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Sneak Peek at the Honorverse Novella for the Companion

This is the place where we will be posting snippets of soon-to-be published works!
Sneak Peek at the Honorverse Novella for the Companion
Post by Duckk   » Fri May 25, 2012 2:43 pm

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This is the text of a letter from Lt. Roger Winton to the Proceedings of the Royal Manticoran Navy Institute in 1844 which may give a little insight into the thinking of the future King Roger III.

It's the first 1,700 words or so of a novella which will be appearing in the Honorverse Companion, House of Steel, sometime in 2013.

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Lieutenant R. Winton — Commander Janofsky ("Commerce Protection and Societal Disintegration," Proceedings, No. 3673) is to be commended for the clarity with which he makes his points. The continuing slide into even more pronounced and widespread civil disorder, privateering, terrorism, and outright piracy in the territory of the Silesian Confederacy must give any navy pause. Commander Janofsky rightly points out the increasing cost, not simply in financial terms but also in terms of manpower and platform availability, inherent in maintaining existing levels of security for Manticoran merchant traffic in and through the Confederacy. Indeed, his arguments assume even more cogency when one considers the still greater costs associated with any expansion of our secured trading zones, patrol regions, and roving piracy suppression missions.

Where Commander Janofsky's analysis may break down, however, is in its intense focus on commerce protection as the Navy's primary mission. I would suggest that it would be appropriate for Her Majesty's Navy to consider the potential requirements of additional missions. Not to put too fine a point upon it, we in the Navy have narrowed our professional focus to a potentially dangerous degree, concentrating upon the mission in hand rather than stretching our imaginations to consider other challenges and threats.

The function of the Royal Manticoran Navy, as currently defined (see "Naval Security and the Star Kingdom's Fundamental Interests," Office of the First Space Lord, 01-15-249 AL) is to "(1) defend and secure the Manticore Binary system, its planets, its population, and its industrial base; (2) defend and secure the central terminus of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction and the industrial and economic base associated with it; (3) defend, protect, and expand Manticoran commerce and the Manticoran merchant marine; and (4) in conjunction with (3) enforce the Cherwell Convention for the suppression of the interstellar genetic slave trade.” It should be noted that, in fact, this formulation establishes that commerce protection comes only third in the hierarchy of the Navy's missions. In addition, it is, I think, significant that in Commander Janofsky's article the first two of these four objectives are taken as givens. That is, Commander Janofsky's emphasis is on how to provide for the third and (by extension) fourth of them, which appears to assume that the first three are already adequately provided.

That assumption may be in error.

At this time, Her Majesty's Navy’s wall of battle consists of eleven Thorsten-class battleships (the youngest 250 years old) and eleven Ad Astra-class dreadnoughts (the youngest of which is a century old and three of which are presently mothballed while awaiting long overdue repair and refit). The Thorstens, while fine ships in their day, are barely half the size of younger, more modern battleships, with far lighter armaments and much weaker defenses than their more recent counterparts, and as the Ad Astras’ delayed and badly needed refits indicate, even they are far from the equal of more modern units. We are currently in the process of building the first three Royal Winton-class dreadnoughts, which will be superior vessels for their tonnage when completed, and a single superdreadnought: Samothrace. This ship will also be a modern, first rate unit upon completion, but it is worth noting that the build number for the Samothraces was originally to have been a mere three ships . . . and — in the event — was actually reduced to only the name ship of the class with an “intent” to request additional units in later Naval Estimates.

While it is true that the Royal Wintons and the Samothrace will provide a significant boost in the defensive capacity of the Fleet against threats to the home system and, in conjunction with the Junction fortresses, to the security of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction, they can scarcely be classed as a true wall of battle when procured in such minute numbers. Moreover, it would appear that even less thought has been given to the development of proper doctrine for their employment than to developing a procurement policy which would maximize platform numbers and capability. Nor would it appear that any thought has been devoted at this time to their potential usefulness for power projection. One cannot avoid the conclusion that the mere existence of this relative handful of new and powerful ships is regarded as adequately providing for "the Star Kingdom's fundamental territorial security" and the protection of its subjects. The question is whether or not that faith is merited.

At this time, the Navy has clearly adopted the traditional tactical, operational, and strategic paradigm which has been developed over the past several centuries by the Solarian League Navy. It is scarcely surprising that the largest, most powerful, and most successful naval force in galactic history should be seen as an appropriate model from which lessons and best-practices approaches might be drawn. It might, however, behoove the Star Kingdom of Manticore to bear in mind that, as the paucity of our wall of battle demonstrates, we are not the Solarian League. Despite the unquestionable prosperity and generally very high standard of living which the Star Kingdom has attained due to the many favorable factors stemming from its possession of the Junction, the Star Kingdom remains a single-system polity. As such, it must lack the population base, the sheer economic and industrial breadth, and — above all — astrographic depth of the Solarian League. The unpalatable truth is that we have only a single star system to lose in any confrontation with any potential adversary.

The Star Kingdom overlooks that vulnerability at its peril. While three hundred T-years have passed since Axelrod of Old Terra financed the attempt to seize the Manticore Binary System before the Junction had been plotted, surveyed, and mapped, it is a lesson we would do well to remember. The very source of our wealth and industrial and economic power must make the Star Kingdom an attractive target to any aggressive adversary who believes he possesses sufficient combat power to take it. If that conclusion is granted, then the Navy's primary mission — "to preserve the Star Kingdom's fundamental territorial security" — requires the creation and maintenance of a genuine battle fleet capable of deterring any such ambition. Moreover, that battle fleet cannot, as is the case for the Solarian League Navy, depend upon sheer, irresistible numbers and the strategic depth available to the League. It must be demonstrably and visibly capable of defeating any attack not simply short of the Manticore Binary System's hyper limit, but short of the Junction itself. And that leads inevitably to a requirement on the part of that battle force of the capacity to project power against — to take the war to — that hypothetical aggressor.

In light of that requirement, I would submit that Commander Janofsky's eloquent appeal for additional light units, the doubling of our cruiser force, the establishment of formal naval stations and forward enclaves within Silesian territory, and additional tactical, training, and financial support for the Confederacy Navy, while fully logical from the traditional commerce-protection perspective should be reconsidered. The Royal Manticoran Navy's record in commerce protection is second to none. It is a mission we fully understand, one which we have the training, the doctrine, and — for the most part — the means to carry out. Indeed, what we do, we do very well.

What we have not done, and what we must do, is to acquire the capability to discharge the rest of our mission and our obligation. We must recognize that we cannot, as a single star nation of extraordinary wealth, afford to ignore the temptation we must present to less prosperous but militarily powerful star nations. As the ancient pre-space philosopher Machiavelli pointed out, gold will not always get you good soldiers, but good soldiers can always get you gold. The Star Kingdom, and the Junction, are that gold, and it will require good soldiers — or, in our case, a qualitatively superior navy — to protect it. We cannot continue to embrace a vague, poorly articulated strategic and tactical doctrine based on an uncritical acceptance of the Solarian model as the best and highest available to us. We must accept instead that we will not be able to match the numbers of platforms an adversary may bring against us, and we must capitalize upon the most precious tactical resource we have: the tradition of independent judgment and responsibility taking we have inculcated into our officer corps ever since the days of Edward Saganami and Ellen D’Orville. We must value that initiative properly, cultivate it, and integrate it into our operational and tactical doctrine at every level. And we must provide that initiative with the tools it requires — the innovative approach to weaponry and war-fighting technologies — to make it fully effective.

Initiative thrives upon exploitable asymmetrical relationships, upon the ability to oppose qualitative superiority to quantitative predominance. It is not sufficient for us to accept that the gradual, stable evolution of war-fighting technologies which has typified naval doctrine and capabilities for the past several centuries is inevitable. It is time that we began significantly investing in an aggressive search for new capabilities, innovative applications, to provide an officer corps trained to think for itself with levers it can use to offset its almost inevitable numerical inferiority when confronted by a powerful aggressor. Our wall of battle's ship strength must be increased, but it will never be possible for the Star Kingdom to produce, man, and maintain naval forces on the scale of a star nation such as the Solarian League or even the People's Republic of Haven. Since we cannot have the most numerous navy in space, we must instead strive to have the most efficient one.

Commander Janofsky's call to bolster our forward deployed presence in Silesia is clear, logical, and concise. Despite that, however, one cannot avoid the conclusion that from the perspective of our primary mission, it is time and past time for the Navy to look to its wall of battle and the acquisition of the true war-fighting capability absolutely essential for any single-star system nation to adequately defend itself against a much larger multi-star system nation.

(ED: Lieutenant Winton is currently assigned to HMS Wolverine, serving as her executive officer.)
— From "On the Event Horizon: Letters from the Deck Plates," Proceedings of the Royal Manticoran Navy Institute, Issue number 3675, 12/10/249 AL

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BTW, the ONI staffer who subsequently writes the letter refuting Lt. Winton's alarmist opinion with cool, sober judgment and authority is one Capt. Edward Janacek. [G]
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Re: Sneak Peek at the Honorverse Novella for the Companion
Post by Duckk   » Wed May 30, 2012 2:10 pm

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Captain E. Janacek — Lieutenant Winton's comments on Commander Janofsky's article (see "On the Event Horizon," Proceedings, No. 3675) are as perspicacious and insightful as one might readily anticipate from a member of his family and an officer whose career to date has demonstrated not only intelligence and ability but diligence and dedication. Nonetheless, there are certain pragmatic realities to which he has attached insufficient weight.

While it is true that the Navy's current mission formulation rightly emphasizes the security of the home system, it is also true that the actual work of the Navy requires a concentration upon the mission in hand, and the mission in hand is, in fact, commerce protection, as Commander Janofsky so ably pointed out. At this time, there is no realistic threat to the security of the Manticore Binary System itself or to the Manticoran Wormhole Junction. The completion of the Royal Winton class will provide the Navy with a powerful, flexible deterrent force capable of holding its own against any projected threat. Lieutenant Winton is quite correct to underscore the invaluable advantage of our officer corps' flexibility, initiative, and independence of thought. That advantage, coupled with the enormous increase in combat power represented by the Royal Wintons and HMS Samothrace and backed up by our older but still perfectly serviceable dreadnoughts, is fully adequate to the mission of protecting our home space and our fellow subjects' from any realistic threat. And while Lieutenant Winton is also correct to emphasize that initiative and operational innovation are most effective when provided with the tools they require to concentrate combat power as flexibly as possible, the diversion of funds needed for critical expansion of our commerce protection capabilities into problematic quests for some sort of technological "equalizer" must be considered a questionable policy. The Royal Manticoran Navy is well informed upon the capabilities of other navies, including that of the Solarian League itself. At this time, it would be both rash and, in this writer's opinion, quixotic to believe that what Lieutenant Winton correctly points out is a single-system polity could somehow single-handedly devise or discover a technological breakthrough (one hesitates to call it a panacea) which has hitherto evaded all of the galaxy's other naval powers.

The wall of battle we now possess — or will possess, when all units of the Royal Winton-class are completed — will be fully adequate to our immediate security needs. Those security needs may, indeed, change in the future, as Lieutenant Winton suggests, and at that time a re-examination of our posture and capabilities may well be in order. Surely, however, considering that no navy in history has ever possessed an unlimited budget and that the fiscal realities (which must include a realistic appreciation of Parliament's willingness to spend money) are unlikely to change in that regard in the case of Her Majesty's Navy, it makes little or no sense to spend scarce dollars on capital ships we do not presently need. Nor can we afford to expend dollars urgently required for pressing presence mission requirements in Silesia on problematical, ill-defined, unpredictable, and dubious efforts to somehow short-circuit or telescope the inevitable and steady evolution of war-fighting technologies which has been clearly established over the last three T-centuries.

With all due respect to Lieutenant Winton's persuasively and eloquently argued position, it is neither reasonable nor appropriate for a single star system of ultimately limited resources to divert its focus from the provision of the best-tailored and most operationally potent force it can practicall y provide in order to pursue hypothetical technological "equalizers" to be employed against a theoretical adversary fleet which does not even currently exist.


(ED: Captain Janacek is currently attached to the Admiralty, serving as Second Space Lord Havinghurst's deputy chief of staff for Intelligence.)

— From "On the Event Horizon: Letters from the Deck Plates," Proceedings of the Royal Manticoran Navy Institute, Issue number 3676, 13/10/294 AL
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