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The Idaho War, also known as the Second Civil War, or the Yttrium War, was a relatively limited conflict between the United States and the secessionist Idaho forces. After Idaho attempted to nationalize its yttrium mining industry, the federal authorities, under the pressure of certain corporate interests, invaded the state to secure mineral deposits. The immediate pretext of the campaign was the supposed assassination of Jared Hassan, the Speaker of the House, by anti-federal militias connected to the Idaho government. After an extended air war lasting six weeks, a 200-hour ground conflict led to a decisive American victory. Despite its short length, the Idaho War was fairly unpopular among Americans, leading to widespread protests, and eventually the impeachment of President Gerald Wilson upon the discovery that he launched the campaign on the behalf of mineral corporations.
Following the Yttrium revolution — seeing widespread use of Yttrium in room-temperature superconductors, incorporated into vactrains, power distribution infrastructure, and nuclear fusion energy facilities — the US state of Idaho emerged as one of the most important sources of the valuable resource. Nearly a quarter of global reserves were located in Idaho, and the relatively advanced infrastructure available in the US (as compared, for example, to African nations) encouraged mining corporations to establish a presence in the region. Idaho's Yttrium industry essentially formed during the 2030s, when the first high-efficiency power infrastructure with YBCO superconducting coils appeared, and expanded greatly in the 2040s and 50s with the expansion of fusion energy technology (which utilized Yttrium-based magnets), and the creation of the global VacTrain system. Infitech Resources Corp. essentially monopolized Idaho's prosperous mineral and mining production.
During the early stages of rare earth mining in the Pacific Northwest, the expansion of resource infrastructure generated hundreds of thousands of jobs, and provided local economies with much wealth and prosperity. However, the Automation Crisis of the 2040s and 50s replaced newly created jobs with computer software and robotics, eliminating any local economic benefits of mining. Without the need to pay workers, mining corporations kept an increasingly high fraction of revenues as profit, while an increasingly high number of citizens suffered from unemployment. The unemployment crisis was not only limited to mining, but affected all sectors of the economy. Many governments attempted to alleviate the widespread poverty resulting from automation by introducing new social and public services. Some nations, notably Canada, nationalized control of resources to produce revenue for new welfare programs. Following in these footsteps, socialist governor Ali Fray vowed to place Idaho's Yttrium wealth "in the hands of the people, not the corporations". His new budget package, calling for an extensive new welfare program for the unemployed, was to be funded through the nationalization. In 2059, his proposal passed the Idaho Senate with flying colors.
Idaho had generated enormous revenues for mining corporations, particularly Infitech Resources. During the late 2050s, there was an intense global buildup of nuclear fusion infrastructure, with nearly 50 gigawatts of installed fusion power coming online every year. This extensive development required a continual flow of Yttrium fuel, which was incorporated into YBCO superconducting magnets in the Tokomak reactors (as well as in the ubiquitous magnets needed for the VacTrain international project). With Idaho producing nearly 150,000 tons of Yttrium at costs upward of $500/kg every year, the industry was the main source of revenue for Infitech. Following Idaho's reforms, with the Yttrium income held by local government rather than corporations, Infitech sought out federal intervention to halt the nationalization. After the new administration under President Wilson ordered the Idaho authorities to hand over control of mineral reserves to Infitech, and the state government refused, military action was considered.
Lead Up to the War
Following the enactment of Idaho's resource nationalization in February of 2059, corporate officials for Infitech Corp., as well as other mining companies, met with local officials (including Governor Fray himself) during the Boise Accords to discuss the new nationalization policy. The Fray administration remained adamant about maintaining the Yttrium revenue in public hands, and expressed hostility and contempt towards private interests. The Boise Accords are widely recognized as having been a diplomatic failure, with neither side agreeing to a compromise.
In 2060, Gerald Wilson, a wealthy business leader and large shareholder in Infitech, campaigned on a platform of fighting Neo-Socialism, particularly the movement for resource nationalization in the Northwest. His political victory was partly due to funding from powerful mining interests. Upon inauguration in January of 2061, he immediately issued a new executive order, restricting local government's involvement in mining, while upholding resource corporations. The order nullified Idaho's nationalization bill.
The Fray administration refused to abide by the executive action, and the nationalization program was actually expanded, funding a large increase in the size of the Idaho national guard, as well as additional welfare programs. After meeting with corporate officials from Infitech, Wilson enacted a new executive order in February, directly ordering Idaho authorities to hand over control of mineral reserves to mining corporations. Governor Fray refused to enforce the order, and began mobilizing national guard troops throughout the state.
On March 11, 2061, Speaker of the House Jared Hassan, along with two other congressmen and over a dozen aides, were killed in a drone strike against his Iowa house. Hassan was, perhaps not incidentally, the primary political opposition to Wilson's presidency. After a rushed investigation, federal officials concluded on the 13th that members of extremist anti-government militias in Idaho, supposedly connected to the Fray administration, had hacked into the computer control systems of a USAF air base and launched the attack. The event dominated international news coverage in the following weeks, with President Wilson blaming Fray's alleged support for violent militia and cyberattack groups. The majority of historians consider the assassination to be a false-flag operation, intended to offer a pretext for military intervention. Leading up to the war, the Wilson administration framed the Idaho government as being a "violent, secessionist, anti-American militia", and described Governor Fray as a "socialist despot attempting to establish a violent dictatorship in the American heartland". In April, Wilson issued a new executive order, allowing for military action against the Idahonian "insurrection", as well as increased surveillance capabilities against anti-government groups.
On May 11, the United States Air Force launched a sweeping aerial strike against tactical and logistical targets throughout Idaho. On that day, some 350 BattleStar positronium missiles were fired against key targets surrounding the city of Idaho Falls. Over the next six weeks, hypersonic drone craft would log over 50,000 sorties, while cruise missiles also provided support for aerial operations.
The Idaho Narional Guard was not an insignificant opponent. In 2061, Idaho's population was nearly six million, some 1.6% of the national total. During the 2030s and 40s, Idaho's population grew an average of 5% a year, as migrants from other states flooded in to take advantage of the economic opportunities made available by the expanding mining sector; this growth slowed during the Automation Wave of the 2050s as robotics eliminated mining jobs. During the 2050s, however, Idaho's government utilized its economic and demographic capital to build up the National Guard. The state's armed forces were further boosted by Fray's reforms, which saw Yttrium nationalization fund an increase in the National Guard's size in addition to new welfare programs. By 2061, the Idaho National Guard's budget was 15 billion USD, supporting over 30,000 troops in addition to a significant Air Force. The Guard was by far the largest of any state in terms of percentage of GDP spent, and the third-largest by absolute budget.
To defeat Idaho's forces decisively, Wilson launched an extensive air campaign, which consisted of several stages:
May 11 - May 18 The USAF, utilizing hypersonic drone fighter craft armed with positronium missiles, established superiority against the Idaho Air National Guard. Idahonian military aircraft were destroyed in flight. Airstrips used by the National Guard were attacked by aircraft and cruise missiles alike. Radar and surveillance capabilities of Idaho's Air Force were decimated. Fray's forces attempted to retaliate, managing to destroy five American aircraft with surface-to-air missiles and one in a direct confrontation, but were decisively defeated.
May 19 - June 2 After attaining air superiority, the USAF secured air supremacy by destroying ground-based weaponry, including surface-to-air missile launchers and communications disrupters, that could threaten the operations of American aircraft. Some 400 BattleStar missiles were fired during this stage, aiming to eliminate missile launchers and associated infrastructure. Hypersonic drones continued to play an important role. By the beginning of June, the USAF had established complete air-supremacy, enforcing a no-fly zone and offering tactical support for the coming invasion.
June 3 - June 15 During early June, after establishing complete air supremacy, the USAF concentrated on destroying communications, command, and intelligence infrastructure associated with the Idaho ground forces. Having already eliminated radar and air-based sensing abilities during the first phase, the American forces focused on launching attacks against command centers, computer and digital intelligence centers, and communications infrastructure. BattleStar missiles were primarily used (over 600 were fired during the phase), but drones continued to be useful. By June 15, not only military but also civilian communications and digital infrastructure was disrupted, with the Internet down across the entire state. This was a controversial aspect of the war, as the destruction of civilian communications disrupted industry, and infamously prevented hospitals and healthcare centers, as well as police and emergency services, from functioning.
June 16 - July 10 The final phase of the air war was probably most notorious. Having destroyed Idaho's air, ground-to-air, and intelligence and communications capabilities, the campaign was expanded to destroy a variety of logistical infrastructure, some of which utilized by civilians. During this time, Idaho continued to sell Yttrium through Canada, which refused to participate in the war; in late June, transportation infrastructure through the Idaho-Canadian border was destroyed by the USAF in order to strangle Idaho's economy. Not only did this action cause a significant US-Canada diplomatic crisis, but a large number of civilians were killed, including the destruction of an Idaho maglev train car carrying over 70 non-combatants, supposedly mistaken for a Yttrium ore vehicle. Transportation infrastructure was also destroyed across the state to prevent Idahonian ground forces from effectively mobilizing; the collapse of Peterson Falls Bridge, killing over 50 civilians, was caused by an American missile strike. The USAF also destroyed ammunition and weaponry storage facilities, as well as military bases and barracks. By July, the war was essentially over for Idaho.
Clinton High School Incident
Perhaps the single most notorious and controversial event during the war was the destruction of Clinton High School, located in a suburb outside of Idaho Falls. On the morning of June 21, officials at the US Air Force received intelligence that Governor Fray would be attending an event at the school later that day. This information was leaked to the press by 2:00, at which time several news agencies picked up on the story, and conveyed to President Wilson himself.
At 3:34 PM, local police received numerous reports of explosions at the High School. The communications infrastructure in the area was relatively unharmed by the US Air campaign, allowing residents to communicate with the police. These reports were quickly confirmed by security video footage, and by 4:00 information on the event was dispensed by the national press. Over 200 students and personnel were killed in the blast, marking the deadliest single event of the war. Fray was, however, nowhere near the school at the time, and was in fact meeting with several military advisors.
The Wilson administration was adamant that it had nothing to so with the explosion, and claims that the Idaho National Guard had stored ammunition within the school, which exploded in an accident. A congressional investigation in 2062 was inconclusive. Critics of the official account point to several factors :
Coincidence : By 2:00 on the 21st, US military intelligence that Governor Fray would visit the school later that day was leaked to the press. Only an hour and a half later, explosions struck within the school. Critics find it hard to believe that the accidental discharge of ammunition coincidentally occurred merely hours after American forces obtained key intelligence about Fray's activities there.
Nature of the Explosions : Security video footage, corroborated with numerous eyewitness accounts, produces a coherent image of the explosions within the school. The nature of these explosions, which appeared to pierce the outer rim of the building from the outside, was consistent with the properties of a positronium missile strike, and did not match the appearance of an ammunitions discharge. Several munitions experts have analyzed this evidence, and, under the testimony of a congressional inquiry, determined that the explosions matched the characteristics of BattleStar submunitions, which were utilized by the USAF.
Forensic Evidence: Federal forensic teams examining the remains of the building reported their concerns during the 2062 congressional inquiry. The appearance of holes "punched into" the building's outer walls was consistent with the expected properties of BattleStar submunitions, which shape gamma-ray bursts towards their target, and could not be explained in the context of an internal discharge of ammunitions. Furthermore, remains of United States military missile components, not used by the Idaho National Guard, were allegedly found in the building's remains.
Satellite Surveillance: A specialized Canadian military satellite recorded the incident from above. As revealed during the investigation, several "orbs", consistent with the shape and speed of US BattleStar missiles, were recorded by the satellite's high-resolution camera as approaching the school seconds before the explosion.
Caption: US Army movements during the Idaho ground campaign. Blue dots represent Yttrium and mineral deposits
While US Air Force operations took nearly six weeks, the actual ground war in Idaho was completed within a span of merely 200 hours. On July 11, a unit of 50,000 US marines pushed upward through the southeast of the state, seizing numerous Yttrium mines and mineral deposits. Several enemy units attempted to surrender or retreat, and, with numerical supremacy, the US military noted very little early resistance. On July 12, these marines captured the rich mineral reserves outside Idaho Falls in the battle of Pocatello. That same day, 30,000 US troops pushed westward towards Idaho Falls, with both units converging on the city. On July 13, the entire urban area was secured by American forces in the Battle of Idaho Falls; Idahonian troops attempting to surrender were controversially massacred during this conflict.
On July 12, 130,000 US soldiers, along with several marine and special operations units, entered Idaho's northeast border with Montana. This unit swept northward, securing the extensive Yttrium deposits near the Lemhi Range. On July 13, key enemy fortifications and bases were conquered in the area around the Salmon River Mountains. On the 14th, the US units swept south, taking control of Yttrium reserves in the battles of New Meadows, Cascade, and Idaho City. On the 16th, 50,000 American troops pushed through the Oregon border, and both units converged at Boise on the 17th.
The Battle for Boise was the longest single conflict within the war. Although US troops had secured all major Yttrium and mineral reserves, the remaining Idaho forces still had to be defeated. Attempting to secure the city, American commanders noted extensive resistance, with enemy troops often fighting to the death. Many civilians were armed as well, participating in insurgent activity. By the 19th, however, the ground campaign was essentially over.
Both belligerents in the Idaho War utilized advanced military technologies. The conflict served as a useful testing ground for the R&D efforts of armed forces, seeing newly developed aircraft, missiles, and robots used in an active combat environment.
Hypersonic Drone Aircraft
The ubiquitous staple of both the USAF and the Idaho Air National Guard during the war was the hypersonic drone. Developed during the 2050s, super-intelligent strike aircraft, controlled either through a computer guidance system or remotely located personnel, could travel at nearly Mach 15, truly creating a global battlefield. Carrier battle groups stationed near Malaysia were actually able to participate in the air campaign, due to the high speed of the drones. Small, agile positronium missiles were launched from these aircraft; high-powered lasers, particle beams, and magnetically-launched projectiles offered defense.
During the 2040s, the discovery of new laws of particle physics allowed antimatter to be produced in a highly efficient manner. By 2050, positrons were utilized in military applications, costing a mere 11,000 USD per kWh (about 10 million for a large cruise missile). Despite being electrically neutral, positronium atoms could be manipulated and contained within strong magnetic fields. Onboard magnetics stabilized positronium atoms within a missile, storing them within a Bose-Einstein condensate. At detonation, a release of infrared radiation stimulated the atoms to collapse, producing a polarized, coherent burst of gamma-ray photons. Despite its relatively high cost, positronium held several advantages over standard explosives: firstly, the burst of gamma-rays, directed towards the target, could penetrate deep within even the best armour; secondly, the high energy density of antimatter allowed small, agile missiles to pack an enormous punch.
There were essentially two delivery systems utilized for positronium missiles during the war. Hypersonic drones could launch small missiles towards a target. Alternatively, cruise missiles (especially the BattleStar) could fly at high speeds towards their target, breaking apart into numerous agile submunitions prior to detonation. The BattleStar was cheaper, but drones could be reused, had better defenses, and could participate in more complex strikes.
Infantry Exoskeletons and Superconducting Rifles
Technological innovation was not limited to the air campaign. The ground warfare also featured new military technologies. Despite advances in robotics, infantry remained the cheapest and most effective staple of army power. Troops were placed in powered exoskeletons, composed of strong carbon nanotube alloys. The body-armour, depending on advances in energy storage, could allow soldiers to move at super-human speed and perform complex battle maneuvers, eliminating the need for armored cars to move infantry around. Nanotechnology allowed miniature battery packs to provide enormous power for the exoskeletons, while electricity was also broadcast through wireless battlefield systems. The strong carbon-nanotube composite, utilizing advances in materials engineering, provided excellent defense.
The key infantry weapon was the superconducting rifle, which used yttrium-based magnets to accelerate projectiles at enormous velocity. The US army, without access to Idaho's Yttrium reserves, had to import the material from deposits in Africa and China. After being accelerated through the magnetic rifle, projectiles possessed air-breathing engines, allowing guidance towards a target.
Mechas and Robotics
During the Idaho War, Mechas took the place that tanks occupied in previous conflicts. Composed of nanoengineered nanotube composites, these large robots magnified the movements of a human guide. A large superconducting cannon fired guided projectiles at targets, while numerous support tools allowed Mechas to cut through forest and underbrush, paving a path for infantry. Numerous support robotics were also utilized, moving materiel, carrying wounded troops to safety, and providing logistical support.
Communications and Space Surveillance
Space surveillance played a critical point in the war. The United States held a complete supremacy over space-based sensors and communications systems, thus establishing a key advantage over the Idaho forces. Advanced satellites could track enemy movements, offer secure communications, and even actively guide munitions towards targets. Computers based in orbit could control the activities of robotics and guided missiles.
Controversy and Anti-War Resistance
A great degree of socialist tension was present in the United States during the early 2060s. The Automation Wave, seeing robotics and computer programs supersede human workers in many occupations, led to the rise of a class of scientists, inventors, and technicians, while also causing massive poverty and unemployment among former industrial workers, laborers, and office clerks. A financial and business elite remained powerful in the new economic system. A growing political movement called for extensive wealth redistribution and welfare programs to alleviate the poverty associated with unemployment. In the Pacific Northwest, which possessed massive deposits of valuable minerals, the Neo-Socialist movement was heavily associated with the nationalization policy, whereby resource profits would fund government programs rather than corporate interests.
The Neo-Socialist policies of Governor Fray were extremely popular in Idaho, as well as across the United States. President Wilson's economic plans, calling for a reduction in welfare expenditures, were subject to enormous protest and public distaste. Thus, by the time that the war in Idaho began, many, if not most Americans were already sympathetic to the resource nationalization movement.
Unrest erupted in June, as reports began to circulate that the Wilson administration had launched the war effort on the behalf on mining corporations, particularly Infitech Resources. On July 3, a massive leak of government documents, distributed by Internet "black hat" organizations, revealed not only that Wilson had communicated with Infitech officials in launching the war, but also that the Hassan assassination was a false-flag operation. Discoveries that Wilson took election money from, and owned shares in, Infitech, contributed to the protests, which expanded when the Clinton High School incident occurred. When the ground campaign started in July, a massive anti-war riot in Detroit caused some 2 billion USD in property damage, 73 deaths, and over 200,000 arrests.
In 2062, Wilson was impeached for launching the false-flag operation. However, a congressional investigation into Clinton High School was inconclusive.
Critics of the war note the following:
Economic Costs: The American campaign, including air and land operations, cost some 140 billion USD. While a relatively small portion of the federal budget, detractors note the possible "opportunity costs" of this spending.
Civilian Casualties: The aerial bombardment, as well as ground operations, caused over 1,200 civilian deaths, not including those at Clinton High School. The destruction of transportation infrastructure, to prevent Idaho's mobilization, not only caused direct casualties, but led to significant disruption in civilian life. The destruction of communications infrastructure prevented emergency services from operating, possibly contributing to hundreds of deaths.
Military Massacre: Critics note that US forces mercilessly massacred surrendering and retreating Idahonian troops, especially during the Battle for Idaho Falls.