1747-1748: The False War with Lower Barro
Faced with a hugely popular upstart general, Duke Icho ordered Alykinder back to Northern Tok with an order to prepare for an invasion of Lower Barro. To Duke Icho, this was the prime way to deprive Alykinder of the support of his political base.
It is difficult now to keep in mind just how triumphant Alykinder’s return to Skar was. The mission he had been sent on was one calculated to destroy him, but Alykinder had been returned to the place where he had first honed his military principles into fine operational art, and now he had the control of a new generation of eager Tokish officers and the pick of military equipment. He made no effort to conceal that hostilities were to begin with Lower Barro. Instead, he began political operations against that nation almost immediately. Envoys were dispatched to the various city-states which had formed the mutual defense pact with the Northern Tok region. Alykinder made sure his envoys made his intentions clear—he was coming into Lower Barro and he was going to win. The city-states had the option of remaining with a central government which had neglected them for decades, or they could offer token resistance and formalize their commitment with Tok.
To make sure that his threats were credible, Alykinder staged a massive and visible airdrop exercise of his First and Second Airmobile Brigades, which were now far larger than they had been in the previous war. Alykinder put on public spectacles, setting distance records for airships with the several newly upgraded Long Walkers. He put on massive displays of airship and aircraft formation flying. He made it adequately clear that the Barroese militias would be badly outclassed by his regulars. Then, in defiance of orders from the Privy Council on Military Affairs in Bul Maren, he began operations a week before their timetable. By the official date hostilities were to commence, Alykinder had accepted the surrender of three city-states and was in a position to receive two more. Only the Lower Barroese city-state of Mulf offered resistance.
The First Airmobile Brigade under the command of Colonel Myn Ye dropped behind their lines and took the entire militia from the rear. Alykinder quickly replaced the rulers of Mulf with those who were of closer mind to him. The government of Lower Barro was shocked at how quickly Alykinder had gained territory. They attempted negotiations to end the offensive, but were horrified to discover that Alykinder would accept no political delegations beyond those authorized to conduct cease-fire. Nor did Alykinder tolerate political interference from Tok, declaring that the “Zone of Operations” he was responsible for was governed by military, not civilian law. It is meaningful that not even the King’s agents could gain access to Alykinder, after he declared he would accept nothing less than the complete subjugation of Lower Barro.
The extensive airship facilities of Lower Barro’s mountain cities gave him the staging ground he needed to keep his troops moving at their incredible pace. Though Skar was his primary logistical base, Alykinder commanded from well forward of these positions, with the command airship Goana Creek often able to see the front lines from her telescopes. By narrowing his advance and leapfrogging regiments, he was moving upwards of ten kilometers a day—a pace not seen for generations in warfare. Radio communication kept his officers in touch with his GHQ, whereas the Lower Barro army was relying on messengers, many of whom were captured by cavalry and Airmobile Marines. Alykinder was completely in control of the tempo of the campaign, and Lower Barro was all but unable to counter his advance.
Barroese forces, when threatened, would construct elaborate fortifications across what they felt would be necessary choke points. Alykinder would instead send an airmobile brigade beyond the fortifications to prevent supplies from reaching them. An encircled or cut-off army, dug into their field fortifications, was as good as captured—it was just a matter of keeping them pinned into position. To this end, Alykinder would task a conventional army group solely to keep the enemy from breaking out.
When the war with Lower Barro ended, Alykinder had managed to keep the bulk of the Barroese army completely in check. Shock operations to disrupt pockets of mutual support were undertaken, and these represent the bulk of the Tokish casualties of the campaign. With Alykinder-aligned rulers now in control of the mountain city-states, the Lower Barro government capitulated and its rulers went into exile. Alykinder installed a puppet government in Lower Barro, and ordered that its military be re-formed into the Tokish model.
Next: A New Order!