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Old January 16th, 2008, 07:03 PM
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Post Imperial Marine and Imperial Army capabilities

This is my second attempt to start this thread. The first text was lost when I clicked 'submit' so I'm doing my best to recapture my thoughts.

I've seen a number of threads that touched on Marine and Army formations but usually as a tangent to another subject, so I thought I'd start this one to generate discussion about the roles, organization, and capabilities of the Marine and Army units.

To start with, I see the difference between the Army and Marines as primarily one of endurance rather than a particular capability or unique equipment. This is a necessary by product of the fact that the Marines are tied to the fleet, giving them some unique advantages and disadvantages and also pointing them toward some specific missions that the Army will be less likely to perform.

One of the advantages for the Marines is that they can rely on the fleet for support. Having on-call fire support in the form of Ortillery and fighters means that the Marines can devote more of their limited manpower to combat formations. Also, having your barracks and mess hall in orbit above you means that you need less combat service support. Why recreate it when the fleet already provides it?

However, the umbilical to the fleet is also something like a leash in that when the fleet has to leave, the Marines have to go with them. That or someone else, like the Army, will have to provide the means for long-term combat support (like artillery and engineer) and combat service support (supply, medical, admin, etc.) to sustain the Marine combat formations.

Another by-product of the Marines' ties to the fleet will be a consequence of limitations on shipboard space. What vehicles the Marines have will of necessity be lighter and smaller than those commonly used by the Army. The Marine infantry will be heavily armored and equipped to maximize firepower, but their formations will have a brittleness to them that Army formations will not have. What I mean is that, the Marines will be able to take on enemies who can't match their firepower, but their ability to dish out punishment will not match their ability to absorb it without taking significant losses. For that reason, I think that the casualties suffered by Marines will tend to be toward either extreme rather than a normal distribution - they will either suffer little or no casualties because they overmatched their opponent, or they will suffer heavy casualties because their opponent was armed and armored enough to withstand the Marine firepower, at least for a time.

Finally, Marine missions will be dictated to a great extent by their inclusion in the fleet. Other than their function to guard embassies and the like, Marine missions will normally be sharp and of short duration, like boarding actions and raids. In fact boarding actions will be a Marine specialty, as will planetary assault, but in the event of an all-out war the Army will still be expected to conduct missions like planetary assault that in peacetime would normally be done by Marines. An historical parallel would be the experiences of the US Marine Corps and Army in WWII where the USMC developed the doctrine for amphibious operations but the Army conducted more of and the largest of those operations.

I guess that leads me to discussing the differences between the Army and Marines, but first I should acknowledge that there is some difference of opinion on whether there is an Imperial Army. Canon (to my limited knowledge) provides support to both viewpoints with earlier CT sources hinting at an Imperial Army but later texts disagreeing. IMTU there is an Imperial Army for two reasons. First, as I am attempting to outline, there is a need for a force like the Army because the Army provides capabilities the Marines will not have. Second, I think that the Emperor will surely want to have Army formations with loyalty to no one but him, rather than having to ask the domain, sector, or subsector nobles if he might be able to borrow a regiment or two.

The chief difference between the Marines and Army is that the Army comes with ground-based combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) rather than having to rely on the fleet for anything more than transportation. This means that Army formations will take more to haul, but once there can be left in place for the long-term.

A consequence will be that the Army's equipment will place more emphasis on protection rather than limiting size and weight. Indirect fire systems will be of larger caliber and armored vehicles will be bigger and have heavier armor. Therefore, Army formations will not only be able to fight longer, but they will also be able to withstand enemy firepower better, providing another critical consideration for Imperial military planners.

The Army will also come with units that perform all of the critical CS/CSS tasks - not only logistics and medical stuff but things like construction engineers (rather than combat engineers), civil affairs, and military intelligence that are critical to sustained missions like a counterinsurgency.

But, while the Imperial Army will be a big organization, it will not be as big as you might think. It will consist of both active duty and reserve units and will also have access to domain, sector, subsector, and system formations. I think it would work in a similar manner to the relationship between the US Army National Guard and the active Army in that the active army dictates standards of training and stipulates organization and doctrine for units and then provides the equipment and much of the funding for them. This allows the core of the Imperial Army forces to be augmented with other forces equipped to Imperial standards, though often at a lower tech level, ensuring compatibility both in operations and logistics.

More on the organization later, as this post is growing too long. Now you can see why I lost the first post - it took too long to type. At any rate, this will suffice for what I wanted to accomplish - I hope to generate discussion on the subject. My ideas are just that and I'm interested to see what assumptions, organization, and missions are the norm IYTU.
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Last edited by Major B; December 8th, 2009 at 09:33 AM..
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