TACTICS: GENERAL FORCE MAKE UP
(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.