Operation Mission Shield

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Operation Mission Shield
Part of The Deluge
Exercise Cold Response 2010.jpg
Urcean infantry firing while on patrol in the northernmost Unnuaq Chain
Date15 December 2036 - 3 January 2037
LocationUnnuaq Chain, Algoquona
Result

Urcean victory

Belligerents
Urcea
 Yonderre (from 22 December)
 Anglei (from 23 December)
Algoquona
Commanders and leaders
Martin St. Clair
Gilles d'Arconne
Eberhard von Willing
Skah Kusinut
Units involved

Imperial army.png Armed Forces of the Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea

Shield of Joanus.png Yonderian Defence Force


1st Guard Unit
Various militias
Strength
Urcea:
94,400 infantry
359 tanks
1000 other ground vehicles
850 aircraft
1 aircraft carrier
5 cruisers
16 destroyers
3 amphibious assault ships
1 amphibious command ship
Yonderre:
48 DELTA operatives
10 AMS-72 helicopters
6 FS-75 CAS jets
6 FS-92 fighter-bombers
7,500 infantry
35 tanks
90 other ground vehicles
85 fighters
10 frigates
1 destroyer escort
Casualties and losses
Urcea:
74 infantry
8 tanks
2 destroyers lightly damaged
Yonderre:
2 killed
5 wounded
1 AMS-72 shot down
889 infantry
31 tanks
88 other vehicles
9 frigates
1 destroyer escort

Operation Mission Shield was the codename for a combined ground-and-naval operation against Algoquona in late 2036 and early 2037 by Urcea, later joined by Yonderre and Anglei in limited capacities. The Operation ran mostly concurrent with Operation Western Blizzard.

Background

Catholic missionaries had established community-missions in the largely depopulated arctic portions of Western Crona in the early-to-mid 17th century, and these missions - collectively referred to as the Unnuaq missions - were successful in converting the local populace to Catholicism while not having a substantial demographic impact on what would become Algoquona as a whole. Following the conclusion of the War of the Northern Confederation in 2030, Urcea expressed considerable concern that the mission populations, both Levantine and native, were under considerable threat from what it considered a revanchist regime in Algoquona. Consequently, Urcea signed the Treaty of Narasseta with Algoquona in 2032. Besides regulating relations between the two states, the Treaty specifically provided for the protection and sacrosanctity of the missions and their associated populations. Beginning in 2035, Urcea's involvement in The Deluge and the South Nysdra War were considered violations of both the spirit and letter of the treaty by Algoquona. By 2036, Urcea began to allege that Algoquona was positioning military forces within the zone of exclusion near the missions, violating the treaty. With the signing of the Nysdra Sea Treaty between Urcea and its allies in 2036, Algoquona formally closed off formal relations with Urcea and abrogated the Treaty of Narasseta. Internally, the Government of Urcea viewed these steps as legal justification to imprison or expel the missionaries within the country and persecute the local Catholic population, who the Algoquona viewed as fifth columnists. Following weeks of debate, Procurator James Fallshade approved the planned military operation on 10 December 2036. Rather than a full invasion of Algoquona, the Armed Forces of the Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea would seize the Unnuaq Chain off the shore of the missions, guaranteeing Urcean military access to the mission area.

Urcean justification

The abrogation of the Treaty of Narasseta lead to significant diplomatic efforts to reach a similar accord that was suitable to both sides, particularly including maintenance of the Unnuaq mission exclusion zone, which Algoquona rejected. As Algoquona considered Urcean promises to be ones easily broken, Urcea's Ministry of State first turned to reaching "unwritten agreements" before finally issuing an ultimatum on 11 December 2036. The ultimatum required Algoquona to demilitarize their arctic regions and recognize the Unnuaq mission exclusion zone, and on 14 December Algoquona formally rejected the terms of the agreement. A few days prior, on 12 December, it began rapid military deployment to the Unnuaq Chain and into its arctic territories and also deployed its small navy into the Unnuaq Bay. Given the abrogation of the treaty and rejection of attempts to negotiate, the Government of Urcea claimed that Algoquona was now functioning as a rogue state and that decisive action had to be taken to defend the Unnuaq missions, which Urcea claimed Algoquona was now actively menacing.

Military operations

15 December naval action

Prior to the expiration of the ultimatum issued by Urcea, Algoquona sent the bulk of its navy to the Unnuaq strait in an effort to interdict passage into the strait, baiting Urcea into war to access both the Unnuaq Chain and the exclusion zone. Algoquona's navy, relatively newly formed consisted of ten frigates (mostly from the 1950s or 1960s from Occidental nations) and one Creagmer-class destroyer escort which served in the Urcean Royal Navy during the Great War. Consequently, in the early morning hours of 15 December 2036, a carrier group of the Royal Navy's Nysdra Squadron entered the Unnuaq Straits and began anti-shipping operations in order to clear the strait for further operations. Due to the relative lack of military intelligence and dated design of Algoquona's ships, anti-shipping efforts were halted at around 3 AM local time and not resumed until 7 AM as the Royal Navy sought to avoid casualties of civilian vessels in the region. Prior to the ceasing of hostilities, two frigates and the Creagmer class were sunk, and the remainder of the fleet attempted to sail northwest closer to the exclusion zone as the Urcean force gave chase at a distance. The only Urcean casualties of the naval battle occurred prior to the ceasing of hostilities, as two destroyers were damaged by Algoquonan return fire. During the four hour interlude, carrier-based strike aircraft successfully rendered the only Algoquonan military airfield in the Unnuaq Chain inoperable. Following clarifications from Urceopolis, combat resumed at 7 AM and seven of the eight remaining Algoquonan frigates were sunk; the remaining frigate fled eastward to port in the neutral Land of the Long Night, where it was subsequently blockaded by a separate carrier group of the Nysdra Squadron.

By mid-morning of 15 December, the Unnuaq Straits were considered cleared of Algoquonan forces and the carrier group began efforts to establish aerial supremacy over the Strait prior to the arrival of the Royal Air Force from bases in southern New Yustona, using its strike aircraft to attack airbases in northern Algoquona proper which was successfully achieved with no losses by 8:30 AM local time.

Aerial campaign

With the Unnuaq Chain cleared for significant aerial operations by the Nysdra Squadron, several wings of strike aircraft and tactical bombers began a campaign of bombing entrenched positions of the Algoquonan army on the islands, a task aided by unusually clear skies in the subarctic Unnuaq area. Targets included most ports in an effort to isolate the island from the mainland, military depots, confirmed militia arsenals, and other targets of value. The air campaign continued for forty eight straight hours until the morning of 17 December, when it switched to a tactical support role in coordination with advancing Royal and Imperial Army forces on the ground.

In addition to the Royal Air Force's strategic efforts, the Royal and Imperial Army deployed the 117th Royal Air Fusilier Division - an airborne unit - to the Unnuaq exclusion zone. Due to the cold weather, it was determined that a parachute based - rather than helicopter based - operation would be necessary. The 117th began training for a cold air drop in northern Kiravia on 3 December. The 117th was dropped in the Unnuaq exclusion zone early morning hours of 17 December, not only with their own supplies and munitions but also with crates of rifles and ammunition - mostly SARM-1s - to equip local militia forces with. The division was divided into 18 cohorts, one for each of the missions, and each cohort resupplied and fortified their respective mission and began arming local militias. Royal and Imperial Army forces anticipated that cohort-sized forces would be unable to fully defend each militia before being reinforced after the Unnuaq Chain fell, and heavily relied on local militia support to defend the missions. By the time of the conclusion of Operation Mission Shield, however, no Algoquonan attack came on the missions, though Algoquonan-aligned tribal militias remained heavily active in the region during the course of the operation.

Unnuaq invasion

Following two days of strategic strikes, the Royal and Imperial Army landed an initial amphibious assault on the southeastern most island of the Unnuaq Chain, Whenui, at around 8 AM local time on 17 December 2036. This initial landing consisted of two regiments of the Army of St. Thomas, each of which landed on one side of the port city of Waepasi (population 2,301 as of 2035) approximately three miles away from the city in either direction; the initial plan involved meeting in a pincer move to cut off supplies to the city, which sat in the southeastern part of the island facing the Nysdra. While the Royal and Imperial Army would typically land in force during an amphibious operation, the arctic conditions of the Unnuaq Chain necessitated access to a functioning port given the icy conditions in the waters in Unnuaq bay. Many considerations for environmental conditions changed the way the operation had to be planned, and the Royal and Imperial Army used a significantly less amount of armor and other assault vehicles based on concerns for their functionality in sub-zero conditions, instead bringing a larger amount of purpose-built transportation vehicles.

The Royal and Imperial Army's advance on the 17th was intermittent, encountering largely unorganized militias raised for the island's defense before the western regiment faced a similarly sized opposition of Algoquona's 1st Guard Unit, a division composed of War of the Northern Confederation veterans. The first encounter at 1 PM halted the western regiment's advance, but by 4 PM the eastern regiment was in its predetermined position in the pincer and were ordered to hold position while sending a cohort to reinforce the western regiment. Properly reinforced, the Urceans sent the Algoquonan force into an organized withdrawal and the encirclement of Waepasi was completed by 6 PM of 17 December. The city - the second largest in the Unnuaq Chain and mostly non-Algoquonan - surrendered to Urcean forces and became a conduit through which the Royal and Imperial Army could land supplies, vehicles, and soldiers. An attempt by Algoquona's 1st Guard Unit to dislodge the Urceans came in the overnight hours but failed due to a lack of air support and increasing numbers of Urcean soldiers in the city. Much of 18 December was spent regrouping, establishing a headquarters in Waepasi, and reorganizing unit commands while establishing a perimeter around Waepasi. Besides control of the port, the armed forces also established a field near the city as an airport for helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft, strengthening lines of supply into the city. The Royal and Imperial Army began an advance northwest after sundown on the 18th and encountered substantial resistance from the 1st Guard Unit as heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures affected the effectiveness of air support. Weather conditions allowed Algoquonan forces - reinforced by some local militias accustomed to fighting in these conditions - to resist the advance of mostly unsupported Urcean infantry until noon on the 19th, when the forces of the Army of St. Thomas encircled most of the defenders. The remaining forces retreated northwest to the other major population center on the island, Heikahone. Given the lack of ammunition and supplies, however, the 1st Guard Unit took what it could from the locals and existing supplies and escaped Whenui around 4 PM local time for Khanua, the smaller island of the southern Unnuaq Chain. By sunset - the last full sunset in the Unnuaq Chain before the onset of polar night for a month - Urcean forces had taken control of Heikahone. It was reported to the Levantine Times Union that Urcea was now substantially in charge of the island the same day, and efforts began to suppress pro-Algoquonan militias and establish provisional local governments lead by pro-Levantine natives of Whenui.

Shootdown of Yonderian AMS-72

DELTA marksman operating in Algoquona

An AMS-72 of the Yonderian Defence Force was shot down over Algoquona on the 28th of December 2036. It was flying in support of a squad of DELTA operators it had deployed ten minutes earlier. The AMS-72 was struck in its tail rotor by a MANPAD system and spun out of control, crashing and killing both pilots. The DELTA squad spent the next three days fighting off Algoquonan militias until they were evacuated by another AMS-72.

Embassy riots

Beginning on 19 December 2036, riots broke out in the Algoquona capital city of Khurnwah following the news of the fall of Waepasi became public information in Algoquona. The riots intensified on the morning of the 20th as the full scale of the defeat - including the loss of the entire island of Whenui - became apparent. These riots, primarily students and War of the Northern Confederation veterans, began to threaten the embassies of Levantine countries and menace their personnel. The rioters, who were disavowed by the government, claimed that Levantine inaction allowed continued Urcean action in The Deluge. The violence and threats worsened, and by 20 December the embassy of Yonderre - a newer and physically isolated embassy - was besieged by rioters and emerging militia forces. Several Levantine nations began efforts to airlift or negotiate the release of their embassy staff with limited success - Diamavya executed a successful airlift on the afternoon on 20 December.

Conclusion and aftermath

Following the end of formal military operations on 3 January, the Urcean Ministry of State began negotiations with the government of Algoquona regarding a ceasefire and truce, which the latter agreed to on 8 January 2037. As part of the truce agreement, Algoquona recognized Urcean "administration" (as opposed to sovereignty) over the Unnuaq Chain and additionally accepted the Unnuaq mission exclusion area as demilitarized for Algoquonan purposes, though the Armed Forces of the Apostolic Kingdom of Urcea began a semi-permanent military occupation of the region in coordination with local forces. While Algoquona had been unwilling to deescalate the conflict and sought total war between Urcea and itself, this aspiration was severely damaged by the diplomatic consequences of the Khurnwah embassy sieges, which not only isolated Algoquona but forced it into military conflict with other nations as part of Operation Western Blizzard. Consequently, decisionmakers in Khurnwah decided that a land war with Urcea could not be won and, indeed, the nation's sovereignty may be jeopardized, leading them to sue for peace.

In the days and weeks after the conclusion of the operation, Urcea began to set up a formal governing structure in its new possessions in the Unnuaq Chain and additionally began creating something resembling a self-governing protectorate in the Unnuaq exclusion area. Meanwhile, Algoquona continued to find itself embroiled in military conflict in Operation Western Blizzard, during which its military hierarchy was functionally destroyed before the operation concluded at the end of January. The collapse of Algoquonan military power lead to significant upheaval within the country, as minority tribal groups and cities, including Pachaug and Housatonic, began to agitate for autonomy.