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

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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Erls   » Wed Nov 16, 2022 12:52 am

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How to avoid the fate of the SLN, or any other armed force, is to me simple: Constant un-announced exercises by which advancement is won.

Take, as an example, the American Army today. To my mind there is no reason that at least once per quarter a Regimental commander does not give his subordinates 24 hour notice that they are moving out for a 48 or 72 hour exercise: Here is a rough map of the terrain, here is a rough force total, and here are your objectives. You have 24 hours to plan, understanding than when you arrive on the ground you will get more detailed maps and less than 2 hours to shuffle your deployments before the contest commences. And then they go - for 2 or 3 days in exercise. After the exercise everyone is graded, and officers at all levels learn. And then 2-4 months later they do it again.

And then apply this at all levels. A Company commander should have the latitude (and be required) to order out his company for a 36 hour exercise monthly. Exercise the troops, test them, and force the officers to continually confront new and different challenges. Limit their weapons, limit their intel, expand their intel, etc...

Continual exercise to sharpen the mind and allow people to try out unique and out of the box concepts is key. If you try something against "the book" and it fails, you should dive into why it failed. If it succeeds, the whole team should examine why and assess whether it was a fluke or if "the book" has a blind spot.

Continual assessment that only punishes repeated failure - and rewards new thinking - is how a military avoids becoming the SLN. And the most important part of this is a military structure that prevents repeat failures from climbing the ranks. If an officer repeatedly and consistently fails at commanding a Company in exercises, that officer should never be placed in command (or in the chain of command) of a higher level fighting unit. That could well mean that a brilliant logistics officers is the nominal #3 in a Division - but if the #1 and #2 die then the #4 takes over instead of the #3.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by kzt   » Wed Nov 16, 2022 1:37 am

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Well, as far as I know there are not any actual regiments left in the Army. They turned them all into Stryker brigades or heavy brigades. There appears to be some reconsideration of the wisdom of that these days. But not enough to do anything yet.

But a critical event for company commanders, staff officers and Bn/Bg COs is your rotation at NTC/JRTC. Which you are expected to lose at due to the quality and home field advantage of 11 ACR and 1-509IN, but you are expected to try really damn hard.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Theemile   » Wed Nov 16, 2022 9:15 am

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kzt wrote:Well, as far as I know there are not any actual regiments left in the Army. They turned them all into Stryker brigades or heavy brigades. There appears to be some reconsideration of the wisdom of that these days. But not enough to do anything yet.

But a critical event for company commanders, staff officers and Bn/Bg COs is your rotation at NTC/JRTC. Which you are expected to lose at due to the quality and home field advantage of 11 ACR and 1-509IN, but you are expected to try really damn hard.


In the Honorverse this would probably turn into a "Red Fleet" - highly trained, elite squadrons that probably have studied other nation's doctrine and have modified ships to emulate foreign navies. It would move around from base to base exercising with the locals.
******
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 ThinksMarkedly   » Wed Nov 16, 2022 4:34 pm

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The 19th century PD SLN doctrine at a high level wasn't wrong, per se.

As David likes to remind us, quantity has a quality of its own. The SLN active Battle Fleet was bigger than all the other navies combined. The doctrine was that it would be able to hold on its own against even a technologically superior and better-skilled enemy by using that numeric superiority. The reserve would be reactivated if the superiority of the active fleet wasn't enough.

The problem was the implementation of that doctrine.

The Battle Fleet did not actually have any realistic exercise. Someone posted earlier in this thread that they should have had realistic exercises against other navies, but they didn't. They didn't think any navy was even on their ballpark, so they never thought this was a good idea. And to make matters worse, all exercises it did against itself were also "feel good" ones.

The SLN as a whole also failed to keep up with advancements. They fell for their Not Invented Here syndrome, ran afoul of their unwillingness to accept change for fear of making the existing fleet obsolete, and whatever little they noticed they failed to act on, as evidenced by a quarter of the reserve still being equipped with autoguns. Their intelligence service was also a joke and did not properly assess the advancements that others made, even if such assessments had been dismissed.

They also never exercised the reactivation of reserve ships, so they didn't have a plan to execute the doctrine they had come up with.

None of this was helped by the MAlign's infiltration. We don't know how incompetent the SLN would have been if left to its own. It's possible that some observations of the change of doctrine would have filtered to them. I can't think they'd have missed the existence of FTL comms or pod-laying superdreadnoughts. They may not have had a counter or their own implementations thereof in by the same time frame, but at least they'd have known this existed and would have started their own R&D.

It may not have been enough though. Even a very competent SLN that did acquire the intel, did start their SD(P) development and had launched their first ship by 1919, did manage to steal some Manticore and Havenite tech to duplicate, may not be enough. They didn't go through the crucible of war and no one is claiming they should pick fights, so they wouldn't have hardened & experienced crews, and wouldn't have weeded out the problems. The technological change that the Haven sector went through was unparalleled and could not have been predicted.

But a competent SLN wouldn't have picked the fight in the first place. Crandall would have known that 70 SD(s) wouldn't have been enough against prepared pod defences. She wouldn't have known about Apollo's efficiency (no one did!), but she would have known that she couldn't take Spindle without losing at least half her fleet. She might not have known that Spindle did have defences, so she may have been tempted to try, but in that case she would have had an escape plan and her report (or her successor's) would also have read and acted on by the Admiralty. Therefore, Filareta would never have launched Operation Raging Justice. The SLN top echelon would have told the civilian leadership that they couldn't win the war right now and said leadership, even the Mandarins, had better find a diplomatic solution or at a minimum stall for time.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by kzt   » Wed Nov 16, 2022 4:52 pm

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The Russian Federation Army's phase 1 assumptions and operations against Ukraine seem precisely what the SLN would have done.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by kzt   » Wed Nov 16, 2022 6:05 pm

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The pervasive corruption in the SLN has a series of effects similar to the effects of corruption in the RFA.

A: How you get less-effective and limited numbers of new gear:
A1) The SLN develops effective weapon and system designs, which are sent to favored vendors. Who suggest ways that they can be made more cheaply by reducing the capability of the new system by using less expensive components.

A2) The contracts are over-priced for these reduced effectiveness devices, and kickbacks are sent to the people involved, with most money going to the vendor and the SLN leadership.

A3) The total quantity ordered is never delivered, but the vendor is paid for the full quantity.

A4) At various levels officers sell these new systems to various 3rd parties, further reducing the quantity available.

A5) The support contracts are signed and paid, but no maintenance is actually done by the vendor outside of some spotlight units.

A6) Profit!

B: Pocketing operational money by buying cheap knockoff parts
B1) Properly built parts by the normal vendors are expensive.

B2) Most of the time it's impossible to tell whether a given part is made by that vendor or if it just looks like that part.

B3) So if you replace six $25 bolts used to hold the vertical stabilizer on your attack shuttles with $2.75 bolts made by Joe's knockoffs times ten thousand you can make a lot of money.

B4) While Joe's bolts might have certain mechanical dispensaries between the specs and what he provides, they probably are close enough, and how often will the difference between 50,000 PSI and 130,000 PSI really matter?

B5) Profit!

C: Staffing
C1) Marine battalions are supposed to have X people in them of Y rank. What if we neglected to promote people in reality but did on paper, and what if we neglected to transfer people off our books when they left the service, died or transferred?

C2) So your battalion is supposed to have 837 people but really has 624. The pay checks for the other 213 people get split between the BN CO, the company COs, the brigade CO and the pay people.

C3) Profit!

D: Reserve ships
D1) You have a lot of ships in the reserve that nobody ever looks at.

D2) What if we were to sell off those parts that are not obvious to spare part dealers, for people looking for parts for antique starships.

D3) So you pull out the electronics, the hatches, and all sorts of parts that nobody will miss. So while you have 3000 ships in reserve, about 2400 of them need a lot of critical parts replaced. Parts that nobody actually makes any more.

D4) Profit!
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Robert_A_Woodward   » Thu Nov 17, 2022 2:26 am

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There is something of an overstatement in section C below:

kzt wrote:The pervasive corruption in the SLN has a series of effects similar to the effects of corruption in the RFA.


C: Staffing
C1) Marine battalions are supposed to have X people in them of Y rank. What if we neglected to promote people in reality but did on paper, and what if we neglected to transfer people off our books when they left the service, died or transferred?

C2) So your battalion is supposed to have 837 people but really has 624. The pay checks for the other 213 people get split between the BN CO, the company COs, the brigade CO and the pay people.

C3) Profit!



Nothing in the Honorverse titles suggests that the Solarian League Marines had any of the corruption (and other malignancies) that the Solarian League Navy suffered from. Note that while they were nominally under the SLN ONI's section one (Operational Analysis), their intelligence officers were “a pretty independent outfit” (to quote Major Bryce Tarkovsky)
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Beowulf was bad.
(first sentence of Chapter VI of _Space Viking_ by H. Beam Piper)
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by kzt   » Thu Nov 17, 2022 3:17 am

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Pervasive corruption is pervasive. When the SD squadron CO (I think a two star in the SLN) wants his cut of the units pay what do you think happens? Do you think the LTC takes a principled stand? Do you think that Fleet Admiral Rajampet Kaushal Rajani will side with some marine LTC vs a Battle Fleet Admiral?

How do you think that Fleet Admiral Rajampet become fabulously wealthy? Besides shopping the SLN to the MA...
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by tlb   » Thu Nov 17, 2022 11:11 am

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Robert_A_Woodward wrote:Nothing in the Honorverse titles suggests that the Solarian League Marines had any of the corruption (and other malignancies) that the Solarian League Navy suffered from. Note that while they were nominally under the SLN ONI's section one (Operational Analysis), their intelligence officers were “a pretty independent outfit” (to quote Major Bryce Tarkovsky)

kzt wrote:Pervasive corruption is pervasive. When the SD squadron CO (I think a two star in the SLN) wants his cut of the units pay what do you think happens? Do you think the LTC takes a principled stand? Do you think that Fleet Admiral Rajampet Kaushal Rajani will side with some marine LTC vs a Battle Fleet Admiral?

How do you think that Fleet Admiral Rajampet become fabulously wealthy? Besides shopping the SLN to the MA...

Fleet Admiral Rajampet is not in the chain of command of Frontier Fleet nor probably of the Marines. Unlike Battle Fleet, both the Marines and Frontier Fleet were regularly used and put into situations where they had to excel. Undoubtedly there was corruption in both; but for FF and the Marines it would have come from cozy relationships with interstellar corporations, rather than measures that compromised their ability to apply force. The corporations are going to reward results, not empty pay slots.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Theemile   » Thu Nov 17, 2022 11:16 am

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tlb wrote:Fleet Admiral Rajampet is not in the chain of command of Frontier Fleet nor probably of the Marines. Unlike Battle Fleet, both the Marines and Frontier Fleet were regularly used and put into situations where they had to excel. Undoubtedly there was corruption in both; but for FF and the Marines it would have come from cozy relationships with interstellar corporations, rather than measures that compromised their ability to apply force. The corporations are going to reward results, not empty pay slots.


Actually Rampajet was head of the Armed Forces, the heads of BF, FF and Marines reported to him. Kingsford was head of FF and reported to Rampajet prior to Rampajet's pistol sucking episode.
******
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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