By Brad Cook
Two weeks ago, I found myself embedded with U.S. forces in Kazakhstan. Despite official talk that this is a mop-up operation against the Global Liberation Army (G.L.A.), the missile that just hit a U.S. military base in northern Europe puts the lie to that spin. It was a warhead of the chemical-laden G.L.A. variety, and right now tensions are understandably high among the troops stationed here.
Right after filing his report about the strike, British News Network correspondent James Seymour high-tailed it out of here, but I decided to stick around and see what I could learn. After scrounging around a bit, I discovered that the U.S. military is rolling out some new hardware for this campaign, hoping this time to put an end to the G.L.A.
Leading this new line-up are the Sentry Drones, mobile bots that can patrol the perimeter and keep an eye out for the bad guys. When upgraded with a nose-mounted 20mm machine gun, theyre effective against infantry and small vehicles. U.S. troops are also rolling around in Microwave Tanks, which can disable electronics and zap opposing soldiers the way a microwave oven might. In addition, they brought in Avengers, laser-equipped vehicles that can paint air and ground targets, giving nearby forces a better chance to take them out.
U.S. troops are also employing fire bases, small structures equipped with 155mm cannons for dispatching air and ground attacks. They can hold four soldiers ready to tackle anything that makes it through the barrage.
On the Run
After learning all I could in Baikonur, my driver and I struck out across the Kazakhstan outback, where a small U.S. force had stumbled across a G.L.A. leader and given chase. Sadly, their Humvees were destroyed before they could catch him, and the locals have told me that the G.L.A. is headed for a small airstrip, where they hope to spirit their man out of the country. First, however, they must get past a small U.S. base set up to defend the airfield.
Nosing around for more information during a lull in the action, I learned that the G.L.A. has been busy too. Combat cycles now give their soldiers quick mobility, and converted civilian buses are being used to transport large groups to the front lines. If the so-called Battle Buses are immobilized, Ive seen the troops simply treat them like bunkers and continue the fight. The G.L.A. has also trained some of its men to be saboteurs capable of scaling cliffs and infiltrating enemy bases.
As if that wasnt enough, theyve also mastered the art of creating fake buildings that give the appearance of real structures, forcing opposing forces to treat them as such. If necessary, the G.L.A. can also turn them into the real deal, which causes all sorts of trouble for soldiers who think theyre just decoys and leave them alone as they pass through.
A Shaky Alliance
It turns out that the G.L.A.s offensive in Europe was just getting underway with that initial missile strike: a few days ago, they overran the U.S. base in Stuttgart-Vichingen, Germany. They showed up with some Chinese vehicles, in addition to their own, which didnt do much for U.S.-China relations. The Chinese Premier denied giving any assistance to the G.L.A., and just to prove it, he hit the base in Stuttgart with missiles. A few stragglers survived, however, so we flew there to witness the ensuing ground battle.
Like the other factions in this continuing conflict, the Chinese have upgraded their resources since I last reported on them. Their new mobile listening outposts are sophisticated enough to detect even enemies trying to move in stealth mode, and the Tank Hunter troops stationed inside provide adequate defense to get the vehicle out of harms way if its attacked.
On the offensive front, the Helix helicopter can move infantry and even certain vehicles to the front while the ECM tank possesses the ability to disrupt the electronics in missiles, causing them to fly off course, or in vehicles, effectively disabling them. Ive seen the Chinese upgrade the Helix with a variety of accouterments, such as Gattling guns. Theyre also building Internet Centers from which hackers can gain access to the enemys satellites and structures.
My guide tells me we must leave soon. The Chinese are preparing to strike the remaining G.L.A. forces in Stuttgart. We can only hope that between their efforts and the continuing American campaign that someone can stop Dr. Thrax before he brings his chemical weapons program to fruition. Supposedly the G.L.A. has denounced his tactics and distanced themselves from him, but time will tell if thats simply a ruse designed to let their leaders get away.