For Immediate Release 07/06/2299 15:30 TST
Royal Wellon Joint Staff Institute : Press Office
The Royal Wellon Joint Staff Institute (RWJSI) is the Wellon Defence Force's premier staff college. As part of its ongoing programme of education for all levels of staff officer the RWJSI hosts the prestigious series of Wellington lectures by invited Senior Officers of both Wellonese and allied militaries. While attendance at the lectures, or access to the transcript, requires a security clearance the RWJSI Press Office provides, where possible, an edited version for public release.
The Summer 2299 Wellington lecture, entitled 'Militarism in the Modern World: Warmongering Waste or Prudent Provision' was given by Lieutenant-General Roger Faulkner RM, Deputy Chief of Joint Operations for the UK Ministry of Defence.
Field Marshal, Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen. I'd like to start first by offering my thanks to the Commandant for offering me the opportunity to deliver this lecture. I'd also like to thank the library services of both the RWJSI and the DWRSI in London for their help in researching this lecture.
There has arisen a conception within elements of the media and opinion formers within several prominent think-tanks that our world has become too heavily militarised. That defence forces in the western world in particular, but in all nations more generally, are living beyond their means and damaging their economies and societies. Indeed this opinion holds that this is not sustainable and indeed is not justifiable. This lecture aims to examine whether this charge holds water and we are wasteful warmongers, or whether our defence policy is a prudent response to the situation we find ourselves in.
The world changed fundamentally in January 1998, although few knew it at the time. The French government took the decision to protect her borders against the flood of refugees fleeing the fighting between NATO and the Warsaw Pact in Central and Eastern Europe. They did this by violating the territory of West Germany and the Netherlands, seizing all territory up to the line of the Rhine (1). This unilateral action saw the final breakdown of the system of coalitions and diplomacy that had, arguably since the Peace of Westphalia (2), underpinned the balance of power in Europe and then in the wider world.
This system had been under strain throughout its existence, with persistent challenges: Louis XIV, Napoleon and Hitler all threatened to overthrow it. However the greater the challenge, the stronger the informal coalitions that sought to restore the balance. Nations states and borders might change from time to time, but the military status quo would be eventually retained.
As the world evolved more sophisticated bodies were established to enforce the status quo and to strive for that honourable end: world peace. Unfortunately these bodies would be doomed by their need for consensus in their operations. The League of Nations was unable to act decisively and failed to oppose the Fascists who felt little need to play by its rules. The post-World War Two United Nations was made of slightly sterner stuff, but also in the end failed to mediate peace between East and West. In Europe and the western world the European Community and NATO were also ultimately split asunder when national political imperatives broke the rules that kept these multinational clubs together. In the east the Warsaw Pact was also exposed and failed.
However it was France's unilateral move to occupy the Rhineland as much as the widespread use of nuclear weapons that put the final nail in the coffin of collective defence. It was the final realisation that national politics could only be enforced by national will. Inflexible collective defence doctrines embodied by NATO, and to a lesser extent the Warsaw Pact, had led to the situation where West Germany's attempt at Reunification with East Germany had dragged the whole world to the brink of annihilation. Much like at the start of World War One, fixed diplomatic alliances and rigid military planning had caused catastrophe, only France's controversial withdrawal from NATO enabled the western world to eventually recover.
Since the Twilight Era there has been no bloc system of collective defence. The closest we have to such an organisation is OQC (3). However OQC is primarily concerned with the protection of Earth's biosphere, a matter on which there is little potential disagreement. Almost by default OQC has an overview for policing Earth's demilitarised orbits, but this is no easy task given the sophisticated nature of satellite technology. In this regard OQC is almost as powerless as the UN given the unwillingness of its member nations to keep to the letter of the Melbourne Accords.
Instead of collective defence individual nations have been forced to rely upon their own means to protect themselves and their interests. The most successful in this regard has been France, first with the French Union and now with the Empire. France has co-opted the resources of much of north and central Africa by her willingness to integrate these nations both politically and economically (4). Local domestic interests are protected by devolution and French willingness to utilise her military to back up her diplomacy. The Paix Française was a triumph for pragmatic but enlightened self-interest which while largely benefiting France also improved the lot of the world in general. Even so France's military resources were often stretched to the limit.
For most major campaigns the opt-in coalition volontaire has been the norm since the Saudi War. This model has continued in recent years with the Central Asian War being a prime example. Nations with similar interests co-ordinate their efforts towards a shared end. However when no shared interests are involved the lead nation will be forced to go alone. The War of German Reunification is a prime example of this; France was isolated politically and diplomatically and was unable to count upon its usual allies. It is doubtful that the war would have even been fought had Poland and Britain declared support for France beforehand.
While today no self-respecting starfaring nation would place its defence entirely in the hands of another, co-operation is far from unknown. Many nations make efficient use of common doctrines, training regimes or equipment procurement to a greater or lesser degree. The relationship between the European Space Agency nations before the War of German Reunification (5) and that between Mexico and Argentina (6) is instructive in this regard. Similarly historical links can also be maintained; such as those between certain nations in the Commonwealth of Nations or Lusophone links between Brazil, Portugal and Mozambique.
The post-Twilight Era realpolitik gave rise to the practise of some nations loaning other countries, usually France, elements of their armed forces (7). These expeditionary forces were often dispatched even when the nation's own interests are not particularly involved and could often be an unpopular measure domestically. The payback could be in terms of combat experience, diplomatic capital, commercial concessions or even direct payment. While the United States Marines (8) are the most well known in this role many other nations are involved. France in particular is always on the look out for supporting troops, whilst Argentina has used the militaries of other South American nations to bolster its forces against mighty Brazil. When this support has not been forthcoming it has curtailed her operations, for example in the relatively rapid conclusion of the 2nd Rio Plato War (9).
The historical parallels between some of these nations and some post-40 Years War German States is marked. A competent military establishment can be maintained 'on the cheap' by placing parts of it at the disposal of the French. The resulting access to modern doctrine, tactics as well as reduced price military equipment has resulted in some smaller states having a military capability and reputation far greater than their size would suggest.
There is a realisation amongst world leaders that nations are ultimately reliant on their own resources. If France, the primus inter pares of the modern world, could not rely on her allies to defend mainland France from invasion in2293 what chance has any other nation? The best deterrence is a competent defence.
The security environment
I have already mentioned the Paix Française, a period of relative peace that is now long past. Today international relations are more strained than they have ever been.
South America remains a key flash point. In fact the power struggle between Argentina and Brazil often reminds commentators of the 20th Century Cold War between East and West albeit in a struggle of nationalism rather than ideology. Three devastating wars have already been fought between the two power blocs (10). In addition to this tension continues between Argentina and Britain over our presence in the South Atlantic (11).
In North America the long running stand-off between Mexico, America and Texas continues (12). Although less likely than ever to erupt into a full blown war the border remains heavily militarised, minor border infractions are frequent and hard-liners on all sides seem unlikely to take a step backwards given domestic political opinion.
In Asia the after effects of the Central Asian War still reverberate. A strong Manchurian Army is still posed across the border from the CAR where French, Russians and a few Japanese remain entrenched in that unstable nation. Iranian influence grows in the CARs border regions with the local Muslim populations (13). In the east of the region Manchuria and Japan vie for influence. Canton and Indonesia still have issues over Indochina which remains domestically unstable (14). As ever the Indian States remain a scar on the conscience of the world (15).
Africa is perhaps the least troubled part of Earth, despite unrest in parts of French Central Africa, instability caused by the failed state of Berbera and low intensity confrontation on the border zone between French Central Africa and Azania (16).
For so long the most stable and prosperous region in the world, Europe is still torn by the after effects of the War of German Reunification and the sudden dramatic change in the balance of power and emphasis. In place of Bavaria with her outward looking colonial bias, a Terran focused, assertive and militarily powerful Germany has now come into being. Centuries old links and assumptions have become obsolete and diplomacy is still recovering. Above all the armies of France and Germany still face each other across the Rhine nursing grievances, threatening the potential of a much more destructive campaign which could spill over into neighbouring states (17). A recent détente between France and Germany with co-operation over the Kafer War has eased some tension (18), but doubts must remain about the depth of the relationship.
Such is the situation on Earth. I hope you'll forgive me for not elaborating on events in the colonies, which I hope to touch on later. However I think you'll agree that the potential for bilateral war amongst the 'heavy hitters' on Earth is a considerable one. The security situation has degenerated considerably over the last fifty years and the relative decline of French prestige has not helped. This level of potential military threat cannot be ignored by any sensible defence planner.
As an example of the sort of problem faced in this security and co-operation environment, I shall look in more detail at the case of Germany which I've already touched on.
German reunification on Earth was secured by its victory over France in the War of German Reunification in 2293. This was an event that confirmed Germany as a coming power in world affairs. However the resultant ground swell of national pride (19), combined with some un-diplomatic language by some politicians (20), undoubtedly caused some disquiet to Germany's neighbours. French hostility and hurt pride meant that Germany would have to continue being on her guard in the west despite French internal political turmoil. Indeed the Germans have noted that while famously French arrogance robbed her of any allies in 2293, Germany alsofought alone.
The incorporation of Bavaria's colonies into the new Germany has also provided problems for the new state. Bavaria's largest and wealthiest colony of Garten chose not to become a part of the new Germany (21), taking with her 195 million citizens and much of Bavaria's industrial capacity. The French have extended military aid to the newly re-named Freihafen. In addition the colony of Heidelsheimat refuses to acknowledge the authority of the German government over it (22). Negotiations between the two parties are on-going but Heidelsheimat has taken military precautions against any possible German intervention (23).
The situation in the French Arm colonies have also been something of a mixed bag. Well developed Nibelungen came under the German flag after the war and has been allowed to continue with its internal autonomy undimmed and its shipyards turn out German registered ships (24). The Bavarian Continent of Beta Canum also accepted German control but tension with the French colony has escalated since the war (25). The Halbinsel colony on Joi continues to be at the centre of confrontation with other colonies on that world, especially with the Japanese (26). Industrialised Hochbaden, the site of a major space battle during the war with France, is threatened by the Kafer Crisis in neighbouring Eta Bootis (27).
Some of the biggest problems have been found on Adlerhorst where violence between pro- and anti-Reunificationist factions prompted French intervention which ended only at the conclusion of the war. Tension and violence are still commonplace and Anglophone peacekeepers do their best to keep a lid on the situation and monitor military levels on-planet (28). The former penal colony of Dunkelheim has toyed with rebellion from German rule in the past, in part to extract greater funding, but her loyalty to Germany seems less than totally whole hearted (29).
So what do these factors mean for German defence planning and policy?
First and foremost Germany must be able to protect her European heartland from the French, the major military power on Earth, and any allies she many bring to the fight. She needs to be able to mobilise sufficient forces to hold off French front-line forces. With the loss of Garten/Freihafen Germany lacks the massive resources and manpower reserves of the French so must avoid a long term war. Supporting this must be a policy of diplomacy and link building with her neighbours and possible allies.
Secondly Germany is vulnerable in the colonies, several of which could be picked off either by French action or independence movements following the example of Freihafen or Heidelsheimat. The large French fleet can do untold damage to the merchant shipping that holds together Germany's off-world holdings and economy. Consequently Germany has been building a fleet that whilst unable to defeat that of France would weaken any attacked considerably, if not utterly, in being defeated. This 'fleet-in-being' or 'riskflotte' strategy has been supported from the off by the construction of rapidly produced warships and large numbers of fighters. It is accepted in German strategy that the French will likely have general space superiority in a future conflict which Germany will challenge with its heavy fleet units like the Bismarck only at times of its own choosing.
Thirdly, and related to the second point is colonial defence. With the possibility of large scale reinforcement ruled out by likely French fleet superiority, not to mention expense, Germany must maintain substantial and capable garrisons on worlds where tension is a factor. This includes Beta Canum, Joi and, within treaty limits, Adlerhorst. Other worlds can have smaller, less capable garrison forces. Despite this Germany must also maintain some force projection capability to reinforce colonies for a variety of problems outside of all out war. This also covers the capability to intervene in Heidelsheimat should that decision ever be taken.
As a contrast with West Germany in the late 1980s, modern Germany has no NATO supporting it. She is also unable to concentrate solely on the defence of European Germany, having to defend off-world colonies and maintain a sizeable space force.
The historical numbers game
One of the main complaints of commentators is that current levels of military forces are unprecedented. That there is no parallel for this level of militarisation.
A look at some of the figures would be instructive. Please note that in all these figures I have generally excluded colonial populations and formations and tried to match like with like where possible.
The British Army's 2302 Organisation Plan aims to field some 90 regular infantry battalions and 36 regular Royal Armoured Corps regiments (30). In total some 126 combat manoeuvre units. This is to cover UK commitments on Earth, Tirane and in the colonies.
Equivalent figures for the British Army of 1988 are 19 RAC regiments and 54 regular battalions, excluding Ulster raised units (31). A total of 73 manoeuvre combat units. These were responsible for fulfilling UK commitments the most notable of which were the BAOR in Germany, forces in Northern Ireland and the Hong Kong garrison. The late 1980's is a period I've chosen as I find the situation roughly similar to what we have today and with a military in a roughly similar pattern of organisation.
Comparing planned 2302 figures with those of 1988 there is a 75% increase in the number of units. However when comparing population figures a different picture emerges. The current population of Great Britain is just under 112 million, that of Great Britain in 1988 just under 55 million, roughly half of the today's. Converting this to a ratio of manoeuvre units per million of the population gives a figure of 1.33 for 1988 and 1.12 for 2302. Including figures for the Royal Marines changes this slightly giving 1.4 for 1988 and 1.24 for 2302.
A further comparison could be made with numbers of reserve units. The 2302 plan foresees 18 reserve RAC regiments and 81 reserve infantry battalions a total of 99 units. The British Army of 1988 had only 5 reserve RAC regiments and 43 infantry battalions for a total of 48. This gives ratios of 0.87 for 1988 and 0.88 for 2302, although the figures are slightly skewed as in 1988 the regular reserve and TA were separate, unlike the situation today.
Combining regular and reserve units the ratio of manoeuvre units per million population are 2.2 in 1988 and 2.0 in 2302. This is only one possible indicator of 'militarisation' but it suggests that Britain today is actually relatively less militarised than Britain in 1988.
For those interested in national comparisons in 1987 West Germany deployed around 204 manoeuvre units of regulars, reserves and territorials from a population of 61 million (32). This gives a ratio of 3.34 units per million population, were East Germany to be included this number would probably be higher. Today the reunified Germany, still reorganising its forces, has no fewer than 340 units in total from a population of 105 million (33). This gives an absolute increase of 166% but a ratio of 3.24, slightly lower than 1989, even given the task of confronting France alone and with excess in its system due to conservative reform of the State Armies.
The figures for France in 1987 are 121 units including front-line battalions, reserves and units deployed overseas (34) from a population of roughly 55 million. This gives a ratio of 2.2. Looking at the modern French Imperial Army on Earth (35), excluding off-world and Coloniale forces, there are some 419 units, however these are drawn from European, African and other overseas territories with a population of 407 million people. This gives a ratio of 1.03, a 50% decrease. It should also be noted that the modern French Army is, with the exception of the volunteer-conscripts manning some 84 units of the Armée Territoriale de l'Hexegone, an entirely regular force.
The French, following the lead of Bavaria, have pioneered the use of colonial forces as a reserve for troops on Earth, most notably with Nouvelle Provence on Tirane. These forces include 105 regular units and some 72 regional volunteer militia battalions for a total of 177 units, drawn from a population of 239 million. This gives unit/population ratios of 0.44 for regulars, 0.3 for militia and 0.74 overall. If these are combined into a 'core' total there are no fewer than 596 combat units from a population of 646 million. A ratio of 0.92, implying plenty of slack in the system as well as representing a formidable military force.
To give some other figures the famous Légion Étrangère is roughly 300% larger than it was in 1989 (36), however it is the same size as the post-WW2 Légion at the start of the war in Indochina.
Another indicator we could use is the number of front-line tanks in service. In 1989 around 1200 Challenger and Chieftain Main Battle Tanks were in service including BAOR reinforcements, the bulk concentrated in Germany (37). In 2302 it is planned for no fewer than 1800 Montgomeries, Cavaliers and Churchills to be in service across three worlds (38). An increase of 150% in absolute terms. Comparing relative to population gives a figure of 21.8 tanks per million population in 1988 and 16.0 in 2302, although that figure drops to 11.6 if the 500 Cavaliers of the RAC Yeomanry are excluded. This figure implies a slight decrease in militarisation.
For those with a more historical bent at the start of the Peninsular War in 1807 the regular British Army had 34 regiments of cavalry and its 108 infantry regiments included 186 battalions for a total of 220 manoeuvre units (39). The total British and Irish population was around 17.5 million. This gives a figure of 12.6 units per million population. However this comparison is not a fair one to make due to the significant organisational differences in a pre-Industrial age military compared with the one we have today.
Lastly for the local audience the figures for the Wellonese Army (40). For the regulars 14 armoured regiments and 59 infantry battalions give a total of 73 units. For Home Service and Volunteer Force reservists the total is 73 infantry battalions, which means a combined total of 146 units with 212 million population. The ratios are thus 0.34 for regulars, 0.34 for reservists and 0.69 overall. Thus in relative terms Wellon is roughly 1/3rd as militarised as modern Britain and in absolute terms has only 65% of the units that Britain has.
I have searched around for a historical comparison and have decided to use the Canadian Army in 1989. This disposed 14 regular units and some 70 reserve units (41), although some of the latter were not at full strength, from a population of 27 million. The resulting ratios are; 0.51, 2.59 and 3.11. As mentioned the figures for reserves are skewed by the large number of units compared with their actual strength, however the figure for regular units is revealing. In terms of regular units modern Wellon is 2/3rds as militarised as Canada in 1989, hardly a time of rampant militarism in that nation.
There are some nations where the trend is towards a slight increase in relative militarisation. We all know of America's expertise in security and misinformation, but if the five division model (42) is accurate the modern United States Marine Corps has 62 'teeth' battalions from a 211.5 million population and the 1989 USMC 56 from 248.7 million (43). This gives a current unit/population ratio of 0.29 against a 1989 figure of 0.23.
The main stumbling block when discussing 'militarisation' is the failure to differentiate between absolute and relative statistics. Thus what looks like dramatic 150-200% increase in size to the uninitiated is actually a simple marking of time to the General Staffs. However until both sides of the debate realise they are talking about Apples and Oranges little progress will be made.
The equipment and training angle
Today's wars are fought largely 'as you are' at least in the initial stages. That is the conflict will largely be fought with the equipment, training and doctrine that the combatants started it with. Massive re-equipment mid-conflict is very unlikely although system upgrades and introduction of new ordnance often occurs. Indeed during wartime most new manufacture of equipment is largely used to replace combat losses rather than form new unit, although sometimes production exceeds wastage rates. French overproduction of AC-8s in the Central Asian War and ABR-76s in the War of German Reunification are prime examples of this (44).
Consequently militaries need to be equipped with what they expect to fight with. You cannot expect to fight and win having just introduced a new main AFV into service a year before entering a war. There are a whole raft of things that need to be done to integrate new fighting systems. If you are replacing an old system with a new model then things are easier, but new capabilities cannot be built overnight. Even more problematical is the formation of new units.
Indeed in this case perhaps more important than equipment in this regard is doctrine, training systems and plain old-fashioned experience. Soldiers take time to train, units can be thrown together very quickly, but take an inordinately long time to reach their full potential. The modern hovermobile armoured division is, needless to say, an incredibly complex beast. I know that the Wellon Army expects its proposed Mechanised Divisions, formed from existing units, to take several years to gel together properly.
Looking at the capability of modern equipment it is clear there has been a step change in capability in recent years thanks to the upgrading of armour technologies. In particular in the AC-12 and LkPz-IX when compared with their predecessors. However these vehicles are still notable for their main armament battle range of around 2km, although missiles can push that out to 8km or beyond. So ultimately although speed, vectronics, sensors and armour have all changed markedly in the last three centuries the typical battle range for an AFV engagement, as seen in both recent major wars, has not. Perhaps most importantly relative lethality is still very high as witnessed by wastage rates in recent conflicts.
As a result of these factors claims made of the 'empty battlefield' are somewhat inaccurate, instead what we have is a very much deeper battlefield. The shear number of troops required to hold the actual 'line' or more accurately control the Forward Edge of the Manoeuvre Zone is still significant unless one side has a major technological advantage over the other, an unlikely situation in conflicts between the major starfaring powers.
In terms of procurement it is difficult to compare the cost of modern equipment with that of its historical counterpart but some rough figures might be helpful. The unit replacement cost of a M1A2 Abrams MBT (45), the then leading design in mass production, in the lead in to WW3, is given as US$4.3 million which translates roughly as Lv1 million in today's money (46). Similarly in 1991 the unit price for the first batch of British Challenger 2s worked out at US$5.4 (47) or roughly Lv1.5 million, although this figure also included logistical support. This compares with the unit price of the AC-12 of Lv0.5 million and LkPz-IX of Lv0.3 million (48). In comparison the controversial Montgomery has a unit price of Lv1 million, but like the Challenger that figure also includes logistic and other support from the manufacturer.
It should perhaps be noted that there is relatively little of the massive escalation in cost between generations of equipment which was such a factor at the end of the 20th century. The excellent LkPz-IX costs the German government little more than its predecessor the LkPz-VIII (49). Maintenance on these vehicles is however substantially cheaper and less manpower intensive that their historical counterparts as most of the technology is mature and well proven.
However while costs show relatively little escalation the continuous improvement and refinement of equipment continues unabated. The LkPz-IX and AC-12 were born out of the experience of the early Central Asian War and were the best, although outnumbered by older types, AFVs in their national inventories during the War of German Reunification. However both of these types has been upgraded since then in the AC-12bis and LkPz-IX Aufs B which incorporate the lessons of the war, and further development is underway on follow-on AFVs with the AC-14 and rumoured LkPz-X. Complaints about the capabilities of the Montgomery are generally mistaken, comparing it with the 'classic' AC-12 and LkPz-IX instead of the upgraded models. Historically equipment capabilities have never stood still, a good example would be the increase in capabilities of different marks of M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks of the pre-WW3 period.
To maintain troops with a capability to fight their equipment and soldier effectively an efficient training infrastructure must be in place. This takes even longer to develop and establish than mere equipment procurement even though the methodology is tried and tested. Once capabilities are lost in this regard it can take decades to replace. For some, training establishments are expensive luxuries, in reality they are a vital parts of any competent military. Poorly trained troops are a massacre waiting to happen.
Modern training methods are notable for their ability to train personnel in technical subjects, only in the relatively low-tech world of the infantry is the use of simulators still only minor part of the syllabus. This means, for example, that a pilot for an attack gunship will take roughly the same amount of time as to train a competent infanteer. The investment in training infrastructure makes training more effective in both military and financial terms.
Just to remake the point there is no such thing as the 'natural soldier' today, there is just the well trained soldier. The Légion Étrangère has its reputation because it trains hard and well, not because it recruits 'murderous scum' to its ranks. The same applies to all units and armies. The Gurkhas make excellent soldiers, they have fine temperaments and great physical fitness, but without the training we give them they would be bested by even the most sedentary armed force.
So whilst technology has certainly advanced, it has not advanced to such an extent that large stocks of equipment can be done away with entirely. Indeed in the modern world it is best to assume the enemy has similar equipment, and indeed combat power to you. The only advantage you can hope for is in the quality of your doctrine, training and procedures all of which cost to develop.
The reserve issue
In the modern world reserve forces are vital to sustain force in combat for any length of time. The eventual Brazilian success in the 1st Rio Plato War can be largely ascribed to the failure of the Argentine reserve system. Germany was able to, indeed had to, beat France quickly as in a war of attrition her reserves would have been swamped by the vast numbers of troops available to the French. Some militaries rely very heavily on the reserves in time of war, whilst some have only a background role. Historically Britain has suffered very seriously as a result of its poorly organised reserve system.
An effective reserve system can be used in two main ways. Either to reinforce regular formations with formed units or to provide individual battle casualties. In either case the reservists have to have reasonable training and be able to integrate swiftly with the standing military. Whether the reservists are ex-regular, ex-conscript or volunteers matters little compared to the standard of training. Skill fade is a major problem and those who have failed to train in the last three years will require refresher training before being sent into action. Most militaries have a system which will bring troops to readiness between two to four weeks.
Reserve training can be conducted in two ways; either monthly on weekends or concentrated in a fortnight's annual training, or both. This training is usually timed to make maximum use of the national training infrastructure at times when it is not in use with regular formations.
Equipment in use with the reserves is usually a generation behind that used by that of the regulars. However with evolutionary procurement practises these share many of the same characteristics and layouts. Traditionally reserves have been lightly equipped and rarely had AFVs, as costs, training and maintenance were often deemed prohibitive. Today's AFVs have a much lower maintenance burden and most include built in simulation systems which makes low level training easy, even in a two hour weeknight training period.
As we near the end of the 23rd Century people increasingly have a low workload (50) and part-time working is increasingly the norm. This has resulted in recruitment for volunteer reserves being relatively easy as people aim to fill their time, learn new skills and seek a challenge away from their lives in the metroplex. Similarly many are able to do much more training than the basic commitment, increasing the skill base of their units.
Reserves are, in short, an incredibly cost effective way of providing back-up for regular forces. I don't think anyone here would want to return to the situation faced by Kitchener's New Armies on the Somme in 1916, especially given the nature of modern weaponry.
The colonial issue
The anti-militarist position is particularly strident over the nascent militaries in the colonies. They believe that the colonies are becoming needlessly militarised and forced to buy expensive AFVs and other high-intensity warfare equipment. The argument goes that the bulk of their forces should be light role infantry alone.
Unfortunately colonies have been militarised since their foundation. The Alpha Centauri War saw to that; no sensible coloniser would start this massive investment without some protection on the ground. Since then tensions between national colonies has been sadly all too common, even with nations who are close allies on Earth. The rivalry between Alicia and Nouvelle Europe is a point in question. Post Reunification War tension between French and ex-Bavarian colonies on Beta Canum-4 and Adlerhorst follow on from Germanic support of Elysian Independence. These are but a few examples of inter-colonial tensions. Nationalism may be fading in the colonies but quarrelling with your neighbours has never gone out of fashion.
The colonies face an even greater problem with establishing and maintaining military capability than the core nations. Regulars, either locally raised or deployed from the home country, must rely on a less well established military infrastructure and look to the home country for heavy military equipment. At least until local industry is well established. Reinforcement from off-world will more than likely not be available, either due to blockade or more likely logistical constraints. Movement of large numbers of troops has yet to be tried and experiments with opposed landings on any scale are in their infancy. Indeed even now the most cutting edge warship designs can land only a battle group of infantry (51).
France has been most effected by this problem. It sent reinforcements to Elysia but relied on a mixture of military and civilian shipping landing a brigade sized formation of Marines. They have also responded to the alien assault on Aurore by landing ad-hoc elements totalling two divisions of troops on that world (52). However in both cases they landed in areas still held by friendly forces. Techniques for opposed landings are being developed, but the best defence is to hold a world in strength. As previously mentioned France has also developed the use of colonial troops as a reserve force for action on Earth or on other worlds. Like reserve troops on Earth colonial militias should not be overlooked as they fulfil exactly the same role.
It may be constructive to compare the effectiveness of the various militia forces on Aurore at the time of the Kafer invasion. The French have fared best of all, their small regular garrison combined effectively with the militia, an all arms capable formation including light AFVs (53). This force was sophisticated enough to engage the Kafers in mobile battles on the plains of the colony and perform creditably against the well armed aliens. Although the militia has recently declined in effectiveness due to casualties and its veterans being transferred to bolster other formations and being replaced by new, less well trained volunteers.
Tanstaafl's paramilitary defence militia on the other hand performed relatively poorly, with little training or equipment (54). Its training system was rudimentary while procurement and leadership were tainted with corruption. During the invasion despite the valiant efforts of a contingent of German Marines (55), only the use of nuclear weapons managed to stem the Kafer advance (56). This situation has slowly improved with the influx of mercenaries, international training teams, new equipment and the advancement of proven leaders.
Perhaps ironically, the best prepared colony suffered the worst. The Ukrainians had a system of universal conscription with two years national service (57) with over 35 000 citizens eligible for service every year (58). Although not all of these were conscripted for the full two years the Civic Guard was a formidable paramilitary force. Unfortunately the Ukrainian colony bore the brunt of the attack on Aurore and the Civic Guard was nearly annihilated by the combination of orbital bombardment and ground troops. However the post-occupation Ukrainian guerrilla effort has been based on the skills learnt by almost all of the population during military service.
All of the colonists of Aurora would fall into the traditional category of 'good natural soldiers'. Fit individualists with a taste for the outdoor life. The superior performance of the French over the Tanstaaflians has nothing to do with national characteristics. The French militia were merely better trained, equipped and led.
Of course different conditions and national outlooks lead to a different approach. The world of Hermes has only an American colony and consequently a small military presence. The Hermes White Wing Militia (59) totals only a single brigade of 2000 soldiers for a population of 2,000,000. Official statements describe this as a 'very small group' and expansion is clearly on the agenda. However even this small force represents a unit/population ratio of 1.5, significantly larger than that of Wellon.
The comments that colonies should concentrate more on infantry forces are also somewhat at odds with the facts. The wartime French militia on Aurora has 2 armoured regiments and 11 infantry battalions a 15%/85% split (60). Whereas Wellon, let us not forget an independent, high-tech state with over 200 million citizens, has a total force of 14 armoured regiments and 132 infantry battalions: a split of 10%/90%. A more in-depth split by role shows 10 recce units, 24 armoured units, 21 mechanised units, 18 light infantry and 73 reserve infantry units. Counting the recce, armoured and light units as front line formations and the mechanised and reserves as second line this gives a split of 36%/64% (61). Indeed it should be noted that much of that 36% has been recently formed since Wellon's full separation from the United Kingdom.
It seems strange to me that some people believe nations like Wellon or Freihafen; modern, advanced states with very large populations should not develop their own sophisticated military capabilities. As noted before these capabilities take a long time to establish. I would not expect highly industrialised Freihafen in particular to rely only on the protective umbrella of the French for any great length of time.
In my opinion those who call for all colonial forces to be composed of light infantry have not been studying the actual state of affairs. Most colonial forces are predominantly composed of light infantry, but most of them also have a high end military capability, usually small but increasingly large as the colony ages and grows.
A historical example of militarisation might perhaps be drawn with Australia prior to the 1st World War which had a militia force (62) of some 45,000 from a population of just under 4 million, not to mention extensive naval defensive fortifications. This compares with the Wellon Army's current total strength of just over 200,000 PF, HS and VF soldiers. The Anzac reputation was won by their tenacity at Gallipoli in 1915 but they, like the Canadian Corps, reached their zenith as a battlefield elite at Amiens in 1918 only after three years of experience and training.
Militarism in the colonies is perhaps most marked out by the use of mercenaries, sometimes even equipped with armour (63). These are used to bolster colonies who lack certain capabilities as well as having a training cadre role.
Finally many colonising nations deploy regular, Earth raised formations to their colonies for training and garrison purposes in addition to locally raised units. For this to be done efficiently a large pool of troops must be maintained in the home nation to allow rotation of formations. Whilst more expensive than relying on local troops alone many nations pursue this course.
So to summarise the position. Humanity on the verge of the 24th Century is in a dangerous situation. The system largely responsible for the past centuries of relative stability has now completely failed. Earth and the colonies are riven with tensions and grievances. On the frontiers of our colonies we now face an alien force with sophisticated military forces and the capability to move it between worlds.
Formal international co-operation is largely absent, which while arguably making small wars easier has helped prevented world spanning wars for some three hundred years. Consequently nations that what to be taken seriously on the world stage must have effective military systems incorporating front-line troops, reserves, equipment and doctrine.
Whilst troop levels are higher in absolute levels than in relatively similar previous times in history, in relative terms most are actually at the same levels of militarisation, if not actually slightly lower. The military situation in the colonies is greatly misunderstood by anti-militarists on Earth. Most are relatively lightly militarised, especially given the large populations and sophistication of some of the older colonies.
I'd like to end with a quote from the 1st Duke of Wellington which I think particularly sums up the position I, and others, hold.
"Admitting the truth of the expense, I say that the country has not a choice between Army and no Army, between peace and war. They must have a large and efficient Army, one capable of meeting the enemy abroad, or they must expect to meet him at home: and then farewell to all considerations of measures of greater or lesser expense, and to the ease, the luxury and happiness of England."
I have to admit that if the Iron Duke was viewing British and Wellonese Armies today, he might well consider them efficient but perhaps not large enough for the task they may have to face.
The text of the original lecture was edited by the RWJSI Secretariat to remove any classified data. The edited text was subsequently approved by Lt-Gen Faulkner.
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This article developed to look in to the question of militarisation in 2300AD. Specifically the charge that some of the orders of battle on the Etranger website were too large. This article aims to examine some ideas of how militaries in 2300AD differ from those today and to compare statistics of 'canon', Etranger and historical militaries.
I have attempted to follow canon as closely as possible. I have attempted to be as accurate as possible with the troop numbers and populations, although undoubtedly, some small errors will have crept in.
The notion of militarism is a relative difficult one define, especially in a game system. I have chosen to look at absolute numbers but to look mainly at the relative size of armies compared with the population that supports them. It has been pointed out that another comparison would be economical, however the only canon figures are the disputed 'Rudell Units' which are supposed to be a measure of industrial capacity. However I think it would be fair to say that for the leading 2300AD nations economic efficiency is pretty similar and so overall economic power would be roughly equated to population in any event.
There is only one full order of battle that has any claims to canon status, that I am aware of, Clare Hess' 'The American Marines'. When examined this shows no particular trend towards a smaller force. The Aurore Sourcebook, probably the best canon source for military information in 2300, is informative of its description of colonial defences. It also shows, in combination with a line in the 2300AD Directors Guide, that most French regiments have three battalions - a three fold increase from the situation in the real world today.
I have tried to outline how I see the international situation in 2300AD. One of tension and instability and rivalry between the leading nations and ably outlined in the article Earth:2300 (64). In the real world collective defence succeeded, but in the 2300AD world, with its roots in the Twilight War, it did not. The world situation in 2300 is certainly not peaceable enough to justify large scale demilitarisation such as the post-Cold War 'peace dividend'.
I have chosen the late 1980s as the era to make comparisons with as it is the period when GDW wrote the game. It also allows the inclusion of the Twilight War, and there is also detailed military information available for it. I have not chose real world data in the late 1990 and early 2000s as these have been effected by the 'peace divided' following the end of the Cold War, which of course didn't end as peacefully in the 2300AD universe.
So in conclusion I think the absolute levels of troops are justified by the international situation. I hope that some of the statistics show that relative levels of troops are far from excessive.
I must thank Douglas Jones whose work on British Army numbers inspired me to start thinking about the topic of relative levels of militarisation. Thanks also to those who've given me feedback on the article.
Copyright D Hebditch, 2003
1 - Twilight:2000 Referee's Manual pp.26 (GDW) and F. Frey, NATO
Vehicle Guide, pp.15-17 (GDW)