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  1. #1
    Capitán General RPG Leader Cloud Strife's Avatar
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    The Pearl of the Orient - A Philippines AAR (1936)

    The Pearl of the Orient

    Table of Contents

    Act I - The Land at Peace: 1936 to 1941
    I. The Beginning
    II. Under the Morning Sun
    III. "Our goal is to grasp Neptune's Trident..."
    IV. New Realities
    Entr'acte
    V. Padre Manuel's War: Part I
    VI. Padre Manuel's War: Part II
    VII. Padre Manuel's War: Part III
    VIII. The Best of All Possible Words: Part I
    XI. The Best of All Possible Worlds: Part II
    X. Wielding the Trident

    Act II. - East Wind, Rain: 1941 to 1942
    XI. The Hammer Falls
    XII. The Northern Watch: Part I
    XIII. The Northern Watch: Part II
    XIV. The Northern Watch: Part III
    XV. The Drawn Sword
    XVI. The Duel: Part I
    XVII. The Duel: Part II
    XVIII. The Duel: Part III
    XIX. Southern Cross: Part I
    XX. Southern Cross: Part II
    XXI. A History Lesson
    XXII. Towards the Day of Liberation

    Act III. - Red Skies: 1942
    XXII. XXIII. The Beginning of the Air War


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    "... and that concludes our review of conditions in the field as of January 1, 1936. Any questions?" the General continued to puff on his corncob pipe in defiance of the humidity. "All in all gentlemen, Commonwealth forces are well in advance of our initial goals as stipulated in the National Defense Act of 1935. Not too shabby of a job after just a short two years of labor but the Commonwealth's naval capacities remain confided to patrol boats for the next three to two years. It'll be one hell of a struggle to control the island sea without more naval projection. But Washington remains adamant that the United States will continue provide for the naval needs of the Commonwealth for the foreseeable future."

    "That's Roosevelt's usual line but regardless I believe it to be prudent develop something with more punch than a mosquito fleet. We have enough of those bugs flying around as it is." The President's quip elicited a small round of laughs. "As long as we are reliant on American aid our situation will hardly change once this 10 year transition period expires. And if our American friends expect us to be in a position to defend our interests and their interests against... say a Japanese invasion or a Moro insurgency, this Commonwealth must be ready to stand on its own two feet.”

    Over all it was a productive meeting between the Quezon Administration and General Douglass MacArthur’s ‘Office of the Military Adviser to the Commonwealth Government’ (OMACG). Filipino officials and their American counterparts traded statistics and chatter in the Executive Office, oblivious to the storm clouds gathering in Asia and the rest of the world. Both the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the United States of America continued to hold fast to a policy of isolationism. Meanwhile the world around them was changing.

    The Washington Naval Treaty did nothing to impede the growth of Imperial Japan. Her fleets with an emphasis on a qualitative advantage based on carrier warfare gave her mastery of the Pacific. On land her armies moved unstopped over China in a never ending quest for more land. Ironically the major source of Japanese war material was the United States. Without American supplying scrap metal and oil the Japanese would be forced to look towards Siberia and South-East Asia for the materials to fuel their war machine. Overall considerations had set the young Commonwealth and Japan on a collision course that could only lead to war.


    From: Philippine Army General Staff, Manila
    To: United States Asiatic Fleet Command, Manila, Marsman Building

    Per Admiral Murfin’s request, enclosed is the current status of all standing forces, naval assets, and airplanes currently in service of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. All entries are accurate as of January 1, 1936.

    Order of Battle:
    I. Philippine Army [Manila]
    a. Philippine Army Headquarters
    b. 1st Infantry Division

    II. Philippine Constabulary: 10,000+ men functioning in garrison and public order duties throughout the archipelago.

    III. Philippine Army Air Corps [Clark Field]
    a. 1st PAAC Fighter Wing
    b. 1st PAAC Bombardment Wing

    Naval Assets:
    I. Offshore Patrol Force – 4 destroyers [Manila]
    a. CPS Luzon
    b. CPS Abra
    c. CPS Danday
    d. CPS Agusan
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Welcome to my modest second attempt at an AAR. ‘Pearl of the Orient’ chronicles the development of the Commonwealth of the Philippines (later the Republic of the Philippines) in the years following and after World War II. I have, most obviously, changed Industrial Capacity, OOBs, provincial resources, starting, and tech teams to reflect more accurately the Philippines of the 1930s. The driving theory behind such changes if the fact that the Commonwealth did not lack technical knowhow nor industrial capability but it did lack time to get its act together historically (blame the Japanese ).Such changes put the Philippines in the league of a minor, comparable to a more thoroughly industrialized Thailand. But the purpose of this AAR remains first and foremost to tell a story. The lack of in-game events for the PI necessitates the need for quality narrative. And besides, minors, in my humble opinion, don’t need an event for every random occurrence in their lands (which has become the norm for most ‘Country Improvement Projects' and AARs).

    Once I complete this AAR I plan to make my changes to the Philippines into an improvement pack that will give potential players both an accurate and stronger base from which to guide the Philippines to her place among the family of nations.

    This AAR is written using ARMA 1.1 and of course my own modifications to the Philippines.

  2. #2
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    Under the Morning Sun

    Staff Headquarters, Camp Murphy, 11 A.M

    "The House has given us authority to raise one additional standing division. This would raise the Philippine Army's standing totals to around 20,000 men. The President has also directed us to begin preparations to expand the Offshore Patrol force into a standing fleet. This on top of the US Army Air Corps demand that we transfer our newly purchased interceptors in exchange for trainers... gentlemen, I think we need to draw the line somewhere." The situation Major-General Jose Reyes, Chief of Staff, found himself in was unique among the leaders of the Commonwealth. He had to weigh to demands of the Administration against the demands of MacArthur, in addition to the demands of his counterparts in Washington. "I will draft a fleet expansion proposal for the President's review as well as assign officers and equipment to our second division."

    The Philippines of the 1930s was a time of great change. Having achieved domestic independence in 1935 by virtue of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the administration of President Manuel Quezon sought to build the foundations for the political independence that would come after a period of 10 years. These foundations were constructed on the American model. The 1935 Constitution provided for a National Assembly, Supreme Court, and an Executive all modeled after contemporary institutions in the United States. The US maintained her interests in the Commonwealth via a resident Military Adviser, currently General Douglas MacArthur, and a High Commissioner, currently William Francis Murphy. This system, which minimized US influence, kept political infighting in the domain of Filipinos on the floor of the National Assembly.



    In 1898 the Philippines declared independence from Spain ushering in the period of the First Republic. In the aftermath of the Spanish-American War the United States crushed the First Republic under the Presidency of Emilio Aguinaldo. Civilian rule over the Philippines, which was now an insular territory of the US, was not restored until 1907. The first meeting of the Philippine Assembly that year in the Manila Grand Opera House gave Filipinos the first taste of democratic power politics; a taste which still remains in the mouths of those who stroll through the National Assembly.

    The Philippine Senate, established by the 1916 Jones Act, and Philippine Assembly had been amalgamated by the 1935 Constitution to form the new National Assembly. This body which was originally convinced of as a ‘rubber stamp’ legislator turned into warzone as different factions of the Nacionalista Party vied for power with one another. From 1907 to 1935 the Nacionalistas had formed a solid block that dominated Filipino political life. They broke the back of the Manila elite dominated Partido Federalista and shifted power from the capitol the provincial voters. But with the formation of the Commonwealth, Quezon’s hold on power began to be challenged. Quezon’s political rival and erstwhile political ally Sergio Osmeña, Vice-President of the Commonwealth, began to demand a larger say in policy formulation. Though the Nacionalistas remain united on the crucial issue of Filipino Independence; President Quezon’s robust funding of the military complex was viewed by the public by and large as a way of unifying party opinion behind a policy of ‘self-sufficiency.’

    ‘Self-sufficiency’ would be a failed path to take if it were not for the robust growth of the Philippine economy. Her position as the entrepot of the Orient was unchanged and her agrarian economy, the most important crop being coconut exports, fueled a new middle class. This middle class invested in mining enterprises, canned goods factories, and fisheries. Heavy industry investment began in the Spanish period and continued to be sustained by the Americans as the country began to prepare herself for full independence.

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    This is looking excellent so far. Will be interesting to see how you do with the Philippines.

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    Lord of Slower-than-real-time El Pip's Avatar
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    A much more interesting AAR than the usual "Minor fights every single nearby country and exploits the AI shamelessly". Or at least that's how it appears so far.

    Keep it up good sir.
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    hm, i´ve never seen an AAR of this country ut i´m curious what will you do with it! Good Luck!

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    great so far, and good luck with it.
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    Thanks for all the comments. From 1936 to 1941 it'll be most commentary, background, and building up the Commonwealth forces. As a US aligned puppet there isn't much fighting the PI can do till Japan comes knocking on its door later in the game. And El Pip is right; this isn't going to be a minor nation conquering the world story. Rather this is me play testing my PI Modifications to make sure they remain plausible. Though i'm not much of an event scripter so my efforts will be limited to starting techs, tech teams, OOBs, and resource allocation. Which is satisfactory since it flows with my goal of improving the PI without my modifications being based solely on national pride.

    But it'll be some task to develop a proper battle plan. The PI is like a mini-United States but without the industrial capabilities (though 20-22 IC is a bit generous for the island nation but it does make the PI immensely more playable) to take full advantage of the technological benefits American backing and knowhow brings.

  8. #8
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    "Our goal is to grasp Neptune's Trident..."

    U.S. Naval Station Sangley Point, Midday



    8 miles southwest of Manila lay the main base of operations for the United States Asiatic Fleet and the Commonwealth Off-Shore Patrol: Sangley Point, Cavite. The Naval Yard housed the field headquarters of the fleets, warehouses, and training facilities to serve the United State naval presence in the South Pacific. In addition the Yard was home to the small but highly trained Off-Shore Patrol boats. These large torpedo boats were classified as destroyers by the Commonwealth Government. In theory this force would race out at high speed against enemy landing craft to sink them. In practice Filipino tacticians knew that these destroyers would have little chance against an enemy landing force properly covered by aircraft.

    At first American personnel treated Quezon's demand that the Commonwealth maintain a battle fleet as a joke. In their minds the presence of the Asiatic Fleet would be enough to deter Japanese aggression. Yet when the National Assembly learned rumors of 'War Plan Orange', outrage against US forces abandoning the islands in event of a Japanese attack sparked immediate action. The Assembly approved a standing fleet of no less than two capital ships, with a ceiling of four. Six to Eight light cruisers would be commissioned as screening vessels and a submarine program was approved. The land army would be expanded from one division to a total of 12 standing divisions equipped with satisfactory artillery and engineering brigades. An Armored Division would be raised to compliment regular army operations. Airplane purchases were held back due to budget concerns as well as Philippine Army Air Corps insistence upon using its budget on training improvements rather than two more air wings.

    The National Assembly insisted that all new equipment would be made domestically. This ruled out purchasing ships from the United States. The Administration and National Assembly thought it prudent to test native Filipino technology. Since 1898 the United States had worked to bring educational and technical know-how to Western standards. Intellectually, even during the Spanish period the Philippines looked to the West and adopted Western models of organization. The Americans would then plant the seeds of expertise in heavy industry and military doctrine. Army, Naval, and Air Doctrines were carbon copies of American military thinking of the time; that is emphasis on both superior firepower and maneuver. The Commonwealth Government now sought to provide her forces with the tools necessary for her forces to act out on those doctrines.

    The newly formed Assembly Committee on Appropriates predicted a 6 year time table (using a 20-22 IC as a signpost) for the Philippines to meet all goals stated at a satisfactory level as well as providing enough slack time should unforeseen circumstances occur. Emphasis was placed on naval armament out of a grudging admission that land forces would most likely be unable to stand against the determined veterans the Japanese Army could field. A proper naval force could convince the Japanese of the difficulty of launching sustained attacks on the Commonwealth and could possibly cause her war planners to choose caution when dealing the possibility of an invasion. But Quezon did not imagine a mere feet-in-being, staring menacingly at the enemy but unable to back up its bark with its bite. He instead wished to create a fleet that could go toe-to-toe with any Japanese expeditionary fleet and conduct itself splendidly in a sparring match. Naval planners convinced Quezon of the need of the Commonwealth to put faith in the Aircraft Carrier as a way of overcoming the quantitative advantage of the Japanese Battleship Line. Matching battleships tit-for-tat with the Imperial Japanese Navy was out of the question but operating carriers would give combined the goals of both air and sea superiority in the archipelago.

    The United States Navy sent a new field attaché Commander Henry Oliver to the newly designated Commonwealth Fleet Headquarters at Cavite Point. The US Naval Station Sangley Pointed shared the same grounds. Needless to say it was not much of a challenge for Oliver to find his counterparts. The Naval Bureau was part of a former Spanish military complex. Its walls were solid and rooms adequately furnished for the task at hand. Commander Oliver made his way to the office of Captain Juan Lopez de Igancio, Commander of the newly established Fleet Ordinance and Procurement Department.


    “At ease Commander. Have a seat. Admiral Murfin requested our revised fleet projections. We estimate we should have the following within the next two to two and half years in the following battle line.” Captain Igancio produced a folder from his desk and handed it to the attaché.

    Quote Originally Posted by ”Fleet Estimates for 1936 to 1939”
    I. Commonwealth Home Fleet
    a. CPS Ciudad de Madrid (CV-1) [Early Carrier]
    b. CPS Ciudad de Cebu (CV-2) [Early Carrier]
    c. CPS Miguel de Legaspi (CL-1) [Early Light Cruiser]
    d. CPS Andres Bonifacio (CL-2) [Early Light Cruiser]
    e. CPS Jose Rizal (CL-3) [Early Light Cruiser]
    f. CPS William Howard Taft (CL-4) [Early Light Cruiser]

    II. Reserve Squadron
    a. CPS General MacArthur (CL-5) [Early Light Cruiser]
    b. CPS Tomas Claudio (CL-6) [Early Light Cruiser]
    c. CPS Juan Araneta (CL-7) [Early Light Cruiser]
    d. CPS Admiral Dewey (CL-8) [Early Light Cruiser]

    III. Commonwealth Submarine Forces
    a. Cavite Flotilla (SS-1) [Medium Range Submarine]
    b. Luzon Flotilla (SS-2) [Medium Range Submarine]

    IV. Commonwealth Naval Transport Forces
    a. 1st Transport Flotilla
    b. 2nd Transport Flotilla
    “We plan to base our Carrier models off of modifications to the US Saratoga class. We expect testing to be completed sometimes by the end of this year (1936). As long as industrial output and the dockworkers here at Cavite and Manila remain efficient we should be able to complete our carriers by 1938 and the rest of the fleet by 1939.”

    Commander Oliver let the projections sink into his mind. On paper the Commonwealth fleet would be formidable for the size of the archipelago. Carrier based aircraft would make quick work of an unescorted Japanese battleline. Thus the Commonwealth navy would fulfill its role to either ward off an enemy assault or buy time for the land army to form defensive lines. In terms of size the fleet would be relatively small, yet in terms of power projection the United States would gain a second battlefleet in the Pacific.

    Oliver composed his response. “That is by all means a substantial force. Acting in concert with the US Asiatic Fleet the chances of repealing attack increase dramatically. But what of the army and the air corps? Surely the Commonwealth government is not neglecting their needs?”

    “Of course not. But our goal is not to maintain a large standing force. Being a collection of just over 7000 islands presents us with the responsibility of defending the longest coastline in the world. To do so our leaders have given priority to developing a fleet. The Commonwealth Army will be small, professional, and mobile. Same goes for our the Army Air Corps. In the best case scenario invading forces will not clash with out land forces; it will be the job of the fleet to ensure that landing parities are sunk before they reach the coast.”

    “A fair response. But if the Philippines are trying to grasp Neptune’s trident would that not anger the Japanese?”

    Such actions did indeed illicit hesitation from Tokyo. A powerful battlefleet that could oppose Japanese operations in the South Pacific would not be met with cheers by naval planners. But it would give them leverage against the needs of the army. A new threat required a new fleet for Japan to field and thus more influence the Imperial Japanese Navy could wield against its landlocked cousins.

  9. #9
    Lord of Slower-than-real-time El Pip's Avatar
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    Hmmm a pair of Saragotta's is not to be sniffed at. But then neither is the Japanese Combined Fleet. I worry this fleet will be large enough to drain the economy but too small in the face of the Japanese. Still an upper limit of 4 cap ships does give room for a four carrier fleet, which is closer to enough.

    I note the lack of destroyers; deliberate choice or shortage of IC? Or something to be done in '39 to '41?

    Is the comment at the end, the blatant foreshadowing one, merely fluff or has the game been modded?

    You can tell I like this one, I'm asking question already.
    Good update and I do like the style.
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  10. #10
    I like this AAR, i tried playing as the Philippines once, a very difficult game. I wish you luck and I hope this fleet of yours turns out well. However, I too am confused with your choice not to build destroyers.
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  11. #11
    Hum... have the people of the Philippines been reading Tirpitz? What I see here is "risk force." Not strong enough to fight the Japanese on its on terms but maybe just strong enough to hurt them(hopefuly badly). Any damage it can do will make Plan Orange that much easier.

  12. #12
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    El Pip

    The PI's starting position has been modded for about 22 IC, OOBs, resources schemes based on data I could find on provincal output (Which was quite scant...), some new tech teams, starting doctrines tweaked to fit Commonwealth forces being advised by US personel but no new leaders. All in all the most i've done to the PI is given it 22 IC and an OOB which is pretty much like playing Turkey or an industralized Thailand. felt it for the best that the PI be given an adiquate amount of leverage to make it playable but at the sametime not allow me, the player, to build 12 carriers off the bat. In my opinion the idea of being gamey in an AAR goes against the need to tell a plausible story. There's no real art to playing a minor that's been made into a major.

    I'm going with light crusiers since they're cost-effective for capital ship screens and I have four destoryers already comming from the historical Off-Shore Patrol. To be honest destroyers are better for ASW but i'm hedging 4 DDs will be enough to screen for subs when war comes. I can't stuff all my IC into a more substancial fleet since if the Japanese decide to rain on my parade first i'll need a more substancial land army.

    The comment about Japan comming down hard is just from experence in previous PI games which were unmodded... Imagine resisting an invasion comming at you in 42' with only 8 IC. It was like Ethopia taking on Italy in 1936, except Ethopia had a small chance of overcomming the facist hordes whereas the PI had to rely on dumb AI and the US for salvation.

    Quanto

    Yes, I know they're cheap but i'd rather invest in more substancial light cruisers, a land force, then see if I can create some destroyers and submarines. It's useless to fight the numbers game with the Japanese when they're already so far ahead. I don't follow the usual "well, we can just build more later" attitude. No nation would have a throw away attitude to their military resources... well, at least those nations I enjoy playing.

    But using a more in-chracter mode of analysis, the Quezon Administration would like to show somehing substancial to the Filipino people in relation to their investment in what is a large fleet for a minor state. The historical Off-Shore Patrol was supposed to have 36 torpedo boats and destroyers but this force was seen by the Administration as leaving the Commonwealth's defences in the hands of the US Fleet to an unacceptable degree. The emphasis on light cruisers and carriers represents a political message to the US that the Commonwealth is prepared to assume a larger portion of the burden of its own defense. Though gameplay wise people would rather go with numbers... it does not make sense in-game wise. That and i'd like to limit my fleet to a size that would not over burden the four Rear Admirals I have... and regretablly they only can command 6 ships each.

    Adamc1776

    My hope is the Japanese don't send their BBs and CVs at me all at once. Unlike Germany in WWII the PI does not have anything resembling industrial or technical parity with the Japanese. Though it's vain hope since the PI sits astride their invasion routes into Indonesia but we'll see what else we can cook up from now (i'm currently working on my update for 1937, things are moving ahead of schedule) and 1941. There are no illusions in the minds of the Quezon administration that the PI can fight the Japanese tit-for-tat but it's good for morale to know they have something that can possibly intercept an invsion force.

    I have been looking into CVLs, they're cheaper than light cruisers but i've never used them before. But as far as capital ships i'm only looking at CVs. I've never found a role for CAs in my fleets and I just have the personal belief that Battlecrusiers are cursed; Fisher and the Kriegsmarine can go to hell. :P As for doctrines i'm going the usual routes for a solid carrier fleet. Going Base-Strike route plus any needed Air Doctrines will round out my CAGs... hopefully i'll get somewhere substancial by 1942 or my carrier force will be luncheon meat. All in all 22 or so IC is not enough to create the 'perfect' Carrier Task Force, i.e. there's no way in hell that the Commonwealth can afford BBs while building CVs, but short of giving myself 40-50 more IC and uber-tech teams i'll just have to steer the middle course.

    And since much doesn't really happen save building up i'll focus most of my writing on political background. Research is a bit stalled due to my funds having to go to the fleet and the army but I think i'll do fine enough as it is.

  13. #13
    I actually like CAs, they aren't battleships for sure, but they are still cheaper and quicker to build, and in the higher tech levels they provide a substantial punch.

    Plus they could give you some added protection for your carriers, especially against the Japanese Battleships.

    But all in all, I'm a huge battleship proponent, even if Carriers can bomb the crap out of one from a distance, a battleship still makes for awesome shore bombardment and area control. In my Chilean Campaign, I sank more ships with my BBs than CVs. Also, a Tech 2 BB has more firepower than a Tech 4 CV, its just the effective range of both that makes the difference.
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  14. #14
    Good Luck!
    Undead!

  15. #15
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    Thankies.

    Quanto

    I agree that CAs are the poor man's BBs and that they have a greater raw firepower but I prefer the position of CVs and researching air doctrines will improve by CAGs nicely compared to one trick BBs only improved via attachments and naval doctrines. I'm also far ahead of schedule in my build up scheme as of 1937 so an expanded fleet is a possibility if my army and aircraft goals will be met by 1939.

    ---

    After as fodder for a potential PI Improvement Project... i'm pretty confident at the accuracy of my additional tech teams and technology given to the PI. The PI on the other hand does not need any more leaders; it would turn the PI into too much of a semi-major in terms of power projection. Event wise some flavor is needed but not to the point of other nation improvement mods; we don't need to cover every peasant revolution that happened from 1936 to 1941, we have history books to teach us this. IC distrubution and provincial resources could use some work. 22 feels too generous but the vanilla rating of 8 seems too low. Maybe 16 would be a good compromise? It would slow growth down enough to force a year or two to build IC up to 20 to gain two tech slots? And it would reinforce the urgency at which the PI would need to prepare its defenses for possible invasion.

  16. #16
    General chefportnen's Avatar
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    Any AAR with the Philippines is worth reading, I am so in this.

  17. #17
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    great ambitions for such a country...

    good luck

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  18. #18
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  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by rcduggan
    EDIT: sorry. wrong thread.
    Nice

    This looks like a very interesting AAR, I will be watching

  20. #20
    Capitán General RPG Leader Cloud Strife's Avatar
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    OOC: Well my tweaking efforts are paying fruit... now i've discovered that 22 IC was a bit generous and my building efforts are proceeding way too quickly. Therefore I have edited my save to pair down the PI's IC and resources. So i've paired the PI down to a total of 15 base IC which seems more or less the best balance between plausibility and playability. But without further adieu here is the Commonwealth of the Philippines from late 1936 to late 1938! Yes, it's a bit of a leap but i'm not going to leave readers glossing over more posts about military build up! The end date of this update is chosen on the basis of it being the beginning of the 1938 scenario.

    ---

    New Realities, September 1936 - September 1938

    December 20, 1936 - Malacañang Palace

    The economic prowess of the Commonwealth was misleading. Even with the most vibrant economy of South East Asia the Philippines was still dependent on subsidies from the United States to fuel its military expansion. As the crush of the Great Depression wore on the Roosevelt Administration decided to cut back on military aid to the Commonwealth Armed Forces. Though the Roosevelt Administration continued to assure the Philippines of a continued American military presence in the form of the Asiatic Fleet the Quezon Administration was furious. Vice-President Osmeña gently reminded the President that it was he who took US military aid for granted when creating his fleet projections. Quezon could do nothing but agree with the wisdom of the Visayan and immediately called together a meeting of the Cabinet at Malacañang Palace. (To represent Philippine IC going from 22 to 15)

    The Palace dated from the year 1869. Spanish-Governor Generals had always resided within the Intramuros, the the walled city that constituted Spanish Manila, but an earthquake brought the structure down. Malacañang was located someways away from the urban center of Manila; a perfect refuge from growing liberal tinge of the Pearl of the Orient. When the United States purchased the Philippine Islands from Spain in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, American Governor-Generals starting with William Howard Taft, later President then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, decided to reside in the Palace. Its chief advantages over a more urban location were three fold; it was easier to defend, a location away from the humid city center was easier on constitution of a westerner, and it was relatively spacious with room on the grounds to expand. And expand the Americans did. They built the working part of the building; the Executive Hall as well as other buildings to house to organs of territorial administration.

    In 1935 the building and its grounds were turned over to the President of the Commonwealth; the American High Commissioner, formerly Governor-General, relocated his headquarters to the more pleasant Mansion House in Baguio City. And in the Executive Wing's conference hall the Commonwealth cabinet ministers would meet. Quezon would sit in a high backed center chair, the other secretaries would be spread out according to precedence along the oaken table.


    Armaments Minister Elpidio Quirino opened the session with the question on everyone's mind. "Where is General MacArthur, the High Commissioner, and our counterparts? Shouldn't they be present to represent American interests?"

    "Our friends in the United States have made their stance quite clearly via action. Furthermore Americans do not enjoy working on holidays: This is Christmas week. Most of our counterparts are vacationing back in the States or lounging in Baguio. Never the less we cannot enjoy such liberties, the business of state knows no off-days," the President observed. "The Americans have left us to our own devices in terms of fleet build up. I have been informed that we can continue with to construct the fleet but at a slow pace... But we cannot wait until 1941 for this Commonwealth to possess a blue water fleet. Urgency demands that we devote the bulk of our efforts to this task. Therefore I have, on the advice of our defense staff, have paired down our land estimates. Even then we must alter the fleet composition to ensure completion by 1938. I open the floor to suggestions."

    As ministers shuffled through their papers the humidity in the conference room increased substantially. The Philippines has but only two seasons; wet and dry. The wet season corresponds to summer in the Northern Latitudes. The dry season aligns with winter in the North. And while relief from the heat wave afflicting the great Manila area would have been appreciated as a good Christmas present, Quezon preferred a gift in the form of a bright idea that would allow him to continue to build his showpiece fleet. Captain Juan Lopez de Igancio of fleet ordinance came to the rescue

    "Your Excellency," using the traditional form of address for Presidents, Governors-General, and assorted leaders of the Philipppines. "We could eliminate the submarine flotilla, limit light cruiser build up to six vessels, and turn the hulks of two light cruisers currently under construction into heavy cruisers. Our current force of destroyers is adequate for Anti-Submarine Operations and since I doubt this Government would adopt Hunnish convoy raiding methods submarines would just remain another pretty toy in our ever growing arsenal. Constructing two heavy cruisers would give our fleet some heavy gun platforms to defend our carriers should battleships come in enough range to to use their ship guns."

    There were no objections in Quezon's mind to the new plan. A smaller fleet was better than no fleet at all. "Very well, send orders out to the main yards immediately. We'll give the army the division we promised them then devote our efforts to building our fleet forces."

    ---

    The period of 1937 to 1938 was a year of transition for the Commonwealth. Filipino leaders watched as the Japanese Army forced the Republic of China deep into its own borders. The tendency of the newly empowered military of Thailand to overthrow civilian governments and fight amongst themselves worried some in the Commonwealth who held the view that the Commonwealth military would be subject to the same temptations as their cousins on mainland South East Asia. But most troubling of all for the Commonwealth was news of events in Europe. The Germans had annexed Austria in clear violation of the Treaty of Versailles. This 'Anschluss' was no pleasant reunion of 'Germanic' peoples; it was merely another extension of the Führer's delusions of grandeur. The League of Nations lacked the teeth to combat the fascist regimes and Europe began once again the journey into the dark valleys of war.



    Japanese successes had left no issues in the minds of Commonwealth military planners of the possibilities of relying on American aid to combat the Japanese; the outdated Asiatic Fleet and Philippine Division were hardly a credible deterrent. The two infantry divisions, of the Philippine Army and the Army Air Corps constituted more credible yet still lacking defense force. But the Commonwealth Navy, built from scratch in Filipino yards, constituted the third most powerful naval force patrolling the waters of the Pacific. After over two years of construction the fleet was ready to be shown to the citizens of the Commonwealth and the world. Small ceremonies had already marked the launching of most of the vessels of the fleet but September 1st, 1938 would mark the first appearance of the fleet in fighting order; fully equipped to engage in its stated mission of defending the sea lanes of the Philippines.


    ---

    September 1, 1938 - Manila Bay

    It was the natural anchorage at Manila that first attracted Spanish attention. The Spanish, British, and other colonizers came and went but the Harbor remained the most useful asset of the Philippines. Just before dawn the Home Fleet and Reserve Fleet raised anchor at Cavite Naval Yard and proceed down the 8 land miles to await the beginning of the first Commonwealth fleet review. Detachments of Philippine Constabulary, the police force established by the Americans and now under Commonwealth administration, were out in force along the streets of Manila to provide security for visiting dignitaries. More than one European nation think it odd that the Commonwealth had decided to maintain a modern fleet with its money instead of embezzling it as was common practice.

    The British and French sent observers from their China and Indochina stations respectively. The MacArthur and the High Commissioner were on hand to grab as much credit for the accomplishment as humanly possible. And the Germans, Dutch, and Japanese sent their resident Consuls in Manila and other military advisors to assess the strength of the new battlefleet. After a reception Malacañang Palace the foreign signatories and Commonwealth cabinet made their way to the grandstands set up along the harbor to give the best view possible of the assembling fleet. At exactly 11 A.M. destroyers from the Off-Shore Patrol, now officially attached to the Reserve Fleet, appeared. After some maneuvering their took up their positions in the theoretical Carrier Battlegroup being assembled. The light cruisers of the fleet then followed; unlike the destroyers these ships were all constructed locally and illicited more interest from the crowd. The Heavy Cruisers of the fleet soon made their way into the battleline, Juan Lopez de Igancio now Admiral of the Home Fleet, raised his flag from the heavy cruiser CPS Tomas Claudio which acted as the de facto flagship of the Commonwealth Navy.

    And now the main attraction arrived. The sister ships, CPS Ciudad de Madrid and CPS Ciudad de Cebu, arrived in the harbor. These ships were the most advanced specimens of naval technology to be constructed by a South East Asian nation. Though somewhat lacking in comparison to the Yorktown class of American carriers these ships none the less represented a powerful combination of firepower focused on defending Commonwealth interests. The carriers took their place on the line but Quezon had one more surprise for his guests. The air crews of the twin carriers had been instructed to stage a demonstration; they would fly the 8 miles from Cavite, over the city of Manila, above the heads of the observers gathered at the shoreline, and then land their craft on the decks of their respective carriers.


    ---

    Above the Manila skyline

    "This is Manila Wing leader, it's just like we practiced. Each section will take their turn at a pass and if you can't make it don't try anything complicated! We don't want you smacking into the Bay, into another ship, or into the grandstands if you can't get a good window of opportunity..."

    In a methodical fashion each carrier landed its complement of aircraft. The message to the assembled dignitaries was clear; the fleet was not just a shiny new toy, the Commonwealth intended to use it to defend their national interests and more importantly knew how to use it.

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