March 07, 2005

Factionalism

Something new and interesting came up in my multi-game clan, Steelmaelstrom. You can go visit, them to see what they're like.

There seems to have been a case of mass exodus by some of the members, some even taking their entire platoons away with them. Now Steel Maelstrom is organized in one of the most interesting fashions I have yet seen, in a game clan. It was started up by Rantage in 1996 for the sole purpose of playing Quake II.

Rantage used military ranks as a way to create an organizational chart, to list the guys in charge and the guys who have just joined.

Eventually Rantage was able to mold and sharpen SMS to a self-sufficient organization. And by that, I mean an organization that wasn't run from the top down, but rather ran itself more or less.

One of the reasons why the Western armies are better than the Arabs and the Russians and the Chinese armies is because of our Western tradition. Which is that, we may be democracies, but our military is anything but a democracy. Therefore we combine the best of both. The military, while not a democracy, has a rank structure where the people who know their stuff gets to teach and help those who don't know the ropes. Even if the new guys OUTRANK the older and more experienced people, called NCOs(Non-commissioned officers).

Wisdom and experience plays a big part here, in allowing the Western armies to run itself. A General therefore does not have to micromanage every single little SQUAD in his Corps, for example. A general simply has to tell his Majors, Colonels, and Captains what to do and they will then tell their Lieutenants and Sergeants what to do. And when the Lieutenants and Sergeants get word, they pass on further duties to Privates, Corporals, and Specialists.

Down the line. A chain of command, from the highest to the lowest. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, however. Therefore if your General is a klutz, you're basically pocked. However, even if your General was Hannibal himself or Alexander the Great, it does not mean you're going to be an uber army on campaign. No, what it means is that if your army does not have good subordinates that know their ass from their head, not even a great General can pull the army's ass from the fire.

Which leads to the saying that good subordinates are worth their weight in old. Since an army that runs itself, is far more lethal than an army that has to be told where to fire, where to take cover, and where to take a potty break.

Steelmaelstrom is centered around the platoons, where all the action takes place. And just like the US military, platoons are led by Lieutenants. Companies hold several platoons. The reason why SMS is centered around platoons is because SMS is a gaming clan, and like all gaming clans, they are centered around the "games that they play". Every platoon plays a different game, with every company featuring a different genre of play. Such as FPS, tactical fps, MORPG, and Half Life. HL can be a genre in itself.

Captains lead companies, and captains have executive officers. And then there is someone higher than a captain, a major and then a colonel. But SMS stopped at major because we only field 2 to 3 companies. No "regiment" around here.

And like the real battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the officers are responsible for the grand strategic picture and the administrative details. The logistical "behind the scenes" work, that the grunts and the guys clearing rooms neither know nor are responsible for.

The fatality rate for platoon leaders in Vietnam was very high, because the lowest tier of officers are also the ones tasked to do most of the heavy lifting during combat. The actual fighting, in other words.

But the problem of the Armies of the US in the here and now, isn't so much that officers are elevated beyond the NCOs and the enlisted during combat, but that during combat the officers tend to "lead from the front" and end up dead, leaving their command responsibilities WIDE open. Which is what the NCOs are there for. They are there to counsel the officers not to do something "stupid", and to also take over the command of platoons and what not if the officers end up buying it. Buying the farm, or in contemporary terms, buying the car/house/penthouse/college tuition.

Now we get to the meat and bones of my post, which is factionalism. It exists because humanity exists.

A lieutenant has troops loyal to him first and foremost. An enlisted man will follow his NCO, then his lieutenant, and then the captain. He will follow all of their orders of course, but he knows his sergeants and lieutenants much better than the oh so mystical "captain" that exists on some other plane.

And therefore, when his lieutenant tells him to do something, the enlisted man simply ASSUMES the lieutenant was told to do the same thing by his superior, the captain. Remember, the chain of command. And like all chains, is only as strong as its weakest link. If a lieutenant gives an order that is against the wishes of his captain, the captain cannot do anything to countermand that order because in most cases that captain isn't there.

This occurs in most cases on ships in sea, which is called "mutiny". It usually doesn't happen on land, because on land it is called "desertion". You can't desert on the sea, because you need the ship before you can "go" anywhere ; ) Which is why you mutiny.

What happened in SMS that was pretty interesting, because that is exactly what happened. A mutiny rather than a mass desertion. Except this mutiny occured using LANDWARFARE organizational charts and ranks. Which means, platoons, lieutenants, captains, and all that jazz I've so far been writing about.

Rather than seizing control of a ship, they simply banded together, ignored the traditions and discipline, and simply left. The only reason why desertions are numbered in individual terms in something as large as the US military is because of traditions, discipline, and loyalty.

The chain for the US military is VERY strong. So strong that the Marines would obey the orders of a Kerry administration, even though the Marines know they are pocked under a Kerry administration every second they are in Iraq and every second when they are not. Nothing would have helped global terrorism more in morale, than the American people ousting Bush for a more "sane" leadership. Things in the Middle East are steamrolling precisely because they know Bush is going to be around for 4 more years. If they knew Kerry would be around for 4 more years,(whitehouse this time) things would have stayed the same as they were from 2003 to 2004. And when the military knows that their mission to fight terroists is made harder by the fact of who their leaders are, this creates tensions. In normal cases, this would create factionalism, where individual leaders and units and subgroups and divisions would branch off with their own fiefdoms and start up something else entirely. Instead of an army of ONE, it would become an army of each person's opinion. There would be no discipline, and regardless of who was right or wrong, this division would not have served the purposes of the Constitution or the United States. Which is why the Marines loyalty to the protection of the Constitution from all foreign and domestic enemies, is the KEY reason why they will obey a Kerry administration whatever their opinions of Kerry is. Fighting a foreign enemy takes precedence over fighting internal power struggles, that is something the Democrats forgot a long time ago. A house divided cannot stand.

What are "fiefdoms" you ask? Fiefdoms are where you have people loyal to you and only you, and then you go take them off on a crusade against people you personally don't like. Those are "fiefdoms".

So now that the examples from real life are over, we can now go into the specifics of Clan Steel Malestrom's little problem with factionalism. Here are quotes from people who left SMS, which provide their reasons free of slander (well, mostly), and ridiculous tit a teats.

Most of the people in my platoon left because with all this happening, they don't think the platoon will be stable enough to have a viable team, we competed on three different ladders on TWL.


Most of the people in the platoon followed the lieutenant in charging the machine gun nest because they didn't want to be left out on the fun.

I left because of a general dissatisifaction with the way SMS ran things. Nothing ever got done because of the worthless brass and like rantage said numerous times "SMS is not a democracy," I'd like to have some say in what goes on and do not enjoy some facist douche running the show (excuse my french). SMS is inflexible and worthless. Those are my reasons for leaving.


Or as an op-ed columnist for the Australian said, America is a dumbocracy.

The key aspect to Western military traditions, whether that be the NCO tradition or the tradition of officer staff meetings, is that of flexibility in the face of an enemy.

But one must not be too flexible, lest one become a 'minion' of the enemy or of the enemy's propaganda. Too flexible, and we start believing that we can "become" the enemy, rather than simply reflecting the enemy's thinking in order to beat him.

I left because I got sick of the senior staff not pulling their weight. Everyone knows that the Platoon Leader's are the workhorses of SMS yet their opinions are never taken seriously. In the case of Bravo Company the Platoon Leaders do 10x the ammount of work that their superiors do but are never given any say at all on how things should be run (or a gj, nice work for that matter).


This reminds me of all those idiots and craven ignoramuses that say that Bush is a coward simply because he won't pick up a rifle and join the Marines in attacking Fallujah. That has got to be one of the most poorly thought out comments in history. It wasn't speaking about a military decision, whether it was good or bad, it was speaking as if the viewer had perspective from a "military standpoint".

Everyone knows that lieutenants command platoons, one of the most dangerous jobs. But everyone also knows that lieutenants are expendable, and that the more serious work that affects EVERYONE is being done by the higher ups. A lieutenant is paid to lead a platoon, and he is given great latitude by his commanders in doing so. A captain shouldn't be doing a lieutenant's job because a captain is tasked to command a company, not a platoon. And regardless of how much work a lieutenant puts into his platoon, it does not give him a right to dictate to other platoons how they are run, simply because the lieutenant feels the need to tell his captain what is what.

One of the miracles lieutenants probably pray for, is for the captain to speak with him for as short a time as possible

The senior staff is allowed to coast for years doing absolutely nothing while they cycle in platoon leader after platoon leader to do all the work for them.


What they don't seem to understand is that the senior staff doesn't play the games, therefore it is impossible for a platoon leader to do the work "for" them. The senior staff concerns themselves with the website and discipline, first and foremost, games are like the secondary hobby. Right next to the primary hobby, which is related to games but is also related to Real life. Platoon leaders concern themselves with different aspects of what is called popularly, "work".

A platoon leader leads his platoon because he wants to, because he wants to create something constructive with the members in his platoon. A platoon leader wants to accomplish his mission, which is to make the particular game he plays one of the most successful and active in SMS.

Now, of course there is a certain arrogance when you're the guy with all the brand new ideas and the shittakes required to take on the enormous task requred to implement these ideas. But it is one thing to think up an idea, it is another thing to make it work.

If you have read my e-mail that was my sum-up of the situation. I spents 3+ hours working on that e-mail and I was trying to leave peacefully.


It only would have taken me around 20 minutes, myself. But then I'm more familiar with human psychology and figuring out the truth than some people.

Rantage posted a message of his side of things, which I needed to complete my picture. The rogue Platoon Leaders, 2 of them, retired people in some platoons. Namely, the platoons that play their games, when they found out that they were going out because of violating the rules and regulations. They could have done this simply to tell the people they kicked out with their admin powers, that it was Rant that did it that they should then join the new "clan". Interesting way of setting up some false information.

Rantage of course, did a little preemptive purging lest anyone else abuse their SMS access to sensitive website pages. Phileosophos I believe, called it "Full Bastard Mode". It was setup much like the invasion of Iraq. More than one reason for the purge, but when one of those reasons doesn't pan out, it is very easy to blame Rantage for going "overboard". That would be pretty consistent with human nature, unfortunately it is not consistent with the truth.

Now what is interesting is how this was recieved on the other end, the Rogue Clan. The people there, said that Rantage's actions proved their reason to leave and to vandalize, and so on and so stuff.

What it proves, is rather that when leaders abuse their positions, not only them but their men are affected as well. With power, comes responsibility, with great power comes even greater responsibility. Because the more power you have, the more people you command over, and therefore the more consequences are produced when you act. Therefore if you act like a infantile vandalist and mess up people's private website via hackery, that is going to cast suspicion on your subordinates. Whether your subordinates knew of your actions or not. A lot of people talk about the Buck stopping here or some shit like that, in order to criticize Bush. But if you give the critics the same power, and when they act stupidly, they will in fact tell you that the consequences of their actions on their subordinates was NOT THEIR fault. Rather, incredible really.

They will, most likely tell you, that by escaping a POW camp as a Captain (senior officer), it is the fault of the NAZIS that they threaten to execute the prisoners that weren't able to escape. Now if your troops are going to be punished because you went and escaped, just who the fuck is responsible do you think? The Nazis when they don't want to execute anyone, just doing their job, or is it the responsibility of a leader to take the blame for things done under his watch?

A real leader takes the blame even if it wasn't his fault in the first place. A piss poor leader, blames someone else when it was their actions that harmed his subordinates.

If someone is planning a coup, I'm going to arrest the ring leader. And then I'm going to arrest everyone CONNECTED to that ring leader, just to be sure. Ring leader's gonna be executed, everyone else will get a fair trial to weed the guilty from the non-guilty.

Which is exactly the correct analogy to what Rantage did in retiring two platoons, the platoons the rogue lieutenants were in command of. He could not trust that there were no other plans or people that would cause a big stink to the message board.

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