Aug 28 2015

WIP Update – 26 Aug 15

Yeah, as expected, I haven’t gotten much writing done so far this week. I did make some progress on Chapter 7 of JJ and did a little work in the peripheral materials. It may take me a while to adjust to my new schedule, but I’ll try to make what progress I can when I can. Stay tuned.

Aug 24 2015

WIP Update – 23 Aug 15

I made a little more progress on Chapter 7 of EM. Under quota, but overall this week has almost tripled quota, so a light day doesn’t have much impact. You might be asking why I’ve been moving forward in Chapter 7 when I haven’t yet finished Chapter 6. That’s because I already have Chapter 7 mostly scripted, so pushing forward to the end there is quicker.

Anyway, I think I’m going to be switching over to JJ with possibly a little work on TTWC3 this week. Stay tuned.

Aug 24 2015

WIP Update – 22 Aug 15

I made a little progress on Chapter 7 of EM. Things may dry up a bit in the coming days, but I’ll try to stay on task. Stay tuned.

Aug 22 2015

WIP Update – 21 Aug 15

I managed to finish up Chapters 4 and 5 of EM and made a little progress on Chapters 6 and 7 as well. With the new semester starting up next week, I may not see progress like this again for a while, but so far I’ve got a decent headstart for when Tico4 wraps. In case I do fall behind, I have some Space Arc shorts held in reserve, so I shouldn’t have to worry too much about any gaps in the update schedule. I plan on working on EM through the weekend, but after that I’m either going to go back to TTWC3 or work on JJ a bit. Stay tuned.

Aug 21 2015

On Women in Combat and the Earth Union Military

The recent headlines being made about the two female officers passing Ranger School have inspired me to write on this subject. As someone who would be termed a ‘REMF’ who never served a combat tour, I realize that my perspective isn’t nearly as authoritative on the subject as an actual combat arms soldier. However, while you certainly can’t say integration has gone off without a hitch, I certainly had no issue working with or working for females. I knew of females who could boast of 300ing their PT test (which, even accounting for the lower standards for females, scores like that could kick my tail even before I was crippled). The point that I’m getting at is that I’m tenuously willing to accept females in combat arms if and only if they meet the same physical standards as the males. I worry, and not without good reason, that political pressures will outweigh military good sense (rare as it may be). There have been historically and are currently forces with females fully integrated into combat roles (even if it was move done out of desperation), so I’m certainly not of the mind that it can’t work, but the last thing we need is to hamper combat readiness to be PC compliant.

I also recall an article written by a female Marine officer who was in the Female Engagement Teams if I recall who wrote of the unique health problems she faced as a woman in as close to the role of a regular infantryman as we’ve yet had in an active conflict. While I doubt there’s been any thorough scientific study on the health of FET members as a basis for the viability of females in combat arms and I grant that this particular Marine may not be a representative case, there is a concern–not unreasonable, in my view–that females who take on combat arms roles could be condemning themselves to a wrecked physical condition. Now, to be fair, these physically strenuous roles ruin the health of plenty of males. There may not be a paratrooper one who ends his service without having a bum knee or two. This all ties into a critical lack of data, at least for public consumption, which casts shadows over the entire movement.

That’s not even touching on the risk of sexual harassment and assault. It is a legitimate concern. Admittedly, the way some people talk about it, male-on-male assault may be a bigger problem. I remember in AIT, everyone without exception was effectively warned that if you went out on the PT field after hours, you could expect to get raped. Now, this could have been simple scare tactics, but I’d say it’s not unfair to compare the military to prison, so, you know, don’t take any stupid risks. The risk of the real thing is serious and severe, but then there’s the matter of scurrilous charges. It may well be that false charges are vastly dwarfed by the real thing, but the former can make it all the more difficult for the latter to be given the credence it deserves. Just look at the Tailhook scandal. I certainly have my doubts about the original accuser and NIS’s overreach and impropriety in its investigation still causes me to hold the agency in suspicion, name change or no. (From my experience, CID isn’t regarded much better, seen more as a monster under the bed than a reliable crime-buster.) A successful unit is built on trust. You may not like the man (or in this case woman) to your left or your right, but you know you can count on them in a pinch. If riven by threats and accusations, no unit is likely to hold together when it counts. And all this doesn’t even begin to touch on ordinary hanky-panky, which is rather rife and sure to cause problems in a combat arms unit. (Of course, with the legitimization of gays in the military, I suppose there’s an extra layer of entanglements to be concerned about, though of course that sort of thing has existed on the down low for a good long while.)

All these doubts and concerns I’ve aired aren’t intended to convince anyone of anything. I’m just putting all that out there to give some lucidity to my own perspective as we go into the solutions that were made in the fictional world of the Ticonderoga series. In the series, we have two primary examples of females in combat arms: Allison O’Connor as an Army sniper and Miranda Grisson as a powered armor operator. Both are rarities in their units, but it’s Ally who has to deal with the most crap for being a female. Her naturally shy and passive personality is as big a part of the problem as anything else. Without breaking it down by branch, females in combat arms account for only a small percentage, but this wasn’t always the case.

When the Union was first formed, there wasn’t a single across-the-board policy on females in combat arms. Units that had females were allowed to keep them and units that did not were not required to take them on. Bear in mind that we’re talking about a global military and not all cultures afford that many opportunities to women. Rather than trying to change the world from Day 1, the government opted to progress by degrees. And these were slow degrees. It wasn’t until 087 when Defense Minister Rawthani (during the Palenko Administration) instituted a policy of unrestricted service in combat arms for females. This, however, was done with a lowering of physical standards to boost numbers. Bear in mind that prior to the Sheol War, the only full-fledged combat operations occurred during the Lunar Revolt 60 years earlier. This lowering of standards wasn’t just a PC move, though. The military was going downhill on a number of fronts and so this was just a symptom of a larger disease. The meat-grinder early years of the Sheol War quickly changed all that.

In Tico4 there’s a mention of the revisions to the military justice code spearheaded by Defense Minister Jafaari. This same man was behind a revision to the policy on females in combat arms. This same policy is stated in the same chapter Ally is introduced when Sergeant Rahim confronts Captain Robles about her inclusion in the unit. To reiterate, females can serve in any combat arms unit provided they meet the same physical standards as the males and do not disrupt unit cohesion. If this latter condition sounds open to abuse, that’s entirely by design. It takes a legitimate concern about combat effectiveness and uses it as an excuse to preserve the boys’ club mentality of a lot of combat units. It isn’t until after the war that we see a reversion to the pre-war policy with all the problems that came with it, only this time there isn’t a reversal when war breaks out again. As with many of the political tangles in the series, I don’t intend for the policy to be a clean-cut case of good or bad.

Sci-fi tends to veer toward either utopianism or dystopianism and in my more idealistic youth, I leaned toward the former, but now I strike somewhere in the middle, a grey morass that even if you pick a side, you do so with reservations. It’s possible that the setup you see in the Ticonderoga series will seem quaint in 20 years or so. I’ll leave the real world to sort itself out, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to take a current event and tie it into a commentary post. I may follow it up with further details or even discuss how the issue gets handled in the post-Union era, but that’s a story for another day.

Aug 21 2015

WIP Update – 20 Aug 15

I made more progress on Chapter 4 of EM, though not quite as brisk as the past several days have been. Still, I’ve almost made enough progress this week to make up for all the days of missing quota over the past month. I’d like to shoot for finishing Chapter 5 by the time the weekend is out. Let’s see if I can make it happen. Stay tuned.

Aug 20 2015

WIP Update – 19 Aug 15

I made some more progress on Chapter 4 of EM, finishing the first section and moving along with the second. This particular character’s personality has almost got me written into a corner, so negotiating a way out will be a bit tricky. Fun, fun, fun. Stay tuned.

Aug 20 2015

WIP Update – 18 Aug 15

Another day with some good progress. I managed to pretty well wrap up Chapter 3 of EM and made some headway on Chapters 4 and 5. It was funny. I was wondering where I was going to fit in this one event because it really needed to happen sooner rather than later. I double-checked my outline and found out that I already had said event immediately follow the setup. I have a lot of moments like that where I realize I have an issue that needs to be addressed, only to discover that I’d already accounted for it. Thank you, past me. More fun to come. Stay tuned.

Aug 18 2015

WIP Update – 17 Aug 15

Every now and then I have a day when the words just flow from my fingertips like water. It’s the kind of time that makes being a writer feel most fulfilling. I had one such day, as I managed to pretty well wrap up Chapter 2 of EM and get dang close to finishing Chapter 3 as well. The prospect of getting through Chapter 4 this week isn’t so remote an idea. The bigger the headstart I can get, the better. Well, here’s to a few days that are at least half as productive. Stay tuned.

Aug 17 2015

WIP Update – 16 Aug 15

I made some good progress on Simona’s Chapter 3 of TTWC3, but in the process of doing so, I strayed off to fill in more of the backstory of the royal families of Notos and Zephyr (which actually does have some relevance to the chapter in question). Needless to say, it’s a lot easier working on the family tree of the Notian royal family, which only lasted eight generations, to that of Zephyr, which easily tops forty (and even with all the additional work I’ve just done, I’m only about halfway there). It’s kinda funny how these stories start to develop as I do this genealogical work. Let’s say it starts with a list of kings. Then I start filling in the rest of the immediate family and start branching out a bit. As I add the people, their stories begin to emerge. Love and loss, tragedy and triumph… It’s pretty cool stuff, truth be told.

I have yet to determine if I’ll stick with TTWC3 a while longer yet or if I’ll switch over to EM. Part of me wants to do the former or even spend some time with JJ, but I really need to be at least four chapters into EM before its serialization resumes next month. Stay tuned.