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Military SF article Fighting a Losing Battle by Andrew Liptak

I wanted to further the discussion here, so this is a place holder

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by    Posted march 01, 2011
First: I opened up a discussion thread on this topic over on the community site here Second: The "red coats" wore the uniforms they wore for unit recognition purposes. Those uniforms came out of an era of large standing armies fighting set-piece battles and when you're standing on a field amidst a cloud of gun smoke, it's very important to be able to see the affiliation of the 'shapes' moving around out there. Commanders often observed battels from horses, atop elevations adjacent to the battlefield, communicating with flags, runners and sound-making devices. Again, very important to be able to tell which block of men was yours and which the enemy's. (Wellington at Waterloo was observing French lines that were a minimum of about a mile away at the start of hostilities. At most he had a spyglass) Third - Pournelle and Drake are pretty darned good at tactics, check them out. Fourth: if you think about it, there is really very little reason or need to ever "invade" a planet. Resources? no - cheaper to obtain them in unopposed locations Population? no - we all know you can't solve one world's population problems by colonizing another world Politics? maybe, in extreme circumstances. Interdiction/blockade, calumny would be for more cost-effective Galactography? (location, location, location) no; if you have the technological and economic resources to build a star fleet that could conquer a solar system, you have the wherewithal to build a base in the middle of space that can serve the same purpose and again - war is costly, unexpected things occur and the outcome is not sure, so why risk it? The planet has some special signifigance (like you can only grow spice there) maybe. Me - I'd let the Duke do all the hard work at mining the spice and then just pirate his ships. Giving the Guild a nice portion of the take would keep them off my back. (and when the Lansraad objects I'd blow up their planets with the uber weapons I'd acquired with my spice assets. Better yet - see the next paragraph: in the greater scheme of things the BEST gaming strategy would be to destroy Arrakis and let the chips fall where they may - no more guild monopoly, the Emporer is cut back and no one else can do anything about it because - no FTL without the guild.) There's something unique and destroyable on that one planet in the entire galaxy (like spice or the plans for the new FTL drive). Check out the risk/benefit analysis. You want the thing because it threatens your power base. More than anything that means you don't want anyone else to have the 'thing'. Ok - I can't have it, no one else can. Slag the planet. "Enslave the population". Yeah, but. If planets are a dime a dozen, what's a person worth? Cheaper and easier to raise an army of mindless zombies. (Except if it's Orion and its green slave girls. In that case we simply obtain a genetic sample, slag the planet and grow our own.) About the only justifiable reason would be to retain infrastructer but put it under your control as opposed to someone else's. Chances are, though, you're going to beat the hell out of the infrastructure in the process of taking it. In reality, if "space war" ever came to be, there would be every reason to conduct it in a Sherman-like "total war" manner: completely terrorize the enemy population, indiscriminately totally destroy all of their assets, eradicate them. Which means - destroy their planets. This is also probably the most cost-effective, the shortest term and the most secure method; you leave nothing behind to fester in your rear (yeah, bad image, lol) and you can always go back and reclaim the remnants as spoils of war.
by    Posted march 01, 2011
That is one of the funny things about technology in interstellar warfare. They have forcefields that can stop nuclear weapons but no one ever freezes a planet. Suppos you could create a force field 8,000 miles in diameter. It would not have to be strong becasue it would just have to stop sunlight. Put it between the Earth and the Sun. How fast would the temperature drop? Surrender or freeze! But would that make for EXCITING Stories? Interstellar war sounds really dumb when one consders the technology such societies would have to possesses. Actually war seems pretty dumb with nuclear weapons but we have lots of them lying around. Maybe I should get myself one. It's the only way to be sure. LOL .
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