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Chapter 22- The Advisor[]

Fedsuns Naval Command, New Syrtis
New Syrtis Star System
Federated Suns

Anh waited for the senior officers and the corporate reps to be seated.

"We have seven designs." Rear Admiral Nick Palmer announced.  "A couple of additional variant designs are also in the running.  Commander McCoy?"

"I have looked over the specifications and I find no fault in any of the listed designs-at least in concept.  The prototype hulls passed an inspection by both Materiel Command, and myself, along with Chief Willard. We have examined the proposed training regimen. It has been corrected to remove core flaws."

She spoke with a measured, deliberate cadence,  "It is my recommendation to this board; That six vessels of each submitted type be procured for further evaluation by crew in the field with overlapping areas of responsibility. That command will be organized with junior officers as vessel commanders and in charge of departments, with a senior officer overseeing each unit of six. Preferably an officer with experience in Jumpship or Warship operations.  Using the AFFS ranking structure, a unit commander in charge of multiple cutters should be two pay grades higher than the cutter commanders, with a squadron XO in the intervening pay grade, preferably with operations experience."

"Primary testing tasks include, but are not limited to; Anti-piracy patrol, customs enforcement, and search-and-rescue tasks.  Personnel assigned to Command of an individual cutter need to be field-qualified using an Explorer class recon ship in the tasks of manual jump navigation with a target of a minimum six-minute jump window, at least three times in rapid succession before taking command. They must also demonstrate proficiency at maintenance tasks and damage control, as a ship commander needs to be proficient enough to guide and advise his or her crewmen in handling damage control and maintenance tasks."

A Subaltern passed out blue folders with curriculum guidelines.  "Operationally, Cutters should be commanded by rank O-3 personnel, with O-5 rank personnel acting as squadron leaders, and O-4's as squadron executive officers.  For department heads aboard ship, Warrant or Senior NCO grades are suitable, provided they have proficiency in their department's function and full qualification on the equipment they are overseeing."

She folded her arms, "THIS, in turn, frees up slots on larger Warships for senior officers. It establishes the necessary underlying base to begin planning future expansions of capital ship production and deployment. By creating the necessary deep base of experience and trade-skills necessary to staff larger vessels effectively and competently in larger numbers later on."

"THis cuts into the Pocket Warship programs." an Admiral commented.

"Not really." Anh said, "Dropship command is good for fighter-branch, and it's good for transport. However, actual naval warfare requires a jump capable ship-you can't pop from the Oort cloud to a planet in fifteen minutes with a dropship engine. Certain maneuvers and even types of maneuvers aren't physically or theoretically possible for dropships.  You will see in the Syllabus that current model Pocket Warships will be directly subordinate either to ground forces or as elements on larger Warships for tasks such as planetary interdiction, picket, and as supplemental firepower to the existing production of Fox and Kentares class vessels. This may be a good place to assign personnel unable to complete a jump navigation exam successfully."

"I think she just called your branch useless, Bill." an officer with ground forces tabs said.  "How will this impact the transport branch, if you're grabbing all the navigators?"

She rolled her eyes, "Oi, first off, ah ain' grabbin' nobody. This he-re es a Recommendation.  Y'all have to make the decisions, that's why we're doing this instead of going straight to implementation."

"And the second?"

"Most commercial haulers can't do the math." she said simply,  "The ones who can, usually run like their ass is on fire and their hair is catching if they see an AFFC vessel of any kind on approach.  There will always be, if we do this right, more officers 'graduating' from cutter duty, than slots available on larger combat vessels.  At worst, you will see an improvement in transportation reliability and a few more options than you had prior to this program going into effect."

"I..I don't see the connection, Commander.  Can you clarify that comment?"  The First Prince asked.

"Nikki Minh was a pirate, before she was Coast Guard. She trained a few generations of us in how to work transitionary points. When you combine that, with the programs Bianh Vu Dao came up with for inspection and maintenance of civilian vessels, we cut piracy on the anti-spinward border of the Lyran Commonwealth by eighty five percent in the first three years once we started moving it out of the quarantine zone.  One of the watersheds from that, was that LCAF transport command found more bidders for more transport contracts and substantial reductions in the cost of those contracts.  In your case, you get anti-piracy ships who can catch a pirate with his pants around his ankles. You'll also get transport command officers who can bring a Regiment into position and have them landing before the alarm goes off, where you had to use a single lance transport before.  Savings in fuel means longer periods between refueling, which means less cost to move units.  Sloops and cutters that can prep an invasion zone means less risk to landing forces. Sloops and cutters to intercept enemy units in space means less cost to ground garrisons.  The net benefit is that your transport costs go down, transport availability will go up, enabling a higher operational tempo, with better supply delivery."

"Hence why you want to put junior officers in charge of these?"  Admiral Palmer asked.

"Yes. the training and experience translates better with younger minds. Good habits carry over to more senior and responsible fields, including the movement of ground forces.  Working in tandem with other jump-capable vessels thus also carries over into fleet and formation discipline on the larger scale-we brought wolfpack tactics back to the LCN from the Coast Guard, this proved crushingly effective against enemy forces that were used to operating as 'lone falcons'."

"I don't see why we should replace dropship defensive lines with these cutters though!"  the gray-haired admiral insisted.

"Tell me, have you ever had to call for assistance?" she asked, "Bumped into an enemy battlegroup, or some such similar as what happened to the FSS Lucien Davion?"

The man's lower lip quivered and he flushed white, but he didn't answer.

"You did.  How do you think they got you out of position to save him?" she asked casually,'' "The Lucien Davion had no escorts, none of the pocket warships or dropship carriers, because it was kitted to support surface units.  Had there been a half dozen cutters within fifteen light years, that ship might still be alive.  Had there been a squadron of cutters in the Palmyra system at that time, the Dracs would not have lived to make landfall-in a naval battle following this doctrine. Movement is fluid, you can be unpredictable in a way that an Overlord A3 simply can't. Your response time with six minute windows means your reinforcements can be there before the enemy has finished launching his escort fighters."

That was the moment the silver-haired admiral's right hand met his own eyes,  "Dear god, I've wasted my career..."

"Ain't a waste if you understand past mistakes-and correct them."  she said gently.  "When far away, appear immanent, when near, appears to be far away.  An enemy who does not know your dispositions can't know your intentions. This works his nerves, it presses him to make mistakes, and there is always the old cavalry wisdom."

"The old...cavalry wisdom?"

"Git thar the fustest with the mostest." she cited.

The AFFS officers in the room laughed at her joke.

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