Friday, August 30, 2013



It’s time to introduce a real pile of crap. If you’re planning on invading the Earth, you have reason to hate this individual. I refer to the Predak of Altar Seven.

Who is this individual is, and why is he worthy of your hate? We’ll get to that. For now, let’s just talk about being sneaky. Now more than ever it’s important for alien visitors on Earth to practice stealth and infiltration. Even if you have no hostile intent, one glance at your green hide is enough to cause a panic. And if you do have hostile intent, you of course want to stay hidden.

Infiltration can be a bitch. I was pretty lucky, myself. It appears my home planet and Earth shared a meteor impact in the distant past. Don’t ask me how that works, I’ve no clue.

Even if your race isn’t a close match to the humans, plenty of you are similar in body type. The bipedal humanoid form has a lot going for it when it comes to developing tools and technology; upright stance, eyes fixed in the front of the head, one or more opposable digits. From a distance, a lot of you could pass for an Earthling if you’re covered with something like a hooded cloak. If you add a robotic human mask, you have a disguise that can fool people at a distance. Though only a small segment of the planet’s population regularly wear hooded cloaks.

Which reminds me; if you’re sending in a scout team before hostilities, there’s a way to move about freely without using a disguise. Repeat after me:


Close up disguises are a lot harder. Your best bet is a holographic suit. That’s a suit covered with dozens of small holo projectors that create a three dimensional disguise all around you. The holo projectors can mimic your immediate surroundings so, even though your outline in no way resembles an Earthling, your suit can still make you appear to be a human.

Of course, you can use the same technology to make yourself just disappear entirely. The holographic cloaks can be set to project the surrounding landscape, making it appear like you’re not even there.

With the right adjustments, you can be totally invisible to terran sensors, and even visual scanning. But sight is only one sense you have to fool. There’s sound, which you can mask with white noise. There’s scent. There’s body heat. There’s the nearly imperceptible disturbance in the air as you move through it, which some very sensitive types can feel. If you run into that rare Earthling with ESP abilities, that’s another stumbling block.

The hologram should fool sentries and others at medium to even close range. But right up in front a sentry’s nose? There are just too many factors to successfully pull that off, from a slight lag time refreshing the hologram image to windblown dust and particles swirling around the “invisible” soldier.

Unless you’re like me and can naturally pass for human, you have three options for face-to-face deception, and all of them are tricky. First is to recruit human agents. You need a certain kind of invasion to even consider this; one that somehow benefits the Earthlings – or at least some of them – as much as it does you. The second option is to use sophisticated androids. Getting these androids to resemble humans isn’t that hard. The trick is to come up with an AI sophisticated enough to interact with other Earthlings without drawing suspicion. Finally, you can surgically alter some of your own troops to resemble humans. This is limited by your own physiology, and it’s a really crappy assignment. You need top quality, motivated troops to successfully carry out this maneuver. It’s only marginally easier to train a soldier to pass for a human than it is to create an AI program to do the same. You not only have to learn the spoken language, but you have to understand the shared cultural/regional experiences of a given area. This is the real “language” of the human race, and it varies wildly from country to country, and even from town to town. Just getting an agent to the point where he can truly express herself the way a real human would can take months. Let’s not forget recovery time from the procedures themselves. That’s going to take a while, too. And yes, all of this is going to cost you.

But technology is only good if you use it correctly, and the key to that is not to overuse it.

Which brings me back to the Predak of Altar Seven and why you should hate him. This jerk possessed some of the most advanced stealth technology in the galaxy. What did he use it for? He went to Earth to go hunting.

That’s right. He crossed all those light years just to put some trophies on his wall. And he got himself killed in the process.

And his technology was salvaged by the humans.

So now the humans are in possession of the most sophisticated stealth technology in the galaxy. They’ve certainly figured out how to defeat it. They may have even figured out how to replicate it.

This means any attempt to infiltrate the Earthlings by way of stealth is now fraught with danger. Chances are, your highly trained scouts will be spotted and killed right away. And that’s the best case scenario.

Suppose you are able to sit a scout right in the room with the commanding generals and learn every detail of the terran battle plan. Guess what? It only happened because the humans allowed it. Your scout will be feeding you completely false intel.

But that’s not the worst of it. Thanks to our friend the Predak here, you now have to legitimately fear the humans’ stealth ability. The only reason I’m certain there isn’t an Earthling here in this room right now is they still don’t have Faster Than Light drives.

I’m sure you’d all like to have a few words with this guy now. Lucky for the Predak, he’s already dead.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013



We haven’t talked in depth about the Scythian Bloodlords, but now it’s time. The Bloodlords had a mix of both flying attack craft and ground forces. Their air force was defeated when the terrans figured out how to disable their controls.

But their ground force had it even worse. They were plagued by a series of failures. As I noted before in the Equipment section, a number of weapons jammed in their carrying device. The troops couldn’t make repairs in-field because they didn’t have access to spare parts, or a rear area for repairs. They ran low on energy packs. Finally, many of them keeled over from lack of food and fluids. It was a pretty pathetic way to lose.

There’s an old saying that amateurs talk about tactics, professionals talk about logistics.

The Scythian Bloodlords are a great example. They didn’t provide their force with a basic logistical network. They had plenty of guys firing big guns. They had plenty of big ships moving slowly across the landscape. What they didn’t have is what they really needed: guarded supply depots. They didn’t have a stream of supply transports heading towards the front lines. Because of this, being a Scythian foot soldier was a death sentence; and it was a slow, painful death. They had no rest. No rear area. They didn’t even break for lunch. The ground troopers were expected to keep moving and fighting until they either dropped dead, or you conquered the entire planet. Guess which happened first?

What a difference a little logistical support could have made. Had the Bloodlords simply set up a system for getting fresh troops and supplies to the frontlines, we might be having a different conversation.

But instead we’re having a very familiar conversation. Nonian Per, the autocrat of Degaton, should be an example to you all. Per thought he was a military genius, and he invaded the planet Aldiss Three. But what Nonian Per forgot was logistics, and he sent his troops in without adequate supplies. In particular, he forgot to send cold weather supplies and equipment. This was vitally important because Aldiss Three has a very strange orbit that takes the planet further out from the sun every few decades. Guess when Per decided to invade this planet? Even though he had superior numbers and troop quality, all the natives had to do was avoid destruction. Once the planet’s orbit took it away from the sun, the temperature dropped and the entire invasion force, including Nonian Per, were frozen. I understand he’s still there, inside a glacier. They have him on display as a tourist attraction. It costs thirty five blimtos for a gander which is about fifteen Catharcyan nickels too much if you ask me.

Where was I?

The only reason logistics haven’t bitten more of you in the ass before is because most of you get annihilated before it becomes an issue. But if you had somehow survived the terran counterattack, you would have found yourself in the same situation as the Scythian Bloodlords or Nonian Per.

Every army has consumables. Mostly it’s energy, but there are plenty more, like food, ammunition, and spare parts. It’s unlikely you’re going to find what you need on Earth in any great quantities.

First, there is energy. The humans still do not have high capacity energy storage units. The best they can do are batteries that can barely power a plasma gun. Yes, there’s deuterium in large quantities in Earth’s oceans. That material can be used in fusion generators. But are you going to have a fusion generator on everything? Even the hand weapons? The humans know about fusion, and are close to figuring it out. If they capture any more of your equipment, that could be the tipping point.

As for food, there is very little chance that you will find anything that your species can consume. We’ll discuss food in a little bit. For now, just know that anything you could eat on Earth is either the wrong protein or, if it’s the right one, it’s swimming in diseases against which you have no immunity. Unless your troops can eat air, they are going to need regular supplies of food and probably drinking water.

Ammunition and spare parts? You think you’re going to find a munitions grade laser focusing crystal among the planet’s ruins? Or the right power couplings for a plasma exchange system? Or sheets of iridium that you can use to repair damaged armor plating? Actually, you might. The Earthlings were pretty close to all of that stuff when I last checked. You don’t get invaded as many times as they have without learning a few things. But you still shouldn’t plan to live off the land, especially when it comes to your vehicles and equipment. Even if you take no battle damage, you still experience breakdowns. Do you have a maintenance company? Do you have a wrecker ready to haul blasted hulks back to base? Do you have a repair base?

These things don’t happen by themselves. As the Bloodlords discovered, the right equipment doesn’t magically appear out of thin air. You have to plan to have it. Then you have to plan on getting it to your troops. Then you have to turn those plans into a vast network of depots and transports which have to run with precision.

This is a lot of bother. Most of you became warriors for the glory, not the accounting. Most of you don’t have the temperament for this aspect of warfare. You’d better learn to love accounting. That’s the only way to master supply and logistics.

Friday, August 23, 2013



The Eclipse Clan is the greatest espionage organization in the galaxy. They are loyal to no one. For the right price, you can obtain their services. Just as a professional interest, they keep tabs on every planet. They have been to Earth. They’ve never invaded. The Clan was only there to gather information to keep their files up to date. I know none of you have ever engaged the services of the Eclipse Clan. Most of you can’t afford them. Some of you tried to stiff them on previous jobs. Big mistake. But that’s no excuse for not conducting your own intelligence work before an attack. You have to have a full picture of the Earth, or any planet and its defense, for before hostilities begin.

What do you know about the Earth? What are the names of its leaders? Who has the biggest military? Who has the most sophisticated weapons? Who has the largest population? Among the world leaders, whose grasp on power is the strongest? Whose is the weakest? Who is willing to drop longstanding hostilities? Who is likely to break an alliance?

Do you know the answers to any of these questions? The Eclipse Clan knows all of this, and a lot more.

How did they do it? Ironically, it’s not a big secret. The Clan uses tried and proven intelligence techniques. This is work anyone can do. It’s just that they do it better than anybody.

The Clan didn’t start off by sending agents to infiltrate the highest office. All those questions I just asked? You don’t need spies to answer any of them. That’s all free intelligence.

First and foremost, the Eclipse Clan keeps its collective eyes and ears open. There are plenty of news reports, public speeches, and press conferences, and loads of information available to the public. The Clan just tuned into Earth’s communications and found the news networks. Then they let their analysts go to work. In just a few days, the Clan files were overflowing with the free information.

The Clan used a combination of AI computers and trained analysts to sift through the data. The AIs handled the volume. But analysis is as much artwork as grunt work. You can program a computer to do all the basics, but gaining the important insights takes talent, and the Clan excels in spotting talent.

Only after the analysis phase did the Clan send agents for ground observation. These agents didn’t assassinate anyone. They didn’t replace a high ranking officer with one of their own. They just posed as everyday humans and looked around. They got the sense of the place. They learned all the things the communications didn’t tell them.

I hear some of you scoffing. What good is all this? How about the traffic patterns in major cities? How about scouting proposed landing sites and main targets? Knowing the ground before a battle is vital, and that’s what the Clan did. In fact, I’d say theirs has been the only successful Earth “invasion.” They did what they came to do, and they got out of there. That’s more than I can say for you.

If you want to emulate the Eclipse Clan – and you should – be prepared to invest a lot more resources. Tapping into personal communications can be tricky, as doing so results in a mountain of data that your analysts have to sift through. That’s a lot of work even if you can afford AIs to help with the load. You need to narrow the parameters, so before you begin, you’d better know what you want to find. And it’s not going to be easy. In the past, the Earthlings didn’t know you were out there. But now it’s highly unlikely they’ll be talking about extraterrestrial defenses on their personal communicators.

How easy is it to pass off as human? I did it. The Clan did it. Several others have done it. For the most part, though, we all just hung around and observed. I didn’t have to talk with too many people. The key is to be subtle. Your agents don’t have to be chatterboxes. Many of them can just be pathfinders and scouts who check on proposed invasion sites. Having eyes on the ground immediately prior to an attack is a huge advantage.

Intelligence gathering doesn’t stop once operations start; that’s when it kicks into hyperdrive. The humans have ditched their formerly simple communications. Their new planetary defense network is designed to communicate in a variety of ways. If one method is compromised, they switch to another. You have to constantly monitor all of them to see which ones are being used by hostile forces. And then you have to break whatever code the humans are using. Even with the most advanced computers, this is a labor-intensive process, and it diverts resources that can otherwise be spent elsewhere.

Again, here’s another argument for taking prisoners. Dead prisoners can’t talk. Do you know where the enemy is located? What his morale and supply situation is like? Here’s your chance to find out. Interrogation and torture aren’t necessary. Usually, just a quick interview is required. A lot of soldiers say they will not talk, but most of them end up saying something, anyway. Just observing their physical well-being can give you vital intel about the force you face. You want them to tell you what they know. Torture, at best, gets the guy to admit something you already know, which isn’t valuable intel.

Even a prisoner’s leavings can give you clues to where he ate his last meal. Though you can leave off the anal probe. You can just wait for him to go.

But there’s a problem. All this effort may be for nothing. It’s something the Eclipse Clan will admit to if you ask. Intelligence – even top quality Eclipse Clan intelligence – is of dubious value. A spy may overhear the enemy commanders talk about a major operation. It may be one hundred percent legitimate. But the enemy can always change his mind.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013



We’re going to talk about another invasion that was foiled without any direct effort by the humans. The Kzzzz’zzzz – I hope I’m pronouncing that right – are beings of pure electricity, and they had a pretty unique strategy.

You see, the Earth may be backwards, but they have discovered the computer network. Nearly all their early warning installations, and even most weapons systems, are either computer assisted or computer controlled. The Kzzzz’zzzz were going to attack computer network itself. By their nature, they could enter computers the same way you or I enter a room.

But their problems started with faulty intelligence. They monitored Earth communications, but weren’t aware that Earthlings have these entertainments called movies. And these movies are really bad sources of information, especially about Earth’s computer systems.

The Kzzzz’zzzz believed these stories were real, and were convinced that the Earth computer network extended everywhere, to every device imaginable; that the computer network controlled every little function of every device hooked into it and, by taking over the system, they could gain total mastery of the planet. But it was all lies. The Kzzzz’zzzz never considered this because they didn’t wonder why would the humans create such a disturbing fantasy world for the purposes of entertainment. They weren’t able to understand that the Earthlings are a quirky bunch.

So when the Kzzzz’zzzz entered Earth’s computer network, they found this did not automatically hand them an easy victory. In fact, they were hard pressed to find targets of any value. The problem is most Earth computers are dedicated to porn. And the Kzzzz’zzzz, being pure electricity, found themselves in some pretty embarrassing positions.

But that was nothing when they escaped and found themselves in an even worse spot. You see, the computers not dedicated to porn are dedicated to video games. Very violent video games.

Those that survived that debacle managed to finally find a useful target – or so they thought. They spent several days locked inside the Washington, D.C. visitor website. They discovered that important material, such as nuclear launch codes and vital information about military units and weapon systems, was kept under very tight security. Ironically, they followed a human hacking attack to finally find some classified material. Only to discover that “classified” material is actually just embarrassing. Which led them back to the porn. After that, they decided they had enough and left.

And so another would-be invasion ended without the Earthlings having to do much of anything. At least, not directly.

If any of you want to follow the Kzzzz’zzzz, be aware that there are other pitfalls besides porn, first person shooters, and more porn. Cyber warfare has grown very sophisticated. In a way, Earth is less vulnerable than you might think. Attacks meant to defeat AI programs, quantum computers, and wetware are completely useless against the much simpler terran systems. Your technicians will have to think backwards in order to come up with a virus simple enough to infect the Earthling systems, yet sophisticated enough to do what you desire: disrupt vital communications, compromise weapons and defense systems, glean important data, and so on.

All this is going to take a lot of research, which can take even trained observers years to complete. Terran programming languages and architecture are nothing like what we use. I’ve had experts tell me the Earth computers are designed so that they’re difficult to program, something they found hard to fathom. You see, most humans understand how to use their information devices, but only a tiny percentage of them know how to program those devices.

Even if you do find the systems you are searching for, and manage to infect them with a virus, you might not do that much damage. Very sensibly, nothing is one hundred percent computer controlled, and all the vital systems have manual backups. So making their reactors all go into meltdown? That’ll only happen if the crew is too lazy to work the manual override.

One last thing. When choosing a master computer to coordinate your attacks, don’t get the model that blows up if it encounters a question it can’t answer or a phrase that makes no sense. It’ll crash the moment it encounters a human pop song. Don’t believe me…?

(At this point War Hawk plays a bit of Earth music. It’s easily the most excruciating part of the whole symposium. It’s about some Earth who doesn’t want Fernando or Roberto to call her name. Possibly that’s what it’s about.)

Gahh! My head’s ready to explode just listening to this crap.

Yes, cyber-warfare is something you should look into. Yes, that is going to be more time and more expense. Yes, that is adding up.

Friday, August 16, 2013



Dronn, we’ll be talking a lot about you, again. It’s not that I hate you or anything, though I do. But the reason I’m picking on you is due to the fact you brought the largest air force of any invasion. So you’re going to be an example of what not to do.

Dronn thought air-to-air combat would be a snap. After all, his ships could fly through the cosmos. The humans could barely get to their own moon.

Back up there for a second. It isn’t as simple as that. To do this the right way, you need atmospheric fighters. And most spaceships aren’t aerodynamically designed, at all. There’s no need for it outside an atmosphere, and that frees up space on the craft that you can use to put more weapons or shield generators. Sure, these ships can still fly in atmosphere – anything can fly if you give it enough thrust. They just don’t handle very gracefully.

Ships that can fly in both atmosphere and in space need to carry more fuel. They need two separate forms of propulsion. In space, you can just heat up plasma as hot as you want it then send it out your thruster. In atmosphere? One: you need to be constantly providing thrust for your vehicle. And two: you’re in an atmosphere. There is a limit to how fast you can travel, and how energetic your exhaust can be. Are you planning on sticking around this rock after you conquer it? If so, it’s probably a bad idea to irradiate large portions of its air and water vapor. Gravity manipulating craft get around this problem. But gravatic drives eat up even more fuel. So you have to store an even greater amount of antimatter. And we’re back to cost effectiveness.

Dronn’s army did include a large fighter wing. The ships were gravatic, too; they could fly in both atmosphere and in space, with no loss of handling. He gets good marks for that.

He gets failing marks for the rest of his invasion. In particular, how he used his fighter wing. It wasn’t that he didn’t use his fighters enough; he over used them. He assigned fighters to tasks that they shouldn’t be used for, for instance as a heavy assault force, instead of using tanks or infantry. They were assigned as an exploitation force, a screening force, a security picket, and for intimidating conquered areas. Dronn’s fighters were used for just about everything, and that was a gigantic mistake. Those units were vulnerable on the ground, so they had to constantly stay in the air, burning up energy. And they couldn’t make use of natural ground cover. They were easy targets. This gave the Earthlings plenty chances to attack the fighter craft. Eventually, they were able to come up with an attack that worked.

Worst of all, Dronn’s fighters only fired at point blank range. Instead of staying at high altitude and striking at targets from an extreme distance, they flew low to the ground. Every ground attack was a low level strafing run.

Air combat is tricky enough to master as-is. Once it was introduced, warfare became truly three dimensional, and the rule books were completely changed. The old notions of territory and control went out the window. The size of an airbase could be tiny, which meant parcels of land that were too small to be on most maps suddenly became vitally important. Adding additional restrictions, like only using strafing attacks, makes a difficult task near impossible.

First and foremost, the job of your air force is to engage enemy aircraft, and achieve air superiority. This should be no contest. Even with the limits of atmospheric flight, your fighters will be faster. They’ll have defensive shields that make the humans’ missiles bounce off. With inertial compensators, they can pull maneuvers that will make the humans drop their jaws.

Dronn’s air force did this. But what did they do after achieving air superiority? Not much.

Close fire support: They should be used to assist attacking ground troops, but as support, not the full force. Dronn had them carry the entire offensive load themselves. That didn’t work because, as awesome as their weapons were, they had to fly back to base after every attack to refuel. They had no staying power.

Strategic bombing: Dronn had his aircraft zipping along, just skimming the surface of the planet. At that altitude and at those speeds, if the pilot makes one little error, the craft will be plowing into terran soil in less than a nanosecond. In the battles that followed, many of Dronn’s fighters just crashed because their pilots were flying too low and too fast.

Also, they couldn’t see as much when they were close to the deck, and their attack angle wasn’t very good. Had they operated higher up, they could have seen more of the landscape and fired at distant targets.

Special forces insertion and extraction: Dronn didn’t even attempt this. All that air superiority, and not once did he try to insert a commando force. Of course, fighters would be the last vehicle I’d pick for this operation. For this job the craft should be fast and quiet and piloted by special operators who understand the need for stealth. This is the one mission where it is okay to hover over a target area for a long stretch of time. And this is why special operations aircraft are the ones that get shot down the most.

Transport: Dronn did not use any of his craft for logistical purposes. His mother ships had to double as supply and refueling depots. So when they were successfully attacked, his invasion crumbled. We’ll get into this in detail in a moment, but let me stress, you have to have a system for storing and moving a lot of crap. And some of it has to get there quickly. A few air transports would have given Dronn’s forces a lot more flexibility and staying power.

Non-powered flight: Earth has an atmosphere. But Dronn decided not to make use of it for transport purposes. If he had to move a crate from one area to another, it needed to be transported in an anti-matter burning fighter craft. Is there a more efficient way? Yes, it’s called an airdrop. A parachute will slow the descent of nearly any object. It may not look fancy, but it gets the job done. And non-powered flight has other uses. Gliders and parachutes can be made of translucent, radar absorbing material, providing a nearly silent and invisible means of insertion for special forces operators. Provided you remembered to bring special forces in the first place, of course.

Surveillance and reconnaissance: Dronn’s biggest failing was in not using his aircraft to provide up-to-date intelligence on enemy movement. He didn’t have high altitude craft looking over the landscape. He didn’t send aircraft in flyover missions. Reconnaissance aircraft can gather all kinds of vital information on the enemy’s position and disposition. But Dronn kept his own force blind. He might have been able to see that the Earthlings were getting ready for a counterstrike if he had just sent out a few scout craft.

Drones: This is something Dronn has in common with the Gorgonians, the Sondrak, and the Scythian Bloodlords; every time a vehicle was destroyed it resulted in a casualty. Why? Unmanned drones are part of the modern warfare landscape. Whether they are commanded remotely, or by an on board AI; whether they fly, swim, or roll along the ground, they have an important part to play. Of course, I can see why they are underrepresented in your invasions. A drone’s primary function is to reduce the number of casualties your army suffers. It’s no surprise that none of you developed drone warfare capabilities, since none of you care about your own casualties. This is one of the many disadvantages to being a heartless dictator; you don’t even think about stuff like this.

Speaking of casualties, let’s get off Dronn for a second and talk about the Xernians, who were the first invaders, and who lost to a bunch of cattle wranglers. They had aircraft. But what happened was the Earthlings rolled an explosive packet into their ship. It was a lucky shot, but it took out the pilots’ barracks on the Xernian mother ship. So the Xernians weren’t able to launch any aircraft after that. They had ships, but no one to fly them. And that’s the point. Losing aircraft isn’t always that big of a loss. What’s bad is when you lose pilots or aircrews. These are some of the most highly trained members of your force. Those aircraft are some of the most sophisticated machines you have. Operating them and getting them ready for battle takes real skill and training. Replacing even complex and expensive machines is easy; just put in an order at the factory. Replacing troops with the necessary skills to use those machines? Not so easy.

Control of Earth’s skies means nothing if you don’t take full advantage of it. As Dronn learned, combat sorties are just part one of a wide range of operations you should be undertaking. Like everything else we’ve gone over, if you’re not doing this, it’s like handing the Earthlings a victory. If you’re too lazy to conduct a reconnaissance flight, the end result is no different than if the humans seized control of that airspace from you. Which they may be able to do now, anyway.

You can thank your buddy Dronn, here. Because of his failure, the Earthlings captured a large number of his fighter craft. There won’t be any more easy victories in the skies.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013



Like the Gryphonians, the Yabaran planned to invade the Earth, but had to cancel when a gigantic asteroid crashed into their planet. Why did they let an asteroid crash into their planet? Instead of doing the smart thing and just using one of their ships to nudge it off course, they tried drilling to the roid’s center and detonating a bomb. They were about a fraction past the surface when the thing crashed into the home world.

In any event, the Yabaran were, unlike the Gryphonians, preparing for direct conflict. Their main force was going to be aquatic. They were going to land deep in the oceans and deploy from there. Though they never materialized, their plans provide a unique opportunity to discuss fighting on Earth’s oceans and waterways.

First off, should you even bother with a sea fleet?

Tough question, but I’m going to recommend it. Keep in mind, the Earthlings have hundreds of subsurface craft, both military and civilian. The military vessels represent some of the most sophisticated weapons systems in the terran arsenal. These ships pack a major punch. They have to be taken out, sooner or later. If you can catch them while they’re in port, then you can destroy them with air or even land forces. But the odds are a large portion of these assets will escape to the open ocean.

You could leave your orbital assets to track and destroy the surface fleet. But that might command too much of their attention, making them unavailable for land targets. And it’s difficult to track a subsurface craft from orbit. The ocean is great at dispersing heat signatures. Wakes can be confused with biologics. The way to corral or eliminate the subsurface vessels is to go into the seas after them.

Another good reason to include a sea fleet in any invasion attempt is several major targets lie next to a shoreline or by a river. It would be useful to have an amphibious landing capability.

As a strategy, it isn’t bad. But what kind of aqua-attack craft should one bring? That’s a good question, and it’s one where the Yabarn made a huge mistake.

Putting together a surface or subsurface fleet is a big chore. Hydrofoils are fast, but they can’t handle rough surf. Same goes for hovercraft. The Yabarn made the worst decision possible. They were going to bring ships that were basically aircraft; they just hovered several meters above the surface of the ocean. If they can fly, keep them at higher altitudes; they can spot more targets from up there. It takes energy to hover above the surface of the water. To float, all a craft has to do is displace more water than it weighs.

I’ll say it until you get tired of hearing it. Hovering craft are easy targets, and they use up energy just standing in one place, energy that could be used for attack or defense. It may seem primitive to use a surface sea fleet, but get over it. Flotation works. So does the wheel.

A large part of the proposed Yabarn invasion fleet was designed to fly, float, dive, and were capable of spaceflight. As much as I applaud the engineering that went into these ships, they were the furthest thing from practical. The open ocean makes a lousy runway. The same choppy surf that makes hovercraft and hydrofoils impractical also makes landing and taking off from water tricky. As for dive capabilities, it’s not the hull integrity or even the shape of the craft that’s a problem. The challenge is that it requires a totally different type of propulsion below the water than when the craft is flying through the atmosphere. Designing a ship that has a drive system that can do both, and still have enough room for shields, weapons, equipment, and – oh, yeah, pilots – is a hassle. And from the plans, I saw these craft could go just about anywhere, but they had so few weapons and such a small crew there wasn’t much they could do once they got there. To top it off, the cost of constructing these craft was way out of proportion to their use on the battlefield. War isn’t about buying fancy toys.

To do it right, you want subsurface craft that resemble their terran counterparts in a lot of ways. They should basically be mechanical fish that rise or sink depending on manipulating their buoyancy. The advantage you’ll have is in better propulsion, handling, and sensors.

Weapons, however, will be very similar. Directed sonic attacks are a possibility. Electricity can be generated in large quantities. The problem is, when you’re submerged, there’s no way to get the charge to go where you want; it’s going to go everywhere at once. Because of water’s distorting effects on directed energy, both sides will be mostly using projectiles or torpedoes.

Surface combat will be at a distance. Even Earth has realized this. Most of their naval encounters now take place beyond the horizon, using long-range missiles and fighter/bombers launched from carrier vessels. The main advantages we have come in the form of shields that render these attacks harmless. The Yabaran realized this, too, and were one of the few invasion forces that planned to use long distance weapons. Though for some reason these weapons packed less punch than the ballistic missiles Earth was using at the time.

You will be involved in some form of naval action on the planet whether you like it or not. The important thing is to treat this like any other battle. The object is to win, not impress the enemy with hovering spacecraft or submarines that fly. If you want to impress your enemy, beat them. A victory always gets attention.

I hear a lot of groans. I know, you have already blown your budgets. You need millions of ground troops, and now you have to worry about a sea fleet. Planetary invasions aren’t cheap. If this is a problem, you might want to try something less taxing.

Friday, August 9, 2013



The Tritonians are an aquatic species, and they had an unsuccessful incursion several decades back. Their troubles illustrate the pluses and minuses when it comes to being a water-breathing invader.

First, the good news.

The Tritonians found they didn’t need weapons. Their natural environment is a weapon all by itself. All they had to do was get the humans in their element, and sit back and wait until the bubbles stopped. For some reason, they chose to exercise this advantage not on Earth’s elite aquatic commandos, but on a bunch of co-eds.

The rumor has it this was part of a breeding experiment, which makes no sense in and of itself. We’ll get to that later on. But if that was the plan, they needed to rethink things, because they ended up asphyxiating their breeding subjects.

The Tritonians discovered, as aquatic beings that could stand the salinity of Earth’s oceans, they could roam pretty freely over seventy-five percent of the planet’s surface. The Earthlings did and still do have subsurface ships, and a few subsurface bases, in addition to a very large surface fleet. But the seas are a hostile environment to them. The Tritonians had a huge advantage because the Earth’s surface and subsurface ships were designed to combat other large vessels; they didn’t have the ability to fight off swarms of individual aquatic troops.

Plus, the oceans at the time were rising due to the warming of the planet. Given the rate the ice caps were melting, the Tritonians might not have even needed a land invasion force. They could have just come in with the tide.

But they quickly ran into one of the big minuses of being an aquatic being on Earth. It happened just a few hours after they played Drown-the-Cheerleader, and it’s the reason I didn’t list them in the failed invasion section. It was over so quickly, and the Earthlings really didn’t have to do anything. Or rather, they didn’t have to do anything directly.

Because the Tritonians quickly discovered they were swimming in Earth’s toilet bowl.

I shit you not. Though the humans shat on the Tritonians quite a bit. I wish that was a joke.

The invaders started out in a remote area, and that was okay. But once the Tritonians moved towards a major population center, they were swimming through sewage, industrial run-off, and other substances. Yes, fish and whales poop in the water all the time, but how many fish had a grande burrito platter with extra beans and cheese, the complimentary nacho platter, strawberry margarita, and slice of mile high chocolate cake for dessert, with a side order of cyanide?

Want to know what that looks like after it passes through a human digestive tract? The Tritonians could tell you first hand! Or they would have, had any of them survived the journey.

So it turned out that, while they were able to just hold the humans by the ankles and drown them, the Earthlings just had to squat and flush.

Sounds disgusting, right? But many of you seem to be wondering why that should be fatal. Remember what I said about uniforms, hygiene, and infections? Times that by a million. The Tritonians weren’t just swimming through this feces wonderland, they were breathing it in. They were getting urine and fecal matter into their gills and blood stream. Get the picture now? Yeah, makes me want to vomit at the thought of this.

And that’s just the sewage. That stuff was pretty tame compared what else makes its way into the oceans and lakes. The Tritonians sent a team to the bottom of a place called Lake Erie. That group never even had a chance to cause even minor damage. The bottom of that lake was covered in mercury! They didn’t get two strokes before keeling over. Another advance scout team in the Gulf of Mexico was also wiped out when a fossil fuel drilling platform sank and covered the water with black sludge. All-in-all, hundreds of Tritonians were killed, and none of it was due to enemy fire. That’s why I couldn’t include this in the invasion category. Even the Vuralans managed better than this.

Let’s suppose the Tritonians had avoided death by sewage and toxic waste, and had been drawn into a battle with Earth forces. Then they would have faced another problem: the high ground. This is just like the orbit problem, only in reverse. The Tritonians would have had their bases at the bottom of the ocean, while the humans would have been the ones with the high ground. Their forces and weapons would have had to fight against gravity and the weight of the water in order to reach the Earthlings. They, on the other hand, would have been able to roll their weapons down onto the Tritonians’ heads.

In the past, you would have been able to overwhelm the humans. Those days are over. The humans have done quite a number on Earth’s oceans. What was once a pristine and vast paradise is now poisoned and, in many areas, dying. Honestly, your best course of action is to stay away. Let the Earthlings soak in their own waste.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013



Okay, now it’s time to really bust some craniums!

I don’t want to see any more ships flying all over the place and blasting everything around them. No more of this undisciplined crap. You’re professionals and you’re on the Earth for a purpose. You’ve got your troops. They’re well trained, well equipped and well led. Now what? Where do you begin?

There’s no one right answer. You can go for the capitals, or their main military bases. Eventually, you’ll be sending your ground troops out, and it should go something like this.

Determine the objective: Before you do anything, figure out what the hell it is you’re trying to do. Are you seizing a vital crossroads? A large factory complex? Are you out to destroy a large Earth fighting force? Capture an important leader?

Determine enemy position: With eyes in orbit, you should be able to locate any large concentration of enemy forces. But if they haven’t been spotted, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Check the map and determine the route to the objective. Try to figure out where the enemy might be hiding. Prepare to send your recon teams into the area.

Move out and stay in close contact with all units: If a recon team loses contact with you, make it a priority to re-establish contact as fast as possible. You want to move fast, but you want to maintain security.

Keep an eye towards securing the objective: Even though a firefight may be developing elsewhere, remember you’re here for a specific job. Don’t screw it up. At the same time, don’t be reckless. If your flanks are threatened, protect them. Don’t risk getting cut off.

Advance to contact: Find the enemy and engage. Find good ground and good cover. Set up your heavy and support weapons, then leapfrog to the next cover. Use distraction methods like smoke to cover your advance. Smoke may seem primitive, but it gets the job done. Smoke can be laced with charged particles that can disrupt advanced scanning. Just keep in mind this means you’re blind too when you go through it!

Exploit breakthrough: Here’s where having a fast ground force makes all the difference. Once you’ve seized a vital position and beaten back the enemy, you’re in position to send in the tanks and armored infantry to exploit the breakthrough. Send them into the enemy’s rear area to capture more vital targets, cut enemy supply lines, and sow chaos.

Secure ground won with the infantry: Here’s where you need your ground troops. Tanks can seize ground, but they aren’t very good at holding it. Artillery is dead if the enemy gets too close. You need the ground troops to dig in and prepare a defense. They’re also needed to clear out buildings and mop up resistance. Armored units can’t do this stuff. Androids, power armor infantry? They’d be a waste of resources. Securing ground is a vital task, and it’s best handled by light and flexible ground troops.

A word about street fighting: You want to know why blowing up every building you see is a bad idea? That rubble makes a nice shield against most attacks. You try shooting at a pile of rocks with a plasma gun and see how far you get. Urban warfare is its own beast. And the best unit for it is infantry, with tanks backing them up. Be cautious, though. Narrow streets are a perfect trap for killing tanks. Room-by-room clearing is a hard, messy operation, and it will cost you casualties regardless of your technology. This can be a real problem because there are some areas of Earth where the urban and suburban areas extend for miles and miles. You may want to think about bypassing and cutting off major urban areas unless they contain hard military assets.

Special forces operations: Special forces have many roles, including scouting, intelligence gathering, raiding, rescue and recovery missions. Nearly all of them involve going deep behind enemy lines. It takes a certain breed for this kind of work, one that doesn’t mind being cut off and outgunned by the opposition. The invasions I’ve studied make no use at all of special forces.

Ground tactics have a lot in common with hand-to-hand combat. It’s hard to be prepared for everything. You can practice routines against pretty common attacks, but in a real fight you need to forget routines and focus on simple principals; protect yourself, cause the damage to the other guy, etc. You can and should practice assaults, ambushes, fighting withdrawals, and area clearing. But your troops will quickly find themselves in situations you never anticipated. When that happens, they need to fall back on simple principals, like finding good ground and good cover.

In the end, this is like a test with no wrong answer. If the squad survived and completed the objective, they did the right thing. If they didn’t, then they failed.

I see a lot of you fidgeting. Perhaps you have concerns. You should. Right now, none of you have the troops to pull off this kind of a coordinated attack. And frankly, most of you are incapable of whipping your men into this kind of fighting shape. You’d better figure out a way, because the Earth is now ready for you. The old blast away tactics of the past won’t work anymore, not that they were hugely successful in the first place. If you want to keep doing what you’ve been doing, failure is going to be the result.

Not a pretty picture, is it? But if you go to Earth again the same way, that’s what’s going to happen.

Friday, August 2, 2013



(War Hawk opens this part of the lecture with an image of General Dronn’s huge space fleet in Earth orbit.)

I’ll give you this, General Dronn. It does look impressive. But I have a hard time equating what I’m seeing here with a professional army. All you’re doing is blowing stuff up. Before you say anything, no! There’s more to being an army than just explosions. A professional army is a flexible, sophisticated tool.

We’ve already touched on the basic foot soldier, the backbone of your army. He’s got his personal weapon and his supplies. But he’s going to need heavier weapons. Squad support weapons, we call them. Usually, they are big ass versions of the personal weapons: multi-barreled lasers, repeating plasma guns, heavy bolt mag guns. These are squad weapons that can be carried into battle either by a single trooper, or by a crew. Then there are the light artillery units. Simple mortars will do. But you can also have portable rocket batteries. These provide arcing support fire. You’re going to hear me repeat this a lot; in a firefight or a battle you need weapons that fire in a straight line, and those that can arc over an obstacle. This goes for individual squads, all the way up to army divisions. How much firepower you give a squad is a tricky question. With our technology, we’re capable of packing some serious firepower. The thing is, the more complex a weapon system, the more energy it needs, the more sophisticated its construction, the easier it is to break down. That can be a problem even if you have solid interior lines and plenty of supplies. If your forces have to fight far afield it can be a nightmare. That’s why I usually advocate something simpler and more primitive, but less apt to break down when it comes to weapons and equipment.

There’s the matter of protection for the individual soldier. We can have body armor that is good, all purpose, and not too cumbersome.

There are personal shield generators. Keep in mind these use a lot of energy. That means they’re going to need recharging on a regular basis. Or the trooper can carry tons of spare energy packs, in addition to energy packs for his weapon and communications equipment. That can be a real nightmare if you have to constantly bring soldiers off the line to give them fresh energy packs.

Power armor normally sounds like a good idea. It gives individual soldiers increased strength and fighting ability. But remember these are almost always high energy/high maintenance pieces of equipment. If it breaks down, a suit of power armor quickly becomes a tomb. Also, armor, like other vehicles, is expensive. You have to think hard about resource allocation. Usually you have to make a choice between fielding a limited number of powerful units, or a far larger group of weaker units. You may only be able to afford a battalion of power infantry, but for the same cost you can field two whole divisions of regular infantry. Which is better? Depends on the battlefield situation, which you must monitor constantly.

There’s also the possibility of enhancing your troops with a few procedures. Give them improved strength, endurance, and protection. I’ve had that done. The problem is the cost. Like everything else, can you really afford it? It may sound great to man your army with nothing but bio-enhanced killers. But then you find out you can only afford a few thousand. And, as I pointed out, that’s nowhere near enough.

But you’re not going to march your troops everywhere. That would be a slow invasion. They need transport. This section will cover land transport.

Land vehicles have been rarely used at all in the Earth invasions I reviewed. It’s air transport only. I know it looks cool and everything, but this is no way to run a military. Air transport is fast, but it’s also dangerous. Air units can be seen and targeted for miles around.

The Scythian Bloodlords didn’t use ground transports. They used saucer-like craft. Worked fine until the Earthlings destabilized their craft. Crashing into the monuments around the American capitol must have hurt. General Dronn kept his forces in the sky where everyone could see them – and everyone could target them. Which was a real problem when the Earthlings got by his defense shields. The Sondrak Imperial ships hovered above the ground, making them air transports. The Gorgonians were the only ones that brought land vehicles. But their tripods were so huge and lumbering that they were as easy to target as air transports.

Ground forces can use the natural contours of the land to shield themselves. It takes more energy to fly than it does to travel along the ground, so air units can’t transport as much for the energy expended. Land transports can deliver more men, more supplies, carry heavier weapons, thicker armor, and stronger shield generators. Ground units have more endurance and can slug it out with entrenched defenders. For all those reasons, ground forces and ground transport remains a vital part of any military.

Oh, and don’t forget our friends from earlier.

(The image shifts to the invaders on antigravity sleds shown earlier.)

Nothing says “kill me” quite like riding around unprotected in a shooting zone.

Basic ground transport should be simple trucks or cars designed to get men and supplies from one point to another. A step up from that is the armored troop carrier. This offers more survivability when moving toward hostile territory. Finally, there are the armored fighting vehicles that have massive firepower, speed, armor, and protection. These along with the armored troop carriers make up the exploitation wing of your ground forces.

There’s some controversy over what transports our ground transports. Some advocate hover vehicles using a cushion of air held by a metallic skirt.

Others use grav cars, vehicles with tiny anti-grav generators that hover a tank or transport off the ground.

I say, what’s wrong with wheels and treads? It takes a lot less energy to turn a wheel than to create a cushion of air or an anti-gravity field.

And that saved energy can be put to use in the main gun, the shields, its top speed, or its endurance. With the right kind of suspension, a wheeled or tracked vehicle can traverse just about any type of ground.

There are a lot of variables in warfare, but everything starts with the basics; you want to occupy and control ground. We start with that objective and then build around. What do we need to occupy enemy ground? How do we get those troops into the area safely? How do we neutralize aggressors? And so on... Looking at the force make-up of previous invasions, I wondered what their primary objective was. It certainly wasn’t occupying and controlling large areas of territory. And because none of you set out to control territory, none of you ever did.