“Miran Valden Prime Caledex-ith-Kaveve isil-Naboo ion-Kaveve iel-Caledex mis-Eliera-en-Dexte Mim, a pleasure.”
Ah, she thought, it was going to be one of those conversations.
In all fairness, the human looked reasonably good on all standards. The United States Navy had won probably the most hardest fought war it had ever faced in the existence of the nation, fighting like mad bastards to be finally in control of whatever military organization would control the United States’ need for a space military. And, like all things, it was a compromise-the newly formed “Space Navy” would draw from the Navy and Air Force as needed, while the Marine Corps began training as an espatier force (mostly because nukes were involved, the Marines handle nuclear security on a regular basis, and that “nukes” covered everything from warheads to ship engines was a minor technicality), and the Army would handle any long-term occupation missions.
Admiral Charles Prael seemed odd to Valden’s eyes-like an increasing number of the United States military personnel, he had been alpha-genome and spacer augmented, and that just made his height and bulk seem odd. A phrase that her muse brought up-uncanny valley-made the most sense. He didn’t seem like a baseline human, and he didn’t seem like an Imperial. He should have seemed like one or the other, and the fact that he wasn’t…she wasn’t disconcerted, nobody that worked at her level for Islien Yards was ever disconcerted, but… “Tea, coffee?” he asked, waiting for her to sit down at the table.
“Coffee, please-two cubes of sugar and a small amount of real cream if you have it,” she nodded as she sat down. The chairs were unpowered, but reasonable for an office this far out from the Core Worlds. “I just received a message from the home office. Not so much a question as a query for curiosity’s sake. Your government has ordered a half dozen retrofitted destroyers and a dozen frigates from the Voniensa Republic’s older hulls, left over after the Core War.”
“Is there a problem with delivery,” he asked, putting down the coffee cup prepared just the way she had requested. “Congress did make the payment schedule as requested, along with the UNREP-equipped freighters.”
“Not at all. It’s more curiosity than an issue,” Valden noted after taking a sip of the coffee. It was rather good, better than she expected from a military facility at this level. “Several of your other powers are taking delivery of larger ships. Not in as good shape, their credit doesn’t extend that far, but I do know that the People’s Republic of China Army Space Forces is about to receive four or five light cruiser hulls. I admit, from definitely third-rate powers, but still light cruisers. And yet, your nation hasn’t and Islien Yards was wondering why.”
Admiral Prael settled into his chair and considered that for a moment. “There’s a policy issue involved,” he replied, sipping at his own coffee-made black if Valden’s nose was right. “The issue is the simplest one-mission. After First Contact, there were a lot of discussions and one of the biggest ones was an odd understanding of risk and reward.”
He took another sip, and thought for a moment. "All of the forming space fleets, the PRCSF, the Royal Space Forces, the Russian one if they can ever decide on who’s going to be in charge of it, even the Japanese Space Self-Defense Forces, are going to be a massive outlay of our respective military budgets for years and decades. Our decision was that we are not…immediately in need of capital ships. Oh, we’ll be ready to slot them into our force structure as soon as possible, but right now, we don’t need capital ships.
“What we need is to develop the institutional knowledge and infrastructure of military space operations. You’re an Imperial citizen, who’s navy has active duty warships that are older than the colonization of the United States. You have that institutional knowledge and infrastructure, built up over centuries. We don’t. We have to learn it, and while we can learn a lot from research and contractors, we need to build up the traditions. And, eighteen warships with twenty-five transports and freighters can be worked and risked a lot more than eight or nine warships and maybe that many military freighters.”
Valden took another sip of her coffee. “You can risk eighteen ships and the relatively lower percentage of their cost and capabilities than eight or so ships that other navies are buying.”
“And, the United States Navy started out with four frigates and a lot of smaller sailing ships,” Admiral Prael agreed. “We were small back then, and had to build ourselves up over the decades. It’s almost traditional at this point.”