Initially Essex’s military was composed of local Territorial Army and police units granted additional powers, subservient to the Kelvedon Hatch Bunker authorities. Members of the land, sea and air cadets aged over 16 were also pressed into service along with any younger volunteers by the government. Equipped with reasonably modern equipment for the time they were a powerful force in defending against rogue groups from the countryside, even though they were most commonly deployed on government administration missions. However, their misuse at the hands of the government to establish a seemingly self-perpetuating dictatorship led to growing distrust and discontentment amongst the military, which were triggered into launching a coup in the 1990 Revolution.
With the advent of democracy the command of the army began to change; it remained loyal to the government, but became a more independent body, as it had prior to Doomsday. It was also prompted to establish new cadet training organizations within Essex to prepare a new generation of soldiers to take the place of the slowly ageing military. These organizations continually provide a stream of volunteers, sufficient to cover the number retirees and deaths within the small army.
The highest profile event in the army's history is the War of 2008. Following a number of attacks amongst Hertfordshire communities, culminating in a raid that destroyed a fortress on the A10 and a deep raid into Essex, the military was dispatched by the government to locate the enemy which had killed and kidnapped around three thousand citizens. The military was wary, however, as a prior peaceful exploration of several hundred men towards Luton had been utterly destroyed, seemingly vanishing from the face of the earth. The army mobilised over ten thousand men and women and armed them with whatever they could find - cars refitted with guns and armour, horse-drawn carriages seized for usage as troop carriers - and marshalled them into the largest military force fielded by the country to date.
The main taskforce of five thousand men was given the objective of securing Luton as a forward base of operations, and from there locate the Essex citizens. The remaining force would establish a series of defensive perimeters to prevent further incursions into Essex. Discovering that their enemy was the racist 'True British Army', composed of ex-police and ex-military units led by a group of warlords who called themselves 'general-governors' the army was authorised to assault Luton and destroy the local regime. This they did, freeing the town in a single battle, and establishing a new base of operations. Learning that the enemy had made its base in Milton Keynes the army continued its assault, travelling up the M1 - where they were ambushed by an enemy force twice their size. Losing nearly a third of their men the army was forced to make the choice to either retreat or continue against overwhelming odds. It was close decision, until they realised that despite their losses they had inflicted a significant loss on the enemy and were likely the first truly organised opposition to the True British Army. Camping overnight in an M1 embankment they prepared for a dawn raid on Milton Keynes on February 29th. (The later justification for this date was that if it resulted in victory, the men would have to be modest and celebrate every four years; if they lost, they would only have to remember the embarrassment every leap year.)
The battle for Milton Keynes was a spectacular success, and casualties only began to grow late in the morning once the enemy realised what was happening and could organise their defences. However, despite having the proverbial home field advantage, being intimately aware of the town and having fortified it in dozens of different ways, the True British Army rapidly lost ground against the superior Essex troops, who by early afternoon had secured the town centre and executed the True British Army leaders. Demoralised and afraid the remainder of the True British Army scattered into the countryside, offering no resistance as Essex troops freed the captured citizens from an Astwood concentration camp and brought back thousands of immigrants from Milton Kenyes and surrounding territories.
Since their return on March 7th the military has mainly concerned itself with defending against remaining fragments of the True British Army and other raiders, and donating its physical strength in the movement of aid and construction efforts throughout the Hertfordshire and London territories. Having been downsized since the 2008 War most of the military's long-distance efforts involve scouting parties and hunting down raiders.
As the army reaches its third decade of existence it is noted much of its equipment is beginning to malfunction; its well-used rifles and carbines are slowly being replaced by civilian-owned weapons resulting a slowly more diverse arsenal. New workshops opening to provide heavier weapons such as artillery and armoured cars are also leading to the military’s ramshackle appearance. Perhaps the greatest change is that hand-to-hand combat is being taught again, and troops are being supplied with armour ranging from preserved suits of armour through to slats of corrugated iron and car chassis to wear.
Some efforts have been made in recent years to expand the mobility of the army. A handful of armoured cars are in operation, run primarily on biodiesel produced from oilseed rape grown in Essex and Woodbridge. These armoured cars have come to represent the patchy state of Essex society; after nearly three decades of service all the vehicles currently serving in the military have been repaired countless times, with heavily refitted engines and layered with sheets of improvised armour. Despite the ramshackle appearance of the 'Landrover cavalry' they still function to military standards and are generally employed guarding trade convoys or running border patrols. The military also uses armoured lorries as cargo carriers and troop transports.
Essex troops are permitted a limited degree of customisation of their equipment, provided it meets certain standards (such as a camouflage colour scheme). In 2009 and 2010 it suddenly became popular to adorn helmets with a pair of improved 'horns', a la Viking raiders of the past (despite complete lack of evidence of Viking helmets sporting horns). This is beginning to permeate into the civilian consciousness.
The 2010 Invasions
In 2010 Essex and Woodbridge agreed to a pact whereby the two countries would cooperate in securing the territories of St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath. The two districts, formerly part of Suffolk, were known to be home to stubborn resistance but also contained valuable sites for expansion of industry and agriculture. It would be mutually beneficial for the territories to be captured by the two nations so they might secure their borders and aid their economies. Agreeing to rule the new territories as a codominium, whereby costs of redevelopment would be shared equally, the two nations readied their armies for an assault on June 1st, the same day Essex would make the transition to the New Pound.
Though expecting a relatively easy campaign troops found themselves engaged in bitter and often pitched warfare with the local resistance - the remnants of the True British Army. Though defeated in the 2008 War and with the majority of their leadership destroyed parts of the fascistic regime had returned to power and continued their reign over a large area of land around Cambridgeshire. Their presence in West Suffolk was both an unwelcome surprise and a deadly threat, and over the fortnight the invasion took place over two thousand casualties were inflicted by the local TBA, over three-quarters of which were Essaxon.
Though the invasion came to a halt on June 13th commanders recognised that there were serious flaws in their plan. Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury possessed no defensible land borders and there were several large towns nearby from which True British Army resistance could continue for years - one of those actually within the newly-acquired territories: Bury St Edmunds, which had proved impregnable. Just a few miles to the west, however, was the River Great Ouse, which represented an excellent and well-defensible border. Woodbridge and Essex subsequently decided to launch a new offensive, this time supplemented by East British troops (the River Great Ouse running into their territory). Essex would launch an assault westwards, ending along the eastern banks of the rivers Cam and Great Ouse. Woodbridge would assault northwards, alongside the Great Ouse into Norfolk. East Britain would assault southwards on the west bank of the Great Ouse, in order to capture the Isle of Eels and the city of Ely, as well as offer assistance in West Norfolk.
The invasions were all successful in capturing their main objectives and by August resettlement and redevelopment efforts were well underway. However, for Essex this came at an extreme cost; during its invasion a ten-thousand strong army launched a counteroffensive into Essex's territories in Hertfordshire. They remained a potent threat between the 20th-24th June, in the process capturing several towns and nearly leveling the much-contested town of Saffron Walden; however, a strategic disaster at the Battle of Takeley led to much of the invading army being destroyed or captured, allowing Essex to recapture the entirety of its occupied territories in a single day, and soon after forcing a peace. The conclusion of the invasions established, for the first time, contiguous borders between all three founding members of the Organisation of British Nations.
4 Regiments of 1500 troops
1 active regiment
2 reserve regiments
Each regiment is composed of 3 infantry battalions of 500 men each
Each battalion is divided into 5 companies of 100 men each
The fifth company of each battalion is mechanised, with 25 armoured cars, 50 car crews, and 50 mechanics
1 specialised regiment
1 battalion of engineers
1 battalion of artillery
1 battalion of 'spares'
2 companies of dedicated medics
2 companies of distribution and supply, equipped with 50 lorries
1 company of special forces
Total strength 6000
An estimated 4000-6000 able-bodied men and women of sufficient training to be put onto the frontline with minimal further preparation
Essex's navy is composed almost entirely of modified civilian vessels that survived since Doomsday. The extent of modification varies; some ships are merely motor launches and pleasure craft with extra armour and larger engines (corvettes), whilst others are large yachts outfitted to support crews of at least a dozen, bristling with mounted weaponry and with ranges extending towards the coast of Europe (cruisers). In between these classes are narrowboats that have been linked together to form a more stable, catamaran-like chassis, supporting medium sized crews for coastal or upriver exploration - frigates.
The unquestioned heart of the navy is Southend. This town, rebuilt in the 1990s-2000s, is the HQ of the Essex Navy containing several shipyards and the main academy. It is also home to Southend Pier, reconstruction of which was recently completed and included a lighthouse for navigation assistance. However, the EN also has two secondary bases - Maldon, near the mouth of the Chelmer and supervising cargo movement up the canal, and Clacton, which is generally considered a more mercantile area for fishermen and coastal traders.
The history of the EN is overshadowed by the tragedy of its first mission, in which an exploration to Sheerness in Kent encountered a non-exploded warhead, with over half the mission dying from radiation poisoning or suicide received from the intense radiation emitted by the device. Nevertheless, the navy has held itself above the blemish (though commemorates it annually) and has dedicated its attention to three goals:
Exploration of England via waterways
Exploration of the European coastline
Protection of the growing civilian maritime industry from military threats
In April 2010 it was announced that Sweden and Norway offered to sell redundant vessels to a joint Essex-Woodbridge bid in return for manufactured goods and foodstuffs.After all parties agreed the two Scandinavian nations agreed to deliver fourteen vessels in response to the bid: ten supplied by Sweden and four by Norway, seven going to Essex and Woodbridge. These vessels are expected to arrive by mid-May, and will be serviced at Lowestoft and Southend. The vessels, all large and mostly useless and/or outclassed freighters, will be converted by the navies of Essex and Woodbridge to serve the role of long-range vessels for military, diplomatic and trade purposes. Admiral of the Navy of Essex, Iain Stuart, has announced that the ships will:
Be able to be customisable to the purpose of each mission, allowing for on separate layouts:
Up to a hundred passengers, military or diplomatic, to be carried along with the normal crew
Capacity for 12,000 tonnes worth of supplies (a minimum amount, and preferably more for greater ships)
The ability to transport varying quantities and qualities of fuel
Artillery guns to be positioned on-deck as turrets for bombardments of enemy ships or installations
Be able to sail at least as far as Port Elizabeth in New Britain
Carry a variety of radio and radar to allow the ships to operate in efficiently in busy foreign ports and shipping lanes and coordinate friendly vessels and troops
Many of these aims, however, are currently beyond the engineering capabilities of Essex, and it will be hard enough to restore these ships to working order simply for the first few criteria. Analysts are predicting that the vessels will have to be refitted several times to appease the Navy authorities and to be equipped with military equipment such as artillery and radar (technologies which Essex does not possess and will need to buy off foreign powers). It is expected that the first of these vessels will be ready at some point in late autumn at the most optimistic predictions, and the bulk by the spring of 2011.
In 2008 it was decided that one of the major causes for the difficulty in the War was that Essex lacked a decisive technological edge. In light of this it was decided that an air force of some sort would need to be restored, and preferably one with greater utility than a few blimps and hot air balloons used for surveillance and light transport duties. However, the country lacked the industrial capability for any form of either propeller-driven aeroplanes or the production of hydrogen that would allow for larger Zeppelins. Given Woodbridge's reluctance to surrender parts of its air force even to a close ally it was decided that Essex would have to become self-sufficient in the long term.
The first stage of this would be the creation of an airport to allow the entry of foreign trade. A large runway was constructed on the site of the abandoned and partly plowed-over RAF Boreham, near Chelmsford, chosen for its central location and proximity to trade hubs (though the move was controversial; people feared an air crash over the town). Completed in December that year attention then turned to expanding facilities and transportation to and from the site, whilst the politicians decided to begin their airfleet.
Their first move was to contact the Kingdom of Prussia. The two nations were aware of each other, but had no formal relations. It came as a surprise therefore when Essex delegates approached intending to talk to the New Zeppelin Company seeking to purchase one of their Zeppelins and invite engineers to advise Essex on beginning its own programme. In return for a hefty fee Prussia agreed, selling one of their Graf Zeppelin-derived rigid airships to Essex and acting as advisors on the hydrogen manufacture and Zeppelin assembly facilities established at nearby Maldon.
Throughout most of 2010 Essex had only one working Zeppelin, the EAS Cavalier, which was purchased directly from the New Zeppelin Company. The Cavalier saw extensive service in the 2010 Invasions, acting as a medivac, leaflet delivery vehicle, and improvised bomber, but sustained only light damage. However, on September 16th, two new Graf Zeppelin-class airships were launched, the EAS Knight and the EAS Warrior. For the most part the launches went smoothly - an important factor, as the launch was being displayed to the visiting King Andrew of New Britain.
The future of the fleet is in discussion. It has been suggested that Essex purchase as many as four dedicated cargo transportation Zeppelins from the NZA and begin construction on a number of smaller blimps dedicated for combat support.