The Krigsmakten are the professional standing armed forces of the Kragholm Free States, consisting of three main branches: The Rijkshaer, the Rijksmarinen, and the Rijksflygkorps - along with the Rijksordningar, the name given to the many Knightly Orders that, while not formally part of the Krigsmakten, provide the elite of Kragholm's warriors. Kragholm has maintained a strong martial tradition for as long as it has existed, and hence its military is numerous, admirably well-trained and disciplined, and receives a substantial amount of funding, granting the Free States the ability to wage war on all those who would count them among their enemies. As of 1896, the Krigsmakten have a combined strength of 858,850 active personnel, although an additional estimated 220,600 can be mobilised from volunteer reserve forces if necessary. In the unlikely event of an invasion of the Free States, all able-bodied citizens between the ages of 18 and 40 could potentially be conscripted to assist in the defence of the nation. All able citizens of Kragholm must also undertake two years of national service, generally completed between the ages of 18 and 20. Krigsmakten military doctrine, nicknamed "Orkanstrejk" ("Hurricane Strike") is unique among contemporary military theory; a concept many years ahead of its time emphasising high mobility, concentrated firepower, and rapid combined-arms assault.
The Rijkshaer is the largest branch of the Free States' armed forces, and comprises the land-based component of its fighting capability. While the majority of the Rijkshaer consists of infantry, mounted cavalry, and conventional horse-drawn or steam tractor-drawn artillery, its truly unique advantage comes in the form of the 'krigsvagnar' - steam-powered armoured fighting vehicles as yet unheard of in the rest of the world. While slow and not yet particularly numerous, each of these vehicles, deployed soundly and with adequate support, can provide enough force to punch through enemy lines and provide Kragholm's troops with a tactical asset that foreign armies simply cannot match.
March: "Marsk fram, Gevären"
Infantry of the Rijkshaer
(25:e Drejstad Fotregiment)
Of the total active service personnel that comprise the Rijkshaer, the bulk serve as infantry regulars. Each infantryman is a member of a regiment with a proud and storied history, and as such each demonstrates unwavering loyalty and courage both on the battlefield and off it. Infantry recruits undergo a 28 week course of intensive training - longer if they wish to specialise - from which they will emerge as disciplined soldiers skilled in the use of their rifles, sidearms, bayonets, and Lausatök (the Free States' native and most ubiquitous unarmed martial art). As of 1893, most soldiers are equipped as standard with the cutting-edge Dahl-Lindqvist self-loading rifle as their primary armament, giving them firepower leagues ahead of the single-shot or bolt-action weaponry still utilised by the militaries of most other nations; an essential asset in the Orkanstrejk method of warfare. Although certainly a new technology, and one that has not yet been distributed to the entirety of the Rijkshaer, the Dahl-Lindqvist and other automatic weapons have proven their effectiveness countless times in their few years of service. The various infantry regiments of the Rijkshaer also field specialist troops, including stormtroopers, mountaineers, and commandos, although the latter are comparatively low in number as the role is often filled by knights.
March: "Lansen ap Herran vår Gud"
Cavalryman of the Rijkshaer
(4:e Lansregiment, Duke of Grindvik's Own)
The cavalry component of the Rijkshaer's forces is considerably smaller than its infantry comrades, and is slowly beginning to decline in numbers as the Krigsmakten explores more modern alternatives. That said, it is also considered a rather more prestigious branch of the military than the infantry, and as such it is far more common for cavalrymen, especially officers, to come from wealthy or even noble backgrounds. Nevertheless, they are held to the same exceptional standard of ability as every other soldier, as their role on the battlefield is paramount.
Kragholm's cavalry are, generally speaking, divided into three different roles, each with their own equipment and doctrine. The bulk of the cavalry are now equipped as dragoons, often using their horses to move around the battlefield extremely quickly but dismounting to fight as infantry. These troops are exceptionally useful as fast reaction forces to quickly reinforce an assault. In the desert theatres of the current Kragholm-Ottoman war, dragoons are often mounted on camels, and the heavier beasts have been used by some units to carry machine guns into battle, vastly augmenting their firepower. Beginning to be rendered obsolete, but nevertheless devastating when deployed correctly, the remainder of the Rijkshaer's cavalry component are equipped as cuirassiers and lancers, heavily armoured with thick steel breastplates and helmets and armed with short carbines and heavy lances or backswords. These are formidable line-breakers, mounted on the largest and heaviest horses to overwhelm enemy troops with sheer momentum.
March: "Vi er Åskan"
8-inch Mobile Howitzer, Tractor-Drawn
The Rijkshaer's artillery regiments are not the largest of the organisation's branches, but they are perhaps the most instrumental in supporting its troops on the battlefield. Krager artillery doctrine has always prioritised large numbers of fast and mobile horse-drawn cannon, which traditionally has had to be of lighter calibres than most nations. This, though, is changing, as the nature of war itself changes and technology advances to the point that deploying much heavier guns is not such a hindrance. In modern Krager doctrine, each gun is pulled by a powerful steam tractor, which ensures it can be deployed as quickly as possible on a variety of terrain and kept supplied with ample ammunition. Traditionally, teams of horses were utilised to tow artillery pieces, and still are in most reserve units, although this great investment of horseflesh is costly, inefficient, and rapidly being phased out. Steam tractors do not tire, nor panic in battle, and can tow far heavier guns than even a large team of animals, multiplying the Rijkshaer's long-range destructive capability immensely.
Also falling under the purview of the Rijkshaer's artillery regiments are a pair of war trains, HMT Brunbjörn and HMT Isbjörn. Extremely heavily armoured locomotives driven by powerful steam engines, the war trains are capable of being deployed to any theatre in the world that is well-served with railways. As such, they are mostly used in the defence of Kragholm's more developed colonial holdings against external attackers, patrolling near the borders of Krager territory with overwhelming firepower. The war trains are designed to be able to tow a number of different configurations of carriages, all heavily armoured, ranging from troop transports to quick-firing 3-inch guns, all the way up to a 20-inch heavy artillery piece intended for use in coastal fortifications. These steel behemoths may be confined to rails, but they provide near-unassailable security in key areas of Krager territory.
Typ-I Krigsvagn HMK Launfal
The Rijkshaer's krigsvagnar, or war carriages, are the pride of Kragholm's armed forces, and its most impressive advantage over other nations' militaries. Currently, the Rijkshaer has 65 of these formidable machines in a combat-ready state, and an order for 100 more currently in production. Based on civilian steam-tractor designs - which are often fitted with caterpillar tracks in the Free States to negotiate icy terrain - krigsvagnar have been reinforced with thick steel plating to protect their crew and weaponry, and even heavier armour over their high-pressure steam boilers. This does make the krigsvagn a fairly slow vehicle, although when provided with ample support by infantry, artillery, and aircraft, its lack of speed is overshadowed by the fact that it simply does not need to stop. Kragholm's krigsvagnar exist in a few different configurations, including one model fitted with an experimental flamethrower, and a pair of larger machines each made to accommodate an 8-inch naval gun, but the most common armament in use for standard combat duties consists of a frontal quick-firing 3- or 4-inch gun, often shortened, and a frontal .310 machine gun, sometimes with an additional rear-facing .310 machine gun. The krigsvagn has a crew of three soldiers - the commander, the gunner/loader, and the driver/stoker. The machines carry enough coal to keep them running for six hours without resupply, although their doctrine ensures that resupply is almost always accessible from auxiliary steam tractors. Krigsvagnar have seen limited action so far, but a number have been used to great effect in the ongoing war against the Ottoman Empire, proving a hard counter to Turkish light cavalry in the desert.
March: "Genom Is y Vågar"
Rijksmarinen Heavy Cruiser HMS Vedergällning
The Rijksmarinen is the second largest branch of the Krigsmakten, operating a fleet of 680 warships of various sizes and classes, ranging from small coastal patrol vessels all the way up to mighty battleships bristling with cannon, placing its relative strength in the world second only to the British Royal Navy. Rijksmarinen war steamers play a wide variety of roles in both the nation's war efforts and its peactime functions. The Rijksmarinen is usually in charge of transporting troops to overseas warzones, conducting naval bombardments of shore positions, engaging enemy fleets at sea, escorting merchant shipping through dangerous waters, combatting piracy and - by decree of the Lord Protector in 1884 - hunting down and capturing what few foreign ships still engage in the slave trade. In addition to these functions, Rijksmarinen vessels are also commonly used as icebreakers - because Kragholm is located so far north, the coasts often become completely frozen over, so naval ships built with heavy prow rams are necessary to clear harbours and shipping lanes for commercial and civilian traffic.
Rijksmarinen warships are built in a highly distinctive style, with extremely pronounced tumble-home sides filled with secondary armaments, armoured masts, prow rams - not usually for combat, but to ensure that ships operating around Kragholm itself do not become trapped in ice - and turreted cannon of greater calibre than generally found on similar warships of foreign navies. Two rather groundbreaking new vessels have also been launched within the last year - large ships with comparatively light armament, their top deck used instead to house a long, ramped runway. These ships are designed specifically to carry and deploy the aircraft of the Rijksflygkorps, allowing them to be used in overseas theatres without making long overland journeys with many refuelling stops.
The Rijksmarinen is also in charge of operating and maintaining the ring of 9 sea forts that protect Kragholm's coastline and waters on the west, south, and east borders. While the forts were mostly constructed during the early 17th to mid 18th century, as a response to the growing threat of the Swedish and subsequently the Russian Empire, they have been consistently updated since then to act as an effective deterrent to more modern foes. Each fort boasts its own shipyard, zeppelin docking facilities, and an array of formidable weaponry, up to and including 30-inch guns capable of firing shells distances of up to 22 miles. All of this is enclosed in a near-impenetrable wall of stone and steel, and all forts are kept continuously supplied by the Rijksmarinen through the three huge ship canals that cut directly through the islands.
March: "Himlen er Vår"
Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft Typ-III
The Rijksflygkorps is the newest and smallest branch of the Krigsmakten, founded in 1892 by decree of His Majesty the Lord Protector, who recognised the need to quickly take advantage of the newly-invented 'aeroplane'. The first functional powered aeroplane was produced in 1890 by Krager engineer Klas Ekström - although it was somewhat unstable, only managed to fly 268m during testing, and suffered heavy damage on landing. With the financial backing of a noble patron, he was able to refine his design into a far more stable and reliable craft capable of sustained flight for 2 hours at a time and landing safely.
The Rijksflygkorps uses a pair of Ekström models in active service; the Typ-III, a lighter craft designed chiefly for reconnaissance and limited air-to-ground combat with its single .310 machine gun, and the Typ-V, a larger triplane design armed with a pair of machine guns and capable of carrying a payload of up to 10 4.5kg bombs or a single 1.6-inch cannon for dedicated ground attack roles. Both aircraft are fitted with landing skids as standard, better suited to both the snow of Kragholm and the deserts that Kragholm's forces are currently fighting in. Wheels, however, were designed to be very easy to install in case the aeroplanes need to operate in different environments. There are currently 39,930 personnel serving within the ranks of the Flygkorps, and the branch operates a total of 118 Typ-IIIs and 24 Typ-Vs.
Also in operation by the Rijksflygkorps are a fleet of 64 zeppelins, ranging from 120m to 245m in length. These were previously under the purview of the Rijkshaer and Rijksmarinen, but now have been merged into the more fitting Rijksflygkorps. Zeppelins are mainly used for transport and reconnaissance, but all are fitted with at least two machine guns, and dedicated combat models carry a variety of additional armaments, including 4-inch cannon, automatic 1.6-inch guns, and substantial bomb payloads. The notion of deploying soldiers by parachute or rappel from these zeppelins is also being extensively tested, and if successful will see wider use. The Rijksflygkorps is a unique organisation among the nations of the world - no other countries have so far formed an official military unit of aircraft, although there are rumours that both the British and the Russians are looking into the idea, and are merely waiting to see if Kragholm's own aeroplanes and zeppelins will truly prove their worth in war.
A Meeting of the Royal Order
of the Round Table
It is said that the nobility of Kragholm have war in their blood. Indeed, as every one of them can trace their lineage directly back to either Arthur, King of the Britons (in the case of the ruling Pendragon dynasty), or a member of his Knights of the Round Table, it is likely true that they have a natural aptitude for both combat and leadership. It is certainly the case that a large number of Krager nobility - the majority of fighting-age men and a substantial number of women too - are members of the various knightly orders that exist within the Free States. Each one of these orders, while technically wholly independent from the Krigsmakten, act as elite special forces groups and work closely with the national military to undertake missions that require extremely highly skilled operatives. Knights of Kragholm are held to an incredibly high standard of both physical and mental ability, and train rigorously every single day to ensure they still fulfil these requirements, producing warriors who are quite probably the best in the world, and certainly a cut above the majority of special forces units worldwide.
Knights of the Kragholm orders receive the best and most advanced equipment available to the Free States, from prototype automatic rifles to man-portable flamethrowers, poison gas grenades, and experimental suppressors - the Order of the Round Table is even in possession of its very own squadron of up-gunned krigsvagnar. Due to their legendary lineage, the Knights boast some attributes far superior to those not blessed by Arthur's blood. Reflexes and senses enhanced beyond normal human ability, genius-level intellect, and almost supernatural powers of deduction and attention to the most minute of details are skills that manifest themselves in all Knights of Kragholm, which when combined with their rigorous military training make them a force to be reckoned with for any foe.
Whilst traditionally most members of the Knightly Orders have been nobles, it is entirely possible and relatively common (although less so than in other nations) for commoners to be knighted. The ceremony of knighthood is not without its risks though - in order to be granted the abilities of a Knight of Kragholm, the nominee must ingest a dose of the blood of Arthur (usually drawn from the current reigning monarch). If they are worthy, they will be welcomed into the ranks of the Knights. If they are unworthy, their bodies will reject the blood, and they will invariably die in agony.
List of Knightly Orders (WIP):
The Royal Order of the Round Table: The oldest and most prestigious order in the Free States, the Round Table dates all the way back to the knightly retinue of King Arthur himself, and as such traces its lineage directly to the founders of Kragholm. Since then, the order has always been presided over by the reigning monarch, and usually boasts a number of royals among its upper ranks. It is also one of the wealthier orders, and owns a number of high-tech military assets, including a squadron of 12 krigsvagnar and a handful of Typ-V attack aircraft. Knights of the Round Table generally act in a shock-trooper role, participating in assaults and breakthroughs assisted by the heavy firepower of krigsvagnar and aeroplanes. In this role they are a fearsome foe, and there are very few records of their attacks ever being sucessfully repelled.
The Holy Order of Saint Blaise and the Cross: As the name might suggest, the Holy Order of Saint Blaise and the Cross was founded in 1098 as a crusading order, its specific purpose being the conversion of Saracen prisoners to Christianity - although like all crusader orders, it also participated extensively in combat. The order was named for Blaise, who according to legend saved the half-demon Merlin from service to Satan by immediately baptising him at birth. It was hoped that, like Blaise, the order could save the Saracens from eternal damnation - and utilise any particularly high-status converts to undermine their enemy. The order met with some success, although was eventually driven out of the Holy Land with the rest of the crusaders, and forced to return to their homeland. To this day they are the only knightly order in Kragholm which retains a strictly religious nature, and fight with notable zeal in conflicts in the east.
The Royal Order of the Triumphant Flame: Created by King Erik II to honour the thirty knights who saved Kragholm from invasion by burning an attacking French armada in its entirety. Today the order is led by the descendants of those knights, and commonly find themselves serving as commandos, infilitrating enemy positions under cover of darkness and razing them to the ground just as their ancestors did many centuries ago.
The King's Brethren of the Lance: A rather reactionary order founded in the 16th century, seeking to preserve the rapidly-dwindling glory of the medieval-style knight (or their idea of it, at least), the Brethren have not noticeably changed ever since - even their name is archaic, as the last King of Kragholm died just over a century ago. The Brethren are an entirely aristocratic organisation, they are the only order who do not permit knighted commoners to join their ranks, nor do they permit women. In battle the Brethren of the Lance will fight as the knights of the middle ages fought: mounted, clad head to toe in armour, and charging at their foe with lance and sword. It is a strange sight, and they are often looked on with disdain by other orders, but few can dispute the effectiveness of a well-executed heavy cavalry charge.
The Royal Order of the Raven: A more modern order named for the Brittonic legend that King Arthur lives on in the form of a raven, watching over his people. Like the raven, the Order have always taken to the skies, first in balloons and airships and now also in aeroplanes. An expeditionary force first and foremost, the Order of the Raven are highly mobile, extremely capable in reconnaissance roles, and difficult for land-based enemies to effectively deal with. Every knight is also trained in the use of the parachute, allowing zeppelins to safely deploy units for ground assaults, a tactic unheard of outside the Order and the Flygkorps.
The Royal Order of the Midnight Sun: If one were to look in any official records or documents, one would find no mention whatsoever of the Order of the Midnight Sun. And for good reason; it simply does not exist, and no organisation of that name has ever existed in the Free States. It is true that there are occasional rumours of a mysterious order of knights who have dedicated themselves to investigating and combatting supernatural or occult threats, but these are clearly just the ramblings of lunatics - there is no such thing as the supernatural, as all right-thinking men know.