So, at last, I finally have started on my first AAR! Although having played Hearts of Iron 2 for years, I have not yet played a game that I can then show to everyone else. It changes now.
With help from the Alternate History Weekly Update blog and their Facebook page, I’m glad to finally show off what I’m going to do! After a couple weeks of voting, it has been decided that I will play Italy.
Other than that, I designed my own rules. First, it will be played with the expansion Arsenal of Democracy, which I do like almost as much as HoI2 Doomsday Armageddon and Darkest Hour. Next, I will be playing this on the normal difficulty and with the AI having normal aggression. I don’t usually play any difficulties higher than this on ANYTHING, so, yeah. Next, no cheats. The temptation to cheat on HoI2 is really easy, so I will force myself not to do it. I will be playing this at relatively fast mode until a major war begins, because at that point, you need the time to think. I’m going to pause at time as well, because a flood of commands is easier than racing to catch up! At last, autosave every month. This is mostly to make sure that, in case I forget to actually, you know, save pictures and such, I can come back and try it again. I’m already sure, once or twice, I will do that, so it’s best to prepare ahead of time. Each post will take into account everything that occurred between the previous post to that date, and I will decide myself on when to cut it off. After all, building armies and factories is boring, so I might just skip to 1939, lol.
Anyway, on with the show!
Prologue: When in Rome…
January 1, 1936
It is midnight on January 1, 1936. Around the world, people celebrate the New Year, and the citizens of the Kingdom of Italy are no different. However, Il Duce, the revered and dictatorial leader of the nation, is meeting with his ministers and trusted advisers in a closed meeting in Rome, along with King Vittorio Emanuele III, the puppet of the charismatic and popular Head of Government.
For Italy is an aspiring empire with few resources or places to expand. With only Libya and Somalia as part of their empire when he came to power, Mussolini continues to agitate for turning the Mediterranean into an “Italian Lake.” But the road to accomplish such a goal is a difficult one, and may result in conflict with any combination of nations: decadent but powerful France, a resurgent Germany under Adolf Hitler, a proud but fearful British Empire, and the Soviet Union, currently under Joseph Stalin and his brutal form of Communism. This is not even mentioning nations that are not quite as powerful, but hold the lands that Italy directly claims, including Dalmatia, held by Yugoslavia, Albania and even Greece.
|The Empire of Italy, surrounded by France, Switzerland, Austria and Yugoslavia, and with only a few colonies, all surrounded by the larger French and British colonial holdings.|
The first step to this new drive for colonial expansion is Ethiopia, having been invaded a few months before. This is the second time Ethopia has been invaded: the first ended in the horrible failure that was the Battle of Battle of Adwa in 1896, which still haunts the nationalist inspirations of Italy to this day. However, France, Britain and the USSR have so far done nothing to stop Italy besides ineffectual embargoes through the League of Nations, and they do not seem interested in interfering in Africa with crisis brewing in Europe. However, it is still uncertain as to what they will do if a country more important that Ethiopia is invaded, so patience is advised there.
The cabinet is called to order, and the problems facing Italy are painfully laid out. Industry is pitifully small, and unable to sustain the army in any modern war. The army in Italy needs reinforcement, while mostly militia units are currently fighting in Ethiopia. Although this time there has been no Adwa, the fear that one may come up has pushed both the leaders of the military to organize a plan.
|The ministers meeting in Rome on New Year’s Eve, and lead by Prime Minister (and Il Duce) Benito Mussolini. The World’s first Fascist regime is moving in an unexpected direction right now.|
After a couple hours, the first proposals and plans are outlined, and soon the process to redevelop Italian power has begun.
It is decided on a three-fold path to both economic and military security, and then efforts to expand will begin, the earliest of which may not be until 1940. A new slogan, “Industria, Tecnologia, Potenza” (Industry, Technology, Might) easily describes this new path. A focus on Industrial expansion, including new state factories in provinces to be decided after, as well as a drive for centralization will begin immediately. Technologies, focusing mainly on industry, army tactics and organization, as well as the navy and air force will begin. The needs of the factories, the military, and for consumer goods will be left in the hands of Armaments Minister Guido Jung, with the power to give order in Mussolini’s name. As for Might: after industrial and technology catches up, the army will be expanded with both armored and infantry divisions. Since Italian ship yards are already busy building new ships, many of the older vessels will have work halted on them for the moment, and they will be upgraded. However, after this vessels are finished, Italy will focus on building its factories, most of which will take at least a year or so to finish.
|The orders currently on call of the Italian state.|
On top of this, a new propaganda effort will begin. Instead of focusing on the pure Italian race as conquerors and heroes, an effort to emphasize all citizens, including those of the colonies and those not of pure Italian blood, as workers for the greater good will be pushed. It will take months to implement, however, and the possibility of dissent, especially amongst Nationalists and industrialists that will have their factories taken over will be high. However, as long as this can be implemented in stages, the effects will not be as serious.
At last, a proposal from the Military Chief of Staff, Francesco Grazioli for a major reorganization of the Army, Navy and Air Force are in order. Generals who focus on reducing supply usage will be named to posts within Italy, and three-division corps of infantry will be the main standard, instead of the hodge-podge of one and two division corps that reigned before. Surface ships will be organized into self-contained forces, composed of capital ships and smaller vessels to protect them. The entire kingdom’s transport vessels will be focused into one large fleet, easier to transport forces to under-defended Libya as soon as Ethiopia is crushed. As well, the various submarine forces will be organized into their own fleets, able to work without the need of any surface ships what so ever.
At last, the pressure of what to do with Ethiopia. New plans were drawn up, advocating a thrust by three forces, two from Italian Eritrea and one from Italian Somaliland, to eventually capture the capital of Addis Abba. Once this is accomplished, by early February if all goes according to plan, the nation can be annexed, and the humiliation of 1895 will at last be avenged.
|The Planned Invasion of Ethiopia, Jan 1936|
The meeting at last broke up, with military officers racing off to contact their commands to begin the process of re-organization, while orders to companies to begin focusing on research were issued, to be put into effect at the earliest possible moment. Count Ciano, the Foreign Minister and brother in law to Mussolini is to meet with Il Duce in a few days to begin organizing diplomatic efforts, and a meeting with Ceasare Amé, the head of the Intelligence services, and Security Minister Guido Buffarini-Guidi will be held in the near future for both internal and external security matters. The results of the military organization will be reported to the Cabinet in a few weeks.
Mussolini himself, tired after a long day, retired and went to sleep at 2 AM, as the cheers and noise of partying continued outside. In a few days, he will give a speech outlining the new goal of Fascist Italy, and the efforts needed by the people to achieve this.
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Tyler “Tbguy1992” Bugg is a Canadian History Student currently on summer break, and, if he can find time in between video games, work and such, he tries to write. If he could find a job writing for a video games company for an Alternate History story set in Canada, the world will most likely stop turning for a moment while everyone comprehends it. Check out his short story "From Enigma to Paradox" in the upcoming anthology Substitution Cipher.