Letter XLVII

April 30, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

This is going to be a semi-happy letter.  We got a report from FleeCom intelligence that there was a wanted GFI fugitive somewhere on the planet.  Being the only Fleet Security Forces members in this operation, we were asked to look into it. The information was a little thin, but there was enough to at least get started.

We knew that we would need better and more up to date information so we started to scout GFI outposts on the planet to see if we could find a position that was poorly defended enough to the point where we could take it intact.  While doing so, we managed to locate a few that were more poorly defended and worthy of further investigation.

We took our Marine liaison with us to get his perspective and we managed to locate two possible candidates for an attempt at capturing the sights without shots being fired.  We organized a Marine over watch for each and then spent half a day practicing for an assault on both positions using nonlethal weapons. The target order didn’t matter, considering we had no idea whether either position possessed good intelligence, if any.

We hit the outpost we designated as “Target Alpha” and were able to knock out and detain all GFI personnel in a matter of minutes.  We called in FleetCom investigators to look through the site and their computer systems to see if they could find anything useful.

The computer’s had some good intel on them, but nothing that we could use to locate our objective.  They passed the data on before interrogating our prisoners. The prisoners were not cooperative, as expected.  I didn’t want to waste time so it was decided that while the investigators were working at this site, we would move on and hit the next site.  Regardless of what our individual objective was, the main objective was winning the battle. Taking out an enemy outpost will always be apart of the objective.

We were shuttled to the next site and the Marines watching over it reported no changes.  We moved in and things started off well. Calling it a disaster would not be accurate. We were still able to seize the outpost and we suffered no casualties.  I consider that a win. Unfortunately, these defenders were much more seasoned and were actually implementing an impressive defensive strategy. There was no way to take the facility quietly.

We were able to take all of their perimeter patrols without shots, but there was no approach to the outpost that was likely to escape sensor notice.  We moved in quickly and quietly. We were lucky because the alarm did not sound until we completely cleared the open ground between our perimeter, and theirs.

Shots were fired and our over watch was forced to engage.  We were lucky that there was no structural damage but by the time we were able to have complete control of the outpost, several of the GFI defenders were dead.  We managed to take a few alive, but no one high ranking enough survived the engagement.

My team left the Marines in control of the outpost, designated “Outpost Bravo,” and took our prisoners on a shuttle back to “Outpost Alpha.”  Fortunately for us, as soon as the defenders of the first outpost saw the defenders from the second, that words started to flow. Our best guess is that they say how quickly we were taking their positions and they decided it was over and time to make deals.

We didn’t care.  We just wanted the intelligence.  Evidently, every member of the GFI forces stationed on this planet knows about this fugitive and where he was located.  We had him in custody less than an hour later and most of that time was flying to his location and scouting the position.  It was completely undefended and we are convinced now that he was relying on us focusing on the major GFI positions with the hope that he would go completely unnoticed by us.

He was a real peach too.  Taking him into custody was a pleasure, and given his crimes, once we passed him off to the Army, they were less than kind when it came to his treatment.  It bothered no one. Wanted for terrorism, theft, smuggling, kidnapping, piracy, and murder, no one is feeling too obligated to take his personal comforts or feelings into consideration.

There is still a lot of work to be done.  I love and miss you all. Please take care.

Love,

Mitch   

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Letter XLVI

April 23, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

The next few weeks are going to be difficult for communication.  We are in the middle of a very large operation and my team is being used to the extreme.  It is a pretty good thing when you consider what we are trained to do. The officers in charge of this operation want to know what it is they are sending their people into.  I can’t fault them for that.

I don’t even recall what it is FleetCom was calling this planet but that is not among the information that would contribute to our success so it’s OK.  It was a bit of a rush job getting us over here and putting our boots on the ground. Not a moment too soon either.

We have clearly struck a nerve by being here.  As soon as the CSS Mako breached the planet’s orbital defense capabilities, every defensive battery even remotely within range opened fire on us.  We barely had enough time to get to the drop pods before the Mako had to start executing some serious evasive maneuvers.

The Wolfpack and our Marines launched as soon as was possible before the Mako had to jump out of range of the planetary defenses.  Unfortunately, we were ground side at first without any flight worthy craft. The Army gave us a pretty short list of tasks they needed done before their arrival.  We managed the first with ease but without any aircraft, the second was much slower at first.

We scouted a few locations that were worthy of the Army to establish a forward operating base and then had the Marines start setting one up while my team started conducting reconnaissance.  Without aircraft, we were limited to only walking range from F.O.B. We also had to take extra precautions do to our not having support or a way to make a quick getaway if anything went wrong.

The original plan was to take a shuttle planet-side but given the immediate response by the planetary defenses, the Captain was concerned that anything larger than a drop pod would draw fire.  I and my Marine liaison were in agreement. It would be too risky.

Unfortunately, there was also little time to load the drop pods with anything more than what we could carry on our individual persons.  We got lucky that one of the Marine fire teams was by the supply section of the ship when the notification for an immediate drop went out.  The fire team leader probably saved all of our lives and the entire operation.

Thinking on her toes, she split her team up and grabbed everything they could in the short amount of time they had.  They loaded two duffles with food and water and another two duffles with munitions and other equipment they thought we might need.  It was brilliant and it saved our lives. It didn’t take long for GFI forces to find out that coalition troops made it planet-side and the munitions started getting used quickly.  I put her in for a medal as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

The supplies were not enough to keep us going long term, but through rationing and restrictive usage, we were able to make them last long enough to survive until reinforcements arrived.  The Army arrived on the planned date but it took them longer to get a substantial force planet-side than was planned. The defenses were much more extensive than Army intelligence anticipated.  Shocker right?

Anyways, there is still a lot of work to be done.  We have managed to establish a strong enough foothold and a steady supply flow so operations are running a little more smoothly now.  I will try my best to keep you posted. Take care.

Love,

Mitch

Letter XLV

April 16, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

The last week has been pretty eventful.  It looks like we are gearing up for a major operation but FleetCom is keeping it pretty close to the chest.  The training has been all over the board so we can’t figure out where we are going or what the main objectives of the operation might be.

The range has been much broader than we are typically used to.  Our best guess is that the wide range of training and capabilities is an indication of an extended operation somewhere.  Won’t know for sure until we get our orders. One thing we know for sure is that we will not be returning to Outpost 86 for some time.

Some of the training has been pretty fun but most of it is acclimating Army to the operations of my team and other teams like us.  They are not accustomed to using manned reconnaissance. They have grown overly reliant on drones and, according to some of the reports I was given to study, it cost them dearly in a few different operations.

FleetCom is concerned about some of the advances the GFI military has been deploying on the battlefields.  They have some kind of counter-drone technology that has caused some Army operations to endure a much heavier casualty rate on some of their operations than they anticipated.

Army commanders reached out to Fleet and the Marines and asked us how we were countering it.  The truth was, we never overly relied on drones for recon or intel gathering, and we told them so.  They discussed us potentially training some of their special forces in the tactics and strategies we have been using but, apparently, there is not enough time before the next operation to do so.

FleetCom decided that my team, and a few others, would engage in co-operative training with the Army to see if we would be able to work well enough together in future operations.  So far, it is going better than expected. The Army has been very receptive and has been following our lead much better than we expected.

There were ever several training operations where, instead of our Marine team, we were accompanied by a team of Rangers or Drop Troopers.  I have to admit, dropping with the Drop Troopers was a lot more fun than we were expecting. We actually got to do a few insertions using their drop pods.  What a ride!

It was a simple recon training mission, but we used the orbital drop pods so we could be certified to accompany Drop Troops in future operations.  It was incredible. I couldn’t even tell you how fast we were going and the technology involved absolutely blew my mind. I like to think that FleetCom gave us the best and coolest technology, but Drop Troopers get some pretty cool stuff too.

They were also very appreciative of our training.  The Drop Troopers are the closest thing that the Army has to any kind of recon force so they have been the ones trying to compensate for the counter drone technology but they are telling me that strategy has also been costing them lives.

They were the ones that originally started falling victim to the unfortunate lack of information on the counter drone technology and the incomplete intelligence they were provided.  There were a few completely blown operations that took place before they discovered that the information the drones were gathering was faulty.

Hopefully, we can help to reduce some of these unpleasantness with some good, old fashioned, hands-on recon, and branch co-operation.  We still have a pretty intensive training schedule for the next few days so this is where I am going to have to leave things this week.  I love and miss you all.

Love,

Mitch

Letter XLIV

April 9, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

I have to admit, the last few days has been a fairly nice series of events.  At first, I was not quite sure how I felt about it, but after further thought, this was exactly what my team needed.

We popped into orbit and as soon as we did, the ship started detection radio transmissions.  The encryption level was pretty sophisticated. In fact, there was something about it that was a little, too sophisticated.  Mix that with the fact that there was no attempt to hide the radio transmissions, cause us to wonder what was going on.

My team and our Marine contingent hit the atmosphere far enough away so that we would not be detected and flew in to land about 15 kilometers away from the origin of the transmission.  I took my team and had the Marines follow about 500 meters behind us, in case we needed back up.

About half a kilometer away from the origin point, we came across what we thought might be a scout or some kind of patrol, but there was no weapon in sight.  We didn’t want to jump to any conclusions so I had the Marines halt where we were and I took my team to follow the scout.

He went back to his camp and we knew immediately that it was not GFI.  The man practiced absolutely no operational security. It was too easy to follow him.  We were concerned at first that maybe he was just too good and likely knew we were there and was leading us into a trap.  That concern was quickly thrown out.

When he got back to his camp, we took up positions that would allow us to discretely watch and observe.  They did not have any kind of security measures in place and it was almost instantly obvious that the men and woman we were watching were noncombatants.

Turns out, we stumbled upon an unregistered science operation.  They were wearing white coats, but it was pretty easy to spot the sample collecting and some of them were sorting and clearly cataloging everything they were collecting.  Not exactly the kind of thing you get any kind of prison sentence for, usually, but this time around, there were other factors to consider.

Because this was not something the military dealt with, we kept eyes on them while we signaled the CSS Mako and had them contact FleetCom to apprise them of the situation.  Civilians are not something we are authorized to deal with unless they attack for whatever reason.

It only took about 10 minutes for Fleet leadership to decide they were going to dispatch an investigation team and to keep us and our team of Marines in a position to over watch everything and provide support to the investigators, if necessary.  I called the Marines up and had them help with setting up a complete over watch perimeter around the campsite.

It only took a few hours for the investigation team to arrive on the scene and once they did, they wrapped everything up nice and quick.  We listened in on all the communications and at first, we could tell that the scientists were contemplating being difficult. As soon as it was explained to them that there was Fleet personnel and Marines observing their every action, the compliance was overwhelming.

I am not sure what or if the Fleet is going to anything to them or about them.  That is not only above my pay grade, but it is also completely outside the scope of our operations.  Once the investigators had complete control over the situation, they radioed us and thanked us for the assist.  They informed us that they no longer needed us and we got orders from FleetCom to rejoin our battle group.

We had our shuttle lift off and come pick us up.  There was no point in hoofing it all the way back since discretion was no longer necessary.  We loaded up and rejoined the CSS Mako in orbit. Once docked, the Mako didn’t even wait for us to de-board.  We started immediately flying to were our battle group was located.

Looks like we might be gearing up for another major operation.  There are few details coming our way but one thing is clear, we seem to be mobilizing much faster than plans are being made so something big is up.  I am not sure what but I was contacted by a staff officer from FleetCom and was informed to have my team immediately eat and rest up.

I will keep you posted as best I can but you know how this goes.  Love you all and will write again soon.

Love,

Mitch  

Letter XLIII

April 2, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

Thank you for the advice.  Thank you for all the guidance you give.  Having the support of my family gets me through all the times when the burden of responsibility starts to weigh heavily on my shoulders.  I made my decision. It was a tough one, but you were right.

I asked my team how they felt about bringing a new member on as a replacement and we had a long and serious discussion about the benefits and the drawbacks.  While there are many good reasons to bring someone new in, the few reasons not too far outweigh them. After the long discussion, we were all in agreement and I made my decision.

I have decided that the Wolfpack will remain at our current number and status for the duration of our deployment.  Nice as it might be to bring on another member to help keep tasks and responsibilities easier, it is not worth the risk of exposing my team to someone that could potentially endanger their lives.  It would take longer than we have left out here to properly train and acclimate someone.

I already told our leadership and, surprisingly, they understood and even agreed.  I was expecting to have to defend my decision but it ended up not being necessary. That was a relief.  It was also a relief to get back to Outpost 86. I saw Russell but we didn’t really get to hang out much the first day I was back.  He was busy with something, but we were able to make some plans for the next day.

There is a large body of water on the planet.  It is typically too far to walk or drive to in a reasonable amount of time but I was able to wrangle up a pilot and an aircraft for the day and we got a little group together to fly out there for a barbecue and to do some surfing.  I sold it to the brass by explaining it could serve a double purpose.

I told them that while we were there, Russell could collect some samples of the local plant life and we might even be able to catch some of the wildlife.  At first, they weren’t buying it, but I knew this would be good for the remainder of my team. I explained that my men and I could use some long range R&R.  The outpost commander agreed with me and authorized us with the condition that we had to find a pilot that was willing.

As you can imagine, that was not difficult to do.  I invited my girlfriend and told Russell and my team they could all invite one or two people each.  Russell brought one of the doctor’s assistants, each member of my team brought a girl, and even the pilot brought someone he was seeing.  We made a day of it and had a really good time.

It was nice to unwind.  We spent the next few days relaxing but all good things must come to an end.  We received new orders to do some reconnaissance on some supposedly uninhabited planet in the neutral zone.  Well, used to be a neutral zone. One of our battle groups was passing by the planet in transit back to Coalition controlled space and a destroyer that was close enough to the planet detected radio signals

It is unknown where they originated from but that planet is the only place that is not mobile that was within the range of being able to transmit anything so FleetCom thought it was worth a look.  We are going aboard the CSS Mako. It is unknown at the moment whether or not we will be taking any escort ships. I don’t think FleetCom wants to send a large force if it turns out that we would be chasing ghosts.

I will keep you posted.  We know next to nothing about this world so it will be interesting to take a look either way.  We are getting a second Marine squad assigned to us for support so that is a nice new tool to use if need be.  We love having the Marines for support and get a whole new and fresh squad to back us up is definitely a relief to our being one man down now.

Take care of yourselves and please give Mom my best.  I love you and will write again next week.

Love,

Mitch

Letter XLII

March 26, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

FleetCom eventually gave in to authorizing an air strike on the GFI position.  They took their time coming to that conclusions and while they were waiting, there were several more casualties, including a member of my team.  He is going to live, but his time working recon and being on special assignment are over.

It infuriates me that he was wounded during an operation that I strongly opposed.  I followed orders, but I did not do so without first trying my best to convince my chain of command that it was unlikely that my team could get that close to the installation without being spotted.

They wanted us to spot for an artillery strike.  Given the location, I advised that an artillery strike would be wise, but then they informed me that they wanted to do pinpoint artillery strikes in an effort to preserve as much of the installation as possible.  It went beyond grasping at straws but the officer in command refused to listen.

The problem is the location of the installation.  It is in a valley and much of it was underground. There wasn’t much on the actual service to target with any kind of pinpoint accuracy and to approach it from any direction on foot in a way that would provide a good line of sight was basically suicide.

The reason none of our ground attacks have been successful is the position is very easily defended and doesn’t require much.  We made our approach as cautiously and carefully as possible but that wasn’t enough. Before we got within 600 meters of the GFI position, we came under heavy fire and my point man was struck.

We never made it closer than that.  The incoming fire that followed intensified and we had to pull him clear.  We managed to get him back to cover before we called for a medevac and they took over from there.  It was a complete waste of time and now my team is a man down.

After that incident, I pulled some of the commanders aside and was finally able to convince them that there wasn’t going to be any reasonable strategy for preserving this installation.  An air strike was called and our aircraft leveled everything within the valley. There was no further resistance after that.

My man was in critical condition for a few hours but they managed to stabilize him in time to ensure that he will likely make a full recovery.  It won’t be anytime soon, but he will eventually be able to return to active duty.

We are currently wrapping up on this world but things are going to be difficult from here on.  My team will continue operating but one member less. We are en route back to Outpost 86 for another refuel and refit.  I also demanded that my team get a little bit of downtime.

I am planning on spending some time with Russell but I would also like a chance to see my lady friend again.  We haven’t had much opportunity the last few times I was back there due to the current operational tempo but hopefully I will be able to see her this time around.

Command asked if I wanted to pull another member from the outpost to replace my down team member but I rejected the offer.  We had a good thing going and I feel like it would be smarter to not add new blood into the mix. We have trained and served together as a team for the last several months and I don’t want to jeopardize our cohesion by adding someone new into the mix.

Do you think I am making the right call with that one?  I could use some advice. I feel like it is the smart choice and I am concerned that adding someone new, regardless of how well trained or experienced, would alter the flow and connection that my team currently has.  I am trying to make the decision from a leadership standpoint but as a member of the team, I know how I would feel about adding a new member.

I will write again when we touch down at the Outpost.  Take care. I miss you all dearly.

Love,

Mitch

Letter XLI

March 19, 2435

Barren, Mitchell D., 2nd Lieutenant

4th Fleet, 4th Fleet Security Forces (FSF)

Dear Dad,

I am going to have to keep this one brief.  We are currently engaged with GFI forces and it isn’t going so well.  My team is fine but the same can’t be said for the rest of the task force.  Casualty rates are much higher than anticipated.

Based on intelligence we were able to gather from the outpost we took last week, we were able to locate another GFI stronghold on the same planet, not too far from the outpost.  It looks like the reason the outpost was so easy to take was because most of their men and defensive systems were moved to this much more defensible position.

The standard defenses we have encountered before in this kind of situation were already pretty intense but now that they have doubled up, it is proving to be much more difficult and costly to overtake.  So far, we have barely managed to make a dent and FleetCom is getting impatient.

My team has been probing for a way in but it is not looking good.  We have yet to find an approach that isn’t as heavily covered but so far, we have gotten pinned down on every attempt.  On our last try, we had to have our Marine contingent come to bail us out. My second in command nearly lost his head and my radioman’s communication gear took a shot that was meant for him.

With that close of a call, I had a chat with the officer in charge and she agreed that we needed to take a step back and re-evaluate our approach.  So far, there are only a few dozen casualties, but based on the way things have been going, that is lucky. The whole thing is unacceptable and to make matters worse, they have some kind of orbital cannon we can’t get to.

We had a destroyer come in for an attempt to bombard the position from orbit but during its approach, the cannon opened up and nearly destroyed our ship.  They lost almost a third of the crew and were barely able to limp back to the fleet position.

All of our forces are holding their positions or have fallen back to a safe enough position while also maintaining a perimeter to keep an eye on things while we regroup.  FleetCom is strategizing right now so I thought I would take a moment to get you up to date.

I am sure they will come up with something.  I just hope that something doesn’t risk massive casualties.  There is no point in taking the hill if there is no one left to stand on it and I won’t lead my men into a slaughter.  There are still plenty of options.

We haven’t used any of our combat aircraft yet because of the need to preserve potential intelligence gathering but at this point, that doesn’t matter.  It is unlikely that any useful intelligence hasn’t already been destroyed.

An air strike might be the only low casualty option (for us anyway) left at this point.  If FleetCom doesn’t come to the same conclusion, you better believe I will do all I can to persuade them.  My team and I have flirted with death a few too many times here and I have no interest in pushing our luck any further.

I miss you guys and am looking forward to our reunion.  I only have another 11-12 weeks left on this tour and then I am coming home.  I have every intention of taking some leave and taking a much-needed rest. I will keep you posted.

Love,

Mitch