Colonel Boris Johnson was not looking forward to this interview — he never did when he didn't believe the interviewee was going to be happy — and the news he was imparting was definitely not the sort of thing that this recipient wanted to hear, still it was all part of the job he mused.
"Svetlana," he greeted the young looking woman who entered his office after acknowledging her salute, "take a seat," he ordered waving at the conveniently positioned armchair.
Captain Svetlana Sergeyevna Lebedev, Confed Space Marines had originally been a Major in the Russian Naval Infantry and been attached to the US Marines in Hawaii when the CAP testing craze had hit America. She'd gone through the testing process — along with several of the American officers she was serving with — and had been amused more than anything when she'd come out with a CAP score of eight point four and been well ahead of majority of them. When the true purpose of CAP testing had been revealed she'd been ordered by Moscow to volunteer for the Confederacy Marines and await developments.
Developments had been almost immediate. She'd been picked up, along with the other Marines she'd tested with, three months after the event — that this broke all ties with Russia had been a surprise, as it had been for the Americans when they too realised that America no longer had any say in their destiny.
After conversion and advanced training in the Confed Space Marines Svetlana had spent eighteen months leading hit and run raids against the incoming Swarm, first as a platoon commander, then with a company and finally with a two company raiding force before being transferred to Persephone. There she found herself in a holding pattern awaiting developments in the war. She'd led half a dozen extraction missions — just to stop from going insane — and was hoping that this interview was her chance to get back to a combat unit to continue culling lizards.
Once the woman before him had settled into the armchair Boris began, "Lana, there is no easy way to say this so I'll just read out your orders and we'll take it from there." He tapped the paper on his desk, a foible that he hadn't been able to break, even to the point where he had to print things out rather than read them from a screen. "Umm, here it is — Is transferred to the planet Demeter, township of Celeus, to undertake the training of the volunteers as Space Marines and such other details as ordered by the commander of the township." He looked up to see the woman going pale, "To assist in this task Captain Lebedev is promoted to Major effective this order. Deployment is to be implemented on the first available transport to the new duty station."
Boris placed the copy of the orders back on his desk and waited for the explosion — which he expected to both vicious and probably incomprehensible given their different native languages. What he actually got was a simple question that knocked him off his stride completely.
The Russian looked across the room and simply asked him, "Why?"
Surprised he held up his ace card — a record chip — something he hadn't planned on doing until she'd calmed down enough to appreciate it. "This is a background brief on the Sa'arm war and an indication of future Marine Corps plans to counter the threat. It's something that every line commander has been saying we should have done a long time ago." He paused to gather his thoughts and then went into lecture mode.
"When the Darjee made contact it took awhile for us to realise that the AIs were actually running the war. Most of us, myself included, just saw it as a chance to get back to commanding combat troops." Boris Johnson had been a Brigadier General in the Australian Army who'd been attached to his country's UN mission in New York. "It has taken us this long to get our act together and start thinking rather than reacting." He looked Svetlana in the eyes, "We dropped the ball when we didn't have a long term plan, we have been throwing company and battalion battlegroups at isolated incursions with no real overall plan or objective, all under the direction of the AIs." He tapped the record chip, "This changes all of that."
"The field elements we already have will continue to harass the Swarm, reinforced as required by current extractions. Hopefully — now that there is human intervention with the AIs - this will start to have a strategic goal in mind. In addition it has been decided to form larger formations in three of the colony systems and recruit and train these from scratch. Poseidon is one of the systems that has been picked for this enlargement."
Again he tapped the record chip, "This details the Demeter part of the operation but basically they are creating a Marine Expeditionary Force in the system with a full Marine Division being based on the planet along with the Logistics group. The Air Wing will be based on Persephone but will be an integral part of the MEF and along with the First and Second MEF it will be the first step to destroying the Sa'arm instead of just slowing them down."
"According to this chip, each of the Regiments will be closely tied to one of the townships, as will the Logistics group and the Headquarters elements which means — doing the maths — that each township is going to have a population of somewhere between six and eight thousand volunteers. That'll give a total population per township of between thirty and forty thousand and even with the thousand pods ships they're using at the moment it's going to take at least a year to get each township fully manned, let alone trained and equipped."
"That isn't as bad as it seems as we don't have the ships to move these people around and it'll take at least that long to get them built." He noticed Svetlana raise an eyebrow, "They've designed a new class of ship, the Tarawa," he said with some relish. "It carries a full battalion of Marines with all their supports and it's going to have enough lift capacity to put them all on the deck in one hit. They are going to be used alongside another new class of ships, the Midway carriers, which will embark the Marine Air Wings and together they're going to provide the starting point for future assault operations.
Svetlana was still digesting the information on the Tarawa, "That's better than the Lancelots," she commented.
The Sir Lancelot class of landing ships was the current major type of troop transports that the Marines were using to get to battle. They were really modified passenger ferries with a limited capacity and very little in the way of support capabilities. The ship could transport a full company of Marines and, using the two Leopard class assault shuttles they carried, get them to the planet's surface in one wave. The ship had two beam weapons for ship defence but no direct fire capability to support the ground troops. Neither could they carry close support craft, which meant that a Navy carrier had to be available to support any ground operations.
"A lot better, and they're getting a new class of assault shuttles too. All this means that we're going to need more shuttle pilots and assault troops and to get those we need training personnel. Which is how we get back round to you."
Svetlana couldn't help it, her shoulders braced at the comment.
"You will be training the first take of future assault shuttle pilots as well as organising and eventually running the full training cadre for the planet. If nothing else Major it should ensure that you get your next promotion," he said with a smile. Promotion in the Space Marines, to date, had been of little importance, with everyone running around as independent battalions obtaining a higher rank had been irrelevant but that would not be so in the future.
"In addition you will be working with the local commander and that may create a few interesting situations." He paused to gaze at the wall, as though distracted. "Lana, because we've been grabbing people from all over and, as often as not, throwing them into combat it's left us in a bit of a mess. One of the things that has been happening, underhandedly if you like, is that people have been feeding back information to Earth. This information has been being used to train various people, usually in military academies, for future responsibilities out here. The," Boris smiled, mostly to himself, "I keep calling him boy but I should think of him as a man, you'll be working with is one of the recipients of this training. Although only sixteen he's been put through the equivalent of junior staff college with a few extras tacked on. Although he's only a lieutenant at the moment, he will become a Captain on completion of his basic training and — in all probability — a Major by the time the first of the Marine Regiments is ready for operations. He has some interesting ideas on what to do with the concubines and has pushed them through for his own township and, according to Dave Roberts, will probably force the whole planet to follow suit, simply because it's so effective."
Svetlana sat there trying to absorb what was being thrown at her, questions already bubbling about under her calm exterior. Without warning the chip flew through the air from the Colonel's hand, "For now take this and study it," he said, "Then come back and see me in a couple of days with any questions you have and I'll do my best to answer them."
He stood and Svetlana, recognising that the interview was at an end, did the same.
As he escorted the new Major to the door he said, "Your niece is currently going through the Malinovsky Academy." The door opened and Svetlana stepped through it as Boris continued, "She's receiving the same sort of training as Alex Flowers did. It wouldn't surprise me if she appears out here in a year or so."
.... There is more of this story ...