The crisis in Zefra caught the White House off guard. This year (2020) is an election year in the US and the President is running for re-election. So most of the recent focus by the staff has been on a campaign for a second term.
For Zefra, and in the South Pacific at large, the White House has never clearly stated a proper role for the United States. Should the US stand off? Should the Truscans, who seek democracy get US support? What about the UN-backed coalition force? It seems to be getting nowhere fast! Is China getting the upper hand in the South Pacific? Has the White House bungled things again? Is a US-China rivalry likely to lead to super-power conflict?
Get a scoop, any scoop, ahead of the other journalists.
Investigate US initiatives: What is the White House really trying to achieve? Is the administration really trying to solve problems in Zefra, or is it just trying to suppress problems until the President has been re-elected?
Confirm that the only reason the White House is interested in Zefra is to promote the President's credentials in the elections in November 2020.
If appropriate, reveal to the American people the inadequacy of the reaction of the US government.
Confirm or deny rumors that Chinese technology may be used in Zefra to build a dirty bomb. Find out if Bongos, or Truscans, or someone else is behind this.
Check apparent facts with a second source.
Run a story if the facts seem to support it (say 90% reliable). If a story embarasses the US administration, they probably deserve it. If it motivates the US Government to support democracy (as they claim to), that would be even better.
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 (CJTF Z), this force is under British command and includes military personnel and equipment from various nations including Britain, Canada, Australia, and 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 UN force (CJTF Z) may have to confront elements from the "Illustrious Fighters for Freedom" or IFF, a battalion from the Zefran Republican Guard under a rogue commander. This battalion is appears to be in hills west of Kabra, north and south of the Capricorn Highway (Route A4).
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 Pakistan, 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.
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, 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 Sunday morning talk shows for several weeks now. Most commentators are asking why the US 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).