New uniforms smell of plastic. Always have, always will.
As the new Company Sergeant, it was now my job to basically ensure all the NCO's were doing what they were supposed to. Which was to organise the men. That was the problem. We didn't have any, yet. No officers either. The Captain from HQ Company gave me a written order, that for the time being, bestowed on me the temporary rank of 2nd Lieutenant. That way, I would have the authority to get stuff done.
The only caveat was, when the officers arrive, I would revert back to C/Sgt. Still, in theory, in less than a week I would have been promoted twice and demoted once...not too bad.
Our barracks block was huge, and empty, and stank of mould. Instead of a Company's worth of men, there was less than a Platoon to fill its rooms. Still. It gave us the chance to sort out who would be doing what, promotion wise. We used a simple method. You were simply bumped up a rank.
I get handed a set of orders marked Commanding Officer: Company C.
Inside, were orders and information sheets that had originated from way up on high. I called a meeting of the Company.
“Well, it looks like there are big changes afoot boys. I've just read that our unit strengths are being increased. New equipment is to be issued, both weapons and uniforms. Also, if that aint enough, there are new lifters being deployed into active service.
In short. New toys and new tactics. As soon as I know more, I'll tell you. Till then, look busy if you see an Officer.”
The orders outlined the fact that a Company's strength was to more than double in size. From a total of ninety six men, NCO's and Officers, to two hundred and fourteen. There would be one Lance Corporal for every four men, a Corporal for every two Lance Corporals, a Sergeant for every two Corporals, a Platoon Sergeant for every three Sergeants, a Company Sergeant, a 2nd and 1st Lieutenant, and then finally a Captain. Instead of there being two Sections to a Platoon, there would now be three, and three Platoons to a Company.
Reading between the lines, it said that the top brass were expecting lots of casualties in Companies.
There was a sheet outlining new tactics. We were to become an 'Air Assault Brigade'. We were to spend months training up replacements in the new techniques and equipment, and also getting used to the fact that we were no longer footsloggers.
New lifters were being brought in to service. The venerable Rhino would no longer be used as the multi-task ship, outfitted for either cargo transport, combat assault, or ground attack. It was good at all of the things it needed to do, but it also proved the need for designated craft to do the jobs. We now had those craft. I looked down the list:
Air Superiority craft, single pilot, highly manoeuvrable at slow and high speed, to be used in suppressive role on offensive and defensive mission tasking.
Ground Attack craft, 2 man crew, heavily armed and armoured. Operates in units of four or eight. Used in 'hunter-killer' roles in support of Airborne ground troops.
Ground Attack craft, 3 man crew, heavily armed and armoured. Can provide fire support or used as medium lift capacity transport.
CT-21 Rhino Mk. II
Cargo Transport craft, 4 man crew. Upgraded model of current Rhino lifter (to be phased out of service). Medium armed and armoured. Will provide all lifting requirements for the Airborne Brigade:- Troop transport, logistic supply, Med-Evac.
Large Transport craft, 6 man crew. Heavily armoured. Will provide unparalleled lifting abilities to the Airborne Brigade. Can transport entire Company strength unit, inclusive of all equipment needed for first three days of combat operations. Ability to transport, and deploy vehicles direct to the combat zone.
The last sheet, was to do with our new improved uniforms and weapons.
Material had been developed back in the core world, that would not only be breathable, but tear resistant. It had been found that multiple layers of the material had been able to prevent shrapnel penetration. Helmets with integrated audio and visual capabilities. Bullets that could be altered on a molecular level, to change the type of round the rifle was firing. Rifles that could be adapted to the user, so that they could be assault/support/sniper capable.
Sounded like something from science-fiction to me.
We would be issued all our new gear in the next few days. At this moment in time, it was still in orbit, waiting to be unloaded. A convoy/armada had arrived, after the four year journey from the core system. The new troops needed time to acclimatise to the fact that they had been asleep for four years, and the subtle changes in the gravity that Robaan had. Then they would need to be brought up to speed on the current situations, shown what can and can't be touched or eaten out in the bush. What animals are safe to pet and the ones that will kill you.
I hate the fucking new guys.....
Still, at least the replacements start to arrive.
Members of other Companies are integrated into the new Charlie. Some remain Sergeants, others Corporals. Every PFC instantly becomes a Lance Corporal. Those that want to be promoted are. Those that don't, well, they have their reasons I guess. At least the barracks start to sound fuller. The rank smell of mould had gone, to be replaced by the familiar smell of sweat, gun oil, cleaning chemicals, food.
All that was needed now, were the officers. Oh. And the men themselves....