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How Should a Space Military Force be Organized?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Commodore, Mar 15, 2014.

  1. ChiefDesigner

    ChiefDesigner Sunset Emperor

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    ...what incompetent moron would put humans into space?

    You don't frakking have a space navy, because only idiots would do that sort of thing; you keep your expensive, highly-trained space drone operators in a fortified bunker on Earth, you target the other guy's communications and control systems, and your military looks like neither an air force nor a navy, because air forces have their heads firmly wedged up their posteriors in regards to cashiering their fighter jocks.
     
  2. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Jokerfied Western Male

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    What are the technical limitations in this supposed future ? How economical is interstellar travel ? How reliable is FTL communication ? If you can't communicate with other systems in real-time that would immediately rule out the drone option.
    I actually don't know much about how our modern militaries are organized, but I would make the space force a seperate branch with a sub-branch for planetary invasions if it is necessary. One of the most important aspects would be autonomy: My forces would have to be able to operate independently for extended periods of time with only broad directions. That might make them similar to the British Navy of the olden days if they spend a significant amount of time in interstellar space. If they usually hang around in my colony worlds' orbits they would be more interwoven with the colonial administration. I might also split them up into colony defense forces that don't usually leave the system they're stationed in and recruit from their respective colony and a smaller but more high-tech and mobile intervention force recruited on earth and stationed either on earth orbit or some place that would be perfect as a hub for space travel (a wormhole nexus or something) and accompanied by commissars who regularly report back and have the authority to speak in my name when dealing with other nations.

    Why the questions ? Are you working on a SF novel ? I am already using all these ideas.
     
  3. Kozmos

    Kozmos Jew Detective

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    I foresee it being run by remote engineers and computers really. It will involve unmanned craft firing kinetics/missiles and dropping garbage from orbit. Humans would just get in the way of space combat.
     
  4. uppi

    uppi Deity

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    Not that you could not do terrible damage from space, but orbital bombardment doesn't make much sense, if you think about it. Orbits are a bad place to launch bombs.

    I meant hierarchical structures on a single ship. Navies use smaller ships as well, but the one or two pilot crafts are more the domain of the air force.

    If you use disposable crafts or missiles, there is no need for reentry capability. For emergency scenarios, you have to keep in mind that in space you cannot just put something anywhere and expect it to stay there, it has to keep moving. So you have to place you combat vessels in an orbit. However, it would cost a lot of energy to change the orbit and reach the place where the attack happens. I think it would actually much easier to launch something ground based into a polar orbit than to move a vessel from an equatorial orbit to a polar orbit.

    And there is the problem with space-based forces: Any infrastructure in space would be highly vulnerable and would be the first thing taken out in a war. But any backwater colony should have enough resources to launch some missiles.

    A grasp of 3D maneuvers would not be sufficient. For any combat happening near other mass (and why would you pick a fight in empty space?) the key would be to understand the effects of gravity. Any maneuvering would have to be highly computer assisted to the point where you could just go for full computer control.
     
  5. LamaGT

    LamaGT Emperor

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    Well there would be two operation environments: space and the surface of planets, kind of like the navy does today.
    Orbital fighting would definitely be somewhat limited because of the nature of the orbits. The only weapons I'd expect to work are lasers and self-correcting guided missiles. The key for defence would be to make sure the other ship can't predict your velocity accurately, though there will most likely be advances in armor, too.
    On the ground I'd expect there to be a heavy use of intelligent drones, but soldiers will never be phased out entirely.

    In any case to those saying it would be pointless, I think that there needs to be a healthy warship industry, it would drive improvements in space faring technology far more than normally and eventually it could lead us to other stars. Then, we could have a chance of meeting other civilizations, and we would be prepared.
    Hell, there could be a galactic UN like in Mass Effect for all we know, we can barely detect huge planets orbiting two steps away from the star for now.
     
  6. Aleksey_aka_al

    Aleksey_aka_al Smiley

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    Mercenary GMO cyborg armies will organize it themselves to their own individual preference.
     
  7. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    That is near impossible to say without knowing what kind of technology will be available. We discussed that recently in the Space Cadet thread.

    I'd say the NAVY analogy makes slightly more sense assuming we will use larger spaceships. In practice, there will be little difference: on Earth, Navy and Air Force (or naval aviation) are separate branches because they operate in completely different mediums (water vs. air). A ship can move only slowly and in an essentially "2D" environment, but it can be very big and carry a lot of weight. A fighter is very fast and operates in a 3D environment, but it can only be relatively small.

    In space, the medium is vacuum permeated by gravitational pulls of large bodies of mass. It's the same no matter whether the combat vehicle is tiny or huge. I'd advise against remaining too wedded to analogies based on Earth-based military branches. Space forces will be something new and unique. So, if I am a leader of my little space empire, I'll create a completely new branch and I'll choose visionary nutjobs full of out-of-the-box ideas to lay its foundations.
     
  8. bhsup

    bhsup Deity

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    The perfect template already exists. Mind you, some of the tech 'in use' is, shall we say, questionable at our current level of existence.
     
  9. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    The assymetery between armor and destruction are going to be immense, so 'battleship' style ships will never be common. The analogies are going to be submarines and aircraft carriers. In space, distance and the speed of light matter, so drone operators are going to need to be near their drones (relatively).

    As far as colonies are concerned, you'd just need troop carriers to go send law enforcement if extra enforcers are needed. The civil unrest would need to get pretty bad before it was ever worth sending troops.
     
  10. Shaihulud

    Shaihulud Deity

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    I believe that it will be highly autonomous and preferably done at as great a distance from ourself and as close to the enemy as possible.
     
  11. Evie

    Evie Pronounced like Eevee

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    Ahhhh, yes, if we're talking disposable crafts and missiles, then yes, those will be a serious factor for sure (and warships will be mostly platform for more of these far easier to deliver destructive payloads at less risk to the ship that way). But then we're looking at solely ground-based personnel so really probably just anti-space defense station under whatever regular armed forces structure your colony has.

    I understood your original small craft more in a fighter-like sense, which IMO are one of the most overrated tropes of sci-fi. Space-age warfare, if it ever comes, won't be be dogfight time.

    But while missiles work work for planetary defense, they will be absolutely useless for keeping the lifelines of your space empire open. Unless you intend every space colony to be independent, self-sustaining, and have no need for the resources of your other colonies or your homeland in which case why are you even bothering?

    Honestly, again, given the massive need for vulnerable infrastructure around earth to even begin space colonization, you'd probably be looking at international efforts in the first place to dissuade attacks on one another.

    And as far as 3D experience not being enough: true, but it's one less key skill they'll need to acquire.
     
  12. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    It's possible that a planet could do point-defense with some sort of weapons able to reach orbit, but gravity would be against them. From orbit, you can hit anywhere on the planet within minutes and there's little if anything they can do about it. Tungsten rods, bombs, nukes, or whatever could be dropped, and a fleet could bombard a planet lifeless. If you're further out than orbit, it takes more time to surround a planet, you can't rely on gravity alone for missile propulsion, and the targets will have more time to react.

    The vast distances of space might make communication between remote controllers and their craft difficult. Depending on the distance, a controller might have to wait days or hours to receive information from the craft, then a few more days to transmit commands, and so on. If you're going to remotely control something, you need to be close enough to rapidly react. Humans and autonomous craft could react almost instantly.
     
  13. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Jokerfied Western Male

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    I think people who assume that orbital bombardment would be the norm underestimate the political implications. I am pretty sure it would be considered a war crime and space warfare under the geneva conventions or a smilar accord.
     
  14. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    In the future wars will be not be fought with ships and guns but with facebook defriending and youtube comments.
     
  15. Commodore

    Commodore Deity

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    Not if precision munitions were used. I mean, who says orbital bombardment has to involve mass devastation and firing all guns with reckless abandon?
     
  16. dexters

    dexters Gods & Emperors Supporter

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    its already happening :)
     
  17. Commodore

    Commodore Deity

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    I think this might be the best answer to my question so far.
     
  18. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    The norm? No. But the threat of inescapable death from orbit is terrifying, and could cow billions of people into submission. If the enemy has orbital superiority, or supremacy, they have your balls in a vice. Nowhere is safe, and unless you can somehow intercept thousands of rods or missiles screaming down at ten kilometers a second AND shoot down vessels in orbit, you're doomed unless you do as they say. A few hundred satellites armed with rods or nukes could ensure obedience, and it's a lot easier to intercept something struggling against gravity to reach you than it is to shoot down something using gravity to gain speed. If the ground targets are huge cities, the carnage could be immense. If they're little habitation shelters on some barren, airless rock of a planet, a few direct hits could kill the whole colony.

    As for political ramifications, they matter little if your fleet is strong enough to defeat anyone else's and threaten any planet. Earth (if united) will naturally have an enormous advantage over any colony for a long time because of its head start, seemingly infinite population, and control over vital resources. A lot of colonies would be entirely dependent on Earth for a very long time just to survive. All planets within any distance that's reachable anytime soon lack basic things like organic soil, air, building materials, and so on, so the threat of bombardment wouldn't even be necessary; the threat of blockade is enough.

    All told, war is hell, and war in space is even worse because of the potential to cause or threaten incredible destruction at little to no risk to oneself. It should be avoided as much as possible, but since people and states seem to be completely psychologically incapable of leaving each other well enough alone, military power will be essential to avoid being totally at someone else's mercy.

    Limited strikes are always an option. Guerrilla activity on the ground? Pinpoint and destroy with an armed satellite. Enemies of the state holed up in a building? Drop a meter-long rod on it from orbit. People hiding in an underground bunker? Drop a Massive Ordnance Penetrator on it. Or maybe you could even have human or robotic soldiers stationed in orbit who could be dropped planetside on short notice. Control of orbit and space gives people terrifying capabilities. It's even deadlier than air superiority. Again, this is horrible, but people cannot leave well enough alone, so they'll always look for new and exciting ways to kill each other.
     
  19. Souron

    Souron The Dark Lord

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    The militarization of space is already in violation of international treaty between all space faring nations. The existence of a space military implies that these treaties will go out of date or be broken. In that context, precision orbital strikes would be as legitimate as any other space weapons.
     
  20. ChiefDesigner

    ChiefDesigner Sunset Emperor

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    Well, there's the rub, isn't it?

    Requirements to project orbital superiority: a fleet of billion-dollar force-projection spacecraft

    Requirements to defend orbit: a rocket and a can of ball bearings
     

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