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The Usean Continental war of 2004

Part 1: Introduction to this Military History Essay of The Usean Continental war. AC4 is the most praised game of the series for featuring what many considered the most finely tuned combat model of the series. Others praised the game for its narrative, which was presented in a simple and interesting fashion. Finally, others have praised the game for its sensibility. Few have taken the time to look beneath the game’s face with enough suspension of disbelief to realize just how well the storyline of the game comes together. Not in narrative, but in strategy. The decisions made by the game’s national “characters,” the militarist state of Erusea, and the multi-national coalition ISAF (Independent State Allied Forces), fall within the patterns of normal human decision making and judgment. Even when the game begins to place the storyline further onto the importance of normally madcap “super weapons” it can still be explained rationally. Not only can it be rationalized but, the real teller of the narrative’s quality is that, it can be rationalized easily. The purpose of this essay is to give any player of Ace Combat 4 a more personal and human view of the war that the player might miss otherwise. In no sense is this a jab at the game at all, however, in the same way a pilot does not see his adversary the way a sniper does his, the player will most likely miss the strategic reasoning going on here. Hence; this essay.

Part 2: The events preceding the Usean Continental war. Years before the game took place it is made clear that Srangeral was threatened by the impact of a planet-killer Asteroid “Ulysses 1994XF04,” but we shall call is simply Ulysses for convince sake. Ulysses was detected very late and many frantic attempts were made by the governments of the planet to stop its landfall. The continent of Usea was successful in developing a more conventional and, furthermore, an operational weapon to attempt to stop Ulysses. This was the land based artillery platform Stonehenge, otherwise known as STN, or the Stonehenge Turret Network. Stonehenge was a massive facility consisting of 6 skyscraper sized Rail artillery guns firing projectiles deep into space at extremely high velocity. On Saturday, July 3rd, 1999 at exactly 03:30pm USEA eastern standard time the Ulysses finally reached earth's vicinity. It then, unexpectedly split into more than a thousand pieces as it passed the Roche limit. Many of these Ulysses Fragments then plummeted to Earth. The World's nations did not expect this happening, but reacted quickly. Stonehenge engaged the larger fragments of the 1994XF04 Asteroid and did it's best to protect the Planet. Still, Hundreds of Asteroid fragments smashed into the Usean and Anean Continents. On the Usean Continent alone, over 500,000 people perished within the first two weeks, and damage was estimated to be the equivalent of 18 months of the total GDP for the entire continent. Some countries were spared of impact. But several other countries, including Emmeria and Estovakia, were badly hit by Ulysses fragments. A notable example of a fragment fell on the city of Farbanti. Countless people there were doubtlessly killed, and thousands more were injured. The fragments of the asteroid had such impact that the Usean continent had suffered extreme damage along with the other nations. The fall of these smaller asteroids left many nations destitute and broken. Economies were ruined, industry was annihilated, and confidence in civilization was broken. The planet was ripe for decades of post-disaster (non-cold war oriented conventional) wars. This is exactly what the Ace Combat games portray in varying quality.

“Erusea” The impression we get from the game is that Erusea was rendered destitute by the massive funds it had placed in Stonehenge. This was rendered worse by the landfall of many small asteroids right on Erusea. The nation must have been complete chaos after the crisis. This would explain the seizure of power by a right wing, military government. This government is never explained much in writing, but the game’s narrator did call them “fascists” in his youth. Giving us a fairly good idea of how the world saw them. Combine that with the frequency of fascist governments in Strangereal’s history (See: Ace Combat 5/0) it’s not outward to say that Erusea had become a violently expansionist and nationalist nation. This, along with Nationalism, military takeovers and the like, was undoubtedly Erusea’s bane and more importantly, its casus to go to war. However, Erusea, the individual nation on the north western peninsula of its home continent, Usea, had to contend with some problems. For one, it was only one nation, rivaled against a continent full of other nations and their overseas allies. The industrial limits could not be surmounted. Thus, Erusea would have to rely on its own brand of warfare, taking advantage of new tactics to propel itself to continent wide dominance. For this, Erusea created and used, 3 “Cards” of its strengths that would cover for its weaknesses.

The Weapons of Erusea – Stonehenge, the Aegir Fleet, and the Yellow Squadron. A. Stonehenge – After the failure of Stonehenge against Ulysses, the installation probably fell into disuse and abandoned. (Dismantling it would only take funds away from rebuilding the nations) Its role completed, though I can imagine it was anywhere in the midst of conversion to a museum or scrapping. No one envisaged Stonehenge’s capabilities as anti-aircraft platform, except for Erusea. Since it doesn’t appear to have been designed for the role, Erusea must have discovered the STN’s terrifying Anti-Aircraft capabilities in some other fashion. Regardless, when the war began Stonehenge single handedly forced the total withdrawal of Usea’s Air Forces. They simply could not be used. Usea’s ground armies, unprepared for war, had no choice but to run. Survival became the only option. Usea could not be held. This was a shattering example of the STN’s power. That being said, Stonehenge was not without limits. It design called for its artillery platforms to fire shells of what had to be amazing muzzle velocities. The rigid demands of design limited its low angle firing range as shown by the game’s strategy maps. The STN’s range was not limited by the pull of gravity on its shells as they fell to the planet, otherwise Stonehenge could have been used to devastate entire armies as well. Stonehenge was limited in range by the curse of all high velocity weapons. Line of sight. Stonehenge fired shells of such speed that their ability to break the planet’s gravity was actually unstoppable. The range limit shown on maps was the point where the shells fired by Stonehenge could no longer conform to the curvature of the planet, and would accelerate off harmlessly into space! Thus, Stonehenge could not engage targets of just any location. The Erusean’s probably attempted to reconcile this problem, but to no avail as the war turned against them and the difficulties of making the shells fall back to the planet became insurmountable. Why was Stonehenge so important then? Potentially because Erusea’s own Air Force…was weak. The game inadvertently confirms this on many occasions. Most of the missions in the game are raids on strategically important installations protected by little more than the local patrol force. (Beyond the cover of the STN.) The few times the Erusean’s manage to cobble together an actual “Aerial Strike Force,” that strike force is catastrophically defeated. Erusea’s air force wasn’t just limited in equipment; it was limited in the quality of its personnel. Erusea’s pilots just weren’t as good as everyone else’s. Why would this happen? Ace Combat is a world like ours, where the superiority of the modern jet fighter over the battlefield is apparent and ensured. Why would Erusea fail to comprehend this? The answer? They didn’t. They just didn’t take it seriously due to cultural aversion of its pride and joy, and also ironically, it’s second “weapon.” B. The Aegir Fleet - So just why did Erusea neglect building an Air Force of comparable capability to the rest of the Usean countries? Potentially because of their history. Erusea is a nation surrounded on almost all sides by, water. Its capital, Farbanti, rests on the southern coastline of its nation. I suspect this has led the Erusean’s to the cultural belief of naval supremacy. Much like Impieral Japan or the British Empire of recent. Their military culture was almost religiously devoted to the notion of Naval Supremacy. Ownership of the seas, and Mahan’s “Decisive Battle.”

Accordingly, Erusea built a massive blue water Navy of great offensive reach and capability. Mission 6, the attack on the Aegir Fleet at harbor, shows that as a naval force, it is well equipped…with surface engagements in mind.

The Aegir Fleet consisted of many missile cruisers, destroyers, a super carrier, and numerous submarines. The Aegir Fleet even operated several battleships! (This also shows that even though the Erusian’s are sailors, they take pride in their heritage, battleships are quite obsolete for maritime naval projection) Not only that, but the Aegir Fleet revealed impressive sea lift capability as well. It had many military transports of varying class and tonnage. Not only was the Aegir Fleet perfectly capable of defeating most of the world’s own surface vessels, it was even able to follow up a “Decisive Battle” with a devastating amphibious landing campaign. The Aegir Fleet was considered so dangerous that it had garnered a planetary reputation of “Invincibility”. Either during the war, or in Erusea’s history, it must have proven its mettle somewhere to obtain such a reputation. Otherwise, ISAF would not have considered it such a threat to their forward base at North Point.

But like Stonehenge, it had weaknesses. Erusea’s cultural aversion to air power had apparently infected its naval planners. Who failed to construct an adequate Naval Air Arm. It’s likely that the Erusean leaders saw no need for it. They believed that Stonehenge would be so successful it would render the days of naval aviation to history and bring back a return to the age of massive surface armadas. Hence the “Aegir Fleet” was a comparable force to Germany’s “High Seas Fleet”, Britian’s “Grand Fleet”, and Japan’s “Combined Fleet”. It was the biggest single operating force of its navy, and it had been prepared to engage the targets Stonehenge could not.

It would cost them of course, to operate the fleet beyond the safety of Stonehenge and on the reliance of land-based air cover. The Erusean’s seemed to be aware of this however, that their lackluster Air Force would not be able to pick up the slack of defense once Stonehenge no longer played a role. This led to Erusea’s next playing card, the antagonists in the game.

C. The “Yellow Squadron” – Erusea’s newspaper headline force. The Yellow Squadron was a tiny but elite air wing of particularly skilled airmen. Probably handpicked from the ranks of Erusea’s Air Force and of foreign air forces from around the globe. (Speculation has been brought about weither Yellow 13 himself was a Belkan ace of the war in 1995 on the Osean continent, as AZ0’s assault records wouldn’t hinder this to be fact) the Yellow Squadron demanded the best of its airmen, better than the ISAF’s. It would train and equip them accordingly. The standards of its training, as well as parameters of its requirements, would probably disqualify over 90% of the other pilots in the Erusean Air Force. This meant that Yellow Squadron would be a force of incredibly skilled aviators with amazing Kill/Loss ratios, but they would be forever damned by their standards. Incapable of admitting a force of great size and essentially remaining at squadron strength through most of the war. The leader of Yellow Squadron, “13” was elevated to the status of public icon as the game had made clear. His squadron became internationally notorious when the war started. Amazingly, they had become as feared as Stonehenge. Probably beyond the PR projections of Erusea’s military planners. Thus, the real purpose of the Yellow Squadron was revealed. The Yellows were the public face of Erusea’s tiny and underequipped Air Force. They would mask the deficiencies of Erusea’s air power by claiming one front page after another. “The Flying Terror of Erusea Strikes again./Erusea’s Yellow Squadron Destroys Entire Allied Air Wing./Yellows Downs Another ISAF fighter over the City!” The public relations disaster that the Usean nations had to contend with following Stonehenge was already insurmountable. With the Yellow Squadron backing it up, who could guess that Erusea’s Air Force wasn’t actually up to the challenge posed before it? To compound the fear of Erusea’s capabilities, they publically announced that Stonehenge would be protected by the constant Air Cover of the Yellow Squadron who would be based at the facility. This made Stonehenge a social fortress. Even if you could amazingly sneak an air attack on Stonehenge, how much could they possibly hope to achieve fighting those demonic pilots? Of course, it was limited. Erusea limited the Yellow Squadron to the role of defense. They would spend many of the war’s most important operations uselessly sitting at Stonehenge practicing maneuvers and mock attacks, then bragging about their “accomplishments” at the local bar the following night. Occasionally, the Yellows would be roused to defend or re-enforce a beleaguered frontline position, but their distance to the front would ensure they arrived too late or too exhausted every time. Erusea’s capabilities were all designed to work in conjunction with one another so they would cover for Erusea’s own irrevocable deficiencies. Erusea knew it could never hope to take over the planet. But Usea seemed to be just waiting for it. Erusea could take advantage of ISAF’s unprepared state, removing them from the local hemisphere entirely and securing the continent of Usea of their “breathing room.” They would take advantage of the seas and distance to make a re-conquest of Usea a staggeringly monumental operation of impossibility. ISAF would have no choice but to negotiate for the cession of hostilities perhaps to be paid for by Erusean “concessions” of captured bases back to them. Just like Imperial Japan’s grand dreams of post war negotiation and political games.

However, the likelihood of success in such a grand dream was miniscule.

To the delusional leaders of a military government, such a small chance probably seemed so much bigger from where they sat. As always happens.


The Independent State Allied Forces was a multinational coalition of Allied States and Militaries of Usea and overseas states created during the Ulysses Asteroid Crisis. ISAF was a directly unified response of the planet’s governments to the threat posed by Ulysses and the likely after affects it would have on Strangreal. I’m not sure if it was explicitly mentioned that Erusea was a member of this coalition, but it would seem likely given their central role in the construction of Stonehenge. Following the landfall of Ulysses offspring, Erusea probably left ISAF citing its lack of interest in the plight Erusea’s post-collapse infrastructure.

In the game, ISAF is the organization that the player, Mobius 1, fights for. ISAF seems to be primarily based around nations in Usea but its support from overseas is apparent. How else could they retake an entire continent otherwise? Most likely this all came from Osea, Strangreal’s allusion to America with similar traits and foreign policy.

ISAF is headquartered out of a large island off the Eastern Coast of Usea known as “North Point.” North Point is roughly analogous in size and position to Great Britain when compared to Usea geographically. North Point possess many Air Force bases and probably has many production facilities and maintenance bunkers designed to supplant North Point as a giant island siege fortress in the event of an invasion from what was likely a nation off to the eastern ocean. North Point’s role as an island fortress was probably motivated by historical use in that role. It is very well placed to cover Usea’s eastern and southern approaches. When the war broke out, ISAF immediately retreated the majority of its land, air, and sea forces to North Point since the island was beyond Stonehenge’s effective range. Only a neglected land Army remained in a peninsula of Usea’s directly north of North Point, and this force was quickly withdrawn once North Point was secure against strategic bombing. ISAF’s original strategy probably called for the use of North Point as a base to blockade Usea and potentially force the Erusean’s to seek a settlement or be deprived of international shipping. This strategy was probably thrown out once it became apparent that the Aegir Fleet would ruin any blockade and international shipping wasn’t very important to a single nation now controlling a continent the size of North America. In addition, the ISAF operates many small space centers to an archipelago south of North Point that were probably constructed during the days of Ulysses crisis. Construction them on low ground level islands seems like a fairly poor idea though, so they may have been built on those locations beforehand. ISAF used the launch facilities for the deployment of spy satellites during and probably before the war. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it was probably one of the satellites from these facilities that detected Ulysses approaching the planet. They may even have directed the rounds fired by Stonehenge so as to achieve far greater accuracy in shot placement. ISAF was caught unprepared for what the Erusean’s were packing when the war started. Though apparently they weren’t unprepared for war otherwise they would have been eliminated outright. Strangreal’s history is full of large scale modern wars where the airplane has proven its dominance again and again. ISAF, like any first world coalition, took these lessons to heart.

ISAF’s weapons of war – The Allied Air Forces, Mobius Squadron. A. The Allied Air Forces – The nations of Strangreal are strongly devoted to the capabilities of aerial dominance in war. The airplane is the undisputed king of strategy. Throughout history, desperate nations with a faltering war effort tried to construct super weapons of varying, almost comical, grandeur to even the playing field. Strangreal does not seem to know much of Guerilla Wars. The Cold War never happened, so the deterrent to wars on Earth, the fear of planet destroying MAD, is not present. The interesting thing is, nuclear bombs and even ICBM’s appear to exist on the world of Ace Combat and are used extensively in the “super weapons” shown in the games. The only time and instance where Nuclear weapons were used as weapons on their own was during the Belkan War of 1995. Nuclear warheads are frequently tied in conjunction with some ungodly complex launch system. I can’t think of a way to explain this, but in any case, nukes certainly aren’t the only type of super weapon on the planet. So ISAF had a huge air force, because it seemed like a far more reliable means to achieve military success. From the looks of EVERY game in the series, they may well have been right. I believe the current Win to Loss ratio for the games Air Forces vs. Laser Beams of Doom and Flying Battleships is currently 7/0. That’s 8/0 if you count Ace Combat X. (14/0) There is no reason for anyone in the world of AC NOT to build a hugely competitive air force unless you simply lack the capability to do so. From the looks of it, ISAF did build a huge Air Force combined of many nations. The ability to have all these foreign air forces working together so fluidly is nothing short of fantastic. This indicates superior organization and logistical capabilities on ISAF’s part. So effective they were able to recover from being backed against a wall and then continue to defeat an enemy that had taken a continent. Unlike Erusea, ISAF also placed emphasis on Naval Aviation. The 4th game featured plenty of missions starting off the decks of any one of ISAF’s carriers and its escorting task force. ISAF never showed any kind of huge naval surface force like Aegir’s. It’s likely that like any Earth Nation, they saw surface forces as largely secondary in grand Naval Strategy. Despite this, ISAF seemed very unwilling to risk their use of their super carriers close to the Usean coast early in the game. Probably because of the still strong illusion of Erusean air supremacy. It should also be noted that ISAF’s air forces are very well led. Their commanding officers are alert, well trained, and experienced. “Sky Eye” was a particularly valuable asset to the player during the game, and his fast warnings and crystal clear orders displayed the emphasis ISAF placed on strong but flexible command and control. The kind Erusea probably never had.

The Mission Briefer was direct, and to the point. Every available detail was given to the player and his allies during missions briefings with nary a pointless quip. It was all business to ISAF, and they conducted themselves accordingly.

B. Mobius Squadron – Unlike the Yellows, Mobius squadron was hastily formed at the start of the war to defend North Point from attack by strategic bombers. It had very light standards, emphasizing ISAF’s need for pilots of any kind at that point. It was also very poorly equipped, receiving only obsolete F4 Phantoms and F5 Tigers for defense of North Point. It was largely a ragtag group thrown together in a rush. When it became apparent that the group’s pilots were learning particularly fast, ISAF decided to move them up for strategic raids on Erusean’ facilities on the mainland. There, they demonstrated excellent flight skill and accomplishment of objectives well within allotted time. Mobius Squadron had the benefit of continuously striking lucky on up-to-date targets that were poorly defended. It quickly gained a reputation that centered around the exploits of its flight lead Mobius 1. The newspaper headlines gained by Mobius 1 were probably effective in offsetting the Yellow Squadron’s reputation. Even if Mobius Squadron was fighting an enemy with a poor understanding of Aerial Warfare. As the war progressed, Mobius Squadron only became more and popular and was eventually scaled up to form its own air group. Their reputation as ISAF’s own “Yellows” was solidified when they sank most of the Aegir Fleet at Port and then followed it up with leading the charge against Erusea’s disastrous Air Raid in “Shattered Skies”. Even if their exploits were largely the result of facing an inferior opponent, it was exactly what ISAF needed at the time. The group culminated during the raid on Stonehenge, where it eliminated Erusea’s two remaining strategic assets in one swing. Stonehenge was destroyed, and the elite squadron Erusea had built expressly to defend it, Yellow Squadron, was defeated on its own turf. ISAF was in a bad place when the war started due to the effects of Ulysses. Many of its nations had been working to mend their own wounds and recover their broken economies. ISAF’s member nations were successful in accomplishing these goals just as the war started, though it had come at the cost of military unpreparedness for war. Something the Erusean’s opted for instead. The Erusean course of post-Ulysses recovery was probably considered unsustainable by the nations of ISAF. That might be why they distanced themselves from Erusea, leading the lonely nation to believe it was being shunned and victimized. This led to Erusea’s choice of using its newfound strengths against its former friends and allies. This is the folly of their leaders, the war they created to obtain power they could never really have. As all the wicked believe, before they start a conflict.

Hence begins Ace Combat 4 Shattered Skies.

Part 3: Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies. It must have been apparent to Erusea before the start of the war that ISAF would attempt to use North Point as a secure forward base from which to carry out a future counter offensive. North Point’s proximity to Usea made its use in this role a virtual inevitability. Erusea, with its chronically limited industrial and economic capabilities, would have needed to neutralize North Point or ultimately allow the ISAF their ever growing advantages in equipment and personnel.

While I speculated before that the Aegir Fleet was well capable of seaborne invasion, it was limited by its lacking air arm. Much worse, North Point was very far beyond the effective range of air cover provided by Stonehenge. It’s at this point that Erusea’s limited Air Force would have to come to play. It’s likely that the Erusean’s believed, optimistically, that Stonehenge has succeeded in badly attritioning the ISAF’s aerial capabilities at the start of the war. Whether or not this was the result of “victory disease” on the part of Erusea’s leaders, misinformation spread by ISAF counter intelligence, or both, is unknown. In any case, Erusea was, for the first time, willing to openly use its Air Force on an even playing ground against ISAF’s.

Mission 1. “Sitting Duck”

As I pointed out, ISAF was very concentrated around aerial warfare. So it was logical to the Erusean’s that their express goal would be to neutralize North Point’s airbases and aircraft production/maintenance facilities as quickly as possible. This explains the first mission, an aerial bombing raid targeting an outlying but large air base local to North Point. ISAF was apparently very fearful of these raids, since they committed the majority of their Aircraft into a defensive role to stop them. The mission was an excellent tactical success for ISAF. They succeeded in destroying the bombers and preventing significant damage to North Point. The Erusean’s were unlikely to simply give up at this point. The strategic threat of the bombing offensive was still quite healthy after all.

Mission 2. “Imminent Threat”

ISAF was also unwilling to simply sit back and take the punishment. Hence the second mission in the game, the raid against the Erusean Tu-95 forward operating base on the mainland. This raid was quite successful and effectively eliminated Erusea’s strategic bombing campaign against North Point. I don’t actually think all of Erusea’s bombers were eliminated during the second mission. Apparently it was enough to discourage them from continuing to risk their already strained Air Forces for some time. Thus showing the weakness of their forces beyond the protection of Stonehenge.

Mission 3. “The Northern Eye”

What followed after that was an attempt on Erusea’s part to frustrate ISAF’s future strategic options. According to the Mission 3 briefing (“The Northern Eye”), ISAF had begun withdrawing its large army in Usea’s northern peninsula. Probably because this force was at needless risk of being cutoff, and hope of holding out was essentially naught. So it would be far more logical to withdraw it for the defense of North Point in an invasion or (as would happen) to use in a future invasion of the Usean mainland, which was undoubtedly on somebody’s drawing board at this point.

The mission itself was fairly uneventful. Mobius 1 succeeded in destroying the captured radar facilities guiding missile strikes against evacuating ISAF forces thus allowing them to escape. Yet again, Erusea’s reliance in Stonehenge precluded its weakness of limited range compounded by the limited capabilities of Erusea’s Air Force. ISAF’s Army was able to escape.

What’s more important about Mission 3 was what the impression ISAF probably got from the lackluster air defense of a strategically important area. The illusion of Eurusian aerial supremacy was beginning to wear off. Their reliance in Stonehenge as a defensive installation was beginning to creep trough the seams. This compelled ISAF to step up its offensive strategy, which would ultimately spell disaster for Erusea.

Mission 4. “Blockade”

Amongst the methods the Erusean's were using to supply the Aegir Fleet was a squadron of transport aircraft screened by an ECM blanket from a local detachment. ISAF ordered the operation knowing full well that these planes were supplying Aegir and it's likely that it had occurred to ISAF that Aegir's supply situation wasn't as secure as the Erusean's had hoped. The operation was a success for ISAF, who succeded in discouraging further resupply by air for the Aegir Fleet. Not only that, but many of Erusea's few modern ECM and AWACS E-767 aircraft were shot down during the attack.

Mission 5. “Lifeline”

ISAF knew that it had successfully stalled Erusea’s plans against it, but the threat of invasion posed by the Aegir Fleet was still very real. As a result of recent failure on Erusea’s part, it was likely that they were stepping up the time table on their naval invasion plans. ISAF’s air power over North Point was still very great, but it seems likely that ISAF did not have the utmost confidence in it to rely on its defense entirely. They feared that the Aegir Fleet, the world’s premier naval surface force, would find a way through ISAF’s air defense and spell ultimate doom for North Point. So a plan was made to eliminate the Aegir Fleet. But first, ISAF would need to slow them down some more.

The point of Mission 5, “Lifeline” in the game was stated clearly in the briefing. An attack on the Aegir Fleet’s forward supply base would be carried out to stall the Fleet at its harbor. Prior to Missions 4, ,3 and 2, it’s unlikely ISAF would have attempted this raid since the illusion of Erusean aerial supremacy was still rampant, and it seemed fruitless to risk their remaining defensive forces in a raid they could not immediately follow up an attack with. However, the success of those operations against the supposedly “powerful” Erusean Air Force had broken the illusion. Now ISAF was willing to take the all-important risks that would decide the war. Lifeline was carried out successfully. Erusean defenses were yet again, totally insufficient to deal with the size of the raid against them. However, it seems likely that the Erusean’s were becoming aware of ISAF’s growing confidence. Indeed, ISAF’s offensive operations were now quite grand in scale, and they apparently weren’t afraid to openly risk their forces. Erusea would now try to play one of its favorite cards in order to re-obtain the social fear it had so successfully nurtured at the start of the war. Yellow Squadron, the elite air wing that had spent most of the war thus far uselessly sitting at Stonehenge practicing maneuvers and mock raids, was for the first time, used in the role of mobile defense. What it should have been used for at the very start of the war. (Mobius Squadron couldn’t have been too successful at mission 1 if those bombers were escorted by the Yellows.) On paper, Yellow Squadron’s ambush of the raiding force seemed to be spectacular. The post mission brief seems to strongly imply that ISAF’s raiders were taken by surprise and many were lost to Yellow Squadron’s attack which went virtually unopposed. However, it doesn’t seem as if it was enough to totally deter ISAF from its strategy of crippling Erusea’s offensive capabilities right from North Point. This makes sense really. By now ISAF was probably starting to receive far more foreign aid, the coalition probably had more member states, and ISAF’s collective industrial power was catching up. Why stop now? Yellow Squadron’s showing over the supply base had been un-nerving, but not morale breaking, as the Eurusian’s had hoped. Not to mention that the ISAF raid had been a resounding strategic success. The Aegir Fleet’s forward supply base was annihilated. What’s worse, after the mission Yellow Squadron went right back to the defense of Stonehenge. Erusea had seemed to learn nothing from its own counter attack. On the other hand, ISAF was now more serious than ever. It’s likely that even with Yellow Squadron on the front lines, nothing was going to stop the first real major setback the Erusean’s were about to endure.

Mission 6, “Invincible Fleet”. As I stated before, the Aegir Fleet was one of Erusea’s biggest playing cards. It was its cultural military symbol, as evidenced by the amount of confidence they placed in and the reputation it had garnered in backdrop with the rest of the world. Its surface forces were far larger than anyone else’s and it had the sea lift capacity to follow up its “Decisive Battle” strategy. Allowing the Aegir Fleet to continue its mere existence would be totally unacceptable. ISAF’s raid on the Aegir Fleet’s supply base was part of a grand strategy to slow it down and take advantage of its hasty placement beyond the cover of Stone Henge.

In placing the Aegir Fleet so forward, the Erusean’s would be able to most efficiently sortie their fleet with the least amount of preparation time for an invasion or defense against an ISAF naval assault.

However, they had really made one of the gravest mistakes of the whole war. They had placed their biggest Naval Fleet beyond the safety of Stonehenge. It’s possible that the danger of such a decision was apparent to Eurusia’s leaders, but calls to move the fleet to a safer location did not come in time. The ISAF raid against their forward supply base temporarily left the Fleet immobilized in its port. The likely hood of an ISAF raid on the Aegir Fleet must have looked obvious to Eurusia. From the looks of it, they were actively working to move the fleet to a safer location when the attack on the port started. (The Aegir Fleet’s super carrier, its escorting battleships, and many missile cruisers were already leaving the port. The submarine pens were emptying and few ships were in dry dock, many were in harbor with weapon systems active apparently attempting to leave.) It was ultimately too little too late. The Aegir Fleet was caught with its pants down and eliminated ship by ship as Erusea’s leaders could only slam fists on their desks back at Farbanti. Stonehenge’s radio operators would inevitably receive frantic calls demanding SOME kind of token barrage aimed in the direction of the port city. At the very least, they could sortie Yellow Squadron to come to the Fleet’s aid. (Though they probably wouldn’t arrive nearly on time. Even if they were there, the sheer size of the ISAF raid meant they probably wouldn’t have accomplished much.) The damage was irreparable. The Aegir Fleet’s only (or one of few) super carrier was sunk. Its battleships went with it. Most of missile cruisers were also sent to the bottom, immobilized, or beached. The submarines, in the middle of evacuation, were caught in the shallow waters around the sub pens, little more than sitting ducks. The air defense around the Aegir Fleet was not small, but yet again, their inferiority in equipment and airmen led to Eurusia paying the price. The “Invincible” Aegir Fleet was annihilated. Its massive variety of modern warships decimated and its sealift capabilities ruined. North Point was no longer under the threat of invasion, which meant ISAF no longer had to play defense. It could now take center stage in the war and could call the shots as it saw fit. Erusea’s cultural icon was gone, but it wasn’t exactly finished yet. It still held Usea in a firm grip, and now their strategy shifted from political baiting to strategic attrition. Making the ISAF bleed away its will to fight by making the war as frustrating as possible. They still had Stonehenge after all.

Mission 7. “Deep Strike”

ISAF wasn’t about to let Stonehenge deter them. Their dreams of retaking the mainland no longer seemed so far off these days. With North Point secure, ISAF could now prepare its counter offensive. The first phase would be to continue raids against Erusean military facilities on the mainland. Mission 7 “Deep Strike” consisted of a raid against one of the biggest energy facilities on Usea. If I recall the facility was generating more than 1/3 of all the energy used on the mainland. There was a problem; the energy farm was located within Stonehenge’s defensive arena. ISAF, apparently under a slight “victory disease” of its own, committed its (by now very experienced) raiders to an assault on the facility. Yet again, the secrecy and speed of the attack worked well into ISAF’s favor, compounded by the token aerial defenses of the ever stretched and insufficient Erusean Air Force. However, ISAF had made the mistake of playing into Erusea’s game, and had been exposed to Stonehenge. The installation opened fire on the area, and while nearly at the edge of its engagement range, still managed to destroy plenty of the raiders. Stonehenge had yet again proven why Erusea was a force to be reckoned with. Unlike Erusea however, ISAF was more than capable of replacing the losses incurred by its mistakes. Moreover, ISAF was starting to learn about Stonehenge’s capabilities, and would work future strategies around it.

By now it must have been apparent to Erusea that its biggest problem was the poor organization and discipline of its Air Force. ISAF raiders frequently attacked important facilities and were often opposed by light resistance of local patrol craft. Erusea had made the mistake of spreading its Air Force thinly over a wide area to discourage attacks, but not to defeat them. After the apparent failure of this method, it looks as if Erusea took a note from ISAF and decided to concentrate its air power in a single large strike force. However, its limits weren’t going to disappear overnight. This makes me believe that Erusea would attempt to use its Air Force in a manner that would make ISAF come to them.

Mission 8. “Shattered Skies” Mission 8, the popular “Shattered Skies” is what I consider the Midway of the game. The briefing states that Erusea was attempting to prevent the launch of an important spy satellite at one of ISAF’s island launch facilities. I think the mission briefer and his superiors have the wrong idea. Why would Erusea risk the bulk of its aerial capability just attacking a space center in the middle of nowhere? The Spy Satellite would have been certainly unhealthy for their war effort, but enough to risk such a massive air raid on the facility?

I think it was much more than that. Erusea wasn’t deploying the bulk of its Air Force (in its first real offensive op since the start of the war) just for a spy satellite. They attacked that space center because they wanted to lure Mobius Squadron and the Allied Air Forces into a future engagement on their terms. Why a “future” engagement and not this one here?

It wasn’t favorable to Erusea really. The space center in Shattered Skies is very far from Stonehenge. I think Erusea’s goal was to attack and cripple the space center, and then quickly withdraw back to the mainland in the hope that the Allied Air Forces would follow them into the range of Stonehenge or would attempt to force a future engagement with them in Stonehenge’s engagement envelope. After all, Erusea’s strategy had shifted to “frustration” at this point in the war. What could be more frustrating to the ISAF then the destruction of its aerial dominance in a single battle? The “Decisive Air Battle” is what they wanted.

Too bad for the best laid plans right? It’s pretty apparent that Erusea underestimated the showing ISAF would make in Mission 8. Most of the attacking aircraft were still made up of the same under equipped and poorly experienced pilots that ISAF had been slamming for months by then. Yellow Squadron was present for the battle, but of course, not in the numbers Erusea needed. What’s worse, Yellow Squadron was used as part of the first attack wave. Thus exposing it to the greatest amount of exhaustion and attrition early on the battle. This is why they withdrew so early in the mission. Overall the mission was a disaster for Erusean forces. The bulk of their Air Force had been ruined over the space center and they now had precisely zero offensive projection capability beyond the continent. The Erusean Air Force would never again carry out a major operation beyond the safety of Stonehenge.

Mission 9. “Operation Bunker Shot” By now the ISAF had apparently amassed enough strength to carry out its invasion of the mainland. The invasion force attacking the beach during the mission was quite large, consisting of many numerous transports, surface vessels, and even plenty of close air support in poor weather. The beach head itself was quite far from North Point, which leads me to believe ISAF chose it because it seemed to be such an unfavorable location for an assault. Erusea probably wouldn’t concentrate a very large defensive garrison in the location and from the looks of it, they didn’t. The terrain was also favorable to the landing and the beach head was safely beyond Stonehenge. You’ll notice during the mission that Erusean air cover was fairly sparse, though they did make a concentrated attempt to attack the beach with bombers and gunships late in the mission. However, the lack of present escort aircraft meant that the gunships, attack planes, and bombers were devastated. This was undoubtedly a result of Erusea sacrificing many of its fighters in the previous operation.

Mission 10. “Tango Line” After firmly establishing their beach head on the Usean contentment, ISAF now worked to solidify its hold on the continent. Taking place in Usea’s tropical south, the “Tango Line” was a network of underground bunkers, air force bases, and supply depots hidden within the mountains and jungles of the area. I believe that the Tango Line was probably constructed prior to the war, not as a fortress, but as a fallout shelter from the effects of the Ulysses Asteroid. Its position is well within Stonehenge’s low angle defensive perimeter, presenting a very favorable location for a defensive line for the Erusean’s. Unfortunately for Erusea, ISAF had plenty of Intel regarding the facility and was able to destroy many of its outlying facilities not to mention its protecting air defense. Yet the facility was within Stonehenge’s envelope. Even better, Stonehenge was given plenty of warning over the attack, and was able to quickly open fire on the area in the middle of the ISAF assault. It should have been a textbook Erusean success it seemed.

While plenty of Allied aircraft were again shot down over the Tango Line, a real problem had finally shown itself to the Erusean’s. ISAF was learning how to take the bite out of Stonehenge. By now the pilots the Allied Air Forces were both well equipped and very experienced. Many of the aerial commanders had personally experienced attack by Stonehenge and were aware of methods to defeat Stonehenge’s high altitude burst projectiles. ISAF’s Command and Control aircraft now had the necessary equipment to detect attacks by Stonehenge well before the shells reached the area and the tactics to defeat the blast. If they realized it, it must have been quite un-nerving for the Erusean’s to observe.

Mission 11. “Escort” This was a fairly simple mission. The player was tasked with escorting two damaged airliners containing defecting personnel and documents pertaining to the Stonehenge installation. The mission briefer considered the mission quite important, since he and undoubtedly ISAF’s leadership felt that the recovery of sensitive information about SH would be decisive. While the success of the operation greatly aided ISAF’s understanding of the STN, I personally don’t think the failure of the operation would've spelled doom for ISAF. As stated before, ISAF was discovering much about the STN’s capabilities first hand. Apparently, the installation could attack aircraft from very far away, but unlike previous beliefs, it could not create a true no fly zone. Stonehenge was apparently limited in firing range not because of gravity, but because of the curvature of the planet. This meant that Stonehenge was strictly a “Line of Sight” weapon. Its shells were obviously capable of some downward arcing. Just not enough to keep the shell in the atmosphere of the planet before it ricocheted off into space. The documents ISAF recovered would probably confirm this theory. From the looks of it, they recovered a particularly valuable piece of information about Stonehenge. The information about the facility’s lackluster radar detection network.

Mission 12. “Stonehenge Offensive” The information ISAF acquired from the recovered Erusean defectors consisted likely of two kinds of information. Things ISAF already knew, and things they didn’t know but would probably discover anyway. One of the things ISAF was probably quite happy to learn of ahead of time was the details pertaining to Stonehenge’s defense perimeter. Stonehenge was at low ground level in a dessert surrounded on all sides by rough terrain. Not particularly mountainous or high, but enough to make a ground attack towards the facility a pain. The local terrain was probably selected by ISAF so as to keep civil development away from the facility. It wouldn’t make much sense to build an installation like that in middle of a city after all. When Stonehenge was repurposed for the role of Anti-Aircraft battery Erusea rebuilt the facility into a military base. Surface to Air Missile emplacements were erected across the installation, bunkers were constructed, and an airfield for the facility was repurposed for military use. Though Yellow Squadron did not use the airfield potentially because their commanding officer 13 either found the location too dangerous for practice or it just wasn’t big enough to support a huge contingent of modern fighters. It wasn’t intended as a military facility after all. The biggest issue with the facility was its incomplete radar detection grid. The rough terrain probably made the job of early detection and alerts a headache for Erusean radar operators. There were many blind spots in the grid and the Erusean’s did not succeed in covering them before the war started. It’s likely they lost interest in that once the war started and Stonehenge seemed beyond the threat of air raid. ISAF’s raiders thus had the road paved before them by their own enemy. Mobius Squadron again took advantage of slow Erusean reaction times and managed to sneak a large assault force into the local area with minimal risk of early detection. The Assault Force endured only a few scant barrages before they had closed the distance to a point where Stonehenge’s massive guns could no longer train fast enough to engage aircraft. The facility was doomed.

A radar jammer had been hastily erected not long before the battle probably due the fear of long range ISAF stealth bombers using precision weapons. Its placement in the facility made it an easy target and accordingly it was knocked out early in the battle. Yellow Squadron was quickly sortied but again, paid the price for Erusea’s consistent disorganization. The facility was crippled and ruined before they were within range to cover it. Permanently ending Erusea’s hopes of an armistice or separate peace. To make matters worse, Yellow Squadron was again up against a massive ISAF raiding force to which they simply could not hope to defeat. The operation was already a resounding success for ISAF. So one can only imagine how ISAF’s leaders felt upon hearing that Yellow Squadron had been defeated in an air battle over its own turf, suffering heavy casualties in experienced pilots and fleeing the battlefield. ISAF had, with a single stone, killed one bird and wounded the other. Yellow Squadron’s reputation was broken and ISAF’s Air Dominance was now assured. Erusea’s days were numbered.

Mission 13. “Safe Return” With the threat of Stonehenge removed, ISAF could now carry out the detailed recon over enemy holdings it had wanted to perform since the start of the war. While most ISAF’s spy efforts were placed over Erusea, a few U-2 spy planes were kept detached for use on an archipelago south of Erusea. ISAF believed that Erusea might have been using the archipelago as a base for remaining Naval assets. What they discovered was more important. It seemed that the Eruseans had been half way through the construction of another super weapon platform for use against Ulysses. Unlike Stonehenge, this platform had been kept secret from the ISAF. The Eruseans had been secretly preparing a backup system should Stonehenge fail to eliminate the threat posed by Ulysses. This super weapon platform was a geographically remote ICBM launch base known as “Megalith”. The concept for Megalith had been presented when ISAF was working with the Eruseans for solutions to Ulysses. It’s likely that the concept was thrown out by ISAF when it became obvious that Megalith would be too destructive. Unlike Stonehenge’s nuclear slugs, which would move Ulysses away, Megalith would use rapid consecutive strikes to break Ulysses apart. Obviously, this would not have saved the planet. So ISAF threw the design out, but the previous Erusean government began construction on it regardless. After tight fiscal restraints, the facility was abandoned, until its construction was continued by the new military government for a short while. It still appeared to be incomplete, and unlike Stonehenge, it could not be used in a genuinely strategic manner. However, it did present the Erusean’s with the Global Strike capable weapon system they had wanted Stonehenge to be. The U-2 spy plane sent to recover further information over Megalith barely made it back from its mission having been tagged by fire from the facility. The pilot initially did not suspect he had received serious damage, but as he began to lose power he lost the ability to maintain altitude and radioed for assistance. It appears that the Erusean’s had been using an experimental kind of “aerial radar jammer” mounted on balloons in the local mountains. This network was probably erected to prevent ISAF from attacking evacuating Erusean forces passing through the region and was abandoned after the evacuation. Since the mountains were known for their consistently poor weather, Erusea attempted to negate the danger posed by ISAF air strikes flying and attacking by Instrument. ISAF deployed only Mobius 1 to the area (sending many aircraft would create needless air to air collision hazards) to neutralize the radar balloons. It’s a testament to how far ISAF’s airmen had come that Mobius 1 was able to locate and destroy most of the balloons visually despite the prevailing instrument conditions. It’s too bad the Eruseans weren’t around to see it.

Mission 14. “Breaking Arrows” Erusean evacuation efforts were now in full swing. Without the cover of Stonehenge, Usea had become a buffet for ISAF. Erusea, still vainly holding onto the belief of an Armistice, was attempting to move its forces back into its national borders so as to create a mobile defensive line akin to Germany’s Seelow Heights. ISAF was aware that Erusea was attempting to concentrate its remaining forces domestically. While this wasn’t going to stop ISAF, if too many Eruean forces escaped the war would be prolonged.

ISAF began carrying out landings in northern Usea to cut off retreating Erusean ground forces. The hastiness of the operation meant that ISAF was unable to carry out detailed pre-landing recon. A missile group was summoned and soon began wildly firing missiles at the ISAF beachhead. Again, Mobius Squadron was deployed into the area to accomplish the feat of shooting down the obsolete but powerful missiles heading for the ISAF landing zone. Mobius Squadron was able to intercept the missiles in flight, including a single missile (with a large weapons payload) designed to “zig zag” in flight. Yet again, ISAF’s apparent superiority in pilots, equipment, and command allowed to minimize damage to the landing zone. Trapping part of a Erusean army in Usea.

Mission 15. “Emancipation” The city of San Salvacion had been a neutral city-state at the start of the war, but was “requisitioned” for use by the Erusean’s after the commanding officer of Yellow Squadron had found the local area to be suitable for a makeshift base. (Due to terrain/facilities/etc.) Salvacion was close to Stonehenge so it seemed inconsequential to place Yellow Squadron there, apparently, it wasn’t close enough. Yellow Squadron had long since left the city with the force evacuations. But the speed of the recent ISAF advance meant a small contingent of the local garrison had been entrapped in the city. ISAF’s capture of the city was mostly intended for public relations. The capture of Yellow Squadron’s “base”. They would just leave out the part that the Yellows had long since left it. Yet again, the Eruseans attempted to attack ISAF forces with a hopelessly outmatched force of bombers. The difference being that the bombers Erusea would be using this time were Tu-60 Black Jack supersonic bombers. The bombers were shot down, again depriving Erusea of desperately needed air striking ability.

Mission 16. “Whiskey Corridor” As ISAF’s forces began to cross into Erusea’s national borders, Erusea began constructing an elaborate but fairly sound defensive strategy. Their strategy called for a mobile defensive line consisting mostly of flexible armoured divisions and mechanized infantry backed up by mobile howitzers and multiple fallback lines. This was actually a very good idea on Erusea’s part, who were relying on the open terrain of Erusea’s eastern borders to create a killzone favorable to Erusea’s ground forces. The Whiskey Corridor was very well prepared and organized and honestly strikes me as a strategy prepared before the war started. The running idea was that if Stonehenge failed to remove ISAF’s aerial advantage, Erusea’s forces could fall back to a pre-determined and well-rehearsed defensive line known as Whiskey Corridor. There, Erusea’s superior early war ground forces would be aided by the terrain which created a geological choke point from which ISAF’s forces would have to pass through. Erusea could concentrate its stretched air power in this killzone and cover their ground forces from air assault. Unfortunately, the war had more or less passed. Erusea’s air power had been squandered away on failed operations and their Armies could no longer benefit from their pre-war advantages in preparation. Instead of being Erusea’s last hope of final defense, the Whiskey Corridor became a restaurant for ISAF. Where the last of its broken strength was concentrated and defeated by virtually unchallenged ISAF air attacks. Farbanti lay just ahead, and with it, the end of the war.

Mission 17. “Farbanti” With the nation’s doom an inevitability, Erusea began to collapse in on itself. Erusea’s leaders pointlessly concentrated all remaining military strength in the capital. Erusea’s surviving navy was called back from its, thus far, secure haven in the Megalith archipelago and was ordered to the defense of the city for protection from an invasion. (Many of the ship’s crews would be quite distraught to find that Farbanti had no supplies for them either. So any ship that had made the trip to Farbanti would essentially be stranded there. This was probably intentional so as to prevent desertion in army units or mutiny on ships.) The only ground defense force in the city consisted of disorganized armoured and mechanized infantry battalions made up of fanatical but inexperienced Erusean soldiers. Erusea’s remaining air strength was concentrated over the city. Yellow Squadron would also defend the city, but would project itself from airbases in the Megalith archipelago to keep it safe from ISAF night time raids. The Erusean’ Air Force was no longer carrying out night time patrols due to fuel constraints and the dangers posed to inexperienced pilots by super advanced fighter designs. As a result ISAF had begun carrying out night raids with stealth bombers on Erusean air bases, destroying many new aircraft on the ground before they could ever become airborne. As ISAF began to enter the city, Erusea’s military leaders convinced the President to flee the city for safety in Megalith, where he might find a temporary location from which to continue the war with the facility’s fanatically loyal garrison. He ultimately died in the escape attempt. Erusea’s remaining military leaders would meet similar fates, dying in fruitless escapes, by their own hand, or simply surrendering. When the attack had begun, the Erusean military ordered Yellow Squadron to defend the city from the ISAF attack. Enough fuel was given to the aircraft for a one way trip and 20 minutes of flight time over the city with reasonable power use. In the event that any members of Yellow Squadron survived their flight, they were ordered to ditch over the city and join friendly ground forces fighting below. All of the Yellows were wiped out including Yellow 13, did and no records indicate they survived the air battle and made it to the ground. Yellow Squadron was essentially destroyed after the battle. With Farbanti captured, the war was over.

At least, it should have been.

Mission 18. “Megalith” After the destruction of Stonehenge, Megalith received priority in remaining Erusean industrial output. The facility was quickly rushed into operational status though was still unfinished by the time of the attack of Farbanti. Megalith was mostly underground making it an unfavorable target to attack by strategic bombing, and much of the surrounding waters around the archipelago were heavily mined and fortified with hidden anti-ship missile batteries making a naval assault on the facility a difficult ordeal. The local defense squadron was the remaining grand total of Erusea’s Air Force. Made up of experienced pilots the force was prepared to buy time for the facility by suicidally opposing any ISAF air attack. Pilots were ordered to wildly attack any aircraft, ISAF or not. Once all ammunition was used, they were ordered to ram ISAF planes with their own. Any returning or retreating airmen would be shot. To demoralize ISAF pilots, the Erusean Air Force decided to rename the entire local squadron “Yellow Squadron” to create an illusion of invincibility. The remaining aircraft had all typical Erusean designations and paint schemes removed, and were repainted in the same patterns the Yellows flew with. This new force was *not* Yellow Squadron but another illusion to create fear and panic in attackers. Megalith could not attack ISAF’s military, and its unfinished nature meant it could not even be used against terrestrial targets. Instead, Megalith would be used against remaining fragments of Ulysses suspended in orbit directly over it. If even a handful of missiles could strike fragments of Ulysses, it could create a successful chain reaction of decaying orbits and force those fragments to rain down on the planet. The success of this attack on paper was limited by the destructive nature of Megalith’s missiles, which would destroy most of a fragment on impact. Many asteroid fragments would also have uncontrollable trajectories, for every fragment that began to fall to the planet many others would be pushed back into space, or simply do nothing. Though it was enough for Erusia, since the possibility of a fragment falling on and obliterating so much as one ISAF city was tempting. ISAF had snuck a small commando team into the archipelago via air drop some weeks ago and this team had successfully evaded detection for some time before sneaking into the Megalith facility during the ISAF attack. The team succeeded capturing the command center and securing the facility for the ISAF attack aircraft. ISAF’s pilots neutralized most of the facility’s launch capabilities and Mobius 1, in an amazing freak occurrence, finished the attack after flying inside the facility and destroying it from within. An event which he still will not speak about to this day.

Post War. Erusea’s military government officially ceased function and disbanded after Megalith surrendered. Its remaining leaders were placed on trial for war crimes and an occupation army was maintained in Erusea for upwards of a decade. ISAF still operates in the Usean continent to this day. Erusea’s surviving military equipment was slowly scrapped, destroyed, stolen, or stored for research and future museum use. The Stonehenge facility was burned and destroyed after the Erusean’s evacuated it, but part of it has been restored by a local agency and they have recently opened it up structurally sound sections for tourism. The remains of the Aegir Fleet are popular attractions for divers. Megalith had only a negative image associated with itself, and ISAF did not want the location being used as a Neo-Erusean icon. So the facility’s remains were mostly removed and its equipment scrapped. The only hints of the facility’s existence today are the exposed barbettes of a few missile silos that have been filled with concrete and closed.

Part 4: Erusea’s Mistakes The folly of a nation’s leaders can bring it to many dark times. War is a very sensitive kind of challenge to lead people through because, contrary to popular belief, all wars are inherently out of control. My grandfather described war as 80% luck, and 20% skill. I don’t think luck is that major a deciding factor personally. It’s more like 50% luck, 30% skill, 20% of everything else. Luck has been changing the outcome of battles for a long time. That being said, there is still a single way countries can somewhat “control” the outcome of a war. Economic determinism. If your country is bigger in population, industry, and economy, chances are, you’ll win any war you get into with a smaller opponent. But wait, it still isn’t that simple. What if your opponent is on the other side of the planet? What if there is an entire ocean separating both of you? Like Stark would say, simplistic analysis of huge events is totally worthless. Black/Whiting everything is just bullshit. Everything plays a role, but nobody knows the future. That’s why luck ultimately ends up the cruel decision maker of the battlefield. Sometimes luck FAVORS one side. How much it favors that side is often up to the situation. Back to the game, Erusea’s leaders felt that they could take advantage of the distance between themselves and their enemy. They worked to take advantage of the poor preparation ISAF had at the start of the war. Like most underpowered belligerent states, they failed to take into account ISAF’s own advantages. Hoping that luck would favor them more than their enemy. It’s possible that, if the moon was just right, Erusea could have indeed accomplished its goals. ISAF would have some kind of external issue preventing them from re-taking Usea. Erusea would eventually grow into a world super power of equal strength to say, Yuktobania or Osea. (Strangreal’s Insert Soviet Union and Insert United States in same order.) They came close, but never really close enough. So what did they do wrong? 1. They started the war. This may seem comically self-evident but really, it’s true. Erusea opted to use its own “brand” of warfare to defeat the largely conventional forces and tactics of ISAF. Erusea took a real gamble with its strategy. Use its playing cards to capture Usea, break the ISAF’s back, and remove their enemy from the playing field before his gargantuan industrial advantage could come to play. They weren’t ready for the war after all. Unfortunately for Erusea, they were more ready than they thought. Ultimately Erusea’s projections were over optimistic. They failed to place enough effort into taking North Point which ultimately proved to be a much tougher nut to crack than initially believed. They assumed that ISAF would give up easily, when it was very likely that even if they had taken North Point, ISAF would have kept coming. However, that small possibility of ISAF giving up motivated them. It compelled them, and it killed them.

2. Failure to build a real Air Force. Erusea was a nation with a history of naval supremacy. In its history, it had probably beaten a much stronger navy at some point and had garnered a reputation of utter supremacy in the local seas. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. However, if Erusea was going to build a massive blue water navy at the cost of sufficient land-based Air Power, than the LEAST they could have done was built a huge Naval Air Arm as well. Though I suppose it’s possible that building a huge fleet of super carriers was no longer possible for them after they had drained a great amount of national effort in the re-construction of their country. If that was so, then again, they never should have built the Aegir Fleet. They should have built a much greater quantity of aircraft and they should have built the facilities necessary to train the pilots for them. If they had done that, North Point could have been reduced to an impotent smoldering ruin early on, with the threat of land based air blockade preventing any overseas resupply of North Point. Of course, what the Erusians would do when ISAF began to surround Usea with fleets of super carriers is pretty questionable.

3. Over reliance on Stonehenge to achieve aerial supremacy. Stonehenge had been transformed to an AA battery of great power during the war. Erusea had every reason to use it for that role; after all, it seemed to be a serious aerial denial weapon its air force was not. If they were going to war, the least they could do was use it for that. However, Stonehenge was limited obviously by its range and detection capabilities. If Erusea had an air force of comparable strength to ISAF’s, these disadvantages would not have been so war-breaking. However, the use of a surface strong naval force was used instead, for cultural reasons. This severely limited Erusea’s offensive capabilities beyond Stonehenge, and they would pay the price for it.

4. Erusea was disorganized. Even when Erusea had the right strategic idea in mind, their ability to carry out important objectives was cut short by one or another lacking factor. Erusea’s bombers frequently attacked with poor escort or no escort at all. Their important strategic facilities were all protected by little more than local patrols. Upon hearing word of an attack, cries of help would be made to Stonehenge instead of Erusean Air Command. Their command structure was confused and awkward. Erusea’s leaders chose to carry out a war thousands of miles away from the safety of Farbanti. Undoubtedly creating a communications headache.

5. Erusea had no foreign allies. It’s funny that violent militarist governments frequently obtain power in Strangreal, but they never seem to form very close knit alliances. Then again, Erusea wasn’t like other fascist governments. Erusea was motivated by social feelings of abandonment, not national supremacy. Erusea would probably be a country simply oblivious to its actions. It might even publically denounce the actions of other fascist regimes (if there were any at the time) and then steamroll another Usean town the same day. Perhaps it created a political status quo of sorts. “Only Erusea is Erusea’s ally.” Where a strong sense of national self-sufficiency was the order of the system. Also, Erusea had no real influence on the superpowers in Strangreal either. They just were not world players. Erusea is different from other historical fascist states both real and fictional, but war does not discriminate. Strategy is strategy. Erusea made many painful mistakes early on its planning. Some it seems to have been aware of and attempted to fix or at least conceal. Ultimately the issue was that Erusea simply couldn’t afford to make mistakes of any kind. Unlike ISAF, who could afford far greater losses in equipment and personnel. It’s likely that even if Shattered Skies had been an Erusean success, ISAF would still have been an overwhelming opponent within the course of a few months. After the Aegir Fleet died Erusea shifted to a strategy of politics design to exhaust ISAF’s leaders and persuade to seek a negotiated settlement. But botched counter attacks, disorganized defenses, and the loss of one unrecoverable asset after another could only lead to the end.

The war itself was truly a conventional modern war, not seen by our eyes and probably never will. The Iraq war in 1999 in our world is the closest thing to it, but it still can’t take the cake. It is notable that during the war, an advanced fighter, XF-02 “switchblade” was stolen from ESEA which would prelude Neocom’s advanced designs in the early 2030’s as the ESEA would eventually become Neocom.

Special thanks to CaptHawkeye on the for giving me the rough template to work with.

Your first stride that I happened to stumble upon gave me the drive to polish your already terrific work. Manny Thanks!

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