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The Crucible Campaign: A Republic of the Militia, By the Militia, and For the Militia

As the Regency military stumbled back into the Regency in NE 33 from is abortive (and idiotic) military expedition to Zhdant, it was a spent and broken force. The relentless attacks from Zhodani regular and insurgent troops had worn down previously well-disciplined and trained elite units into disorderly mobs of tired and shell-shocked soldiers and spacers. The Black Regent exacerbated this trend by sending piecemeal reinforcements on an ad hoc basis, and thereby rendering the usual tables of chain-of-command into meaningless gibberish. Though a set of last stand actions at Cronor and Regina managed to significantly slow the Zhodani advance, the cost in terms of burned out military units was too great for the Joint Chiefs and the military bureaucracy to accept. With the Black Regent intent upon creating his own personal military units in the wake of this shattering, and with public trust in the government imploding, the otherwise conservative military chiefs and agency heads that had previously refused to breach the constitutional basis of the Regency were forced to act in the name of common decency.

Admiral Christian Olympios, the new Chief of Naval Operations, instigated a palace coup - with the approval and support of the Regency Senate and bureaucratic heads - that stripped Regent Lemat Arthurian of his freedom and most of his power. Dissident military officers that were already recalled from their exile postings in Corridor Sector were quickly returned to positions of fleet and unit command, with wide latitude and discretion in rebuilding their units professionalism, cohesion, morale and discipline. Other officers, led by Admirals Elizabeth Bonesteel and Hiroe Kaiyu, led new fleet units against Arthurian's paramilitaries and worlds of primary political support. After Admiral Bonesteel's forces cut across the Sabinar Main, routing Arthurian's Purifier allies, the Senate impeached the Black Regent - appointing the Senate President as Regent - and had Arthurian executed. The surge of new units from Deneb and Corridor created enough revitalization for the failing Regency forces to rally along the Spinward Main in Lanth and Mora subsectors and put up an effective defense, but the damage inflicted by Arthurian upon both the military and the constitutional basis of the Regency were too great to be ignored.

Public faith had been sufficiently shaken that the legitimacy of the Senate and other Regency institutions were in jeopardy. Though Arthurian's paramilitaries were crushed, other regions took them as an example for their own self-defense preparations. The new government concluded that the Regency was effectively dead, and that the only means of restoring a unified nation was to undertake a new democratic government upon the lines set out by the prewar Mora Accords. But many military officers pointed out that this was an essentially peacetime exercise, that the enormity of the crisis required that the new state could only obtain a degree of legitimacy if armed force itself was democratized as much as possible. Unlike in the past, the new Commonwealth could not return to the curious bi-national state of affairs that juxtaposed a decadent "Babylon" consumer culture protected behind ramparts manned by a military service of "Spartan" discipline: this had turned the military into an institution of both brittle morale and yet fluid discipline and was instrumental in its near dissolution. What both the conservative and liberal officers recommended was the virtual dragooning of the entire free population of the Commonwealth into military service.

The Corridor exiles had set a precedent for this kind of warfare during the abortive Vilani invasion of that sector. Short on both manpower and equipment, these officers had organized the civilian population into passable militia forces and used a total war strategy where the invaders faced a ubiquitous enemy manning a panoramic frontline. As the Vilani bogged down against fierce guerrilla resistance, the exiles managed to train enough skilled personnel to build a fleet that trounced the invaders. These Popular forces managed to stay together after the campaign, and formed the core of Bonesteel and Kaiyu's units. With this previous success in mind, the interim Regency government simply inducted the burgeoning local self-defense forces, staffed them with professional officers, trained and equipped them to national standards, and turned them out for battle. Though not as initially well trained or professional as their Regency predecessors, the Commonwealth forces were quick learners, and with the new psionic "Brotherhoods" taking care of matters at home, the new forces struck with an incredible discipline and single-mindedness at the overextended Zhodani. Six years later they were ultimately victorious, as the Dawn Heralders and failing Consulate could not hope to match an entire society mobilized to fight as a military force.

The Commonwealth of Deneb is unique in that it is a legalized militia state. It is by its own admission the "Republic of the Gun." It makes no apologies about this to anyone. The Covenant was born of fire, honed by fire, and whose legitimacy departs from the past upon its ability to provide security to the People. Though much of the Covenant is based upon old Terran Constitutions, it generally avoids obvious repetitions of those documents, but it deliberately copies the ancient American Second Amendment verbatim: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." (Covenant Second Article, Bill of Rights) The Commonwealth chooses the radical interpretation of this amendment: every person in a community who has the desire and the means to be a soldier is automatically inducted into the "Militia", be it local police, Brotherhood or planetary forces, or the centralized Commonwealth military and services. (Private gun ownership tends to be a different matter, though the Commonwealth vets a significant part of the population for the possession and storage of government provided weapons in their homes or on their persons.)

It is clearly stated in the Covenant (Covenant Article One, Main Body) the Commonwealth must make provisions for the arming and maintenance of a large force of citizens whose training and experience make them perpetually available, between the ages of 18 and 35 standard years, for call up into front line service in the wars and battlefields of the nation. The usual means of providing this trained reserve is through statutory requirements whereby individuals who partake of government monies and public services of a particular extent, or who consume subsidies and financial incentives at public expense, are required by law to receive at least basic military training in a service of their choice. Local federations sometimes exceed that modest requirement, requiring that all persons in a community receive training that is somehow commensurate with military service, even if that is as simple as basic first aid training. As a whole, roughly one in ten citizens of the Commonwealth have basic military skills, though that can be as little as one in twenty in the People's Republic and Pretoria, to as much as one in five in Monoceros and High Zhdant. A significant percentage of these persons obtain advanced training, and these are subject to the Active Reserve, attached to existing frontline units, and can be recalled to active duty until the age of 60. This means that a single division or fleet squadron may have a manpower reserve greater than what is usually indicated by a TO&E. The average division of 20,000 persons in the Commonwealth can draw upon a reserve ten times that, which can be quite useful in rapid force expansion during wartime.

To a great extent this degree of popular mobilization explains the unusually cohesive and disciplined nature of Commonwealth society. Freedom, Commoners like to say, isn't free. Individualism still flowers, and freedoms of dissent, creed and jurisprudence are as strong as they ever were before, even stronger. Despite the presence of the Brotherhoods, privacy is still strongly respected (Sex is just sex after all. What happens between consenting persons is their business. And we are just not that interested really in what you do. Honest. By the way, doesn't doing that leave a mark? Just wondering.). But visitors will notice that on the Commonwealth Frontier, most systems are heavily fortified, and even interior worlds have ample defenses and well organized civic institutions. Even the psionic Brotherhood is something of a military force: it serves as both a public health service to help smooth out the bumps of alienation and loneliness, and rip out the sociopathic and egotistic elements. Again, no apologies. And consumerism is distrusted by the vast majority of Commoners, for the glorification of material things comes at the expense of the Way and the People, and was a major contributor to the destruction of the Regency military. It is clear that militias make up a major part of the culture in some federations, such as Enterprise, and that the stature of the gun is such that it makes up an indelible and permanent part of society.

However, one must be careful in not making the mistake that this is the total sum of Commonwealth society. The secondary reason of this kind of societal bunkering is to prevent the past mistake of the majority relying upon a selected but vulnerable minority for its security. The primary reason is that freedom and liberty are better protected by an arrangement that makes the entire society responsible for their continuance. This is simply the means and not the end, despite what some of our foreign critics and observers have said. Given our past, and the nature of these so called "New Era" empires, most of whom are openly rapacious and callous, we see no reason to change this arrangement. The price of freedom is the gun on the tower, and the wall around the city. When our sworn or potential enemies are willing to offer us the fruits of their generosity, instead of demanding from us our own generosity as the price of peace, only then will we see fit to tear down this edifice of vigilance.

Author's Note: I will admit it: the tone of this campaign - unlike most editions of Traveller - is not meant to be optimistic. If Classic Traveller is a "Second Turning" game, Crucible is how I imagine Traveller would appear in a "Fourth Turning"