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Today in Alternate History
Day in Alternate History Blog
The view from the West
A sequel, of sorts, to Chris Nuttall's
The Second Battle of Dorking
Where does one begin? Just a short piece for the upcoming book they said. How do
you put that whole period into a couple of thousand words? I mean the entire
world was changed, right when we believed that it couldnít happen
I guess you begin with an introduction. Iím Robert Lang, and my business cards
include the words Commandant, United States Marine Corps (ret.). I was there,
almost from the beginning of the whole damned mess, all the way back it Iraq in
í07. I was a Captain then, freshly put in command of my first Company. What an
absolute clusterfuck. Maybe, just maybe, things would have been different if the
U.S. had seen the handwriting on the wall in 2005 and left that sphincter of a
country to tear itself apart, especially since it did in 2012 anyway. In any
case, I was there, 28 years old & being called "the old man" by my Marines. We
did okay, I only lost one man, to an IED, on that deployment. I wish I could say
that his death was worth something, but the town where he died is part of the
Iraqi Dead Zone, so I canít. The 2008 election came right at the end of my
second tour, which was extended to cover the withdrawal of all American troops
from the country. First in, last out, thatís the way it is with the Corps & it
was true again in 2009. I lost more men trying to leave that damned place than I
had trying to hold it. Even so, I brought everyone out, living and dead, and
anyone who tangled with us wished they hadnít. It was one of my Scout teams that
picked off al-Sadr and his top three lieutenants while he was trying to work his
followers up for one last major push against us as were leaving Shiite dominated
After Iraq spent a tour in Korea with USFORK. We were there when Kim died of his
"heart attack". Who would have thought the North Koreans had someone CRAZIER
than Kim to take control. At least Kim didnít have people tortured in front of
him at supper. While I was in Korea I made Major, resulting in my assignment to
the Pentagon for my first "joint" tour.
I lucked out during this assignment, although I didnít realize at the time. I
was assigned to the Weapons Research unit for Special Operations Command. What I
dreaded as much as a prison sentence turned out to be the most exiting time of
my life (except when some bastard was trying to kill me, that is). As a field
operator I had always bitched about the weapons I had to fight with, cursing the
jackass who hadnít made this or that stronger, lighter, easier to clean, or just
plain old better. Now, perhaps as a joke, the fates had put me into a place
where I could help shape the next generation infantry combat weapons for the
U.S. military. I enjoyed it so much that I didnít even bitch too much when they
extended my Puzzle Palace tour a year. That was how exciting the work was. At
the time I had no idea how directly the work would affect my life.
After the Pentagon tour I got my bump to Lt. Colonel & took command of a
Battalion in the Third Marine Division. Even with the combat command I found
myself doing almost as much paperwork as I had in DC, except my office was
onboard an Amphibious Assault Ship most of the time. As luck would have it, we
were at Diego Garcia when the Israel-Iran War started. Why did it start? Beats
me, WAY above my pay grade at the time. It just started, whether the Iranians
were at fault or not, didnít matter in the end. The world should have seen it
coming, especially after the truck bomb at the Western Wall, but they didnít.
The Europeans were so worried about Darfur (ten years too late) that they
couldnít be bothered about two NUCLEAR POWERS facing off. No, Brussels told the
White House that the U.S. had screwed up the Middle East & it was up to us to
fix it. Even then, as a Lt. Colonel, I was able to see that there was no way to
turn around a few hundred years of dislike with a few battalions of Marines.
Unfortunately the resident at 1600 Pennsylvania thought differently. First In.
The first couple of months of Operation Just Watch went okay, a few incidents,
but nothing like the Sunni Triangle in 2007. The Israeli troops were top notch,
and the majority of the people, on all sides, welcomed us, hoping we could
prevent the war that seemed ready to ignite any second. Unfortunately, that
wasnít in the cards. Even now I remember the look on my S2ís face when he told
me about the ULTRA-FLASH. Haifa, and most of 2dn Batt, 3rd Marines gone, just
like that. No launch signature, no radar track, just gone. ONE HUNDRED FIVE
THOUSAND people dead in less time than it takes to say the words, a bright flash
& a city disappeared. After that, things got really bad, really fast.
The President made every promise in the book to the Israelis hoping to prevent
them from retaliating against well, everyone, with their own nukes. Too bad he
succeeded, The Syrians, at least part of the Syrian Government, took credit of
the attack resulting in a bombing campaign that made Desert Storm look like an
Easter Egg Hunt. We hit the Syrian border three days later, with the IDF on our
left flank. Instantly, we went from protectors to Zionists, not just in the
European news media, which was bad enough, but also in the view of the
Arab population. I will say this, the Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary
learned a lesson from Iraq; unfortunately Iím pretty sure it was the wrong one.
By the time we hit the Iraq border we had most of the Army 3rd Division behind
us, and Syria looked like picture of 1945 Berlin. That was about the time that
France (of all people after the massacre in Sudan) recalled their Ambassador
from Washington for "consultations", followed by Belgium, The Netherlands,
Denmark and, a week later, Russia.
I was having my own Iraq flashbacks once we crossed the border into Shia Iraq,
Iran in all but name. It was dawn of the second day in Iraq when the IDF ran
into the Iranian 1st Division. Everyone who reads history knows the result of
that battle. After that, Iran was more or less backed into a corner. Maybe we
should have realized that.
I will always wonder what would have happened if the Air Force hadnít caught the
two Shahab-1 launchers before they fired. My battalion was leading the
entire southern spearhead; we were a likely target for the warhead. Luckily, the
zoomies fired first, so Iím here writing this and 40 square miles around
Baqubah are off limits to human life until further notice. President should
have nuked them right then, instead we kept hunting Iranian ground units.
It was outside of ad-Diw?niyyah when we hit what later turned out to be
the last fully effective Iranian armored division in Iraq. We were five miles in
front of 3rd Marines tank battalion when we made contact. The T-95 may not be a
match for the]M1A4, but if youíre in a LAV-7 itís impressive as all hell, let me
tell you. I lost half my vehicles in the two minutes after contact (clear ahead
my ass, I STILL would pay good money to have five minutes alone with that drone
operator). Without the Hawkens rifles we would have been wiped out before our
armor caught up. Even though I had been on the development team, I was still
stunned at how well the weapon worked against tanks. We killed eight of the
T-95s and a half dozen or so T-72s before the tankers came up and finished off
the Iranians. My God, those Iranians were some brave bastards, even when we got
them trapped they wouldnít surrender. I managed to pick up some shrapnel and was
evaced to the States despite my best efforts to the contrary. A week later,
after the President authorized the B-1/B-2 strike on Tehran, Iran sued for
terms. This time we were smart enough to get out quick, leaving the mess to the
IDF. Those poor souls didnít exit Iraq until 2014.
I was back at the Pentagon and a bird Colonel when the Mildenhall Incident took
place. To this day I donít understand how it got so out of hand. The Air Force
gave the Nguyen to the local authorities for trial and an English jury acquitted
him. Next thing we know thereís riots all over the country demanding our
"rapists and baby killers" be tossed out of the country. We got some
intelligence that the Russians were footing the bill for a lot of the protest
organizers, but we never expected Parliament to order us out of the country.
We TRIED to warn the Europeans, especially the British, about what was coming,
but no one would listen except the countries that had been part of the old
Soviet Block. None of our traditional allies wanted anything to do with us; we
were, after all, the bad guys. It was our fault that Iran had attacked Israel,
one poll in Germany indicated that 62% of the German public thought that the
United States had, in some way, been behind the Haifa attack. We were also
responsible for the Russian build-up, according to the leading media outlets in
most of Europe; after all we had forced the Russian to rearm to defend
themselves against NATO. What wasnít our fault was NATOís fault. I was Deputy
Divisional Commander of the 1st Marine Division when the Alliance died in all
but name. That was when the last American troops left Western Europe, leaving
only small detachments in the Czech Republic, Poland and Estonia as a reminder
of the once massive American commitment to European collective defense.
The one bright spot of the Russian resurgence was the impact on American
relations with the Peopleís Republic. Much like in the 1970ís China saw the U.S.
as a useful counter to Russian ambitions in Asia while America saw China as a
potential ally in a world that was growing increasingly short of American
Allies. I was in command of the first joint large scale PLA/USMC exercises
shortly before I left the 1st Division. Even then the storm clouds were clear to
anyone who cared to look for them. No one in the EU did.
The European War started on a Thursday in 2023 when the Russians, without even
bothering to create a pretext, came across the Ukrainian border with 18
divisions. The EU EUROFOR command wasnít ready for that, the Chiefs (I was on
the Commandantís senior staff by this time) were pretty sure the Russian had
sent way more forces than they needed. Russia publicly promised safe conduct and
transfer to a neutral power for all American forces in Europe (mostly the crews
of the THAAD sites in Poland and the Czech Republic), along with their equipment
as long as we stayed out of the war. The Congress effectively demanded that the
President accept the offer. Despite the urgings of the Chiefs, she went along
with Congress. The Europeans were on their own.
It wasnít much of a fight, not really. The Russians were ready and well trained
and equipped. Conscripts or not, they were well trained, VERY well disciplined
(shooting for failing to obey even the slightest order will do that, at least in
the short term), and much better armed than EUROFOR. The European forces had
better equipment for a small portion of their forces, better than the Russians,
but they had so little of it that it didnít matter. By the time the Russians
reached the Elbe the Germans & French were using tanks older than the men
crewing them, none of which were a match for the 152mm guns of the T-11.
Organized resistance on the European Continent collapsed shortly after the
Russian 62nd Guards Army crossed the Rhine and wiped out what was left of
Franceís armored divisions. This was when King William personally asked for
American help in defending Great Britain. Without any equipment in the country,
and with American public opinion, swayed by the horrific video coverage from the
front lines in France, firmly against intervention, all the U.S. was able to do
was send supplies & offer safe harbor to Royal Naval vessels. Four days later
William, his wife, and three children fled England for Australia at the behest
of the Prime Minister. His younger brother remained behind as part of the forces
defending the Islands, never to see his family again.
I wonít go into details about The Exchange. There are plenty of fine works
detailing it, at least as far as it can be detailed. No one knows for sure if
the captain of the Le Vigilant fired on his own authority or not. Le Vigilant
was sunk before she even finished firing her missiles and Franceís political
leadership disappeared along with Paris. I do know that Le Vigilantís and
later Le Terribleís & HMS VengeanceĎs commanders did the best that
they could, considering the circumstances. If someone wants to find a scapegoat
for The Exchange, they should look at politicians, not soldiers.
How Russiaís leadership survived the six warheads that struck Moscow and the
four that eradicated St. Petersburg has always been a matter of conjecture.
Obviously they were hiding somewhere, but no one has ever discovered the
location of the bunker, even after years of effort. They did, however, survive,
keeping sufficient control over their forces that only a single missile was
launched against the U.S. Once the Field Green satellite covering the
Pacific destroyed that weapon further escalation was averted, with American
forces coming down from DEFCON ONE eight hours after the White House received
absolute guarantees from Russia that no further missiles would be launched at
ANY target. As with the Le Vigilant, no one will even know what would
have happened if the Rail Gun on Field Green One had malfunctioned that
day. I prefer not to contemplate the alternatives.
Once The Exchange ended, the war petered out. Most of Western Europe was
devastated, making the Russian invasion a waste of effort. The Russian military
took whatever it thought of value, including uncounted thousands of POWs, from
the areas it had overrun and withdrew to the Polish Frontier less than eighteen
months later, leaving a poisoned landscape in its wake. American relief efforts
began almost as soon as the Russian withdrew; nevertheless, millions starved or
froze to death in the long, extremely brutal winters that followed. Even today,
much of Germany survives exclusively on aid from the Western Hemisphere & China.
Following the European War, and especially The Exchange, the worldís balance of
power shifted towards the Pacific. America and her Pacific allies were untouched
by the war, leaving them in position to both dominate the global economy AND
responsible for bringing Europe and the devastated portions of the Middle East
back from barbarism. With the collapse of Russiaís government on 2035 the world
settled into the form we know today. China dominates most of Asia, while
American (both North and South), Australian and Canadian efforts are
concentrated in Europe.
With the launching of the remaining six Field Green Satellites and the
subsequent launch of the Topaz Mallard PDS, the prospects for any
successful attack on America or her allies has been banished, hopefully forever.
In any case, my fellow Marines stand guard, here on Earth, and in space,
protecting this great land.
The Author, General Robert Lang, USMC (ret.) served as USMC Commandant from 2034
- 37 and as Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2037 - 41. He
received the Navy Cross for Heroism during the Battle of ad-Diw?niyyah where he
destroyed five Iranian tanks with a Hawken anti-tank weapon. He currently is a
motivational speaker when he ventures away from his home on the Big Island of