Playing EPIC in 28mm.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Snakes in Paradise.

The various staffs of the three Corps (each of five divisions) have an unsettlingly random relationship with 72AG (" 'Group " to the various staffs).  Various officers at ‘Group, insulated from the fighting by being on the other side of the planet, on a different continent[1], can be more focused on their own careers, lining their own pockets and currying favour with 'The General' (4* General Zukhov, the commander in chief of 72 AG and effective ruler of Devos IV).  The shooting war is a long way away and the PDF cannot win (The General says so), so internal intrigue provides mental and emotional stimulation which a mere real shooting war does not. 

The fact that the conduct of the campaign and running of the planet has been devolved almost in its entirety to the four Plenipotentiates means that what actually happens in ‘Group is, in effect, just tinkering[2].  However,  for the Corps staffs, actually piquing someone’s interest in ‘Group can allow a deputation or submission from their Corps to by-pass normal channels an speed up delivery of a particular resource, steal a resource destined for another Corps or reverse a decision affecting the Corps[3].

The behaviours which facilitated such shenanigans are largely practiced and perpetuated by the Vostroyans; Duty officers from other, disparate, hereditary ‘Guard populations, such as Elysians, Cadians or Krieg would rebuff such requests out of hand.   Duty officers from Iron Guard related populations, Mordians, Palladians or Preatorians would ignore all requests, unless they came from higher ranking officers, in which case they were passed on.  Duty officers from populations where military life is governed by nepotism, Vostroyan, Volpone and Knovians, would all act outside of due process when approached by those with whom they shared some sympathy[4].

Inefficiencies caused by the friction of war, added to decisions were made about the ground war with which the Imperial Navy disagreed, caused bafflement in Close Orbit Command.  Relationship difficulties were exacerbated by further difficulties caused by interference due to corruption[5].  By the time the Operational Corps regrouped at Fort Nutter, the frustrations with the rest of ‘Group HQ which were felt by Close Orbit Command were beginning to show[6].

Further problems are caused by the casual and unprofessional way intelligence is received, processed and disseminated by 4* Gen Zukhov’s inner circles[7].  In general, following the attitudes of their leader, the Intelligence cells within 'Group are not treated with any importance at all, after all, the important thing to the mindset of the typical Vostroyan Officer is that the conduct of open battle is all important; an anti-intellectual arrogance regarding what the rest of his Operational HQ view as paramount has driven a wedge in between many of the parties responsible for the war[8].

Comptroller Bellormus had put in a huge effort to resource the Campaign adequately[9].  The Macharian Thunder Guard had landed on Devos IV and could have been moved to the front by the time Operation Restore concluded.  The Division sized cavalry unit was due to become 903 Div of XVII Korps.  However, 3* General Ramos wanted them for XVIII Corps.  This produced falling out between the two Corps Commanders[10] and between Comptroller Bellormus’ staff and the Vostroyan watch keeping team of Col Polarneirov.

The failure of Operation Dragonfire and subsequent success of XVII Korps at Chobli has not helped relationships between Corps HQ and ‘Group. 

The disparate habits of the various ethnicities, their differences have so far been something of a talking point.  If the Imperial force on Devos IV becomes larger and more disparate, the differences in mannerisms[11] could become a potential stumbling block.

As if to emphasise the troubles which hamper any such endeavour, the units which arrived to form 4 Div and 4 Div of XXXVIII Corps included

·         143rd DKK Siege Regiment
·         90th DKK Heavy Artillery Regt
·         141st Elysian DTR “Helldivers”
·         Cadian 120th Mechanised Infantry Regt
·         Bollostar 234 Independent Combat Engineer Company
·         Bollostar 235 Independent Combat Engineer Company
·         Bollostar 236 Independent Combat Engineer Company
·         5th Sturgot DTR “The Emperor’s Spear”
·         26th Valhallan First Born Field Artillery Regt
·         6th Gudrun Rifles
·         670th Sturgot Independent AT Battalion
·         Knovian 44th Armoured Brigade (mixed AFVs in fourteen independent companies)
·         6th Strugot Infantry Regt
·         7th Sturgot Infantry Regt
·         872nd Sturgot Drop Engineer Company
·         873rd Sturgot Drop Engineer Company
·         42nd Strugot Drop Field Apocartharion detachment

Sturgot is a military depot on Agripinna fed by rest and rehabilitation facilities which deal with broken or combat ineffective units and remnants; each is a composite unit of widely varying skills and experience[12].  Individuals may still show the effects of physical or psychological trauma. Units may have a lot of time to meld, become functional and re-train to their new role, or perhaps a familiar role with new comrades[13].

For historical reasons Knovian and Gudrunites do not make good stablemates. Additionally, The Knovians are valiant, individually courageous and collectively brave.  They are skilled at their own roles as AFV crewmen and excel at small unit armoured warfare.  They don’t like taking orders and are hopelessly unpractised and unwilling to try large formation deployments.  The DKK 143rd Siege Regiment had been declared surplus to requirement by the Imperial 3445th Army, who had trouble with DKK units ‘getting a bit carried away’.  DKK reinforcements en-route to the 3445th Army have been reassigned to 72 AG.

The 5th Sturgot DTR are formed from a diverse population of experienced soldiers with very high professional standards.  Their immense esprit de corps and pride at being an elite unit formed from last survivors has meant that they have ended up fighting with every other unit they were billeted near.  The 7th Sturgot Infantry are the remnants from only three backwater foundings who had lost their entire compliment of officers and commissars in their first battles, making them in the eyes of the DM more or less the ultimate unknown quantity.  

Not all of the reinforcing units allocated can be put together with any other part of the army, they can all work, but need to assigned to formations where they will fit in and not cause problems for other parts of the army.   Comptrollor Bellormus’s staff are aware of this and have a plan for assigning the units, including needing to reassign some units already in the line, in order to get the best possible performance out of the units being sent.  This plan has been agreed with the Operations Team.  

Comptrollor Bellormus has asked the Imperial Navy to land this latest tranche of reinforcements directly at Fort Nuttar.

There are good operational reasons for landing at Fort Nuttar, it being the forward operating base for the whole army.  It is the point to which the entire planetary supply chain delivers.  Equally importantly, although no one would ever admit it; 4*Gen Zukhov will be somewhere en route from the SPOE[14] to Port Randstad.  Landing ‘where they are needed’ will cut out a 36000 Klom rail and sea journey.  And hopefully avoid the General’s interference.

[1] After Operation restore when the Plenipotentiates move to Fort Nuttar, 72AG moves from near the space port on Acre to the sea port of Randstad at the furthest part of continental Benq.
[2] 4* General Zukhov likes to take a personal interest in every aspect of the Campaign and often makes tactical decisions, some of which (depending on who is on duty at ‘Group) are then transmitted straight to the subunits involved without recourse to their parent formations.
[3] Obviously this is wasteful, inefficient, counterproductive and contrary to the Tactica Imperialis.  But custom is so much stronger than law.
[4] Sympathy on any basis at all; shared ancient battle honours, table fellows at formal mess dinners, all manner of fast talking or promised payments either in money, battlefield loot or decorations.
[5] XXXVIII Corps ran its tanks on Avtur for a two weeks prior to Fort Nuttar being finished.  The knock on consequence being they did not have adequate air support for Operation Dragonfire.  The situation was entirely their own fault for misdirecting the fuel.  And the lack of lubrication in the Avtur would result in an increased maintenance burden in their AFV fleet during the initial assault on Xyphonica.
[6] Close Orbit Command is the title of the Imperial Navy’s contribution to the atmospheric campaign, transport, strategic and tactical resources.   Being effectively a ‘fourth Corps’, its officers were dismayed at the level of intrigue and absence of co-operation.
[7] Quite often intelligence delivered to AG72 HQ directly is ignored and not passed on to the Operational Team.  Conversely, information from the intelligence and security cell presented by the Operational team, intended for 4* Gen Zukhov himself is often received by junior members of his personal staff, 'the General' being "unavailable".  It is extremely doubtful whether this is ever passed on or not. 
[8] 4* Gen Zukhov has previously intervened in operational matters by ordering forward the Cadian 144th Field Artillery to perform a recce task, leaving the Cadian 144th LRRR standing.  There are many occasions where he has done things like this, not normally as obviously inept, but still causing downstream problems for those who have to mitigate the effect of his interventions.
[9] By the end of Operation Restore, XXXVIII Corps is fully staffed.  Additionally, somewhat to Comptroller Bellormus’ surprise, units to form a second two Corps Army Group begin to arrive at the starport.  
[10] 3* General Ramos does not dislike 3* General Wellbahn, but understands how a Vostroyan Command will run and is playing the situation to best advantage.
[11] Vostroyans of equal social standing will salute (the emperor, as everyone has an aqilla on their uniform somewhere), kiss on both cheeks and then salute again.  Officers and enlisted  men will also not address each other directly, all communication going through SNCOs.  The DKK will remain properly dressed when on duty, which includes remaining masked, even indoors or inside a vehicle.  This causes problems with nearly everyone.  These are two examples of the challenges faced when trying to get such a diverse army to work.
[12] It is the nature of such things that on occasion, persons who felt they might have been let down by another unit on a campaign somewhere will find themselves in the same position somewhere like Strugot and end up in the same unit.  Due to the scale on which the Departmento Munitorium works, where this is likely to manifest as a problem downstream is not addressed.   There are enough commissars at the Sturgot Depot to ensure that there are no problems on Agripinna.

[13] Occasionally, units departing Sturgot are adequately rested, experienced soldiers with a professional outlook. The very best are channelled into new Drop Troop Regiments, of which there is always a shortage.

[14] Star Port Of Entry.  On the North Western coast of the loyalist continent of Acre.  Initially, AG HQ was at the Starport. 

1 comment:

  1. Love these. It's that human aspect which is missing from the 400th Century universe.