The date is July 7th, 1942, but it's not the 1942 you know. This is one of the alternate history scenarios included in later Hearts of Iron 2 games, The Abyss. The world is divided into a handful of great powers: the United States of North America, encompassing Canada (annexed in 1812) down to the Mason-Dixon line; the Confederates, who forced a peace with the USNA following a drawn-out war in the 1860s. The secession of several states from the Confederate States of America forced that power's hand, and in the late 19th century they and the Empire of Mexico signed a treaty to make them a single state, a foil to the USNA's power.
In Europe, after narrowly avoiding revolution in the late 1700s, the last of the Bourbon kings in France died, and leadership passed on to the Spanish branch of the family. The new Bourbon kingdom was wracked with internal strife, and colonies in the Caribbean and South America fell away, joining the Confederates in some cases and banding together against renewed Bourbon hostility in others.
Nearby, Prussia found itself in an excellent position to make gains during the revolutions of 1848, annexing large parts of Poland and all of Hungary. The United Kingdom, gaining Holland by royal marriage and occupying Belgium to stop a hostile revolution, eventually fell prey to a Communist revolution itself, styling itself the European Soviets and becoming an increasing worry to Prussia, flanked as it was on the south by Communist Roma. They saw little choice but to approach the Tsars, and Imperial Russia, with a hostile Sweden and Cossack state to worry about, quickly agreed.
We come now to the part of the world most pertinent: Australasia, Indochina, and the People's Republic of the Rising Sun. The Federation of Australasia was formed in the latter half of the 19th century, following brutal repression of political minorities in the United Kingdom, and has since been a shining paragon of freedom in the world, home to emigrants and refugees from countries the world around. With the expansion of the Japanese Empire into the Pacific, it saw the need for a buffer zone; war was avoided when the Japanese and Australasians signed a treaty laying out spheres of influence in the Pacific.
Upstart Indochina, however, upset the balance. Its rapid conquest of Indonesia raised the ire of both Japan and Australasia. Things would get worse; after the decisive Russian naval victory at the Straits of Tsushima, the Russo-Japanese war became a long fight, ending only with revolution in Russia that resulted in the creation of the Cossack state. The war took its toll on Japan, as well; the dissatisfied public rose against the Chrysanthemum Throne, and from its old territories, the People's Republic of the Rising Sun was formed.
Fast-forward to 1940. The world waits with bated breath for the spark that will send it into flames. Australasia and her steadfast ally the United States of North America, withstood provocation after provocation by the Indochinese, until finally the Indochinese intelligence directorate carried out a series of bombings on Australasian soil. This last barb was too much, and war was declared. It is now July 7th, 1942, and we are at war.
Here is the Pacific as it stands. Ignore all those clearly incorrect political entities marked. Our great naval superiority allowed us to win a number of battles against the Indochinese fleet, which has not ventured out of port since the end of 1941. In a ferocious campaign, combined Australasian forces have finally captured Indonesia, leaving Indochina proper to stand alone.
And there is Indochina. Our navy is strong, outnumbering the Indochinese two to one in terms of aircraft carriers, three to one if our American allies are counted, and a staggering ten to one if our fleet of light carriers is added. The Indochinese fleet is bottled up, under blockade in Singapore as our forces rotate in and out to prevent them from sallying. We or our allies hold every island base the Indochinese once had, and our submarines have now transitioned to a naval interdiction role, making it still more dangerous for our foes to challenge us for command of the sea.
Our navy-first policy has certainly paid dividends, but it has also put us into a difficult position. Fighting in the jungle is extraordinarily difficult in terms of attrition, and Australasia's military buildup over the prewar years has stretched its manpower reserves to the limit. We are forced to choose now between expanding our army and reinforcing the units we currently have.
We face a difficult strategic problem, as well: how will we crack mainland Indochina? Our army is smaller than theirs (some 100 divisions to 120), and there are few good locations for invasion. The Americans could help on the first count, but their army is largely engaged in a staring contest with the Confederates, awaiting a direct confrontation and unable to make a large commitment halfway around the world, particularly with the limited American transport capacity.
We do have a few advantages. The Indochinese are no better off on manpower than we are, and our capture of the resource- and industry-rich Indonesian islands has crippled their economy. We may consider any losses we inflict effectively permanent. The coming phase of the war will be defined by strategic maneuver, with the goal of encircling and eliminating Indochinese forces wherever possible, even at the expense of holding territory. We will not win a war of attrition.
Illustrated below is Field Marshal Ernest Squire's battle plan, in three stages. In the first stage, we will invade in the northwest, landing against the lighter forces in Rangoon or to the north. Our objective in this stage will be the port and airbase at Bassein, which will permit us to operate with greater freedom on the mainland. In the second stage, we will dig in and wait for the Indochinese counterattack. If we reinforce our initial landing sufficiently, they will be forced to draw on their forces defending the rest of the coastline. In the third stage, we will invade simultaneously at Hanoi and north of Singapore, and from these three beachheads we will manufacture local superiorities and use our position, always on the Indochinese flank, to encircle its units and defeat them in detail.
Tomorrow we're off to the races.