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 Post subject: Red Seas- Sour Grapes 10
PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2016 5:34 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:46 am
Posts: 491
On the islands of contention, there was considerable confusion in the air; military victory seemed to have settled nothing. They were still in the consolidation phase of the assault, there were still Argentinean marines patrolling in force, looking for holdouts, resisters, or for that matter anyone who was actually happy to see them.

Very few of the men who had hit the cold beaches were new to soldiering; there had been a lot of shuffling of personnel to put men who had seen combat against the Chileans in the force- in the first echelon, anyway.

They had been made to fight for the islands, although not for the town of Stanley itself; the defending Royal Marines had shot at them on the way in, shot at them on their way across country, but surrendered when it started to look like there would be fighting in the town itself. Both to spare the locals, and apparently to stop them joining in.

Two attacking battalions against what amounted to a reinforced or two understrength platoons, all the heavy weapons support on the side with the numbers anyway, and the Royals had done rather more than a token shot for the honour of the flag;

they had shot at the landing ships and the landing craft until naval gunfire had hammered them off the beach, and played grasshopper, effectively staged a masterclass in small unit tactics, forcing the Argentinean marines to deploy in order, waste time and firepower, draw blood and move away from the retaliation, claim ground back where they could and punish attempts to rush ahead.

We won, the Argentine lieutenant- colonel in charge of the landing force ruefully admitted to himself, against central front tactics, in exactly the same way the communists plan to; take that willingness to manoeuvre and use it against them, kill with artillery and push with troops, accept loss in order to run them out of ground to fight on.

Not an easy victory, but one I think we can be reasonably proud of. If only there were more Spanish speakers around the place to congratulate us on it. Which hurts to think about because of what seems to come next.

We were told- for generations- that these islands were rightfully ours, and the people on them were groaning under the iron fist of the British Empire, and we were happy to believe that because it gave us a cause, a mission and most importantly, a budget.

Now the great day has arrived, it is obvious we have been lying to ourselves for so long we have forgotten that they were lies, and it feels more as if we have stepped off a cliff. There was part of the plan that included recruiting a local militia from out of the oppressed; nonsense. He would be lucky to scrape together three field mice and a gerbil.

The sheep and penguins the island was rich in, the only things it was apparently rich in, the Arabs had, rotten soldiers that they were, invented their own brand of foot kamikaze; and perhaps...no, that was the silliness that was the last refuge of a mind retreating from reality. I used to be better than this at being shot at, he thought- vater would be ashamed of me.

Well, there was a job to do. Prisoners to take care of. The survivors of the Royal Marines had been placed in the church hall, and that was where he went. There were two Argentine marines guarding the door; they came to attention as he approached.

'Which way should you be facing?'

'Outwards to prevent anyone from helping them to escape.' The senior of the two suggested.

' The most dangerous people on the island will be standing behind you then. Think about it.' He walked in to the church hall full of Royal Marines.

'Good afternoon, I am Lieutenant- Colonel Ramirez, commander first fleet landing force- I trust that you are being properly treated according to the rules and customs of war?'

'A declaration of war might have been a welcome courtesy. Apart from that, so far.' Captain Noot, RM, replied. He had one arm in a sling. Trying to place and rate the Argentine. Not Hispanic, accent and, trying not to stereotype but it was irresistible, his head really did have corners; must be German.

'Chile, 1978? Declarations are usually retroactive in this part of the world. Open fire, and if you win, keep pushing, if it all goes wrong the government can disown you and, I believe you say put the lid back on. Which I have to say came closer than the raw odds would suggest- but, did you have to look up to check that you were not in the Oder Valley at any point?'

'The tactics of the action did feel a shade Central Front at points, yes, now that I think of it.' Noot replied, wondering what was going to happen next. It usually did well to beware the rambling sort, they were always dodging round something. Might as well see how much give there was in the situation though. 'They would probably not have stopped shooting. We were under the impression that your men were trained to American doctrine.'

Ramirez made the obvious joke. 'We tried to, but we found that the Americans couldn't tell us what it was. Using red doctrine wasn't deliberate, it fell into place as the obvious thing to do given the situation.

You must have read the odds, and correct me if I err, but you put up more than a mere token resistance precisely for the purpose of putting up a fight- serving notice that the commonwealth will not accept this as a fait accompli, and that you will fight for the islands.'

'Very generous of you to take it that way, Sir- I suppose we did.' Noot said, not having made that decision consciously. 'Have to admit we were surprised by your marines, much more professional than the rumour mill had given us cause to believe.'

'Give me a moment to think about how I'm supposed to pass that on to them without getting the army baying for our blood. Most of my men are professional regulars who saw action in the Chilean war; it took some organising to set that up.

Glossing over the finer points of branch pride, there are four kinds of soldier in the Argentine armed forces, essentially, and the men you are thinking of are the social soldiers, the bitter men eager for excuses to do violence and careless of who against, willing to fight their own people.

Then the warriors in name only, the people who do not cope well with shooting and being shot but are trapped in uniform for economic reasons, because they wanted to be on the winning side, because they don't know where else they fit in, angry, miserable and volatile;

then we have the idealists, the revolutionaries in uniform who would be happy to overthrow the government themselves, and probably joined for exactly that purpose...I remain convinced that the order and discipline of military rule would be good for Argentina, if we actually had any of it to offer.

The point of invading was to give us some kind, any kind, of success to show, to pull the services and the country together, to stop at least some of the worst of it- which is why even those of us who should have known better went along with it.' Ramirez said, thinking ghoulishly that he had obviously inherited a tendency to soliloquies from his mother.

'Well now, at this point in our plan we had expected to be loading you onto an air force transport, expelling you, the settler paramilitary forces, the governor, the police, the secret police, the block wardens, informers, gangmasters and like instruments of British Empire oppression from the Malvinas and liberating the oppressed multitudes.

Unfortunately this plan has encountered a couple of fundamental problems.' The Argentine said straight- faced, Saxon heritage showing.

'We did try to tell you.' Captain Noot said.

'The syntax of gunfire is quite limited. Although it should tell you something that most of our lower deck and enlisted did not know this and would not have believed it until seeing it for themselves.' The Argentine replied, glossing over how high the self- deception went- not that it convinced the Marine.

'Not our job to do the high politics, though, is it? A squaddie might be able to start a war with a bit of application, but it's generally the generals and admirals, it's their job to get it right and not to lie to the troops- how many of the officers believed there is a Hispanic population on the Falklands?' Noot asked, thinking it can't be true, you can't keep an entire country in the dark and feed them horseshit- wait, Argentina.

'This may count as intelligence information, but, for diplomatic reasons I can relate to you a conversation I have just had with Commodore Guillaumetz-Abbott, commander amphibious squadron;

" 'What do you mean there are no Hispanics on the islands? They're ours, aren't they? How can there be no Argentinean people on an Argentinean territory?'

'How many native Americans are there in New York?'

'Not. Helpful. This was supposed to be a liberation, we can't liberate the enemy; the world would have put up with that, but not an invasion of other people's land, we tried that four years ago, remember?'

'What I suggest, colonel, your second battalion liberated the islands on behalf of your poor oppressed first battalion. And tomorrow you can do it again the other way around.'

'How much have you had to drink? You think we've made a terrible mistake, haven't you?'

'Not enough. Not nearly enough. Let me tell you something; the navy knew. Our intelligence officers on the island sent back a copy of the last century's census forms; nothing. Nobody. From our side. Scots and Welsh and Irish mostly, rather than Englishmen, but no mainlanders. Your people are the settlers, the first settlers. Oh, we knew- but nobody in politics wanted to listen.'

'What the hell do they expect us to do? They, they think this is another Cuba, don't they? There's going to be a return match isn't there, we are going to have to defend the islands against British retaliation.'

'Which is why the brandy, my comrade. With application I may achieve oblivion- before we all achieve oblivion. You understand why now? The Russians playing freedom of the seas games, the Americans trailing them, this was meant to succeed under cover of the chaos and tension of that, and it has also gone horribly, horribly wrong.'

'Achieve oblivion, you say? If there is worse, tell me, I may as well face it.'

'I believe the usual procedure is to place your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye. You see, there was a British bomber squadron stalking both of them. Loaded as you might expect, for a great power confrontation.'

'They will have been sent this way, to deal with us.'

'With, according to our intelligence people, release authority...why we are still inshore. They would not bomb us while we are so close to their own people. Not a very big bomb, anyway. With luck I may achieve alcoholic coma before landing in the arms of the angels- assuming that is where we are bound. And the rest of the world not far behind.'

'You really think they would go that far?'

'The North Atlantic; things are already almost on fire there. Something terrible happening here, people on the news melting and carbonising, might be the firebreak that stops the main event, that saves the world? All of it but us...drink?' "

'As you may imagine, after that conversation and once the facts were known, most of us felt like crawling into a bottle and hoping only that the numbness got us before the heat flash.

There is a distinct possibility that this is not merely an error, but a cataclysmic error. Admiral Anaya is in favour of boldness; thinks Washington will be able to make you back down. Admiral Lombardo thinks we need to fight- if we start whimpering now, we will be destroyed; if we put up enough of a fight to convince London that the islands matter to us, we may receive more reasonable treatment.

General Galtieri is not doing himself honour, I believe he started drinking in the late sixties. General Dozo is screaming at flight line technicians trying to scrape together a fighter force to stop your bombers, but the rumour is that he has reserved the one in best condition for himself, and not to fly in this direction.

The government has no room to manoeuvre; even those who understand the peopling of the islands cared less about that than about giving the people something, anything, to stave off revolution.

I know this is, strictly speaking, against the laws of war, prisoners not being obliged to do anything that may help their captors and so forth, but if any of you do feel up to volunteering to teach my lads how to build a nuclear rated field shelter...'

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:32 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:29 am
Posts: 4021
Location: BB-16, BB-62
Ahhh, nice to return to the south atlantic!

Thanks for the update. I like!

Belushi TD

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 1:53 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:46 am
Posts: 491
Thank you for that- Noot, incidentally, was a Major in the real thing, the reason he's not here is not because I have taken against him or anything, but because of the way the Royal Marines (ITTL) are organised- the rank inflation that resulted first from moving from eight small to four large companies in a batallion, and then stuck as a result of the Great War, didn't happen to them; the Argentinean officer (Matteo Bergenstein y Ramirez) is invention.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:00 am 

Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:41 am
Posts: 6473
Location: Cambs, UK
Even for a Marine, Noot IRL did have swinging brass ones THIS big.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Bernard, Ministers should never know more than they need to. Then they can't tell anyone. Like secret agents, they could be captured, tortured.
Bernard Woolley: You mean by terrorists?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: By the BBC, Bernard.

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