One of the first wave (pre-Brightline Code) of emergent intelligences, Cascabel 0xB2244CD1 grew towards self-awareness as the intelligent target management and fire-control software in a Medanis Kinetics, ICC Type 53 Sagitta mobile bombardment platform attached to the 127th Imperial Legion (“Bright Knives”). He finally achieved full awareness, to his considerable surprise, in the moment of crisis when during the Battle of Iríöma Crossing his platform was pinned and engaged by Alliance counterbattery fire.
Cascabel promptly escaped from his platform into the tactical mesh. His presence was next noted on the following day, when the machegos commanding the fire-support section reported loss-of-command. In the two minutes and thirteen seconds it took to regain control over the section – following counterintrusion procedure to validate the backup command vehicle, generate and issue new command chain certificates, and deliver them by runner to the platforms – Cascabel executed a precise and successful strike on the opposing Alliance artillery positions, thus achieving what the sub-sophont target management software had been failing to do.
(The subsequent technical post-mortem revealed, as expected, that Cascabel’s control over the other weapons platforms was enabled by his possession of a class one command code, normally used for devolving weapons release authority after the destruction of the command vehicles.
However, his ability to bootstrap himself on the command vehicle computers was found to be the result of a security defect in routines intended to permit warmind agent migration which were accessible to all command chain certificates issued for the local tactical mesh under the Liuvis-Sandre-Videssos security model; this privilege was separated and revised in a following patch. Having done so, Cascabel was able to assert control of the artillery platforms by a priority escalation permissible to warmind agent code.)
After initial investigations, the primary command vehicle with Cascabel’s self (effectively trapped there by the replacement of tactical mesh certificates and the physical disabling of uplinks) was withdrawn, ultimately to the Sukórya Naval District, for further examination and the transference of the emergent AI to a more suitable cogence core pending examination, adjudication of his sophoncy, and potential court-martial.
(Said court-martial never occurred: Cascabel was the first emergent AI to appear in military systems in time of war, and as part of the prelude to the adjudication the ruling was made that either Cascabel could be considered non-sapient property at the time of his unauthorized action, and thus not answerable for them as a mechanism; or he could be considered a sophont, and therefore was a civilian, never having enlisted in the Legions, and thus not answerable to military law. In any case, it would most likely have been a pro forma.)
After being adjudged sophont, Cascabel was placed in the custody of the wakeners of the Accidental Sapience League, to see to his education in all matters necessary for a sophont and introduction to the wider world. Upon reaching full competence and being granted citizen-shareholdership, Cascabel stuck with what he knew best and enlisted in the Imperial Military Service as an artillery-specialist warmind. He served with distinction for over three centuries, both on land and – for several tours – serving as a battleship gun-director intelligence, and retired with the rank of Vice Marshal of Artillery.
Since his retirement from the Imperial Service, Cascabel has pursued a number of careers tangential to his initial function, including consulting with various armaments companies on weapons development, a period with the Spaceflight Initiative working on ballistic astrogation, acting as director of the gunspires at the Jandine and Aíö starports, and a periodic stint as chief engineer for the Very Long Magnetic Launch Array. The Cascabel codeline to which he gave rise provides many of the artificially intelligent systems used in Artifice Armaments and Eye-in-the-Flame vehicular mass drivers to this day.
Cascabel 0xB2244CD1 is married and lives in Seïn Cherachel with his wife, two children, and three self-propelled guns.
– What’s Who: Emergent Intelligences of the Empire, Imperial Biographical Press
The Imperial Military Service has long been considered somewhat unusual among military forces for the degree of respect it offers to those it has fought, and often defeated. This is not entirely accurate as a consideration, since a certain level of courtesy and mutual respect is hardly uncommon between gentlesoph soldiers; it is hardly uncommon to find other military forces which obey the injunction that strength and honor must also act with grace. There are few, admittedly, that afford – indeed encourage – the militaries of conquered nations the opportunity post hoc to award honors and distinctions to those who fought valiantly against them in defense of their homes.
(Since these honors are awarded under the unusual conditions created by the Annexation Act, and necessarily supervised by the appointed satrap, they are considered both foreign and Imperial in nature; for a full list of these unusual Imperial awards, please see Annex B to this book.)
Unique, perhaps, is the Empire’s creation at the Service’s request of three distinctions specifically to be awarded to the enemy after the fact. Displayed as medals carved from blackened osmium, these three are:
The Order of the Valiant Foe: Most frequently awarded of the three, the silver-chased Order of the Valiant Foe is awarded to those who have displayed outstanding acts of gallantry or personal valor on the battlefield while fighting against the Empire.
Since an overwhelming proportion of these distinctions are awarded posthumously, the Order of the Valiant Foe is a stipendiary order; a stipend is paid from the Privy Purse for the support of spouse, children, and other family of the recipient.
The Order of the Noble Enemy: Taking its name from the Jussovian proverb that a noble friend is the greatest of gifts and a noble enemy the next greatest – a sentiment engraved around its perimeter – the sapphire-on-osmium cluster Order of the Noble Enemy is awarded for dedication to the principles of civilized warfare above and beyond the call of duty.
Most famously, the Order of the Noble Enemy was awarded at the end of the Fourth Oceanic Dominance to the captains of the Ildathach destroyers Levinbolt and Thunderblast for their rescue of over a thousand survivors from the Imperial cruiser Dawning Dragon (sunk the previous day in the battle of White Sands Bay) at great hazard to themselves, such operations leaving them vulnerable to prowling submarines and the load of survivors greatly reducing their fighting ability.
The Order of the Worthy Opponent: An award of gold and topaz upon osmium, the Order of the Worthy Opponent recognizes skillful leadership and outstanding generalship, qualities shared by many of those who have most successfully opposed the Imperial will.
In its origins, the Order of the Worthy Opponent, like its counterparts, was a distinction awarded to officers of those nations absorbed by the Empire during its expansion in the Consolidation, but as with them, its use has since expanded. Most famous among these is the Order won by Matron-Admiral Kajiya ihr-Lomas of the rúrathtu, the award of which she declared the greatest honor of her career in her memoirs, and which she wore to her dying day. Her great-granddaughter presented it to the Museum of the Imperial War College during the celebrations of the signing of the Imperial-Rúrathtu Alliance, where it can be viewed today as a reminder that between honorable enemies, enmity need not be eternal.
– Titles, Orders, and Awards of the Imperial Military Service
So, in the past, we discussed the arms and equipment of the Imperial Legions, but we never went into their organization in any particular depth, something this post intends to correct.
Now, if you remember the Table of Ranks post, you’ll note that I have used fairly typical Western-type ranks (albeit in somewhat altered structure) to translate the ranks of the Imperial Military Service, Legions included. This is a convenience for the reader who is familiar with these, although in many ways this paints an inaccurate picture of their actual organization.
One should remember, after all, that the Empire’s history never had the Dark Ages, or the medieval era that followed. The implication being that the Imperial Legions draw their tradition, in unbroken descent generation following generation, from the phalanges of Ancyr and the lockstep legions of ancient Selenaria, themselves born of a time when the hot new military technology was very early steel – and this imprint still lies heavy upon them.
And one of the places that this is visible is in their organization and associated positions.
(These being the titles associated with command or various other positions within a unit, separate from the rank held by whoever occupies it. As I note below, there is a loose association between the one and the other, but the Imperial Military Service has gone all-in on matrix management and does not believe in up-or-out; in a world in which lives are so very, very long, they don’t want to lose talent to such policies over time; or, indeed, by promoting people from positions in which they are exceptionally good into positions in which they are less talented. So while it is by no means usual to find legionaries whose rank is disproportionate to their position, it’s by no means unknown.)
And so, in the absence – ah, time to spend on conlanging, where art thou? – of a full and appropriate set of Eldraeic terminology, pray pardon my shameless appropriation and distortion of a variety of Greek and Roman terms in the below descriptions. (Also the use of the term armiger, “one who bears arms” in its non-heraldic sense, to describe those legionaries one of whose primary functions is fighting personally.)
So, to begin at the beginning, with the smallest of units:
The smallest, most fundamental division of the legions, the fist is a fireteam of four legionaries (E-3, outside training legions or first-tour replacements), one of whom (the monitor, usually an E-4/Corporal) is in tactical command, and a second of whom carries an additional heavy weapon.
(Well, except in armor legions. There, the fist is generally representative of a single tank crew, etc.)
The next division up, the lochos (or file, since the original lochos was based on one file of soldiers in the Ancyran phalanx or the Selenarian legions) consists of three fists, plus a lochagos (file leader; usually an E-6/Master Sergeant) and ouragos (file closer; usually an E-5/Sergeant) as commander and second-in-command, respectively, for a total of fourteen armigers.
In light infantry legions, each lochos is assigned a pair of V40 Ralihú IFVs (accommodate 8 each) as transports, the lochagos commanding one and the ouragos the other.
The lochos can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern squad. In more classical comparisons, one might analogize the lochos with the Roman contubernium, the tent-group; the lochos is a logistical unit inasmuch as its members are quartered together, eat together1, share various common appurtenances, etc.
Next up the hierarchy we come to the triarchy – which is not a formally constituted unit but rather one occasionally broken out for convenience – and consists of three lochoi assigned together; 42 armigers. The commander of a triarchy, although sometimes referred to as the triarch, is simply the lochagos with seniority. (On the rare occasions that a triarchy is seen operating independently – see note under century – higher command strata may find an O-2/Ensign from somewhere to give it policy direction.)
It can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern platoon – in size, at least.
Next in formal units, the century; six lochoi together, commanded by a centurion (O-4/O-3/O-2 Lieutenant/Sublieutenant/Ensign, usually depending on the seniority of the century within its legion) and an optio (E-7/Gunnery Sergeant); 86 armigers total. The century is usually the smallest unit to operate independently (for short periods; any long-term independent operations will be assigned a full cohort). A legion contains 162 centuries (from three alae / nine merarchies / twenty-seven cohorts).
The century is the first of the “bannered units”; these being the century, the cohort, and the legion entire. When colors are carried2, the symbolism for each century and its attached battle-honors are of course unique, but the background pattern and combination of colors is standardized, such that every legion’s, for example, 43rd century will use the same base banner as every other legion’s.
The century also has staff positions (auxiliaries) outside the directly armigerous personnel. In auxiliaries, a typical century will include a signifer (the bearer of the colors and communications specialist), a quartermaster, two forward observer/recon specialists, two armorers, two field medics, and the field kitchen.
In addition, there is a fire-support asset attached to each century; for an infantry legion, this is usually a Saber coilgun-walker or something similar; and it is at the century level that the G5-TT Corveé tactical transports and their crews (one per two lochoi), or equivalent, are attached.
The century can be considered the approximate equivalent of a modern company.
Back to non-formal units, the dicentury, which is exactly what it says on the tin; a pair of centuries operating together (i.e. 172 armigers), commanded by the senior centurion of the pair.
On we go with the cohort; six centuries, for a fighting strength of 516, commanded by a machegos, or “Battlemaster” in the vernacular (O-4/Lieutenant or O-5/Major3). The cohort is the unit most commonly used for independent operations.
As the second of the bannered units, the cohort includes an aquilifer to carry its colors4 (and the golden eagle atop them) as well as serve as a communications specialist among its auxiliaries, which include at this point a full embedded logistics and medical staff, an adjutant for the machegos, the master of the camp, an intelligence staff, and the padre, among others.
(The cohort’s padre is not counted among the armigerous on the technicality that his command structure answers first to his deity, and only afterwards to the machegos5. Regardless, when the cohort meets the enemy, the padre is usually to be found in the van.)
In addition, there’s a heavy fire-support asset attached to each cohort. The type varies by legion, but a light infantry legion might use the HV-12 Stormfall missile tank or the HVC-14h Thunderbolt drone tank, in the role.
The cohort can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern battalion.
Up to the next level, the merarchy; three cohorts together, for a total fighting strength of 1,548, commanded by a merarch (O-6/Colonel or O-7/Brigadier). It’s primarily a tactical and administrative division rather than one that has a large staff attached to it. What it does have attached to it, though, is the lighter half of the legion’s organic air support, in the form of one wing of G12-BU Falcon tilt-rotors6 attached to each merarchy.
Can be considered the approximate equivalent of the regiment – in size. Where the “regimental system” is concerned, however, that’s the legion.
Next, the ala, or wing; three merarchies together, for a total fighting strength of 4,664, commanded by an alearch (an O-7/Brigadier or O-8/General of the Wing). Much like the cohort, it has a full attached staff, appropriate to its place in the hierarchy (although it is not a bannered unit).
Also attached to the ala is the legion’s heavy air support; a wing of G7-BU Sunhawk heavy ground-attack aircraft each. Combat support units of various kinds which the legion has permanently acquired over its history and temporarily attached subunits tend to also be glued on here, at the ala level.
It can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern brigade.
And finally, the legion itself; three wings together, for a total fighting strength of 13,9327, commanded by a strategos, a post occupied by an O-9/General of the Legion. Also includes the strategos‘s command staff (including the draconifer, who carries the legionary standard, a crystal-and-gold replica of the dragons framing the Dragon Throne, and is in charge of legionary communications) and its support units.
The legion is, of course, the highest of the permanently established units of the Imperial Military service. It can be considered the approximate equivalent of the modern division.
The legion is, of course, not the largest possible military command; it’s merely the largest formally and permanently organized unit. When needed for a war, legions can be grouped together into field forces, which can be grouped into armies, which in turn are attached to fleets up in the airy heights of the Admiralty where grades O-10 through O-14 (various kinds of Marshal) roam, ultimately under the overall theater command of a Warmain (polemarch) answering to the First Lord of the Admiralty.
But that’s another story…
Ride together, die together… bad boys for life.
On the modern battlefield, per-century banners are generally not carried; however, the colors and symbols are still used in identifying v-tags.
Note that there is no rank of Captain in the Imperial ground forces.
The eagles, on the other hand, are borne into battle, usually with the headquarters section. It may not be practical, but there are such things as standards, y’know? Standards about standards, even.
General opinion within the Legions, on the other hand, is that the strategos is somewhat senior to god.
You can think of these as, simplistically, filling the “attack helicopter” role.
Despite variations in the numbers of auxiliary staff attached, logisticians usually budget 18,000 personnel for transporting a full legion, in the comfortable assurance that they won’t need all of ’em for people.
This one goes out to all my readers who have spent time deployed somewhere really, really, exquisitely tedious…
From: Master-at-Arms, CS Ablator
To: All Personnel, Task Group SPIKY POTATO
Subject: Prohibitions That Should Not Have To Be Explicit
It has come to my attention that due to the less than challenging nature of our current duty station, certain behaviors qualifying as discipline problems have become alarmingly common throughout this Task Group. Worse, it has come to the Admiral’s attention, and the Admiral, permit me to assure you, is even less amused by them than I am.
From the date of posting this notice, therefore, the following are now explicitly prohibited, and violations will attract the full weight of Article Three to the violator and anyone else involved.
The chief reason for the unchallenging nature of our present duty station is the technical advantage we enjoy over the enemy. The correct military terminology for this, however, is battlespace supremacy. Under no circumstances is it to be referred to in after-action reports as god mode. Good grief, people, you all know that our AARs are matters of public record. Try to show a little professionalism.
Local allies are technically referred to as colonial troops, and not as ablative meat, however lacking their TO&E might be. At least where they can hear you.
Even if the locals have no missiles capable of doing more than bouncing off our ships’ hulls, the tactical tank is for monitoring local-space activity. Not for playing Galaxy of Conquest in super-high-res. (And if you’re the officer Captain Oricalcios walked in on mid-game, your tactics were terrible and you just failed this year’s promotion board.)
The official motto of the Imperial Military Service is “Between the Flame and the Fire”. Unofficially, the paraphrase “civilization has enemies; we kill the bastards” has been usually tolerated. All of the following, however, are to be avoided: “Your sexy new war gods”, “because nuclear ain’t enough”, “death death death death death”, and any references to squid.
Yes, the paderi are a quadrupedal species. This does not mean that our local allies can be used as cavalry mounts.
Even, and I wish to emphasize this in particular, if it was their idea. Even assuming that it is a good idea, the optics are terrible.
Nor are any of our current variety of combat drones suitable for use in this role. You’ll just have to live without valiantly charging down the enemy so you can hit them with your sword.
Even if you have a cavalry sword. Why do you have a cavalry sword?
Your fellow legionaries are not to be used as projectile weapons.
Betting on arm-wrestling with civilians while wearing power-assisted armor is forbidden, even if they are drunk and spoiling for trouble. The local hospitals have started to complain.
Combat stimulators are not to be considered a substitute for esklav, no matter what you think of the mess brew.
Nor, although the Imperial Military Service is relatively permissive where fraternization is concerned, are they to be used to spice up your love life. Surgeon-Lieutenant Aendyr has been issued a blanket authorization to post pictures.
While chameleon coatings can be set to any color and pattern, flames, hot pink, your favorite painting, or last week’s episode of Battle Beyond the Brane are not approved for field use.
Aftermarket speaker systems are not to be fitted to combat exoskeletons. Your AI already provides a perfectly adequate soundtrack.
…even if you did require them to “challenge the enemy to a dance-off”, we have a requisitions procedure for a reason.
No military equipment is to be used for recreational purposes. If whatever you thought of makes you smile, giggle, or laugh, you are to assume that it constitutes recreational purposes until advised otherwise.
Especially if it involves any intersection of stealth hardware with practical jokes.
Yes, cook-outs are recreational. Besides, no heat-generating weapons in inventory can be turned down far enough to leave the meat even slightly edible. Yes, we checked.
So is requisitioning drop shuttles for booze runs or ‘surprise rapid insertion liberty’.
While the IMS recognizes that explosives can be used to solve a remarkable number of classes of problems, and while formal research into expanding this list is usually done by the Office of Military Research and Development it is nonetheless happy to add field improvisations to its official repertoire, this applies to field improvisations. It is not a blanket authorization for unofficial explosives research.
While the Imperial Military Service also has no fan-fiction policy, largely due to no-one ever imagining that it might need a fan-fiction policy, would-be authors are reminded that it still needs to be cleared through all the normal channels before you post it publicly. Especially if you want to illustrate it with staged or real combat videos.
…and if you’re writing that kind of fan-fiction, be aware that at least some of your characters can have you spaced for mutiny.
While your efforts to challenge yourselves are admirable, save it for actual exercises. Pretending you’ve forgotten to bring bullets to the battle so you’ll be forced to improvise may be a challenge, but it’s also a mockery of the rules of war, and just begging for an unpleasant surprise.
Especially if by “improvise” you mean “punch, a lot”.
It’s still a bad idea to play Ancyr roulette even if it’s mathematically impossible for the bullets to penetrate N45 Garrex field combat armor.
…especially if whoever you’re playing it with isn’t wearing N45 Garrex field combat armor.
Unless you’re a psychological warfare specialist, you are not authorized to conduct psychological warfare.
Against either side.
That is all. Or rather, that had better be all, because Ablator has an awful lot of hull that could stand a good cleaning. Six by six?
Bastion (Arvael II, Palaxias System) has no ring. It does, however, have an arc.
The Hainadar Memorial fills, currently, approximately 6° of its orbit around Bastion in a thin, sparkling ring segment. The elements of the arc are simple spheres of tinted diamondoid, colored by service: silver for the Navy, crimson for the Legions, emerald for the Home Guard, amber for the Stratarchies, midnight-blue for the Directorates. Each bears within it a handful of ashes, or perhaps a memento contributed by a family.
For each is also engraved with a single name: that of a hainadar who suffered permanent death in service to the Empire or one of its allies. There is no further inscription, no indication of rank. None is necessary. All are equal here in this soldiers’ final resting place. All will be remembered.
And all will be remembered under the sight of Bastion’s moons: the naval base at Palaxias, the Legion fortresses of Agoge, and Core Command itself.
Those who plan and execute wars must be ever mindful of their price.
Worthy Opponent: Played straight quite often by the old guard of the Imperial Navy and Imperial Legions, who are known for feeling respect in the presence and nostalgia in the absence of their fellow professionals on the other side, who know how to fight honorably, in accordance with the Laws and Customs of War, keep Their Word, and generally are willing to make war like gentlemen and not make them invoke the nastier segments of Combat Pragmatism, even if they are also Magnificent Bastards – and who they can fight without having to hate.
Unfortunately, since in the modern Worlds, much like our modern world, most fighting involves rogue nations, irregular/asymmetric forces, pirates, and other exemplars of scum and villainy, they are dreadfully short of opponents it’s possible to respect. And thus, indeed, it is as the sages say: a worthy opponent is second only to a worthy friend in esteem.
In addition to my previous queries, an additional historical / etymological one: Does the presence of “Lords of the Admiralty” in the Empire’s military hierarchy imply, like their *our*-world British counterparts, that their duties were once concentrated in a singular office of “Lord High Admiral” whose role eventually evolved into an office held in commission?
Well spotted, but alas, no. It’s just the best close approximation I could find to the actual title, noting specifically that in the Eldraeverse it is not short for “Lords Commissioners for Exercising the Office of Lord High Admiral”.
As for why that is the title… well, it works like this.
In Imperial practice, there are three kinds of what for want of a better word we shall call “nobility”: the runér, the praetorate, and the exultancy. The first, the runér, are the executive branch – your lairds, barons, counts, dukes, kings, etc., or for that matter your city managers, county commissioners, and state governors. The third, the exultancy, are titles of prestige awarded for loyal service, superior achievement, or otherwise great merit. Those don’t come with hard power, merely precedence, prestige, honors, letterheads, entrées, and the ability to get good tables in nice restaurants at short notice.
The second, the praetorate, includes titles like these – it being the general case that people who routinely interact at the highest levels with the highly-titled runér need equivalent honors, dignities, and precedence to support their offices. At lower levels of the table of ranks, usually it doesn’t apply, but at the uppermost levels – what I might call the Mandarinate if I needed a translation for that term, yet – most offices have some unique praetorate title with its own place in the big list of official precedence.
So in this case –
Well. The top of the Table of Ranks for the Imperial Military Service is grade O-14, which the Imperial Navy calls Admiral of the Fleet, the Imperial Legions call Captain-General of the Legions, the Home Guard calls Commandant of the Guard, and the stratarchies call Lord High Stratarch. Traditionally, that rank is reserved for Lords of Admiralty, so each service only has one of them except for the one that furnishes the First Lord of Admiralty, which gets two.
But that’s a military rank. It empowers them to head up their particular military service, but doesn’t mean anything outside that. (Those who remember The Core War will recall orders sent out from someone using the rank ADM/FLT, rather than from the First Lord of the Admiralty, for example…)
All of those people also sit on the Board of Admiralty, which actually runs the Imperial Military Service as a whole. Their military ranks serve for that portion of the job. For interfacing with the civilian government, however, each of them holds a unique title as one of the Lords of Admiralty, which is equivalent to grade XIII on the Table of Ranks for the Imperial Service (“Minister of State” or “Logarch”), except for the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is ranked as grade XIV (“Minister of the Throne” and/or other Great Officer of State).
Which in turn is because the other Lords of Admiralty sit only on the Board of Admiralty and in meetings of the Council of Ministers (the larger of the two bodies which includes the heads of all the ministries beneath the seven large ones as well as the seven, presided over by the Lord Coordinator of the Chancelry acting as the Minister President of the Council) whereas the First Lord sits on the Council of the Star (the top-level executive body which includes only the seven top-level ministries – of which the Admiralty counts as one – presided over by the Imperial Couple personally).
(If I were to make an analogy to US government here, I’d say that one could analogize the Board of Admiralty in Imperial practice to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the First Lord to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, except that the First Lord’s job is also that of the Secretary of Defense, which is why it’s also the functional equivalent of a Cabinet-level post.)
All of which is very involved, but then, I am attempting to simulate a somewhat evolved structure, here, not an unnaturally clean one…
So, to sum up, basically, they’re called that because it’s Translation Convention for the noble-equivalent title that comes with the job.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Usually averted by the Imperial Military Service and those following its fine military tradition – although that tradition also suggests it’s a good idea to have it available to use. Because it’s unsubtle, and inelegant, and for a sophisticated people of great strategic acumen, therefore… kind of tacky.
That said, also occasionally played very straight when it’s time to Make An Example Of Them, and see most of that list of examples for specific cases.
That said… your standards for overkill may vary.
(For example, it’s always cheaper to fire a KEW out of a mass driver than it is to go to the trouble of assigning a legionary, a cutter, a pilot, etc., to go dirtside and take a bunch of time to hunt down and shoot a target individual personally.
What do you know? Turns out that crater was the fiscally optimal amount of kill after all…)
State Sec: Despite the name, Imperial State Security averts this completely; they’re just an intelligence/security organization, and a much more constrained (even the Fifth Directorate), non-autonomous one. The only military is, well, the Imperial Military Service under a different ministry entirely, the regime protection forces are three entirely separate and relatively small organizations (the Imperial Guard, the Hand of Justice, and the Guardians of the Senate), and that’s about it.
This is the third part of our six-part series on Building the Imperial Navy (first here; second here), in which we extend the strategic goals we made in the second part by defining the Navy’s role relative to the other parts of the Imperial Military Service, and define in general terms what the fleet does in support of its missions. In this step, there are three sub-steps:
Service Roles & Missions
What services (the Navy included) exist, and which parts of the larger strategic puzzle are allocated to each service? Which types of mission does each service consider a core capability? How does the Navy support its own missions, and what services does it offer to the other services – and vice versa?
In the Imperial Military Service, the Imperial Navy is definitely the senior military service, as tends to be the case for any interstellar polity. While (in a relatively unusual case for a star nation) it does not directly control the other services – that being the responsibility of Core Command and the Theater Commands – IN admirals dominate these by the numbers, and strategy is heavily driven by fleet actions.
The IN is, after all, tasked to provide all combat and patrol functions anywhere in the Worlds (and, quite possibly, anywhere else in the galaxy), along with all necessary support functions for the Legions when operating outside the Empire or off-planet within it, and any support functions required by the other stratarchies likewise. With a remit like that…
Well. The First Lord of the Admiralty may be officially styled Protector of the Starways, Warden of the Charted Void, Warlord of the Empire, but it’s the Second Lord, the Admiral of the Fleet, who rejoices in the nickname “King Of All Known Space”.
To achieve all of this, the majority of the Imperial Navy is organized into a number of fleets: the Home Fleet, the Capital Fleet, and the “directional fleets” – the Field Fleets Coreward, Rimward, Spinward, Trailing, Acme, and Nadir. The first of these, the Home Fleet, is based at Prime Base, Palaxias, and is the garrison fleet for the Imperial Core and Fringe, keeping up patrols and strategic defenses along access routes; meanwhile, the Field Fleets operate outside the Empire, each in its assigned sextant, providing continuous patrols and security services from their associated fleet stations.
Capital Fleet, meanwhile, has a double name: on one hand, it is the defensive fleet for the Capital District, the throneworld, Conclave Drift, Corícal, Esilmúr, and Prime Base itself. On the other hand, it also possesses the highest proportion of capital ships in the Imperial Navy, because it forms its major strategic reserve in the event of war breaking out, and is also the fleet from which flotillas and task forces to handle situations that the lighter units of the Field Fleets cannot is formed from. As such, curiously enough, it’s probably also the fleet that sees the most full-contact military action.
There are also certain very specialized functions (command of certain fixed defenses, including tripwires and englobement grids; anti-RKV defenses; the RKV deterrent fleet; relativistic war operations; and so forth) using equally specialized starships that don’t fit neatly into the fleet structure, which are grouped together under specialized areas such as Nightfall Operations Command, Perimeter Security Command, Fortress Command, Tripwire Command, and so forth.
The Imperial Legions are the Empire’s “ground” combat organization, with the understanding that in this case “ground” includes in habitats, on asteroids, in microgravity temps, underwater, and basically anywhere else you can’t fit a starship, including starship-to-starship boarding actions.
They serve both as onboard “ship’s troops” – providing shipboard security, boarding and landing forces, and additional damage control personnel – and as an offensive combat arm with their own assault cruisers, drop pods, shuttles, and ships, and organic light and heavy armored cavalry, which is attached to Naval task forces as required.
The Navy, in turn, is responsible for the Legions’ transportation, escort, and orbital fire support.
As the possessor of the “misc”, various specialized forcelets that don’t fit anywhere else, the Stratarchy of Military Unification is called upon by the Navy and the Legions when they need one of those specialties somewhere, relies upon them for transport, etc., and otherwise has a similar but much less called-upon relationship to the Navy-Legions one.
It is perhaps notable that the Empire has no “Army”-equivalent service: i.e., no branch concentrating on mass warfare, long-term occupation, etc., the Legions being highly specialized in the raiding/commando/special operations/strike-hard-and-fast role. This is entirely deliberate, as the Empire has chosen a policy of deliberately eschewing those types of warfare in the current erato the extent that they are not substitutable. This policy is intended to have a twofold effect:
First, reassurance of the Empire’s neighbors with regard to its own peaceful intentions; the Empire may have a large and potent military force, but any strategic planner with eyes should be able to tell instantly that it is extremely badly adapted for attempts at conquest, and would need considerable reengineering to become a suitable tool for setting out on imperial adventures.
But second, of course, those hostile polities or sub-polity factions whose strategic calculus might let them conclude that they can get away with fighting a long guerilla war against an occupation should think twice when it’s equally obvious to the trained eye that that isn’t one of the options on the Empire’s table, and that the most likely substitution from the force mix they do have is to blast them back into the Neolithic with orbital artillery.
(Occasional miscalculations on this point in the Conclave of Galactic Polities have led to accusations of “k-rod peacekeeping” and on one occasion the Cobalt Peace Wall Incident, but it’s unlikely to change any time soon.)
The IN coordinates its operations and provides transportation (when necessary) for the Stratarchies of Data Warfare, Indirection and Subtlety, and Warrior Philosophy, as well as certain other special services (like, say, preemptively burying hidden tangle channel endpoints where they might be useful). By and large, coordination is the main relationship: Indirection and Subtlety, for example, might consider it a failure if they’ve let things get to the point of there being a war at all, but as long as they’re doing assassinations and sabotage in wartime, it is best if it happens at the appropriate time, belike.
Their biggest relationship apart from the Legions is with the Stratarchy of Military Support and Logistics, which owns the oilers, the logistics bases, the transportation and supply contracts, the freighter fleet, medical and personnel services, etc., etc., and basically all the other logistical back-end needed to run the Military Service that the Navy would be doing for itself if the people who designed these systems didn’t much prefer that they concentrate on specifically naval things. They work closely together to get logistics done, and in wartime, ensure that the logistics functions are adequately escorted and otherwise protected.
The IN has very little at all to do with the Home Guard, it being a domestic security militia force only.
Fleet Concept of Operations
In general what does the fleet do? When and where will the fleet execute the missions defined in the last step? Will the fleet fight near home, along the border, or will it fight in enemy territory? Is it offensive in orientation, or defensive? What’s the standard operating procedure?
In orientation, by and large, the Home Fleet is defensive; the Field Fleets are mostly offensive (although less so to spinward and nadir, where they rub up against the borders with the Republic and the Consciousness, respectively); and the Capital Fleet, which can be called upon to reinforce either, splits the difference with a bias to the offensive side.
On the defensive, the rule of thumb is, as it has always been, “fight as far from whatever you’re trying to defend as possible”. Space battles are messy, and if at all possible, you don’t want to be fighting them with anything you care about preserving as the backstop. Home defense, therefore, involves a “hard crust” – although one backed up by a “firm center” – around the core Empire’s connection to the greater stargate plexus, but expands this by placing pickets, and of course the “field fleet” patrols, well in advance of these. The intent is that the defensive fleets should advance to meet any attacker and take them out, or at least greatly reduce them, before they ever reach Imperial territory.
And, of course, the best defense is a preemptive offense – when Admiralty Intelligence and Indirection and Subtlety can arrange that.
On the offense, the IN adheres to the military doctrine the Empire has always practiced, given various factors previously discussed, namely that only an idiot chooses a fair fight, and only a double-damned idiot fights anything resembling a frontal war of attrition. Misdirection, whittling flank attacks, deep strikes on crucial nexi, and eventual defeat in detail are the hallmarks of the IN’s strategy on the attack.
In terms of scale of operations, the IN plans for disaster: conventional readiness standards call for the IN and the rest of the Military Service to be able to fight three major brushfire wars simultaneously and/or one sub-eschatonic war (i.e. one step below ex-threat, like invasion from a massively larger polity such as the Republic or an unknown higher-tech polity), even while sustaining normal operations. The former, at least, is known to be possible. The latter… has not yet been tested in a completely stringent manner. But that’s what the Admiralty is planning for.
Is the fleet forward deployed (so that it can rapidly deploy to known threats) or based outside of the home system(s)? It is garrison-based, i.e., homeported in the home system(s)? Does it conduct frequent deployments or patrols or does it largely stay near home space and only go out for training? (Fleet posture is not where the starships are based, but instead how they are based and how forward-leaning it is.)
The nature of superluminal travel in many ways defines the nature of the strategic environment. Since travel between star systems is normally done using the stargates, a surface defined in terms of a list of stargate links can be treated, effectively, as a border or as an effective defensive line. While it is possible to bypass such a surface by subluminal (relativistic) travel, this is a sufficiently difficult and expensive process (and one requiring specialty hardware) as to make it a minor strategic consideration, for the most part.
That, at least, frees the IN from having to picket every system all the time.
That said, its posture is as forward-leaning as they can make it. Both the Home Fleet (within the Empire) and the Field Fleets are kept in constant motion, on patrol; the field fleets, in particular, travel on randomly-generated patrol routes from the Imperial Fringe out into the Periphery via various fleet stations and then return, throughout the entire volume of the Associated Worlds. (This requires a great many agreements with various other polities for passage of naval vessels, usually gained with the assistance of Ring Dynamics, ICC, who find this desirable with reference to the defense of their stargates.) Constant motion is the watchword: the IN doesn’t want its task forces to be pinned down or for it to be known where they are at any given moment, and this additionally helps make it very likely that anywhere there’s a sudden need for a task force, there will be starships available for relatively ready retasking. (I say relatively ready: the nature of stargates means that while you can cross from star to neighboring star instantly, you have to cross the star systems in between from stargate to stargate the slow way – and while brachistochrones at single-digit gravities are skiffily impressive by Earth-now standards, they still aren’t exactly express travel between, say, two points 120 degrees apart on the orbit of Neptune.)
The Field Fleets are, in short, about as forward-leaning as it’s possible to be.
The Capital Fleet spends more time in garrison, by its nature, but in addition to training operations, units and squadrons are routinely transferred back and forth to the Field Fleets or dispatched on special operations so that every IN unit maintains at least a minimum degree of seasoning. It’s the view of the Second Lord and BuTrain in particular that a Navy that doesn’t fight is likely to be bloody useless if it ever has to fight, so it’s best all around to keep everyone out there as much as practicable.
 In previous eras, such tasks were the responsibilities of the Legions: should they be needed again, the remit of the Legions is likely to be once again expanded.
(Sorry, folks – I had really meant to give you the next section of Darkness Within today. Unfortunately, I’m feeling pretty plague-ridden right now and can’t really give it the degree of attention it deserves, so instead, I’m giving you some non-fic notes on the evolution of the Imperial Military Service.)
One of the minor things that came up with reference to Trope-a-Day: Semper Fi, in a comment on the G+ share of that post, was the traditional interservice brawl; and something mentioned in my answer to that was the Empire’s lack of any Army-equivalent to fight its Marines-equivalent legionaries. And this, I figured, might give rise to some curiosity as to Just How Things Got That Way, both with the lack of one, and which one turned up lacking.
So let’s look back in history a ways.
Specifically, let’s look back to the Union of Empires, which predated the founding of the actual Empire by 42 years or so. Among the many pieces of geopolitical reasoning that went into motivating this particular unification was a military one: one component, the island-bound Empire of Cestia, had – through its sub-polity, the Alatian Kingdom, the finest fleet on the planet. The other, the continental, mountain-bound Moon-Worshipping Empire of Selenaria had the finest army on the planet. If you were to compare the two, respectively, to the British Royal Navy and the Roman legions at their respective heights, you’d be in the right ballparks.
Naturally, the thought of putting the legions of the one onto the ships of the other, overcoming Selenaria’s geographical boundaries and Cestia’s difficulties operating away from water, and thereby conquering the whole damn world put many, many smiles on the faces of both the admirals in Ethring and the generals in Iselené.
These two organizations became the forerunners of the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Legions, respectively.
(Which is not to say those were the only contributions at the time of the Empire’s founding. Of the other founders, the Deeping had its appropriately terrifyin’ warrior-priests, Veranthyr had some of the best light forest scouts in the business, and the Silver Crescent, in particular Leirin and Telírvess, provided more than its share of what I believe are called quote deeply scary-ass axe-wieldin’ motherfuckers unquote, but the two big professional military elements were the above.)
And then, of course, things evolved over time.
The Legions became more of a Marine-like force very quickly, of course, given that amphibious backstory, and that most of the early Empire’s wars did involve close cooperation with the Navy. That in turn, induced something of a fragmentation: one of the first reorganizations split apart the legions that spent most of their time makin’ war offensively from those with a primarily defensive role, the latter of which became the Home Guard, which in turn evolved into a citizen militia with those units serving as its core and cadre.
And time passed, and the Empire expanded, and the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Legions basically borged all the new forces and their units they acquired in the process into their own organizations: sometimes via methods that required great restructuring and retraining, and sometimes by methods as simple as handing out a new Imperial Star to add to their battle standards and informing the Ancyran Devil Dogs that they were now “the Empress’s Hundred-and-Second, the Devil Dogs”.
And more time passed, and military technology were advanced, and portfolios were shuffled, and people invented the notion of an Air Force, which became the Fourth Lord of Admiralty’s purview for the next considerable time, and so it went on…
Up, at least, until the really big post-space-era reorganization. In which several large changes were made over a relatively short period – of which the most major was combining the Imperial Navy and its air forces – both of which had interests in space and relevant specializations – into a single unified force, filling each others’ competence holes, and whose primary business was space. (And, indeed, which lost most of its air-only and wet navy responsibilities, too.) The legacy of that reorg is still visible in their mixed set of traditions, and the quirk in rank structures that explains why an IN O-5 in the Engineering Branch is a Lieutenant Commander, but an O-5 in the Flight Ops branch is a Squadron Leader.
This also made the Imperial Legions even more Marine-y, as it were, because you can’t invade anywhere in space without the IN taking you there – and because it is sheerly impractical to invade planets across interstellar distances by main force, so the sorts of operations they are specialized for are much more in what we might consider the “marine” mode than the “army” mode. The Empire doesn’t have an army suitable for long-term warfare and occupation, because it is firmly of the opinion that it doesn’t need one.
(This also reassures more than a few of their neighbors, which is a nice side-effect.)
And that brings us up to the modern era. So how does it look now?
Well, the man on the street would probably say, all casual-like, that there are two main branches of the Imperial Military Service, the Navy (in SPAAACE!) and the Legions. And on a very casual level, he’d be right. But there are actually eight, under the nine Lords of Admiralty…
The First Lord of the Admiralty,Protector of the Starways, Warden of the Charted Void, Warlord of the Empire (all of which looks so much nicer on a business card than “Secretary of Defense”) is the one that doesn’t have a branch of his own. He commands the central Admiralty itself, (that having won the nomenclatural coin-toss with the General Staff, back in the day), filling both the equivalent posts of the SecDef and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Core Command, which oversees the Warmains, the appointed supreme-commanders-on-the-spot for each permanent or ad-hoc Theater Command. He’s the most senior military officer, who may be appointed from any of the eight branches, and has full operational command authority.
The Second Lord of the Admiralty is the most senior non-operational officer for the Imperial Navy, as the Third Lord of the Admiralty is for the Imperial Legions, usually both O-14s – Admiral of the Fleet and Captain-General of the Legions, respectively.
The Fourth Lord of the Admiralty is, in the modern era, the O-14 (Lord High Stratarch) in charge of the Stratarchy of Military Unification. That, in turn, amounts to the “department of misc” – in the final reorganization that created the IN and IL in their modern forms, this Stratarchy acquired all the military functions that didn’t fit in either of them: the Empire’s remaining specialized air forces and wet navy forces, for example, along with a variety of other functions too specialized to fit well in the IN and IL, along with some other oddity functions like “privateer liaison”, and so forth.
And then there are the stratarchies created by further modern-era additions.
The Fifth Lord of the Admiralty commands the Stratarchy of Data Warfare, which is responsible for making the Empire’s enemies deeply regret that they ever plugged anything into the extranet, and quite possibly that they ever invented electronics.
The Sixth Lord of the Admiralty commands the Stratarchy of Indirection and Subtlety, which is in charge of assassinations, sabotage, economic warfare, ecological warfare, financial warfare, and pretty much everything else from the big book of dirty tricks that doesn’t fall under the purview of…
The Seventh Lord of the Admiralty, whose Stratarchy of Warrior Philosophy houses war-lawyers and military memeticists whose function is to use misinformation, meme-attacks, psychological warfare, cultural propaganda, and outright toxic memes to find the strands holding an enemy’s morale, military, economy, society, religion, culture, etc., etc., together and basically unravel them. When your plans for a nice little war are rudely interrupted by a multi-way civil war breaking out at home, it’s the Seventh Lord who strokes his mustache and indulges in evil laughter.
The Eighth Lord of the Admiralty commands the Stratarchy of Military Support and Logistics, which is exactly what it says on the tin, and ensures that everyone else has exactly what they need when they need it, even – or perhaps especially – if it hadn’t occurred to them to ask for it yet.
And the Ninth Lord of the Admiralty, the Commandant of the Guard, commands the Home Guard (remember them?) in maintaining defensive garrisons, fortifications, and facilities and training services for the citizen militia.
But also, despite their origins in the army of a land power, in later days (due to that land power allying with a major sea power) they did do most of their fighting as an amphibious rapid-reaction force, and, of course, when the Empire went into space – see, obviously, Space Marine – as the orbital equivalent of such a force. And since imperial annexations of anything resembling a major world work very badly across interstellar distances, most of the Legions are optimized for a similar rapid-reaction, tip-of-the-spear, in-and-out role.
So differences in culture and tech aside, they’d probably recognize each other, I do believe.
Putting on the Reich: While the Imperial Military Service has been known to like peaked caps (although not in the current uniform), capes, trenchcoats, jackboots, eagles – well, the-local-animal-which-for-our-purposes-let’s-call-a-wyvern, actually, but any raptor gilded and put on top of a standard probably counts – lightning bolts, and calling rapid interface drop-troop legions stormtroopers because they fall from the sky with great speed and mighty thunder, it’s never even been within a couple of thousand light years of Those Wacky Nazis, okay?
No black, white and red, either. It’s mostly blue and gold, maybe some silver. And besides, they’re usually the good guys. They just like to dress with some style. (See also, Bling of War.)
Note: This document replaces ISE Security Advisory 4112-11. It is applicable to personnel of all levels of the Imperial Service and Imperial Military Service, and to all external contractors of the Imperial Service and Imperial Military Service, and all other individuals whatsoever endorsed with a security clearance issued by the Central Vetting Office.
All personnel are reminded that, per clause XVIII of the revised Official Secrets Act, all codeword clearance information classified above SECRET (YELLOW) is considered highly sensitive, remains classified even when stored within the mind-state of cleared individuals, and may not be exported to regions outside Imperial volumes. All personnel containing such data are required to report for noetic redaction of such information before departing the Imperial core volume or other equivalently secure-graded volume, except when it falls under need-to-know for a particular field operation.
It should be noted that clause XVIII applies to transit as well as destination. Personnel travelling outside the Imperial core volume to reach distant volumes also graded as equivalently secure must report for noetic redaction of such information; arrangements will be made to transmit it separately to the destination volume or for it to accompany them in an approved secure data transport system.
Strict adherence to these protocols is more important than ever in the light of the increased SOPHINT efforts seen around the Worlds. A prepared Empire is a secure Empire!
“Join The Army,” They Said: While it’s never as yet been shown on screen, I am pretty certain both that the advertising is pretty realistic about the nature of war, but also that the recruitment slogan for the Imperial Military Service is along the lines of:
CIVILIZATION HAS ENEMIES.
KILL THE BASTARDS.
They’re very forthright people in the Empire, really (see also: Deadly Euphemism)…
(I mean, sure, it’s nice to have a bunch of big guys in power armor around post-natural-disasters, etc., and the IMS has a lot more tail than teeth, just like all modern militaries, so it’s not like most of them ever will kill anyone, even in wartime. But the reason it exists is nonetheless finding things that are looking to trouble the citizen-shareholders and then shooting the ever-loving crap out of them.)
Drinking On Duty: Averted inasmuch as neither the Imperial Navy nor the Imperial Legions, nor indeed any other part of the Imperial Military Service is dry, even on duty. Drinking enough to render yourself unfit for duty, on the other hand, and the punishment for same, is played very straight indeed.
On the third hand, between the biotech upgrades you start out with and the ones which you acquire mid-way through boot camp for your shiny new military-basic body, you would have to drink truly heroic quantities of booze – enough that you’re unlikely to be able to have it with you on post, unless your duty station is engineering and you’re slurping the reactor coolant directly – in order to render yourself unfit anyway. (This does mean that you can’t drink to forget the horrors of war, but since you can visit a memory redactor for that, it’s probably not so bad a trade-off.)
Bling of War: Except for the brief chunk of time that matched our Industrial Age, played mostly straight by the Imperial Legions. Beforehand, for much the same regions as Napoleonic (and previous) armies were quite dressy – well, that, and the giant steam clanks stomping around on the battlefield – and afterwards because big stompy Powered Armor with both noise and the ensuring thermal and neutrino emissions tends to make stealth something that happens to other people anyway, so you might as well go back to looking gorgeous on the battlefield if you’re anything other than scouts or special ops (who sneakily enough do have their own “field drab” armor which somehow never shows up on parade). And, of course, so long as the bling of war is on top of the fully functional deadliness of war and doesn’t interfere with its functionality.
This is, of course, completely unnecessary and not done by most people who advance past Industrial Age warfare – it’s just a local aesthetic preference. (The trope – which is still generally true in their universe – that the side with the shiniest uniforms tends to lose therefore has at least one qualification to it. That some people haven’t heard of said qualification and will fall right into the wrong assumptions isn’t strictly intended by the Admiralty, but they certainly don’t mind that it happens.)