Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Mercenary and Marines

Rereading the introduction to Book 4: Mercenary for the first time since the early 1980’s was a rather telling experience. Mercenary was the first Traveller rule book to suggest the likely shape of the future 3rd Imperium, and it was quite a different thing to what it later became. In fact, part of the passage is worth quoting as, on rereading it, I begin to remember what formed my ideas on Nobility within the Traveller setting, and where the general political shape of my RimWorlds campaign came from:

“Traveller assumes a remote centralized government (referred to in this volume as the Imperium), possessed of great industrial and technological might, but unable, due to the sheer distances and travel times involved, to exert total control at all levels everywhere within its star-spanning realm. On the frontiers, extensive home rule provisions allow planetary populations to chose their own forms of government, raise and maintain armed forces for local security, pass and enforce laws governing local conduct, and regulate (within limits) commerce. Defence of the frontier is mostly provided by local indigenous forces, stiffened by scattered Imperial Naval bases manned by small but extremely sophisticated forces.”
-Traveller Book 4: Mercenary 1978

I started thinking about the Imperial Marines again after a couple of my players rolled up Marine characters. How are Imperial Marines organised – beyond the company/regiment TO&E that appeared way back when in a (paper) copy of the Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society? How are they deployed, and what is their mission?

I recall reading somewhere - and I can’t remember where, though I think it was in connection with a discussion about the Fifth Frontier War boardgame on the Citizens of the Imperium discussion boards – an estimate that there is a regiment of Imperial Marines assigned to each Subsector. Looking at my population figures and likely budgets for the Imperial Navy, a regiment of Marines seems far too few to both serve as a ground force spearhead and to provide ships’ troops for the fleet. After doing a little research – reading up on the US Marines (basically a pocket army) and the Royal Marines (basically a short division within the British Armed Forces) - I began come up with ideas about how I wanted Imperial Marines to work in the RimWorlds.

The Imperial Marines are a pocket army. Serving primarily as Light Infantry (deploying on potentially hostile worlds, their support equipment is constrained by what can be landed from orbit in what could possibly be a “hot” landing zone), their primary roles are to spearhead planetary assaults and secure a perimeter for larger ground force commands to deploy; secure and protect Imperial property planetside, or within a system; and to protect Imperial Navy and Subsector Navy installations and starships. The Imperial Marines are a ready-reaction force intended for rapid deployment to stabilise situations of hostility, or to rapidly overwhelm hostile forces.

Marines have two initial career tracks – Marine Infantry and Support. All Marines, regardless of career track, are riflemen first. That is what they are trained as in Basic Training. The annals of Marine History include many famous actions where the cooks, drivers, storemen and datatechs dropped what they were doing, grabbed their FN187 Gauss Rifles, and manned the barricades alongside their more combat oriented brethren. Looking through the potential Skill List for Support track personal, we find the artillerymen and vehicle gunners, the drivers, the mechanics, and the Combat Engineers who support the Marine Infantry during planetside deployments. Marine Infantry are the teeth of the force. Trained to fight in hostile environments, and in space and aboard starships, as well as on conventional battlefields, Marine Infantry are combat specialists. A third career track, that of Marine Commando, is only open to the best of Marine Infantry and Marine Support. Marine Commandos are the eyes and ears of the Marine deployment force, reconnoitring and feeling out the enemy, and often operating deep behind enemy lines.


Fleet Marine Force Command RimWorlds Sector (FMFCRw) is based at Sector Fleet Command Headquarters, currently on Thiroor/Gazolan, and falls under Sector Fleet Command RimWorlds Sector. Fleet Marine Force Command consists of nine Imperial Marine Divisions, deployed in the nine Subsectors of the RimWorlds controlled by the Imperium. The deployments, from Coreward to Rimward, are as follows:

827th Marine Division, Kaorin Subsector
852nd Marine Division, Berimer’s Sceptre Subsector
853rd Marine Division, Daltharmai Subsector
900th Marine Division, Gazolan Subsector
902nd Marine Division, Thurgandarn Subsector
351st Marine Division, Gamelea Subsector
409th Marine Division, Nolgor Subsector
478th Marine Division, Miazan Subsector
496th Marine Division, Gazul Subsector

Each Marine Division consists of four Marine Infantry Regiments, an Armoured Battalion, two Light Armour Reconnaissance Battalions, a Commando Battalion, two Engineering Battalions, a COACC Wing, an Artillery Regiment, and a Logistics Regiment. From this formation are drawn the Ships’ Troops of all Imperial Navy and Subsector Navy ships within that subsector, all Navy Base and Starport Security details within that subsector, the Security details for many high ranking Imperial Officials within that subsector, as well as garrisons for important installations, troops deployed on Police Actions and Counter Insurgency Operations, and the Marine Expeditionary Units - Ready Reaction forces deployed aboard ship for months at a time, awaiting the order to Jump and deploy.