Pearl Harbor Naval Station
8 July 1940
Harper leaned back, rubbed his eyes, and ran a quick mental check of the wargames he had participated in since returning to active duty.
There were the matches against opponents dubbed "Q-Ball," "Chez," and "PzH." Each had been challenging. Each had taken wildly improbable turns that few believed could be replicated in a real war.
Q-Ball, Harper recalled, had even invaded India. That was a silly notion, yet it proved difficult for the "Allies" to stop. Things had looked pretty bleak, but eventually the Allies turned the tables and appeared likely to win the war. That particular war game had ended prematurely when Q-Ball had been reassigned to work on a war game focused on a mythical clash between Russia and Germany.
Chez had proved conservative, allowing the Allies to turn Sumatra into a tremendous redoubt. That was so ridiculous that the officer commanding that match had it terminated.
The contest against PzH had proven as entertaining as it was unlikely. That was the occasion in which odd places like Coal Harbor and Cocos Island had proven so important. Under mysterious circumstances, though, PzH had been recalled from active duty, thus ending the match before anything decisive had taken place. Last report was that he had been billeted to a post in Stockholm.
Now Harper was about to engage in a match to test Cochran's old Reluctant Admiral hypothesis. Harper was familiar with the scenario, in general, but knew he would have to take time to memorize the order of battle. And what about the opponent? Harper knew he was as aggressive as Q-Ball and PzH, but believed there were some weaknesses that might be exploited. He began jotting down this thoughts:
a. As always, China will be a target. And yet, probably not on the level of PzH. The "Japanese commander" will fight for the usual cities, but probably doesn't have the interest level to go "all out" in China. He's a sea war guy. Not a land war guy. That's good.
b. He'll go all out in the Pacific. That's where his heart is. With his ships. He likes the Aleutians. He likes Samoa. He loves New Caledonia. He's coming. Decide whether to meet him or fight elsewhere.
c. He'll be organized, especially early. He'll roll through the Philippines, Malaya, and Burma in good order. But these theaters offer opportunties to sting and stymie.
d. He is prone, at times, to overcomit to places he wants but doesn't necessarily need. Identify a few places to "over protect" to frustrate him. Cocos Island in the Indian Ocean is a prime possibility.
e. He likes to split his carriers. This can kill him. Does he have enough "extra goodies" in Reluctant Admiral to cover this weakness? Possibly.
f. Auto Victory: Not nearly as likely as the games against Q-Ball and PzH. Too aggressive giving the Allies too many points. I think.
Harper had a reputation withing the navy as well.
His exploits in exercises gamed at the Academy had caused uproar, who in his right mind would turn Palembang into a Fortress, invade the Kuriles, and in a previous lifetime threatened to invade the Phillipines only to fall on some volcanic rock named Iwo Jima and turned it into the Gibraltar of the Pacific.
Harper indeed had the warped and twisted mind suitable to take on the evil empire.
Interdum feror cupidine partium magnarum Europae vincendarum