Tools of the Trade 2

Tools of the Trade Chapter 2

Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah:
and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols.
So fight the minions of the devil.
Lo!The devil’s strategy is ever weak.

-Surah IV verse 76

Muhammad Ahmad Al-Gamrawi Bey, Defender of the Faith and spiritual leader of the Caliphate reflected on the circumstances that by the will of Allah and by his divine intervention had elevated him, a once minor Imam to the dominant position in the councils of the elect. One would have thought it most unlikely.

Fifty years earlier, he had spoken again aloud the true words of the prophet; the words that the leaders of the Caliphate had forgotten or chosen to ignore for the last five hundred years. And the masses of the faithful had listened and the judgment of Mohammad would again be visited upon the infidel.

Jorgen Military Academy – 2877 AD
Wesleyan Loyola Calvert looked around the sparsely finished room he had been assigned on the ground floor of the forth and fifth year barracks. Bare wooden floors worn to a state of near polish by the passage of twenty-seven generations of students. Not even so much as a floor mat in in sight. There was no requirement that his room be so plain, most others had far more in the way of personal belongings and personal comforts but for Calvert the mere fact he was here was enough and more.

Three years of military school on his home world of Cardoman and the top four students determined my class rank were provided with passage off planet to further their education. Llanfairn was not only the most populous of the Indie worlds, but was generally regarded as having the premier military school. It was the first choice of three out of the four. But Calvert, as always slightly out of step, elected for the far more distant and spartan Jorgen. It was not strategy, logistics, or tactics that brought him here but rather the smaller school’s history department. He wanted to understand the why along with the how.

Wes sat at his battered desk, used by generations of students and located in front of the window overlooking the parade ground. He reviewed his notes and listened to the replay of the lecture he had just returned from. ‘The Roots of the Current Conflict.’ He wanted to make sure he had it fixed in his mind. Not because he was sure he had received the unvarnished truth, but in order to compare and contrast the other lectures to follow.

In the year 2112 the first extra-solar colony was started by those fleeing distant Earth and the world wide Islamic Caliphate. For fifty years, starting from that date, the Caliphate was content to let dissidents leave with no opposition whatsoever, provided they could pay the freight. When that period was complete, over 150 million independent souls had taken advantage of the opportunity.

Eleven colonies had been successfully established and two more attempts ended in failure. Right at the end of the time frame a final colony ship, the New Hope, went out but disappeared without a trace. Until 2244, the Caliphate maintained desultory relations with the established planets and allowed migration but no more of the Earth’s resources were to be used in constructing additional ships. After 2244 all off planet migration was stopped.

In 2262 the Caliphate, after undergoing a fundamentalist religious revival, started its own expansionist phase and constructed then sent a fleet which was able to retake two of the formerly free worlds, Marjoram and Verdure. Others would have fallen but instead the Caliphate changed course and started setting up its own colonial satraps while this was in progress was satisfied to gnaw away at the other settled worlds within what it considered its sphere of influence, restricting their commerce was the main tactic used.

Over the next 120 years the Caliphate became aggressive again and was able to conquer three more of the colony worlds Philomel, Jersey, and Grange but by then, its religious fervor sated, the first military expansion came to a halt and also ended any further colonization. By this time there were 38 planets owing not allegiance but subservience to the Terran Caliphate.

Wesley made a note to find out more of how the Caliphate achieved such hegemony on Earth in the first place, setting it in the margin of the display notes and then continued with the lecture.

The planets settled by those who left Earth seeking political and religious freedom were at a severe disadvantage in any armed struggle with the Caliphate, both in population and technologically. In 2262, at the start of the new hostilities, the population of the Earth was in an enforced stable state at 17.5 billion, the eleven successful colonies and the five offshoots they had already started, totaled just under one and a half billion. The newly established Caliphate planets were at least equal to their combined population.

Due to the amount of trade driven contact between Earth and the only very loosely aligned other worlds of the Caliphate the scientific knowledge base was roughly equal. But the huge disparity in population and especially population on any given planet meant that what we now call the Confederation of Free Worlds could not manufacture in fact, what they could produce in theory. This was true most critically when it came to the building of interstellar spacecraft.

The smallest of the first generation starships massed, excluding fuel for in system use in excess of two hundred thousand tons. It took a large, diverse, and mature industrial base, to produce the component parts required to construct these monsters. It wasn’t until 2287, that collaboration in the ConFed enabled first the shipyard on Enderlin and then the yard on Novi to be built and neither world was capable of independently making all of the necessary component parts. These second generation ships were made at the rate of two or three a year and still massed well over a hundred thousand tons.

Somehow, the ConFed was able to stave off outright economic defeat and cultural assimilation and when the Caliphate next stopped to consolidate its gains, and in 2383, went into an expansionist phase of its own.

The blinking icon that popped up on Wes’s screen halted his review. Time for dinner and then afterwards he would attend the evening lecture dealing with the truly ancient history of warfare. Tonight’s would be on Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars. He had an old dog-eared copy in print he had inherited from his father.

The Jorgen Military Academy, aside from its reputation in history, though not the top of the major schools for infantry and land war training, had an excellent reputation and staff. Other planets specialized in naval warfare and a few, like the Indie world Llanfairn, and the capital planet of the ConFed, Union, had schools highly rated in both disciplines. Most were four or five year programs the first three years being general and covering a bit of everything before the cadets were required to finalize their career path. Wes, because of his training on Cardoman, was on a two year track.

From his earliest years, listening to his great uncle Fredrich and his grandfather Gregoric talk of the Cardoman resistance to the Caliphate invasion of 2833, Wesley never had any doubt where his future lay. He supposed he should have missed his father, who had died in the liberation of Tredway, but he had only been three at the time and his memory was so dim concerning those years that it might not have existed at all.

He could remember how quiet and sad his mother had been in the years before she remarried when he was eight. Thaddeus Schiller filled a void in her life that Wes hadn’t even known existed. His sister Sharon had been only a year old when their father died, but in retrospect, it was easy to see how his mothers love for the two of them, with the support of Grandpa Gregoric and Uncle Fred had sustained her through those five long lonely years until she met his stepfather Thaddeus.

* * *
The change in his status as a fourth year cadet rather than a first year newbie or third year senior on Cardoman was profound to say the least. Instead of a constant stream of 15 and 18 hour days, they were down to 14 hours and a couple of days off each month besides. He was expected to broaden his own education with all of that free time and so he did. The libraries on Cardoman had almost all of the same information, data being the most portable thing in the universe, but the structure of the data as presented in his course work gave a clear indication of the relevant and sometimes arcane paths to follow for a fuller understanding.

Wesley, in his own mind, had over dramatized his situation somewhat and expected to run into one of those cardboard authoritarian tyrants or schoolyard bullies populating the kind of novels which were his favorite diversion. Nothing of the sort. The general competence of the instructors the majority retired veterans and the seriousness of his fellow officer candidates left no room for that kind of nonsense. Wesley wasn’t exactly a loner but he was sure the few friends he made at home and the ones he made here were likely to last a lifetime. He acquired several that affected his education on Jorgen in a very positive fashion during those two years.

June 2877, Ryman Recon GHQ
General Arthur W. Redmond could only shake his head as he stared at the report in front of him. “Dammit Sergeant Major, how could you throw away a career like this? The youngest man ever to make Command Sergeant Major in Recon and you throw it away to pound a 1LT in the dirt and face a Court Martial because of it. What the hell were you thinking?”

“That there is no way Prime Minister MacWorther is going to let me go to a Court Martial. Thanks to the Ryman Constitution, there is not a chance in the world he could keep me from going on the stand. You and I know that would put his precious grandson on the dock for cowardice. You are going to kick my ass out; we both know that, let’s just make it as pleasant as we can. That rat bastard will never command again; not after what I did to his knees. So the piss ant Prime Minister has a crippled grandson that he will make into some kind of hero. Of course, to make that bullshit stand, he has to make me go away.

“So, you kick my ass out, then he tries to kill me. I could write that damn book in my sleep; what’s your problem Art?”
Redmond stared for a minute, “Probably the fact that the Buck Sergeant who kicked some sense into the young 2LT who became the youngest Commander of Recon in Ryman history is getting fucked over royally. Bobbie this is shit on a stick and you know it.”

“What the fuck Art, you kick my ass out and you are covered. I clear Finance and Jeff picks me up in civvies in front of the HQ. We haul ass for the civilian side of the port and I go find a job as a Merc.

“Just let it be known that if anybody screws with my Godson; I come back and not God nor man will keep me from MacWorther’s throat. Now give me the papers to kick my ass out and tell Jonnie I love her and will see her later.”

The overly proud father of Robert T Redmond slowly handed over the orders that ended a life for the receiver and watched as Bobbie Davis turned and walked from the room.

All Redmond could think was “Dear God, don’t let me see my Friend on this planet again!”

* * *
Clayton Grayson, third child of Jorgens’s Minister of Cultural Affairs Langdon Grayson, was paying close attention, as he always did to the professor, his father had instilled in him the belief that any information, no matter how seemingly trivial or innocuous, might later become important beyond imagination. It was a combination of filial love and the fact that the Cultural Ministry was the not so secret cover for Jorgen Intelligence that combined to give Clay ample reason to respect the essential rightness of that belief. His father had actually given him a few examples, which unfortunately couldn’t be made public, illustrating the point.

The lecture he was sitting through just now concerned the history of shipping and its relevance to naval warfare, both ancient and modern. Logistics wasn’t everything or the only thing but without it there’s nothing. That was a thought from his father that had stuck.

The professor had just reached the 21st century and Clayton stretched and pressed himself against the wooden chair back, glad the lack of comfort would help in keeping him awake. Important or not the delivery had been less than scintillating.

“So as you can see,” the professor droned on, “with increasing industrialization, or more correctly the spread of industrialization to low wage states, with most of the resultant product being sent to wealthier nations, the need for transportation exploded astronomically. There were in excess of 80,000 ocean going freighters serving the needs of a population of a bit over eight billion. Thus one ship servicing the needs of every 100,000 persons on the planet. Of course that skews the true nature as most of the transportation again, I must stress, was actually in the service of less than a third of the people.”

“The facts ma’am, just the facts.” Clay kept thinking as the political commentary kept interfering with his concentration. He must have dozed off for a bit. Good thing the recorder was on, but he woke up for the conclusion.

“So we reach the state as we currently know it. Between the Caliphate, Confederation and Indie worlds, the combined gross population is just under 160 billion but there are only in the neighborhood of 8,000 interstellar capable ships in service and engaged in commercial roles. The cost of additional construction, and I might add governmental intransigence, is holding back the natural expansion which we all have a right to expect and a duty to demand of elected and appointed leaders.”

With that, somewhat less than rousing conclusion, the lecture ground to a halt and the relieved cadets filed out of the hall. Clay caught up with Wes Calvert on leaving the building. “Hey Wes, I missed the middle part of the class but got it saved, anything important?”

“A lot on the universe’s downtrodden masses— not much on shipping. Read the book forget the recording. Catch you later I’m off to the gym. You busy? I could use a sparing partner.”

“Boxing, bah, what a waste of time. You can work to uphold the honor of the cadet corps, I’m off to my room, got a paper to finish up and mail in.” And then with a look and a tone of voice that was obviously insincere, “Thanks anyway.”

In the rough and tumble back country of Cardoman, boxing had been the only sport practiced in many of the communities. They were too small and poor to put together enough people for any of the larger team sports. From the time Uncle Fred had given him a set of pads and laced on his first pair of gloves at age four Wes had worked at it with a passion. All that time was paying off now because it had gotten him on the cadet team and out of most of the far more boring and time consuming running and calisthenics that was still required for graduation and was the usual lot in life of most cadets.

Just making the cadet team guaranteed a pass in his athletics requirement and he was able to get by with only a couple hours a week devoted to serious training because he was the only cadet there who had worked at the sport all his life and wasn‘t just learning the archaic pastime as an exercise in tradition. So for Wes the boxing and running between all of his classes, something most of the others did also, was all that was required of him. And it did give him a few extra hours every week for academics.

He did find it a bit strange, at first that boxing, as practiced in the Cardoman backwoods, bore about the same relationship to the classical style taught at the Academy as close order drill bore to a riot or perhaps more like the way fencing compared to a knife fight.

Wes was seated near the front of the lecture hall when Commandant and Professor Powell, head of the Jorgen Military Academy, began the first of three lectures he customarily delivered each term.

“Mercenary Law,” was the lecture title, “And isn’t it all,” the instructor said to a few small chuckles though it came too fast for most of the fifth year cadets to get it, “has evolved extensively in order to fit the changing needs of government. And mercenary units have changed accordingly.

We will start our discussion by skipping past the ancient mercenary tradition of the Roman Empire and begin with the Catholic Church’s Vatican Swiss Guards started in 1506 and existing till this day. Though it should be noted the Guard Swiss were formed ten years previously by Charles the VIII of France and over the course of three centuries some 120,000 of them served the French King. And of course they are now only a museum piece used to illustrate the tolerance of the Caliphate.

Under the French, and likewise the Pope, sometimes they were one and the same, the Guard served both military and ceremonial roles and all officers were required to be Swiss. Their rate of pay was considerably higher and more regularly provided for than the rest of the Army and standards of professionalism and discipline were greater as well.
The Vatican Swiss at its conception was a 200 member force, battalion sized for the time, and committed to continuous service as a unit of the Papal Army. All were volunteers and had original training in the Swiss Army. They signed up for a minimum 2 year term.

An adapted version of their original oath is used by the majority of mercenary units active today though in both Confederation and Independent services though most religious references have been replaced by those more secular.

“I swear to faithfully, honestly and honorably serve the reigning Pope [name of Pope] and his legitimate successors, and to dedicate myself to them with all my strength, ready to sacrifice, should it become necessary, even my own life for them. I likewise assume this promise toward the members of the Sacred College of Cardinals during the period of the Sede Vacante of the Apostolic See. Furthermore, I pledge to the Commandant and to my other superiors respect, fidelity, and obedience. I swear to abide by all the requirements attendant to the dignity of my rank.”

After the reading of the oath the recruit would respond.

“I, [name of the new guard], swear to diligently and faithfully abide by all this which has just been read to me; may The Almighty and His Saints be my witnesses.”

Moving forwards some 500 years we see contractors fulfilling portions of what were once purely military responsibilities. These contractors provided primarily logistic and armed security functions that were defensive in nature. Operations meant to capture territory or fight enemy armies were still, when directed by national governments, conducted by national armies.

An addition to the Old Terran Geneva Conventions in 1977 stated about Mercenaries:
1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.
2. A mercenary is any person who:
(a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
(b) does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;
(c) is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;
(d) is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;
(e) is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and
(f) has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.
Professor Powell then said to the class, “As a first exercise I want each of you to contrast modern practice with this ancient interpretation.”

At the library the next day doing research for his paper Wes ran into Paul Olivera who was pulling from the stacks the book, those still not converted to an electronic retrieval format, the one Wes had also been searching for. ‘Changes to Contract Law and the Private Military Company’, “Beat me to it,” he said, “let me know when your finished Paul and. I‘ll do the scan.”

“I see you’ve discovered my secret,” Paul said with a conspiratorial grin.

Books and manuscripts not in the database were never allowed to be removed from the library and it was the responsibility of any student citing from such to scan the source in. The process was simple but still took an average ten or fifteen minutes and that was enough to keep the numbers using this source of additional information down. That and the fact that most searches thorough the stacks were fruitless anyway.

“Guess so. Do a search and check entries, titles, and authors. If you can find something not already in electronic form and relevant, it’s sure to be new to the Prof also. They see so much of the same stuff worked over and over again that you are going to be sure of getting a few extra points for originality whenever you do find something.”

“Seems to work for me, I’ll com you in a bit and we can compare notes.”

They did compare notes and Wes soon found Paul Olivera, one of twenty students each year sent from Zeeland, had become one of his few close friends. They often discussed their prospects after graduation. Zeeland, a world of about 28 million two thirds as populous as Wesley’s home of Cardoman, had a tradition of off planet service and ever since the start of the latest phase of Caliphate expansionism has had two or three units so employed. Paul said that after graduation he would likely join one of those units.

Government troops were not technically mercenaries because it was assumed, and indeed the case, that most served and fought out of patriotism and not for financial gain. They made up the majority of military personnel fighting on planets other than their own.

Cardoman, as a governmental unit, was making plans but as of yet had no troops hired off planet. There were however several hundred individual citizens such as Wes scattered in various units throughout the Indie worlds. Wes said in all likelihood he would join a government sponsored organization but private contract was always an option and it was to get an understanding about the structure of the private mercenary contract that had caused him to take the class. After doing so mercenary work seemed to offer advantages he had not been aware of.

There were two common means used to integrate non-indigenous troops into regular armies. The first and most usual was to hire individuals either as officers or into the enlisted ranks for a limited term of service. These enlistees would swear temporary allegiance to the government hiring them and a percentage equal to a third of their nominal pay would be sent to the planet to which they held citizenship. Most usually enlisted men would be under the command of native officers or the hired officers would command native troops.

The sometimes desperate need by many of the Indie worlds for off planet credit made this a standard source of income for some of them. The only cost to the planet involved was the loss of manpower at home which the resulting credit more than counterbalanced.

The second means of integrating troops was by contractual agreement with a private entity representing a group of soldiers. It had only been in the last half century that PMC’s (Private Military Contractors) had come into their own as combat units and not just providing logistic and support. Speed of reaction was the reason most often justifying their use because a private contract could be negotiated and terminated when desired far more rapidly than an inter-governmental assistance pact.

The advantage to the soldier in such a unit was that the third of the payment that would have normally gone to his home world could go into his own pocket and performance bonuses earned. On top of that, and it varied from unit to unit, he might earn ownership stake into the PMC itself. This would include a share of any profits along with capital assets. Think weapons and equipment. All contracts were written to insure cash value replacement of expendable stores as well as replacement and maintenance costs. Sometimes it even worked out that way.

The problem with mercenaries today, as it had always been, was that those who fought only for private gain had less than zero incentive for a fight to the death or when death seemed likely. To put it crudely but accurately, how does one insure a mercenary stays bought The solution used in most every case to date had been to integrate the merc unit into the regular force structure but keep them out on the front. After all the feeling went— That’s why they are getting the big bucks. Any retreat from battle could be answered in the traditional manner coming down from time immemorial; shoot those who retreat without orders when under fire. The Calps practice of taking no prisoners, which had come to be known as conversion by the sword, made surrender a non starter, though if the Calps could give up religious dogma for military reality that policy might change. The greater amount of time they spent in combat operations when compared to most other troops tended to increase mercenaries’ value in proportion.

During the near half century of the attritional low scale war with the Caliphate, the use of mercenaries became generally accepted with a few planets still holding exception. It had even given rise to a few units with records so outstanding that their hire commanded a premium. The variations on the standard contract were seemingly endless, but then so were the specifics of each. And Wes learned that as in much of everything the devil is in the details.

The week between completing classes and the graduation ceremony was when representatives from both planetary governments and various PMC groups came to Jorgen and this year there was certain to be a full house. Wes had decided to talk to as many of the PMC’s as time permitted but had come to the conclusion that at this stage in his military career the he needed to get experience as an officer in a governmentally run army. One thing that would do was give him universally accepted experience and a rank so derived, as a basis for advancement no matter what he might chose in the future.

Thirty-one of the Ninety-six non Caliphate worlds, including four from the Confederation, would have representatives doing interviews present. The Confederation, with a much greater population and tech base due to the length of time since first colonized, trained more than enough officers for their own services and supplied many of the Indie worlds. Still the schools on Llanfairn and Jorgen placed many into Confederation every year. And this year a new record, though one almost certain to be broken, seven PMC’s sent representatives also.

There were twelve hundred fifth year graduates in this year’s class. Three hundred were sponsored by and committed to their home governments armies and half of the remainder would likewise return to the military of their home world some after consideration of their other options.

The list of recruiting entities and their particular needs was published and each graduate could check off to whom to release his records for a pre-screen. Most of the non committed submitted to all and quite a few of those returning to their home planets did as well, out of an interest in seeing what their options would have been if things were different.. This first pre-screen in order to maximize privacy was accomplished by running on the schools computer system level programs supplied by the recruiters which compared these records to each recruiter’s particular selection criteria. The school then returned to each a list to each showing which recruiter’s pre-screens he had passed and his rank amongst those passing. With that knowledge in hand the cadet would choose which recruiters to actually apply to.

Wes easily passed the preliminaries for all of his choices but chose to interview with only four of them. Two from the ConFed and two Indies. With all that he learned from those interviews and careful consideration, the situation on Witherway and especially the fact that they offered one year contracts, that planet seemed to fit his needs better than any of the others. He applied for an appointment and an offer was tendered which Wes accepted. Two days after graduation and he was on a transport as a 2nd Lt, Infantry, in the service of Witherway, a tidy amount of credit sent to Cardoman in his name.