It was hard from me to not post my thoughts a couple months ago when the war in Providence started. I feel its been long enough and the outcome of those early days obvious enough that I can post now and not reveal any top secret information.
First off, let me say I understand how an alliance can decide to go to war when from an outside perspective everything looks fine. Relatively safe and static environments with no threats to sov may be good for wallets, they are not good for forging powerful PvP entities. Fearful of atrophying skills and combined with a desire to make things more exciting, alliance leaders may choose to go to war when none is called for.
Another factor in leading the leadership of CVA and the Holders to consider opening serious hostilities could be the fact that Providence was getting very crowded as the residents grew in numbers and more and more neutrals came to exploit the safe (again relatively) space. There was intense competition for every rat and complex.
Whether or not it was CVA or LFA leadership that were the main proponents for the war (and there have been a lot of accusations thrown back and forth) the fact was that a path was decided upon and a land grab was decided upon. But here is where the wheels fall off the bus.
The planning didn't include all of the Holder alliances for one thing. My alliance, Paxton, was effectively taken surprise by the war announcement and had mere days to prepare even though they are on the front line border with AAA. The attacks were sudden and rushed and many pilots didn't have time to move assets closer to the fighting.
But the most egregious mistake was instead of a modest attempt to grab F9E alone next door to D-G, they stabbed into Catch with an ambitious thrust that included threatening HED system, the major high sec logistics pipe for AAA and allies. Now I realize that Providence region is isolated from a lot of other near by null sec regions but surely there could have been some other space to assault that was not so important to a large 0.0 powerhouse and its coalition. Instead of starting a sov war for Fleet practice and PvP experience, we started a blood feud.
Another crucial error was working with the Goons. I said we never set the Goons blue and that is true; they were always red to us. But in several engagement we were told to ignore any reds (i.e. Goons) except those called as targets and the perception in the community was that we were working together. I actually began to believe there was upper level accords in place between Provi-blob and Goonswarm and considered if I needed to make a principled stand and leave the conflict. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it) Goons imploded and the issue was removed but not before the damage was done to CVA's and the Holder's reputations.
Ultimately AAA and allies responded and retook the systems in Catch and followed it up by taking D-GTMI from us. The loss of one station system in a region with 30-40 was not a big deal, but the morale blow of the capital fleet debacle was huge and reverberated through the Provi-bloc's confidence despite outward protestations. It was apparent we were in over our heads with no larger coalition of allies to call upon.
So why did CVA et al not accept the AAA offer to end the war and return D-G? There were a number of reasons and I agree with many of them, but I also agree with many reasons giving for accepting the humbling terms. Regardless, I didn't get a vote and the decision was not accept the offer. This caused a certain amount of strife in the Holder's forums but eventually everything calmed down and a new strategy of tiring the enemy out with timers was called for, an obvious sign of the confidence blow that is the D-G capital fleet loss. Will it work? Time will tell...
From AAA perspective I imagine they cannot allow CVA to become strong again and be a belligerent enemy at their front door, and eliminating the space of allies Slyph, Cold Steel, and Severance as well as taking the entry systems to Providence indicate a strategy of isolation and destabilization. While Paxton space has been exempt from any further territorial attacks, the general consensus is that it is only a matter of time before the supercaps of AAA and allies descend upon us, the victims of a unwanted war.
Despite all the bad things that have come out of this conflict, the good side is that Paxton has grown closer together in the adversity and continued to fight in good numbers despite the overwhelming odds at times. And M3 itself has continued to develop into a strong part of Paxton and we anticipate the alliance and corporation surviving and remaining strong despite what comes in the future.