Doctrine: Flexibility

He held his arm too stiffly, and so was thrown back repeatedly, until at last I seized his forearm and snapped it back against itself. His training suffered while the arm healed, of course, but I felt this was a lesson he must learn early, and well.

– Spartan Kel, “Honing the Ki”

Doctrine: Mobility emphasized the capacity of moving around at speed. With the addition of boats to the mix, speed is no longer the only consideration. Rather, it becomes a question of integrating different types of motion on different types of terrain under different types of conditions. A stiff breeze has different implications on land than at sea, which complicates matters when it comes to coordination. Both modes of movement have to be understood on their own terms and then made compatible to each other.

On Earth, this process was facilitated through the process of containerization. During the Vietnam War, the US military faced the logistical challenge of moving troops and immense amounts of stuff across the ocean. While the act of putting stuff on boats and moving it to far-away lands was by no means a new phenomenon, the scale and speed of it was novel enough to warrant innovation. Thus, the shipping industry (in its military and civilian guises) took it upon itself to standardize the process of moving stuff to a single, unified, uniform unit: the container.

A container is nothing fancy. A hundred million of them, however, constitute a system for global logistics. Their main feature is that they are all the same size and shape, and that they can be moved from one mode of transportation to another without much in the way of effort. Once something is in a container, the only thing that matters is moving the container around. It can be put on trains, boats or trucks with equal ease, as many times as it takes to reach the destination. Only upon reaching where it needs to go is it necessary to open the container; for the whole duration, it is merely a unit amongst other. All along the way, the infrastructural links are specifically designed to move, house and send these standardized units where they need to go next.

Before containerization, stuff was moved around more or less manually. Sometimes by hand, but more often than not by using cranes and other tools. Every shipment was different and had to be treated individually. Sometimes there were a lot of crates, and that had to be dealt with accordingly. At other times, it was a shipment of furniture, which required a different set of skills for getting off the boat. And so on for every kind of item that needed to move across the world. Now, however, the only thing moved are containers, regardless of what they might contain.

On Chiron, this process might very well repeat itself. Being on a new planet does not end the need to move stuff around, it only alters the gravitational constant. Doctrine: Flexibility represents the capacity to field naval units suited to the new environment, but it also represents a societal adaptation to the new realities of global logistics. It is, indeed, a lesson best learnt early and well.


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