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The Battle of Khoz, also known as the Khoz Offensive, was a battle of the Great War fought by the armies of the Terran and Orionese Empires against the Soviet Republic. It took place between 1 April and 18 November 3267 in the Khoz star system in the Graal Soviet. The battle was one the largest of the Great War, in which more than one million men were wounded or killed and in which the entirety of the Soviet force was annihilated.

By the time of the battle, the forces of the Interstellar Treaty Organisation had conducted two years of "island hopping" battle across Soviet planets and military stations on the border of the Empire of Orion. Dozens of planets were captured, robbing the Soviets of industrial capacity and raw resources. By early 3267, the Khoz star system remained as a linchpin. Khoz contained three lush "garden" worlds that were being exploited as agricultural hubs to produce a significant fraction of raw food materials used by Soviet military personnel. Emperor Francis Charles XII and the Imperial General Staff drew up plans to launch a massive naval strike and land troops on the main worlds in order to capture the extensive agricultural facilities and deprive the Soviets of military food supplies.

On April 1, the 99th Strike Flotilla commanded by General Admiral August Sask dropped out of warp space approximately 2 AU from the system centre, arranged in ten fleet divisions, and rapidly destroyed Soviet defensive spacecraft and orbital stations. Commandos captured six orbital colonies and crashed them into the largest cities of the largest planet, Khoz prime. Otherwise, each planet had the same structure of invasion: 2 Marine divisions would deploy from orbit and make landfall, establishing a base of operations. Then, fourteen to fifteen Army divisions would be landed to reinforce their positions and conduct a battle of attrition. The general commander of the ground forces, General Robert Rall, focused efforts on Khoz Prime. After eight months of trench warfare, an armoured spearhead led by Major General Tivadar Laszlo encircled Soviet troops composed mostly of graal and tauran soldiers and engaged them in one of the remaining urban centres. After a series of counter-attacks and encirclements by both sides, the Terran and allied forces annihilated the Soviet defenders. Over those months, the Soviet forces were whittled down from 60 divisions to 1, which was obliterated by Laszlo's tank brigade. The Terran losses were substantial--almost half of the committed ground forces were killed or wounded. However, the Empire achieved a decisive strategic victory and the Soviet Republic rapidly collapsed. With a cut line of supply for food, soldiers starved or staged insurrections to access Soviet state granaries. Entire fleets mutinied and riots occurred across Soviet space. As more troops were dedicated to internal policing, fewer could be put into front line service and the Soviet front weakened. The Soviets were utterly conquered within three years.

Background

Strategic developments

The Great War began on 8 September 3265 after Soviet nuclear raids on Orionese border worlds. The ISTO began operations against the Soviets while maintaining a strong defensive posture at their borders with other interstellar states. In December attempted negotiations between the Soviets and the Free International Group of Nations deteriorated and war broke out between the two power blocs, even while Terran and allied attacks continued in Soviet territory. The Terran Empire launched an incursion against the Republic of Cassiopeia in March 3266, turning the conflict into a three-way war.

However, most Terran forces were positioned in Soviet theatres of operations, while the Federation of Cygnus and Empire of Sagittarius handled most operations in the Cassiopeian, Freyan, and Viridian fronts. The Soviet front was progressing well, but slowly; naval raids on Soviet deep space stations had resulted in destroying significant numbers of spacecraft and personnel, and bombardment of planets tended to lead to quick surrenders of the local garrisons. However, worlds with significant numbers of soldiers or resources, referred to as "hub" worlds, were often the sites of protracted battles of attrition.

The Orionese Army had taken heavy losses by 3267 and front-line elements of the Terran Imperial Army, having been usually deployed as reinforcements or reserves, were redeployed as invasion vanguards. Several planetary invasions were planned by the War Ministry, with the intent to capture vital supply "hubs", such as the Khoz star system. The replacement of Henry Addington with Prince Maximilian in March 3267 led to a change in pace; the Khoz Campaign was pushed up to early April, rather than late summer of 3267.

Khoz contained three "garden" worlds: Khoz Prime, Khoz IV, and the habitable moon Dozbro orbiting Khozkabet. Collectively, these agricultural colonies produced 12 billion tons of rice and 3 billion tons of wheat in a year through intensive farming and high-yield strains of engineered crops grown in fields, paddies, and in arcology structures. Rice and wheat grains were the predominant raw materials for military rations in the Soviet military, and the Khoz system provided 20% of the raw food for the Soviet Space Navy and 10% of raw food for the Soviet Army. Capture of this star system would rob the Soviet military of vital food supplies, and was viewed by the ISTO military leadership as a vital strategic objective. By the time of the battle's commencement, 56 divisions were mobilised and several thousand spacecraft were prepared, including 50,000 unmanned and small craft.

Tactical developments

The Terran Empire had refined a set of planetary invasion tactics which would be employed in the Khoz Campaign. The basic operational principle of landing a combined-arms formation of considerable size onto a world after having achieved total orbital dominance has been accepted theory for centuries in most astromilitaries. Other theories have proposed launching an invasion during an orbital battle, in order to neutralise surface-based command and control and capitalise on a narrow window of opportunity, but these tended to result in high casualties. Different commanders used different tactics, with differing definitions of "acceptable casualties".

The commander of the forces at Khoz, General Admiral August Sask, had established and honed a strong combined-arms approach, with experience in space warfare and ground combat during his service periods in the Imperial Space Navy and the Imperial Army. His preferred tactics precluded landing of any sizeable formations until absolute orbital dominance had been achieved. The surgical insertion of special operations forces would aid in this objective, paving the way for a "shock force" of Space Marines followed by reinforcing Army divisions to capitalise on the momentum created by these armoured strike forces. This set of tactics had worked previously in the battles of Kalabaska, Sigarit, Urahaz, Baharat, and Annos where Sask's task force had achieved overwhelming victories.

Sask was likewise experienced in space combat tactics, having served in command of individual spacecraft, squadrons, and flotillas. His tactics were, however, standard Imperial tactics of three-dimensional convergence on sensory detection and infrastructure, such as defence satellites and jump gates. Sask relied in up-to-date intelligence on enemy positions of these targets before launching attacks, followed by overwhelming convergence on them. By contrast, inexperienced commanders would have deployed their entire fleet at the outer edge of a system's gravity well and proceed to travel to key target points, taking them out individually; such tactics often led to the arrival of enemy reinforcements and a protracted battle lasting between a week and a month, typically.

Prelude

Space Battle

The 99th Strike Flotilla, commanded personally by General Admiral Sask, deployed in echelon from the Outer Orion Staging Area in a series of Alcubierre jumps to the Khoz system on 1 April 3267. Spacecraft engagements began immediately as Imperial space forces attacked defence satellites, jump gates, radio-telescopes, and spacecraft "dry docks" in orbital and interplanetary space. Squadrons jumped and arrived in staggered patterns at each target zone, preventing the Soviets from organising a system-wide defence or initiating a battle of annihilation between the space forces. The "key objective" in these attacks were the jump gates, preventing immediate reinforcement by out-system Soviet naval units. Simultaneously, Terran forces knocked out the lightspeed communication arrays around the system, effectively preventing the Khoz system fleet from relaying an alert message to nearby Soviet star systems or fleet stations. As would be discovered after the battle, the Khoz garrison lacked a quantum-entanglement communicator system as well, preventing any immediate call for aid.

The space battle then commenced with vicious ship-to-ship combat. Around 2,000 capital ships of the Terran space navy engaged a Soviet force of just over a sixth that size. Some 50,000 unmanned spacecraft and single-ships were engaged as well in the combined ISTO task force. The Soviets had some 8,000 unmanned craft stationed in the system. Around 35 Soviet capital spacecraft were captured; all the rest were destroyed. The Terrans lost around 200 capital ships, and some 10,000 unmanned and small craft. The relatively small proportion of losses is attributed to their damaging of Soviet detection and communication systems through cyberattacks and conventional strikes, inhibiting Soviet target-acquisition.

This phase of the space battle lasted around three days. By 4 April, the system was under Terran orbital and deep-space dominance. The ground forces were jumped in to engage in the landing operations.

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