The Pale Horse: The Northwest Montana Insurgency and its Aftermath (1987-2002)

A Rifle Behind Every Blade of Grass (1987-1988)
A Rifle Behind Every Blade of Grass (1987-1988)

At least initially, the Grangeland CSR’s central government was determined to supress any information leaking out to the wider world that any kind of organised insurgency was underway in any part of their territories; accordingly, the first few months of killings were treated as simple criminal investigations to be handled at the lowest level possible. In practise, this meant that a squad of insurgents operating across three counties were unlikely to face any co-ordinated effort to bring them to heel.

Additionally, the insurgency itself was at first a nebulous collection of individuals driven by various grievances with authority. There was no guiding hand driving the separate militias who might potentially be captured by the People’s Militia: instead, Grangeland’s always robust rumour machine gradually spread (largely fictitious) stories of successful uprisings against PM officers or particularly unpopular collective managers, driving more and more people to take up arms alongside the initial insurgents as the insurgency gathered momentum.

Furthermore, it is impossible to overstate just how demoralised the People’s Militia squads in charge of containing the insurgency had become by 1987. The cold, unhospitable and impoverished border with Idaho had long been regarded as a punishment posting, and as the CSA’s “police action” within the Centroamerican Workers’ State wound on, a position in the People’s Militia became increasingly seen as a means for high school graduates not qualifying for a university or technical school to evade the draft (imposed for the first time in over forty years in 1984). In addition, the freeze on PM infantryman salaries during the inflation of the early Eighties meant that pay in real terms was about a third lower in 1987 than in 1980. Unsurprisingly, confronted with a shortfall of money and an abundance of surplus military gear and time, many PM units turned either to extracting bribes and kickbacks from civilians or to running drugs and military supplies across the increasingly porous border with the Pacific States of America. Internal People’s Militia records suggest that twenty-one thousand rounds of ammunition and one hundred and fifty motorcycles were recorded as defective and “disposed of” in 1986 alone.

Under these conditions, it is unsurprising that the initiative remained with the insurgents through 1988 and the first half of 1989. Although the Grangeland CSR’s central government, belatedly recognising the threat that the insurgents posed, called in every national agency and organization that could be of conceivable assistance – primarily the Bureau of Internal Security, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Narcotics and the People’s Militia Internal Investigation Department – this largely just added to the chaos. While things seldom got as bad as they did, notoriously, in the “Whitefish Northwest Front Cadre” (an ostensible insurgent cell which, by early 1989, was comprised of two regular People’s Militia agents, one BIS undercover operative, two ATN officers, and one IID officer, and which collapsed when everyone tried to arrest everyone else), the unclear chain of responsibility ensured that these agencies’ operations barely made a dent in the insurgency.

Even with the almost wilful blindness to the rapid deteriorating situation displayed by central government, it had become clear by the time a “sensitive area” was decreed in early 1989 covering most of west Montana that insurgent activity in the area, previously uncoordinated, had coalesced into three distinct groups.

In the areas which had been most visited by fundamentalist Mormon missionaries in the 1970s, hitherto hidden communities were making their presence known. In collectives across Beaverhead and Ravall Counties, non-Mormon workers were told to seek unemployment elsewhere. Any refusal or attempt to notify authorities on the part of the non-Mormons generally proved fatal. Bar owners and general stores which sold spirits were subject to a campaign of harassment, culminating in petrol-bombing, unless they fled the area. Truckers delivering goods to and from the area were routinely subject to roadblocks and searches by armed fundamentalist Mormons, by now referring to themselves as the New Nauvoo Legion, with any alcohol being confiscated and destroyed. By the end of 1988, basic governance in these areas had largely passed into the hands of the NNL, whose wide base of support amongst the large Mormon community in Idaho was setting off alarm bells for the government of the Pacific States of America as well.

As the insurgency wound on, control of the main roads running from the Idaho border to Missoula and Butte became increasingly contested: it was clear that whichever faction ended up able to levy tolls and protection money from the traffic on these would benefit immensely. Multiple biker gangs, operating primarily from Idaho in the 70s but using the increasingly porous border with the CSA from the mid-80s onwards as a secure base to manufacture meth and lie low when necessary, were in an excellent position to exploit this opportunity. John Hale, a middle-aged Idaho chapter leader for a Sacramento-based biker gang, came out on top of the initial struggles between rival gangs in the middle of 1988, negotiating a truce with the remnants of the other gangs. By early 1989, any civilian vehicle driving from Missoula to Butte or to the border only did so at the express permission of “Hale’s Army”, a loose confederation of Idaho bikers whose ranks had been swelled by insurgents on People’s Militia surplus motorcycles.

It was those insurgents operating from the north-west tip of the Grangeland CSR who ultimately amalgamated into the Northwest Front; allowed by the geography of the region to organize in relative peace, they had transformed by late 1988 from an assortment of barely related insurgent cells into a grouping able to pose a genuine threat to the continuance of government in the region. The first car bombing in Kalispell (a vehicle was detonated outside the People’s Militia regional headquarters on 7 September 1988, killing fourteen and wounding forty-eight) marked a new and bloody phase in the NWF’s urban warfare against the authorities. Within six months, the CSR’s de facto control of Kalispell barely extended beyond the concrete barriers surrounding any official building in the area, from which heavily armored PM vehicles (very occasionally) set out on pro forma peace-keeping patrols.

Further out in the countryside, the NWF’s control was less contested. As 1988 wound on, virtually every farming or mining collective manager received a visit from two or three non-descript men requesting positions at the collective in question. The consequences of a refusal rapidly became clear to these managers. The positions were primarily no-show jobs, intended to provide a measure of semi-legitimate income to the insurgent in question. However, even at this early stage, several NWF operatives requested a particular position within a collective which would in later years become essential to communication across the NWF as a whole. Ironically, the CSA’s central government had provided the tools to do so.

v4SYOP6.png
 
The Syndicalist Internet: CYBERSYN and DigiTel
The Syndicalist Internet: CYBERSYN and DigiTel

hoyFifL.png



CYBERSYN


The brainchild of Anthony Stafford Beer (a British cyberneticist who had defected to the CSA via New England in the early 1970s), “Cybernetic Synergy”, a proposed distributed decision-making network intended to link workers’ syndicates into an integrated whole, languished on the drawing-board for over a decade, until it caught the eye of incoming Chairman Robert S McNamara in 1985. Immediately embraced as a flagship element of McNamara’s programme for “technocratic syndicalism”, the project (renamed CYBERSYN) was implemented in the Grangeland Syndicalist Commune on 1 February 1987 (to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Combined Syndicates), with further rollouts to the rest of the CSA being planned over the next decade.

CYBERSYN initially consisted of a network of terminals distributed to individual factories and collective farms, into which data on production metrics was input: this data was then collated centrally, analysed and used to inform regional economic policy, with instructions on production, pricing and logistics being fed back to individual terminals: later iterations allowed direct terminal-to-terminal communication between end users.

While CYBERSYN saw some initial successes (most notably allowing the rapid rerouting of agricultural goods from Grangeland during a truckers’ strike in 1988), its model was ultimately too ambitious, flawed and dependent on human input to be genuinely effective, and the project was damaged by high-profile defections from the design team (Professor Theodore Kaczynski resigned in 1989, convinced that it was inherently impossible to accurately model and alter an entire economy in real time), by a lack of enthusiasm among end users and by increasingly limited resources available to the project (proposed implementation across the Steel Belt was delayed until 1996, while implementation in the New Afrika and Gullah Autonomous Communes was shelved entirely). By the early 90s, CYBERSYN was increasingly seen as an expensive failure.

Ironically, one of its most lasting legacies was to provide, via peer-to-peer use of terminals, an encryptable channel of communication between separatists and anti-government elements. It is estimated that by 1992 80% of CYBERSYN terminals in western Montana were being used primarily as a method of communication by Northwest Front sympathisers: working to a mutually agreed and regularly changed code, NWF insurgents embedded as terminal operators would place orders for particular quantities of goods at particular prices to pass messages to other terminal operators. Despite the best efforts of central government, this code was only briefly and irregularly broken.


DigiTel

DigiTel was proposed as CYBERSYN’s personal equivalent: a planned closed network accessible via telephone lines, it was intended to allow individual users to, inter alia, check news services, weather reports, redeem credits for train tickets and chat with other citizens on local message boards (all, of course, monitored by the benevolent eye of the Interior Security Services).


Rolled out in 1991 in the Communes of Chicago and Philadelphia, DigiTel proved enormously popular: the sheer volume of information posted on the nework, however, simply overwhelmed any attempt at censorship, and the authorities were increasingly discomfited at the vast amount of grainy and pixelated pornography which ended up consuming bandwidth. DigiTel’s networks were permanently closed in 1993 amid fears that they were being used to coordinate the series of protests that ultimately led to the fall of the McNamara administration, the election of the radical reformer James Traficant as Chairman, and the collapse of the Combined Syndicates of America. Both CYBERSYN and DigiTel were defunded in 1994.
 

Lady Kate

Donor
OMG, I just saw this! So excited to see a TL of northwest Montana, where I’ve lived for 25 years. Want to put in my tiny hometown of Plains? I see you have something happening awhile ago in St. Regis, which is only a half hour away.
 
Down With the Traitors, Up With the Stars (1989)
Down With the Traitors, Up With the Stars (1989)

The Gubernatorial elections held in one third of the CSA’s Constituent Syndicalist Republics in November 1988 were the first in over thirty years: in the clearest signal yet that MacNamara’s premiership was on the wane, the governors thus elected were exclusively from the reformist wing of the Syndicalist Union Party (other parties were still strictly speaking illegal, and the handful of “independents” who attempted to stand for office were cut off at every turn by state coercion). Max Baucus, inaugurated as Governor of the Grangeland CSR in January 1989, was in the company of a grouping of reformist freshman Governors which included former Admiral James Stockdale (the Illinois-Wisconsin CSR) and Cleveland Chief Officer Dennis Kucinich (the Steel Belt CSR): he was only unique in the gravity of the situation with which he was immediately confronted.

Just how much ground the various insurgencies in Western Montana had gained was clear from the regional variations in turnout for the 1988 election: while the Grangeland CSR had averaged turnout of over 80% of its eligible voters, participation had been derisory in the recently-designated “sensitive area”. A campaign of intimidation against voters, culminating in car-bombings of polling stations (the most lethal managed to kill twelve and injure dozens in central Butte), had ensured that fewer than 15% of voters turned out overall there, dropping to 5% in Beaverhead and Ravalli Counties. On evaluating the situation, Baucus turned to the only option available to the CSR at this point and requested full-scale military involvement from the CSA.

This request for martial law came at an unusually propitious time for the CSA’s Secretary of War, Alexander Haig. A doctrinaire syndicalist whose forty years of service in the CSA’s armed forces had culminated in elevation to the Syndicalist Union Party’s inner circle, he was conscious, like everyone else in Chicago, that MacNamara’s star was rapidly fading, and that a change of leadership was almost certain within the next five years. It was his intention, if he could possibly help it, to ensure that he would lead the CSA into the 21st Century – successfully dealing with a source of internal instability that had grown almost unchecked over the last eighteen months would provide him with the political capital he needed.

It is a measure both of Haig’s enthusiasm for the proposed counter-insurgency operation (given the official name of Operation Mountain Lion in February 1989) and of his position within the corridors of power that sufficient resources were assembled within eight weeks. Fifteen thousand men, two hundred transport and assault helicopters and dozens of armored vehicles originally earmarked for the increasingly beleaguered US mission in the Centroamerican Worker’s Republic were detached and combined into the Special Anti-Terror Patrol Operational Group (or SATPO, as it rapidly came to be known), consisting of one mechanised and two airborne brigades). For the overall commander of the group, Haig chose an old friend and protégé.

In many ways, General Wesley Kanne was typical of the CSA’s senior officer corps of the late 1980s. Born in Chicago in 1944, his father’s deep connections to the CSA’s party apparatus ensured that Kanne was offered a place at West Point immediately after high school. Graduating as valedictorian of his class, he received a coveted place in the Foreign Relations doctoral course at the William Dudley Haywood School of Governance in New York, before being assigned as a staff officer to Haig’s command. Although his subsequent meteoric rise through the ranks is perhaps more readily ascribed to his willingness to use his political connections than to any unusual brilliance, he was undoubtedly a capable officer (albeit one yet to see actual combat by 1989). For a long-term operation depending on logistics just as much as military tactics, he would have been a natural choice even absent Haig’s patronage.

In a break from the disastrous approach of the last eighteen months and recognising the importance of intelligence to an operation of this nature, Haig insisted to the Bureau of Internal Security that intelligence support be provided to SATPO from a single organizational command. After a substantial back-and-forth with Bureau Director Mark Felt, he got his way: in place with the patchwork of local and national intelligence and anti-terrorist agencies operating in the “sensitive area”, SATPO’s need for on-the-ground intelligence would be provided entirely from a single network nominally under the command of the Bureau but reporting in reality to Haig. To ensure an additional firewall between SATPO and the Bureau, the network would be headed by an agent from the Bureau of External Security: John Brennan, with his experience of counterinsurgency warfare in Centroamerica, would provide a level of expertise in operations of this nature which both Haig and Kanne lacked.

Haig arranged a meeting with Kanne and Brennan on 28 April 1989. Within six hours, both were en route to SATPO’s base in Omaha. Haig had impressed on them both the urgency of the situation: with an ample supply of men and material, they had approximately two months to plan and effect the first serious counterblow to the insurgents.
 
Operation Wagon Train (1989)
Operation Wagon Train (1989)

Kanne had been gifted with two capable subordinates in Colonel Oliver North (commanding SATPO’s motorized brigade) and Colonel Stanley McChrystal (responsible for the two airborne brigades); in the weeks following his arrival at Omaha, the three men fleshed out the details of an initial plan of attack which would form part of the overall counter-insurgency strategy discussed by Brennan.

The plan they ultimately settled on was simple in the extreme: given that the most visible manifestation of the insurgency in western Montana was the government’s loss of control over the main roads connecting Missoula, Butte and Helena (leading to a brewing humanitarian crisis in Missoula at least, grainy photographs of which were beginning to circulate both within and without the CSA), SATPO would introduce themselves to the region with an unmistakeable show of force aimed at clearing these roads. A heavily armed aid convoy would be assembled in full view in Billings (the westernmost major city largely free of insurgent activity), and would proceed, assisted by detachments from the airborne brigades, to Missoula via Helena over a period of three days. Haig had told Kanne in confidence that several ground attack aircraft, although technically still part of the air arm of the Grangeland CSR’s People’s Militia, could be available at short notice in the likelihood that the insurgents chose to engage the convoy.

As Kanne and Brennan had expected, information about the rapidly assembling convoy flowed almost unrestricted to the insurgents. While its true strength remained hidden for the time being, the fact that an unusually large column of trucks would be dispatched to Missoula, presumably for humanitarian purposes, was a matter of common knowledge by mid-May. Brennan’s nascent intelligence-gathering apparatus embedded within various insurgent cells reported unusual movements from 15 May onwards, accelerating as the month went on, as insurgents, drawn to the prospect of plunder as moths to a flame, prepared to mount the largest show of force the Northwest Montana Insurgency had seen thus far.

The convoy’s anticipated path ran through Hale’s Army territory, so it was natural that overall command of the operation fell to the increasingly delusional and meth-addled John Hale. His three hundred regular members of Hale’s Army had been swollen to around seven hundred and fifty by the arrival of dozens of cells of unaffiliated insurgents: successfully hijacking the convoy would make him by far the most powerful man in Northwest Montana. His intended plan of action differed in scale, but not in nature, from what Hale’s Army had been doing day in and day out for over a year: it was simply a matter of deciding where to deploy the additional four hundred militants to best effect. By this point, Hale was reasonably certain of the route the convoy would take, and had come to know the relevant roads extremely well. After some deliberation, he settled on a stretch of road roughly equidistant between the hamlets of Garrison and Drummond as the natural spot for an ambush. Shortly after 0900 on 3 June 1989, the convoy set out from Billings: the insurgency’s network of informants managed to notify Hale within ninety minutes. Silently and known to as few people as possible, the main body of Hale’s Army took up positions in the scrubland behind the ridge overlooking the Garrison-Drummond road.

After two days of steady progress – the convoy had met minimal resistance, confined to a handful of insurgents firing a few shots at the lead vehicle before fleeing into the surrounding countryside – Kanne and North ordered a halt outside Butte: in total, they had covered roughly two hundred and thirty miles. By midnight on 5 June, they’d received cause to thank Brennan.

Ironically, given Hale’s increasing paranoia about informants within his militia – in late April, he’d shot his second-in-command under the suspicion that he was passing on information to the People’s Militia – and his tight control of signals emissions over the proceeding forty-eight hours, his position was ultimately betrayed by his men’s campfires, which attracted the notice of a combat reconnaissance aircraft which had been circling, unseen, over the road between Butte and Missoula and its surrounding countryside. Deciding against investigating further (and fearing that an extended presence at lower altitudes would attract the attention of Hale’s Army) the aircraft let SATPO’s central command know that somewhere between seven and eight hundred men were encamped on the Garrison-Drummond road and that an attack would almost certainly be made on the convoy in the morning.

On 5 June, the convoy set out on its last leg from Butte to Missoula. The last vehicle had passed through Garrison when a rear observer noticed the presence of two dozen bikers keeping about half a mile back from the main convoy: Hale had evidently decided to spring his trap. As the convoy drew ever closer to the concealed insurgents, a team of insurgents originally affiliated with the New Nauvoo Legion prepared to unveil their secret weapon: a five year old anti-tank weapon delivery system purchased from a particularly well-equipped People’s Militia unit three months prior. Aside from this, and a handful of IEDs deployed on the main road, which would cripple a truck but have little effect on a tracked vehicle, Hale’s Army would have to rely on small arms.

At 1047, with the convoy passing directly below the ridge, Hale gave the order to open fire. The lead IFV, hit with an anti-tank round, was instantly immobilised. As the surviving crew scrambled to escape the burning vehicle and the comparatively defenceless trucks squealed to a halt, the entire ridge lit up with gunfire as Hale’s Army brought every weapon it had to bear on the convoy.

For obvious reasons, Hale’s train of thought over the next five minutes will never be known. From his vantage point on the ridge, the sheer chaos below – drivers being mown down by insurgent fire as they crouched behind their vehicles; a supply truck, trying to reverse, hitting an IED; isolated teams of SATPO infantrymen firing blindly at the ridge, their bullets whistling harmlessly over the heads of the insurgents – most likely convinced him that he was on the cusp of the largest victory over government forces yet won by insurgents, and of complete control over Northwest Montana. Whatever his thoughts, they were cut off abruptly when two ground attack aircraft loitering at thirty-six thousand feet dropped thermobaric munitions on the ridge.

The precise point at which Hale was killed is similarly unclear: although it is assumed that his corpse was among the fifty later recovered which were too badly burned for identification, no evidence has emerged from the handful of eyewitness accounts of the next nightmarish period which would settle the matter one way or the other. He might have been virtually incinerated in one of the initial blasts; he might have choked to death on his own blood, trying to breathe with lungs destroyed by the subsequent shockwaves; he might have still been on the ridge when the counterattack by SATPO infantry secured it from the handful of dazed and badly injured insurgents still present; or he might have fled the ridge and either encountered the SATPO airborne squadrons which had been transported several miles behind the ridge by helicopter in the middle of the night or simply succumbed to his injuries or the wilderness. Whatever the truth, Hale was dead: Hale’s Army, transformed in the course of fifteen minutes from the most dangerous internal threat posed to the governance of the CSA in half a century into a few dozen burned and terrified men, died with him.

Of the vehicles in the SATPO convoy, only the lead IFV and the supply truck which had hit the IED were irreparable. The road had been cleared by midday, and the convoy resumed its journey at 1300, arriving at Missoula without further incident at 1430. With a surprising flair for public relations, Kanne insisted on riding in the uncovered lead vehicle as the convoy entered the city, ensuring that his picture would appear on the front page of dozens of newspapers and periodicals published in the CSA the next day. The implicit message of the image, not lost on the assembled press corps, was simple: the government was making its presence known in Montana again.

ooperationwaggontrain-png.617645
 
Destroying the Village in Order to Save It (1989-1992)
MOSHED-2021-1-25-10-0-52.jpg


"The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior 'righteous indignation' — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats." - Aldous Huxley
 
Last edited:
This is a great TL so far! I like how you've used the Kaiserreich setting to tell a different kind of story. And, true to the genre, you've recontextualized OTL people and phenomena to give them a poignant or ironic twist. That's just good writing. If you're looking to write more narratives within this setting, I would certainly encourage you to do so. So far, my only significant point of criticism is that this version of the CSA might be too dour. 'Decrepit socialist regime' is a little played out as a trope IMO, though this is still one of the better versions of it. Maybe part of the issue is that we're seeing one of its worst-run regions. If you were to center a more prosperous or at least more populated area of the CSA in a different narrative, we could see more of the diversity of life in this polity.
 
This is a great TL so far! I like how you've used the Kaiserreich setting to tell a different kind of story. And, true to the genre, you've recontextualized OTL people and phenomena to give them a poignant or ironic twist. That's just good writing. If you're looking to write more narratives within this setting, I would certainly encourage you to do so. So far, my only significant point of criticism is that this version of the CSA might be too dour. 'Decrepit socialist regime' is a little played out as a trope IMO, though this is still one of the better versions of it. Maybe part of the issue is that we're seeing one of its worst-run regions. If you were to center a more prosperous or at least more populated area of the CSA in a different narrative, we could see more of the diversity of life in this polity.

In hindsight, I do agree with you that I've probably overdone the dourness. One of the things I intended to do at the outset was to avoid falling into the trap of having every socialist regime go as badly wrong as most of OTL's ones did: in TTL, agricultural rationalisation and collectivisation broadly works, and only fails in Montana because issues with soil depletion the planners couldn't have possibly foreseen (and which caused the destruction of most of the smallholdings in Montana in OTL's 1950s absent any collectivisation) while the broader financial and inflationary struggles faced by the CSA in the 1970s and 1980s are intended to be a mirror of the "stagflation" of OTL's 1970s, similarly caused by several worldwide commodity shocks. The Grangeland CSR's inevitably going to be particularly badly affected by these (along with other primary resource-focused CSRs such as the Appalachia CSR and the New Afrika CSR, both of which will play a part in upcoming updates). In general, only focusing on Grangeland has made the CSA seem like a much poorer and more dysfunctional place than it actually is.

Conversely, the most heavily industrialised CSRs such as the Steel Belt and Atlantic CSRs are doing better than their OTL equivalents in the 80s, and are probably more technologically advanced (although the managerial complacency which so damaged the US's car industry from the 1960s to the 1990s is yet to be checked, and will have a significant impact on the areas' prosperity after the collapse of the CSA).
 
How democratic are the governments of New England and the Pacific States of America? Do they cooperate as both being splinter states of the US?
 
Death From Above (1989-1990)
Death From Above (1989-1990)

In 2005, the diary that Wesley Kanne had kept diligently throughout Operation Mountain Lion (presumably to provide material for an autobiography at a later date) was published in a barely redacted form with the agreement of the government of the Federation of American States by his widow, who sought to eke out the minuscule government pension she received. Although never the bestseller that she had hoped – virtually nobody really wanted to dredge up memories of the Insurgency, after the signature of the Settle Accords had (hopefully) put an end to all that – the diary provides an invaluable primary source on the thought processes of the more important counter-insurgents, one frequently at odds with contemporary official releases.

It is clear, for instance, that celebrations over the success of Operation Wagon Train were far more muted within SATPO’s upper echelons than in the civilian world. North, McChrystal, and Brennan, with almost two decades of counter-insurgency warfare in Centroamerica between them, were under no illusions that the destruction of Hale’s Army was anything other than the first salvo in what would be a very long engagement indeed. SATPO’s opening move had shown that any grouping of insurgents arrogant or stupid enough to engage the CSA’s military in force could be dealt with almost out of hand: actually extirpating the insurgency would be another matter entirely.

Indeed, from the point of view of SATPO’s high command, Wagon Train’s most immediately useful outcome had been provided in the form of the thirty-eight badly injured, exhausted and terrified insurgents who had been taken alive. Brennan’s intelligence operation had been unofficially authorised to utilise methods of interrogation which were prohibited by the Bureau of Internal Security’s rules of engagement: the information supplied by these unorthodox methods (which played a not insignificant role in ensuring that only three of the captives survived to stand trial for armed sedition) allowed SATPO to build a picture of the strength and location of many of the amorphous and interlocking insurgent groups in Western Montana.

The summer of 1989 would see SATPO on the sustained offensive for the first time, rolling up the unaffiliated local militias operating to the south of Missoula and in the North Montana plains and conducting raids against the New Nauvoo Legion compounds which had operated more or less unmolested by local authorities for the last eighteen months. Faced with overwhelming materiel superiority and unable to counter SATPO’s attack helicopters, much less the ground attack aircraft which formed an integral element of the initial few months of the combined assaults on fortified insurgent positions, the braver or more unlucky insurgents died where they stood, putting up a desperate but futile resistance as compound after compound fell before SATPO. By October, the remnants of the Legion had mostly fled across the Idaho border: a handful of survivors, keeping to the old and hidden safehouses which had served as refuges for Mormon missionaries in the 1970s, were the last trace of the Legion’s presence in the Grangeland CSR.

With the pacification of much of North Montana and the areas surrounding Missoula, SATPO turned its attentions to the extreme north-west corner of Montana. The incipient Northwest Front, centred around Kalispell and on poor terms with Hale’s Army, had survived the fallout from Operation Wagon Train more or less unscathed: SATPO would have to pacify a mountainous and heavily forested area of almost fifteen thousand square miles where more or less all of the basic functions of governance had passed into the hands of NWF members or sympathisers.

The plan drawn up in conference by Kanne, Brennan, North and McChrystal was based on counter-insurgent tactics developed in the late 1970s and honed over a decade of use in Centroamerica. At any one time, one third of the two SATPO Airborne Brigades, divided into “patrols” of four transport helicopters, one light helicopter and a UAV, would be installed in one of several forward operating bases on a strict six-week rotation. In response to rebel activity either reported by one of Brennan’s network of local informants or discovered by the UAV, the patrol would proceed to the relevant area and disembark its airborne infantry sections about half a mile from the sighting: while the soldiers conducted a ground level sweep, the helicopters would manoeuvre around the target, attacking simultaneously from the opposite direction. The patrols would remain in the area for as little time as possible, with any captured insurgents or intelligence being extracted to the AFB from which the relevant Airborne Brigade operated. SATPO’s Mechanised Brigade would be reserved, at least initially, for ensuring that supply lines between the AFBs and the forward operating bases were kept open.

In Kanne’s diary entries for late 1989 and early 1990, the perceptive reader can detect the first signs of the difficulties which were increasingly to plague Operation Mountain Lion, as Kanne expresses his frustration at the uselessness of the remaining People’s Militia units, requiring the Mechanised Brigade to assume an increasingly large portion of the policing of Northwest Montana, and Haig’s inability to provide additional troops to ensure the long-term pacification of insurgent-heavy areas. The first serious disagreement on overall strategy and rules of engagement between Brennan and Kanne is noted on 26 November 1989: within three years, such disagreements had become commonplace.

Nevertheless, that 1989 represented the apogee of the CSA’s counter-insurgency efforts is shown by the operational casualty figures noted down weekly in Kanne’s diary. In the last six months of 1989, SATPO patrols accounted for five hundred and fifty two insurgents killed and seventy six capture in Flathead County alone. In exchange, three SATPO helicopters were lost, two to mechanical failure and one due to an exceptionally lucky rocket propelled grenade shot by insurgent Gary Stennis (who earned the soubriquet “Rocket Man” and, eventually, a seat in the Council of the Northwest Montana Semi-Autonomous Zone). As 1990 approached, Kanne had every reason to believe in the eventual success of Operation Mountain Lion.

4Z4mLLr.png
 
Last edited:
It reads with the ugliness of the man hiding the irrigation ditch 250 people were bulldozered into; as was common in our c20
 
The plan drawn up in conference by Kanne, Brennan, North and McChrystal was based on counter-insurgent tactics developed in the late 1970s and honed over a decade of use in Centroamerica. At any one time, one third of the two SATPO Airborne Brigades, divided into “patrols” of four transport helicopters, one light helicopter and a UAV, would be installed in one of several forward operating bases on a strict six-week rotation. In response to rebel activity either reported by one of Brennan’s network of local informants or discovered by the UAV, the patrol would proceed to the relevant area and disembark its airborne infantry sections about half a mile from the sighting: while the soldiers conducted a ground level sweep, the helicopters would manoeuvre around the target, attacking simultaneously from the opposite direction. The patrols would remain in the area for as little time as possible, with any captured insurgents or intelligence being extracted to the AFB from which the relevant Airborne Brigade operated. SATPO’s Mechanised Brigade would be reserved, at least initially, for ensuring that supply lines between the AFBs and the forward operating bases were kept open.
I imagine this would be quite tactically effective, but I don't really see a strategy to win here.

I guess even syndie America has gotten infatuated with the allure of the "body count" metric.
 
I imagine this would be quite tactically effective, but I don't really see a strategy to win here.

I guess even syndie America has gotten infatuated with the allure of the "body count" metric.

Vertical envelopment's historically been enormously effective on a tactical level against rural guerrillas dispersed over a wide area, and was used to great effect by the Rhodesians and Portuguese during the African Bush Wars. It's worth noting, though, that both the Rhodesians and Portuguese ultimately ended up losing the wars in question: ITTL, Kanne is coming to realise that SATPO is large and well-equipped enough for any request for more manpower to be ignored by central government, but nowhere near large enough to take on the policing and administrative work necessary for the long-term pacification of the region.

I thought the body count metric would be appropriate, given that Robert MacNamara is Chairman of the CSA in 1989.
 
Top