Thursday, May 01, 2008

MC's True Spirit

“A warrior’s true spirit is only determined the moment before his defeat.” – Old Amarrian saying

The last month has been a busy time for Band of Brothers. What started as a minor invasion of Querious turned into a full on route of Coalition forces. In fact, at this point in time I believe the “Coalition” has ceased to exist in any sort of military capacity. All the northern alliances have retreated back to their home systems and are now dealing with their own local threats. The number of moon installations captured and destroyed by GBC forces is staggering…including several outpost stations.

Querious is now firmly in GBC control.

Like I previously thought…this was a near death blow to the Mercenary Coalition, completely cutting off their access to the logistical train in Empire space. While all intel reports stated that we would next go for the MC controlled C3N sector and outpost located there, we instead drove deep inside the MC core systems. 1-N sector is where we ended up and started our assault. As of this writing we are currently in siege and dismantling their sovereignty 4 claims. This will take another week to complete, but the damaging effect on the MC membership is already evident.

What I have witnessed from MC is nothing sort of disappointing. Insurance fraud, suicide operations, and general lack of military fortitude have severely diminished my once high opinion of our foe. How could MC fold this easily is an entire mystery to me and my fellow grunts on the front lines. As always, it seems to be a lack (or complete failure) of leadership from first impressions…but if things continue, MC will be known for folding faster than ASCN. A title I am sure they do not wish upon their resumes.

Regardless, MC has now ceased being an effective combat unit. They will never carry another contract of any note if they finish this way in Period Basis. This is the moment of defeat for a once proud lion of the south…it is almost a shame that it is by our hand, but a necessary task due to the nature of their betrayal.

I often marvel on how I can predict the strategic moves having no access to command level intel...and I fail to see why MC did not plan for this coming storm.

Operationally…my activities have been light this month. The battle for QY6 several weeks ago exhausted my crews, so I pulled back for a much needed break. The EVOL Blackguard is getting refit with a larger defensive array that should help it survive the battles once we push out of Period Basis. I have been in talks with the logistics unit in the GBC to coordinate command bonuses to our armor repair fleet. I hope we meet unbridled success.

Currently I am fighting in a Harbinger class BC…which most crews lovingly refer to as a “Glass Cannon” due to its high damage output, but weak defensive measures. Still, it helped destroy a Tortuga carrier just a few days ago, but we will see how long it lasts.

All in all…the last 45 days have been nothing more than one cleanup job, with the exception of taking QY6…which was a bloody affair. Maybe sometime soon I can recount those times, but not too soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

After the Party

The conquest of Delve has ended.

While I am sure many will disagree within the Coalition...their objectives have failed. There will be no invasion of NOL, at least in the foreseeable future. BoB forces are now busy cleaning up all the remnants of the invasion and retaking formerly controlled sectors. It has been hasty retreat, and we are finding a majority of the POS installations unguarded...easily looted and destroyed. I could not tell you how many POS module installations we have acquired over the past two weeks...but it is significant. Currently the Coalition has a stronghold in QY6, and there are additional enemy forces basing in the OK-FEM area. These will be the final battles of Delve for this campaign.

A minor offensive has been launched into Querious, mainly just to give a "one - two" punch while we clear our home sectors. While I wonder what our end goals will be, I assume that retribution for MC is not far down the pipe. Cutting off Querious would be a worrisome development to MC...making their logistic train back to Empire space much harder. Querious is so full of disjointed alliance adventures, there is no real cohesive defense in place. While BoB has been getting into big fleet fights...they are generally one sided at best (complete domination at worst).

Still, not all news is good news. Red Alliance 'hot dropped' part of their capital fleet on top of a small BoB capital fleet taking out an undefended POS. Lesson learned with 10 capital losses...and I suppose fair play. There have been so many RA capital losses to BoB over the last year it was almost fitting they finally succeeded in some small fashion. It also teaches the lesson of tactical moderation...losses will occur, so plan for it.

My crews have witnessed some spectacular fighting (and numerous victories) over the last few weeks. CONCORD (in junction with DED) initiated massive improvements to the Pod Pilot HUD on pod-captained ships that allows the disabling of Brackets. This was a huge burden on the communication systems of any pod-captained ship, but now with the firmware fix the effectiveness of my crews has jumped at least 150%. Staying on fleet targets, and maximizing defensive maneuvers has never been easier. Pod Captains that fail to switch over to these systems are really doing themselves, and their crews a huge disservice.

Update on the EVOL Blackguard...she has seen extreme fire and lived.

What a ship and excellent crew. During a POS removal operation, I took the Blackguard forward 2 sectors as advanced scout. We were close to PR- sector and enemy harassment fleets are still quite common there, basing out of the Blood Raider station found there (most likely at a higher bribe rate than BoB). Sure enough after several minutes a forward Vagabond Heavy Assault scout jumps in...I tell the crew to activate all defensive measures and wait for the ship to open fire. Sure enough, he warp scrambles me and begins to open up with his Autocannons. I get on fleet comms and explain the situation....

"2 jumps away (sector), Vagabond aggressed, expecting more hostiles. " I think the FC just took me for dead since I did not get a reply at first. "Damnation class Command Ship here. It will take them 2 weeks to break my 'tank...advise you clean up these clowns." I continued...

There was a bit of a laughter on fleet comms, and the FC sent the support component to my 'aid'. By the time they showed up in the inbound gate (I was on the outbound unfortunately), I had 6 Heavy Recon and Heavy Assault ships all pounding away at the Blackguard's armor. The ship was scrambled, webbed, jammed, and being slowly drained of capacitor...for well over 1.5 minutes (an eternity in nullsec combat).

Once the cavalry arrived, the enemy disengaged and got away....all except the initial Vagabond, who thought he could dance around without getting shot down. Lesson learned for one Vagabond pilot. I asked the FC to rep my armor back up in his Guardian class Logistics ship as I had no Armor Repair system installed...and he noticed I had close to 88% rating left.

"2 weeks is about right I reckon"...I could see him grinning as only one cycle brought me back up to full armor strength. 326k Effective Armor is no joke...except on the enemy ships that find themselves shooting at such a beast.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Of Tactical Retreats

Warfare has always been like the tides back on Penirgman's Vashreon Coast...advancing, and retracting in predictable fashions. Geo politics within the Eve Cluster moderates the warfare in the nullsec systems quite effectively...and often with much foresight. Several months ago, GBC Alliance members held many cluster regions...but now that is all lost to the predictable reaction when a group expands too quickly with too much success.

Today, Band of Brothers is in control of only its home region of Delve, and many of its allies are broken and shattered across the cluster. From what I can tell, the leadership has purposely retracted its military footing over the last few months in the form of a Tactical Retreat...something hardly ever lectured upon in Amarr War Colleges. While I may not be formally trained in such strategy, I can tell it is being executed with deadly precision. The basic maneuver is to fight a series of skirmish battles across several sectors while pulling your most valuable assets back to the home regions...allowing the enemy to become flush with victories. These victories are key in exploiting their belief that they are invincible...which leads to serious errors in strategy.

Once back in Delve it was clear the hammer was coming down...with BoB leadership authorizing the formation of the largest capital fleets I have ever seen...including Empire Navy Fleets. The Coalition was allowed to gain a toe-hold in Delve so they could easily bring forth new reinforcements, and they were utterly crushed by superior tactics and advanced ships during any major battles. It is remarkable to see the ignorance of the enemy as they continue throwing vast fleets to "Grinder Alley"...the route from QY6 to PR- sectors. BoB leadership is obviously banking on continuously destroying Coalition fleets until their stockpiles have run out. Nothing I have seen has led me to believe the leadership present in the Coalition realizes that it cannot defeat BoB in Delve, but that is really what BoB is counting on.

It reminds me of the guerrilla actions of Matari slave revolts on Amarr Prime...but instead of tunnels and secret caches of weapons, the Alliance uses cynojammers and jump bridges. The extension of planetary warfare on a macro scale to fleet operations of this magnitude is surprising. I suppose in essence...the term "war is war...nothing else" is very apt.

Already a Red Alliance Titan was destroyed...with another trapped in NOL (I suspect). Well over 70 enemy tower installations have been destroyed and looted. Only one can guess the level of ship destruction that is still going on as I write this. The conventional wisdom in Eve is that you cannot fight a defensive war and survive, but once again the Alliance is proving the 'CW' wrong.

Fractures are starting to show now within the ranks of the more informed enemies. Mercenary Coalition has taken a 'fake contract' to attack a weak northern alliance that I suspect will allow them to distance themselves from Delve. Several northern alliances have already pulled back seeing how many ships they have lost. Red Alliance has moved into offensive operations within the eastern drone regions. I will not even go into the recruiting that BoB is doing from these alliances...but it is 'robust' after proving who had the sharper fangs. When you are heavily outnumbered but still come out victorious...that has a lasting effect on your legacy.

On a personal combat crews have never seen so much action. In particular, my flagship the EVOL Blackguard, a Damnation class Command Ship has scored numerous victories recently....including 21 in a patrol operation to Fountain. To say I miss the Fountain region is and I believe it is my true home within the Eve Cluster. Having a patrol there was a great morale boost to my crews and me personally. Ever since the retreat, BoB has given up control of Fountain to focus on operations in Delve. On that one patrol, we came away with 60 victories and only 9 losses...fighting 2:1 odds. Lions indeed.

I hope to keep this journal more up to date in the future. The tactics and scale of warfare in the south is truly an event worth documenting for future use...history is being made here, where a few stood against the many, and came out with unbridled glory.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lions of the South

Mercenaries in the Eve Cluster have always served a vital function to Empires and Corporations throughout the years. It can be argued that none were more successful than the collection of corporations known as the Mercenary Coalition (MC). When I was running my own mercenary outfit, I looked up to the MC and their accomplishments, their daring, and their honesty with the general public. It was always something to emulate, which is always an honor into itself.

Knowing the logistics needed to run an effective mercenary venture (although on a much smaller scale), I know the effort it took to bring the MC to the forefront of the merc business. The LSD was successful in its opportunities…but we were never large enough to hold our own nullsec constellation or region. Holding such territory is the only way to build supercapitals and take the largest of contracts.

MC has lived in BoB controlled space for much of its existence…often to the cries of its contract victims and the seemingly large ability to always work for BoB when the alliance needed to go from push to shove. Although I do not know the details of whatever arrangement that was in place, I am sure there had to be some free work involved to stay in Period Basis for off contract time.

Mercenaries are infamously known to do whatever is in their best interests at all times…and it seems MC is no different. Several weeks ago, they signed a new accord with 3 other known mercenary organizations and declared themselves the sole owners of Period Basis. Of course this did not sit well with Band of Brothers, and we got our marching papers in short order. A capital fleet of over 170 ships were assembled to wrest control over TPAR sector and start our Period Basis campaign to retake the space. Our initial assault was highly successful, culminating in the destruction of a MC Hel class supercapital near the theater of operations.

MC has struck at the opportune time indeed. While BoB forces continue to fight raging battles in several regions…MC has chosen to consolidate with ‘friends’ in an attempt to outlast the BoB counterattack. I think most grunts believe we will soon be fighting for Delve and Period Basis only.

As a result, we have lost FAT as far as I can tell…with the entirety of the Cluster now at war with BoB, I will be interested to see how the command structure deals with all these new threats. MC leaving the sphere of influence in the GBC has only given our enemies new lungs…and they will continue to swarm every sector crashing HUD displays with mind numbing warp interference (ooc read: lag).

Overall, I have seen nothing but high morale. The retaking of Period Basis will but a huge undertaking…and with the odds against us, striking out offensively sends notice to all alliance fighting BoB. We will not be fearful of anyone, anywhere, at anytime. I would rather fight beside lions than cower with a massive herd of sheep.

At least two Lions of the Cluster are now at each other's throats in Period Basis...a worthy battle between worthy foes. The campaign will be the defining moment in either the life or death of Band of Brothers, and I am honored to be among the participants.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Solving Small Problems

After several days of futile searching for RAZOR transports in empire space, I decided to load up the EVOL Blackguard for a move to the Delve Region. Having recently completed max certification in its unique fleet warfare systems, I thought it might be good to have on upcoming capital operations. Giving capital fleets maximum bonuses to defensive armor systems is a vital function in large scale engagements I have found.

I ordered the crew to reconfigure the Blackguard to a warpcore hardened travel specification, and then we started off on our 40+ jump. It was quite uneventful except for the lone RAZOR pilot spotted on scanner 20 jumps into the trip. A wise philosopher once said “You only find what you are looking for by trying not to find it.” I suppose that is true this regards. Not having full combat systems online, we decided to bypass and stick to the mission of moving the ship down.

4 jumps away from my destination I ran into a strange site: a lone GoonFleet Drake class battlecruiser, lazily circling the outbound gate at 13km range. There were no scouts in the previous systems, and I highly doubted they were closer to our regional HQ. Sure enough he targeted my Damnation and let a few heavy missiles fly…stripping the shields of the Blackguard. While wanting to fight, I know it would have been a stalemate. Both ships are known for their massive defensive capabilities, but with little firepower. We would have traded blows for an hour before he ran out of heavy scourge type missiles.

I jumped and signaled ahead to the HQ station to prep the EVOL Vitae, the sister ship to the Blackguard but an Absolution class vessel known for its heavy firepower. Once arriving I boarded quickly and formed a fleet with two Evolution members, one in a Damnation command ship and the other in a Brutix battlecruiser. Once we had our systems loaded we started our hunt.

Sure enough, 5 systems away was the GS Drake still looking for easy targets. This time, with the Absolution I quickly engaged. Once I saw the Drake deploy both a warp disruptor and propulsion webifier, I knew he was in serious trouble. To fit both systems to any Caldari hull ship was trading off a lot of defensive power just to hold its prey in place. Unfortunately for him…I was not the prey this time. The Damnation jumped in once I had my own disruptor and webifier engaged on the target, and let loose with a barrage of heavy assault missiles at close range. The Drake, sensing what had happened, quickly shut down its offensive systems to use the Jumpgate as a retreat. We ordered the Brutix in the fleet to standby on the other side of the gate if he made it through…but luckily for us, he did not. The Drake’s shields buckled under the massive firepower brought to bear, giving a swift kill to the crews involved.

Later we had learned this was a solo GS Drake hitting BoB shipping deep in our territory. A sweet kill indeed as he was finally dispatched. It was only a small problem for our alliance shipping, but it was still satisfying in solving it in an efficient manner.

Having seen over 2 years worth of intelligence reports on the entity known as “GoonSwarm”, I have come to the personal conclusion that the entire pod alliance has been infected with some sort of mutated strain of the Sansha’s virus. Although it has never been proven that the virus affects pod pilots, I believe it has mutated to a point of creating chaos within the alliance it affects, while giving the pilots some retention of humanity. The tactical options that are always chosen by GS have always been bad ones…but their incredible number of pilots flying under their banner makes up for any deficiencies found in their command structure. Needing at least 4 to 1 odds to achieve anything really meaningful in a strategic sense, they simply ‘Swarm’ to their stated objectives.

The GS Drake pilot we destroyed could have been a straggler from some roaming operation, or cut off from his way home and just decided to suicide in Delve by taking some unsuspecting ships with him…but more likely than not, he was simply driven mad I believe.

Although destroyed many years ago, Sansha (and his Empire) may actually have the last laugh yet in the Eve Cluster.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Command Reflections

(OOC Note: Sorry for the lack of updates, I was recently married so I haven’t had time to attend to this blog like I should.)

While it has been some time since my last entry, no shortage of fighting has occurred during that absence. The “Great War” has taken a short breather as both sides recoup their losses from the previous 5 months of warfare. The Alliance has lost ground to superior numbers (but not skill) in the south, losing all space gained from the old ASCN war last year. GBC Alliance corporations have been resettled (as far as I can tell) in the Fountain Region, which I still view as my true home in the Eve Cluster. The campaign by our enemies resembles classic Amarr Navy doctrine of throwing the largest numbers into a fight. That worked for the Empire for eons, but times have changed....I suspect this war will change as well.

Since giving up frontline command of the OEC and Legionnaire Alliance, a strange disconnect has taken place. To say I feel out of the loop is an understatement, but that is maybe a good thing as I need to get the ‘grunt’s perspective’ I once had 10 years ago serving on the AMN Octavian. Being in charge for too long I have found lessens your ability to see the small picture. My military school tacticians will probably disagree as they always emphasized the ‘large picture’ and the goalposts for any military endevour.

But I have found that just focusing on the larger issues makes getting there all the harder. Commands coming down from HC with little guidance on how to get the job done are certain to run into problems. One of the strong points I have found in Evolution, and BoB in general, is the almost religious thinking of “keeping it simple”. Yes, the KISS principle is alive and well in the south. All complex decisions, strategy, and politics are kept far away from the grunt’s as possible…letting them focus at the task at hand, and making them more proficient at being the tip of the spear.

My time in the OEC and LSD could have benefited from this. It is a lesson that I will always put to use in my future leadership endeavors, whatever they may be.

As for my personal activities…they have mainly been regulated in defensive patrols in and around Delve, but I have recently JumpCloned to the Beke system, using it as a base of operations to patrol for RAZOR transports. I feel more useful this way in our efforts, but I do not know how long I can maintain my solo efforts. So far, its just my Coercer, its crew, and my willingness to put them on the line of fire. Already we have provoked an enemy Brutix class battlecruiser into attacking us near a concord patrol. Our hopes are to catch some light shipping that would normally evade larger ships.

It is a diversion that I will probably need…war is coming in a big way after this relative calm in the South. As epic of scope the battles tend to be, I recognize my calling in smaller skirmish type warfare. Still…there is plenty of time to hone those skills after the war has concluded.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Fall of FAT

Since joining Evolution, and the Band of Brothers Alliance...the pace has been hectic. Gone are the days moving logistics for personal means, they are replaced with long and arduous operations. I have focused my operations near the system of FAT-6P in supporting efforts of our assault on that system against IAC Alliance. The fighting has been fierce over the last few weeks, but we have finally broken their back in the system and claimed the outpost there.

FAT was a great first battle for me…as I am used to small skirmish warfare, having the full brunt of large scale battles play out before my eyes is definitely interesting.

The macro-tactics involved at this scale of warfare is hard to comprehend. Capital fleets pushing 100 ships, supporting freighter operations, POS assaulting and defenses...all are epic in scope, and just to be supporting these types of engagements is an honor for any combat captain. I am sure many Amarrian Sages would relish the opportunity to witness what actually happens out in the rim sectors...oh the stories they would tell...but the secrecy of command is what is most impressive.

In every operation I have been part of, I have had no idea what our end goal was. Spies and espionage play heavily in this new realm...something that tactical fleet commanders do not take chances with. Information is always the most valuable resource in it is used, and acquired is of the utmost importance for any leader. One minute you are simply escorting freighters from Empire regions to the outer rim…then it turns into a full system assault 14 jumps later upon IAC Alliance.

I am learning a lot about this type of warfare, but for the meantime I am content on just being a ‘grunt’. Hopefully I can earn the respect of my corpmates as my journey continues in the outer rim.