Invasion of Strata
Invasion of Strata, 2962-2963
During the Third Succession War in the year 2962 the planet Strata was attacked by the Draconis Combine and occupied until mid 2963.
The invasion was preceded by a period of intense civil unrest, and some suspect that agitators had been planted on the planet to stir up this unrest and destabilize the government in the lead up to the invasion. This has never been confirmed. The protests, including some riots, centered upon workers rights and the rigidity of the planet’s feudal political system, despite the democratic lower-levels of government. These were collectively called the Orange Protests and the Orange Party, referring to the bright high-visibility vests commonly used among blue collar workers. Such groups were heavily targeted by the invaders following the takeover, however, shedding doubt upon this theory.
After sending initial emergency distress signals, the HPG interplanetary communications facility at Delphi was scuttled by the local Commstar staff, who feared its capture. Despite the transmission, no relief forces arrived. The HPG facility remained offline during the course of the invasion, despite all attempts by Draconis Combine to force compliance from the Commstar staff. In honour of this, Strata now allows the Commstar facility to maintain independent military forces on the planet to defend their HPG facility.
The attack proper began with orbital bombardment of the original Fort Enyo, the military headquarters of Strata on Ares continent. This strike was intended to cripple the planet’s defense force. This largely failed, the primary command center was destroyed but the subterranean reserve command center remained operational. Early detection of the incoming forces during their approach from the jump site towards the planet had allowed for mobilization of military forces and during the bombardment the bulk of the planet’s defenders escaped into the shelter of the fog layer. The surface facilities of the base, and base defenders on the surface were lost, the fortified bunkers and subterranean facilities survived relatively unscathed. Despite this the base was the initial target for the ground assault and was quickly captured once stripped of battlemech defenders and its outer fortifications.
At the time Strata did not make heavy use of the fog regions except for military training, and so established bases for the displaced defenders were limited but present. Use of civilian facilities in the midlands was more common, lowlands facilities were limited to manned and unmanned water collection outposts.
During the occupation the Draconis Combine forces began by crushing the civil unrest present preceding their arrival. The customary brutality to suppress unruly citizens is typical in the Draconis Combine but the same conduct was considered bordering upon terrorism by the Federated Suns population of Strata. The majority of the population was shocked into compliance, or forced to stand down at gun point. A number of isolated revolts were attempted and were brutally put down by the invaders.
The four most notable uprisings were:
1) The Drachentöter (Dragon Slayers) Rebellion on Daedalus continent, in which a resistance group gathered and armed industrialmechs from the local industries, and successfully fought back against the invader’s garrison of infantry until a battlemech lance was dispatched to eliminate them. After a month long guerilla war the faster battlemechs eventually caught up with and eliminated the rebels. In retribution, the Harris Heavy Industries industrialmech factory complex was razed as an example, despite their lack of involvement with the rebel force using industrialmechs. There were no survivors from the factory on the day of the attack, including the owners who were present. The orphaned children of the Harris family who now owned the industrialmech factory, and the investors, were appalled after the invasion when they were assigned a very low priority for rebuilding and government support, during which time their competitors easily claimed their market share. The current Strata provision for militarizing industrialmechs for resistance units is a tradition dating back to this uprising.
2) The Passive Revolt, an organized strike on Chloris continent among most of the highlands farming families. The farmers refused to tend their fields or harvest produce. The response by the Draconis Combine invaders was to execute the heads of the families of all striking farms. During the Day of Blood kill squads travelled farm to farm executing the heads of the family. Word got out during the morning and many of the families managed to flee before the executioners arrived.
3) The Hunting Shadows of Tyche, a collective name given to one group whose uprising focused upon woodcraft and wilderness survival. Using hunting rifles this group managed to snipe from wooded areas and take out a high number of Draconis Combine infantry, and more once the invaders began sending patrols into forested areas of the highlands and midlands hunting for these snipers. The Hunting Shadows are unique in that they were the only civilian uprising whose members were not caught and exterminated. Believing the Hunting Shadows had local support, the Draconis Combine forces began interrogating and executing suspected supporters, though this was a simple case of hostage taking and extortion. The Hunting Shadows ceased their operations, but were not identified. This was in the closing months of the invasion, leading historians to speculate the Hunting Shadows could have been biding their time before resuming resistance operations later once the risk to local communities had lessened, or that they were in the process of relocating to a new area of operations. After the war, no-one came forth claiming membership in the Hunting Shadows leading some to suspect they were killed as possible supporters during the resulting purge.
4) The Sacking of New Corinth. An uprising in the small city of New Corinth on Elysium continent began, starting with non-violent street protests and quickly escalating in response to the invader’s crackdown. The town had been used to station a mech lance, which was turned on the town and its population. The victims were herded from the town, with any buildings containing civilians fired upon. Once all residents had been driven from the city, the survivors were driven towards the midlands and onwards, with any stragglers being gunned down. This is part of the territory now known as Ganymede. No survivors were reported following the massacre. Footage from this purge was televised planet-wide. This was intended to be a final demoralising blow to end future resistance, but naturally had the opposite effect. The remains of New Corinth were used as a Draconis Combine base until the closing days of the war when their position was assaulted by Federated Suns mech lances, who gave no quarter. The ruins of New Corinth are enclosed in a wilderness reserve and have become overgrown, they are being left as a monument and memorial to the victims of the sacking.
In response to these and other smaller uprisings, a series of purges were carried out hunting for sympathizers and other resistance cells. This was justified as an effort to protect the people from terrorists, an excuse which fell upon deaf ears by this stage.
The Strata military had not been idle during this time. The invaders forces were weighted heavily towards mechs and infantry, and the only armored vehicles they had access too were ones salvaged from the wreckage of Fort Enyo. Early military attacks focused upon lightning raids by mechs of VTOL squadrons to take out key Draconis Combine assets. Initially these were dismissed as harasser tactics directed only at soft targets by a defeated opponent. In truth the defenders were targeting the Draconis Combine’s transport capabilities. Eventually realising this, the Draconis Combine forces retaliated in force to these attacks, but were met with an ambush of armor units or a suddenly absent quarry that had vanished into the concealment of the fog.
Although the Federated Suns forces inflicted heavy casualties on the Draconis Combine adversities, they also suffered badly in response as they were operating in small raider units using scout mechs. Light mechs and fast medium mechs took the brunt of the action, slow medium mechs, heavy mechs and assault mechs were deliberately reserved as much as possible for later stages of the campaign.
Weakening the invader’s supply lines allowed the defenders to isolate the garrison forces stationed on each continent, and eventually to limit their movements to secured bases or cities. This also forced the Draconis Combine to risk their dropships as transports. Attempts to use the local industries to obtain new transport trucks and aircraft was met with whatever delays, problems, parts shortages and the like that the local population could concoct without eliciting reprisals.
This was called Operation Slow Noose, and unfortunately the deteriorating situation for the Draconis Combine forces led to increased retaliation against Strata’s civilian population. Despite their eventual victory, many in the population resented the military’s failure to defend the planet’s civilians.
The final blow for the invaders came due to the careful maneuvering of the defenders last remaining artillery units overnight, and the subsequent destruction of the Draconis Combine dropships at Fort Enyo. The Draconis Combine forces were stretched thin at this point trying to hold the entire planet and keep an unruly population in line. The relief forces they had expected never arrived, though nor had Federated Suns reinforcements from off-world. With the dropships destroyed, the Draconis Combine forces could not escape off-planet.
Following this, the famous march of Federated Suns from the mist into Fort Enyo saw the defeat of the main Draconis Combine forces on Strata. This was a bloody encounter between the heavy and assault mechs of the Federated Suns, which had been carefully sheltered during the resistance campaign, versus the remnants of the Draconis Combine forces. On the other continents, similar battles were necessary to root out the remaining Draconis Combine forces. They had not surrendered after losing their vanguard and command structure as had been predicted.
Few prisoners were taken, due to the Draconis Combine cultural tradition of fighting to the last. A scorched earth policy in the final days saw heavy damaged to industrial facilities in range of the Draconis Combine and necessitated massive reconstruction efforts.
In the aftermath many members of the population were resentful of the government or military over events during the invasion or lack of assistance for them during the rebuilding. Since the rebuilding focused upon the needs of the entire population, not aggrieved individuals or companies, these resentments were mostly left unaddressed. Two distinct reactions grew over the coming years, one of sympathy for those patriots who had suffered for resisting the Draconis Combine, and a sense of disgust for those seeking to have economic losses reimbursed. Public and government support would fall along these two lines, for instance the families of those slain during the uprising on Chloris were looked after, but damaged companies like Harris Heavy Industries were neglected.
The Draconis Combine denied that the invasion had occurred or that the military units involved existed. When video footage was shown, this was dismissed as ‘obvious forgeries’ and ‘political blackmail’, and the counter accusation that the Federated Suns had hired mercenary forces (resembling kuritans) in an elaborate attempt to discredit the Draconis Combine.
To prevent future invasions, or at least aid the resistance, the Strata military established fallback positions such as Fort Bia, Fort Nyx and Tartarus Base as well as a series of Weapon Caches hidden in the lowlands.