SirMolle's IT Alliance put its reputation as New Eden's force to be reckoned with on the line when it rode to aid The Initiative back in mid-December.
You'll recall that Against All Authorities (-A-) had been ignominiously booted out of its holdings in Catch and elsewhere by The Initiative, White Noise, Initiative vassals Circle of Two and Dead Terrorists, and the mercenary alliance Pandemic Legion. -A- managed to hold together during a brief exile and, once Pandemic Legion's contract ended, roared back into Impass (along with its Southern Russian bretheren Stain and Red Overlords), destroying CO2 and driving Dead Terrorists back to lowsec in the process.
With the Southern Russian wolf banging on the doors of Catch, The Initiative turned to IT Alliance for help. SirMolle obliged them with the "All In" campaign, a planned total mobilization of IT Alliances forces that would save The Initiative, break the back of the Southern Russian forces, and shore up the IT Alliance reputation of neigh-invincibility.
A mere nine days later, with Goonswarm making unexpected progress in Fountain against IT Alliance vassals Black Star Alliance (Blast), IT abandoned its "all-in" counter-offensive against the Southern Russians, withdrew its capital fleet from Catch and rushed it up to Fountain to support the besieged IT Alliance stronghold of PNQY. Once again IT Alliance declared the action at PNQY an "all-in" call to arms. As related elsewhere, despite predictions of an easy IT Alliance win from many corners, the defense of PNQY ended in a shocking loss for IT Alliance.
On December 28, IT Alliance and Blast made an attempt to retake PNQY, however, despite the presence of the IT Alliance Supercapital fleet, IT appears to have been unable to bring sufficient numbers to the battle and Goonswarm carried the day once again.
Meanwhile, -A- is making hay while the sun shines. With IT Alliance's Supercapital fleet pinned down in Fountain, the Southern Russians have gone back on offense in Catch. They presently hold four Catch station systems, two sitting astride the gateway to Impass and all within easy striking distance of the strategic Initiative stronghold of GE-8JV. If all things were equal, we might expect to see IT Alliance swing back and forth between Catch and Fountain, attempting to hold the line in Catch while forcing the Goons out of PNQY and on the defense in in Fountain.
However, all things are not equal. IT Alliance's relationship with Blast and Fountain run much deeper than its relationship with The Initiative and Catch. By the same token, SirMolle's enmity with Goonswarn is both legendary and visceral, whereas its fight against the Southern Russians is largely a matter of policy. As long as Goonswarm threatens IT Alliance in Fountain, The Initiative shouldn't look for the IT Alliance cavalry to arrive in Catch.
The key thread running through the fabric of the events surrounding Catch and Fountain is IT Alliance's apparent inability to leverage its 6000 members when it comes to defending their space or their allies. SirMolle himself reportedly blamed the loss at PNQY on IT's inability to deploy the needed troops to Fountain. On paper IT Alliance should have no difficulty mustering the forces necessary to take on Goonswarm in Fountain while supporting an Initiative offensive against the Southern Russians in Catch at the same time. However, battles are not fought on paper.
It is increasingly evident that a large component of the forces nominally at SirMolle's disposal are unable or unwilling to support him. In part, SirMolle's recent calls for total mobilization may have been designed to determine exactly who he can count on when push comes to shove.
Now this could simply be player apathy, but I don't think there's that much dead wood amongst the IT Alliance ranks. Nor do I think it's a matter of low CTA participation due to time zone or holiday considerations. Participation relative to its size has been an ongoing issue for IT Alliance, even during its primary EU time zone, and IT's foes in Fountain leading up to the PNQY debacle have fought under the same holiday-related RL constraints.
If recent low CTA turnouts are not related to player apathy or inability to respond, we are left with the possibility that a significant body of the troops in IT Alliance are loyal to someone other than SirMolle; that someone is (or someones are) witholding participation as a political play to gain influence within the alliance. As I've suggested elsewhere, perhaps there are multiple IT factions in conflict over the alliance's strategic direction.
If that's the case, IT Alliance's failures in Catch and Fountain, may cause the opening of a third front; this one a campaign mounted in the IT Alliance board room between SirMolle himself and the enemies within.
2nd Annual Steel City Eve Tomorrow!
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