Long March Offensive
- This article is about the Lyran Commonwealth's Age of War-era military operation. For other uses, see Long March (disambiguation).
The Long March Offensive was a late Age of War-era military operation launched by the Lyran Commonwealth in 2463. It became their most ambitious attack to date, lasting until 2468. The Long March Offensive was a two-front offensive, one front focused on the Draconis Combine, the other on the Free Worlds League. This was part of Archon Alistair Steiner's efforts to regain the losses the Commonwealth had suffered at the hands of its neighbours over the previous two decades. The Long March Offensive was designed to capitalize on the the newly gained super weapon, the BattleMech. Archon Steiner pushed the military offensive quickly before the new technology developed by the Terran Hegemony and subsequently stolen by the Commonwealth could spread to their enemies.
On the Draconis Combine Front, the initial operations were feint intended to appear as an effort to retake St. John. When Kuritan forces moved to counter the Lyran invasion, Commonwealth Forces then turned and assaulted Nox, Skondia, Trolloc Prime and Caldrea.
Time Table of the Offensive
Draconis Combine Front
The Long March Offensive did not start very well for the Lyran Commonwealth. Two Combat JumpShips, the LCS Stringfire and the LCS Evereft, both loaded with three battalions of troops and their equipment, experienced a misjump. The two vessels were too close to each other when they attempted to jump; when their distortion fields mingled, both ships were morphed together. At the end of the jump, nothing remained but a big, twisted and unrecognizeable ball of metal.
Feint to St. John
The surviving battalions that arrived at St. John were emotionally traumatized from the loss of their fellow soldiers from the Everett and the Stringfire. They felt the increased burden left by the absence of those six battalions of troops, and tried to take up the slack left by the missing troops and their equipment. However, military discipline held and the Lyran 'Mechs and their support troops were able to defeat the Kuritan garrison.
Six months after taking St. John, intelligence on the military front became clear: the Combine military was strengthing the border forces where the St. John forces appeared to be thrusting into the Combine. This was exactly what the Lyran commanders wanted them to do.
Thrust towards Skondia
The new Lyran offensive towards their primary objectives begaun with the planet Skondia. Skondia was desired due to its large metal deposits, and the Lyran attackers easily swept aside the reduced Draconis Combine garrison, retaking the planet. Leaving a light garrison on the world, the Long March forces moved towards their second objective: Nox. This world was wanted for its gem deposits. Although the Kuritans were more determined to defend Nox, the Steiner 'Mechs soon pushed the defenders into a full retreat.
Between 2465 and 2467, the Steiner campaign forces attacked Caldrea, a key world in the Orestes Star Cluster. The planet's defenders fought a fierce defense again the invaders; Lyran commanders were also taken aback by the planet's northern continent, which was a virtual maze of mountain ranges. The Draconis Combine forces laid numerous traps and and used lots of ambush points, frustrating and damaging the Lyran forces.
The DCMS main defense position was subsequently identified by the battle-weary Lyran forces; the LCAF 23rd BattleMech Battalion had attempted three times to take the Kurita stronghold that guarded the Kelli Mountain Pass, and the fourth attempt would be the last. The delays in taking the stronghold had put the twenty three days and kilometers behind the rest of the advancing Commonwealth forces.
The DCMS defensive position was labeled "The Cassino" after a similar structure on Terra. The Cassino had held up against Lyran long-range artillery barrages, aerial attacks and repeated armored vehicle charges. The Lyran commanders allowed for only one more attempt at taking the fort, before a longer, alternate route would need to be found. On this final attack the heavy 'Mechs of the 23rd were ordered forward to divert the fort's fixed gun emplacements. Lighter 'Mechs used Jump Jets to vault up the side of the mountain face. Two 'Mechs out of the first twelve lost their footing, tumbling uncontrollably back down the mountain; one of those 'Mechs exploded on its way down, while the second made it to the bottom, but when the rattled MechWarrior emerged from his machine, he was promptly shot in the face by a DC sniper. Realizing that no fortress guns had been prepared for enemies on the mountain cliff to the sides or above the fort, the advancing Lyran Commonwealth jumpers closed in, being careful of loose rocks that could send them to the Pass floor. The Lyran Mechwarriors So focused on the main steel doors to the Fort that they didn't anticipate landmines being placed where gun emplacements hadn't been. The first notice the Lyrans had was when a Steiner 'Mech had its leg ripped away. Thrown off-balance, the 'Mech had nowhere to go but tumbling straight down. Like a domino effect, other explosions occurred one after another. The few Commonwealth 'Mechs that made it to the main steel doors were met with overwhelming heavy autocannon fire from guns that had been repositioned and were waiting directly behind those same steel doors.
Prior to the 23rd's last mission, the Lyran commanders briefed the unit commander of the last resort they would take in the event of the assault by the 23rd failing; when the 23rd was beaten back, the weary Lyran Generals reverted to the barbaric use of neutron type nuclear weapons to clear stubborn Combine forces out of their defensive positions.
After nine months Caldrea was finally the property of the Lyran Commonwealth, although no-one knew what use the Commonwealth would be able to make of the half-devastated planet.
Free Worlds League Front
Between the years of 2465 to 2468 the Long March Offensive continued into the Free Worlds League's territories. Lyran forces were able to take the worlds of Cavanaugh II and Bella I easily from League forces.
On Alula Australis the defending Marik troops had dug in, anticipating a Steiner attack. Even repeated steady attacks by Lyran 'Mechs couldn't dislodge the FWLM forces from their well-prepared defensive lines. The first use of Marik-built BattleMechs by the defenders greatly reduced the stresses previously involved in using Armored Vehicles against the Lyran 'Mechs.
All momentum in the Steiner attacks came to a screeching halt when the Lyran forces learned of the assassination of Alistair Steiner.
- House Steiner (The Lyran Commonwealth), p.?? - "Lyran Military Superiority - Archon Alistair quickly orders a military campaign".
- House Steiner (The Lyran Commonwealth), p. 18 (PDF p. 21) - "Lyran Military Superiority, Long March, Hard March" - Early events lead to and the beginnings of the Long March Offensive
- Long March, Hard March, p.?? - "DCMS force bedevil Lyran forces in Mountain mazes of Caldrea".
- House Steiner (The Lyran Commonwealth) - Agony of Defeat - Exploits of the Lyran 23rd BattleMech Battalion