By the end of 2007 Gordon 'Gerry' Mannheim has proven he knows how to control and manage troops in barracks and in the field. He's proven his combat tactical skills at various levels and his courage. He's excelled at the combat strategic theory and shown he can handle the command administrative aspects. However, he still needs to prove his ability to deal with high level combat strategic and tactical matters in a changing combat situation like happens in real life. Short of going to war this means general command of troops in war games.
Normally the Royal Guards test their future generals by placing them in command of a brigade against another brigade in local war games. However, the King of Shukra has just finished rebuilding his army and wishes to give it a real performance test. He's asked King Herbert to participate in a set of major war games between their two countries to be held in Shukra. The aim is to have the Berant Royal Guards invade Shukra and see how well the new army can defend the country against the invaders.
King Ahdeed ascended the Shukra throne in 1990 and is a totally different proposition to his father, and is a lot like his grandfather. He seeks an understanding and unity between the two countries. These war games will help to expand that as well as test the mettle of both forces.
Five sets of war games are planned. Each with a number of different scenarios and force sizes. The only agreed upon force limitations are:
1. All forces to use their existing general issue weaponry.
2. No air capability to be used for combat, troop transport, or intelligence.
3. No sea combat capability to be used except as troop transport.
The aim is to test the land force capabilities and only the land force capabilities. For each set of war games targets are assigned and the Berant forces have to capture or destroy the targets while the Shukra forces must intercept and stop them. The defenders aren't told what the specific targets are, just the general area involved. They must defend all targets in that area or wait and react to the attackers.
In each case the Royal Guards use limited forces while the Shukra army uses the forces normally available in the region. The various Shukra forces are rotated in and out for the war games, but the force size in each region stays at its normal assigned level for the duration of the whole set of war games.
In the first four sets the defenders win each one. They managed to stop the attackers from carrying out the majority of their objectives, but at horrendous costs. The umpires judge them as Pyrrhic victories for both sides. The attackers are stopped and forced to withdraw after taking heavy losses while destroying just under half of their objectives. However, the defenders' losses are several times that of the attackers. Very costly for both sides - if it was a real life battle.
For Gerry's test he's to choose a headquarters company and any two regiments he wishes. He's to use any delivery service he wants that's in keeping with the above rules. He's to plan the campaign and manage it in the field, but not lead any specific attacks on targets. His force must destroy the five selected targets in the area, returning with himself and a minimum of 25% of his attack force. Capture of himself is a loss for his force. The area they're to attack is the two districts of Shukra just north of the border at the main road crossing. This area includes a brigade of armoured units stationed in three bases, three infantry brigades in three bases, and three specialist border patrol regiments; a total defensive force of twenty-nine thousand nine hundred troops against his two thousand eight hundred and twelve troops. The defenders are over ten times the size of the attackers, but they have to cover a lot of territory.
His targets for destruction include four armoured regiments in two of the bases, one of the border patrol regiments, and two light industrial factory complexes. In each case inflicting more than 75% casualties counts as destruction. The targets are spread right over the designated area, so the defenders will have plenty of opportunities to inflict severe damage to his forces. He has four weeks to prepare and conduct his war campaign. This is the largest of the planned war games with the combat over the biggest area and involving the most troops; the others were for a single regiment, or less, of attackers in one district or part of it.
Planning to Win
In umpiring war games there are certain difficulties like supervision of the general conducting the campaign during the planning and execution, to ensure they keep to the rules. The supervisors may not give any advice, but are to point out when the general looks like violating the rules. To be fair in the post combat evaluation the umpires scoring the combat aren't involved in the supervision during the planning and execution. Due to the scope of this exercise, and it being the largest one to be held, there's a shortage of suitable officers to act as umpires and supervisors. The war games organisers are surprised when General 'Granite' Mannheim comes out of retirement to supervise the planning and General 'Demon' Tandar volunteers to supervise the execution. They all understand Granite wishes to see how his son goes about planning a battle of this sort, but don't realise Jessica Tandar had a role to play in developing his combat skills too.
Jessica has had an interest in developing Gerry's combat skills since he first started discussing tactics and strategy with her at the Landing's Field Restaurant when he was eight years of age. She's very interested to see how he puts the precepts they've spoken about into practice as a general in the field. Funnily, of the three generals involved he'll be the first of them to actually command a full brigade in field exercises. Both his father and Jessica were promoted to general in the field just prior to their retirement. Despite that, they do know what's required of them to do their supervisory duties in this task properly.
Once he's given his objectives and operational details Gerry gathers his planning team together. Quite a few are surprised about his choice of operational planning staff, but his father isn't. His cousin, a RIS military analyst makes sense. Even the retired Orca Captain, 'Braces' Harding, for naval information. But the two young civilian women and the medical major are a surprise for many of the interested watchers.
Finally, in sheer desperation, the supreme commander of the Royal Guards, General Rochester, takes him aside and asks him. She's not involved in the assessment in any way and is very intrigued with his choices. She says, "OK, Gerry, you've got me! Please explain your planning staff choices and why you don't have anyone to give you technical specifications on any of our equipment. I'm asking out of interest on how your mind works."
Looking at her with a wide grin, he asks, "Is it Guard Prime who asks or a very frustrated aunt?"
Laughing hard, she replies, "Both, give!"
Also laughing, he says, "OK, Captain Harding is included because he used to do anti-pirate patrols up that way. He knows the sea and the coast very well. He used to take many holidays in the region to visit relatives who live on that part of the Shukra coast. He's my coastal area expert." She nods, because this is understandable and data that isn't on his Guards file. "Vicky and Isobelle are on-board because I'm updating the intelligence packages on the targets. I'm not allowed to use standard intelligence sources or methods. So I'm using the public ones. Those two are wizards at making the Internet disgorge everything it knows about anything, they're checking what's available about the objectives." She's very surprised by this, but it makes sense and is in line with his way of going around a problem. "Angie is my sounding board and looks for basic errors or problems. She's had basic strategy and tactical command training, but not the advanced training, so she'll see any obvious stuff my wearied eyes miss." Again a good choice, and she nods. "As to why no technical experts, I don't need them. All the boats we'll be using came out of the Dream Boats yards and are my designs, so I know their capabilities better than anyone else." Her eyes go wide at this, because she didn't know he designed them. "The same with the rest of our specialist equipment, it all comes from my factories and most are my design or one I've studied and approved."
In shock, she asks, "Gerry, how rich are you?"
Giggling, he replies, "I don't think I should tell you as I'm not sure your heart can take it." Her eyes go wider, "Let's just leave it at: my total tax bill is more than the parliamentary budget since it's spread out over all the tribal council areas as well." Her eyes go very wide as they both have a good laugh. He's surprised her with that bit of information because she knew he had some businesses, but not how well they did.
Calming herself, she says, "Well, the next time you offer to pay for lunch I won't object. I think you can afford to buy me lunch after you win this. You're so much out of my league you must be out of theirs."
.... There is more of this story ...