At the end of the previous article, I asked the question “The JSDF in this scenario has massive technical and supply superiority. What could the Empire be doing to mitigate that and mount an effective counter to the invasion?” As it happens, I have a few ideas about that. Don’t get me wrong: the Empire is faced with major difficulties. But the JSDF isn’t going to have things all their own way, either.
I’m guessing that that the JSDF forces on the Empire side of the gate are based around a reinforced mechanised regiment (or brigade, if you prefer). A regiment is the smallest force which is really capable of sustained independent operations, but also the largest mechanised unit Japan could probably spare for an extended period (most of the JGSDF is infantry divisions tied to specific areas, which are fine on defense but not what you want for an expeditionary force). That means we have a pretty good idea of what equipment and numbers the JSDF has available.
As an educated guess, I’m putting them at about 3000 combat troops. That’s a battalion of Type-74 tanks and light armour of various types, a battalion of mechanised infantry in Type-73 APCs, probably two battalions of regular infantry in trucks and other wheeled vehicles, and another battalion-equivalent of 155mm artillery, air defence troops, engineers, and other miscellaneous hangers-on. All with the usual integral supporting arms, HQ elements, and whatnot.
But that isn’t all. The JSDF has also deployed at least a couple of dozen helicopters of various types, F4-EJ jet fighters, all the support facilities for them, and a substantial engineering, logistics, and civil-affairs contingent. All up, I estimate that there are perhaps 9000 Japanese troops in that base, to say nothing of any refugees they have taken in. This is basically a small town.
Why am I talking about all this? Because that small town needs to be supplied. All their food, ammunition, fuel, spare parts, office and construction supplies, medical needs, personal items, clothing, toilet paper… everything has to come through that gate. And they can only fit so much through it. Assuming they’re doing a fair bit of movement but not much actual fighting and the aircraft are flying a total of 100 sorties each day between them, my references indicate they will need something in the region of 3000 tonnes of supplies every day in order to stay effective. Which is 150 20-tonne container trucks.
Well, that doesn’t sound so bad… Japan has plenty of trucks and plenty of shipping containers, and although 3000 tonnes of supplies might be expensive it’s a fairly trivial expenditure for a prosperous first-world nation. The gate is conveniently in downtown Tokyo so they just have to load up the trucks and roll them through, right?
Right. Let’s say it takes 10 minutes at the other end to get the truck unloaded and turned around. 10 minutes per truck is 1500 minutes per day to bring in all the supplies needed for that day… but there are only 1440 minutes in a day. So straight away we can see that the gate is fully utilised simply bringing through the supplies needed to sustain the forces that are already committed. There’s no scope to increase the level of commitment without reducing their operational tempo. The JSDF’s logistics are stretched from the beginning, and there just isn’t any spare capacity to improve them. With careful planning by the commanders and staff this shouldn’t be too much of a problem in the short term, but remember what the JSDF commanders are like. I think they’re going to be in trouble.
Let’s leave the JSDF for the moment and turn to the Empire. Assuming the Empire isn’t willing to just accept the JSDF presence, what can they do? They don’t know about the logistics crunch the JSDF is experiencing, of course, but there are some things that are obvious. The horrific casualties suffered by allied forces at the battle for Alnus hill should have made it clear that they simply cannot fight open-field battles against the JSDF. Unfortunately, that message hasn’t got through to everyone. Partly this is because communications in a low-tech society like this are patchy at the best of times, and partly because the Empire’s leaders are using the JSDF to rid themselves of potential rivals for control. Eventually, however, word is going to get around: forming into large groups anywhere in sight of JSDF troops is a bad move. Artillery, automatic weapons, and plain old rifle fire will shred these sorts of formations. That will force the Empire troops to take the field in smaller groups and stick to cover as much as they can.
It should also become clear that the JSDF unit commanders are aggressive to a fault – given a chance to attack they will take it, without much thought for what else might be going on or what it might lead to. Canny opposing commanders will be able to use this tendency to lead them around like a bull with a ring in its nose. We can’t expect the JSDF sub-unit commanders to be quite so impulsive – apart from anything else they have to know a bit more about the tactical situation they are facing. But they in turn will become wary of being lured into close terrain, where their firepower advantage is minimised.
The Empire also has something the JSDF has no counter for – magic. We don’t know exactly what mages are capable of in this setting, but we do know that magical talent is reasonably common and that there are at least some abilities that have military utility. I’m not just talking about tossing fireballs about either, the demonstrated ability to put people to sleep or float heavy loads inches off the ground open up a lot of options for the Empire. And the demigods which wander around are a whole different kettle of fish. They ignore small-arms fire and literally cannot die, in addition to being extravagantly destructive. Presumably enough firepower directed at them will at least keep them busy regenerating (refer to my comments about dealing with Titans), but any JSDF troops caught without that firepower on hand are in a world of trouble.
What this is all adds up to is that the JSDF is trapped. They’re caught in a situation where the only thing they can do is go wherever they want, whenever they want, and do whatever they like when they get there… but it costs. Small groups are vulnerable to ambush and can’t cope with the magical threat, so they have to go mob-handed if they want to be sure of getting there. Big groups put pressure on the logistics system which is already strained. Want to increase the level of aerial reconnaissance and use helicopters for transport? Watch those supply stockpiles shrink. You could restrict operations and try to build up stocks, but that concedes the area to the Empire. And don’t try to talk about using local resources… I have great faith in the ability of Japanese engineers to create refineries and factories, but everything they need to do that will have to be brought the gate and guarded while it is being built and used. This means another regiment of troops, with all their supporting arms and hangers-on, and I hope by now it’s clear that the logistic capacity for that simply isn’t there.
This is by no means an easy situation for the Empire’s soldiers. They will have to get used to operating in smaller and more independent units. It will demand a lot from their small-unit commanders and troops, through a learning process that will be brutally difficult. And it will need a major change in tactics to focus on getting the mages/demigods into position and then protecting them while they do the real work. But they can do all those things, and I would wager it will be surprisingly fast to take effect. After that, it simply has to be replicated to leave the Japanese in the impossible position of a man trying to hold up his trousers while swatting at hornets.
The Empire can win simply by denying the Japanese a victory, and if they can produce the equivalent of a Belisarius or Scipio Africanus then things could get positively embarrassing for the newcomers. The long-term outlook for an Empire equivalent of those generals is not good, of course… the only thing more dangerous than incompetent commander is a competent one, politically speaking, and we only have to look at history to see their likely fate. That isn’t really a military issue, though.
Question of the post: What have I missed? And how might the JSDF react to the situation described in this post?