The Commonwealth of Australia currently has a shaky minority government from an election held two months earlier. Before that election, the current prime minister led an administration that had a strong majority in parliament and, at that time, it agreed to participate in the UN-sponsored coalition force to deal with issues in Zefra and to contribute considerable resources to that force.
If things go sour during the Zefra commitment, it might lead to the current administration losing the confidence of parliment, forcing yet another election. Given the mood of the nation, a prime minister in such circumstances is likely to be soundly defeated should that election become necessary.
Unfortunately for the prime minister, there are many ways the commitment to the Zefra operation may be seen as a failure. Even if there is success in a purely military sense, negative media coverage could contribute to the government's downfall. This could be in the form of stories of refugees suffering, of super-power confrontation at Australia's front door, of mass atrocities against local populations, of outbreaks of disease so near to Australia.
Retain the support of parliment (and the electorate)
Fulfill the agreed mandate to the UN and to the international community
Ensure the safety of Australian civilians
Avoid unnecessary hazards to Australian military personnel
Assist and support fellow members of the coalition first, then Allies (like the US)
Avoid antagonizing China (Australia's largest trading partner)
Read on for a summary. Details are in the full Zefra Scenario.
Zefra and Daloon share the island home called Capricornia. International airline routes crisscross Zefra and Daloon -- Beijing to Auckland, Seoul to Wellington, Honolulu to Sydney. Most commercial shipping traffic crossing the Coral Sea passes along the coastlines of Zefra and Daloon.
On the island of Capricornia lie the nations of Zefra (to the North) and Daloon (to the South). Since colonial days, these two nations have a mostly hostile relationship. The Zefran Civil War caused many problems before it ended in 2009.
In Zefra, the Bongo ethnic group runs the government and most commercial activity, although it represents only about 25% of the population. The new president of Zefra is from one of the Bongo tribes. The Truscan ethnic group is in the majority (about 75% of the population) but has largely been dominated by the Bongos.
The civil war finally ended when the UN brokered a peace agreement that created an autonomous region under Peoples Liberation Movement/ Peoples Liberation Armed Malitia control within Zefra but adjacent to its border with Daloon. The PLM is a political group for Truscans and the PLAM is the military arm associated with the PLM.
The Security Council of the United Nations authorized a coalition force to deal with problems in Zefra. Called the Combined Joint Task Force Zefra (CJTFZ), this force is under Australian command and includes military personnel and equipment from various nations including Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and also Norway, Bulgaria, Singapore, and the Netherlands. The deputy commander is from New Zealand. There are no US personnel in the coalition force: a side agreement between US and China required that the UN force would not include US forces, otherwise China was prepared veto the authorization of the force by the Security Council.
The ZA started as a government-sponsored Bongo nationalist militia. The ZA has been associated with atrocities committed on Truscans, and the Zefran government claims it has no control over the ZA.
There were audits in December 2019 of spent-fuel waste from two Chinese-built nuclear sites in Zefra that suggested a considerable amount of high-grade waste (highly toxic radioactive material) was unaccounted for, as much as 140 kg.
Since Zefra has also been acquiring ballistic missile technology from North Korea, there is a potentially deadly combination of nuclear waste and a tactical ballistic missile to create a potent dirty bomb.
The PLM is a political movement for a Truscan opposition group seeking autonomy within Zefra. The PLAM is the armed component and the dominant opposition group in Zefra. The PLAM has frequently been linked to brutal attacks on Bongos throughout Zefra.
Following the end of the Zefran Civil War, the PLAM has become independent of the PLM. It became a home for Truscans who wanted to take the fight to their Bongo neighbours, by any means available. In the last few years, with a number of bloody stains on its reputation, the PLAM has frequently been described as a rogue element.
Daloon In its own response, the government of Daloon sought to secure its borders. Several European nations provided some limited assistance to Daloon in the form of military training assistance teams and a small amount of surplus military equipment.
There are many Chinese nationals in both Zefra and Daloon. In Zefra there are Chinese engineers at the nuclear power plants. There are also Chinese Air Force personnel on a couple of Zefran air bases where they conduct loading and unloading of transport aircraft that have been flying in with support for small-unit training that Chinese ground forces have been conducting in Zefra.
The "South Pacific" Task Force of the Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are cruising in the general area. They were recently making peaceful port visits to friendly nations. Now they are concentrating on the problems of Zefra.
The President is running for re-election in November 2020 and needs to consider operations in the area very carefully. The South Asia and Pacific Command (SAPCOM) is the combatant command responsible for the area. The SAPCOM commander provides military advice to the National Command Authorities on how to handle military activity in and around Zefra.
Australia agreed to lead CJTF Zefra when the government was had a strong majority. But a subsequent election has placed that administration in a minority situation. The Prime Minister was always a strong supporter of the CJTF Zefra initiative. But must now defend it against substantial opposition. Any significant failures in the mission could result in the fall of the government and another national election.
New Zealand has been a promenent supporter of the CJTF Zefra mission. The Prime Minister sees this as an opportunity to encourage peaceful growth throughout the South Pacific, as long as all sides in the various Zefran disputes see some promise of a better future. The Prime Minister is a realist in understanding that resolution of the Zefran situation will take time and resources. Thus patience is the watchword. But others do not see it that way and are demanding quick solutions. Knowing that a long-term commitment is required and that New Zealand has limited resources for that, the Prime Minister is looking for other regional players to assume some of the burden that New Zealand has assumed.
The coalition resources have access to systems representing advanced technologies, many that were developed from intellectual property that originated at the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group). This has allowed the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to share many of these systems with its coalition partners. Also, through licencing agreements, the Asia, Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand Company (APAANZco) has assembled a wide variety of systems that it has sold widely to Pacific Rim nations. APAANZco's particular strength is in autonomous systems.
There are many sceptics around, including within the leadership of CJTF Zefra, that the benefits of such systems actually outweigh the drawbacks. The attitude of may army leaders is: "Give me a simple soldier every time -- I cannot rely on automated systems when lives matter." Navy leaders seem to have much the same opinion, relying on traditions of the Navy much more than on new technology. Air Force leaders however are more accepting of new technology, but are concerned if it means there will be fewer pilots in the future force.
Journalists around the world have been focused on Zefra for some months now. Images of crying children in refugee camps and sites of atrocities have been been front page news. CNN, Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC, Seven News, Nine News, TVNZ, and Al Jazeera have all deployed television crews to cover Zefra and Daloon. Most major newspapers also have reporters there. Meanwhile Zefra and the White House reaction have been on the agenda of the morning talk shows for several weeks now. In the US , most commentators are asking why America is standing by in the face of such pain and suffering.
TOKEN is a private military company that has had a presence in both Zefra and Daloon for many years. With its headquarters in Macau, the top management of TOKEN have a merky relationship with political forces in Beijing.
Many NGOs have a presence in Zefra, Daloon, or both. The mission of most of these is to relieve the suffering of civilians, e.g., refugees and internally displaced persons. The NGOs run hospitals and other medical facilities. Some NGOs also have sites where civilians can be provided safety, and food, water, and clothing.
One particularly well known NGO is Médecins Sans Frontières or "Doctors without Borders". MSF generally keeps an arms-length relationship with governments and military forces. The rationale is that MSF must be widely viewed as aloof from all sides of a conflict. If any side perceives MSF personnel to be favoring some other side, then they can become vulneable. MSF believes their staff will be safer if they show no bias towards any of the sides in the conflict.
The map shows two nuclear reactor sites, refugee camps south of the Zefra-Daloon border, a military exclusion zone along the border patrolled by Daloon, new sources of scarce water, desalination plants along the coast, gas fields off the East coast of Daloon. The two air bases shown have small numbers of Chinese air force personnel (about 50 personnel each).