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How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centuries"?

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How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centuries"?
Post by Puidwen   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 1:57 pm

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I've never like the way that criticism of the solarian league is phrased by a lot of the characters. It sort of implies that the solarian league should have went out and pick a fight for the heck of it.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Theemile   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 2:38 pm

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Puidwen wrote:I've never like the way that criticism of the solarian league is phrased by a lot of the characters. It sort of implies that the solarian league should have went out and pick a fight for the heck of it.


Actually, the issues feeding this are really 3 fold.

1st, they never changed their manning paradigm after Prolong. Their leaders from 100 years ago are still in control. A nasty little aphorism in Physics is that Physics moves forward 1 funeral at a time - sadly, people who were educated 50 years ago, still have that as their base of knowledge, and tend to reject the most radical thinking that confronts that old knowledge with with new thoughts based in modern knowledge.

This thinking is still styming moving forward. the SLN is extremely conservative, and their leadership rejects any change or thinking outside of the image they learned a centuary ago. In addition, there is no mechanism for the youth to move up, so no one with new concepts (or the willingness to embrace them) is in any leadership position to embrace them.

2nd, the SLN is separated between Battlefleet and Frontier Fleet. Frontier Fleet has done battles recently (usually not fair ones, but still...). Few people move between the 2 and Battlefleet, with the nice powerful SDs that everyone seees, gets the majority of the funding. So no one with actual battle experience is in Battlefleet, which has left them in an echo chamber.

3rd, the SL has no near-peer adversaries as neighbors. Any battles are easily handled by Frontier Fleet, so there has been no need to roll out the big boys.... which adds to #2 -= no one in Battlefleet has gotten any real experience, and there has been no darwinian winnowing, which has kept the older admirals and political admirals in place.
******
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: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Theemile   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 2:56 pm

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Theemile wrote:
Puidwen wrote:I've never like the way that criticism of the solarian league is phrased by a lot of the characters. It sort of implies that the solarian league should have went out and pick a fight for the heck of it.


Actually, the issues feeding this are really 3 fold.

1st, they never changed their manning paradigm after Prolong. Their leaders from 100 years ago are still in control. A nasty little aphorism in Physics is that Physics moves forward 1 funeral at a time - sadly, people who were educated 50 years ago, still have that as their base of knowledge, and tend to reject the most radical thinking that confronts that old knowledge with with new thoughts based in modern knowledge.

This thinking is still styming moving forward. the SLN is extremely conservative, and their leadership rejects any change or thinking outside of the image they learned a centuary ago. In addition, there is no mechanism for the youth to move up, so no one with new concepts (or the willingness to embrace them) is in any leadership position to embrace them.

2nd, the SLN is separated between Battlefleet and Frontier Fleet. Frontier Fleet has done battles recently (usually not fair ones, but still...). Few people move between the 2 and Battlefleet, with the nice powerful SDs that everyone seees, gets the majority of the funding. So no one with actual battle experience is in Battlefleet, which has left them in an echo chamber.

3rd, the SL has no near-peer adversaries as neighbors. Any battles are easily handled by Frontier Fleet, so there has been no need to roll out the big boys.... which adds to #2 -= no one in Battlefleet has gotten any real experience, and there has been no darwinian winnowing, which has kept the older admirals and political admirals in place.


But how to fix this. Manticore was closer to the ideal than the SLN.

1) Manticore rotated their leadership - commanders moved up, admirals got rotated between active commands and administrative ones.

In addition, the Political leadership had mechanisms for senior military members to move to other roles in government, which kept movement in the upper ranks (while keeping that experience on the role)

2) Manticore had just 1 force, so actions with lighter units allowed experience to percolate up to it's Wallers, and the entire force was bloodied and expereinced.

3)The SLN should not have lived in a bubble - they should have reached out to other "friendly" countries with wallers and had wargames, Like the US does with Nato and RimPAC - just to get a good measure of what else is out there and where their limitations lie.
******
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: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Puidwen   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 3:42 pm

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Theemile wrote:
Puidwen wrote:This thinking is still styming moving forward. the SLN is extremely conservative, and their leadership rejects any change or thinking outside of the image they learned a centuary ago. In addition, there is no mechanism for the youth to move up, so no one with new concepts (or the willingness to embrace them) is in any leadership position to embrace them.


To a certain extent even Manticore suffered from this. Not all of the fighting with the Jeune ecole was because of the wild nature of some of their ideas.
Last edited by Puidwen on Tue Nov 15, 2022 2:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Jonathan_S   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 3:47 pm

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Puidwen wrote:I've never like the way that criticism of the solarian league is phrased by a lot of the characters. It sort of implies that the solarian league should have went out and pick a fight for the heck of it.

I don't think that's the way it was meant.

It's just that reality (in this case the reality of war) gets a final veto on your pet theories and doctrine. And so if a military has descended into wrongheadedness it can be very hard to work your way back out without a major disruption to awaken them to their wrongheadedness -- and war is the last and most painful of those possible awakenings.

(Though for a peacetime one, showing that warship design had gone accepted too many tradeoffs in pursuit of what was perceived to be desirable qualities, look to the 1930s Japanese 4th fleet incident; where foul weather pointedly demonstrated that their ships needed redesigning)


But real, honest, tests and wargames. Keeping up on what other militaries are doing and testing those against your systems. Setting up promotion boards that focus on the right criteria -- all of those can help keep a navy from straying that far into incompetence; and without having to fight a war.


Basically saying that they were so bad because they hadn't fought a war isn't saying that they should have just picked some fight to test their military. It's basically just a damning incitement of how incompetent and up their own asses they were -- basically that nothing short of getting a bunch of their captains and admirals killed or captures was likely to cause the navy to realize how bad things had gotten.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by kzt   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 3:49 pm

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Consider the performance of the Russian Federation Army in Ukraine. That's the SLN. Impressive at a distance. Capable of effective small unit actions. Totally incapable of fighting a war against an actual peer and relying on mass and savagery to prevail, but nobody really believes they could be THAT bad. But that's what decades of pervasive corruption and 'Vranyo' does. Nobody, including the generals, understands what the capability of the troops really is, or how they are equipped, how well trained or even how many there are. Every echelon, from the platoon to the Army lies about everything to make themselves look better.

They way to avoid this is unscheduled inspections and arrests for those found to be corrupt or lying, unscheduled exercises witnessed by senior officers who are not in the chain of command, and force on force exercises that are free play. Red Flag or NTC type. The latter is very damn expensive.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by kzt   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 3:52 pm

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Jonathan_S wrote:It's just that reality (in this case the reality of war) gets a final veto on your pet theories and doctrine. And so if a military has descended into wrongheadedness it can be very hard to work your way back out without a major disruption to awaken them to their wrongheadedness -- and war is the last and most painful of those possible awakenings.

RMN doctrine was really fond of battle cruiser raids into the rear. When they tried them against the Peeps they got slaughtered. But generally they had fairly sound doctrine and adopted fast when reality bit them in the ass.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Theemile   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 3:55 pm

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Puidwen wrote:
To a certain extend even Manticore suffered from this. Not all of the fighting with the Jeune ecole was because of the wild nature of some of their ideas.


As I said "Closer to the ideal", though not perfect.

David, of course, was reflecting historical arguments from the end of the age of sail/early days of Steam in the books. The historical Jeune Ecole argued for torpedo boats against expensive battleships in the years leading up to WW I. In an era without heavy warfare, the political admirals will rise to the top and young thinking will be stymied - sometimes for good, sometimes not. WWI and WWII proved them both right and wrong - It was just Billy Mitchell whose crystal ball was the clearest (and it still took 20 years and dozens of lost Battleships to bring everyone around.).

I miss some of David's discussions about the historical parallels (and perpendiculars) he included in the books.
******
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: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by kzt   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 4:01 pm

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Theemile wrote:It was just Billy Mitchell whose crystal ball was the clearest (and it still took 20 years and dozens of lost Battleships to bring everyone around.).

No, he was wrong too. High level bombing didn't work. The hit rate was well under 1%. Dive bombing worked somewhat, but torpedo bombers were what killed capital ships.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by tlb   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 4:11 pm

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Jonathan_S wrote:But real, honest, tests and wargames. Keeping up on what other militaries are doing and testing those against your systems. Setting up promotion boards that focus on the right criteria -- all of those can help keep a navy from straying that far into incompetence; and without having to fight a war.

In one of the books there is a particularly damning statement about how someone in the SLN has just decided that war gaming should include accurate force assessments and the possibility of losing.

Perhaps Manticore got bit by some of that, because there is this quote in chapter 64 of At All Costs:
Sebastian D'Orville's thoughts about the boredom of his assignment ran through the back of his brain like a bitter, distant echo as he strode onto HMS Invictus' flag bridge. Despite all his training, all his preparation, all the simulations and wargames and contingency planning, he suddenly discovered that he'd never really believed it would happen. That the Peeps would have the sheer, unadulterated nerve to actually attack the Star Kingdom of Manticore's home star system.
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