As I had mentioned back at the 2022 goals, one thing I was looking at doing was writing up some discussions on how and why various navies are structured the way that they are. In this, I’m stealing guidance from the always-enjoyable website Project Rho. Specifically the part about building a navy.
The majority of this entire series is based off of both a podcast and the writings of one Christopher Weuve. As mentioned on Project Rho, his job is working for the US Department of Defense as a naval analyst, so he’s rather qualified to talk about naval structure. So if I’m going to be cribbing notes from people, I’m going to crib from someone who knows what’s what. Which brings us to this chart:
The general logic of this chart is that one works from left to right, starting off in really broad and vague terms before steadily drilling down more and more into specific nuts and bolts. In a broad sense, Strategic Assumptions define Strategic Goals. Those in turn define Fleet Missions, which lay down the requirements for Fleet Design. From there one starts looking at Force Size, and then finally Force Management. In more laymen’s terms, first you have to know what you care about and what you want to do. Then you look at how to do it, with what you’re doing to do it with, how much of it you want (or need, or can afford) to do it with, and then finally how are you actually going to do it.
Like most sci-fi universes, initially the deWulf navy was really only looking at the middle chunk: Missions, Design, and Size. And in fairness, that is what most sci-fi universes tend to show because that’s what matters for the plot (and looks sexy). It’s much more thrilling to show Vipers pivoting through space, pouring fire into oncoming raider squadrons while a battlestar slams shells into a base star. It is (generally) far less gripping to sit in a boardroom as Federation bureaucrats hammer out what strategic goals they are going to be working towards in the next five years. Or the tales of a pair of bureaucrats from the Empire having to work out refit and readiness cycles for the Imperial Star Destroyers securing Corellia.
As one final aside, this often can create a kind of logical dissonance when one is watching a show. Like “why do they have this class of ship at all?” or “why don’t they just build X?” when for us, as outside observers, see a problem that could have just been solved by having a Special Something. A navy built with the planning above provides the answers to those questions. And even better, provides interesting answers in the process.
deWulf Strategic Assumptions
Before we can start looking at solutions to our current military situation, we must look at the overarching strategic environment. We have paid some attention to our overall situation, but a solid strategy demands a solid foundation.
Firstly, there is no known method of actual supra-light travel. The speed of light remains a hard limit, but a shortcut exists thanks to the existence of warp points. Patches of spacetime that are overlapped via some higher or lower dimension, they allow us to travel from star system to star system while skipping the intervening terrain. This also means we are not concerned with where a star is relative to any other in a classic sense (the real space distance from star A to B has so far always been so large as to be effectively impossible to traverse).
Instead, we are concerned how various star systems are connected by warp lanes, which results in both multiple approach paths and strategic “choke point” star systems. This means that we can effectively have “frontier systems” as well as “core systems”, though the possibility always remains that unknown warp links can transform a core system into a frontier system in an instant.
Overlaying this nature of reality is the fact that we have multiple colonies outside our home star system. These colonies provide raw materials, additional markets, and space for our populations to grow. Thanks to government policy that has encouraged their growth, three-fourths of our State exists outside of our home system. This requires forward deployment and regional security forces to provide an adequate and timely defense.
We are also not alone in the universe. Other polities exist, and have pursued the same approximate policies, supported by the same nature of reality that we must grasp with. Some of these polities are not friendly, so we must be ready and able to defend ourselves. We have been the victim of two separate wars, and been involved in a third to support an ally.
Secondly, we are not a post-scarcity society. We have finite resources that must be allocated as efficiently as possible. The costs of maintaining and expanding State infrastructure is substantial, and maximum coverage everywhere is at best a cloud dream.
Mirroring our population, three-fourths of our raw income comes from star systems outside of our home system. A full half of our income comes from star systems that are not the home star systems of the deWulf and the Sintillans. While a large portion of our income is concentrated, enough is spread out to be vulnerable to interdiction.
All that being said, direct support for the Navy via corporate funding can be as much as fifty percent of total net tax revenue. This varies however, depending on allocated purchasing and funding, especially given the following points:
- Capital ship production costs have high up-front outlays, but take significant time to deliver product.
- Fleet R&D is a part of directed naval support
- Colonization funding is part of the naval budget
- Naval funding extends to the logistical cargo train (cargo transport, additional landing ships for troops, and supporting additional colonization with fleet train units).
- Exploration is also supported by the Navy.