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Old 01-08-2009, 03:40 AM
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Mohoender Mohoender is offline
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Default First WMed archive (made by Fighting Flamingo)

Operations in Western Mediterranean (Summer 1997)

The entry of Italy into the Third World War as part of the Mediterranean Pact on 2 July 1997 in support of her Greek ally left the NATO position in Southern Europe in disarray. Much like the situation which had confronted the Allies during the Second World War, Italy’s geographical position dominating the center of the Mediterranean Basin threatened to sever NATO’s sea lines of communication across to Turkey, Yugoslavia, and Romania.

Turkey and Yugoslavia were being supplied with fuel and some munitions by sea, and the were dependent on the sea lanes to support the war effort. Yugoslavia in turn was sending munitions across its border into Romania, to support their resistance to the Warsaw Pact invasion. With Italy’s entry into the war, Yugoslavia’s ports were closed to NATO shipping, and the convoy route to Turkey subject to naval and air attack until the Italian Navy and Air force could be neutralized.

When the 1st Italian Army entered into Austria and Yugoslavia, then pressed on into Germany, SACEUR needed to reopen the sea lanes and split Italian Recourses, perhaps even bring the Italian military to a logistical breaking point.

CINCAFSOUTH (WEST) had significant forces to bear against the Italians In the form of the I Iberian Corps (an amalgamation of the I Portuguese and I Spanish Corps), the 173rd US Airborne Brigade, and the 8th Marine Regiment, and the Canadian Airborne Regiment.

The Italian Army was heavily engaged at the time. The Italian III and V Corps were forcing their way through the Austrian Alps into Bavaria, while the V Corps was advancing through Slovenia attempting to link up with allied Hungarian forces moving into North Eastern Serbia. While resistance was fierce on both fronts, the Italian Army was moving forwards as the bulk of the defending forces were on other fronts and still redeploying to meet the Italian threat.

CINCAFSOUTH devised a plan to cripple Italian Naval and Air operations in the Mediterranean. On 29 July 1997 an carefully orchestrated air campaign was unleashed on Italy from Spain, and US Aircraft Carriers. US F117 aircraft operating from Spain attacked the air defense network in Sicily and Sardinia, followed by F111 strike aircraft which attacked airfields up and down the length of the southern half of the Italian Peninsula. US Naval aircraft searched for and attacked the Italian surface fleet. The Spanish and Portuguese Air forces where responsible to attack airfields in Sicily, and Sardinia respectively. Naples, Palermo, Cagliari, and Taranto were subject to attack by a rain of TLAMs. By the end of 2 August, the Italian surface fleet had lost most of its major units, including the Garibaldi which had been struck by no less than 7 Harpoon ASMs before she broke in half when her magazine exploded. What remained of the Italian Surface fleet began moving northward into the Adriatic.

Operation Carthaginian

Operation Carthaginian began on 1 August with the Airdrop of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade, and the Canadian Airborne Regiment outside of Messina, on Sicily. They were supported by the landing of the 8th US Marine Regiment at Marsala. On the morning of 3 August, the Canadian Airborne had seized the municipal airfield, and a stream of C130 and C17 aircraft began airlifting in the Espana Airmobile Brigade. Italian forces in Sicily were largely centered on the Aosta Infantry Brigade (Motorized) concentrated outside of Palermo, and 1 Brigade of Carabinieri disperced throughout the island in platoon sized formations in almost every town.

The morning of 2 August the Iberian Airborne Brigade Group (formed from the Espana, and Portuguese Light Airborne Brigade) dropped on Cagliari’s airfield, and the Portuguese Marine Brigade made an unopposed landing at Alghero, and began moving at once on Sassari. By Evening of the 4th, all Carabinieri resistance had ended on Sardinia.

On Sicily, the Aosta Brigade began moving on Messina, ignoring the landing at Marsala. Meanwhile, on the mainland the San Marino Marine Battalion Group attempted an amphibious crossing of the Straits of Massina on the night of 3 August. The Italian Marines where decimated by the American paratroopers who where prepared for that eventuality. Later, at dawn of the 5th the Spanish Marines began landing at Licata, and began advancing towards Syracuse. On the 6th US Marines entered Palermo while greatly reduced Aosta Brigade battered itself to pieces against the American and Canadian paratroopers whom had been digging in to Messina for days. Enroute, the Italian Brigade had been under constant air attack by USMC and Spanish Harrier and USMC Cobra Aircraft. The North Coastal Road became a highway of death.
On the mainland, almost immediately the Pinerolo Infantry Brigade (Mechanized) began moving down the coast from Naples to link up with the San Marino Battalion. It too was subject to air attack for the majority of its journey down the coastal road. It was met in Villa San Giovanni by a tactical nuclear strike from the US (100kt) on the 7th, making it very clear to the Italian Government that no reinforcement from the mainland would be possible.

This strike marked the end of active combat operations in Sicily, following the strike, the Aosta Brigade surrendered to the NATO Forces on the Island and the Carabinieri had been overwhelmed, having been deployed piecemeal across the Island. The last major Town to fall under NATO control was Catania into which Spanish Marines moved on the 9th.
The US and Canadian forces were replaced in the next month by the remainder of the Iberian Corps following the collapse of the Turkish Front, due to the one sided use of nuclear weapons.

NATO Operation Carthaginian OOB

Iberian Airborne Brigade
Portuguese Marine Brigade
Spanish Marine Brigade
Espana Airmobile Brigade
173rd US Airborne Brigade
8th US Marine Regiment
Canadian Airborne Regiment

Last edited by Mohoender; 01-09-2009 at 07:48 AM.
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