Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Myrentas II Spring offensive

Myrentas II - Tau/UFP battle plan...

Operation End Game, coined by a UFP military streategy was the plan to annihilate the Imperium on Myrentas II and score a major vistory for the Tau/UFP alliance in the sector. The plan would utilise the strengths of their forces, while minimising the risks and covering for the inherrent weaknesses of the forces which faced the Imperium across the Ornz river.

Commander Lightfoot, of the Tau expeditionary force new well the problems the coalition faced on Myrentas II as did his counterpart in the UFP high command, General Gerd S Pattonson of the Hartak 7th Legion. At the beginning of 04.007M42 the situation on the planet had become a tense stalemate. The UFP had recently stabilised the front line along the river Ornz after Tau defeats and had trapped two divisions of Imperial Guard on the wrong side of the river. The Guardsman by this time were running short of fuel and ammunition and a plan to supply them from air was rejected by Major-General Lenord.

To the north the chaos fortress city of Whiteridge remained a thorn in the side of the coalition and Imperuim alike, but satisfied at recent small gains against the Iron Warriors, the coalition leaders decided to strike hard and fast against the Imperium before turning their attention to the chaos forces.

In space the situation was an equally tense standoff. With the arrival of Kor'Vattra Kor'O Auymun at Cernunnos, three protectors were allowed to leave the Tau base and join the Pinnafore at Myrentas. Along with the UFP Tallaxian cruiser squadron the forces in the system were significant, seven cruisers and a battleship. The Imperium meanwhile had but four cruisers but boasted the power of Iron Duka and Agamemnon and the result was a tense and nervey game of cat and mouse. In addition the UFP Mars class were kept in orbit around Myrentas giving the coalition marginal air superiority on the surface.

The generals met to discuss the planned spring offensive in a villa south of the coalition city of Nairnville. Far from the wartorn Rockwell and out of range from Imperial bombing raids. A number of plans were discussed and finally the finishing touches to End Game were made. At the time Lightfoot and Pattonson were unaware of Lenord's planning on the west of the river. The Tau involvement in End Game would be significant, but it is clear from the notes made the UFP now considered the Hartak 7th legion as the key offensive element in any coalition offensive. Behind closed doors the UFP were privately giving the Tau one last chance at making good their battle tactics, or the coalition would forever be led by the UFP. Tau forces would
begin phase I of the offensive on the Imperial front by first using hunter cadres to pressurise the trapped Imperial Guard east of Allentown, before annihilating them completely. Meanwhile in an audacious and flamboyant airborne operation, several cadres would be dropped just to the south of Gethsemane, the Imperial HQ, far to the west of the Ornz river.

The airborne drop would in fact be a feint, with the tau only required to fight for the city until phase II began. The spectacular airdrop by Tau forces would force Lenord to respond, drawing forces away from the front from the east and north to counter the threat of his landing area being overrun and weakening the front line along the river. At this point phase II would begin.

Once UFP intelligence was satisfied the feint had worked, the Hartak 7th legion would blitz its way across the river at Allentown and charge north west, encircling the defenders and cutting them off from their base - under attack from the Tau - at Gethsemane. Simultaneously the light forces of the Sartosan Rangers would cross the Ornz opposite the area of marchy ground between the Scyllian 8th and Librian 101st regiments. Using the rangers in this terrain would give the UFP forces an advantage, as the rangers were specialists in combat in such terrain, unlike the defenders who relied heaviliy on tank support. This attack would seek to pin the Librians and
Scyllians, preventing their quick withdrawal and redeployment.

Once the Hartak Legion and Sartosans were engaged with the Imperial Guard the squat forces were to creat a corridor from Allentown towards the north west. Through this the fast moving armoured elements of the Tallaxian armoured divisions would pour, sowing confusion and destruction to the rear of the Imperial defenders. Cut in two Major-General Lenord would be forced to accept surrender terms or be annihilated.

The End Game strategy played to the strengths of coalition forces but had a number of problems which Lightfoot and Pattonson were acutely aware of.

1) The Tau airdrop, key to the plan, only had thirteen Orcas available to carry Tau forces into combat as all available mantas were being jealously guarded by Pinnafore and her consorts, lest they engage the Imperial battlegroup. With this enough Tau forces, without the support of their skimmer tanks, would have to pin down the bulk of the Imperial garrison at Gethsemane and draw off forces from the front line. In addition the Orcas would be vulnerable to fighter interception and would have to be escorted all the way. With this in mind the attack was planned as a dawn attack.

2) While the coalition high command were reasonably confident on their intelligence regarding the Imperial Guard, there was no way of knowing the whereabouts of the Blood Martyrs - the space marine chapter which had caused so much damage to Tau attacks. If the marines were redeployed rapidly and in strength, the UFP blitzkrieg may falter.

3) The entire plan relied on a swift and decisive breakthrough attack. If victory did not come quickly and casualties were high, both commanders knew that their respective governments did not have the political will to sustain the level of death their forces were experiencing fighting for a small pirate world. The Tau were already looking for other options in the Perseus Deeps, while the UFP, while keen on liberating the occupants of Whiteridge and Rockwell, were not keen on spending too many Tallaxian and Hartak lives in the process... The coalition generals knew this offensive would be their last on Myrentas II

Myrentas II - Imperial battle plan...

The Imperium too were less than happy with the situation on Myrentas II and Lord Commander Xertes was keen that Major-General Lenord get on with it and bring matters to a close - without requesting ever more men and equipment. Even so Lenord's position wasn't rosy. He had less than two-thirds the fighting men and machines he'd had at the beginning of the campaign and sorely regretted the earlier meat grinder missions against the chaos forces in Whiteridge. Lenord could count on two regiments of Scyllians and two Librian, with an under strength (and unreliable) Praetorian regiment in reserve. In addition two companies of Blood Martyrs were nominally at his disposal, but the veteran commander found them more inclined to follow
their own judgement than his directives...

The Imperial Navy had given to him four fighter wings, barely enough to contain the Tau and Chaos bombing raids and both men and machine had become dangerously over stretched in recent weeks. Although he didn't admit it Lenord had already decided not to defend his army from Chaos bombing raids and to hold his fighters in reserve to face the larger coalition threat.

Fuel had become the most precious and scarce resource now in the Imperial sector. But 04.007M42 only armoured tanks were allowed fuel, with even chimera mounted guardsmen forced to walk on foot. A fact which infuriated several commanders of the Librian regiment, who continued to fuel their chimeras in blatant contravention of Lenord's order. Morale among the Guard was dropping and desertion to the coalition was rife.

Despite these problems Lenord still planned a major offensive for the spring once the snow and ice had cleared from the lowlands. Although less ambitious than the coalition plan, which Lenord was oblivious of, the offensive still constituted a major advance. The Major-General's plan centered around the marshland midway down the Ornz river, separating the two major Guard defensive lines. He knew full well that they constituted a holw in his lines which could be easily exploited by the technologically advanced Tau and their UFP allies. It had happened before in the autumn. With this in mind Lenord planned to shut this door into his defences once
and for all.

The plan was simple. Using what amphibious craft he had available the Scyllian 8th regiment, supported by the Imperial Navy, would secure a beachead on the eastern bank of the river just to the north of the marshy ground. Then, using what armour they had the Scyllians would move outward and southward, securing the area opposite the marshland and establishing a perimeter. To prevent rapid redeployment a massive Imperial bombardment from the Librians would pin the defenders to the river.

Knowing the UFP and Tau tactics Lenord expected this phase of the operation to go well, with minimal casualties. The coalition forces would not stand and fight, preferring to withdraw to prepare for a lightning counter assault of such ferocity so as to destroy the Imperial bridgehead. It to was this phase of the operation Major-General Lenord gave great thought.

The Major General requested the aid of the Blood Martyrs in this task, to fend off aggressive counter assaults on the bridgehead while engineers constructed defences and built supply bridges across the river. Once that was complete the bridgehead could be considered secure and the offensive continue. The Blood Martyrs agreed to the plan. Both sides waited as the appointed hour of their attacks arrived...

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