Desert of Man

Writing. Culture. Politics. Wandering.

Rant – An Admiral of ancient words

That was some briefing. If I didn’t have trust in the Admiral before it, I’d have it now. We’re going to get our hands full with simulations, reorganizations, and a hell of a lot of shuffling around on rosters and cohort compositions. Going to be worth it though. Kinda proud also. There’s a lot we’re not being told yet, but right now I’m really curious how the heck she managed to put all of this together, keep it under wraps, fund it and get it done. I haven’t got the foggiest, nobody here has. But everyone is stunned, impressed.

To keep it simple, let me paint the picture. We’re a CBG. How’s that for military terminology? A Carrier Battle Group. It’s heart is the Deus, first of a class of dedicated multi-role warships, otherwise known as a CSL (which stands for Command, Strike, Logistics). My ship. Well, I’m on it. Starting to feel like mine though.

Primary task of a CSL is to operate as a multi services mobile operational base. It’s the heart of the Carrier Battle Group, responsible for strategic deployments and overall command planning.

That means it’s a mobile Fleet HQ, a mobile marine Forward Operating Base, a training center, medical center, a warehouse and even a seriously impressive manufactory. Best of all, we’ve got a bunch of bars. And yeah, the Deus is also home to several wings of specialised launches. Eyes and ears, busses for tactical deployments, decoy operations and a bunch of other jobs that will make your head spin. We’ve also got two wings of ISI’s, a new type of launch with the job of interception, shielding and inspection. These little boats are absolutely amazing.

Its secondary job (basically when we get in the thick of things) is to create, control and command a dedicated battle space, an area where it dictates detecting, tracking, engaging and destroying threats before they become a danger. Because of the available types of launches delivered by the CSL we can expand that battle space to a volume of several AU’s (with a little patience to dozens of AU’s) and equate the volume of it with the practical bubbles of information and weapons warfare. I’m unsure of how practical that claim really is. I would imagine communications over such distances presenting their own challenges, but I keep reminding myself that we still have not been told everything. There is a lot still classified, and in light of all the new tech, gadgets and tactics we can expect to be surprised further.

As a CSL the Deus is one of two main classes present in the group, as the Admiral says. It’s the largest class of ship ever designed. In many ways it is a city, a small colony of our people able to move anywhere in order to preserve and protect our interests. Most of the rest of the Battle Group consists of CSS (Combined Strike Services) warships,  also a new class of ships. Their job is to bring the fire in the power of the Battle Group. At this point we’re not being told about most of the other classes or types of ships present. Need to know, at this point not.

It’s a completely new ballgame. A complete revision of tactics and strategy. The Admiral calls it Carrier Group Tactics. At the core of it are two things, fire and movement. In her words: the fulfillment of missions by the effective delivery of firepower resulting from stealth, scouting, the creation of firing positions and the prevention of attrition through superior logistics.

In the old days (well, for us now) warships essentially were heavily armoured transports, designed to resist the superior firepower of orbital and other fortresses long enough to deliver marine cohorts on siege missions. We called those dead drops, because the mathematics of doctrine (I never could call that strategy) required deployments of marine numbers massive enough to outlast transit to the fortresses with sufficient surviving numbers to breach and seize them. The concept of decimation does not come close to it. Dead drops, says enough.

For us marines these new concepts and tactics change a lot. We’re changing into a role of special operations, security and intelligence. I suspect that last role to be one of balance with a very much changed set of roles for the fleet service itself. It explains the reorganizations, the heavy retraining and simulation regimen. But particularly all the educational stuff makes sense. We’ll still be butchers, but smart ones. Very smart. Which is needed, because we’re no longer going to be disposable hammers. We’re going to be a highly versatile and flexible toolkit of weaponized brains. I like it, a lot.

The special operations part is going to take a lot of getting used to, because of the inter service operational integration. We’re not armed cattle anymore. We’re eyes and ears, spears and shields. We’re poison tipped arrows and weapons of mass destruction. You can tell the Admiral is an ancient history buff. Though I have to say, attending this latest briefing I’m starting to understand her terminology. Especially considering the new technologies and the practical use of them.

For starters, while enormous advances have been made in armour technology, the introduction of what the techs call focused field projectors is a game changer. It allows us (our ships, but also our new marine armour) to deploy shields that can stop pretty much anything that is thrown at them. Well, other than our own new weapons, obviously. The only practical downside, which also explains why the Admiral integrates (seriously) ancient military methods in to the new tactics, is that the shields are focused. They are projected barriers. They are not like the common deflector technology which envelops a ship to safeguard it from radiation and chance encounters with debris or ancient dead astronauts floating in space. One other issue with them, prolonged kinetic impact energy remains a problem (though a localised one).

For our ships that means we can project shields against incoming artillery fire. Something particularly of use against modern fortified installations that all the polities use. For us marines that results in a complete change of tactics as well, our armour is a lot better yes, but the ability to carry and raise shields, overlap them in groups, control windows for applying firepower. You get the idea. I’m using the word game changer too much I guess, but this is one. This fundamentally changes making a breach, going into one, and tearing everything up from there. Hence why we all were given copies of a bunch of ancient books and stories by the Admiral. This isn’t just tactics, we have to get rid of thousands of years of ingrained behaviour. We have to think like warriors nobody has seen in ages. Or heard of even, I have no idea how old this stuff is, but I had never heard of things like a phalanx.

For offensive weapons we’re seeing something very much the same. When the Admiral uses the words spear and arrow, she means just that. She means using the new offensive technologies just like those – supposedly – were used long ago. And again it makes sense. Gone are the days of ammo consumption rates and massive artillery positions. Instead the CSS warships are equipped with directional plasma launchers, fed directly from the ship’s capacitors (which in turn are fed by the ship’s reactor). These focus a controlled burst of charged plasma towards a selected target, bypassing deflectors to impact armour defences directly. Not only do hits of these weapons act as molecular disruptors, they also create enormous EM discharges on impact. You can see what that does for command and communications in a targeted area.

Downside of them is that they can overload shield projectors. So in order to fire, a shield must be rotated so the plasma burst does not collide with it, leaving a window of vulnerability mitigated by ship maneuvering and a special role of the ISI’s from the CSL. It takes a hell of a lot of processing capacity, but with other new tech a lot of that can be distributed across ships, controlled from one or more (like the CSL) thus keeping that manageable. Not that they have the technology, but if a hostile polity were to present us with a shielded target, that’s where the concept of focused fire comes into play. One spear will hammer the shield, two spears striking at the same spot will wreak havoc on and around the shield. Guess what, CSS warships operate in teams of five. Smart Admiral. Gorgeous also. Her brain, I mean, obviously.

The use of words like spears and arrows by the Admiral makes perfect sense. These launchers do throw their charge at the target, and the best way to make use of them really is to treat them just like those spears in these old stories she is so fond of. The arrows part, well that is a bit of a delicate issue. You see, these plasma spears are extremely powerful. And they just keep going. I’ve seen the recordings of field testing. When they engage a planetary atmosphere, enough of them will make the air burn. Even one of them going through will hit ground with the power of a supervolcanoe, vaporizing biological material far beyond the impact zone. Hence the arrows. They are the tactical version of those spears. Lower power levels and with a limited transit time before dispersal these are weapons of choice in planetary zones. Using spears there, a sure guarantee to go from war to conflagration. We’re talking end of worlds here.

We marines are also getting our version of those arrows. No more remote artillery support required, no more messy calling for (and subsequently running from) orbital strikes. Instead our armour is going to be equipped with a smaller specialised version attached to the arm carrying the shield projector. That presents some tactical issues, but reading these stories I can see ways around those. Obviously there are some limitations. Our suits don’t have the capacitor technology our ships have. Those can pretty much negate charging issues because the continuous reactor output is stored in capacitors onboard. Arrow tech on our armour relies strictly on that reactor output. miniaturization is advancing, but nobody’s managed to find a way to equip our gear with capacitors yet. It is manageable though, it means we have to be consistent and make creative use of timing. That’s fine, we’re learning to count to ten right now. Kidding.

One problem, this is the only CBG we have. At least currently. More will be constructed, needless to say even a single CSL is a major investment. Not to mention the composition of an entire Battle Group. Granted, all these new ship classes are modular and construction can be largely automated, but still. The amount of resources assigned to such projects is beyond anything ever done. And yes, it is putting a lot of eggs in one basket. Think of it, not just new tech and gear, but the manufacturing capabilities for them as well. We’re taking carefully calculated risks. Especially with this expedition. As the Admiral made clear, this CBG is not only moving itself, it is also moving everything and everyone connected with the project to a new site, to be located at an undisclosed extra solar planetary object. Yes, we can.

It’s not that much of a problem however, this being the only active CBG. Right now, because of the risk of even chance detection, we are travelling as every ship known to man does. Moving slowly to a mapped location in the heliosheath of instabilities in the magnetic bubble foam out there (or coasting around scanning for such a spot) and probing for a wormhole present with a path towards the right destination and sufficiently able to withstand the mass of transit by the ship or ships travelling it. It is tedious, it is slow, and it is entirely unreliable in terms of timing and planning maneuvers and travel.

Here’s the thing, we don’t have to use that form of travel. There’s a few minor limitations and conditions, but one of the best perks of a CBG is that it can force open a connection between itself and a target beacon and either project an affected area around itself or in front of it. Anything present in such a zone will subsequently be moved across the connection as it terminates, delivering ships present in that zone to the target beacon. It’s not exactly like creating your own wormhole, for intents and purposes though it gets close enough. They’re still working on maximising the distance practical for such a maneuver, but the Admiral says that while for now the range will remain classified, we should have noticed that our first deployment took us from HQ to the Frysa system in a matter of days.

Going to have to look it up, but that is like taking steps lightyears at a time. It’s from this system that we will move far beyond the edge of it, after which we will spend careful time monitoring whether we were followed, and if not we will proceed to that new site. It is there that a new HQ will be constructed, along with extensive facilities for the creation of further CBG’s. It explains the security arrangements, this project, and the requirement of signing on for a twenty year tour, something unheard of previously in the Republic Military.

Hesitant to use the word again, this time because it surpasses it by far. Game changer. It is a revolution in travel from star to star. More importantly, it changes military strategy fundamentally. Not to mention policy and politics. No more endless spinning up towards known and thus predictable points in the heliosheath. No more constant worries of predefined vectors and traps of minefields and fortresses along the way. As the Admiral says, true force based projection of military and thus political power is now possible. We’re going to keep this ability hidden until we are forced to make use of it, but once it gets out the universe will never be the same again. I agree, even just the economic impact of such a way of travel will be sufficient to destabilise most polities. The Nassavi are going to be thoroughly pissed off I imagine.

Obviously there’s the issue of getting such a beacon on site. The ISI launches can be equipped with them, and they were designed with exactly this in mind. Small ships but highly capable, designed for multiple roles and extended maneuvers. Going to be hell to keep those smelling even remotely fine though, not envying the techs with that job on their shoulders. Picture running around space in them, weeks of dodging sensors and the weather, silent running with a couple of guys and girls in something with the internal volume of a small shipping container. Fun.

Ok sure, you can also do your probing in the heliospheric current sheet, the ripples in the heliosphere created by the rotating field of a sun. That however is pretty much useless for any manned ships. Wormhole connections in those zones, if stable at all, no technology exists that can shield biological cargo from the radiation going through such passages. It’s in use though, quite a lot, but only by automated ships. Typically dispatchers, the robots that keep human civilization connected enough to prevent it from shattering in isolated tribes. From intelligence we have somehow obtained we know of experiments by the Premis polity to weaponize such automated ships. It’s described as semi-autonomous missile capability, codename Arcturus. Should that turn out to be a practical weapons platform it should be noted that we still have quite the edge in defensive capabilities. Remember that those ISI’s can be deployed as mobile shields which can place themselves between such weapons and their intended targets other than the fleet.

Something else the Admiral said though, worries me, a comment on the side which felt like it ended before much or all of it was really said. There’s something between the lines that I can’t put the finger on. Our carriers will be the only ones true to the strategies of focused force and power projection. Our carriers. Who else uses such ships? It’s an entirely new concept. Well, relatively new. We were told that humans have made use of such constructs and tactics, but in a past so ancient it was probably in the same time of people throwing spears. I certainly have never read anything about it in any volume of Military History. It’s nagging me. Our carriers. The Admiral would not make such a reference if there were no other such ships somewhere.

And then the bit of being the only ones true to those strategies. Focused force? Power projection? I can think of something yeah, but who would develop such strategies other than ourselves? There is no polity which does not swear by its fortresses, the only arms race since the last war has been that of artillery and special munitions. Bullet versus armour, so to speak. Their fleets all consist of small escort ships and massive troop transports. And yachts, their royalty of military rank obviously can not be expected to bunk with the cattle.

I have not logged some other consequences for us yet. Because pretty much everything we know is obsolete, we’re going to be enhanced and regulated, as the Admiral calls it. Implantation and purpose defined behavioural modification. For us as marines, but it doesn’t stop there. Everyone is subject to it. What it comes down to is the tailored use of cerebral and lymbic implantation technology, enhancements. Another revolution. It allows a person to optimise biological and other functions in order to achieve maximum efficiency for a given task or role under given circumstances. That enables what they call regulatory modification, and it allows for something really nifty, pushing buttons and people with your brain. It’s got something to do with quantum entanglement and the nature of the human brain’s quantum field. Beats me. Glowing in the dark maybe.

We’re going to learn to integrate our thoughts with the functional operability of our new suits, but also other gear (like various launches and installations). The same implantations will enable us to communicate with each other on that basis. No more erratic radio on a blazing battlefield, or relying on laser links for secure communications. We’re not going to be able to read minds, would not wish that on my worst enemy, poor bastard would die of nightmares pretty quickly. What it comes down to is that we can send and receive structured thoughts between people and equipment properly outfitted. It can work as a direct connection from one individual mind to another (or a machine), but also a sort of channel based hierarchy of communications where nobody can get in without being himself, alive, and authorised by means of validation by the member listings of a channel active. I’ll say one thing, that really alleviates some concerns about Electronic Intelligence vulnerabilities, but it also means that good old Human Intelligence work is back in business.

Case in point, the education sessions. During those we will be strictly focused on enhancement of cognitive and memetic skills, while other stuff will be moderated, as it’s called. As the techs say, we’re not going to have any luck with alcohol during those sessions. On the other hand, no more boring teachers or dry textbook reading. That’s over. Instead we’re going to be enabled to import structured knowledge directly into our brains. The new simulations are designed to make use of that, taking us from knowledgable recall to instinctive recall. As the tech giving that part of the briefing said, it’s one thing to know something, something else entirely to give it a place in your behaviour and act on it without first having to validate the knowledge through experience. Makes sense I guess. It’s like fresh meat arriving in a cohort. They know what they have to do, how they have to do it, and when. But most of them die before they figure out how that works when things gets real.

Something really awesome which deserves to be highlighted, a little bonus from those enhancements. No more hangovers. We can get drunk as badly as we please, knock the lights out and raise hell. But a single thought purges all the badness leaving us fresh and sweet as a kitten. Heh.

Back serious, I’m relieved to hear however that we are not going to rely on just simulations. As I mentioned, the world we’re going to is an extra solar object. One of the harshest possible environments known to man. And we’re going to base there as if we’re living off the land, with a rigid regimen of excercises and live scenario drills. I think we owe the Admiral more than we realise. By the time we manage to get it all under our belt, there is absolutely nothing in this universe we will not be able to deal with. I’m sure we will face costs, but we’re leaping ahead so fast nothing can catch up. More importantly, we’re going to have every skillset and all the experience possible as an integral part of our being. Add to that the technological advantage, the divide between us and those who would challenge us is enormous.

Anyhow, I guess the picture should be clear by now. All the polities base their military and political doctrine on the question “how firm our fortresses” and “the cost of assassins“. For us, that’s changed. It’s been barely forty years since the last war, the technological divide between us and the rest of humanity is nearly unimaginable. That does not just change the board, it changes us. The sole questions for our military and political organisation now are those of “where are our carriers” and “where are our people“. You can see the conflict right there. I can picture the consequences already everywhere.

– unknown intruiged Master at Arms
Republic Carrier, Deus

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This entry was posted on June 19, 2013 by in Muse, Read, Write and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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