2950-07-19 – Tales from the Service: The View from Headquarters, Part 7
Though it has taken far longer than anticipated, I was able to arrange an interview with Colonel Nerea McKee, the newly-arrived representative of the Confederated Marines on Admiral Venturi’s staff.
Those closely following this conflict may recall the interservice issues seen after the loss of Margaux and its garrison; as you will see, Colonel McKee certainly seems to have no interest in propagating this needless drama. She arrived at Maribel only two days before sitting for this interview, and so we shall see if her actions match her words once she finishes getting situated in coming weeks.
Colonel McKee’s prior posting was to the staff of Marine Commandant Matsushita, and she has also been the chief administrator of the infamous Camp Cactus.
As is usual for interviews conducted by this embed team, the audio recording can be found on the Cosmic Background datasphere hub.
D.L.C. - Duncan Chaudhri is a junior editor and wartime head field reporter for Cosmic Background.
N.T.B. - Nojus Brand is a long-time explorer, datasphere personality, and wartime field reporter for Cosmic Background.
M.I.K. - Captain Martin Kovac is the Naval Intelligence attaché to Admiral Venturi, a post which he has assumed only in the past few weeks. Previously, he served as the Naval Intelligence liaison with the theater commander for Sovereign Security Solutions.
N.A.M. - Colonel Nerea McKee is the representative of the Confederated Marines on Admiral Venturi’s staff, and a former subordinate of Marine Commandant Matsushita.
[D.L.C.] - Good morning, Captain Kovac and Colonel McKee. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Given the changing situation, it couldn’t have been easy to find the time.
[N.A.M.] - No trouble at all, Mr. Chaudhri. I’ve been following your coverage from the Core Worlds for many months, and couldn’t miss an opportunity to meet you in person.
[N.T.B.] - Will you be less eager after a few tough questions?
[N.A.M.] - It won’t be any trouble, Mr. Brand. I’ll confess I found your habit of pressing Captain Kirke-Moore in these interviews quite interesting, and I hope I’ll stand the pressure almost as well as he did.
[D.L.C.] - Perhaps we should start there, then. Admiral Zahariev and Captain Kirke-Moore departed without a word; do you think that their departure represents an improvement in Fifth Fleet’s fortunes?
[N.A.M.] - I don’t-
[M.I.K.] - In answering this question, Colonel McKee can of course speak only for her own perspective, and not for either the Navy or the Marines. It is the Navy’s position that Admiral Zahariev executed his duty to the best of his ability, and that the situation would have been far worse by now had any lesser officer been in charge.
[N.T.B.] - Is that a direct quote from last week’s official statement?
[M.I.K.] - No.
[N.T.B.] - Are you just paraphrasing-
[N.A.M.] - My opinion is that Admiral Zahariev and Captain Kirke-Moore, and all the other departing members of their staff, did their jobs well. They were the right people for the job at the time. As tragic as Margaux was, as frustrating as it seemed to be to watch world after world fall, they did not fail to engage the enemy many times, and they inflicted numerous losses while preserving the fleet’s offensive firepower. They made mistakes, as anyone would have, but their mistakes did not result in the loss of the fleet or its base. I think history will see them favorably, though perhaps not until after the histories are written.
[D.L.C.] - That is hardly the opinion most of our audience expects you to hold.
[N.A.M.] - I would expect so. I too have heard the rumors about the Commandant offering her resignation after Margaux – they came as news to me, and I was on her staff at the time. There were some heated conferences, to be sure, but nothing as drastic as the media prefers to believe. What disagreements between the Admiralty and the Marines were created by that tragedy have largely been addressed by changes to the doctrine of both services.
[N.T.B.] - What about the F.D.A.?
[M.I.K.] - In answering this question-
[N.T.B.] - Just her opinion, yeah, yeah, we know.
[N.A.M.] - I have yet to meet with my associate from the Frontier Defense Army, so I have no opinion whatsoever. I would expect that their level of unhappiness with the Navy is also overblown, but only because I’ve seen the media’s sensationalism related to my own service.
[D.L.C.] - Did you know that the F.D.A. has primarily been moving its forces on mercenary and contractor ships since Margaux?
[N.A.M.] - I am aware of this, yes. Since they had no transports assigned directly to them in Naval service until Henriikka Langenberg arrived at Maribel only five days ago, this doesn’t necessarily mean what the media wants it to. There simply aren’t enough troop transports in Fifth Fleet to meet the needs of the F.D.A., current or projected, and most of those are permanently assigned to Marine units. It would take an entire armada of Naval transports to move them to the systems their generals want to reinforce, so their budget to hire outside transportation is quite large.
[N.T.B.] - You said that the generals are making the final decisions about F.D.A. deployments?
[N.A.M.] - They may be a young service, but they are still an independent service, and they have the final say. As far as I can tell their deployments are generally consistent with all Naval and Marine plans for defense and offense.
[M.I.K.] - The F.D.A. has a number of very good Intelligence officers working as liaisons to their headquarters and to each of their field commands.
[N.T.B.] - And their mercenary hirelings as well, I’d imagine.
[M.I.K.] - The largest auxiliary and contractor organizations merit their own liaisons, yes. It is no secret that I was one of these liaisons until last month, Mr. Brand.
[N.T.B.] - Forgive me for distrusting anything Sovereign touches, Captain.
[M.I.K.] - While I understand your distaste for particular organizations, I am aware of no serious unresolved complaints against the mercenary outfits assisting Fifth Fleet. Sovereign is paid well, but their fee is less than the cost of lacking their assistance.
[N.T.B.] - Perhaps because they might take payment from the other side if we didn’t pay them first?
[M.I.K.] - You do not know them very well, if you think that is a serious concern.
[N.A.M.] - I’ll confess I don’t understand the dislike for Sovereign, except that they are the largest and wealthiest mercenary company in existence.
[D.L.C.] - Returning to topics closer to your own experience, Colonel McKee, do you anticipate a shakeup of the Confederated Marine command chain here on the Frontier? So far, I haven’t seen many generals or colonels being replaced.
[N.A.M.] - I don’t control the staffing of the independent Marine units in this theater, but I shouldn’t expect many to be reassigned and replaced. Unlike the Navy, the Marines tend to promote replacements directly upwards from lower ranks, and we trust our officers to know when age or other factors render them incapable of further leadership.
[M.I.K.] - This is not to say that the Marine officers involved in recent battles are being held blameless for ground-side defeats, just that the Marines have a different tradition than the Navy.
[N.A.M.] - Yes, of course, that is correct. We are also a smaller service with few rear-area high-ranking officers to rotate into field command on short notice; replacements need to be trained, and that takes time.
[M.I.K.] - Unfortunately, I must cut this interview short; I’m being told we both have a high-priority staff conference session to attend within the hour.
[D.L.C.] - Before you go, Colonel, is there anything you want to tell our audience?
[N.A.M.] - Only this: the situation is not so dire as your media – yes, even this outfit – is sometimes suggesting. It might be simpler if things were so disastrous as all that, but in war, simplicity is a luxury we can do without. The Marines stand ready to take back what was lost, and we hope that by the grace of God that time will come very soon.
[D.L.C.] - Thank you. And thank you Captain for coming as well. Hopefully we’ll have you back soon.
[M.I.K.] - Of course. You know how to reach me when you think there is cause for us to talk again, Mr. Chaudhri.