-Z- (z@gundam.com)
Sun, 14 Jan 2001 16:42:18 -0800


Over the last couple of years, those of us with experience or knowledge of
military operations have tried to reconcile that with the deployment of forces
in general and the deployment of MS in particular depicted in the anime. Most
of this discussion has centered around the number of MS is a squad or platoon
and, of course, nearly all of it has related to the analogous units of the
modern army, navy or air forces.

I was browsing through Samuel B. Griffith's translation of Sun Tzu's "The Art Of
War" (1971, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-501476-6), when the following
commentary by Chang Yu on the introductory sentence of Chapter V: Energy caught
my eye:

"To manage a host one must first assign responsibilities to the generals and
their assistants, and establish the strengths of ranks and files..

One man is a single; two, a pair; three, a trio. A pair and a trio make a
five,* which is a squad; two squads make a section; five sections, a platoon;
two platoons, a company; two companies, a battalion; two battalions, a regiment;
two regiments, a group; two groups, a brigade; two brigades, an army.** Each is
subordinate to the superior and controls the inferior. Each is properly
trained. Thus one may manage a host of a million men just a he would a few."

Griffith's footnotes, indicated here by * and **, read as follows:

* Suggestive that the 'pair' and the 'trio' carried different weapons.

** A ten-man section; one hundred to the company; two hundred to the battalion;
four hundred to the regiment; eight hundred to the group; sixteen hundred to the
brigade; thirty-two hundred to the army. This apparently reflects organization
at the time Chang Yu was writing. The English terms for the units are
arbitrary.

What this last means is that the terms used here are modern terms applied as
closely as possible to the corresponding Chinese terms, but the correspondence
is strictly by hierarchy, not by number. Thus, the unit called a "squad" here
might well be called a "platoon" or a "team" in modern terms.

What's significant here is the note about the ranks and files: singles, pairs
and trios that may be deployed as if they were all individuals soldiers. The
smallest organizational unit -- here called a "five" or a "squad" -- is made up
of a pair and a trio, each of which may be armed differently and the serve
different combat roles.

We've seen any number of trios in Gundam and also a number of fives, although
they're more the rule in the alternate universes of G, W and X and, in those
series, are more a collection of differently-armed singles than the pair-trio
combination set forth here.

In any case, it sheds an interesting new light on the old debate and appears to
map better to the samurai-style MS combat depicted in Gundam.

-Z-

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