The Coalition Armed Forces (CAF) refers to the combined military force structure of the five Coalition member nations. Each country provides a significant portion of its military assets to this unified force, which then serve under the command of the Council of Admirals, an assigned body of commanding officers and staff representing each member nation’s armed forces. In the interest of maintaining national sovereignty, each county also maintains a number of provincial defense forces which serve as city garrisons and protect vital national interests that remain outside of military jurisdiction.
The CAF is composed of three branches: The Army, the Air Navy, and the Air Corps. A fourth branch, the Arcane Corps, is not formally part of the CAF’s command structure. Composed of specialized channelers and enchantech-equipped units, the Arcane Corps operates under it’s own independent command, although it often acts alongside or in direct support of CAF units.
The Coalition Army
The Coalition Army provides the primary ground attack capability of the CAF. It is composed of several hundred infantry and armored divisions which vary in size and composition. After the formation of the CAF, one of the first steps the new command staff undertook was the restructuring of the units into a more homogenous model. Efforts were made to keep national unit integrity intact, primarily for the purposes of equipment consistency and logistical issues, although this was not always possible, and the longer the war drags on the more diverse and intermixed the units become. The negative effects have been partially mitigated by attempts to standardize equipment and munitions but issues remain.
Infantry divisions are broken down as light or heavy foot, medium or heavy mechanized, or drop. The distinctions have become increasingly blurred as the war has progressed with most units simply being referred to as foot, mech, or drop based solely on their primary means of deployment.
Foot formations are generally the most poorly equipped units in the CAF, forced to rely on antiquated, non-magical gear. As a result, they are usually deployed in a defensive role, manning the thousands of kilomets of trenches and bulwarks along the Coalition’s northern borders. They often bear the brunt of Imperium assaults equipped with little more than a rifle, basic armor, and grit.
Mechanized divisions are not much better off, being similarly equipped to foot units but with the advantage of mobility and protection afforded by light armored vehicles such as the A-4 “Gilam” personnel carrier and the MAR-12b “Saggett” mobile artillery/tank-destroyer. Mech units can be used for following up high speed strikes by armored units, securing ground and establishing new lines of defense in the wake of a breakthrough. This role has diminished over the years as the war has ground into a stalemate. Armored forays into Imperium territory have become too costly and, as a result, most mechanized units (those that haven’t been downgraded to foot) are typically deployed behind the front lines as reserve units, using their mobility to reinforce front line units in response to enemy penetrations.
Drop units are light infantry designed for airborne operations specializing in rapid deployment and infiltration. Using jump harnesses imbued with ‘softfall’ runes, drop troops free fall from air transports, usually behind enemy lines or, occasionally, directly into battle. Such ‘hostile-drop’ maneuvers are exceptionally dangerous and only used in dire circumstances, usually after the transporting skycruiser has cleared the intended drop zone by deploying area saturation weapons.
Drop troops usually supply their own artillery support which consists of light, air-droppable artillery and field mortars which can be ‘softdropped’ alongside the troops.
Armored divisions, both costly and rare, provide the heavy punch for offensive operations. Equipped with a variety of armored vehicles such as the C-12B “Vargil” strike crawler, and supported by mechanized infantry, armored units can be extremely effective in favorable conditions. Some units may also be supplemented with air cavalry or artillery regiments, which would take the place of one armored regiment. As the war continues, production limitations have made reinforcing diminished armored units more difficult, forcing them to lean more heavily on their infantry elements and reducing their operational strength.
The Coalition Navy
The Coalition Navy is made up of two service arms: the Air Navy—consisting of the skycruiser fleet, and the comparatively small Sea Corps—a flotilla of low-tech coastal ships and seagoing vessels which serve primarily in a logistical role.
The skycruisers of the Air Navy are tasked with three primary duties: patrolling and defending Coalition airspace, supporting ground operations, and logistical support. Its small but vital carrier fleet also works in conjunction with the Air Corps to provide quick-response air cover for ground operations.
Air Navy task forces usually consist of a single carrier or battleship supported by several smaller cruiser and frigate class vessels. A few vessels, such as the newer Stalwart class battlecruisers, operate independently as scouts and interdictors, occasionally even conducting hit and run raids into Imperium territory to disrupt supply lines.
The mobility and large cargo capacity of skycruisers also makes them vital to logistical operations such as troop deployments and supply transport. Most low priority supply operations are delegated to volunteer or conscripted civilian skyhaulers, thus allowing the few remaining Coalition dockyards to focus their limited resources on the construction of combat vessels. Many a soldier and civilian owes their lives to the brave captains of these merchant vessels, who often put their ships and crew in mortal danger to evacuate refugees from besieged cities.
The Air Corps
The Air Corps, is a relatively new branch of the CAF. Using modified low-altitude vehicles as weapon platforms, the CAC is responsible for close air support of ground units and raid style attacks against targets behind fortified lines. Lacking the speed to engage in dogfighting style combat, Air Corps LAVs do well to avoid engagements with airborne netherdragons but excel at missions such as tactical bombing or anti-armor operations. Transport LAVs, such as the ubiquitous AAV-9 series, serve a vital logistical role, shuttling infantry squads to and from combat zones or transporting supplies into difficult to reach areas.
The Arcane Corps
Separate from the CAF command structure is the enigmatic Arcane Corps. Consisting primarily of battlemancers and magically-enhanced troops and equipment, these elite units are deployed alongside standard troops to bolster their firepower for critical objectives or to deal with magic-enhanced Imperium troops.
When working with CAF troops, Arcane Corps officers have authority over similarly ranked CAF officers and enjoy a certain degree of command autonomy regarding operations involving their units. Most try not to abuse this authority lest they create friction within the chain of command. Nonetheless, it is technically possible, as an example, for an Arcane Corps 2nd Lieutenant to pull rank over a Coalition Army general if the situation warranted. Such an occurrence would almost certainly result in an official inquiry, particularly if the general in question lodged a complaint. The Arcane Corps officer would probably receive a reprimand for the action, allowing the general to save face, but there would most likely be little in the way of a serious punishment.
This level of autonomy, as well as the Arcane Corps’ preferential treatment in arms and equipment, has given the “archies” a sour reputation amongst CAF personnel, although few will complain out loud when Corps units are assigned to support them.
Unique to the Arcane Corps, Shiv teams are squad level units which are trained for special operations such as recon, search and rescue, or dragon-hunting.
Such teams typically consist of ten soldiers and various specialists led by a single NCO. Whenever possible, a Shiv team will be supported by a battlemancer to provide magical firepower and defenses against arcane threats. Because battlemancers are always lieutenant grade or higher in rank, they will, if present, supersede the NCO as the team leader. While this composition is considered standard, many teams will deviate slightly as their member abilities and mission profiles dictate.
Highly trained and well-equipped, Shiv teams are assigned to the most critical and dangerous operations. Regulations require that their deployment be authorized by brigadier-level command at the least, but this rule can be circumvented if the local situation does not permit the time to receive such authorization from ARCH—the Corps high command.
On occasion, Shiv teams will be assigned to other CAF branches and deployed alongside regular units in support of larger CAF operations or to secure specific objectives. In the Battle of Galas, for example, a number of Shiv teams were deployed to assist units of the 15th Drop Infantry in destroying enemy anti-aircraft positions prior to an assault by Admiral Fraan’s carrier task force.