wood ordered crisply, kneeling fully into cover as he waited for them to arrive.

It only took a few moments for the three section leaders to join Wood and Sergeant Marshall.

“As you can see, that enemy infantry you saw earlier has arrived and looks like they’re going to attempt an attack,” Wood said without preamble. “I assume they aren’t here to commit suicide, so we must assume they’ve got some sort of plan to avoid a slaughter.”

Wood drew a quick field diagram of the platoon’s fighting positions and the enemy.

“As such, I’m working under the assumption that they’re going to use several motors I spotted to fire smoke rounds in an effort to provide some cover and concealment for their advance, and given the calmness of the day, that smoke will linger around for some time,” Wood continued quickly. “I am also working under the assumption that they’ll move their technicals forward to provide covering fire for their infantry to advance, so those vehicles will be our first target once they get without our range, so I want your section sharpshooters to them out, and Private Harper will drop a mortar.”

Wood paused again as he indicated to an area in the centre of his diagram.

“I suspect the enemy will put down their smoke screen here, and advance as quickly as possible whilst obscured from our view, however I do not intend to waste ammunition by firing blindly into the smoke, so hold fire until you actually have a target to shoot at,” Wood went on. “Once they start to emerge from the smoke, Private Marston and your section gunners should concentrate on keeping their heads down, whilst everyone else takes careful, aimed shots… this is not the time to spray and pray, but we need to be quick, precise and deadly, if the enemy gets out of the smoke in good order, we’re going to be in trouble, so we have to keep them in disarray… any questions?”

Sergeant Marshall and the three Corporals all shook their heads, it was a simple enough plan after all and relied on both the training and the professionalism of the Apilonian troops, as well as the force multiplier of their fighting positions. The Corporals returned to their sections to brief their troops, so Wood unslung his own weapon, an L416A1 (the Apilonian designation for the HK-416) and took his own position in the firing line and peered down the ACOG sights to watch the enemy infantry deploy. Sure enough, after a few more minutes, a series of mortars, fired by an enemy mortar team set up beyond the far ridge, were dropped onto the dusty expanse between the two forces and began emit thick smoke which slowly began to spread in the very light breeze. In the distance, just before the smoke obscured his view, Wood could see the East African infantry start to move forwards in a long skirmish line, clearly trying to spread themselves out as much as possible to minimise the ability of the Apilonian soldiers to pin them all down at once.

It would take them a few minutes to cross the distance, even at a full run, so all that could be done was to report the impending contact to

“Signaller,” Wood called to Private Dawes who was knelt a short distance away but moved over quickly and passed him the handset for the BOWMAN radio. “Bulldog Sunray, this is Foxhound 11B2, contact, pre-plotted position Foxtrot Delta Papa Six, enemy infantry, engaging.”

As expected, the first sign of the enemy was the three technicals which suddenly appeared through the smoke, almost immediate opening up with their mounted machine guns and sweeping the Apilonian fighting positions from side to side without much effect. As planned, this threat was countered by the three sharpshooters in each section, armed with the L129A1 designated marksman rifle chambered with the 7.62×51mm round, who opened fire as soon as they had drawn a bead on their targets. The gunners were targeted first, each dropping from their weapons dead before they hit the floor, before the sharpshooters quickly switched targets to the drivers, sending all three technicals spinning out of control before they came to a stop in the dust. In short order, Private Harper, manning his L9A1 51mm light mortar, dropped bombs on each of the technicals in quick succession. A quick series of shouts along the line confirmed no losses to the few seconds of haphazard machine gun fire from the technicals, and silence descended on the Apilonian position as they awaited the arrival of the enemy infantry that would not be too far behind.

The first shot came almost as a surprise.

Given that the smoke would be at a different density at different points along the line, Wood had given individual soldiers in the platoon the flexibility to open fire when they were able to, so long as they actually had a target to shoot at. As a result, it was a Private further along the line that had the first clear shot on an East African soldier charging through the smoke, and was just in the process of coming to a stop and raising his rifle when the 5.56mm split his skull apart, the crack of the L416 echoing across the expanse of open ground. It was a point of pride for the Royal Army that it held it’s soldiers to a high standard of marksmanship; being staunchly of the belief that persistent, accurate fire was just demoralising, and far more effective, than automatic fire at actually engaging the enemy. As a result, although their weapons were selective fire, the vast majority of Apilonian soldiers fought with their weapons on semi-automatic and took well-placed shots rather than spraying and praying, as the saying went. Of course, there were always circumstances in which automatic fire was more effective, which was why each section had a general-purpose machine gun as part of its table of equipment, and why their rifles had the option for automatic fire, but from a doctrinal point of view the Royal Army heavily emphasised marksmanship and accuracy.

It was for that reason that the fusillade of fire that erupted from the Apilonian fighting positions as more and more East Africans emerged from the smoke was far less random and far more precise when compared to the fire that the East Africans, armed with the ubiquitous AK-47 assault rifle, threw back at them which was fully automatic and far less effective, particularly given that the Apilonian soldiers benefited from being mostly behind the cover of their fighting positions. Wood himself was taking shots at any enemy soldiers he had a clear shot at; under normal circumstances an officer was expected to remain a step back from the fighting, so that he could direct the action rather than taking part in it, however in a situation like this where it was a case of defending a fixed position, every rifle on the firing line counted. Particularly given that they were outnumbered, and every second that passed brought the enemy closer and closer to the fighting positions and increasingly effective fire, not to mention chucked grenades that began to detonate around the platoon’s fighting position, causing the soldiers in each foxhole to duck as shrapnel cut through the air above their heads.

It was this instinctive reaction, which saved their lives of course, that was allowing the enemy to gain ground, getting more and more deadly the closer they got. Private Marston and his Browning, not to mention the section gunners, were doing a sterling job at putting down a weight of fire to hold the enemy back whilst the rest of the platoon picked them off, but the simple fact of the matter was that every soldier had to kill at least four of the enemy, and there was duplication of effort as multiple Apilonian soldiers targeted one unfortunate East African allowing three more to advance a few precious yards unimpeded before someone else shifted fire to them. It was unavoidable, as there was no practical way to ensure that only one Apilonian targeted one East African, particularly when they all knew from a simple mathematical perspective that they all had to kill at least three hostiles. In short, it was a race between whether the Apilonians soldiers would kill enough of the enemy to either stop the attack cold or convince them to call it a morning. It was going to be a tightly-run thing; the East African troops were making it to within a few feet of the Apilonian positions when they were put down, with one or two making it behind the firing arcs of the machine guns before they were shot by Lieutenant Wood who had moved from the firing line to keep an eye out for precisely that.

Looking back towards the front after checking the internal lines to the fighting positions, Lieutenant Wood noted that the number of East African soldiers appearing through the smoke was decreasing and, sure enough, a few moments later his soldiers began to cease fire as they stopped having targets to shoot at.

“Sergeant Marshall!” Wood called into the sudden silence. “Casualty and ammunition report if you please.”

It was all that Lieutenant Wood could do to avoid chasing his Sergeant for a report, instead he did what he had been trained and stayed in place, a island of calm leadership as his NCOs carried out his orders. Only a minute or so later, Sergeant Marshall was at his side.

“Two dead, seven wounded, two seriously, Sir,” Sergeant Marshall reported. “We’re yellow on personal ammunition, red for the MGs.”

Lieutenant Wood was silent for a moment, as he absorbed the fact that two of his men were already dead, and half a dozen more injury, with at least two more at risk of following. He had known, academically, that it was entirely possible that he would lose soldiers under his command when he had accepted his life, and yet he had always held onto the hope that it would not happen. His father, Thomas, had done his own time in the Royal Army, retiring as a full Colonel, had never lost a soldier in combat due to being fortunate (in some respects, depending on the perspective) to serve primarily during peacetime. However, he couldn’t afford to get distracted by the loss of his soldiers, not now anyway, he had the reality of his situation to deal with right now, and a hell of a decision to make; whether or not to send his wounded away in the Foxhounds, which would take away two more soldiers from the firing line.

Of course, given that the platoon’s ammunition situation it was unlikely they would survive another attack even if they were at full strength, which meant that there really was only one decision to be made in a situation like this.

“Get the dead and wounded into two of the Foxhounds and detail two men to take them back to base, as quickly as possible,” Wood ordered crisply. “I want them to pick up as much ammunition as the battalion quartermaster will let them take… how are our casualties spread out?”

“The two dead were both from 3 Section, both serious wounded are from 2 Section; the walking wounded are spread across the board,” Sergeant Marshall replied. “Of the walking wounded, most of them will probably stay we need them to.”

Lieutenant Wood shook his head, glancing across the open ground as the smoke began to clear showing a handful of enemy troops on the distant ridgeline but their dead littering the distance in between.

“I suspect the enemy won’t try that again until they can bring up heavier forces, which we would have seen some sign of by now, and the rest of the battalion will be hitting the line soon,” Wood replied thoughtfully. “Get our walking wounded in the back of another Foxhound and to the regimental aid post, I want them patched up and back here as quickly as possible, this is only just beginning, Sergeant, let’s take full advantage of this interlude.”
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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Mon Jun 08, 2020 5:40 am

Captain Rebecca Longstreet
Camp Lemonier, Djibouti
The East African Republic
Friday 8th May 2020, 1300hrs Local Time




Captain Rebecca Longstreet, staff intelligence officer for Apilonian Forces East Africa (AFEA), ran her fingers through her red hair, matted by sweat short as it was, as she stood with several other officers and members of her team huddled around the back of a Humvee. The Humvee in question was one of two Ground Control Stations (GCS) for an RQ-7B Shadow detachment that had been attached to AFEA to provide immediate reconnaissance capabilities to the command, in the absence of larger drones or manned aircraft. It made sense really, the Shadow provided a (relatively) low cost, small footprint capability to detached commands, allowing valuable larger, more capable assets to be used where they were most effective and most needed. The Shadow could not provide the kind of loiter time or range of a larger drone, but for what they needed it for, getting a handle on the wider situation that was unfolding around them, it was ideal and, as such, it’s use had been authorised pretty much as soon as word of the attacks had reached Camp Lemonier, at least once the initial deployment of forces to the defensive line had been successfully completed.

The forward pickets on the observation line had done a stellar job, falling back in good order to the defensive line before repelling an infantry assault by the East African Army (EAA) no doubt intended to roll over them before they could get settled. The Apilonians, however, had not wasted the time gifted to them by their forward pickets and two full battalions of troops were now manning the defensive line. So far, both the commanders in the field and the staff at Camp Lemonier had been working under the assumption that a major assault against their defences was imminent; the only hope the East African Republic had of getting a positive outcome from all of this was to defeat the Apilonians utterly and hope that the Kingdom called it a day rather than commit itself to their defeat and the quagmire that would be a nation-building mission in the aftermath. However, it was only now that they were getting the Shadow airborne that they would receive confirmation that an attack was on the way and, perhaps more importantly, the size and disposition of any enemy force advancing towards them, which would be essential if they were going to survive this.

Initial planning assumptions when the peacekeeping mission was being considered had been that, in the event of an attack by the East African Republic, the primarily infantry (specifically, protected mobility infantry in modern Army parlance) force would need to adequately defend itself against an armoured push. Fortunately, the East African Army was only known to operate the aged T-55 main battle tank which was ill-suited to resist modern anti-armour weapons, which had been dispersed at a far lower level to the Apilonian troops than would normally be the case. In almost every conceivable scenario, if the Apilonians already present on the ground were able to repel the first East African attacks it was only a matter of time before they were able to bring in additional forces to crush the enemy; the likelihood of success went down dramatically of Apilonia did not have a foothold at Camp Lemonier, however.

“Optics coming up in a minute, Sir,” The Lieutenant in command of the RQ-7B detachment reported.

The Commander, Apilonian Forces East Africa, Brigadier Nicholas W. Sharpe, late of the Royal Green Jackets, nodded his acknowledgement of the report and attracted the attention of the rest of the group, which included his staff officers, the two infantry battalion commanders, the artillery battalion commander, and his air force and naval liaison officers.

“Whilst we wait for the optics to come in, Captain Longstreet, will give us a refresher on the broad capabilities of the East African Army,” Brigadier Sharpe said simply. “Once we know what we’re facing, I’ll update you all on my call this afternoon with the MOD.”

Longstreet nodded and faced the group squarely.

“The East African Army is split into six brigades, two armoured and four infantry, each consisting of six battalions of approximately one thousand soldiers, whilst the armoured brigades have two additional tank battalions, each of operating thirty T-55s MBTs,” Longstreet began. “Brigades 10, 11 and 12 are part of Division 1, stationed in and around Mogadishu, whilst Brigades 20, 21 and 22, are part of Division 2, stationed between Hargeisa and Bosaso, we believe it was the 214 Battalion that attacked Defence Line Bravo this morning.”

Longstreet paused.

“As such, our enemy has one hundred and twenty main battle tanks and approximately thirty-six thousand combat troops at their disposal, obviously minus the battalion destroyed this morning, however as their attack against our lines showed, their training and equipment, leaves something to be desired,” Longstreet continued. “Division 2 is largely focused towards offensive operations, first against the rebels and, now apparently, against us, so we expect them to be making a move on us, whilst Division 1 will remain around Mogadishu, we might also face some irregular militia, however the Government doesn’t trust them due to loyalty concerns.”

Longstreet paused again, glancing this time over at the two liaison officers.

“The East African Air Force operates three squadrons MiG-21s, thirty-six aircraft, principally used in the ground attack role due to the lack of a rebel air force, however they’re unlikely to try and push their luck against our patriot missile battery here at Camp Lemonier,” Longstreet continued. “The East African Navy is centred around half a dozen Osa-II Class missile boats, as well as a handful of smaller patrol boats, however they’re intended to give a larger attacker pause entering their territorial waters, rather than be used against land.”

“Thank you, Captain Longstreet… now, I spoke to the MOD about an hour ago; we’re waiting to hear confirmation from the political side but from a military perspective we’re operating under the assumption that we’re going to have to invade, defeat, and occupy the EAR,” Brigadier Sharpe said, picking up briefing. “The Aircraft Carrier Prince of Cascadia is currently underway in the Gulf of Oman, outbound from a stay alongside in Bahrain, just over twenty-four hours away at flank speed, they’ve been ordered to make their way towards us, and it is my understanding that we can start to expect long-range, specific strikes, in about twelve hours, so we’ll need to ID targets.”

“I’ll get in touch with Prince of Cascadia and start to liaise with them directly, once we’re finished here,” Commander Anthony Burnside, the Naval liaison officer, said immediately. “Captain Longstreet, do you think you can get me an up to date readiness for the enemy navy?”

“I’ll get it to you as soon as possible, Sir,” Longstreet nodded.

“The MOD is going to work on the specifics, once we have political clearance to do more than defend ourselves, but we can reasonably assume we’ll have high readiness ground reinforcements in no more than seventy-two hours, with heavier forces following in a week,” Brigadier Sharpe continued, once his staff had finished their quick interlude, nodding his tacit approval at their immediate preparations. “I’ve also been advised that the Chief of the Air Staff is looking at options to shuffle around a fighter squadron, but realistically the air group from the Prince of Cascadia will be sufficient, that being said, we are in range of strategic bombers based out of Malta.”

“Got the optics now, Sir.”

Despite knowing that they would all have full access to the imagery, both in digital format and printed off, the gathered group of officers all crowded forwards to get their first look at what they were facing. As pretty much everyone had suspected, Brigade 20 was advancing from their base near Bosaso towards the Ceasefire Line and would be on them by the evening, likely intending to launch a night assault against the Defence Line. It meant that the two battalions on the line were going to have to endure a long night, although they could expect some relief from the earliest air strikes from Prince of Cascadia, but it was still going to be a long night. Fortunately, at least they had a few hours to prepare and get properly dug-in, not to mention to pre-position all the anti-armour weapons they had and to set-up their artillery to do as much damage as possible; even a mobility kill from an nearby artillery strike would make the enemy armour more vulnerable. All of the officers knew that a flimsy, stretched-out line defended by two battalions of infantry normally would not be able to resist an armoured offensive by an armoured brigade, however that assumption was based on modern armour, not the decades old equipment being used by the East African Army. The T-55s might have been more than sufficient, for the most part, for use against the rebels, but against modern infantry, equipped with the latest and most powerful anti-tank weapons, the assumption was turned on its head.

“Well, people, tonight is going to be interesting to say the least, anything you need to hold the line, request it” Brigadier Sharpe commented dryly. “I’m going to speak to Malta and see if we can arrange a bombing run tonight, we hold tonight, we’ll be in good shape.”

His Majesty The King
The Evergreen Palace, Royal District
The Duchy of Washington, Kingdom of Apilonia
Friday 8th May 2020, 0330hrs Local Time




William V, King of Apilonia regularly got by on no more than four hours sleep; a little longer at the weekends. It had been a habit that he had picked up young, during his years as a Naval Cadet at the Royal Naval College Monterey and retained through his service in the Navy. It had not gone away when he acceded to the throne after the untimely death of his father, with the handful in the know attributing it to stress and a sense of responsibility. After some years on the throne, however, the King had steadily increased the amount of sleep as he became accustomed to the pressures and responsibilities of his Crown, however all of the progress had been shattered by the Insurgency, in which Lord John Henderson, a very distant cousin, had pressed his (weak) claim to the throne, after the King had refused him a prominent position, resorting to terror and violence in the absence of public support. The King had blamed himself for not seeing the threat posed by the ambitious Lord sooner, viewing Apilonia as ‘too civilized’ for such a thing, and had resolved at that point never to let his people down again.

As a result, the King regularly stayed up until the small hours of the morning reading intelligence reports and political analysis, amongst others, before waking early after only a few hours sleep to do the same and work through his daily government papers before breakfast, making him one of the best informed Heads of State in the world. It had developed him a well-deserved reputation for being exceptionally well prepared, knowledgeable, which combined with his own charisma and physical intensity made him an imposing figure to say the least, and at seventy-three was very much the world’s elder statesman. The Royal Household had expressed concerns in recent years about the King’s lack of sleep, however every medical professional that had examined him said there was no evidence of any detrimental impact on his health, and that there was a small percentage of the human population that could get by on relatively little sleep. Those in the Apilonian Government, and generally the wider Establishment, knew that the King could often be reached even in the early hours of the morning, and that he would, for the most part, rather be kept informed than otherwise.

It had been no surprise to the Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew T. Whittaker, that the King was still awake when he had called the Palace once word of the attack in the East African Republic had reached the Ministry of Defence. With the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence likely asleep, Sir Andrew instead called the King directly. This was not unusual; under the Apilonian system the Prime Minister was primarily responsible for domestic affairs, leaving foreign affairs and national security to the Crown; intended to ensure that these vitally important matters were, broadly speaking, a non-political matter. Of course, the War Powers of the Crown were restricted in size and duration, without authorisation from the Senate or Parliament, but they were substantial, nevertheless. It had been the King that had authorised the deployment of the Prince of Cascadia carrier group to the Horn of Africa, and authorised the Commander, Apilonian Forces East Africa, to take whatever steps he deemed necessary for the defence of his command and the execution of his orders. However, like his predecessors, although the King was a strong executive leader in his own right he was also a strong believer in democracy and did not want to proceed any further without political input.

So, the King had passed instructions to wake the Cabinet and have them attend upon him at the Evergreen Palace as soon as possible. It had taken several hours for the furthest afield members to assemble, in which time the situation on the ground became clearer, but half an hour after the first reconnaissance optics began to arrive the Royal Cabinet had assembled in the War Room in a bunker beneath the Palace.

“Good Morning, Your Majesty, my Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you all for gathering so quickly; as you’ve all already been made aware, at zero-nine-hundred local time the East African Republic launched artillery strikes against our observation posts along the Ceasefire Line, the defenders fell back to a secondary Defence Line, and the enemy followed with an infantry assault, which was repelled,” Sir Andrew began. “On my authority, I ordered the Prince of Cascadia battle group, currently in the Gulf of Oman, to head towards the Horn of Africa at best speed, to get her aircraft in range as quickly as possible, and I’ve also placed additional units on alert to deploy, today’s briefing will lay out the contingency plan that the Joint Staff at Permanent Joint Headquarters drew up for East Africa.”

Sir Andrew paused a moment for any questions before bringing up a map of the East African Republic on the main screen.

“Our immediate concern is to ensure that the forces already on the ground survive the East African attack which we expect to hit them in in approximately six hours, which we expect them to be able to repel between their own anti-armour weapons and the first air strikes from the Prince of Cascadia,” Sir Andrew continued, as the screen showed the expected positions by nightfall. “Concurrently, the Prince of Cascadia and her air group will focus on the air war; the East African Air Force is a equipped with older MiGs, so we don’t anticipate having any issues , after which they’ll have free reign to degrade enemy military capabilities, giving us the time and space to deploy more forces.”

Sir Andrew paused, bringing up an amended order of battle for Apilonain Forces East Africa.

“The Spearhead Land Element of the Joint Rapid Reaction Force is currently 3 PARA, which means that they are on seventy-two hours notice to deploy, and will do so into Camp Lemonier by the end of that timeframe, followed by 08 Commando which is aboard an LHA in the Mediterranean and can arrive in a week,” Sir Andrew continued promptly. “That will give us an ad hoc brigade-sized element on the ground within seven days, and we can expect to get First Echelon troops on the ground seven days after that, call it fourteen from today.”

“If I may interrupt, Sir Andrew,” The Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Sebastian Barnes, said, raising a hand. “Two weeks sounds like quite a while, can our troops on the ground survive that long?”

“A fair question, Prime Minister; the purpose of the Spearhead Forces is to deploy as rapidly as possible to augment existing troops to a sufficient degree that they are able to resist any enemy attack until additional forces can deploy, the presence of the Prince of Cascadia and her battle group provides an additional force that we would not normally see until the First Echelon, so we’re lucky in that regard,” Sir Andrew replied. “That being said, once we get 3 PARA and 08 Commando on the ground, we expect our forces to be able to retain a defensive position regardless, even without the presence of the carrier group; with their presence, however, we’ve got options to go on the offensive; indeed a two-week timeframe to get First Echelon troops on the ground gives us a two-week air campaign, which will be more than sufficient to substantially degrade enemy military capabilities.”

“Thank you, Sir Andrew, that is very reassuring,” The Prime Minister nodded. “So, you were talking about the First Echelon?”

“The current First Echelon land force is 3 Commando Brigade, so they’ll deploy to our existing beachhead at Camp Lemonier, at which point we’ll have two brigades worth of troops available to us, we already have the First Echelon maritime task force on-station in this scenario, but we’ll also likely bring in a composite air squadron to take some of the strain off of the Prince of Cascadia,” Sir Andrew explained. “It is the current working consensus of the Permanent Joint Headquarters that First Echelon forces will be sufficient to resolve the campaign without requiring further assistance, especially after a two-week air campaign, although a Second Echelon will be prepared, to deploy thirty days from today, to provide support for a final push against Mogadishu, and to serve as the core of an occupation force.”

“Which, my friends, is where you all come in; I am of the opinion that, in conducting this attack, the East African Republic, and President Xavier in particular, presents an unacceptable risk to both our own national security and that of the entire region,” The King said, leaning forwards and resting his elbow on the table. “As a former colony, the stability, or lack thereof, is directly reflective on the Kingdom and makes it our responsibility; which means that it is my desire to conduct a full campaign to take control, and to resume Apilonian administration over the country… as per my constitutional responsibilities, I need Senatorial and Parliamentary consent… I would appreciate your thoughts?”

The Prime Minister, befitting his station, spoke first.

“Your Majesty, I do not disagree with your assessment that the East African Republic now poses a very real threat to the stability of an already unstable region, and that as it’s former colonial masters we have the first responsibility to resolve the situation,” Barnes commented. “My main concern is the existing rebels; they’ve already proven themselves tenacious and capable, the last thing I would want to do is to replace the East African Republic and find ourselves as the new targets of a battle-hardened rebellion.”

“A fair point, Prime Minister… Foreign Secretary, instruct our representative to the Rebels to discuss the matter with them” The King nodded. “Determine if there are any arrangements or concessions that would make our administration palatable to them, we should be a far more attractive option than Xavier regime in any case.”

“If you can ensure that we have sufficient backing from the rebels on the ground to avoid a prolonged insurgency, once we take over, I can deliver my majority in Parliament at least,” Barnes replied with a thoughtful expression. “Although I’m not privy to their private thoughts, I would suspect that the Senate will be amenable to the idea, for the most part, and I doubt they’d directly ignore an affirmative vote from Parliament.”

“I’ll handle the Senate,” The King smiled wryly. “Alright then people, we’ve got a lot of work to do, let’s be about it.”
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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:48 pm

Lieutenant Commander William J. Pike, RAN
Hunter 01, Tomcat F.5
Over the Gulf of Aden
Friday 8th May 2020, 1930hrs Local Time




The Royal Apilonian Navy had long resisted multiple attempts by the Treasury to persuade them to transition the venerable Tomcat, once the backbone of the Fleet Air Arm and still the subject of many a boyhood dream, into a graceful retirement. Each time, the Treasury had cited the prohibitive cost, both in terms of maintenance and manpower, particularly given aging airframes. However, the Admiralty had responded that the Tomcat, aside from the various intangible benefits of its reputation, still offered unparalleled capability in one area, the one that it had been originally designed for, that even the latest variant of the Super Hornet, the FGR.6, simply could not match; the long-range interceptions of threats to the carrier group and the acquisition of air superiority. In the end, a compromise had been struck and the Tomcat fleet had been dramatically reduced, with each carrier air wing consisting of only one squadron of Tomcats and a mixed bag of one-seat and two-seat Super Hornets, and in return the Fleet Air Arm had been able to conduct a significant programme of upgrades that had kept the Tomcat in service. In many respects, the upgrades were so significant that the Tomcat F.5s were almost new aircraft, to the extent that the Admiralty had effectively protected its prized bird against future assaults by the Treasury.

It was fleet legend that the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time had exploded at the First Sea Lord the next time the two men had met, with predictable results.

As such, it was Tomcats from 808 Naval Air Squadron, stationed aboard the aircraft carrier Prince of Cascadia, that approached the East African coastline in the gathering twilight, flying at the edge of their range to provide cover for the Super Hornets of 821 Naval Air Squadron who, likewise operating at the edge of their range, were moving in to strike East African forces attacking Apilonian positions near Djibouti. As expected, the East African 21 Brigade had launched a full-scale attack against the Defensive Line a few hours previously, and whilst the two battalions of Apilonian infantry were holding their positions the enemy was bringing more and more armour and artillery into position for a night assault. It was the task of 821 NAS to relieve the troops on the ground, whilst the job of engaging enemy aircraft fell to 808 NAS, led by its Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander William J. Pike.

Lieutenant Commander Pike had always been destined for a career in the air; he had spent his formative years sitting alongside his father as he flew tourists over the Mojave Desert and had, perhaps inevitably, developed a deep love for flying. As the son of a former air force pilot, Pike had grown up patriotic and knew from early adolescence that he wanted to pursue a career in the military, and as a result had opted to attend one of the three Military Foundation Colleges after the end of his Primary Education at 14. It had surprised the hell out of everyone when the boy from Mojave, with an Air Force pilot for a father, had applied for the Royal Naval College, Monterey. Whatever his reasons, Pike was appointed to Monterey, and subsequently four years later to officer training, eventually training as a Naval Aviator, flying the Tomcat. After steadily climbing through the ranks, Lt. Commander Pike had been recently given command of 808 NAS and had worked the squadron up for deployment aboard the Prince of Cascadia, and would now see his hard work pay off as his they angled towards combat.

Given that neither the Tomcat or the Super Hornet were in any way designed to be stealthy, they had been detected by East African early-warning radar and twenty-four MiG-21s had taken to the skies to oppose them, believed to be all the operational aircraft available as the East Africans knew full well that if they didn’t put up an attempt to stop the air raid they will simply be destroyed on the ground. It was a valiant, if ultimately doomed, attempt, and Pike could not help but wonder why the East African military were still going through with their leader insanity, as the working assumption in the Royal Apilonian Military was that President Xavier’s mental state had finally hit rock bottom and sent him completely mad. Ultimately however, the East Africans were going through with this insanity, and had killed Apilonian soldiers, meaning that Lt. Commander Pike felt more than justified in what they were about to do.

Given the obvious superiority of the Tomcat F.5 over the MiG-21, Pike had felt comfortable in committing three pairs to the engagement; leaving two aircraft flying Combat Air Patrol (CAP) over the Prince of Cascadia, two on Alert-5 on the deck and the remaining two undergoing standard maintenance that he had not seen a need to pull them from. Given that each Tomcat could track dozens of targets with it’s advanced AESA radar, and engage up to six at any given time with the six AIM-120D AMRAAM long-range missiles, it was a foregone conclusion that the Tomcats would come out on top. Indeed, unless the enemy was particularly lucky, none of their aircraft would get into range with their far shorter AA-12 missiles.

Despite their bravery, this was exactly how the engagement unfolded. At Lt. Commander Pike’s orders, the six Tomcats opened fire well outside the range of the East African MiGs, spitting an initial salvo of twenty-four missiles, each targeting one enemy aircraft and retaining two missiles apiece for a follow-up. The East African formation disintegrated as soon as they detected the incoming missiles, scattering wildly in an attempt to avoid destruction. Those that turned perpendicular to the angle of the missiles, or away entirely, had a much higher chance of survival, but those that were slower to respond were caught mid-maneuverer and the East African MiGs began to drop out of the sky at, to their ground controllers at least, an alarming rate. Once the results of the first salvo became clearer, the Apilonian Tomcats opened fire again, this time flushing the last of their remaining missiles. Tradition, as well as current operational doctrine, called for the Tomcats to continue their approach on the disordered enemy formation to engage them with guns, the theory being that it was far better to destroy an enemy totally than let some escape, and far more detrimental to enemy morale to have a reputation for leaving no survivors (although obviously any ejected enemy pilots would not be deliberately targeted). On this occasion, however, there were no hostile fighters to be engaged with guns once the dust settled.

“Principality, this is Hunter 01,” Lt Commander Pike reported, thumbing his helmet’s mic. “The MiGs are splashed, the door’s wide open.”

“Hunter-01, this is Principality,” The Fighter Controller aboard the Prince of Cascadia replied. “Roger that, all Hunter callsigns are clear to RTB.”

Lt. Commander Pike relayed the order to the rest of the squadron before slowly beginning his own turn back towards the Carrier; keeping his eye on both the radar and off his port side as, several flight levels below, and some distance away, he could just about see the first of the strike packages beginning their approach towards the targets. With the enemy MiGs destroyed there was nothing left standing in the way of the Super Hornets, what amounted to the East African air defence network was centred around Mogadishu and was relatively short-ranged and would be dealt with another day. Over the next hour the first, long-range, strikes by the Prince of Cascadia air wing would blunt and ultimately turn back the East African 21 Brigade, providing welcome relief to the embattled infantry battalions holding the thin defensive line. Given that every aircraft that was available had been committed to the attack, known as an Alpha Strike, it would be some hours before the Prince of Cascadia could generate another attack of the same magnitude although she would be able to turn around at least some strike aircraft as soon as they returned, although it would be not until the carrier was far closer that they would be able to provide a more on-demand strike capability.

Given that the East African 21 Brigade was retreating in disarray this would not be a problem as it was expected that it would be some time before the East African Army could put together an effective attack, by which point the carrier would be firmly on-station to provide air support.

Of more immediate concern for the Prince of Cascadia and her officers was the enemy navy, such as it was. Although the Osa-II Class missile boats were unlikely to provide insurmountable threat to the carrier group they would need to be dealt with before the carrier group could approach the coastline. Although they could be dealt with by any of the carrier’s escorts it had been decided that it was more suitable, not to mention more cost effective, to destroy them from the air rather than having to expend defensive weapons in a missile exchange with a surface combatant. Indeed, immediately after landing aboard the carrier, Pike was pulled into a planning meeting with the air wing staff to help put together a strike package against the East African Navy which satellite reconnaissance reported was assembling off Mogadishu to threaten the Apilonian naval forces. It still amazed Pike that the East African military officers were still going along with this madness… god only knew his President Xavier was enforcing such loyalty.

It was shortly before dawn that 846 Naval Air Squadron, the first squadron to return from the air strikes inside the East African Republic, was re-launched after a quick turnaround. With no signs that the enemy was going put another attack together for some time the Commander, Eastern Strike Force Rear Admiral Simon T. Wallace, had decided that the priority was to remove the sole remaining threat to his command. By all accounts the East African missile boats were sailing northwards to get into weapons range, doubtless intending to try and put as many missiles into the air targeted at the Prince of Cascadia as possible in an effort to get through her defences. Given that Commander Sarah W. Giles, the Air Wing Commander, was in her rack after overseeing the alpha strike, Pike stepped in to serve as the senior naval aviator present in the Operations Room to oversee the strike mission against the East African Navy; a protocol requirement to ensure that there was an experienced aviator in charge of the strike.

Each of the eight Super Hornet FGR.6s from 846 NAS that were taking part in the raid were armed with six AGM-65F Maverick air-to-surface missiles, deemed more than sufficient to destroy the comparatively small enemy targets. Although the Royal Apilonian Military would never endorse being ‘cheap’ when it came to supporting troops in contact it wasn’t about to waste larger and more expensive missiles when smaller ones would be more than sufficient. Although there was no enemy air force remaining to oppose them, thanks to the actions of Pike and 808 NAS, there was some risk posed by East African surface-to-air missile batteries around Mogadishu. As such, the Super Hornets stayed close to the deck hoping to be upon the enemy before they knew what hit them and prevent any of them from being able to turn back in time to retreat back to the protective cover of their SAMs. All things considered it was not all that long before the Super Hornets were reporting contact with the enemy missiles boats, and Pike watched on the carrier’s main tactical display, courtesy of data shared from long-range air search radar of one of their escorts, as the Super Hornets conducted their attack maneuverers, although he could not, of course, see the inevitable evasive action of the Osa-IIs.

In the end it was all over in less than fifteen minutes.

The high-speed, low-level approach by the Super Hornets had ensured that the East African Navy didn’t know what was happening until it was far too late. To their credit it appeared that the missile boats had at least been cleared for action, as there was some effective CIWS from their AK-230 emplacements, which took down some of the Mavericks screaming towards them. Ultimately however, with only half a dozen targets and each of the eight attack aircraft possessing enough missiles to put one into each of them it was obvious that this was a doomed effort. Under true wartime conditions it was doubtful that as many individual fighters would even have been spared for the mission, given that they would likely have been needed elsewhere, but orders had come down from Rear Admiral Wallace himself that as many individual naval aviators as possible were to be given as much practical experience as possible, which meant that experience was favoured over true expediency. It was almost tragic; the Osa-IIs had no way to swat the Super Hornets from their positions thousands of feet above and to the Apilonians high above it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

Not for the first time, Pike wondered what on earth was going on behind the seats in the East African Government and the East African Military, it was obvious that there was more going on than was being reported. Indeed, precious little information was coming out of the East African Republic; the Apilonian diplomatic mission was in lockdown with the embassy guards watching nervously for any sign that their diplomatic protections were about to be violated (technically, despite active hostilities, diplomatic relations had not yet been broken off although President Xavier’s office had yet to return the Apilonian Ambassador’s furious phone calls), domestic and foreign press was being stonewalled and both telecommunications and the internet had been shut down across the country. Something was going on, but without any solid information all the Kingdom could do was react to the hostile acts taken against them, and respond in the decisive, devastating way that had always been the unspoken teeth behind the Kingdom’s foreign policy.
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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Tue Jul 14, 2020 6:19 am

Lieutenant Sebastian Wood
Camp Lemonier, Djibouti
The East African Republic
Monday 11th May 2020, 1030hrs Local Time




“Well, there goes the neighbourhood, Sir.”

Lieutenant Wood glanced across at Sergeant Marshall and rolled his eyes but couldn’t quite stop a smile of amusement from spreading across his face. After fierce fighting along the Defence Line on Friday, finally repulsed in full by air strikes from the Prince of Cascadia, the weekend had been quiet as the East Africans fell back to regroup and decide what to do next. Given that they had been harassed pretty much continuously by air strikes, and by naval bombardment by Apilonian surface warships that moved in close to silence shore batteries, no attack had materialised and latest intelligence suggested that the East Africans were manning their own defensive positions in anticipation of Apilonian retaliation. As a result, the decision had been made to pull as many troops off the Defence Line as possible, and those units that had been in full contact with the enemy had enjoyed priority. It wasn’t much, as they had to remain ready for action, but the opportunity to get back to Camp Lemonier, get a shower and some hot food in them (that wasn’t Army-issue ration packs) was one that no infantryman in his right mind would ever pass up on.

It was for that reason that Lieutenant Wood and 2 Platoon were at Camp Lemonier when the first Globemaster C.1 transport aircraft began their approach into Camp Lemonier’s airfield, escorted in by Tomcats from the Prince of Cascadia, and began to disgorge the paratroopers of the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA). Although regimental pride and rivalry meant that they simply had to react with friendly banter, Lieutenant Wood and his men were incredibly relieved by the arrival of 3 PARA, as it increased the Apilonian strength on the ground by fifty percent and gave Brigadier Sharpe a nearly a full brigade’s worth of troops. In short, this meant that they could begin a proper rotation of troops on the Defence Line, whilst allowing more troops to step back from the frontline and relax, as well as shoring up their position against any attack. Once the other Spearhead Ground Element in the theatre, the elite Gorkha warriors of the 5th Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles, arrived later on in the week they would be in a good position to start sending probes into enemy territory, to lay the foundations for a true advance once heavier units arrived in-country.

By now, word across the entire command was that a full-scale offensive was indeed in the offing.

Although nothing had been decided officially, and even less said publicly, the officers in particular had heard rumours from back home, particularly those from noble or landed families, which they had passed onto their senor NCOs. By all accounts, the King was pushing strongly for a very firm, very visible retribution against the East African Republic, and a resumption of Apilonian administration over the territory. It was an open secret that the King had clashed fiercely with the Senate over the ongoing Cottish war with the Confederacy of the Urals and was unlikely to be refused a second time, particularly given that Apilonian soldiers had been killed. Ironically, some of those same Dukes that had argued against Apilonian involvement in the war in northern Europe were viewing this mess as a vindication of their position. As far as Lieutenant Wood could see, and he maintained a healthy interest in politics, this was only likely to deepen the brewing constitutional crisis between the Crown and the Senate, with the latter stuck in mindset of the decades of a crisis of confidence for the Kingdom that had lasted for most of the second half of the 20th Century.

Of course, the politics back home was no concern of the Army, even if individual officers took an academic interest; there was a very real war to fight right here.

According to the latest intelligence briefing from Captain Longstreet, whom Lieutenant Wood had decided looked even better all geared up for war, sources inside the East African Republic, primarily a low-level network run by the Royal Intelligence Service out of the Embassy in Mogadishu, pointed towards general disarray. By all accounts, President Xavier and his enablers had banked on the initial attack being able to overwhelm the Apilonian defenders, or at least put them on the back foot long enough to bring up additional forces which had not even been fully mobilised at the beginning of the attack and had been scrambling to catch up over the weekend. Whether they had been overly optimistic, or something had gone wrong, it was obvious now that without that success the East Africans were desperately trying to regain the strategic initiative; something that they would find incredibly difficult to do since the arrival of the Prince of Cascadia off the coast.

It was perhaps understandable why President Xavier, who had been the leading voice behind the then-Crown Colony of Somaliland’s campaign for independence, indeed it had been Xavier who had put an end to the violence against the Apilonian forces in favour of negotiation, would underestimate the Kingdom. The second half of the 20th Century, after an economic downturn caused by numerous threats to the Kingdom’s colonial empire combined with reverses in the Persian Gulf, had resulted in something of a crisis of confidence within the Apilonian Establishment. As a result, the Kingdom had been particularly accommodating to any Crown Colony that sought independence, beyond working to extract concessions to maintain at least some geopolitical advantage. Doubtless, as far as Xavier was concerned if be bloodied the nose of the Apilonian Forces they would have slunk away with their tail between their legs. What he didn’t realise, and few outside the Kingdom truly understood, was the impact of the Terror, the campaign of the disgraced former Duke of Texas, Edward Buchanan, had had on the physique of the Kingdom. The crisis of confidence had been shattered and been replaced by an almost pathological need to respond promptly and overwhelmingly to any threat to the Kingdom or its interests.

As such, the moment that Apilonian forces had been fired upon the gloves had come off, and the sheer amount of Apilonian military strength that was descending on the East African Republic was evidence of that.

“They’ll probably want to replace those bloody maroon berets with a helmet,” Sergeant Marshall commented after a time, watching as 3 PARA made their way off the flight line to the parade ground for a briefing. “The East Africans might not be able to shoot for shit, but it would be awfully embarrassing to get killed because you insisted on wearing a beret.”

“They’re not as bad as the bloody marines,” Wood replied with a wry smile. “They’ve been having an argument against MoD policy on the matter for years now.”

“I mean, don’t get me wrong, if I passed the All-Arms Commando Course, I’d probably spent as much time wearing it as possible,” Sergeant Marshall admitted with a laugh. “Can you imagine? A green beret with hackle… maybe there’s a reason no Fusilier has gone that way.”

“You may be right, Sergeant,” Wood grinned. “Well now, we can’t stay gawking at that lot all day… is the platoon ready to move out?”

“Yes, Sir, we’ve received a few replacements, from volunteers across the command; all former infantry or combat trained at least,” Sergeant Marshall replied. “We’re a little understrength still, but I’ve shuffled around some of our riflemen, so we’re good to go.”

“We’ll get proper replacements for our losses from the Kingdom soon enough, I confirmed that with the Staff Personnel Officer last night,” Wood nodded. “I’ve already written to the parents of our losses… not something that Kingston could possibly have prepared me for.”

“Understandable, Sir,” Sergeant Marshall sighed. “One responsibility I don’t envy you for.”

“I’ll want updates on our wounded in the base infirmary; and I want no bullshit assessments of anyone asking to return to the platoon,” Wood added, knowing his men well by now. “I appreciate their enthusiasm, but I don’t want anyone slowing us down in the field.”

“I’ll make sure that the medical staff pass the message on, Sir,” Sergeant Marshall nodded. “They’ll ensure that they only release our boys if they’re actually fit for combat.”

“Good, alright, we don’t have to leave to relieve the Defence Line until thirteen hundred” Wood sighed. “So, if anyone wants to make a phone call home, now is the time to do it, particularly after the Navy took out that East African electronic warfare aircraft they put up on Saturday.”

Sergeant Marshall nodded his understanding, although there would naturally be a great deal of demand for the handful of private satellite phones operated by the command’s signals unit for personal calls, especially since the fighting had kicked off, but if everyone stuck to a quick call home they ought to be able to get the entire platoon through in a couple of hours. The call length would be carefully monitored, and given that they were in a combat situation all calls would be monitored by an officer as a matter of course, for operational security reasons, but it was better than nothing. Especially as Lieutenant Wood expected it to be unlikely that they would get another chance before they started to push forwards into East African territory. Although they were taking their time to build up their forces properly, whilst allowing the Navy to degrade enemy capabilities with their airstrikes, once the Army got rolling doctrine called for them to keep going and maintain momentum.

“Any word on the rebels yet, Sir?”

“Negotiations started over the weekend; they’ve agreed to leave the matter to us for the moment but MoFA Envoy is trying to bring them on board into an Apilonian administration after we topple the Xavier Government; there support will be essential if we don’t want to be stuck in a counter-insurgency here for years,” Wood replied, shaking his head. “Unofficially, and top secret so keep it under your hat, Captain Longstreet’s latest information from the Envoy is that they are amenable to the idea; they know we’re not going to oppress them and disappear their families, like Xavier did, so if it means peace and prosperity, they’re likely to accept loyalty to the Apilonian Crown, particularly if we given them devolved powers down the line.”

“Who would have thought… an Apilonian Crown Colony in East Africa again, after all this time,” Sergeant Marshall replied with a wistful smile. “You know, my grandfather served in Somaliland, as it was back then, during the trouble prior to Xavier’s neogitated settlement… before he lost his marbles.”

“I did not know that,” Wood smiled in return. “I’m sure he would be proud to see you helping put our flag back over this place… is he…”

“Gone, unfortunately,” Sergeant Marshal sighed. “Died during the Terror… natural causes though, not one of ‘Lord’ Buchanan’s outrages.”

“I’m sorry, Joe,” Wood said gently. “He’ll be looking down on you though, I’m sure.”

“I’m sure he will be,” Sergeant Marshall agreed. “Kicking my ass to live up to the family tradition, like my father did, and make Warrant Officer.”

“Well, this little war of ours will help with that, I’m sure,” Wood commented wryly. “I’d be very surprised if you don’t come out of all of this a Colour Sergeant… a war is very good for promotion, for one reason of another.”

“We’ll see, Sir,” Sergeant Marshall grinned. “I could the same for you; officers tend to do particularly well out of a war.”

“Right now, I just want to get as many of our boys through this thing in one piece, and I know you feel the same way,” Wood replied with a serious expression. “Once we’ve done that we can start looking at our careers, and those of our men.”

“I couldn’t agree more, Sir.” Sergeant Marshal nodded seriously. “Well, I’ll go get the platoon over to the Royal Signals boys, I’ll have them mustered back here no later than twelve forty-five.”

“Very good, Sergeant,” Wood said. “I’ll be in the command centre, I want to get an intelligence update before we go.”

“Understood, Sir,” Sergeant Marshal replied with a smirk. “Enjoy seeing Captain Longstreet.”

Lieutenant Wood rolled his eyes.

“Sergeant?”

“Yes, Sir?”

“Grow-up.”
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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Mon Jul 20, 2020 7:38 am

Lieutenant Sebastian Wood
Zeila, Somalia
The East African Republic
Thursday 14th May 2020, 1445hrs Local Time




2 Platoon was tense as they slowly began to make their way into the port city of Zeila, or at least what was left of it anyway. The city, formally a thriving hub for coastal traders, was only twenty-five kilometres into Somalia and, as a result, had been the site of more than a few clashes between the Government and the Rebels and had been left in ruin. A significant portion of the eighteen thousand strong population and fled deeper into Somalia and only a few hundred remained in the city. It was however the first major settlement along the sole main road that snaked its way through this part of the countryside and, if they were going to advance in any sort of good order, it was a target that the Apilonian Army was going to have to secure. Not that it was a particularly difficult objective from a military perspective, a motley collection of one and two story buildings, spread out across a wide area the main difficulty would be time taken to physically sweep the settlement, given the number of buildings and the open ground between them, less than ideal but not exactly storming an entrenched enemy.

With the arrival 5th Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles, earlier in the day Brigadier Sharpe hade made the decision to seize the initiative and start to put some pressure on an enemy that was already buckling under five days of air strikes from the Prince of Cascadia. There had been some thought to sending in either 3 PARA or 5 RGR, given that both regiments were renowned for their aggressive spirit, however it had been decided that they should be allowed a few extra days to acclimatise before being thrown into combat, and would be of far more use against a more challenging target in any event. As such, the task had fallen to the California Fusiliers. After the decision had been made in the morning command brief at Camp Lemonier, Lieutenant Colonel Donovan had been tasked with taking his battalion into Zeila and securing the settlement as the vanguard for a broader Apilonian push into Somalia. In addition, Lt. Colonel Donovan would have several flights of Super Hornets available, if highly unlikely to be needed, as well as naval gunfire support from the two twin 8-Inch naval guns aboard the guided missile cruiser Indefatigable, which had moved in closer to the shore in order to do so.

After a brief Orders Group (O-Group), for the company commanders and platoon leaders, the officers had returned to their units to brief their men on the plan of the attack. It was nothing fancy; one company would move further up the road and set-up a blocking position, just in case the East Africans had somehow managed to avoid the Apilonian drones, reconnaissance flights and satellites and were about to counter attack, whilst the other two rifle companies swept the settlement with the weapons company taking up position to provide cover and screening fire. Based on everything that Lt. Colonel Donovan had said, it was the strong opinion of Captain Longstreet and her intelligence team that they were highly unlikely to meet any real resistance in Zeila; there definitely wasn’t a regular East African army unit in the town and even if there were militiamen present their numbers would be so low that they would be unlikely to make a fight of it even if the loyalty of the militia this close to the frontline was questionable to say the least.

Nevertheless, tensions were high as the battalion began to push into the settlement. A Company was tasked for the mainly residential western half of the town whilst B Company’s advance was what passed for an industrial district on the eastern side, although according to reconnaissance photographs it was now little more than abandoned buildings and waste ground. 2 Platoon was on the extreme right of the advancing battalion, meaning that they would be responsible for securing the industrial area itself, arguably less likely to encounter an enemy away from the residences but far more open ground to have to advance across. As it was, 2 Platoon, like the rest of the battalion, was advancing across the open ground to the south of the settlement in a line abreast, a formation designed to maximise the firepower that could be put down to the front. Until they made contact with the enemy, the platoon would advance as one cohesive unit, keeping their spacings as close to text book as possible, it was only once they were engaged, or the platoon leader decided a more nuanced approach was appropriate, in order to ensure that the advance proceeded in good order.

As it was, they were maybe two hundred yards from the southern most warehouse in the industrial district when Lieutenant Wood decided that he didn’t want to keep advancing line abreast given how close they were getting to the buildings. On his order, 2 Platoon moved to a tactical approach; one section would remain with the command element in the centre, ready to be committed by the platoon leader at his discretion, whilst the other two sections moved forwards, typically between features in the terrain; rises, dips, foliage and the like, one at a time with the other providing an overwatch in a classic bounding overwatch. As it was, both sections reached the warehouse wall without incident and each stacked up on one end of the wall to provide cover for the remaining section and the command element to reach their position as well, allowing Lieutenant Wood to get a first-hand look at the situation and decide how to proceed. There were maybe a half dozen warehouse or gated industrial compounds, including the one that they were stacked up against, which meant that the first order of business was to secure the compound they had successfully advanced to, apparently without being spotted.

After ordering 3 Section to secure the compound, whilst the other two sections provided overwatch, Lieutenant Wood considered how best to tackle the rest of the district. There was another compound fifty meters to the east, which 2 Section already had their eyes on and would be easy enough to advance and secure, whilst there was another large compound a hundred meters to the north and a long, narrow building to the north-east, which would mean advancing across open ground. It was far from ideal, but if he moved his troops as close as possible after securing the two southern compounds they would provide a decent position from which to provide overwatch whilst the rest of the platoon crossed the open ground. The alternative was to use the platoon mortarman, Private Harper, to put down a smokescreen before advancing, although that would preclude any overwatch fire from 2 Platoon and wouldn’t stop any potential enemy forces from firing into the smoke. On balance, it was probably the smarter move to keep the sight lines open in order to allow his men to take shots at any enemy position that opened fire on the advancing section.

“Compound secured, Sir,” Corporal Wilson reported over the personal role radio.

Lieutenant Wood nodded to himself and turned to Sergeant Marshall.

“Sergeant, take 1 and 2 Sections over to that compound, secure it and put 1 Section into an overwatch position for the open ground to the north, I’ll position 3 Section for the same in this compound, let me know when your sections are in position and I’ll give the word,” Wood ordered crisply. “It is my intention to maintain a tactical advance through the district, I think we’d have drawn some fire by now if there were enemy forces here, but it’s good practice to do it by the book, it won’t always be like this and we’ve a lot of war ahead of us.”

“Roger that, Sir,” Sergeant Marshall nodded, moving to gather his two sections.

Lieutenant Wood and the command element entered the compound and met up with 3 Section, which Corporal Wilson was already moving into overwatch positions along the northern wall. Looking out across the open ground through field glasses, he slowly examined each of the two target buildings to the north looking for any sign of life and finding known. Indeed, the only movement he could see at all was in the form of 3 Platoon which was moving up through the edge of the residential district, just visible to the west. It was almost more frustrating having to advance this way; at least if they were under fire it could be dealt with, although Lieutenant Wood suspected he would feel very differently when he was actually under fire again, particularly if his men started to get hit. In the few minutes it took for Sergeant Marshall and his two sections to secure their compound, Lieutenant Wood kept his section quiet, looking down the sights of their weapons, and just listened. It was quiet, which was probably a good sign.

Given that they had left their Foxhounds a few kilometres back along the round, and were advancing as light infantry, the Apilonian battalion advanced in relative quiet; the personal role radios precluded the need for shouted orders outside of combat. Throughout the entire advance, Lieutenant Wood could not recall having heard any gunfire, which was definitely a good sign.

“In position, Sir,” Sergeant Marshall reported across the platoon net.

“Roger,” Wood replied immediately, giving one last look over the open ground before thumbing his own radio again. “Advance.”

Over the next fifteen minutes 2 Platoon made its way across the open ground and secured the large compound and the narrow warehouse, doing so without incident. However, once they turned their attention to the remaining three compounds, and a cluster of buildings, further to the north. It was only at this point that they got eyes on the first living beings they had encountered since entering the settlement, and it was certainly not what they had been expecting to say the least. Although the two industrial compounds looked as deserted and abandoned as the once already secured, the last compound, which contained a large residential building, was clearly occupied and had several armed guards posted outside of it; militiamen by their lack of true military equipment. However, they were obviously aware of the Apilonian advance but they were not taking true defensive positions, which posed more than a few questions.

After a few moments thought, Lieutenant Wood made his decision. After ordering 1 and 2 Sections to secure the two abandoned compounds, and then to link up with 3 Platoon, the command element and 3 Section began to advance towards the residential compound. Once again, they advanced in a line abreast; the rifle section in front with the command element behind, making no hostile actions against the armed guards. As they got closer it became apparent that Lieutenant Wood’s hunch had paid off; the militiamen noted their approach but did not raise their weapons, and once they got within fifty yards of the compound an older man appeared from the compound’s gates with two more armed guards, as Wood had expected. Ordering his men to stop and take a knee, Lieutenant Wood stepped forwards towards the group of militiamen and their leader, keeping his hand well away from his holstered pistol and slinging his personal defence weapon over his shoulder.

“Greetings, I am Sheikh Mohammed bin Ahmed al-Sufi, I command the militia in this area,” The older man said by means of introduction, he was carrying an AK-47 but it was slung on his back. “You are Apilonians, I presume.”

“We are, I am Lieutenant Sebastian Wood, 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.” Wood nodded. “As-salamu alaykum, Sheikh.”

“Wa alaykumu s-salam,” The Sheikh replied immediately. “You know your manners, Lieutenant.”

“The Kingdom has a long history here, Sheikh, I’d like to think that by the end we weren’t merely foreign conquerors,” Wood replied with a slight smile. “Our peacekeeping presence here was in no small part due to that history… we have a responsibility to your people.”

“Your words are encouraging, Lieutenant, and I am old enough to have grown up when the Apilonian flag flew over this country.”

The Sheikh smiled and pulled back his jacket to show the leather rig that was holding his belt and a holster; a distinctly familiar design; a Sam Browne belt as worn by countless militaries all over the world. Of far more interest was the insignia itself emblazoned on the leather, which Lieutenant Wood immediately recognized.

“The King’s African Rifles,” Wood asked, his eyes widening. “You were an Officer?”

“I had the honour, and the privilege, of being a King’s Colonial Officer, serving with 5th Battalion, the King’s African Rifles,” The Sheikh replied with a wistful smile. “I opposed the movement for independence… for exactly the reasons you see all around us.”

“I presume that is why you and your militia aren’t tremendously loyal to President Xavier.”

“You would presume correctly,” The Sheikh smiled wryly. “I have ordered all of my men that remain in the town to not offer any resistance, you may inform your commanders accordingly.”

“I will do so immediately, one moment if you please, Sir,” Lieutenant Wood nodded. “Signaller! Inform battalion of our situation.”

As Private Dawes communicated the news back to the battalion command post, out with the Foxhound vehicles, Lieutenant Wood and the Sheikh exchanged small talk about the latter’s service with the King’s African Rifles back before independence. It was only Private Dawes stepping up to them that broke the conversation.

“Sir, battalion requests that we bring the Sheikh to see Lt. Colonel Donovan… if you are willing, Sheikh,” Private Dawes reported, glancing at the Sheikh as she spoke. “They’re going to send a few Foxhounds for us, they’ll probably want you to go on to see the Brigadier, Sir.”

“I would be happy to visit your commanders, Lieutenant,” The Sheikh nodded. “I believe I can, again, be of service and assistance to the Crown in this matter.”

“Of course, Sir,” Lieutenant Wood nodded, turning to Sergeant Marshall. “Sergeant, stay here with the platoon and follow battalion orders, I’ll escort the Sheikh to see the brass.”

“Roger that, Sir,” Sergeant Marshall nodded, then smirked. “Welcome back to the Army, Sheikh.”

“The NCO Corps hasn’t changed since my time as a King’s Officer, I see,” The Sheikh commented, a grin spreading across his old face.

“Some things will never change,” Lieutenant Wood grinned. “Let’s be about it, shall we?”
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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:32 am

Captain Rebecca Longstreet, IC
Camp Lemonier, Djibouti
The East African Republic
Friday 15th May 2020, 1900hrs Local Time




Captain Longstreet let out a soft groan of relief as she closed the door to her accommodation behind her and pulled off the body armour she had been wearing all day. It was only a small space, of course, but given her status as an officer she at least had a space to herself rather than having to share as the other ranks did, and for a woman in the military one’s own personal space was a godsend, especially as it meant that she could strip off her armour and sweat-soaked uniform. Although, as a staff officer, she was not exactly in the field the order was that all personnel were to wear their body armour, even in Camp Lemonier until the command was satisfied that the East Africans were unlikely to be able to sneak a mortar team into range of the base. As such, in the already stifling heat, even the men and women doing the invaluable, if less obvious, work of a military staff found themselves carrying around several dozen pounds of Virtus body armour, even if it was over ten pounds lighter than the Osprey body armour it was replacing. Longstreet knew that she would appreciate it if it saved her life, but right not it was a added physical burden she could do with out.

As Longstreet stepped under the small, usually of questionable temperature, shower that the Army had been so good as to install in all officer quarters at Camp Lemonier, she considered the past couple of days events.

The last thirty-six hours had been hellaciously busy as the infantry battalions began their first probes into Government territory. That would have kept the entire staff, particularly Longstreet and her intelligence team, busy enough as it was but that was before a Lieutenant Wood and his platoon had encountered a local Sheikh, whom everyone had been very surprised to discover had once been Major Mohammed bin Ahmed al-Sufi of the King’s African Rifles. As the senior Intelligence Officer, it had fallen to Longstreet to vet the Sheikh and verify if he was who he said he was; with which the Sheikh had co-operated with an polite amusement. It had not taken long for her to verify with Army Headquarters that the King’s African Rifles had possessed a Major by that name, and after that it had been easy enough to confirm that the Sheikh was exactly who he said it was. Of course, once she had done that her job was only half done as the Sheikh possessed a great deal of valuable intelligence on enemy dispositions in the region that he was only too happy to share, his loyalty to King and Country apparently returning with a vengeance.

Once she had debriefed the Sheikh, Longstreet had sent him to see the Commander, late the previous evening, and that was when things had proceeded apace rapidly. From what she had gathered, the Sheikh had offered the ally his militia, and those of others loyal to him, with the Apilonians. This had, of course, summoned Longstreet and the rest of the staff into a hurried meeting in the middle of the night to assess whether they could trust the Sheikh, or whether this was some sort of bluff on the part of the Xavier Government. Although Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ), the top-level operational command headquarters of the Royal Apilonian Military (RAM), back home weighed in with their own intelligence assessment they left the decision to the command on the ground, a long-standing tradition in the RAM in the absence of specific intelligence available at PJHQ, given that they had a far better picture of the situation in their command area.

After some time, and based on a number of pieces of intelligence stretching back years that had consistently pointed at the border militia being generally unreliable to the Xavier Government, only really engaging when the rebels crossed the border and leaving offensive action to the East African Army, it was decided that the Sheikh and his compatriots had likely been biding their time. Especially given that it was well known that the majority of power in the East African Republic was centred around Xavier and Mogadishu. After the decision had been made, the Sheikh had been invited into the meeting and they had discussed how best to proceed; which culminated in a plan in which the defecting militia would advance ahead of the main Apilonian advance as scouts and skirmishers and, more importantly, to see if they could persuade other Sheikhs and their militia to see the writing on the wall. It was hoped that they would be able to turn a sufficient number of militia and that Xavier Government would see a wave of defecting local leaders and call it a day.

However, Longstreet considered it unlikely that they would successfully convince enough of the militia to take part in operations (far more likely that they could be convinced to sit-out the war) or that Xavier’s obviously deteriorating mental state would allow him to do so in any case.

Of course, the idea of local militia operating under Apilonian command raised political and legal concerns in its own right at the Ministry of Defence, which had swung into action resolve them. Although the Apilonian Army did, technically, employ non-citizen mercenaries in that it recruited the fierce Gurkha warriors of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, these were so heavily integrated into the Army at this point that the distinction was a technical one at best. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, the Royal Gurkha Rifles had its fair share of Apilonian officers. As such, the decision had been made to revive the King’s Colonial Commission, politically undesirable perhaps but it would solve the legal concerns, and such commissions had been extended to the Sheikh, and other Sheikhs for whom he could vouch. The King’s African Rifles had formally been revived in the early hours of the morning, and in-time it would be desirable for the various militia to be disbanded and replaced by a more Apilonian system in the post-war settlement, but that was some way off in any event. Although judged unlikely, in case this was all some elaborate plot, the two infantry battalions that had started the campaign at Camp Lemonier were split up into platoons and one platoon was stationed which each of the militia, both for support and communications purposes but also to keep an eye on these newly ‘commissioned’ officers.

Given both the impending arrival of 3 Commando Brigade, and the de facto larger force that was already on the ground in the East African Republic, the decision had been made at the Ministry of Defence to establish the 21st (East Africa) Infantry Division in order to adequately control the burgeoning deployment of forces. Brigadier Sharpe had been promoted to Major-General, and appointed General Officer Commanding, 21st (East Africa) Infantry Division, with the staff previously attached to Apilonian Forces East Africa, had been designated as the Staff for the Division. Some officers, such as Sharpe, his XO, Chief of Staff and Operations Officer had received brevet promotions in their own right, which would likely be made permanent after the campaign, as was tradition, although Longstreet had not, as yet, been so lucky as the role of General Staff Officer, Intelligence, on a Division Staff remained a General Staff Officer III billet (that is to say, a Captain’s billet). Not that she particularly cared for the moment, she had no doubt that once the campaign was over everyone involved would benefit greatly form being a part of it, especially if they had distinguished themselves in a key role.

She chuckled to herself as she turned off the shower, which had not exactly been hot, but then it wasn’t like this was a deal-breaker in a place like Djibouti, she bloody well hoped that her work would be classed as distinguished as she had been working her ass off these past two weeks. As she was reaching for a towel there was a knock at her door and she rolled her eyes; of course someone decided to come and call on her whilst she was literally in a only a towel.

“Just a minute,” Longstreet called, knowing she wouldn’t have time to dry her hair as she quickly pulled on some clean combat trousers, socks and a olive-green T-shirt emblazoned with the Intelligence Corps insignia. “Come in!”

The door opened and a weary looking Lieutenant Sebastian Wood stepped into the room; she saw his surprise and dismay that he had disturbed her at an inopportune time, an expression she found strangely sweet.

“I’m sorry to bother you, Ma’am,” Wood said apologetically. “I hope you didn’t have to cut your shower short.”

“Don’t worry about it, Lieutenant, I was out already,” Longstreet replied with a slight smile as she grabbed her towel and did a quick hatchet job of drying her hair, grateful once more for its shortness. “And don’t call me Ma’am in private, I’m far too young to be called Ma’am more often than necessary.”

“Whatever you say, Captain,” Wood smiled in return.

“Good,” Longstreet nodded. “What have you got for me?”

“Major al-Sufi got back from a meeting with tribal leaders at Hargeisa and reports we won’t have trouble as far east as Burco for sure,” Wood replied, referring to the Sheikh by his newly-restored Apilonian rank. “He also reports that the East African Army is pulling back to Bosaso, and sources inside Division 2 are suggesting they may abandon the Horn entirely, and concentrate with Division 1 at Mogadishu.”

“Makes sense; the Prince of Cascadia air wing is having some trouble with mobile SAMs popping up around the Capital, and if they dig-in two divisions worth of troops it will be a bitch to dig them out of there, especially if we’re trying to avoid collateral damage,” Longstreet commented thoughtfully. “I suppose that means that our BDA for the air strikes we’ve done so far is accurate; if they’re giving up so much ground we must have succeeded in either taking out their armour, or their support infrastructure, otherwise they’d try an armour push.”

“They have to know that we don’t have any armour, and that it would take a long-time for us to get armour in-theatre, so if they could try and overwhelm us with their own armour they would do,” Wood nodded. “As you say, around Mogadishu they’ll have every advantage and we have to play with the kid-gloves on to avoid alienating the population of the Capital in any post-war settlement.”

“Like I said, it makes sense from a tactical perspective, but only if we were a smaller power, but they have to know that, given time, we can bring in enough forces to overwhelm any defence they are capable of putting up, so I wonder what they are up to,” Longstreet frowned. “Probably hoping that the longer this drags out the more likely we are to accept a negotiated peace; even if that is just to allow Xavier and his lackeys to escape to a non-extradition treaty country, and they’ll have more of a chance if they start to make us bleed…”

“You see why I wanted to bring this to you straight away,” Wood commented. “I stopped by the Command Centre, but they told me you’d turned in…”

“Ah, so you weren’t just trying to catch me in the shower,” Longstreet replied dryly, then smiled broadly as Wood immediately began to blush, no doubt as the image crossed his mind. “Don’t worry, Lieutenant, I’m only teasing you.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, Ma’am, but in the Mojave we were raised to respect women,” Wood replied demurely, to which Longstreet found herself smiling more broadly. “I’d never want to catch a woman in such a compromising position… not unless she was mine to join.”

“Is that so? You certainly have a way with words, Lieutenant…” Longstreet smirked. “Keep it up, and I might let you take me for a drink once we’re back home.”

Longstreet watched as Wood blushed even more brightly red, which she found oddly endearing. They had encountered each other previously, even interacted professionally during one intelligence briefing or another, but this was their first time really interacting on a personal level, even if they were discussing the operational situation the venue of her private space lent itself to the discussion. She found herself impressed, and more than a little attracted, to his manner, and he wasn’t exactly unappealing on the eyes either. Nevertheless, as the superior officer it was her responsibility to ensure that nothing untoward happened; she knew without arrogance that she attracted more than a little attention from the male population of the base, and as a woman in the military she had the responsibility to uphold fraternization standards, lest she all give all women, and in particular female officers, a bad name. Once they were back home, however, was another matter entirely.

“Well,” Longstreet said, breaking the moment with a small smile as she picked up her pistol belt and strapped it around her middle once again, like the infantry her M17 pistol sat on her waist rather than a leg-drop holster. “I best be getting this to the General, he’ll want it.”

“Of course,” Wood nodded, recovering himself with remarkable aplomb. “My platoon moves out with the Sheikh tomorrow… I’ll see you when I get back?”

“I’d like that,” Longstreet affirmed with a smile as they made their way to the door. “Stay safe out there.”
Last edited by The Kingdom of Apilonia on Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:40 am

Lieutenant Sebastian Wood
Bosaso, Somalia
The East African Republic
Friday 22nd May 2020, 1100hrs Local Time




It had taken a week of painstaking manoeuvring, especially given that they could not directly engage their opposite number in open combat until fully up to strength, but the 21st Infantry Division had succeeding in cutting off the East African Division 2 from it’s suspected axis of retreat down towards Mogadishu. It had been a risky gambit, as all conventional military thinking called for providing an enemy with a means by which to withdraw otherwise it would be far more inclined to fight to the death if backed into a corner, but Major-General Sharpe had been of the opinion that he would rather face the two East African divisions separately rather than consolidated and dug-in around the East African capital. Moreover, the Fleet Air Arm had been broadly successful in suppressing all enemy air defence in the northern part of the East African Republic, meaning that they could strike Division 2 assets around Bosaso with impunity, as opposed to the far more risky proposition around Mogadishu where the enemy was being far more sneaky with their remaining SAM assets. More importantly, like most of the settlements between the Horn and the ceasefire line, Bosaso had been significantly depopulated, meaning that there were far fewer civilians to worry about.

Indeed, as the Apilonian battalions, and the militia battalions of the newly reformed King’s African Rifles, advanced on the city, many of the inhabitants had fled the city to avoid the fighting that everyone knew was coming. With the post-war settlement in mind, Major-General Sharpe had detailed support staff from Camp Lemonier to set-up an ad-hoc refugee camp several miles behind the Apilonian lines to support the displaced population, providing food, water and healthcare. After all, although not formally announced in the Royal District yet, it was an open secret that the Kingdom would be re-absorbing the country, particularly given that negotiations with the rebel forces in Eritrea were proceeding apace. It would be far better to convince the East African population to accept Apilonian control if there were countless stories of Apilonian compassion, rather than untold casualties that would have occurred if they had assaulted the city without allowing the civilians to leave. It was another risk, given that there was a possibility that the enemy had implanted a fifth-column into the refugees with orders to strike the Apilonians from behind, but it was one that Major-General Sharpe had decided was necessary for the long-term viability of an Apilonian presence in East Africa.

After advancing on the city, the Apilonian battalions had dug-in themselves around the city to start to tighten their grip on the city, in the hopes of forcing a surrender whilst the Fleet Air Arm, and the naval guns of the cruisers and destroyers, bombarded Division 2 positions from afar. 2 Platoon was positioned on the far left flank of the Apilonian line, overlooking the Bosaso Airport, which the Royal Gurkha Rifles were pushing into over the course of the day. It was a much-needed respite for 2 Platoon, which had been at the forefront of the advance for most of the last week, given that they had the Gurkhas between them and the enemy, even if they maintained a full watch the rest of the platoon was relaxing in their foxholes. Lieutenant Wood, and Major al-Sufi, whose militia were positioned a half mile behind the Apilonian fusiliers securing a small shopping complex and pier, were stood looking out over the sea. Dotted at various positions off-shore were three Apilonian warships, detached from the Prince of Cascadia battle group, whose guns occasionally barked and sent high explosive shells into enemy positions outside of Bosaso.

“Remarkable sight isn’t it, Lieutenant,” Major al-Sufi commented.

Lieutenant Wood turned to the Sheikh with a fond smile. Looking at the man, now decked out in modern Apilonian combat uniform and carrying a M17 pistol instead of an AK-47, you would not think that the man had just passed his eightieth birthday. It was a remarkable age for anyone to get to, even in the west, much less in the East African Republic where life expectancy was significantly lower. Doubtless, the fact that the Sheikh had grown up his early years in the Crown Colony of Somaliland, as it was then, had helped and his privileged position had obviously allowed him to access modern healthcare. It was obvious that he was having the time of his life; they had discussed a wide range of matters during the late night advances of the past few days, and the Sheikh had made clear that he deeply regretted the decision his country had made to seek independence from the Kingdom, pointing towards the far better conditions in the likes of Bahrain, Qatar and Malta as what his country could have enjoyed, if it had not decided to try going it alone. Even if he would probably not live to see the full benefits of a renewed Apilonian administration, the Sheikh was comforted to know that his children and grandchildren would, and that was good enough for him.

“It definitely is,” Lieutenant Wood agreed. “Interservice rivalry is one thing, but the Navy doesn’t half look impressive sitting off-shore.”

As if to underline the point, the cruiser Indefatigable fired both of her two twin turrets, sending four 6-inch shells screaming towards an East African position that was giving the Royal Gurkha Rifles trouble. Although limited to targets relatively close to the coastline, it was for situations like this that the Navy valued arming it’s ships with modern and powerful naval guns; everything that enhanced it’s utility in joint operation was another advantage at budget time. Moreover, the Royal Apilonian Marine Corps’ amphibious doctrine was centred around raids and small-scale landings to secure key positions, such as airfields, to bring in additional forces. As such, with the exception of the rare occasions in which all of the three Navy amphibious groups usually spread out all of the world came together for a major brigade-sized landing, the majority of amphibious operations were without organic artillery, meaning that the naval gunfire support provided by the fleet’s surface warships was essential.

“This part of the world hasn’t seen a naval display like this since-“

The Sheikh’s comment was completely and utterly drowned out by a far closer and much louder boom and both officer’s heads were immediately drawn to the left and saw something that was a relic of the last century. By far the largest non-carrier surface combatant afloat, an Apilonian Warspite-Class fast battleship was surging forwards, her three turrets, each containing three sixteen-inch naval guns, trained and, if the smoke was anything to go by, had just fired a full broadside into an a major East African position, the lynchpin of their defensive effort that had been giving the infantry trouble all morning.

It was the Battleship Thunderchild, flagship of Force F, the surface action group of the Eastern Fleet, just arrived from her previous stomping grounds in the East Indies, flying the flag. As was tradition in the surface community of the Royal Apilonian Navy, the Thunderchild was flying multiple battle ensigns, and given her size these were truly massive… a sight that naval photographers across the fleet, including a helicopter that was conveniently launched and hovering near the mighty battleship, were taking full advantage of. It would be excellent publicity and an aging battleship getting her hands dirty would secure funding to keep the old battle wagons going on its own. The Warspite-Class had been originally designed in the 1940s, but had not been actually constructed (to an updated design) until the 1960s, receiving a major refit in the 1980s, and were still going strong as they entered their fifth decade in service, albeit starting to show their age in their maintenance requirements.

“Well, we had the warm-up, now we get the main act,” Wood commented wryly. “I didn’t think they were going to bring one of the old battlewagons to the party.”

“The Navy likes to show-off,” Major al-Sufi replied with a smile. “At least they did in my time, based on that display I can see they still do.”

“That would be an understatement,” Wood agreed with a chuckle. “As old as she looks, she’s not just a relic after all, her VLS cells give her a long-distance punch after all.”

“I saw her once you know,” Major al-Sufi commented, looking fondly out at the mighty battleship. “She was newly commissioned shortly before East African independence; one last flag-flying cruise, of course she looked very different back then.”

Lieutenant Wood nodded. The Thunderchild had been commissioned in 1968, and her first operational deployment had been to this part of the world in an effort to underline the remaining Apilonian military presence, and its capability, in the region after the loss of the Crown Colony of Aden following the disastrous Aden Emergency that had ended the previous year. Of course, it was safe to say that deployment had spectacularly failed as not only had East Africa followed suit but the situation in what was now Yemen had deteriorated further shortly thereafter; instead of a return to a tribal monarchy a coup had thrown the cat amongst the pigeons and the territory was still a mess decades later, just across the Gulf of Aden from where they were standing in fact. The Kingdom had largely taken a step back from getting overly involved, much to the detriment of many former colonies, according to some, particularly the Crown Imperial Party, back in the Kingdom. Yemen had become the concern of Empire of Layarteb, in no small part to their leading role in combatting the Al-Shams terror group.

However, given that the reborn Crown Colony of East Africa would put a very real Apilonian presence, one that the Kingdom would invest heavily in, there was a very real conversation happening within the planning apparatus Apilonian Government on whether a more… proactive, approach was required in the former Apilonian colony. But that was another war for another day; right now the focus was on East Africa.

The two officers listened careful to broadcasts on the BOWMAN radio carried by Private Dawes, as the result of the Thunderchild’s bombardment were reported by the infantry units closest to the scene. As suspected, the bombardment had been targeted against a key strongpoint anchoring the East African defence of the main road into the city, and nine 16-inch shells had destroyed the position utterly, allowing platoons from the 3rd (Sierra Nevada) Battalion, Royal Regiment of Highlanders, to advance and secure what was left of the position without much difficulty. Although it would take some time to actually advance into the city and clear it, going street-by-street, the defeat of that enemy position had effectively sounded the death knell for the East African defence of the city, as from that well-defended position they had held a commanding overwatch of an entire sector of any possible advance. However, without armour it was likely that Major-General Sharpe would instead favour a continued bombardment of enemy positions to further degrade their defence, and their morale, in the hopes that he could force a surrender.

It was likely for that reason that he had requested the Thunderchild; even if the rest of the ships could have done the same job, given enough time, the sheer size of the ship and the firepower she brought to bear in one salvo was intimidating to say the least. It was not a luxury that they would have in Mogadishu when it came to digging Division 1 out of their defences around the capital, given the likely civilian presence in the city, but given that they were still waiting for the arrival of 3 Commando brigade they had the time. Even if they had to assault the city, it seemed likely that Major-General Sharpe’s gamble to cut off East African Division 2 would turn out to be a good one, especially as it would put more and more pressure on both the Xavier Regime and the remaining Sheikhs and their militia. It was a difficult balancing act that the Apilonians had to play in East Africa after all, it was not a simple military contest as it would have been a foregone conclusion if that were the case. Instead they had to play with the kid-gloves firmly on, as post-war settlement that did not include a prolonged insurgency relied on winning over the regional tribal and ethnic leaders.

“All Foxhound callsigns, this is Foxhound Actual, Battalion orders to follow” Private Dawes’ BOWMAN crackled once again, followed by a few moments of silence for officers to gather around their Signallers. “Advance into the city until resistance is met; Foxhound 11A, link up with the Highlanders, Foxhound 11B, link up with the Gurkhas, Foxhound 11C, flank to the east, Foxhound 11D, provide fire support.”

Lieutenant wood felt a now familiar rush of adrenaline, one that he was becoming more and more used to.

“Ready the men, Sergeant,” He ordered crisply.

“On your feet!” Sergeant Marshall called, moving forward himself to shout encouragement to the Fusiliers.

“I’ll see you when this is all over, Lieutenant,” Major al-Sufi said, turning to his own radio operator. “Move our men up, we’ll take these positions and hold the perimeter.”

“I don’t envy you having to watch from afar, Major,” Wood said wryly.

“I don’t envy you having to go in there,” Major al-Sufi replied dryly, then his expression became more serious. “Stay safe in there, Sebastian.”

Lieutenant Wood simply smiled and nodded before moving forwards to where his men had assembled in three section lines properly spaced out, his own command element a few paces behind the main line. Once he was satisfied he ordered the advance and the platoon began a quick march across the open ground towards the airfield that the Royal Gurkha Rifles had secured a short time ago, where they rendezvoused with the rest of Bravo Company a short time later to advance together with the Gurkhas into the city. As per their orders, they proceeded to advance into the city until they encountered East African positions within the city, at which point they halted and set up positions of their own and started to trade fire with the enemy. The intent of the advance was not specifically to take the city in one fell swoop, but rather to put pressure on the remaining enemy defenders in the hope of forcing their surrender without having to incur the casualties that a full assault would inevitably result in.

Never the less, Lieutenant Wood thought as he took cover from East African fire being shot back at his platoon, it was going to be a long day in Bosaso.
Last edited by The Kingdom of Apilonia on Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Wed Aug 05, 2020 4:45 pm

Admiral Sir Thomas J. McCabe, KCS
HMS Mount Rainier, Gulf of Aden
Off the East African Republic
Monday 25th May 2020, 1145hrs Local Time




Although by no means the largest warship present, indeed compared to the other capital ships present she was positively small, His Majesty’s Ship Mount Rainier was now at the centre of the rapidly growing Apilonian Fleet off East Africa. The reason for this was two-fold; the first was that she was only armed with defensive weapons, and needed to be protected, and the second was that she was a dedicated command ship and was flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet, Admiral Sir Thomas J. McCabe, and was flying his flag. As such, the Mount Rainier, and its advanced communications, command, control and intelligence capabilities, was of particular importance for the increasingly complex military situation and had to be adequately protected. To facilitate this, the Mount Rainier was sailing alongside the Prince of Cascadia, which was standing out to sea herself, rather than getting closer to the shore like the Thunderchild, and as such was under the protection of the carrier’s own escorts and only a minor adjustment of the formation was required to allow the same escorts to protect two high-value units sailing in close proximity instead of the normal one; after all, it was uncommon but not unheard of for two carriers to sail together.

Indeed, it was largely the presence of so many of the subordinate commands of the Eastern Fleet that had encouraged Admiral McCabe’s decision to take command of the situation personally and on-scene. After all, there was already Force E, the fleet’s Carrier Battle Group, Force F, the fleet’s Surface Action Group and two additional amphibious warfare groups had arrived to reinforce the one that had deployed 08 Commando earlier in the campaign. As such, this meant that there were two rear admirals and three commodores already present; moreover, the situation would benefit from a single, high-ranking officer to oversee and co-ordinate the entire campaign. It was for this reason that Permanent Joint Headquarters had endorsed the decision and officially designated Admiral McCabe the overall commander, with Major-General Sharpe remaining in command of the ground campaign. Aside from anything else, it would remove some of the strain from Sharpe, who had been trying to co-ordinate both his own operations and those of the Navy off-shore, and with the arrival of 3 Commando Brigade the ground campaign was becoming increasingly complex.

As he looked out at the three Pacific-Class landing helicopter docks, sat in the distance near Djibouti, from the bridge of the Mount Rainier, Admiral McCabe considered that the timing of his arrival, late the previous evening, had been particularly fortuitous. The city of Bosaso had been secured over the weekend, so the attention of the Apilonian Forces in East Africa was turning on Mogadishu; the East African Capital.

As had been the intention from the start of this crisis, all three of the Royal Apilonian Navy’s deployed amphibious warfare groups (AWGs) had converged on East Africa. It was part of the standard operating procedure for the RAN’s amphibious capability; each of the AWGs was normally positioned in one part of the world, to allow for a rapid response of at least one battalion-sized Commando, as had been the case with 08 Commando. However, all three of the Commandos stationed aboard the AWGs were from the same brigade, in this case 3 Commando Brigade, and in a major situation like this, the AWGs would converge on the theatre to allow the entire brigade to deploy as one consolidated unit, if the situation called for it. Arriving earlier in the day, the two other AWGs had deployed their embarked military force, a full Commando and part of the brigade’s organic artillery, combat engineering, and logistics units, giving the ground campaign its first consolidated unit that had actually exercised together previously, as opposed to the ad-hoc arrangements that the 21st Infantry Division had been operating with until now.

As it stood, 3 Commando Brigade would be officially under the command of Major-General Sharpe and the 21st Infantry Division and represented a substantial increase in both the manpower and firepower available to the Apilonian campaign. For the moment, that would have to do, and given the success at defeating the East African 1 Division at Bosaso, it ought to be sufficient to resolve the issue, albeit a full-scale assault on Mogadishu would be messy to say the least. The Second Echelon, an armoured division that was part of the Army Corps (one of three, on-rotation) that was kept on thirty-day readiness for operational deployment, with the rest of the Corps following as soon as possible, was already being mobilised and the lead elements were already on ships en-route to the theatre. There was an ongoing discussion between the 21st Infantry Division and Permanent Joint Headquarters as to whether they ought to wait for the 5th Armoured Division before advancing on Mogadishu, so as to have heavy armour available to take the brunt of the assault. As it was, Major-General Sharpe was still of the belief that if he could continue to turn the local militia to their side they could force a surrender without an assault, and was of the opinion that the optics of Apilonian tanks descending on Mogadishu, and the casualties that would result, would be sub-optimal to say the least.

The 5th Armoured Division had been earmarked to serve as the ‘occupation’ force for East Africa, after the defeat of the Xavier Regime, so the deployment could continue, but whether it would see combat remained to be seen. As much as the officers and men of the 5th Armoured Division might like to see combat, as it had been a long time since any Apilonian unit larger than a battalion had seen combat, much less a major campaign, Admiral McCabe very much hoped that it would not be necessary. All things considered, the campaign had gone exceptionally well; the regular major exercises conducted back in the Kingdom had ensured that the Royal Apilonian Military kept its operational edge but there would still be plenty of lessons that could be learnt by the Royal War College, and the Permeant Joint Headquarters was determined to not push it’s luck. Whether that was best served by getting the 5th Armoured into action, or in resolving the situation sooner rather than later, was up for Admiral McCabe, Major-General Sharpe and the other command’s in the field to determine.

The Major-General was convinced, and McCabe was inclined to agree with him based on the information and intelligence that had been provided to him since his arrival by a Captain Longstreet; the General Staff Officer, Intelligence of the 21st Infantry Division. Due in no small part to the success of the initial meeting with a leading Sheikh, a former Apilonian Army colonial officer, they had found themselves a key ally who was able to exercise very real influence over his fellow tribal and regional leaders. Many of the tribal leaders in the East African Republic had become increasingly disaffected with the ongoing civil war, especially given the depopulation of their lands and the economic devastation that had followed as a result. All they had needed was a push, an alternative to the Xavier Regime. The Kingdom, still in living memory of some, had provided that alternative.

The defection of the Sheikh, and his fellows, had proven to be instrumental in facilitating the rapid advance that Major-General Sharpe had been able to pull-off. As far as the original plan had gone, there would have been no major advance into Somalia until now, when 3 Commando Brigade had arrived in force. However, after a reconnaissance mission had made contact with the Sheikh, Major-General Sharpe had rolled the dice and ordered an advance in force, supported and facilitated by the Sheikhs and their militia. It had been a dangerous gamble and would have spelt the end of the Major-General’s career if it had gone awry, but it had paid off and the Apilonian Military now held over half of Somalia less than two weeks after the initial attack. Given everything that the Sheikh’s defection had already allowed, McCabe saw no reason why the militia would suddenly turn on their new Apilonian allies now, so he was prepared to take the same risk, albeit with a great deal more intelligence to back up the decision, and to endorse Major-General Sharpe’s plan on the second phase of the campaign.

Whilst the Navy would continue its air campaign and bombardment against Government positions around Mogadishu, being exceptionally careful to avoid any collateral damage, the 21st Infantry Division would advance on the city. However, compared to the fast, lightning campaign of the past week, this advance would be slow, steady and methodical; intimidatingly so. In the meantime, the Sheikh and his fellows would do their best to persuade the militia around Mogadishu, typically more loyal to the Xavier Regime, and integrated into the defence of the city, to turn on Xavier and, if not to join the Apilonian advance, to put down their weapons and sit out the fight. Although McCabe doubted that any of this would do anything to influence Xavier himself, given the reports coming out of the isolated Apilonian embassy that was still trapped in Mogadishu (effectively as hostages, albeit currently unharmed) continued to indicate that the East African President had undergone another mental break, he hoped that those around him would see the writing on the wall and bring about a peaceful end to the conflict.

As much as McCabe would personally prefer to see Xavier, and his lackeys and enablers, stand trial for their crimes against their own people, and their Acts of Aggression against the Kingdom, he knew that Xavier likely needed to be sectioned, and that his regime would likely negotiate their freedom as part of any surrender. All things considered, McCabe would far prefer to be pragmatic and forego a sense of a justice to avoid an assault on the city, as the casualties for both sides, and for the civilian population, would be significant. If the era that had included the decline of Apilonian’s colonial empire could be described as a ‘crisis of confidence’, then this era of rebirth and renewal would be described as ‘pragmatic’; there was no point in risking the vast achievements already made by pushing one’s luck and losing it all.

“Admiral, Sir?”

McCabe turned from watching the amphibious ships, shuttling the last of their troops ashore via helicopter, at the sound of the voice of Lieutenant Thomas Burnham, his Flag Lieutenant.

“Yes, Tom?”

“The last of the commanders and staff officers from the 21st Infantry have just come aboard, Sir, they’re waiting in the planning suite,” Lieutenant Burnham reported crisply, having spent most of the morning arranging this gathering to iron out the details for the advance. “We’ve also received the latest intelligence assessments from both Captain Longstreet, and PJHQ, which I’ve distributed to our guests.”

“Very good, Lieutenant,” Admiral McCabe smiled. “Let’s get this plan nailed down today, and we can be on the outskirts of Mogadishu by the end of the week!”
Last edited by The Kingdom of Apilonia on Wed Aug 05, 2020 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:19 pm

26 May 2020, 09:30hrs [UTC+3]
OAG Headquarters
Dar es Salaam, Freistaat Ostafrika

Regarded as the largest city in East Africa and one of the most important economic centres on the continent, Dar es Salaam was the gleaming capital city of the unorthodox corporatocratic state known as Freistaat Ostafrika. Consisting of so-called 'company territories' which were under the direct administration of the vast Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft and the varied autonomous indigenous kingdoms that existed in a tight economic and political relationship with the OAG, Ostafrika was a major player on the African continent and a leading member of the international organisation known as the Shenzhen Pact. Although the Pact was the brainchild of the Nanfang Republic, the East Asian behemoth which dominated the organisation both economically and militarily, Ostafrika was regarded by many to be the 'second power' of the organisation. While relations between the Nanfang Republic and the Kingdom of Apilonia were not terrible by any real measure, Apilonia and Ostafrika had long been thorns in each other's side. Ostafrikan meddling in the Middle East had caused issues for Apilonian colonial rule in that region while Apilonia had successfully blunted Ostafrika's attempts to further extend their influence into the Persian Gulf. Ostafrikan attitudes towards the Kingdom of Apilonia had not been improved by the Apilonian deployment in the neighbouring East African Republic. Although there had been public statements of support for peacekeeping efforts, privately the OAG had been hoping that President Xavier's regime could ultimately give the Kingdom a bloody nose and cause them to leave East Africa for a second time. The fact was that political realities were restraining Ostafrika's hand in regard to the East African Civil War. Nanjing had made it politely clear to Dar es Salaam that direct intervention was not an appropriate response to the war and that the Shenzhen Pact had far more important matters to attend to, such as influencing the soon-to-be new President in the Republic of Cameroon and courting potential membership candidates in Europe, so Ostafrika had instead contented themselves by observing the Apilonian efforts in their northern neighbour. Unfortunately, developments were not progressing in the manner that Ostafrika had initially hoped for. The Apilonians were making far better progress in their campaign against the Xavier regime than Ostafrika had expected, and so the OAG had already turned from considering how they could potentially offer covert support to Xavier and were now considering a future with a potential Apilonian presence on their border.

Präsident Friedrich Luxenberg was the sixty-three year old head of the Aufsichtsrat, the 'Supervisory Board' which acted as the executive branch of government, meaning that he was effectively Head of State albeit with different powers than a 'traditional' Head of State might possess. Luxenberg's personal office was not only a testament to the wealth and comfort that high-ranking OAG executives enjoyed, but it was also a working space that would undoubtedly be envied by many corporate presidents. Located on the top floor of the glistening 'Zentrale' skyscraper which acted as the OAG's headquarters in Dar es Salaam, Luxenberg's office was only a short walk from the conference room which served the Aufsichtsrat. The office was expansive and expensively decorated, with African mahogany furniture which included Luxenberg's large intricately carved desk as well as the office's own conference table and a myriad of expertly crafted drawers and cabinets. The walls featured shades of cream which worked well with the colouration of the wood used elsewhere in the office, and a variety of expensive artworks were positioned around the office. Luxenberg's chair was a particularly high-backed and supremely comfortable office chair in black leather upholstery which was often referred to as the 'company throne', due to the OAG's command over so much of Africa. A sprawling 100" high-definition screen dominated the wall opposite the desk, alternating between several displays; these displays included a map of Ostafrika and the wider Shenzhen Pact, the latest information from the major stock exchanges around the Pact, and any pertinent updates from the various major media networks distributed across the Pact membership. The screen was also equipped to handle video conferencing, allowing the Präsident to easily converse with others from the comfort of his desk. The conference table and the attendant black leather chairs were positioned in their own space on the right-hand side of the office from the perspective of the desk, while the left-hand side of the office featured a plush lounge area as well as a mahogany door which led to the office's opulent ensuite bathroom. Beyond the conference table area, huge tinted windows offered a breathtaking view over the city of Dar es Salaam and out towards the Indian Ocean. On this particular morning, Luxenberg was sipping at a fresh cup of Ostafrikan-grown coffee as he perused the latest reports on the East African Civil War, and he was not especially thrilled by the content. It looked as though the Xavier regime was now even closer to the edge of collapse and it could only be a matter of days until Apilonian ground forces were in sight of Mogadishu. His attention was only briefly diverted from the reports when his intercom chimed and his secretary's voice emanated from the small box positioned on his desk.

"Herr Präsident, I have Herr Oberholzer to see you."

"Send him in, thank you."

The office door opened to permit the entrance of Bernhard Oberholzer, the Aufsichtsrat member who oversaw both the Department of External Relations and the Department of Internal Relations. While each department acted as a government ministry, the Vizedirektors in charge of them were more like civil servants than actual ministers and the structure of the OAG meant that multiple Vizedirektors reported to a single member of the Aufsichtsrat; weekly Wednesday morning meetings allowed the Aufsichtsrat to regularly evaluate situations and pass down their 'guidance' to the Vizedirektors on policy aims, leaving the Vizedirektors to decide exactly how to achieve these aims. However, it was regarded as acceptable practise for the Präsident to have a one-on-one meeting with an Aufsichtsrat member in regard to urgent business; this allowed the member in question to set the departments to work immediately and the rest of the Supervisory Board would receive a memo to inform them of what was happening. A rather overweight and balding individual of fifty-seven years, Oberholzer fidgeted with his round steel-framed spectacles as he approached Luxenberg's desk, taking a seat as the Präsident gestured for him to sit. It was then a few seconds before Luxenberg looked up and smiled politely.

"Bernhard. I've been reading the latest reports on the East African Republic....things are not looking good for President Xavier, are they?"

Bernhard shook his head. "No, Herr Präsident. It's a shame really, he might not have been the most stable of individuals but at least we knew that we could defeat him if he ever turned on us. Now it's looking as if we're going to have the Apilonians as neighbours."

"What's that saying? Oh yes, 'there goes the neighbourhood'. We've had a delightful status quo in place and now the moral crusaders are arriving, before we know it they'll be knocking on our border and asking to talk to us about the glory of imperialist democracy." Luxenberg let out a slight sigh. "Nanjing has assured us that any Apilonian moves against our territories will be met with the utmost force and that they will not permit any member of the Shenzhen Pact to be harassed or intimidated by a foreign power. President Yang does not believe that the Kingdom of Apilonia would move against us unless we move against them, so her advice is to leave them be. 'The Shenzhen Pact's priorities in Africa involve infrastructure and economic development, not picking a fight', her words. I prefer to interpret them as 'if you don't give the Apilonians any attention then they'll get bored'. Anyway, I feel that there are a large number of skilled East African officials who could be about to be criminalised or even subject to mob justice for simply obeying the orders of higher-ranked officials. Talented bureaucrats facing imprisonment or violence because they did what they are supposed to do, carrying out the directives of the legitimate government of the state. It's not really fair that they should be punished simply because the Apilonians have decided that President Xavier is no longer the legitimate leader of the East African Republic."

"Oh, I completely agree."

Luxenberg grinned. "Excellent. I want us to contact our embassy in Mogadishu and the consulate in Kismayo, I think that they're the only two diplomatic missions that we are still operating in the EAR. If there are others then communicate with them as well. Inform them that Freistaat Ostafrika is opening the border to refugees and asylum seekers from the East African Republic, have them pass that information to the individuals who would be most interested by it." He leaned forward in a conspiratorial manner despite the pair of them being the only ones present in the office. "Any top-level individuals in Mogadishu who are worth salvaging should be evacuated into our embassy so that they can formally request asylum. I doubt that the Apilonians would violate the sovereignty of our embassy, if they did then Nanjing would be with us in a heartbeat as all we would be doing is accepting asylum seekers. While we wait for the right opportunity to extricate any such individuals, we can have them transfer any finances to Ostafrikanische Bank for safekeeping. Otherwise, they might find their assets seized by a new Apilonian-led administration."

He then leaned back in his chair. "If there's anyone of interest in Kismayo then they can probably drive to the border fairly easily."

Oberholzer nodded. "Understood, Herr Präsident. I'll issue the orders to the Department of External Relations." He rose from his seat but paused before stepping away. "What do we do if the Apilonians get wind of this?"

Luxenberg shrugged. "What can they do if they find out about it? We're not attempting to rescue President Xavier, we're simply providing a route for those who may wish to flee from the fighting. If it just so happens that we receive refugees who later turn out to be high-ranking officials, death squads, military personnel, that sort of thing....well, we'll engage with the Apilonians on a case-by-case basis. Without an extradition treaty in place, we'll have to take our time. Of course, we wouldn't be under any obligation to force refugees to remain in Ostafrika so if they happened to move on then there's nothing we can do about that. We're simply attempting to provide as much of a humanitarian response as possible under the current difficult circumstances, any further assistance would require military escort and our friends in the Nanfang Republic would prefer for us to not deploy troops within the East African Republic. Doing so could make a volatile situation even more volatile, and I have to agree with that assessment."

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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Tue Aug 11, 2020 7:14 am

The Right Honourable William S. Templeton MP
Asmara, Eritrea
The East Afrian Republic
Friday 29th May 2020, 0900hrs Local Time




The two Tomcat F.5 naval fighters that had escorted the modified Boeing 757-300, dubbed the Minster C.3 by the Royal Apilonian Air Force, into the combat zone peeled off to return to their carrier as the modified airliner touched down safely as Asmara International Airport. The Minister C.3, so named for the fact that its primary role was to transport Ministers of the Crown on domestic and international trips, was carrying the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (usually known simply as the Foreign Secretary), The Right Honourable William S. Templeton MP. After several weeks of intense negotiations between an Apilonian Envoy and the East African Rebels the two parties were close to a deal and the Foreign Secretary was here to review the final arrangements and to sign the agreement on behalf of His Majesty’s Government. It had been a difficult process, to say the least, as the Rebels had not initially trusted the intentions of the Apilonians, especially after it became clear that the Kingdom intended to resume administration over the entire former colony, however once it became clear the kind of concessions they were willing to make, progress had been made.

Which was a good thing, Templeton noted wryly as he descended the steps from the aircraft and climbed into the back of a waiting vehicle which sped awa towards the meeting site, as the campaign against the Xavier Regime was reaching its endgame. After the successful deployment of 3 Commando Brigade, the 21st Infantry Division in its entirety had advanced on Mogadishu, supported by the strike aircraft from the Prince of Cascadia and the mighty guns of the Battleship Thunderchild. The East African defensive positions around Mogadishu had already been severely degraded, and the countryside was rising against the Xavier Regime, due in no small part to the tireless work of tribal Sheikhs, many of whom were old enough to remember the last time the Kingdom had ruled over them, and saw that as a far more preferable alternative to continuous civil war as had prevailed under Xavier. As such, although the Apilonian Army had less than a full-strength infantry division on the ground, even if it was backed up by naval airpower and gunfire support, the support of the local militia significantly changed the balance of power… as had been Major-General Sharpe’s intention for some days now.

Given that the fall of the Xavier Regime was now a matter of when, not if, and that ‘when’ seemed likely to be coming sooner rather than later, it was viewed as essential that the full framework for the post-conflict governance was in place and that required the support of the Rebels, as the Kingdom had no desire to continue fighting a full-scale rebellion when they would still have to be dealing with any Xavier loyalists. This was particularly true when the fact that there was appetite, on all sides, for a negotiated solution after so many years of civil war; even Xavier’s own militia was abandoning him in droves as the Apilonian Army pushed closer and closer to Mogadishu. In a situation where neither side was likely to accept political overlordship by the other, there was certainly an appetite for a third-party, particularly one with historic links like Apilonia, to play conciliator and try and bring the country back from the brink.

Based on the latest draft that Templeton had read on the way over, the Kingdom would be broadly satisfied with the arrangement, and he saw no reason why the Sheikhs and their militias in Somalia would feel any differently.

Under the proposed arrangement, rather than returning to its previous status as a Crown Colony, the territory would formerly be designated an Apilonian Duchy; led and administered by a Duke; initial plans were looking likely to tap Mohammed bin Ahmed al-Sufi for the role, due to his existing title and his loyalty to the Kingdom, historically and more recently. The fact that technically speaking, he had a claim to Apilonian citizen from back in the day would make it more acceptable politically in the Kingdom, but it was seen as critical to the success of the proposal that the highest-ranking administrator would be from East Africa. By declaring a Duchy of East Africa, the arrangement would put the territory on the same level as any of the duchies back in North America, which meant that they were of no lesser status than any of the others, which seemed like a fair compromise. It was obvious to pretty much everyone that the old Colonial model would no longer work, and as such a more integrated and equal framework was necessary. Moreover, although not a stated objective of the move, if such a framework encouraged other former colonies to return to the fold, many of which had struggled since gaining their independence, then so much the better. Although the Kingdom had no desire for outright imperialism, few could argue against the potential benefits of additional territory and loyal subjects, but that would only work if they were brought back into the fold willingly.

Within the proposed Duchy of East Africa, there would be three subordinate titles; one held by an Apilonian, one to behold by a prominent rebel and one to be held by another key Somalian sheikh, each of whom would hold the rare (in Apilonia anyway) title of Marques; of Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia, who would administratively answer to the Duke. It was the only way that would be likely to get all sides in this conflict to buy-in; a position in the Apilonian peerage would underline the idea that the Kingdom was truly here to help, rather than to conquer. Once established, and once His Majesty’s Government was satisfied with the security situation, the Duchy of East Africa would have a great deal of autonomy in everything except defence and foreign relations, so long as local laws and regulations did not conflict with Crown Law.

Almost as soon as the motorcade had pulled up at the Asmara Convention Centre, one of the few major, modern building projects (which had been funded by Apilonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as it happened), Templeton was immediately greeted by the Apilonian delegation, led by the Special Envoy, Thomas J. Cook, and the existing Apilonian liaison officer to the Rebels, Major Edward T. Wright, the latter being in close contact with the Apilonian command structure on the conduct of the campaign.

“Good Morning, Gentlemen,” Templeton said with a wry smile as he shook hands with both. “Any fires erupt since we last talked?”

“None so far, Sir, it’s all holding together as it stands,” Major Wright replied dryly. “I think we’ve managed to allay most of their concerns, and they’re still happy to lay down their weapons.”

Templeton nodded; the issue of getting both the militia and the rebels to put down their weapons had been one of more than a little consternation. It was a foregone conclusion that the Government militia would, even after what had happened with their throwing their support behind the Kingdom, but persuading the Rebels to do the same had been a difficult process. Moreover, it was a point on which the Kingdom was not prepared to compromise. Under the proposed agreement, the Major-General Sharpe’s command would be formally designated as the 21st (East Africa) Infantry Division, and answer to the Apilonian General Staff and be raised from the Duchy, although its senior officers and NCOs would likely be Apilonian, at least for the next few years whilst standards were enforced and maintained; and as with similar such units in the Kingdom proper, would consist of one brigade of regulars and two brigades of reservists. The King’s African Rifles would be formally re-established and serve as the parent regiment for both regular and reserve forces, intended to allow for a consistent level of training and discipline across the command. Some existing militia leaders, particularly those with previous proven experience, and no suspicions of impropriety, would be granted commissions in the reserve component of the King’s African Rifles, but it was not guaranteed.

For the most part, it seemed, that this had been an acceptable compromise, even if the regular brigade would likely be made up of existing battalions from North America initially.

“Well, that is something at least,” Templeton commented wryly as they entered the main conference room, pulling the two Apilonians aside before they joined the main group of rebel leaders and military commanders. “Do we have any more news out of Ostafrika?”

“It’s still nothing official, of course, but the RIS source inside the Xavier Regime has confirmed that there has been an under the table offer from Ostafrika to any senior officials and officers in the Xavier Regime that are concerned about their liberty or prosperity under an Apilonian administration that they would be accepted as ‘asylum seekers and refugees’ should they apply as such in the coming days,” Cook commented. “We’ve not been able to verify this directly, however, I spoke to our RIS liaison officer and she spoke very highly of the intelligence provided by this asset, so I don’t see any reason why we should not believe this information, indeed it seems very ‘on-brand’ for them; they can’t be pleased about the prospect of an Apilonian territory, much less an integrated Duchy, on their border, but Nanjing is likely tugging their leash.”

“That’s our assessment as well,” Templeton nodded. “I take it you’ve not informed the rebels?”

“As per instructions,” Cook confirmed.

“Good; I spoke with the Prime Minister on the flight over, and we’re both of the opinion that, from a practical perspective, it would be far more preferable to not have to be tied up with trial after trial when we’re trying to put the country back together, especially for the borderline cases, which the majority likely would be,” Templeton said simply. “We’ll negotiate with the Ostafrikans for any high profile cases, those that we have proof committed war crimes or other higher crimes, as they’re unlikely to want to be seen as harbouring that sort anyway, but let’s face it, as much as the rebels might want to prosecute every bureaucrat or collaborator, most likely had limited involvement, if any, in major human rights abuses.”

“It is the more pragmatic approach,” Cook commented. “Although I doubt the rebels will see it that way.”

“Which is why we won’t tell them that we know, and we’ll not attempt to stop this; let’s face it, this campaign has been an overwhelming success, we don’t need it derailing by getting accused of persecuting low-level bureaucrats; we’ll deal with the big fish later,” Templeton said firmly. “I’m sure that there are some rebel leaders that will see the pragmatism of what we’re trying to do, but there are plenty of other ideologues that would cause an issue, so don’t say anything about this to anyone, we’ll deal with any consequences if they happen.”

The two senior Apilonian representatives nodded.

“Good,” Templeton smiled. “Alright, let’s do this.”

Templeton stepped forwards towards the group of rebels and warmly greeted each of the rebels personally, meaning that it was a good few minutes before the group could settle around the table. There were only a few minor concerns, which Templeton was able to easily allay with assurances from both the King and the Prime Minister. Although the rebels were initially less than pleased on the proposed choice for the Duke of East Africa, after Templeton explained the man’s record, both as a previous Apilonian Officer and his neutrality during the civil war, most of the opposition was defused, especially once it was pointed out that the man’s son was equally untainted by disgrace during the war and would make a good successor in a few years when his father passed. Moreover, once it was underlined the kind of autonomy that the Marques of Eritrea would enjoy, and who would be the collective choice of the rebel leadership, it was generally agreed that it was the best solution for a bad situation that had dragged on for far too long for anyone’s liking.

After a quick show of hands, the rebel leadership approved the agreement and previously prepared folders containing the official copies of the agreement were passed round and signed by the appropriate people, finishing with Templeton himself who signed them on behalf of the King, officially establishing the agreement as the framework for the post-war administration of the territory. Officially speaking, the Duchy of East Africa would not come into existence until the East African Republic was officially defeated and disestablished, but for all intents and purposes, particularly the early steps of setting up the Apilonian administration, the work could start immediately. Sitting back in his chair as the rebel leaders congratulated each other, Templeton simply gave a weary smile; it had been a long, exhausting process for everyone involved, whether they had been on the ground or back in the Kingdom. Moreover, it was would be a great relief for everyone that the Apilonian forces would not have to pivot to fight the rebels after defeating the Xavier Regime.

With Apilonian forces already on the doorstep of Mogadishu, and slowly tightening their grip on the city, the campaign was entering its endgame and it was reassuring to know that there was at least a shared vision on the way forward.
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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Thu Aug 13, 2020 2:44 am

Lieutenant Sebastian Wood
Mogadishu, Somalia
The East African Republic
Monday 1st June 2020, 0900hrs Local Time




The 21st Infantry Division had first encircled Mogadishu late on the 28th August and had only developed their positions since then; digging in and to prevent any attempt by the East Africans to break out and retreat further to the south. After three weeks of airstrikes, however, the East African Division 1 was not exactly much of a fighting force anymore; all of its armour had been located and destroyed despite attempts by the enemy to dig them in and disguise them in the hopes of prolonging the fight. Indeed, the longest delay had been a few days before the assault on Mogadishu when the Prince of Cascadia air wing had spent the day conducting SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defence) missions against the last remaining East African air defence unit around the city in order to clear the way for the main ground advance. Reconnaissance flights indicated that there were still a number of East African dismounted infantry, both dug-in outside the city and setting up roadblocks and barricades within the streets, which would cause an issue if the 21st Infantry Division was to take the city, but by all accounts it was an everyman for themselves situation rather than a cohesive defence.

Nevertheless, Major-General Sharpe was eager to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, after all the campaign to date had only taken the lives of a few dozen Apilonian soldiers; it would be far better for everyone, and their reputations, if that was maintained. So the decision had been made for the division to simply dig-in and besiege the city, rather than attempt to storm it, in the hope that a negotiated solution could be achieved. Indeed, His Majesty’s Ambassador, at the Apilonian Embassy which had been stuck behind enemy lines since the beginning of the conflict, had been reaching out daily to the Xavier Regime to do just that. Given that Major al-Sufi, or the future Duke of East Africa if the rumours were true, and his fellow sheikhs had been able to persuade most of the militia to stay out of the fighting, it was generally agreed that it was only a matter of time before something happened. Either Xavier would flee or surrender, or he would crack and order his forces to attack the encircling Apilonians, at which point his remaining generals would relieve him of his office or East African Division 1 would dash itself to pieces on a series of carefully chosen pre-planned kill zones.

For the sake of the private East African soldier, and for a generally peaceful and simple post-war settlement, Lieutenant Sebastian Wood and pretty much every officer in the division hoped it was anything but the latter option.

Given that the division was now at almost full-strength, the decision had been made to dig-in by company, with each developing a hard-point from which they could command the approaches to the city and resist any counter-attack, supported by a series of firebases set further back from which the batteries of 103 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery, were operating and had a number of pre-planned fire orders ready to go at a moment’s notice. For the individual soldiers it was nice to be back with the company as a whole, and the battalion generally close together, after such a long time operating independently. In most cases, it was the first time they had seen friends and comrades since the beginning of the campaign, and the supply situation was vastly improved now that they were stationary rather than continuously advancing as had been the case previously. Indeed, as much as no one liked to admit it, the bulk of the division (with the exception of 3 Commando Brigade) was realistically in need of a good period of rest after such an high-rate of advance.

It was therefore perhaps unsurprising that Major-General Sharpe had chosen a siege over an all-out assault on the city; it wasn’t like he could rotate an entire other division in to provide fresh troops, at least not until the arrival of the 5th Armoured Division. The optics of an armoured assault against largely de-fanged East African defenders was less than ideal, so Lieutenant Wood suspected that, even once the 5th Armoured arrived, it was unlikely that Major-General Sharpe would elect for an all-out assault, likely favouring probing advances and a slow, but steady, approach rather than anything too dramatic. If he was being honest, Wood didn’t mind the sound of that; 2 Platoon had been comparatively lucky, suffering only two dead during the initial assault where the majority of Apilonian fatalities had come in, and only five other seriously wounded, who had been replaced, and a small number of walking wounded. In an ideal situation, the platoon would have been rotated to the rear for a period to regroup and receive reinforcements, but the fluid situation and the need to maintain momentum had meant that many soldiers had fought on, despite minor injuries.

And would, Lieutenant Wood intended to ensure, receive recognition for their commitment once this was over.

“Lieutenant!” Sergeant Marshall called out from 2 Platoon’s section of the company position, on the right flank. “Take a look at this.”

Lieutenant Wood frowned but stood from the camp chair he had been sat in, reviewing the platoon’s supply situation, and made his way into the middle of his platoon and took out his field glasses, looking in the direction his Platoon Sergeant was pointing. It didn’t take long for the source of the Sergeant’s interest became obvious; a small private aircraft was climbing rapidly from the southern side of the city, where the Xavier International Airport was located.

“Are they insane?” Wood frowned. “Who would be stupid enough to try and flee by plane… they have to know they’ll have a navy Tomcat on their ass within a minute.”

Sure enough, no sooner had the private jet levelled off and turned southwards, doubtless intending to fleet to Ostafrika if the intelligence that had been provided to the 21st Infantry Division’s officers was anything to go by, did two Tomcat F.5s detach from the small combat air patrol (CAP) over the city. Given that the East African Air Force had ceased to exist as a fighting force earlier in the campaign, Lieutenant Wood hadn’t been quite sure why they needed top-cover for the strike fighters that weren’t going to get attacked, but given what was unfolding now it made a whole lot more sense. The two Tomcats merged with the private jet in a classic interception formation; one Tomcat remained on its tail whilst the other positioned itself on the port side to communicate directly with the pilot; no doubt ordering them to an airfield under Apilonian control. By now the private jet was almost exactly overhead as the high-speed intercept continued.

From the ground it appeared that what happened next did so without any warning, although in reality the Tomcats had given the private jet plenty of warnings. The Tomcat on the port side peeled off leaving just the single Tomcat behind the tail and a few moments later a missile, likely an AIM-9X Sidewinder, detached from it and sped across the short distance to the private jet which took a direct hit to her engines. Almost immediately, the private jet left controlled flight and began to angle towards the ground. 2 Platoon, and every other Apilonian soldier close enough to see, watched with amazement as a single figure emerged from the private jet with a parachute blossoming a moment later.

Within a minute it became apparent to Lieutenant Wood that the survivor was going to come down near to his platoon’s position, and he quickly made his decision and, leaving a section to man their position, gathered the rest of 2 Platoon and began to track the descending parachute. With a combination of skill and luck, 2 Platoon was able to position itself within a hundred feet of the parachute when it came down and they crossed that distance at a run. They didn’t know who this was, but if they were trying to flee the city via private jet they had to be someone important and it would be one hell of a feather in the platoon’s cap if they were able to capture a top-tier member of the Xavier Regime.

No sooner had the parachutist managed to detach himself from the parachute was he set upon by two Apilonian soldiers who quickly restrained him and relieved him of the pair of holstered pistols he had been carrying. The man was wearing an East African military uniform, high-ranking as far as Lieutenant Wood can see from a couple of dozen feet away. Once they were satisfied that they had secured their prisoner, the two soldiers manhandled him over to their officer and one of them pulled his head back by his hair to allow their officer to see the man’s face.

“Well, I’ll say,” Wood exclaimed, his eyes widening. “Emmanuel Xavier, unless I’m very much mistaken.”

President of the East African Republic, Emmanuel Xavier, glared back at Lieutenant Wood with crazed eyes and strained against his captors as if in an attempt to physically assault the Apilonian officer. The rest of 2 Platoon gathered around, amazed at their luck and eager to get a look at the man who had caused this entire campaign to happen… and caused the death of their comrades. Lieutenant Wood could see the anger in their eyes, but he knew that their discipline would hold; the Apilonian Army was renowned for its discipline and professionalism after all.

“Emmanuel Xavier… under the terms of the Treaty of Asmara, I am detaining you on behalf of His Majesty’s Government.”

Of course, Xavier did not know about the Treaty of Asmara; the agreement that the Foreign Secretary had signed with the Rebels, but he knew that being detained on behalf of the King of Apilonia put an end to everything he had been fighting for; there would be no buying or talking his way out of the custody of the Apilonian Army after all. For the first time, defeat entered his eyes and his expression, and his head sagged forwards as the Apilonians applied zip-tie handcuffs to him and began to walk him back to the company position. They were met by the company Officer Commanding, Major Fairchild, who congratulated them on their achievement, and Lieutenant Wood on his initiative. Xavier was secured outside of the company headquarters, with 2 Platoon providing direct security.

It was not long before a small group of Foxhound vehicles appeared and were allowed into the company position and disgorged a full platoon from the Royal Military Police (RMP). On operations, the RMP was responsible, amongst other things, for the secure handling of detainees and it would be their responsibility to return Xavier to a secure holding position, which, realistically, would be Camp Lemonier. It would take some time to securely move Xavier, especially given that Major-General Sharpe was bound to want to ensure sufficient support to prevent any break-out attempts, even if there were doubts that the East African Army retained the capability. As it stood, with President Xavier captured, it seemed likely that a surrender of the remaining East African units was likely, especially once HM Ambassador in Mogadishu confirmed to the Regime that their leader’s attempt to flee had failed and was now in Apilonian custody. For the moment, however, now that they had turned over their prized prisoner to the RMP, all 2 Platoon could do was return to their positions and wait to see what would happen.

It would be another six hours before the news came over the radio that what was left of the Xavier Regime had finally agreed to throw in the towel. Once this had been confirmed, an order for a general advance into the city came down and the 21st Infantry Division advanced on the city. As had been promised by the surrendering Government, the East African troops were waiting for the Apilonians, their weapons piled together and the soldiers themselves waiting to be detained. Doubtless by this point, most of the East African soldiers were glad to be able to call it a day without reprisals against their families. After weeks of being bombed into submission, the fighting spirit of the East African Army had been destroyed and it had only been the… unique form of discipline, in which family would be punished for the failure of regular officers and soldiers, that had kept them in line. It was a tense few hours advancing through the city, with civilians all over the place watching Apilonian soldiers entering Mogadishu for the first in decades, but soon enough Apilonian flags were flying over the city.
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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Thu Aug 20, 2020 11:11 am

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mark A. Keegan, KCS
Alcatraz Headquarters, San Francisco Bay
The Duchy of California, Kingdom of Apilonia
Monday 15th June 2020, 0900hrs Local Time




Alcatraz Island had a long and colourful history. Originally built as a light house, during the early Apilonian settlement of the Bay Area, it had quickly been developed into Fort Alcatraz, to command entrance to San Francisco Bay. It did not take long for Fort Alcatraz to become one of the most heavily fortified positions in the Kingdom, especially when combined with the other fortifications on the Golden Gate entrance to San Francisco Bay. As fixed installations became increasingly obsolete, the Army transitioned to using the island as a detention centre for military prisoners, a role it continued to fulfil after being acquired by the Ministry of Justice in 1933. In the twenty-nine years existence of HM Prison Alcatraz, it is claimed that no one successfully escaped from the island, due to its position and the deadly currents around it, however there are some prisoners marked as ‘missing, presumed dead’. Ultimately, however, as larger and more secure prisons were developed ashore, HMP Alcatraz became increasingly expensive to house prisoners when compared to other options, and the prison closed in 1963. Despite the challenges of maintain a facility on the island, its isolated nature was seen as perfect for a military headquarters from a security perspective, and it was re-acquired by the Ministry of Defence.

After an extensive re-generation program, the site was occupied by the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, who continues to fly his flag from HMS Alcatraz to this day, in 1971. Despite the investment, the continuing running costs meant that in the following decades, the future of the site was very up in the air until the decision was made to site Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ), the then-new tri-service joint command, at Alcatraz in 1996. In the years since, the MoD had continued to invest heavily in the Alcatraz Headquarters as the importance of joint operations became increasingly obvious. As a result, the modern complex was an advanced, capable, and connected facility that could control and co-ordinate Apilonian military action all over the world, despite appearances in some cases. It had been from Alcatraz Headquarters that the East African campaign had been overseen, although the relatively small-scale of the conflict meant that it had largely been handled in-theatre with little need for higher involvement.

Although a full night shift remained on Alcatraz overnight, given the global commitments of the Royal Apilonian Military it was deemed prudent to ensure that PJHQ could respond immediately to any emerging situation, only a small garrison was billeted permanently on the island rather than commuting from the accommodation at HM Naval Air Station Alameda via a small fleet of boats. In addition to the duty watch, Alcatraz Headquarters was home to the Joint Staff, which consisted of the Chief of the Joint Staff, the operational commanders of the three service branches, and a full joint military staff. In short, the Joint Staff was an operational counterpart to the Defence Staff, and the Service Staffs, based in the Royal District and elsewhere. Between the presence of the three service commanders, and the joint staff, this meant that PJHQ was the top-level operational command headquarters of the Royal Apilonian Military, with top-level political direction being passed down from the Defence Staff for strategic planning and execution.

Although PJHQ had been responsible for overseeing the campaign, it’s main peacetime role was that strategic planning, and a key aspect of that was assessing the lessons learnt from operational experience, and long-tradition called for an initial debrief as soon as possible after the end of the conflict in question. It was for that reason that the Joint Staff were gathering in a conference room at Alcatraz Headquarters, looking out over San Francisco Bay.

As of today, the East Africa Campaign was officially at an end. The 5th Armoured Division had arrived, right on schedule thirty days after they had been activated, a week previously and after taking a week to get settled and assume their positions had officially relieved the ad hoc formations that made up the 21st Infantry Division as the official Apilonian Occupation Force for East Africa, a role it would retain until the civilian government of the newest Apilonian territory could be properly instituted. Once the 5th Armoured was withdrawn, likely within six months, the main Apilonian formation in East Africa would be a re-constituted formation consisting of regulars and reservists, as was the case in the none-armoured corps in the Kingdom itself, with the designation of the 21st (East Africa) Infantry Division. As much as it was, officially, an occupation until the Duchy of East Africa could be officially created by the King and it’s Duke take up its position, there was no expectation at any level of the Royal Apilonian Military of any further real combat operations being required in East Africa, due in no small part to the work that had gone into the Treaty of Asmara and the framework it provided.

As such, for the Apilonian Joint Staff it was time to start reflecting.

“We all know why we are here; although the East African Campaign was a resounding success, it does constitute our first major combat experience in some years, and that means that a lot of the theory we’ve worked on in that time has started to be put to the test,” Air Chief Marshal Sir Mark A. Keegan, the Chief of the Joint Staff, said by way of preamble. “We should also not forget that the East African Republic was not, it must be said, a particularly challenging opponent, meaning that we should take every advantage of what lessons we have learnt in this conflict when the cost has been so mercifully light.”

Sir Mark paused as three other officers entered the room, each a senior field grade officer from each of the three services.

“Shortly after the attack on Camp Lemonier, as per standing orders, I ordered these three officers from the PJHQ Plans directorate to put together an analysis cell and keep an eye on the after-action reports coming out of East Africa and to put together an assessment,” Sir Mark continued. “Let me make some introductions and then we’ll get started; we’ve got Commander Maya Wilson from the Navy, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Keegan from the Army, and Wing Commander Stephen Ward from the Air Force… you three know the Joint Staff of course.”

The three officers nodded as they took their seats; this debrief would be in the form of a discussion more than a presentation; there would be plenty of time for presentations when the operational commanders passed their findings on to the professional heads and civilians.

“Excellent,” Sir Mark smiled, leaning back in his chair. “Colonel Keegan, given the Army’s prominent role, I believe you are first.”

Lt. Colonel Keegan nodded and leant forward.

“Thank you, Sir… as we’re all aware the Army shouldered most of the burden of the direct combat, and the casualties as result… nevertheless, the conduct of an ad hoc formation consisting primarily of infantry, light and protected mobility, underlines the effectiveness of such units, particularly when provided with adequate artillery, air support and naval gunfire support,” Lt. Colonel Keegan began. “Based on after-action reports, most of our on-the-ground commanders are placing a great deal of credit for the success on both the individual soldiering skills of our troops and their professionalism and discipline in the face of fire… underling the case that infantry, properly dug-in, prepared and supported, can resist an armoured push for a time, if they are steady enough and properly equipped.”

Lt. Colonel Keegan paused a moment before continuing.

“All reports also indicate that, during a campaign of this nature, the majority of troops in a combat unit are willing and able to continue pushing forwards with an advance, this is likely helped by the conversion of many light infantry units into protected mobility; the Foxhound tactical vehicle in particular appears to be very popular and significantly increases the mobility and capability of troops,” Lt. Colonel Keegan continued. “As previously mentioned, there is no indication that the use of tactical vehicles for increased mobility has resulted in a reduced level of individual soldiering skills, as some feared, as most reports indicate that, upon dismounting and advancing on foot to the target, standards of formation, spacing and other tactical skills have remained consistently high across the board.”

Lt. Colonel Keegan paused again, inviting comment of which none was forthcoming.

“As for areas for potential improvement… most reports indicate primary issues were actually around our combat troops outstretching their supply lines as they advanced, probably okay for a campaign of relatively low intensity, but in a real, proper shooting war…” Lt. Colonel Keegan commented. “That being said, in a true shooting war we’d have one or more armoured divisions in the fray, with a dedicated logistics brigade so that issue would be less prominent… we could maybe look at our logistical arrangements for lighter forces.”

The Commander, Land Forces, General Sir William T. Bolton, leant forward at this point.

“As it happens, this is something that we’ve been discussing at Army Headquarters for some time, based on exercises, so it is encouraging to see it borne out in combat experience, “ General Bolton commented with a thoughtful expression. “We’re putting some thought into ways to resolve the issue for light forces, possibly increasing the size of the supply cell on the regimental staff, but it’s something we’re aware of.”

“Very encouraging,” Sir Mike nodded, glancing back at the younger Army officer. “Anything else, Colonel?”

“Those are the headlines, Sir, the detail is in the report that my colleagues and I have prepared for the Joint Staff as a whole,” Lt. Colonel Keegan replied. “Broadly speaking, the Army performed well during the conflict, and were by no means pushed or particularly challenged.”

“Thank you, Colonel,” Sir Mike smiled, turning to the next of the trio. “Commander Wilson?”

“Thank you, Sir… with the exception of the Royal Artillery regiments attached to the initial forces, 3 Commando Brigade and the spearhead forces, the Navy ended up providing the majority of the fire support to our troops on the ground… both from the Prince of Cascadia air wing and via naval gunfire support,” Commander Wilson began, also leaning forwards. “The decision to station a carrier group in the Indian Ocean where, unlike with Malta in the Mediterranean, we lack a major airbase with unobstructed access, ensured that we had carrier aircraft on-scene within seventy-two hours, and our spread out regional forces converged on the scene promptly, as is the intent.”

Commander Wilson paused for a moment, as Lt. Colonel Keegan had, to allow any questions.

“By all accounts, the airstrikes from Prince of Cascadia were very successful in degrading the armoured asserts of the East African Army, allowing our infantry to operate without impediment and to let their superior training and professionalism win out, whilst all after-action reports speak highly of the accuracy and easy comms with our naval gunfire support assets” Commander Wilson continued, glancing across at the Army officers. “In terms of weapon effectiveness, we got good results out of the AIM-120D, numerous bombs and air-to-surface missiles, whilst our 6-inch guns on cruisers were particularly effective as were, of course, the 16-inch guns of the Thunderchild, not to mention the impact of the latter on morale.”

Commander Wilson paused again.

“With regards to the Naval Service, I’d echo the comments made by Lt. Colonel Keegan; the 3 Commando Brigade consistently outstretched it’s own supply-lines, as they advanced quickly and weren’t particularly inclined to wait for rear echelons to catch up,” Commander Wilson added wryly. “The attached command logistics regiment helped a great deal of course, as did the fighting spirit of the Royal Apilonian Marines, but if we were not facing as disorganised an enemy we would have really struggled to keep our foremost units supplied adequately.”

“More than likely because our pre-campaign thinking assumed that we wouldn’t be able to advance that quickly… and in most cases I suspect that assumption would be right,” Sir Mike commented thoughtfully. “Nevertheless, gives us food for thought if we think we’re likely to end up fighting small wars in far off places… we can’t rely too heavily on the effectiveness armoured logistics capability if they’re not always going to be in the fight… anything else Commander?”

“No Sir.”

“Very good,” Sir Mike nodded again. “Wing Commander Ward?”

“All things considered, the Air Force did not have a tremendously large role to play in the campaign, from a combat perspective; although Transport Command flew dozens of resupply missions into Camp Lemonier, and Drone Command performed a number of reconnaissance missions over the East African Republic, all with a high degree of operational success, all things considered,” Wing Commander Ward responded promptly. “However, from a combat perspective our involvement was limited, largely due to the lack of an airbase, beyond Camp Lemonier which is not optimized to host combat aircraft, within combat range of the majority of our aircraft, with the exception of Lancer bombers based out of Malta, however these were deemed inappropriate for the purposes of the campaign.”

Wing Commander Ward paused, clearly not particularly pleased with what he was having to report.

“Although we have the capability for in-flight refuelling, the positioning of the East African Republic would have required fly-overs of hostile airspace or exceptionally long diversions and, given the Prince of Cascadia air wing was sufficient, was deemed unnecessary,” Ward continued. “In short, although we certainly could have played a larger role, through our tanker fleet and other assets, the decision was made that it was an unnecessary expense… it does however underline the desirability of a wider network of global airbases for this sort of thing.”

Air Chief Marshal Sir Reymond Crowe, Commander-in-Chief, Air Command, nodded his agreement.

“This is something that Headquarters Air Command has been saying for some time… although we enjoy major airbases in our colonial possessions, we lack coverage of large areas and we are cornered in by hostile or potentially hostile powers in many cases,” Air Chief Marshal Crowe sighed. “This is not the Air Force starting a pissing match with the rest of you about international bases, but we will need to significantly increase our global air base presence outside of our overseas territory if we want to achieve more global coverage.”

“Something that the Joint Staff has been steadily realising across the board, not just for the Air Force, unfortunately… we’ve been doing stellar work with what we have, but if we want true global reach and presence we are going to have to invest,” Sir Mike commented thoughtfully. “As I suspected, we’re going to need to lean heavily into the Permanent Joint Operating Base concept, rather than individual service bases, as it will be far harder for the politicians to turn down a united MoD then it would be if we’re all arguing separately.”

Sir Mike smiled wryly but saw nodding faces around the room.

“Alright then people, I think we’ve got a lot to discuss… let’s get started, shall we?”
Last edited by The Kingdom of Apilonia on Sat Aug 22, 2020 1:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
The Kingdom of Apilonia
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The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Sat Aug 22, 2020 1:41 am

Lieutenant Sebastian Wood
The Evergreen Palace, Royal District
Duchy of Washington, The Kingdom of Apilonia
Friday 24th July 2020, 1100hrs Local Time




It was a glorious day on the forecourt of the Evergreen Palace, nestled at the centre of the Royal District across the Puget Sound from Seattle, the Kingdom’s capital. The vast space in front of the Evergreen Palace was bathed in sunlight as friends and family watched on as select officers and other ranks from the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force paraded together, in four separate divisions, in front of the Sovereign. Of course, the temperature would only continue to climb throughout the day, and it was for that reason, both of the King’s health and that of the parading officers and other ranks, that the parade was being held earlier in the day prior to a reception inside the Palace once all was said and done. Nevertheless, the King had been very clear that the parade would take place on the forecourt, as it had for centuries, if for no other reason than it would provide a spectacle for the gathered citizens and tourists watching from outside the gates. Moreover, it was far easier for the Apilonian Broadcasting Corporation, the Kingdom’s national broadcaster’ to televise the event when it was held outside on the forecourt than would otherwise be the case, and the King wanted all involved to get the recognition they were due.

It was, after all, a parade in which the King would personally bestow upon officers and other ranks a variety of medals for gallantry and distinguished service as a result of their service in the East African Campaign, which was by now two months behind them. Not every one of the thousands of Apilonian service members who had served in the campaign would receive a gallantry or distinguished service medal, although they would receive a campaign medal, but the Royal Apilonian Military had a long tradition of recognizing those that went above and beyond, whether that meant gallantry in the face of the enemy or simply going above and beyond in their duty. That being said, there was a rigorous process to ensure that the medals were all valid and properly earned, unlike some national militaries the RAM did not give out medals for just anything, but hard work, dedication and going above and beyond would be recognized. On this occasion, the Army and Marines provided the biggest contingents, followed by a smaller Naval continent and an even smaller Air Force contingent, given the nature of their respective roles.

As it was, Lieutenant Sebastian Wood had been marginally surprised to receive notification through the Regimental Headquarters that he had been nominated, and approved, for a Distinguished Service Medal (DSM). Although the DSM was the lowest level of medal possible for distinguished service it nevertheless meant that he was being recognized for the calibre of his leadership and service during the campaign… having been nominated by the newly promoted Colour Sergeant Joe Marshall for his leadership. Although officers tended to be responsible for most nominations, as a result of the nature of their command roles, nominations of officers by SNCOs were rare but not unheard off. and rarely ignored either up the chain of command. As such, Lieutenant Wood had donned No. 1 Temperate Ceremonial uniform, known informally as Dress Blues, and reported to the Evergreen Palace earlier in the morning, having travelled up from his family ranch in the Mojave the previous day. Although he was still a Lieutenant, given that he had barely been commissioned prior to the start of the campaign, it was encouraging to be recognized in this way and would be a boon for his future career prospects.

Over the course of the morning, Lieutenant Wood had watched as countless other officers and men were awarded their medals, with the entire process taking place in order of precedence for the awards, rather than by rank. This meant that the day’s sole Star of Apilonia , the Kingdom’s highest award for gallantry, was awarded to widow of a young Fusilier in the 8th (Cascade Fusiliers) Infantry Regiment who had thrown himself onto a live grenade to save his brothers in arms, before even Major-General Sharpe was knighted for his top-level leadership during the campaign. Of course, this meant that Lieutenant Wood was waiting for a very long time; the DSM was the lowest on the order of precedence and, rather than rank, the order of award was based on surname in alphabetical order… which meant that Wood was towards the end of the list. Not that he minded, although he was proud of his service, and had given his all, he knew that other’s were far more deserving than he was, so he was more than happy to wait his turn patiently.

“Lieutenant Sebastian Wood!” The King’s Permanent Equerry, a Lieutenant Colonel, called out.

Responding immediately, and on instinct, Lieutenant Wood stepped back from his position in the officer’s parade, turned sharply ninety degrees on his heel and marched out of the parade and towards the covered dais where the King was waiting. The seventy-three year old William V stood waiting patiently, and if he was weary after the two hour long parade, he wasn’t showing it as he stood there proudly, dressed in the uniform of the Cascade Guards; recognizing the prominent role of the Army in the conflict. Stopping in front of the King, Lieutenant Wood rendered a crisp salute which the King returned with the casual ease of someone who had been doing so for decades.

The King smiled warmly, like a proud grandfather would, to the officer in front of him before nodding to his Equerry.

“For his leadership of 2 Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, Lieutenant Sebastian Wood is awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Throughout the East Africa Campaign, Lieutenant Wood conducted himself and his platoon consistently at the forefront of a highly rapid and dynamic advance, with steadiness and professionalism, reflecting great credit upon himself, the 8th Infantry Regiment and the Apilonian Army.”

The King took the medal box from another Temporary Equerry and handed it to Lieutenant Wood, shaking his hand tightly.

“Very well done, Lieutenant,” The King said quietly. “I don’t doubt that this won’t be your last time here.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Wood smiled in return.

The King gave his hand one last squeeze before releasing it. Lieutenant Wood took one step back and rendered another crisp salute, which the King returned, before turning and marching back to his position in the parade. It did not take much longer for the handful of remaining medals to be awarded and after a Royal Salute the parade was dismissed. As the family and friends of those on parade, all of whom had been thoroughly vetted by the Royal Security Service, joined them and the gathered crowd began to make its way into the Evergreen Palace towards the Crown Ballroom where a reception would take place for the rest of the afternoon. For many, particularly the other ranks from lower-income backgrounds, this was the first and only time that they would visit the Evergreen Palace. Indeed, even some officers like Lieutenant Wood had never been this close to the rarefied airs of the Monarchy. It was therefore perhaps unsurprising that Lieutenant Wood was far more distracted by the opulent surroundings of the Evergreen Palace and the majestic ballroom they were shown into, that he did not notice someone approaching him.

“Lieutenant Wood?”

Lieutenant Wood turned and smiled broadly as he took in the attractive red-head in Dress Blues.

“Captain Longstreet.”

“It’s Major now actually, got my promotion orders almost as soon as I got back home,” Longstreet corrected with a smile, turning slightly to show her insignia. “I report to the Intermediate Command and Staff Course at Kingston, before a Brigade Major billet next year.”

“Well, congratulations, Ma’am,” Wood replied with a genuine smile. “When did you get home?”

“Only last week… Major-General Sharpe wanted to keep me on the ground during the transition, as the GSO Intelligence,” Longstreet explained. “However, when a place opened up for me at Kingston, and his nomination for an award got accepted, he sent me home.”

“Well, I for one am glad to see you, Ma’am,” Wood smiled broadly. “I must have zoned out during most of that parade that I missed you… DSC?”

Major Longstreet nodded and showed him the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-level award for distinguished service, in its own box briefly to him.

“Very well deserved,” Wood said honestly.

“Why, thank you,” Longstreet smiled. “When did you get home, pretty early I’d imagine?”

“Yeah, the regiment was rotated out as soon as the 5th AD was established in-situ,” Wood replied, as they collected themselves glasses of champagne from one of the footmen circulating the crowd. “Given that we’d been at the forefront of the fighting, the brass figured we could do with some rest.”

“That’s fair enough,” Longstreet nodded. “Where do they have you now?”

As they continued their conversation the two officers circulated around the room, both knowing the value of networking which was all the more important in an environment like this were there were several Royals present. Within a few hours the event began to wind down and slowly but surely it became a more intimate affair for the senior officers and the Royal Family, with the lower ranking officers and all the other ranks melting away over the course of the afternoon for their own celebrations. After a discussion, Major Longstreet agreed to exchange the drink they had agreed all those days before in Djibouti for a celebratory meal of their own.

It was perhaps ironic, and reflective of the times, that despite the fact that Longstreet was actually the higher ranking of the two of them, and thus higher paid, it remained something of a social norm, particularly amongst the middle and upper classes, that it would be Wood that picked up the bill for their meal. That being said, although Wood’s family line could not exactly claim as prestigious a linage as she could, as the Longstreet family were Landed Yeomen whilst the Woods were merely commoners, they owned a decent chunk of land and were relatively well-off so a meal, even in an up-scale restaurant in Seattle, would not exactly break the bank.

After catching an afternoon ferry, one of the dozens that criss-crossed the Sound between the Royal District and Seattle, they enjoyed a meal at one of Seattle’s top restaurants, which did not prove to be as expensive as it could have been as the owner extended a discount to them as soon as he saw their uniforms and new medals. It was a pleasant experience for both of them, with the exception of their time at the Evergreen Palace which had largely been taken up by networking, it was the first chance they would have to properly converse and they took full advantage of it. After all, although there was obvious attraction Afterwards they availed themselves of several upscale bars before finding themselves, some hours later and a little worse for wear (although not in any way disgracing the King’s uniform) atop the Space Needle looking out over the city.

“We’ve come along way since Djibouti,” Longstreet commented with a smile as she leant on the metal railing, looking towards the Sound.

“We have,” Wood agreed, looking across at her. “Hard to imagine it’s only been a few months.”

“Yeah,” Longstreet nodded, turning to look at him properly. “So, where do we go from here?”

“What do you mean?” Wood frowned.

“I mean I’m due to report to Kingston on Monday, and I’m sure you have to get back to your Regiment… so what do we do,” Longstreet explained with a slight sigh. “I like you, Sebastian, but could we really make it work… a relationship across the Kingdom?”

“I want to make a try of it,” Wood replied, instantly and firmly, causing her to smile broadly. “Look at it this way, we’ve got at least six months where we’re both based in North America… let’s try and see each other every weekend, and then see where we are then.”

Longstreet was silent for a moment as she considered his words. Although it would not be easy, as every weekend one of them would have to fly to the other, but it did have a great deal of sense behind it. After all, as he had correctly said they were both based in North America, would both have their weekends to themselves, and she did want to make a go of it… she had since that night in Djibouti.

“Okay,” Longstreet said after a moment. “Let’s try it.”

Wood smiled and took a step towards her; standing over the petite redhead by a full head and a half but she looked up at him with a smile and a look of anticipation in her eyes. He reached up with his hand to cup her cheek before leaning down and kissing her gently on the lips, respectfully at first as she knew he would but as soon as she reciprocated with a little more passion, just enough to leave her wanting more as he pulled his head back a few inches after a few moments.

“I could get used to that, just as sweet and respectful as I imagined, you really do know how to treaty a lady right,” Longstreet breathed then smiled. “Not that I’m questioning your qualities as a Gentlemen, but what say we get off this tower and back to my hotel room, okay?”
The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Sat Aug 22, 2020 1:19 pm

24 July 2020, 10:45hrs [UTC+3]
OAG Headquarters
Dar es Salaam, Freistaat Ostafrika

"So Niklas, you have the final count of refugees from the former East African Republic?"

Niklas Carstens nodded and handed the intelligence dossier across Präsident Luxenberg's desk, smiling slightly to himself as he sat back in the comfortable chair that he currently occupied. Aged fifty-one with short-styled greying hair, Carstens was the Aufsichstrat member with oversight of Ostafrika's intelligence community. Although Ostafrikan civilian agencies were more than capable of the task of keeping track of the individuals who had crossed the northern border in order to escape the Apilonian overthrow of President Xavier, it had been decided that the Department of State Security should handle the matter due to the potentially sensitive nature of the former positions held by the refugees. Luxenberg opened the dossier and began scanning through the details which had been so immaculately gathered and collated by Ostafrikan intelligence.

"'The total number of refugees relevant to this document comes to one hundred and ninety-three, however, this number does include family members such as spouses and children'. Well, that's to be expected if you're fleeing potential prosecut...I mean, persecution, of course you'd want your family with you in case they suffered reprisals in your stead. So the highest-ranked members of the Xavier regime who made it to our embassy in Mogadishu were Minister of Agriculture Jamal Warfa and Minister of Industry and Trade Abdullah Hussein? That's not very exciting, I expected at least one minister from the big offices of state like Internal Security or Finance to make it. Evidently they either weren't very good at fleeing the sinking ship or they actually thought it was a good idea to stand their ground."

"It is also possible that President Xavier threatened to shoot any of his major ministers if they attempted to flee, Herr Präsident."

"That is true, I suppose. Rather humorous that he himself was caught while trying to flee, still at least someone made it to the embassy. It says here that between the two of them, those ministers transferred the equivalent of fourteen-point-seven million yuan to Ostafrikanische Bank." Luxenberg nodded approvingly. "Not very powerful but they had the sense to make use of their position as much as possible. Makes you wonder how many farming or industrial projects found themselves short of funds during their time in office."

Carstens smirked slightly. "Indeed. They're both currently residing here in Dar es Salaam with their families, we're expediting their asylum claims so they'll soon be official Ostafrikan citizens. Hussein's making quite a good impression by all accounts, I understand that he's had dinner with Generaldirektor Eschenbach."

Luxenberg made an impressed sound. "I'll have to ask Leopold if Hussein is a good dinner guest. So the other refugees were primarily career bureaucrats from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Industry and Trade....were those two ministries housed particularly close to our embassy? I suppose it's a good thing for them, they'll be familiar with each other and so they might be able to form a small expatriate community. Oh, now what's this? 'Kooxda Madow'."

Carstens leaned forward. "They are, or were, one of the Xavier regime's various tools for maintaining order. Not a large group by any means but quite an unpleasant reputation. There was a platoon operating in the Lower Juba region which is right on our northern border, twenty-seven of them made it across including the platoon's commanding officer, Lieutenant Liban Abukar. According to the interviews that were carried out by our personnel, Abukar was rather proud of his service to the regime. Thankfully the lot of them have conveniently moved on and all evidence of them being in Ostafrika has been erased, aside from their presence in that report that you're holding."

"So where are they now?"

Carstens chuckled at the question. "Direktor Treich's 'expert opinion' is that they are 'likely' somewhere in the Grande Império do Zaire. So in other words, they were transported to Zaire after the DSS arranged something for them. It could be that the Imperial House of Dourado is employing them somewhere in their territories for some reason, or they might have managed to move on from Zaire and are now somewhere else entirely. Regardless of where they are now, the important thing is that they aren't here in Ostafrika. It could be rather entertaining if they are in Zaire somewhere because the Apilonians would never find them, assuming that they're looking."

Luxenberg nodded approvingly. "Well, all that matters to me is that I don't know where they are aside from them not being in this nation." He closed the dossier and set it down on the desk with a sigh. "Apilonians as next-door neighbours, spreading their moralistic imperialism to places that were doing just fine without it. If this was three years ago then it would be far more of a crisis but thankfully we've acquired some very powerful friends in recent times. Most of our national borders are shared with fellow Shenzhen Pact members and of course, we have the powerhouse of the Nanfang Republic on our side. We can handle the presence of this 'Duchy of East Africa', I'm sure it could have turned out worse. We shall observe but we shall not interfere. Bad enough having them on our border, no need to stir up a hornet's nest."


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