"Ladies and gentlemen of the Congress...", US President William Bradford raised his voice. "One month ago, the entire world stood still for a moment when the French leadership decided to deploy its nuclear weapons against the Russian forces that were converging on the last fighting ECA positions in southern France. It is estimated that more than three hundred thousand soldiers of the Russian military, including some of their most elite tank divisions, were wiped out in this desperate attack. Only time will tell whether we're going to witness a total, unrestricted nuclear escalation in this conflict but one thing is for certain: To this day, after three years of fighting, the Russo-European War has already seen five million military casualties and a staggering number of innocent civilian lives lost in the carnage. It has seen a new generation of Russian soldiers once again raise their flag above the German Reichstag. It has seen an amphibious invasion repelled at the coast of England. It has seen the complete moral bankruptcy of Russia's President Suvorov, who decided to yield control of his military to a brutal thug who calls himself a General. And now, it has seen the deployment of a weapon of terror, an ultima ratio that hasn't been used by a Western nation in over a hundred years. It is for this reason that I'm asking you, ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, to authorise the use of military force...against the Russian Federation!
The President took a deep breath while observing the immediate reactions of his audience: There was murmur, protest, faces of skepticism and uncertainty, but also a lot of applause.
"Let us remember that this entire chain of events roots back to the failures of the Paulson administration. In 2028, our nation caved in to the threats of terrorists and backed out from its responsibilities, ruining almost an entire century worth of global commitment and sending catastrophic tremors across the geo-political landscape. Let us not make the same mistake again! The nations of Europe must not fall to the rabid expansionism of Suvorov's evil empire. If this man succeeds, I promise you that the world we pass over to our children will be world of darkness, fear and brutality. A dystopian world locked in perpetual warfare. Through the course of today's session, you will be presented with a number of top-level intelligence assessments, including confirmed intel on the war crimes committed by the Russian Shock Divisions as well as an insight into one previously top-secret incident where Russian forces have attacked and killed US servicemen during a covert incursion into Alaska five years ago. These startling details paint the picture of a severe and persistent threat to the national security of the United States; a threat that must be neutralised while we still have the ability to do so. Ladies and gentlemen, there is a daunting task ahead us and a day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day! On this day, we will pay our dues and re-assume our global responsibilities. On this day, we are all in this together, whether we are Republicans or Democrats. On this day, we will follow the call of history and do the right thing! May God bless America -and- the brave, fighting people of Europe!"
Off the Portuguese Atlantic Coast
7 July 2048
"Damage report", Admiral Mikhail Zakharov asked anxiously on the bridge of the aircraft carrier Kuznetsov whilst another volley of high-velocity ramjet shells obliterated a nearby frigate. What was initially planned to be the decisive blow against the rag-tag remains of the ECA navies near the Azores had turned into a battle royal after the Europeans had successfully avoided an early confrontation and linked up with the most advanced vessels of the US Atlantic fleet. "We've just lost the Velikiy and the Kulakov!" reported one of the bridge officers. "The Ustinov has taken a bad hit to her rudder and the Captain of the Vepr has reported contact with enemy submarines!". Meanwhile, the bright flames of several dozen wreckages illuminated the night and thousands of sailors, Russians, Europeans and Americans alike, fought to survive amidst the raging waves. "Admiral!" shouted the radar operator, "I've got at least one dozen air contacts coming in at mach-3 from the north-west!" The Admiral simply walked by without saying a word, his mind overwhelmed by soul-crushing terror. He stood still in front of the armoured bridge window, watching his fleet disintegrate while his second-in-command gave the order to abandon the ship and hope for mercy. Moments later, a full squadron of American Aurora bombers zoomed down from the stratosphere. Their 10.000 pound penetrator bombs tore right through the flight deck and detonated in the steel belly of the Kuznetsov, slaying the mighty leviathan and dragging almost two thousand poor souls into the abyss.
29 July 2048
"In the name of the sacred Motherland, I bestow upon you, Storm Platoon Leader Kirill Sokolov, this badge in commendation of your bravery and dedication to our righteous cause!", General Aleksandr recited while shaking hands with a man who had singlehandedly taken out five European resistance fighters and almost twenty 'suspicious bystanders' after his patrol vehicle got hit by a roadside bomb in the suburbs. Sokolov received the dubious honour with same cold, mechanical apathy that was expected of a proper Shock Trooper. But suddenly, his brief moment in the limelight was put to an end when a high-calibre explosive/incendiary round ripped through his torso. General Aleksandr, whose shock and disgust at the ugly sight remained safely hidden behind his mask, was quickly rushed into the safety of his hardened command fortress. "Verdammte Scheisse! I missed the damn bastard!", exclaimed an angry Frank Jaeger from the visitor platform of the iconic Berlin television tower roughly 2.5 kilometres further east. "Stay focused, Frank. You -will- get your chance!", Navy SEAL Jeffrey Anderson reassured the German partisan. "Time to get out of here. Bishop, come in and report." The radio crackled. "This is Bishop. Kowalsky and I have the lobby under control and the Russian response force is still nowhere to be seen. We shouldn't overstay our welcome though, Commander." Anderson replied: "We didn't have any luck up here. Frank and I will meet you downstairs in five, then we'll hit the sewers and exfil as planned."
Near Marseille, France
10 August 2048
USMC General Jeremiah Bradley peeked out of the open hatch of his M1A4 Paladin tank, watching in awe as his Marines hit the beaches of the French Mediterranean coast. Shells and bullets wizzed through the air as hundreds of amphibious troop carriers and heavy hovercraft transports loaded with tanks came ashore, unleashing his battle-hardened 2nd Expeditionary Unit onto the surprised Russian defenders. Their resistance was fierce but badly organised, mostly consisting of second line forces and the leftover bits of units that had previously been routed by the European nuclear strikes. While the ECA was slowly regaining momentum in south-western France, the Marines had been dispatched to slam their teeth into the Federation's coastal supply route. "I love it", Bradley thought to himself in the same dreamy way he remembered the climactic battle of Akmola, where he and General Ta Hun Kwai of the People's Army nearly drove the GLA to extinction for the first time. "Dear God help me, I do love it so!" Bradley descended back into the cupola and sealed the hatch. The hovercraft rumbled as it reached the beach and the tank rolled forward, joining the assault. The computer-operated laser module mounted on top of the turret took out missile after missile while the infantry pressed on. "Gunner!" Bradley exclaimed, "Get me some fire on those sons o' bitches in that machine gun nest at two o'clock!" Seconds later, the tank rocked back, accompanied by a loud thud and the hostile position was wiped out. "Push forward, Marines! Tear their fuckin' guts out!"
The European Deployment Zone serves two distinct purposes: Aside from fielding and maintaining the ECA's arsenal of helicopters and VTOLs, it also acts as a central drop-off point for reinforcements that are delivered by an airship. Due to the extreme losses of aerial equipment in the wake of the Russian bombing and missile raids, the ECA's remaining air assets are spread so thin that every front sector can only operate one Deployment Zone at a time, forcing commanders to conserve their aircraft as they can only be produced - and replaced - at a single facility.
The CL250 Airlifter is a heavy-duty transport airship capable of carrying approx. 250 tons of cargo. It is the spiritual successor to an ambitious project from the late 1990s when a German company came forth with its plan for an entire fleet of efficient point-to-point transport airships. Unfortunately, the project failed to take off, the company went bankrupt and the enormous assembly hangar built on a decommissioned airfield in Brandenburg was converted into an indoor water park. A few decades later, a new generation of these airships is roaming the skies above Europe in service of several logistics companies. Some of the airships have also been refitted into large luxury skyliners and the sultan of Oman has reportedly tried to purchase one to turn it into a literal flying palace. Due to the airship's amazing freight capabilities, it comes as no surprise that it proved to be a valuable logistics asset for the Continental Army as well, which uses the Airlifter to rapidly deploy standardised, role-specific battlegroups to the battlefield. This allows the ECA to build up a task force more quickly than via on-site assembly, albeit at a higher price.
When President Suvorov stepped in front of the public to announce his decision to declare war on the Europeans in the summer of 2045, the Russian fleets in the Northern, Baltic and Black Sea were already underway. In an extremely literal example of 'gunboat diplomacy', an armada of over a dozen vessels led by the aircraft carrier 'Potemkin' passed through the Bosporus unopposed by Turkey. After the collapse of NATO, the country had virtually nothing more to do with the Europeans and turned its attention to stabilising the war-torn Middle East as a regional peacekeeping power instead. Upon entering the Aegean Sea, the fleet was picked up by the Greeks. Shunned and ignored by the new European community and isolated between Russia's Balkan allies, the leadership in Athens coldly decided to let the Russians move on without warning their former allies. As a result, the European governments only noticed the Russian incursion into the Mediterranean Sea through news reports rather than diplomatic channels. Soon after, a mobile long-range radar unit in Calabria detected the fleet just a few kilometres off the coast of Italy. The government reacted immediately: All air, land and naval forces were mobilised, the Alpine redoubts in the far north of the country were prepared to shelter thousands of civilians and even the Pope was hastily evacuated to Ireland mere hours before hundreds of cruise missiles rained down onto Rome, destroying many historical landmarks of the 'eternal city' in what could only be described as an indiscriminate terror attack; an unsanctioned but common occurrence during the early days of the war when the Russian military was still hungering for revenge after the alleged attack on Kaliningrad. It was only thanks to these sophisticated radar systems that an even higher magnitude of destruction could be avoided. As such, the Mobile Sensor Array remained a valuable tool for the ECA, providing the troops with reliable long-range reconnaissance and detection.