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Author Topic: AU: Der Tag (The Day)  (Read 54216 times)

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #330 on: 16 March 2019, 00:54:17 »
Wow! Awesome and thank you!!!

Enjoy!
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #331 on: 27 April 2019, 00:38:45 »
Everything in Moderation; Why Standardization Fails

The RedBall Regulator (The Official Magazine of the Regulan Service Corps)

Volume 116 Issue 5 October10th, 3098

An article by Master Logistician Warrant Officer 1st Class Carmelita Vincent

   It doesn’t take a veteran Logistician or a Master Tech to take one look at any given spare parts warehouse in the Principality; or even just a selection of the seven different common patterns of Medium Left-hand Actuators and think to him or her-self; there HAS to be a better way!
   
   Our warehouses and depots aren’t in any way unique in this regard; across human occupied space, armies and outfits large and small still use the Mendellson Logistics Organization scheme to sort and organize the vast array of parts; new, spare and salvage that every military organization must maintain in order to support troops equipped with dozens of different basic types of similar fighting machines, be they Assault Rifles or Assault ‘Mechs. It handles all our other supplies as well.

   Mendellson; patron saint of logisticians everywhere (having ascended to this lofty position upon his death, unopposed and by acclaim) dictated a comparatively simple system of rules of thumb which guide our own daily operations, as well as those all across the Inner Sphere and Beyond. In addition, he also created designs for the layout of very large depots and warehouses; complete with special shelves, moving overhead cranes, narrow-gauge rail lines, environmental controls and systems for the segregation and storage of disparate dangerous goods. The Mendellson Scheme dictates a system of bare and fluid shelves which are to be constantly emptied and re-organized, feeding a root or delta-structure of smaller, subordinate depots down to the company level; thus, ensuring that techs have the parts they need and no others. Naturally; one cannot long work in the Service and Support trades; be he a truck-driver or she an AsTech and not be confronted with the limitations and very human failures of the system.

   
   Still; one must admit that it is impressive. All the more so for being devised by a man who never existed, as such.

   For those who don’t know the story; the short version is that the problem of diverse spare parts and ammunition inventories crippling the armies of the succession wars was tackled with aplomb by a young Capellen doctoral student named Sharon Ming. Ming’s solutions were so complete, so elegant; so far-reaching and so obviously superior to those in use during the 2nd Succession War that their merit was obvious to even the simplest of the Confederation’s political and bureaucratic apparatchiks. Its enactment was considered so vital to Capellan State security that the Strategios opted to disguise the origins of Ming’s work in order to ensure it’s smooth and natural acceptance; well-aware of the power of state bureaucrats to ****** any and all progress which they; personally, opposed. A wunderkind nobody barely out of short pants would never do with the future of the Confederation at stake!

   In one of the most farcical episodes of human history; Ming was awarded her Doctorate, then she and her family were kidnapped and their official past erased by the Maskirovka and they lived out their lives as prisoners---comfortable prisoners, but prisoners nonetheless---on the world of Brazen Heart. Here Doctor, later; Professor Ming, worked on diverse problems for the Confederation at the direct behest of the Chancellor; urban planning, transportation networks, production methods and JumpShip schedules. As an obviously gifted expert in systems and systemology; she was well-placed to tweak and adjust various aspect of life in the Confederation, up to and including revisions to the patterns of life of the Prison which maximized the life-expectancy-to-resource-consumption efficiency of the population.

   Meanwhile; the Maskirovka created the false identity of Mendellson as a senior, but almost-unknown bureaucratic hero; toiling away in obscurity on the issue at hand in his spare time, between courageous 12-hour shifts behind a desk in the Sub-Ministry of Means. This pedigree established; they went so far as to brainwash and condition a random prisoner; also, from Brazen Heart (and whose true identity will likely never be known) to believe he WAS Mendellson; promoted him, awarded him a medal and installed him in a *more* senior, but obscure and specialized position in the Ministry of the Military which had never existed before and from which he never emerged. He died or was quietly assassinated by the Maskirovka three years later and was granted a state funeral. Or alternatively, following a few public appearances; he was liquidated and his death only announced, with deep regret, several years after his meteoric rise.

   Meanwhile; the cover-story enacted by the Maskirovka went ahead at full speed, steamrolling all resistance under a tidal-wave of official approval, patriotic fervor and a 12-part Tri-Vid miniseries. This allowed what turned out to be a remarkably competent and able incarnation of the Strategios to implement “The Mendellson Scheme” completely in less than 20 years, despite active interference which can now be attributed to ROM.

   In practice, the efficiency of the supply, maintenance and quartermaster branches of the CCAF increased year by year into the mid 2900s, where it finally plateaued. However, as this coincided closely with the worsening of the overall logistical situation across human space, a casual observer could be forgiven for not noticing. In addition; the unusual publicity and the distinct changes to the infrastructure of the CCAF’s support services which heralded the adoption of the so-called “Mendellson Scheme” was impossible to hide beyond the borders of the Confederation. And before the end of the 2nd Succession War; the full details of Doctor Ming’s work were in the hands of all the Major Powers and the Magistracy of Canopus.

   The true story behind the system we all know, live, loath and love today was not disclosed until it was accidentally revealed in 3043 during a security review of the then more-suspect Strategios conducted at the behest of the equally dubious Chancellor; Romano Liao. But the Capellan’s marketing of Professor Ming’s work was so successful that it remains known by the name “Mendellson” to this day.

   But does it really work?


   Well, it can.


   Ming provided seemingly for everything; there are even contingencies and courses of action for the introduction and sourcing of custom-made parts and those unique to one specific model; such as the Gyro of the Clint-series. What she forgot though were small things, easily overlooked; such as human nature and frailty.

   The Mendellson Scheme is designed to work on a shoestring in order to keep logistics from being a self-reinforcing budgetary feedback-loop; an inescapable black hole sucking in ever-increasing resources, time and manpower until the state itself collapses under the strain of trying to provide spare barrels for Sperry-Browning machineguns to the Chesterton Reserves. It lays out clearly and forcefully that the system can be run at all levels and is in fact; best run, by as few personnel as possible, in order to ensure that the “loops” of the system remain small enough for everyone to remain keyed into the realities and local quirks of the system as it is to exist in practice. Larger staffs lead to more confusion as more hands on the process lead to more ad-hoc quick-fixes and short-term or localized modifications to suit immediate needs. So; no Mendellson Warehouse in practice matches the textbook pattern 100%, but each member in each section knows the layout they use like the back of their hand. The intention is to keep things at the level where the experienced bin-rat can tell you on asking if they have a K-4 Actuator in stock and if the 1D-Series heatsinks and pallets of StarSlab-4 have come in yet. They can then retrieve each item in moments or; ideally detail the automated system to do so. There are even backup systems using human labour; including slaves to replace the automation and runners to replace the pneumatic message tubes for tighter budgets, lower tech-infrastructures and attrition.

   But in practice, people make mistakes. The new guy mis-stocks the Martel Lasers as Martell Model 5s. Corporal Quan gets sick and Trooper Neil has to fill in. This person doesn’t know that C-Company of the 35th’s Quartermaster is a malfing idiot with a well-connected father and when he asks for Devastator Tracks; he means Demolisher and will blame us when he gets the wrong stuff after we broke our backs getting it for him. Lieutenant Dortmann is having a bad day and doesn’t notice the data-chip with the most-recent manifest fall behind his desk; the new-one he makes from scratch using his notes omits the Shipment of Holly LRM parts that had to be stored out in Hanger 9 until we clear space. Sergeant Walters means well; but 40 tons of uniform parts become so much food for the local wildlife when kept in waxed cardboard tri-walls under the modular tents she had erected out in staging area 4 to house them during the summer humid season on Zion. Austere Field Storage Site 14 is only approved for certain heavy and low-value materials used in the construction of field works. A shipment of Battlefield-Grade Armour Plating is worth the weight of the artificial diamonds found in its compositional layers to local scrap-bandits. The entire warehouse staff, except one new guy who forgot his hat that day; is killed in a tragic boating accident during the annual unit barbecue and none of the replacements will be able to find anything ever again.

   You know? Normal, every-day stuff.

   Listen; if you can’t take a joke, then you should never have joined the military and you should get out before you’re institutionalized and forever unfit for human company.

   But, even when everything goes according to plan; the system has its weaknesses. For instance: under Ming’s procedures for spare parts and salvage considered of strategic significance; stockpiles are to be concentrated in one location for centralized control and distribution. This can backfire; such as when House Davion raided Carver V during the Succession Wars and made off with practically House Liao’s entire remaining supply of Atlas Spare parts and most of their current run of Victor components. However; from a QuarterMaster’s perspective, this policy is the only way to ensure an adequate accounting is maintained of valuable items and under which an acceptable level of control can be exercised over the apportionment of such scarce commodities.

   So, naturally; those of us who struggle with it have to ask ourselves; is there not a better way?


   Often; the supposed answer lies in standardization; a massive effort to limit the varieties of equipment in use by an organized military force. And why not? It’s been done before! Even the primitive pre-space armies of Terra mostly managed to keep the variety of bullets and battle-tanks in service to an absolute minimum. The vaunted SLDF deployed whole Regiments of identical BattleMechs. Most recently; House Kurita, as late as the war of ’39 deployed Panthers by the Company and the 4th Succession War saw numerous powers fielding unity-companies of mechs such as the Marauder often enough. The infamous Cochraine’s Goliaths was mainly equipped with this one, odd type of ‘Mech and the Dread Kathil Uhlans’ main strength was in Companies and Battalions formed of lances of like-modeled BattleMechs.

   One has to ask; how did we end up in this mess (insert picture: Aftermath of the Great Skye earth quake of 3054: Donegal Guards Warehouse internal view; collapsed shelves and a sea of mixed loose parts).

   And why doesn’t anyone find us a way out of it? (Picture unrelated: A young FedCom Leftenant attempts to navigate her way out of the swamp she is knee-deep in; while an instructor looks on, patiently).

   The rot began with the deployment of the old Terran Alliance Global Militia to Terra’s disparate colony worlds. Having only in living memory finally and effectively subsumed the multivariate armed forces of the old Western Alliance into a cohesive and above-all *uniform* whole; the Alliance Global Militia found it impossible to supply it’s troops from Terra and local commanders had to make-work and make-do with whatever was on hand in the form of what the economy could provide. Inside five years; the Militia went from having one standard sidearm to no standards whatsoever and from one modular rifle for all their soldiers to no less than four officially-approved models and four more which were in widespread, unofficial use and circulation. Among these rifles were no less than five different calibres of ammunition. Many soldiers had re-adopted Sub Machineguns and Shotguns into Militia use for the first time in a century, simply because they were on-hand, locally available and of perceived value in their operations.

   The later Hegemony Armed Forces fought back with a more robust supply system and, starting with the Mackie; a blank slate and truly massive industrial power.

   Just imagine those early days; less than two-dozen models of fighting vehicle of all makes in service and one; just *one* ‘Mech.

   But it’s easy to keep to a standard when there is only one model of something. It was too good to last and it wouldn’t. Advancing technology soon rendered early Mackies first obsolescent, then obsolete. And quickly enough, there were four times as many models of Mackie in service and most of those had non-compatible parts as improved processes quickly rendered old stocks to the condemned list.

   Rapid developments quickly highlighted the shortcomings of the first BattleMech and while the Mackie would remain in production until the Amaris Coup, it would soon be joined by dozens of other types in service designed to supplement and then supplant the already-venerable design.

   While massed units of single mech-types would remain a staple as the HAF transitioned into the Royal core and general cadre of the SLDF; disparate types were increasingly incorporated into parent formations, first as adjuncts with useful assets to employ and later as supplements and replacements when supplies could not keep up.

   So-called “Unity” formations as large as reinforced regiments would persist up until the fighting against the Usurper’s minions took its toll, but the breakdown was inevitable anyways and had been evident for over a century or more, depending on where you looked.

   When the order of battle has once been modified to swap out a lance of WarHammers for one of FireStarters; that’s one thing, but once the CO is getting a unique mech; called a “Marauder”, which is optimized for command duties, then it naturally follows that his assigned Gunslinger-Bodyguard needs a Shootist to protect him. Why? The same reason as the Commanding General and his Senior NCO need the latest model of boots first. From there, it’s all downhill; once the first exception has been made, decline becomes inevitable.

   Naturally; it goes without saying that it was easier to support and maintain ‘Mechs by the Regiment and Battalion. But the problem was always that when you group mechs by type, you also group their vulnerabilities and you edge out potential advantages offered by other types. And as we all know; when losses mount substitutes make it into the system. What do you do when you just can’t *get* a 12th Lancelot? Will this Rifleman do? It’s going to have to.

   These two factors are what kept the Federated Commonwealth from actually moving forward with standardizing on the Valkyrie and Commando; like they wanted to as their “Standard Light ‘Mechs” after 3050. Field trials indicated that Commando/Valkyrie units were too slow for highly mobile, post-3040s light ‘Mech warfare and too ammunition-dependant for long-term raiding missions. Losses on the Clan front required other manufacturers to step up; all the while Coventry Metal Works and Corean both refused to license other manufacturers for their products or help them set-up production of their flagship models. Instead; they demanded, jointly in 3053, that the FedCom Government grant them low-interest loans to buy-out competing light ‘Mech lines before they would be re-tooled to produce their own designs. The Archon-Prince baulked at the demand and instead reduced procurement of CMW and Corean products as much as possible consistent with the demands of the War Effort from FY 3055 up to the Civil War. This turned out to not be very much of a hit afterall, but nonetheless it finally put paid to the notion of a pair of “Standard” light mechs and the boards of both companies felt the pinch from FY 3056 onwards.

   We see a lot less of this problem with tank units for the simple reason that tanks are and always have been easier to produce and source than BattleMechs. While numerous tank-types went out of regular production during the Succession Wars; winding up with a ‘Mech on your roster that needed parts which were either unavailable, out of production or from another, likely hostile realm (or a combination of the above) was not only commonplace; in a Company of 3 Lances of 4 ‘Mechs each, it was the norm.

   So, while it was always possible to form a unit of mainly one-model of fighting machine or select units of a particular model-on demand; such as the Capellans did for the Pella II campaign, or as in the various companies of Halsten’s Brigade, it’s always easier to support with either a dedicated supplier or easier to come by gear.

   Halsten could count on easily replenishing any losses he suffered, due to the relative commonality of the tanks he employed. Barber’s Marauder IIs, while they lasted; had a contractual “in” with Blackwell to keep them in parts and whole mechs for what was otherwise a fairly exclusive model for many years. Whereas House Liao found themselves unable to resupply Barton’s Battalion after their losses on Graham VI and had to break up the famous assault formation when it could not be reconstituted. This was because they lacked established and robust supply lines; even had they the firm relationship they would much later come to establish with the Taurians; this now-common periphery source of Marauders was not up to the supplying the numbers required by House Liao, in addition to their domestic requirements. Indeed; the Taurians were just barely able to offer a handful of heavy mechs a year on the boutique export market; mainly these were bought-up by mercenary companies.

   But no matter what you try to do, something will always come up; it’s the way of the universe. Just as with our much vaunted and feared Mendellson Scheme; human nature, bad luck and sudden illness will always be with us. So, what separates the good bin rats from bad?

   
   From Private no-class to Lord High Marshall; it’s the ability to adapt and make do. Too much standardization gets in the way of that. The more stringent your standards are, the harder it is to get on with the job with a substitute.

   But there is some sign that, at least for a while, human organizations seem to have internalized a few of the positive lessons behind non-standardization following the Jihad.

   Once the dust of the fighting had settled, there were renewed calls to cut the costs of standing armies and rationalize production by standardizing on a limited number of models of all kinds of military equipment. Indeed; this would have dove-tailed nicely with the nascent Republic’s aspirations of shuttering as many manufacturers of weaponry as possible; especially the small, difficult to police ones; such as the underground RetroTech Mech lines setup on various worlds.

   But after so many years fighting the Word of Blake, no-one; least of all the veteran fighting men and women of the Inner Sphere and Periphery had any patience left for more pointless squabbling. And when the various studies devolved into deadlock inside of weeks, they were universally shut-down and never re-convened. Even the RAF rejected the concept officially in 3090.

   The simple fact was that after having seen the WOB destroy factory after factory, there were very few surviving Quartermasters-General who were willing to tolerate seeing their supply lines further consolidated into fewer vulnerable and inevitably centralized targets. Fewer still were those still in uniform as the drawdowns went on through the 90s up to the present day who have been willing to see a model of weapons system which saw them through decades of war vanish from the ranks of the homeland they fought so hard to save. For every MechWarrior too attached to see his ride become a museum piece (naturally; no one consulted the fighterjocks, tankers or BattleArmour troops. Why bother?), there were three more who’d had their lives saved by a lancemate in this or that ‘Mech. For each of those there was some hoary old commander’s anecdote about how a key capability espoused by this particular model had turned the tide and saved the day.

   A general consensus has now emerged, resulting in the dazzlingly inefficient procurement policies we see today, borne from the baises of the veterans of the Jihad. No-one is arguing that these biases are not well-founded, however. Whatever else it did; the Jihad, or 5th Succession War, as some prefer to think of it, has produced the most militarily experienced generation since the throes of the First Succession War.
   While low-rate production of a vast array of everything from small arms to AeroSpaceCraft may strain the recovering economies more than any other program delivering the same quantity of materiel, contrary to some opinions; the Mendellson Scheme is nowhere near it’s breaking point. That high-water mark was last touched upon during the Word’s multivariate campaigns of entrophy-based warfare when hundreds of warehouses across known space were targeted for raids and destruction on levels not seen since the mid 2800s. And it was never the loss of material that hurt us; so much as the disorganization and loss of skilled and experienced manpower. After 3067, anywhere in the support services of any realm, a comment along the lines of; “Without Johnson, we’ll never find those power converters again…” Would be commonplace. Twenty years later and Mendellson Fluid Shelf Reorganizations still turn up all sorts of things long-lost, by the gross. And this is why we do stock-taking boys and girls; because someday the base housing acreage might get hit by a neutron bomb and we all need to know the drills to be able to turn our warehouses inside out and get them back into operation, pronto; when we need to.

   Once in a while, however; someone asks the opposite question, either of the Mendellson Scheme or the inverse of Standardization: “You can handle a vast inventory of different parts, but can you exclude them as well? If standardization represents one extreme, then what is the reverse? Is *that* possible?”

   Well, let me ask you; “When was the last time you saw a Celestial? And no; a Yao Lien does not count.”

   That’s right; hardly ever and not with a House unit. Why? Because they were considered tainted in the public eye mainly. In addition, it would have been prohibitive to refit them for normal, non-Manei Domini pilots to operate effectively. As a result; any salvaged Celestials in the Service of what became the RAF or any of the House or Periphery militaries have been deliberately removed from service. Where examples were held, they have been cannibalized for any useful components and either scrapped completely or are being expended as range targets. Only a few have been retained as trophies or museum pieces.

   Ming’s notes attribute the Mendellson procedures for this contingency as being directly patterned off of the Kuritan program for the expunction of the Von Rohrs/Hebi from the DCMS, following the deposing of the former ruling family. Details of this program would have been known from the well-known retention of a small collection of Hebi BattleMechs by the Confederation for use as an occasional Honour-Guard for visiting Kuritan dignitaries during times of ill-favour.

   I won’t pretend to expect that this essay on the subject will do so much as take the edge off the next breakroom debate on the subject, rather; it is my greatest wish as a bin-rat to see this article used as source material by older, more experienced fellow travellers of the Service and Support trades. To be a touch-stone and a point of reference to head-off the next genius supply tech or AsTech, so they can get back to the more important work of memorizing the ever-shifting contents and crannies of their given warehouse.

“RedBall Forward!”
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

marauder648

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #332 on: 27 April 2019, 09:47:04 »
Absolutely wonderful, a brilliant bit of writing on that most boring, yet most important of war fighting capabilities.  Logistics!
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DOC_Agren

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #333 on: 27 April 2019, 10:41:58 »
Logistics..  what it takes to win..   but so boring to play!!! 
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #334 on: 27 April 2019, 23:27:39 »
I wanted to answer a rather critical question about the universe, in what I hope turned out to be a plausible way.
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

mikecj

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #335 on: 30 April 2019, 15:48:37 »
That was great!
There are no fish in my pond.
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beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #336 on: 25 May 2019, 21:33:35 »
I'm really glad you guys have enjoyed Der Tag so far, especially this last (for now) article. The plan now is to post new weapons, gear and TROs while I proof-read the almost 800-page "Lint trap" of fluff I have accumulated so far.

Keep your eye's pealed; The Day Is Coming!
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

marauder648

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #337 on: 26 May 2019, 02:15:07 »
800 pages..good lord! I look forwards to it!
Ghost Bears: Cute and cuddly. Until you remember its a BLOODY BEAR!

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #338 on: 26 May 2019, 08:52:06 »
800 pages..good lord! I look forwards to it!

Nothing more or less than the sum total of what is posted here. I've still got working excel documents you've never seen for developmental stuff.

Adds up though, huh?
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

marauder648

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #339 on: 26 May 2019, 08:59:12 »
Nothing more or less than the sum total of what is posted here. I've still got working excel documents you've never seen for developmental stuff.

Adds up though, huh?

Tell me about it! My Hells Horses project grew in size and scope and it was a case of sitting down and going "Oh lawd!" when you realise what you've done :D
Ghost Bears: Cute and cuddly. Until you remember its a BLOODY BEAR!

truetanker

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #340 on: 28 May 2019, 19:58:03 »
Same here with my incomplete Stone Lions BT to AS conversion...

Without delving into what if's, pretty much everything I know has been cross referenced and that info equals an emptiness void. A very big tangible what if... in other words, I'm out of plausible information other than the basics already known about them.

So in retrospect, I has to wait for next time jump... and/or TRO that has some Homeworld info.

TT
Khan, Clan Iron Dolphin
Azeroth Pocketverse
That is, if true tanker doesn't beat me to it. He makes truly evil units.Col.Hengist on 31 May 2013
TT, we know you are the master of nasty  O0 ~ Fletch on 22 June 2013
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beachhead1985

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Planning Armageddon
« Reply #341 on: 29 June 2019, 13:13:38 »
Key to Der Tag is an element of realism in the military SF vein.

It would stretch credibility to layout a story wherein my OC faction conquors the entire Inner Sphere and that's the problem facing the SLDFiE after the end of the Jihad. On paper any conflict with the RAF has to contend with their allies, some more willing than others. Some of this I was able to deal with as part of the layout of the establishment of the 3rd League Itself.

The Republic is shorn of the Nova Cats, the Bears are more neutral, the Draconis Combine is a state torn between Honour and Friendship. The former Free World's League is much more their own club, in the Der Tag universe. The Capellans remain as hostile to the Republic as ever.

A conflict with the Republic will haver to contend with the Federated Suns, Lyran Commonwealth, some support from independants; the ARDC/CWiE and others. There will be some support from forces within the Andurian Pact and a variable ammount of support from the Draconic Combine, in addition to the formidable might of the RAF, itself.

This is where writing comes in.

But something else occured to me.

Pick you preferred flavour; do you call it friction, or simply attrition? By 3099, this factor significantly favours the SLDFiE in one factor above all others. By 3099; the Republic has effectively cleansed the last remnants of the MechWarrior family from their borders. This sub-culture has remained at it's size at the end of the Jihad or declined in the Republic's Allied Nations.

Picture a peacetime military. They take in a certain ammount of MechWarrior recruits every year, well below their full capacity. Each fall the Academies are training 20-80% of thier full capacity. Now picture a time of turmoil and uncertainly; you might train more MechJocks; say more like 50-90% of a given academy's capacity. From ATOW; we know that it takes from 2-4 years and normally more like 3-4 to train a MechWarrior. Say more like 2 if you want to rush things and *just* teach the cockpit skills.

A war footing will put your Academies at 100-150% of their comfortable operating capacity. Great.

But it's going to be 2-4 years before you feel the impact of those changes, you do realize? Even if you rush your current crop out the door; your units will be well below strength before their green replacements begin to arrieve in numbers which can make up their TO&E strength.

This is just representative of the problem of other trades.

The 3rd League made sure to set up rat lines to get as many MechWarrior Families and Proto-Families (Hey; I'm Julie...I found this BattleMaster...It's mine, now, right?) out of the nascent Republic as possible. By 3099, this is beginning to bear fruit; as each year; the SLDFiE can count on a small, but non-trivial number of recruits coming to the colours who already have their high-impact skillsets under their belts. This is over and above the normal Academy graduates and in addition to the foriegn volunteers which both sides will see some of.

What this means is that, militarily speaking; all other things being equal: there is a ceiling on the length of this conflict of about 3-4 years; afterwhich the RAF will be on a much better footing in terms of replacements than in previous years. This will be less noticable in the 1-2 year timeframe, with a sweetspot in the 2-3 year range. Push too fast and hard and the conflict could damage the SLDFiE as much as the RAF or more. Fail to achieve sufficient progress in the above timelines and what few advantages the SLDFiE possess begin to rapidly fall away. And that's just if all things stay equal and go to plan.

Neither the RAF or SLDFiE is an conscript army. The SLDFiE possesses a deeper poor of manpower from it's mobilization system, but it's not infinite in terms of bodies or duration of use; there are costs for removing too much manpower, especially of certain types from the economy for too long. The advantage of their employment has to be weighed against the expected duration of the war.

And the longer the war goes on, the greaterthe likelihood that the Republic's Allies will mobilize, especially as the war reaches it's final stages.

Does anyone else hear hoofbeats?
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

DOC_Agren

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #342 on: 30 June 2019, 16:54:21 »
and when you start playing with your Academies training are you leaving out things which in end justify the means but leaves you with a bunch of Mechwarriors who aren't capable of leading lances never mind a Company.  Or aren't trained there to use combined arms methods and become more like how the DC used "Combined Arms" during the Clan Invasion as mobile speed bumps.  And the longer the conflict goes on, the more of these "officers" end up with command slots, they should not get.
Then comes the point can you put your Academies back in good order when the war ends? 
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #343 on: 30 June 2019, 21:59:48 »
and when you start playing with your Academies training are you leaving out things which in end justify the means but leaves you with a bunch of Mechwarriors who aren't capable of leading lances never mind a Company.  Or aren't trained there to use combined arms methods and become more like how the DC used "Combined Arms" during the Clan Invasion as mobile speed bumps.  And the longer the conflict goes on, the more of these "officers" end up with command slots, they should not get.
Then comes the point can you put your Academies back in good order when the war ends?

Oh yeah. Any rapid training program is going to come back to bite you sooner or later. I picture a revitalized merc trade after the war as hundreds of ex-RAF mechjocks who never "fit-in" with their more thuroughly educated peers, leave to try their hand at the life.
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

Zureal

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #344 on: 10 July 2019, 23:34:07 »
I do love all the in depth explinations

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #345 on: 11 July 2019, 00:12:52 »
I do love all the in depth explinations

Thank you! I am trying to use my pedantic nature for good, rather than evil.
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #346 on: 15 July 2019, 22:19:33 »
Late last night it occured to me that I have failed to fully put a human face on this story. I should work on that with some Dramatis Personae.

Devlin Stone

Basically as we know him in canon, save for his public relationship with David Lear. In 3099; Stone is a fearsome presence physically and in personality. He's very much as we meet him during the Jihad, but the scars of war and imprisonment have faded under a mantle of experience which now spans war, peace and politics; all of which he handles with aplomb. This is the Stone we basically missed out on withthe Dark Age; here he hasn't been forced to serve decades past his prime in a situation where he and only he can hold things together, alone.

This is the man who would, in another universe; cement the legend of an irreplacable Generalissimo to eclipse all who came before him. In 3099, Exarch Devlin Stone is a frightening factor in any arena. He brings to the table everything you could want in a Leader and it's this more than anything that makes the Republic possible. The only problem is that Devlin suffers from the flaw of seeing himself as an imposter playing a role he secretly isn't equal to, on a stage whose magnitude terrifies him. He also suffers the immense guilt of the time he is away from his ailing Husband; David Lear.

David Lear

The David Lear I got to know in the pre-Jihad novels still managed to be a disappointment, even in light of the telegraphing of his character that took place in the combination of his parents personalities. He's a little different when we meet him in 3099.

David Lear is so much more than Devlin Stone's Husband. But by 3099, he is also much less. He has his good days; when he's still one of the most brilliant minds of his day; the architect of this or that agreement; the author of this groundbreaking paper. But he has his bad days too; when he thinks he's back in the Jihad fighting the Word again; or worse: The Camps. Only Devlin can really help him then and the demands of a yet-higher duty often keep the two of them apart.  The Good Days are still much more common than the bad days by New Year's Eve, 3099. But stress seems to accelerate his symptoms and that will not last.

In contrast to Stone as a man at the apex of his powers; Lear is a man whose best days are already behind him. He is a figure who is less openly adored than his Husband, but more deeply admired in many circles. The David Lear of the Der Tag Universe is a polymath; the perfect combination of his mother's and father's intellect and physical prowess. His experiences during the Jihad really did a number on him physically; but those same experiences sharpened his mind to an incredible degree.

Lear holds doctorates in multiple disciplines; a respected peer in architecture and medecine and the leading mind of his age in philosophy and political theory. But while known first and foremost as an intellectual; he is also a man of the people and a well-known humanitarian.
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #347 on: 15 July 2019, 23:42:55 »
Brigadier General Tricia Allard-Liao

This is Melissa Allard-Liao's Daughter, her father is not generally known.

Tricia could have been anthing a young girl might want; a model, an actress or a star athelete. She chose all three and then for an encore took the suggestion that she'd make prime recruiting-poster material to heart and joined the RAF.

She is very young for her command, but tutored by her Grandfather; Kai in all things military she proved an extraordinary apt student. She possesses all the natural talent of her line, but she lacks the crippling self-doubt that so consumed Kai throughout his life. Tricia is a woman who has been told all her life that she can do anything she puts her mind to, believes it and has a lot of life experience to back up the assertion.

She is highly intelligent, confident and charming; besides beautiful, graceful and a natural MechWarrior. She is built like you'd expect; on the tall side, long-limbed and athletic. She makes a servicable commander, but her Uncle David's influence has seen her pushed through the ranks much faster than her actual skills merit. In practice; she falls back a great deal on her people skills and natural smarts to deal with situations others would tackle with years of book learning and decades of experience.

She hasn't been in command of the newly-formed and un-blooded XV Hastati Sentinels very long, but the RAF and the republic expect great things of her. From all appearances they could not have chosen better shoulders to seat that burden on.

Paladin Hugh Chretien



Yup. I did this.

Hugh Chretien is a senior RAF officer; one of the high-ranking and influential Paladins. He is a former ComGuard Officer; one of the few to side with Devlin Stone following the Jihad. He was born in the Federated Suns, but it's not generally known where.

He is first and formost an idealist of he best kind; a man who steadfastly believes in what he fights for, but not blinded by it. He is fully awake to the shortcomings of not just the Republic, but it's leaders. However, despite this; his fervent belief is that the Republic represents the best possible hope for the future of humanity. He is suspicious of the cult of personality on which so much in the Republic pivots, but thinks that given enough time, it can be ironed out; so long as men such as himself can remain in positions of influence to see it happen. As such; his next loyalty is to his fellow Paladins. To what extent this includes personal loyalty to Devlin Stone is not known, but he chose to follow him for a reason, afterall.

Chretien is a man of taste and hard-won skill. he appreciates the finer things in life, but mainly what he calls the "impractical things"; music, art, poetry and theatre and much less so fashion and fine drink. He takes part in most of what he enjoys and does very well in most of it. He is a very able MechWarrior and a favoured sparing partner of the Exarch with 'mech, knife or sword. He usually beats Devlin in their mock duels; but Devlin outmatches him on a real battlefield.

He is a man of honour and of his word.

When not on Terra, he is consumed with games of cat and mouse with the many and varied hostile irregular forces scattered throughout the Republic's hard-won holdings. 3rd League Special Forces consider him their most dangerous foe, but his Knights have failed to bring him incontrivertible evidence of SLDFiE involvement in the simmering underground and he, personally, believes that these movements are grassroots resistance to Republic Integration. Where many Knights and some of his fellow Paladins see SLDFiE assassins behind every bush; his more measured approach to his duties have yielded better results in pacifying the worlds gained peacefully and through Operation: SCOUR.
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #348 on: 16 July 2019, 02:09:04 »
A look at the other side. Or; "Now for something completely different"

*excerpted from*

"Unfinished Biographies"
-From the collected writings and letters of Clarence Auburn

"Commander" Steve McKenna

--There isn't much I can do with this one, but I'll take a stab at it. Don't expect a novel here, George; I'm not willing to just fabricate things to make copy like Hughette is.
-Clarence.

Important Military Leaders in history are often complex individuals. But Lord-Protector McKenna was actively contradictory and difficult to quantify except in contrast to comparable figures. In recent times, many famous commanders have wielded a common combination of traits;

-They are charismatic individuals with natural people skills.
-They are often tactical or strategic geniuses.
-They are almost always noted for an excess of "Luck".

Steve Mckenna was none of these things. If anything, he was most notable for a *lack* of these traits.

It's sometimes said that people find it hard to follow seemingly perfect leaders; that they need a flaw of some kind in order to be relatable to their followers. Victor Steiner-Davion for instance was unusually short in a field that has always prized physical presence. It's generally taken for granted however that such a flaw would not be something so basic as a general lack of social skills.

While some military leaders have been noted as curmudgeonly, aloof or even possessing choleric temperments; McKenna may actually have been autistic. This explains certain other of his personal traits and would account for his universally poor showings in personal interactions with his high-level peers during the Jihad. While noted as an excellant speaker and writer; close study of his interactions with the likes of Khan Kell and Later-Exarch Stone reveal a man suffering from a deep deficit in non-vocal communication skills, which of course tended to manifest in a natural and mutal dislike from and for individuals of especially high social acuity such as Chandrasakahr Kurita and David Lear. That these same individuals tended to dismiss him as a fool or someone to be easily manipulated is probably one of histories greater missteps, along with the might-have beens of a universe in which the SLDFiE was simply led by a more socially-capable individual during the Jihad.

Throughout his career, Steve McKenna was noted as both personally and moral courageous, but curiously possessed of a laissez-faire or laid-back leadership style when out of direct combat. In fact; one of his greater strengths, it appears was in delegation. Where others in his position might have relied on an incisive judgement of character; McKenna instead was a great judge of merit and ability. The difference between these two traits is as big as was the mistake in ultimately deciding to remain loyal to "Captain" Corey despite the many warning signs he seemed to present openly and willingly throughout their association. In such cases, however; it must be noted that once he realized a mistake had been made; McKenna always cleaned up after himself and "Captain" Corey was no exception.

Except for such notable flaws; McKenna remained improvizational in command; by turns disciplinarian; fatherly, compassionate and vengeful at need. But he was never a martinet and this was one trait he refused to tolerate in his subordinates.

Armchair Generals argue over McKenna's tactical ability, but it is clear he was no strategic genius by any means and his grasp of Grand Strategy was vauge at best. But he was a brilliant Operational Artist when employed at that level and he never shied from finding able subordinates to cover his own many and varied weaknesses.

Notably; he seemed to use military leadership as a crutch to help him get over his own failings as a person and throughout his career, he was noted by all who encountered him as possessing a fine grasp of the nuts and bolts of leadership at all levels, in spite of his lack of real people skills. One example of this is where others would have rushed to take credit for the performance of subordinates in delegated positions of authority; McKenna, instead made a habit of deflecting praise when it was owed to him, onto his staff and others. This does much to explain the difficult relationship of historians and peers to the 3rd League's first Lord-Protector as these habits make it difficult to know when to attribute any military ability at all to a man known mainly through his own self-effacing style of writing and oratory. In spite of it all; his troops loved him. To his veterans from the mercenary days; he remained "The Commander" and the men and women of the New Model Army adopted the sobriquet and would use no other, except in the most formal circumstances.

Bad luck seemed to dog the SLDFiE as a whole for almost Mckenna's entire tenure. While he or an able subordinate were always there to pick up the pieces; one cannot help but note the tendancy of the SLDFiE to stumble into disaster after disaster in spite of all efforts at preparation, preparedness and what has to be fairly described as almost the ideal military intelligence network. The entire Russian campaign during the Jihad-iteration of the Liberation of Terra is one example and the Caph Incident much later is another amongst many. But this fits a pattern of unlikely events which dogged the man's entire career.

None of this should suggest that Lord-Protector McKenna lacked for military talents as many have claimed, however.

As J.J. Condorcet; perhaps the greatest talent scout in over 500 years noted; he was literally the perfect man for the job of forming the 2nd League's New Model Army. A force which he then led into battle against a foe they were never intended to face, inflicted greusome damage on them; without which the war could not have been won. He then led that same army as they were driven into exile, completed his work, bent to a new aim and then launched the campaign that laid the foundation for the era we now find ourselves in. Like him or Loath him; Steven McKenna shaped the Galaxy we live in today.

Condorcet had good cause for this judgement; while merely leading the then-mercenary Studies and Observations Group; prospective employers found over and over that the unit they wanted; with the track record they needed was led by a man they'd rather do without. This was no coincidence. The contempory history of Mercenaries is littered with examples of units, which; once bereft of their great leader were no longer either esteemed as highly or indeed; as highly capable as they had once been. The Gray Death Legion, The Kell Hounds; even Wolf's Dragoons, all possess this pattern in their histories. McKenna is the opposite.

Without McKenna Leading them; the unit would have been much more employable. We know because so many prospective employers said just that. The man could be the "Always on Stage" Leader his troops needed, but he couldn't act his way out of a wet paper bag otherwise; employers knew exactly who and what they were hiring. Many baulked. Some, to their immense misfortune.

So then; why are these units which blunder their way into one rat's nest after another able to fight their way clear of it, win the battle and then the war?

Steve McKenna had other talents; he was a great trainer, both personally and managerially and he was a fantastic organizer. He had a talent for knowing the enemy, in his own limited way, but he possessed a near-eidetic memory for facts and figures related to all facets of military equipment. This was but one aspect of a general high attention to detail that he displayed in all of his work and probably what made him so successful as a trainer and organizer. Throughout all of his efforts, we can see his personal touch on the equipment of his forces; a fact which was much to their benefit.

Most of all, however; he was fearsomely ruthless; personally, militarily and in decision-making. Anyone who worked directly for McKenna always noted the disquieting ability he had to come to snap decisions; he lived by the axiom of "A bad plan executed with vigour now, is better than a perfect plan later". While he lacked the mythical Jackson's "3am Courage" to be awoken from a dead sleep and respond to an unexpected disaster with succinct and effective orders; he could, following a brief summary of events rapidly produce a plan of action and that he could begin to do mere moments from slumber. A helpful talent when one goes about with an albatross around one's neck.

However, McKenna's pre-war career as founder, builder and leader of probably the most successful counter-insurgency force of the 31st Century is often over-shadowed by his time in the Jihad and afterwards. But here; his practical ruthlessness was on direct display; often executed personally or at least in person. In all accounts we find a man with a keen grasp of the dirty, ugly-side of war. Something most other comparable leaders shy away from. McKenna knew and understood fundamental elements such as fire-power; the intrinsic value of inflicting damage on the enemy through both attrition and friction. He knew fear, terror; even the value of horror as tools and he grasped these in such a way that the SLDFiE was able to effectively wield these elements as weapons against even the metal monsters of the Word of Blake and later; the all-too human RAF.

The generally-low opinion of Mckenna held by many of his allies during the Jihad is well-known. Less well-known are the opinions of General "Doc" Trevana (SLDF Chief of Staff) and the enigmatic "Jugglers". Unsurprisingly; Doc Trevana hated the man and hated him by reputation and this by cold, stoic, considered judgement long before the two first met. Of all the dissenting opinions history records of Lord-Protector Steve Mckenna; this is probably the most fair and considered. It is not known if this opinion ever thawed following McKenna's success in first rescuing and then collecting the disparate remains of the SLDF early in the Jihad, but one expects not. Trevana was always a good judge of character and McKenna remained the man *he* was, presumably until the day he died.

At first brush, the "Jugglers"; the shadowy cabal of cast-off and second-hand generals given the unwelcome task of midwifing the New-Model Army into being, were incredulous at the notion of then-"Commander" McKenna and his "Studies and Observations Group" acting as cadre for the inheritors of the greatest army there has ever been. But contrary to expectations; most of them seem to have warmed to the man over-time. Nothing succeeds like success afterall and McKenna produced promising results from an inventive plan almost immeadiately.

Physically; Steve McKenna was an imposing figure on par with Devlin Stone, but lacking his innate charisma. He tended to fade to the back of a room, despite his size, until it was time to make a speech and his pep talks to the troops remain legendary today. Mckenna was atypically evenly-proportioned, making it difficult to judge his size in lone holo-images. A tell is usually the apparant scale derived from a common object like his ever-present Thunderbolt Rifle or interrelation to others; Steven McKenna is a person who makes Devlin Stone---or an elemental for that matter---look like they fit in. In practice, he tended to dwarf other MechWarriors, but his natural clumsiness was immeadiately obvious in that company. In personal interactions, he relied heavily on his aide and later; Wife: Captain Winters and an array of rote behaviours and good manners he had memorized. The effect this had was to make his manner often appear fake and rehearsed; and of course it was, which many found off-putting. According to first-hand accounts; when at ease and among friends; he was a loud and friendly man who liked to laugh and took pleasure in telling puns and bad jokes.

As a Warrior; McKenna had to learn to pilot a 'Mech through much trial and error and often by rote. The Hell's Horses effectively re-trained him in the art of making a 'Mech move about safely and effectively, but he never once required any remedial efforts on his gunnery. Records from the defunct Belmont Academy support these observations and also describe him as a servicable shot with small arms; excellant directing or using heavy weapons and an instructor described him as "exhausting and completely unenjoyable to spar with using any weapon." As that class was graded simply as pass/fail and McKenna passed, we have little indication what thos means, exactly.

Personally; the man remains very much a cipher. It is thought only his few friends from the old days and his wife and children really knew him on that level. None of these left detailed accounts of his personality, but it seems likely they didn't feel the need to. From what we do have; McKenna was an unremarkable man at home. Where other leaders of his station took up fine art, McKenna cooked, baked and possessed an array of practical skills. It is thought he continued to study history and weaponry throughout his life due to the works he produced after his retirement. As a familiar figure in their lives, it is likely those close to him never considered or felt the need to produce any lasting accounts of the man's true nature. In public (to the ragged limits of military decorum) and in private he was utterly dedicated to his wife and is thought to have ended his own life shortly after she predeceased him.

The question of lineage often arises with Commander McKenna; *IS* there a connection to the famous McKennas of the Terran Hegemony? Perhaps. Steve McKenna never aquiesced to DNA tests; the source of the few organs of his which were donatable due to his advanced age were intentionally obscured and his body was cremated. His Grandchildren have done so, however and there is enough matrilineal DNA to suggest a possible the line of James McKenna. But this is far beyond any practical worth to his descendants or the 3rd League as a whole.
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

marauder648

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #349 on: 16 July 2019, 04:58:40 »
Excellent stuff as always, lovely character descriptions, its stuff like this that helps fill out a setting. It puts meat on the bones of names and gives them a face, a voice and a life :)
Ghost Bears: Cute and cuddly. Until you remember its a BLOODY BEAR!

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #350 on: 16 July 2019, 10:03:00 »
Thank you, Marauder.

Something VERY important I left out of the Stone/Lear Entries; in Der Tag, the Republic is basically David Lear's Idea/Ideas. Lear is the idealist and Stone is the pragmatist whose taken it upon himself to bring this idea to life and *make* it work.
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

marauder648

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #351 on: 16 July 2019, 10:13:59 »
Ahh got you! And a nice lil thing to see that Stone's gay :)
Ghost Bears: Cute and cuddly. Until you remember its a BLOODY BEAR!

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #352 on: 16 July 2019, 10:18:35 »
Ahh got you! And a nice lil thing to see that Stone's gay :)

Well...I'll avoid rule 4 here and simply say that I NEEDED A REASON for this character as-written to be the guy who makes the Republic AS-WRITTEN Happen. Love was the best reason I could think of for what is otherwise a serious lapse in judgement. That David Lear was also closely involved and as much a dyed-in-the-wool intellectual as can be made it an easy leap to make.
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

marauder648

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #353 on: 16 July 2019, 10:30:43 »
Thats a good a reason as any :D
Ghost Bears: Cute and cuddly. Until you remember its a BLOODY BEAR!

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #354 on: 16 July 2019, 10:33:59 »
Thats a good a reason as any :D

Everyone whose ever done questionable things for love; raise your hand.  :thumbsup:  :rockon: (Thanks; DOC_Argen; this is a much better emoticon)
« Last Edit: 16 July 2019, 18:13:04 by beachhead1985 »
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

DOC_Agren

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #355 on: 16 July 2019, 14:34:29 »
Everyone whose ever done questionable things for love; raise your hand.  :thumbsup:
:rockon: :rockon: :rockon:
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

truetanker

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #356 on: 17 July 2019, 18:33:20 »
I wonder if Hugh Chretien every states " Make it so... " when he issues his orders?

TT
Khan, Clan Iron Dolphin
Azeroth Pocketverse
That is, if true tanker doesn't beat me to it. He makes truly evil units.Col.Hengist on 31 May 2013
TT, we know you are the master of nasty  O0 ~ Fletch on 22 June 2013
If I'm attacking you, conventional wisom says to bring 3x your force.  I want extra insurance, so I'll bring 4 for every 1 of what you have :D ~ Tai Dai Cultist on 21 April 2016
Me: Would you rather fight my Epithymía Thanátou from the Whispers of Blake?
Nav_Alpha: That THING... that is horrid
~ Nav_Alpha on 10 October 2016

beachhead1985

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Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #357 on: 17 July 2019, 21:51:45 »
Captain Sarah "Winters"

In the Magistracy of Canopus; women are generally more highly esteemed than men. But humans aren't any different in the 3059, or 3099 of the Der Tag Universe than they are in our day and age. So what that meant for a teenage girl named Sarah was that she was worth much more as a slave than she would be otherwise and that her life was forfeit if her owners or captors were ever caught. Keeping a woman as a slave in the Magistracy was highly illegal, but if you had the cash and the appetites; there were people to talk to.

In August of 3059, Sarah found herself on the Canopian Backwater of Mooresville. She'd already been bought and paid for on the auction block and was just waiting in her cell for the transport that would take her offworld to whatever fate awaited her. Lucky for Sarah; Mooresville was the home base of a smuggling ring which was supporting the Cappellan-backed insurgency on the Davion world of Khmere. These had recently made unfortunate enemies.

The blockade runners had been bringing in contraband of all kinds to keep the guerillas supplied and give them something to sell to the locals to keep the fight going long enough for the Davions to give up and pull out. When SOG discovered this; they were able to trace a captured free-trader back to Mooresville.

During the fighting; Sarah, no stranger to violence herself, got to see a whole new kind of conflict up close and personal. The back-and-forth fighting for the area of the starport the slaves were kept in gave her the chance for immediate freedom, but she was trapped in the compound; with hundreds of others while the fighting raged beyond the walls of their prison. SOG troops were sustaining heavier-than-strictly-necessary casualties from having to be careful where they placed their shots; fighting through the armed camps, shantytowns and warehouses of the StarPort. But even the pirate barracks were lousy with non-combatants and the nature of the terrain meant that the proportional gain of levelling one city block after another, as the Urban Shock Cadre would have liked to, wasn't worth the toll in civilian casualties for what they'd gain in dead hostiles.

Out of manpower and and seemingly; options: McKenna committed his command lance to the fighting around the slave pens. He wasn't aware that's what they were, he left his Alley-Fighter Infantry to sort that out; but this was where he felt his troops needed to see him fighting with them; so there he and his lance were. After a few hours, it became clear what was to the rear of the SOG forces, just about the time it also became militarily necessary to shorten their lines. By this time; the pirates and other hostile forces had lost direct contact with their rides off planet and were willing to smash through anything and everything to have a shot at recapturing their dropships.

The best thing McKenna could think of was to leave his Command Lance (the heaviest in the area) in place, alongside some infantry as a kind of semi-mobile fortress around the slaves and refugees flooding into the compound and have the rest pull-back to defensible lines around the StarPort. This plan had the one advantage that any enemy forces attempting to bypass his 'Mechs and Infantry would get shot in the back as they attempted to force his lines farther back and anyone attempting to eliminate the problem his lance represented obviously wouldn't gain anything from facing down four assault-class 'mechs for what ammounted to a bucket of unarmed civilians and some *very* nasty infantry. After a few costly errors, the remaining pirate forces opted to veer wide around McKenna's isolated lance; meanwhile, the SOG forces on-world fought with renewed vigour knowing that their Commander had gotten himself into yet another precarious spot.

Hours later, the fighting was over. The organization which had been lucratively supporting the rebels was ruined, as were various other local and regional criminal forces based on Mooresville. The mercs? They were either loyal to their salt and did their jobs till the end or tore up their contracts and tried to get out. Caught between their employers and SOG, few of those made it. The Studies and Observations Group had ensured eventual victory on Khmere and netted themselves an eviable haul of booty, but had paid dearly for it. The entire taskforce was basically wrecked, with most of the force injured. There were relatively few of McKenna's troops outright killed in action, but this end of the unit would be in bad shape for some time.

Alongside her fellow slaves; Sarah watched the fighting. She recognized the distinctive profile of McKenna's Marauder II and decided he was personally responsible for saving her life and hundreds of others, after they happened to meet later. Like many of the freed slaves and refugees; she opted to join SOG and work as a member of the support staff. In this role, her age wasn't a hinderance; the "New Hires" were carried on the rolls as dependants and wards of the unit. Most stayed as civilian support staff and a few hopped off at the next world, sooner or later. But many stayed on and a few eventually joined SOG as recruits. When she was old enough; Sarah was one of these.

Sarah chose the name "Winters" for the season on Mooresville when she was liberated and never tried to find her way back to the life she had before. As part of SOG, she passed the demanding basic course, but never sought out direct combat training, instead her talents led her to train in public relations and communications. This in turn saw her assigned to the Combined Action Platoons and psychological warfare section. Later she commissioned as a signals intelligence officer.

During her early days with SOG, she contrived to run into Commander McKenna several times and they also interacted occasionally as the fortunes of war waxed and waned. Some time after she was commissioned, she was selected; with malice aforethought, by Major Dora Von Gudaerian; SOG's "Black Witch", at the behest of her father; Karl, as McKenna's aide.

McKenna struggled with their close professional relationship due to their obvious (to others) mutual attraction. It was Sarah's job to act as a "Social Translator" and advisor, as well as a traditional military aide. But her official title was originally "Communications Officer" and it was generally agreed this was apt. Sarah managed to be generally accepted by most members of the unit because she not only helped keep their Commander from doing or saying anything too stupid out of action, but never shied from riding in the backseat of his Marauder II in combat in order to help run the formidable command systems he'd retrofitted into the machine.

Eventually their professional relationship (finally, painfully, predictably) blossomed into a romantic one. This has came back to haunt SOG, as mercenaries, Cadre to the New Model Army and eventually the SLDFiE itself, as their relationship became a well-known example of the complex and sticky nature of inter-service romances. Unable to enforce a standard he couldn't live up to himself, McKenna has been repeatedly forced to tacitly give his blessing to personal relationships which can sometimes prove problematic and affect operational effectiveness. The SLDFiE has managed, over time, but there are hiccups to allowing a state military to handle these relationships as if they were a small mercenary unit. These hiccups have occasionally affected morale and unit cohesion. The various back-channel actors in the SLDFiE have stepped up to mitigate these as much as possible; the Chaplians, Loremasters and "Team Moms and Dads". But the looser regulations compared to other House Militaries are both noticable and occasionally off-putting to outsiders. This is notably less the case in Wolf's Dragoons and the Clan-Identifying units within the SLDFiE.

Overtime, Sarah's position evolved organically into something of a unit spokesperson, her word possessing much more weight than her age and experience normally would in contract negotiations and other matters McKenna would normally be involved in, but left at a disadvantage. This ended, officially when SOG took their contract as Cadre for the SLDF and that discussion was the last in which Sarah negotiated for the unit as mercenaries. In the years since; Sarah kept up her role as aide and "Communications Officer" and managed to pick up several degrees in the study of different cultures and languages. Her contributions were invaluable as such during Operation: MUNIN when the unit often interacted with Clan officials in and out of combat and during the Jihad, where she did her level best to mitigate The Commander's "Bull in a China Shop" effect on diplomatic discussions and councils with allies.

However, her presence and purpose clashed badly with Khan Kell and "Uncle Chandy" who picked her out right away as a mouthpiece and catspaw for her lover and leader; McKenna. By their influence she was barred from any and all high-level meetings with coalition leaders and rumours began to circulate in some circles that it was Sarah who was the true power behind the SLDFiE. This eventually proved fatal to relations between McKenna and the other Coalition leaders. By the time of the battle for Terra, where Sarah never left Mckenna's side, the damage was effectively done. Ironically, following the infamous "Join or Die" ultimatum, she was the only SLDFiE officer that would meet with any of the coalition's senior leaders, at her own urging.

During this delicate time, as SLDFiE Forces disengaged from the coalition and began to withdraw from their cantonments, Sarah did her best to smooth things over and repair the damage done. But by then probably nothing could have repaired the situation. While she and David Lear are said to have developed a kind of mutal respect and understanding, managing to re-insert herself into diplomatic affairs was too little, too late and nothing now could avert the course the nascent Republic and 3rd League were then set on.

However, it must be said that Sarah Winters contributed greatly to diplomatic efforts with some of the coalition's more fringe allies. While she couldn't melt the frosty detente of the Ghost Bears; she was instrumental in the efforts that saw the Nova Cats join the 3rd League *without* starting a shooting war.

In the interegnum; Sarah has remained at her post and by her now-husband's side. Some legends persist as to the nature of the proposal, but most agree it was Steve who got down on one knee and that it occured some time around the jump into Sol. The couple continue to be the subject of various betting pools. By this point, Sarah has been joined by dozens of junior and field-grade SLDFiE Officers granted plenipotentiary status. These are highly-trusted warrors who manage many of the 3rd League's diplomatic affairs when and where they encounter them. To what extent the still-developing Diplomatic Corps will displace this somewhat disquieting tradition is not known, but so far it seems to work out at least as well as leaving it to the professionals.

Today, Sarah Winters McKenna (having kept Winters as a middle name) serves as Lord Protector McKenna's personal equerrey and ambassador, but her duties as aide are mostly handled by others. She's been pleased to watch her husband grow, however slowly and modestly improve his personal skills, though he still requires her assistance in important matters. By appearance; she obviously benefits from the late First-League-Quality anti-agathics that are practically the norm among most of the 3rd League and cuts a striking figure; which shows even in the bulk of a standard M19 "Drake" MechWarrior Combat Suit.

By all accounts; their relationship has been a happy and natural one and Steve and Sarah are by all accounts sickeningly devoted to eachother. Sarah, in her position as Aide and as Mckenna's lover has always met with the enthusiastic approval of the people around her; first in SOG and later in the SLDFiE. Within the greater 3rd League and among some newer recruits, their relationship is viewed with some discomfort, but those who remember the old days are universally quick to assure them that this is a much, much better arrangement. The Commander is less reckless with his life (although Sarah has reportedly *not* been a good influence in this) and his shortcommings are more his own now and less felt by his officers and soldiers. While a popular topic of gossip; it is notable that the two don't have any children.

Practically; Sarah's career has always been handled by others and never by Mckenna. Typically; this has been the SLDFiE's Sergeant-Major-General in recent years, as is the SOP for Aide-de-Camps at other levels. However, in the past Sarah was professionally rated by Dora Von Gudaerian and others. Fastidiously conscientious of even the appearance of favour or conflict of interest; Sarah has several times requested to have her career placed into the hands of others, prior to the current arrangement. Thus; her current and permanent Rank of Colonel comes as the result of diligent hard work on her part and rigourous under-rating by the SMG. Observers occasionally scoff at the various honours and awards on Sarah's dress uniform, for although she appears under-dressed compared to the average Field-Grade Officer of a combat unit, it is common enough to think these are for the sake of appearances. However; despite a lack of formal training; Sarah is no more a shrinking violent in combat than her husband and her awards for professional merit and expertise are well-earned and she wears her wound stripes with pride.
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

beachhead1985

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DRAGOON-BLUE BELL-MUNIN-PAVE THUNDER
« Reply #358 on: 13 August 2019, 23:10:59 »
Project: DRAGOON


   From the very beginning, what would become the Studies and Observations Group (and later the SLDFiE) incorporated mixed Infantry and VTOL Assets. As the erstwhile Sigma-Mu Counter-Bandit Supernova, this originally included a star of mixed battle armour, a star of foot infantry and three mixed points of Anhurs and Star League and Pentagon-Vintage Cobra Transport VTOLs. But they quickly recruited additional forces on Galatea and this included additional Infantry and vehicle assets; some of which were VTOLs.

   Their first two years as mercenaries saw SOG undertake contracts as both the insurgents and the counter-insurgents. Both experiences drove home the importance of high operational and tactical mobility for modern forces in these roles. While in “tight” conditions; guerillas could make little use of assets like VTOLs; but held back for a vital strike, they proved invaluable. In more “open” conditions with a vast wilderness and safe areas to hide in, well-equipped units could operate as independent bands of air-mobile bandits; descending with little warning onto unprepared outposts and vulnerable targets.

   Just so in counter-insurgency; high mobility of all kinds was vital to imposing “tight” conditions on the enemy and eventually cornering and eliminating them.


   By this time, SOG included roughly a light brigade of Infantry, of various forms and still built around a core of very experienced ex-Hell’s Horses troops, many now in junior and senior leadership positions. These were increasingly supplemented by growing numbers of very experienced veteran infantry, both coming up the ranks and recruited from other sources. Along with the rest of the unit; this light-brigade’s worth of troops was spread across several worlds and contracts.

   Many of the officers in the unit were content to learn as they went and improvise on the fly, but self-styled “Commander Mckenna”; an improviser himself, imposed an uncharacteristic requirement for a “field study” to be carried out, beginning in on March 5th. This was to establish tactics and requirements for AirMobile forces and would take place with a Battalion of Light Infantry rotated out of the field for rest. This would normally include retraining and various camp and garrison duties in order to keep their skills sharp and maintain cohesion; instead they practiced and drilled with VTOLs, trying various tactical and operational schemes devised by SOG leadership and derived from what manuals could be obtained.

   The goal was to provide an enhanced framework of SOPs for AirMobile units upon which sub-unit leaders could build their own solutions to tactical and operational problems.


The BLUE BELL Program


   The BLUE BELL Program took what had been learned from Project: DRAGOON and laid out a series of requirements for the equipment and organization of AirMobile Infantry in the unit, up to the level of a full brigade, which itself was capable of operating dispersed across several star systems or concentrated to a single battlefield.

   BLUE BELL reorganized a different SOG Infantry Battalion; this one formerly mechanized troops, into a skeletal formation capable of providing study data as a Brigade. Using live-fire, force on force and “paper” exercises; the force was tested and re-organized to be able to tackle different tactics on conventional, asymmetric and trans-orbital battlefields.


   This took place on Keid; where SOG was undertaking a Garrison and Training Contract at the time; so much of BLUE BELL Occurred under those auspices and often included elements of the local militia in their exercises as OPFOR and BLUFOR elements.


   BLUE BELL is completed and submits its findings while McKenna and other elements of SOG are undertaking a daring reconnaissance mission on WOB-occupied Terra during the calendar-winter of 3058/3059.


   The entire force, collected from various completed contracts RVs on Keid, beginning on 18 February. There; the Studies and Observations Group is once again re-organized and enters a period of re-training, rest and refit alongside the ongoing Garrison/Training contract.


   McKenna has baseline experience with AirMobile forces from his time as a Militia Scout in his youth, training at Belmont Military Academy and Finally with the Hell’s Horses in combined Bandit-Hunting Operations. A large infantry contingent, partly mobilized through VTOLs had been a goal of his since the break from Clan Society that occurred following Sigma-Mu’s final mission. He reviewed the recommendations, plans and organization schemata from BLUE BELL and made a few adjustments of his own.

   Then it was time to go shopping.


The MAPLE KEY Mission


   At this time, SOG possessed a motley collection of VTOLs of many types.

   They had a comparatively large number of transport and infantry-carrying models; with roughly 50 airframes serviceable in early 3059.

   One of the Anhurs and both Cobras were still flying. Of the other three Anhurs; one had been destroyed in action and the other two had been cannibalized to keep the remainder flying absent regular access to the right spare parts and materials. If some became available, it would be economical to restore one of these to flight condition, but the other was basically a partial skeleton by this point.


   Together with a baker’s dozen Karnovs, these rounded-out the Transport Squadron, alongside three KC-6 King Karnovs.


   There were two   very-mixed “utility squadrons” mainly grouped together for ease of maintenance. These Included Ferret and Marten Light Scouts, Peacekeeper SWAT Carriers, Sprint troop transports and Kestrels. Also included within the squadrons were the remains of the two Level-IIs of factory-fresh VTOLs, which were part of the ComStar payment for Sigma-Mu’s Union IIC. These were probably the best of the unit’s VTOLs in terms of serviceability and sophistication, excepting the surviving Anhur. By this time, of the original compliment; there were five Pintos and three Rippers remaining of the original half-dozen-each.

   Rounding out this force were two understrength squadrons; one of gunships and the other dedicated to Medivac support.

   In 3059; SOG had 10 gunships. A Cyrano, Two Nightshades and seven Warriors (an H-7C, two -7As, two original H-7s and two H-8s). The Squadron was rounded out with two Sprint Scout helicopters. Of all SOG’s VTOLs; this Squadron contained the most maintenance problems, with 4-6 gunships in flying condition on any given day of field operations.

    Finally; the Medivac Squadron consisted of five RTC-215M Swiftrans, three SOAR (Search-Over and Rescue) VTOLs and one odd Ferret modified for the role.

   Previously to Project: DRAGOON and the BLUE BELL program, these assets had been used on an as-needed and as-available basis shared between the entire unit, with partial Squadrons commonly split up among deployments. This had ensured that there was a widespread, but shallow familiarity with these assets, but that they often suffered from lacking maintenance. This in turn led to increased losses to accidents and enemy action. In addition, as there were no troops permanently assigned these assets; the unit lacked true infantry experts in their employment until DRAGOON and BLUE BELL and these were strictly ad-hoc arrangements.

   Among the transports; the Cobras were most highly-favoured, but principally from the reputation of being “Lucky”. The King Karnovs were popular “asks” from other elements, alongside their smaller namesakes.

   No-one; crews or commanders really liked anything in the utility squadrons. Not their equipment, not how they were organized and not what they provided the troops, in terms of capability. The Kestrels and Peacekeepers were the most detested for their high ratio of losses to enemy fire. A partial bright spot were the Pintos. Their crews liked those; their speed and weaponry were selling points. But it was found in DRAGOON and confirmed as part of BLUE BELL that carrying anything less than a platoon in each transport made for a very crowded LZ. Likewise; using the transport Squadron to forward-deploy infantry led to higher losses as the thin-skinned transports fell victim to enemy fire. In addition; these assets were highly valued by SOG officers and they were highly reluctant to see them exposed and lost in this way. Also; an AirMobile tasking of any magnitude tended to max-out the sum capabilities of the utility squadrons on any given day and this, too had a lot to do with moving AirMobile forces a squad at a time. Finally; Infantry Commanders found these missions to be exceptionally arduous in terms of the preparations in marrying-up drills and the organizational (and tactical) headaches caused by the way that different infantry carriers broke up their platoons and companies.

   The gunship squadron was the most frequently tasked for combat-missions and the least-performing of all the unit’s VTOL assets. They also suffered the highest losses; having burned through several each of the Cyranos and Warriors and all of the Ki-Rin, Goshawk and Wyvern gunships the unit had been able to come across. Part of this was down to maintenance and part to tactics, but the root causes for both issues were the high-tempo of operations and exhaustion of the crews. BLUE BELL also found that a poor understanding of how gunships should be employed, operationally played a role as well.

   The Medivac squadron was popular, but problematic. The SOARs and lone modified Ferret made up less than half the squadron strength, but by late 3058, they were doing 80% of the work. This was due to the Swiftran’s often being down for repairs and maintenance. The crews loved their Swiftrans, when they worked; but these were early models and it felt like they rarely did. Most of the good working hours of the aircraft were used up in keeping up the crew’s flight hours. When it came to field missions, it seemed like something had either just been fixed or was in the process of going out of whack. As such; the Swiftrans were described as always either coming or going; they never stayed on the operational rolls for long.

   The purpose of the MAPLE KEY mission was to collate the data from DRAGOON, BLUE BELL and SOG’s own VTOL crews and assess the portion of the open market which was effectively accessible to SOG in a reasonable timeframe. Next; MAPLE KEY would secure the purchase of an adequate supply of airframes and spare parts to meet SOG’s current and forecast near-future requirements to account for growth and losses.

   Chief among these concerns was a degree of standardization to aid training and maintenance tasks.

   Stated simply; SOG required VTOLs to fill the transport role. These could be any type so long as they could haul a decent amount of cargo and do it in a safe and efficient manner. But it was preferred they be as much the same type as possible. Read; Karnovs.

   SOG needed more efficient troop carriers. These should be better protected than what they had now, reasonably fast and be well-armed.

   There was a requirement; identified during BLUE BELL, but missed in DRAGOON for expanded scouting capabilities as well. SOG actually had so few scout VTOLs able to fill this role and free to fulfill the mission that it was difficult to assess how great the need truly was and whether or not any equipment currently held by the unit was adequate to the needs of their missions. Some officers advocated for the elimination of this mission from the AirMobile concept altogether; the unit had so little capability now and they’d operated without it this far; so, the argument went; they “couldn’t miss a place they had never been.” Eventually, however; the BLUE BELL committee, itself now a semi-permanent organization within the unit decided that scout VTOLs were something they wanted. Lacking experience, however; any acquisition would be small and tentative until they better understood their own needs.

   Finally; The Studies and Observations Group had a requirement for additional and more effective gunship assets. This was the most urgent need, as the paucity of resources had seriously affected the Tactical and Operational trials of DRAGOON and BLUE BELL, such that there was suspicion, even in the official collected reports that their findings might be suspect.

   On their own end; SOG would work to train and hire more technicians and assistant technicians to better serve the high maintenance requirements of the VTOL squadrons.

   Ultimately, however; MAPLE KEY’s biggest challenge was finding the people to manage and run the mission itself. SOG already had several purchase agents; some on retainer, some working in the QM/Logistics section and a few private agents and agencies who freelanced in the trade, which they had contacts for through various means. These were already occupied in scouting limited purchases of other equipment; they and additional hires could select for test-pilots and evaluators for prospective purchases, but that was about it. Something of this magnitude was totally beyond the meagre means available to the unit at the time. What they really lacked though was the right person to build the team and lead such an endeavour.

   This position required someone who could be spared to go and do a job that might take years. Someone with real or apparent clout, presence and deal-making ability. Someone with intelligence, charisma and probably at least some experience working at various social strata, up to the level of the nobility. This was not to be found in the unit and even Condorcet was at an immediate loss.

   Lady Seleena Dwight was a very junior member of the Keid nobility through a cadet branch of the ruling Ling-Tao Family. She’d been basically “hanging around” since a few months after SOG elements arrived on-planet. You wouldn’t mistake her for a hanger-on or a camp-follower and she never tried to breach security, but she’d often insert herself among the mercenaries when they were on their off-time and act as a guide and social lubricator for the outsiders in Keid society. She made it a point to attend all the open social functions the unit held and most of the senior NCOs and Officers, as well as a number of the other ranks had met her personally by the time the entire unit collected itself.

   Unsure of what her intentions were and who she really was, Major Franz (one of the more-talented surviving original Hell’s Horses Freebirth Infantry) invited her to a casual gathering of his Regiment’s Officers and Senior NCOs. Over drinks, Lady Dwight admitted that she was both terribly bored with her life on Keid and found the spectacularly foreign mercenaries terribly fascinating. She revealed that she was a well-educated woman; trained in business management, civil engineering and architecture, but mainly at the pleasure of her family. She was very far from any position of importance or responsibility among the family holdings and her position rendered her family incapable of accepting her taking a position in any white-collar job she might find.

   So Seleena was left to the life of a debutante rapidly approaching the age where, for the sake of her family; she needed to either marry or retire to a life of quiet aristocratic obscurity. Neither really appealed as she was too outgoing for spinsterhood and as the Ling-Taos had basically come to dominate the planetary nobility; Seleena was staring down the daunting prospect of one of a shrinking pool of second-cousins, being too far down the rungs herself to risk on an extra-solar marriage.

   Consulting no-one, least of all Lady Dwight, herself; Major Franz put forward that Seleena might be the perfect candidate to lead their purchasing mission. She seemed to have most of the skill and personal requirements. The trick would be ensuring the position was sufficiently played-up enough to appeal to her family. The job needed to be show-cased as high-profile and important, if not glamourous. As it was; it would entail a great deal of travel, negotiation, some of it at quite high levels and the handling of a great deal of money. It was a position of trust and somewhat high-profile, compared to what she could otherwise expect to find. Within the unit there were a very small number of other candidates for the job and none of those really wanted it. Prospective outside hires had not been impressive thus far and even from a distance, Lady Dwight blew them out of the water. These factors made the decision to approach her relatively easy to come to.

   For her part, when approached, Seleena was enthusiastic at first. But then regretfully declined the offer, after her family rebuffed the initial feelers she put out. Fate intervened a month later, however when word reached Keid and the Keid tabloids of a distant cousin’s scandalous expulsion from Tharkad University on charges of plagiarism and cheating. Seleena dared a more formal presentation to her mother and father, who interceded on her behalf with her grand-aunt, who received tacit approval from 3rd-cousin; Duke Ling-Tao.

   By this time, preparations were well underway to assemble a team for the purchasing mission, led by Captain Fred Myatt, another infantry officer from a Free Worlds conventional ground armour background. Captain Myatt gallantly offered to stay-on as a military Liaison, but Lady Dwight declined and he happily returned to his Motorized battalion.

   Seleena had actually failed to pass the physical required in order to serve her time in the planetary militia and her martial skills were limited to trap shooting, equestrian sports and fencing. So, she knew little of practical value in regards to the materiel her mission was tasked with procuring. With the natural exception of enjoy a great many flights in Family-owned VTOLs, as a passenger, over the years. However, she proved a dedicated and earnest student. After a few weeks of crash courses on VTOLs, she still couldn’t reliably tell the difference between a Ferret and a Warrior, but with a few notes to work from; she could talk a good fight and understand those differences well enough to do what was required of her; namely negotiate and drop the right names while schmoozing.

   MAPLE KEY never officially ended. Eventually, Lady Seleena Dwight accepted land grants and titles within the much later 3rd League (her family officially severed ties in 3085) and was appointed as Armaments Minister in the 3rd League Government shortly after it was formed. A post she has held ably ever since. As *Madam* Dwight still carries under her list of responsibilities matters of trade and procurement for the SLDFiE at the governmental-level, the argument could be made that MAPLE KEY is still going on as military operation today, having been vastly expanded over the interceding years. But Madam Dwight has not had cause to negotiate directly on behalf of the 3rd League in such matters in some time; instead focusing her efforts on maintaining the professional and diplomatic links with the Diamond Sharks, the few foreign shipping and manufacturing interests that will still trade with the 3rd League and coordinating as-needed with Homeward Bound and New Frontier Lines.

   The old MAPLE KEY team has long since disbanded, most of its members gone on to retirement or other pursuits in the SLDFiE or civilian life. Over time; MAPLE KEY came to have purchasing and procurement responsibility for all of SOG and later; the New Model Army and later still: the SLDFiE. After a certain point; the level of experience, recognition and overall track record of Lady Dwight’s MAPLE KEY team made any other choice seem moronic by contrast. As time went on and at different points, MAPLE KEY was even sub-contracted out by SOG to provide similar services for co-belligerent militias and fellow mercenaries. By 3070, a sufficient cover as independent contractors had been established that there were no public or direct links back to what had been the Studies and Observations Group and Maple Key Holdings/Maple Key Intergalactic Imports and Exports became fairy well-known and quite well-regarded as independent purchasing factors. This, in turn brought much associated prestige to Lady Dwight’s branch of the Keid Nobility. The infamy came later, of course.

   During and after the Jihad; Maple Key Intergalactic provided invaluable assistance to SLDF Intelligence in tracing the origins and supply routes used to build and supply the Word of Blake Militia.

   In late 3059, however; this was all in the future. In the present; Lady Dwight had a significant mission ahead of her.

   She began with a flurry of HPG messages to known dealers in military equipment on the mercenary market. She additionally dispatched a large number of agents to try and trace down the huge list of potential, unconfirmed and suspected contacts and sources passed up by SOG’s multivariate personnel. Leaving instructions to forward her mail, she set off with her core team, leaving a contact team behind on Keid and dispatching additional teams to Outreach, Galatea and Atreus.

   Few of the solicited Original Equipment Manufacturers were willing to meet with her initially, but they all received her cordially eventually. However, there was simply too much demand and too little spare capacity at the time to make such meetings productive. One exception was Lockheed-CBM, who not only agreed to supply a quantity of new and remanufactured Warrior Attack Helicopters, but also additional trainers, technicians and spare parts. Some additional luck eventually came up through running down the “Hit List” supplied by SOG, itself. But when Seleena returned to Keid in late 3060, leaving her teams in place, scattered around the Inner Sphere (with some contact in the Taurian Concordant and Magistracy of Canopus); it was with very little to show for her efforts. The new Warriors, parts and personnel from Lockheed-CBM had yet to arrive and would not for some time.

   By this stage, SOG had only a skeleton force on Keid; maintaining their garrison and training contract with a mixed force (Some of which were the proto Air-Cavalry troops which had been formed in the wake of BLUE BELL) and the large base they had established was a ghost town. Seleena spent her days wandering around the empty hangers, barracks and administrative buildings thrown up so hastily only two years before. Sometime in early 3061, Lady Dwight emerged from her ennui and took stock of MAPLE KEY.

   Her teams had established a large network of contacts throughout the Federated Commonwealth. This network spread through the Free Worlds League, parts of the Draconis Combine and Capellan Confederation and had made inroads into the Taurian Concordant and Magistracy of Canopus.

   She took stock of these and other assets, devised a skeletal plan and fired off several exploratory messages by HPG and a small number of verigraphed proposals. She sent additional enquiries to SOG elements on Keid and elsewhere (those which could be reached) and finally she reached out to SOG’s modest manufacturing concern; Integrated Comprehensive Systems or; ICOM.

   By this time, ICOM had various small facilities in parts of the Capellan Confederation, the old Federated Suns and Chaos March. They had an office on Outreach doing little business and a factory on Galatea. Most of these amounted to little more than workshops or cottage industries producing small spare parts, ammunition and personal equipment. Their largest whole product was a trickle of proprietary Heavy Flamers (some of which went through the Solaris office for sale to local stables). R&D was primarily focused on a project for an automatic grenade launcher, which looked to be abortive.

   She was additionally surprised to learn by accident that the unit itself had a small R&D team working on a laser weapon on Outreach and reachable through ICOM’s office there. Otherwise; the Outreach concern only turned out interior vehicle crash pads of various types and polymer buckles and clips, most of which were sold locally. This would seem odd with most other mercenary units. But once you looked at SOG in the main and saw a fairly large combined-arms, but infantry-based force with dozens of small, specialist units and cells; having an R&D team of their own working on various projects, as well as buying facilities and founding a small self-owned company to manufacture some of what they needed most, in-house; which again had it’s own R&D team; why then it didn’t seem so odd at all.

Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman

beachhead1985

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  • 1st SOG; SLDF. "McKenna's Marauders"
    • Kilroy's Wall
Re: AU: Der Tag (The Day)
« Reply #359 on: 13 August 2019, 23:11:52 »
Next she sat down to write out a report and collection of recommendations and enquiries to be forwarded to higher. In brief; the report stated that there was nothing on the scrap, surplus or second-hand markets, nor any model in production or development, which closely matched the requirements laid out by BLUE BELL for any of the specifications she had received. The Karnov, in various forms was probably closest, but it was clear they really wanted more Cobras. As such; she had to move onto the secondary goal of procuring substitute-standard equipment, much of which had already been tested and found wanting. By the way; she had already taken the initiative and bought some of this equipment in order to get things rolling; “hope that’s okay. Would SOG be able to make due in the middle-term with this equipment? Had they considered and did they have any desire or capability to try and have something produced in-house? Either as a reliable stop-gap or bespoke models to fit SOG’s needs?” She additionally reported on the overall poor buying conditions on the market at the time. She passed off her report to be forwarded and waited.

   It must be noted at this juncture that Lady Dwight had been entrusted with an important task by the Studies and Observations Group, one signed off by Commander Mckenna, personally. However, she was not privy to the internal workings of the unit, beyond what she had learned from what her grandmother had called “social spying”. What information she did have was limited and compartmentalized. She did not for instance know where the rest of the unit not on Keid was or what they were doing. She had no more official access to the day to day operations of the Garrison/Cadre force on Keid than did any other civilian employee and less than many of the unit’s dependants in the housing settlement. For instance; she knew to have anything she procured shipped to Keid for trans-shipment elsewhere, but not where “else” might be.

   So, she was not surprised to receive word back from ICOM that there were local facilities available for purchase and an available work force to do some manufacturing work of a heavier nature, if there was a need from the unit or if the market suggested it would prove profitable. She was somewhat surprised when ICOM-Outreach leaked that the SOG R&D Team’s efforts on the sustained-fire laser project *requested* by BLUE BELL were far along; the prototypes were testing well and they were hunting around for someplace to fabricate pre-production examples quietly. So; “Sorry, we don’t have the manpower or funds to hunt around for anything like what you’re looking for, but if we trip over a used VTOL factory gathering dust under a tarp in Temp Town, we’ll let you know.”

   Things started to turn around at this point. Her agents had recently had some success locating limited quantities of various airframes that might fit the bill from BLUE BELL, if you looked at them sideways and squinted. Hard.

   -“Did the Lady want them to go ahead and buy them and have them packed up for shipment out? “

   -“Good job. Not yet. Collating data. Keep them on the line, but don’t commit at this time.”

   Shortly afterwards, her exploratory enquiries began to bear fruit.

   The score with factory-fresh equipment was generally that it might be available for export (Selling to mercs is always “Export”), but only in sample quantities (“You can put in a big order later, after things die down. Gotta keep that 3rd shift going, right?”) and at near-extortion prices (“it’s the war, you know?”). But they were generally reluctant to sell to mercenaries at all; especially ones with SOG’s reputation, in case there were any House Troops that suddenly needed gear and the exchequer decided to come through.

   House Troops anywhere were generally cold to the idea of selling off their equipment to mercenaries, especially when they were actually using it at the time. But Seleena had figured it was worth a shot; money, in her experience; came in handy more often than her trap skills. Pity these Militias didn’t generally see it that way. There was a particular FWLM unit on Andurian that was willing to sell off lots of equipment; but it seemed that either the commander was either hilariously, infeasibly corrupt; or it was a SAFE sting operation.

   But there were plenty of Militias who’d love more and newer equipment, but couldn’t afford it.

   –“Yes, we’d gladly trade these old heaps for anything new, even at a reduced rate of exchange.”

   -“Yes; all the factories *would* sell to friendly/loyal Militias and they’d do so at a discount, because they get a tax-write-off that way.”

   -“Is this for real? I mean; it’s verigraphed, so someone is willing to swear by it, but really? You can get us new equipment, fresh off the line, if we just let you buy our old crap. Then we can take that money to Michaelson Heavy Industries or whoever we like and buy new stuff. And the government will handle the shipping?”

   -“That’s the deal.”


   -“We’re in. When can we meet?’


   -“My people are already en route, we will be in touch with an ETA.”

   By this time; the Warriors, trainers, techs and parts had started to come in from Lockheed CBM and by the middle of 3061; the last had trans-shipped out. With something to show for her efforts, Lady Dwight was just about ready to propose her plan of action when the reply came back from SOG on her earlier proposals and inquiries.

   McKenna had signed off on the Warriors, which backstopped her own initiative and attached his personal “Attagirl”, which Lady Dwight found quite touching, actually; even in its informality. She took this as tacit approval to act on her own initiative on matters of equivalent or comparable magnitude going forward.

   With this boost to her personal prestige; the senior SOG staff that she was interacting with on Keid and those she liaised with from the BLUE BELL committee were looking at her less like a dilettante and more like an outside bet that was starting to look like it could pay off. It was in this atmosphere that Lady Dwight received replies to her earlier inquires and submitted her own proposal for how to proceed, based on those.
   If nothing very close to perfect could be found, then something was still better than nothing. However; it was preferred to settle on as few disparate models as possible, in order to simplify training and maintenance. but failing that; it seemed that some types were more unsuitable than others and a list was forwarded, which had been compiled from BLUE BELL of types which the unit absolutely DID NOT want.

   Secondly; the idea of producing their own proprietary designs had occurred to the BLUE BELL committee and since Wolf’s Dragoons had begun making their own unique equipment approximately 50 years ago; similar capability had been the dream of every mercenary unit. But ICOM’s motely and scattered collection of executives, engineers and consultants suggested that beginning from a standing start, they would need upwards of a decade or more to provide an end product. As such, this has been rejected part-way through BLUE BELL and much valuable time had been lost in the interregnum if such a program was to be undertaken at this stage. However, if the unit was willing and able to put up the money and they were certain they wished to pursue such a course of action in the near future, then ICOM could begin to collect some basic test and manufacturing equipment and start putting out feelers for the engineers and specialists they would need to carry it out. In addition; Homeward Bound factors could see what kinds of very basic raw materials might be acquired at reasonable cost now or in the near future.

   The course of action of reverse-engineering an older, legacy model or obtaining a license to manufacture an extant type was rejected immediately at the time. There was simply no profit to be had in any sense in setting up manufacture for something which was already not what was wanted or needed. However, as history shows; this decision was revisited later.

   The skills of negotiations and arbitration had been bedrock fundamentals of Lady Dwight’s middle-education; as such, while she still knew little about military equipment, despite her willful study sessions; she did know how to look at what was on the table and propose a compromise using logical tools.

   “Would it help to start with a substitute-standard model and then modify it to suit our needs?” She posed the question.

   This was a perfect statement in many ways; it was logical, modest, seemed promising to an outsider and at the same time was furnished in such a way as to make that outsider what her father had called “A co-conspirator”. For any settlement was best arbitrated in such a way that allowed the opposing parties to feel as though they had come together, out-smarted their own factions and would benefit themselves from the agreement.

   This engendered much debate among the parties present, telecommunicating and receiving updates and making injects via HPG.

   Indeed; it might be better…they eventually concluded. “But best of all would be a design we could use as a starting point for something entirely new. Modifications to any model or models to be fit for purpose would, by necessity; be expensive and extensive. And at that point, you’re virtually building something new anyways with all the work you’re doing. So, you may just as well be building them that way yourself from the ground-up, for all the work it will entail…”


   With that in mind; Lady Dwight sent out fresh instructions to her teams;

   -“Go ahead with working with the militias as discussed. The unit can and will front the cash.”

   -“Buy what makes sense, according to our requirements, but no Kestrels, Peregrines or Cyranos.”

   -Procure sample quantities of what you can to forward as soon as possible, along with a full accounting of what is available. Where possible stand by for larger purchase orders.

   By February of 3062, the first crop of these new endeavours was beginning to arrive on Keid; Homeward Bound Lines shipped their prizes in and another line; called New Frontier shipped them back out after an inspection on Keid; which was a welcome boost to the economy.

   By this time, relations with Lockheed/CBM had led to a gradual warming and the large conglomerate was willing to countenance larger sales to SOG, under the assurances that the unit would and could make their products “Look Good”. To this end; the following purchases were made in the 3rd Quarter of 3061, following Lady Dwight’s conference with her employers;

   12X KC-9 King Karnovs

   3x KC-10 King Karnov Prototypes, which had been gathering dust in a warehouse after failing to secure an AFFC contract in the early 50s and which Lockheed-CBM was glad to be rid of, as they were something of an embarrassment.

   These would go a long way to improving the unit’s organic heavy-lift capacity, without the use of dropships. While SOG would keep their earlier KC-6s in service until they fell apart; the ‘9s and ‘10s allowed their remaining VTOL transports to be re-tasked to supporting massed AirMobile assaults. This improved operational efficiency markedly almost immediately upon clearance of the new craft and crews for flight operations; CBM’s generous training and technical contract still making its presence felt, even as several of their staff were poached by the unit.

   MAPLE KEY also facilitated the purchase of additional Warrior gunships. While not ideal; they were popular aircraft in service and they were available factory-fresh and refurbished where other types rarely were and this order, once filled, finally allowed the retirement and scrapping of SOG’s oldest and most decrepit gunships, which had further dwindled in service alongside their newer sisterships. These joined the previous buy, which had only just managed to replace those older sisters and cousins still in use in the Gunship Squadron before they had to be permanently grounded and scrapped.

   A number of models were purchased in total;

   12x H-7 (3 New, 2 refurbished, 1 New Old Stock, 2 resale)

   6x H-7A (2 NOS, 3 refurbished, 1 resale)

   4x H-7C (refurbished)

   13x H-8 (9 New, 4 refurbished)

   SOG’s Warrior’s would serve until replaced late in their careers. By then most had been rebuilt several times and some Gunship Billets had been refilled with new craft and crews on so many occasions that by the time the Warrior left frontline service for good in the mid-80s, the type had lost its former good reputation and the Category 2, 3 and mobilization-only units that received them did so with a degree of ill-feeling. Certainly 5th Succession War Veterans “testing down” to the reserves and Militia were rarely happy to see their old mounts when they reported in. However, up until this point; SOG and later the SLDFiE would continue to procure and use the Warrior extensively, benefitting from Lockheed-CBM’s technical and training services until the contract was terminated by Lockheed-CBM in 3086.

   Around the same time, other purchase agents working on behalf of SOG used the positive relationship established with Lockheed/CBM to secure a mixed bag of fixed-wing aircraft of various classes, including badly needed AeroFighters.

   Lockheed also agreed to restore and refurbish certain older models of VTOL they were familiar with from other manufacturers in their facilities on Furillo.

   Michaelson Heavy Industries of Ruchbach was willing to release a small number of their cutting-edge VTOLs to SOG, but only as incentives to more lucrative deals “Maple Key Holdings” had arranged with various Militia units.

   Eventually, these included;

   5x Yellow Jacket Gunships. SOG found the Yellow Jacket’s useful for their gauss rifles; but tended to use them as more-mobile self-propelled guns; finding them really too slow for most Air Cav Missions. Still; they had their uses.

   2x Yellow Jacket Arrow IV. The two Arrow-IV Model Yellow Jackets were objects of more general interest than their Gauss Rifle cousins and eventually two more of the primary model would be converted. The Air Cavalry used these machines to support assaults and provide more mobile artillery support. While firing them while airborne took practice; eventually a trained crew could do it just as well as on the ground. Going Forward; after 3065 any additional Yellow Jackets would be rebuilt to this standard when bought or captured, if their airframes were in sufficiently good shape to warrant conversion.

   14x Mantis Light Attack VTOLs. While an interesting type to fly; these brand-new machines were found to be too fragile for anything but a scout role and there they were badly handicapped by their lack of electronics. After bouncing them around between various missions and units; SOG passed off the eight remaining Mantises to Canton Worlds Militia units in early 3070.

   8x Hawk Moth Gunships. The Hawk Moth proved a much more popular type in service than their older cousins; the Yellow Jackets. While slower than SOG’s Warriors; crews enjoyed the heavier firepower, reach and armour protection the type offered.  Some of the original Hawk Moths from the First MHI order remained in service long enough to see limited use with New Model Army formations and then be passed off to lower-readiness units in 3082.

   The Sprint Scout Helicopter was to become a staple of SOG and early SLDFiE “White” and “Pink” Teams; the scout and scout-gunship lances in Air Cavalry parlance, respectively. Fourteen were acquired fresh off the line in the initial order, but while Maple Key Holdings attempted to buy more over the years; MHI consistently cited shortfalls in production inventory and high demand and shut out these orders. While a small number of Sprints would be acquired over the years from other sources and the second-hand market, in particular; this shortfall led directly to the later SLDFiE Scout helicopter program which would eventually produce the much more capable Indian Scout. In the interregnum; the remaining Sprint Infantry Carriers were converted to scout models as soon as they could be spared from the Utility formations.

   11x Cavalry Attack Helicopters rounded out the initial MHI “pity order”, these were in a mix of configurations and frequently modified in service between variants by the crews as the opportunity presented itself. The initial two shipments consisted of six standard versions in shipment #1 and three TAG and two LRM in Shipment #2. The Cavalry fit in well performance-wise with the Warriors, but their superior armour protection frequently failed to protect them from concentrated groundfire as they were often forced to close the distance to use their weapons.  In 3069 the last Four Cavalries in service were standardized in the TAG version and assigned to scout formations. Thereafter any further examples procured with unit funds or through battlefield conquest were always converted to this Standard. In later Militia service, however; the Cavalry could be found in a myriad of configurations.
Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,      Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
The hour when earth's foundations fled,         They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
Followed their mercenary calling,               What God abandoned, these defended,
And took their wages, and are dead.             And saved the sum of things for pay.
     
A.E. Housman