Task Force Leonidas
|Task Force Leonidas|
|Unit Profile (as of 2777)|
|Parent Formation||Star League Defense Force|
Task Force Leonidas was a Star League Defense Force black water naval formation deployed during Operation LIBERATION, the military operation to liberate the Sol system, during the Amaris Civil War.
Operation LIBERATION was a key component of Operation CHIEFTAIN, the campaign to liberate the Terran Hegemony conducted between 2772 and 2777. The Sol system was anticipated to be the most heavily defended system within the Amaris Empire, protected by a substantial Reagan SDS featuring a significant number of Caspar drone WarShips. Battles with the drones in other systems had highlighted their effectiveness against the WarShips operated by the SLDF and the large fleet in the system - predicted to be upwards of two hundred and fifty drones - posed a very real threat to the SLDF, one that could potentially halt LIBERATION.
In an effort to reduce the Caspar drone fleet General Aleksandr Kerensky assembled a force of forty SLDF WarShips into Task Force Leonidas, tasked with what was a suicide mission from the outset: to jump into the Sol system and destroy as many Caspar drones as possible before being destroyed themselves. The name of the Task Force was a direct reflection of their mission; named for the warrior-king of ancient Sparta whose sacrifice along with his personal guard gave the ancient city-states of Greece a chance to prepare defenses against an overwhelming opponent, Task Force Leonidas bore responsibility for reducing the Caspar drone threat as much as possible to protect the remaining ships of the SLDF navy and buy them a fighting chance of landing their embarked troops on Terra.
All those selected for Task Force Leonidas knew that the mission would be a suicide mission, and General Kerensky offered all those aboard the forty ships the option to back out. In total, less than thirty members of the eight thousand men and women serving aboard those ships opted to back out of the mission. General Kerensky Kerensky gave the go order to the SLS Sovetskii Soyuz and the other ships of Task Force Leonidas on the 26th of January, three days after Operation LIBERATION began; appended to the order was a last personal message from General Kerensky.
|“||My brothers and sisters, the hope of the Star League goes with you. May your bravery never be forgotten. Good luck and godspeed.||”|
|— General Aleksandr Kerensky to the ships of Task Force Leonidas, 26 Jan 2777|
932 WarShips jumped into the Sol system when the order was given to jump at 16:12 Terran Standard Time on the 23rd of January 2777. It took several hours for those ships to reform into two large groups and set course for Terra, but the forty WarShips of Task Force Leonidas weren't a part of either group; instead, Task Force Leonidas was waiting in the New Earth system for a separate order from General Kerensky. When Kerenksy gave the jump order - complete with a personal message for the crews of the Task Force - Task Force Leonidas jumped into the Terra system between Sol and Mars.
Led by the Stefan Amaris-class battleship SLS Chieftain, the WarShips of Task Force Leonidas were equipped with nuclear weapons, unlike the other lead groups of robot-controlled ships that had assaulted the defense installations in Terran orbit on the 23rd. Those weapons initially went unused; when Task Force Leonidas jumped into a pirate point in the L1 stability zone between Sol and Mars, some million kilometers towards Mars, and attacked the drone ships nearby, the plan called for the Task Force Leonidas ships to save their nuclear weapons in those initial engagements to avoid tipping the drone ships off.
For three hours, the ships of Task Force Leonidas attacked every drone ship they could find, initially engaging small groups of two and three Caspars at a time, with the advantage firmly in favour of the Task Force. The number of drones engaging the Task Force steadily increased, and at the end of the third hour of battle the Task Force was engaged with more than thirty Caspars. It was at that point that several SLDF WarShips unleashed capital missiles tipped with nuclear warheads in the 250-650 kiloton range.
The initial effect on the Caspars was devastating - sixteen Caspars were destroyed immediately, with a number of other drone ships suffering crippling damage. The SLDF had anticipated when planning the mission for Task Force Leonidas that the use of tactical nuclear weapons would result in the drones backing off temporarily to assess the effect of the weapons; instead, the drones went into a frenzy, focusing their attacks on those ships that had launched the nuclear weapons. The result was a brutal, bloody melee, with the Congress-class frigate SLS Europa becoming the first of the Task Force Leonidas ships to be destroyed. Several other SLDF ships took heavy damage, but by the time Task Force Leonidas had fought off the frenzied attack the number of drones destroyed or out of action stood at almost forty.
In total, Task Force Leonidas fought for forty-two hours; two of the SLDF WarShips were scuttled in a lull in the fighting, having been rendered ineffective due to cascade failures, with the crews escaping in lifeboats, but the remaining ships fought to the end, with some even resorting to ramming attacks against the Caspars. By the time the last active ship of Task Force Leonidas, the cruiser SLS Sovetskii Soyuz, had been destroyed, the forty ships had accounted for no less than one hundred and six Caspars, some two-fifths of the total drone fleet believed to be operating in the Sol system at the time.
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 2, p. 59-60, "Task Force Leonidas"
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 2, p. 150, "Stefan Amaris (Battleship)"
- The Star League, p. 91, "The Launch"
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 2, p. 60, Illustration of Task Force Leonidas in battle