PHD #013: Hitting Where It Hurts
Hitting Where It Hurts
Summary: Tillman and Kulko discuss the overall plans.
Date: 11 Mar 2041
Related Logs: Lots
Tillman Kulko 


Tillman is in CIC, standing over the main plotting table. There's a series of recon photos stacked next to and on top of the chart. the Acting XO is already looking over the, tapping a grease pencil over Virgon as he surveys the other colonies on the broad view. A cup of coffee steams nearby in his normal mug.

Kulko hurries into CIC, still buttoning the top buttons on his duty blues. He offers a quick nod to the Marine stationed at the door - always good to be on pleasant terms with the help - before making a beeline for the plotting table and Tillman. He comes to parade rest, having finally learned to skip strict atten-hut. "Sir. You wanted to see me?"

"Yeah." Tillman just grunts the word before he looks up to Kulko. "Step on over and get comfy. I'm going to be spending the next week or so laying low and working on fleshing this out with targeting packages. But I'm going to outline out basic operational plan." Tillman glances to the Ensign. "You ready to play in the major leagues, son?"

"Sir, yes sir. Ain't like there's a second string to go in when we get tired." Kulko leans both palms on the side of the table, his newly discovered preferred posture for map-reading.

"Fair enough, Ensign. Alright, let's get down to brass tacks." Tillman leans off the table and sips at his mug of coffee. "Ensign, what are the centers of gravity of any fleet in existence?" What are the critical things that fleets will die without? Tillman watches the younger man, waiting.

Kulko counts off on his fingers. "Water. Food. Tyllium. Raw materials for fabrication. Manpower." He pauses for a beat. "Not necessarily in that order."

The Major nods once. "Now remove those things what don't matter to the cylons and you have Tylium. Assume that they have access to fabrication facilities and supplies that we don't see." Given that there are tons of basestars hanging around the Colonies. "The last thing?" Tillman's smile is a bit dark. "And potentially the most important thing for networked machines? Communications." Tillman leans back over the plot. "It would be imperative for machines to have clear lines of communications with distant forces to prevent them from getting digital orders confused and decrypted incorrectly. Thus, they will likely have taken our communications systems over and are currently using them to boost their signals."

"Break the link, and suddenly it doesn't matter as much that we're outnumbered?" Kulko muses, his paradigm quite visibly shifted. "Pardon, sir, but I thought you were referring to our battlegroup. We're going after the Cylons first?"

"Right. You cut off the ability of the enemy to communicate and they can't effectively fight. Single burst communications take triple the time to travel distances and are ofte ngrabled to hell due to normal spacial interference. On the small scale its annoying. And trying to piecemeal the Cylons to death is dumb. But going after facilities wastes their time, resources, and disperses their fleet into guarding other areas. That opens up the Colonies to lighter guard and clears the way for further operations. We kick them in the balls and take the initative right out of their hands, Ensign." Tillman sounds like a man hell-bent on revenge. "Right. Orders from the Admiral are to go on the offensive. We'll be spending the next two to three weeks analyzing their positions while you and Lieutenant Oberlin go over intelligence and get some more centered ideas on what the cylons are doing. As we speak, the CAG is planning recons to Caprica and Leonis."

Kulko looks down to the intel before them, frowning somewhat, wheels a'turnin. "So the question isn't where do we go to get what /we/ need… it's what balls do you kick, when the guy you're fightin' has six of em." Kulko looks up to Tillman."Well, last time 'round, they didn't waste any time repurposing our industrial base to manufacture more of themselves. I'd say it's a pretty safe assumption that's what they're up to on Tauron, Picon, and Leonis. I mean, hell, those factories were set up to build Cylons not half a century ago. Can't take all that much retooling."

"True, but one thing at a time. We can't even considering hitting anything on the colonies until we can ensure that we will be able to draw their forces into an engagement we can win. And win decisively. That means stringing out their forces. We wage unrestricted warfare against their communications arrays and facilities here." Tillman sweeps his hand in a wide arc around the colonies. "Once we start meeting heavier resistance, we switch our targeting packages and go after any sort of supply ships we can identify. When they repurpose their defenses, we parry again and go back after comms sites. In this way, we maintain the initiative and keep them reacting to us. When they think they have us frakked into reacting to them, we already have our next course of action planned - with this one accounted for. Once they rebeef security on the comms?" Tillman taps the grease pencil at Leonis. "We hit those frakking Naval Yards and I mean we nuke the frak out of it. We remove whatever is important to them, wherever we can find it. They are still here for a reason. We're going to find that reason and take it from them like their took our homes and families from us." He taps the pencil again. "Most of the Colonie's industrial capabilities were wiped. Tauron's were hit first. Leonis?" The Acting XO shakes his head. "Nothing much left down there."

"Of course," Kulko admits, running fingers through his hair in frustration. "Last time 'round, they had no home base. The only territory in contention were the twelve colonies. Now they've got a base of operations we know nothing about - for all we know, this is just a weekend jaunt to them." The ensign motions towards Caprica. "Are we going full on salt-the-land, sir? They obviously want Caprica City intact for something - we could lay down some kilotonnage on it just to deny it to them."

"It could be, sure. But there is too much space to search to try and find their home. And considering the effort this took? I think this was a maximum push by them. Its what the air wing would call an Alpha Strike. They launched everything." Tillman continues staring at the charts. "That shit with Gemenon really bothers me. Hitting the religious sites? It reeks of a hate crime. Spite. Something else is at play we aren't seeing, Ensign Kulko. Something vitally important." He taps the pencil a few more times. "But no. We aren't going to salt the land. They've done that enough. For now. Caprica City may provide us an intelligence resource. Its existence, from an antiseptic position, is telling enough that we need to know why and the answers are probably down there in the buildings. Besides, I'm not sure nuking Caprica's capital is something I want to be responsible for. I might be willing to do a lot but there's lines I won't cross. Right now? That's a line I won't cross."

"So for the time being, are we focusing exclusively on harrying strikes and gathering intel? Or are we worrying about our own material situation as well?" Kulko queries, straightening up off the plotting table. "The reason I ask is because if there /is/ any uncontaminated foodstuffs on the agricultural worlds, the longer we wait, the more fallout will spread on the surface. We ought to think about stocking up whatever we can get before it all starts to glow."

"Right. Intelligence is our first priority. Without it, we know nothing and we are swinging our swords blindly. And since we have limited numbers of swords, we need to know where we can cut at their armor and hit arteries. The essence of strategy is to marry strategic ends with tactical means. That means information for targeting." Tillman leans off the table again and sips at the cup of coffee. "Our own situation is pretty good for the moment. I know what you are thinking about with Aerilon, but its impossible. The colony is too heavily guarded and they know we are out here tanks to our last trip to Virgon." He looks back to the Ensign. "They will expect us to return to the colonies to look for survivors or get supplies. Right now, I would bet the guard around Aerilon is even lighter. Same with Gemenon and Sagittaron. I bet that within minutes of jumping back there, any force would be facing upwards of twenty baseships. Besides, we were prepared for a long-term cruise. We've got lots of food, water recycling is operating at past ninety-nine percent efficiency, and we were fully stocked with munitions."

Kulko rubs at his chin, then motions to the same swath of space around the colonies that Tillman noted earlier. "So we start bouncing the battlegroup around the perimiter, hitting comm relays, while Raptors sneak into Caprica, Virgon, and the other colonies where anomalies were detected to try and figure out what the toasters' game plan is? On the theory that by the time we've got an idea of how to disrupt it, they'll have diverted enough resources to the outskirts of the system that our strike can actually accomplish something?"

Tillman nods his head. "They have to cover their bases. And if they don't?" The Major shrugs. "We destroy their ability to communicate effectively outside of short-range bursts between individual colonies. Maybe a little further. But they couldn't afford to lose those arrays anymore than we could if our fleet was still in a recognizable form." The Major watches Kulko for a moment. "We can't plan for everything and hope isn't a plan for anything except failure. Micromanaging details of operations like this from the outset invites failure, though. If we get closer through our recons and haven't found anything, we keep pushing. We hit them where we can. One of the things I still need to discuss with the Admiral is our goals and objectives. Its why this is simply a broad-scope strategy for hitting them. Its not even set in stone yet, but this is where I'm going to push the Admiral to devote our resources." A pause. "Questions?"

"Aye, sir. And I may be getting ahead of my- of ourselves here, but…" Kulko glances to the plotting table, then back to Tillman with an earnest concern that betrays his youthful inexperience better than his Ensign's pips ever could. "Is there even a point to fighting over the Colonies, sir, if they're smoking husks?"

Tillman stares at Kulko. He's not angry, he's just letting it hang for a few seconds. "You mean other than them killing our families and nuking our homes? Do we have a motivation other than revenge?" Another pause. "Yeah. We do. Because its our orders from the Admiral. And chances are good that they are going to come after us, the survivors, one day. Maybe not next year. Maybe not ten or fifteen years from now. But they will. And depleted numbers and ship capabilities will most assuredly not help us." He sips at his coffee. "I had a news reporter tell me a few days ago that going to the Colonies is stupid and we should just abandon what had happened and give it up. Rather than going to take a lead pipe to that man's teeth like I wanted to, I asked him to what ends he intended to abandon the Colonies. Where did he intend to go? To what ends do we run and how do we defend ourselves once there? We aren't fighting people. We are fighting machines that don't get tired of spending time alone in space."

Kulko bristles at the XO's response, tensing up. "Sir - apologies, but - supposin' I was misunderstood. I'm not sayin' we should turn tail, far from it. I guess my question is - long term -are we trying to recapture the colonies? Or bloody their noses until they get up and leave?" He pauses, relaxing somewhat. "Unless that's what you were sayin' you had to discuss with the Skipper."

"That is what I'm saying I had to discuss with the Admiral, yes. Our long-term objectives and goals need to be decided, still. What I've outlined is going to have to be done, regardless of what happens. Unless Admiral Abbot decides to leave the system right now, which I doubt. My last orders are to plan for an offensive. If he changes his mind, that's his call. But as-of now, this is where your intelligence is going to be focused. The How and Why of the Cylon's battleplan." The Major taps the end of the grease pencil on the map.

Kulko nods crisply, returning to parade rest, embarrassment slowly fading from his features. "Aye, sir."

Tillman watches Kulko for another second. "Any other questions, Ensign? I want to make sure everything is crystal clear for you in regards to what is and going to be happening."

Kulko shakes his head once. "Crystal, sir. You could read a book through it at twenty five yards."

Tillman nods his head once. "Alright. If Oberlin mentions the strategy we're using, you have it. Basic concept of comms and fuel while we gather intelligence. Expect to being operations in two to three weeks." He lifts the mug of coffee and looks back to the map. "I'll be spending the next week or so trying to get situated into the XO position and working on this plan to flesh out the details of our first few strikes." He takes a long breath, eyes still looking over the chart. "You're dismissed, Ensign. Get to it."

Kulko offers up a salute. "Aye, sir. Congratulations on your promotion." The ensign pivots on one heel, and makes smartly for the hatch before he gets any deeper in the hole.

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