29 October 2020

Future Military Profiles: The EarthForce from Babylon 5

When humanity took to the stars, they were greeted with a galaxy that was already inhabited with a number of races, new and old. The united Earth made her way into deep space with help from the Centauri gift of the jumpgates. By the 3rd Age of Man, the defenders of Earth and her colonies was the EarthForce and during the mid-23rd centuries, the EarthForce was tested like never since her founding with the Earth-Minbari War, the Shadow War, and the Earth Civil War coming within 20 years. Despite being one of the newer races on the galactic scene, the men and women of the EarthForce tried their best be prepared for war and peace. Here is a profile of EarthForce around the 2260's, during one of most critical points in the history of the galaxy. 

A Word about the Sources and the Information
In these articles about Future Military Profiles, I attempt to pull from canon sources and develop these sections to a certain depth. Unfortunately, I could not do this with this one due to the terrible secondary sources associated with the RPG and even some elements of the TV show. I was forced to fill in pieces with my own imagination and some information designed by fans. For example, the Fleet of EarthForce is larger, like tens of thousands of ships, but the official losses for the war is 250,000. 250,000. When you watch the excellent "In the Beginning", the TNT prequel to B5 that showed the Earth-Minbari War, Earth warships are wiped out along with all of the off-world military bases battle after battle. Starfleet lost 11,000 at the Battle of Wolf 359 when the Borg cube destroyed 39 starships. I call bullshit that EarthForce number on that my friends. In this article, the EarthForce lost millions and nearly all of their space navy. To be honest, the secondary source material, like the RPG source book for EarthForce (GROPOS is awesome!) is badly written and terribly done and it fueled my desire to fill in the holes. Due to this article, I will never write a Future Military Profile on the classic Battlestar Galactica Colonial Warrior military.    

What is EARTHFORCE?
In the 23rd century, Earth, her dozen colonies, and outposts that are spread out over 14 star systems are governed over by the Earth Alliance, based at the city Geneva in the  complex known as the EarthDome. Established in 2064 when Earth began to founded colonies on Luna and Mars. By 2085, the Earth Alliance replaced and surpassed the UN as the united government of humanity. 
While it was hoped by the governments of Earth that the stars could be used for peace, piracy fueled the EA to push for its members to vote on the formation of defensive organization to protect the colonies and space lanes from pirates and rival corporations. In 2130, the EarthForce was established as both a military and law enforcement organization in the Sol System. By the 23rd century, the EarthForce organization within the larger Earth Alliance was responsible for defense of Earth and her colonies, exploration, and scientific endeavors. Millions of Terrans volunteer for EarthForce serve has both enlisted and officer roles along with civilian contractors. For the most part, there are no aliens in the service of the EarthForce. 
Within its own organization, it has four divisions or "Corps": Space (the Fleet), the Marines (GROPOS), Medical, and Security. The Fleet encompasses the largest amount of personnel, money, and exposure. Fully 2/3rds of the EarthForce budget is devoted to the Fleet and its operations. By the time of the 2260's, the Fleet was divided up into Eight Fleet Groups based around major colonies or off-world bases. For example, The 1st Fleet is based in the Sol, while 3rd Fleet is based at Proxima III, and the 8th Fleet is based at the Orion Colonies. 
However, the Space Corps is much more than a space navy, space exploration is also undertaken with vessels like the vast Explorer class along with scientific missions to strangle new worlds. In addition, the Terran network of Jumpgates are also maintained and served by EF Fleet personnel. While the Fleet operates in the inky blackness of space, the EF Marine Corps operates in the various exo-planet environments and does work closely with the Fleet for transport, VBSS operations, and some internal ship security operations. Much like the Fleet, the EFMC (or "GROPOS") is much more than off-world stocktroopers, but also includes tactical air, armored vehicles, and artillery. 
To serve and patch back up the soldiers of the Fleet and the Marines was the Medical branch that encompassed doctors, nurses, and technicians. The last Corps of the EarthForce is the Security Corps. This was unlike any other Corps of the EarthForce in that it was not devoted to warfare, but law enforcement among the colonies and outposts of Earth. While not a direct military role, there have been times when the Colonial Militia and their local "space marshals" had to defend a colony until the cavalry arrived through a Jumpgate.    

The Composition of EARTHFORCE

The Ships
The pride and joy of any spacefaring race is their space fleet/navy.  The fleet is critically important to maintain security around the colonies, shipping lanes, and the borders. Given the vastness of outer space, governments have to field and maintain a vast space fleet to vend off any aggressors, bother internal and external This means that any spacefaring power, like the Earth Alliance, must have a space fleet and for any military organization that is the branch that costs the most in terms of manpower, resources, maintenance, and money. One top-of-the-line warship could be a sizable investment and for some governments, they have to be selective, such as the case with the EarthForce. The ships that were constructed altered greatly before and after the Earth-Minbari War in terms of numbers and the classes of the EarthForce Fleet. 
Prior to the bloody Earth-Minbari War (beginning in 2245), the EarthForce was around 50,000-60,000 ships in total in the service of the EF Fleet. About 18,000 of these were considered capitol ships of primary combat roles. The primary combat vessel of the EF Fleet was the Hyperion class Heavy Cruiser and made in vast numbers. Along side the Hyperion class, was the older Olympus class corvette and the Nova class dreadnought. The Fleet that was involved in the Earth Civil War was smaller, but more focused and deadly, via the Omega class. The leadership of the Fleet and the ships assembled were educated and altered due to the War with the Dilgar (2230-2232). It was that post-Dilgar War EF Fleet that stumped into war with one of the most power races and nearly ended humanity. 
Soon after the war started, it was clear that the Terran fleet was overwhelmed and not prepared for the technology of the Minbari warrior caste. Every engage was a loss and thousands of ships and millions of service personnel died along side civilians that stood up for their colonies. Despite to fight the war and prevent the Minbari reaching Terra, the Fleet built ships at a unpresented rate with those rushed wartime constructions being crewed by fewer and fewer personnel due to the causalities of the war. The EarthForce turned to automation of much of the ship's operations as the only way to replace some of the crushing losses inflicted by the Minbari Warrior Caste. These vessels would not have passed shipyard inspection for being spaceworthy during peacetime, but these were despite times. 
One of the primary differences was that the wartime construction ships were not internally finished to the same degree as their pre-war brethren. Some of these vessels became little more than fireships or made suicide runs at the organic-looking Minbari warships just to bloody the nose of the invading aliens. When the war finally came to the Sol System, after the Minbari had finished dismantled the entire Earth Alliance colonial network, every Earth ship that was spaceworthy was armed to buy time with their lives for the evacuating civilian transports to leave the solar system. Just as the slaughter was about to begin, the Minbari asked for a ceasefire. Earth and the whole of mankind had been spared from the gallows. 
When the war suddenly ended in 2248 at the Battle of the Line, there were a few dozen proper warships that survived that war and all were either made during the massive fleet construction effort or were pre-war originals that were repaired and redeployed. This gave the EarthForce an interesting opportunity. After the devastating war with the Minbari, the Earthforce Fleet was nearly nonexistent and the rebuilding of Earth's primary line of defense was undertaken with careful consideration to getting the most in the investment in people and credits that both were lean in the aftermath of the destruction across lightyears.
This gave an opportunity to weed out the older designs and field new designs forged from the hard learned lessons from the War. That meant, the new Omega class Destroyer was the primary warship constructed and fielded due to its abilities. The iconic Omega class Destroyer could be a serious threat to all but the Vorlons in ship combat. Just as the Earth-Minbari was beginning, Rocketdyne Industries was testing several prototypes of Omega class destroyer and due to the desperate conditions of the wartime losses, Rocketdyne Industries put the prototypes into battle. This reshaped the class and gave Rocketdyne Industries valuable information to redevelop the Omega class Destroyer into the ship we know today. This class became the phoenix symbol of the EarthForce and the Terran people regaining their strength after the wholesale slaughter of the war. 
While improved Hyperion and Nova class warships were constructed, they were nowhere near in the same numbers as the workhorse Omega class and her variants, like the Essex class carrier, the Poseidon class heavy carrier, and the Normandy class assault ship. Despite being patterned after the primary hull of the Nova class, the Omega class Destroyer was given the credit publicly for being pattern for the new ad improved EarthForce Fleet of the post-war period. For naval historians, the post-Minbari War EarthForce as a whole was symbolized by this one vessel class.  
When the 1st Earth Civil War erupted after the 2nd Shadow War, it should be noted that the EarthForce Fleet was still not up to the same strength levels as the pre-Earth-Minbari War EarthForce Fleet. 
After this terrible period of wars, the Interstellar Alliance was formed and Earth Alliance became a member. During this post-war period, the EarthForce Fleet produced the Warlock class Destroyer, which was a hybrid design of both Terran and alien technology and was the first human vessel to have artificial gravity plating generator, abandoning the spinning sections of the Omega and Explorer classes. For many naval historians, the Warlock class represented the end of the traditional human naval architecture and technology in favor of the designs more based around the White Star class and her alien technology, such as the Destroyer class heavy White Star. These new ships ended the era of the Omega class, but given these ships importance to human history, several were preserved and displayed in museums, like EAS Agamemnon.  

The Space Fighters
While the combat ships of the Fleet were not regarded well by the older races, there was on element of the Fleet that every race who had tangled with them had come to respect: The Starfury class of EarthForce space fighters. Unlike other space combat vehicles, the Starfury fighter is able to utilize all three-dimensions of space for ACM and was considered deadly by the other races. The most iconic of the Starfury class starfighters that grew out of the 2168 AEGIS Program was the 2250's-2260's  SA-23E Aurora and its 2-manned larger, longer range brother, the SA-25 Badger. After the Erth-Minbari War, a larger, more heavily armored and armed Starfury was developed that also could be dual-atmospheric. 
This became the Lockheed-Mitchell SA-32 Thunderbolt Starfury. Interestingly enough, a great number of the most celebrated figures of the 23rd century EarthForce were trained to be Starfury pilots, like Commander Sinclair, Garibaldi, and President Sheridan. While most combat ships of the Fleet carry Starfury fighters, there are transport vessels like the Porcupine and Shepherd classed of simple Starfury haulers and then there is the Omega-based Poseidon class and the aging Avenger class carriers. 

Off-World Bases 
Off-world colonization and the control of Terran space have fueled the need for EarthForce to create and maintain military bases, installations, and space stations across settled space. It is EarthForce policy to have some sort of EarthForce presence on every colonial world and a network of space stations. One of the most important is the transfer station near the Jovian moon of Io. Most of the EarthForce off-world installations were destroyed during the Earth-Minbari War, causing EarthGov to reconstruct all of the bases and outposts. 
In the post-war period, there was no station more important (or more expensive) than Babylon 5 in neutral space. Rapidly, B5 became the place to be for junior officers to get experience that no outpost could compare and it looked great on a service record. It is interesting how the Babylon 5 station rapidly became the most visited designation in the entire galaxy and one of the most visual representations of Earth and her people out among the stars. However, there is a major difference between B5 and other EarthForce space stations: it is not a military installation, and it created an interstellar diplomatic issue when the EarthForce sent the Matok GROPOS Taskforce, comprised of 25,000 GROPOS combat personnel, to the station for temporary layover. Little did anyone know how important B5 would become during the 2nd Shadow War and the 1st Earth Civil War. 

Ground Forces
When the Centauri sold the secret of interstellar travel via the FLT Jumpgates, it put the Earth space military concept into a new context and when the EarthForce met other races beyond the Centauri, it was firmly believed that the days of ground combat were over. That changed when the rebellious Mars colony situation grew hot and the EarthForce was met with Narn weapons and vehicles in 2122. While the Martians lost and the EarthForce easily controlled orbital space, it was far bloody on the surface that it should have been. After the Dilgar War, the newly emboldened and empowered EarthForce foolishly fell head first into a war with one of the most powerful races: the Minbari. While it has been well known that the nearly every naval engagement with the powerful alien race came in the form of defeat, it was not the same story planetside. The EarthForce ground forces were able to bloody the nose of the Minbari Warrior Caste in the dirt far better than the Navy boys and so costly was ground combat with the Humans, that the Minbari decided to blockade planets and not land on them. 
When that war ended and the reconstruction of the military began, the GROPOS were seen in a different light. Unlike the majority of the other races, Earth had been more experienced in land combat prior to the Earth being not united, and this shaped the EarthForce to have something like the  GROPOS within their space forces. While other races had armored vehicles, there was not one with the ground forces philosphy of the EarthForce, and while other races could defeat the EarthForce in the arena of space combat, planetside was much different. This fueled the GROPOS to become the largest planetary army during this time period in galactic history. 
During the 2260's, the GROPOS reached its peak and engagements like the battle at Matok on Akdor under General Franklin only proved its effectiveness. When examining the strike at Matok, we can see how the 356th of the GROPOS operated with the Fleet and how it could be a rapid deployment force. When the 25,000 GROPOS marines were deployed, the Fleet provided some orbital protection and some added punch with one of the bad mother fuckers of the Fleet: the Nova class dreadnought. Coming up behind the EAS Schwarzkopf  was five Condor class long-range troop space transports. Tucked into the EAS Schwarzkopf was several Valkyrie class atmospheric gunships to provide CAS to the marines. No armored vehicles were sent to the Matok operation. In the inventory of the GROPOS was an extensive array of wheeled and tracked armored vehicles that could lay down the hate with missiles heavy KEW and DEW systems in the form of lasers, Gauss guns, and even Rail cannons for the MBTs. Adding to the tactical air power of the EarthForce was some model of the Starfury class of fighters could operate endoatmospherically. 

Special Forces
Very little information is devoted to the Special Operations units of the GROPOS. We know that there are elite units within the intelligence circles and within the Marines, there are such units. Devoted to the arts of sniping, recon, and infiltrating, these Operators use the speed of the Frigga class assault aero-craft to gain mobility and gain surprise on the enemy all types of exo-planet enviroment.  


Intelligence
All of the various branches of the military and the civilian government need fresh intelligence that informs the EarthGov of what could and what is happening in the big galaxy of the 23rd century. The Earth Special Intelligence Division was just that, the gathers of intelligence for the bulk of EarthGov and EarthForce. After the Earth-Minbari War, EarthGov funded the intelligence services very well and recurited the brightest minds they could get to figure out the next threat to humanity as it rebuilt. 



Service Personnel
At the time of the Earth-Minbari War, tens of millions were in the service of the EarthForce with the Fleet needing the majority of the manpower for their thousands of ships. EarthForce recruits their service personnel from the civilian world of Earth and her colonies and enlistment is open to all humans save for psionics. There are several pathways of service. One can enlist into the EarthForce right from the street into the four major branches or corps of the EarthForce: Medical, Security, Space (the Fleet), or the Marines (GROPOS) or attempt entry into the elite Academy to become an commissioned officer in the various branches of the military. 
There was also Officer Candidate School that could be entered into in several ways, mostly by military and civilian colleges both on Terra and off-world. Service in the Corps of the EarthForce was normally in 3, 4, or 9 year blocks. Those that signed up for a 9 year block was given more money and at times, more access to juicy assignments. While service in the EarthForce was volunteer, that did alter during the Earth-Minbari War when the chips were down and the fate of humanity was on the line, causing a planet-wide draft.  
That was one issue that haunted the EarthForce for nearly two decades after the war, the veterans vs. the newbies. The survivors of the war were combat veterans that lived through the worst war in human history and next to them were fresh-faced kids that had watched the war on the news screens or had a family member die at the hands of the boneheads. This was seen in the senior leadership of the Babylon 5 station in Lt. Cmder Susan Ivanova and Captain John Sheridan.    

The History of the EARTHFORCE

Before the Earth-Minbari War
It took sometime for humanity to start the journey into their solar system. After the success of the Armstrong Lunar base, the Earth Alliance was formed in 2075 and it took power more in 2085. With the access to the Sol system and its resources, came issues with colonies, namely Mars and issues with piracy. This become bad enough in the 2130's that the members of the Earth Alliance founded space defensive organizations: the EarthForce. While mostly a police force at first, it was reshaped by issues on Mars, terrorism, and then First Contact. The Centauri made first contact with humanity on April 7th, 2156. Everything changes for humanity, EarthGov, and EarthForce...especially when humanity was given access to the stars via the Centauri "gift" of Jumpgate between Earth and Luna (called the Stargate by humans), they discovered that not only was humanity not alone in the galaxy, but we were at the kids table with the older races like the Minbari and the Vorlons at the head of the adults table. 
After the first jump capability Earth Alliance vessel, the EAS Argo launched in 2159, Earth began to colonize and need for FTL warships of a proper size to defend those colonial ventures. This gave rise to the space fleet to we understand today. Explorer ships like the Oracle class and the massive Pathfinder venture out. By 2164, the first exo-solar colony is founded on Proxima III along with the first constructed jumpgate connecting Proxima III to Terra using Centauri parts. In the 2160's, EarthForce would fund a massive program, AEGIS, to develop new weapon systems (like the Starfury fighters and interceptors) and have the first hostile contact between Earth and an alien species. In 2169, the Koulani Directorate conducted a raid on an human outpost in the Signet system. While the brief hostile contact with the Koulani ended peacefully, it was not the same with the Ch'lonas. In 2170, the opportunistic Ch'lonas attacked Leonis VI. Unlike the hushed defeat of the EarthForce at the hands of the Koulandi, the EarthForce was ready. Since the Koulani raid, the EarthForce had been getting ready for the balloon to go up and during this time, the EarthForce had fielded the first Starfury class space fighters. Then Ch'lonas threat to the Earth Alliance colony in the Leons system was dealt with. 
In 2179, EarthGov identifies a sphere of about 20-40 LYs from the Sol system that could allow for Earth to expanse without running into the other races. From 2190-2220, the Earth Alliance entered into a period of expansion with new colonies, outposts, and Earth constructed jumpgates established (the first being at Io). A great deal happens on the interstellar stage with the Narn achieving independence, the Centauri Republic weakening, and Earth growing in strength. This fueled the development of the League of the Non-Aligned Worlds (LONAW). Some of the iconic warships of the EarthForce Fleet are developed: the Hyperion and Nova classes. During this time as well, there was the Narn raid on the colony on the Epsilon Indi system. However, it is the movements of the Dilgar Empire that bring the Earth Alliance into their greatest moment. 
The xenophobic feline-like Dilgar saw that the time had come to strike and secure new systems due to some instability in their own sun. Pride prevented the Dilgar from reaching out to the LONAW for help. Instead, in 2230, the Dilgar's new massive warfleet marched out of their limited space and conquered the governments near their imperial borders. This rang the alarm, and the LONAW was unable to repel the Dilgar assault. By the end of 2231, the Earth Alliance deployed Taskforce 77 under Admiral Hamato to engage the Dilgar. While superior in technological terms, the EarthForce was able to defeat them and soon, the Dilgar were faced with an real enemy in the humans. Within one year, the EarthForce drove the Dilgar from their occupied systems and all the way back to their home star system after their defeat at the Battle of Balos. 
It was there that the Dilgar were forced to disarm and surrender their military and their warmasters...save for one though. Today, it is strongly believed that the Shadows may have been behind parts of this conflict. Shortly after the Dilgar War ended, their sun went nova, killing their entire race and some believe know that the Shadows may have accelerated the sun's dying to critical mass and killed their client Dilgar for their failure. That victory and the saving of the LONAW propelled the Earth Alliance to new heights of power and respect. It was one of the finest moments in EarthForce military history....it was also dangerous in the fact that it covered the eyes of the EarthGov leadership and EarthForce brass to the realities of space. In the summer of 2245, EarthForce decided to expand to their sphere of influence to near the Minbari Federation, however, nearly nothing was known about them. EarthGov reached out to Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari for information on their bases, borders, and ships to avoid the EF expedition. The Ambassador was no less pleased and told them to not undertake this, because they might "wake the dragon". 
On July 12th, 2245, the EAS Prometheus under the loose-cannon command of Michael Jankowski encountered the Minbari. It was no less than the flagship with the Grey Council and its leader, Dukhat. When the Minbari warship Valen'Tha opened her gun ports as a sign of respect, the Prometheus took it as a hostile action and fired, damaging the Minbari warship and killing Dukhat. What remained of the Grey Council voted to find the human base and wipe it out. Soon after, the Minbari visited the Jericho 3 space station, and wiped it out completely. Thus, began the Earth-Minbari War. This was the most destructive conflict in human history, with more lives lost than most Earth wars combined. Everyone who was alive at the time of the war was effected directly. Millions died, the EarthForce fleet was nearly completely wiped out, and every colony, space station, and base was attacked. For his sins, Michael Jankowski was stripped of his rank, court marshalled, and left to watch the destruction of the human race. Unable to deal with his unforgivable sin, Jankowski would take his own life via PPG pistol. 
 
After the Earth-Minbari War
When the Minbari requested a ceasefire at the Battle of the Line, it saved what remainded of the shattered EarthForce. Out of tens of thousands of EarthForce ships, only a few hundred were able to be spaceworthy enough to be put into action for the last defense of humanity. With the Earth-Minbari War ended in 2248, humanity took stock of what was left of their interstellar society. Millions were dead, billions traumatized, every colony (save for Mars) was either destroyed or damaged, the Fleet was nearly gone, and the war seemed pointless. To prevent another interstellar apocalypse, Earth President Elizabeth Levy proposed the Babylon Project to construct a diplomacy and trade space station in neutral territory to promote and maintain peace among the other races. Part of the Babylon Project would involve the EarthForce. 
Between 2248 and 2256, the EarthForce was constructing the best hope for peace and rebuilding their defense capability. The symbol of this massive reconstruction and reordering of the EarthForce was the new Omega class Destroyer. Due the massive manpower loss, economic hardships, the harsh realities of the recent war, EarthForce could not deploy as large of a Fleet or ground force as existed prior to the Earth-Minbari War. One element of the new face of EarthForce was the massive Explorer class long-range exploration/science ship that surveyed outer space beyond the Earth Alliance and assembled Jumpgates along the way. Due their expense, only a few were assembled.  After the end of the 1st Earth Alliance Civil War in the winter of 2261 and the suicide of Present Clark, the new EarthGov joined the Interstellar Alliance as the EarthForce rebuilt again from another costly war. 
Used by Permission by David & Christy Guertin 
From the ashes of the 2nd Shadow War and the 1st Earth Alliance Civil War, arose the powerful Warlock class advanced destroyer…the replacement for the Omega class. This class, coupled with the new Interstellar Alliance Victory class Destroyer helped defend the Earth from the Drakh assault in December of 2266. With the Drakh virus threatening to force the evacuation of Earth, the IAS Excalibur is sent out into the galaxy to locate a cure with an EarthForce captain at her helm. 
The next pivotal crisis for the EarthForce came in the 2760’s, when two factions within EarthGov came to armed conflict over the role of the Interstellar Alliance in the future of humanity. In 2762, a nuclear war erupts on Earth between the two factions resulting in the “Great Burn” and sending the survivors into a new dark age. The damaged Earth and broken society was more or less isolated by the wider Interstellar Alliance. It would take hundreds of years until Earth recovered. The Great Burn ended the Earth Alliance and the EarthForce as we understand it.    

Are There Any Aliens in EarthForce?
When it comes to comparing the concept of the EarthForce within the B5 universe to something like Starfleet, there is several major differences. One that stood out to me was that there seem to be no non-humans in the service of EarthForce, which is completely the opposite to something like other fictional military organizations like Starfleet or the Alien Legion. It seems from my research, until the Army of the Light and the Interstellar Alliance, the Earth Alliance EarthForce was strictly an homo sapiens only club.     

The Enemies of EARTHFORCE
What is dynamic about the B5 galaxy is that every alien race in the series could swing between being hostile to the Earth Alliance or being an ally. Take the Minbari for example. They came damn close to wiping out humanity forever until the ceasefire at the Battle of the Line, and then they supported the Babylon Project. The same is true of the Narn and Centauri, they were enemies to Earth at times, and allies at others. While the Dilgar were a direct threat, they were removed as a threat to the League of Non-Aligned Worlds in the 2250's.
The two biggest threats to the Earth Alliance and humanity was the Shadows and themselves. The interesting thing about the threat to Earth by the Shadows was more about control than direct military action. While some members of the EarthForce engaged in combat with the Shadows, they confined to the Babylon 5 station and later, the Army of the Light. It is true that the Shadows were an enemy, they were elusive and cunning than other aliens EarthForce had faced, because the Shadows turned mankind against themselves with the reign of President Clark. That brings us to the last enemy of EarthForce, other humans. Humans have always been good at killing each other, and that was proven with the troubles on the Mars colony, the 1st and 2nd Earth Alliance Civil Wars, and even space pirates. The genesis behind the EarthForce was actually human aggressors prior to the first contact with the Centauri, and some of the greatest losses assoicated with combat in the EarthForce history have been at the hands of other humans, such as the 1st and 2nd EarthForce Civil Wars.   

Final Assessment of EARTHFORCE
Often fictional military organization are ranked, and I’ve often wondered what kind of grade the EarthForce would get if was ranked. So, here it is: the final assessment of the Earth Alliance EarthForce. While Earth was one of the younger planets to venture into this part of the galaxy, they soon assembled a vast space fleet of lower technology that could overwhelm and out-brutalize the more advanced enemies that were NOT the Minbari and Vorlon. However, internal conflicts, the recovery from the bloody Earth-Minbari War, and the reign of President Clark weakened the EarthForce along with all of the Earth Alliance. 
However, there should be praise given to the men and women of the EarthForce that served during the bloody and senseless Minbari War that continued to stand against the darkness. Also, praise should be given to those that served on Babylon 5, because they attempted to keep the station running and maintain the peace that the galaxy needed. For that, I think the EarthForce is a solid "B". 


The Impact and Importance of EARTHFORCE
Despite the full run of the TV show along with an RPG system, the impact and importance of this fictional military organization pales in comparison with other fictional military organizations like Starfleet, the Rebel Alliance, or the Colonial Marines; the Babylon 5 EathForce is relatively unknown to the wider public. While fans of military sci-fi, especially those of us that lived through the 1990’s, know of the EarthForce via the iconic Babylon 5 show, it still has not risen to the level of Starfleet within those circles. This also applies to licensed products and again, the EarthForce does not come anywhere close to its contemporaries. Part of this maybe due to the materials developed for the RPG system and the true focus of the show itself. Where there seems that the EarthForce is celebrated to this very day, is in the modelling community, where the iconic hardware of the EarthForce is constructed and celebrated.     

The Sources for this Article:
One of the primary sources for this article was the "The Babylon 5 Project: The EarthForce Source" published by Chameleon Eclectic Entertainment in 1998. This was meant, like many technical manuals, to be used for the Babylon 5 RPG and the wargame. I ordered this, never read it prior, and it was a mess and a real disappointment. A true mess. Some of the information makes no sense or had no foundation in reality, it is light on details topped off with terrible art, and did not contain anything that was compelling like other technical manuals in my collection. The EarthForce Sourcebook is completely dreadful when compared to  contemporaries like the much superior 1998 Voyager Entertainment Starblazer Technical Manual. To help with this breakdown of the EarthForce I would like to thank the various B5 wiki sites, EFNI, and BFtech.org. 
   


Next Time on FWS...
The realm of superheroes is enjoying a bit of a moment in the sun and many of the comics I read in the 80's are coming to the big & small screens in ways I could not imagine when I was a kid going to Time Warp Comics and Starbase 21 in Tulsa. As many of you know, I am not into superheroes as many others are, but there was one superhero comic (besides Watchmen!) that was so unique and special during that time that even to this day, it has not been replicated. That is Marvel Comics' Strikeforce Mortituri. In the next installment of Forgotten Classics, FWS will be diving into one of the most unique superhero comics of all time.   

19 comments:

  1. The other B5 RPG is better for information.Mongoose.

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  2. Another great article ! By far one of the best Sci-fi story lines ever. There is also a few Traveller Babylon 5 source and gaming books.

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  3. Great article, as always. I remember B5 being aired on public television in Spain but it had little success.

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  4. Great article William, I was wondering if you will tackle military camouflage in the future? because it seems to me that it is a neglected subject in science fiction

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  5. Great write up once again, B5 is still one of my favorites. Still some of my favorite ships are from that show.

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  6. The next military force profile you should do is either the unsc or the covenant.

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  7. Also for the next topic could you do a article about AIs or cloning?

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    1. Military AI would be interesting along with cloned soldiers...good idea. I want to cover both the UNSC and the Covenant in their own articles. Thay could be super interesting!

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  8. Lovely article, nice to see someone pay some homage to this often forgotten 90s sci-fi space opera, especially around EarthForce. Though I have to admit, I was never really privy to the Babylon 5 RPG and from what I've read of your experience with the EarthForce Tech Manual, it was probably for the better.

    I must confess, it was a major influence in my own custom Space Opera setting in the early years. Still, the note about GROPOS being so effective during the Earth-Mimbar war as opposed to the Space Corps was quite a revelation. Though I remember Mollari's commentary on human bravery during the conflict, I didn't really think that GROPOS had such an impact as to make the Mimbari Warrior cast look at a planet with GROPOS and go "nope".

    Anyway, I was also half-inspired to post this comment due to Unknown's inquiry on AI and Cloning in terms of Military SF and I was reminded of a scene from the 2009 film (geeze, has it been that long ago?) "Surrogates"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79JDeCcXGtw&feature=emb_logo

    This idea also stemmed from the recall of the EVE Online MMO FPS "Dust 514" and how they explained spawning as consciousness being transferred at the moment of death to a back up clone body when the thought occurred "If consciousness and brainwave patters could be transferred at the moment of death, why is the merc not using the clone like a tele-operated drone? Why is the clone even an unmodified human being and not something like an Adeptus Astartes that would really be a terror on the battlefield?" And all the potential storytelling and questions on morality, legality, and what it means to be human and all that jazz.

    I mean if the tech is there, why not go to the absolute limit of the idea and make something even more unique and disturbing at the same time. But that's just my brain fart on the idea and it just might be something to consider in one's setting if the tech allows something like that to happen.

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    1. Thanks for the comment and thoughts. I will be looking into an article on Cloned Soldiers and AI. DUST 514 has a great setup, but was not explored enough...

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    2. "Why is the merc not using the clone like a tele-operated drone?" battlefield gamming may break the com-link between the operator and the drone, granted one might wonder why same jamming doesn't prevent consciousness transfer at the moment of death from the soldier to the back-up clone… I have two possible answers:
      Fighting in this setting are done under strict treaties and international laws prohibit the prevention of soldiers' resurrection, if all sides of the conflict acknowledge those rules then war neutered down from taking lives to mere distraction of expandable bodies.
      Second, the Art of War taught us that you should "Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat", if an enemy combatant path to resurrection is blocked he will fight tooth and nail, but with he can simply die bite the bullet and i++ into another body…

      "and not something like an Adeptus Astartes that would really be a terror on the battlefield" – in the age of mechanized warfare the role of infantry mostly confined to urban warfare and alike. In those battlegrounds having a monstrous size humanoids might not played out well. Since the urban environment is constructed after regular-human scale: doors, rooms, corridors etc. how well 10 foot tall soldiers fair? Kicking doors for those behemoths is the easy part, enter the room isn't. and out at the open field, how well will they be against the regular fighting vehicle?

      Yoel

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    3. Nice! Gives me some things to think about...I want to see a space marine trapped in a doorway. "Help me brothers! By the emperor!"

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    4. "Fighting in this setting are done under strict treaties and international laws prohibit the prevention of soldiers' resurrection" The point still stands as to why a merc should risk his life and just be transferred to a clone when they get killed, if it would be more effective to just put the clone in danger and the merc in a more safer location not unlike a drone.

      "if an enemy combatant path to resurrection is blocked he will fight tooth and nail" Which, if one thought about it long enough, shouldn't have happened in the first place if conciousness can be transferred from one body to another even upon death. Keep the original merc alive and just put the poor sap of a clone to be the bullet sponge. Nothing says "golden bridge of retreat" quite like having someone else die in your stead, even if that other person is yourself.

      "In those battlegrounds having a monstrous size humanoids might not played out well" Probably not the best example, but the more well known. Still the point stands that these super soldier clones would be a reckon with even if they're not imposingly tall. For starters, they can potentially carry more equipment farther than the unmodified, unaugmented soldier. And that's not counting any other attributes that might make them harder to hit in such a confined area.

      As for them faring against an AFV in an open field, I can only assume that they can carry more Anti-Tank weapon rounds than average.

      Then again, for the greater carrying capacity and endurance, one can only imagine a penny-pinching arm-chair general going "you know what? They can carry more for the same distance, let's do that and absolutely axe their best logistical advantage." *face palm*

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    5. In the case of copying a soldier consciousness to a cheap clone and sent it to die in the battlefield, well unless that consciousness copying and uploading includes the possibility of edit memories and/or personality you are going to have a clone identical in body and mind to the original soldier.
      If the soldier isn't placing the cause/ nation/ species above his own survival why would the clone will? Likely no one will agreed to make a copies of self without the promise that no matter what, those clones won't return back to yours (and theirs) home, crash on yours (and theirs) couch and F**k yours (and theirs) wife. Had those clones survive the war they would put to sleep by the military. Think about Bladerunner's Replicants, built for the job but not to last. And if the volunteer knows that before signing to be copy, so will his clones.
      Who will fight such a war knowing no matter what they will never return home?
      "I can only assume that they can carry more Anti-Tank weapon rounds than average" – and been bigger target to hit too.
      There is also the issue with the cube law, if all things equal, double the soldier his volume and therefor his weight increase eightfold while his bones' structural strength and muscles' strength only quadruple. His agility and dexterity will be of regular man in 2g gravity, he could carry his own body weight but little more than that.

      Yoel

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    6. "well unless that consciousness copying and uploading includes the possibility of edit memories and/or personality you are going to have a clone identical in body and mind to the original soldier"
      A serious issue, that is until one considers the idea that said clones don't need to have a concious mind to begin with. I can only assume that a brain dead clone would make teleoperaring the clone-drone a lot easier than a fully sapient, I dependent mind.

      It also helps go around the legal hurdles of "who's the real person" and the philosophical quagmire that entails.

      "There is also the issue with the cube law"
      Yes, if one is doing a straight up conversion of normal human anatomy. But considering that one is using genetically engineered super soldiers, why not engineer them to operate most effectively at such scales and considering that as super soldier clone-drones, they don't really need much cognitive brain power in the first case.

      Though, to be fair, I don't really imagine them being taller than 7 feet fully kitted up and armored. They may have the physical attributes to make them a viable alternative, but not to the extent that IFVs need to be at least a different model (if not vehicle design) in order to accommodate them.

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