Aye, I suppose you are asking why I am here again – another talk you suppose about the values of professional soldiers for hire? Sure, but I guess it was high time I did a bit of recalling of my adventures; perhaps one day people might recall the tales of the band of brothers who fought for lord after lord and made a hefty profit.
Earlier some nobleman came to me and the lads and offered up some gold for a campaign he was putting together; our band isn’t much, just some fifty lads who were good at killing but that didn’t matter to the fat plump lord so off we went into his army. When we got there the forces were a mess; half were farm boys who have no combat experience and were armed with makeshift spears, and the other half were knights who seem to be dressed for a tournament and not a battle – “oh dear,” I thought, “this will be another fight we cut our losses.”
Then a surprise came over the horizon – another company of sellswords popped up, this time with two hundred men. Now I must confess I’m not familiar with every sellsword band out there, but these lads seemed familiar – perhaps we fought against one another, perhaps we fought together side-by-side for glory and for the lord and all that nonsense.
Later that night we didn’t drink much – the two hundred seemed to be swallowing ale like it was going to be cut off and that was the last drink for the rest of time; stupid fools. Being hung over is one thing, being hung over and having to fight on a noisy battlefield is another. The lads and I we just ate our meals, cleaned our blades and went to sleep – we would need it come the morning.
Battle took place late in the afternoon the next day; something about a gentlemen’s fight and both sides had to be fed and rested. Whether it takes place early in the morning or at noon matters little – when the arrows start to fly and the steel starts to flash people will die and whoever has the best lads wins, no matter how many eggs and ale they stuffed down prior to the fight.
Battle turned south on his around two hours later; the two hundred ran for the woods though I think they had lost about half their number – must have been the ale, or the fact that they needed to piss and couldn’t do it mid-fight. The lord cursed as he rallied his infantry to make another stand against the rampaging opposition. Never knew a lord so fat to be so courageous – I almost felt sorry for the poor man. Fat lads feel the blades the most when they stab into you, and all that meat and ale doesn’t add to the armour when steel drives itself home. Still, despite that he fought on while we skirmished off to the side, cutting away at – what I presumed to be – some sort of elite guard. Lots of armour these boys had, shame we couldn’t salvage what was left after they had all died – too many dents, and we have no smith to fix them up so we had to leave them.
Fight ended near early eve, and surprise we actually won. Turns out after we had ended the elite guard-looking boys the knights that the other lord brought turned out to be sellswords as well – they ran after our lord rallied his own knights who were sitting off to the side like frightened little girls and smashed into what was left of the infantry before taking the head of his opponent and seizing the day.
That night we drank a little; ale was our own and we had already collected our coin. Nice heavy chest of gold for me and the remaining forty lads – we lost ten of our own sadly. Down the road I plan to recruit some more to bring us back to fifty but if we keep getting more and more contracts like these then we might end up with a hundred or so mouths to feed. Next up it’s off to the south – away from the cold of the north and perhaps another fight; I hear some free city down there is looking for help in a war they are waging with another city.
Yes Sell Swords will leave you if you are losing a war and are about to march into certain defeat all to save face – anyone who isn’t blindly loyal might consider leaving you. However when it comes to war, have you ever known sell-swords to turn from a winning battle because they were just: “tired of fighting?”
The Sell-Sword principle; the idea that they are loyal to you – and yes they are paid – and they will never back-stab you but they will not follow you into death all because you are utterly incapable of seeing defeat when it sat in front of you and you kept on going. See sell-swords are only able to sell their swords if they are alive to apply their trade – dead men cannot collect coin.
Stannis Baratheon cursed when 500 sell-swords left him in the night on his march to Winterfell because they knew his campaign was a lost cause. Indeed he was mad to the point where he would march into certain defeat hoping to snatch victory – a foolish notion at best a death sentence at worst (and it was his end).
Same goes for professional armies: these soldiers are loyal to you but they are not blindly loyal to you. Soldiers are people and people just want to have a job and a happy life; forget death or glory and forget the flag, soldiers fight for home and hearth. The individual soldier’s motivation can differ from one man to another (or woman), and ultimately they are there to make a living (though it is a vocation rather than a job – the mindset is needed to do such work).
Sure nobles in ancient times scoffed at the idea of sell-swords, but have you ever known sell-swords to turn on their customers or fail to show up for work when asked to do so? These soldiers are professionals, and they cannot get work if they are incompetent; they also cannot get work if they are dead – war isn’t a profession that is forgiving of accidents.
Ultimately the point to all of this is a sell-sword mindset is one of self-preservation and professionalism; scoff at it all you like but being an unpaid levy/conscript who is blindly loyal is not the path to take – professional soldiers will not turn on you but they will not simply die for you either.
Yes indeed folks it has been a while since I last posted – welcome back to Thoughts and Topics where we just talk about odd topics and possibly video games.
Lately I have been busy with a new gig I signed on with; work is work and it requires time so here I am with limited time to invest in my hobbies and interests. Content will appear from time to time but this blog is not a primary focus of mine so don’t expect regular posts daily like some of the other professional bloggers out there – in any case I felt like talking about the Canadian army reserves today for the topic.
Looking over Ford Rangers and Toyota Technicals that are used by less-funded armies and guerrilla forces, it occurred to me that the army reserve probably needs to invest in light vehicles like Ford Rangers and so on to mount machine guns and provide fire support platforms wherever needed. Presently as it stands the reserves is badly funded and the hours of work and so on make it difficult for many Canadians to enlist in the reserves – the difficulty in training also doesn’t help.
Now training has to be challenging in order to prepare soldiers, but when you take wholesale regular force values and apply it to a part-time reserve force problems occur; an example of this is training requirements and so forth.
Soldiers in the full time army can train day and night as they are enlisted to serve full time, whereas part time soldiers have civilian jobs to handle and thus need to focus on core skills rather than miscellaneous items that the regular force can cover. Indeed interchangeable units is a nice theory, but practically the reserves should be focusing on localized defense, and rendering assistance to civil authorities in cases of emergencies.
Core training for a reservist should ideally focus on basics like drill, weapons training, first aid, and coordinating with civil authorities. While a base line fitness level is needed, expecting the reservists to be super soldiers when they lack time to work out for lengthy sessions like the regular force will cause many to walk away from the recruiting table and seek employment elsewhere.
Another thing is pay; 4,000.00 CAD after taxes is what a reservist can expect to take home – the hours are pretty bad as well. Imagine being tired after an 8-hour shift at your day job and then having to spend another 3 pecking away at small tasks that seem to lead nowhere in terms of professional development – reservist life is what this entails.
The idea for more hours is that reservists could do two hours on a weekday and a half day on Saturday every week – this will provide more time and still keep with the concept of a military reserve without causing too much stress on the serving personnel who have other things to attend to and face challenges from employers that regular force soldiers currently do not.
The problem with this, however, is one Ottawa would have to spend more money on the reserves, and if things change in the States Ottawa would back away from a promised funding boost like it was a hot plate and they had no gloves. Next is NDHQ, they would have to abandon the whole interchangeable unit concept and start focusing on mission-specific organization instead – this means the the regular force would perform all expeditionary duties while the reserves would focus on home defense and civil aid; difficult to comprehend for a command staff that is too busy jockeying for power with politicians to care about a proper functioning armed forces.
All in all the summary of this rant is this; reserve soldiers need a specific mission, more equipment to meet that mission, and more funding and training alongside a re-organization of their work week – do this and you will see a healthy increase in numbers as soldiers will feel as though the reserves will not take up too much of their spare time and employers will not feel that a worker will be gone for long periods and thus productivity of the worker is lost and they have to fill their role with a temporary worker. In the end it comes down to appeasing employers who need their workers, and Ottawa to step up, re-organize and fund the reserve – until this happens we will continue to read articles and see news reports of underfunded, undermanned reserves that are unable to meet national defense needs.
“…we encourage you to continue to apply to positions of interest to you. Thank you for choosing (insert company name here).”
Poison, falsehood – lies that spit forth from automated messaging systems to calm the seeker who desires to be employed. Aching is the head from having to read numerous lies, yet the machine grinds on – the lies continue.
They shoved our names into the pot and left it there to rot – forgetting that people deserve to be considered. Often these companies have a sense of superiority, a sense of entitlement – that labour and workers are their due rights, and that the common folk should beg for the meager wages they put forth. When complaints of lack of benefits and pay spark up, the aristocrats among them shall spit forth: “peasants rejoice for you have work! Service to the rich is a gift; many out there simply lack work and are lost – no purpose in life, nor a drive to go on. Be thankful, be humble my servants!”
They know full well that a starving workforce is an unhappy workforce; in the past they hired crooked guns to silence the voices for equality and fairness. Fake police forces existed to cater to their whims as the bullets sank deep into the bodies of workers who wanted safe conditions in factories which claimed life and limb of many.
Rejection, false hopes, and low pay are the reality many of us live in – jobless, hopeless, and watching the world shun us as we fight to better ourselves. They shun us, because in their hearts it makes them feel better about the meager wages they pull in, the multiple sources of employment they must suffer through to pay rent and get cheap food on the table. They shun us because in the end they know their fates will be the same as machines court the rich and promise them loyal servants to work their factories and businesses – they grow fat and rich while the rest must fight for scraps.
We have come full circle, a new feudal age will begin – hail to the king.