Crater Defence Force

The Armoured Commando

Introduction

The Armoured Commando of the Crater Defence Force is a singular military unit brought about by unique circumstances. It is a force of combat walkers partly manned by mercenary personnel, trained and equipped to fight remaining Kafer bands in the inhospitable Dayside of Crater in the Henry's Star system. It is on Crater that the CW has truly come into its own as a major weapon system and the Armoured Commando is the home to much hard won combat experience. Although fully engaged in the 2nd Dayside Campaign, elements of the Commando would form a part of any expeditionary force required for off-world service.

Narrative

Another volley of shells exploded nearby. Dust fell down from the roof of the subterranean bunker, the boxes of alien supplies eerie in the weak torch light. As we huddled together Alec, the filthy, gaunt Englishman covered the emergency seal with his rifle. He looked guilty, as well he should.

We'd discovered the bunkers two weeks earlier as we'd prepared to drill test cores through the crust. We'd reported it back and twenty hours later a pair of heavily laden Hover Rovers carrying a small group of what we took for soldiers arrived. The men were dirty, grimy hair lank under their shamaghs but carried well cared for weapons under their capes. They'd scoured the area for several days before finally telling us we had nothing to worry about and left.

We had been woken an hour earlier by a low rumbling and a flat dust cloud on the horizon, signifying a substantial group of vehicles on the move. Out on the Dayside that meant military, either ours or theirs. A single battered Rover beat the oncoming column by mere minutes. Alec, the team leader, leapt out and hustled us into the bunker we'd modified into a solar flare shelter. It was in here we still crouched as another volley of rockets shrieked overhead.

'Sorry,' Alec's voice was recognisably apologetic, even muffled by his breather mask. 'We needed something to draw them out. We couldn't move you otherwise they might have suspected.'

'How long have you known they were coming?' I accused.

'We spotted movement in the canal 40 hours ago. But Leviathan and the rest of the task force were nearby, we could have moved in at any time. Honestly.' I cradled my quietly crying daughter and glared malevolently at the young soldier.

'As we emerged from the darkness of the bunker the suns battered down on us. The valley around our encampment was filled with several burning vehicles and tall mechanical figures stalked around them. Miraculously the camp wasn't heavily damaged but the drill track and Rover were lousy with shrapnel. A huge armed ACV briefly sky-lined itself on the ridge, like a whale coming up for air, before moving out of view. According to the man who introduced himself as the commander of the Armoured Commando it had been a classic ambush that would curtail Kafer operations in this area for months. Successful or not I would still have preferred not to be caught in the middle of it with my family.

Mrs Mary-Anne Illingworth
Letter published in the Rimview Mercury - 23/04/03

Index

History
Recruitment and Training
Orbat
Personalities
Equipment and Uniform
 

History

'Your Grace's views and those of the Consortium are well known. However, General O' Connor and I have been sent here to make sure that one war is won in the short term, and another is averted in the long term. You and your associates do not want to become seen as part of the problem, Your Grace. My definition of troubleshooting can be awfully literal.'

Conversation between Governor General Sir Irvine Jameson RSN KB DSO and the Duke of Crater
Recorded by RSNIS 14/07/02 - 0956 ZULU

Crater is the most inhospitable and unstable of Britain's interstellar colonies. Crater has grown rapidly due to its rich mineral resources, but hasn't benefited from the usual careful planning undertaken in the other colonies. As a result relations between Crater's population, including many freelance miners from across the English speaking nations, and Crater's colonial government, heavily influenced by the mining conglomerates known collectively as the Consortium, have often been less than cordial.

However the invasion of Crater by the Kafers in late February 2302 changed much. A defence of the main city in the face of orbital superiority was called off and the small military garrison dispersed to form the centre of guerrilla movement. The insurgent campaign against the occupation fought from the tunnels under Rimview was a great success, bringing all sections of Crateran society together in spite of some lingering tensions. Crater was soon liberated by the fleet lead by Admiral Rochemont.

The Liberation of Crater from Kafer occupation in May of 2302 by Admiral Rochemont still left much mopping up of those Kafers not caught in the city of Rimview. On the Dayside many mines had been taken over by Kafers and began to be used to launch raids on human outposts, even worse a Kafer Safe Place had been under construction. Conventional operations, made difficult by the appalling conditions on the Dayside were made worse by having to storm the mines resulting in severe casualties.

To remove the pressure on the infantry it was found that combat walkers were the ideal solution to clearing the defensive positions outlying the Kafer strong points. Using these tactics the British forces created the Provisional Battlegroup, composed entirely of combat walkers from regular Guards, RGL and Parachute units, which played a key role in the eventual success of the 1st Dayside Campaign. However these regular forces were to be withdrawn, and the reformed Crater Defence Force wanted to take over the combat walker role.

The end of the Dayside Campaign saw the two recently formed Crateran CW Platoons of the Provisional Battlegroup becoming part of the newly organised Armoured Commando and re-named as No.1 and No.2 Troops. Immediate plans were laid for two extra Troops and longer term plans for two more as well as command, maintenance and training units. With the personal backing of the new Governor General the new unit received a very high priority.

The Armoured Commando was formed using the equipment, tactics, organisation and some key personnel from the Provisional Battlegroup. The Commando was to be recruited from any experienced soldiers willing to learn as well as mercenaries and seconded personnel from regular Commonwealth militaries. It was an important move by the CDF as the 2nd Dayside Campaign soon flared up, although at a much lower intensity than before. The Armoured Commando is increasingly earning its spurs engaging in numerous skirmishes against the Kafer remnants.

Recruitment and Training

'I don't care if you can't hack the pace. I don't care if you want to go home. I don't care if you are claiming to be something you aren't. If you are, walk out of the gate now, because we don't want you and neither I or the training team have got time to wet nurse you. If you've got any doubts at all, go, because if you've got any doubts out there you'll end up dead and most likely some of my mates with you. This isn't a game, it isn't a movie and there's bugger all glory to be had.'

Sergeant-Major Alan Baker QOH MM, OC Training Troop, The Armoured Commando

Opening Address to Selection Cadre 03/02/03 - 0615 ZULU

The personnel of the Armoured Commando are all volunteers and come from three major sources. On secondment from regular Commonwealth armies (mostly British), from the ranks of the Crater Defence Force or off-world volunteers on 'Contract' to the CDF (most would call these mercenaries).

Regular Army personnel are directly recruited because of their skills to fill certain positions, although some have 'pulled strings' to get into the unit. Recruitment of Contract soldiers mostly depends on their skills, either in maintenance, command positions or as combat walker pilots. Without significant experience and a proven assessment in these areas they will not be taken on contract. Seconded and Contract personnel fill most of the command and leadership appointments within the Commando.

Members of the CDF, either regulars or reservists, may apply to join the unit. However due to the limitations of the training regime available to the unit usually only those who have some experience of walker operation (usually on mining walkers) will be accepted. This has led to most of the locally recruited commandos being from the Reformist faction and many were members of the Miner's Association . Consequently the unit is regarded with some suspicion by the conservative Loyalist CDF and BCP command.

The Commando includes an scattering of different nationalities. British, Wellonese and members of the RGL are the most common Seconded personnel, although two Australians, a Canadian and a Gurkha also serve. Contract personnel are exceptionally varied but with French, American and Japanese soldiers most common whilst there has been a recent influx of Manchurians. As noted above the native Craterans are still divided by the pre-War political split. Reformists outnumber the Loyalists and a small number of Daysiders (including some rescued from the slave pens of Krak des Chevaliers) serve in specialist capacities.

Training in the Armoured Commando is necessarily fairly sketchy. On attempting to join the unit the volunteer is put through a week long selection program. This tests both the individuals claimed CW skills as well as levels of basic infantry skills and their general fitness and motivation. Unfortunately the Commando attracts many people who are not what they claim to be, and the wannabes account for most of the 60% of volunteers rejected at this stage.

The individual's results on selection are used to put together a unique program which dictates the length of the training process. Almost all of the recruits are sent on the Crater Survival Course run by the BCP to enable them to survive in the conditions in which they will be operating. Some, mostly those who've been away from the military for a while, will be sent on basic infantry refresher training run by the Crater Regiment. There is also long and short conversion courses to enable the recruits to become proficient with the Bowman and the unique weapons used by the Commando. Lastly there is a week long indoctrination concluded with a field exercise to pass on Commando tactics and doctrine. Other specialist courses are also available.

Some volunteers to the unit pass through within weeks, others may be in the training program for months. However most of the finishing touches are applied within the combat hardened Troops, and it is not uncommon for recent recruits to be RTU'd and dismissed from the Commando. Normally this is the result of the volunteer being found wanting on operations, but sometimes personality clashes are involved. The patchy quality of pilots being produced by the training wing has led to the CDF considering sending recruits to New Africa's Archer Battle School for more comprehensive CW training. If successful this may lead to non-walker experienced recruits being accepted into the Commando.

Orbat

'You'll have plenty to do Lieutenant Walshe. I want you to put a Troop together, you've got carte blanche and three weeks to do it in. You'll have to take most of the recent crop of contract troopers but I'll give you some transfers from the other Troops as well. Your Troop Sergeant is coming across from the Sun Devils and has a good head on her shoulders, use her as best you can. Three weeks Lieutenant and I want them ready to take on second line duties. Think you're up to it?'

Major A U Frost MC, CO The Armoured Commando

21/12/02 - 0935 ZULU

The Armoured Commando is a powerful fighting force that is just finding its feet. It has some 160 advanced Bowman A combat walkers in its inventory and some 300 soldiers in its ranks. Working alongside other elements of the CDF it represents an mobile, versatile force in attack or defence.

The Commando is composed of an HQ element, six CW troops, a reconnaissance troop and an administrative wing. The unit usually operates in conjunction with other elements of the CDF in order to maximise its effectiveness. However due to the CW's efficiency as a combat weapon on the Dayside the Commando usually composes the spearhead of any operation. Troops usually operate independently or with companies of CDF infantry. If more than one CW Troop is required for an operation either the senior Troop Commander takes command or the Commando HQ will mobilise to run the operation.

Below: Organisation of the Armoured Commando

Armoured Commando HQ

The Armd Cdo has a relatively small HQ section composed of a Tactical HQ and an Operations and Intelligence Section.

The Tactical HQ is composed of a command section and a close protection section. Major Frost is well known for bringing his Tac HQ into close proximity to the enemy when his soldiers are under fire. Consequently his Tac HQ is composed of veteran soldiers picked from the Troops of the Commando or from volunteers from other Commonwealth units or experienced mercenaries. The command section includes the CO, 2 i/c, Commando Sergeant Major, CO's bodyguard and 2 communications specialists. The close protection section is composed of 6 well trained and combat hardened soldiers.

The Ops and Int Section is split into two elements, one located at a fixed or mobile forward operations base and the other at the Duke of York's Barracks in Rimview. Ops and Int is commanded by the Commando's Ops Officer Captain Phillip Morris of the Royal Wellon Regiment supported by the Int Officer, Senior Rate Alice Llewellyn RSN. The section is responsible for planning all major operations by the Commando whilst ensuring deconfliction and proper support from other units. It also has unrestricted access to the new surveillance satellite network. When a Troop is on operations a team from Ops and Int will always be in a command centre.

CW Troop Organisation

The Combat Walker Troop's organisation is based on that of British Army CW platoons. This consists of 24 combat walkers, organised into three 6 CW fighting sections, and a 6 CW command section. The Section is sub-divided into three pairs, the lead pair is usually commanded by a sergeant, the second by a corporal and the last by a lance corporal. The remainder of the section's personnel are private soldiers (although in the Commando they are still called by the title used in their previous regiment: Private, Gunner, Fusilier etc or if a contract soldier 'Trooper').

The headquarters section is similarly organised into three pairs. The troop commander is an officer, either a Lieutenant or a Captain, many are commissioned from the ranks. His second in command is an experienced NCO, normally a colour-sergeant. The last NCO in the headquarters element is a Electronic/Information Warfare specialist, normally a corporal, who pilots a Bowman C. The other soldiers in the section are normally private soldiers.

Below: Organisation of a CW Troop

The Troop usually has between 4 and 6 additional pilots ('secondaries') who provide immediate replacements and help with maintenance and local defence. This number of secondaries is much lower than in their British equivalent but reflects the lower level of resources available to the Commando. The Troop also has a Maintenance Section of eight soldiers dedicated to keeping the unit's walkers up and running. The commander's of the Troops have a great deal of latitude in the running and training of their units. Consequently standards differ between the different Troops and each has its own style, strengths and weaknesses.

The six troops are numbered sequentially but also have an official nickname. This idea came from Major Frost who believed it would increase unit recognition amongst the general population and consequently boost unit morale. To some extent he has been successful as a range of unofficial merchandise with Troop crests on has appeared on the market stalls of Rimview. Frost has also received interest from media companies to cover his unit's exploits either in documentary or fictionalised form.

Seconded British soldiers see this as overly Americanised and glory hunting on Frost's part and refuse to refer to the units by anything but their numbers. The remainder of the unit is split however and many of the younger, locally recruited soldiers use the nicknames exclusively. Especially when on leave in Rimview.

Troop callsigns are simpler than those in use with the British. The fighting sections simply use continuous numbers: 1 Section Commander is 11, his wingman is 12, the section 2 i/c is 13, his wingman is 14, the section 3 i/c is 15 and his wingman is 16. Whoever is in command at any given time adds an Alpha to the end of his callsign e.g. usually the section commander will have the callsign One One Alpha. The other sections have callsigns starting with 21 and 31 respectively. However in the field on the Troop chatter-net names or nicknames are often used.

The troop command section has similar callsigns starting with 01 for the Troop Commander and ending with 06. The Alpha tag is also used in the same way within the command section. Armoured Commando troops do not use changing callsign indicators, instead they have a fixed indicator taken from the troop nickname. 1 Troop use LION, 2 Troop DEVIL, 3 Troop ADDER, 4 Troop DEMON, 5 Troop KNIGHT, and 6 Troop REAPER. So Captain Ishii of 4 Troop has the callsign DEMON ZERO ONE ALPHA.

No.1 Troop 'The Lion's Claws'

No.1 Troop was the first CDF CW unit to be formed, originally as the 1st Combat Walker Platoon. It was commanded and manned mostly by soldiers seconded from the Provisional Battlegroup, but also responsible for training native Craterans in CW operations . Its commander was Sergeant Killean a CW section commander from 6 PARA, who set about rigorously training his new force. He was also willing to bring in competent CW pilots from outside, setting a trend for the Armoured Commando. As the 1st CW Platoon the unit saw action in the Battle of Krak des Chevaliers, where it beat off a mechanised Kafer counter-attack on Holder's Breach.

The end of the Dayside Campaign saw 1st CW Platoon renamed No.1 Troop and coming under command of the newly formed Armoured Commando. Sergeant Killean transferred to the CDF and was immediately commissioned as a Captain, whilst several key players from the Troop were sent on to help form No.3 Troop or returned to their previous units.

No.1 Troop is named after the close combat weapons designed by Private Lwe of the RGL who was seconded to 1st CW Platoon (and later killed at Krak des Chevaliers). The troopers are almost all seconded British Army personnel or Crateran natives.

No.2 Troop 'Sun Devils'

No.2 Troop was originally organised as the 2nd CW Platoon and became operational mid-way through the Krak des Chevaliers battle, and only saw action on outpost duties. Its original commander was Caporal-Chef Marie Hichberger a highly experienced CW pilot of the French I/8e Marine Paras, who had been convalescing after being badly injured during the Liberation in May. Hichberger proved an excellent trainer and brought together a motley group of British and Crateran soldiers and some volunteers from Joi together in an effective unit very quickly.

At the end of the 1st Dayside Campaign Hichberger returned to French service and her second in command, Sergeant Williams (2 PARA) took over as commander of No.2 Troop and was commissioned into the CDF as a Lieutenant. Williams has sometimes been described as a bully but his combat experience is legendary and his Troop is highly competent. No.2 Troop was most often deployed into the Dayside, and has built up a strong bank of experience in the harsh conditions of the area.

No.3 Troop 'Sand Adders'

No.3 Troop was formed immediately after the creation of the Armoured Commando from a nucleus of experience soldiers from No.1 Troop and included the first major influx of Reformist Craterans into the ranks. As many of these volunteers had previous experience with mining walkers the training process was much quicker than that of the previous units and was declared operational after little more than a month. The Troop was deployed into the Dayside, initially operating in the quiet Eisen's Tower sector to free up the more experienced units whilst learning the ropes.

3 Troop has been commanded since its founding by Lieutenant Paul Devonish, a Lance Sergeant of the Coldstream Guards who fought through the occupation and a part of the Provisional Battlegroup in the 1st Dayside Campaign. He was head-hunted to join the Commandos once his battalion prepared to return to Earth, and was commissioned on acceptance. Lt Devonish is an effective leader with an understanding of the Crateran mentality, however as a former Guardsmen he holds his troop to the highest standards of turn out and discipline.

No.4 Troop 'Dust Demons'

4 Troop was formed at the same time as 3 Troop except from a 2 Troop cadre. Like its sister unit it originally had a large number of Reformist Craterans, but also had a group of 4 pilots seconded from the Coldstream Guards CW platoon. In recent months it has gained a strong detachment of Japanese contract pilots who have been concentrated into No. 3 Section.

The troop is led by Captain 'Mas' Ishii, a former regular Japanese Army officer and a veteran of the Central Asian War as well as fighting on Joi and Crater. Ishii has utilised many facets of his experience and Japanese doctrine in the training of his Troop. The unit is well recognised as being the most successful Troop in working with infantry forces as well as being skilled at fighting in urban areas. Ishii is well trusted by Major Frost and has great freedom of action.

No.5 Troop 'Chevaliers du Kharst'

No.5 Troop was formed in the second wave of expansion of the unit as it became clear to CDF HQ that the 2nd Dayside Campaign was underway. Luckily plans for the creation of two new troops had been in the pipeline for some time and could be brought into effect quickly. 5 Troop had a large proportion of Contract soldiers as the resource of miner walker experienced Craterans had largely dried up. A mixed bag of mostly Francophone mercenaries were taken on which allowed the unit to come into action quickly. However many had little or no combat experience and discipline was poor, several were killed or RTU'd.

The Troop has re-recruited taking on new contract soldiers, a detachment of Beta Canum veteran CW pilots from the Light Infantry and soldiers transferred from the other Troops. The performance and discipline has improved but its leadership is poor and the Troop is often delegated to reserve defence tasks. The commander is Captain Wallace Newberry of the Crater Regiment. Newberry was a pre-War officer in the CDF and has limited CW experience, however he has been promoted to a position he is not ready to fill because of political pressure.

The Duke of Crater and his backers in the Consortium have made much capital about the absence of Loyalist Crateran leaders in the Commando. Major Frost hopes to nurse Newberry through another 4 months in command before shunting him sideways. Newberry is a likeable young man but lacks experience and is unwilling to ask the advice of his NCOs. Consequently his troopers' morale and confidence in him is at an all time low.

No.6 Troop 'Reapers'

No. 6 Troop is the sister troop of No.5 Troop. It also has a large proportion of Contract soldiers, in this case an unusually large contingent of ex-US Army personnel. These volunteers have mostly come from the ranks of the 88th Shock Regiment and had tired of endless exercises in the American mid-western deserts. With desert experience and being skilled CW operators this 10 strong group travelled to Crater specifically to join the Commando. Their presence has marked the character of the Troop and American tactics and slang has entered the repertoire of the Troop.

The Troop commander is Lieutenant Amanda 'Blue' Walshe on Secondment from the Australian Commandos. An expert in the use of CW in uncompromising terrain she has been a welcome addition to the unit, a penchant for unconventional tactics and a willingness to delegate responsibility has forged an effective combat troop. However her occasional criticism of Major Frost combined with her outspoken backing for the Reformists has caused her some problems. However her troop is well trained and motivated and has had good results in its too operations so far despite its relative youth.

Recce Troop

The Recce Troop was the result of one of the first re-organisations of the Commando. It was quickly realised that the Commando was often called out to defend isolated communities but many times it was found that the community had panicked and 'cried wolf'. To cut back on needless deployments the Commando needed roving liaison teams to act as its eyes and ears on the Dayside. As well as reassuring local communities they could gather their own information on Kafer activities and ground conditions.

The first recruits were experienced members of the local Crater Regiment detachments, mostly native Daysiders experienced in living in the hash conditions. These were supported by soldiers seconded from regular units, mostly from the newly arrived Border Regiment, who possessed more complete military patrolling skills. Luckily this combination paid off with both sides willing to learn from each other. Commanded by the experienced Sergeant Karl Ramcke RGL, the Troop was committed after a very limited period of build up training.

The basic building block of the Troop is the Patrol of which the unit possesses six. Each Patrol has four men and two robust but lightly armed Hover Rovers modified with long range fuel tanks. Each patrol is given a certain area to cover and roams between the isolated outposts reassuring the locals and gathering information whilst sometimes being tasked to investigate certain areas of concern noted by the satellite coverage. The patrols can be gone for months on end and water discipline and desert survival skills are paramount.

The Recce Troop has undeniably increased the effectiveness of the Commando, reducing unnecessary deployments and on several occasions setting up elaborate ambushes. In addition they have proved very useful in a hearts and minds role greatly increasing the co-operation of the often suspicious Daysiders with the CDF. The unit has just been reinforced with an advance party of 8 soldiers from Wellon's Desert Reconnaissance Force. These soldiers will be integrated into the patrols to gain experience, a measure that will allow the creation of a further two patrols.

Administration Wing

The Admin Wing is responsible for routine administration, training and maintenance of the Armoured Commando.

The Pay and Records Section consists of two soldiers and two civilians under a Lance Corporal, all the military staff are seconded from the CDF's Adjutant General's Department. Its task is to take care of all the routine administration of the unit and to minimise the generation of distracting paperwork for the commanders. This it achieves admirably. The Section often has a more testing time ensuring the enrolment of some of the more 'colourful' short contract soldiers against a conservative CDF, but with the backing of the Governor General resistance is usually short lived except in remarkable cases.

The Training Troop is one of the most troublesome aspects of the Armoured Commando. Put simply it lacks the resources to properly train recruits, however its staff make the best of a bad job. Commanded by WO2 Alan Baker MM, from the Queen's Own Highlanders and a veteran of the Raven Brigade, who has recently been transferred to the unit, the Troop has two senior, four junior instructors and four dilapidated Bowman A's and two simulators. It is based out of the Duke of York's Barracks in Rimview.

Maintenance Troop is in charge of keeping the unit's 160 CW's in fighting condition. Considering the often cannibalised and refurbished nature of many of the machines this is not an easy task. The Troop controls all of the Maintenance Sections attached to the Troops as well as the Field Workshop which is responsible for major repairs and overhauls. On top of this the busy staff are often able to come up with some effective field modifications. The unit is commanded by Lt Liang.

Personalities

'Frost? The man's basically up his own arse and a complete egotist. Not a bad soldier though. You can quote me on that as well. Except for the bit about him being a good soldier.'

Conversation between Captain P Killean PARA, OC No.1 Troop 'Lion's Claws' and Rochelle Marx
Recorded for the Rimview Mercury, 13/04/03 - 2235 ZULU

Major Ashley U. Frost MC, RGL

Commanding Officer, The Armoured Commando

Major Frost is an American RGL officer seconded to the CDF to set up its Combat Walker equipped unit.

Ashley Frost was born in the US state of Montana. A short stint as an officer in the USMC came to a premature end after the accidental death of two of his soldiers on exercise. Frost was partly to blame and was discharged, he then spent a five year stint in the ranks of the elite CW equipped II/2e Regiment Etranger de Parachutiste of the French Foreign Legion, including colonial service in the War of German Reunification.

Denied the chance of becoming an officer in the Legion Etranger, Frost joined the newly organised Royal German Legion in British service. He excelled in training and was soon attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he was a candidate for the Sword of Honour. He then joined the 1st RGL Line Battalion as a platoon commander.

For most of the Kafer War until the Battle of Beowulf the RGL was based on Alicia, but they soon saw action in the Liberation of Beta Canum Venaticorum 4. The 1st RGL Line was swiftly sent onto Crater where as a Captain took over his company on the death of his commander in a Kafer raid. Frost managed to beat off the attack and lead a counter-attack that defeated the Kafer force. As a result he was awarded the Military Cross.

At the end of the Dayside Campaign and the storming of Krak des Chevaliers the CDF was looking to form a unit for its new CW assets. Captain Frost was an obvious choice, with both CW and command experience, and was given the job and a promotion to Major. Frost is a professional and flamboyant character, with a gift for both fighting and command. It is his influence that is building the Armoured Commando’s esprit de corps and reputation. Frost has a ‘Tac’ HQ of some of the best men in the Commando, and is often in the field leading his men from the front.

Captain Masushita ‘Mas’ Ishii

Commander No. 4 Troop ‘Dust Demons’, The Armoured Commando

Now in his early 40’s Mas Ishii was born on Karafuto (Sakhalin) Island, Japan. He enlisted in the Imperial Japanese Army and gravitated to their Armoured Infantry (Combat Walker) Branch, where he served initially as a platoon commander with the 2nd Infantry Division. However he volunteered and was excepted into the crack 1st Airborne Brigade. This unit was deployed to the Central Asian Republic when Japan intervened in the Central Asian War and was thrown straight into combat to maintain a collapsing French position.

Ishii served throughout the campaign, but was seriously injured in an rear area attack on Manchu positions. Returned to Japan to convalesce he was eventually discharged from the army due to complications from his injuries. As a decorated veteran he applied for and received a post with the police force at the Japanese colony on Joi. Once he reached Joi in 2290 he settled easily into his job, married and began a family. He was promoted and formed the new Special Duties Section of the police force, which was equipped with de-militarised combat walkers, to undertake urban rescue duties and other tasks.

The Kafer bombardment and invasion of Joi was met by the utmost resistance from the Japanese colony. Civilians fought with their bare hands against the alien invaders. Ishii’s CW equipped policemen used jury-rigged weapons and formed one of the key elements of the resistance. For a time the Japanese looked doomed until the arrival of Admiral Rochemont’s fleet which scattered the Kafer fleet. Landing troops from the fleet and un-engaged troops from Elysia and British and Azanian colonies helped to destroy the Kafer ground troops.

The jubilation in the colony was tempered by the losses sustained by almost every family in the colony. Ishii’s family was killed in the initial bombardment, and Ishii’s implacable hatred of the Kafers was kindled. When news reached Joi of the formation of a semi-mercenary CW unit on Crater, Ishii resigned his position and joined the forming 1st CW Platoon. His skill and leadership abilities were obvious and with the formation of the Armoured Commando he was offered a commission and his own troop.

Ishii is driven by his hatred of the aliens that killed his family and tried to destroy his world, but is haunted by the deaths of men under his command both on Joi and in the Central Asian War. He is a cautious commander but will press any advantage against an enemy force to complete its destruction.

Lieutenant Yawei Liang

Commander Maintenance Troop, The Armoured Commando

Liang is in charge of the maintenance of all of the unit's CWs, not always an easy task given the hard use many of them have been subjected to. However he also has perhaps the most unusual background of any member of this eclectic unit.

He was born in 2255 into a Pale Blue Banner community in the Manchurian colony of Quanti on Syuhlahm. He specialised in CW maintenance, an important field in a world that makes much use of these devices. During the Central Asian War he served in a Guides CW unit involved in raiding French assets along the Chinese Arm. This unit was then chosen to undertake a mission of immense secrecy, to deliver a number of CW to the Elysian Revolutionaries on Joi and train them in the use of the weapon system. Liang was to travel on the freighter with the CW (naturally labelled 'machine parts') and the training team pilots would make their way to Elysia independently.

Unfortunately for Liang the merchant ship was stopped by the French blockade above Joi and he was taken into custody, the fate of the training team was never known. After interrogation Liang was imprisoned in a French stockade for three years and treated with no little brutality until finally released by the Elysians after the successful conclusion of their revolt. However there was no happy ending for Liang as the Manchu consulate denied all knowledge of him and refused to acknowledge his citizenship. Trapped in an Elysia in the throws of upheaval he eventually obtained Elysian citizenship and his technical skills enabled him to earn a living.

In 2301 he obtained a job on Crater maintaining the mining walkers used by Consolidated Mining and moved there with his young family, unfortunately only a year later the world was invaded by the Kafers. Liang was swept up in the Crateran guerrilla movement, becoming an excellent armourer and bomb designer in the process. His specialist skills in Walker maintenance later saw him become a key part of the Provisional Battlegroup's rear echelon organisation. On the formation of the Armoured Commando he was the natural choice to head up the Maintenance Troop and was soon commissioned.

Liang is a slight man but with huge reserves of self-discipline. Everyone in his unit defers to his experience and the commanders of the unit realise that without his efforts the Commando would cease to function. He holds little bitterness in spite of the numerous upheavals in his life and is determined to make the best of his current circumstances. Unknown to him some in the Crater intelligence community secretly question his loyalty. He now has British Colonial citizenship and a young wife and child resident in Rimview.

Warrant Officer Class 2 John 'Chalky' White RM

Commando Sergeant Major, The Armoured Commando

A native of southern England in his early 30's, Chalky White is a recent addition to the Armoured Commando. Whilst brought in to tighten up the Commandos' training routines and operational art he also has his own secret agenda. CSM White is a Royal Marine Commando who has served in 69 Commando and later as a CW operator in the Zeebrugge Group and ASLAN Pathfinders. He has served on piracy suppression missions on the Chinese Arm, counter-intelligence duties at De Villebis Station and in action against the Kafers on Kimanjano and Beta Canum. He has an exemplary service record and has received accelerated promotion to take up this post.

CSM White has proved an excellent addition to the Armoured Commando, tempering the occasionally 'over the top' instincts of his CO. His knowledge of training and highly complex operations has been used to revitalise the Commandos' battle procedure. In addition he is a fully trained Combat Walker Tactical Instructor and possibly the best CW pilot in the unit. His instincts and training are seen as somewhat conservative by some in this 'get up and go' unit (dominated by airborne soldiers), but his instance on careful planning and rehearsal always pays dividends.

As well as being an excellent solider CSM White has been tasked by the Royal Space Navy's Intelligence Service to keep an eye on the Armoured Commando. RSNIS has seen the recruitment of several key members of Craters Miners Association into the Commando as a possible source of future trouble which they don't trust Major Frost to contain. White reports frequently to his RSNIS handler but has been scrupulous in winning the respect and admiration of the key members of the unit. He feels that the loyalty of the Commando is secure as long as it is effectively led, and like any good CSM he is aware of where the real power lies in this unit; with its NCOs.

Sergeant Olivia P. de Silva, CRATER

Commander 1 Section, No. 6 Troop 'Reapers', The Armoured Commando

De Silva is a 40 year old native of Portland, Oregon in the Continental USA. She was raised in a middle class family and performed excellently at school. On graduation she enlisted in the US Army where she specialised as a CW pilot. Her service was largely restricted to service on Mexican borders although she narrowly missed out on action attached to the French in the war with Germany. She left the service in 2294 after ten years to study for a degree in mining techniques. With her walker experience she was quickly picked up by Consolidated Mining who were then introducing walkers in their operations in the Henry's Star system.

Although she settled into this job she became increasingly disgusted with the conditions which many of the colonists lived in. She soon joined the Miner's Association and was increasingly involved in its leadership, becoming a shop steward in 2299. Soon after she led a wildcat strike in response to a disastrous cave-in at one of the mines, which was broken up by the British Crater Police. She was immediately black-balled by Consolidated and the other major companies of the Consortium and was forced to eke out a living working for small prospectors and mines in the inhospitable Dayside. With her military training she was also regarded with suspicion by the BCP's Special Branch.

When the Kafers invaded she was working from Eisen's Tower, and joined that communities Crater Defence Unit. She was a leading light in the defence of the community when attacked by the Kafers but managed to escape the final slaughter and reached safety after a mammoth trek across the Dayside. She spent the rest of the war acting as a scout and guerrilla, keeping tabs on the Kafer build-up in the Dayside as a semi-detached member of the Crater Defence Regiment. Her work as a scout for British regular units during the 1st Dayside Campaign was recognised with two Mentions in Dispatches. She was able to play on these rewards and her previous service to gain membership of the 2nd CW Platoon when it was formed and has since climbed up the ranks to her current position.

De Silva has witnessed the destruction of the Kafers at first hand and nurtures a quiet need for revenge. She is a keen team player and although older than most of the other troopers uses her experience and guile to make up for any loss of speed. She hopes to someday lead her own troop, and has a good chance of doing so.

De Silva has great loyalty to her comrades but still despises the system of government and domination of the Consortium on Crater. For this reason key figures with in the CDF and BCP have tried to hamper her career, so far without success. She is the de-facto leader of the Reformist Craterans within the Commando and keeps some of the more hot-headed in line, a fact noted by the more astute leaders of the unit.

Corporal John-Paul Harris, RGJ

CO's Bodyguard, The Armoured Commando

A young soldier on secondment from the 1st Battalion, Royal Green Jackets. Harris is in his early twenties but already has excellent combat experience and is cool in a crisis. It is his job to ensure the safety of Major Frost at all times, a job he takes very seriously. With Frost's propensity for leading from the very front Harris often has his work cut out.

Born in the Channel Islands, Harris was brought up in a bilingual household and has fluent French and a natural affinity for learning languages. However at school Harris found the going difficult, partly because of his dyslexia and achieved poor academic results. After school he obtained a TED (Tertiary Education Deferment) and joined the Army as a boy soldier. He excelled in training and soon joined his battalion on the French Arm and after service in a rifle platoon he moved to the CW platoon as a secondary pilot. Although lacking the technical education of some of the members of the platoon he proved a natural CW operator.

When the Kafers came to New Africa Harris soon became a primary pilot and a key member of the unit. The CW Platoon of 1 RGJ was often used for specialist tasks and Harris was involved in 6 combat drops including in the Chill Valley Campaign, in support of special forces and on one occasion with the II/2e REP on the French Continent. A natural soldier and quietly effective leader, in and out of his CW, Harris was promoted to Corporal in the field. However with the Liberation and subsequent re-organisation of those British units that had fought through the Occupation Harris was due to return to Earth for administrative reasons.

However to keep him in-theatre his CO organised for Harris to be attached to the Armoured Commando where his lack of a formal education will be less of a factor. On noticing his service record and especially his service with II/2e REP Major Frost ensured that Harris was attached to him as his bodyguard. After a crash course in basic Close Protection Harris took up this position that he has filled ever since. At 180cm tall and muscularly compact, Harris has a certain aura of contained violence about him when on duty, off-duty however he has a dry, easy going sense of humour. He hopes to gain his Sergeant's stripes, but is torn between returning to his battalion and staying with the Commando. He realises though that he has better prospects where he is.

Equipment and Uniform

'Sure it's patched up, but it works okay. Hope you have better luck with it than the previous pilot.'

Corporal T Edwardes, i/c Maintenance Section, No.5 Troop 'Chevaliers du Kharst'

Raising the moral of an unnamed replacement pilot

The Armoured Commandos are equipped with the Bowman A Combat Walkers left behind by the regular Provisional Battlegroup when they were withdrawn from Crater at the end of the Dayside Campaign. Naturally some of these CW's are somewhat battered and patched they are often kept in battle solely by the efforts of the maintenance crews. They also have a number of Bowman C communication machines altered to the same specifications as the 'A's'.

Nevertheless the Bowman A is still a advanced and highly capable design. The Armoured Commandos Bowman have received countless small updates and modifications to increase their survivability and reliability in the harsh Dayside.

The Bowman A's also have three major hand carried weapon's pods not commonly used by the British Army. A 25mm Cannon pod, an 80mm recoilless rifle and the 'Bunsen' napalm projector. All of these weapons have been developed to aid in clearing wadis and canals, the relative cheapness of the projectiles is also a factor. All also have the leg mounted explosive close protection system and right arm mounted close combat blades know as 'Lion's Claws'. Most Commando Bowman A's only carry one Green Hunter missile.

Bowman A Mod 2 Stats

Country: United Kingdom
Weight: 340kg
Crawl: 3m Walk: 20m Trot: 35m Run: 70m
Power: Internal Rechargeable Batteries
Endurance: 18 hours
RF Bonus
: +3
Armament: 1 Green Hunter missile launcher with 4 missiles, Royal Ordnance L74A2, 7.5mm Gauss MG (3 barrelled) with 3200 rounds, Royal Ordnance L-647 30MW Plasma Gun with 80 rounds
Signature
: -2
Sensors: 10km (+2 bonus)
Est. Cost: Lv52,000 (The British Army has yet to release the price of the Bowman)

Weapons:

Machine Gun, Gauss, Gatling, 7.5mm, L74A2
Type: 7.5mm vehicle mounted multi-barrelled gauss machine gun Country: Great Britain ROF:5, Aimed Fire Range: 1000m, Area Fire Burst: up to 300 rounds (AFV:30), Area Fire Range: 800m, DPV: 0.8.

Ordnance, Plasma, 30MW, L647A1
Type: 30 MW combat walker mounted plasma gun Country: Great Britain Action: Single shot, Ammunition: 20x107mm 30 MW photonic core plaser cell, Ammunition weight: 1 kg Magazine: 80 round internal magazine, ROF: 1, Aimed Fire Range: 1700m, DPV: As tamped explosion (EP = 6), Ammo price: Lv 24 per cell.

Green Hunter
Type: Light anti-vehicle missile Nation: Great Britain, Launcher weight: 73kg (loaded, include 4 shots), Missile weight: 9kg, Range: 6600m Guidance: Automatic, automatic following gunner lock on, or guided by gunner Homing value: 31 Attack angle: selectable Damage: As tamped explosion (EP = 40) Price: Not available Missile speed: 1000 mps Missile endurance: 6.6 seconds

Clothing

In common with other commandos the Armoured Commandos wear a green beret. The individual commando usually wears his previous capbadge on a light grey patch (which signifies the armoured nature of the unit.) Contract personnel generally wear a simple commando dagger badge, a practise that has spread to some of the Reformist soldiers from the Crater Regiment. It should be noted however that those British and Wellonese from Airborne units refuse to wear a green beret. Instead they wear the traditional maroon with a grey patch behind the capbadge.

All personnel are entitled to wear a fabric badge showing a grey dagger on a green patch on their left arm, whilst the CDF's badge is supposed to be worn on the right shoulder. The Commando tends to wear Dayside 'Tirpitz' pattern fatigues when off duty. These are garish but practical, having a high contrast disruptive pattern excellent on the Dayside.

Below: Armoured Commando stable belt

The standard pilot's kit differs slightly from standard British CW kit. As an undergarment the pilot wears the rare Pentapod manufactured 'cool suit'. This suit not only regulates the pilot's core temperature but wicks away his sweat and purifies it to provide him with a small reserve of drinking water should he be separated from his walker. Over the top the pilot wears the standard fatigues, cuirass and IS pattern webbing (containing water, some ammo and a rescue beacon/satnav). Control systems are standard with waldo gloves and a VHUD helmet modified with a breather mask. Personal weapons are usually the tried and tested 7.5mm CSR Mk.8 and an FS style dagger, however some pilots also carry a pistol sidearm.

The pilots escape kit located in his Bergen includes several bottles of water, a shelter, survival rations and an extra rescue beacon/satnav tied into the Prometheus system. Most importantly it includes a Desert Cape which provides invaluable protection from the battering radiation of the suns. Although the pilot is given some survival training providing he survives the destruction of his combat walker and avoids the immediate Kafer threat he stands a good chance of been picked up within two hours.

References

British Army Combat Walkers
British Colonial Militaries
Commonwealth Expeditionary Forces