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Old 05-21-2011, 03:48 PM   #31
sir_pudding
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Ah. So what is the actual benefit of having (a) leader(s) in 'out there', as opposed to slapping everybody with Rank 0 and giving the Carrier's captain Rank 1?
If they are even remotely human they can't possibly manage that large a system without task specialization and delegation of authority. You need to subdivide command into departments with a chain of command, which in the real world results with Carrier commands as GURPS Rank 6.
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Old 05-21-2011, 04:13 PM   #32
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

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So are you simply saying that there is no position of rank among active fighter pilots? As in, everybody who launches out of the hanger is de-facto Rank 0, even those who are nominally in a leadership position? What is the actual use from assigning a 'Gold Leader', 'Red Leader' and 'Rogue Leader' among squadrons etc.?
a) The primary work of officers commanding is done in preparation for the few, short bursts of violent activity that may or may not happen in the life of an individual servicemembers. They forge their command into a cohesive team before they go into action. Ideally, this means that they will not need to micromanage their subordinates should they encounter a second-by-second deadly danger.

b) Someone must have authority to order retreats, diversions to secondary targets, return to base, ad hoc tactical maneuvering, etc. Even though a perfect mission might be flown without a single deviation from the attack plan developed beforehand, this does not mean that you can launch them without someone competent empowered to adjust this plan in the field.

c) Fighter pilots, stereotypically and in reality, possess formidable egos. In part, this is due to the fact that they must be confident in their own judgment and able to make decisions on their own authority. In part, it is because they have mastered a very difficult skill and come to the top of a very competative field. Due to this fact, getting fighter pilots to agree equitably to a given division of labour is much like herding cats, if said cats responded to the merest hint of criticism or lack of confidence by throwing temper tantrums and/or sulking. As such, leaders of fighter pilots must be as much mediators and diplomats as they must be commanders.

d) Situational awareness is one of the primary gifts a fighter pilot must have. Even so, it is a different thing entirely to be aware of one's own position than it is to have an overview of the situation as it applies to a whole flight, squadron or wing. Someone must have the responsibility of receiving status updates from individual pilots, collating them (usually mentally, as they change too fast for viable mapping at TL8) and making decisions based on that.
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Old 05-21-2011, 04:33 PM   #33
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

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Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
If they are even remotely human they can't possibly manage that large a system without task specialization and delegation of authority. You need to subdivide command into departments with a chain of command, which in the real world results with Carrier commands as GURPS Rank 6.
I was referring to the Ur-Quan or Protoss-like designs - roughly SM+9 or +10 ships launching about a dozen smaller craft. The former has a crew of 42 (including fighter pilots). The latter is canonically automated, including fighters being remote-controlled or AIs (it's unclear), which is why I postulated a similar design with organically piloted small craft.

Of course, anything closer to the size of a Battlestar Galactica instead will have a much larger crew number.

Other examples would be the Adz-class 'Destroyer' (carrying 6 TIE fighters) or the Gladiator (24). Or the Red Squadron.

What is the mechanical difference between a group of 6-24 having a dedicated Rank 1 leader (or maybe two, for 24), and having them report directly to a Rank 1 captain on the carrier (or Rank 2 captain + Rank 1 XO)?
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Old 05-21-2011, 06:23 PM   #34
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Ah. So what is the actual benefit of having (a) leader(s) in 'out there', as opposed to slapping everybody with Rank 0 and giving the Carrier's captain Rank 1?
Not every fighter mission is a dogfight, and even the ones that are aren't dogfights all the time.

The squadron leader or air group leader is usually the chief navigator as well. The rest of the squadron forms up on him, and he directs the squadron along it's flight path.

A strike squadron commander is often the chief liason with any ground element, forward controller, or other non-fighters in the combat. He may very well be the one to get the instructions, "500 meters north of the smoke marker is the primary target. After that, the secondary target is the northeastern hilltop. All friendlies are within 25 meters of the summit, and not moving. Anything else is the enemy." It's his job to match those instructions up with the actual terrain seen from the air/space.

The strike leader often can give orders like "Red 1 and Red 2, begin your pass now Red 3 and 4, same thing, rotated 30 degrees in 40 seconds.." Hard to do in the middle of a dog fight, but once you've got air superiority, it can be done.

The squadron leader is also the officer of the unit, even when they're not out flying. He takes on the administrative tasks, oversees training, and that sort of thing.

If sensors sophisticated or long raged enough to direct the airbattle aren't available or don't exist, then the squadron leader will take as active a role as he can. It's just that once the fur begins to fly and a dogfight devolves into one-on-one or two-on-two battles, the squadron leader isn't going to be able to exact many Command or Leadership tasks. It becomes a lot more of an "Okay guys, keep sharp and don't lose your wingman. Here they come!" kind of thing.

To look at the battle of Yavin at the end of Star Wars, Episode IV. The plan as I've always understood it is that Gold squadron in Y-Wings intended to carry out the actual attack on the Death Star, while Red squadron provided top cover in X-wings, keeping the TIE fighters off the strike force. A lot of the radio chatter was Gold leader trying to co-ordinate Gold squadron't attack runs, and keeping Red leader updated on their status. Red leader more or less just turned his boys loose, until Gold squadron was taken out, then Red squadron moved in to try and finish the job.
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Old 05-21-2011, 07:47 PM   #35
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

Besides all the good points about pre-battle tasks and division of labor there is the point that "Tells pilot something on the radio does not equal out-ranks".

There might be smeone on the AWACS who out-ranks everyone else in the air at that time (or there might not) but each individual screen-watcher and radio-operator doesn't. Going to fiction I'm pretty sure on the Macross that Lisa didn't outrank Roy Fokker. Fokker appeared to be more than just Skull Squadron Leader too. Global did though and Lisa acted under his authority.

The real and final point might be that Spaceships more than regular Gurps is nothing resembling a reality simulation. It's a deliberately simplifed and cinematic tactical combat game. Roles and tasks are made for Players and not Characters.
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Old 05-21-2011, 09:46 PM   #36
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

Although it is always to be remembered that Robotech ranks are kinda screwy. Lisa is a senior Lieutenant, but is the first officer of the SDF-1 (which should probably be a Commander's berth). Fokker is a Commander, and does appear to be both Skull squadron commander and Commander Air Group.
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