Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Building a Space Navy III: Strategic Goals

Our last post gave an overview of building a space navy from the very beginning - the world building stage of Strategic Assumptions.  Today's post takes that part and focuses down on Strategic Goals.

So we've established a SF universe that would have a space force that needs this chart:  Conjunction.  In this universe we have a United Nations & Colonies as the solar system's only space-faring military power (currently!)  A politically restless, self-sufficient Jovian system, terraforming on Mars, and a Saturn system featuring a booming oil business on Titan.  This UN has about 3.8 Trillion of whatever currency as it's military budget annually, and now we need to focus on said military's goals.

Atomic Rockets has recently added this chart and a break-down of what each segment means in the Astromilitary section.  This is fortunate, as Winchell Chung is frankly better at explaining the chart's details than I am.  It also allows us a chance to concentrate on turning the chart into a concrete example.

In the Conjunction universe, what's the most important thing our space navy can do?  That is a loaded question, since every planet and indeed constituent nation on Earth probably has a different idea, one that involves their polity/corporation/special interest being most protected/favored.  Forgive the cynicism.  Looking at current navies, historical navies, and a healthy dose of pragmatic sense, I see the top three priorities of the UN&C Space Force as follows:
    1. Strategic Goals
      1. Protection of commerce   
      2. Enforce Safety Mandates
      3. Power Projection 
In a universe that does not revolve around money, I would've put "enforcing safety mandates" first.  But why make a perfect universe?  This way, when there is a choice between recovering an oil tanker drone and rescuing a manned spacecraft, with only enough Delta V  to do one or the other, we have an ethical quandary, instead of an obvious choice.  More stories that way.

To us, the choice between safety and commerce is still pretty obvious - no matter what pundits and less recognized pontificators have to say about the USN being in the Middle East just to protect the oil, I know of no Navy asset -or sailor for that matter - that would think twice about rescuing civilians lost at sea.  But what if it was oil mega-tankers in space, and losing a convoy it meant power outages across much of Earth for months? Is that kind of prospect, and it's human cost, worth the lives of a few people trapped on a rocket going nowhere with its tanks dry?  Is that kind of prospect worth an entire fleet of ships thrown into the breech, if it means darkness across Earth?
Don't answer right away; it's a creative writing exercise. 

Anyway, commerce protection is number one, then enforcing safety mandates.  That being said, if the safety mandate involves NEOs moving when they shouldn't, then of course the priority changes.  But as much as I agree with the formation of an Orbit Guard, and definitely a Laser Transport Authority (Remember ASTRA?), how much of that goal should be served by our space navy?  For example, is it cheaper to have a fleet a patrol craft, or a squad of power-suited Espaciers posted on every rock?  Hmm...probably the patrol craft, if we end up with a lot of NEO mining.  Maybe better, a central base with Espaciers in rockets that function like helicopters do for marines?  These are important questions, if you want a consistent and detailed universe.  Notice how those questions above can be answered by more detail in the "Strategic Assumptions" category?  Funny how that works out...  Anyway, one thing I definitely like is the idea of on-board inspection teams for all nuclear powered spacecraft.  Their cost would be part of the rocket's overhead, they would also be a hell of a deterrant for smuggling, piracy and all that jazz.  I could see the Espos becoming friends with the crew, dating even...and when the chips are down, having a naval nuclear engineer and God's own DC party never hurts.

The last strategic goal for the UN&C in Conjunction is the one that they consider the least important, and is most likely to bite them on the ass later: Power Projection.  This means letting uppity Jovians know that any war-like moves on their part will not be tolerated.  Theoretically, this is in part handled by the logistical needs of the Titanian convoys.  Approaching the Great Conjunction, the UN is investing Jupiter with more supply bases, which means more troops.  It also means more taxing Jupiter's resources to supply water for transports and water, air, and cubic for the Espos and Astros stationed in their space.  This will be the largest build-up in the Jovian system since the last Great Conjunction, twenty years ago, and the current generation of Jovians will probably resent the infringement on their isolation.  Is this "power projection", or is it the SF equivalent of billeting redcoats in colonial homes prior to Lexington and Concord?  That is also a writing exercise.
You won't tread on me.
Due to simple Newtonian physics, The old Naval Doctrine of "Fleet in Being" is going to be big hit in any realistic space conflict. Any strategy that does not require one to burn propellant is a good strategy.  So, with patrol craft stationed near navigation lasers in Jovian space, and an entire fleet at Saturn, and the UN may thing they have Jupiter safely boxed in.

Of course, Jovians serve in the UNSF, so...

On a final note, lets fill in our outline a little more based on the above:
    1. Strategic Goals
      1. Protection of commerce
        1. Safely ferry convoys to and from Titan
        2. Safely resupply bases in Saturn System
        3. Oversee transport of hydrocarbons from Saturn and minerals from NEOs, MBOs and KBOs to Mars and Earth/Luna
      2. Enforce Safety Mandates
        1. Provide inspection teams for all nuclear-powered spacecraft
        2. Provide over-site of all orbital changes of NEOs MBOs and KBOs
        3. Provide over-site of all transport laser installation on Earth, Luna, Mars and in the Main Belt, the Jovian system and the Chronian system.
        4. SAR Patrols in Trans-Lunar space
        5. Man and re-supply SAR bases in Trans-Martian space
        6. Provide other search and rescue services when necessary
      3. Power Projection
        1. Forward deploy fleet assets to potential trouble areas (Jupiter)
        2. Provide threat of instant response while conserving assets (Fleet in Being)
Next time, we will tackle Fleet Missions, with gets more specific that this.  It should also show how the strategic assumptions need to be as detailed as possible. See you then!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Questions, comments, criticisms? All non-Trolls welcome!