Ciudad Olancho, San Madora: 6 June 2040
“The fact is, we don’t know who’s winning, but it certainly isn’t the San Madoran government.”
Such was the frank assessment of Colonel James Monroe, commander of the 56th infantry brigade combat team of the Texas National Guard. The 56th deployed to Ciudad Olancho in February as part of a regional security force organized to enforce a UN-brokered cease fire between the upstart Lopez cartel and the traditionally dominant Galindo cartel. Over the past three months, long-simmering tensions between the rival cartels have erupted into open war as drug income has dwindled in the wake of major drug policy reform in the United States. The conflict has lead to thousands of civilian deaths and widespread destruction across dozens of villages in this Amazonian nation. Intense jungle fighting has begun to spill over into neighboring countries, threatening to further destabilize the region.
The scale and brutality of the violence has shocked the international community. The San Madoran government has been unable to control the fighting, with many of its own police forces defecting to join the cartels. An emergency delegation from the United Nations has managed to broker a fragile ceasefire, and cartel leaders have agreed to withdraw their forces from urban areas. A multinational San Madora Stabilization Force, led by the United States, has moved into the country to enforce the ceasefire. Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil are contributing air and ground units to the effort and are working with the U.S. and the Organization of American States to extend the ceasefire and broker a more permanent truce.
The primary mission of SMSF is to conduct “presence patrols” to discourage violence, reassure the San Madoran population, and locate cartel weapon caches. However, as part of its mandate to maintain the ceasefire, Stabilization Force units have also been granted wide latitude to intervene and halt any fighting between the cartels.
If conflict does reignite, it may prove difficult to stop. Each cartel has a large army at its disposal, made up of three tiers of forces. The first tier consists of cartel soldiers, who are extremely loyal, well trained, and armed with a variety of modern, high-powered weapons. Both cartels also maintain “special forces” groups made up of mercenaries hired from a network of private military companies operating throughout Eastern Europe and Africa. These forces are equipped with a host of sophisticated military capabilities, including air defense, precision weapons, robotics, and cyber attack systems. The third tier of cartel forces consists of ragtag militia units recruited from San Madora’s urban and rural poor. While not particularly well trained or well equipped, these militia forces have proven remarkably skilled at using crude swarming tactics and improvised explosive devices (IED’s).
While the cease-fire appears to be holding, most experts agree that fighting could break out again at any moment.