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"Third platoon, third support squadron, sir!"


A time honored way of confusing, misdirecting, or avoiding enemy awareness is that of hiding things in plain sight.

When you set up your new, super-talented, highest-secret level covert unit with funding, obscure labels, and all sorts of other accouterments, it tends to attract as much attention, especially from the professionals, as if you'd openly announced it in news feeds.

Conversely, no one pays attention to another administrative subdivision amongst yet another support element.

Enter the "3P3s", or "Third Platoon, Third Support Squadron". A catch-all amongst Imperial (or your local flavor) units that "get things done".

Maybe it's regime overthrow. Maybe it's covert action. Maybe it's advance reconnaissance. Sometimes, maybe it's a place to put the troublemakers til they retire.

The real power of the "3P3s" is that there isn't one label. It's a generic unit designation for a subsector (or sector) level tool of deniable policy. In fact, most "Third Platoon, Third Support Squadron" designations rarely last more than a couple of years on an organization chart. Even the unit naming structure is a mix of Imperial service doctrines. Some "Platoons" have been as few as three individuals. Others had upwards of a hundred. But, the label doesn't change.

3P3s don't have a set uniform. No standard background. No overarching agenda (beyond Imperial needs). Heck, they don't even have a standard mission set - all of which confuse the heck out of observers and intelligence collectors.

It plays out in other ways, too. Stories in spaceport bars. Challenge coins. A tattoo or patch or blazon from some subsector. A pair of sophonts sharing a smile and a drink at their adventures parsecs apart.

Of course, it's equally frustrating on the side of the Imperium. You're an Admiral. A General. A Baron. And, all of a sudden the latest x-boat drop includes orders from Capital (or equivalent in your universe) stating "Such and such unit is established and conducting operations at my will. You will provide them the fullest support and ask no questions."

And, it's the military. Words trickle out. Things get shared.

Those 3P3s? They ask for it, Supply finds it. They get in a bar fight? Things get brushed over. Who are they? What is their mission? All that leads to stories, conjecture, rumor, and all the other things. Which work to add more concealment.

Because. Be it a week. A month. Maybe, on rare occasions, over a year. The last sophont from "those guys" will drop off a package of paperwork at the admin desk, or with the Embassy Naval Attache. "We're done here. Thanks for the help."

And , all of a sudden. It's like the Third Platoon, Third Support Squadron was never there. . .
It is.

But, that's before we found out about the more unsavoury aspects of his (personal) character, the fact that the mob laundered money through him, he beat up his wife, his martial art students were instructed to let him win, and his eventual exile.
999th Light Afrika Division

The 999th Light Africa Division (999. leichte Afrika-Division) was a German Army unit formed in Tunisia in early 1943. The basis of the division was the 999th Africa Brigade (999. Afrika-Brigade), formed several months earlier, as a penal military unit. While all members of Nazi punishment units were labeled "criminals", a significant proportion of the brigade's members had been transferred to it for holding, or being perceived to hold, anti-Nazi ideas.

The division was not fully-formed when Axis forces in North Africa began to collapse. Consequently, the elements of the division that fought in Tunisia generally did so as independent battalions or companies, which suffered high losses (in terms of casualties and captured) before being withdrawn. Fighting mostly against US Army forces, many members of the division reportedly surrendered their positions to the Americans without a fight.

Afterwards, the severely depleted division was sent to Axis-occupied Greece for garrison duties and to conduct "Bandenbekämpfung";[1] a term which, in Nazi usage, was usually a euphemism for anti-partisan campaigns.

During the deployment to Greece, some members of the division commenced (or recommenced) a range of subversive and/or anti-Nazi activities. The most prominent of these was Falk Harnack, who defected to the Greek resistance and, with other German defectors, formed the Anti-Fascist Committee for a Free Germany (AKFD).[2] Another notable member of the AKFD was August Landmesser, who reportedly refused to make the Nazi salute during his military service and had been depicted in such a protest, in a famous photograph.[3]
FWIW, there's also a history among certain communities of a few, common, throw-away aliases to be used for everything from restaurant reservations to introductions at briefings which don't really matter. I think that would be getting a little *too* crazy to pull off in a thousand-system empire...

Though, I'm sure the 3rd Imperium has the same ubiquitous common first names amongst intel types. "Just" Mike, "Just" Susan, and so on!