|Gunter von Esling|
Gunter von Esling
A stoic, exemplary leader, General von Esling was the supreme commander of the Allied military effort to defeat the Soviet invasion of Europe. He is a responsible and dedicated commander. His second in command is Nikos Stavros, alongside Field Commander A9, the executor of the most important battle plans. Tanya Adams, the American special forces agent, answers directly to Esling as well.
Little is known of Esling's biographical background or family, but his name's etymology implies that he is probably of German lineage. His rank/age would suggest that he most likely saw military action as a young man in service to the Kaiser in the First World War as an officer. Due to the timestream divergence caused by Einstein's removal of Adolf Hitler, Esling's military career can be presumed to have been influenced more by strategic collaboration with other European nations' rather than by the divisively ultra-nationalist sentiments the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany would have instilled. It is this ability to form coalitions and effectively employ multi-national forces which would ultimately propel him to the position of Supreme Allied Commander of all Allied forces.
The proximity of Germany to the Soviet Union and the tempting throughfare of the Fulda Gap for Soviet armor pushes into the heart of Europe would also have made Esling's strategies based more on maneuver warfare with the acceptance of the necessity for strategic fighting retreats in the initial stages of the war. These plans are evident in the first few mission briefings of the Allied campaign as he reluctantly but wisely concedes that hit-and-run/choke point tactics (such as the 2nd and 4th Allied campaign missions to secure a tactically important mountain pass) will be the only way to buy the time necessary for the nations to rally and counter-attack. Though these tactics initially result in several routs for the Allies, they are not unexpected and the whole of Europe's armed forces quickly rally behind Esling's plan to overstretch and disorganize the Soviet war machine.
A realistic pragmatist in all things, his leadership style and stalwart personality command respect from his subordinates. His tactical prowess as well as his ability to remain emotionally objective when making decisions enable him and the Allied armies to mass precisely and strike with overwhelming economy of force. When his second-in-command, General Stavros, learns that his homeland of Greece has been occupied, its leaders are in hiding, and Esling's own native Germany is "all but taken," Stavros storms out of the impromptu command center while Esling remains composed and continues planning missions with the greater needs of the Allied war effort in mind. His shrewd cunning ultimately leads to the Allies' victory over the Soviet Union since Esling is keenly adept at identifying and capitalizing upon key strategic blunders that the Soviets commit.
By the war's conclusion, operations planned and organized by General Esling yielded the successful rescue of a defecting Soviet special weapons scientist (Vladimir Kosygin), the expulsion of Soviet forces from Europe, the first ever prototype test of a matter displacement weapon (the Chronosphere), the disarming of in-flight nuclear missiles en route to several European capitols, and a final precision strike on Moscow that was the coup de grace in a series of decapitating blows on the Soviet military.
Having guided Europe's nations through the darkest hours of their histories, General Gunter von Esling retired in the years shortly following the conclusion of the Second World War to the admiration and applause of the free world. It is unknown (but unlikely) whether he was still alive to see the coming of the next great Allied-Soviet conflict. His legacy as a military commander, strategist, and soldier is honored and memorialized at Esling Air Base in Iceland, and his tactics instilled in the Allied Forces are still employed to this day.
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Esling appears in Red Alert 1. He is also mentioned in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 where an airbase in Iceland was named in his honor. In the Soviet campaign of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, this airbase is destroyed by Soviet forces. See No Traitors Tomorrow.