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So....imagine you are Admiral Parnell's staff officer

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So....imagine you are Admiral Parnell's staff officer
Post by locarno24   » Mon Dec 16, 2019 6:35 am

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It's 1900 PD, and Admiral Parnell asks for concepts for taking on Manticore.

We know that in the book series the Legislaturists go with Operation Odysseus, which is supposed to take over Basilisk in a fairly bloodless fashion where they actually look like "the good guys".

It's appealing because it's perceived as a low-risk plan - aside from the risk of galvanising manticore, who right now appear to be comfortably napping and not doing much aside from building ships (which they're doing at an alarming rate but still aren't that close to quantitative parity with the PN).

But as is noted by Canning's unnamed superior, a plan which is very complex and fundamentally relies on your opponent being stupid is not a great plan - hindsight's a wonderful thing but the PN did have some extremely competent veterans in it after decades of conquest, who in the version of history we see in the novels clearly either never got consulted or got overruled.

In this version, though, when the 'draft' for Odysseus lands on your desk, your response is "Jenkins, you're fired" and you substitute your own plan for kicking off hostilities with Manticore instead.


What would they be?




Note:

Obviously, something akin to Beatrice probably has a good chance of working - but equally obviously, given that this isn't yet a war for survival and the PRH relies on the fleet to keep itself together, no-one is going to sign off on a death-ride on that scale for such a huge proportion of the fleet without a well-thought-out plan.

Saying "Hit Manticore Straight-Off" is not a bad plan - the Manticoran Alliance won't be there yet - but you're still going to need something better than driving a large proportion of the People's navy into probably the toughest single-system defences anywhere outside the League, so you need to include how you plan to do that.
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Re: So....imagine you are Admiral Parnell's staff officer
Post by munroburton   » Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:12 am

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If you take a direct strike off the table, then all that's left is pretty much what they did try in the series.

They tried to obtain basing rights at Grayson/Masada and failed. Rollins' end of the operation should've crushed Hancock, then rolled up all Parks' penny packets. The Second Fleet at Grayson would've been annihilated if Manticore hadn't reinforced and turned it into a trap.

Nevertheless, my plan would be to attack Manticore-B. We know Home Fleet's top three priorities shift between the Junction, Manticore and Sphinx, with Gryphon always a distant fourth.

Roll into there, blow up the Gryphon Squadron(assuming it hasn't been consolidated into Home Fleet), take Gryphon orbit and try to bait Home Fleet into a counter-attack by pulling "damaged" ships out.

When they are observed moving out, activate a second Havenite fleet waiting in hyperspace. Use it to ambush Home Fleet after it crosses Manticore-B's hyper limit.

This sequencing allows for maximum defeat in detail of the RMN's home system defenses and mobile forces. Unfortunately, if Manticore is smart and holds its nerve, they won't counterattack until they've recalled their frontier task forces, however long that takes.
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Re: So....imagine you are Admiral Parnell's staff officer
Post by Somtaaw   » Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:41 am

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munroburton wrote:Nevertheless, my plan would be to attack Manticore-B. We know Home Fleet's top three priorities shift between the Junction, Manticore and Sphinx, with Gryphon always a distant fourth.

Roll into there, blow up the Gryphon Squadron(assuming it hasn't been consolidated into Home Fleet), take Gryphon orbit and try to bait Home Fleet into a counter-attack by pulling "damaged" ships out.

When they are observed moving out, activate a second Havenite fleet waiting in hyperspace. Use it to ambush Home Fleet after it crosses Manticore-B's hyper limit.

This sequencing allows for maximum defeat in detail of the RMN's home system defenses and mobile forces. Unfortunately, if Manticore is smart and holds its nerve, they won't counterattack until they've recalled their frontier task forces, however long that takes.



Closest fleet formation in that event would be Grayson, which is what 3-4 days travel even for a dispatch boat riding the very upper hyperlimits (of a non-streak drive ship). Without taking the interlocks off their wallers, that's also a 7 day trip BACK to Manticore not counting they'd need most of an afternoon to get anybody 'on leave' on the surface back to the ships and simply leaving Yeltsin's hyperlimit.

Depending on the timeline, if Parnell didn't attack then Webster was out there with 8 (I think?) SD squadrons, and at that time Manticore still utilized a 1:1:1 ration, so he also 8 squadrons of battlecruisers, 8 squadrons of heavy cruisers, and 8-12 light cruiser squadrons, plus several destroyer squadrons for his SD's screen.

Assuming Parnell did NOT attack Yeltsin, that means the DuQuesne SD's White Haven turned over don't exist, so assuming an emergency recall, Grayson only has the First BatCruRon (the first-gen Courvosier, commanded by Commodore Brent Wentworth) for their own Home Fleet and therefore literally could not risk accompanying Webster back. So the Grayson's are automatically out of the fight to retake Gryphon, and if they were crazy enough to leave nothing but forts covering Yeltsin, they'd be contributing at most 1-2 battlecruiser squadrons, and a few dozen cruisers of various types so in this sort of fight it might as well not exist.


Next closest detachment would be Grendlesbane, but I don't think Manticore would uncover that, even to protect Gryphon because it's literally the largest shipyard after the yards in Manticore-A. Surely must be at least 4-5 squadrons of wallers there, plus accompanying escorts but again... unlikely to be recalled because they can't afford to leave it uncovered in case Haven also pounced on Grendlesbane with some of their (at the time) hundreds of battleships. Until Blackbird Yard got funded and built by Honor which took Grendlesbane's title away, because it's the largest (Alliance) shipyard it has to be a much higher "defend this at all costs" priority than even Gryphon, because any Peep raiding squadron that got in, with techs, would learn every Manticoran shipbuilding secret while they're gone.


The only other major source of ships, would be the half-squadrons of DN's tied up in picket duty, such as Candor & Minette which we saw depicted as part of FiE and Operation Dagger. 4 Dreadnoughts + screen here, a 1-2 battlecruiser squadrons + screen there... but they're so utterly spread out they'd first need to rally somewhere just beyond Manticore itself, or risk being pounced on as they arrive in dribbles and without knowing what they might be dropping out of hyper into.
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Re: So....imagine you are Admiral Parnell's staff officer
Post by cthia   » Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:45 am

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Did Haven have a significant enough advantage in ships to offset the RMN's tech and seriously threaten Manticore then?

Son, your mother says I have to hang you. Personally I don't think this is a capital offense. But if I don't hang you, she's gonna hang me and frankly, I'm not the one in trouble. —cthia's father. Incident in ? Axiom of Common Sense
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Re: So....imagine you are Admiral Parnell's staff officer
Post by locarno24   » Mon Dec 16, 2019 10:10 am

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The use of battleships is....questionable..in any potential fleet engagement but they're obviously as scary as heck in a raiding environment.

Obviously, the PRH does have major structural problems. Pre-Rob Pierre (and more importantly Pre-Oscar Saint-Just) they've got massive social instability but the potential rebels are a lot less cowed prior to the reign of terror; using those battleships is possible but the risk is big - that doesn't mean they wouldn't but the risk has to deliver big.


I didn't say a direct strike had to come off the table, just that you needed a pretty decent plan at the time to make it feasible. Honestly, I think it is the best plan, but it needs a more fleshed-out concept than "we take the entire PN battle fleet and throw them at a head-on assault on Manticore."



Certainly, between the cabinet essentially giving the go-ahead for 'stuff' (which was Odysseus, Jericho, and whatever else might have happened 'off-camera') and actually pulling the trigger on open war was something like five years, and it's fair to say (the cabinet even observes) that during those five years the force balance gets steadily worse because Manticore and Grayson build better ships and do so faster.


Did Haven have a significant enough advantage in ships to offset the RMN's tech and seriously threaten Manticore then?


in 1904 (post Basilisk and Grayson but pre-Hancock), the PN had 460 dreadnoughts and superdreadnoughts to the RMN's 309. Based on Amos Parnell's estimate of the RMN units having a '30% edge', that puts the RMN at an equivalent of about 400 "PN capital ship equivalents" to the PN's 460.

More importantly, that's with the RMN's armament programme running as fast as it can with Cromarty hoofing the exchequer in the painful bits at every opportunity for more funding; every year you wind back puts the balance more in favour of the PN. Plus, if you set your plan's 'zero hour' date further back towards 1900/1901 you're getting the drop before the RMN gets deployable missile pods into general service, and potentially even before FTL beacons are freely available.

On the other hand, you lose access to the Argus sensor platforms, although to be fair the systems they are watching aren't part of the manticoran alliance prior to that point either.



Essentially, if you could put the entire PN and entire RMN in a single volume of space and compel them to fight, the PN should have won. The trouble is coming up with a way of compelling that to happen in a way that doesn't let the RMN just disengage, and doesn't feel like you're taking the entire PN battle fleet and flipping a coin to see if it survives.




The problem is that the obvious centre of gravity to attack is either Manticore or the Manticore Junction, and whilst the numbers above ignore the PN's battleships (because they're pretty much nailed where they are aside from emergencies) it also ignores the junction forts and other system defences such as LACs and fixed missile emplacements, which are a huge military asset when considering Manticore's system defence.

That said in turn: based on Honour Among Enemies, we know 31 fortresses is "a quarter of the entire Junction Defence Force" and that 50 PN battleships (admittedly with the benefit of surprise in presumably energy weapon engagements) were able to kill that many before being wiped out, presumably by the concentrated fire of the full 120-odd fortresses.



Munroburton is right that defeat in detail is critical.

You need to bring the PNs numbers to bear against targets the RMN can't ignore (note that if you're not planning on Epsilon Eridani violations I'm not sure planets other than Manticore itself necessarily count because there are limits to what you can achieve if you can't take either the shipyards or Mount Royal and the Admiralty), and you also have to get around the problem of the PN's logistical 'tail' - extended fighting around Manticore automatically favours Manticore (obviously) but doubly so because Haven was designed for short, high intensity campaigns with relatively small sustained missile reserves per throw weight and relatively little organic repair capability compared to Manticoran units.


Ultimately, I suspect the smartest thing to do is (1) accept you're the bad guy and (2) do what was originally planned as part of Odysseus at that point in time; roll up a battle squadron or two, park it on the Basilisk terminus and mine the heck out of it. There's no way you can credibly stop a warning getting out (one assumes that when you had got multiple ships there pre-On Basilisk Station at least one would be at the terminus, but against an incoming superdreadnought formation all a cruiser can do is dive into the terminus screaming 'ZULUZULUZULUZULU'), and equally there's very little chance of a Manticoran fleet making it through in time to stop you; the forts aren't wormhole-capable and the hyper-capable units are too far away to arrive with heavy enough units in a short enough time.

Unless you're prepared to invest a huge chunk of the PN, you can't stop the RMN taking the system back, but you can make any attempt unbelievably bloody, because a wormhole transit into a weapons-free minefield is exactly what the RMN wanted to inflict on the PN but the other way around.


Ultimately, the 'checkmate' position is the PN in control of the Manticore junction and Fortress command destroyed without the PN losing catastrophic numbers of ships (or at least with the RMN taking equivalent warship casualties so the PN's available forces remain better). Manage that, and you essentially have Trevor's Star and all the logistics and PN reinforcements you need available in the Manticore System, meaning the whole thing is essentially reduced to a single-system problem of a big fleet against a bigger fleet, and that's a battle Haven had fought and won time and again.

What I'm less sure is how you get there.
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Re: So....imagine you are Admiral Parnell's staff officer
Post by Somtaaw   » Mon Dec 16, 2019 10:16 am

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cthia wrote:Did Haven have a significant enough advantage in ships to offset the RMN's tech and seriously threaten Manticore then?


from the conversations in OBS and HotQ; yes they did but they were more concerned with how much damage they'd take by simply absorbing the casualties instead of trying to be slick.


By the events of SVW, all the Legislaturalists realized they'd gained zero benefits and in fact lost much of their advantages, while Manticore had built it's Alliance and gotten stronger and stronger. So with hindsight, they looked back and realized they should have just gone full-hog from Basilisk onwards, and taken however many casualties it required.


.... unless Manticore saw it coming fast enough for their Plan B, and 'let' Beowulf occupy them and hope that talking fast enough with Solly SD's in orbit of Manticore makes Haven blink and hesitate.
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Re: So....imagine you are Admiral Parnell's staff officer
Post by TFLYTSNBN   » Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:17 pm

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locarno24 wrote:It's 1900 PD, and Admiral Parnell asks for concepts for taking on Manticore.

We know that in the book series the Legislaturists go with Operation Odysseus, which is supposed to take over Basilisk in a fairly bloodless fashion where they actually look like "the good guys".

It's appealing because it's perceived as a low-risk plan - aside from the risk of galvanising manticore, who right now appear to be comfortably napping and not doing much aside from building ships (which they're doing at an alarming rate but still aren't that close to quantitative parity with the PN).

But as is noted by Canning's unnamed superior, a plan which is very complex and fundamentally relies on your opponent being stupid is not a great plan - hindsight's a wonderful thing but the PN did have some extremely competent veterans in it after decades of conquest, who in the version of history we see in the novels clearly either never got consulted or got overruled.

In this version, though, when the 'draft' for Odysseus lands on your desk, your response is "Jenkins, you're fired" and you substitute your own plan for kicking off hostilities with Manticore instead.


What would they be?




Note:

Obviously, something akin to Beatrice probably has a good chance of working - but equally obviously, given that this isn't yet a war for survival and the PRH relies on the fleet to keep itself together, no-one is going to sign off on a death-ride on that scale for such a huge proportion of the fleet without a well-thought-out plan.

Saying "Hit Manticore Straight-Off" is not a bad plan - the Manticoran Alliance won't be there yet - but you're still going to need something better than driving a large proportion of the People's navy into probably the toughest single-system defences anywhere outside the League, so you need to include how you plan to do that.



Excellent point about how the PRN's numerical advantage was compromised by their need to retain forces to hold themselves together. The People's Republic is an empire with many provinces that have been recently conquered. Internal revolts can obviously be crushed, but how many "Free Fleets" of DDs, CA's and may be BCs of their conquest victims are roaming around prepared to pounce? This is why the PRN retains Batleships. BBs can ream BCs and smaller which secures the conquests. The PRN does not use SDs or DNs for garrison duty for fear that the local Admiral will go rogue and make a system his empire. The DNs and SDs of Home Fleet are the Praetorian Guard that keep the local garrisons in line.

Given these presumptive realities, the BBs are not available to engage the RMN. This evens the odds. The PRN also needs to fear defeating the RMN at the cost of losing so many DNs and SDs that they can no longer deter the local commanders with BBs.
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Re: So....imagine you are Admiral Parnell's staff officer
Post by kzt   » Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:37 pm

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Somtaaw wrote:
.... unless Manticore saw it coming fast enough for their Plan B, and 'let' Beowulf occupy them and hope that talking fast enough with Solly SD's in orbit of Manticore makes Haven blink and hesitate.

Yeah, if you give the various elites at Manticore clear evidence that the war is irretrievably lost without a major change to the strategic situation and enough time to process that and sufficient time to carry out a strategic reset you would expect they would attempt to change the strategic situation to one where they and their kids don't get shot.

The SLN is one. The Andies is another. In both cases you are in a pretty bad negotiating position, but you still have a lot to offer. And having to retire from politics (with your fortune intact) when the new regime shows up beats having you and your kids getting shot.

So yes, the Peeps have to start and win the war before the ossified political system in Manticore can recognize and act on the deadly nature of the threat. That's at most months, not years. And weeks would be better.
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Re: So....imagine you are Admiral Parnell's staff officer
Post by Theemile   » Mon Dec 16, 2019 6:35 pm

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TFLYTSNBN wrote:
locarno24 wrote:It's 1900 PD, and Admiral Parnell asks for concepts for taking on Manticore.

We know that in the book series the Legislaturists go with Operation Odysseus, which is supposed to take over Basilisk in a fairly bloodless fashion where they actually look like "the good guys".

It's appealing because it's perceived as a low-risk plan - aside from the risk of galvanising manticore, who right now appear to be comfortably napping and not doing much aside from building ships (which they're doing at an alarming rate but still aren't that close to quantitative parity with the PN).

But as is noted by Canning's unnamed superior, a plan which is very complex and fundamentally relies on your opponent being stupid is not a great plan - hindsight's a wonderful thing but the PN did have some extremely competent veterans in it after decades of conquest, who in the version of history we see in the novels clearly either never got consulted or got overruled.

In this version, though, when the 'draft' for Odysseus lands on your desk, your response is "Jenkins, you're fired" and you substitute your own plan for kicking off hostilities with Manticore instead.


What would they be?




Note:

Obviously, something akin to Beatrice probably has a good chance of working - but equally obviously, given that this isn't yet a war for survival and the PRH relies on the fleet to keep itself together, no-one is going to sign off on a death-ride on that scale for such a huge proportion of the fleet without a well-thought-out plan.

Saying "Hit Manticore Straight-Off" is not a bad plan - the Manticoran Alliance won't be there yet - but you're still going to need something better than driving a large proportion of the People's navy into probably the toughest single-system defences anywhere outside the League, so you need to include how you plan to do that.



Excellent point about how the PRN's numerical advantage was compromised by their need to retain forces to hold themselves together. The People's Republic is an empire with many provinces that have been recently conquered. Internal revolts can obviously be crushed, but how many "Free Fleets" of DDs, CA's and may be BCs of their conquest victims are roaming around prepared to pounce? This is why the PRN retains Batleships. BBs can ream BCs and smaller which secures the conquests. The PRN does not use SDs or DNs for garrison duty for fear that the local Admiral will go rogue and make a system his empire. The DNs and SDs of Home Fleet are the Praetorian Guard that keep the local garrisons in line.

Given these presumptive realities, the BBs are not available to engage the RMN. This evens the odds. The PRN also needs to fear defeating the RMN at the cost of losing so many DNs and SDs that they can no longer deter the local commanders with BBs.


Likewise, the 75-100 Wallers in Haven's Home Fleet's "pretorian guard" would be unavailable for action - both to prevent Manticore from initiating it's own decapitation strike, and to prevent political disent.

Unfortunately, Haven also has 6-12 other shipbuilding centers/Fleet bases, that they need to cover with 1-2 dozen wallers to protect their infrastructure. This easily eats up another 150-200 wallers. This drops the available wallers for operations from 460 to 150-200 without compromising home defenses.

Haven was also very dependent on depot maintenance to cover for their education system, so 15-20% of their fleet was under maintenance at any time. Which drops the available ships to 110-170, Or about what was used in the initial attacks on Manticore in SVW (IIRC ~18 squadrons deployed for Hancock and Grayson attacks.)
******
RFC said "refitting a Beowulfan SD to Manticoran standards would be just as difficult as refitting a standard SLN SD to those standards. In other words, it would be cheaper and faster to build new ships."
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Re: So....imagine you are Admiral Parnell's staff officer
Post by munroburton   » Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:31 pm

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Somtaaw wrote:Closest fleet formation in that event would be Grayson, which is what 3-4 days travel even for a dispatch boat riding the very upper hyperlimits (of a non-streak drive ship). Without taking the interlocks off their wallers, that's also a 7 day trip BACK to Manticore not counting they'd need most of an afternoon to get anybody 'on leave' on the surface back to the ships and simply leaving Yeltsin's hyperlimit.


locarno24 wrote:It's 1900 PD, and Admiral Parnell asks for concepts for taking on Manticore.


No basing rights at Yeltsin have been yielded to either side at this point. Hancock Station wasn't upgraded to a vice admiral's billet until 1904. Home Fleet at this point would contain virtually the entire RMN, with D'Orville's "second fleet" parked at Gryphon instead of Grayson. Edit: They're also short about 30-60 wallers compared with 1905.

In 1900, I would look at Manticore's building numbers and rates - they were already mass-producing entire waller classes in a handful of years - and tell Parnell to attack as soon as possible.

Waiting and wasting five years with horrendously complicated schemes to creep closer and closer without actually declaring war, appearing more and more threatening...? That only guarantees an acceleration of Manticore's preparations.

Hell, that's where they went wrong in the first place - a complicated scheme to assassinate Roger III at the same time they invaded Trevor's Star. Fighting Manticore would have been much easier for the PRH back then.
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