THE RIGHT WAY: IDENTIFY PROPER TARGETS
So what else would I have done differently?
I would have struck the important targets first.
What are the important targets?
This is vital question. Let me put it this way: there are X number of targets. Capturing or destroying these targets will vastly increase your chances of success in the coming campaign. If you fail to do so, that’s the same as a loss. And if you miss them after your first surprise attack, chances are they’ll be on high alert or, even more likely, hidden and camouflaged.
During the last war between the Eldarans and the Ardonians, the Ardonians launched a surprise attack on the Eldar main base. Surprise was total, but the mission was a failure because the main objective of the attack – the large carriers and their fighter craft – weren’t at the base at the time of the attack. They failed to destroy these ships. Later, the same ships they had not destroyed engaged the Ardonian space navy and inflicted a decisive defeat on them. The Ardonians planned their surprise attack extraordinarily well, but because they missed their main objectives they suffered a strategic defeat. You can argue that it was a success. Not quite. The attack was a success, but the point of the attack was to destroy those carriers, and that didn’t happen. If an operation doesn’t achieve its specified goals, it’s a failure, and thus the same as a defeat. This particular defeat for the Ardonians turned into a major catastrophe a short while later.
The point is, military operations are carried out to fulfill strategic objectives.
What are those? We can generally assume they involve the overthrow and takeover of the major governments of the planet. That means neutralizing the majority of its military. How do you neutralize a military? You destroy as much of its key equipment, supplies, and personnel as possible, for one.
You restrict the movements of any surviving units. Destroying an army doesn’t mean a whole lot if the enemy is free to reorganize and re-equip a new one. That’s the difference between a fast mobile war of maneuver and a long, slow war of attrition. This may come as a huge surprise, but you never want to get into a war of attrition when you are invading. Especially when you are invading from several light years away.
How do you prevent a war of attrition? You want to identify the most important pieces of hardware, the stuff that they can use to mount a serious counter strike. This means taking out their top weapons systems. The humans have tons of nuclear weapons. These can potentially pose a threat to your efforts. They should be captured or neutralized immediately.
After those come their major naval and air bases. These weapon systems are large, capable of striking at long range, and are the most sophisticated and expensive next to the nuclear missile force. If these forces are destroyed or captured, the terrans will have a very hard time replacing them.
The final military targets are the land fighting units at their bases.
It may sound crazy to give the ground forces such low priority; after all, you’re going to be fighting them quite a bit in the future. But remember you have a limited number of troops and ships. You can only strike so many targets at once. And you’ll be doing this all over the planet. You have to prioritize.
After the first strikes, you then need to identify what they can use to mount a serious resistance campaign. This can be a little more subtle. Facilities that manufacture explosives and weapons may sound like a vital target, but both weapons and explosives can be improvised from other materials and equipment. Trying to cover everything that could be turned into a weapon is a losing proposition. You’ll end up chasing shadows, and you still will overlook something. Communications technology is much more vital. It’s necessary for coordinating attacks. If the Earthlings can’t reliably communicate with each other, then any resistance is doomed to failure. Unlike weapons, long range communications need specific resources and equipment.
Target the infrastructure. Earthlings need fuel, food, water, and power. They need a transportation network. Seizing the main production centers and key transportation junctions and ports will greatly enhance your chances for success.
You should also be targeting key personnel, including the civilian government. Disrupt the command and control.
Unfortunately, this is no longer as easy as it once was. After several invasions, the Earthlings have gotten serious about their planet’s defenses. They lack some vital technologies, but they have built up extensive defense networks across the planet. These bases are all expertly hidden, and large numbers of them are underground. They contain huge stashes of weapons, equipment, and supply. They are all hardwired together, and can provide a continuous command and control function across the globe. The chances of you taking out this entire network in one shot is close to zero. It’s not designed to beat back your initial attack. Far worse, it is designed to drag out the conflict and keep it going until they can turn the tide. Something to think about if any of you want to chance another invasion.