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OOC: How to create a successful military
Posted: Aug 28 2006, 10:35 AM
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How to Create a Successful Military in NS: Part 1
Building A Military - by Starblaydia

Obviously (one would hope), all our nations have had military forces of some description or another since they were first formed, so even if you have to create, in text files, your whole military from scratch, it isn’t going to be too difficult or ICly expensive.

Firstly, the important basics, then the fun creative stuff.


Yes, yes, the older (2003) nations have populations about as large as the entire real life planet but even the difference between a 4 and 6 billion population in terms of military strength is quite low. If you’re a 100mil nation facing one of three billion: you’re probably in very deep trouble. Just because you’re a 4 billion pop nation doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll automatically wipe the floor with a 2 or 3bil country.

The number of men, women, dwarves, gnomes, elves, winged freaks or whatever else in your total combined armed forces is measured, quite simply, as a percentage of your population. Various estimates up to about 5% are thrown around, though looking at facts and statistic (oh, yey) things get a little more realistic:

From ’Economies, Militaries and Invasions’ by Clan Smoke Jaguar (who appears to be, or know a lot of, military veterans) we have this:

”I do have some good info on the USSR, the US, and China, from just after the end of the Cold War. The numbers can be seen here.

Soviet Union in 1992:
Population: 285 million
Active Military: 2.804 million (0.984%)
Reserve Military: 4.315 million (1.514%)
Total: 7.115 million (2.509%)

USA in 1992:
Population: 253 million
Active Military: 2.052 million (0.811%)
Reserve Military: 1.28 million (0.506%)
National Guard: 0.617 million (0.244%)
Civilian Employees: 0.865 million (0.342%)
Total: 4.804 million (1.899%), 3.939 million (1.557%) w/o civs

China in 1992
Population: 1144 million
Active Military: 3 million (0.262%)
Reserve Military: 1 million (0.087%)
Militia: 10 million (0.874%)
Total: 14 million (1.224%)

As you can see, even the nations with the largest militaries had little more than 1-2.5% of their population in the total military. Even at its peak, the active force was less than 1%. Also, that 2.5% total military was enough to run the USSR into the ground, though that owes more than a little bit to poor management and leadership. Still, a clear trend exists, and that is that the militaries of larger nations, and those of nations that have more modern ones, tend to be smaller, while those of poor-under developed nations tend to be bigger. But remember, those bigger armies have less training and poorer equipment, and will be decimated by the smaller forces in open battle.”

Don’t forget, of course, that anywhere up to (and beyond) 75% of those raw numbers will have been non-combat, non-front line personnel (there go the Logistics, for the first of many mentions) so over-all they’re pretty small. The basic answer is: anything over 1% of your pop classes you as a ‘militaristic’ nation, and Dictatorships and Team America: World Police-style nations have even higher numbers than that. Any more than 2% or so will ruin your economy, trying for 5 or even 10% will cripple your nation on all fronts within months, most likely a single-figure number of months, too. The majority of Democratic nations today have a military percentage of around 0.5% of their populations.

Here’s where it all gets a little messy and everyone accuses me of anti-Lamoni bias. Quite simply, if your economy is ‘poor’ (Struggling, Weak, Fragile, Basket Case or Imploded) then, unless you chuck most of your GDP at it (more on that later) your armed forces will probably be poorly equipped and poorly trained, never mind the state the rest of your country will be in. Conversely, if you have a ‘good’ economy (Strong, Very Strong, Thriving, Powerhouse, All-Consuming or Frightening) then your military effectiveness will be based on how much of your GDP you spend on your army. Careful here; too much will lead to corrupt secretive projects and administrative black holes for cash. Who knows how much the CIA spends on their directors, or on their ultra-black secret operations? $400 for a ring binder? I don’t think the official public budget tells it quite as it is.

We all know where NSEconomy is located, thanks to our ever-calculating, AO’s own, Commerce Heights: This, based on the XML data feed from itself, will give you a near-universally accepted basis for figuring out how much money you have, how much your money is worth, and what you end up spending your budget on. If you’ve just realised you spend less than the price of a happy meal per year on your military, don’t worry, there are always private organisations and militias/posses to defend your nation, but not much for you to send out on the offensive.

Quite simply, you should end up with a US Dollar figure (probably in billions, trillions if you’re lucky or millions if you’ve just been dealt snake-eyes) of what you can spend on your nation. Remember this, copy and paste it somewhere safe, we’ll be using it later.

Your type of government will reflect on your military. Not the one that assigns you from the UN (Inoffensive Centrist Domocracy, Anarchy, Father Knows Best State, etc) but the one you RP with. If the one you claim to have ICly is the complete opposite of what NS says you are, you’ve been answering your issues wrong. Though does, in part, put Max Barry’s twisted sense of dramatic reality on things to exaggerate certain traits, it is generally reflective of what you answer in your issues. The accuracy of UN rankings, however, is yet another debate. Sufficed, and perhaps sadly, to say, your ‘Armed forces per capita’ ranking probably means very little here on the forums.

If you’re a good-ole’ democracy, expect to have a volunteer, professional army to wield. Perhaps you have a form of National Service for any one of a certain age, putting them somewhere in the armed forces, emergency services or similar for a certain period of time. Perhaps you have a conscript army, ready to swap their pitchforks, footballs and laptops for an M16 in times of need. Maybe it’s a combination. Dictatorships will usually have some kind of fanatical party unit with the rest being a mixture of volunteers and conscripts, or those who pick the army because they pay relatively well and you blow things up. Volunteers will have better motivation and morale than conscripts, never mind better training and equipment. People who sign up to defend their nation are, simply, more likely to stand fast and die for their country. If their country/leader has told them to stand there simply because they can wield a rifle slightly better than a straw man, they’ll most likely run away unless they are defending their own homes.

There is one particular thread called ‘What is Logistics?’ by The Evil Overlord, in which there are two posts (one by TEO himself, one by Agnosticium) that talk about Logistics in more depth, detail and diversity than I or TLC ever could:

To put it in a nutshell: For every person who is there to fire the gun, crew the vehicle, fly the plane, etc, there is anything between 2 and 20 people behind them who don’t fight. If your Air Force consists of 20 personnel, you might only have 1 plane.
QUOTE (Agnosticium)
Ok, so where are we in terms of numbers for a 15-jet squadron? I know I have left a few people out but even so, we are looking at a bare minimum of 137 people (and that means everyone has additional duties out of the wazzoo) up to at least 180 personnel. That's for ONE F-15 Squadron.

Here comes the fun part (for me, at least). When your nation fights, exactly how does it wage its wars? Some RL examples: The USSR and Warsaw Pact nations relied on a sledgehammer of tanks, APCs, artillery and attack craft. Their most famous helicopter, the Hind, is effectively a flying tank – literally called the Flying Tank (letayushiy tank) by its pilots. Their air force was mostly long-range bombers and interceptors, while their navy was full of deadly submarines and not much else. Great Britain, when they still ruled the waves, had an awe-inspiring navy and only a small, professional army with which to conquer those tribes armed with kumquats, loincloths and face paint. The army then trained local forces to keep His or Her Majesty’s peace for them while they annihilated some other tribe with venereal diseases and Christianity.

Have a think about your nation’s character, its culture. When applying that to war, what does that create? Is it the massive sledgehammer ground force war machine, or is it a highly mobile, highly specialised elite force that excels in the type of terrain found mostly across your nation. Does your map and location require all-round force capabilities, or is the need for a navy completely lacking in your landlocked state? Does your air force lend itself to ground attack, long range assault, airborne deployment, interception or a weird combination of all? Is the navy primarily about carriers, or subs, or destroyers, or battleships, or landing craft?

If you’ve written a history for your nation, dive into and elaborate it to think of just how your nation has fought any battles, revolutions, wars and the like. Or just be boring and copy the USA, USSR or similar. Go figure.

Once you know how, you then need to figure out what they actually do their war business with. Here begins many a bone of contention. Do you use real-life units or create your own? If you go the real-life route, there are many real-life corporations to ‘buy’ your equipment from. If you’re after realistic prices, don’t go to the International Incidents storefronts, just read this post (CSJ yet again) instead for the sort of pricing structures you need.

Creating your own stuff? Holy hell that’s a big subject, so read these helpful, CSJ-written threads:

10% (at least) will go on upkeep
20-25% (approximately) will go on procurement (i.e. researching and buying new stuff, supplies, etc)
The rest is up to you, divide the cash as you see fit between your three )or more) services.

This website provides absolute pure gold information. Though it’s obviously written with English as a second language and the formatting sucks, the information that’s in there is priceless. If you have no idea what’s going on with numbers and such, take a look at a RL country yours is similar to and extrapolate.

The one problem here is that everyone RL does it slightly differently for each service based on their own historical and traditional eccentricities. Quite simply, for the army, we have The US Army’s own diagrams to help us along the way. Simple, informative, effective. But only for the army. Navies are much simpler, with fleets being created seemingly on the fly for their different tasks. Air forces vary wildly, even within the same Air Force: Multiple squadrons (typically three to ten) make up a wing - an air force squadron typically consists of three or four flights, with a total of 12 to 24 aircraft, depending on aircraft type and air force.
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Posted: Aug 28 2006, 10:45 AM
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How to Create a Successful Military in NS: Part 2
How to Run a Successful Military Conflict - by The Lowland Clans

Well, seeing as how we are approaching war on a scale only remotely close to World War II, me and Star figured it would be nice if we could actually put together a coherent and consistent guide to roleplaying a military conflict. First off, one needs to recognize that undertaking a war roleplay is a pretty huge undertaking. The last war roleplay I took part in lasted for quite a while, over three threads in the forums at about 130-140 pages in total, and this was before jolt, so that included the huge instabilities with dealing with the old forums. Not that half of you would remember the old forums, but they are far worse than Jolt ever was, is and will be, so be grateful you wretches, Ahh, a good laugh.. A good general overview with how to fight a modern war, with an emphasis on things that don't normally get considered by war roleplayers, is Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising, but it's very digestible and quite a good read.

Now, onto the thing that will ruin almost every thread: etiquette.


This is perhaps the most important part of the war roleplay, because as much fun as it is blowing the living daylights out of each other with large yield nuclear warheads, it is no fun if you're a sore loser/annoying cunt about it. While this does tie into the no godmodding idea, it's more than that. You need to be reasonable. If you're in the face of overwhelming odds, don't just cut and run, trying to pretend it didn't happen. That is just no fun. Also, another big thing is don't ape on lower tech nations. During my last war roleplay, a nation with significantly future tech decided to jump in and beat me into the ground, only without making it actually clear that that is what they were doing and what tech level they had. Thus, I was significantly annoyed and it led to me IGNORING that part of the conflict. Just don't do it.

Here are some good, basic rules for etiquette, a cross all roleplays:
  • No godmodding. A given
  • Do not simply quit and pretend like it didn't happen if your losing. Don't be loser.
  • Don't take everything personally
  • Be reasonable and polite. If you have a problem, put it in the OOC thread if there is one, or PM or email it before going spasmotic on us

Now for some basic military roleplay etiquette rules:
[*]Clearly state your tech level and do not go aping off on lower tech nations. Don't be a bully.
[*]Keep it organized. While it may take significant amounts of work to set up a roleplay, you have absolutely no idea how much pain it saves when trying to fight. There will be more on this aspect later.
[*]Wait for another person to post a reply to your attack before continuing on with your unstoppable blitzkrieg. It's just polite people!
[*]The person being attacked sets the casualties and the affect of the attack. Again, the be reasonable rule applies here.
[*]Just because you know it OOC doesn't mean you it IC. When you make your plans, make sure you talk them over with your enemy, just so he knows what your planning and doesn't accuse you of godmodding. It also lets you RP it in the open with worrying about the IC implications for the most part.

Now that that is done, we move on to actually fighting a war. To do that, we need to deal with the triumvirate of military sciences: logistics, strategy, and tactics.


Logistics is the first and probably the most important in the triumvirate. It is the science of moving, and supplying an operational armed force in combat operations.

If you're going to fight a vaguely realistic military roleplay, the first issue you should deal with is logistics. Even if your fighting with increasingly fantastical units, logistics will always add a bit of realism to the picture. Logistics is pretty simple to take into account, but often no one pays attention to them. In fact, most of your military will be dedicated to supplying logistical aid to your troops, as mentioned by Starblaydia.

Another big thing when dealing with logistics is transport. Getting troops from one place to another is incredibly difficult, and getting armored divisions of any kind anywhere outside of land transportation is as nearly impossibly difficult. Before some stars screaming Normandy, I would like to point out the distance between the island of Britain and the coast of France. They built a freaking bridge under the thing, so it doesn't take that much work to cover that much distance. But the Allies still had to maintain an incredibly large amount of transpot ships which after Normandy were more or less, useless. Also, Normandy had specific conditions which allowed them to be perfect landing beaches. And had the Allies had the use of Cherbourg, it would've gone even faster. But they had to fight there way to Cherbourg, and then spend months repairing it. Not exactly glamour filled work.

On supply lines, they don't necessarily have to be over land. Sea transportation works well, but remember submarine warfare can be a pain in the rear end. If your going to the sea-going route, defend your convoys with ASW destroyers, spread them out, you know, common sense stuff, don't put all your eggs in one basket, that kind of thing. Air logistics also work, especially if you have pockets of forces surrounded by the enemy. Think Battle of the Bulge from WWII. In Bastogne, the site defended by the famous 101st Airborne, they survived for the arduous assault in the pocket thanks to air supply drops, and the problems that resulted from those airdrops like accidentally dropping them on German troops can be easily solved with todays technology. Air supply however, requires air superiority, something well begin to talk about in the next section.

"Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances." Sun Tzu

Strategy is the second in the triumvirate of the military sciences that govern the way we fight wars.

First off, we need a definition of strategy. Strategy and tactics get mistaken for synonymous terms, when if fact they are two very, very different animals. Strategy is the big-picture war fighting, involving Army Groups and Corps and Divisions, nothing smaller than a brigade. A safe that if your leader on a campaign is a general, your fighting with strategy, not tactics. This deals with moving little pieces around on a board with your croupe stick, making sure all your units are supplied, etc. A good example of a strategic commander would be Eisenhower or Grant. In order you to have good strategy, you need to control key access points, such as bridges, roads, railway stations, munitions dumps and factories, be abreast of your enemies movements and force deployments. Strategic commanders often have to deal with the political side of the military, making sure that whatever legislative body your nation has keeps your armed forces ready and running, other politicians, media, everything. Operational strategy is actual military strategy, while grand strategy involves the preparation of the entire nation for way, directing a nation to being ready for a conflict.

The main issue that encompasses strategy is long term goal and objective setting. When the war comes, your objective will be to defeat your enemies. In what way? Complete subjugation? Simple military defeat? Total annihilation? Let's give an example. You goal is to capture an enemies city. In order to do so you must acquire a point from which to enter the city and to supply your troops, so you order an Army corps to advance on the city, capturing rail points and highways. That's strategy. A particular portion of strategy deserves mentioning, mostly because if you don't try and attain these, then you are allowing yourself huge weaknesses and probably lose the war. Air and Naval superiority. In a war in a region as spread out as AO, these two things are vital. Air allows you to conduct those air supply drops with little chance of getting shot down. A big part of air superiority is suppressing ground-to-air defences. How will you do that? Well, that's strategy, idiot! Naval superiority allows you to transport goods across the region at will, allowing you to arm your friends and blockade your enemies.

In order to help you understand a little more about strategy, I've included some strategic principles common to most military strategists, shamelessly stolen from the Wikipedia article on military strategy:
1. The Objective
2. Offense
3. Cooperation
4. Concentration (Mass)
5. Economy
6. Maneuver
7. Surprise
8. Security
9. Simplicity

More principles of military strategy, stolen shamelessly from further down in that same Wiki:

• The principle of mass - given all things being equal, sending a single tactical allied unit to combat a single tactical enemy unit will result in 50% chance of defeat, resulting in a 1 to 1 loss ratio at the strategic level. However, sending two or more units to combat a single enemy unit will result in a loss ratio of less than 1 to 1.
• Selecting decisive objectives.
• Taking the initiative from your foe.
• Concentrating your resources at the decisive point.
• Economizing your resources by reducing waste.
• Coordinating the movement of your resources to meet your objective.
• Maintaining unity of command.
• Coordinating your tasks to achieve maximum effectiveness.
• Maintaining secrecy until it is too late for your opponent to react.
• Employing unexpected elements such as deception, speed, creativity, and audacity.
• Keep your plans as simple as is needed to accomplish the task.
• Choose a flexible strategy so you can adapt to changing conditions.
• Organize for maximum efficiency.
• Maintain a positive morale even in the face of set-backs.
• Maintain momentum until success is accomplished.

Now some of these principles obviously have to be altered somewhat just because of how war roleplays work in NationStates. Not much should be secret OOCly, just so things can go through smoothly, but ICly, all of these principles will still apply. Remember, because of the way NS works, being reasonable and working together OOCly is a huge factor in pulling off a war roleplay. I cannot emphasize this enough!


We finally come to the third and final part of the triumvirate of military sciences, and probably the most recognized, is tactics. To aid in our discussion and teaching of tactics, we're going to define tactics as the operation of armed forces in a particular situation. Meaning that while strategy is your grand goals and what you should be driving towards, tactics is how you plan to get to those goals.

Tactics are influence by many variables, but the main ones are listed below:
• The battlefield on which the conflict is being fought
• Terrain on which the fighting is happening
• The weapons the fighting is being done with
• The logistical situation
• The strategy of the military
• The principles of the armed forces fighting out the conflict
That's a pretty good list of how things look exactly for determining how your tactics will be fought. While it seems like a lot of information to process, a lot of it is subconscious and simple yes/no questions and natural progression of thought. For example, if you want to capture a city rather than raze it, your tactics would be urban combat with precision munitions, rather than blanket strategic bombing and unending barrages of artillery. The first three though, are perhaps the ones that require the most thought and effort when planning your tactics. We'll start by covering them in depth.


The battlefields themselves will determine all other military tactics and variables to follow, so I'll quickly run over the five key battlefields in which a military must dominate in order to become successful.
  • Land
  • Sea
  • Air
  • Information
  • Space

Land – Fighting on land. Pretty much needs no explanation. Fought with infantry, armor, helicopters, etc.
Sea – Fought with ships, submarines as the primary combatants. Air forces no play a very heavy role in naval combat, thanks to the advent of the aircraft carrier. The terrain is more or less consistent, unless in a arctic bound submarine. More on this type in the weapons section.
Air – Consistent terrain being fought over with jet-powered airplanes and air-to-air missiles. Also can be used as bombers to attack ground or sea positions.
Information – This kind of conflict is new and often hazy, and while not actually involved in any kind of physical conflict, is the most important battle, because it goes a long way to actually defeating the political will to fight and the morale of the enemy. Fought over the air waves with propaganda.
Space – This area of conflict is a little grey given the disparate amount of space technology across Atlantian Oceania, probably won't play a large role in how the war is fought.

Terrain - Land

Terrain is a huge and perhaps the biggest deciding factor in how you will fight a war tactically on land. A good list of basic terrain is this:
  • Grassland/Plain
  • Mountain
  • Jungle
  • Desert
  • Tundra/Artic
  • Urban
In order to succeed militarily, you really need to learn at least a passing glance how to fight in all these terrains, and what particular tactics will be successful in each terrain. For your sake, I'm going to cover just a little bit on the primary tactics for operating in each of these terrain. These are by no means the only way to fight in these terrain, just simply a basic list so that you don't have to be stumbling around in the internet way in over your head to try to learn military tactics in a week

Grassland/Plain – Keep your forces mobile. Armored and Mechanized divisions are perhaps most effective on this type of terrain, able to advance quickly and overwhelm the enemy. Also, finding cover in forests is a key way to keep your armored forces alive during combat.

Mountain - Mountain terrain is perhaps the single most dangerous terrain to fight on, because the environment is often more threatening then your enemies. Avalanches, landslides, lightning, storms, cold, cliffs and unseen crevasses often mean that this terrain is the most dangerous to fight on. The main tactic in mountainous terrain is holding the high ground.

Jungle – Jungle warfare is difficult to classify, partly because most of what we consider as jungle isn't strictly actual jungle. Most jungle warfare is conventional warfare fought in tropical forest. The definition of jungle is terrain in which speed is limited to 300-500 meters per hour as infantry must cut there way through the terrain. Visibility is also heavily reduced. The best way to fight in the jungle is with small groups of infantry with small arms and explosives.

Desert – Navigating desert terrain is key. Keeping forces mobile is also another key part of desert warfare. The lack of open cover means a heavy emphasis on armor and the air forces mean that desert battles often resemble sea tactics, less emphasis on land held and more on your assets (tanks) available for combat.

Tundra/Arctic – The most uncommon type of warfare, it involved fighting over cold terrain, akin to desert campaign in all ways but the cold. Keeping your forces supplied and mobile is the biggest threat to deal with when fighting in the arctic terrain.

Urban – Urban combat, while not the most deadly, is perhaps to most intense and dangerous in actual combat. The buildings, sewer tunnels and subway systems mean that defenders have an excellent advantage. Specialized tactics such as non-liner advancing of infantry, or swarming, heavy armor, and razing large areas in order to level the terrain.
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