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A systems force was an important subdivision of a Sector Group in the Imperial Navy, encompassing ships and squadrons spread across a number of different systems within a sector of the Galactic Empire.
Organization and DeploymentEdit
Commanded by systems admirals, systems forces were the main intermediary formations between Sector-level Fleet commands and the ships and squadrons assigned to individual star systems. Ships from any one systems force would thus be scattered across vast interstellar distances, deployed around numerous different worlds; but rather than being organized territorially in distinct volumes of space within their sector, each systems forces consisted primarily of a grouping of ships and other assets suitable for a particular type of operation: force superiority and force escort were types of space-combat battlegroup; transport force and systems bombard were planetary assault taskforces, and force technical services and force support were non-combat logistical fleets.
The internal structure of these force pools was designed to be highly flexible, so that they could be reorganized into optimized taskforces to perform specific missions, but overall, every systems force was designed for a reasonably narrow range of operations, and within their assigned Sector, the ships and personnel of a single Systems Force could thus be deployed anywhere that their particular equipment and expertise were required.
While it required authorization from the Moff to concentrate more than one squadron of front-line warships in a single star system, ships from different systems forces could thus find themselves fighting in adjacent systems as needs required, and in any given system, ships from one systems force might be replaced by ships from another as an operation progressed through different stages - for example, once ships from a Force Superiority group had destroyed a hostile planet's naval forces and orbital defenses, elements of a transport force or systems bombard might move in for siege or assault operations. Nor is it unreasonable to imagine that busy systems might have individual ships or small flotillas from several separate systems forces present in them simultaneously.
It was, inevitably, a highly complex task for the systems admiral and his aides to reassign ships as required to an ever-shifting array of missions throughout a vast area of space, especially when several other systems forces would be operating in the same sector simultaneously, some with overlapping mission briefs, others with interlocking capabilities that would have to be called on at different stages in an operation. Above and beyond this, the coordination of a systems force was made more complex because many ships still did not carry long-range communications equipment, and the star systems they were assigned to also lacked HoloNet transceivers: in such circumstances, courier vessels were frequently the fastest means of communication between the scattered units under a systems admiral's command.
Order of BattleEdit
- Force superiority was a space superiority force, consisting of three battle squadrons, each led by an Imperial Star Destroyer, plus a light squadron for scouting. In the face of an ever-growing Galaxy-wide insurgency, these units were tasked with the Navy's primary mission objective - total control of the immediate orbital space around all Imperial worlds, and the reduction of hostile activity to a minimum throughout all occupied star systems.
- Force escort was the second type of Systems Force designed for space combat; but whereas a Force Superiority was tasked with destroying the naval power of the New Order's political enemies, Force Escort was deployed to protect elements of the Empire's commercial infrastructure and hunt down and destroy pirates and other local troublemakers preying on the system. Another difference was that whereas the Empire's military thinking called for a Force Superiority to steadily commit more and more of its ships to a particular situation until the enemy was destroyed, a Force Escort was usually expected to complete each mission with the minimum necessary force and fuss. Consisting of two heavy squadrons and two light squadrons, a Force Escort was essentially a cruiser command, with perhaps a few older Star Destroyers added for heavy firepower.
- Transport force was built around two troop squadrons, each capable of carrying the troops of a full field Army, with two heavy squadrons and two light squadrons for escort duty. The Transport Force's eight massive KDY-Evakmar troop transports were designed to serve both as a mobile depots through which Army personnel assigned to Navy ships could be routed, coordinated and supplied, and also as platforms for major planetary assault. Like a Force Escort, a Transport Force might also include a few Victory-class Star Destroyers to serve as command ships and fire support platforms.
- Systems bombard consisted of three bombard squadrons and a screening light squadron, and was centered around twelve torpedo spheres, officially intended for the highly specified function of taking down planetary shields. In fact, it seems that Imperial planners also intended torpedo spheres for bombardment operations against planets where Rebel forces were well-entrenched and Army assault would be prohibitively costly in terms of men and material - and in practice, they were apparently used as a substitute for surface assault against relatively lightly-defended worlds, to free up troops for other assignments. However, as noted above, it is not clear that the Imperial Navy ever built enough torpedo spheres to equip more than one Systems Bombard, and it also seems that the commanders of bombard squadrons found the handful of light cruisers and corvettes assigned to support their torpedo spheres inadequate for the task. When a Force Superiority had failed to totally extirpate enemy naval forces from a system, elements of the Systems Bombard's light squadron were deployed by the Admiral to reinforce the bombard squadron above standard squadron strength, a practice that was technically illegal, and frowned on by most Moffs.
- Force technical services or FTS consisted of eight large transports, derived from the same basic design as those in a Transport Force, and each guarded by two Escort Frigates: these carried specialist engineers, and were called on to perform major overhauls or upgrades of ships' systems: anything did not warrant dockyard time, but which the technicians in their crews were not trained to carry out was the responsibility of FTS. If FTS found a ship too badly damaged for them to repair, most of their ships were capable of towing them to a proper dock facility that could.
- Force support consisted of supply depots and transport ships, including more than a hundred cargo ships, ranging in size from corvettes to gargantuan FSCVs. Essentially, they represented the local deployment of the Imperial supply train, but unlike FTS with their permanently-assigned frigates, they had to call on Force Escort ships when they needed front-line protection.