Return of the Wild Geese Cannon Fodder


Banded Mongoose
Generally, when Mercenaries are used in Traveller, the type of Mercenary used is
the long term experienced and well trained professional soldier, model generally
being Mike Hoare's south African Mercenaries in the 60's Congo.

But the Term WIld Geese actually comes from the Irish Cannon Fodder Mercenaries
that was extensively used by the Great European Powers for a couple of hundred years
of bloody wars. For example, my understanding that there were over 30 regiments
of Irish Wild Geese in French and Spanish Armies with around the same amount in
British service in the 1600s-1800s. They were cheap cannon fodder used
by Great Power's because no nation really cared whether they lived or died,
and economic destitution and desperation were the principle motivator
for Irish becoming wild geese.

Well, the era of Wild Geese Cannon Fodder has returned. Russia and Turkey
are exploiting the economic desperation of the respective Syrians that
each side backs to use them as cheap cannon fodder for other people's wars.

There is a really interesting BBC article, the link posted below, on the
recent use of Syrian Wild Geese in the recent Azeri-Armenian war.
I recommend anybody contemplating a mercenary traveller campaign
to read it to get an understanding of life as a cheap exploited canon fodder
merc. In a land where a dollar a day or under income is normal,
they were promised several thousand dollars a month to go be "sentries".
The Turks then flew them in Turkish planes to Azerbaijan, where
their "sentry" duty turned into being human wave cannon fodder,
where the Azeri's didn't want to waste their own soldiers. Conditions
got so bad, the Syrians mutinied and refused to fight. The Azeri's
sent them home and cheated them out of any payment. The
leaders of the mutiny were then shot by the Turkish Backed Al-Nusra
Group, which was getting money for the cannon-fodder.

The article then brings out that Russia has grabbed Syrians from
Assad controlled regions and is using them in Libya to
fight for Gen Haftar, while the Turks(Erdogan) are using
Syrians from rebel areas to fight for the Tripoli Government,
in a repeat of the Azeri-Armenian conflict. There are poor
soldiers, fighting for causes they are completely indifferent too,
but useful as human wave cannon fodder and money for Putin and Erdogan.

I am not trying to be political, just bringing up the other side of Mercenary life
and how you might portray it in your games. Not every Merc is Mike Hoare,
most are probably some dumb broke bloke.

1. The Iranians used Afghans and minorities in Syria, and likely in Iraq previously.

2. Hezbollah are more proxies, and appear to be used as cadre and shock troops in Syria by the Iranians.

3. Can't recall Soviet Union involvement in Angola, but the Cubans had an expeditionary force there.

4. I think that American aligned private military contractors recruited Columbians.

5. Saudis employed Sudanese in Yemen.

6. Kremlin aligned private military contractors employ Chechens.

7. I believe that the Wild Geese had recognized and structured military units, and followed a more formalized mercenary tradition, like the Swiss and the Scots, at least on the Continent.

8. In regard to Traveller campaigns, it's a cost benefit issue over time, whether you can locally recruit indigenous forces, and train and lead them with a cadre, or you want trained troops, or at least familiar with military protocol, that have to be imported.
In traveller there are considerable costs associated with importing and recruiting any mercenaries from off world, this is a drive towards hiring them as useful force multipliers with desirable skills and off world technology , particularly as hiring them uses the planets hard currency reserves which for the sort of low tech planet involved in most mercenary conflicts are a limited resource or provided by off world supporters.
Disposable troops are more likely to be hired on planet were costs for travel and recruitment are low and wages can be paid at local rates. If a goverment needs to raise troops fast particularly if they have no standing army or a limited standing army (US mobilisation for ACW, WW1 and WW2) I can see them hiring local cannon fodder as mercenary troops(International Brigades, Italian troops in the spanish civil war , all sorts of peasent fodder in older periods) and if they think this mob needs stiffening hiring experienced officers, NCO's and specialists from off world with any needed gear.
I just don't seem many times it is going to be worth importing off world cannon fodder, particularly as worlds tech improves and you need skilled people to operate and maintain these weapons , which can if used properly slaughter random peons with rifles.
I think the situation where a Traveller planetary government might very well
choose to import cannon fodder, is precisely the situation that Azerbaijan
found itself in. The Azeri's are not a poor society, they are quite oil-rich actually,
it's what paid for the fancy armament and drones they used against the Armenians.
But the Armenians were stalling them out on the southern front, and it
was turning into a bloody mess. The Azeri response was to import cheap
cannon fodder rather than risk social upheaval from casualties. A lot
of the gulf states like the UAE, strictly use Mercenaries, for that reason.

Another reason, that a government might choose to import off-world cannon fodder,
is that you have gotten yourself into a large scale bloody mess, and you don't trust your
own population enough to arm them in mass numbers.

It would justify using large chartered bulk carriers loaded with 10s of thousands of low berths.
Since they are just cheap off-world cannon-fodder, the loss due to low berth malfunction
would be meaningless to the hiring world, since the survival of the hired low-cost mercenaries
are not a concern to that government, only them winning are.

Yes, high tech, highly trained professionals can wipe out large quantities of cannon fodder,
always have been able to. The problem that arises with high tech, high-cost professional armies
comes when you are at your max for supporting it, and the other side has matched you with an equal high-tech, high-quality force,
and then added cannon fodder as a force multiplier to break the impasse(repeating the
early stages of WWI). It's why nations get into mass conscription and why the cycle of professional armies and conscripted
armies and large cannon fodder forces constantly recycle through history. There are times, small high-tech forces make sense, other times they still get equalized with the other sides' high-quality troops in impact, and then swamped by the additional cannon fodder. As the old Russian saying goes, Quantity is its own Quality.

Occasionally, I listen to what Hindu nationalists have opinions on, especially regarding national security and economic policy.

They did get one thing right, because they are very much afraid the Pakistanis will pull the same thing on them.

Cheap aerial reconnaissance drones, combined with a trained artillery component, possibly Turkish cadres, and Syrian recruited mercenaries, paid for by oil money.

Compounded by Armenian complacency, Russian indecisiveness (beyond a literal interpretation of treaty requirements and red lined clear international recognized national borders), and Western disinterest.

Strategic success was ensured by getting facts on the ground and maintaining momentum within a rather short window of time, not allowing the campaign to get bogged down.

Rather what happened in Crimea.

At that point, I realized I had to rejig the Confederation military doctrine.
1. Raising raw recruits to make up the numbers is a short cut, because you cannot maintain a large standing army without bankrupting your economy.

2. Unless the troops pay for themselves, under an Imperialistic policy, which ironically at various times, the Roman State came to the realization there are limits.

3. Unless there is an existential threat, in which case you can justifiably cannibalize your economically productive electorate.

4. Even the Soviets came to the conclusion that cannon flooder isn't inexhaustible.

5. I assume their solution, as much as mine, is that you protect these troops as far as possible, so that you can get in close quarters with the enemy, hug him, and try to overwhelm them with numbers and close range firepower.
For a source of Trojan Reach soldiers, in bulk, look at Browne. TL 9 with a population of 30 billion according to Book 2 of the Pirates of Drinax book, and 90 Billion on the traveller wiki and travellermap. Browne could be a major source of military might if a transportation network was set up to cross the gap.
Another thought is that getting recruits for an interstellar military is not an issue, since the manpower pool is for all intents and purposes infinite.

In the Traveller setting, it seems the bottlenecks are logistics and transportation.

Speaking of which, it shouldn't be that difficult to manufacture most forms of ground forces military products; but hiding the paper trail might not be.