Warfare terminologyis a list of universal terms agreed on by collaborations of many empires as to prevent confusion. (Note: some term definitions and wording taken partially from Wikipedia)
- Counter-insurgency - Sometimes abbreviated as COIN, counter-insurgency operations revolve around the efforts of a government to quell insurgency. In warfare, counter-insurgency generally involves the usage of armed units for the destruction or suppression of insurgent personnel and resources, as well as the protection of legitimate government assets and personnel.
- Blitzkrieg - German for 'lightning war' or 'fast war', blitzkrieg is a doctrine of assault popularized by the German Wehrmacht in World War II, used famously to defeat the forces of France, the UK's expeditionary force, Belgium, and the Netherlands in six weeks. It is the motorised concentration of armour, infantry, artillery, and aircraft with the intention of using surprise, concentration, and high speed to overwhelm enemy lines and advance with little to no regard to a blitzing unit's flanks. The doctrine focuses on the Schwerpunkt, the center of operations and the single point of maximum applied military force. Breakouts along a battle line by a highly-mobile force supported by medium bombers and dive bombers allow for the rapid exploitation of weaknesses and flanking without the standard encumberance of a regular infantry force. This allows for a strategically inferior force to become tactically superior in a given area, and eventually steal a victory for an entire campaign. Acting before enemy forces is a critical part of the blitzkrieg, revolving around the efficient and effective making of decisions, and the dissemination of orders amongst the ranks. Higher-ranking officers do not give explicit orders, but instead their intent and role for units. After that, field officers are given leeway to fulfill their role as they please (to an extent). This allows for an expedited decision process, as well as tactical flexibility. Modern armoured and mechanised tactics are derived from this offensive doctrine.
- Tactical - Referring to smaller-scale military operations, involving smaller units in areas of limited scope and size. A tactical strike would be bombing an airfield, and a strategic strike the destruction of an air force.
- Strategic - Referring to large-scale military operations (generally theater-leve) involving large units in areas of great scope and size. A tactical strike would be bombing an airfield, and a strategic strike the destruction of an air force.
- Camouflage - Usage of many different means to shield a unit or units from observation, from individual soldiers to entire camps or fortifications to the effect of protecting forces and deceiving an enemy. In general, this means the dulling of reflective surfaces, the usage of colours and textures that blend with the surrounding environment, and the disguising or breaking up of distinguishing outlines. With the evolution of military technology has come the evolution of camoflauge, yielding equipment such as invisibility gear, radar-reflection materials and designs, and equipment designed to protect against spectra not normally used by the eyes of regular sentient creatures, but instead their own equipment.
- Reserves - Putting all of one's forces on the front line at once is generally not advised. That is why reserves are usually kept, for the exploitation of developing opportunities, and for reinforcement in times where a battle may be deteriorating.
- Force multiplier - Anything that increases, or multiplies, the effectiveness of a military unit. Examples of force multipliers include defensive positions on a river, higher ground, superior weapons, superior morale, or superior supply lines, to name a few.
- Supply lines - The method utilized by a military force to acquire and maintain steady supplies of food, ammunition, personnel and vehicle replacements, and medicine, among other things. Supply lines can take the form of cargo ships (or spaceships) in convoys, cargo trucks, pack animals, cargo aircraft, or trains. Military units consume vast amounts of supplies, and require steady access to maintain full effectiveness when combined with other factors such as morale. Cutting off an enemy's supply lines or destroying their supply stocks is a significant blow, and a major military tactic. Supply lines can be intercepted in many different ways, such as bombing or submarine attacks (really only effective against sea convoys). A unit cut off from their supply lines will rapidly run out of vital stores, and lose morale at a similar rate. While units can survive (and many have famously continued to fight) after losing their supply lines, many are inclined to surrender, or are destroyed by their better-supplied foes. Attacking industry is a major part of hampering supply lines, as it destroys the supplies at their source, as well as the tools and resources used to make them.
- Cartridge - A cartridge, or round, is the pacakge in which the bullet, gunpowder, and primer is packed into. Cartridges are designed to fit perfectly in the barrels of firearms. Cartridges can vary widely in size, just like the bullets they house, from anti-tank shells to pistol ammunition. Cartridges are measured in several different ways.
- Milimetre Caliber Measurement (ex. 7.62x39mm NATO) - Bore followed by case length, both in milimetres.
- Calibre (ex. .308 Winchester) - Bore (from which said round is fired from) diametre in inches.
- Pound (ex. 17 Pounder) - Weight of shells, which are slightly different types of cartridges (generally larger, explode). Pound measurement is also in use mainly by Commonwealth nations.
- Pistol - Handheld, semi-automatic (sometimes with option of full-auto) firearm. Inaccurate when not used at close range, and used mainly as a backup weapon. The G17 and FNP .45 are both examples of pistols.
- Bore - Interior diametre of the barrel of a gun.
- Bullet - Projectile launched by a gun to destroy or damage a target using the force of impact and penetration.
- Primer - Material in a cartridge sensitive to pressure. Primer is detonated when a gun's hammer hits the back of the cartridge, which in turn detonates the gunpowder, which then launches the bullet out of the barrel.
- SMG - Sub-machine guns are automatic infantry weapons that fire pistol ammunition. SMG's are best used at close-to-mid range, as they are not rifled weapons. The MP5 and Uzi are both examples of SMG's.
- Recoilless Rifle - Through the careful expulsion of backblast from a partially-exposed breech, a recoilless rifle can fire heavy ammunition (such as large anti-tank rockets) with little to no recoil. Recoilless rifles are used by infantry as anti-tank weapons, and can be mounted on light vehicles. Some tank destroyers even utilise the recoilless rifle design. Note that only rifled weapons are technically recoilless rifles. Smoothbore recoilless weapons are known as recoilless cannons. The Carl Gustaf and M40 are both examples of recoilless rifles.
- Battle Rifle - Battle rifles are semi-automatic rifles that fire full power rifle cartridges. Some are purely semi-automatic, while others are variants of assault rifles. Battle rifles are regular infantry weapons, as opposed to sniper rifles, which are best used away from the front line. The SVT-40 and M14 are both examples of battle rifles.
- Assault Rifle - Full-automatic/semi-automatic infantry weapon easily recognizable by detachable magazine and selective fire. Assault rifles are more powerful than pistols, but generally weaker than battle rifles. Assault rifles are standard modern infantry weapons. The AK-47 and M-16 are both easily recognisable examples of assault rifles.
- Machine Gun - Fully-automatic portable or mounted weapon designed to fire hundreds of rounds per minute from belts or high-capacity magazines. While lighter machine guns can be fired like rifles, they are most effective when the user is prone. Most machine guns fire high-power rifle cartridges. The M60 and PKM are both examples of machine guns.
- Shotgun - Shotguns are close-combat infantry weapons that use the energy of a fixed shell to fire smaller pellets called shot, or a larger single projectile called slug. Shotguns utilise all manner of firearm action, including but not limited to break action, pump action, and lever action. The Benelli M4 and Winchester Model 1897 are examples of shotguns.
- Action - System of operation in a firearm that ejects spent cartridges, and inserts fresh rounds into the chamber.
- Blowback - System in semi-auto and full-auto firearms in which the force created by combustion in the chamber forces the bolt back, allowing for the ejection of the spent cartridge, and the insertion of a fresh round.
- Gas-Operation - System in semi-auto and full-auto firearms in which some of the high-pressure gas created from the firing of the round is used to eject a spent cartridge, and insert a fresh round into the chamber.
- Break-Action - Firearm whose barrels are hinged, and rotate forward to expose the breech, to allow the loading of ammunition, and the unloading of spent cartridges. Many sport and home defense shotguns are break-action.
- Bolt-Action - Bolt-action weapons have a manually-operated bolt. The bolt is drawn back to eject a spent cartridge and bring up a new round, and the bolt is drawn forward to insert the round into the chamber. Generally, the only safety mechanism for bolt-action weapons is the locking of the bolt handle. Bolt-action weapons include sniper rifles and many WWII infantry rifles.
- Semi-Automatic - Semi-auto weapons have a mechanism for automatically ejecting spent cartridges, and inserting fresh rounds into the chamber. However, semi-auto weapons fire only one round per trigger pull. Holding down the trigger does nothing. Semi-automatic weapons include battle rifles and assault rifles.
- Full-Automatic - Full-auto weapons generally have the same mechanism as semi-auto weapons, but generally eject spent cartridges and insert fresh round into the chamber much faster. Full-auto weapons include machine guns and assault rifles.
- Crossbow - A bow mounted on a stock that shoots projectiles.
- Autocannon - Shell-firing automatic weapon with a calibre generally greater than 20mm. Autocannons, while capable of high rates of fire, are normally adjusted to fire at 80-120 rounds per minute, so as to avoid overheating.
Melee weapons are typically made of steel or a stronger alloy, or more commonly, some form of energy. Most races consider them outdated, but others still continue to use them even in the space age.
- Arming sword - A standard military sword used for knights. Also known as the short sword.
- Battle axe - Can be a deadly thrown projectile or wielded as either a one or two handed weapon.
- Dagger - A small knife used as a secondary defense weapon in close combat. Often used for assassination
- Longsword - A sword with a typically cruciform hilt. It is most often considered a two handed weapon.
- Polearm - A spear-like weapon with an axe-like blade.
- Rapier - A slenderly sharp long pointed blade ideal for thrusting attacks.
- Scimitar - A curved blade that is relatively lightweight, good for slahing opponents while riding a mount or vehicle.
- Laser - a device that generates a beam of coherent light of a single wavelength.
- Particle beam - a device that projects particles at a target. It's best to qualify the particles in use- useful particle beams are electron, ion, neutron and neutral atom beams.
- APC - Armoured personnel carriers are combat vehicles designed to transport and support infantry on the battlefield. While most APCs are generally armed with one or more machine guns, some carry anti-tank rifles, guided missiles, or mortars. While not intended to be used directly in combat, APCs are intended to protect soldiers from shrapnel, small-arms fire, and ambushes. The M113 and BTR are examples of APCs.
- IFV - Infantry fighting vehicles are designed to carry soldiers into the fight and subsequently provide support. IFVs have, in most cases, much more armament than APCs, as well as better armoured. IFVs can carry machine guns, small tank guns, and missiles. The German Marder and American Bradley are both examples of IFVs.
- Tank - Tanks are armoured vehicles designed for front-line combat. Tanks are generally quite mobile, and find significant use in offensive and defensive operations. Historically, tanks have been used as spearheads in offensives, backbones in assaults, and static defensive positions when under attack. Tanks normally have one (or more) powerful guns on a rotating turret, with supplementary machine guns on the turret and chassis. Tanks are normally heavily armoured, and difficult to destroy without proper weaponry. The American M1 Abrams and British Challenger 2 are both examples of tanks.
- SPG - Self-propelled gun. Type of tank that utilizes an artillery gun as opposed to a regular tank cannon. These vehicles sometimes pack less punch than less-mobile artillery pieces or specially-designed artillery trucks, but are exponentially more mobile, and can keep up with a motorised force. Modern militaries intermingle the SPG with field artillery pieces to allow for greater combat versatility.
- Amphibious vehicle - Amphibious combat vehicle designed for use in seaborne attacks to ferry troops and equipment to shore, and effectively support forces during inland operations. The American AAV-7A1 is an example of an amphibious combat vehicle.
- Tank destroyer - A dangerous foe to armour on the battlefield, tank destroyers are vehicles specialised to annihilate armoured forces, especially in ambushes. On most tank destroyers, rotating turrets are not necessary, which allows for a reduced silhouette. Large guns and more armour are fitted on most tank destroyers. AT missile carriers have all but replaced the heavily armed and armoured tank destroyer. The Marder III is an example of a tank destroyer.
- FMJ - Full metal jacket bullets consist of a soft core (normally lead) encased in harder metal, like cupronickel or steel alloy. The jacket may partially or fully enclose the soft core. If the core is fully enclosed, the round is termed a total metal jacket round (TMJ).
- JSP/SP Round - Soft-point bullets are partially-jacketed expanding rounds with greater penetration and less expanding capacity than regular HP rounds.
- Hollow Point - Expanding bullet used against organic targets with a pit/hollowed out space in the tip intended to cause the bullet to expand once it has entered the target, thus causing greater internal damage. Jacketed hollow point rounds (JHP) are coated in harder metal to increase the strength of the round and to prevent the fouling of the barrel with lead.
- Armour-Piercing - AP rounds are designed to penetrate all manner of armour, including but not limited to ballistic vests and composite tank armour. They are built to withstand the penetrating of armour plating, and generally have strengthened cases with specially shaped and hardened noses. AP rounds are generally more accurate than HEAT rounds.
- HEAT - High explosive anti-tank rounds have shaped explosive charges that use the Munroe effect to punch through armour using extreme pressure.
- Anti-Personnel - Not to be confused with armour piercing rounds, these AP rounds are designed to destroy organic targets. AP ammunition can range from fragmentation rounds in a tank or artillery gun, to a flechette weapon, such as the Soviet AO-27.
- Explosive - Explosive ammunition covers a wide range of ammunition types designed to explode on impact or penetration. Generally, explosive ammunition does not pierce armour, and does not normally pack enough punch to directly take out tank armour. However, if the charge is powerful enough, explosive tank ammunition has the potential to destroy other tanks. Explosive ammunition can be found in all manner of weapons, from rifles to tanks, and artillery to pistols.
- Auxiliary vessels
- Sloop - Minor all-purpose vessel used for general transport and port duties.
- Oiler - Fleet fuel carrier, regardless of what kind of power sources are used. For example, a fleet based on fusion reactors would be shadowed by hydrogen-carrying oilers.
- Supply ship - Armored, dedicated supply vessel for ships and ground forces alike.
- Repair ship - Dedicated ship repair vessel, capable of handling most major and minor repairs alone.
- Minesweeper - Naval vessel used for clearing minefields, either in or out of combat.
- Minelayer - Naval vessel used for placing minefields, either in or out of combat.
- Survey/research vessel - Self-explanatory naval vessel.
- Corvette - Small, maneuverable combat vessel designed to provide an effective fighter screen. Corvettes generally lack the firepower to take on anything larger than a frigate. Average ~110m long with ~90 crew.
- Gunboat - Small, but heavily armed ship fielding all manner of weaponry. Gunboats are used in large number to take on other gunboats and larger ships. Gunboats also provide fighter screening, as well as the ability to field a small amount of strike craft of their own. Average ~280m long with ~260 crew
- Frigate - Frigates are front-line ships desinged for taking on strike craft and all manner of ships. However, frigates almost always must attack with numbers on their side to be able to successfully defeat larget ships. Average ~350m long with ~440 crew.
- Destroyer - Smallest type of capital ship, destroyers are fast and maneuverable, but tough and powerful ships meant to escort larger ships in a fleet. Destroyers are fielded against powerful short-range attackers, as well as other destroyers and occasionally larger ships. Destroyers, along with cruisers, form the main battle line, supporting battleships and carriers. Average ~500m long with ~700 crew.
- Cruiser - Larger than destroyers and smaller than battleships, larger cruisers are often called 'pocket battleships' because of their great firepower compared to ships of smaller class. Cruisers are designed to take on all types of ships, including battleships (in some number). Modern cruisers fill most fleet support roles, as well as front-line combat roles. Average ~650m long with ~1,050 crew.
- Battleship - Large, armoured ship with devastating gun batteries capable of pounding all manner of targets into dust, or submission, whichever comes first. Supplemented by their strike craft, and smaller fleet ships, battleships command the fight and are almost always the biggest targets, and rightly so. A single battleship can take on multiple cruisers or destroyers, and scores of smaller ships such as corvettes. An empire's ability to field battleships is a reliable indicator of their cumulative power. Average ~1.6km long with ~7,800 crew.
- Super battleship - Some empires field, in limited numbers, superheavy varieties of battleships, known as super battleships. These vessels are considerably larger and more powerful than their regular cousins.
- Carrier - Carriers do not deal in ship-to-ship combat. They do not carry a great deal of armament, and are not armoured enough to stand toe-to-toe with cruisers or battleships. However, they are still some of the most valuable ships of the fleet. That is because carriers field scores of strike craft that are capable of swarming and obliterating ships, even battleships, in minutes (and sometimes less). In many modern navies (most notably the Eteno Imperial Navy) battleships and carriers supplement each other, with battleships providing much of the direct muscle, protecting the carriers and destroying other large ships, carriers deploy strike craft to annihilate enemy ships. Even more so than battleships, an empire's ability to field carriers is a reliable indicator of their cumulative power. Even for a prospering society, maintaining a modern carrier is a logistical challenge of its own level. Average ~2.6km with ~8,000 crew.
- Super carrier - Similar to super battleships, super carriers are oversized variants of their regular cousins,
- Battlecruiser - Battlecruisers bridge the gap between heavy battleships and dreadnoughts in size and power. While considerably less expensive and time-consuming to build and operate than a dreadnought, battlecruisers still have an enormous lead on battleships. They still have the capacity to act as a tactical checkmate move, and in greater numbers. A battlecruiser's capacity to also serve as a mobile command center, or any number of versatile roles independently makes it a wise investment for any fleet. For nations incapable of affording dreadnoughts, battlecruisers are a common option. Average ~22km with ~32,000 crew.
- Dreadnought - Few and far between, dreadnoughts strike fear into all those they come across, friend or foe. Easily dwarfing even the largest battleships, dreadnoughts pack enough firepower to destroy large fleets all on their own. Dreadnoughts also field strike craft in quantities eqaulling and surpassing carriers. Most dreadnoughts travel with giant fleets, crushing all enemies in their path. Only the galaxy's absolute biggest and strongest powers have the resources to even construct a single dreadnought, let alone construct and maintain multiple. It is truly a technological feat to field these ships. Average ~50-400km with ~100,000-2,000,000 crew.
- Ram - Naval rams are a rather unique type of ship, not designed to deploy strike craft or launch devastating fusillades of missiles and lasers at other ships, but to simply run into them. Naval rams have the thickest armour and strongest engines, and in battle, they bash into other ships to destroy them. Outside of combat, naval rams can be found clearing mines, and assisting with space construction. Average ~700m with ~200 crew.
- Destroyer - Fast, tough ship designed to escort larger ships in a fleet. Many destroyers hold most of their power in missile launching capability, and less in the strength of their deck guns.
- Cruiser - Cruisers fulfill multiple roles in naval fleets, sometimes in place of battleships. Cruisers generally have guided-missile capability, as well as powerful deck guns. Some cruisers are convoy raiders or anti-air escorts, while some are anti-ship combatants in place of battleships. Shore bombardment is also a major capability that sees frequent use with cruisers.
- Battleship - While their role has diminished with the advent of the carrier, battleships still find use with modern sea navies, due to the fact that modern seaships have significantly greater anti-air coverage. Battleships have the largest guns of all the ships in the fleet, and in many cases, most of the guns. Big and slow, battleships make good targets for enterprising pilots who can evade a thick anti-fighter screen. Whether the target is a fleet or fortified beach, battleships will demolish them without hesitation or challenge.
- Carrier - Lacking significant armour, or any deck guns to speak of (barring AA weaponry or missile launchers), carriers still manage to be the most valuable ship in the fleet. Carriers deploy large quantities of strike craft against all manner of targets, providing range and versatility that simply cannot be afforded by other ships. In many fleets, the carrier(s) is the centrepiece, with all other ships tasked with protecting it.
- Amphibious Landing Ship - The ALS is essential to amphibious assaults. They field and deploy strike craft, smaller landing craft and amphibious vehicles for soldiers and supplies, as well as transport aircraft and helicopters. ALS' also serve as command hubs during amphibious attacks.
- Patrol Boat - Tiny, quick, and weak, patrol boats are armed with small deck guns, AA defense weapons, supplementary machine guns and lasers, and possibly torpedoes and depth charges. Patrol boats tend to stay away from ship-to-ship engagements against larger ships, and stick to fighting other patrol boats, providing anti-air support, shore bombardment, waterway patrol, special forces insertion, and submarine hunting.
- General Quarters - A general alert that a ship is about to join combat, or has suddenly engaged. The alert is passed over by ship-board speakers, and calls all off-duty and sleeping crew to their battle stations along with crew that are on-duty. All crewmen have their own battle stations. Many crewmen have battle stations different from their training speciality. For example, an auxiliary helmsman might be assigned to damage control, or a chef assigned to a gun crew (an example of a GQ alert from the US Navy can be found here).
- Crew Muster - A call to assembly for all crew. All departments of a ship are required to collect themselves and assume formation to be accounted for. Crew Muster can be called for any variety for reasons, but for modern wet navies, Crew Muster is called when there is a strong suspicion that someone has fallen overboard.
- Red Alert - Another general alert that is normally used to call all crew members to battle stations in order to combat an impending enemy threat. However, red alert can also be used to alert the crew to an urgent and possibly dangerous situation.
- Cat - Short for catapult, cats are the launching mechanisms for modern non-VTOL aircraft aboard ships.
- Draught - Exclusively a sea term, refers to the section of a boat that is below the waterline.
- Bow - Front of a ship
- Stern - Back end of a ship.
- Aft - At, near or towards the stern of a ship
- Port - Left side of a ship.
- Starboard - Right side of a ship.