Playing EPIC in 28mm.

Friday, 10 June 2016

After Operation Dragonfire failed, the breakout from Fort Nuttar

The PDF 3 (“Security”) Division had been kept in reserve, Danny Bloodcoat had been aware of the drawn out nature of any campaign to defend his homeworld and the detailed battleplan had been distributed and practiced many times in Planetary Defence Exercises[1].

The remains of the PDF 2 (“Hunter”) Division had ambushed 18 Corps in the wadi system due east of what was now Fort Nuttar.   Despite information from the Drookian diaspora regarding the network of hidden bunkers and armoured subterranean stockpiles to the north[2], purpose built to allow the PDF 3rd Division to hide under the prairie, 72AG sent 17 Korps in that direction to go around region riddled with wadis via the north and then resume the eastward march towards Xyphonica.

17 Korps would either strike forward past the objectives of 18 Corps ‘Operation Dragonfire’ or would meet the PDF in battle and prosecute to a successful (from 72AG’s point of view) conclusion.  

Before Operation Restore, 72AG had reached the furthest extent practicable for their supply chain; it was costing them three gallons of fuel consumed for every two gallons delivered.  The establishment of Fort Nuttar would allow the offensive to relaunch with Xyphonica now only 600 kloms away.
Thus prepared 17 Korps took over the Imperial campaign to reclaim Devos IV for the Emperor.

The PDF plan had been created quite carefully.  At this point, defending the imperial planet from alien aggression, the PDF should have been relived.   In the event that this was not so, the remaining PDF manoeuvre assets would give battle in an effort to rob the invader of much needed strength for the forthcoming concrete hell when they reached Xyphonica[3]

17 Korps may have effectively been one Division below strength at the outset of the war[4], however, it had been in theatre longer and its constituent parts were well used to each other.   902 Division in particular enjoyed three armoured regiments which Comptroller Bellormus’ efforts had kept close to their collective wartime establishment of over a thousand armoured vehicles. 

17 Korps commanders  are used to war having an ebb and flow.  In order to avoid the censure from 72AG, the Korps Commander only reports after objectives have been realised.    All of the Corps Commanders do this. 

The Korps recce screen moves out onto the prairie three days (local) before the 905 (Palladian) Division advances as the Korps vanguard, with the Mordian 7th Iron Guard as the mechanised tip of the shiny spear.   901 (Cadian) Division anchor the southern parallel axis of advance, following a line on their maps, over printed to keep them 80 Kloms north of the Wadi system where 18 Corps advance stalled.  904 (Corbanian) Division, reconstituted since its evisceration piercing the Cudlip Defence Lines, arrayed itself to screen the northern flank of the advance.

902 Division, the Korps’ armoured heart, would be right behind 905 Division, ready to react to any requirement which might arise.  The Legio Astoria’s allied knight houses and pairs of warhounds have been directed by their liege lord to accompany each corps whilst the Reaver Maniples remain in reserve in Fort Nuttar. 

Danny Bloodcoat’s plans, revised since he learned that some of the Drookian diaspora had been recruited into the Imperial Guard, had included this ‘last hurrah’ of the PDFs manoeuvre elements before the last ditch street fighting in Xyphonica.   There are a suite of underground stores, and barracks, protected by a bunker complex, at each of the cardinal points around the city.  Essentially there is enough accommodation for a BCT, with the arms and equipment (including vehicles, a whole TO&E establishment) in deep storage. 

Successive Planetary Governors, for the best part of a thousand years, have been signing off on a plan which involves exporting foodstuffs in return for military aid for the PDF.  The requirement has always been overstated, although not too dramatically, and the resulting items moved from the SPOE to deep storage without being re-commissioned.  So no local servicing records were ever opened for the vehicles or weapon systems or other technical equipment.  This meant that when the DM scoured planets for surplus military gear for the Imperium’s wars elsewhere, Devos IV didn’t have any. 

The PDF plan has always been to fight and scatter when threatened, abandoning arms and equipment (usually either rendered unserviceable or booby trapped) to allow the vital asset (a well trained PDF) to reform at their next stage rendezvous.  It was a strategy designed to get the maximum fighting power out of a limited force.

“Last Base West” is obviously under threat and known to the Imperial Guard.  It contains a lot of resources which the PDF actually need[5].    A plan for its defence was drawn up, based on a wide checkerboard of emplacements in between the underground base and the invaders.   Tens of thousands of mines were laid, to channel attackers into enfilading fire from AT positions.
 Artillery positions were prepared, gun pits with specialised camouflage nets which blend with the prairie and hide field, medium and heavy assets with generous allocations of ammunition; LRMBT from deep storage are commissioned for the available crews and hidden in flanking positions[6].  The AT positions are reinforced with infantry platoons, all with overhead cover, camouflage and further defensive minefields.  

3 “Security” Division, bolstered by the remnants of 1 and 2 Division is now has its own four Brigade Combat Teams back to full strength and additionally had sent enough manpower into Xyphonica for another two BCTs.  These would rearm from “Last Base South” and prepare the city for its last stand.
General Chobi, Commander of 3 “Security” Division has not heard from his superior officer, Danny Bloodcoat, for three months.  But the PDF is organised to not require input from High Command in order to continue its mission; following the Cadian model, command is devolved down to the next appropriate level. 

On the Imperial forward airbase at Fort Nuttar, Avenger dive bomber Squadron Commander Brae Lang attended a Close Orbit Command briefing which made it clear that the success of ground attack missions in the forthcoming offensive was imperative to overall success.  "Operation Dragonfire had shown the Imperial Guard as too weak for the job and incompetently led. Breakthrough by our troops depended on the efficacy of the first missions - Each aircrew must be fully aware of the decisive importance of their efforts."  Close Orbit Command was in no doubt that it would be hauling the land forces proverbial arse out of the fire.  

[1] Even this battle had been rehearsed by the PDF within ten years of the beginning of the invasion.
[2] All up to date and accurate information, after all, these were the people who built it.  Eventually Gen Mantueffel, Gen Zhukov’s COS, would divert G2 data straight to Corps HQ, as leaving it to Zhukov’s circle of intimates at AG HQ inevitably either misinterpreted or simply did not pass on in an efficient manner, any information of any use.
[3] It would also allow time the evacuation of the last civilians and the preparation of the urban landscape for total war.
[4] 903 Division is being reconstituted in the Imperial Guard facilities on continental Acre.  By the time 72AG eventually reach Xyphonica, the Division has caught up with 17 Korps and joined the line.
[5] Now distributed where it will be required.
[6] Not just Leman Russ but also four baneblades and Chimera enough for a battalion. 

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