Friday, March 29, 2013



I can’t tell you how many times I was able to secure a swift victory by leading a crack team against an opponent’s headquarters or capitol. It’s amazing how many people will give that order to stand down and surrender when they have a weapon pressed against their vital parts.

In order to even carry out an operation like that, though, you first need to have a contingency within your plans to capture the enemy rather than just kill him. Don’t get me wrong, killing is still very necessary in war. But a general who seeks to minimize the bloodshed isn’t weak; he’s doing his job. After all, killing requires effort. It requires risk. You expend too much energy, or you take too many risks, and pretty soon the law of averages kicks in and something goes wrong. That’s why we’re called soldiers or warriors instead of butchers.

You went on a killing spree and kept going until the humans rose up and stopped you.

They did so because you pushed them to it. Let this sink in: you slaughtered the humans presumably to intimidate them. But what you really did was motivate them to fight on. This is one of those ironies that the universe likes to use to tease us.

Earthlings would call it “bass ackwards thinking.” It ends up motivating the enemy. And let’s talk about what it does to your own troops. If they have any souls, or just professional pride, it will demoralize them. If it doesn’t bother your troops, you have an even bigger problem. That means they’re a bunch of undisciplined crapheads. And you can’t rely on crapheads when things get rough. I’m assuming you don’t want crapheads in your army. You want guys who are tough, disciplined, and smart. Blasting helpless civilians and empty buildings proves you’re none of the three.

You want your troops to be motivated. If possible, you want them to have only two options: fight or die. That way, they’ll fight harder.

You want the reverse for your enemy. You want them to have a million options that don’t involve fighting. Because chances are they’re going to choose one of them. Fighting wars is a dirty, lousy business. I love it. So do the other top mercenaries, like Sardonus Jek. But I freely admit that, as a group, we’re not right in the head. Any sane being, regardless of what planet he’s from, is going to avoid a nasty fight if at all possible. Make no mistake: you want to be intimidating as all hell on the battlefield. But what’s the point of being intimidating if your opponent has no way out?

Had you given the Earthlings that possibility back when you first invaded, they might have taken it. Some of them would have thought that life under the new regime wouldn’t be that bad.

As I stated earlier, things are different now. The Earthlings know you’re out there, and they know you mean them ill will. What they don’t know is why you keep trying to attack a world that has done nothing to you. The humans used to ask that question. Most on Earth now assume when you come it’s to exterminate them slowly and painfully. Earth means business. You invade again, you’ll be in for a fight from the start.

Friday, March 22, 2013



This next point covers most of you. It certainly covers the Gorgonians, the Sondrak and Dronn and his group.

Mindless violence. It may sound ironic to criticize mindless violence when we’re talking about invading a planet, but let’s review each of your attacks.

You began by surrendering the uncontested high ground of space, you threw away the element of surprise, and your first strikes looked flashy, but did very little real damage to Earth military capability.

Incredibly, despite all that, each of you still had a chance to claim a quick victory. Your first strikes were impressive. So impressive, they might have convinced the human governments that further resistance was futile.

But we’ll never know.

None of you took the opportunity to contact the planet’s leaders and offer a temporary cease fire while you work out the details of surrender. You didn’t even make a temporary cease fire to consolidate your positions.

Instead, once your so-called invasions finally got around to the business of actually invading you shot at everything and everyone and spared no one in your path. Did you think taking prisoners was pointless? Don’t prisoners have vital information like, oh, the location of the remaining military units? Can’t captured generals order other troops to lay down their arms? Can’t captured leaders issue a formal surrender?

It looks like you were so confident in victory you didn’t need the Earthlings to surrender. At first, that might seem reasonable. You had the energy weapons. You were burning everything in your path. Your enemies must have seemed like vermin beneath your feet. Right up to the point where the humans blew you the hell up.

Let’s pull back a little bit and talk big picture. There is a psychological malady that occurs during wartime. It usually infects the civilian population of a nation or planet engaged in a war, and it has certain stages. During the first stage, people convince themselves that the enemy won’t fight back at all, that they’ll crumble during the first shots. In the second stage, they believe that, even though enemy is putting up a fierce fight, they will eventually lose because they are somehow morally inferior. They won’t lose because of superior strategy and tactics, but due to some character flaw. The final stage usually occurs after the first two stages are proven to be ridiculous. The subject turns into a raving genocidal freak convinced that the war would be over if the army would just massacre everyone they came across and laid waste to the countryside. The final stage is usually suicide, as the “morally inferior” enemy marches through the capital.

Keep in mind this is a mental state that normally afflicts amateurs. You are supposed to be professionals.

“Take no prisoners!” is the call of an amateur. Any wannabe warrior on my side of the lines starts yelling that, I make sure he takes a trip to the infirmary. If I’m in a really forgiving mood he won’t lose a limb.

With these previous invasions it was like you guys were firing your weapons just to use them. You should only have been shooting at anything that was shooting back, period. What else should you have been doing? How about, you know, capturing something? Vital points, key terrain features, important structures. And why do we do that? So our enemies will be in such a bad position that they have no choice but retreat or surrender.

But if you’re not interested in surrender, why even bother with position or high ground? Why not just sit in one spot and let the Earthlings keep coming at you in waves? Let them keep trying to destroy you until they succeed! Which is what they do eventually. This attitude of “no mercy” and “take no prisoners” leads to defective military thinking. It’s wasting valuable time and energy on people and objects that no longer pose any threat.

The worst thing is that this attitude usually instills in the enemy the opposite of the desired effect. A brutal, “no prisoners” campaign can briefly unnerve some people; the key word being: briefly. In those moments immediately after the slaughter, you can convince some to surrender, if you offer terms. The rest will fight even harder.

But if you offer no terms, then surrender is off the table. The Earthlings will fight to the last because you’ve given them no alternative. Rather than a quick and easy victory, you’ve bought yourselves a long and brutal struggle.

And remember, you’re the ones who are light years away from reinforcements and resupply.

Thursday, March 14, 2013



So what else would I have done differently?

I would have struck the important targets first.

What are the important targets?

This is vital question. Let me put it this way: there are X number of targets. Capturing or destroying these targets will vastly increase your chances of success in the coming campaign. If you fail to do so, that’s the same as a loss. And if you miss them after your first surprise attack, chances are they’ll be on high alert or, even more likely, hidden and camouflaged.

During the last war between the Eldarans and the Ardonians, the Ardonians launched a surprise attack on the Eldar main base. Surprise was total, but the mission was a failure because the main objective of the attack – the large carriers and their fighter craft – weren’t at the base at the time of the attack. They failed to destroy these ships. Later, the same ships they had not destroyed engaged the Ardonian space navy and inflicted a decisive defeat on them. The Ardonians planned their surprise attack extraordinarily well, but because they missed their main objectives they suffered a strategic defeat. You can argue that it was a success. Not quite. The attack was a success, but the point of the attack was to destroy those carriers, and that didn’t happen. If an operation doesn’t achieve its specified goals, it’s a failure, and thus the same as a defeat. This particular defeat for the Ardonians turned into a major catastrophe a short while later.

The point is, military operations are carried out to fulfill strategic objectives.

What are those? We can generally assume they involve the overthrow and takeover of the major governments of the planet. That means neutralizing the majority of its military. How do you neutralize a military? You destroy as much of its key equipment, supplies, and personnel as possible, for one.

You restrict the movements of any surviving units. Destroying an army doesn’t mean a whole lot if the enemy is free to reorganize and re-equip a new one. That’s the difference between a fast mobile war of maneuver and a long, slow war of attrition. This may come as a huge surprise, but you never want to get into a war of attrition when you are invading. Especially when you are invading from several light years away.

How do you prevent a war of attrition? You want to identify the most important pieces of hardware, the stuff that they can use to mount a serious counter strike. This means taking out their top weapons systems. The humans have tons of nuclear weapons. These can potentially pose a threat to your efforts. They should be captured or neutralized immediately.

After those come their major naval and air bases. These weapon systems are large, capable of striking at long range, and are the most sophisticated and expensive next to the nuclear missile force. If these forces are destroyed or captured, the terrans will have a very hard time replacing them.

The final military targets are the land fighting units at their bases.

It may sound crazy to give the ground forces such low priority; after all, you’re going to be fighting them quite a bit in the future. But remember you have a limited number of troops and ships. You can only strike so many targets at once. And you’ll be doing this all over the planet. You have to prioritize.

After the first strikes, you then need to identify what they can use to mount a serious resistance campaign. This can be a little more subtle. Facilities that manufacture explosives and weapons may sound like a vital target, but both weapons and explosives can be improvised from other materials and equipment. Trying to cover everything that could be turned into a weapon is a losing proposition. You’ll end up chasing shadows, and you still will overlook something. Communications technology is much more vital. It’s necessary for coordinating attacks. If the Earthlings can’t reliably communicate with each other, then any resistance is doomed to failure. Unlike weapons, long range communications need specific resources and equipment.

Target the infrastructure. Earthlings need fuel, food, water, and power. They need a transportation network. Seizing the main production centers and key transportation junctions and ports will greatly enhance your chances for success.

You should also be targeting key personnel, including the civilian government. Disrupt the command and control.

Unfortunately, this is no longer as easy as it once was. After several invasions, the Earthlings have gotten serious about their planet’s defenses. They lack some vital technologies, but they have built up extensive defense networks across the planet. These bases are all expertly hidden, and large numbers of them are underground. They contain huge stashes of weapons, equipment, and supply. They are all hardwired together, and can provide a continuous command and control function across the globe. The chances of you taking out this entire network in one shot is close to zero. It’s not designed to beat back your initial attack. Far worse, it is designed to drag out the conflict and keep it going until they can turn the tide. Something to think about if any of you want to chance another invasion.

Friday, March 8, 2013



You finally finish whatever the hell it was you were doing and get down to the business at hand. You start attacking. Attack what? Attack where?

General Dronn, time to get to you. You brought down these really impressive looking ships. You waited. Then you blasted the hell out of the cities. Starting with the city center.

(At this point War Hawk’s podium projects a 3D holographic recording of the Earth structure known as the Empire State Building being is blasted to pieces by one of Dronn’s attack ships.)

Yeah, that landmark won’t be giving you any more trouble. Here’s my problem with that approach. That building had no military value. None. It wasn’t a barracks, an arsenal, a command and communications center, a supply depot, an ammo dump, training facility. Its destruction had zero impact on Earth’s military. So why was that your opening target?

GENERAL DRONN: I… thought it looked ugly.

WAR HAWK: You came all that way to be an architecture critic? Brilliant.

And before the rest of you laugh you’re all guilty of this. You all choose to blast non-military facilities. Here’s what the Scythian Bloodlords destroyed during their assault on Washington DC.

(The next projection is of a Scythian destroying a rather phallic looking white tower called the Washington Monument.)

This was the capital city of Earth’s mightiest nation and you targeted a structure that had no military or even commercial value. It was a tower with stairs!

Here’s some footage of some recent activity. I hesitate to call it an “invasion” since they failed to establish a beachhead. I categorize this more as a raid.

(The 3D footage shown here is of an attack force riding antigravity sleds through the city of Manhattan as they blast civilians.)

Now never mind that they’re riding into battle on vehicles that leave them totally exposed. We’ll get to that later. Focus on what they’re shooting at and whom. Civilians and civilian buildings. This particular attack didn’t even kill that much of the city’s police force, the one section of the city that might be considered a military target.

You know what this reminds me of? Ancient warfare. In ancient times, when wars were fought with metal swords, attackers would often pillage the surrounding countryside.

This made sense at the time because crops and livestock were some of the most valuable assets back then. It also made sense in the cultural context. Aristocratic warriors were supported by the lower classes in return for protection. If a warrior lord didn’t provide that protection, then he was deemed unworthy and could be overthrown.

So why doesn’t that work today? Because we don’t fight wars with swords. Warfare evolved as societies did. We went from indiscriminate killing and pillaging to a more directed form of conflict. Now we’re expected to hit our targets – and only our targets. We’re often asked to vaporize a command center with an orphanage on one side, and a retirement home on the other, and not so much as singe the other buildings. And very often we pull that off.

That just makes displays like this –

(War Hawk’s podium projects a seizure inducing 3D montage of Earth structures being destroyed.)

-- all the more egregious. You ought to know better. You ought to be capable of better. After all, it’s not like the Earth doesn’t have plenty of armed soldiers for you to deal with.

My point is very simple. This job is hard enough without you wasting resources by attacking non-military targets. If you’re not wasting ammo, you’re wasting energy. If you’re not wasting energy, you’re wasting time. And time, above all else, is the commodity you cannot afford to waste.

Now, some large cities do have large military bases either within or nearby. But not all of them. And if you make a big, slow entrance, those bases will be on alert and probably devoid of anything vital.

In all the invasions I reviewed, you just blasted whatever happened to be right in front of you at that moment.

Let me ask you a question: What did all that destruction get you? Are the Earthlings crippled? Is their command structure shattered? Have you destroyed a vital base or production center for war materials? Has this attack in any way significantly hampered the Earth’s ability to fight?

It’s not like you took out something important like a command and control installation in a lighting quick raid. It’s not like you seized a major transportation hub or crossroads. Yeah, Dronn, I see you. You did park your assault craft by the major cities and capitols. But guess what? Your non-surprise attack meant that the Earthlings had plenty of time to switch command and control to other sites. They had the opportunity to evacuate vital personnel and a lot of the population.

And you missed the most powerful weapons at the Earth’s disposal, their nuclear arsenals. Those are scattered all over the place. I hear some of you snicker. Most of you – Dronn and the Sondrak Imperials – have had to deal with a nuclear attack by the Earthlings. Your main ships were able to shrug off the blasts. But if I were to set off a nuke in this room, would you be laughing?


Then nukes still represent as big a threat to you and your forces. A threat that must be neutralized.

You won’t neutralize that threat, or any other threat, by blowing up empty buildings. In fact, what you’re doing is creating another threat. What you’ve done is hand the Earthlings another early victory despite however many troops they lost. You almost certainly didn’t take out anything vitally important to their war effort. You wasted your first moves on mostly non-military targets. It’s already difficult enough to take out or capture true military targets. No one can afford to waste their efforts on things that have no significant value.

Most importantly you showed your capabilities. You demonstrated what your weapons and defenses are. As much as I like to rag on the Earthlings for being stupid, they aren’t so dumb as to not take notes. If nothing else, they are fast learners. You have just wasted your last, best chance at catching the enemy forces by surprise. After this, they will know what to expect. And you spent this moment for nothing.

Major strikes should target the key military installations all over the planet. To hell with the cannon fodder parked right outside your ship. If the Earthlings still have their forces assembling in their bases, that’s where you hit. Odds are the troops have already dispersed. So that makes command and control targets all the more essential. A spread out military is hard to coordinate. A good general will send teams to capture the senior political or military leadership, or secure the planet’s nuclear arsenals.

A professional commander will send troops to the major roads and key topographical features. They’ll capture the areas that manufacture weapons or fuel. That way, the first strike is truly crippling to the terrans. They’ll have a hard time organizing a counter strike after that.

It’s bad enough that you’ve squandered the element of surprise. But at least your opening targets should be of military value. Empty cities and a few scattered troops do not qualify. If an officer under my command wasted time and ammunition destroying a bunch of non vital targets, I’d bash his head against the controls until his frontal lobe dribbled out of his skull. So it’s maybe a good thing I wasn’t present for some of these fiascos.

Friday, March 1, 2013



Obviously, I would have done things a little differently.

The opening moves of an invasion should come as a complete and total surprise. This is true of any offensive, anywhere, at any time. If the opponent knows when and where you’re going to strike, you can expect a serious counterattack. At best, you’ll be wasting firepower on empty positions. You want troops and population caught without warning. You want defenses down. You want vital targets to be relaxed so they are easy to capture or eliminate.

The first time the Earthlings see your ships should be a split second before your offensive hits. It’s even better if your target never knows what hit them.

To do this you need two things: a detailed plan of attack with a firm schedule of operations, and a method of approaching your objectives while remaining undetected.

The first part is entirely up to you. Plan, and plan well. You don’t just show up. That’s not an invasion, that’s tourism. You need a staging area where your forces can make final preparations. Now both the Gorgonians and the Sondrak Imperials did this. But what did you do wrong? You set up shop right in the middle of Mars, a planet that is under constant observation by Earth astronomers. The Gorgonians were spotted by a bunch of guys looking through telescopes with primitive glass lenses. The Sondrak were also spotted by astronomers. Again, these guys weren’t looking for alien aggressors; they were looking for comets and distant planets. How is it they managed to spot you?

Back then, the approaches to Earth were completely unguarded. You could have set up behind the other planets in the solar system, behind asteroids, even behind the planet’s own moon, and it’s unlikely that they would have detected you.

The Gorgonians didn’t have to deal with Earth scanners but the Sondraks were picked up by RADAR during their little adventure. That’s just lazy. As I pointed out, that system is easy to fool.

Before we get any further we should review sensors and long range detection. They come in two basic forms, Active and Passive. Active is like the human RADAR system. It sends out waves of energy that bounce off of objects the way a noise bounces off a canyon wall. That “echo” is then analyzed and depending on your equipment can tell information about the object in question; from its direction and distance down to its chemical composition. The drawback with Active sensors is that they are constantly “shouting” so they are easy to spot. Passive sensors on the other hand simply “listen”. They’re like ears that are always open. Some of them listen to sound, others “listen” to infrared radiation, magnetic fields, visible light, gravity, tachyon fluctuations. Two points to this. Number one is that you’ll never catch the Earth by surprise if you come in with your active sensors blaring away. The second is that Passive sensors are a lot harder to evade.

Here’s a little thought experiment. Suppose that the Sondraks had bothered to cloak their ships, they still had one major obstacle to detection left; atmospheric disturbance. Earthlings back then didn’t spend a lot of time looking up at their own sky, but they did notice some things like very large ships hitting the atmosphere at high speeds. Even though we have some advanced technology, we’re still talking about a lot of assault and landing craft displacing a lot of gas. It’s going to be visible. Even if you somehow lessen the effects of friction on the ship’s surface, there’s still no way to hide the atmospheric disturbance you’re causing. And a very large invasion fleet will cause a lot of disturbances. Which the Sondrak invasion fleet did. The Earthlings saw what looked like a massive meteor shower over California. It was just like holding up a sign that said: “We’re landing right here!” On top of that, the Sondrak ships emitted a magnetic pulse that played havoc with the electricity. Humans discovered their time pieces had stopped and their vehicles wouldn’t start. All of this, the light show in the sky, the electrical failures, were obvious to the civilian population. Can you imagine what it would look like to a passive sensor? The Sondrak should have taken better precautions. There are huge areas on the planet that contain very few humans – if any – namely the oceans and polar regions. The Sondraks could have made good use of these areas when they descended from orbit. Their ships should have been better shielded to avoid unintended EMPs.

Some have floated the idea that a mini warp or space bridge right on the planet’s surface is a fool proof option for achieving total surprise. Using the same principal that allows us to cross interstellar distances, you can make a small warp that transfers troops from a base on Earth’s moon directly to their surface.

The only problem with this is you have to build the space bridge on Earth. Sneaking a few ships onto the surface is a lot easier than concealing an entire invasion fleet. And the Earthlings lack the ability to detect a warp signature. But the real problem is: how many space bridges are you going to build, and where are you going to place them? You should place them close to your primary targets, but any such target will be defended. Plus, with all the nations and separate militaries on the Earth, it means there will be a lot of primary targets in the opening moves of the invasion. That vastly increases the number of space bridges you have to build very close to sensitive areas. That just increases the chances of the invasion being discovered.

Also, you make it very easy for the Earthlings to completely rout your attack. All they have to do is locate your space bridges and knock them out. Then your units are cut off.

No, space bridges are better saved for later stages in the campaign, once the opening beachheads have been secured and supply lines then become an issue. If you rely on them to deliver the unexpected blow, it might be you who’s in for the nasty surprise.

Now here’s the bad news. The Earthlings aren’t so easy to catch off guard, anymore. After all the failed invasions, they know anyone coming down there doesn’t have good intentions. They are on high alert and have a multinational organization responsible for sharing information related to possible alien incursions. And they have improved technology. They may not have mastered the use of tachyons and other advanced particles for detection and communication purposes, but they have learned a few tricks. And the deep space approaches are no longer unguarded. There are a number of deep space probes designed to look for Faster Than Light drive signatures. Small craft can dodge and avoid and arrive on the Earth undetected. But a large scale fleet? Out of the question. You want to sneak up on the Earth with an invasion fleet, you’re going to have to do some serious planning.