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What is the |value| of captured enemy systems?

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What is the |value| of captured enemy systems?
Post by cthia   » Mon Sep 24, 2018 12:05 am

cthia
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What is the absolute value of captured enemy systems?maps

Conflict in space seems to change many of the traditional aspects of war. Strategy formulated on the value of capturing enemy territory doesn't seem so straightforward as it is now. Wars in today's world have clear cut objectives that are more easily seen and understood. Cutting a swath into enemy territory allows an army to reap the benefits of foodstuffs and materials along the way - benefitting from the seizure of industrial plants and slave labor as well as uninterrupted supply lines from linked lines of conquests.

This benefit does not seem to be so readily intuitive or applicable in the Honorverse. Large costs in time, manpower, lives and ships seem to downplay the value of captured enemy systems. The value of these systems is not readily obvious to this naked eye - anyone care to dress or redress my peepers?

Capturing major fleet bases like Trevor's Star - which have a benefit of astrographic location and which also provides a beachhead into enemy territory and saves travel time because of its terminus, and also which affords easy resupply of deeply entrenched alliance forces - is obvious. But what is the absolute value of capturing less than major star systems, and expending so much force to do so?

When a system is captured, how are their materials seized? You control the orbitals, but how is the mandate to the captured system to give you their goods enforced? First, you have to have enough troops in transports to go door to door to industrial plants to ensure compliance. But even then, it seems, there would always be opportunities for stalling, sabotage, theft, etc.

Also, controlling the high orbitals alone doesn't seem like it'd be enough to "convince" a Technodyne or an Erewhon to conform to your plans of forking over the goods. And, simply because you control the high orbitals forces your conquest to lay down their arms or else face legal bombardment does not mean they can be legally bombarded for failing to comply with your objectives - while down on their planet - of being fed at the dinner table of their industry.

In many cases in the Honorverse, I suppose the value in capturing a particular system is more about shutting off the supply of those goods and the value of that particular system to the enemy. Their materials aren't a value to you but a value to your enemy's war efforts, which would delay new construction. I suppose this lack of value is why the infrastructure of some systems are destroyed instead of captured.

It just seems harder for these naked eyes to measure the intrinsic or absolute value of capturing an enemy system in the Honorverse.

Flag in Exile Ch. 1 wrote:"In the war's first six months," he said, "Manticore captured nineteen Havenite star systems, including two major fleet bases. Their total capital ship losses during that time were two superdreadnoughts and five dreadnoughts, against which they destroyed forty Havenite ships of the wall. They also added thirty-one capital ships to their own order of battle—twenty-six captured units, exclusive of the eleven Admiral White Haven gave us after Third Yeltsin, and five more from new construction. That put them within roughly ninety percent of the Peeps' remaining ships of the wall, and they had the advantage of the initiative, not to mention the edge the People's Navy's confusion and shattered morale gave them.

"In the last three months, however, the RMN's captured only two systems and lost nineteen capital ships doing it—including the ten they lost at Nightingale, where they didn't take the system. The Peeps are still taking heavier losses, but remember that they have all those battleships. They may be too small for proper ships of the wall, but they provide a rear area coverage the Manties can't match without diverting dreadnoughts or superdreadnoughts, which frees a higher percentage of the Peeps' ships of the wall for front-line use. Put simply, the Peeps still have more ships to lose than Manticore does, and the war is slowing down, Your Grace. Peep resistance is stiffening, and the Manties are transferring more and more of their own strength to the front in an effort to hang onto their momentum."
Last edited by cthia on Tue Oct 02, 2018 5:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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: What is the |value| of captured enemy systems?
Post by Annachie   » Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:29 am

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Can I just start out with removing wormholes and junctions from the discussion.

They have their own intrinsic value that makes the rest of the system basically irrelevent. Or at best, slightly convienent.
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Re: What is the |value| of captured enemy systems?
Post by cthia   » Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:42 am

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Annachie wrote:Can I just start out with removing wormholes and junctions from the discussion.

They have their own intrinsic value that makes the rest of the system basically irrelevent. Or at best, slightly convienent.

I certainly understand the request but decided to leave that up to you more seasoned strategists. I allowed for the possibility that the importance of some systems may be that they are simply stepping stones to those major systems to be captured (staging areas) so, have their own importance as well. Though I suppose they could and should be excluded as part of the obvious.

For example. . .

Flag in Exile Prologue wrote:"Port ten, Captain Goldstein. If they want to close, let's oblige them."

"Aye, aye, My Lord. Coming ten degrees to port," Goldstein replied, and the task force stopped trying to hold the range open. The missile exchange redoubled, but the weight of fire favored Manticore more and more heavily as Peep launchers fell silent. Another Havenite fell out of the wall, covering herself with her impeller wedge as best she could, and something stirred in the back of White Haven's mind. That was five Peep SDs destroyed or out of action to only one of his. At this rate, he'd have a decisive edge, even at energy range, when the two fleets finally came together. Whoever was in command over there had to know that, so why in hell was he still coming in this way? Nightingale was an important outwork for Trevor's Star, but hardly worth the destruction of a force this size! There had to be a reason—

"New contact! Multiple contacts—multiple capital ship impeller sources at zero-four-six zero-three-niner! Range one-eight million klicks and closing! Designate this force Bogey Two!"


Nightingale is identified as an outwork (staging area?) for Trevor's Star, so should be part of the obvious.

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: What is the |value| of captured enemy systems?
Post by noblehunter   » Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:41 am

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It seems that their value is mostly what is lost to the enemy. It may be possible for some industrial value to be captured but not if the platforms are scuttled or destroyed during capture.

It was believed at the start of the war that they had moderate value as positions for basing or logistics but that's now questionable. The burden of picketing system might outweigh any benefits of location, wormholes aside.
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Re: What is the |value| of captured enemy systems?
Post by Kael Posavatz   » Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:31 am

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:Cracks knuckles and prepares to write an essay:

Okay, here's my thinking.

'Value' is somewhat subjective and breaks down a couple of ways.

Systems that have useful astrographic features (primarily wormhole termini)

Taking Trevor's Star enhanced RMN's strategic position while eliminating a threat through a junction. 1st basilisk prevented a two-termini attack. 2nd Basilisk attempted to entice RMN Home Fleet to make a wormhole assault under Peep guns. One of Henke's concerns was Crandall making an assault on the talbot wormhole termini rather than Spindel, etc...

Other systems have strategic infrastructure.

Hancock had a repair base (didn't need to send damaged ships as far to repair them) and a major fleet node. Grendelsbane had a repair station that grew into a major building yard. Barnett had a fleet base and command facility close to Manticore front to reduce communications leg with Peep command/coordinating authority.

There is also a matter of long term (ie, post war) value that is rather different.

At this level system exploitation does come into play. One of Pritchart's reasons for addressing the systems Manticore took was because of the economic potential for the RH that they represented, and because they were missing out on the reconstruction. She also acknowledged SKM's interest in Trevor's Star both because of wormhole and because it had formally requested integration into SKM (and then a certain unnamed bastard decided he had to be clever, though that's beside the point). Partitioning Silesia brought in the Andermani, reduced RMN naval commitment (and losses) to deter piracy/privateering, and provide (eventual) boost to SEM population (for the navy) and economy. Talbot, same deal (well, aside from the Andies) for similar reasons.

Translating 'value' into 'strategy'

In the First Manticore-Haven War, both sides operated on a theory of strategic depth. Taking a system (absent the above) was not necessarily about exploiting the system itself, but about 1) reducing the other side's strategic depth (this was why manticore pulled together the alliance in the first place though most ((Grayson excluded)) were considered a resource sink), and 2) chipping away at the enemy's fleet. The thinking was that reducing depth limits the ways they can come at you, and reducing their fleet might make attacks at critical (capital) infrastructure possible.

In the Second Manticore-Haven war the operational strategy was very different with a focus on deep raiding hit-and-leave attacks by heavy forces (rather than battlecruiser/heavy cruiser forces). Aside from the reclaimed systems during Thunderbolt there was no real attempt to hold any system attacked. This was in part caused by RMN lacking sufficient ship hulls to do much else and deliberate restraint from RHN because Pritchart wanted to negotiate, but also from strategic thinking undergoing as radical a shift as tactics and basic naval hardware had at the end of SKM/PRH 1. RHN shifted back to a 'take' mode when they rolled the dice on Beatrice, and 8th Fleet was making a statement that it 'could' when it played its, um, 'courtesy call' on the Haven system.

The SLN's strategic posture mirrors that of RMN/PN in the first war. Take critical real-estate to destroy enemy forces and deny strategic depth. Only the SLN 'knows' that it is the biggest, best, most advanced Navy around, and that every other navy is crewed by illiterate neobarbs incapable of fighting their way out of a wet paper bag and are lucky to know which end of a graser to point at an enemy. As such they are willing to accept losses (or think they are, but know they won't) by grabbing the Biggest Hammer and going right for the home system (Crandall, case in point. Filareta was a little different because one of the underlying assumptions was that 'whoever' had dropped the habs had also blasted the system defenses wide open and they couldn't be repaired in the months and months it took 11th fleet to assemble and move on Manticore proper).
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Re: What is the |value| of captured enemy systems?
Post by cthia   » Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:34 am

cthia
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noblehunter wrote:It seems that their value is mostly what is lost to the enemy. It may be possible for some industrial value to be captured but not if the platforms are scuttled or destroyed during capture.

It was believed at the start of the war that they had moderate value as positions for basing or logistics but that's now questionable. The burden of picketing system might outweigh any benefits of location, wormholes aside.


If it's mostly because of its value to the enemy, then wouldn't it be simpler to just destroy said infrastructure instead of gathering it up - which would infer all kinds of additional headaches and lost of tonnage (destroyed and drawn down from other areas) needed to support it to hold onto it?

At one point in Flag in Exile the RMN captured nineteen systems. Which would seem to automatically translate into lots of other warships, officers and ordnance dispersed - drawn down from their already taxed inventory and current assignments, sometimes pulled from Home Fleet - to support systems that are of little to no value to them?

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: What is the |value| of captured enemy systems?
Post by tlb   » Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:53 am

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Kael Posavatz wrote:In the Second Manticore-Haven war the operational strategy was very different with a focus on deep raiding hit-and-leave attacks by heavy forces (rather than battlecruiser/heavy cruiser forces). Aside from the reclaimed systems during Thunderbolt there was no real attempt to hold any system attacked. This was in part caused by RMN lacking sufficient ship hulls to do much else and deliberate restraint from RHN because Pritchart wanted to negotiate, but also from strategic thinking undergoing as radical a shift as tactics and basic naval hardware had at the end of SKM/PRH 1. RHN shifted back to a 'take' mode when they rolled the dice on Beatrice, and 8th Fleet was making a statement that it 'could' when it played its, um, 'courtesy call' on the Haven system.

The Manticore strategy of deep raiding was two-fold: 1. to force Haven to spread forces for defense to lessen the chance of a concentrated counter-strike. 2. to destroy the forces trapped defending the "objective"; the true objective was those defending ships. You have to attack something worth defending, in order to catch enough enemy ships to make the effort worthwhile. I think the strategic term is "counter force", rather than "counter value".
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Re: What is the |value| of captured enemy systems?
Post by tlb   » Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:00 am

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noblehunter wrote:It seems that their value is mostly what is lost to the enemy. It may be possible for some industrial value to be captured but not if the platforms are scuttled or destroyed during capture.

It was believed at the start of the war that they had moderate value as positions for basing or logistics but that's now questionable. The burden of picketing system might outweigh any benefits of location, wormholes aside.

cthia wrote:If it's mostly because of its value to the enemy, then wouldn't it be simpler to just destroy said infrastructure instead of gathering it up - which would infer all kinds of additional headaches and lost of tonnage (destroyed and drawn down from other areas) needed to support it to hold onto it?

At one point in Flag in Exile the RMN captured nineteen systems. Which would seem to automatically translate into lots of other warships, officers and ordnance dispersed - drawn down from their already taxed inventory and current assignments, sometimes pulled from Home Fleet - to support systems that are of little to no value to them?

At that part of the war, I believe that Haven was still thinking in terms of empire building: keeping infrastructure intact for the benefit of Greater Haven. They did destroy infrastructure among the Manticoran allies.
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Re: What is the |value| of captured enemy systems?
Post by cthia   » Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:14 am

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Tlb reminded me of an unintended consequence of capturing a system that I forgot to mention. Although, I can't understand why capturing the system would be necessary to capture enemy units to add to your own order of battle.

Flag in Exile Ch. 1 wrote:"In the war's first six months," he said, "Manticore captured nineteen Havenite star systems, including two major fleet bases. Their total capital ship losses during that time were two superdreadnoughts and five dreadnoughts, against which they destroyed forty Havenite ships of the wall. They also added thirty-one capital ships to their own order of battle—twenty-six captured units, exclusive of the eleven Admiral White Haven gave us after Third Yeltsin, and five more from new construction. That put them within roughly ninety percent of the Peeps' remaining ships of the wall, and they had the advantage of the initiative, not to mention the edge the People's Navy's confusion and shattered morale gave them.


So, although it is no way written in stone, there is an added possibility of acquiring enemy vessels to add to your own inventory and possible trade secrets contained inside those ships. Though gathering up enemy systems isn't a prerequisite to capturing enemy vessels.


@ Kael Posavatz, nice post!

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: What is the |value| of captured enemy systems?
Post by noblehunter   » Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:28 am

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cthia wrote:If it's mostly because of its value to the enemy, then wouldn't it be simpler to just destroy said infrastructure instead of gathering it up - which would infer all kinds of additional headaches and lost of tonnage (destroyed and drawn down from other areas) needed to support it to hold onto it?

At one point in Flag in Exile the RMN captured nineteen systems. Which would seem to automatically translate into lots of other warships, officers and ordnance dispersed - drawn down from their already taxed inventory and current assignments, sometimes pulled from Home Fleet - to support systems that are of little to no value to them?


At the time, it was believed that having bases close to a primary target, such as Trevor's Star, was worth gathering up the nearby systems. It could be argued that this was an erroneous belief.

Now I'm wondering what would have happened if Manticore had been insane enough to mass enough ships to punch out Trevor's Star or Barnett or even Haven itself right after Rob's coup.
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