For whatever reason, a Command scenario that has stayed in my imagination long after I released it was Regaining Honor. Perhaps it’s the unconventional drone gameplay or something else. While its description of the state of the Yemeni armed forces has turned out to be the exact opposite of what happened in real life, the circumstances-similar to real life but also different, have gripped me.
So I’m writing this “Command Fiction”, describing the aftermath of a scenario. There will be more of this, from multiple perspectives.
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June 12, 2015.
The irony of it all. A Middle Eastern nation with little history of anything but authoritarianism holds a democratic election and hands over power. Under most circumstances, it would be cheerful.
On April 2, routine drone operations turned into the largest aerial combat losses for the United States since the Vietnam War. Four American fighters, including two of the previously unbeaten F-15s, fell. In return, they shot down at least seventeen Yemeni planes. The regional buildup has accelerated, and now a fleet of warships sits off the coast, backed by hundreds of land-based aircraft everywhere from Jordan to Djibouti.
All against a military that, even before the loss of half its air force, was hideously weak even by regional standards. But every American from President Winslow down to the lowest-ranked enlisted knows that striking first after the event would be politically suicidal. Even the initial sweep and cruise missile strike (apparent an awkward enactment of a CENTCOM contingency plan for the loss of a crewed aircraft over Yemen) was considered by many domestic and international observers as overreacting.
An immediate snap election was called. The ruling YPP won 79 out of 141 seats in the Yemeni national parliament, allowing it to (theoretically) form a cohesive leadership without the awkward dealings and rumblings that characterized the past two years of civilian rule. No one believes its large victory to be the result of anything but fear and a desire for some kind of stability.
The YPP’s coalition partners accepted the defeat (at least for the time) and the new single-party cabinet was sworn in on June 10.
Unresolved issues include POW Jim Butterfield, an F-15 pilot captured during the air battle (Two were killed and a third was safely rescued).
The elected, civilian government chose to shoot down the drones as a political move-an irony that, for the claims of “democratic peace theory”, it proved more belligerent than its authoritarian predecessors.
Whatever, markets have jittered and oil prices spiked since the start of the crisis. While Yemen has little interdiction capability and the American buildup would make any attempt near-impossible, the instability is bringing fear. If Winslow hoped that a large buildup would reassure financial leaders, he is mistaken.