For three months, the Chernarussian Movement of the Red Star (Chedaki or ChDKZ) had marauded through the province of South Zagoria. When the USMC pushed them out of the region across the Russian border, it was assumed that they were a fractured and broken organization. Three years later, they filtered back through the porous border and began inciting revolution again. With bolstered columns of militiamen gathering from around the region, they struck out and occupied key locations, assassinated local functionaries, sabotaged communications systems, and eventually outright stormed banks and military barracks around the province.
Chernarussian units broke and fled to their families as they were given the choice of leaving their posts or having to fight their countrymen. Sustained seiges of outposts and bases lasted weeks as the rebels attempted to gain control of the facilities. Lopotev promptly closed the ports and began fortifying the region’s border to shut it off. He appealed to the Russian government for financial backing and signed a trade agreement with the Federation, which rapidly acknowledged the sovereignty of the new government. The Chernarussian government requested assistance from NATO again, asking for a contingent to bolster their wobbling forces. The CDF would rally in the coming days, but would be distracted with hunting NAPA partisans and solidifying control of the internal provinces against Chedaki infiltration. The Chedaki had already faced the United States, and they used what they had learned.
The problem with that was that the US Army was spearheading the invasion this time, not the United States Marine Corps. Three days of air dominance wiped out the majority of the Chedaki’s air defense and captured armored fleet. The militia columns responded by entrenching and fortifying the cities and towns, still swelling with civilians and thereby off-limits to the ordnance screaming through the air. Other terrain was held by reaction forces given planned and hidden routes to their outposts and observation points. They dropped supplies out the doors or beds of trucks traveling by, readying the locations for fortification or entrenchment.
When the first boots hit the beach east of Chernogorsk, the Americans landed without a hitch. A few mortars landing here and there, but the wary and cautious Chedaki didn’t press their luck. They knew attacking the Americans in the terrain near the landing zones would only result in casualties they couldn’t afford. From these beaches, the spearhead split into three elements. One pushed north as rapidly as it could, a motorized infantry company to lead the push to Vybor and the central airfield that would be reinforced by British Army units as the operation continued. Another would advance rapidly up the coast to the northeast to clear out the industrial and port towns, composed of a combined tank-mechanized infantry company team. The last would capture the capital and link up with CDF forces on the provincial border. This last element had the closest objective, as occaisionally rockets would sail from the hills on the outskirts of the capital towards the Americans.
About thirty Chedaki regulars (Regulars being men trained and drilled in Russia, or those who had survived previous action with the Chedaki) formed the first blocking positions the Americans would run into. They were outfitted with heavy machine guns (DshKs firing 12.7mm rounds bigger than your fist) and recoilless rifles (The reliable SPG-9, mounted on trucks or on bipods) as well as their trusty kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades. Even tanks would have to advance carefully. Some of the men had had the time to throw up earthworks and small sandbag bunkers, others merely crouched in bushes or behind trees in the damp blue mist and fog, the cool water soaking them to the skin and making them faint traces on the thermal sensors the Americans were using.
In the northern contingent, Delta Company slung mud as they navigated the dirt roads leading through the back country. One platoon had gotten the short straw and wouldn’t be using the highway that ran north, but instead had to be content to mud through the foreign backwater of the region. Their route was fairly straightforward, leading them to a T-Junction and a secondary road, but intel hadn’t given them much information on what to expect anywhere in their day’s area of operations. The column’s three trucks trundled north, hoping to reach their objectives without incident.
When tracers skipped across the front of the lead truck, this thought was thrown away. Riflemen poured from the back of the five-tons, scattering off the road and into the foliage. The column of militiamen were holding onto the junction and the high ground. A few high explosive rounds from some SPGs exploded in the trees above the trucks, scattering splinters and shrapnel down on the GIs. The platoon commander was in a jam. Thinking quickly, the platoon sergeant dispersed the two machine guns (M240Ls, lightweight versions of the monstrous 7.62mm medium machine guns capable of shredding anything the militia could muster) to the flanks. They arrived in time to add their fire into beating off a Chedaki attack on the flanks, sending the four man assault teams reeling back through the woods. The rifles crackled to life and the staccato rythym of the SAW light machine guns began filling the air. The Americans were straightening out.
The enemy commander, captured later in the operation, had rolled up in his truck to see the action first hand, bringing with him a handful of men with some extra ammunition and RPGs. They quickly organized a small rocket team and began lobbing volleys of high explosive rockets into the American’s left flank. Captain Oral Ulyanov was pushing his enemy back when a roar erupted to his right, down the road. A squad of American riflemen poured fire down the Chedaki line, enfilading them with a torrent of bullets. As the Chedaki squad leaders let loose a volley of smoke grenades, the Americans charged through only to be sent back by the heavy thump of a DshK machine gun firing wildly at them. Ulyanov had had enough, ordering the withdrawl of the blocking force, Ural trucks pulling up at the junction.
By the time the Americans scrambled back up the wet hillside, the militiamen were firing wildly from the trucks as they raced north. They had left their heavy weapons, which were destroyed before the Americans moved on, their mission complete. It was a short action, but would become the norm—The rebels strongpointing a position and holding it until it became untenable before withdrawl further into the region. At least it was the norm until the open plans of the central province were reached.