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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Mindmeld_me

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I have been playing Hearts of Iron since the original game came out. In all that time I have never actually played a game all the way through. Invariably depending on the country I play by the time I reach 1941 or so there's a new update or expansion that forces me to restart. Having read a number of AAR's for HOI 3 especially the 2 written by Uriah I decided to finally try writing an AAR of my own. I liked the vanilla style of the game but having played through Tommys mod and HPP and Black ICE I decided on Black ICE as the mod to use. It's sheer number of units and changes to terrain modifiers make it very interesting.

For new players I highly recommend going through the normal game first before trying a mod. In that mold I have always felt Italy is a great starter nation. You are Isolate to a point from the allies and have a lot of small countries you can push around. You don't have to take everyone on like Germany and worry about strategic bombers like Germany. Plus when you assault Russia you are not doing all the fighting. So if your just learning the game or your just a wuss like me trying to learn then Italy is a great start. You have enough of a starting army and navy to do some damage that you can build on. A large enough industrial base to build a decent military and Germany as a close ally.

I will not be able to put in all the amazing pictures of Tommy or Uriah but I will do my best to max out on screen shots and battle plans. My goal as Italy is to rebuild the Roman Empire like everyone normally does, build a fleet that can hold it's own if not destroy the fleets of France and Britain and then move out and secure the Atlantic against America. On the Army front I want to build one Army group of mobile troops. 1 core light armor, 1 core medium and the rest motorized with maybe a few more tanks. If you are honest with your battle with Ethiopia this is really hard to achieve as you should conclude the war by summer of 1936 losing your war time advantage of industry. I have no intention to be "Gamey" but I will write this as a diary style narration from Mussolini which will allow me to discuss all my plans and reasons for actions.

I have never gone more then a few years into a Black Ice game for the same reasons noted above so any advice would be very appreciated because I can honestly say I have no idea what the hell I am doing on the tech front to a point. : )

I hope this is an enjoyable read with a likely once - twice a week update.

Edit: Just starting and I realize I have never taken a screenshot let alone tried to upload one. I believe it is F12. Does this work in Black ICE and where do they save? I believe also everyone is using photobucket or is there a better approach? Thanks everyone

Also this is Black ICE 3.01 with the Hot fix.
 
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Maximus_96

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You got my attention, I'm going to be upgrading to TFH soon and install BICE on it with the intention of playing Italy. I wish you good luck
 

Zorro

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Sounds like it will be an interesting AAR.

I just use print screen and paste to paint, so I'm not too sure. F12 takes a picture of the whole world not what is on your screen. About the mod I couldn't say but I'd guess it is the same.

I'm sure it changes from person to person by my SS are saved here; My Documents\Paradox Interactive\Hearts of Iron III\Screenshots

Many use photobucket or imageshack for hosts.
 
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Mindmeld_me

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Thanks for the info Zorro. I will be testing that out this morning. I realized image taking and hosting was likely to be my biggest hurdle setting up.

Edit Had to do some digging because I could not get printscreen and paint to work for me. F11 in game will get a screen shot. Saved in location you list, under BLACKICE folder.
 
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Zorro

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Thanks for the info Zorro. I will be testing that out this morning. I realized image taking and hosting was likely to be my biggest hurdle setting up.

Edit Had to do some digging because I could not get printscreen and paint to work for me. F11 in game will get a screen shot. Saved in location you list, under BLACKICE folder.
No problem, once you get use to taking pictures and hosting them it will become easy for you. If you still want to use print screen/paint your problem might be solved by right clicking your HoI3 shortcut, going to the compatibility tab and selecting "Disable desktop composition" that is what worked for me in any case. Should be fine with F11, in fact its probably easier that way.
 

Belgiumruler

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The easiest way for screenies is f11, then you find them in Documents/paradox interactive/hoi3/blackice/screenshots
 

guillec87

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subbed, I like the BI AARs
 

Mindmeld_me

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Boots rang on the cement, Red flags carried high above while hundreds of planes flew over the skies. Along they marched, a seemingly endless sea of men stepping in unison. There to the side tanks rolled along, so many it was unbelievable. Along thousands of uniforms and flags the hammer and sickle. An unstoppable tide of men and machines rolling over anything in front of them....

Mussolini woke from his nightmare with a cry. No, he thought, it can not be so, it must not be so. He rolled from bed rubbing tired eyes. It was late, 2 am by the clock at his bedside. Still there was so much to do. Recently he had more of these strange dreams and some nightmares. It seemed the red tide could not be turned, could not be stopped by any nation. In his dreams, years from now, the Red army would move with purpose crushing all those before them. As time had gone by Mussolini did not know if it would really come to pass, would the madman Stalin be able to hold such a large country together? Could he use Terror and Fear alone to govern and control so many and have his will done.

Mussolini decided it was time for Italy to move, to regain it's rightful long lost empire. Only then, united, would there be a chance to stop the red tide, should it come to pass. For years Italy had been more concerned trying to get into the colonial race long after the heart of darkness had been exposed in Africa to be nothing more then jungles and death. Still it would be good to start somewhere. Somalia and Ethiopia had been chosen as places with weak governments that could be leaned on and taken to start the expansion of the Empire. How things had gone from a Western European country like Italy defeated months ago by savages and tribesman. This time would be different.

Mussolini got up to study the maps he kept in his room. Much would need to be done, now would be as good of a time to start as any. To the side he had pen and paper to start writing notes and orders for the morning. Perhaps, yes, at 6 he would begin to wake the general staff. First the war at hand. Italy would not under estimate these tribesman as before. The time of charging into battle heedless of losses would no longer do. It was time to take careful measured steps. Any wars from here would be with larger stronger enemies. To the side were maps of the Balkans and northern Africa, those would be used another day.

First, the logistics. Rarely had Mussolini or almost anyone from the general staff bothered with the Majors who job it was to see the army supplied and fed while in the field. Recently on a chance meeting a young major had asked Mussolini while leaving a staff meeting if there was a way to expand the port in Assab where convoys were bringing supplies in. Astounded at being asked any question but such a low ranking man who had been to the rear of the meeting the entire time he had ignored the question and left. Now looking at the reports he could see why he had asked.



The port which had to be 50 years old at best had the most rudimentary off loading facilities. With all the forces moved into the region with no thought for food and munitions and how they would arrive they had strained the port past breaking. It could barely get 1/3 of the supplies unloaded in a day for the forces there at present. Immediately a note was made to expand the port. It might take months but any further operations in this part of Africa would likely involve more forces and it would be very useful in the future to have the port expanded. There were no road or rail links in the area to speak of, at best truck paths and goat paths especially once units moved away from the coast and into the mountains. There would be no way to make improvements for the time being, the expense alone would be nonviable.

Mussolini pulled another map out, this one showed all the Terrian of the area in an easy to read color system.


The northern section of Ethiopia

It was all mountains, right up to the capital. Thankfully part of the forces were mountaineers. Well suited to the task of scaling these heights were it would be required. However a motorized and armored division had been deployed before anyone had truly looked at the terrain and how far they would go. These units would be wasted here. A note was made to have them transported to the south. If the war went long enough more mountaineers could be moved from the french border perhaps to help.



The south was all plains and desert. Not the most hospital terrain but the trucks and tanks would preform much better down there. Next Mussolini made a note for the air marshal, the bomber unit sent could be used but as there were no hostile planes of any kind and with the lack of supplies already at hand it made no sense to keep a wing of fighters in the area. They would be sent back to Italy.

Now with that taken care of it was time to look over technology. Mussolini had many reports on lab work and projects under research. However a year ago he had requested a comprehensive study to be done of Italy's Technology and where it rated in the world compared to other major powers based on years in use for equipment or relevant findings and studies. This had been completed some weeks before but no time had been had to look at it. Italy it seems was not keeping pace in the world. Falling or being terrible behind it seemed. This would make for a challenge. In some areas such as capital ships Italy was at the forefront. However in industrial knowledge and operational planning Italy was behind. A great task to bring Italy up to date in the world, however Italy did not have the unlimited brain power to do everything just as it did not have unlimited manpower to throw away soldiers. A plan would need to be made, with all available research directed towards key areas that would do the most good.



The first task would be to try and bring Italy's industry up to scratch. Following that would be naval research. Although Italy had 2 old Battleships from World War 1 at hand and 4 more under construction, Mussolini was not convinced big guns alone would win the day. Having seen recent demonstrations of planes bombing ships at sea it seemed these Carriers being fielded by the British and French might be more useful then his Battleships alone. In the Mediterranean sea where Italian planes could provide cover it might be fine, but as soon as they left for the Atlantic and Indian oceans they would have no cover. It would take years but the Japanese had shown it could be done, hopefully Italy would have the time.

Moving more forms and reports aside Mussolini grabbed one on current production of factories and dry docks. Currently with the Battleships in production taking up most of the available industrial capacity and funds of the country not much more could be done. There were reports of a backlog up weapon upgrades for the army, many units still had rifles from World War 1. They had not been refitted due to lack of funds. However with more industry being devoted to war time equipment this could be fixed in short order. However Mussolini decided this could be done over time. Many units would not be engaged immediately in battle and would have time to refit. It would be more important to start expanding the Army itself. First more Mountaineers would be needed. Any new fighting would be in the mountains of Africa or potentially the Balkans or France. These specialized units would be needed to avoid needless losses from untrained men trying to scale mountains and fight at the same time.



More reports, more pages. Mussolini could not believe how things had been going in the organization of the Army. Armies had been setup with only one core assigned and then with only 1 or 2 divisions per core. This might look good on paper but would not help right now. Needless pay and supplies for Generals and staff in charge of a few thousand men. It made no sense. In time if things went as planned Italy might need this many armies in the field. For now it was a needless expense. An adage went through Mussolini's mind, as brass heavy as a Mexican army. It seemed appropriate at the moment. The 1st, 2nd and 8th Armies would be disbanded and a few headquarter units for cores as well. This would allow some consolidation of commands. It would also free up funds and supplies for more important projects for the time being as well.

A note was made to rename the southern army to the Reserve Army. Consolidating those commands would also help and it might end up as an expeditionary force in the future which would need a small and flexible command structure.



Having seen generals under certain commands Mussolini realized no main direction had been given to the army. Some of it's best generals were in charge of front line units or garrison divisions. It would be a massive task but a note was also made to go through the entire command structure and reassign all generals. Men suited to offensive roles would be needed in Africa right away. This massive change would likely damage the forces in theater. A major change in command structure was sure to be a mess. It would lower organization of units when they needed to be at top fighting form. However there was no other choice. It might mean delaying and offensive for a few weeks but better to have the right man in charge and lose time then the wrong man and lose lives that could no be easily replaced.





With the army started it was time to look at the Navy. Although Italy had a large fleet most of the ships were from World War 1 and unfit for fast movement or long voyages. To control oceans Italy would need a new and modern navy. The new Battleships under construction would be a start. A core to build around. Plus some new cruisers had come out of the yards recently and they would a good start. However Italy would need more transports, and destroyers just to be able to project forces. As a naval nation in the middle of the sea, Italy was in the unique position that it could deploy forces anywhere from the sea at speed. This advantage would need to be used in the future. New divisions based around these marines that was being talked about in naval circles. Men able to quickly attack from the sea and charge a beach.



Some of the oldest ships would be scrapped for metal and their crews reassigned until new ships were completed. For now the task was to build the navy so it could take on either France or Britain toe to toe. However both at once would be a stretch. Should that happen a solution would need to be found unless there was enough time to expand the fleet before war broke out. However to expand the empire the old orders would resist. They would wish to talk and compromise. They would not want to see Italy rise and take over control of other nations that once bowed to her. In the end they would either bluff and fall back or make ultimatums and fight. Mussolini could not say for sure. Recently the French had been cautious. With the loss of so many in the last War few wanted to fight over anything. England still had it's empire and considered itself the global police. However it was weak and it's fleet was old. It could not sustain a large fleet and army like it could even a few decades ago. The last war had weakened it and now perhaps it could be crushed.

However it would be a long road to get there and the more time Mussolini could buy before he had to fight them the more time he could prepare. Much would need to be done. First the Army needed to be expanded as well as the navy. It needed to be upgraded to a modern force. Divisions with only 2 or 3 brigades would need additional units. Old Calvary brigades would need to be replaced with tanks. Fast moving Tanks that could overwhelm and crush lightly armed infantry. Italy would not be able to field a Juggernaut, but it could use a sword to strike at just the right place.

January 9th, Personal Diary of Mussolini
Much has been accomplished in only a few days. Plans put in motion, orders given, lives changed. Yet there is so much more to do. To rebuild an Empire from 2000 years ago is no small task. Many stand in our way. Talking will only get us so far. These new governments are proud and stubborn. They do not recognize how great Rome once was. how it unified and educated and defended. They will not easily give in to our demands however reasonable. A context will need to be created in some cases, an excuse to enforce our will, my will. First we must prepare the people and the military. It will be a difficult task, for to long we have sat back and tried to win the same race that was long over. Italy finally being unified so late in the last century meant we missed expanding into Africa. It was hard enough just to take Libya. Now the old coast of Carthage belongs to the french and Alexandria to the British. Lands we used to rule.

First we will deal with the small, simple countries. We will crush these tribesman in Ethiopia but we will not underestimate them. We will not play by the old rules. We will not fight where they can defend most easily. We will hit them in the open, crush them beneath our tanks. Come behind them and surround them. It may take longer then I want. This will lower our prestige on the world stage, for how could we take more then a few months to overwhelm such a small country. They do not know that it is all mountains. They do not know they have help from other governments. Weapons and supplies from elsewhere in the world. For now we will use this time to train, we must learn all we can. After this the going will be tougher. From here we must prepare and lay the ground work to expand back in the Balkans.

So much to do. Now though a start, our armor has arrived in Mogadishu with our motorized division, now they can charge into the desert and break the back of these ill equiped tribesman.



Now to see to more planning. The research teams want me to approve designs for our first Carrier. They tell me just getting the design alone will take months. However it can then be refined and upgraded. It will take some time to achieve a carrier as modern as the Americans and Japanese have but we must start somewhere.

Mussolini closes his diary and moves into another room where there is a small conversation that can not be made out. On his desk are numerous map and reports. Battle plans and recommendations. A scrawl on the side reads "Amateurs study Tactics, Professionals Study Logistics."

 

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Zorro

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This is some fine work, well written! I will be following. I look forward to seeing how you will restore the Empire.
 

guillec87

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I like the details and how you approached them... I think this will be a great AAR
 

Mindmeld_me

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Opening moves 1/10/36 - 4/15/36
Inside the Italian general command in Rome there is much commotion. Although the front lines are thousands of miles away, groups of men still rush about here trying to make a difference. Supply convoys are scheduled, casualty lists overseen and forwarded. Troops movements logged and maps updated. Always work, always a rush. An orderly hands a note to a nearby general who addresses Mussolini.

"Il Duce, it seems our initial moves are proceeding well, resistance is fierce as expected however reports indicate the Tribesmen are poor shots over all with old weapons. However in hand to hand combat they are deadly."

"Mussolini responds, that is to be expected. They have no allies and no way to get modern weaponry. We must try to overwhelm them without needless losses. Have the bombers begun their drops?"

"No Il Duce, the air marshal says he is waiting for more fuel and supplies to arrive and he lacks enough bombs for a prolonged campaign just yet."

"Very well, tell him to assemble all the supplies he needs and to wait for my order to launch our first raids."

"Yes Il Duce."

Mussolini looks over the maps of the north, it seems "box" strategy will work very will.



With the french border to the east and the British to the west the front was very narrow entering the Ethiopians homeland. This meant forces could be concentrated on both sides. However the Ethiopians had the most rudimentary weapons, little understanding of tactics or a command structure as used by a European army. This mean the Italians could advance with no worry of mortar or artillery against them. The terrain was challenging but it could be overcome by the specialized mountaineers and the regular infantry could then follow behind providing cover fire with machine guns and mortars will Artillery observers radioed in strikes against any suspected enemy locations.

To the south with the motorized and armored units having arrived it was worth waiting for them to move to the front. With their speed and the open desert this meant that they could push through the lines in short order while the bulk of the Ethiopian forces were to the north. While they were locked in fighting over the mountains the units to the south could drive to the capital and cut off their lines of retreat and supply.





The initial advances to the south were meant by the same fierce resistance but the tanks could easily bypass any pockets of tribesman who lacked any kind of anti tank weaponry. On the open desert they were able to excel. Smashing any standing defenses. The troops following behind in trucks were able to overwhelm cut of Tribesman as they fired in vain at the tanks speeding away. North the leg infantry and Calvary were assaulting the units along the border. Although "militia" type divisions was the best description that could be given to these Ethiopian troops they lacked any kind of tactical training. They were quickly overwhelmed by the charge accompanied as it was by artillery.



On the 2nd of February, leading researchers and industrialist gathered to ask Mussolini what he would like to do for the upcoming changes to air production and armor. With all the new designs coming along it was possible to pick speed over armor if he so desired. Realizing that Italy was likely to be behind for some time in overall industrial capacity and supplies Gasoline was chosen for the engine type for the new tank models to help with supply. Our airplanes would be made as fast as possible to get more into the skies. Through sheer numbers in the end Italy could overtake any loss in protection of the individual pilots.

The same day our first battle was one. With almost no losses on the Italian side the Tribesman finally broke and ran from Gurbo on the border with Tanks and Trucks in hot pursuit.



Less then a weak later the infantry were able to puch through Awareh as well also with few losses in the Italian side. This showed all in the General staff who were unsure of the advantages of an armored spearhead the difference in losses and speed of advance in open terrain.



As soon as the motorized troops had moved up they began and immediate attack on lmi to the north toward the capital. The tanks could join as soon as they arrived as they were slowed down by their accompanying militia brigades.



A few days later as the infantry advanced along side they began an attack at Harar to the north. This would keep the Ethiopians locked into combat or retreating and this way they could not redeploy to threaten the flanks of the advance or help rotate troops in the mountains to the north.



As the troops progressed in the south with little overall trouble in the north things were different. The divisions had not yet recovered from the change in leadership. In addition they were fighting in some of the worst terrain in Africa. Though they had taken few casualties overall it was still slow and hard going. Command had specified that no unnecessary risks should be taken, units should not rush. Although it was a challenge to get supplies brought up from the ports Artillery and mortars should be used at any sign of enemy strong points. After a few weeks the Ethiopians realized they could line up on a ridge and take some pot shots at the advancing Italians and then pull back and wait for a few hours as the Artillery pounded the area, then return and repeat. Naturally this made for slow progress however Mussolini took the reports in stride. His directive to go slow and not have units trying to charge the heights was a complete change from the approach taken in the Great war before when hundreds of thousands of troops would be killed for only a few miles at best.

As the Italians became more accustomed to the Ethiopian tactics of fire and withdraw and then return and repeat they began to have scout units moving forward during the Artillery. Tactics changed and only a few dozen rounds would be fired and then units would race up a few hundred yards and hunker down waiting for the Tribesman to return and fire. Being surprised at the short amount of artillery they would normally come forward slowly only to find advancing assault units throwing grenades at them. Still after more then a month of fighting overall progress was still slow.



Some days after that a leak was discovered within the government. It seems a few men in the diplomatic core were somewhat sympathetic to the blight of these Ethiopians, feeling that the process of colonization should not be continued with the loss of their country. They had leaked certain troop movements to other western governments hoping to get the information back to the Ethiopians and perhaps drive up casualties enough on the Italian side to end the fighting. Mussolini demanded a full investigation and everyone involved be imprisoned for crimes against the state.



It seems however that their plans may have worked before they could be uncovered. To the north of the fighting in Barnico was a Militia division of local loyal Somalialanders. They had believed in the Italian promise of advancement and a new life and joined the loyalest troops serving Garrison duty on the border. However most were poorly trained and simply signed up for the money. They had old weapons and although armed with an Artillery brigade they to had older guns with little to no training on aiming the weapons. The Ethiopians launched a surprise attack over the river at dawn hitting the Militiamen while eating breakfast. Startled and unprepared for any action in an area listed as "safe" they broke ranks to the screams of their officers and dropped their weapons and ran.



Mussolini took this news in strive when he was informed. He noted these men had little training, poor weapons, were not prepared for any action sitting in hills across a river. All the fighting was taking place to the south. Confiding in his general staff he mentioned this was likely to work even better. With more units coming north west it would allow the advancing troops from the south more opportunity to cut them off and surround them. However no loss of ground could be allowed given how it would appear to the International community. Even with the units retreating in disarray being local untrained Militiamen it would fall to Italy to prevent any loss of ground. Troops were immediately dispatched from the south where they were waiting behind the lines to advance forward.



After that events were left to the commanders on the ground to oversee. It would take time for the units to advance on both sides and the likely hood was that the Italian divisions would arrive first and would be able to push the Ethiopians back across the river line.

To the south things were going well. To prevent a flank attack on the advancing armor in the north CCCN and local Militiamen were sent north to assault the waiting Tribesmen.



Keeping those units busy meant the armor was able to keep the pressure on the units already weakened by attack. By this point all the regular units had fled leaving only the headquarters units. This of course was rather inaccurate. Like almost all points of their forces the Ethiopians did not have a normal command structure the way a European army was designed. The command sections were really the Warlords and their guards which meant they were willing to fight were as a normal European unit would be clerks and radio operators, not normal front line troops. This meant the Armor and Infantry was still fighting even though they had routed all the normal "Militia" divisions.



While the armor wiped out the defenders in lmi to the north in Harar the Infantry was up against one of the only real units in the Ethiopian army that could be considered modern. The Imperial Guard was the only division with newer weapons and some training from some Western advisers. Even these advantages was no help overall as the Artillery of the Italians pounded the ground while the infantry advanced.




A few days later the last units were routed in lmi and the armor and motorized continued their unrelenting advance toward the capital. Taking only 89 losses Italian divisions had caused 1659 casualties in only a few weeks showing again the advantages of an armored advance.



Shortly there after the last remaining defenders were routed from the mountains in Tandaho. A few weeks before while most of the fighting had moved out of the worst of the mountains Mussolini had ordered the bombers of Aeronautica AOI to begin daylight attacks on the defenders. Dazed and demoralized from almost 2 months of straight fighting the remaining Ethiopian "Militia" dropped their weapons and ran at the start of the bombing. Having no anti aircraft weaponry of any kind and no way to fight back against medium level bombers they had no choice.

It had been costly, even with the precautions and support almost 900 Italians had been killed in the fighting. However again the Ethiopians had suffered worse with 2153 killed.



Just to the north the 2 CCCN division dispatched to Aduwa were engaged by advancing Ethiopians trying to cross the river while the area was briefly unoccupied. Taking cover and setting up a defensive line the Fascist Loyalist began repulsing the advancing Tribesmen. This was the only other good division in the Army of Ethiopia as they had received some basic mountain training and equipment. They would not break and run right away but they still had a river to cross.

However to take the initiative the advancing mountaineers were ordered to assault Gondar to take some of the pressure off the less well trained and equipped CCN units.



Other units moving forward began an attack on the next province to the south, engaging the defeated and demoralized Militia before they could regroup. A few days later on the 23rd of Marth the battle of Harar was won with 202 Italians lost to 1557 Ethiopians left on the field. Again the superior training and equipment of the Italians overcame the numbers and tenacity of the Ethiopians.

By the 1st of April units in the north had pushed hard and made it to Detbye. This left only Diredawa between the infantry from the south and the approaching troops from the north before they could link up. This was also unoccupied so a link up could be achieved very easily and potentially start to cut off retreating Ethiopian units. This would be easy to do is speed could be maintained over the mountains. By April 7th the battle for Gondar was won with various mountain and local militia units leading the way. This had helped tie up a number of Ethiopian troops far to the north allowing them to be cut off and overrun by troops advancing from the east and south.

On the 10th of April things were moving forward well but there was a river to cross for most of the assaulting Infantry to reach Goba just south of the capital. Infantry from the north would be tasked with advancing across the open plains to assist and have an easier axis of attack.



The units here were the only remaining units in the south capable of resisting. If the attack could move fast enough then although those units would be able to retreat to the Capital other units to the north and west would be cut off as units swung around and encircled the capital. This would mean the bulk of the Ethiopian army would be trapped and cut off in the mountains and could be destroyed in detail. Again this relied on speed of the advancing units. Able to quickly punch through the defenders lines of defense and then keep moving.

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By the 15th of April Mussolini personally inspected the first unit of Calvary upgraded to light armor in the capital before it was dispatched to it's unit. Although not as impressive as the French or British or German tanks to the north they were still better then nothing. The important thing was to get the units established and trained. New tanks could always be designed and assigned later.
 
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electroduck

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Really cool AAR! I've played some really nice games as Italy, it's interesting without being hopeless.
I haven't played Black ICE but your decisions in terms of tanks make sense, and you definitely do need aircraft carriers to battle the Brits.
 

guillec87

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Nice update! Shouldn't you dettach artillery from mobile units? That makes them slower
 

Mindmeld_me

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Guille, With Black Ice you don't want to strip units to far down. The militia are actually the slowest units but I am in no hurry. I will reequip them when the war is over and get them motorized. I have a vacation coming up this weekend so most posts next week when I get back.
 

Zorro

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Nice update. I'm looking forward to Italy fighting it out with the UK :)
 

Mindmeld_me

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April 15th - July 15th

In Mussolini's personal study a fire is burning down in the large fireplace. It is late and he is at a desk in a comfortable chair with a glass of wine. Stacks of reports lie off to the side of the table and a few large maps have been rolled up and left on the floor.

My personal journal, finally time to make an entry. It has been so long since I have had the time to do so. The war and the industry to support have demanded so much of my time to over see. Having made trade deals with America and Germany for coal and steel we have been doing well stockpiling our resources. This has allowed me to focus more of my attention on the fighting and how to support our braves forces so far away in the mountains. The fighting has been intense which I had expected as much. Although backward and poorly equipped these Ethiopians still fight for their homes. Although their lives will be better under Italian rule they do not realize this yet.

To the south our local forces still slog it out In Dolo. Although outnumbered they are making some headway. However their goal is just to keep the Ethiopians from retreating. My strategy to "box" in the Ethiopians and push as many units out of the way and to the sides to be cut off and surrounded is so far going well. However it had been taking far to long for units to move forward after victory. Something will have to be done and soon to remedy this. Soon we will not be fighting untrained Savages but other European style armies and we must be able to outpace them if we are to succeed.

Production had been coming along with our small industrial capacity but we will make strides where we can. Our Battleships are still in Drydock under construction, they would take years regardless of our new knowledge of ship building. With the first unit of light tanks assigned i had Fiat begin production of the next brigade but they tell me without being geared and having new factories built they can only build a brigade at a time. They need more Factories producing tanks instead of cars but to take the risk would mean knowing we would be at more for far longer. I can not tell them we will be so we must wait as they are manufactured.



Our next 3 mountain divisions will be finished training soon. These will be needed to guard the French and Yugoslavian borders. We still need dozens of more divisions but since we lack the factory space to produce more guns and artillery pieces for the same reasons as our tanks we will just manage with what we can produce for now. We still have many units to upgrade but the program is going well. We can not do all our divisions at once as I would wish but we are doing a good percent and in time we will have them all equipped with modern weaponry.

Still it will be challenging to bring the Army to the size it will need to be to reclaim our Empire. We need enough divisions to fight in many places as well as guard our current borders against those who do not yet recognize our greatness or who wish to keep us down. If the fighting is as intense as in Ethiopian we will have a very hard time keeping our manpower reserves up. Our tanks had moved up and joined the battle of Goba by April 19th. It is still hard going but if they can punch through we will cut off the divisions to the south on the border.



In the north I had been told by our Air Marshal that our bombers had been redirected to the fighting in Debra Tabor. Again our forces were struggling trying to dislodge these Tribesman from the mountains. Any help they received from the air should shorten the fighting.



To the south of there in Dibre our units were winning pushing the demorilized Ethiopians off the mountain strongholds they were in. If they could move fast enough they would cut off the units in the north.



By the 24th of April the the last remaining defenders in Debra Tobor were defeated and fleeing in disarray. However they could move to Dibre and reinforce those units trying to hold north of the capital, or they could demoralize them and force then to flee as well. Now the goal was to defeat the units in Dibre and move in before the units retreating could slow down the advancing troops.



To the west our Mountain units had already advanced in open territory to the river facing Nejo and Nakamti. Unfortunately with a river to cross that unit alone could no longer advance and units following were slow and far behind. This would trap those units facing them being unable to move to help at the front.

A few days later on 27th of April the battle of Dibre was won as well. This time loses were much less. Now if only more units could be upgraded losses would continue to fall.



Unfortunately 3 days later on 30 April a unit of "militia" was able to move into Dibre and halt the advancing troops. Hopefully this slow down would be only temporary but time would tell. It would be key to defeat them as quickly as possible. The more units we can trap and force to surrender the quicker this would go.

On 2nd May international news was made with the announcement of the popular front decision by France. How this could effect us in any way I do not see. Besides France is currently so disorganized that I can't see them truly unifying behind any political party.

Unfortunately on 6th of may the remaining Ethiopian units from Debra Tobor moved into Dibre and although not much help given how demoralized and disorganized they were they were still in the way of our advance. However a break through had been achieved and reports were the fighting would not last long. It would take time but our units would win in the end.
2 days later in the south the battle of Goba was won. Once again with armored units our losses were greatly reduced. Now we just needed to push through and cut off the units to the south in Dolo.



On the 14th of May our CCN division had finally moved up in the south to assist the fighting in Dolo. Although they were still moving to the front they would be able to help with the fighting soon. However it seems with the increase of troops and the units behind them moving into Goba the battle was won in Dolo with the Ethiopians falling back to Mega. This battle had been far more costly with 1028 of our local loyalist units falling in battle to only 442 of their enemies. However given their poor weapons and being outnumbered 3 to 1 it they acquitted themselves very well. We will need to make better use of these men in the future.

The next day forward units moving up in Goba engaged the defenders in Mega hoping to force them out before the survivors of the Dolo battle could escape the noose. The likely hood is that they would not be able to win in time but they would continue to wear them down.

In only a few days units had moved forward and engaged Mega from Dolo and Dibre from Debra Terbor. With attacks from both sides the Ethiopian units would not be able to hold for long. The concern among the general staff was that more units would then flood back into the capital and hold out there instead of being pushed away into the mountains. I agreed with this concern but there was little we could do, we just did not have the units forward yet, they were still advancing.

However good news came a few days later. With the fighting to the north and south units had been pulled back Nejo by the Ethiopians. The 5a Divisione Alpini "Pusteria" that had been facing them promptly crossed the river and advanced. Although the province behind them was empty it would not be for long. Loyalist units were moving up from the mountains behind and would occupy it in short order. A number of units were already in Jimma and if we could push units forward fast enough and win our current battles we could cut them off.

On 25th May most of the defenders in Dibre had been defeated. The few remaining units were being slowly but surely ground down.



on 2nd of June early in the morning I had a meeting with leading industrialist in the country. They were concerned with our dependence on foreign resources, especially steel. Although it would be expensive they advised opening a synthetic industry to help end our reliance on questionable supply lines and costly imports. Although I Was reluctant to spend the sums involved in a time of war I could not argue with that reasoning.



That same day we won the battle of Dibre. By 1400 hours the Ethiopians were pulling back to Nakamti to the south. Even with the fighting being in the mountains we had only lost 359 men to 3074 Ethiopians. Once all our units had been upgraded to new weapons we would have no trouble crushing these savage tribesman. The next day as our units moved into the province a spoiling attack was launched by the Ethiopians but was quickly stopped after an hour of fighting and a few dead left on the field by the attackers.



At this point into the war many of the generals participating had been fighting for months and had learned a great deal about mountain fighting. General Bitossi was a great example of the knowledge gained from the fighting.



Even though his troops were exhausted from fighting and marching for months he insisted they could continue forward. I allowed this and they pushed forward into Nakamti. Thankfully half the defending troops were "headquarters" units. They were not fighting alone for lone as within a few days 2 more divisions moved in and joined in the fighting. However now there was a chance of the Ethiopians trying to rotate in fresh divisions from Jimma so the orders went out for the 2 divisions that had moved up to engage them. Although out numbered their orders were to merely harass and delay instead of pushing the Ethiopians out.

On 9th of June our new mountain divisions were trained and equipped and ready for deployment. The first two were assigned to the XI corps of the 2a army on the Yugoslavian border. With all the disparate Corps being consolidated down along with the armies it is more apparent how low on troops that border is if we intend to invade and expand the empire.
The last division was deployed to I corp of 1a army on the French border. As most of those divisions are mountaineers that border should hold with few reinforcements no matter what the French send.

I ordered another 3 infantry divisions to be raised which would eventually reinforce the Yugoslavian border as well.



Fighting continued with not major changes for a number of days. With the fighting being in the mountains not much could be done to influence events besides trying to move more units up. On the 11th of June our first major technological advance was made. I had ordered key researchers and industrial engineers to look at our production and manufacture of military supplies and they had returned indicating that with specific changes in supply of materials and logistics we could increase production by 5%. It does not sound like much but with hundreds of tons being produced every day every little increase in output helps.



I asked our research teams currently underway how close they thought they were to completion of their current projects. It seems most believe they should have completed designs within 1-2 months. I don't expect we can keep up in all projects with other powers but we must concentrate our limited resources where it will do the most good.

Nothing much of note occurred for the next few weeks. Reports came in on fighting in Ethiopia while our braves men fought up the mountains to dislodge the Ethiopians. A few trade deals were canceled and recreated at better rates but otherwise meetings and party rallies trying to improve the parties standing after the recent leak from our diplomatic core ending up causing our popularity among the people to lower. However on the 21st of June our top medical researchers returned indicating advances discovered that would help reduce losses and get more men back into the field after being wounded. Given our limited overall manpower I asked them to continue their research for any more improvements they could find.

Then on 25th of June the fighting in Mega ended with 111 brave Italians left on the field for the cost of 991 Ethiopians who tried to stop them. These units then retreated to Jimma which is right where I want them to go. This means the advancing units from the south can also arrive and attack Nakamti. If we can keep the units in Jimma occupied we might be able to cut off and destroy the bulk of the Ethiopian army. Our bombers had just enough range to hit Addis Ababa from the coast. To keep those units occupied I ordered bombing of the capital to start. We must weaken these units recovering from the fighting in the north before they try and attack our holding units to the East and North.



By 6th of July no other major advances on the ground had been achieved but we were still fighting and winning. Losses were mounting in Jimma though and commanders on the ground were unsure if they could keep occupying the enemy. Ammunition \was starting to run low especially for the artillery. With the supplies coming from the coast over the mountains and no roads to move them by resupply was very slow. I asked them to keep the men going for as long as they thought they could. If we could just keep these Tribesman from moving to Nakamti we could finish the fighting there and move in and cut them off the capital.



However also on the 6th all our units to the south were able to move into Mega and begin attacking Nakamti. With the additional units attacking from the rear it would not take long for this battle to end. The only question was how Italian lives would be lost in the end. By the 14th only a "Headquarters" division was left with the guards desperate to stop our advance.



A few hours later it was over. 876 Italian dead for 2714 Ethiopians. No matter the conditions we were winning and we were taking fewer losses each time. The next day units were being moved into Nakamti as quickly as possible to cut off the forces in Jimma. The same day war broke out in Spain. It seems after recent elections neither side is happy with the outcome but now things have escalated into full out war. In addition another unhelpful find was made by our security teams. An illegal printing press was discovered operating in the capital. Given the cost of shutting it down and possible additional anger by the people at a time when our parties popularity was low. Given the sudden out break of war in Spain and our continued fighting in Ethiopia I decided to let it be for now and directed our security services to keep a close eye on it's activities now that it was known to operate.



Mussolini closes his journal and gets up from the room. It is very late and events are moving faster then he can easily chronicle for his memoirs. However as with every great leader he feels compelled to list his actions. It will be very interesting times ahead and when history is winning it must be by the victors with the right information, propaganda can be such a useful tool.
 
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Zorro

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Good update, interesting to see you increasing the strength of the navy right off the bat.

You might want to consider switching your pictures to JPEG and not PNG. Some of your pictures are over 1 MB in size increasing the load time as more pictures are added. If you open the picture with MS paint you can click on save as and select the file type JPEG.
 

electroduck

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If you're saving from GIMP you can also choose to lower down the quality in the PNG pop-up.