austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Although it may be a pile of debris

Let me outline my strategic problem in the current struggle, where the Allies are sitting peaceably waiting for a winner in the Axis/Comintern war and where Japan digests its conquest of all China.

My United States army currently has 81 infantry divisions, one cavalry, six motorized cavalry, six armored divisions, 12 mountaineers, one garrison division, and 15 marine divisions, as well as three Headquarters units which allow for more effective large-unit combat. The British and French armies are about four-fifths this size each, and Canada, Australia, and Belgium about one-quarter each, with a surprisingly uniform distribution of specialties.

The United States Navy is in, comparatively, great shape, with eight carriers, 17 battleships, 19 heavy cruisers, 17 light cruisers, 48 destroyers, and 62 submarines, although around half of that are frankly antiquated. The Royal Navy is about the same size, but has built up light carriers, battlecruisers, and destroyers rather than so many submarines. And Canada's adorably chipping in with a light cruiser and 21 destroyers.

The Allies have combined an Air Force which would almost make Curtis LeMay not crazy. The United States can put up eight fighter-interceptor divisions, nine strategic bomber divisions, 16 tactical bomber divisions, and two transport divisions. I have naval bombers under way and realize I should be focusing more on close-air-support craft. France brings 18 interceptors and five tactical bombers to the table, and the Royal Air Force offers 32 interceptors, three strategic bombers, seven tactical bombers, 13 naval bombers, and two transport carriers. (Canada offers 11 tactical bombers, and Australia 12 close-air-support fighters.)

So were it possible for the Allies to actually coordinate their forces we're an even match for the Axis, the Comintern, or Japan's Co-Prosperity Sphere separately just on the ground; add the naval and air superiority and it's just experience that we lack.

I've been sending units to key Pacific installations --- Guam, Wake Island, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and northern Indochina --- so that in the event of war with the Sphere I'll be well-positioned to forestall Japan from taking southeast Asia, and grab at the Bonim Islands and Taipei to invade the Japanese Home Islands. Whether to grab the other islands, or use them as ways to steadily draw off supply convoys (which my submarine fleets are usually good at sinking) or not can depend on just how things look. I like attacking supply and troop convoys, which build experience in my Navy pretty easily, and which drain the enemy's resources, and also which provide a steady series of reports of satisfying numbers of enemy ships sunk. That's good for morale. Well, it's good for my morale, and I'm sure it would be good for the home front; I haven't found a strong correlation between war news and levels of dissent among the population, but that's probably because I usually don't have much catastrophically bad war news. Retaking China will be a long, hard slog --- no way around that --- but I figure the priorities are the Home Islands and if Britain or France wants to take slices of conquered China for their trouble probably I'll let them. I should be able to take enough terrain to re-create a Nationalist China which can deal with that problem when it has its strength back. Probably I'll be able to liberate Korea, as well. (I tend to create what the game considers puppet states, but what I consider loyal yet independent democratic republics, with conquered territory.) So an Allies/Japan war is sketched out at least.

If my spy network is accurate --- I confess to a certain skepticism --- Japan has 224 infantry divisions (!), although no armored divisions; three fighter squadrons, five bomber squadrons; and a navy of six battleships, 12 carriers, and four battlecruisers with around 134 smaller ships. Junior partner Manchukuo tosses in 48 infantry divisions and one fighter squadron; Mengkukuo offers five infantry divisions.

I've also been loading up units in eastern France and Malta, so that in the event of an Allies/Axis war, well. My plan is to use Malta to launch invasions of Italy's Libyan colony while, I expect, Britain takes Ethiopia. Then we springboard to Sicily and Sardinia, thence to Italy. This should let my generals and divisions build experience in warfare while, hopefully, the concentrated Allied units in northern France and Belgium are able to hold the line. If my spies are accurate Germany has 212 infantry divisions and 16 armored divisions, while Italy has 102 infantry, six fighters, and three bombers. I recognize the potential ironic hazards of that northern France plan, but note that I do have a much stronger Air Force than Germany offers. According to my spies Germany has no fighter squadrons and only two bomber squadrons, which puts its air cover somewhere below what I have for Miami.

Axis junior partner Portugal -- four infantry divisions, one bomber squadron, 15 small ships -- is also usable for practice conquest, although that will require an amphibious assault launched probably from French North Africa. While Spain --- solidly Republican here --- feels most warmly to the United States and has signed a non-aggression pact with me, it has not yet allowed military access, which is a shame. It would be so much easier to conquer Portugal quickly. Still, the amphibious invasion practice will be good. There are other minor Axis partners in the Balkans without armies or air forces of significance; I imagine they can be dealt with after Italy (four battleships and 89 small ships if the spies are right). Strangely, invading through the Balkans has worked before. So the Allied/Axis war I have roughly planned out.

The problem is a war between the Allies and the Comintern, which is to say the Soviet Union, Mongolia, and perennial fan favorite Tannu Tuva. If war comes, where do I invade? As the Soviets haven't taken the Baltic Republics (yet) the nearest-to-Moscow amphibious landing site is around Leningrad, at the end of a long and very naval-defensible bay. The spies say the Soviet Navy barely exists, with no heavy ships and only 23 smaller vessels, but I don't feel very confident in my spies' estimates, and the Soviets also have ten fighter squadrons and a mighty defensible cove with great choke points for any invaders. With 256 infantry divisions and 19 armored divisions most likely all concentrated in western Russia, well ... I could go around Scandinavia and land from the Berents Sea, fighting through whatever fleet is guarding the White Sea and the weather, which looks as promising to me as it does to you. There's more maneuvering range, but it's still very close to where they'd have those 275 divisions.

Of course there's the long way around, invading from Siberia, which has the advantages of light naval cover and, as there's been no war scare with Japan yet, light army coverage. Another advantage of this is that as I peel off provinces I'd be able to set up independent states which would immediately join the Allies --- maybe not strong allies, but at least they'd only temporarily be my concern to feed and provision and keep stable, and they'd be pretty reliable permanent weakenings of the Soviet Union. But the prospect of supporting mechanized warfare in a fourteen-time-zone slog does not delight me. Even if I resorted to the least logistically demanding units of infantry, they'll need air cover, and they'll be fighting forever towards the industrial base of the Soviet Union. It's a little less awful if one supposes a war with Japan came first and that China has been conquered by the Allies, but Japan is hard and by this planning hadn't even started the war.

The best spot to invade from is Crimea, but I can't get into the Black Sea without the permission of Turkey, which has no interest in joining the Allies or even just allowing military access. It's the sort of thing that tempts one to overthrow the government of Turkey and make the puppet state join the Allies, but provoking coups is a dangerous and unreliable (and expensive) business and I don't like encouraging that sort of thing when the worst they're doing is being neutral.

Next best would be invading through the Caspian Sea, but the problem is similar to that with Turkey: I can't get to Soviet territory except by passing through a neutral nation, either Persia or Afghanistan. I could use paratroops to leap over some of this neutral territory, but go ahead, try talking about conquering the Soviet Union using the troops that can be air-dropped from Baghdad to Baku with a straight face. If I could get military access through Persia options would open up, but military access is in some ways tougher to negotiate than a straight-out alliance.

So there's the trouble. The most nearly workable plan for the Allies battling the Soviet Union is to storm the beaches of Leningrad. Failing that, I need to first go to war with Germany, Japan, Turkey, or Persia. I don't like the way that looks.

However it works out, I think I may want Henry J Kaiser to get into aircraft production.

Trivia: Franklin Roosevelt's ``Germany First'' strategy seems to have been first articulated by Chief of Naval operations Admiral Harold Stark in November 1940, adopted by the ABC-1 Conference of February-March 1941, reinforced with discussions with Winston Churchill in the Placentia Bay meeting of August 1941, but only made policy after the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines. Source: The Second World War, John Keegan.

Currently Reading: How Markets Fail: The Logic Of Economic Calamities, John Cassidy.


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