Post-Attack Letter (CICCONFEDFLT to INTELCONFEDFELT) (2634.264)
Received your report of yesterday and will forward appropriate sections to commanders, Task Forces Three, Nineteen and Forty-Two. Jim, I agree fully with your analysis. We are lucky. The disaster at McAuliffe was indeed the worst known in the long history of the Fleet. One can look back to the China Sea, Pearl Harbor, Tsushima, Salamis, and not find a defeat so lopsided. Yet rarely in history has a combatant thrown away such a stunning victory and walked away from the spoils. I don't think we'll ever really know why they abandoned McAuliffe and let us hang onto it. My gut instinct is that Turner's insane counter-attack scared the crap out of them. The casualties he inflicted on their landing force most likely struck a nerve with their Emperor and triggered the withdrawal.
In spite of the disaster at McAuliffe, it has stirred us and united us in a way that the Kilrathi little dreamed of. To them the Jak-tu, the blow upon a superior and unsuspecting prey, is both the attack and climax in the same instant, the blow that kills and then the feast thereafter. For us it was an outrage that demands revenge.
It has been thirty days since the beginning of the war. Yes, we have lost a hundred and fifty-three systems, thirty percent of our industrial capacity, nearly forty percent of key strategic resources and the shocking number of twenty-eight billion citizens who are now behind enemy lines and condemned to slavery or death. And yet we have not given in.
The prognosis for the short term is terrifying. Seventy percent of the fleet is gone. The loss of Concordia in the closing minutes of the fight was a painful blow. She was a proud ship and I hope someday we'll pass her name on to a new ship. We are now down to three carriers in active service, with Ark Royal arriving back at Earth later today for what is expected to be a six-month overhaul.
I must now urge you, Jim, to press forward. Our enemy is still an enigma to us, as we are to him. We must, therefore, learn who he is, and in the process learn his weaknesses and how to exploit them. We already have learned much in the technical sense. Within three months we shall be turning out copies of their torpedoes, and the crash program to bring the new Corsair fighter on-line is rapidly moving ahead. Above all else though, we must learn where they will strike next.
There can never be another McAuliffe. For that matter, any form of defeat in the next campaign will spell our doom. In the next fight we must win an overwhelming victory or die. I am counting on you, Jim, to find out where the next blow will come so that we might be ready. A significant enough victory and we can yet turn the tide of war.
Behind the Scenes
From Action Stations, by William R. Forstchen, Chapter Fourteen, 342-344, Baen Books