TACTICS: THE TROOPS
Let’s start with the most basic unit of the invasion force, the individual trooper or soldier. These men, women, or whatevers are the backbone of a military force. In every large-scale invasion scenario, the emphasis was on big attack craft.
Big fancy machines may look impressive, but that doesn’t matter if the pilots are substandard. Half the time, the invasion troops can’t even fight without their machines. Why is that a problem? Doesn’t advanced technology eliminate the need for such primitive work?
In a word – no.
Something always goes wrong. When it does, you have to rely on the individual trooper to see you through the day. But you bucketheads don’t seem to understand that. The damn troop quality I see on a typical Earth invasion is pathetic. They’re crazy, undisciplined thugs who just run around attacking everything that moves, or they’re frail little bugs stuffed into battle suits or fighter craft. Either way, that’s a losing combination.
No one has figured out how to do the job of infantry without infantry. Individual soldiers can spread out over rough terrain, enter buildings, and conduct area searches; they can dig in and defend an area. Here’s an example during the Gorgonian invasion.
A team of three tripods attacked a city block of London. The battle moved out of the immediate area so the Gorgonians sent two tripods to the battle and left one tripod to secure the flank. But this was a huge mistake. It weakened the attack unnecessarily. And the absent tripod failed to secure the area because that’s not what it was designed to do. It can’t search and clear rubble, buildings or underground tunnels. It didn’t even have remote drones that could at least search these areas.
This was just one of a series of small defeats that added up to a big catastrophe for the Gorgonians. And it’s one that could have been avoided if they possessed some kind of infantry capability.
The main strengths of infantry are they are flexible, and they come with a low price tag. Some androids have the AI to execute all of the different problems infantry face. But you’re telling me it’s cheaper to make a million androids with sophisticated AI than it is to recruit and train a million foot soldiers? Don’t make me laugh. Androids may look cooler, but regular infantry is a winner in the all-important category of cost efficiency. Remember that numbers matter, and so does time and money.
The Sondrak were thinking about using clones, but that was a non-starter. Clones? Really? I’ve been to cloning facilities. They are expensive. How much would they have cost per man? And that’s without a uniform or a weapon? This is the same problem with androids. You’re adding the cost of producing the soldier to your list of other expenses. It’s like real estate; why build when you can rent? Here’s an idea: instead of building your troops, or growing them, you just let ordinary, everyday, doesn’t-cost-you-a-damn-thing fornication create your manpower pool, and you concentrate on recruiting, training, and weapons.
What kind of a soldier should you be looking for? Let’s start with a soldier’s mental makeup. Contrary to what some people may think, soldiers aren’t stupid. They have to be at least smart enough to work their equipment. They have to have some aggression in their nature, but not so much that they go berserk in the middle of an operation. They have to be disciplined. They have to carry out orders. But they can’t be so rigid that they won’t even crap without permission. They need some initiative. If they’re cut off, or if the situation changes, and they don’t have orders, your troops still have to act. So what you need is the right balance of toughness, aggression, smarts, discipline, and initiative. Yeah, what you really need are balanced individuals. I know what you’re thinking – people like Jek and me, we’re pretty damn unbalanced. Maybe. But I tell you the last thing I’d want is an army of me’s or an army of Jeks. We’d all kill each other.
Then there is the physical aspect of war. This can vary from species to species. High gravity worlds produce denser and stronger troopers. But, ironically, they’re going to be smaller and more compact. The really big aliens, at least comparable to the humans, probably come from a world with less gravity. Despite looking like badasses, they are actually a lot weaker.
But it doesn’t really matter whether your race is naturally stronger or weaker than the humans. What matters is they are trained to use the strength they do have.
Your troops should all be put through a rigorous training regimen. This training should emphasize endurance and hand-to-hand combat. Again, what we’re really looking for is to develop the proper mental attitude. We don’t run troops up and down a mountainside just to improve their marching speed. We do it to push them to their limits and see which ones give up and which ones press on. Sometimes it’s the ability to not give up that makes all the difference.
In hand-to-hand combat, we’re not just training people to fight, we’re training them to be aggressive. Hand-to-hand training should be rough. It should teach the trainees not to shy away from physical contact. It should also teach them that the best way to not get hit is to hit first.
There should be good group cohesion between troops. Camaraderie. These guys may not fight for you, but they should at least fight for each other. That comes from living and drilling – and later fighting – together.
After basic, you need to separate your troops into the specialized branches of your force. A good supply sergeant or commissary officer isn’t the same as a good special forces operator. But you’re going to need all of the above, plus a lot more. If you have a proper training program you’ll be able to separate out troops more easily.
Sometimes you can’t control troop quality. If you’re running an insurgency campaign, or your manpower is severely limited, you have to take what you can get. But if you are planning a major invasion of a planet with six billion people, then you can’t have that as an excuse. If you’re in that position at all, you shouldn’t have been mounting an invasion to begin with.
There is no army without soldiers, and the quality of those soldiers determines the quality of the army. An army can have the best equipment in the galaxy, but if that equipment is operated and maintained by a bunch of lazy, slackjawed, stupid ass crapheads, then you’re not going to have a fun time invading the Earth.