1. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    Assault troop deployment

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by zoupskim, Jan 12, 2016.

    My war story features suicide squads that are dropped from orbit on soft targets such as command elements or civilians. These soldiers are dropped without a withdrawl plan. They are expendable troops that just need to cause havok for as long as they can survive. If they do survive, advancing ground elements recover them for transportation back into orbit, or 'recycling'.

    I cannot make up my mind on an entry vehicle. I was thinking that they drop in an expendable, improvised reentry pod, but thats too much like the Warhammer space marines. Shuttles or transports are too expensive because they are expendable soldiers, and teleportation does not exist in my setting. I was hoping for some interesting ideas on this.
     
  2. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    The cheapest solution, I think, would be to drop a kinetic bombardment on the target instead of soldiers, as pieces of metal don't need to be fed, supplied oxygen, or preserved as they enter the atmosphere. That said, I don't see much of an alternative to sending them down in cheap landing pods. Perhaps an assault shuttle that will return to the ship for re-use, craft that are disguised as something else (such as meteors), captured enemy craft (can't be cheaper than something stolen), or space suits capable of surviving re-entry (although, perhaps a bit implausible)?
     
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  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    What about a transition--from orbit in a reusable vehicle that enters the atmosphere, then parachutes? Vehicle is recovered somehow. (Does your technology support a smaller vehicle achieving orbit on its own?)
     
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  4. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    Not if you want the target in tact for some other reason. If the squad is successful, you now have intel.
     
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  5. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    Record free fall is 127.000 feet, though he used a space suit. HALO jumps are around 30,000 feet with essentially just oxygen and warmth. Both of those things require training and experience though, something you aren't likely to waste on expendable soldiers.

    Dummy proof is capsules.

    I guess, I immediately fall back on US troop types. Recon, Seals, Delta, Para-rescue... the kinds of troops sent behind enemy lines like that are all elite, because really, it takes training just to get them into that position. So you'll be spending a lot of money and effort getting soldiers into orbit that ultimately don't matter?
     
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  6. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    Purposefully dispensable soldiers aren't good for taking prisoners though, since they have a very high chance of dying themselves. If you wanted prisoners, you'd send in special ops.
     
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  7. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    To answer very valid "Why use complicated insertion techniques and cyborg super soldiers when you could just drop a couple bombs?"

    The suicide squads follow bombardment or air strikes. They are employed in an exploitive manner to take out targets that are missed and to counteract the complex jamming techniques and extreme echeloning used by the enemy. The drop guys realized that they could never really tell where their enemy was unless they could look at them.
     
  8. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    These are NOT elite troops. The force had no time for a comprehensive selection and training program, so they 'settled' with just blasting people behind enemy lines to mess with the enemy. When ground forces actually recover some of these soldiers, it is treated like something odd and rare.

    I honestly juat wave off orbital flight costs to justify my setting, but in my story the military is capable of very limited interstellar travel.
     
  9. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    There are couple of things to point out:

    - sending someone behind the enemy lines is high risk operation. Chance of getting caught and leaked intel
    --> no elite training, they will be broken mentally and answer the questions. It's practically a gamble that might cause you a backslash.

    - is there particular reason why messing the enemy psychologically is more effective through this way? Why not just bomb the civilians or send a group in stealth close to the frontlines and mess the enemy there?

    Every single task and move in a war has a tactical purpose. Even though we have read historical fights about a battalion that was essentially sent in for nothing, their sacrifice gave the chance for the other unit to redeem something victorious. So it needs to be asked: is the trade important enough? Losing soldiers and causing chaos amidst the enemy for possible leak of intel? Do you win or lose more?

    Obviously I don't know the story or the setting, so can't be too certain about how useful my post is. But these questions will arise at some point.
     
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  10. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    YES.

    While airborne troops during WWII suffered very high casualties, they were also elite troops (God knows what the casualties would have been with only basic - or, taking the Japanese Kamikaze initiative as a precedent, not even that - training).
     
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  11. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your post was very useful. I had not really thought about interrogation of untrained troops. I will consider this point thoroughly. Thank you!

    The short answer is that they HAVE to reach civilians before the enemy. This is the entire nation's strategic aim.

    The long answer is that civilian lives are valuable to a fault. I did not explain one of the soldiers tasks properly, or their overall mission. They have some offensive applications, but their primary use is to secure discovered or threatened civilians when other types of forces are not close enough.

    Every move the enemy makes has an immediate human toll. The drop soldiers are not dropping inefficiently out of space to attack an enemy. They are dropping to protect civilians, and to a lesser extent, friendly ground forces. They are fanatical about this. They don't care about their lives or futures. They did not sign up to risk their lives. They signed up to die.

    The fact that just dropping soldiers from orbit is INSANE is an important plot point in my story. The conventional forces find the drop soldiers dangerous and inefficient. They look at the human cost of throwing away people in such a manner. In the end though, enemy air power is absolute. The drop soldiers are always where the enemy is. Half of them are dead, and the rest will soon follow. But they are there, fighting to protect the country's most valuble resource. The people.

    They take meth to compensate for blacking out on entry, they are only effective for short spans because they don't drop with survival gear, and their weapons literally break after firing through a combat load. Drop on a building? Bye guys. Enemy armor? Oh well. They suffer brain damage, shattered bones, and drug withdrawal. They have no future.

    "But do not think of how we suffer. The invader is here. They are everywhere. So, we are everwhere. You are the heart of our nation. You will survive. We have already offered our lives in payment. We are only waiting for the enemy the collect."

    How would a fanatical, poorly trained, drug addicted, blacked out soldier protect civilians? You'll have to wait and find out. Hint: It turns out poorly.
     
  12. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    You could have them wear armor that with heat shielding, and a parachute. Keeps things low cost and all recovered units would only need a new parachute. :p
     
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  13. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    The why of all of this aside, the higher you intend to drop someone from, the more automation or the better training you will need. You'll be dropping meth'd out gang members from space, so you're talking about capsules, if you want ANY degree of accuracy on target. High altitude parachutes are just as likely to land someone in another country than anywhere useful if they don't know how to use them.
     
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  14. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    @Samurai Jack The human body would not survive the impact of being chucked out of a spacecraft and to the ground, they would liquefy on impact. Pretty sure they have a material tough enough to be a parachute, that will perform at a lower altitude. If they have cheap jet packs that would be a feasible means.

    Pull that Halo/Warhammer 40K on a person, and you can scoop the body out of a pod with a spoon. Even a water landing would not be good at those speeds, your guys would be all busted up on impact. Simple physics a body in motion stays in motion, the inertia of the person would not allow the person to stop. Thus the pod stops, and the guys ass goes all over the bloody place. You expect the guys to die as bullet sponges, don't try to fuse them to the LZ on a molecular level.:p
     
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  15. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    *sigh*

    I'm not saying drop them from space like a rock. I'm saying if you drop a person in a suit and a parachute, that person is going to have to know how to fly. They are going to have to have instruments to tell them where they are, and they are going to have to change their vector based on those readings. Drop from 100,000+ feet over, say, Nashville, Tennessee, and you're just as likely to hit Chicago, Illinois or the Gulf of Mexico as you are Nashville itself, unless you know what you're doing.

    And his people are not going to know what they are doing.
     
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  16. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    This could be handled by the software. The ship launching the pod would place it on a trajectory that could be surprisingly accurate, and then the software would make corrections to make sure that the pod lands at the correct point. I imagine a pod would be very difficult to manually operate, since it isn't really a conventional aircraft, and the people inside will need to be getting themselves ready for battle anyway. But it isn't beyond the means of even current day technology to guide in a target using software. Imagine a missile that's targeted to particular coordinates. The software may require multiple satellites or spacecraft to triangulate its location, but the ship launching the pods could probably launch some satellites a few minutes beforehand to help facilitate this (assuming the planet doesn't already have a GPS system in place).
     
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  17. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    Yes. That is the answer. But it's not the answer OP wants.

    No transports, no shuttles, no teleportation... needs to get to ground from space. Drop them. Give them a suit and a parachute, but they'll need to know how to operate the gear and how to get themselves on target, and that's training. But they don't get training because they are expendable. So, a pod, automates the process for an untrained individual. Buuut OP wants something that isn't a pod.
     
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  18. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    Based on my own research I was planning on an improvised landing craft that ponys off of other more sophisticated orbital landing craft. Sort of like if the WW2 airborne were accompanied by a equal number of untrained conscripts in improvised gliders.

    The setting for my story is that they deploy sophisticated drone vehicles into the battle via shuttles and powered reentry boosters. The enemy develops a simple countermeasure quickly. They have to improvise their own counter, which involves infantry. The counter fails, so the points about combat ineptitude are spot on.

    The drop pod thing just bugs me. I know its based off of science and space programs, but it is still so derivative. I'm not going to research halo lore. But, I assume they have drop pods in that. In war of the worlds the martians use drop pods, the nazis researched them for their space program. I dunno. Maybe I need to bite the bullet and just have them ride in little cattlecars strapped on the sides of giant, reverse-joint mech suits, piloted by deranged clone children.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  19. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure that (e.g.) the 325th Airborne Infantry would subscribe to the notion that they were "untrained conscripts", having gained battle honours at Salerno, Normandy, Arnhem and in the battle of the bulge.

    And the WACO CG-4 was hardly "improvised" - $15k at 1944 prices is hardly that!...Designed by the Waco Aircraft Company, flight testing began in May 1942, and eventually more than 13,900 CG-4As were delivered.

    The 16 companies that were prime contractors for manufacturing the CG-4A were:


    • etc., etc.
     
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  20. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    No offense meant.

    I was not citing a specific historic example when I referenced gliders. I am aware that gliders were part of a well thought out and comprehensive infiltration strategy, and that elite troops used them regularly.

    Airborne gets much respect.
     
  21. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    The logic behind drop pods is this: since you're in space, if you launch something from your ship on a trajectory, it will eventually get to where it needs to be with no effort involved. You don't need to have wings, or even propulsion. You just need the right launch vector, and a metal can that will hold in oxygen for the occupants. The same metal can is able to enter orbit, and with the aid of gravity, will continue to fall on pretty much the right trajectory without any real effort required. It's cheap, disposable, and lightweight. You don't have to worry about the expensive deployment vehicle you sent to drop off your cheap soldiers getting shot down. You don't even have to get close to the planet. You can launch them as far out in the system as you want to, although that will effect how long it takes for the pods to reach their destination.

    This is used in scifi a lot because it's a sensible approach to the problem, not just because it's cool, similar to space programs, etc. I think it's particularly suited to the problem you're looking to solve, for the reasons I mentioned. You can always make minor adjustments to the concept to make it different from other media. I'm not at all familiar with Warhammer, and this solution still sounds very appealing to me at least.

    But at the end of the day, if you want soldiers to get down to the surface of a planet, you have to put them inside a metal can. A round metal can would be called a pod, and a metal can with wings would be an aircraft (although wings are not really needed in this case, so are just frills). There aren't many practical ways to solve the problem aside from the ones that others have already written about.
     
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  22. Rob Rowntree
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    Rob Rowntree Member

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    I don't really see a problem here. The above poster is right. Use pods, hundreds of unconscious conscripts falling earthward. If there's a need to correct course use I-don't-know, er inflatable wings like a hang-glider. A tiny software bundle can handle the flight.

    The other suggestions are all valid.

    Hell, build a tether and swing a pod into atmosphere. Lower them... Go slowly and you don't need heat shielding.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2016
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  23. Wolf Daemon
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    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    I would suggest some cheaply made cannisters/balls.
     
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  24. misteralcala
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    Firstly, why would people sign up for suicide roles? Are they coerced or blackmailed? Are they prisoners with a promise of freedom if they survive? What motivates them, if not death?

    Second, if you drop them on top of hostile territory, you'll have a *very* low chance of success and huge casualties. You will be contending with defending aircraft, anti-aircraft defenses and heavy resistance once on the ground. A more useful way to deploy them would be after the enemy defenses have been softened, but before you mount your main assault. They would be terror weapons, and would be used to great effect in civilian areas.

    As expendable soldiers, their method of deployment would have to be cheap and efficient as well. Fly them into orbit and let them parachute in. As terror units, their weapons should also be scary - flame throwers, grenade launchers and maybe even some cool tech like corrosive gas grenades. It sounds like a cool idea to flesh out.
     
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  25. ChickenFreak
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    The SOLDIERS are expendable. But is their mission worthless? You're sounding rather as if some general said, "Well, I didn't buy a pudding cup for dessert today, so we can spend the savings to drop some soldiers."

    If the mission is worth something, why isn't it worth some decent equipment? Sure, they're treating the soldiers as expendable, just as a fired bullet is expendable. But the fact that a fired bullet is expendable doesn't mean that you don't spend any money on it--and you certainly spend money on the gun that fired it. So why aren't they willing to spend money on the "gun" (shuttle/transport) that "fires" the soldiers at the enemy?
     
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