Operation Azure Quarantine Status Update, 23 July 109


The second week of Operation Azure Quarantine continued the trend seen during the latter half of the previous week, with Acheron forces avoiding contact with Reserve patrols, even in their core systems around Dodixie. Most combat engagements have been restricted to a small number of ships, usually battlecruiser size or smaller, on each side; in nearly every case, Reserve forces have defeated the enemy handily. Unfortunately, despite military victories against Acheron, Reserve intelligence is fairly confident that supplies continue to reach the Brothers of Freedom; a number of Acheron supply convoys have, however, been intercepted by Reserve forces, giving further insight on the true nature of the "humanitarian" aid the Acheron Federation claims to be bringing the terrorists and their sympathizers.

Reserve intelligence has also determined that the Acheron Federation is spreading out their bases of operation; whereas they had previously been concentrated in the Dodixie, Eglennaert, and surrounding systems, a number of pilots appear to have moved from that area towards the Tourier and Alentene systems, on the border of Federation space and the CONCORD/Interbus neutral zone. The reason for this move is unclear, although it is possible they expected such a move would give them greater tactical maneuverability against Reserve patrols. In actuality, the effect appears to have spread their forces out in such a way to make them more vulnerable to Reserve patrols, not less -- unable to concentrate their forces, they appear to be unwilling or unable to challenge relatively small Reserve cruiser patrols in these systems. This has led to the loss of several cruisers and at least one battleship to Reserve patrols over the last week.

The heaviest Reserve losses during the last week were on 17 July, when a raiding force composed of a pair of Acheron Dominix-class battleships attacked a Reserve training operation on the Kassigainen gate in Hatakani. Due to the poor placement of the training operation by the officer in charge and a number of tactical errors during the battle, the Acheron force was able to destroy a Hyperion-class battleship and a Pilgrim-class recon cruiser and then exit the system before reinforcements could arrive. Though painful, especially due to the fact that these losses were easily avoidable with proper precautions, the losses did not significantly cripple the operational capabilities of the Reserve officers involved.

On 20 July, an Iteron Mark V-class industrial vessel under the Acheron Federation flag was intercepted and destroyed by CAPT Svetlana Scarlet in Sivala, who had been in the star system preparing for an antipirate operation in nearby Kubinen. The ship's cargo included cruise missiles and other ammunition, as well as a disturbing quantity of enriched uranium, all clearly not "necessary humanitarian aid" as claimed by the Acheron Federation. While this shipment was successfully stopped before it reached its intended destination, Caldari authorities should be aware that the Brothers of Freedom may now have the means to assemble primitive nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, thanks to agents of the Gallente Federation.

The only major engagement this week occurred on 22 July, when an Acheron fleet consisting of nine battleships and a pair of stealth bombers attempted to lay siege to the Reserve Forward Operations Base in Hatakani. Though initially outnumbered in the system when the enemy arrived (shortly after 1500 EVT), a call to scramble was answered by a number of Reserve pilots, giving the Reserve a numerical advantage by the time the enemy was engaged a half an hour later. Scouts were able to identify the most dangerous elements of the enemy fleet, which had split into two combat groups -- one near the station and the other in a position nearly 100km away. CDRE Teravada led the counterattack, his own acting as bait for the Acheron fleet. While his ship was lost early on, CDR Wolfgang Jager, his XO, was able to continue the fight ably, and Reserve forces once again ripped apart the core of the enemy fleet. All five Dominix-class vessels serving as the Acheron close-in battlegroup were destroyed, but unfortunately only a single Dominix of the remote group was caught and destroyed, with the other five enemy vessels beating a hasty retreat as the Reserve fleet tore apart their compatriot. Reserve forces were able to hold the field and salvage the hulks left behind.

At this time, the Reserve command staff believes that significant progress is being achieved towards the goals of Operation Azure Quarantine; Acheron forces appear to be less and less able to project significant force into Caldari space or even to secure their own core systems, a trend which will hopefully convince them to give in to the demands of the Reserve within the next few weeks. However, Acheron's leadership and even its rank and file appear to be remaining defiant and Sunday's battle proves that they still have the will to engage Reserve forces, despite their heavy losses. It seems likely that resistance will continue during the next week, though it may be restricted to the skirmishing and raiding tactics seen during the last two weeks.