Cribtop -> RE: Wait, I can't read Cuttlefish's new AAR? - Cribtop (J) vs CF (A) (5/19/2011 12:28:06 AM)
January 15, 1942
On the whole, the first 1.5 months of the war have gone well. We finally have our forces allocated as desired and are for the most part past the somewhat annoying "organize and orient while simultaneously conducting a major offensive all over the map" phase.
Air losses were initially lopsided in our favor while the enemy contested the skies over northern Malaya and Luzon. Since then, Cuttlefish has ceded air superiority at the front and pulled back to key bases, a wise move as the rate of attrition was unsustainable given fixed Allied replacement rates. We will soon attempt to force a return to attritional air combat on favorable terms at Singapore and, to a lesser degree, in Burma. We are equally pleased with the early seizure of LBA bases in the DEI, allowing Netty coverage of approaches to key bases such as Palembang, discouraging enemy movements in these areas. Fighter and bomber production is proceeding well and pilot pools are decent and improving as training moves ahead.
At sea, we have not suffered significant losses and the IJN remains ready for battle. The flip side of this is that CF has also suffered minimal naval losses other than Pearl Harbor, where it appears at least three BBs were sunk and the rest were crippled for a long time. KB is fresh, KBL is currently enlarging air groups at Babeldoab to increase its combat potential.
On the ground, once again everything is proceeding according to plan except for the annoying but temporary reverse at Nanyang. We are concerned, as many JFBs are at this stage of the game, with how thin we are in Southern China. These fears are augmented by aerial recon showing 18 enemy LCUs gathered at Kukong and Kanshien. Luzon is bottled up and we are moving to finish Singapore. In Burma, we are advancing on Pegu and Rangoon in the face of minimal opposition. In the Pacific, we have so far overwhelmed the at start enemy garrisons in place.
Enemy Situation and Intentions
The enemy, after suffering initial heavy losses in the air, has generally avoided battle on land, at sea and in the air. Cuttlefish's e-mail chatter and initial moves indicated unfamiliarity with the Allied OOB and dispositions, resulting in a mostly passive approach at first.
However, as predicted, our fine opponent appears to have re-organized and re-oriented his forces and is prepared for a more active defense, beginning with his bold CV raid in the eastern DEI. We were fortunate indeed to guess right and pull out there, and we expect stiffening resistance going forward, particularly in the DEI. It appears CF has settled on trading space for time and withdrawing to strong points in the rear, but that once we cross his red lines we can expect an aggressive response. For example, he appears to be conceding New Guinea, but we suspect he is preparing to defend the second layer of the DEI as best he can. Cribtop Intel estimates he is husbanding his main strength in rear bases such as India, CONUS, SE Oz and perhaps Pearl.
That said, he has not elected a full Sir Robin, as his actions with Force Z and the USN carriers show. He appears willing to raid and nibble but not waste unrestricted ground forces in forward bases. One very open question is where his supply hubs will be and the extent to which he has improved the garrisons of rear bases such as Fiji, Noumea, Darwin, etc. Recon shows no evidence of an intention to create Fortress Palembang, Fortress Timor, or any other forward festung.
The course of the war to date has so far gone according to plan. We do not intend to alter much of our intentions or dispositions in most AOs (4th Fleet, 14th Army, 25th Army or Burma). However, there are two areas of concern and one possible opportunity.
The enemy has shown his CVs here, and we must assume he will continue to commit his fleet to guard against our leap into Timor and Java. After consideration, we have determined that our initial plan to seize Samarinda, Balikpapan, Makassar and Bandjermasin can still be accomplished with acceptable risk under cover of LBA. We will position three Air HQs and numerous air groups to cover rapid seizure of these bases in very short hops. Timor is a bit more difficult but may not be essential for the time being. We will consider moving KB into the region for use against Timor and Dempassar, but even Timor may be doable with LBA assuming it remains unreinforced and we have Air HQs at Makassar, Kendari and Ambon. The whole question may be academic as we planned to hit Java and Sumatra after the fall of Singapore from the west rather than the east. The eastern DEI offensive was primarily a drive to isolate Java from Oz.
After the escape of a rather mauled but still potent Loyang garrison, we face two decent sized armies in North China. Intention is to engage the weaker Loyang force with 11th Army, while using advances that appear to be aimed at this army to actually cut the road to Nanyang. At that point, our still powerful and much reinforced 12th Army will re-engage the enemy army at Nanyang from the South. We hope to keep these enemy forces divided, seeking to isolate or force the abandonment of Nanyang.
Cribtop Intel is concerned the enemy may be gathering for a thrust towards the coast along an axis Kanshien to Amoy. We are thin here and CF surely knows it given his experience with the Japanese OOB. Significant reinforcements due in about 30 days will address the balance of forces and even allow offensive action in the south, but until then we are vulnerable. Cribtop HQ hopes to keep the enemy off balance in North China and elsewhere, but the danger cannot be ignored entirely. The enemy's big stack at Ichang remains in place. We are confident we have enough force over the river to counter any thrust from this army.
This is the interesting AO. Enemy resistance has been nominal, and our phase one objectives will be achieved with the seizure of Lae, Buna, Milne Bay and Port Moresby. We plan subsidiary Ops to grab Horn Island, etc, but the big question is whether to press on more aggressively.
Our instinct is to move KB to the DEI to counter the enemy and ensure completion of the conquest of the vital SRA. However, we estimate that CF has not yet materially reinforced Noumea and Fiji. We have a regiment prepping for the former at Truk and could buy out a Division in Korea prepping for the latter.
PRO - The proposed ops would capture important rear area bases with significant VP value and could deliver a shock to Cuttlefish, keeping him mentally focused here. We can recon the bases to ensure they are unimproved, and, if so, take them quickly. They would not be held by major ground forces after capture but rather would serve as sub and nav search bases and defensive foregrounds to slow the enemy from reaching the MLR before it is ready. Capture of these bases could also cause CF to decide he "must" act in the Pacific, achieving the aim of keeping him away from the Darwin-Timor axis.
CON - The proposed ops would keep KB in the less important SE Fleet AO when our strategic focus is on the DEI and, eventually, NW Oz. Delay is not preferred. That said, if we want to come back for these bases later they will be reinforced and the price of capture much higher.
At present, we are leaning against any deep moves in the SE Fleet AO until we secure the DEI. However, we want to know what our readers think before deciding.
Awaits final decision on whether KB is headed to the DEI after the fall of PM or not.