Sunday, September 30, 2018

Modeling United States Navy Officers in Using Traveller: A Variant

This is a sort sequel to a post from when I first started this blog. While enlisted personnel have long been specialists, in the United States Navy, officers are often generalists, expected to go from contact coordinator one day to Engineering Officer of the Watch the next. Since the first edition of High Guard was published, there's been career tracks for officers in the Navy career. However, these place officers in the same narrow fields as enlisted, and just don't seem quite right to me. While Sector Fleet is an interesting book, at times it's very much an attempt to give the game a veneer of plausibility. One item from there, the idea of the Naval Regiment, I like. Reminiscent of the the Royal Naval Division of World War I, or the US Navy's Naval Expeditionary Combat Command and Seabees, it started off as local defense and ad-hoc units from remnants at Navy Bases, as well as security troops supporting the Marines.

Why do this for Traveller?
This provides more 'chrome' and a varied route through the ranks. Some officers are not going to be specialized like enlisted personnel, and this gives a path for defining officers who may have been the Chief Engineer and then went on to command their own ship. Also, I see the Imperial Navy as having four socially distinct groups of officers. First, is the Nobles and other Gentry (SOC A) who enter the Navy as a means for social advancement, and social responsibility. Those who join from both social responsibility and advancement. My own LT Brickley is one of those who joined to gain status. Considering how end of generation Navy promotions give an increasing to Social Standing, this is reasonable. Second, you have professional Navy Officers. The guys who Get Things Done aboard ship, and while not explicitly angling for command, they are ready for the responsibilities should the Navy need to expand. Third, is officers commissioned from the ranks. Long serving professional spacers who have skills and leadership above that of an enlisted man and deserve a different sort of recognition than princes using the Navy as a pathway to success. There's also the appointment of various personnel as officers to give them military authority equal to their professional status. This would be military doctors and the like. Uniformed professionals whose rank is consummate with expertise are also in the service, like doctors, are always going to exist.

A Brief Explanation of United States Navy Officer Career Paths
While John Paul Jones and Edward Preble learned the profession at sea, since 1845 Naval officer training in the United States has become more academic and professionalized over time. At this time, there are four categories of commissioned officers: Unrestricted Line, Restricted Line, Staff Corps, Limited Duty, and Warrant. Each of these have different responsibilities in administering the Naval Service. One oddity is that all United States Marine Corps officers are considered to be line officers by the Navy. In uniform, Staff Corps, Warrant, and Limited Duty Officers commissioned into Staff Corps wear specialty insignia on all uniforms, for those of other branches, matching rank insignia is worn on collar points, and a gold, point down star is worn on shoulder boards and cuffs.

These officers enter the Naval service through a few paths. The United States Naval Academy (a/k/a Shipwreck Tech, Canoe U), offers a four-year program that results in a commission. Traveller has long had Naval and Military Academies as a character generation option. Another is Navy Reserve Officers Training Command at various universities. There have been similar paths like this since CT High Guard, where NOTC offered a commission at 8+ for college educated characters. The other options include Officer Candidate School, a sort of officer boot camp, and Direct Commissions offered for professionals who have skills the Navy needs. Enlisted personnel have several methods of commissioning, and form two of the groups mentioned above. Enlisted personnel under the age of twenty can receive appointment to the Naval Academy, while there is a program for sending enlisted personnel to college to receive commissions.

Scott Glenn as CDR Bart Mancuso
Unrestricted Line Officers are those either in command of seagoing units, or in the pipeline to command them. Generally, this is most officers aboard a ship, aviation designated officers, and SEAL team officers. The Captain is always of this branch. A good fictional example is CDR Mancuso, from The Hunt for Red October; incidentally, the portrayal was based on a real submarine commanding officer. Also, the hard charging fighter pilots like Edward "Butch" O'Hare will be this as well. If you want to show how awesome an officer is, or fallen from grace, he can be a former fighter pilot turned ship's captain. These officers serve as the department heads and division officers in most of the departments aboard a ship, as well as most of the junior officers, as training to be future captains.

Restricted Line Officers are those who are not qualified for command at sea, but can command ashore. Intelligence Officers, test engineers ashore and afloat, and Naval Attaches are examples of Restricted Line Officers. Examples for Traveller would be a dedicated space sciences officer performing surveys for the Navy, or a former Merchant character who volunteers for a commission to support convoy efforts, or expertise in stevedore operations. They need military rank, but are not there to command starships.

A Navy dentist at work.
Staff Corps Officers are specialists in certain professions, such as law, supply, medical, and chaplains. Interestingly, the Civil Engineering Corps, running the Seabees, is considered to be Staff, despite having their own command opportunities, mostly due to not having much to do with ships. The men first assigned to these positions were of knowledge and social grade above common sailors, but not maritime professionals. I see almost any force having this issue, where people who are have required professional skills, but not the military knowledge, are given commissioned rank appropriate to their responsibility, but not the authority outside of their professional skills. Some start as Unrestricted Line, and transfer over, after attending the specialized schools required, like Naval Academy graduates sent to medical school.

Limited Duty and Warrant Officers in the modern United States Navy are comprised of enlisted specialists commissioned to work in their old rate, but requiring an officer's authority. Limited Duty officers have standard officer ranks, but will have far more decorations than comparable officers in many cases. Warrant Officers occupy a middle ground between enlisted and commissioned officers, where they direct specific operations essential to the proper operations of the ship with a very high level of technical skill, which also require commissioned officer authority.

New Rules Options to Simulate This I have written versions for both Mongoose and Classic Traveller. The Classic version assumes you are using the extended character generation tables from High Guard. Basic character generation, as in LBB. Starter Traveller, or The Traveller Book, allows a greater diversity of skills in generation, and lets the player make decisions on the background.

In Mongoose Traveller using the High Guard character generation tables, if the character has not completed Flight School (Mercenary 2e, page 5), after the first tour in the Crewman Career, Officers roll 1D for assignment as follows: 
1-2 Engineering
3-4 Gunnery
5-6 Flight
Officers who have completed Flight School automatically qualify for the Pilot career after the first tour.
For subsequent Tours before Commander (O5) roll 1D6:
1-2 Support (Admin Specialty), ignore rank maximums
3 Support (Training Specialty), ignore rank maximums
4 Engineering
5 Gunnery
6 Flight
After the rank of Commander is reached, select one of Command, Naval Intelligence, or Naval Engineering per book qualifications.

The Naval Academy may be attended by enlisted personnel in their first tour if commission is indicated. Follow the appropriate Naval Academy rules from either High Guard or Mercenary. The character splits the first two terms between the Academy and the Crewman career, and takes a roll for promotion at the end of those terms.

Enlisted personnel having achieved the rank of Petty Officer First Class or higher, and not eligible for retirement at the end of their current term may elect to become Limited Duty Officers, and stay in their specialty per High Guard. Those who have reached the grade of Chief Petty Officer, and in terms five and six, may elect to become Warrant Officers, and stay in their specialty as well. Warrant grades are W2-W5, and are treated as regular officers in that specialty for promotion and skills from rank.

For Classic Traveller, all officers who are commissioned not having attended Medical or Flight Schools (High Guard 1980 pages 15-16) take training as line as Line for the first term, and roll on the Branch Selection table (page 4) in the first term after the character has reached O3, Lieutenant. Enlisted characters receiving OCS results in their first term who have not attended college may instead treat it as applying to the Naval Academy. Take a 'short term' at the end to make up the time.

Enlisted Personnel in E6-E9 grades, when receiving an Officer Candidate School result, are commissioned into their existing or cross trained branches as Limited Duty Officers or Warrant Officers and cannot roll on the Command Duty Table. Limited Duty Officers use the standard rank titles, Warrant Officers receive their titles based on experience, (Boatswain, Gunner, Machinist, etc.), and role only for grade and Book 1 Rank Number. Warrants use the Enlisted Special Duty table, but replacing OCS results with Staff College from the Officer Special Duty table.