by Max Barry

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The Strutting Monkeywrenchery of
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3

Basic Description of Service Branches


Command Emblem of the S.L. Armed Forces
Pugnas non incipimus; definimus
("We don't start fights; we finish them")

Sierra Lyricalia maintains what it considers a sufficient but not ludicrous military force. It is capable of striking any location on Earth within minutes, and almost any target in the inner solar system in a matter of weeks; in both cases, putting boots on the ground or on deck is a slightly longer process. SL is more than capable of defending itself, but cannot act (indeed, has no interest in acting) in the world police role except as part of an international allied force. Its primary interest in maintaining military forces at all, beyond the level of syndicate and trade union militias, is to ensure eternal independence from capitalist, communist, and fundamentalist powers; and secondarily to ensure fair economic dealings in the deadly environment of space, where everything, even an unarmed civilian habitat pod, is a potential weapon of mass destruction.


S.L. House of Argonauts blazon

Naval duties are assumed by the Sierra Lyricalia House of Argonauts, which is abbreviated as SLhAR. Naval operations have not changed dramatically since the early 21st century; only the equipment has improved. Every class of ship up to light amphibious assault ships has at least limited submersible capabilities; and with the conversion of all Earthbound nuclear reactors from 235U and 239Pu fuel rods to thorium cycle systems, both the operation and the waste products of the reactors are sufficiently safer (not to say safe outright, but certainly less dangerous than the haphazard 20th-century deathmongers) to allow virtually every ship larger than patrol boats to mount one.

The SLhAR has disavowed all knowledge of any involvement with the free-ranging peoples of Evolu Tanis, who are rumored to carry out naval actions that just happen to benefit Sierra Lyricalia from time to time. Admiral Minerva Caine has insisted on multiple occasions that SL and Evoli forces conduct no fraternization, general staff conferences, "shore" leave, or arms trading activities whatsoever. The press remains skeptical, especially after an "accidental" Thor strike sank the flagship of the Hardcore Red People's Navy just as its armada was about to launch its assault on the Evoli rear guard in the Battle of Papeete. The Leadership Council has sealed all records pertaining to the Papeete orbital strike.


S.L. House of Warriors blazon

The Sierra Lyricalia House of Warriors (SLhW) comprises SL's land forces. While maintaining the doctrine that military ground and air forces do fundamentally different things and ought to be separately organized, the specious division used by the old United States armed forces has long been discredited. The "fixed wing" differentiation of service branches is seen as a fundamental misunderstanding of strategy, tactics, and imagination. Aircraft, aircrew, and aerial operations are divided between the House of Warriors and the House of Astronauts, depending not on their mere physical shape, but on their role - that is, on which sphere is more pertinent operationally. It had never made sense for the old U.S. Army to be limited to helicopters, while being separated by several layers of communication and bureaucracy from the Air Force's heavy transport and CAS aircraft. Instead, the House of Warriors is responsible for all air operations pertinent to its own ground strategy - be it transport, Close Air Support (CAS), or (tactical) strikes against hardened targets that obstruct or threaten ground forces; often this requires equipment that was formerly the province or property of national air forces. Within the atmosphere, only air superiority and interdiction missions are yielded to or shared with the House of Astronauts.


S.L. House of Astronauts blazon

The House of Astronauts, abbreviated SLhA, (somewhat obviously) conducts all space operations, all air (atmospheric) operations pertinent to aerospace superiority, and space-based strategic deterrence. Aerospace fighters are generally stationed on orbiting satellites, though some craft are on ground rotation and thus available for merely supersonic operations at any given time.

With the requisition of all but a handful of nuclear warheads for use driving SL's five mighty Orion interplanetary strike ships, the Earth-based strategic deterrence role relies heavily on the threat of large meteor strikes. While local defenses for the large meteor clusters are present, it is widely thought that a strike against orbiting strategic meteors sufficient to destroy them would also be highly likely to send some of them careening into into the atmosphere, thence to land in unpredictable locations, with potentially catastrophic results. Because of this, SL and several other nations are able to maintain strategic deterrence without a plausible first-strike victory capability.

In addition to the SLhA's multi-kiloton and multi-megaton (measuring strike yield, not mass) strategic meteors, the Orbital Strike Syndicate maintains a large number of tactical strike rods, aka "Thor," aka "rods from God" - tungsten rods with enough fuel to de-orbit, with atmospheric control surfaces for precision targeting, capable of being called down at will upon request of SLhA, SLhW, or SLhAR forces when their own aircraft are unavailable or otherwise occupied. Five of these rods, used against five Republic ICBM silos, ensured the total independence of Sierra Lyricalia during the Great Secession. Afterwards it was determined that the government could not be permitted to have exclusive control over such an incredible strategic trump card, and the while the Orbital Strike Syndicate speedily fulfills support requests from SL military forces, it answers exclusively to the SL Leadership Council (the legislative house elected by syndicates, sanctioned soviets, other labor unions, and semi-collective partnerships). The OSS is charged with supporting Lyrical operations in all external theaters, with all strikes reviewed afterward by the LC's Orbital Strike Committee; it is also under standing orders to refuse all requests for strikes against ambiguous or non-military targets, or against any target (no matter the situation) on SL soil.

Most true interplanetary craft are powered by lightsail or ion drive, with rockets for orbital maneuvers or emergencies. With the ascension of multiple nations into space operations, it was necessary to establish by treaty the International Orbital Traffic Authority (IOTA), especially since multi-kilometer-radius lightsail craft cannot simply turn aside to avoid collisions. Asteroid mining is conducted mostly by civilian syndicates and corporations; though some outright communist powers conduct such operations as well. The SLhA maintains several asteroid bases near the major refineries and trading posts, and controls 2 Pallas outright. Some speculate that SL is using Pallas as a great shipyard, constructing a new super long range Orion ship not limited by the size of the rocket boosters necessary to put the Independence class into orbit. Spaceship buffs are conflicted as to whether this ship, if it exists, should be named the Tom Paine class, the Malcolm X class, or the Emma Goldman class.

The Independence class ships are the pride of the SLhA. LSS Independence, LSS Enterprise, LSS Fist of the Union, LSS Shaft in God's Eye, and LSS Raised Middle Finger were each boosted in pieces and assembled in orbit. On an Orion, the diameter of the push plates dictates the diameter of the ship itself; and without the option (prohibited in various parts by multiple treaties) of detonating multiple nuclear warheads in succession to boost the entire ship from ground to orbit, the size of the push plates was limited by both the size and the thrust of the rockets available. Thus the Independence class resembles nothing so much as a large rocket itself, albeit one with all sorts of hatches, weapon bays, laser windows, and armored scales that open on aft/"down" placed hinges to allow quick deployment of heavy lasers, missiles, and interdiction guns and lasers (CIWS); and a big fat metal slug at its rear end.

To date there has not been a true space war, in the sense of primary combat taking place between ships in or above high orbit. The War of the Russian Succession (2195-2196) did have an orbital theater, but operations therein were limited to aerospace fighter sorties and Thor strikes against ground targets. The bulk of the SLhA's interplanetary operations consist of customs/cargo inspections, intervening in inter-syndicate and inter-corporate piracy and industrial warfare per relevant treaty, and surveying asteroids for strategic minerals. Occasionally a survey team will leave a small box of pro-labor-union microcards on a non-strategic metal asteroid in case employees of a foreign company should reach it before an SL syndicate's sovereign workers.

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