|Dilgar War: the Earth Alliance involvement.|
Some currents of the historical critics have shown the tendency to consider the Dilgar war as the event that allowed to the Earth Alliance to flex its military muscles in front of the major and minor powers of the Orion sector, a manifestation of power and the natural consequence of the expansionistic will of the Earth Alliance: in this optic, the humanitarian and ethical reasons behind the human involvement in the war were discarded as simple formal flags to justify to the public opinion a war that, overall, was considered a war of power.
Other currents of historicists considered the human involvement in the Dilgar war as the natural consequence of a perceived menace against our traditional allies of the LONAW, enhanced by the fear and the disgust for the inhumane actions conduced by the Dilgars during the first phase of their relentless advance against their neighbours.
Both of these historical currents have some valid points to support their point of view, but, in fact, the truth is more complex, and, mostly, must be remarked the fact that the EA governments of the period were usually more concerned by the needs of stabilization of the "Great Expansion" of the 2170-2220, instead of the search for a political acknowledgement by the other regional powers that, De Facto, was yet accomplished in the early 2200s.
The truth is that the Earth Alliance went to war against the Dilgars for many reasons, even humanitarian and political, but essentially because the EA presidency was well aware of a still not very publicized fact: the Earth was the next on the target list of the Dilgars.
This simple fact, not sufficiently remarked, has been repeatedly brought to the attention of the public, but, strangely enough, it faded in the fog of the chronicles. Now, 50 Years after the events, something more can be collected and presented, in the hope to give to the public a clearer, synthetic and objective view of our first great interstellar war in this short, dramatic part of the 23rd Century.
|Before the war: rumours, voices, cloaks and daggers.|
The first voices about the Dilgar Empire and its conquest leaked to the Earth Alliance in the 2220, thanks to the informations provided by commercial corporations involved in partnerships with some LONAW worlds.
Essentially, what was known of the Dilgars, vaguely identified as a seclusionist but technologically very advanced race, was that in the past they had many of their members serving as mercenaries in some branches of the Centauri military as security and border patrol forces, and actually they had begun to claim the sovereignty upon some territorial assets of the closest powers.
A prudent investigation was carried on by the diplomatic
corps, and the outcomes ringed an alert bell in the most
experienced members of the Earth Alliances government: in
that period, the honour of the limelight was essentially for the
Narn regime, that in less than twenty years was able to put to
the ropes the Centauri, exploit one third of their territory,
with nine inhabited colonies, build their own
"protectorate", attempt (and fail) the occupation of
Gaim, attempt piracy activity and fight some minor battles
against the Earth Alliance, menace our allies Markabs and, in a
general view, shake a situation well consolidated from more than
fifty years, and generate troubles among all their neighbours.
The EABI (Earth Alliance Bureau of Investigation, the Civil
Governments Secret Service) brought on an effective
activity of investigation, and the Government requested the
support of the SID (Special Intelligence Department, the Military
information Service) and of the EFNI, that, from the late XXII
century was the main intelligence source for the Alien Affairs,
and mostly, had strong ties and opened channels with the Centauri
Secret Service (CSS) and well honed reconnaissance and operative
capability in the deep space missions.
The first informal contact with the CSS brought quickly to an unexpected evolution: instead of some informations, the CSS put in the hands of the EFNI representatives a strong alert, and a formal request of collaboration of the Centauri government. The diplomatic corps of both EA and Centauri Republic agreed to a stronger collaboration, and the works brought to the EFNI officers an unexpected, someway sinister picture of the situation.
First of all, one of the reasons that pushed the Centauri to give up to the Narn situation, beyond the internal and economical problems, was the fact that the conflict was weighting so much on the Centauri military, that in the long term this could begin to lose the power to keep at bay the Dilgars. The simple fact that the Centauri Republic considered the Dilgars a menace powerful enough to not be quickly crushed in the eventuality of a conflict was a surprising and very bitter new. In a first time this preoccupation of the Centauri was related to wrong perception, or eventually to the fact that the Centauri military was much more weakened than was thought before, but further informations and crossed investigations allowed to understand better the truth.
The Dilgars had a technology close to the Centauri, a fleet numbered in the thousands, and were quickly preparing to strike, and hardly. The long dated contacts between the two empires allowed both of them to know the reciprocal strengths and weaknesses, and so the advice of the Centaurum to the Dilgar Council to avoid to cross the road of the Republic was enough to keep them away from the Centauri Republic, but if the Dilgars had not yet the power to win a war against the Centauri, they were anyway a powerful menace, and an extremely hard nut to crack for everybody. More than every other thing, they had the monolithic will, the power, and the ideology to start an all-out war and win against everybody but the most powerful of the adversaries. The problem so, was not more "if" but "when".
With all the governmental support needed, and the collaboration and blessing of EA agencies, the EFNI opened the "Deep Red" investigation, to acquire informations and assess the eventual level of menace of the Dilgars.
This type of informative activity was the real work of the EFNI, and so was carried on with efficiency, and quickly begun to bring fruits. The actions carried on were essentially based upon the collection of notices among the travellers and merchants operating in the sectors close to the Dilgars, and some explorative, reconnaissance and listening activity close to or inside the Dilgar borders. As resulted later, all this activity was never discovered neither suspected by the Dilgars, that while having a powerful military and a ruthless ideology, and a sophisticated technology, have always had a poor management of the intelligence. They spied the potential targets, of course, but they never really considered the possibility to be spied themselves.
After less than one year, in the 2222, the EFNI closed and issued the "Deep Red Report", that gave a clear vision of the structure and power of the Dilgars, enlightened the fact that they were really preparing an invasion war, and assessed their technological and technical capabilities. There was nothing to be happy for. The only positive outcome was that the Dilgars were still organizing, so some time was left to prepare for the impending tempest.
A direct outcome of the "Deep Red" Report was the
knowledge of some details about the Dilgar technology. First of
all, their warships were long ranged and fast even if generally
lacking the gravitic propulsion technology used by the Centauri,
with an impressive firepower, and with excellent sensors,
communications and electronic warfare, but seemed built with
concepts similar to the Centauri philosophy, and so sacrified the
passive defence that was comparatively weak even respect to the
Centauri standards. Their most powerful warship was a
dreadnought, or, better, a battle cruiser, named
"Meshakur" Class, that was on par or superior to the
Centauri Primus Cruisers, and a deadly menace for the Earthforce
Navy of the Period. Other classes of ships were cruisers and
escort destroyers of the Sekhmet (the only one with an
operational gravimetric drive) and Ochlavita series, both of them
fast and very well armed, while their standard fighter, the
Thorun, an atmospheric capable dual role design, seemed on par or
superior to the Tiger Starfury.
The reaction of the Earth Alliance Government, luckily, was adequate and politically well managed.
Before the end of the 2222 were launched both the "4000 ships Navy" project, to mass produce the actual breed of warships, essentially havy cruisers, frigates and corvettes and to launch an adequate number of the classic Avenger Gamma class carriers, and, less expensive but more important, was started the "Nova" project, to develop a new family of superior starfuries, and mostly a new battleship "so powerful to stand against and defeat the main capital ships of the most advanced races known." From every point of view, and despite the claims of the shipyards traditionally tied with the Government procurement agencies, what the Navy wanted, and obtained, was a battleship capable to sustain easily the firepower of a Meshakur, and obliterate it with a single salvo.
The overall situation was serious, but in the minds of the Earth Alliance government there was still room to manoeuvre and to modify the situation. Repeated attempts to communicate were made by the Earth Alliance diplomatics, but the attempts were initially ignored, and lately rejected; the Dilgar Empire did not want any contact with the Earth Alliance, and was not interested in opening diplomatic relationships.
This was an unwise move, because the possible interpretations could be only two: the Dilgars did not want contacts with the Earth Alliance because of pure contempt, or they simply were not interested in a diplomatic relation with a potential adversary. Or, maybe, A prey.
In the following years, happened something that was almost ignored in terms of general picture: the Dilgars begun to exercise pressures among their closest neighbours, while the Earth alliance, after a first period of internal rumors regards the growth of the military expenses, went on in its programs, quietly, constantly. In the 2225 the Nova Starfury was under distribution to the operational units, the new Nova dreadnoughts and the enhanced Hyperion cruisers were in mass production, and the troubles with the Narns were settled with the Non-Aggression treaty of the 2224.
Everything seemed to go on in the normal tracks even if the covered EFNI monitoring and intelligence activity indicated that the Dilgars were everything but quiets, and that something was preparing, with fleet exercises, landing simulation and enhanced patrol activity.
The Earthforce of the late 2220s was a well honed, powerful war machine. This was due to a series of reasons: the main motivation behind the initial human military build-up, in the last half of the XXII century was simply the need to protect the commercial routes inside and outside the territory of the Earth Alliance, and the defence of our most valuable and recently acquired assets.
During the "age of expansion" (see essential chronology, 2190-2220) a virtuous circle of economical development brought the humanity to settle on more than twenty systems, and our effective economical structure allowed to generate wealth and returns on invested capitals a mere two or three years after the beginning of a new installation, outpost, settlement or colony whatever it was. Obviously this led to an enormous volume of interstellar transport, both in the EA territory and to the alien commercial partners.
The piracy was a major concern: the space is large, the routes and the jumpgates well known, the hidden locations were many, and some alien cultures and governments have never had ethical problems to use the force to take what they wanted, instead to build it. The construction of a powerful patrol and escort service, that after a few years was well capable to make safe our freighter lines and to deter attacks, started a self replicating process: the Earth and Colonial Navigation lines became a valuable resource even through the the fact that many alien companies and governments found more cost-effective to rent human transportation services, with their protection system, instead to make large investments to reshape their own structures. The request for transport services pushed the shipyard expansion, and consequently made more economic the human shipbuilding, and became a relevant source of earnings.
The various developments in the politic arena, namely the Narn aggressive expansion and the decline of the Centauri Republic, our traditional ally, pushed for the expansion of heavy fighting forces: the technology and the money were available, the EA shipyards and industries were running a full steam for the commercial and export needs, the military experience was solid and well exploited, the ideas and doctrines were very clear. So, at the end of 2220s, the Earthforce Navy was a force of more than 2600 vessels, 1600 of them jump capable and in the first line unit categories of heavy cruisers, carriers, dreadnoughts and frigates, the rest a powerful asset of excellent escort units. The officers and the crews were well trained and organized, the morale high, our fighter corps was experienced and extremely effective, and the ground units, both Army and Marines were doubtless the better trained and equipped and the most effectives of the sector, with a spectrum of capabilities and organization that was something never seen before*[Note 1].
Luckily for us and for our allies, the warning was early enough, and at the dawn of 2230 we were acceptably ready to what happened. At that time, there was still a majority of the Government that believed in conscience that the deterrent power of the EA and Centauri forces could keep at bay the expansionist policy of the Dilgars. For the Public opinion, they were just another, far, alien race.
|The war: the Sword of the Empire|
On october 1st 2230, the Dilgar Empire made its
opening move, and it was devastating. In a few days were attacked
the territories of the Abbai Matriarcate, the Balosian realm, the
Drazi Freehold and the Hyach concordate. Raiding forces stroke
the Brakiri spacelanes and outposts. The League of Non-Aligned
Worlds was put to fire and sword.
The Warmaster Jha'dur led the invasion and conquest of sectors 24, 39, 64, 58. Eight worlds and colonies were conquered in less than ten days, and the Dilgar conquest was followed by an hallucinating series of atrocities: the Drazi colony of latig-4, with more than100 million inhabitants, was whipped away with a biogenetic plague, the population of Balos was enslaved and many balosians were used as experimental Guinea-pigs, Drathun and Fendamir (drazi) and Yonog (Hyach) were under siege.
The League of Non-Aligned Worlds seek for help from the Earth Alliance, that sent humanitarian aid and leased transport ships to the attacked worlds.
On November 1st The EAS Persephone, an Hyperion cruiser sent to monitor the refugee flow in the Abbai sector was menaced by the Dilgars, that opened fire against the civilian refugees and against the EA Unit. The Earthforce cruiser fought bravely, but its resistance was short lived against the overwhelmingly superior forces of the enemy.
This incident was followed by the Dilgar apologies, given with the friendly suggestion to not interfere with the Dilgar "police actvities" to avoid further unpleasant events.
The Dilgar conquered Hilak 7 and and Zagros VIII before the end of October.
The official reply of the Earth Alliance was a protest, and the confirmation of the humanitarian help to the invaded populations, the unofficial reply was the "Have Red mission", one of the historical masterpieces of the EFNI.
In the November of the 2230, an EFNI special forces mission was able to penetrate in a Dilgar logistic depot, near to the Abbai border, in a stolen Dilgar tactical freighter; the garrison was overwhelmed and eliminated by the EFNI Naval Commandos, and in the large holds of the freighter were loaded two Thorun fighters, missiles, weapons, spare parts, an entire heavy bolter main turret of a Meshakur battleship and tons of documents, operational plans and electronic storage equipment full of strategic informations and data. Every trace was cancelled by the delayed explosion of a 150 megatons thermonuclear charge, that cancelled even the two Dilgar destroyers sent to investigate.
Unluckily, the data that was possible to extract were essentially logistic and technical informations, and the outcomes of the analysis were more relevant in tactical than in strategic terms: the Dilgar encryption system used in wartime was something new, and was not yet cracked by the EFNI Information Division.
In the middle of the 2231, the war was raging, the Hyach, Abbai, Brakiri and Drazi forces were losing ground, and Jha'dur destroyed the planets Tirolus (Abbai), Comac Minor IV (Brakiri) and Malax (independent) the victims were millions.
In this strongly compromised situation, we were not still able to unscramble the written Dilgar information, but there were not problems with the images.
One of the figures in a battle plan had a series of red arrows pointed against various worlds: one of these worlds was Markab, another was the Earth. The Presidency decided to present the "invasion map" to the Government and to the special committee of the Senate. Earthforce went to Defcon-3.
At the end of 2231 the LONAW situation was degenerating: the Hyach Navy was decimated, the Abbai military (or what was called a military, in fact being just more than a coast guard and security service) was near to the collapse, the Drazi were losing ground and bleeding resources, and the Dilgar forces invaded the Markab territory.
On the 15 december 2231, the Markab fleet was losing a battle against the Dilgars in the Tyree system, when the space was enlightened by dozens of jump points opening in front of the Dilgar fleet: it was the Task Force 77, led by the Admiral Hamato, a fleet of 74 warships, that opened fire against the enemy, while the starfuries swarmed their ships. The Earth Alliance was at war with the Dilgar Empire.
|The War: The Bolds in the Fire|
The First battle against the Earthforce Navy was a bitter surprise for the Dilgars, a light of hope for the LONAW peoples, and the confirmations of the good work done by Earthforce in the last years. Until that moment the Dilgars seemed nearly unbeatable, with an overwhelming superiority in terms of number, firepower, fighters, organisation, a speed high enough to choose the moment of the fight and a ruthlessness able to shake their opponents to the bones. All these advantages but one were lost against our Navy.
First of all the Thorun fighters were superior (but no so decisively) in respect to the Tiger Starfury from many points of view, except the weapons and the manoeuvrability, where the Earth light interceptors had an edge. Mostly, the Thorun was really not up to the task against the Nova Starfury** [Note 2]: in less than thirty minutes the Dilgar fighter force was put against the ropes, and the few Thoruns that made their way through the Starfuries and closed the distance with the heavy EA units were whipped away by the escort of Olympus corvettes and by the fire of the interceptors. The firepower of the Dilgar ships was based upon particle accelerators and bolters, a particular type of plasma weapon capable of an impressive rate of fire. Until that moment, the relatively light LONAW warships were highly vulnerable to these weapons and to the swarms of Dilgar fighters, but the EA drednoughts, cruisers, carriers, frigates and corvettes had three strengths that the Dilgars were unaware of: a thick and well designed armor, the E-Web, that reduced the effectiveness of the particle beams, and, mostly the interceptor grid, capable to make the plasma bolts to explode well away from their target. Initially the Dilgar ships tried to close the distance against the EA warships, but this brought them in the range of the Plasma cannons of the Hyperions and of the Novas, and in their first fight the Earth Dreadnoughts showed to respond totally to one of their requirements: annihilate an enemy battleship with a single salvo. The Dilgar forces begun to suffer heavy losses, and tried to withdraw, but their speed was not high enough to escape the pursuit of the Starfuries and of the Artemis frigates: when they came in range of the frigates railguns, the battle was decided. The task Force 77 lose fifteen units (three of them cruisers) between destroyed and crippled , but of more than 100 Dilgar ships, less than a quarter was able to escape in the hyperspace. It was the first defeat of the Dilgars, and a strong signal for the other powers of the sector: we were in the game, and we won the first round.
The new of the First victory against the Dilgars shacked all the forces involved, but at this point was absolutely needed an unprecedented effort of strategic coordination: simply, the LONAW forces called for help in every sector of the front, but the Earth Alliance had not the numbers to be everywhere in every moment, and, mostly, the use of the forces as local support to the battered LONAW militaries meant that the EA fleets would have to split in small formations, whose destiny would have been to be slowly consumed in the furnaces of the conflict. What was really needed was to gain the initiative, and to overwhelm the enemy with a superior force planet after planet, system after system; such a strategy was not easy to accept for the LONAW worlds, but the Earth Alliance JSOC was clear: the war had to be fought at our conditions, and in accordance with our tactics, elsewhere the defeat was likely, and there would not have been a second chance.
A remarkable fact is that overall the LONAW forces had different technological levels, some of them, like the Vree and the Hyachs, very advanced, but for a series of reasons, their average tactical level was relatively poor: the Hyachs, for example, were technologycally close to the Minbari from many points of view, but their military effectiveness never went beyond the concept of "sending some ships and fire against the enemy". The Vree were better tacticians, but they lacked in strategic terms. The first task of the Earthforce was to organize a strategic plan, and then to identify the key objectives.
In those days, The EFNI captured a Dilgar Cruiser on patrol, ("The first boarding since 200 years ago") in the wake of the "Have Red" activities, and the "Red Dagger" mission, beyond an enemy cruiser, gave us the Dilgar Encryption codes and their communication scrambling system. From that moment, we knew what the Dilgars were going to do, every move, every step. We gained the key for the victory.
The Dilgar reaction was two sided: the following days, there were not further Earthforce missions, so the Dilgar commanding staff considered the battle of Tyree an attempt of the Earth Alliance to intimidate them, the warning signal from another terrorized minor power.
From another point of view, the combat performances of the human fleet was origin of some worries in the Imperial forces: overall, a strong and experienced fleet was literally cut in ribbons by an enemy numerically and technologically inferior. At that time, the Dilgars still considered the Earth Alliance as a potential trouble, but the real strength of the human armies was roughly underestimated, both in terms of numbers and real effectiveness*** [Note 3]. The reaction was straightforward: unleash a retribution against a human colony, while keeping under pressure the LONAW worlds, a politics that had shown to work well against the Narn regime less than two months before. The potential targets were Beta 9 and the Orion colonies; Beta 9 was closer, but of low strategic relevance, while the Orion colonies had a population of more than sixty millions, and large industrial installations. A logic behaviour would have been to surprise strike Beta 9 and other minor settlements and installations in different systems, to put the whole EA under pressure, but what the Dilgars had in terms of ruthlessness, they lacked in terms of prudence; more, the defeat of Tyree was related by them to the surprise effect and to a lucky strike, instead than to the true facts: the Humans were better, more trained and organized combatants, and the human ships, while overall less advanced, had some decisive areas of superiority: the E-Web and the interceptor grid gave an enormous tactical advantage, and the heavy armour and the sturdy design furtherly enhanced the standing power of the EA ships, while there was not a single Dilgar ship that was able to survive the punishment of the fire of an Hyperion cruiser, or, mostly, of a Nova Dreadnought.
The choice of the Dilgars was well known: an assault task
force moved against the Orion Colonies, with a strength of more
than 180 heavy ships, and the task to reduce Orion VIII and its
population in ashes. What the Dilgars were unaware of was that
their communications were intercepted and descrambled, and that
the human power was numbered not in the few hundreds, but in the
thousands of ships.
When they emerged from the hyperspace, instead of a small garrison, they faced against the V and the VIII fleets, more than 600 ships and thousands of Starfuries of the squadrons of the Navy and of the Orion National Guard.
The Battle Of Orion is today part of the history books, and is still debated what was its true relevance: in fact it was the second time in which the Dilgars faced the Earth Alliance lined in battle order, and against the overwhelming numbers and the raw power of our Fleets they had the only choice of a quick retreat, but not before losing 51 ships and 360 fighters. The Alliance losses were contained in seven ships destroyed, ten damaged, and 64 starfuries destroyed, while the price in terms of crews and pilots was further contained thanks to the fact that our forces maintained the control of the space, and so many escaped crews and pilots were recovered in the aftermath of the battle.
The next battles as well known were harder, because we never had again the numerical superiority of Orion VIII, and the loss rate against the Dilgars was less favourable in the central part of the war, but this time the outcomes ringed an alert bell among the Dilgars: the Earth Alliance was not another LONAW minor dominion, or a bunch of arrogant merchants: they had to face something at least as powerful as the Narns, with consistent numbers and with a military effectiveness and a professionality never experienced before. It was the 24 January 2232.
The first part of the 2232 was decisive: the first strikes of the Dilgars against the Earth Alliance were halted by our reaction, but at this point was essential to gain the initiative advantage, to act instead of react: the War had to be fought in terms of counteroffensive, and the lowering of the Dilgar pressure on the LONAW was at this point imperative, for military reasons and to stop the massacre of the populations of the occupied worlds.
The Brakiri, even with their operational limits, were among the wealthiest and relatively powerful dominions of the LONAW, and one of the major commercial partners of the Earth Alliance; they had yet suffered the loss of Comac Minor IV, and Comac Major II was under siege. Was needed a strong signal, and in that moment the Comac system was the focal point of the operations.
The Brakiri Navy had yet tried to break the siege, but their attempt was repelled. Were desperately needed the evacuation of civilians and some reinforcements to hold the line against the Dilgars, that were ready to attempt a landing. The concentration of Dilgar forces around Comac Major was an exceptional opportunity: a powerful menace for the Brakiri, but a perfect target for a sledgehammer blow, if the instrument was available. The third fleet was the chosen hammer and was quickly reinforced with two divisions of the VI fleet. The mission was accomplished in two times: in first the VI fleet task forces came out from the hyperspace, engaging the Dilgar fleet in the delicate moment of the troop landing, and, once obtained the lining up of the enemy units in battle formation, the EA units begun to oppose a containment resistance. When the Dilgar counterattack was in full development, the whole III EA fleet, supported by the Brakiri cruisers jumped out of the hyperspace, engaging the Dilgars.
The battle enraged for two hours, the fleets hammering each other while the Dilgars were sending reinforcements of the tactical reserve, but at the end the superior standing power of the EA units gained the victory. The Dilgars retreated. The Siege of Comac Major was broken. Were involved 320 EA ships, more than 400 Dilgar units and 26 Brakiri Cruisers: at the end of the battle 34 of our ships were out of combat, as 6 Brakiri cruisers, but the Dilgars had lost 102 units, and mostly, had left behind about 12000 ground troops landed on the Comac surface.
The tactical problem of the ground forces of the Dilgars was swiftly resolved by an assault landing of two Marines divisions and an armoured heavy brigade of the Army, that showed to the astonished LONAW observers what could do a mechanized and armoured expeditionary unit, with heavy artillery, specialized endoatmospheric close air support and heavy tanks, to an occupation army equipped only with terror weapons and light equipment. Mostly, the Earth Alliance fought side to side with the Brakiri, and was supported by them in leveraging this important victory (March 13 2232), to obtain a role of strategic coordination of the military operations: until then the LONAW forces of the single dominions fought essentially on their own, the reciprocal support being slightly more than declaration of solidarity and symbolic expeditions.
Clearly the Earth Alliance had the numbers, the organization and the power to turn the tide of the war, but the unity of command was a compelling request, and the advantages of an unitary command and the tactical and strategic coordination showed by the humans promised enormous advantages. Mostly, the EA JSOC had the informations needed to anticipate the moves of the Dilgars, even if this detail was kept under secrecy. The Brakiri, the Markabs, the Ipsha and the Abbai accepted readily the agreement, while the Drazi and the Hyachs initially refused to put their forces under the command of an alien, barely known species.
The next strategic step was to save what was possible of the most endangered alien powers; this type of intervention was not very liked by the Earth Alliance, that looked for a decisive strike at the heart of the Dilgar Empire, but there were populations that were dying by millions, and this war, for the humans, for the EA soldiers, had in the depth of their souls a deeper significance than the defence of a possession or a support to endangered allies and commercial partners. In the human history, during the XX and XXI centuries, the concept of "killing fields" was something that was well understood, and deeply impressed in the human historical memory. The Killing Fields of the Dilgars were applied on a scale never seen before, and in the roots of the Earth Alliance culture, was carved the oath "never again". If there was a price to pay, the Alliance would have paid it.
The most endangered species were the Abbai, the Balosians and the Hyachs. Yonog (Hyach) had fallen, Shra Bal and Shri Shraba, the Hyach Homeworld, were under siege, and Shra Bal was the closest to the main vector of the EA forces, at about 45 light years from Comac Major, but the Hyach Navy, even if reduced to the phantom of itself, was still barely able to hold the line for some time. But the Abbai and Ipsha were at the desperation, very likely they had only a few weeks left.
The choiche of the Earth Alliance was reckless: one third of the EA forces were left to protect the EA territory, the bulk of the Navy, the II,IV,V, VII and VIII fleets, more than 1400 ships, were organized in two main operational forces, "Starblade" (II and IV fleets) and "Archangel" (V, VII and VIII fleet). What was made available by the allies, so about 110 Vree light cruisers (Xorr saucers) and 40 Brakiri Cruisers were used to reinforce the formations, the Vree being particularly well accepted by the EA thanks to the speed and heavy armaments of their ships. The use of the light cavalry (or of its space equivalent) for the tactical and strategic pursuit of an enemy was well clear for the humans tacticians, and the Vree could give the mobility edge the EA forces lacked.
On April 2, the Starblade and Archangel assault forces
unleashed their power against the Dilgar fleets surrounding Abba
and Ipsha Prime. In these battles, the power of the human fleets
was overwhelming, and the victories were clear and swift; the
numerically small but tactically relevant presence of the Vree
allowed to close the grips around the Dilgar forces, and in the
battle of Abba the Archangel Force deployed operationally for the
first time a Dinassault, the 55 of the V Fleet**** [Note 4], with
performances beyond the better expectations. The Dilgar fleets
At this point, the war was at its zenith: the Dilgar forces were overextended, and had yet suffered casualties in the order of 700 ships, more than 20% of their forces, but they were still powerful enough to win. But the LONAW and Earth forces had some relevant advantages: first of all, the Earth Alliance was tactically superior, the Dilgars had almost nothing capable to hold the line against the Novas, available in more than 220 units in the two EA expeditionary forces, and if the EA was able to land its ground forces, the destiny of the Dilgar garrisons was signed. With a standing army of more than 4,000,000 soldiers, 350,000 Marines and a superior equipment, the ground warfare was a potentially quick affair. The liberation of Abba and Ipsha meant the salvation for more than ten billion people, and boosted the morale of the battered LONAW worlds.
The following four months were a frantic series of strikes and blockade runnings with major missions spearheaded by Earthforce to break the sieges of Shri-Shraba, Elitria, Yonog, Yolu, and to assail and liberate Shra Bal, Utriel and Fendamir. Earthforce suffered losses, but the victory score was at least around 4 to 1 in our favour, and was progressively improving. At the end of July, the Dilgar Forces were virtually repelled from the Brakiri, Vree, Yolu, Descari and Ipsha territories, while the Drazi Freehold and the Abbai Matriarcate were not more under desperate circumstances. A Landing on Zagros VII was the first joint mission with the Drazi, and gained to the united forces the support of what remained of the Drazi fleet.
In this period, the EFNI exercised its "second work": while the monitoring and the ELINT missions in the occupied and Dilgar homeland territories went on regularly and effectively, the small EFNI forces dedicated themselves to the special operations. None of them was spectacular as the Have Red or Red Bodkin missions, but there was none of the logistic and support facilities of the enemy safe from our SOPCOM*****[Note 5] strikes. More than a depot or a repair yard was blown in pieces by a thermonuclear bomb placed by our Incursion Commandos, while the harder targets, frequently protected by sensor chains and minefield, had their defences deactivated by the EFNI saboteurs, such to became an unaware prey for the surprise gunning of the EFNI naval service, that in that period was based upon Artemis frigates and Hyperion cruisers, but had assigned even eight Nova Dreadnoughts.
During the month of September, Earthforce begun to raid deeply into the Dilgar territories: the Dilgars were decisively in decline, but at that point what Earthforce needed was a decisive strike, to crush the bulk of the Dilgar forces. Tirolus and Alaca, two of the main bases of the Dilgars in the occupied territories were conquered by the Earthforce, and a disinformation activity of the EFNI induced the Dilgars to consider Balos the next target for an Earth Alliance landing. Even the Dilgars were looking for a decisive engagement, aimed to inflict to the Earthforce so heavy casualties to make us to stop our offensive to reorganize and replenish the losses.
The Dilgars tried to set against us the same tactic we used at Comac Minor IV, so to attack a fleet in the critic moment of a troop landing, and the EFNI kept accurately alive this hope among the enemies. The Starblade force lined up around Balos, waiting for the moment of the truth. On November 1st, a fleet of 1700 Dilgar ships attacked the Earthforce around Balos. Minutes later the Archangel Force, with forces of the LONAW, jumped into the battle, and the Dinassault 55 looked like a sword pushed in the heart of the enemy. The battle of Balos was the greatest space battle ever fought in the registered history until Coriana 6 in 2262, more than 3700 ships were involved. At the end of the Day, the very best of the Dilgar forces was vanquished. With this battle we won the war.
Our Marines occupied Balos, discovering an unnamed horror: four billions of Balosians had been used as laboratory specimens, or simply exterminated.******[Note 6]
The last attempt of resistance, set up by the Dilgars at
Omelos, at least to treat the conditions for surrendering, was
chrushed at the end of November. December the 10th
2232, in the orbit of Dilgar, the Dilgars surrendered to the
LONAW and to the Earth Alliance. The space bristled of more than
two thousands Earthforce ships.
Many says that it was our finest hour.
|The victory and after: Lights and Shadows.|
The peace conditions were hard for the Dilgars: they were left with a symbolic military, all their Warmasters had to be handed to the LONAW war crimes tribunals, they had to accomplish to random inspections but, overall, the Dilgar people had a destiny much better than the billions that passed under their heel. They were confined to their home system for ten years, after that time a revision of the peace treaty could allow them the access to their four original colonies, while they had free navigation in their home system, that had two inhabitable and one terraformable planet. Must be noticed that was the Earth Alliance in first that acted to mitigate the peace conditions, in the hope to smooth the will for revenge of a warlike, ruthless, but proud and intelligent people, and eventually, with the coming generations, allow them a more peaceful participation to the stellar community. What happened is well known: in the 2235 their sun exploded like a supernova, and the Dilgars were extinct. And this is one of the greatest mysteries.
The press and the propaganda have spent rivers of ink and hexabytes of informations about this: the public opinion accepted the rumors that the Dilgars moved because they knew of the impending tragedy. The governments of the Earth Alliance and of the LONAW have been accused to be well aware of the impending destiny of the Dilgars, and have left them make an atrocious end for thirst of revenge. There were voices that the LONAW knew and did not said nothing to the humans to be sure that the Dilgars were whipped away once and forever, and so to avoid that the Earth Alliance can save even their former, hated enemies.
The truth, or at least what is due to know actually, is different, and, in a certain measure, upsetting.
There are two incontrovertibles facts: the Dilgar sun was a K-O star, so it had not the mass to be physically capable to go supernova. In technical terms, it was well below the Chandrasekhar limit. More, Dilgars Sun was at about one third of its lifespan, so billions of years before every possible collapse, and none of the races capable of interplanetary, let alone interstellar and FTL flight, could have ignored an instability of such an enormous level; the astrophysical scanning registrations of our missions prove, beyond every reasonable doubt, that the Dilgar Sun was a very normal, quiet star of the principal sequence. Last but not least, the explosion of the Dilgar Star, even if incinerated the inner planets of its system, was vastly weaker than a true supernova.
A fact is almost sure until now: the Dilgar regime of the Warmasters, that unleashed the rage of the war in the Orion Sector, was built and nursered by the Shadows, initially through the contacts with the Hurr, beyond the border of the Dilgar space, and later with their direct intervention as Grand Puppet Masters. In fact, the Dilgar war was the first chapter of the Shadow war, and, if not for the unexpected victory of the Earth Alliance, could have reshaped the face of this galactic sector. The revenge of the Shadows was very hard, they have presented the bill at least in three occasions: operating to start the Minbari war thanks to infiltrated agents in the Earth Alliance Government and to break our attempts to peace even in this case through interposed person, in this last case, Centauri. They supported the rise of a dictatorship and so ignited the Civil War, and, not casually, unleashed the Drakhs against the humanity.*******[Note 7]
So, a face of the question has an univocal answer: the Dilgars were instrumentals to the Shadows. But another question remains without a response. The true question, in fact, is not why the Dilgar sun exploded, it is vastly more terrifying; the true question is: who was that made that star explode? As far as it known, neither the Vorlons nor the Shadows seems to have the technology or the power to do this. Among the Ancients, maybe only the Walkers of Sigma 957 have a such terrifying power, but they never did something like this, they had neither the will, nor the motivation nor the character to make something of this level.
But there is someone or something, out there, that can make the stars to explode.
|Historical Note: About the Power|
The Earth Alliance is frequently perceived by most part of the
alien governments and public opinions as a monolithic military
structure that keeps under its control a relevant volume of space
and that has fought some interesting wars in the last decades.
Well, the Earth Alliance, in fact, is a totally different realty:
it is essentially a market, a commonwealth, opened to the
commerce with the Aliens more than any other alien power. The
humans, at least, the nations that founded the Earth alliance,
had and still have strong cultural traditions as entrepreneurs,
merchants, builders, manufacturers, explorers; science,
literature and arts are respected and supported.
The success of the Earth Alliance is essentially due to the efficient economical and political system and to the capability to offer to all its citizens at least the freedom to pursue, if not to realize, their individual will and the hope of a better future.
The Earth Alliance is the only major power that has built an "empire" that does not controls or dominates alien races: we have colonized unhabitated worlds and exploited resource of whole systems, we have commerces and exchanges with almost all the Alien powers of the sector, and we have outposts and settlements even in almost unexplored, extremely far systems, but we never enslaved or dominated aliens: we have allies and commercial partners, we have protection treaties with many independent cultures, beyond the ISA worlds and the Treaty of the Four Stars, but none of them is subject to our will, or pay taxes or tributes to us; and this must be said to clarify the difference between influence and dominance.
The military Power of Earthforce is in fact the incarnation of the ancestral need to protect what has been built: the actual Earthforce is a military power close or on the same level of the Centauri, and that can be confronted even with the Minbari, but our armies and our fleets are more a consequence than an instrument: in our short history we have been attacked in many minor occasions, but, at the very end, at least five major powers have plotted or attempted to physically exterminate the human race: the Dilgars wanted to, the Minbari came close, the Shadows pushed us into a civil war that, in any case, was the minor evil at the moment, the Drakhs came closest than every other to whip away the human race, the Hand seems to seriously consider the hypothesis. Some other "could eventually".
So, at interstellar level, the military might of the Earthforce is frequently seen as a sword, and a very big and sharp one: technically, it is, but from many others points of view, it is in fact a well needed and justified shield, now as it was when we fought and defeated the Dilgar Warmasters.
*Note 1. For a series of reasons, the Earth Alliance Army was the only one to maintain heavy armored forces and specialized vehicles and aircrafts for the ground fighting. The alien armies are usually organized as light infantry, anti guerrilla/peacekeeping forces, the armoured vehicles are at the best something similar to Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicles, while the mechanized/armored war, with heavy tanks, close-air support, field artillery and so on, seems to be something out of the traditions of almost all the Alien Species, and, for example, only the Centauri army has a decent artillery. In the LONAW, the Brakiri ground forces are excellent in terms of training and organization, but are small in number, and even them lack in terms of heavy equipment and mechanized/combined weapons tactics. Usually, what can be seen in the vast majority of the aliens militaries is light infantry airborne with shuttles, or motorized infantry on light transport vehicles. The Gaim warriors lay outside of this overall picture: they are maybe the deadliest fighters ever seen, but are essentially fierce animals, bio-engineered drones breed and designed to kill, and controlled by a remote intelligence, no less, no more.
**Note 2. The Thorun fighter
used by the Dilgars was a formidable weapon against the LONAW
because it was designed as an anti ship strike fighter: it was
fast, ranged, with excellent electronic warfare and powerful weapons:
in that period, the LONAW forces did not used space fighters in
quantity, or they did not used them at all. The LONAW warships
were made to face a military force capable to inflict damages and
losses and hamper their manoeuvres with the fighters, against
which they were ill defended, and the dialgars were even able to
force the combat thanks
to an equal or superior speed of the main units. This tactics,
that indeed would have not been equally effective against
Centauri and Narns (that used fighters both for defensive and
offensive actions), was totally inadequate against Earthforce,
that, beyond the good antifighter defence of its units, had
fighters that, at the price of a far lesser range and endurance
in respect to the Thoruns, were conceived and designed to be
equally effective as antiship and as antifighter crafts, and the
training of the pilots was centered not only in the antiship
attack but, in part or essentially, in the space-superiority and
in the antifighter dogfight. The larger and less maneuverable
Thoruns found themselves in troubles against the smaller but
nimbler and better suited for duels EA Starfuries.
The lessons learned in the Dilgar war had consequences in the militaries of the LONAW: the Drazi introduced in service an excellent heavy fighter, the Sky Serpent, that is a design superior to the Thorun from every point of view, while the Vree, whose Xorr class cruisers were a formidable antiship unit, but vulnerable to the fighters, introduced in service the Xill Cruiser, that matches to the antiship effectiveness and to the maneuverability and speed of its ancestor, one of the most devastating antifighter system ever seen.
***Note 3. Earthforce has always had a tradition of professionally and tactical expertise that, objectively, was never rivalled by any alien military: the warfare is something that has marched side by side to the human race for all its history, before and after our walk to the stars. The war was an hard teacher, but its burden that we carried on the shoulders along the centuries gave to our military structure an attitude to adapt to the new situations, to develop new tactics and weapons, to use historical precedents and parallels, to improve the training and to develop organisation and specialised structures that were something a step beyond the aliens we have met until now. Even the Drazi, the Vree and the Centauri, let alone the vaunted Minbari warrior caste, while having a long military tradition, have not the full spectre of operational capabilities, and the tactical and strategic skill of Earthforce.
****Note 4. Dinassault =
Naval Assault Division, also known as "Gorilla". During
the Dilgar war, we had only one Dinassault, the 5th
Division of the V Fleet, so Dinassault 55: this was an unitary
formation of 48 Nova dreadnoughts, organized and trained to
operate as an offensive spearhead against a large fleet.
The sheer firepower and the shock effect of a similar force proved itself devastating: at Balos a quarter of the losses suffered by the Dilgars were directly caused by the plasma cannons of the Dinassault 55. The same Dinassault 55 held three days the line against repeated waves of Minbari in the battle of Sinazar, the most costly of the war for the Minbari that lost 15 ships under the mass vectored attacks of the Novas. Only three badly damaged Nova dreadnoughts survived the battle, withdrawing in the hyperspace, but one of them met its destiny at the Line. Our actual Navy has two Dinassaults, the 55th and the 11th , and both of them are made of 48 Centurion Dreadnoughts and 24 Gladium assault vectors.
*****Note 5. SOPCOM, Special OPerations COMmand. It is an extremely important sector of the EFNI Operations Division. In the beginning of the Earthforce History, the Earthforce Navy had not an information or intelligenec service, but the developing needs after the First Contact pushed Earthforce to allow the Navy to build its own specialzed information structure: the EFNI was born. For a series of reasons, particularly the historical experience of the strong ties of collaboration between Secret Services and Special Forces, the Navy made an unprecedented choiche: she merged under the EFNI both the Intelligence and Information services, and the Navy Special Forces, the heirs of the Naval Commandos. Is because of this structure, that, by the way, has shown to work very well, that the EFNI has the "spies", the "commandos" and its own small "Navy", the EFNI naval service.
******Note 6. At the Battle of Balos, the flagship of the Warmaster "Deathwalker"Jhadur, responsible of warcrimes and atrocities whose echoes are still well alive, was gunned (and unwillingly rammed) by the prototype battleship E.A.S.Tillman. Jhadur survived ejecting in an escape pod, that was attracted and embarked by an alien ship of a model unknown to the humans, that disappeared in the hyperspace as quickly as it appeared. The alien ship was a Minbari Sharlin cruiser of the Windsword warrior clan, that sheltered Jhadur for more than 27 years. Jhadur reappeared unexpected in the babylon 5 diplomatic station, in 2258, but, while leaving the station on its Minbari shuttle, she was killed by a Vorlon cruiser. The investigation was carried on and the outcomes were secreted by the EABI.
Still today, we have no response to the main questions: why a Minbari clan hosted Deathwalker, why she came back, what had she done in thirty years of exile, and mostly, why the Vorlons killed her.
*******Note 7. If not for the Shadow sabotage activity in the Earth Alliance governement and without the consequent Minbari war many historics believe that in the following years, the human race could have been the politic bridge capable to hold together a vast, powerful front against the Shadows: after the Dilgar war, the Earth Alliance was the most respected and esteemed power of the sector: we were old allies and friends of the Centauri, the LONAW worlds were well aware (and grate) that their survival, freedom and prosperity was thanks to the humans, and we never asked a price for the sacrifice of our soldiers, deads fighting the Dilgars. The Narns, after a false start, begun to have good relations, both politics and commercial, with the Earth Alliance. How different could have been the history, if our first contact with the Minbari would had took place in the light of wisdom and friendship?