Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Sytol and the war of unification. Part Three: The Rapid Offensive Force.

The ROF is a Divisional sized outfit, an experienced mercenary force with good knowledge of counter insurgency work and a good battle rating in the War Band Stock Market. The ROF use Battle Groups comprised of Tactical Combat Teams as the basis of a flexible infantry force with organic armoured support. Well trained and equipped, ROF members are volunteers - joining hoping to make some serious cash. 
The core element of ROF outfits is the TCT - the tactical combat team - comprising a small head quarters unit and three fire teams of 8 to 10 soldiers. The fire team are armed with assault rifles, a SAW gunner and usually a missile armed trooper with a team leader and a second in command so that the unit can operate in two teams of 5 (at full strength which is not often). Each fire team has it’s own armoured transport, with the TCT HQ operating out of a mobile command vehicle. The final element of the TCT is the fire support team and reconnaissance team. Three such TCT normally form a battle group under a BG HQ and additional support units such as armour, artillery, air support and the like. Several battle groups as necessary form a combat command and the combat command is the main fighting force that a client will hire for large scale fighting. 
Mission bonuses are shared amongst the teams who undertake a mission, with fully 12% of the contract price going toward this pot. Any additional bonus payments made by the contractor attracted by achievement of specific tasks within a mission (such as the capture of a leader as well as the taking of a geographic location or the destruction of the opposing force) goes straight to the teams involved in the operation. 

Each member of the mission is assessed post completion via the coms links in helmet and armour to ensure they played their part in the campaign. Those deemed to have not participated fully risk losing part of their share or in extreme cases - all of it. The KIA’s have good insurance paid out by the ROF to next of kin or in many cases, to friends or even units within the ROF. A volunteer signs for twelve years. This system of reward creates and encourages success, without the need to create suicidal heroes. Casualties are unavoidable, inevitable and accepted, but are seen in the same light as loss of equipment - expensive and wasteful of profit. The ROF Command is efficient and effective, and the whole war band encourages a sense of esprit more commonly seen in elite regular army forces. There is pride in serving with the ROF. 
Having accepted the contract, ROF intel had little hard data on which to build a tactical plan of action for the upcoming police action. Information on the inward looking Claive was hard to come by, save for a few theological studies some decades before. Because of a tight time frame there was little opportunity to do extensive research and reconnaissance. But then, that is the norm for the ROF, well used to the client mentality of INIDY (I need it done yesterday). Even so, in the days leading up to the first of it’s units crossing the border between Arden and the valley, the ROF intel assessment teams were able to add considerably to the body of work so far compiled on the Claive.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Sytol and the war of unification. Part Two: The Micro Politics and House Arden

Elsewhere, the world turns. The UAP remains in active negotiation with many states, and many states still seek to join. 
One of those states is the the Principality of Arden. Arden is a medium sized state with a stable government and a tradition of survival in Sytol's complex and lethal politics. The ruling house of Arden has reigned unbroken for centuries, and in it’s latest leader, Prince Freklim Arden, has arguably, one of the families greatest strategic thinkers in generations. Arden had begun it’s conversations with the UAP nearly thirty years ago. House Arden always takes the long view, and has built up a network of support and cooperation between other states and long maintained a highly tolerant religious view that has given it stability and plenty of buffer room against potential enemies. Arden was an agricultural economy which slowly developed into a manufacturing and research base which provides wealth and harmony within its borders. For years, the house has sought membership into the UAP at a time of it’s choosing. House Arden has long considered it’s future as a power within Sytol, and has come to terms with the loss of it’s royal status in the future. It has concluded that Sytol's best future is part of the Union. Indeed, members of the royal family have  travelled extensively amongst many planets of the Union which has aided its decision making process. 
But Arden feels it needs to be at the centre of the UAP in the short term (the next two hundred years or so) in order to be able to influence the Sytol government sufficiently well in order to guide the planet to the best outcome. That aim is Union membership but if that fails - it feels it is vital to be sufficiently close to decision making to protect House Arden interests in the future. It cant carry out this mission militarily, it knows that its professional and well equipped force is simply too small for that purpose. But its military command is well trained and highly focused on the survival of House Arden, and it thinks it has found a lever that will elevate Arden into the heart of the UAP decision making process. 
Fully three hundred years ago, Prince Hardlin Gorgot Arden IV allowed a small religious group calling itself The Claive, safe haven in a small, inconsequential holding of the principality. The land was called the Sarl Valley, a narrow strip of fertile land fed by rivers nestled between mountain ranges. To the west lay desert, to the east, the patchwork of city states known collectively as Veldyn. To the North were the wastelands haunted by the clans - the organic sentient alien species known as the Kresh. 
The Sarl Valley was a fertile land, but was a thin strip of civilisation caught between the combined vices of lawless lands. Kresh raids caused constant damage and carnage. The dessert held bandits who regularly raided farms and settlements, and the chaotic Veldyn states often sent warring forces over the passes into the green and pleasant farming lands of Sarl, forcing Arden to maintain large and costly armed forces in the valley out of all proportion to it’s value. 
The Claive settled in the North, in lands mostly depopulated from raids and massacre. It cost Arden nothing to let it settle, but nonetheless the political intelligence of the royal household ensured it retained leverage with the Claive by granting it refuge on a lease basis. 
The Claive was just one of thousands of religious groups - perhaps tens of thousands around the Sytolian world. It is one of the oldest - formed during the great civil war that saw Sytol break apart and fall away from the old Union during the first A’Krian war. They are not an especially unique or unusual sect, seeking enlightenment, but over time they have grown in sophistication and in numbers. As is typical with many similar groups, people joining them sign over all worldly possessions - giving the Claive a regular income and funds. On top of that, the Claive farm and mine in the Sarl, and this provides it with a steady and not inconsiderable income which it re-invests solely into the growth of it’s communities. So unlike very many religious groups, it’s aims are genuinely for the good of its community. 
Over time, the Claive grew. it expanded its settlements, repopulating the Sarl, improved the road network and became a small but successful state of its own - but one only interested in itself. It traded with the outside world, it marketed extensively to attract new members, but otherwise attracted no attention to itself. 
The lease it negotiated with Arden ran out more than forty years ago. Arden would have happily extended the lease but for one little point of geography. The Sarl valley butted alongside lands that gave access to the desserts and the wastelands. Insignificant data. Unless in time of war, access to those wastes in flanking positions became highly valuable...
Arden decided on a policy that tried to dance along a knife edge of political intrigue, gambling for high stakes and influence. If it made too much noise, or acted too rashly, the opportunity for influence would be lost and Arden would have to look for other - as yet unknown opportunities - to gain influence in the UAP. 
Five years ago Arden gave notice to the Claive to quit its legal lands in the Sarl valley. The political council of Arden opined that the Claive would not go, and would endeavor to resist displacement. They were correct. Arden then agreed that the Claive could stay but that the principality would re take full control in the valley, including military and police forces, and the introduction of new colonists from Arden. The Claive refused to countenance such a presence in their sacred valley. 
Arden took their case to the Supreme Court of the UAP, and despite strong and costly legal representation by the Claive, won the right to retake their lands and evict the Claive from the land they had toiled so hard to tame. 
When security elements of Arden arrived at the small hamlet of Jrinn, the southernmost Claive settlement to enforce the eviction, they were fired on. Withdrawing with one trooper wounded, Arden announced it’s outrage, and applied to the Supreme Court for the right to forcibly evict the Claive in line with mandate ZT4709-B. This has been granted, allowing House Arden to enforce its claim militarily. 
Arden’s aim is to take full control of the Sarl Valley. In order to do this, it must clear the Claive of the valley, and it has offered alternative lands for the Calive to settle in. The Claive are of no interest to Arden. They would have happily allowed them to stay in the Sarl forever - they have acted as a highly effective buffer against incursions from the Kresh and other human and non human bandits and raiders - Arden lands have not been invaded for more than a century. But the valley is now of highly significant political leverage for Arden. As it is, the Sarl falls under the mandate - a neutral zone which allows for no UAP forces to enter, no fly over, no military forces. With the Claive gone, the Sarl is legally recognised as part of the Principality of Arden. 
If the UAP were to accept Arden into their family, military forces would be able to use the Sarl to launch potentially war winning flank attacks against the FFA forces in the Black Hills. The chief resistance to the unification process could be overcome in less than five years. This would be worth a great deal to the UAP, and would provide Arden with a priceless bargaining chip for entry into the UAP at level of political influence they could dictate. 
Arden’s chief concern is that their military strategic planning council spotted this potential a decade ago. The fear in the royal inner circle is that sooner or later, military computers on both sides of the front lines will also decipher the Sarl Valley as a rather obvious soft target for either side to exploit. That they have not so far, the planners at Arden command put  down to strategic thinking based on UAP military policy and the mandate. 
Arden must therefore tread wearily and keep publicity of the eviction to a minimum. The greater the news coverage of the events as they unfold, the more chance that a bored intelligence officer in Gaop or the Black Hills will turn their attention to the little known Sarl Valley, look at the maps of the road net available and say “hang on a minute...”
To minimise the chances of publicity, the principality has decided to do what the vast majority of states do in such circumstances. Hire an army to do the dirty work. In this case, one of the best; the Rapid Offensive Force.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Sytol and the war of unification. Part One: The macro politics

A fledgling world government has been in existence on Sytol for fifty seven years, driven forward by the Union of Active Participants (UAP), a group of nation states, corporate bodies, religious groups, and other governments who came together firstly to draw up the laws and statutes that formed the Sytol supreme court, to be followed by a single currency, and then the dissolution of their own governments and tools of power in favour of the democratic collective of the UAP.

This was driven by a desire to end the incessant and chaotic warfare that had racked Sytol since it's alleged freedom from the Union. The UAP saw that, far from liberating Sytol from the myth of Union slavery; the withdrawal of Union control had led to centuries of bitter and deliberating warfare.  
A powerful smaller group within the UAP, calling itself the Enlightened Collective of Mutuality, were the driving force behind the concept of the war of unification. It realised that the UAP ultimate goal of membership back into the Union would be centuries away given the pace of negotiation and persuasion in the fifty seven years in which the process had been rolled out. UAP members feared that the relative close proximity of the A’Krian Empire threatened Sytol’s existence and certainly its freedom. No one wanted to become a client planet of the A’Krian empire with its cruel battle religion and strict caste system. Whilst it looked increasingly likely that a second A’Krian war would break out between it and the Union, and that the Union would win, in the meantime nothing could prevent an A’Krian wide path impi from rolling up and taking Sytol for the empire, or at best, depopulating the planet to send them all into slavery and worse. 
The collective argued that, in order to progress the process at a faster pace, military action against some states was necessary. Their absorption into the growing UAP would encourage less militant states to join of their own free will. The collective successfully campaigned for this concept of a just war through the instigation of citizenship on Sytol - a process that would reward individuals with freedoms and financial security that many could not dream of. This concept of membership was enhanced by a process of participation and diplomacy with the world government with all states and bodies who ruled. These multi layered conversations where called Tiers and each nation, state, royal household, religious group, free state, corporate holding, syndicate etc was allocated to one of the many tiers depending on how far along the path of accepting the broad concepts of relinquishing control of it’s people, lands, laws, currency and industries it had travelled. 
A voice in the world government was an increasingly useful and valuable political tool - and having an enhanced negotiation level in which to enter the world government and so have increased influence within it was for many states very important. The UAP had realised this early on and encouraged the process. As a state progressed through the Tiers, it gained influence within the UAP and more importantly, restrictions on the UAP itself  allowed these states to avoid invasion and forceable absorption. 
The war of unification became increasingly necessary after it was realised that there was a core of strongly independently minded governments who wanted nothing to do with a unified world, law, currency and freedoms, and who certainly wanted nothing to do with membership of the Union - the ultimate goal of the UAP. After all, Sytol had been one of the worlds in many systems which had rebelled against the old Union to seek its freedom during the first A’Krian war. In order to be able to join the Union the whole planet had to be unanimous in the urge to join. At the current pace of negotiation the UAP came to realise that the Collective’s assertion was correct - that referendum was centuries away unless the pace of unification could be increased drastically. Some states would need to be forced into absorption.  
The UAP began to discuss this process with the Union, who had established an embassy on Sytol some seventeen years ago as recognition of the progress being made by the UAP. Both parties agreed that whilst some sort of military coersion was required to provide a catalyst to the process, it was vital that loss of life of civilian populations, damage to property and infrastructure, and industries would need to be minimal. 
UAP rules of engagement mandate ZT4709-B was thrashed out, which allowed defeated entities to join the UAP without a smashed infrastructure and the need to pay huge compensation for wholesale destruction and loss of life. 
Of course, for the boots on the ground, it made no real difference. Death still came, as did terror and maiming. 
The first target for the UAP was the syndicate lands of Orbom: a useful industrial addition to the UAP and one of the vociferous opponents of the concept of world unity. Six of the UAP donated forces and material to the effort which accomplished it’s mission in eight weeks with minimal damage to the industrial complexes which produced 30% of the weapons used on the central continent. The corporate militia had been no match for the combined arms of the UAP. The board of the syndicate was dissolved and scattered, the share holders compensated, the syndicate workers given citizenship into the new world, the business' that supported the syndicate lands allowed to continue trading. The news channels across Sytol exploded, but the general opinion was positive - Orbom had been considered a particularly parasitical organisation. 
UAP learned many lessons from the short war which had cost it nearly two thousand casualties. The main lesson was that war by committee was highly inefficient and that the disparate armed forces did not gel well during the campaign. 
The collective came up with the answer - the UAP needed it’s own army. The Sytol Guard was born. The first ranks of the Guard were taken from the displaced and disregarded by product of wars and conflicts from across Sytol. Controversially, the Collective suggested the orphaned children of wars from around the world. These children were taken in, given a home, indoctrinated into the dream of world unity, trained by the best forces from the UAP. The collective wanted to buy the best equipment the Union had to offer to arm this fledgling army, but the Union would not allow the trade of arms to non-Union members. Others in the UAP argued that in order to prove itself, the Guard would have to demonstrate its skill in battle with equipment no better and no worse than it’s enemies. 
The Guard started life as a Brigade of three small regiments. It’s members were made full citizens of the UAP with the prospect of a very generous retirement (should they make the 30 year ticket), plus other benefits which made joining the guard attractive to other people across Sytol, and young people began to sign up. But it would take time to build up a force that could take on all comers.
In the meantime, the bulk of the campaigns were undertaken by UAP member forces and by making extensive use of mercenary forces. The first targets were easy - individual city states, principalities and religious groups who fell in isolation. But those who were against the whole concept of a unified world came together and formed a loose confederation under the old banner of the Free Fighting Army - the historic confederation which had freed Sytol from the Union centuries before. This changed everything. 
The FFA had no restrictions on the method of waging war, although it suffered the same problems that had first afflicted the UAP forces - a rag tag, hotch-pot of forces armed in a multitude of ways with varying levels of training and professionalism made waging coherent war difficult. If anything, the FFA faced larger problems with each member state vehemently independently minded. Still, they had momentum on their side and when they launched their spring offensive during the traditional raiding season, they struck hard against the UAP forces and forced them back onto the Gaop ridge - the HQ of UAP central command and seat of the World Government at war. Only the deployment of the fledgling and untried Sytol Guard saved the experiment in unification from total disaster. The now divisional size Guard stemmed the assault and hurled it back across the dessert, back to it’s camps in the Black Hills. The subsequent UAP counter attack was in turn halted in this wild hill land and a stalemate ensued as both sides licked it’s wounds and re-armed and refitted. 
The stalemate has so far lasted three years.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Starting the project

Ok. First blog. Hello to you who has stumbled or otherwise come across me. This project started life thanks to Dropship Horizon and the enthusiasm of it's then pilot; Mark who showed me the range and depth emerging in 15mm sci-fi wargaming. At the time I was searching on line for a drop ship model! I was inspired to try sci-fi gaming in 15mm - the grittier end of the spectrum appealed to me and so I began to create a back story for a campaign. In part, this back story comes from a partially written space opera novel I poured out as a teenager. Years ago, I was briefly excited by the Warhammer 40K universe emerging (I brought the very first rule book - wish I still had it - would probably be worth a few bob). I loved the concept of Space Marines who were clearly influenced by Knights Templars and other religious knightly orders. But, after painting up some marines, I absolutely hated the enemies set against them and, as a former serviceman, the idea of battle in a future world being fought using tactics and formations better suited to the Ancient world left me cold. Tanks of WWI fighting at point blank range... I abandoned my troops...years passed...Then the world wide web started to grow and I stumbled across GZG and downloaded their rules and saw the figures on offer. Ah-ha! This blog is an attempt to share with the wider world - whoever cares to read - if any - my slow progress of creating the forces and landscape of the Sarl valley on the former Union world; Sytol. Hold on now; it is likely to be a rough ride!