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The Bull and the Genie[]

Chapter 3 - Book II - The Ninety-five Theses[]

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Youth and War[]


From 3025 on, a trend started to develop—younger soldiers were achieving higher ranks. Mary Cheng might be most publicized, but she was far from the only one.

The reasons were simple—for nearly the past century, most conflicts had been defined as "economy of force" operations. With the ability to easily replace losses a dream of the past, every commander had to ruthlessly balance gains with costs, and with the loss of transport assets, more and more battles saw battlemechs as the primary decider of battle, rarely accompanied by large infantry and armor, units, a far cry from the days of the Star League.

But peace brought the ability to accumulate resources, and gradually, new (or old) concepts were introduced, such as the growing emphasis on combined arms in the RCT (although officially formed in 2876, in truth, many units were unable to use the concept to its full benefit, due to a lack of resources). Repair teams slowly started changing from men focused on scavenging wrecks to mechanics who were able to depend on shipments from behind the lines.

Slowly, then quickly in the Fourth Succession War, a more aggressive form of battle was demanded of officers, one that more than a few older officers were unable to adapt to, and they were replaced by younger officers.
This trend was accelerated by the discovery of the Helm Core (at least officially the only Star League Data Core to the recovered). Increased prosperity allowed for more training, and units which formerly might engage in "full press" training once every few years were doing it on a yearly basis now.

Then came other developments—the fielding of Taurian PA-L and Battlearmor suits in the 3030s did not remain a Concordat monopoly for very long, and that added another factor to the cauldron of conflict.

But it was the Clan Invasion and Draconis Combine Collapse that truly changed war. Hit by technologically superior invaders, every Inner Sphere force, and later, the Combined Military of the USS had to scrape out every tactical and technological innovation they could. For the Clans part, they found themselves fighting the battle they had, not the one they had trained for, and had to adapt, especially in terms of policing their conquered populations. The fact that the Clans hadn't thought about the dangers of removing the only forces keeping ethnic tensions from boiling over led to more than a few laughs, and at least one semi-serious offer by Clan Wolf to give a world plagued by religious conflict back to the Lyrans.

Every force found itself prone to this winnowing process—leaders who could change with the times, who could adapt continued on, while those who couldn't either died or were cashiered, and this gradually saw younger officers come to the fore. The youngest regimental commander, albeit due to extensive casualties from Clan head hunter squads, was a twenty-year-old PAL trooper in the
Davion 4th (Provisional), heavy mechanized infantry regiment. By the end of the conflict, she would be commanding one of the Brigades of the Third Division of the Union of Sovereign States.

Of course one factor allowing this change was the refusal of the Clans or most of their enemies to consider the use of WMD's as had been the case in earlier conflicts. While many soldiers died, civilians were not so touched, and factories continued to provide their bounty—at least on the Clan front. While WMD's were used in space, on the ground, they were off limits, and while it was allowable to destroy factories, neither side used scorched earth tactics against civilian infrastructure.

That dishonor would be left to the Black Dragons, who in the Scouring of Dabih (only distinct in scale, not kind from other atrocities they inflicted upon the dying corpse of their nation), used both salted nuclear warheads and biological weapons, managing to achieve the rare feat of seeing the forces of the Inner Sphere and Clans join together, to help carry out the Clans Trial of Annihilation (the term actually caught on even among Inner Sphere forces, some of them having the odd experience of being transferred from fronts where fighting against the Clans was still going on, into the Combine, where they found themselves working with the same Clan unit they had been fighting earlier!)

But the officers that had grown up in that cauldron of war were hard-eyed veterans who had successfully learned the lessons of a changing battlefield, and had paid the price. By the late 3050s, an Inner Sphere regiment of just 30 years before would have as much luck as a WWI force going up against the victors of World War II on Terra, as they confronted the survivors of a conflict that in terms of scope and deployed military forces was unmatched by anything other than the First Succession Conflict.

There was one ironic twist to this: The average age of Clan warriors went up. Despite the losses, and in fact in part because of their losses, the Clans were forced to relax some of their standards, especially as regarded older warriors, and soon, much to the dismay of some of the more traditional clans, found out that age and treachery did count on the battlefield. This process was only accelerated as more and more new recruits from non-Clan sources were brought into the Clans. This process would not simply impact Clan performance on the battlefield, but Clan success in digesting their new possessions as the generation of new blood named included men and women who were far more flexible and pragmatic in their thinking, willing to make changes and compromises that would have been unthinkable in the heady days when REVIVAL was first launched.

There was one last change, this one political and cultural. Many of the soldiers had battled against a deadly enemy, albeit one that played by many of the rules of war, and many more had turned to fight in the abattoirs created by the Black Dragon Society, where it seemed that the ghosts of Amaris and Forlough stalked every silent street, radioactive crater, and mass grave.

Many of these soldiers returned, heartily sick of war, and uninterested in fighting for the rights of kings or princes to declare themselves lords of all. War did not stop. But the attitude regarding war had changed, changed dramatically.


From 3045-3075, Thirty Years That Changed Everything.

Blake Press, New Dallas 3130


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