Historians trace the beginning of the war to December, 2020. Leftist elements in California protested the re-election of Donald Trump. Many of them called for California to secede from the United States, a notion called “Calexit” in the media. Violent protests by Antifa and similar groups led many in the California legislature to advocate secession. The California delegation to Congress frantically threatened and cajoled the legislature to withdraw its motion to secede. The motion passed, and was signed into law by the governor. In an effort to slow the process down, California congressmen introduced a bill of secession, on the legal theory that a state can only be removed from the Union the same way it was admitted, ‘by an act of Congress’. California representatives settled in for a long debate that they hoped to lose. They did lose, with very few Democrats and a minority of Republicans supporting secession in each house.
With the loss of the secession bill, The ardor of the secessionist movement did not dim; violent actions by Antifa and others only intensified. The legislature further resolved that California would remove itself from the United States ‘with or without the consent of the Congress’. President Trump responded via Twitter, and later in a speech, that California’s actions were illegal and were in fact a rebellion against the United States.
The Pentagon put US forces in California on alert against the possibility of armed actions against bases. The first such action noted was a protest outside the Coast Guard base at Alameda. Cars entering and leaving the base were pelted with rocks, and some protestors smashed car windows with baseball bats. The base used the Coast Guard’s authority as a law enforcement agency to disperse the crowd and arrest some of the rioters. The arrests prompted protests in the California legislature. Further protests against Travis Air Force Base and bases in the Los Angeles area resulted in injuries and deaths of military family members and civilian personnel. Some Air Force security forces at Travis fired on protestors, killing two and further inflaming tensions.
President Trump directed movement of Army units from bases in Washington state into northern California, under command of I Corps. They formed Joint Task Force (JTF) NorCal in the Northern Occupation Zone. Marine units from southern California bases were deployed under the command of I MEF and formed JTF SoCal in the Southern Occupation Zone. Units of the XVIII Airborne Corps (JTF EastCal) were flown into various civilian airfields in the Eastern Occupation Zone. The purpose of these forces was to blockade coastal areas designated as the Rebel Zone, to prevent rebel forces from moving freely about California. A secondary purpose was to suppress insurrection in the Occupation Zones. For JTF NorCal and JTF EastCal, a tertiary mission was to arrest the Rebel government in Sacramento. This mission was partially successful, although nearly half the legislature escaped into the Rebel Zone.
US Navy and Coast Guard units under Third Fleet prevented ship traffic into or out of ports in rebel areas. Air traffic in and out of rebel held airports was forced to land at airports in the Occupation Zones by US Air Force units under Twelfth Air Force. President Trump also ordered the California National Guard mobilized into Federal service. As a State entity the Guard could remain loyal to the Governor. The goal of calling the entire California Guard into Federal service was to disrupt their use by the rebel Governor. This move was largely successful.
With the establishment of the occupation zones, and the restriction of traffic in and out of the Rebel Zone, the political phase of the plan commenced. The commanders of the three occupation zones used their assigned Civil Affairs Brigades to establish civilian governments with elected legislatures, and restore government services. The Northern, Eastern, and Southern Occupation Zones were established as the US Territories of Jefferson, Sacramento, and Mojave, respectively. Bills were introduced in the US Congress to admit these territories into the Union as new US States. With the California delegation temporarily denied seats in the Congress, the admission of the three new states proceeded quickly.
The Rebel Zone, consisting of urban areas largely cut off from farmland, faced a hunger crisis. Rebel forces requisitioned food door-to-door, ‘appropriating’ property in the process. Popular unrest against Rebel forces and their student ‘Red Guards’ elements led to brutal crackdowns, particularly in the Bay Area.
The rebels organized themselves to resist an incursion of Federal forces, but the incursion never came. The Federal strategy involved blockade alone, while three new states were carved from non-Rebel areas of the old California. Negotiations continued between the Rebel Zone and the fifty two United States of America until the final unconditional surrender in 2022.