1. Voltron(at least the recent Netflix series) seems to be a an interesting example. For a lot of the earlier part of the series, the good guys seem to be focused mainly on a couple high end capabilities(the castle/spaceship, and Voltron itself) and they have to contend with that until they can free other planets and get them to join their cause.

    Would, say, bomb sniffer/guard/tracker dogs count as well? Working with them professionally seems to take a lot of specialization and training.

    There’s a cool documentary (Building Pharoah’s Chariot, I believe) where a bunch of researchers do their best to reconstruct an Egyptian war chariot. It’s pretty interesting to see all the engineering that went into something that at first seems so simple.

    BTW, there’s a typo in the post(King Edward instead of King Edmund.)

    • Travis Perry says:

      The typo is fixed now, thanks for pointing it out.

      As for guard dogs, while that IS a specialty that requires special training, a high end capability looks at those weapons we can think of as being in a role similar to apex predators–the most elite, most dangerous, most powerful. Voltron is a good example–as were aircraft carriers in WW2 and ballistic missile submarines during the Cold War. Starships are the apex of power in the Star Trek universe while above all others, the Death Star was the apex in Star Wars.

      You could have a society where animal-based units were the apex of fighting. Say, if there were dogs that were magical and could bond with human handlers telepathically or something in a way that would make them the most dangerous weapons on the battlefield. I hope that makes sense.

  2. YAASS!!! Voltron… great example (even the earlier version that I grew up on).

    A personal anecdote that captured “high-end” and “capital” for me was a training exercise I participated in with a multi-national coalition force. Every nation had simulated units operating in the fictional world that we used to role-play “what-if” scenarios for the senior leaders to think through. No one questioned having a scenario where a soldier was killed in combat. No question about a small group of soldiers killed in combat. Little question over a helicopter or single jet going down; all just the cost of doing business in war. However, when we proposed simulating a ship getting hit by a missile (credible scenario, good training value for them to think through, potentially lots of casualties and loss of a major asset), that was a non-starter. Nope, we can’t simulate a ship being destroyed; the coalition would have a major moment of crisis as the nation who owned the asset would recognize “Hey, this is a big deal to lose a ship. You don’t just get another one with significant cost. We’re out of this operation.” A ship, even a small one, represented a resource perceived to be irreplaceable within the context of this particular kind of simulated operation (more peacekeeping than WWII-era combat).

    For some nations, going from no combat-trained canines to each deployed unit having that capability might be a significant cost. In this era though, we compare that against a nation going from no combat helicopters or network communications or tanks or warships or missiles, etc., to having that capability. I recall some of our African partners going from no military aircraft at all to several transport planes; game-changer for deploying resources. Or armed helicopters to provide support to ground troopers. Game-changer. Shooting a missile over-the-horizon: game changer.

    I like T-1’s examples in the worlds of SFF. An example from popular fantasy literature: Smaug being allied to Sauron (OK, in Peter Jackson’s imagination…) Probably would have cost a lot of gold, a lot to feed him, probably lost some orc confidence having a dragon overhead in the field, so feel like a capital asset (few other nations could afford the cost) and very high-end capability (dragon…. not a lot around). Wargs however… I’m not sure how to lean. There seem to be many around on the movie set, but frankly it might have taken a lot to get them together, train them, and have cost the orcs a lot to maintain and they might have felt the loss of capability after those skirmishes. Gandalf is a great example: after [nearly] losing him in Moria, we see the impact on the Fellowship. You can’t just replace a Gandalf. Not only his experience and wisdom, but the source of those things and his power from his heritage. Definitely a capital asset to the armies of men, but also maybe not a high-end capability: we don’t really see Gandalf wielding his magic in such ways on the battlefield. Saruman does, however.

    At least, that’s my 2 cents and how I’d analyze that particular story (in various media)

What do you think?