The Zhodani, Psionics, and the Consulate Military

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ottarrus
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The Zhodani, Psionics, and the Consulate Military

Postby ottarrus » Wed Aug 25, 2021 2:39 am

One of the pillars of the Traveller community is 'old veterans talking about the futuristic military'.
That's not a complaint. I say that as a fellow practitioner of the form. :roll:

Many sources have tried to explain the effect of psionics in the Zhodani military and especially it's elite units, the Consular Guard and the Guard Commandos.
And just to be clear, the Consular Guards are the equivalent of the Imperial Marines... selected high quality personnel equipped to the best sustainable standards. The Consular Guard Commandos are all Nobles and Intendants selected solely for their psionic strength and ability to teleport. *These are two different units.* Proles may enter the Consular Guards as enlisted men and NCOs. Proles may never be Guard Commandos.

Let's start with the basic math. Canon sources agree that the total number of psionically trained individuals in Zhodani society is roughly 20 to 22%, depending on how you parse out the Nobles and Intendants percentages. Sources agree that Nobles have, at most, two children and that Intendants have fewer children, and start their families later in life because they are so career oriented.
We also know that teleportation is the rarest of the common psionic abilities.

All this makes me believe that there are a HELL of a lot fewer Zhodani Consular Guard Commandos than most people think. Most people who discuss this use the US Marines or British Royal Marines as their standard of reference. This is not wholly out of place insasmuch as we're trying to 'Granny Smith to Red Delicious' apples-to-apples comparison. Where I differ is that I think that a US Navy SEAL Group [made up of semi-independent platoons, most SEAL Groups have 8 platoons] is probably more accurate.

Consider: The Zhodani Consulate is devoted to making their citizenry reasonably happy. When it comes time to 'suck it up' and do the unpleasant things that civilizations require, the Consulate seeks to make the period of difficulty as short as possible and offers extensive counseling when it's over. But when 'suck it up' time comes around, the Consulate expects that Nobles and Intendants should take the brunt of the moral and ethical difficulties. As a general rule, Zhodani military professionals are not the 'rough men ready to do violence on [society's] behalf', to quote Orwell, but rather well-trained and well-adjusted personnel who have extensive training in stress management.
As any veteran will tell you, people with these qualities are very rare and I submit to you that they're even rarer in a society devoted to making its citizens feel satisfied with their role in life.

So let's add this up.
Only 22% of society undertakes ALL leadership, policymaking, and management roles in that society. Proles top out, socially speaking, at Shop Foreman, Sergeant-Major, or Small Business Owner. Every other decision making function is taken up by Intendants and Nobles.
And
It is self-evident that the Guard Commandos are most probably career military men, of whom the Consulate generates fewer than the Imperium.
And
Teleportation is VERY rare, even among the Zhos.

To me, this equals that there is probably 2 Guards Commando Groupments [of 6-10 semi-independent platoons] per Province, with Iadr Nsobl [facing both the Imperium and the Vargr Extents] probably having as many as 4 Groupments.
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Geir
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Re: The Zhodani, Psionics, and the Consulate Military

Postby Geir » Wed Aug 25, 2021 3:10 am

For my sins, I have learned to do spreadsheets and to import data from Travellermaps in diabolic ways.
There are 29.31 billion people living on Zhodani in the Spinward Marches, 20 billion on Riverland (which will eventually be called Dietevriabr, but the system has been Zhodani since the early Frontier Wars).

Given one in a million, there would still be potentially 29 thousand commandos. And I think at least one Zhodani book makes it clear these aren't 'the best of the best' but Zhodani nobles and Intendants who are good at teleportation and have received requisite military training. More like Rangers, at best, than SEALs. (Meaning no disrespect to Rangers - but there are a lot more of them) Or maybe more like Airborne: ~10 times as many of those as Rangers.
The google answer for Rangers comes to about one per 100,000 per US resident.

If my math is not broken, for your numbers to work, it would be about one in 10 million Zhodani. Possible, I suppose. At worst, there would be maybe ten times as many as you think, so your point about them being rare is still valid. Unless the recruiting area is bigger and the they ship most of them to their trailing frontier.
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ottarrus
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Re: The Zhodani, Psionics, and the Consulate Military

Postby ottarrus » Wed Aug 25, 2021 3:44 am

I don't completely disagree with you, but where I diverge is in the question 'How many Nobles and Intendants WANT to be Commandos?'
It seems to me that it would be pretty clear to anyone even thinking about serving in the Guard Commandos that the surgical application of violence is their business. To quote the old Vietnam era saying, "Killing is our business and business is BOOMING!' There are just not many Zhodani who are the least bit interesting in killing for a living, even for the best of causes, and far fewer with the rare ability to teleport.
I should think that as an Intendant child grows up, those who are mentally suited to such a life are identified by their mid-teens and subtly directed towards Commando service.
And canon sources are pretty clear about the level of training of Guard Commandos, they're about as well trained as an average Imperial Marine and that much of their training goes into strengthening their Teleport skills.
At a guess, I would stat the average Guard Commando Warrant Officer 1 [all Guards Commandos are 'commissioned specialists not in the chain of command'] for Mongoose Traveller 2nd ed. like this:

Guard Commando UPP 77777A-9
Skills: Gun [Energy]-1, Heavy Weapon [Man Port.]-1, Recon -1, Teleport -1
TL 13 Guards Commando Battle Dress, PGMP-12
Last edited by ottarrus on Wed Aug 25, 2021 9:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Sigtrygg
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Re: The Zhodani, Psionics, and the Consulate Military

Postby Sigtrygg » Wed Aug 25, 2021 8:57 am

All of them that have the pre-requisite skills want to join the Guards... at least they do after career counseling...
ottarrus
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Re: The Zhodani, Psionics, and the Consulate Military

Postby ottarrus » Wed Aug 25, 2021 9:33 am

Generally true, Sigtrygg, but Nobles have the absolute right to mental privacy and Intendants have nearly the same. Re-education doesn't happen unless someone does something patently against the good of Consulate or themselves... specifically crime or exhibiting psychiatric problems.
Being willing to serve in the military but not wanting to be a Guards Commando can hardly be called a character fault, no matter how inconvenient it is for the Consulate.
I could possibly see a major recruiting campaign among teleport adepts in the run-up to the Fifth Frontier War... do a term in the Commandos in exchange for immediate release at war's end and promotion considerations in your civil employment, that sort of thing. But even then there will be ripples in Zhodani society... for example, fewer Tavrchedle on the streets as the trained telepath-counselors deal with demobilizing millions of traumatized veterans... some of whom are stronger psions than they are!
This is why I comment that a professional military member who is trained in stress management, who has the strength of will to do the dirty work and who has desire to serve his society are incredibly rare in the Consulate. Probably even rarer than in the Third Imperium, who always has a place for the functional sociopath...
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Condottiere
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Re: The Zhodani, Psionics, and the Consulate Military

Postby Condottiere » Wed Aug 25, 2021 12:23 pm

Zhodani aren't my sphere of interest, but specifically to combat capabilities, and considering the psychology involved, I'll speculate there are two types of Commando teleporters.

The first type would be specialists, whose primary job would be to deliver other personnel or equipment.

The second ones would be James Bond types.
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Re: The Zhodani, Psionics, and the Consulate Military

Postby Garran » Wed Aug 25, 2021 12:46 pm

Equipment, maybe, although the weight limit on teleportation would keep that to a minimum. This probably doesn't qualify you as a commando, though - more like a logistics (or payload) specialist.

However, unless the Zhodani have a better version of Teleport than the standard (I don't know offhand?), delivering personnel isn't an option.
ottarrus
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Re: The Zhodani, Psionics, and the Consulate Military

Postby ottarrus » Wed Aug 25, 2021 9:32 pm

Garran wrote:
Wed Aug 25, 2021 12:46 pm
Equipment, maybe, although the weight limit on teleportation would keep that to a minimum. This probably doesn't qualify you as a commando, though - more like a logistics (or payload) specialist.

However, unless the Zhodani have a better version of Teleport than the standard (I don't know offhand?), delivering personnel isn't an option.
Multiple sources, some canon and some not, say that the standard Commando tactic is to use the Group clairvoyant observer /director to scope out a reasonably safe 'TZ' [teleport zone?] withing walking /marching distance to the target. He then uses telepathy to imprint the location to the raid team. The raiders jump in, ruck to the target site and conduct their raid. At the rally point, the raid team then jumps out. Throughout this process, all psions involved use Psi Booster or Psi Double drugs as needed. With careful rest, drug, and side effect management, they can get as many as two raids a day this way.

Another thing to bring up in this discussion is that the Zhodani high command is well aware of the propaganda value of psionic powers on a battlefield with Imperial or Vargr troops. They constantly look for ways to play up the Guard Commandos' abilities and use psionic disruption techniques as a matter of course [firing enemy weapons or pulling pins on grenades with telekinesis, reading minds with telepathy and doing the loudspeaker PSYOPS routine, etc.]. There is a reason why the Consular Guards and Consular Guard Commandos have similar and easily confused names.
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Re: The Zhodani, Psionics, and the Consulate Military

Postby Garran » Thu Aug 26, 2021 2:53 am

I'm aware of those tactics, but using clairvoyance->teleport chaining like that isn't the same as someone using teleport to bring other people in with them; the Zho (unless, again, they have some kind of improved version of Teleport) are still limited to sending across as many people as actually have the power.
ottarrus
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Re: The Zhodani, Psionics, and the Consulate Military

Postby ottarrus » Thu Aug 26, 2021 3:51 am

Garran wrote:
Thu Aug 26, 2021 2:53 am
I'm aware of those tactics, but using clairvoyance->teleport chaining like that isn't the same as someone using teleport to bring other people in with them; the Zho (unless, again, they have some kind of improved version of Teleport) are still limited to sending across as many people as actually have the power.
Sorry, I forgot the important part of the discussion.
You're right, the Commandos would have difficulty 'porting extra troops in. That's why they don't do it.
The Commando raid team teleports in by themselves, just the teleporters and their BD suits and PGMP's [none of the adjunct people in the Groupment ... the clairvoyant for example]. If they expect heavy combat they might the extra power suit attachment and some high-tech rockets. One of the raid team is cross-trained as a medic, but if they can't save a casualty and there isn't enough PSI strength to teleport the casualty home, the officer is authorized to euthanize the casualty and fry his suit.
This is why the Guard Commandos only raid in smaller groups [at most company sized teams] at high value targets. They simply don't have the numbers concentrated to conduct raids in battalion strength.
"Reputation is what others think they know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself." --Odin, Havamal

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