From: War on the Rocks, Ten Ways to Fix the U.S. Military’s Close Combat Lethality
#2: The Marine Corps and Army should commit to fixing the staffing and manning of close combat formations to allow for cohesion.
This begins with how Americans are recruited and screened for these units and must remain central to how they’re educated, trained, retained, and treated throughout their service. The Department of Defense has recognized it has a talent management problem. However, it has failed to implement tested qualitative and quantitative measures that would make future close combat warfighter recruiting and retention efforts both accurate and precise in their shot group. Morally, mentally, and physically tough Americans, with strong, team-centric athletic backgrounds should be the primary target. Additionally, it can no longer be acceptable for infantry personnel expected to make instantaneous, tactical decisions that can easily have strategic effects to have the lowest mental aptitude requirements in the Marine Corps and Army. Fortunately, Chad Buckel, a Marine infantry officer serving in NATO’s special operations forces headquarters, just published a detailed plan, with objective metrics, for the Close Combat Lethality Task Force to use in fixing this manpower problem.
I never thought that the Imperial close combat units — mainly Marine, with some Army and Navy specialists, and even a few Scout units rattling around — were particularly dumb.1
It’s not primarily the lower echelons of high-tech societies that the Imperium recruits their close combat types (although they are present): it’s more the upper levels of low-tech worlds, where the work is hard and physical, and many men are interested in:
- earning (for them) a LOT of money
- actually seeing what the outer universe holds
- playing with a whole host of magical toys
- potentially gaining a huge level of responsibility and authority, in the services and (if titled, knighted or ennobled) even real political authority afterwards
- killing some non-humans2
(an especially widespread attitude on Vargr-bordering Solomani regions like the
Imperial Empty Quarter, but also noticeable on worlds bordering Aslan space)
- killing some non-conformists
(as above, but substitute “Vilani” for “Solomani”… and not just in the border regions.)
- serving the Emperor – the Imperium often enjoys higher esteem on poorer systems than on more cynical high-tech/high-pop systems
- There is a particular situation the Referee should keep an eye on. An illustration will suffice: when Beijing decided to smash the 1989 protests, many PLA units refused to open fire on unarmed students. So Army units composed of poor peasants who resented the relatively wealthy and entitled students were called upon: and they had no problem pulling the trigger.
From Wikipedia (footnotes snipped):
At about 10 pm, the 38th Army opened fire on protesters at the Wukesong intersection on Chang’an Avenue, about 10 km west of Square. The crowds were stunned that the army was using live ammunition and reacted by hurling insults and projectiles. Song Xiaoming, a 32-year-old aerospace technician, killed at Wukesong, was the first confirmed fatality of the night. The troops used expanding bullets, prohibited by international law for use in warfare, which expand upon entering the body and create larger wounds.
There is a Biblical phrase – “Count the cost” – and a business phrase – “Know who you are dealing with” – that the Referee should go out of his way to cram down the throat of the PCs every so often. Better to suffer in a game, than in real life.
“That’s what wargames are for.”
1 I leave the Referee to make the call for a particular mercenary or dynastic household unit.
2 Any competent Imperial Noble – and knows how to find out, exactly, the word people is defined for a given culture, species, or individual.
“Avoid preconceptions! Some cultures don’t include females or children of their own species in that category, while others include stars, spaceships, rocks, robots, and computer programs. Several powerful Solomani cultures demand the recognition of their deity as a sovereign person, much like our own beloved Emperor; while all Vilani cultures uphold the personage of the corporation.
Whether you are destined for a throne yourself, or sworn to support one, you must be able to see things as your subjects see. The Third Imperium is not a monoculture as the First was, and we will not bankrupt ourselves trying to remold alien cultures into our image, as the Second did.
To retain our thrones and our public honours, we must be able see reality as our subjects see, and respect the world they live in. And we as Imperials — Nobles, the Uniformed and the Civil Services, and common Loyalist alike — must be the buffer between divergent cultures, so all our worlds can engage in peaceful, mutually respectful trade and communication, instead of falling into hostile suspicion or open warfare.”