Imperial Armed Forces

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The Imperial Armed Forces, commonly referred to as the Imperial Fleet, were the collective military force of the Imperial Government, under both the Galactic Empire and the New Galactic Empire. During the rule of the Goldenbaum Dynasty, it consisted of a largely aristocratic officer corps and commoners in the enlisted ranks, with advancement for non-noble personnel being difficult. The Imperial Fleet relied on conscription and was the primary opponent of the Free Planets Star Fleet during the Alliance–Imperial War.

Contents

History

Early Imperial History

Imperial soldiers battle insurgents shortly after Rudolf's death

The Imperial Armed forces were formed from the Galactic Federation Armada in 310 UC (1 IC / 3110 CE) by Rudolf von Goldenbaum following his establishment of the Galactic Empire. Since its foundation the Imperial Fleet was the instrument of the ruling nobles. It first served to enforce the views of the Kaisers and their supporters. The early years of the fleet were spent suppressing remnant republican strongholds or planetary rebellions that could endanger the rule of the elite. The Imperial Fleet was composed of commoners making up the enlisted ranks and only nobles reaching the rank of officers, based more on their noble title than their training and actual competence for such role. It was not until the the mid stages of the Alliance–Imperial War that the huge personnel losses forced the Empire to admit commoners into the officer ranks and even so, few became flag officers regardless of merit or achievements.

The Alliance–Imperial War

In 640 UC (331 IC / 3440 CE), the Empire discovered the Free Planets Alliance. As the Empire did not recognise the existence of any other governments or states other than itself and as the Alliance had been founded by a group of escaped penal convicts, the Alliance was quickly labelled as a "rebel" group. An expeditionary force was quickly organised to subjugate the Alliance and Kaiser Friedrich III appointed his 3rd son, Grand Duke Herbert, as commander in an attempt to groom Herbert for assuming the role of Crown Prince. Despite internal conflict and past rebellions within the Empire, the Imperial Fleet had never suffered an outright defeat in battle against an external enemy. Due to a combination of inexperience and overconfidence, Herbert's force was decisively defeated by Alliance admirals Lin Pao and Yūsuf Topparol at the Battle of Dagon.

However despite the defeat, the practice of appointing admirals based more on their noble class than on any actual ability was an error repeated throughout the war. Thus the Imperial Fleet, a larger force with a slight edge and superiority in terms of technology, was in practice evenly matched with the Alliance. Before the rise of Reinhard von Lohengramm, the Imperial forces and the Alliance forces were alike in their incompetence and lack of strategic vision, with both sides failing to make any strategic progress towards ending the war. Large scale Imperial invasions of the Alliance were hampered by the long supply lines back to Imperial bases and the unfamiliarity with the Alliance territory. All these large scale invasions were defeated by the Alliance. In its turn, the Alliance's smaller size and scarcer resources forced it to fight defensively. With no ability to strike the Empire directly, and Alliance battlefield victories not substantially affecting the Empire's internal stability, the Alliance had no way to end the war. With the rise of the Dominion of Fezzan, the stalemate was further reinforced due to Fezzan's secret Terraist ties. This often meant leaking of intelligence on fleet movements and military technology from the Empire to the Alliance via Fezzan to ensure the balance of power was maintained.

With the construction of Iserlohn Fortress the strategic balance slowly shifted against the Alliance as the Empire now had a stable base with which to launch invasions into the Alliance. The Alliance repeatedly staged offensive operations against Iserlohn Fortress that failed with heavy losses. The Empire repeatedly staged fleet size expeditions to raid Alliance territories like El Facil, but with no long term plan beyond that, and was unable to hold on to any lasting territorial gains. For a time, the stalemate continued, with fleet battles fought often purely to inflict losses upon the enemy for use as domestic propaganda. Minor bases in uninhabited systems in the vicinity of the Iserlohn Corridor such as Kapche-Lanka and Van-Fleet 4-2 were captured or destroyed by both sides, but again with little effect to the overall strategic situation.

The overall situation changed drastically when Yang Wen-li led the newly formed Alliance 13th Fleet in the successful capture of Iserlohn Fortress in the Seventh Battle of Iserlohn, removing the Empire's main defensive barrier along with their forward supply base. Ironically, the victory at Iserlohn, one which the Alliance had desperately tried to achieve six times before, could be considered the beginning of the end of the Alliance's military strength and even the end of the Alliance itself. The victory resulted in a sharp change to both the morale and the strategy of the Alliance towards the war, and riding public fervour for an invasion of the Empire, the High Council voted 8-3 in support for a mission to achieve the "liberation" of the Imperial citizens. The subsequent invasion involving eight fleets in total, the bulk of the Alliance Forces, was doomed from the beginning as a lack of planning on part of the Alliance combined with the incredibly effective defensive methods employed by Imperial Fleet Admiral Reinhard von Lohengramm to result in the most decisive series of events the war had seen in its 156 year history. As the Alliance fleets entered Imperial territory, they found no resistance, and also found the Imperial citizens in need of supplies because the Imperial Fleet had evacuated everything before the Alliance arrived. Being the "liberators" the Alliance was expected to provide for them using their own supplies. The Alliance supply flotilla, however, was destroyed by an Imperial fleet resulting the the Alliance being forced to procure supplies on site, resulting in numerous clashes between the Alliance military and Imperial civilians over the shortage of basic supplies. At that perfect moment, Reinhard made his move, and unleashed his talented cadre of admirals against the under-supplied, separated, and demoralised Alliance fleets. The result was devastating for the Alliance. After the initial Imperial strike, the Alliance could only muster three battle ready fleets, as the other five had either been destroyed, surrendered, or were weakened past the point of being considered combat capable. Fleet Admiral Lobos refused to give up on the invasion however, and against the advice of Dwight Greenhill and all rational reason ordered the remaining fleets to make a stand. The Battle of Amritsar was the result of this order, and the remaining Alliance forces made their stand in the face of impossible odds and circumstances, leaving every invading Alliance fleet decimated except for only Yang's 13th Fleet which survived somewhat intact. From this point on, the Alliance's military strength was only a fraction of what it had been before the ill-fated invasion.

Imperial Civil War

Already weakened by a invasion considered foolish by the capable minds of both the Alliance and Empire, the Alliance had very limited military strength. Even so, the Empire had no chance to attempt to capitalise on their enemy's weakness. Immediately after the invasion was thwarted, Kaiser Friedrich IV died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving no heirs. Duke Otho von Braunschweig and Marquis Wilhelm von Littenheim supported their own daughters, granddaughters of the late Friedrich, as the next in line to rule while Minister of State Klaus von Lichtenlade and Fleet Admiral now Marquis Reinhard von Lohengramm allied with each other to support the late Kaiser's only grandson, the young Erwin Josef II who would become the 37th Kaiser of the Goldenbaum Dynasty. Enraged by the alliance formed between Lichtenlade and Lohengramm, Braunschweig and Littenheim rallied many of the other high nobles, and formed the Lippstadt League to attempt to overthrow the boy Kaiser in favour of one of their own children. This led to the Imperial Civil War which found the military divided into two camps, with Reinhard's own admiralty facing off against the high nobles.

Even though out-numbered nearly 2 to 1, Reinhard's forces were under the command of competent and talented admirals, each with his own uses and specialties, while the Lippstadt forces were more often than not commanded by men who achieved rank based solely on their social class and standing, resulting in rather poor battlefield decisions and performance. The Lippstadt forces were not entirely devoid of talent as competent commanders, among them High Admiral Willibald Joachim von Merkatz and Vice Admiral Adalbert von Fahrenheit, had allied with the nobles for a variety of reasons, yet time and time again these men were overruled by the more prominent High Nobles. The follies of Braunschweig and other prominent nobles such as Baron Flegel lay with the fact that they truly believed themselves to be superior in every way to the commoner or Low Noble, and that presenting themselves on the battlefield alone would be enough to bring them victory. Reinhard's forces obliterated the Lippstadt fleets in every engagement except the single one where Merkatz was left free to do as he wished (the Battle of Schann-tau), and the military strength of the Lippstadt League declined quickly.

As the peasants in the Lippstadt held systems began to rebel against High Noble rule, one of Braunschweig's nephews is killed by a mob. In a rage, he ordered the deployment of nuclear weapons to kill everyone on the planet Westerland. Reinhard, himself misled by his Chief of Staff Paul von Oberstein about the attack's timing, allows the attack to prove to the Empire the true monstrous nature of the high nobles. The Westerland Massacre destroyed any remaining hope for the Lippstadt League, and the remaining forces stationed at Geiersburg Fortress begin to fall apart from within. The public's support, and more importantly that of the military, the traditional instrument used to enforce the high nobles' rule, turned swiftly to favour the young Fleet Admiral and his Admiralty, and as Reinhard begins the siege of the fortress, the surviving High Nobles, fueled by drunkenness, anger, and suppressed despair decided to risk all and led their remaining forces in a desperate attack on Reinhard's fleets, reasoning that if they could kill the "Blond Brat" they could still win the war. While Fahrenheit and Merkatz both understood the ineffectiveness of such an attack and the useless loss of life that would result from their dispatch, only Fahrenheit refused to launch.

The brief battle quickly turned into a slaughter as the High Nobles disregarded any tactics or planning and simply attacked in a straight headlong frontal assault. When the momentum of their attack was exhausted, Reinhard's counterattack quickly collapsed the remaining Lippstadt forces. Nearly all remaining important figures for the High Nobles were killed or captured. Duke Braunschweig was able to return to the fortress but a mutiny among the garrison soldiers meant the defenses did not fire upon Reinhard's forces. Merkatz was persuaded by his subordinate to flee to the Free Planets Alliance. Braunschweig was forced to commit suicide by his own retainer and subordinates, and Geiersburg surrendered, thus ending the Imperial Civil War.

The results of this conflict were unique in the history of the Empire, as many officers who had fought against Reinhard for the High Nobles were in most cases free to join Reinhard, sometimes immediately after surrender as was the case with Fahrenheit. The victory was short lived for Reinhard, as the chief retainer of Braunshweig, Commodore Ansbach, killed High Admiral Siegfried Kircheis while attempting to assassinate Reinhard. This sent Reinhard into an uncontrollable depression, and he refused to move from his friend's body. Seeing this, his admirals decided to take matters into their own hands, and immediately launched to take by any means the Imperial Capital Odin. Following a plan formulated by Oberstein, the admirals landed on Odin and immediately secured all vital government areas, military and security structures, and the rest of the remaining Imperial government officials including the military chiefs and Minister of State Lichtenlade. Now in total control of the Empire, and Kaiser in all but name, Reinhard returned to Odin a hero of the people and began to reorganize the Empire with numerous reforms that not only gave the people rights long denied to them, but drew up all of the talent the Empire had to offer, creating a government that was still autocratic yet had the values of both a meritocracy and technocracy.

Many of the senior and flag officers of the Navy who sided with the Lippstadt League, or had been prominent under Friedrich IV, were forced into retirement during that time (such as Fleet Admirals Steinhof and Ehrenberg) or left the Empire entirely (such as High Admiral Merkatz).

Instigating Alliance Civil War

The war with the Alliance had still been ongoing, and to allow himself room to manoeuvre against the high nobles without the Alliance getting involved, Reinhard released a prisoner-of-war Arthur Lynch, a former Rear Admiral in the Alliance that was captured during Yang's famed escape from El Facil. With the mission to stir up discontent about the rampant corruption within the Alliance, Lynch successfully convinced leading Alliance officers, including Greenhill, to stage a coup d'état on Heinessen resulting in the Alliance Civil War which perfectly coincided with its Imperial counterpart, just as Reinhard had intended. This only further weakened an already decimated Alliance military, leaving them ripe for attack. The only thing preventing this, in the minds of the High Council, was Yang and his fleet at Iserlohn Fortress, an assumption that both Yang and Reinhard disagreed with.

Invasion of the Alliance

After allowing the abduction of the boy Kaiser by the remnants of the High Nobles who were taking shelter in the Alliance and installing the infant Catherine I as the first Kaiserin, Reinhard attacked by feinting towards Iserlohn while using the Fezzan Corridor by invading Fezzan and the Alliance beyond with the majority of his forces. Responding to this predicament, the Alliance launched the only fleet other than Yang's that it has left, the 1st Fleet, along with any other available ships, under the command of Fleet Admiral Bewcock to confront the invading Imperials. They met the Imperials in the Battle of Rantemario and while putting up a determined effort were nearly completely annihilated save for the timely intervention of Yang's Iserlohn Garrison Fleet, which allowed the remaining Alliance forces to flee. Yang then directed his fleet to begin harassing supply lines and weak points in the Imperial lines while successfully baiting and defeating three of Reinhard's admirals. Yang then decided their only chance of victory was to kill Reinhard, which would throw his forces into disarray and force them to withdraw. Knowing this, Reinhard used himself as bait to lure out Yang and trap the trapper by having his fleets return to him after the battle had commenced to try and surround Yang. The Battle of Vermilion was a defensive situation for Reinhard, who merely had to hold out until his admirals returned, where as Yang faced a situation where he had to fight offensively on a time table. Yang was able to gain the upper hand by sending a decoy force composed of asteroids towed by relatively few ships to make it look like his entire fleet was attempting to flank. After deliberation, Reinhard made the erroneous conclusion that it was Yang's main force masquerading as a decoy force, and massed his fleet to attack. Reinhard's subordinates were surrounded by Yang's forces and took heavy losses, while a detachment from Yang's fleet advanced directly towards the Brünhild. The sudden and unexpected arrival of Admiral Neidhart Müller shifted the balance of the battle once more and pushed Yang's force back before they could fire on the Brünhild. However Yang reformed and successfully lured Müller into attempting to break Yang's encirclement of Reinhard's subordinates, and managed to catch Müller's fleet in a crossfire. With Müller's fleet in chaos and effectively neutralised, Yang was able to once again advance upon the Brünhild. Literally seconds away from firing the announcement was received that the Free Planets Alliance had surrendered unconditionally to the Empire, and that all combat operations were to immediately cease. Unknown to either Reinhard or Yang at the time, High Admirals Wolfgang Mittermeyer and Oskar von Reuenthal, under the advice of Hildegard von Mariendorf, had instead attacked Heinessen itself, seizing all key government facilities and forcing the High Council to surrender, thus ending the longest war in human history.

The Second Alliance–Imperial War

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The Reuenthal Revolt

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Organization

Galactic Empire

The supreme authority of the Imperial Fleet was the Kaiser, who was the commander-in-chief. Under him were the three military chiefs that managed the day-to-day affairs of the armed forces: the Chief Fleet Commander, responsible for directly leading the fighting forces, the Chief of the High Command, presumably tasked with operational and strategic planning, and the Minister of Military Affairs, presumably responsible for administrative matters and internal management. Additionally, the office of Joint Staff Inspector General existed (held by Fleet Admiral Klasen during the late Goldenbaum Dynasty), though it is unknown what its exact role was, and it was not considered as high of a position as the other three. Officers appointed to these positions were typically promoted to Fleet Admiral.

There were at least two occasions that an individual held all three senior military offices at once: Otfried III, while he was the crown prince, and Fleet Admiral Reinhard von Lohengramm, who was appointed to those positions by acting Prime Minister Klaus von Lichtenlade at the outbreak of the Imperial Civil War. On both these occasions, this was a prelude to taking the throne as Kaiser.

In 796 UC (487 IC / 3596 CE), Fleet Admiral Lohengramm was appointed to the position of Vice Fleet Commander, though there are no other references to this position and it is unknown if it was used before. After Lohengramm was appointed as the Chief Fleet Commander (and to the other two positions) the following year by acting premier Lichtenlade, High Admiral Siegfried Kircheis succeeded him as Vice Fleet Commander.

The Imperial Navy's fighting forces were divided into fleets, under the command of an admiral or high admiral, with each fleet being named after its commander's last name. An admiral's fleet was typically between 13,000 and 17,000 ships, while a high admiral commanded a larger force of 20,000 to 30,000 vessels. It was also implied and quite likely that the high nobles maintained their own private forces, under their control. For example, Duke Otho von Braunschweig and Marquis Wilhelm von Littenheim had their own military units, which they used to fight in the civil war against Lohengramm.

The exact organization and structure of the Imperial ground forces was unknown, but it was known that they were commanded by a high admiral, which was the highest rank that an army officer could achieve in the military. Ground units were attached to different fleets, as space combat took precedence over land warfare, and a single unified ranking system was used for both ground and fleet forces.

The Galactic Empire was a patriarchical society and no women served in the armed forces in any role. Nobles of significant noble rank were rarely assigned to the front lines, except either as a punishment or to give them an opportunity for military glory.

New Galactic Empire

The military power structure in the New Reich was never fully explained, but it was likely quite similar to that of the Goldenbaum Empire, from what was revealed. However, after Fleet Admiral Oskar von Reuenthal was appointed as the Governor-General of the former Alliance territories, Kaiser Reinhard took over the high command office himself, serving as the Chief of High Command personally. Fleet Admiral Wolfgang Mittermeyer was the Chief Commander of the Space Fleet, while Fleet Admiral Paul von Oberstein was the Minister of Military Affairs. It is unclear if the office of Joint Staff Inspector General still existed.

Corrupt officers were purged and military discipline was more strictly enforced by the new leadership, with many former Goldenbaum admirals being relieved of duty, and the military was no longer regarded as the Kaiser's private property.

The general structure of fleets and other units remained mostly the same.

Military Ranks

All male commoners upon reaching the age of 20 were conscripted for a mandatory 2 years of military service. They started at the rank of spaceman second class(Japanese: 二等兵). After one year, they would be promoted to spaceman first class(Japanese: 一等兵).

Officer academy graduates began at the rank of warrant officer (Japanese: 准尉), though exceptions were sometimes granted based on noble rank or the Kaiser's favour. For example, Reinhard von Lohengramm started one rank higher than normal by virtue of graduating at the top of his class and his sister being the Kaiser's favorite.

Ship Design

Imperial ship design traditionally centred on heavy armor and large calibre long range cannons, and generally mounted fewer main cannons than their Alliance counterparts, which focused on smaller calibre and high rate of fire. After the invention of space borne fighters, the Empire did carry them aboard its ships but the focus on big guns meant the Empire was slow to realise the benefits of dedicated fighter carriers. The Free Planets Alliance first fielded carriers in 750 UC (441 IC / 3550 CE) but the Galactic Empire continued to prioritize construction of battleships and cruisers. It was not until 780 UC (471 IC / 3580 CE), after the design of the Alliance Lazarus class carrier, that the Empire belatedly acknowledged the usefulness of carriers and resolved to build its own. (Fleet File Collection Vol.2, Fleet File Collection Vol.3, Data Book: Mechanic & Seiyū Encyclopaedia, p. 141, 172)

Late Goldenbaum dynasty ships used multiple engines in separate nacelles, in contrast to the Alliance's use of a single large engine for its warships. Though this arrangement was more inefficient, the use of multiple engines allowed for some degree of redundancy in case of damage. (Data Book: Mechanic & Seiyū Encyclopaedia, p. 168)

Imperial ships were generally larger than their Alliance counterparts though roughly equal in combat capability due to the incorporation of additional features that were absent from Alliance ships. Imperial ships were often used to suppress local rebellions and therefore all mounted anti-gravity units and engines capable of atmospheric operations in order to enable them to directly land on planets to unload ground troops. Living quarters echoed the sharp social stratification in the Empire. Senior officers had large expensively furnished quarters, while enlisted personnel had much more basic quarters. The bridges of larger ships were often expansive, with decorative features such as pillars.

Due to the greater resources of the Empire compared to the Alliance, the Empire fielded more specialist ship designs than the Alliance. These included fast battleships, shield ships, and gunships.

Appendices

Licensed sources

The standard battleships, cruisers, and destroyers were mass produced. By order of the Kaiser, the high nobles had to provide funds for their construction, and this served to somewhat diminish their private wealth. The large flagship classes were built in shipyards directly under control of the Kaiser, on Odin, and were gifted to individual officers. Security was heavy around these shipyards as the flagships they built served to field test new technologies and design paradigms before being more widely disseminated for mass production. (Data Book: Mechanic & Seiyū Encyclopaedia, p. 148)

Background information

In German, it was known as the Reichsflotte.

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