Echelons Above Corps

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chimericoncogene
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Echelons Above Corps

Post by chimericoncogene »

The vast interstellar armies of Star Wars must be structured to deploy ground-based military forces across a bewildering variety of built and natural environments, from the kilometers-thick cityscape of an ecumenopolis to the abyssal depths of ocean worlds and the liquid-methane-lake-studded coal-tar dunes of frozen moonlets.

Depending on how hyperspace is set up*, countless ground, asteroid, and space-habitat campaigns may be waged simultaneously across thousands, even millions of star systems, in coordination with naval and starfighter forces in months-long operations spanning multiple adjoining sectors (the canonical example is the Outer Rim Sieges, which probably would have involved many such operations to isolate, besiege and conquer various Separatist-held regions in the Mid and Outer Rim).

Given the vast fields of battle, the existence of echelons above corps are almost mandatory. Below we can consider a reasonably simple terminology that can help us think about the issue by considering how the armies are used - that is, in operations spanning continents, then planets, then star systems, and then subunits of sectors and eventually whole sectors. The terminology and existence of any particular echelon is arbitrary; the information on regional organization in Star Wars is intentionally vague, and this should likewise conform stylistically.

Division - multiple Brigades
Corps - multiple Divisions
Field Army - multiple Corps
Army Group - multiple Field Armies
Continental Army - multiple Army Groups
Planetary Army - multiple Continental Armies
Stellar Army - multiple Planetary Armies
Systems Army - multiple Stellar Armies
Cluster Army - multiple Systems Armies
Subsector Army - multiple Cluster Armies
Sector Army - multiple Subsector Armies
Theater/Oversector Army - multiple Sector Armies
Regional Army - multiple Theater Armies

Obviously, a Planetary Army may not always be adequate to properly control a planet - consider the ease with which say, Tatooine or Ryloth might be occupied (a field army or two with force multipliers might do - or even a reinforced corps) compared with Coruscant or Cato Nemodia. A stellar army may be overkill for an individual star system with only one inhabited planet (heck, it might be more expedient to just skip that echelon).

Continental, Planetary, Stellar, Systems, Cluster, Subsector, and Sector Armies, however, give us adequate leverage for up to seven orders of magnitude - or ten million lower echelons (say, an Army Group of 27-125 Divisions or so) without exceeding a span of control of ten units in each echelon. With a more traditional span of control of five units in each echelon, we obtain 78,000 Army Groups - not an unreasonable figure to capture key points within a Sector. Sure, that's still a pretty flat structure, but at that scale of warfare you're operating a gargantuan staff to manage everything already, so a slightly wider span of control is unlikely to hurt either way.

*viewtopic.php?f=3&t=170376 - some thoughts on hyperlanes and sectors.
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Esquire
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Re: Echelons Above Corps

Post by Esquire »

Perhaps 'Front' for your continental layer, since continents aren't necessarily going to be a useful concept for all deployments you'd need that size of force for? A swarm of orbital habitats or a very watery planet with lots of archipelagos, say.

I agree about condensing the planetary and solar-system layers, since most of the time there will be a single primary world anyway. Probably folding the cluster layer up into subsector, too - in fact, I think 'Cluster' is usually used a sector-level designation; see e.g. Hapes.

I think above the sector level, astrographic areas of responsibility stop making as much sense. I'm picturing the sector forces, then a layer of regional forces over them who could go anywhere and do anything within the region at a moment's notice, higher standards of training and equipment and probably a separate chain of command reporting to oversector central authority in order to avoid getting entangled in local politics. There might be a third central-command layer, or Oversector Imperial Centre's assigned forces might serve the same function organically - perhaps the truly central forces are special-purpose units like the Royal Guard and Death Squadron, with the oversector forces serving the more normal military central reserve and elite roles.

This will get a little clunky from a span of control standpoint, but I think that's actually okay - as you say, a huge staff would be necessary in any case, and anything over a systems army can't really be a functional tactical or even lowercase-s strategic unit, it would have to be more of an administrative/logistical establishment.
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Patroklos
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Re: Echelons Above Corps

Post by Patroklos »

Yeah, at some point you probably have ad hoc brigades that are meant to augment echelons, not act as an entirely new layer themselves.

Also, note that in the real world higher echelons do not bring more forces to the table, but rather denote organization HQ layers that are implementing gradually more strategic policy just like Esquire said.

These higher-level echelons are more likely to reflect existing political boundries, not physical characteristics of the area. There would be wildly different populations and physical space within various sector armies, with a corresponding variation in forces types and quantities for technically the same echelon. Look at US COCOMs for examples.
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Lord Revan
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Re: Echelons Above Corps

Post by Lord Revan »

I'd suspect that some level fleets and armies will merge administratively, so you'll have "sector force" rather separate armies and fleets, I suspect that administrative split between garrison forces and mobile forces is more likely then between armies and fleets.

EDIT:so "mobile" units would have varied equipment, training and command structure to be able to be deployed where they're needed, while garrison units could be laser focus to the local needs (or just be dumping ground for less then ideal troops who have families that are well connected)
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chimericoncogene
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Re: Echelons Above Corps

Post by chimericoncogene »

Lord Revan wrote: 2021-01-14 01:01pm I'd suspect that some level fleets and armies will merge administratively, so you'll have "sector force" rather separate armies and fleets, I suspect that administrative split between garrison forces and mobile forces is more likely then between armies and fleets.

EDIT:so "mobile" units would have varied equipment, training and command structure to be able to be deployed where they're needed, while garrison units could be laser focus to the local needs (or just be dumping ground for less then ideal troops who have families that are well connected)
Esquire wrote: 2021-01-14 08:52am astrographic areas of responsibility stop making as much sense
I'm looking at this from a Clone Wars standpoint rather than counterinsurgency, so the force structure needed may be a bit different. In a long-running insurgency, troops will be able to rotate through specific hotspots, and forces can be structured for long deployments and long lifespans. If you're occupying Dac for twenty years, you're not going to be breaking up Sector Army/Force Dac (the Imperial "federal" force, not the local Sector Defense Force) for parts anytime soon, for instance.

On the other hand, in a major conventional war with operations of regional scope or greater (encompassing many sectors simultaneously), you will be tailoring your order of battle for each major operation, and there may well be virtually no local friendly sector forces to rely on. Sector Armies (which may be operational forces, not galactographically allocated forces) will have to grow and shrink for individual operations, and be moved from one end of the galaxy to the other within weeks for major operations to keep the enemy off-balance. In a conventional war, you're not sending out DEATHRON to chase rebel strategic forces - you're shifting Open Circle Armada (and associated planetary armies) from the Outer Rim to Courscant in twelve hours and getting hyperfuel pumps for a thousand ships ready within twenty-four while under planetary bombardment, or shifting a Sector Army that can contest all of Mon Calamari space from the Dac region back to the Core to refit, and thence to say, Umbara Sector, with a new force mix and (as usual) gargantuan logistics train.

Large local sector forces behind friendly lines are in such a war unnecessary, and will likely be stripped of resources to feed the operational war machine. Under such conditions, a certain degree of interchangeability of medium-sized formations is desirable.

Fleet-army mergers and forces specialized by region are entirely reasonable if you are fighting a counterinsurgency, or if you are a sector force. Galactic forces earmarked for major operations in a high-intensity war have to be broken up and reformed quickly, and you probably have more a lot troops than amphibious assault ships by the end of the buildups (a la WWII, with use of liberty ships to deploy Army boys behind the Marines). You probably can't integrate fleet, starfighter and ground forces as organically under such circumstances - if anything, attrition rates will render ground formations combat ineffective in weeks. You need to rotate fresh echelons of ground and starfighter formations and mate them with fresh space forces, or space forces that have not been attrited as badly.
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