USRE High Fleet
The High Fleet of the United Socialist Republics of Earth is the single largest human spaceborne force in the milky way, and, probably, the largest FTL-capable navy in the known universe.
Origins and mandate
The High Fleet was founded in the transition period between the Low Age and the Interstellar Era, as the first bouts of space-based warfare erupted in the newly settled solar system. Though the first space military forays of the then-young USRE emanated from its air force, the spacebound navy quickly obtained its independence and, some two hundred years ago, was officially established as a military branch of the Union. Unable to compete with the Moon Communes and its Selene Fleet during the Earth-Moon conflict, the High Fleet managed a spectacular comeback with the discovery of the geometry drive, becoming the first space navy to pivot to modern FTL combat, with the famous Luciole Interceptor. Since 0.56, the Terran headquarters of the High Fleet are located in Toulouse.
In the modern USRE constitution, the High Fleet is tasked with "upholding the integrity and values of the Union of Socialist Republics of Earth on its territory and on off-world expanses as defined by the New Delhi Treaty", which includes low Earth orbit and a large part of the stellar neighbourhood. Its is, officially, envisioned as a defensive force; contrary to Laniakea, the USRE doesn't have off-world colonies, albeit it maintains a large influence over most human settlements.
High Fleet uniform
Scope and scale
The High Fleet maintain 52,000 active personnel, out of which 26,000 zero-g trained personnel crew slightly more than 1,200 vessels. Half these ships are combat vessels suited to peer conflicts, while the rest of the USRE roster is divided into "coast guard" vessels, transports and tenders. This makes the High Fleet the largest cohesive human spacebound force in the galaxy, with the Laniakean Fleet (450 combat vessels) and the Algorab Expeditionary Corps (250 ships) lagging behind by a significant quantitative but also qualitative margin. While it is the smallest military branch of the USRE, the High Fleet accounts for the two thirds of the Union's military expenses, totalling 1.5% of its gross domestic product.
Technology and doctrine
The High Fleet is often seen as large but relatively outdated in popular culture, due to its reliance on the century-old Luciole Interceptor design. In truth, the USRE is not the most high-tech space fleet -- this would be the Lebanese Space Interest Militia -- or the most battle-hardened -- this honor goes to the Algorab Expeditionary Corps -- but it is the only one to equip, train and maintain ships for large-scale peer conflicts. Interstellar-scale exercises and direct involvement in medium-intensity conflicts in the Smyrnian anarchy have made the High Fleet into a formidable force, living up to the USRE's place as a human superpower.
Mirroring its ground counterpart, the USRE High Fleet relies heavily on a "deep battle" approach to space warfare, creating depth by building on dense networks of orbital stations and highly mobile operational elements, combined with a real capacity to conduct combined operations with extensive ground forces. This doctrine is limited by the USRE's focus on Earth, and in deep space, the High Fleet reverts to more standard methods -- high mobility, alpha striking and swarm tactics. The High Fleet also has extensive experience in spaceborne counter-insurgency warfare, collected in the Smyrnian region. While its high ranking officers are often noted for their cautious, methodical approach to combat, tactical crews -- and especially Luciole Mk4 pilots -- are stereotyped as hot-headed daredevils, a cliché that isn't entirely removed from reality, albeit reversed: it is not the High Fleet culture that encourages this attitude but the technical parameters of the ship itself.
A Luciole Mark 4 Interceptor
The most numerous component of the USRE is SOLCOM, which oversees the "coast guard" vessels, handling search and rescue, asteroid defence and dangerous debris management in low Earth orbit and the asteroid belt. The peer combat component is FLEETCOM, handling the 600 warships of the USRE, and primarily deployed in Earth and cislunar space. FLEETCOM is regularly involved in inter-polity exercises, and some of its wings are well-known for playing the role of "agressors" in such occurrences. Some of its units may be versed to EXCOM, the external command of the High Fleet, overseeing "opex" or external operations, beyond the solar system, typically in the Smyrnian region. Strategic Earth defense is handled by two entities. ORCOM oversees the ground-to-space and space-to-ground defenses of USRE territory, including the Brilliant Pebbles network keeping AUSCOM in check and the sub-surface-to-orbit "last line of Terran defense". STRATCOM manages USRE strategic defense via the relativistic FTL kill vehicles stored on solar orbits and the Geometry Offset Facility dedicated to early warning Earth defence.
The High Fleet is a relatively open military, albeit three secretive aspects stand out.
-- The actual extent of High Fleet involvement in the Smyrnian region is unknown; albeit High Fleet vessels are currently limiting their presence to the protection of shipping lines and research outposts, persistent rumours of High Fleet q-ships abound in the region.
-- Officially, the High Fleet doesn't engage with the Sequence. Officiously, it has been shadowing a large 50,000 years old crusade fleet en route to the solar system for decades. As the ancient Sequence fleet closes in, with intents unknown and no communications, the USRE has engaged in limited strikes on the forward vessels, and is seriously examining the possibility of larger attacks inspired by the infamous killer asteroid incident.
-- For the past five decades, the High Fleet has been working on a secretive space station, installed in a sun-synchronous orbit shadowing the Earth. This installation, only known as the Geometry Offset Facility, is said to be an experimental strategic defence array, geared towards the interception and neutralization of FTL relativistic kill vehicles directed at the Earth. As STRATCOM already operates interception facilities, it is speculated that the Offset Facility is a paracausal defense system, capable of interfering with the very physical processes behind a faster than light translation.
-- The Luciole was made by Lilly Harper, as a commission for Starmoth
-- Uniform from Steven Sander's Symbiosis Artbook, Creative Commons CC-BY-NC6SA 3.0
-- Eagle steppe and sun is a public domain design.
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