Operation SILVER SHIELD
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|Operations SILVER SHIELD|
|Part of First Succession War|
Culminating in the capture of Terra, Operation SILVER SHIELD was ComStar founder Jerome Blake's plan to establish ComStar's neutrality in the lead-up to the Succession Wars to protect and preserve the Hyperpulse Generator network.
In the wake of the Amaris-Kerensky Civil War, Jerome Blake was nominated for the position of Minister of Communications of the Star League and charged with the reconstruction of the shattered HPG network, the lifeblood of the Star League in 2780. The final act agreed to by the High Council with each Great House leader focusing on building up his own armies rather than the devastated Terran Hegemony, Blake quickly found himself and the Ministry of Communications forced into the role of leading the reconstruction efforts. Practically an informal government, Blake would continually and fruitlessly press the Council Lords to name a formal successor, to no avail.    
The utter collapse of the Terran Hegemony and the Star League seemed assured when Aleksandr Kerensky met privately with Blake after the formal completion of the Hilton Head HPG station in late 2783 and confided his plan for Operation EXODUS. While an appalled and angry Blake's attempts to sway Kerensky into staying failed, he was able to convince the former general to ask some of those troops who declined to join Operation EXODUS to assist the Ministry of Communications' reconstruction efforts. Kerensky ultimately was able to convince General Lauren Hayes of the 151st Royal BattleMech Division, nominal leader of some seventeen divisions and fourteen independent regiments worth of SLDF troops most stridently opposed to EXODUS, to pledge fealty to Blake. Thanks to Blake's near total control over the flow of communications, none of the former Council Lords knew or even suspected that Blake had such a sizable military force at his command, assuming such units had indeed departed with the Exodus Fleet or had secretly been hired by one of the other Houses.     
Holding back these troops as a last resort, Blake continued to focus on the reconstruction of the HPG network, most notably achieving the re-establishment of HPG's First Circuit on New Earth, Barnard, Alpha C, Bryant, Procyon and Dieron three days after the Exodus. Quickly forming a decision-making council for the Department made up of the chief administrators of those HPGs, among the first things the First Circuit agreed upon was Conrad Toyama of the Dieron station suggestion to to rename the organization ComStar. The renamed ComStar would continue to rebuild Terra and the shattered worlds of the Hegemony along with the HPG network for the next two years. But despite Blake's amazing efforts, the growing storm-clouds of war hung over all ComStar had achieved, his deepest fear that the House Lords' lust for power would destroy everything he'd spent so long rebuilding.   
Giving increasing thought how to protect Terra and the HPG network, in a secret meeting with First Circuit in the winter of 2786, Blake outlined his Operation SILVER SHIELD. Blake's daring plan had three key parts: persuading the leaders of the Great Houses to agree to the neutrality of ComStar, its facilities and personnel; formalizing the ComStar Letter of Credit as a common currency for exchange with all Great Houses for ComStar's services and finally seizing Terra and as many of the surrounding worlds of the Hegemony in the name of ComStar. The audacity of Blake's plan shocked the First Circuit, the members of the body quickly becoming divided between those felt the plan didn't go far enough and pushed for refortifying the Terran Hegemony ahead of war and others who hoped that a simple chance for peace remained and that ComStar should sponsor talks between the Great Houses to restore the Star League. Ultimately Blake persuaded all members of the highly skeptical body to back his plan if his negotiations with House Lords to secure ComStar's neutrality proved successful.     
Communications Protocol of 2787 and Operation SILVER SHIELD
In 2787 Blake undertook a historic tour of the capitals of the Great Houses, visiting the former Council Lords of the Star League on a mission of peace. Blake openly informed each his motivation for doing so was win neutrality for all ComStar facilities in the event of war and their acceptance of the ComStar Letter of Credit to fund the continued operation and maintenance of the interstellar communications network, in return for open access to all powers and pledging the security and confidentiality of sensitive communications transmitted by ComStar. Meeting first with Archon Jennifer Steiner of the Lyran Commonwealth, Blake found that Archon welcomed his proposal, but only if the other House lords also agree to back it. Showing a high degree of diplomatic tact as well as a willingness to bend the truth to serve his case, Blake lied and informed her that all the other House Lords had indeed already signed his Communications Protocol of 2787, promptly securing her approval. Blake would proceed to visit the remaining House Lords, winning them over by using the same technique of indicating all the others had already agreed to his proposal.     
Most having considered his talks doomed to fail, the First Circuit now responded enthusiastically, offering their full support to the remainder of SILVER SHIELD. Unfortunately by the time Blake had returned to Terra, open warfare had already begun to break-out, forcing him to revise the third military portion of SILVER SHIELD, focusing on the capture of Terra alone and stripping the surrounding worlds of all useful material and resources ahead of the House Lords. Preparing the remaining SLDF troops that pledged to aid him, Blake appointed General Hayes as overall commander of the operation.       
On 25 June 2788, 00:600 TST, ComStar shut down all HPG transmitters. While all five realms demanded answers, ComStar's HPG administrators attempted to deflect their concerns with apologies for the inconvenience and claims of technical issues, assuring them that the interruption was only temporary and that communications would be restored shortly. On Terra itself, Hayes's eight divisions, masquerading as mercenaries supposedly hired by ComStar, primarily targeted the remaining ground stations of the Space Defense System, opposed by several companies of House troops stationed on Terra for "internal security" reasons and to assist with relief efforts. Save for a company of House Davion troops in Europe who held out for five hours holed up in Berlin, these forces were easily defeated with minimal bloodshed.    
While Hayes' ground attack on Terra continued, secondary battlegroups with heavy aerospace support secured the remainder of the Terran system - including Mars and Venus, as well as the Lunar, Belter, Jovian, and Saturnian settlements. Almost without exception these off-world stations and habitats accepted ComStar control without any opposition stronger than some verbal sparring during negotiations. Leveraged its efforts during the post-Amaris reconstruction, ComStar's diplomatic and economic overtures quickly allowed the organization to secure the support of Terra's civilian governments and administrative centers in favor of SILVER SHIELD. 
The greatest resistance to SILVER SHIELD unexpectedly came from two former SLDF mechanized infantry divisions — the Seventh-Ninth and 123rd Mechanized Infantry Divisions - located in the Amazonia region of Terra's South America continent. Refusing to submit to the suddenly militant organization's authority even after Hayes appealed to their common bonds as SLDF refugees, these two divisions fought a series of running battles throughout the Amazon rain forests they now called home. While Hayes's ad-hoc forces boasted superior numbers, the terrain of the Amazon basin served as a formidable defense and the two rebel divisions inflicted heavy losses before they finally fell in the face of a combined attack from the 13th Royal Infantry Division supported by the remnants of the 251st BattleMech Division that surrounded and shattered their stronghold in the city of Manaus.     
After 72 hours, the HPG network resumed transmission, broadcasting scenes of the military takeover of Terra, the entire operation filmed and documented per the order of Blake and the First Circuit. The footage intended to impress upon the House Lords the high cost to challenge ComStar's ownership of Terra, Blake would also transmit a short message to the entire Inner Sphere:  
|“|| People of the former Star League. I am Jerome Blake, Prime Administrator of ComStar. As of now, 0900 hours Terran Standard Time, military forces under my direct command have seized control of the Sol star system. ComStar is now officially in control of Terra and all former Star League facilities remaining in the system. From this time forward, I proclaim Terra and the entire Sol system as neutral under the protection of ComStar, under the terms and conditions of the Communications Protocol of 2787. As the previous broadcast has made clear, ComStar has sufficient military force to defend the homeworld of mankind from any aggressor.
"Our goals are peaceful. We seek the unity and prosperity of mankind. This action was taken to save life in the devastating war that is unfolding. ComStar will continue to offer its communications services to all member states, as long as the Sol system and our neutrality are honored."
With the House Lords preoccupied with fighting among themselves, all were taken completely by surprise by Blake's lightning assault against Terra. Each of the Successor Lords would express outrage that Blake had betrayed the principle of the neutrality agreed to as part of the Communications Protocol of 2787 by attacking the token Successor State forces on Terra at the time, but ultimately none was in a position to directly challenge Blake or nor willing to risk backing out of the Protocol. With widespread uncertainty as to the volume and strength of ComStar's previously unknown military forces, as well as the vital nature of the HPG network with the First Succession War now raging, all the House Lords put on hold any plans to either strike against ComStar or Terra itself, with both Minoru Kurita and Kenyon Marik having actively planed to capture Humanity's cradle.     
Recognizing that the House Lords were largely consoling themselves with the belief they'd have plenty of time to take Terra after defeating all other opposition, Blake pushed ahead with secretly strengthening and preparing ComStar's military forces. Within five days of the capture of Terra, a fleet of ComStar DropShips descended upon New Earth, the former headquarters of the post-Star League Civil War SLDF. Originally slated to be captured outright during the full version of SILVER SHIELD, Blake and Hayes settled upon a heavy raid in force. Unlike the similar raids against other Terran Hegemony worlds launched by the various Houses, the Hegemony-remnant militia who occupied the SLDF bases and warehouses largely welcomed ComStar forces, going so far as to actively assist them in dismantling the facility's equipment for transport. From the 3rd to the 11th of July, every scrap of advanced equipment and military hardware was methodically stripped and loaded for transport to Terra, stored in secret below Hilton Head as what Blake termed as "an insurance policy" against interference by the Great Houses.    
All the hold-outs from the Seventh-Ninth and 123rd Mechanized Infantry Divisions who were captured by or surrendered to Hayes' forces during SILVER SHIELD were send to ComStar detention centers only as long as it took for their bases and military equipment to be confiscated or destroyed. These troops were later offered full pardons and citizenship on Terra or were expelled to the Successor State of their choice along with those House troops captured during the conflict, an offer intended to underscore in the wake of SILVER SHIELD the idea that ComStar was as enlightened and fair as it was powerful.
- ComStar (sourcebook), pp. 11-13 "History - Collapse of the Star League"
- Masters and Minions: The StarCorps Dossiers, p. 205 "ComStar - Network Online"
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 2, pp. 24-25 "Personalities - ComStar - Jerome Blake"
- Historical: Liberation of Terra Volume 2, p. 117 "Aftermath - Legacies: The Succession Wars, ComStar and the Clans - ComStar and The Com Guard"
- ComStar (sourcebook), pp. 11-13 "History - Birth of ComStar - Operation Exodus - The First Circuit - Operation Silver Shield"
- Field Manual: ComStar, p. 11 "Shadow Games"
- MechWarrior: The BattleTech Role Playing Game, Second Edition, p. 141 "ComStar - The Blake Regime"
- First Succession War, pp. 51-52 "Out of Left Field: Jerome Blake's Gambit - Seizing Terra - Aftermath - Operation Silver Shield"
- ComStar, p. 13 "The Birth of ComStar - Operation Silver Shield - Blake Proclamation"
- Touring the Stars, p. 98, "Volume XLIX: After the Storm — The Dawn of ComStar"
- ComStar (sourcebook), pp. 11-13 "History - The Foundation Years"