16 April 2013

Ruminations on the United Earth Army

  Part of developing the backstory for the Starship Texas and her Dragoons requires us to take a look at the United Earth Army.  According to the documents the STARFLEET Marine Corps has published, the SFMC was founded in 2161 with the birth of the Federation, and followed a "Colonial Marine Corps" that was part of the "United Nations Peace Force."  As much as I'd like to make sure my work doesn't overwrite some of the history already established for the SFMC, United Earth is established canon, there would not have been a UNPF.  As my friends and I have worked on this project, we've been asked why we don't simply go as MACOs.  Our response to that is that we feel MACOs are something between Special Forces and Marines, and like Special Forces Operators there simply aren't enough of them to fight a full-fledged war.  When United Earth needed warm bodies, they called up the United Earth Army. 
  In ENT 3x01 "The Xindi" ENS Sato has an exchange with MAJ Hayes in which she says "Military Assault Command..." and Hayes responds "Captain Archer said he wanted the best."  If the MACOs aren't the only option, then who are the other option(s)?

  So here we go, with a rough sketch of what I hope to develop into a nice document for gaming purposes, and also to be used as part of our SFMC qualifications in a historical context.

  The United Earth Army as it exists today has been derided as a vestigal organ of a bygone time.  Earth herself has been at peace since the founding of the Federation in 2161, a fact which doves and progressives in the United Earth government use to justify semi-regular legistlative attempts to dismantle the service as antiquated an unnecessary.  As it is with many recurrent political arguments, a look at history might give insight into the direction of the present.  At the outbreak of the Romulan War, the same discussions on the necessity of a United Earth Army were taking place as the final holdouts in 2150.  While the nation-states that constituted the membership of United Earth still maintained their own militaries for traditional or security reasons, the United Earth Army had been founded in 2113 in the hopes that an official force representing all of Earth would encourage membership in the new world government.  Once this goal was accomplished, the UE Army faced immediate calls for its dismemberment on the grounds that it had never been needed as a combatant force.  United Earth had the Military Assault Command Operations (MACO) organization to serve as its military, these pundits argued, and a standing United Earth Army was a waste of resources.
  This wisdom was beginning to sway many UE lawmakers when the Xindi attack on Earth in March of 2153.  Humans in places of influence had been mildly alarmed at the reception Humanity's first forays into deep space had generated, as already the list of civilizations unfriendly to Earth had become much longer than just the Nausicaans and a few others that existed before the introduction of high-warp travel by the Starship Enterprise (NX-01.)  Starfleet had quietly begun a rapid construction program using Mars and Jupiter Station consisting of hastily uprated Intrepid- and Delta-type vessels.  The New York-class vessels, originally intended to be exploration cruisers as a follow-on and improvement to the NX-class were prioritized in a secret project to serve as Earth's power projection capability, but the ill-fated Starship New York (NY-34) would not see service, leaving her sister ship the Starship Texas (NY-35) the only vessel of the class to see completion, as production changed over to the prolific Daedalus-class vessels that would be the backbone of the Federation Starfleet after the birth of the United Federation of Planets in 2161. 
  This same spirit of defensive buildup drove the reaffirmation of the United Earth Army's mandate, as it was realized that the highly trained MACO forces would be excellent in small-unit roles but lacked the weight of numbers that would be needed if actual invasions of Earth or her colonies was to occur.  The devastating attack on Earth soil by the Xindi prototype touched off the same type of "war fever" and paranoia Humanity often experienced after events similar to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, or the terrorist attacks on New York in 2001.  The UE Army was once again relevant and prioritized, but the logistics of taking it from a peactime army to a modernized war footing were daunting.

  At the time of the Xindi attack, the United Earth Army resembled nothing more than the support elements of the armies that had come before it.  With no actual wars to fight, the UE Army specialized in disaster response, civil affairs and engineering endeavors.  Earth had largely recovered from the post-atomic turmoil that preceeded First Contact with the Vulcans in 2063, but that recovery came at a price.  The establishment of the European Hegemony had long ago moved social and political tides toward unification.  This momentum quickened with concrete proof from the Vulcans that humanity was not alone in the galaxy.  The fledgling United Earth Army was composed in large part of recruits from North America - the United States and Canada - as the energy and excitement of First Contact took hold like ripples from a stone dropped in Bozeman, Montana.  These initial units had a fresh infusion of pioneer spirit and leadership that were veterans of the recent and continuing conflicts that were United Earth's birthing pains.  The UE Army was forged in this crucible, adopting many of the customs and traditions of the United States Army whose veterans populated the first units of the new organization.  Peacekeeping and minor combat operations with the belligerent nations that held out against UE membership quickly changed to infrastructure creation and civilian assistance.  The UE Army became an expert organization at civil engineering projects, repairing damaged levees, water purification systems, food distribution, constructing temporary and permanent shelter complexes and many other tasks.  As the twenty-second century matured, the UE Army found itself less and less of a combatant force.  Arms and combat equipment were allowed to remain stagnant in favor of more mission-critical gear and technologies focused on the Army's current role.  As the Xindi Incident approached, the UE Army had become a much leaner organization than the Western-style armies that created it.  Many changes in basic organizations and structures had occurred to facilitate the mission of the peacetime Army that would differentiate it from the Armies of the past.

  One development that seems to be a throwback to the World War II or Vietnam-era of the United States Army was the re-adoption of multiple technical grades within the UE Army.  While the US Army had, and indeed still has in its role as a ceremonial organization for the US as a member state of United Earth, the rank of Specialist, it had long ago done away with multiple grades of specialist or with cumbersome titles like Quartermaster Sergeant, Saddler Sergeant and the like.  With the return of the UE Army to a largely technical role, the need for specialized soldiers was such that the non-commissioned officer (NCO) grades became overfull with soldiers who had stripes, and thus authority, based on technical expertise rather than leadership prowess or the need for small-unit leaders.  This prompted the UE Army command to adopt the ranks of Technician-4, Technician-5 and Technician-6 as extensions of the three enlisted ranks of Recruit, Private and Private First Class.  These soldiers carried grades E-4 through E-6 and were paid at that grade, but carried no official NCO status for those grades.  The insignia for these grades were inverted chevrons with a "T" device inside the angle of the innermost chevron.  In practice, these soldiers were often pressed into service as ersatz-NCOs or placed in charge of special details that usually - but not always - reflected the technical specialty of the soldier.  In most units, a TN4, TN5 or TN6 filled the same billet as a PVT or PFC.


The Infantry Platoon (Light) - 1 Officer, 13 Enlisted
  The standard Light Infantry Platoon in the United Earth Army was composed of only fourteen individuals - scarcely more than a squad from the previous century's military formations.  The change in mission and focus had yielded a much smaller necessary force for most applications, and infantry were more often employed as laborers and engineers.

Platoon Leader - O1 or O2
Platoon Sergeant - E6 (Staff Sergeant) or E7 (Sergeant First Class)
Two Infantry Squads
Squad Leader - E5 (Sergeant) or E6 (Staff Sergeant)
Assistant Squad Leader - E4 (Corporal) or E5 (Sergeant)
4 Soldiers of grades E1-E3

The infantry squads themselves were enumerated First Squad and Second Squad, and were broken down into A and B Fire Teams.  Each Fire Team had a single NCO, the Squad Leader lead A Team, with the Assistant Squad Leader leading B Team.  Each team had two soldiers in addition to the NCO leader.  On paper, all members of a light infantry squad were armed with the EM-23 plasma rifle, although EM-19 plasma carbines and EM-17 plasma support weapons were also commonly seen.


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