Notes: This one shot story is supposed to be written in the format of a short historical report.
Assignment: Explain how the Battle of the Bay of Bengal effected the resolution of the Taiwan Strait Crisis.
The causes of the Battle of the Bay of Bengal in the first quarter of the twenty-first century can be traced to a variety of factors in both France and India. One commonly held one was France's desire to establish itself as an international player again. After the United Kingdom and Germany became the dominant powers in the European Union, France felt overshadowed and withdrew from it. Thus, France attempted to rebuild its colonial empire by installing puppet regimes in politically unstable nations. Normally, this was done by French military contractors backing a violent revolutionary or paramilitary group. When the group seized power, it would normally establish a regime economically dependant on French businesses, as well as allowing French military forces the right to station troops within it. France did this in both North Africa and the Caribbean before moving onto Asia.
However, around this time, there was a fairly unified economic block in Southeast Asia. The Association of South East Economic Asian Nations, or ASEAN, had expanded from as far north as South Korea to as far south as Australia and New Zealand. Like the European Union, ASEAN had become a military alliance as well as an economic one. However, most members of ASEAN nations were more occupied with containing the People's Republic of China than some relatively small, French backed armed groups. When a French-backed Shiite theocratic regime came to power in Pakistan, it seemed as though they would be able to continue their plan in Asia without any serious problems. With a friendly regime in Pakistan, the French would have a foothold moving in on both Asia and the Middle East. However, there was still one potential regional rival: India. India was closely associated with ASEAN, but not yet an official member. They were an upstart economic power and longtime rival of Pakistan. French leadership thought a quick strike against some sign of India's power would be a nice way to assert the new French international stance.
The EU, USA, and most ASEAN nations were more occupied with the Taiwan Strait Crisis and China. No none seemed to care when France covertly dispatched a naval task force charged with destroying India's only carrier battle group in a show of force. However, the French had underestimated the newly formed Indian Defense Intelligence Agency. The Indian DIA had watched covert French military plans ever since it had started funding terrorist groups in Pakistan. Because the Indian national economy was strong on computer programming, the DIA had employed an elite group of hackers. That division of hackers helped remove the French advantage of surprise, and would later form the prestigious Digital Defense Force. The Indians planned their own counterattack, codenamed Operation Frog Legs, and would attempt to engage the French naval task force in the Bay of Bengal.
The first post-World War II carrier duel was fought between two carrier battle groups: the French Charles du Gaulle CVBG and the Indian Viraat CVBG. The overconfident French had only two small escort ships and a single support ship. The French had hoped to rendezvous with their Pakistani allies and merge with their fleet before attacking the Indians. This was supposed to be a symbolic gesture, but it ended up only costing the French valuable time. The Indian Viraat battle group, however, had several Tabar-class battleships and several submarines escorting the carrier. Another factor that helped the Indians was that they were close to home waters, so their logistical capacity was not stretched as thin as the French. Thus, they only had one support ship, a former American Sacramento-class vessel that was auctioned off. Home field advantage was with the Indians.
Another major factor was the alleged French "technical edge." The Charles du Gaulle carrier was assumed by many it would win simply because it was larger, was built by a more developed nation, and had more planes. However, it was a ramp carrier, like several older American carriers. It also was structurally unsound, spending a significant amount of time in port being repaired. Several points on the ship's hull could cripple the ship if they were hit. Also, the French were using an untested anti-missile system. Since the French thought they would not be engaging the Indian fleet for a while, the flight deck was not in a position where it could quickly launch aircraft. The Viraat, however, had several Harrier II jump-jets. The Harriers were VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) craft, so they could be deployed at a bit faster rate than the French Eurofighter jets. The French simply assumed their carrier and planes were better, and dramatically underestimated their enemy.
Perhaps the winning factor, though, was timing and luck. Late at night, the French radar officers apparently were holding an illegal party and not paying any attention to the sensors. The Viraat CVBG sent out one of its submarines to draw the Charles du Gaulle's escorts' attentions away from their charge. The feint worked, and panicked the French. However, before they could scramble their planes, or even ready their flight deck, they were already under attack by Harriers from the Viraat. The Harriers made quick work of the French naval task force. Because of poor construction, the vessel was crippled after being pummeled by Harpoon anti-shipping missiles in weak points. Soon, the Charles du Gaulle was on its way to the bottom of the Indian Ocean. The one of the escorts and two of the support ships managed to get away unscathed. The other escort vessel was crippled, and had to be towed back to a friendly port in Pakistan.
The Battle of Bengal Bay was significant for several reasons. One was it was the first post-World War II carrier duel. Many have compared it to many of the quick conflicts in history where an emerging power defeated a declining "Old World" power out of luck and underwent a period of nationalism, such as the Spanish-American War, the Russo-Japanese War, the Franco-Prussian War, or the War of 1812. Many others have compared it to the Falkland Islands War between Great Britain and Argentina, but with the traditional "old power" losing to the newer one, rather than vice versa. It managed to continue to show the vulnerabilities of vessels to anti-shipping missiles. Another thing it showed was that technical rifts between opposing sides could be compensated for, if used competently. The most advanced piece of military hardware was not automatically guaranteed to be a "wonder weapon." This has gone into India's design of future weapons systems. Instead of going for the "fad weapon of the generation," like they accuse many Western countries of, they attempt to think of new ways to use older hardware. Similar thinking was reflected several decades earlier in the People's Republic of China's ideas on "unrestricted warfare."
One major result was India suddenly gained more international respect. Previously, Indian culture was exported in small doses, such as "Bollywood" films, "Punjabi" music, and so on. Now, it moved into the mainstream of cultures around the world. While India would eventually join ASEAN, they would continue remain a major player within it. India, once a backwards former colony, was now a significant power. The battle made France into the world's laughing stock , and soon, international sanctions and diplomatic pressure made France abandon its neocolonial ambitions.
The political geography of Asia was altered as a result of the battle. Pakistan, without French backing, fell into a period of civil war from with it has yet to emerge. After India joined ASEAN, China backed down from Taiwan, and the Taiwan Strait Crisis was resolved peacefully. Soon afterwards, the People's Republic of China itself would undergo a period of peaceful revolution and help stabilize the region. That was how a relatively minor naval engagement helped resolve the Taiwan Strait Crisis.