The Rise of Jade Force
Chapter 4: Colonel Nguyen Dies
May 1, 1975
Colonel Wynn finished assembling his rifle after having cleaned it. He had placed second in a shooting competition, right behind Sergeant Major Washington. They had tied in the regular round and had to go into a second and third round before a winner was declared. He now had a nice little second place trophy.
After each competitor was eliminated, they had returned to the ready room to clean their weapons. Because of the extra competition rounds, he and the sergeant major had been delayed in returning to the ready room. They had been further delayed from cleaning their rifles because of the awards ceremony. Now they were the only two people remaining in the ready room.
“That was pretty impressive shooting for an officer.”
Colonel Wynn looked over at the sergeant major somewhat surprised by his comment. He didn’t really know the man that well and wouldn’t have expected him to open a conversation in that manner. Still, he wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass. He’d heard things about the sergeant major and wanted to find out if what he heard was true or not.
“That was some fine shooting on your part as well. Too bad you were faking it.”
“Faking it? I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that.”
“Well faking it is not really the right way to say it. You weren’t shooting up to your true standard. I’ve heard that you have a very unusual way of using your rifle that doesn’t involve aiming it as we’re taught in basic training.”
The competition had been on an assault course. They had moved through a jungle environment with enemies that popped out at them. The sergeant major had moved woodenly through the course. Each time an enemy appeared, he deliberately put the rifle to his shoulder, aimed, and fired. His time through the course was good but nothing spectacular. It was almost as if he was using Colonel Wynn’s response times as a guide for his response times.
“Begging your pardon, I always use my weapon in an army approved fashion.”
“Bullshit. Today’s exhibition wasn’t representative of that psychic control over your weapon that others claim you have. I’ve heard that you can get six shots into the enemy before anyone else in your unit can get off one. You don’t do that shooting the way you did today.”
“Maybe, maybe not.”
Colonel Wynn said, “Let’s drop the bullshit. I want to know how you really use a rifle on a battlefield.”
Sergeant Major Washington smiled.
“I’ll tell you my secret if you’ll tell me about Colonel Nguyen.”
It seemed to Colonel Wynn that everyone wanted to know about Colonel Nguyen. It was well known around the Rock that he had been friends with the man. It seemed like every time he turned around, someone was asking him about Colonel Nguyen. He had a feeling that today he’d be getting even more questions than usual.
“What do you want to know about Colonel Nguyen?”
“I want to know how he’s done what he’s done. You know the man. You know what he knows. How was he able to take on the West Vam army for as long as he did?”
Colonel Nguyen had achieved legendary status among military personnel all over the world in the month since the East Vam government had fled. He had taken command of a single division and taken the war to the West Vam Army. Fighting against ten divisions, he decisively won battle after battle.
Everyone knew that he was engaged in a lost cause. West Vam had air support. Colonel Nguyen didn’t. West Vam had trucks with fuel. Colonel Nguyen’s men had to march. West Vam had food. Colonel Nguyen didn’t. The West Vam army had a government behind it. Colonel Nguyen didn’t. There was no one to provide his troops with munitions, gasoline, or food. He was a solitary figure standing against a giant throng.
A reporter from Filop had caught up with Colonel Nguyen and was now traveling with him. Through a fragile network of people, the reporter was able to send filmed interviews with the man out of the country. The reporter also made films of engagements. The whole world watched while Colonel Nguyen attacked forces larger than his.
He was surprisingly photogenic. On camera, he came across as focused, strong, competent, and confident. Films of him giving commands showed a man completely in control. He strode across the battlefield as if he was invincible. The world was enthralled by the short man with such a powerful sense of destiny,
Everyone initially laughed when he said that all of Vam was his battle ground. They stopped laughing when the fighting moved deep inside the territory of West Vam. They were shocked when West Vam bases fell that hadn’t seen a bullet fired outside of the target range since Vam was split into East and West.
It seemed like everyone inside the Rock wanted to study what little video they could get of what was happening there. They dissected each and every little detail they could find out about the engagements. Here was a colonel, known to only a handful of people, who was doing what all of them had wanted to do and he did it well and with style.
During the third week of fighting, the rains came. It was a deluge. Everything was flooded. Dirt roads turned to muddy truck eating traps. Anything left outdoors turned into a soggy mess. Cooking fires drowned under the onslaught of the rain. Visibility was so limited that a man could throw a full barrel of beer further than he could see. It was the perfect time to flee Vam, but Colonel Nguyen kept fighting.
In the middle of the fourth week, Colonel Nguyen exhausted his supplies. His men slogged through mud up to their knees to advance on enemy positions. His men had to scrounge bullets from the enemy dead to keep fighting. They ate whatever they could find. Yet, his troops still fought on and, to the amazement of everyone, they continued to win.
West Vam never knew where his army was going to attack next or even the direction from which his forces would appear if they were lucky enough to guess his next target. For the first time in years, there was nothing flowing in from spies to give them detailed plans concerning what he was going to do next. They were blind and had to fight with no knowledge of the enemy’s position or intention.
A military that had a reputation for being exceptional was now shown to be more glitz than fact.
The original ten divisions of the West Vam army had been whittled down to four. Colonel Nguyen moved into areas occupied by fresh forces and took them down using tactics that were inspired. He had employed a Chen formation, called the Hawk’s dive, that hadn’t been used since the third century. The next day, he used a run-through-the-center tactic on a convoy carrying troops. Eighteen troop carriers had been destroyed. Most of the convoy wasn’t aware that they had been attacked until they drove past the burned out wrecks. That little episode took place seventy-five miles from the capitol city of West Vam.
Convinced that he was heading towards the seat of government, West Vam reacted by pulling every available brigade back to the capital. With enemy traffic swelling on the few usable roads, Colonel Wynn’s forces had to take alternative routes to reach their destination.
It was at that time when disaster struck. His forces, following an out-of-date map, discovered that they were trapped between two raging rivers flooding over their banks. The narrow strip of muddy land was getting narrower with every passing hour. There was a real possibility that they would ultimately be washed into the raging river and drown. They started building rafts in the hope of getting out of the trap before it was sprung.
The reporter was filming when the first artillery shells fell on his position. The shells would hit the mud, sink a bit, and then explode generating an avalanche of wet heavy mud that buried men alive. At that point, the film showed Colonel Nguyen grabbing an axe and joining the crew trying to build rafts. It was a heroic image of a man leading by example and inspiring men to greatness.
Later that evening, West Vam released the film when they announced that Colonel Nguyen had been killed fifty miles outside their capital city. After ten hours of being shelled by artillery, his forces were captured by a massive assault by soldiers crossing the flooded river in boats. His body was found during clean-up operations.
In a rather surprising gesture of respect, the Premier of West Vam posthumously promoted Colonel Nguyen to general in the army of the unified nation of Vam. He praised General Nguyen as being the most brilliant military leader of the century. He said that it was a shame that they had stood on opposite sides of this conflict. He was to be buried in Sage, Vam with full honors.
Colonel Wynn said, “Colonel Nguyen was my friend. We worked together, but we also spent many an hour outside of work discussing military history. He was extremely well read and had insights into the past that I found exceptional. He used that knowledge of how wars were fought in the past in his war campaign.
“He knew that the war was lost long before we pulled out of the country. We talked about it on many occasions, but he was a patriot and didn’t want to see his country fall without having put up a good fight. We came to the conclusion that the right man in the right spot could run a war as it was supposed to be waged. Nothing could begin until the politicians had been cleared out of the way. They took care of that all by themselves.
“His first act was to clear out all of the known West Vam spies. Although it was never reported, I’m sure there was a bloodbath in the streets of Sage. There were an awful lot of high-ranking people on the payroll of West Vam.
“One of the things no one has mentioned is that he was never given a command of a field unit except for a brief stint as a lieutenant immediately after graduating from the Frankan Military Academy. The rest of his career was spent in army intelligence. He knew a lot about the real organization of the West Vam army and the men in charge. He used that knowledge to attack the weaknesses of their army.
“As I said, he only had a short stint as a unit commander. I believe that lack of direct experience is what kept his military thinking pure. Battles were not to be fought to wage war, but as a means to end the war. He wasn’t corrupted by the politics of command as practiced in East Vam. He focused on winning the war and not on how to get rich from it.
“Having known him, I’m sure that he engaged in battles only if he thought that it would take him closer to his goal of winning the war. He was the type of man who wouldn’t let ego dictate his decisions. He’d retreat if it was the right thing to do without worrying if others would judge him harshly. He didn’t care what they would think of him.
“If a new recruit came up with a good idea, Colonel Nguyen would use it. He didn’t care that it was a lowly enlisted man. He would listen to people without prejudice. I think that’s a rare skill in the world today.
“It’s a shame. If he had been given the resources, I believe he could have defeated West Vam. After all, he was just a week away from doing that. The world lost a great man when he died.”
Sergeant Major Washington was silent for a minute thinking about all that he had heard. There was a trace of humility in the colonel’s description of the man that hadn’t come across in the media coverage of his campaign. There was also the spirit of a true warrior. Colonel Nguyen could face the Gods of War in the afterlife without shame.
He said, “He sounds like the kind of man I’d like to serve under.”
“He was a rare individual.”
“I think you’re going to miss him.”
“I already do. Do you have any other questions?”
“No. You’ve kept your end of the deal.”
“So how do you actually use your rifle?”
“I’d really have to show you for you to understand.”
“That’s fine with me.”
“Pick up your cleaning rod and pretend that it is a rifle. I’ll do the same with mine. You give the word and we’ll aim and fire at each other. Just say bang when you’re ready to pull the trigger.”
Colonel Wynn picked up his cleaning rod. It was a little shorter than his rifle and a lot thinner, Feeling a little foolish, he held it in a ready position. He was glad that nobody was around to see him.
When the Sergeant Major was in the same position, he said, “Now.”
Almost immediately, the Sergeant Major said, “Bang.”
Colonel Wynn hadn’t even moved his pretend rifle more than a few inches. He looked at the cleaning rod in the Sergeant Major’s hand. All he could see was the tip. The rod was pointed directly at his eye, even though the Sergeant Major was holding it in his lap.
“How what?” Sergeant Major Washington asked.
“How did you get it aimed at me, holding it like that?”
“There’s an invisible line that goes through the barrel of my rifle. I’m the only one who can see that line. Wherever that line intersects something, that’s where the bullet goes when I pull the trigger. I don’t need to put the rifle to my shoulder and aim it. I don’t have to get into any specific position to fire my rifle. All I have to do is put that line on the target and pull the trigger.
“I have total control over that line. I can move both arms and my whole body to get that line wherever I want it to be. I can fall out of a tree and hit a target before I hit the ground. I can be bouncing around in the back of truck and hit the target.”
The sergeant major twisted and turned while moving the rod in various ways. It was as if the cleaning rod was mounted on a set of gimbals and was free to move in any direction. It didn’t seem to matter to him if he was holding it right-side up or upside down.
“That’s amazing,” Colonel Wynn said.
He said, “The whole trick in a shootout is to get a bullet into the other guy before he has a chance to get a bullet into you. My invisible line makes that possible. I love my invisible line.”
“Can you teach that to others?”
“They’d have to eat, sleep, and take their rifle to bed with them for a couple of years. Hell, they have to make love to it. They’d have to fire thousands of rounds every year.”
“Would you be willing to teach me?”
“I don’t think I have the time available to teach you or that you’d have the time to learn.”
“I think we’re going to have plenty of time. We’re no longer at war. They’re going to be wanting to cut back the size of our army,” Colonel Wynn said.
“You mean we’re going to be forcibly retired.”
“I imagine we’ll get some offers as incentives to retire that will be virtually impossible to refuse.”
“And you’re going to take it?”
“I’m going to resign my commission. I’ve got things to do and not enough time to do them,” Colonel Wynn said.
“You mean you’re going to write that book about fairies.”
“Elves, fairies, or whatnots ... they are all the same to me.”
Colonel Wynn laughed. “You aren’t the only one around here who thinks that way. I’ll try to work a character like you into the story.”
He knew that within a year of retirement, Sergeant Major Washington would be thinking about eating a bullet. The man was a warrior and peacetime was hard on a warrior. He’d leap at the chance to teach that skill with a rifle to the Orphan Army.
“You won’t sue. You’ll think it’s the best character in the book.”
“I’m not a f•©king elf.”
An hour later, Colonel Wynn stepped into General Williams’ office.
Always abrupt and gruff, the General asked, “What do you need, Colonel?”
“I wanted to warn you that I’m resigning my commission.”
“I won’t accept it.”
“I’m not sure that’s possible.”
“Colonel, in two weeks we’re going to announce that you’re being promoted to general. It’s a little thank you from the Joint Chiefs for helping the Ministry of War salvage its reputation. You can turn in your resignation after that, although decorum suggests that you should probably stick around for six months or a year.”
“That’s going to put a damper in my plans.”
“What damper? You’ll still be able to write your elf book. You’re not going to have any real responsibilities. We’re no longer at war, and we’ve got more generals than we need. You can take a world tour to scout out locations for your book claiming that you’re there to inspect guard units at embassies if you want.”
“I’d feel guilty doing that.”
“Colonel, you may not realize just how important your little pep talk to Admiral Roberts was. We looked like a bunch of losers until you turned it around. Your friend, Colonel ... or I guess I should say ... General Nguyen made your words solid gold. He proved that the Vam war could have been won by us or East Vam if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hadn’t screwed up.
“So enjoy your attaboy and get the hell out of my office.”
Colonel Wynn stepped out of the General’s office stunned by what he had been told. His plans had been to take a world tour scouting out appropriate places from which to recruit orphans for his army. With his new credentials, he could also find sources from which he could purchase surplus equipment. Now that the war was over, there was going to be a lot of surplus equipment for sale.
He went into his office and pulled out his stack of notebooks. He searched through the stack until he found the one dealing with the training of a warrior elf. He opened it and penned that elves are taught to fire their bow from any position and orientation. He put three exclamation points at the end of the sentence. He added Accurately’ after that. He closed the notebook and tossed it back on the stack.
He looked over the stack fully aware that there were major gaps in it. He hadn’t found a good way to address the logistics issues. For every soldier with a gun, there were six soldiers supporting him. Supply folks, maintenance people, and engineers had just as big of a role to play in fielding an army as the grunt with a gun. There were cooks, medics, and other support people who kept the army healthy.
It was nearing lunchtime. Feeling hungry, he headed to the cafeteria. On his way, he noticed an office with its door open. There was a banner inside proclaiming affiliation with logistics. He stopped, considered his options, and then entered thinking that nothing ventured, nothing gained.
He had only taken a few steps into the office when a voice to the side said, “Colonel Wynn, it’s about time you showed up.”
“Excuse me?” he asked surprised and turning to look at the man who had spoken.
“You’re here about your book about elves. You’ve finally gotten around to dealing with the support activities.”
“You know about the book?”
He had never met this man and had to read his name off of his badge: Major Collins. He didn’t even know him by reputation. A glance at his hand showed that he was a fellow ring-knocker.
“Everyone in the Rock knows about you and your book. You’ve got some of the finest minds in the place coming up with novel ways of dealing with an army of elves. You even have Miss Jennifer Walsh involved and that accomplishment alone makes you a legend in this place.”
“I wasn’t aware of that.”
“Now if you’ll have a seat in the conference room over there, I’ll arrange to have a few guys come over to discuss the support side of an army.”
Shocked, he asked, “You’ve got a few guys ready to discuss this?”
“We’ve been talking it over for a couple of months, now. Get in there and let me make some calls.”
“Sure,” Colonel Wynn said.
Over the next fifteen minutes four guys trickled into the meeting room. All four of them held the rank of major. He was about to introduce himself to the others when a guy pushing a cart loaded with a plate piled high with sandwiches, a bowl of potato salad, and a bowl of iced drinks showed up.
Grinning, Major Collins said, “It pays to be in supply. You learn how to work the system.”
“I can see where it’s a significant benefit.”
“Let’s grab some food and get this meeting underway.”
Colonel Wynn grabbed a ham and cheese sandwich, dumped a pile of potato salad on his plate, took a pickle, and a can of soda. He returned to his seat thinking that things were moving a little faster than he had expected. He watched the others load up their plates and return to their seats.
When everyone was at the conference table, Major Collins said, “The weekly lunch meeting of the supply chain management team is now called to order. We have a special guest with us, Colonel Wynn, who I’m sure, requires no introduction since he’s the man who turned a miserable defeat into a victory.
“We’ll introduce ourselves and get down to business. I’m Major Collins. I’m in charge of purchasing helicopter repair parts. I’m told what kind of parts we need and how many to get. I negotiate the purchases with our suppliers and arrange for them to deliver the parts to us.”
“I’m Major Tompkins. I’m in charge of warehousing aircraft repair parts. I receive the parts that Major Collins orders, warehouse them, and then package them for shipping to wherever they are needed.”
“I’m Major Malinowski. I’m in charge of transportation. My job is to get things from where they are to where they need to be.”
“I’m Major Kestler. I’m in charge of aircraft maintenance. My job is get things fixed. I keep a local inventory and make sure that I have enough parts on hand to maintain the aircraft. When I run low, I tell Major Collins how many parts we need.”
“I’m Major Watson. I’m in charge of inventory control. My job is to track what’s been purchased, where things are stored, when they get used, and how they disposed of.”
Major Collins said, “The five of us represent the full supply chain.”
Major Malinowski said, “When we first heard that you were writing a book about elves fighting a war against orcs we all laughed. Let’s face it, on the surface it sounds like something some college student would do, not a full colonel. Then Major Kestler made an interesting observation.”
“I wondered how supply for an army of elves would be different from supplying the Amra army.”
“It was an interesting question and we stopped our normal lunch bridge game to discuss the matter.”
Major Tompkins said, “As you may be aware, logistics always has a bad reputation. People are always complaining that we ship winter uniforms to tropical places. Our failures are often far more visible than our successes.”
Major Malinowski said, “We couldn’t help but wonder if elves would have some way of avoiding some of those errors. Would they have a different structure for managing supplies?”
“Well, we took the question to the colonel and he suggested that we put a task force together to see if we could come up with any way to improve what we do.”
Major Watson said, “I got drafted into the team. You can imagine my surprise when the first meeting was spent discussing elves.”
“I can imagine,” Colonel Wynn said finding the entire discussion fascinating.
Major Collins said, “It took us a month to decide that it didn’t matter if you were dealing with humans or elves. The basic supply problems were the same. You have a bunch of folks who need supplies, and they are at different locations which are owned by someone else. You’ve got to buy the supplies, store them somewhere until needed, get them to where they are needed, use them, and keep track of what you’ve got.”
“That sounds straightforward enough,” Colonel Wynn said.
“It may sound simple, but it isn’t. It’s probably the most complex problem the army has to deal with.”
Colonel Wynn said, “We all know that. It was drilled into us at the Academy.”
“What we got at the Academy was Logistics 101. You need a bit better understanding of it than that if your army of elves is going to be realistic.”
“We read a couple of those fantasy novels. They had millions of soldiers hiking a thousand miles across the wilderness without any comment as to how an army of that size is fed. When they did, it was so stupid that we had to laugh.”
“One of them caused us to split our sides we were laughing so hard. They had a million-man army that was getting short of supplies. The author had a single wagon of food show up and everyone was fed. Even one wagon-train of supplies wouldn’t be enough, much less a single wagon. It was ridiculous.”
“The idiot even failed to recognize that wagons move slower than men. If you march your men every day for a distance of a thousand miles, you’d get so far ahead of your supplies that it wouldn’t be funny.”
“You can’t move your supplies ahead of your troops because the enemy will just take them. You have to move your army forward at a pace that is slower than wagons.”
“Logistics controls the tempo and pace of an army’s movement.”
“Your people can carry some supplies with them, but at some point they are going to have to resupply. In most cases, that means they have to stop and wait for the supplies to catch up with them. In the meantime, they have to have sufficient supplies so that your army isn’t dead by the time the supply train arrives.”
“Even a fixed base requires that supplies be delivered from the homefront or it has to tap into the local economy. No local economy is going to have everything an army needs, so there has got to be a secure supply line from home to the base.”
Holding up a stack of papers, Major Collins said, “We worked through the problem and came up with what we think is an appropriate set of guidelines for your army of elves. We assumed a mixed force of elves on horseback and elves marching. We assumed that an elf ate a pound of food a day and that supplies were delivered by a wagon train. We considered what kinds of food could be shipped since most food stores have a finite life. We looked at fixed bases, large troop movements, and expeditionary forces. We also included weapons, repair parts, and other items without being too specific. You can tailor supplies as appropriate for your army of elves. I image you’ll have the elves using bows and arrows. That will involve quivers, bow strings, arrows, bows, and arm guards that have to be provided. We included spears, shields, swords, and armor. We documented it all in here.”
He handed the stack of papers over to Colonel Wynn.
Holding the papers in his hand, Colonel Wynn stared at the stack unable to believe the amount of work that had to have gone into it. He wasn’t going to mention it, but they had just given him a whole new problem. He was going to have to write and publish a book for real.
“We’d appreciate it if you’d mention our effort in your book.”
Colonel Wynn said, “I don’t know what to say. I’ll definitely give you full credit.”
“That’s all we ask.”
“Thank you very much. To tell the truth, I’ve been at a loss concerning the logistics for my army. You’ve solved that problem for me.”
Major Collins said, “Now if you’ll head over to Hall 23, Office 19, there’s a bunch of engineers wanting to talk with you about fortifications and facility maintenance.”
“Come back next week and we’ll answer questions you might have. It’ll be good to chat with you again.”
“I’ll do that,” he said.
During an hour-long meeting with the engineers, they discussed fixed and temporary structures, equipment requirements, and materials. They had a lot of details gathered in one place. One of them, a young man by the name of Major Brown, had really gotten excited about this project. He had designed complete fortifications: temporary forward operating bases, permanent bases, encampments, and a training academy.
He explained how the ancient Itan military would erect defensive structures as the first step in setting up camp, even if it was just for the night. They would dig a trench around the camp area with a mound of dirt as a barrier. Wooden stakes would be placed in the dirt mound with sharpened ends pointing outwards. Water drainage ditches would be dug so that tents wouldn’t get flooded in the event that it rained. Latrines were placed away from tents, but within the fortification.
Fixed structures were always in a state of improvement from a security perspective. Land was kept clear around the base to prevent an enemy from being able to sneak up without being observed. Wooden structures were inspected regularly and any wood that was weakening was replaced. Grounds were leveled, drains were put in place, and everything was cleaned on a daily basis. Even facilities that weren’t in use were periodically inspected, repaired, and kept in a state ready for immediate occupation.
The group of engineers argued that every elf should have minimal skills with tools and basic repair of any piece of equipment that they used. If they rode or drove a wagon, they should know how to change the wheel, replace the axle, and rebuild the carriage. For an army on the march, there weren’t going to be repair facilities on the side of the road. Some elves would have to have training as blacksmiths.
Once again, he walked away with a binder full of ideas. The engineers only wanted recognition for their contribution.
From there, he headed over to medical. The meeting there discussed what kind of medical training the typical soldier would probably require. They had the attitude that every soldier should be trained to the level of medic and that one in ten should be trained as a field surgeon.
When he argued that the elves would be weighed down with surgical equipment, they argued that if everyone was trained, then the load could be distributed across a number of people, say three or four. Their point was that the sooner a wound could be treated, the better was the chance of a full recovery.
The discussion didn’t last that long although they had put together a list of field expedient medicines and medical practices that would be appropriate for an army of elves. Their list didn’t include modern medicines, although the medical instruments were modern – more or less. They included things like honey to treat wounds, willow bark as a source of a basic pain reliever along with opium and hemp as other pain killers. They even talked about the use of maggots for cleaning out infected wounds.
When most of the medical staff was getting ready to leave the room, Colonel James suggested that he stay around for a moment.
“Let’s talk about the great ugly secret that can kill an army.”
Colonel James said, “Sex.”
“I thought you were going to say disease.”
Colonel James explained, “It’s one and the same.”
“I don’t follow you.”
“A hundred years ago, the Amra military brought prostitutes along with their soldiers. We banned the practice for moral and medical reasons. The health concern involved sexually transmitted diseases. Medically, it was argued that one infected person on board a ship ended up infecting the whole ship, particularly when it was a long voyage. Pregnancy was also an issue.
“Banning prostitution was probably the biggest mistake the medical corps has ever made. We assumed that by getting rid of the prostitutes that we’d get rid of sexually transmitted diseases. Instead, the men went to local prostitutes and ended up getting strains of venereal diseases that were extremely nasty. It was particularly bad in East Vam. Some of them we had a difficult time treating.”
Colonel Wynn interrupted, “Our men also gave away secrets when they visited the local prostitutes. That got thousands of men killed and delayed ending the war by a decade.”
“I suppose that’s true. However, the point I’m making is that if you want your book to be accurate, you should deal with that issue in some way.”
“How would you deal with it?”
“One of two ways. Take prostitutes with the troops, or have an equal number of men and women as troops. I’d actually think the second approach is better from a morale perspective.”
“We have birth control now which is something that we never had in the past. Young men and women can do what young men and women have been doing since time immemorial without producing babies. You let the soldiers take care of who hooks up with whom. Humans have survived doing that; I would assume the same would be true of elves.
“Since your story is dealing with elves, they could have some form of herbal birth control. It would make a nice way of avoiding the issue of babies born on the march. It might even lead to a better story since you can incorporate romantic interests in it.
“Even with women incorporated into the service, you still might want to allow a few prostitutes to serve in minor noncombat roles ... like cooks or entertainers. At least that way, if some girlfriend doesn’t feel like putting out, the guy has an outlet that doesn’t involve rape.
“The benefit of doing this is that you can get control over sexually transmitted diseases. You don’t end up with a bunch of soldiers with crap dripping off the end of their cocks.”
“I think I can see the logic in that,” Colonel Wynn said.
Colonel James said, “Our command doesn’t deal only with diseases and injuries, but also mental health. That’s an issue here.
“If you have women serving alongside the men, then you’ll need to worry about rape. This is particularly true in a military environment. You’ve got women who have been trained to kill. A rape victim just might decide to get even. Not only do you lose the soldier she kills, you also lose the soldier who did the killing. You might even lose more than that. The women might decide that they are not being protected from their fellow soldiers, get pissed, and quit en masse.”
“You’re right,” Colonel Wynn said thinking that Colonel Nguyen had not considered that.
“Have you considered military law among your elves?”
“Not really,” Colonel Wynn said. “I figured I’d use something along the lines of the military code of conduct.”
“That’s too modern. You might consider a form of justice that is a little more brute force, such as would be found in the middle ages. I suggest that you head over to the JAG office and get some advice from them. There’s a young kid over there, Captain Parson, who is really into the history of military justice.”
“That’s a good idea.”
Colonel James said, “I’m looking forward to reading your book. It sounds like it is going to be fascinating.”
Colonel Wynn nodded numbly wondering how Colonel James came to the conclusion that it would be fascinating. The only story line he’d ever mentioned was about an elf army fighting an army of orcs.
The visit to the JAG ended up with him talking to a Captain Parson. The young man was fresh out of law school and ready to take on the world. Colonel Wynn didn’t have much hope that the guy would be of any value despite the recommendation from Colonel James.
“My undergraduate degree was in judicial history at Llammada University with an emphasis on military law. That was what made me interested in joining the military as a lawyer.
“If you want to talk about tough military laws, then consider the power that the captain of a ship had up until recent times. He decided what was law aboard his ship and he dictated the punishment for breaking his law. He could have a man flogged, keelhauled, forced to walk a plank, or hung from a yardarm.
“In the old days, the worst crimes were those committed against officers who were typically nobility, followed by crimes against your fellow soldiers. Murder, mutiny, and treason were death penalty crimes. Theft and assault were punished with flogging. Dereliction of duty, accepting bribes, and being AWOL were punished to varying degrees at various times. Rape – that one is very fuzzy. Many a cabin boy has been raped by the captain of the ship. On the other hand, raping a ship’s prostitute could be a punishable offense on that same ship.
“Of course, crimes were acts that were done against someone on your side. Rape and theft were just normal parts of pillaging villages. It was almost expected that a guy would throw some female down on the ground and have his way with her. They’d even take turns. Sometimes they didn’t care if it was a male or female.
“Theft? That was how a lot of guys got paid. A set of silver candlesticks was a year’s wage. Now, the military isn’t allowed to pillage villages. We pay our soldiers with a salary.
“Torturing a prisoner for information was a common practice. A lot of armies had professional torturers, although I never figured out how anyone became a professional torturer. It wasn’t like they had schools for it.
“Regardless, you could do just about anything you wanted to do with a prisoner.
“Personally, I think that if I were creating a legal system for an elf military unit that I would go pretty harsh on punishments that directly affect the ability of the military to wage war. Treason, mutiny, murder, and rape would clearly be punishable by death. So would a theft that affects the survival of a unit, like stealing an extra ration when everyone is on short rations.
“In terms of how to administer a death penalty, I’d probably go with a gruesomely painful public execution to serve as a warning to others. In old Itan, they used decimation. In old Vatica, they used crucifixion. In old Romal, they used impalement. In Espa, they would boil the person in oil.
“The Great Khung was known to roast people inside a brass bull because he enjoyed listening to it bellow. People did their best not to break the law under his rule. His reign was a relatively crime-free era in the history of Chen.”
Colonel Wynn asked, “Are you saying that harsh punishments serve as deterrents?”