Operation Azure Quarantine Status Update, 16 July 109


Reserve combat operations against the Acheron Federation began on 6 July 109; combat operations so far have been decidedly in favor of the Reserve, achieving almost complete space superiority throughout the main corridor of operations stretching from Acheron Federation bases in Dodixie and surrounding systems to the core Caldari Border Zone. While Acheron continues to stage limited fleet operations within the Federation and against APEX Conglomerate operations out of the Tierijev system, attacks against the main body of the Reserve fleet have almost completely ceased only ten days into the campaign.

Major fleet actions began within five hours of the CONCORD-sanctioned war declaration, when an Acheron fleet led by FADM Thuul'Khalat assaulted the Reserve Forward Operations Base in Hatakani. Reserve scouts detected the fleet preparing for their assault in Kassigainen, and CDRE Ladel Teravada organized a defensive fleet in response, deploying just as the Acheron fleet jumped into the Hatakani system. Through a quick series of maneuvers, CDRE Teravada was able to drop the Reserve force, consisting of five battleships, three battlecruisers, and a cruiser, almost directly on top of the Acheron fleet which had been setting up to siege the the station serving as Reserve headquarters. The outnumbered, but more advanced and experienced Reserve fleet was able to crush the core of the Acheron fleet, scattering the rest of the enemy forces. Five enemy battleships, as well as an enemy recon cruiser and pair of frigates, were destroyed, with another battleship and a few support craft fleeing the system with heavy damage.

The battle in Hatakani was followed seven hours later by a pitched battle in the Grinacanne system. Following an unsuccessful RIF in the Acheron core systems, and reports of an Acheron battlefleet assembling, Reserve forces assembled a heavy fleet to prepare a counterattack against the main body of the enemy. The fleet proceeded from Hatakani along the most probable lines of enemy advance, with CAPT Svetlana Scarlet's Hurricane serving as scout. Upon jumping into the Erme system, with the rest of the fleet sitting on the gate in Grinacanne, CAPT Scarlet detected a fleet of 11 Acheron Federation vessels en route at high speed to the same gate. As she returned to Grinacanne under the fire of the arriving Acheron fleet, Reserve forces in Grinacanne prepared for the oncoming assault.

Acheron forces jumped into Grinacanne shortly thereafter and began to engage the Reserve fleet in earnest; Reserve forces returned fire with a crippling barrage from their battleships and battlecruisers, focusing fire effectively and using advanced weaponry to again crush the core of the Acheron fleet. Though a pair of Reserve battleships were lost (including LCDR Gosok's Scorpion, which had been caught too close to the gate when the enemy engaged), the Reserve fleet managed to inflict heavy losses on the enemy again, destroying five battleships and a battlecruiser plus support.

This battle was followed by another on 8 July. Under the command of CAPT Zevrik, Reserve forces pursued an Acheron force in the Botane system, finally pinning them at the Eglennaert gate. Numerically superior for the first time since combat operations started, the Reserve fleet engaged and completely eliminated the entire Acheron force, downing five battleships, a battlecruiser, two advanced cruisers, and a frigate for no losses. Sensor logs of the battle indicated that the Acheron fleet appeared to be suffering a communicatons failure which, combined with the Reserve fleet's superior numbers, contributed to the abnormally heavy losses in the battle.

On Monday, Reserve intelligence indicated that Acheron operated a space platform in the Botane system operated by a shell corporation. The command staff made the decision to expand the war declaration to include the shell corporation, in order to allow the Reserve to eliminate this asset and deal a heavy blow to Acheron's logistical chain. Unfortunately, by the time the war declaration was in effect, the small research platform had been greatly expanded and reinforced; the defenses added to the platform made an assault by anything short of capital vessels infeasible, and attack plans were put on hold. At this time, the Reserve command staff has decided that the vastly increased fuel resources being consumed by the expanded platform are a sufficient enough detriment to Acheron's logistics that a costly assault is not necessary.

As the week wore on, the Acheron Federation began to actively avoid combat with Reserve forces, instead focusing on those of the APEX Conglomerate, against whom they had achieved significantly greater success. On several occasions, Reserve forces have pursued Acheron forces to the APEX forward base in Tierijev in an attempt to force action, but presented with the threat of facing both the Reserve and APEX simultaneously, Acheron forces have generally withdrawn. At present, Acheron's ability to operate in force against the Reserve appears to be largely eliminated, with most attacks reduced to hit-and-run raids or skirmish actions in Federation and State space, usually involving no more than a few ships on either side.

However, Reserve intelligence has largely attributed this unwillingness to engage to a reevaluation of their previous strategies and tactics due to the heavy losses sustained earlier in the week. A number of events, including a pair of battles where an Acheron Dominix managed to withstand concentrated fire from two to three Reserve battleships for nearly five minutes, indicate that Acheron commanders are implementing new tactics and developing new capabilities to deal with the advantages the Reserve currently maintains. Reserve morale remains high, but fleet commanders have been told to expect heavier losses if Acheron forces begin to seek engagements again.

During the course of the week, Acheron convoys made up of frigates and industrials rigged for blockade running have continued to bring supplies to the Kisogo system, where Brothers of Freedom activity continues to persist despite Navy and corporate security forces gaining an upper hand against the terrorist insurrection in that system. In an effort to cut off these supplies, Reserve Fleet Operations has developed a number of new tactics, the results of which have been promising. Further refinement of these tactics is expected to reduce the incoming supplies further over the coming weeks; in combination with punitive strikes by Reserve forces against Acheron targets, the command staff hopes this will convince the enemy that further attempts to supply the Brothers of Freedom are useless.