Introduction and Preparatory Summation
To understand the conduct of military operations in the contemporary astropolitical context, it is necessary first to clarify the status and relevant assumptions about that context. Military tactics depend upon strategic and logistical considerations that are profoundly influenced by current astropolitical realities.
Strategic considerations, per se, are the province of other study curricula, and so will be addressed only where they directly control particular tactical decisions. Logistics, however, are critical in all tactical considerations, and will be addressed in more detail. As this is a survey, the discussions will not be in-depth, but the most important, common, and relevant logistical questions will be examined.
The material will be grouped in two broad categories, offensive and defensive operations. Offensive operations are primarily expeditionary in nature. Occupation, counter-insurgency, and garrison operations are included under the defensive category.
General Astropolitical Considerations
The prosecution of inter-colonial military operations among Hub entities is constrained by the primary logistical factor: Space itself, and the technology available to traverse interstellar distances. In all but the most densely-concentrated sectors of the Hub, the most advanced tengchav sublim drives produce transit times in the hundreds of hours between population clusters. The new kerstan sublim drives promise decreases of ten to fifteen percent over tengchav times, but the kerstan drives cannot handle the masses of major military transport, limiting their function to expeditionary support operations.
The most relevant strategic factor is the nature of the Hub itself, and human colonial occupation thereof. Over a thousand human colonies were registered in the last U-League survey of charters. The shifting alliances and affiliations among even the primary colonial axes require meticulous attention to intelligence in operational planning. At any given point, up to thirty percent of Hub colonies are aligned with one or more of the six or seven major power blocs. Smaller, but critical, power blocs are constantly forming and breaking up, the whole loose structure held together only by the two treaties that created the Universal Mercantile Convention and the University League.
Human populations in the Hub fall into one of several general categories. Excluding the Old Colonies, relevant in terms of astropolitical influence but precluded from tactical considerations by distance, they include:
- The old, multi-world progenitive colonies of long establishment and stable power base, and their loyal daughter colonies. The major power blocs are each anchored by one or more of these colonial nexi, many of which trace their origins and cultural traditions to the Old Colonies more or less directly.
- Multi-colony clusters amalgamated by commercial and/or military treaties into competing power blocs. Most of these shift formal or informal affiliations among the major power blocs, but a few are achieving major bloc status on their own, especially the Ophiuchi Circuit and the Nira-Hoy Hegemony.
- A few wealthy Centerpoint single world colonies owned or controlled by large commercial interests whose assets make them minor power blocs on their own.
- Treaty colonies established as non-aligned administrative centers under the two treaties.
- The vast majority of independent colonies, some multi-world, some with progeny colonies, jostling for commerce, power, and influence to sustain their colonial integrity and resist absorption by other, stronger colonies.
In this environment, military adventurism offers great rewards, but corresponding risks. Astute target selection and advanced intelligence capabilities are crucial to success. A reliable defense profile is challenging, but achievable.
In formulating mission tactics, a basic understanding of strategic objectives is critical. For the purposes of survey discussion, three of the most common strategy arcs will be compared.
The most common strategic arc is to secure control of assets on a long-term or permanent basis. The inherent limitations presented by this are naturally the inadvisability of destroying or seriously damaging the asset you hope to control. Rarely, the arc may change to denying control to another party, in which case the degree of destruction is less relevant.
Second most common is the control of a particular location holding value for security or other purposes.
Less often, strategy may demand offensive operations for the purpose of degrading an opponent’s military assets.
Other strategic considerations may be discussed in advanced curricula.
Defensive strategy arcs are necessarily built under consideration of the threat assessment profile. Nevertheless, these, too, tend to fall into basic categories. The two most common will be reviewed in the survey course, additional considerations will be discussed in advanced curricula.
The most common defensive strategic arc is to create a deterrent resource profile that will convince potential threat sources that the cost-benefit ratio of hostile operations will be disadvantageous. The principal challenge to effectively deploying this strategy is the converse equation: The potential costs of credibly presenting such a profile, relative to the value of the threatened asset.
The strategic arc most common in situations where deterrent is not an option is the systematic application of tactical advantage in a zero-sum environment.
Strategic considerations are covered in detail in the “General Strategy for Legionary Command” course material, but it is advised that students in Tactics familiarize themselves with Ralin on Conceptual Strategy, Chapters 3-8, to better place Tactical work in the context of overall military operations.