1958 Paralentum Crisis

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1958 Paralentum Crisis
Part of Greater Axackal Tensions
Ludes.gif
First color footage broadcast
DateApril 17-November 21 1958
LocationParalentum, Axackal Sea
Result

Military Stalemate
Dumani political victory

  • Varnian withdrawal from the eastern Axackal
  • Varnian military leadership resigns
  • Creation of the Varnian Naval Infantry
  • End of Varnian hegemony in the Axackal
  • Varnian-Fantasian tensions
  • De jure annexation of Paralentum by Dumanum
  • Dissolution of the Paralentic Republic
Belligerents
 Dumanum
 Paralentum
 Fanta (Political support)
 Varnia
Template:Country data Paralentic Sovereignty Movement
Commanders and leaders
Dumanum Titus Valerius Maximus
Paralentum Alexius Pulcher

The Paralentum Crisis was a six month conflict between Varnia and Dumanum over the Paralentic archipelago in the central Axackal. The conflict began just before midnight Thursday, April 17 1956, when a large Varnian naval task force, centered around the Varnian fleet carrier Tordenskjold launched a large air strike on the Dumani naval task force stationed at Paralentum, crippling the task force. Soon after Paralentic paramilitaries trained and equipped by Varnia made amphibious landings, supported by further airstrikes and shore bombardment.

The crisis was the climax of a protracted conflict over the control of Paralentum, and the Axackal sea, that began prior to Dumani unificiation and continues to this day. Both countries have long asserted the right to control Paralentum, due to its strategic location, which formed the justification for Varnia's invasion. The crisis caused the complete disruption of diplomatic ties between Varnia and Dumanim, and neither country maintains an embassy in the other's territory.

The air and naval combat during the conflict has been widely studied, and formed the basis for many modern theories of warfare. It was the first conflict that saw large scale deployment of new weapons such as nuclear submarines, jet-powered fighters and supercarriers. It has also been the subject of various books, articles, films and songs in both countries. The conflict is notable for being one of the earliest conflicts that was documented as it happened, both in print, radio and on television, and the amount of video footage that is available from the conflict. Clancy Bangaert's book Hunt for the Gladius, a fictionalised account of the sinking of the Varnian aircraft carrier Tordenskjold, is generally credited with spawning the technothriller military fiction genre.

Background

The Grand Habour of Valleta, the main trading port of the Paralentic Republic, in the late 16th century

Early history

Paralentum was founded as a Dumani colony before 1000 BCE, and formed a vital part of the Dumani Republic's, and later the Empire's, domination of the Axackal, but had been an independent maritime republic since the late 15th century. During the early Age of Sail, the Paralentic Republic was a leading economic and trading power in the Axackal, but became a Varnian client state after a brief naval blockade in the 17th century, marking the beginning of Varnian hegemony in the Axackal. In 1802, with Varnia distracted by the Varnian Revolution, the newly-unified Dumani Republic invaded and annexed Paralentum. In 1811, during the course of the Varnian Revolutionary Wars, Varnia invaded Paralentum and established a sister republic. The peace treaty between Varnia and Dumanum at the close of the Revolutionary Wars established Paralentum as an autonomous Dumani territory and banned military activities.

Varnian forces in Paralentum after occupation in 1811

Dumani Occupation

As hostilities between Questers and Dumanum started becoming inevitable, Dumanum deployed 30,000 troops to the islands to preempt any Commonwealth attack and ensure they could defend supply lines in the western Axackal, and later increased that number to 75,000. Upon learning of the deployment, Varnia protested that it constituted a violation of treaties governing the status of the islands and demanded their withdrawal without success. It quickly became clear to Dumanum that Varnia was preparing to make war over the issue, and a treaty was signed with the then-United Kingdoms of Fanta and Quiberon to make war on Varnia should hostilities break out in Cratea, to avoid Varnia taking advantage of the situation and establishing complete supremacy in the Axackal. In April 1909, as Dumanum invaded the Yehud and declared war on the Commonwealth, the United Kingdoms attacked across the Varnian border at several points. The campaign was initially successful, helped by Dumnai support, but as Sukaria declared war on Dumanum that support was rapidly withdrawn to stabilize the fronts in Cratea, leaving the United Kingdoms to fight Varnia alone. With a combination of superior numbers and industry, and material support from the Commonwealth, Varnia was able to roll back the combined forces of Fanta and Quiberon by early 1910 and had occupied most of Quiberon by the end of 1910. The overall strategy succeeded however, as no Varnian invasion of Paralentum or the Yehud materialized, and forces based out of Paralentum were successful in keeping supplies flowing in the western Axackal, despite Varnian naval superiority and several attempts to blockade Paralentum.

The Varnian Battleship Mjølner (left) and a Commonwealth battleship shelling targets around Paralentum

The conflict between Dumanum and the United Kingdoms, and Varnia came to an end in 1911 through a treat that largely returned to status quo ante bellum between Dumanum and Varnia. The treaty broke up the United Kingdoms and ensured the Sovreignist government in Quiberon, installed during the occupation, would remain in power, but retained Paralentum as a demilitarized autonomous region under Dumanum and reiterated Varnian sovreignity over Svendborg. Dumanum was given six months to withdraw its forces from Paralentum, but without the prospect of support from the Commonwealth, and without public support for further war in Varnia, no forces were ever withdrawn, despite Varnian objections. Worried about Oswinite and Varnian sympathies in the local Paralenti population, Dumanum began a policy of colonization and suppression of the local population that offered land to veterans who settled in the islands and engaged in political prosecution of separatists. In 1926, the local Consul made it illegal to publicly profess a belief in Oswinism and closed all Oswinite churches, and began a campaign of forced destruction of Oswinist texts and symbols. Throughout the 1920s and 30s, a large diaspora of Paralenti formed in southern Varnia and on Svendborg, including several prominent separatists.

The explosion of the Dumani ammunition ship Claudia Rema, claimed to be the result a Varnian sabotage operations

Huglo Incident

Tensions peaked again in May 1946, when the Dumani destroyer Corvus sank the Varnian spy ship Huglo, a converted naval trawler. Varnia had pioneered the use of supposedly civilian ships to monitor other nations' naval maneuvers as the global naval arms race accelerated through the 40s, leading to a range of high profile incidents involving attempted rammings and other attempts to drive them away. On the morning of October 12, 1946, the Huglo was monitoring Dumani fleet movements when the Corvus fired a warning shot across her bow. The shot landed close enough to rock the Huglo, and the Varnian military has claimed that Corvus had actually intended to hit and sink the Huglo. A tense radio exchange followed, which escalated quickly. Less than 15 minutes after the warning shot was fired, the destroyer Corvus came alongside the Huglo, and rammed it. The Huglo, a much smaller ship, capsized and sank quickly. Dumanum continues claiming that the Varnian crew had abandoned ship prior to the ramming.

The incident was widely publicised in media, and became an issue in the on-going Varnian general election, due to the muted response of the incumbent government. Records released later have shown that the sitting government did respond by increasing the flow of arms and other support to the Paralentic Sovereignty Movement, this was not public knowledge at the time, and the hawkish opposition won a landslide victory on promises of increased defence spending and pressure on Dumanum. A recovery effort on the part of the Dumani uncovered encrypted radios and electronic surveillance systems from the wreckage of the Huglo, which were publicly displayed; the Dumani government subsequently indicted the crew on espionage charges and demanded reparations from the Varnian government for "cosmetic damage to the warship Corvus incurred during lawful anti-espionage operations." The crew would ultimately be released without comment in June after a series of secret negotiations.

1949 Uprising

Several incidents during the late 40s and early 50s have been claimed to be evidence of this increased pressure, but few have any evidence behind them. Two of the more high profile incidents include the explosion of the Dumani ammunition ship Claudia Rema, supposedly a sabotage operation carried out by Varnian mini-submarines. Most notable of these incidents was the Uprising of 1949, during which the Dumani Proconsul of Paralentum was assassinated by separatist insurgents and after which 3 alleged Varnian spies were executed alongside the rebel leadership.

Dispositions

Dumanum

The Dumani garrison force was commanded by the island's governor, Proconsul Titus Valerius Maximus. Coming from a naval background, Maximus had been consul in 1946 and appointed was proconsul of Paralentum during the 1949 Uprising in wake of his predecessor's assassination. Upon arrival in the archipelago he immediately exercised his authority to stamp outthe rebellion, which had managed to occupy 30% of the city-island of Crux and almost the whole of Paralentum Minoris at its peak. Over a period of 3 months, he deployed the Palatine Guard and urban cohorts to fight street by street to retake Crux, heedless of any loss, whilst dispatching the III and IX Legions in full force to Paralentum Minoris, where organized resistance was quickly put down and the populace forced into exile. During his time in office, he had been able to partly starve the Paralentic resistance of recruits through establishment of a generous social welfare program among the lower classes, previously the resistance's main source of manpower. This was controversially funded by the implementation of a host of new fees and taxes on foreign vessels making port in Paralentum, which had the effect of further alienating the Varnians. Additionally, he gave the prefect of the VII Palatinae Cohort, Aulus Sabinus, wide latitude in his ongoing counter-insurgency operations, even going so far as to place the island's urban cohorts under his direct command while assigning the XX Legion's III Cohort, comprised of naval special operations personnel, to assist in visit, board, search, and seizure operations in order to stem the flow of weapons to outlaw groups. These actions combined starved the resistance of recruits and supplies as it was being methodically hunted down by the Palatinae and urban cohorts.

Lastly, having largely depopulated Paralentum Minoris during the 1949 campaign, he'd offered land and a seed fund to any citizen of military age willing to settle there. Between 1950 and the start of the war, an estimated 50,000 Dumani citizens moved to Paralentum Minoris, not only filling all of the previously emptied towns and villages, but also Knowing that the Varnians would see the rebellion as a sign that Paralentum was vulnerable, Maximus set about constructing a series state-of-the-art fortifications on Paralentum Minoris, which were to be manned by his soldier-settlers in the event of war. This was done under the utmost secrecy using a combination of military engineer and slave labor. Ever cognizant of the island's political situation, he would often return to the mainland in order to personally deliver reports of his progress to the senate, while lobbying to ensure that the most modern weapons and best recruits available were dispatched to his command. In these efforts he was largely successful, and, among other things, Paralentum became host to Dumanum's first surface-to-air missile units and cohort of MAD.II main battle tanks by the start of the new year in 1958. By that time, the islands' own combat aircraft were entirely jet-powered.

The Dumani battleship Imperator on maneuvers, shortly before the war.

Valletum, the capital of Magna Paralenta, was a major Dumani naval base and home port of Classis II Paralentica. It was Dumanum's second largest fleet after Classis I Hocsaecalica based out of Caprica on mainland Dumanum, responsible for all naval operations in the north and east Axackal Sea. On D-Day, the majority of the fleet was moored in the Grand Military Harbor at Valleta, including both of its fleet carriers, the Iove Optimus Maximus and Nethuns and super battleship Imperator. The fleet had returned 3 days earlier from annual exercises around the archipelago, and the Varnian attack was timed to coincide with many of the crew taking shore leave. The naval base at Valletum was also host to a major naval air station, CA Valletum, where the carrier air groups were deployed at the time of the attack. Legionary forces were comprised of the III and its accompanying Wolohannic auxiliaries and IX Legions, both classiarii, or marine units. The III was stationed on Magna Paralenta and IX on a defensive posture, with vexillationes spread out among the other three isles. In addition, three Auxilia cohorts, I Paralenta Pedita, II Paralenta Pedita, and III Paralenta Pedita, recruited among pro-Dumani elements of the burgher class, were stationed on Melita alongside a vexillatio of the IX Legion. Legionary reserve forces were present on Paralentum Minoris in the form of the LXI and LXII Legions, comprised of that island's citizen settler population whose duty was to man the island's network of fortresses in wartime, which was thought to partly negate any sort of technological deficiency. Apart from those stationed at CA Valletum, the Aeronautica's forces on Paralentum numbered over 200 combat aircraft spread among 6 airbases, 3 of which were located on Magna Paralenta, with fighter bases on each of the other islands. The major cities of the archipelago, Valletum, Melita, and Crux, all had urban cohort garrisons, and in the case of Crux, 3 centuries of Cohors III Tridens, Dumanum's naval special operations force, was deployed on counter-insurgency and counter-smuggling duty.

Varnia

The Varnian naval task force assembled to carry out the invasion of Paralentum was named Cyclone, and was at the time the largest naval force assembled in the Axackal since the end of The Great War. At the time of the attack, the task force consisted of over a dozen capital ships: three early supercarriers, a fast battleship, four fleet carriers and eight cruisers. The task force included 40 transports, seven fleet oilers and several attack submarines acting independently of the task force. Admiral Erik Lindberg was assigned as Commander, Task Force Cyclone. The task force embarked nearly 200 combat aircraft, including modern jet fighters such as the F.5 Korsfarer supersonic fighter. In addition to the naval task force, the relatively new concept of {[wp|aerial refueling}} meant that shore based aviation in Varnia would also support the attack.

The Varnian Constiution enforces strict limits on the size of Varnia's standing army, and as such many of the infantry forces were reservists or fresh volunteers. Varnian soldiers were armed with mostly pre-40s small arms, such as the AR42 semi-automatic rifle and AR02 light machine gun. Some newer weapons were available, such as the very recent MG57 medium machine gun, which was deployed in infantry squads. The Varnian plan relied heavily on air assault tactics, in which helicopters, primarily the new HT-6 utility helicopter, would be used to insert soldiers directly to objectives in and around ports, and allow Varnia to unload vehicles and supplies without relying on beach landings. Of the 6 initial landings on the outlying islands of the archipelago, 3 were planned as air assaults from two commando carriers.

Varnian plans for the invasion reveal that it has vastly underestimated the disposition of Dumani forces. Varnian intelligence relied largely on high altitude overflights using O-2 high altitude reconnaissance aircraft, which limites coverage underneath the forest cannopy. Human intelligence from the Paralentic insurgency and their informants turned out to be largely unreliable. Varnia was also relying on support from the insurgency, which never fully materialized after the Varnian invasion.

Paralentum

The Most Serene Republic of Paralentum was officially headed by Doge Alexius Pulcher, who separatist groups considered to be a puppet of the Dumani. Like Dumanum and Varnia, franchise in the Paralentic Republic was specifically limited, in this case to members of the nobility and burgher classes. The later group formed a legislative body known as the Arengus, with the later appointing officials to the various consilia of the Collegia, the supreme executive body. While in previous years the Collegia had acted as a check on the Doge's powers, Dumani rule had seen its influence thoroughly diminished, with the Doge having near-autocratic powers following the 1949 Uprising. Though officially independent, Paralentum was semi-autonomous, with wide latitude over its internal affairs but virtually no say in foreign policy. By treaty, both Dumanum and Varnia were guarantors of Paralentum's independence, and it had no army of its own. An internal security force, the Carabinarii, had the effective duty of local law enforcement and operated in close cooperation with the urban cohorts of the Dumani Ordinators. At the war's beginning, the Carabinarii had a strength of approximately 20,000 men, the majority of whom were deployed on Crux.

Orders of Battle

Invasion of Paralentum

A Classiarius of the IX Legion engages Varnian troops with his Maurus-Atreides rifle


The Varnian battleship Uredd during the Paralentum Crisis
  • Varnia trains and funds secessionists for a revolution
  • The plans call for limited ground support from Varnian troops, with more involvement of air and naval power
  • Varnia executes a surprise strike on the Dumani navy stationed in Paralentum, demolishing it through SUPERIOR AIR POWER
  • Invasion initially goes well, secessionists make gains on the coast with Varnian air and naval support
  • Meets heavier resistance, Varnia elects to follow up with regular troops before realizing Paralentum is heavily fortified
  • Stalemate in extended forest/jungle(?) battles, heavy casualties by Varnia confident due to naval superiority
  • Jet dogfights
  • Varnian fleet carrier sunk by Dumani submarines, naval parity established, allowing Dumani supplies and reinforcements
  • Dumani offensive drives Varnians towards the sea, Varnia opts to go all-in and pushes Dumani troops back


Operation Cyclone

  • Operation Cyclone-One - Pearl harboring of Dumani fleet forces at Vallaetum (Magna Par.)
  • Operation Cyclone-Two - Amphibious and air-assault on Crux to secure infrastructure and a foothold
  • Operation Cyclone-Three - Amphibious invasion on northern Magna Par. and southern I. Melita
  • Operation Teardrop - Ground-based strategic bombing of military bases on Magna Par. and civilian targets on Par. Minoris
An AJS 16 Lansen attack aircraft carrying two Ms.03 anti-ship missiles, in a similar configuration to that used during Operation Cyclone

Operation Cyclone (Plan Syklon) was the codename for the Varnian invasion of Paralentum. It was the largest military operation undertaken by Varnia since the end of the Great War, involving a large number of naval vessels, aircraft and ground forces. The Varnian plan was further divided into four tasks, Cyclone-One, -Two, -Three and Teardrop, and two phases. The first phase included Cyclone-One, a surprise military strike on the Dumani Classis II Paralentica based in the Grand Harbor at Valleta, and Cyclone-Two, the first attempt to use rotary aircraft to execute a surprise attack on a defended target. Cyclone-One involved a large force of aircraft carriers organized as Task Group Tordenskjold, which included three attack carriers and escorts. In total the attack on Valleta involved more than 80 aircraft. The Varnian attack is largely considered a textbook example of a surprise strike on an unprepared enemy, and of how accurate intelligence can inform an operation, due to the timing being set by the knowledge of when the Dumani fleet would be taking shore-leave and the precise time of watch changes on the fleet. The attack commenced on the morning of April 17th, with the first aircraft arriving to suppress air defense positions and surrounding military airstrips just before dawn, making use of the AJS 16 Lansens navigation and targeting radar to enable accurate attacks at night. The full attack took place within 40 minutes, and represented the first instance of an air-launched anti-ship missile from a jet aircraft being used to attack enemy ships.

The aircraft carrier Tordenskjold maneuvering during the Paralentum campaign
The Dumani battleship Imperator under attack during Operation Cyclone-One

The attack left the Dumani naval forces crippled, with both aircraft carriers and the majority of their escorts sunk or crippled. Varnian losses were light, but not insignificant: 14 aircraft were shot down and another 8 were either scuttled at sea or scrapped after returning to their carriers. The Dumani super-battleship Imperator was hit with at least two missiles and several rocket runs, but remained operational, one of the few failures of the strike considered critical. Very few Dumani aircraft got into the air during the strike, but those that did acquitted themselves well against the older, less experienced Varnian aircraft, with most Varnian losses due to enemy aircraft, as opposed to ground fire. Dumani air defenses, both on land and at sea, had trouble tracking the fast jets used in the attack, and the few SA-MAA missiles fired did not find their targets properly. Experience from this and other early engagements helped refine Dumani air defense tactics, and by the end of the war Dumani SAMs were a lethal tool capable of stopping Varnian airstrikes in large areas around each site. The attack was not entirely flawless from the Varnian point of view. Varnian pilots were among the few groups of soldiers who were long-term professionals taking part in the campaign, but had little experience in combat and the anti-ship missiles used were only introduced in the Fleet the previous year. Only 30-40% of the missiles fired hit their targets, leading to many ship that might have otherwise been sunk being merely damaged or even escaping unharmed. There were also command and control issues, as Varnian tactics for managing fast moving jets in a limited area were still in their infancy. At least one mid-air collision during the strike is attributed to two aircraft attacking the same target from different directions, and after action reports declassified later reveal that the escort pilots had trouble properly targeting Dumani aircraft due to confusing directions from controllers and their wingmen.

Battle of Crux

Invasion of Magna Paralenta

  • Paralentic rebel landings in the North largely unopposed
  • Rapid assaults to link beachheads and move south
  • Support from locals
  • First clash with dumani troops goes well, heavily outnumbered dumani garrisons are slaughtered
  • Dumani troops get organized and clash hard around 1/3rd of the way south on on the island
  • Varnia follows on with regular troops to reinforce Paralentic troops on Magna Paralenta
  • Insert map of maneuvers and battles here
  • Fortified Dumani troops take heavy casualties due to Varnian air strikes and naval gunfire
  • War is going well for Varnia

Invasion of Isla Melita

  • Paralentic landings opposed, basically Omaha beach meets Iwo Jima
  • New sorties generated from carriers finally allow the attackers to break out and establish a beachhead
  • Turns into some hell-hole of isolated Varno-Paralentic forces fighting equally isolated Dumani forces in skirmishes, with no pitched battles being engaged for the rest of the conflict

Operation Teardrop

A Varnian bomb is dropped on a Dumani settlement on Paralentum Minoris
  • Varnian planners initially wanted to land on Par. Minoris but thought better of it
  • Decided to use naval superiority to isolate it and bomb it from the air
  • Dumani bases on Paralentum Majoris also bombed
  • Briefly considered as a war crime in the post-war Varnian political battles, several officers court martialled but settlements were declared a military target and all charges dropped

Sinking of the Tordenskjold

  • Dumani submarine sinks the Tordenskjold
  • Some details on the ensuing chase
  • Varnian naval superiority around Paralentum broken
  • Reserves from Paralentum Minoris
  • Fresh dumani reserves from the mainland

Varnian retreat

  • Heavy Varnian casualties on Magna
  • Pushed back rapidly
  • Crux is causing heavy casualties on both sides
  • Forces withdrawn from Isla Melita and poured into the fight on Magna and Crux to stabilize the fronts

End of hostilities

  • Dumanum offers peace during their push, Varnia refuses and begins pushing back
  • Political moves to engage Fanta in the war by Dumanum (To counter Varnian imperialism?)
  • Domestic pressure due to casualties in Varnia and concerns over a larger war with Fanta
  • Varnia negotiates with Dumanum
  • Ceasefire agreed, possibly with some sort of CFE-like limitations on Dumani troops in Paralentum?

Outcome

  • Varnian change of government leads to Varnian withdrawal