Command Fiction: The Little Sink

While Operation Little Sink sounds like something from a random generator, it’s in fact a fake name I came up with by myself in the process of writing this post. Now I want to make a Command scenario entitled “Operation Little Sink”.

Or “Plan Little Sink”.

What could it be? My theory is that it’s a limited contingency plan, the smaller counterpart to a “Plan Big Sink”. And what could that contingency be? Perhaps an amphibious operation (sink as in water sink?), although those have to be big. Amphibious raids vs a full-scale attack?

Or air support and limited ground forces (Little Sink) vs. full-scale war (Big Sink)?

Hope my Little Sink scenario doesn’t sunk like many others. (Sorry, had to make the pun)

Command Fiction: All Minus One

This is from an in-progress scenario/editor experiment. I haven’t decided on the details, where this post-Soviet conflict should be, or even who it’d be against (either a real or fictional amalgamated former SSR), but figured I’d have too good an idea.

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As a foreign journalist, I was very lucky to be able to witness the oncoming offensive at all. I was-sitting at an airbase in central Russia, taking pictures of the red-starred fighters as they roared into the sky. While it wasn’t as dangerous as the frontline (to which I was incredibly thankful to be away from), I wasn’t exactly going to be getting infamous scoops, like the crazy gonzos who were going deep.

So, when six bomb-laden Sukhois roared down the runway, all that meant was footage of them taking off. Just like the last time they took off. Then it was back to sitting around and hearing the well-rehearsed official claims.

A few hours later, we were taking more pictures of the unit returning. The unit of five fighters. Now, this would not be the first aircraft lost in the conflict, but they were understandably tight-lipped about it.

I reported the loss anyway. Somehow I got away with it. The loss of a single fighter aircraft wasn’t really worth covering up, especially as ten had fallen already.


Years later, I was sitting in retirement, reading about the war I’d played a small part in covering. There it was. A credible picture of the wreck, and a listing. On that day in question, Su-17s from the air base I saw launched an attack. One was hit by an enemy SAM and shot down. The pilot was killed on the ground-likely inadvertently, as regulars and other aviators were prized POWs. I learned that Su-17s were pushed extra hard because they’d soon be retired anyway.

But at the time, all I saw was six aircraft leaving and five returning.

Command Fiction: The Lessons of Java

This is based on the Command scenario Indonesian War: Air Battle Over Java. I did an after-action report of it, but figure it works as a Command Fiction as well.

Commonwealth forces have participated in airstrikes against a major Indonesian Air Force base. Six aircraft have been lost to enemy action. Damage appears to be major, with the airbase ceasing operations since the bombardment.

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Since the 1995 war, the two sides have adopted radically different lessons learned from the climactic battle over central Java. For the Commonwealth, especially Australia, the biggest was all-weather, high-altitude attack capability. From a military perspective, going flat-out even after taking casualties to AAA was essential to neutralizing the threat to the Commonwealth navy. Yet this would not always be a luxury they could afford, so the acquisition of JDAM-style munitions was an absolute must.

For Indonesia, the choice was harder. They chose land-based high-altitude SAMs. There was a practical reason for this-to counter an enemy that can fly at high altitude and hit targets accurately, you need obvious defenses. But there’s also politics. Despite being an archipelago, the Indonesian Army has historically been by far the  most politically influential branch of the nation’s military-a situation compounded by it remaining intact and suffering relatively few casualties, while the air force and navy were shattered.

So a system that it could control appealed to the Army brass, which is why the major cities now boast S-300s protecting them. To the extent that they fit into a cart-before-the-horse strategy, it’s to inflict unacceptable losses on Australian attackers. Only now the threat comes from the PLAAF attacking from the north instead of Australia attacking from the south.

The TNI-AU has been rebuilt with a handful of modern fighters, while the navy has become a Philippines-esque shriveled wreck.

With relations improved to the point where a 20th anniversary commemoration was handled exceptionally well by both nations, it remains unclear whether the upgraded arsenals will clash again. But the Australians are getting ahead of the curve, acquiring standoff weapons to defeat the horizon-limited SAMs…




Command Semi-Fiction: Pearl Harbor

Today is a Command Fiction day, but it’s also the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. So, what should I do?

Link back to the old Final Countdown reenactment in Command, of course. And ponder something about the date the movie was made. If it had been made a few years later and/ or been a potboiler book with no need to worry about budgets, would it have been, like the scenario was, a triumphalist tale of 1980 airpower crushing the 1941 IJN with the carrier strike going through? (Given the infamous Japan Inc fears of the time, it might be included just for that purpose.)

Interesting how pop culture can change quickly.

Command Fiction: Two Bombs, Twenty Targets

This is, I’ll admit, a shameless advertisement for the newest scenario that I’ve made. But it’s both that and the truth of limited resources.

Somewhere in Cape Verde…

“We have two Litening pods.”

“Use them against the AFVs.”

“Yeah, and repeat Kosovo’s whack-a-tank with much fewer planes? Nuh-uh, they’re for fixed targets.”

“But they don’t have that many important fixed targets.”

“Use them against the airfield.”

“But we can hit the airfield with unguided bombs just fine.”

This is the dilemma that earlier and/or less well equipped air forces have. As will you if you play the scenario 😀

Command Fiction: The Missing Missile Boat

Another tale of fun editor shenanigans, this time removing a unit once it’s served its purpose.

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Missiles whirred, decoys released, and when all was said and done, the two SS-N-2s launched from the enemy Komar were no longer a threat. As the destroyer moved to open fire on the now-vulnerable missile boat, suddenly, it-mysteriously vanished.

Not sunk. Not destroyed. Just disappeared.

The crew had little time to ponder the disappearance. Suddenly their radar warning systems lit up, and their sensors spotted another incoming wave of missiles, this time greater in number.

Meanwhile, in a chair far away, the mysterious figure went…

“Ok, a Komar’s worthless, but let’s see how they do against an Osa.”

Command Fiction: The Embarrassment

This Command Fiction is based on one of my most infamous outliers in the scenario editor-a low-end enemy sub that never realized it was under attack yet nonetheless took four advanced torpedoes to bring down. There was nothing wrong in gameplay terms, it was just a series of unlucky dice rolls.

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That was the nature of submarines. Very quiet. And apparently, the first postwar firing of torpedoes in anger had the same problem that the first World War II torpedoes had. They apparently weren’t reliable.

The target was hit and sunk (and by the looks of it, never even noticed until it was too late), and the launcher still had plenty of torpedoes. But still, having three torpedoes miss before a fourth finally ran true was a call for much investigation.

History apparently repeated itself after all. Maybe this time, the successors of the Bureau of Ordnance would be more cooperative.


Command Fiction: The Biggest Target

This is based on my scenario Sinking A Battlewagon. The scenario itself is one of those “in ‘reality’ it’s just an exercise” ones, but I figured that, given the controversy over battleships, I’d do one where the score is ‘settled’.

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Never was a SINKEX more controversial than when the USS Iowa was chosen to be destroyed as a target. The ship was already hit from its infamous turret disaster, and post-USSR, it was an expensive surplus.

And no one wanted it as a museum.

But still, a battleship. There was a feeling that it should have been saved. But in the end, it wasn’t, a volley of submarine torpedoes bringing it down.

Command Fiction: Desert Boneyard

This isn’t based on any real scenario, rather on my amusing editor experiments. For a while I used Mauritania as my testing ground, and it reflects here.

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The sandstorm revealed hundreds if not thousands of aircraft wrecks, enough dropped bombs to rival the Plain of Jars, and among them a hundred SR-71s. A hundred. The investigator wondered if that many had even been built. Around the wreckage of an airbase, twice as many MiG-21s lay broken.

Off the coast, the search took longer. But they’d already found the sunken hulls of twenty Kirovs and five Nimitzes.

What was going on here? What was-

Suddenly, one the search vessels disappeared.

The crew of the other search ship saw a warship screaming towards them. Its guns blazing, they stood no chance. Far away, someone watched.

“So that’s how many 76mm shells it takes to sink a civilian tug.”

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Happy Halloween!

Command Fiction: Le Phenix

This vignette is based on my scenario Phoenix of Indochina. When I saw the carrier Hosho in the database, my love of oddball units made me think I had to use it. So I did. Here’s a fictional essay talking about pop-history “worst of ____” lists, and defending it.

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Most of the sailors who served aboard the Le Phénix hated the ship. There was a legitimate fear that it wouldn’t be able to reach Indochina. That fear proved unfounded. There were concerns its jury-rigged deck couldn’t handle air ops at all. Those fears proved unfounded as well. Thus, the ship cannot be considered a truly “poor” warship.

The ship was intended to plug the carrier gap. This it did, and its oddball surplus arsenal was no different from the other forces in the region-not in the least the Japanese surplus planes used by the fledgling PLAAF. Dozens of sorties were launched, and a tail-gunner from the group even scored the Aéronavale‘s first air to air kill.

The deterrent effect its fighters had on the detachment of PLAAF Oscars was vital. Without them, it’s entirely possible that the Chinese “advisors” may have attempted an airstrike against French Navy warships. Thus, simply by existing, hundreds of lives may have been saved by the “ugly firebird”.