Shadow Of Freedom – Snippet 30

Shadow Of Freedom – Snippet 30

Most of the others were prepared to grant at least the possibility that Michelle and Khumalo and their staffs might be correct — that Manpower or the Mesa System might indeed have been the prime mover. Might even have provided the “invisible” starships which had carried out the Yawata Strike. Michelle doubted any of them found the notion any less bizarre than she did, but they were at least open to it. And if she was reading the ONI appreciations from home accurately, opinion within the Admiralty and the Grantville Government was hardening in the same direction. There was, however, a vast gap between “prepared to grant the possibility” and “willing to bet the farm on it,” and she decided — again — not to go into all the details of the logic behind her proposed deployments.

She’d considered mentioning that she intended to base herself on Montana, closest to Mesa and what she believed was clearly the greater threat, while assigning the Tillerman force to Vice Admiral Theodore Bennington, who’d become her senior battle squadron commander upon his arrival from the home system. Under the circumstances, though, it would undoubtedly be wiser to let that particular sleeping dog lie. She didn’t expect Alquezar or Krietzmann to object, anyway, and they were the Talbott decision-makers who really mattered where fleet movements were concerned.

“In addition to the deployment plan Admiral Gold Peak and I are proposing,” Khumalo said after a moment, “there are certain other measures we’d like to set in motion. Three of them are especially important.

“First, as Prime Minister Alquezar, Minister Lababibi, Minister Krietzmann, Minister Clark, and I have already discussed, we need to complete our survey of the Quadrant’s industrial capabilities as quickly as possible. I suspect our local resources may be able to contribute more materially to our defense here than some people might think. Nobody’s going to be building any superdreadnoughts anytime soon, but several of our systems — Rembrandt, San Miguel, and Spindle itself come to mind — have sufficient local industry to provide significant support for both our local defense and striking forces. Obviously, we’ll be making technical advisors from Admiral Gold Peak’s repair and depot ships available wherever possible.

“Secondly, and possibly even more importantly, Admiral Gold Peak has proposed we begin a vigorous program to expedite the raising and training of naval personnel right here in the Quadrant. The Navy’s taken substantial losses in both the Battle of Manticore and the Yawata Strike, and unless I’m sadly mistaken, the emphasis in the home system and Trevor’s Star — where the bulk of our more…technologically sophisticated population is concentrated — is going to be on reconstituting our skilled labor force as rapidly as possible. I believe that, especially if we make use of the LAC simulators already available to us and request additional simulators from the home system, we’ll be able to produce and train a significant number of naval personnel. To be painfully blunt — and I hope no one will take offense — providing personnel with the education level we would expect from the home system or Trevor’s Star is going to be beyond our capabilities here for some time to come. Within the next several T-years, the effort being invested in improving the Quadrant’s educational systems is going to correct that problem. For the immediately foreseeable future, however, it’s going to remain with us. That means the personnel we’ll be able to train won’t be as fully trained as we might hope — won’t have as deep a skill set, let’s say — but they’ll still provide a very useful expansion of our manpower, and the technical aspects of their education can be continued aboard ship.

“The third initiative we’d like to consider very seriously is for us to use the Quadrant Guard as the basis for an expansion of planetary combat troops. Manticore has never had a powerful ground combat component and, frankly, a lot of what we did have has become committed to Silesia. Not because there’s a lot of armed resistance going on, but because we had to pretty much disband a sizable percentage of the existing Silesian forces when we started weeding out entrenched cronyism and military corruption. With them gone, we had no choice but to provide peacekeeping and law enforcement personnel — and cadre to train and supervise locally raised police forces — out of our none-to-large Marine and Army strength. That situation seems to be well in hand, but it’s still going to tie up those Marines and Army personnel for many months to come.

“That diversion to Silesia is also the reason we’ve seen virtually no Army personnel transferred to the Quadrant. Well, that and the fact that the Quadrant isn’t Silesia and — with the exception of Nordbrandt and a couple of other lunatics — we haven’t faced anywhere near the same need for additional peacekeeping and law enforcement personnel as Silesia, particularly with the Guard in the course of formation. In addition, as we all know, our new-build construction is very short on organic Marine detachments, and Tenth Fleet’s entire attached Marine strength amounts to little more than a pair of brigades. That’s a lot of firepower, given their equipment and training, but it’s a very limited total number of men and women. If the situation with the League turns as ugly as we think it may — if we find ourselves forced to carry out offensive operations against the League, for example — that shortage in troop strength is likely to come home to roost with a vengeance.

“Because of those considerations, we believe it would be a good idea to use the Guard as a platform to begin raising, training, and equipping at least several divisions of infantry and atmospheric combat support units right here in the Quadrant. We can teach the technical skills an effective ground force would require much more rapidly than we can train personnel in the sorts of shipboard skills the Navy will need. In addition, our existing infrastructure can produce planetary combat equipment as good as or better than anything we’re likely to face out here in the Verge…and probably get it into the troops’ hands in adequate quantities by the time we can get the necessary recruiting and training programs into place. Frankly, it may turn out that the provision of the ground forces we’re almost certain to require may be the most effective immediate contribution to the Star Empire’s overall defense that the Quadrant can provide. And, finally, while the skills we’ll have to teach our planetary combat forces aren’t the same ones the Navy requires, they’ll still represent a powerful step upward for a lot of our member star systems here in the Quadrant — one which is going to carry over to their peacetime economies once the shooting ends.

“In addition to the actual increase in manpower and eventual overall education and training levels, however, the sort of programs we’re proposing should also contribute to the Quadrant’s sense of solidarity and unity and that, after all, is one reason for the Guard’s existence in the first place. We all know this is still a new political unit. We’re all still…settling down with one another, and the threat of outside attack is generating a lot of fully justified anxiety and uncertainty. We believe — I believe — that directly involving as many as possible of our citizens in their own self-defense will be the best antidote for that anxiety. We’re not proposing this as any sort of placebo. If it succeeds as well as we believe it can, it will contribute materially to our ability to defend the Quadrant and probably to the overall defensive strength of the Star Empire outside the Quadrant. For that matter, I personally would strongly oppose any dispersal of effort that wouldn’t contribute to that ability and combat strength. I’m simply pointing out that it could contribute in more ways than one.”

There was silence for several seconds, then Prime Minister Alquezar looked at Baroness Medusa.

“I’m inclined to endorse Admiral Khumalo’s and Admiral Gold Peak’s proposals, Madame Governor. I know Henri’s already had considerable input into them, and while I’d like the opportunity to read over the details for myself, I have the greatest respect for both Admiral Khumalo’s and Admiral Gold Peak’s judgment. With your concurrence, I’d like to suggest we authorize them to begin organizing to deploy Admiral Gold Peak’s units as they’ve proposed and that you and I review those details with an eye towards giving them a firm approval — and requesting the Quadrant Parliament’s approval for the necessary funding, of course — within the next two days.”

“That seems perfectly reasonable to me, Mr. Prime Minister,” Medusa agreed. “And that ought to give everyone else involved” — she allowed her own gaze to slew sideways to Lababibi, Clark, and Westman for a moment — “enough time to review them and put forward any suggestions they might care to make, as well.”

“In that case,” Alquezar said with a somewhat crooked smile, “I propose we adjourn. I’ll see all of you at the War Cabinet meeting Wednesday, I’m sure. By which time, no doubt, the ghost of Murphy will have visited yet another crisis upon us.”

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17 Responses to Shadow Of Freedom – Snippet 30

  1. hank says:

    always good to have a prophet for a PM :)

  2. Isaac Cashman says:

    The problems are

    1. Training a Police force that is Not Corrupt and not Too Rigid.

    2. Creating a Judicial System that is seen as fair and impartial (and good luck if one wants fast as well).

    3. Getting people who can infiltrate “Liberation Fronts”.
    And Special Forces that can clean up dangerous “Liberation Fronts.”
    That is Esuring that there are no new Agnes Norbrandts.

    I will note that at some point someone is going to ask Michelle to help a Liberation Front that is being crusherd by the OFS and which has NOT done more that try to ensure that a larger percentage of a planets inhabitants have a chance for a decent life.

  3. JeffM says:

    I’m kinda surprised it’s taken them this long to start putting together their own “ground forces”. At the very least, it’s a way of building infrastructure, and getting fewer people on the unemployment lists. .

    • John Roth says:

      As close as I can determine, it’s been about a year since Admiral Henke arrived with the nucleus of Tenth Fleet, so yes, I’m somewhat surprised too. On the other hand, the political side has been more concerned with upgrading the general educational level, prolong and a bevy of other things, while they’ve been assuming they can get ships and manpower from Manticore. They’re still recovering from Oyster Bay, which was less than two months prior to this snippet, so it’s not entirely unreasonable that they didn’t have local recruiting for the Navy and local police forces on the front burner.

  4. Stewart says:

    Before the US Civil War (which was un-civil but that’s another discussion) most Americans had a “state” identity rather than a “national” identity.
    Integration of the Guard will do much to “equalize” or “minimize” the local system attitude.
    Preparation against a common adversey has a wonderful unifying effect.
    There may be surprises — Grayson showed great inovation 20 years earlier, which in many aspects still leads the alliance. Talbot may prove similar…..

    • Stepping to one side here, I suddenly found myself wondering why the MA called its operation against the SEoM “Oyster Bay.” Military amateurs (not to mention politicians, who are almost universally, by definition, military amateurs) love to include little cryptic or not-so-cryptic “messages” in the names they give their ops. Can anyone suggest (or has anyone seen elsewhere) a significance to the name “Oyster Bay”? I understand the geographical origin (Oyster Bay, NY) although I’m at a loss to see how that relates to the operation or its objectives; is there some other significance to the name–or some other usage of it–of which I’m unaware that would be relevant? In a typical obtuse, underhanded, sneaky-but-loveable David Weber kind of way, of course.

      • Dave Wimperis says:

        Try Pearl (Oyster) Harbor (Bay)

        • Oh, no, that’s waaaaaaaayyyyyy to obvious for me to have seen. I was looking for something so utterly cryptic or obtuse that the blatantly obvious was never going to be seen. Nope, no flare lit Old-Earth elephants in any dark rooms get past me, boy!

          Thank you for humiliating me in front of this vast crowd of at least a half-dozen, Dave. I may never live this down.

          (Seriously, you have no idea how embarrassed I am by the fact that I missed that completely…. Ah, well, they say that a little humility is good for the soul.)

          Oh, damn! I just remembered what Yamamoto said. No, not the “sleeping giant” remark (which may well be apocryphal) but rather his observation that after the Pearl Harbor attack he would be able to “run riot” in the Pacific for six months before the Americans could strike back. He was right, almost to the day, too.

          I’ve got a bad feeling about this….

          • John Roth says:


            You aren’t the only one – there was a bit of a discussion on Weber’s forum about the name back when Deteweiller first mentioned it before DW came on himself and clarified it. I was one of the people who didn’t get it on first reading.

  5. Scott says:

    Include me as someone who missed it. My only defence slender reed that it is is that I’m not an American and, it’s so obvious now that I was expecting the reference to be something obscure.

  6. sensei says:

    i don’t usually read these comments sections, so if this has been mentioned or resolved before, my apologies.

    why do the baen covers of the honorverse books continue to show Honor wearing a WHITE beret? both Honor and Michelle Henke have mourned the fact that their new promotions have forced them to forgo the white beret which is worn only by starship commanders, and Michelle’s BLACK beret gets a specific mention in SFTS.

    • John Roth says:

      Honor is the captain of an RMN museum ship of some kind that’s “staffed,” as an award, by officers and ratings selected somehow for outstanding service. I’d have to go digging farther to find out what the ship’s name is, and how she got that honor, but as the skipper of a ship in “active service,” she gets to wear the white beret of a starship captain.

  7. hank says:

    “HMS Unconquered was the oldest starship still in commission in the Royal Manticoran Navy. She had been commanded at the very beginning of her lengthy career by Edward Saganami when he was a Commander, and her last commanding officer on active deployment had been Lieutenant Commander Ellen D’Orville.”
    “At All Costs” p89

    btw, we’ve seen what happened to Eddy in the end, when do we get the dirt on Ellen?

  8. Stewart says:

    “Echoes of Honor” Chap 1 notes that Ellen D’Orville’s crypt is empty, like Saganami’s; so her end was likely spectacular and self-sacrificial.

    — Stewart

  9. Matthew says:

    It’s always funny that these books (and most Weber books in general) have an explicit declamation of socialism. (Look at the People’s Republic of Haven).

    Yet, at the same time, in this series or the Stars at War or in Mutineer’s Moon. David Weber always has the government of the good guys launch massive centralized development and training programs. where they commandeer industry and all bureaucrats (provided they are military or related to the monarchy) are uniformly ethical and upstanding.

    He tries to make valid points about government failure and bureacratic supply and agency loss, but his message is inevitably undone, because the heroes always end up commandeering all of the resources of the state to accomplish their goals.

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