You may have noticed the word “Bazistan” has been thrown around in several of the battle reports. So what on earth is it? Well, it’s an imagi-nation, a fake nation constructed for the simple purpose of providing a backdrop for my games. Rather than just including a random word in every battle, I thought I should actually explain what Bazistan is and why I use it.
Why an imagi-nation?
Despite playing “historical” rulesets, imagi-nations provide a powerful tool for gamers getting involved in ultramodern warfare. Here are the main reasons why I play in Bazistan rather Afghanistan or Iraq explicitly
- Avoiding difficult situations – One of the first things I learnt when I started trying to introduce people to ultramodern wargaming is that some people do not want to play in the modern day. Some people do not want to play anything past WW2. An imagination gives you a step back, letting you use the word “inspired by”. I have met a lot of people who would not play if I said the words “Kabul” rather than “Bazi City”.
- Total control over scenarios – In my opinion, playing in the real world requires you to be slightly more sensible and accurate with your missions – it would be strange to have Challenger 2s rolling around Afghanistan. In contrast, setting missions in Bazistan lets me play whatever I want. One week I could have a serious, military maneuver with British forces pushing through a village then the next have four thieves breaking into a warehouse used by a bunch of mercs, all using the same world. Similarly, I get reasons to use all sorts of forces. Pile of early ’90s US forces? Just found the forces for the local government. Collection includes Taliban and Iraqi insurgents? Bazistan has it’s tribal forces and urban militia.
- World Building – I come from a RPG playing background (one of the things that got me through my final project at uni was living with an excellent DM) and so writing worlds for me is fun. I’m also a huge Tom Clancy fan – following his lead using the real world as a starting point and tweaking a few factors is a great way to make something that feels real while also letting you mould it to your liking.
Overall, I can see both sides of the argument over imagi-nations. However, it’s a tool I like to pull from the box to make my games into something special.
Briefing on Bazistan
After WW1, when the British split the Arabian Peninsula, there was an additional kingdom that didn’t become part of Saudi Arabia. The Bazis are a proud tribe who managed to maintain control of their lands by acting as the middlemen to those who attempted to conquer them. To the Ottomans, the Bazi kept control of the lawless desert while providing their taxes on time. When the British arrived in Aden in 1838, the Bazis leased the land around Aden in perpetuity and provided access rights to the mines in the interior.
Post WW1, the Bazis established themselves as a kingdom under King Bazhir the 1st. They appealed to the British and for a while became a protectorate, depending on the British for defence (particularly against their larger neighbour) and foreign policy. King Bazhir wanted to create a modern nation, welcoming in industrial concerns and assembling a modern defence force. WW2 saw Bazistan taking on the defence of the Bazi-Djibouti strait, allowing easy access for ships using the Suez Canal. Bazi troops also joined the Commonwealth forces in the Middle East, fighting in Iraq and forming part of the occupation force.
In the post war world, King Bazhir began in secret to foment a desire for Bazistan to no longer be under the British. Rather than seeking a violent break, Bazistan sorted out a deal and in the aftermath of Suez, Bazistan was diplomatically separated from Britain in 1958. Aden remained as a colony but after the announcement in 1968 that Britain was withdrawing from “east of Aden”, it also sought independence and became a tiny petrochemically funded state in 1970.
1970 also saw the death of King Bazhir the 1st, leaving the crown to his son who became King Bazhir the 2nd. The son was not as closely tied to the west as his father, having travelled to the Soviet Union as a student. This led to a shift in interior policies and a massive rearmament program that gave the CIA great concern. In November 1972 the Bazistani Army crossed into Aden in an attempt to seize the oilfields and mines. The local defence forces, assisted by the Royal Air Force and (it is rumoured) the SAS managed to stall the tanks in the mountains until a small British taskforce arrived. The Bazis eventually retreated after 40 days and the royal family (assisted by the Royal Guard) outsed Bazhir the 2nd, giving the throne to his cousin Ahmed.
Ahmed the 1st then decided to play a risky game. Rather than aligning with the East or West, Ahmed sat in the centre and proclaimed his country “The Switzerland of the Middle East”. Bazistan became a hotbed of espionage filled with spies from many nations while at the same time, taking advantage of anyone wishing to invest in the country. Around this time, King Ahmed opened the Royal Industrial area just outside Bazi City. The first occupant? The Argo Corporation, an American industrial conglomerate with multiple arms producing everything from farming machinery to weapon systems.
In the south, the Republic of Aden continued its growth as well, especially with the discovery of offshore oil in the Gulf of Aden. However, the democratic government became concerned about its security (especially after it’s discovery of oil and other resources) and so it signed a new agreement with the British. Rather than becoming a protectorate, Aden would give BP a first chance at all oil reserves and also provide Britain with a year round desert training area just outside of the city of Aden. This area has plenty of space for armoured units and fast jets to perform mock operations as well as fake neighborhoods for counter insurgency training. In return, the British would help train the local defence force and promise to guarantee independence.
As the Cold War ended, Bazistan was relatively stable and remarkably advanced for the region. King Ahmed however was growing old and frail. Seemingly to prevent the country imploding in a time that did not agree with monarchy, and cautious of the whispers of revolution on the wind, Ahmed setup a semi-constitutional system. The final buck stopped with the king but each district sent elected advisors to the court. Ahmed’s son, Bazhir the 3rd was to be the first king under this system and he took the throne in 1998 with the death of his father.
To put it mildly, the system proved to be terrible and Bashir the 3rd is a terrible king. As the 21st century began, much of the economic boom’s profit was spread out amongst the king and his advisors. Democratic elections failed almost entirely. As the price of oil began to plummet, Bazistan began to fall to pieces. To help break the camel’s back, an advisor managed to sneak in a law that allowed the forming of private militias for “self defence”. At the same time, the Argo Corporation have announced the expansion of their security department in order to protect their interests in the country.
South of the border, Aden became even more important as a partner to the British. The Aden Warm Weather Training Centre became a key facility for the British Army in the Middle East, providing acclimatisation training for troops heading to Iraq and as a testing ground for new equipment. Even after the withdrawal, Aden hosts a yearly desert warfare training exercise that brings in forces from around the world to share experience. Additionally, Private Military Companies have paid to use the training area before contracts in the triple states that now form Iraq or bodyguard duty in the Gulf States.
So that’s the basic situation in Bazistan, what is going on as the wargaming period (2014 onwards) begins?
Internally, Bazistan is beginning to crack. The mountain tribes are seeking a return to traditional ways. Rebellious acts are on the rise and the army has been deployed as part of policing actions. Images of BTRs and T72s fighting through mountain passes and Hinds flying down the valleys remind many defence journalists of the Russian intervention in Afghanistan. In the cities, there has been a rise in militias forming. These groups have now created no-go zones in key urban areas. Worse, these militias have been engaging the government security forces in battle and the attackers have included mercenaries from Eritrea (many still carrying their military ID cards). The worsening security situation, as well as the slowing economy, has led to a rise in PMCs hired by both the government and local interests.
Well the first thing is the worsening situation between Bazistan and its neighbours. In the south, factions seeking to overturn the Aden lease have been running cross border raids in an attempt to force the Republic into joining it’s larger brother. The most recent attack saw the involvement of British forces after a patrol discovered the insurgents setting up a resupply point and requested air support. Britain has warned Bazistan about these events and are deploying more troops to assist the Aden Security Force (ASF).
Bazistan is also the home of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Ever since it’s creation, Saudi Arabia has been very concerned about Bazistan’s border and it’s proximity to Mecca. During the 1980’s, Bazistan and Saudi Arabia had several border crossing incidents with fighter jets have several close encounters and a dangerous crash that led to a hot point. To prevent this happening again, Saudi Arabia began spending its money to arm sympathetic militias and keep key friendly government elements in power.
On the other side, Iran sees Bazistan as the perfect back door into Saudi Arabia. If the Bazistan government was to be friendlier to Iran, it would force Saudi Arabia to fight on two fronts. To help this, Iran has been funding militias, insurgent groups and politicians interested in regime change. They have also deployed QUDs Force, leading to the CIA descending on the area to hunt these troublemakers down before they can cause any major issues.
Finally, Russia sees Bazistan as a potential ally in the region. They have begun to increase investment and recently signed a bilateral deal to provide access to the Bazistan Desert Training Area in return for economic assistance. This has seen the arrival of small elements of the Russian armed forces in the country. In addition, a recent report leaked to the Guardian included mentions of a large Russian intelligence gathering and direct action base in Bazi City.
Moving on in the timeline there will be several events fixed in stone. At some point, following what has been labelled “The Bazistan Incident” in my notes, ISAF AP will cross from Aden into Bazistan as a peacekeeping force. Apart from that, I’m writing up more events as I play more games.
- Bazistan – Bazistan’s army is a mixture of equipment – first line infantry and armour are equipped with western gear while the second line and reserves are armed with the old Soviet tanks and weapon systems. The army is still in a reasonable state in spite of the economic issues.
- Royal Guard – A subset of the army, the Royal Guard has the best equipment and training. In addition, the Royal Guard have special forces units designed for covert operations in defence of the royal family.
- Internal Security Force – Formerly known as the National Police of Bazistan, the ISF function as both police and as additional army units as and when required. To assist in this role, the ISF have several BTR 80s for military use
- Aden Security Force (ASF) – South of the border, the ASF protect the Republic of Aden. A self defence force, the ASF is designed to police the civilian population and hold long enough in wartime for the West to intercede. Although not as well trained or as well equipped as the British, it is a professional force.
- ISAF AP (International Security Assistance Force: Arabian Peninsula) – Encompassing all expeditionary forces in Arabia (including NATO forces stationed in Saudi Arabia)
- UK – The British have a permanent force as part of the training centre in Aden and rotates other units through
- US – Despite the US having a base in Djibouti, some units have been taking part in exercises in Aden. US Marines, US Army Rangers and a Stryker Combat Team have all rotated through. Additionally, an arrangement is in place to allow USSOCOM to operate from Aden when required.
- Other nations – French, German, Australian and New Zealand forces have all attended exercises at the ranges in Aden.
- PMC – There are multiple Private Military Companies operating in the region ranging from purely security forces to trainers working with the Bazistan government up to contractors providing special operations skills to the highest bidder.
- The Argo Corporation – Argo has several divisions in Bazistan, including a large proportion of their armament industry. Because of this, Argo has expanded it’s security. Argo now has a wide range of capabilities from facility security up to pre-emptive strikes against possible threats to the company.
- Commando Global Solutions – One of the smaller companies on the circuit, CGS offers capabilities to it’s clients that would be more usually seen in the SOF community. They are also the protagonists of the main series of games included in Weekend Warfare
- Irregular Forces – As well as official regular forces, Bazistan is fast becoming home to a wide variety of irregular, non-governmental forces.
- Urban Militias – Thanks to a change in the law, there has been an explosion in the rise of militias controlling various neighbourhoods in the major cities. These militias are armed in various ways
- Local Defence – Most militias are being formed by a neighbourhood, wanting to protect it from criminal organisations and other forces that might threaten their life. BEcause of their lack of backing, the defence militias are primarily armed with assault rifles and using civilian vehicles to get around.
- Iran Friendly – Several militias have gained patronage from the government of Iran. The Revolutionary Guard see these militias a way of implementing a change in regime in Bazistan and so have provided training, equipment and trained Quds force troops to act as advisers and leaders.
- Saudi Friendly – As an almost mirror image to the Iranian friendly groups, Saudi Arabia has been backing it’s own militias, particularly in Bazi City itself. The Saudis act primarily through middlemen who use the funding source to purchase vehicles and weapons for the militia fighters.
- Criminal Organisations – With the worsening economic situation, criminal groups are becoming more common in Bazistan. These groups are often working for one of the king’s advisers, reclaiming debts, running rackets and fighting the Internal Security Force and militias.
- Mountain Tribes – In the south of Bazistan is a maze of valleys and mountains. For thousands of years, several tribes have lived in these hills practising a traditional way of life. As Bazistan has changed, these tribes have proved to be very anti-government. As well as fighting Bazistan, mountain tribes had ended up clashing with the ASF when they cross the border.
- Eritrean Mercs – Due to its close proximity across the straits and due to a separate crisis inside of Eritrea, members of the Eritrian Army have been leaving the country and moving to Bazistan to work as contractors. In particular, many militia groups have hired them due to their better level of training on support weapons and ability to procure them.
- Pirates – The Red Sea is exceptionally busy thanks to the Suez canal. Pirates, both Eritrean and Bazistani, have begun to operate from the Bazistan coastline, using small fast boats and lots of firepower to capture ships and their crew. These are then ransomed back to the ship’s owners.
So that’s the first briefing on Bazistan. As I play more games I’ll keep expanding it, adding in more recent events.
I’ll admit, it’s a bit more Tom Clancy than real life but it has led to some great games already. I’m also looking forward to the hobby projects coming from this. I need to paint up some figures for the Bazistan army as well as more for the Aden Defence Force ready to run some counter-insurgent operations alongside their British trainers.