1. Travis Perry says:

    Travis C made a point about tension between combat arms and combat support. Instead of altering his observation in the text of our article itself, I left it as is and decided to comment on it here.

    My experience on that tension is “often but not always.” Support guys who do their jobs very well, in a way that directly helps combat troops, especially medics/corpsmen, but also to a lesser degree mechanics, chaplains, and some others, are often treated VERY well by combat arms guys. Because if someone is saving your buddies’ lives in tough times–or performing near-miraculous repairs of your equipment–or risking their life to provide religious support in a danger zone, etc, it’s not normal to resent such a person. So in peacetime, there’s more potential for tension than during war. Unless of course if the combat support types are clearly shirking their duties, which happens sometimes, or have jobs that don’t directly affect the lives of combat arms guys, which happens frequently.

    Note there also can be tension between different types of combat arms, whether between different branches (say tankers and infantrymen), or between elite and non-elite troops (e.g. special forces don’t always get along with regular infantry). When I was an artillery officer, our branch generally thought infantry guys were dumb–and also glory hounds. Whereas infantry saw us as fat and lazy (and I’d say there was a partial kernel of truth to both accusations).

    Though Travis C, as a US Navy officer, inhabits an inherently different world than I do as an Army guy.

    But anyway, FYI. 🙂

  2. Travis C says:

    That is a great point; no intention on my part to paint it as more than a difference that can exist, but certainly doesn’t need to. I think it’s important to recognize there are differences (like in so many other ways we can make them), and that you as a writer get to choose what to do about it:
    – There’s a difference and it’s painted positively. Thank goodness we have that support from the rear; they do awesome work; they kept my buddy alive.
    – There’s a difference and it’s neutral: either not recognized at all, or at least not impacting the story. Much of the time we’re so focused on our mission and role we don’t dwell on the other folks.
    – There’s a difference and it’s painted negatively (maybe warranted, maybe unwarranted). This is a possible way to introduce some tension in a storyline.

    In my experience, >90% of the time, there was more likely to be tension between folks over matters of performance/quality than with what role they performed. Do a great job and support the team and mission, and folks appreciate that (even if it’s just a head nod). Do a bad job or fail at a critical time and judgment begins. Many folks have short memories. Some do not.

    Lastly, there’s also a difference between talking smack and internal beliefs. Again, from my experience, there’s a lot of smack talk between communities of practice, but fewer experiences where deep-seated tensions existed that impacted mission accomplishment. Aviators might all be “hotshots”, but when an aircraft is the right tool for the job, you use it. because it’s all one team.

  3. The impression I get when it comes to how much fighter training and roles a combat support person can have will often depend on how large the group they work in is, where they’re stationed, and how ‘advanced’ the army is.

    With group size, I’m talking about circumstances like in Naruto. Some ninja might do solo missions, but often enough they work in groups of 3-10. On those missions, they could get attacked at any time, and although they might try to protect their medics, the medics will still get killed if they aren’t formidable fighters themselves. In some ways, that’s probably why there’s medics like Sakura, Tsunade and Kabuto that are dangerous fighters, but pretty able to also fill other capacities. They have no choice but to be competent in multiple areas. They aren’t necessarily as powerful as ninja that solely focus on combat (like Naruto and Sasuke) but they’re far from helpless. In a situation where there are huge armies of ninja fighting each other, though, some of the medics could probably get by with less combat training because they can stay in makeshift hospitals within bases well guarded by large numbers of their comrades.

    As for how advanced an army is…some of that has to do with technology, but probably other things as well. In Star Trek, people would probably have to specialize a lot because maintaining, say, a warp core competently probably takes a lot more time, knowledge and dedication than certain parts of a more primitive army.

    One of the chars in my current WIP ends up in a lot of roles throughout his life partly because the armies he’s in are more primitive. He starts off learning to fight, and does so competently, but then he is put under circumstances where he has to learn how to be a medic so he can infiltrate another faction. After he goes back to his birth faction, he does everything to climb the ranks and eventually takes on a more tactical and advisory role, which he has the experience for by then. But he still puts his medic skills to use when need be, and is also the closest thing the faction has to a priest and historian. He’s not exactly an expert at any one thing, but he can apply what skills he has to a variety of roles.

    To him, this isn’t impressive, because as he points out, the things he’s learned can be applied to a lot of areas. He’s educated as a medic, so he can help patch up his comrades when the other medics in the faction are too busy. He knows how to read and write, so he chooses to record some historical things in the faction during his free time. His role as priest is as simple as passing on some things he learned from his father during childhood, as well as offering advice when his comrades ask for it. He can shift gears and do these things because their army isn’t complicated enough that he has to only focus on one of these things. But if his faction was advanced enough to deal with large war machines, he would probably not be involved in the daily aspects of running them because that kind of specialization would take a lot more time to learn and take him away from areas he is needed in more.

  4. notleia says:

    Or for Japanese Star Trek with a much more sensible bridge design, there’s Space Battleship Yamato 2199. Okay, having a WWII-era battleship as the basis for a starship design is pretty dumb when you think about it, but it definitely has a dieselpunk charm. I think this show gives a better sense of just how many frikkin people it takes to run a ship than Star Trek generally does, with easily two dozen recognizable recurring characters rather than the token-ish sort of thing that Star Trek tends to do, where on a detailed episode you maybe get a secondary engineer/security dude/pilot with a name and more than one line.

    Opening theme: https://youtu.be/w6LFkMniuTk

  5. Travis C says:

    I like the discussion of sci-fi going on. It’s interesting for me to see how various storytellers portray the future: have we moved away from people, or have we actually just make things bigger so there’s an even bigger need for them? I think we’ll see more stories like Passengers that explore over-reliance on AI and automation, as well as examples of reduced crews like in Star Trek: Into Darkness. I know several industries in the US related to defense & security that are actively advocating for reduced crews of operators in their system/machine/function. That’s one version of the future.

    I also certainly see the evolution of cross-training becoming greater and greater. I thought the premise of the Netflix Lost In Space series to be kind of interesting: to earn a spot on a colonization mission, you have to pass rigorous testing and be training in multiple skills, even the kids. There were some neat plotlines resulting from that premise, many of which cross genres.

  6. Lorraine says:

    Have you gentlemen considered issuing these blogs as an ebook? (Not sure what SpecFaith’s rules about republishing posts is.) I’ve been trying to save up the blogs for more in-depth reading when I have time, but a single ebook might be better formatted than what I have been doing. I just find these absolutely fascinating.

  7. notleia says:

    Very Important off-topic news: I repotted my cape primrose, and so far it does not look dead. This is momentous news, after I split some baby crowns off my African violet and, despite my encouragements to GROW, D*MMIT, within two weeks they were stone dead.

What do you think?