By far the larger branch of Ern’s national military, the army is also more prestigious. Soldiers of all ranks are compensated better than navy sailors of equivalent rank, and everyone- nobles and peasants- alike consider the army a nobler, more honorable profession. Perhaps that is why it is so much larger. Or maybe the size discrepancy is wrought from simple necessity. Wars with Elmsville were more land than sea-based and in times of peace, the Army serves as the country’s infrastructure support system. In other words, the Army tends to have more responsibility than the navy, both in times of war and in times of peace. That could well be why there are more enlisted in the army. In all liklihood, the real explanation includes pieces of many theories.
Loyal first and only to their Sovereign, the Army is large, numbering a total of almost 21,000 troops. Slightly more than 7,000 of these troops are part of the very, very well trained national cavalry. These soldiers are accomplished warriors both on and off horseback, but they are especially lethal when mounted. Part of the cavalry specializes in mounted archery. Others specialize in charge attacks, and the rest are highly trained in mounted close quarters combat. All cavalry members, of course, are trained in all three areas—it’s just a question of which they’re best at. No Privates enter the cavalry until they have been promoted to Command Sergeant. But even then they must show skill in training, taming and riding horses before the cavalry accepts them. In this way, Ern’s national cavalry is easily the best trained, most elite force on either island. These 7000 men, for they are all men, would decimate most Lords’ militias without any difficulty. Even Elmsville’s cavalry, while slighty bigger, is not individually as skilled as Ern’s.
The other 14,000 soldiers in the army are Infantry. Better trained than most militias, these 14,000 combatants are nothing to scoff at, but they do not rival the cavalry. While some of the foot officers are exceptionally skilled, barring some sort of innovative defense, the cavalry would all but eviserate the foot contingent were the two sides to fight a civil war (which indeed they just might—see below).
In game terms, the common soldier in the cavalry is between 8th and 12th level. The commanders would be even higher than that. The common soldier in the Infantry is between 3rd and 7th level. There are exceptions, of course. Officers in both the Cavalry and the Infantry can be very, very impressive. Even some exceptionally skilled warriors choose to stay in the infantry without prestigious titles, for whatever reason.
Tolerance of Differences
In short, the Army is a breeding ground for bigotry, sexism and elitism. Almost all of the officers are noble-born, a fact they believe and are encouraged to believe in many unspoken ways, makes them better than the peasants who enlist. To be fair, few nobles begin their military careers as officers, though some do, but nobles have an open invitation to attend the Officer Training Academy after their second year of service. Note that attending the school does mean passing the school. Even nobles (of low influence families) often flunk out. Regardless, for many nobles, the first two years are spent as something like a Squire for officers during their formative teenage years. Some few peasants are also invited to attend Officer Training, but only after great demonstration of extraordinary skill. Those few peasants who do become officers are generally shunned. Noble officers fear them. Noble privates scorn them, and peasant enliisted believe these officers have somehow betrayed them.
Women are treated even worse than male commoners. Why? That is a great sociological question this space is not going to effort to answer. What ill treatment do women suffer? Pretty much what you’d expect, only sometimes it’s actually worse than that. Perhaps because they’re treated so badly, very few women attempt to join the army. Most opt to join the Navy instead, a fact that means far less than 1% of Army soldiers are female. Perhaps this is an even more stark example of the army’s sexism: there is one, yes one, female officer in the entire army. She is a lieutenent.
As elitist and sexist as the army is, it might be even more racist. Anyone who is not human and white skinned suffers immeasurable bigotry.
The army does not, in other words, feature a tolerant culture.
During wartime, the Army is responsible for exactly what most expect: offensive and defensive actions against enemies. One common tactic throughout Ern’s history has centered on using their infantry as bait so that the prestigious cavalry could surprise foes and win the day. The Army works in conjunction with the Navy to execute strategies outlined by superior officers, including the Master of the Armed Forces, the Sovereign and the Armies’ generals.
During peace times, the Army is still plenty busy. As battalions are stationed throughout the island, they function as Ern’s equivalent of the modern day National Guard, responding to various disasters, be they natural or man-made. Things like forest fires, port floods, mining accidents and so forth are candidates to draw the Army’s attention.
Additionally, the Army builds and repairs infrastructure. In Nathander’s reign, it destroyed the roads and many cultural buildings. In Hunter’s tenure, it started repairing them. It constructs new homes. It builds the walls that protect the most important cities. If it is somehow related to infrastructure, there’s a very good chance that the Army is responsible for it.
Naturally, the Army spends much of its time training as well. And during Robeson’s time as the Army Chief, the Army has been contracted out as mercenaries to serve as bodyguards for the elite, or even as common thugs aiming to rough up some debtor.
Promotion to Officer
Very few of the Armies’ officers are commoners. Precisely how long it takes before one can be considered for promotion to officer is unclear. As mentioned earlier, nobles are allowed, indeed encouraged, to attend the Officer Training Academy after two years of service. For most such nobles, the first two years occur when they are between 12 and 16 years old. These adolescents serve as squires for generals and other high ranking officers. Upon completing the program at the Officer Training Academy, there is still no guarantee that the graduate will become an officer. It only means that they will be eligible for promotion as they distinguish themselves or as other political reasons to promote them arise. Nobles who have completed Officer Training generally start with the rank of Sergeant, whether they were ever a Private or not. Some, especially those from more influential families, begin their active service as a Command Sergeant.
Commoners can attend the Officer Training Academy only if they receive an invitation. Invitations to commoners are rare indeed, but some few individuals earn it by the sheer force of their personality and the effectiveness of their leadership. Commoners who receive an invitation have almost always already attained the rank of Sergeant, so upon graduation, they usually become Command Sergeants. Some few, especially those who have been in the service for many, many years, are made Lieutenants almost immediately.
The maximum rank a soldier can attain without completing Officer Training is Sergeant Major. All ranks above it are considered officers.
Ern’s Army is structured very similarly to the modern day United States’ Army. The ranks are listed below:
- Master of the Armed Forces
- Army Chief
- Sergeant Major
- Command Sergeant