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Old 10-14-2012, 07:27 PM   #76
Andrew H.
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Another interesting fact is that most of what the military does is "support" for the few people at the pointy end of the stick. I.e., the USAF has 330,000 active duty personnel, 150,000 civilian personnel, and about 5,000 planes. That works out to about 100 people per plane.

This isn't inefficiency (per se), it's just that: (1) complicated, cutting edge systems need a lot of maintenance; (2) there are a lot of indirect mission-support type jobs (photo reconnaissance, radio intercept, decryption, ground control, cartography, weather, etc.); and (3) someone has to make sure that all of these people and equipment have food, water, ammunition, spare parts, etc.
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Old 10-15-2012, 05:08 AM   #77
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This is great. You guys have given me a lot to think about.

I'll be traveling for the next week or so, but I'll be sure to check in again once I'm back.
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Old 10-15-2012, 09:14 AM   #78
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One of the best fictional books touching on this, and one which I can't recommend highly enough is C.J. Cherryh's _Heavy Time_ which looks at what the early days of a space-based military would look like and how the needs of such a unit would be different from anything which has gone before.
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Old 10-15-2012, 10:51 AM   #79
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Also if your building a "military" type branche the Navy seals/green beret's despite the media fascination have a particularly narrow job description in the military scheme of things with specific teams for specific jobs for example the Navy seal and Army special forces underwater warfare teams dont train much for counter terrrorism.. thats a seperate team, and again a seperate team for unconventional warfare, or special recon teams even direct support teams to support other military units in combat. despite media portraial they are each highly specialized teams.

You will want a more general elite military unit like the Army Rangers, Marine Force Recon ,Marine Division recon,Germanies Fallschrimjagers, or UK's Parachute regiment. these Elite fighting units are more of the jack of all trades that would better fit many more roles in fact it is from these elite units that you get your Seal,Army Special Forces,German Kommando Spezialkrafte and Britans SAS. hope that helps you get a direction for some reserch for sci fi military unit.
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Old 10-15-2012, 10:58 AM   #80
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Maybe a space going, female version of "Dirk Pit" would do the trick?

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Old 10-15-2012, 12:14 PM   #81
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You will want a more general elite military unit like the Army Rangers, Marine Force Recon ,Marine Division recon,Germanies Fallschrimjagers, or UK's Parachute regiment. these Elite fighting units are more of the jack of all trades that would better fit many more roles in fact it is from these elite units that you get your Seal,Army Special Forces,German Kommando Spezialkrafte and Britans SAS. hope that helps you get a direction for some reserch for sci fi military unit.
Exactly. The mission decides the tool/unit that gets used.
For this exercise the location and type of the mission (and the story conflict and plot ) will determine the nature of the unit and how well it fits the mission.
For story purposes, tough, it might even be a good idea for the unit to be a *bad* fit.
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Old 10-15-2012, 01:09 PM   #82
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With a space elevator to get to the station, some form of army involvement would be reasonable, for staion security, and manning any defensive emplacements.

Also, secret service, if you take "Star Trek" for instance, even the "nice guy" Federation had section 31.

A space elevator would also be an easy thing to threaten, maybe disrupting the controls so that an elevator vehicle accelerates uncontrollably, either toward the station, or toward a collision between two on the same line (if it had 2 or 4 ascent/descent tracks, and the path of a car was reversed).

And of course, one of the cars is carrying either somebody very important, or something explosive
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Old 10-15-2012, 04:34 PM   #83
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ETA: They always say "write what you know".
"Write what you know" is supposed to be a prompt for writers who are blocked or are struggling at coming up with topics, and as such, it's very good advice.

It's not supposed to be used as a limiter: "ONLY write what you know."
That would be horrendously bad advice.
I don't think, for example, that Tom Clancy was ever a special forces operator or that Lee Child was ever an MP.

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Old 10-15-2012, 06:58 PM   #84
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With a space elevator to get to the station, some form of army involvement would be reasonable, for staion security, and manning any defensive emplacements.

Also, secret service, if you take "Star Trek" for instance, even the "nice guy" Federation had section 31.
I think it depends on how things play out creating such a thing. Who owns the elevator itself? A corporation or a nation? The military itself? Multiple nations? You have to consider that to really figure out who is also involved in its defense. A corporation with the resources to build one on its own would also have the resources to secure it through private security. If the elevator is considered "public property" like roads, then it is unlikely that military is used as the first line of defense within the structure itself. Instead you will have a police force, with military handling the borders (Earth orbit). Multinational stuff gets really messy as you have multiple sovereign interests in the elevator.

Of course, this ignores governmental regulation coming into play, but the best example of that today is the TSA. Government organization in cooperation with police, but not military.

Still, I would expect that the military would have their own defenses for Earth orbit in general, rather than tacking onto the elevator itself. If you do that, and someone does snap the cable, then your defenses get hurled out of orbit. Put your defenses close enough in geosynchronous orbit though, and even if you lose the elevator itself, you can still defend against threats.

One way to protect the elevator is to not make it a tastier target than it already is.

Section 31 is more like a clandestine version of the CIA/MI5 and so on. Other fictional equivalents would be something like MI6 (James Bond). That kinda goes away from the idea of military service and structure. While NSA/CIA fall under the Department of Defense, they are not strictly military, and they tend to focus on intelligence. When it is time for force to be applied, there's military special forces that they can get cooperation from (see the Bin Laden operation for example).

I don't see military and national security folks actively engaged in the day-to-day of a space elevator unless the space elevator was built by the military for military use. I do expect that the military would be tempted by the idea of having their own space elevator though, so they can secure it for troop and supply movements to and from the surface. The expense might force them to not do that though, and instead use something similar to secured convoys on the existing elevator(s). They do that today on public roads, or even use troop transports along air routes.

derangedhermit has a lot of good ideas here, IMO.

As for how the military evolves, if I had to guess, this is what I'd see:

Navy - Evolves into a space-based fleet operations organization. Capital ships, carriers, etc.
Air Force - Evolves into a "planetary superiority" organization that focuses on space-to-surface operations. This includes fighters/bombers, troop transport and the like. Yes there is some overlap here as fighters and bombers are useful in space-based operations as well.
Marines - Evolves even more into a special forces organization, taking over most or all surface operations where you need boots on the ground.
Army - As the training required increases, and the need for surface operations becomes less of a focus, the Army withers. Eventually it is absorbed into the Marines along with the special forces from other branches that operate on the surface (i.e Navy Seals).
CIA/NSA/etc - This really depends more on the politics of the situation more than anything else. I'd fully expect intelligence to be a critical part, possibly remaining fairly autonomous from the military itself, identifying threats for the military and government to respond to. But otherwise, the political environment determines the shape of this beast more than anything else.

If something does happen involving the elevator though, there'd need to be more information on what the elevator is before you can start really digging into the interesting interplays. Did intelligence find a threat and the special forces are being brought in to handle a specific threat worthy of military intervention? What about having to work with the police force and the turf wars there? Etc. Etc.
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:46 PM   #85
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If you have no military experience, I doubt you will be successful in writing military SF.
Heck, David Weber? Lois McMaster Bujold? I'm pretty sure they had no military experience.

Add to it the observation that I served with people who could not put two coherent written sentences in row, and I think military fiction is just as well if not better written by a good writer who does research than by virtue of personal experience with the non-fictional military.

What exactly is informing this opinion of yours?
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:09 PM   #86
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I've never quite got the naval basis for space travel. Space Travel done by the major governments is done by the airforce. While the concept of slow contained travel is more similar to that with the Navy, why would people with Airforce Backgrounds just start changing up things they're used to, and start using Naval idiosyncracies. To me, makes more sense that the Air Force-Space Force split to happen as the one group starts doing more long run missions verses the short term sorties, much like the AF split from the regular Army, as the AF began doing more and more non ground support duties. I mean, look at the insignia and ranks. US Air Force and Army are nearly identical, while the Navy is almost completely different.
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:50 PM   #87
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I've never quite got the naval basis for space travel. Space Travel done by the major governments is done by the airforce.
US space travel is primarily done by civilians.
The US Navy has a space command, and many astronauts come from the Navy aviation community. As mentioned, Navy experience with systems like life support, power, and with factors like long duration missions in hostile environments, is extensible to space systems.

There is no particular reason that space should be the domain of the Air Force any more that it should be of the Navy, if it's going to be under the armed forces at all. An Air Force operates in the air, dependent on oxygen, gravity, etc, for it's planes to function. What's that got to do with space?
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Old 10-16-2012, 07:53 PM   #88
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There is no particular reason that space should be the domain of the Air Force any more that it should be of the Navy, if it's going to be under the armed forces at all. An Air Force operates in the air, dependent on oxygen, gravity, etc, for it's planes to function. What's that got to do with space?
As I said above, it is going to depend on the time period and the theater of operation.
Near future, near-earth operations are going to be mostly USAF-style sorties.
Further out in both time and distance you'll get the dynamics of navy operations and culture asserting themselves. Even there, there are different navy cultures; submariner culture and carrier culture. For deep space exploration odds the carrier culture will likely be most useful as carriers are effectively floating cities and the Captain has to deal with a lot of interpersonal issues the AF, even a base commander, never gets to see.

Now, that doesn't mean the traditional Navy command structure will necessarily be adopted in real life. But the job descriptions are going to be a lot more Navy-ish.
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:00 PM   #89
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I've never quite got the naval basis for space travel. Space Travel done by the major governments is done by the airforce. While the concept of slow contained travel is more similar to that with the Navy, why would people with Airforce Backgrounds just start changing up things they're used to, and start using Naval idiosyncracies. To me, makes more sense that the Air Force-Space Force split to happen as the one group starts doing more long run missions verses the short term sorties, much like the AF split from the regular Army, as the AF began doing more and more non ground support duties. I mean, look at the insignia and ranks. US Air Force and Army are nearly identical, while the Navy is almost completely different.
Here's the route I'd expect to see:

- At first, Air Force is handling orbital scenarios. This is already happening today (X-37B). They are building expertise in the surface-to-orbit realm.
- As humans get more entrenched in space, with larger stations and missions that reach other planets in the solar system, the Navy's expertise starts to come into play more. The organization, becoming more underutilized on the planet's surface, either needs to get cut down to fund a "Space Force" or re-purposed into a "Space Force".
- At this point it can go either way, and the specific politics at the time can swing it one way or another. However, re-purposing the Navy rather than cutting it to grow the Air Force into a "Space Navy" seems to be more likely. You have a lot of interests who will fight and claw both directions though.

The end result of a re-purposed Navy and some shuffling though is that you get 3 branches with clear realms of expertise and jurisdiction that operate together at the large scale. Ranks may be changed for any or all of the branches as part of this shuffling too. But it's one of the least disruptive scenarios to the existing power structure, with a well organized result. At least in my opinion.

EDIT: Gah, fjtorres was thinking along similar lines as I was, and I missed the post.

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Old 10-16-2012, 08:23 PM   #90
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EDIT: Gah, fjtorres was thinking along similar lines as I was, and I missed the post.
So? Why sad?
Your points reinforce and complement mine.

If the Navy gets down-sized or repurposed a lot of the personnel would end up in the Space Force *alongside* the repurposed USAF personnel. They would be the ones with both military training and the necessary management skills. Technical skills can be taught quickly but people skills require experience.

(Or national equivalents if the story involves a different nation-state. Of course, that would require the country to have a Navy, which might be an itsy-bitsy problem for Switzerland. )

One TV SF series that took a good crack at this question was the late and very lamented SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND. They had a blend of personnel and cultures for their mid-term Space Navy.
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