31st Armor Division
|31st Armor Division|
|Unit Profile (as of 2596)|
|Parent Formation||VIII Corps|
The Thirty-First Armor Division was a part of the Star League Defense Force Regular Army. The Thirty-First and her sister division within the provisonal VIII Corps, the Thirty Second Division (confusingly, one of two divisions named the Thirty Second within the SLDF at the time), were cobbled together in or around 2579 as part of the formation of Task Force MAILED FIST, the Task Force assembled to implement Operation MAILED FIST - the Star League intervention in the Rim Worlds Republic civil war. The timing of the Rim Worlds Republic civil war was unfortunate for the Star League, and when the SLDF was finally charged with intervening the only forces available were two reserve corps stationed on Terra and those divisions being mustered from new recruits and trained up. As a result, the provisional VIII Corps lacked a backbone and was bolstered through the formation of the 2nd Marik Auxiliary Corps, which added six line regiments from the Free Worlds League Military, and three regiments from the Lyran Commonwealth Armed Forces mustered together as the Lyran Auxiliary Corps.
By 2582 the Rim Worlds Republic had been in a state of civil war for seven years. The Star League had initiated Operation MAILED FIST in mid-2581, but the SLDF plans had been forced to change after a deep raid by the Fourth Amaris Fusiliers had managed to strike at the Lyran Commonwealth interior world of Alarion.
The result was the reorganization of the SLDF forces and their auxiliaries into three battlegroups, each responsible for the pacification of one of the three provinces that made up the Rim Worlds Republic. Bucklands and the Second Amaris Fusiliers were the first targets of the battlegroup assigned to pacifying the Finmark Province, and the SLDF deployed VIII Corps - still predominantly an infantry corps - to the battle for Bucklands.
VIII Corps planners thought that Buckland's broad plains would give them an advantage over the Rim Worlds Republic military forces stationed on the world. This proved incorrect, as the light armor forces within the Second Fusiliers proved very adept at evading SLDF patrols, repeatedly slipping past patrols and pickets to strike at weak points within the SLDF positions. The sheer tenacity displayed by the Rim Worlds defenders - a unit the SLDF was notionally supporting with their campaign to restore First Consul Gregory Amaris to power - was a shock for VIII Corps, whose infantry-heavy forces frequently found themselves on the retreat despite the numerical advantage the SLDF enjoyed on paper. The net result was an indication of what the SLDF would find happening on numerous other worlds within the Republic - an extended seven month campaign before Bucklands was pacified and the defending forces finally broken.
By late 2584 the SLDF changed tactics again; a number of major Rim Worlds Army units had been destroyed or captured, and the focus for the campaign had shifted to capturing worlds of strategic importance, but the campaign was slowed by the greatly increased resistance offered by the RWA and local civilian populations, prompted by atrocities performed by the Draconis Auxiliary Corps when they captured Nightwish in mid-2584. Archon Viola Steiner-Dinesen of Battle Group Finmark assigned VIII Corps to the conquest of Finmark in 2586; the resulting campaign was actually something of a relief for the beleaguered SLDF, as it was one of the few stand-up fights to occur during Operation MAILED FIST, unmarked by the more extreme defensive measures many other planetary campaigns were marked by.
The battle for Finmark saw one of the seven corvette-class WarShips operated by the Rim Worlds Army crippled and then boarded by SLDF troops, and was the first time the SLDF had encountered any of the small RWA WarShips in combat. On the surface of Finmark the loyalist Fifth Amaris Dragoons put up a valiant and determined resistance against the far more numerous SLDF forces, selling themselves dearly before being defeated by VIII Corps.
The campaign for Austerlitz was the first undertaken by the Thirty-First Armor Division in isolation. Austerlitz was defended by the Sixth Amaris Fusiliers, a Rim Worlds Army unit that had defected to the Rim Provisional Government and the Rift Republican Army. The heavily outnumbered Sixth Fusiliers fought to great effect, turning the battle for control of the planet into a brutal slugging match; the Sixth Fusiliers used their heavy units to lock the Thirty-First in place and then used their light armor to launch fast, slashing attacks on the Thirty-First's infantry regiments. The Thirty-First drew on their available AeroSpace Fighter support and fast BattleMech companies to try and counter the Sixth Fusiliers' tactics, and while these efforts were partially successful the Sixth Fusiliers had still inflicted enough damage on the Thirty-First Division before being defeated at the end of the three-week battle to force the Thirty-First to have to be temporarily withdrawn from the Task Force MAILED FIST order of battle for refitting.
General Nathan Isaacson of Task Force MAILED FIST assigned the conquest of Barcelona to the Lyran Auxiliary Corps and the 2nd Marik Auxiliary Corps along with the Thirty-First Armor Division; Archon Viola Steiner-Dinesen led all three regiments from the Lyran Auxiliary Corps to Barcelona (the Fourth Royal Guards, Twenty-Fifth Skye Rangers and the Tamar Tigers) while Duke Narinder Selaj led the Second and Sixth Marik Militias and the First Brigade of the Fusiliers of Oriente to Barcelona. This left a triumverate of senior officers responsible for the operation - Duke Selaj, Archon Steiner-Dinesen and Lieutenant-General Margaret Beck - and when the MAILED FIST forces landed on Barcelona they found the Fifth Amaris Legionnaires in place on the world under the command of Colonel Franchetta Wong.
Colonel Wong was a distant cousin of First Consul Gregory Amaris, and initially tried to use this familial connection to convince the three senior MAILED FIST officers that she was a representative of the ruling family. These claims were swiftly dismissed, although Duke Selaj recommended using Wong as a figurehead to try and stabilize the world; Selaj's recommendations were dismissed by the Archon, acting in the belief that to countenance such a charade would only create more political problems on Barcelona, and as a result Colonel Wong turned against the Star League forces and began to lead the Fifth Legionnaires in a campaign that proved her to be a skilled commander, using her numerically inferior forces in ways that stretched the Star League forces significantly over the next two months.
Despite Wong's best efforts, the Star League advantages in numbers and equipment eventually swung the campaign back in their favour, and by early July the Fifth Legionnaires had been forced to fall back into the rugged terrain that dominated the northern continent of Barcelona, known as Norn. The Fifth Legionnaires would have been quickly defeated if not for events within the Lyran Commonwealth.
On the 19th of July 2591 courier ships brought news to Barcelona that the Archon-Designate, Viola Steiner-Dinesen's son Kevin Dinesen had gone missing in March and was presumed to have been kidnapped. Arriving along with the official news were rumors from the Commonwealth that the Duke of Skye and the Duke of Tamar - Aldo Lestrade and Simon Kelswa, respectively - were responsible for the abduction. The rumurs reached the Archon ahead of the official news, and the rumors combined with the frustration of years of campaigning in the Republic was enough to cause the Archon to snap; she led the Fourth Royal Guards personally to the cantonment within which the Twenty-Fifth Skye Rangers and Tamar Tigers were bivouacked where she promptly destroyed the 'Mechs performing sentry duty and began a rampage through the camp, attacking the Skye and Tamar forces.
The results of the Archon's rampage scarred the psyches of those involved for decades afterwards; the Skye and Tamar regiments had been in the midst of rearming and resupplying when the Archon's rampage began, and faced the horrific dilemma of having to decide whether to defend themselves and their comrades by attacking the Archon. The warriors of the Fourth Royal Guards were equally horrified but attempted to protect the Archon as 'Mechs from the Skye and Tamar units began defending themselves. With many of the Skye and Tamar 'Mechs out of ammo because of the resupply effort going on when the Archon arrived, a large part of the battle was a chaotic and confused melee. Forces from the Thirty-First Armor Division and the Fusiliers of Oriente arrived to separate the various combatants, but by that point the Archon was unconscious as a result of her cockpit being crushed, and was discovered to have lost her left arm and suffered serious injuries to her head and chest.
Following the battle the Rangers and the Tigers both requested and received permission to withdraw from Operation MAILED FIST, as both units were unwilling to continue serving under the Archon. The Archon herself took weeks to heal to the point where she could travel again, having refused to be fitted with a prosthetic limb to replace her missing arm, by which time she had been briefed by both the Lyran Intelligence Corps and the Hegemony Central Intelligence Directorate that evidence pointed to a member of the Estates-General, not the Dukes of Tamar or Skye. Faced with a political crisis at home, the Archon also withdrew from Barcelona; the Star League forces had successfully completed the conquest of Barcelona in mid-September, a few weeks prior to the Archon leaving.
Zertarum, Cryfder and Japminboddu
For the campaign on Zertarum in 2592 the Thirty-First Armor Division was deployed alongside the Thirty-Second again, with VIII Corps capturing the system and then remaining in place as the local garrison until the Thirty-First was redeployed for the invasion of Cryfder in 2593; the Thirty-First then went into action again in 2595 for the conquest of Jápminboddu. In all three cases the Thirty-First faced only local militia and partisan forces.
General Isaacson planned the operation to secure Apollo, the capital world of the Rim Worlds Republic. Isaacson took command of the naval elements of the operation, while operational command of the ground operation was passed to Archon Steiner-Dinesen, who lead the landings and the assault on Terra Prime, whilst Duke Selaj was made her second in command and given responsibility for the military strike to secure the island estates within which Gregory Amaris had sheltered for the better part of twenty years.
The Archon's force made slow progress in their assault, landing on the 21st of March 2596, having to deal with conducting an assault in the midst of the monsoon season against the combined forces of the Seventh Amaris Legionnaires and Eighth Amaris Dragoons bolstered by well-prepared defenses that included bunker complexes and gun emplacements. The weather heavily favored the outnumbered defenders, while the various battles turned the ground outside the city into a quagmire, bogging down the SLDF units and sapping morale. The weather also prevented the SLDF from making use of AeroSpace forces much of the time, and it was only with the addition of those forces commanded by Duke Selaj that real progress began to be made.
Duke Selaj had managed to easily defeat the forces besieging the Amaris' estates, only to find Amaris himself to be unpleasant, hostile, and thoroughly ungrateful for his rescue; Amaris regarded Selaj as a provincial minor lordling from the Free Worlds League, despite the far greater wealth and and population of the Principality of Regulus, and bitterly resented the time taken to rescue him and the poor conditions he considered himself to have lived in... conditions far more opulent than most of his citizens or the soldiers of the Task Force had endured. Despite the difficulties in dealing with Amaris, Duke Selaj was able to send his troops and liberated Amaris loyalists to join the forces outside Terra Prime.
On the 24th of March the Archon initiated a plan to draw the RRA defenders out; making sure that she was highly visible, she led the Fourth Royal Guards on a sweep around the city, in the hope that she would prove a significant enough target to tempt the defenders into an attack. The plan was that when the RRA attacked, the Free Worlds, Amaris Loyalist and VIII Corps units nearby would arrive to reinforce the Fourth, trapping the defenders in a three-jawed trap. The Seventh Legionnaires and Eighth Fusiliers responded as hoped, moving out to attack the Archon's forces, but a communications glitch meant that the other units didn't receive the signal to spring into action, leaving the Fourth in locked combat with both rebel units.
Troops from VIII Corps did eventually arrive and drove off the rebel forces, but by that point the Fourth Royal Guards had been mauled; the Archon's 'Mech was one of those destroyed in the fighting, and while the Archon survived the battle, she had suffered mortal injuries and was swiftly repatriated to Tharkad, where she died on the 28th of April.
General Isaacson wasn't entirely surprised to learn of the Archon's injuries; he perceived the Archon's behavior since the Day of Rage on Barcelona to have been reckless to the point of nihilism, and her actions had given him cause for concern. With the Archon no longer able to command the ground forces, General Isaacson took direct command of the ground forces for the remainder of the operation. Gregory Amaris remained true to his nature, demanding that Isaacson end the conflict by bombing the RPG forces into submission; Isaacson refused, and conducted a more cautious campaign, intended to reduce the loss of life on both parts as much as possible. Isaacson's strategy was proven effective, and the siege of Terra Prime finally ended on the 3rd of September when the RPG surrendered, ending the civil war.
It was confirmed by the author of Historical: Reunification War that in general, the Divisions listed within the Star League sourcebook be traced back directly to those Divisions listed within Historical: Reunification War. However, in 2764 there are two divisions listed as the Thirty-First within the SLDF: the Thirty-First Royal Mechanized Infantry Division, XLIV Corps and the Thirty-First Infantry Division, LXV Corps. It is not known which of these can trace their history back to the Thirty-First Armor Division of the Reunification War era.
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 131, "False Starts (2579-81)"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 152, "Rim Worlds Republic Front (Jump-Off - 2587)"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 132-133, "Alarion (December 2581)"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 133, "Island Hopping (2582-2590)"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 132-133, "Alarion (December 2581)"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 133, "Helbrent to Nightwish (July 2582 - November 2584)"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 134-135, "Arlina to Viborg (December 2584 - September 2588)"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 135, "Newtown Shoals: Sharks Among Minnows (January 2588)"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 153, "Rim Worlds Republic Front (2588-2596)"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 155, "Rim Worlds Republic Front (2588-2596)"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 136, "Barcelona (April-September 2591)"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 137-138, "Barcelona: The Day of Rage (19 June 2591)"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 38, "First Fusiliers of Oriente"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 139, "Bitter Harvests (2591-2596)"
- Ask The Writers: Star League Divisions: Reunification War to Liberation of Terra
- The Star League, p. 149, "Sixteenth"
- The Star League, p. 157, "Nineteenth"
- Historical: Reunification War, p. 181, "VIII Corps"