Reinforcements for the Battle of Manticore
Reinforcements for the Battle of Manticore.
A thread on the Bar raises an interesting question: what forces were available at the other termini of the Manticore Wormhole Junction during the Battle of Manticore?
The Star Kingdom of Manticore tries to establish control of - or, at a minimum, the security of - the various terminals of the Junction.
As mentioned recently, the more agressive stance of the SKM regarding their foreign policy in recent decades meant that the most-recently discovered terminus was almost guaranteed to be annexed. In the case of the Lynx Terminus, it lead to an unoccupied system and the nearest major population center at Lynx applied to be annexed on its own rather quickly.
We suspect that the Basilisk System has a major Alliance presence after the events of Echoes of Honor, Trevor's Star had Third Fleet on station and Eighth Fleet in transit.
Where was the Basilisk Squadron? Basilisk requires the defense of an inhabited planet. Were all of the mobile units in-system covering Medusa while the terminus was being covered solely by the fixed defenses of Basilisk Astro Control?
What Alliance (or RMN) forces exist at the other termini?
Okay. I'm going to structure my answer to this question on a terminus-by-terminus basis in the order of: Hennessy, Matapan, Gregor, Beowulf, Lynx, Basilisk.
First, Hennessy. While there's substantial merchant traffic through the Hennessy Terminus, there's not much military threat in the area. Manticore covers the actual terminus with forts and maintains a cruiser-level/destroyer-level picket primarily for local traffic control and to discourage piracy. At the moment, Erewhon is actually more responsible for the security of that terminus, despite its strained relations with the Star Kingdom. Obviously, when Manticore and the Erewhonese were on formally allied terms, Erewhon had official primary responsibility for that terminus. Before Erewhon left the Alliance, the People's Republic of Haven had a bigger fish to fry than (a) fighting Erewhon and (b) irritating Phoenix (and possibly the Solarian League) by extending military operations into the region and disrupting (or, at least, potentially disrupting) neutral merchant traffic in a region of limited strategic value which was also far enough away from its own territory to make logistical support for a campaign there extremely difficult. Since Erewhon has left the Alliance, and since both the Star Kingdom and the Republic of Haven are being very careful about Erewhonese sensibilities at the moment, Manticore has made a deliberate decision not to increase the picket at Hennessy beyond prewar levels.
Second, Matapan. The Matapan Terminus hasn't been mentioned very much because it hasn't entered into the events of Manticore's war with Haven. That doesn't mean that Manticore hasn't been involved there.
Matapan lies beyond the Andermani Empire, which gives it even more spatial separation from the Republic than the Empire has, and it's not an especially wealthy region. Actually, it looks rather more impressive on the end paper maps than it is in reality. It's not as poverty-stricken a region as the Talbott Cluster was, by a long chalk, but the settlement in the area is fairly recent (mostly little more than a century old, and almost all of it via the Wormhole Junction), and the economies and populations are still growing at fairly modest rates. Matapan should not be confused with an integrated political unit; the area is considered a "cluster" in the same sense as Talbott. That is, there are several colonized star systems in relatively close proximity to one another, but without any strong central political organization, and without any actual astrographic association between the systems. Because of its isolation from the war front, and the fact that the Matapan Terminus has the lowest traffic volume of any of the Junction's termini, the terminus itself is covered by a handful of fairly light forts and a picket of second or third-line cruisers and destroyers.
In a sense, I suppose I probably should have discussed Matapan in greater detail, because Manticore does provide what comes closest to representing any sort of political unity in the region. Basically, the Star Kingdom has assumed the responsibility of providing basic anti-piracy protection for the youthful colonies in the Matapan Cluster. I think of Matapan as the Star Kingdom's equivalent of the Trucial States in the period between 1820 and 1892.
Should I do an "Honor Harrington in the classroom" and leave looking up "Trucial States" as an exercise for the students? I really should, but since I'm such a nice guy, I won't. The short version is that between around 1820 and 1890 Great Britain "negotiated" a series of truces with the sheikdoms which eventually became the United Arab Emirates to suppress piracy and the slave trade in the Persian Gulf. In 1892 (I think that's the correct date), Great Britain assumed a formal protectorate over the region, which it kept until about 1971. At the moment, Manticore is still far short of exercising any sort of protectorate over Matapan in the sense of explicit political control, but the various independent colonies in the region are satisfied with a security arrangement which doesn't pinch them economically or politically and does firmly discourage any sort of unrest or brigandage. Given the shift in Manticore's traditional foreign policy, it's much more likely that some form of protectorate or even outright formal incorporation into the nascent Star Empire of Manticore may lie in Matapan's future.
The discovery of the third terminus of the Asgerd Wormhole Junction could have implications for Matapan's development, but that terminus was discovered only very shortly before the beginning of the First Havenite War. The Asgerd Association has an interesting relationship with the Andermani Empire, which generally inspires it to not do anything likely to irritate the Andies, who are both the greatest military threat to it and its most important trading partner. During the period of the First Havenite War, when the Empire was being any "friendly neutral" as far as the Star Kingdom was concerned, Asgerd had all sorts of reasons to avoid any potential brangles with Manticore. Moreover, Asgerd has been much more interested in and involved with Midgard, which is sort of its own version of Matapan. All of this means that there had been a sort of informal division of "spheres of influence" under which Asgerd stayed out of Matapan, leaving the field there clear for the Star Kingdom's "Trucial States" relationship.
Third, Gregor. There never has been a powerful mobile picket at Gregor. There's never been any particular need for one, and before the Andermani became allies of the Star Kingdom, Manticore was always careful of Andermani sensitivities and deliberately restricted the picket's size. Prior to the Battle of Manticore, the IAN had used its portion of the Gregor Binary System as an area to complete final working up exercises for ships being assigned to forward allied fleets. The ships on station at that time couldn't really be considered combat ready, since they were still training up their personnel. As they became combat ready, they were moved forward, for assignment to Home Fleet, to one of the forces covering places like Zanzibar or Alizon, or -- eventually -- Eighth Fleet. Gregor, unlike Trevor's Star, was never seen as a "reserve formation" for Home Fleet. Partly because no one expected it to be needed as such, but mostly because the Andies' combat-ready heavy forces were already forward deployed.
Fourth, Beowulf. There is no Manticoran or Allied picket in Beowulf. The Beowulf Self-Defense Force is responsible for the terminus' security, and Manticore maintains basically only an unarmed Astro Control platform and a relatively low number of light patrol craft, none larger than a LAC, specifically for traffic management purposes.
Fifth, Lynx. The Lynx picket did respond; it simply didn't get there until until well after the Battle of Manticore was over, because it was even further off the terminus than Honor's ships were. Since all of its units were pre-Apollo, they didn't figure in Honor's reflections at the end of the book. Besides, they weren't retained with Home Fleet following the battle. The situation in Talbott remains tense enough, with enough potential yet for a shooting incident with the Solarian League, that Admiral Blaine's squadrons were sent back to Lynx as soon as it became clearly evident that the RHN would be completely unable to launch any sort of serious follow-up assault on Manticore or Trevor's Star after its losses in the Battle of Manticore.
Sixth, Basilisk. There is a mobile picket in Basilisk. It isn't as powerful as one might think, however, especially in the wake of the Havenites' successful raid on Zanzibar. The rebuilt and revamped fortresses covering the terminus itself are much more powerful than they were at the time of Operation Icarus, and the Star Kingdom took the unusual (for it) decision under the High Ridge Government to build forts in Medusa orbit, as well.
The Cromarty Government had included the beginning of a Basilisk equivalent of Hephaestus/Vulcan space station, as part of the initial funding of the major Basilisk rebuild in the wake of Icarus. The High Ridge Government continued the "Cromarty Plan" for Basilisk, but expanded on it for several reasons. Some of them, frankly, were perfectly good ones, given what had happened there when Icarus blew out the system infrastructure and, especially, the fact that the entire star system had been formally annexed and hence had become the Star Kingdom's territory to be defended (and developed). In addition to those good reasons, of course, High Ridge and his cronies saw additional opportunities for porkbarrel projects, civilian job building, and paying off corporate allies with sweetheart deals. Since they were already committed to completing the construction of the terminus forts, which were shipped through from Manticore as components and assembled in place, and since building those forts tied in so well with their economic/industrial/political objectives, they simply ordered five more forts to cover Medusa.
The Grantville Government would far, far rather that the same funds had been used to build additional SD(P)s, but the forts are there, they are equipped with modern weapons, they are Keyhole-capable (and are in the process of being refitted to Keyhole II capability), and they did permit the mobile forces which had previously been assigned to cover Medusa to be largely withdrawn and used elsewhere. All of which means that, basically, Medusa is currently covered by a cruiser/destroyer-level mobile picket, which wouldn't have been of very much use in the Battle of Manticore, anyway.