Tau Command/Rank Structure

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gunrock
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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#19 » Feb 03 2018 02:47

A thought on other castes working within the fire caste. It's not uncommon for branches to occasionally 'borrow' personnel from another branch. For example the marine core doesn't train medical personnel, but often borrows corpsmen from the navy. I kinda like this idea, that maybe the fire caste 'borrows' pilots from the air caste. Another cool idea is earth caste engineers embedded within a cadre as sappers or specialized maintenance crews.

On the topic, I don't think anyone has talked about how ethereal's fit into the commander structure. Presumably, way up the chain they're the ones calling the shots, but lower level ethereal presumably also operate in cadres in some capacity.

I've been fantasizing about building a 'special operations' kill team embedded within my Cadre, a tiny fully magnetized squad that can I can switch between, striketeam, breacher, pathfinder, and vespid profiles. So do tau have special forces or something equivalent? If so how are they different from 'regular' forces?

Another thought just for fun is that armies usually have multifaceted support networks within them that address a specialized range of tasks such as logistical support, intelligence, engineering and fortifications, etc. How do these elements fit into a more complete picture of the tau cadre?

Here's a picture of the 101st Airborne Force Org chart for inspiration:
Image
Cheers!
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Arka0415
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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#20 » Feb 03 2018 03:13

gunrock wrote:On the topic, I don't think anyone has talked about how ethereal's fit into the commander structure. Presumably, way up the chain they're the ones calling the shots, but lower level ethereal presumably also operate in cadres in some capacity.

Ethereals tend to come in three types, so far as we've seen- Ethereals attached to Tau cadres, the military high command, and those that are involved with imperial government.

Ethereals in Tau cadres seem to fill the role command advisors, chaplains, and political officers. While Tau commanders run the day-to-day tactical operation of the cadre, an Ethereal might set broad strategic goals, communicate with high command, and oversee secret objectives. They also act as political officers and chaplains, bolstering morale and seeing to the spiritual needs of the troops.

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Kakapo42
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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#21 » Feb 03 2018 05:47

gunrock wrote:
On the topic, I don't think anyone has talked about how ethereal's fit into the commander structure. Presumably, way up the chain they're the ones calling the shots, but lower level ethereal presumably also operate in cadres in some capacity.

I've been fantasizing about building a 'special operations' kill team embedded within my Cadre, a tiny fully magnetized squad that can I can switch between, striketeam, breacher, pathfinder, and vespid profiles. So do tau have special forces or something equivalent? If so how are they different from 'regular' forces?

Another thought just for fun is that armies usually have multifaceted support networks within them that address a specialized range of tasks such as logistical support, intelligence, engineering and fortifications, etc. How do these elements fit into a more complete picture of the tau cadre?
Cheers!


As Arka said, generally Ethereals take something of a 'hands-off' approach to military command. Sometimes an Ethereal will assume direct command over Fire Caste forces, the most famous example of this being Aun'Shi commanding the Fire Caste garrison at Fio'Vash, but usually they will instead just provide overall strategic parameters and act as advisors and inspirational figures. An Ethereal might join a hunter cadre for a while, but they won't be considered a permanent fixture of it, they just sort of tag along until they feel their purpose has been fulfilled there.

Tau special forces are... a mixed bunch. One the one hand you have the Stealth Teams, which act as a kind of 'battlefield special forces', performing special missions on a tactical level on or close to the front lines. Official background also mentions 'Mission Groups', which are directed at Coalition level (the highest level of Tau command) and roughly equivalent to Imperial kill-teams, but that's about the limit of what's known about them. Finally, I invented my own take on Tau special forces a while ago called Special Insertion Threat Containment Teams, which have been a fixture of the annual April Fool's stories on ATT. You can find out more about them at the bottom of this post.

The thing to take away from all that though is that there is plenty of scope for you to model up your special operations team.

Support networks is where you start getting into the realms of other Tau castes. The Fire Caste might be the ones fighting the actual battles on the ground, but they're not the only caste involved in military operations. Generally Tau warfare is a species-wide effort, with elements from all castes being involved. The Air Caste provides air support and airlift capability, the Earth Caste performs engineering and construction work (building barracks, bases, airfields etc.), and the Water Caste takes care of all the paperwork and bureaucracy (plus other stuff like looking after the mental and emotional well-being of all parties involved), with the Ethereal Caste overseeing the endeavour and making sure everything's going according to plan. Ultimately on a grand scale the Tau fight wars with all five castes working together for the Greater Good.

Intelligence is a bit of a murky subject. To the best of my knowledge there's never really been any official word on which caste, if any, handles spying and intelligence gathering. Tauman has some ideas about the Water Caste handling some of it, which makes sense given that they're the caste that spends the most time dealing with outsiders (it's possible they're even helped by a large network of auxiliary and Gue'vessa informants and contacts, with the Water Caste themselves acting as 'ringleaders' as it were).

SIGINT would almost certainly be handled by the Air Caste, which is largely responsible for the Tau's interstellar communications network and the transmission of most communications signals in the Tau Empire (remember their historical role as messengers in Tau society). The Air Caste would also be responsible for aerial and orbital surveillance.

Thus, the most likely picture is that of intelligence as a joint venture between multiple castes, with the Air Caste conducting SIGINT and surveillance using orbital platforms (either spy satellites or starships in orbit) and aerial vehicles (reconnaissance aircraft, surveillance drones and so on) and the Water Caste handling HUMINT (TAUINT?) efforts, possibly with a GRU-style Fire Caste intelligence service reporting to the Shas'ar'tol.

Finally, here's another curveball to shake things up a bit. When discussing the Fire Caste's organisational structure, it should be kept in mind that - according to official GW material at least - the Fire Caste's organisation and command structure is very decentralised. Most notably, there is no permanent formation in the Fire Caste larger than a cadre. The Fire Caste can field higher level formations (a group of cadres is called a Contingent, and a group of Contingents is a Battle), but these are all temporary groupings formed to achieve a specific objective and are dissolved into their constituent cadres once their mission is complete.

Thus, going by GW's material, a Shas'el or Shas'O will never permanently control anything larger than a cadre, and both ranks always have a cadre that can be considered 'their own'. If a commander (usually a Shas'O, as they are typically given priority when assigning command to large scale operations) is assigned by the Shas'ar'tol to take command of a Contingent or Battle then they'll be designated the overall commander of the force, and their cadre will provide headquarters security or be deployed on missions of critical importance.

So, for example, Shadowsun - a Shas'O - will have her own Hunter Cadre that she is permanently in command of. They travel together, work together and fight together if the need arises. But as a Shas'O Shadowsun is likely to be assigned to head up larger formations. If the Shas'ar'tol assigns Shadowsun to lead a Contingent for mission X, she will then take command of Contingent X formed up from whatever cadres were grouped together for it. Before and during mission X, Shadowsun will have overall command of the entire Contingent, with the commanders of the other Cadres in the Contingent answering to her, while Shadowsun's own Cadre provides headquarters security. If it's an emergency or a task of critical importance to the mission, Shadowsun's own Cadre might be committed to the field, but this will usually be for exceptional circumstances. Then, when mission X is complete, the Contingent will be broken back up into Cadres and Shadowsun will go back to commanding her own Hunter Cadre.

That's what GW's background has said on the matter. Personally I kind of like the system since it's more different to how human armies traditionally work, which in turn makes the Tau more alien, but I leave it for others to decide for themselves where it stands for them.
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Beerson
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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#22 » Feb 03 2018 10:17

Kakapo42 wrote:
Beerson wrote:That's false, any atmospheric aircrafts used by tau military are piloted by fire caste pilots


Might I inquire as to what source this comes from? Virtually all GW material I have encountered states otherwise, that the Air Caste handles both aircraft and spacecraft. This includes the original Tau background in the first codex: "..."

My bad, saw it in some Tau lore video last year and took it as granted without checking, checked my own codex as well before I red your response, but wasn't able to remember/find which video I saw it in so far

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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#23 » Feb 03 2018 11:50

Kakapo42 wrote:Support networks is where you start getting into the realms of other Tau castes. The Fire Caste might be the ones fighting the actual battles on the ground, but they're not the only caste involved in military operations. Generally Tau warfare is a species-wide effort, with elements from all castes being involved. The Air Caste provides air support and airlift capability, the Earth Caste performs engineering and construction work (building barracks, bases, airfields etc.), and the Water Caste takes care of all the paperwork and bureaucracy (plus other stuff like looking after the mental and emotional well-being of all parties involved), with the Ethereal Caste overseeing the endeavour and making sure everything's going according to plan. Ultimately on a grand scale the Tau fight wars with all five castes working together for the Greater Good.


You actually have all five castes represented in 40k already. The ethereal, fire and air caste are the most obvious. The water caste oversees the deployment of Tau allies (Kroot and Vespid) while the Earth caste is responsible for fortifications and drone support.

Cheers!

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gunrock
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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#24 » Feb 03 2018 04:47

Kakapo42 wrote:Finally, here's another curveball to shake things up a bit. When discussing the Fire Caste's organisational structure, it should be kept in mind that - according to official GW material at least - the Fire Caste's organisation and command structure is very decentralised. Most notably, there is no permanent formation in the Fire Caste larger than a cadre. The Fire Caste can field higher level formations (a group of cadres is called a Contingent, and a group of Contingents is a Battle), but these are all temporary groupings formed to achieve a specific objective and are dissolved into their constituent cadres once their mission is complete.


That's really interesting. I tend to think of the tau as a sort of overarching mega bureaucracy that is very top down. This perspective sort of reminds me of the feudal system, where the king trades control of a region for the right to leverage soldiers in time of war. The forces required, leadership, and length of service are determined on a case by case basis. This sort of makes sense from a game perspective as it gives players a lot of latitude to treat their army as something self contained and independent. The other analogy that comes to mind is NATO, that septs and the cadre's with them are basically independent entities, but have some sort of obligation to come to the aid of other septs. Fluff wise, the only scenario where I think this might be problematic is in large extended interstellar campaigns, where a cadre might be deployed for years on end in an extended conflict of indeterminate length that has little to do directly with their sept. The idea of a mission being complete also seems slightly problematic when imagining the tau fighting amorphous existential threats.
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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#25 » Feb 03 2018 06:02

gunrock wrote:That's really interesting. I tend to think of the tau as a sort of overarching mega bureaucracy that is very top down. This perspective sort of reminds me of the feudal system, where the king trades control of a region for the right to leverage soldiers in time of war. The forces required, leadership, and length of service are determined on a case by case basis.


The over arching mega bureaucracy would be the Imperium of Man. The way of the Tau is flexibility, mobility, responsiveness. Not something the Imperium is known for; and which couldn't be achieved by such a top-down, bureaucratic system like that of the Imperium. (Unless of course you were talking about the Adeptus Astartes!)

gunrock wrote:Kakapo42 wrote:
Finally, here's another curveball to shake things up a bit. When discussing the Fire Caste's organisational structure, it should be kept in mind that - according to official GW material at least - the Fire Caste's organisation and command structure is very decentralised. Most notably, there is no permanent formation in the Fire Caste larger than a cadre. The Fire Caste can field higher level formations (a group of cadres is called a Contingent, and a group of Contingents is a Battle), but these are all temporary groupings formed to achieve a specific objective and are dissolved into their constituent cadres once their mission is complete.


Whoever designed the Tau fire caste doctrine knew something about U.S. Army Brigade Combat Teams. Kakap42's reference of the early codices, illustrates this point, essentially the tactical doctrine of the Tau fire caste is the same as that of the present day U.S. Army. Note the following documents:

The Brigade: A History
U.S. Army Brigade Combat Team

Here's a quote: (my italics)
John J. McGrath wrote:The brigade, either as part of a division or as an independent or separate entity, is the major tactical headquarters controlling battalions in maneuver combat arms; armor and infantry. The modern maneuver brigade is a flexible organization designed to be task organized for specific combat missions.5 When operating independently, the brigade is usually the lowest level of command led by a general officer. With organic elements, in the case of the separate brigade, or with attached elements from the division, in the case of the divisional brigade, it is the smallest combined arms unit in the US Amy capable of independent operations. --The Brigade: A History, Introduction pg. xi, John J. McGrath


gunrock wrote:The other analogy that comes to mind is NATO, that septs and the cadre's with them are basically independent entities, but have some sort of obligation to come to the aid of other septs. Fluff wise, the only scenario where I think this might be problematic is in large extended interstellar campaigns, where a cadre might be deployed for years on end in an extended conflict of indeterminate length that has little to do directly with their sept. The idea of a mission being complete also seems slightly problematic when imagining the tau fighting amorphous existential threats.


This would be a problem if it weren't for the philosophy of the Tau'Va, and the concept of "Unity and Progress" as the gifts from a collective effort. Note that before the War of Confederation, there wasn't a T'au Empire; but just as you said, separate political entities. Which begs the question, how stable is the T'au Empire? After all there have been two cases where it didn't hold together: Viro'los (Farsight Enclaves) and N'dras.

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Last edited by TauMan on Feb 05 2018 06:52, edited 1 time in total.
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Kakapo42
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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#26 » Feb 03 2018 07:33

A lot of modern Tau leadership structure has been developed as a response to them reaching the natural conclusion that from a practical standpoint central overarching bureaucracies just don't work on an interstellar scale - the distances involved are just too big for that kind of system to be even remotely effective (even the Imperium, with its Astropath communications and semi-feudal nature, can barely manage it at the best of times).

This is further compounded for the Tau due to their lack of psykers - not only does this mean that they don't have navigators for true Warp travel, but it also means they don't have Astropaths or similar, which in 40k is the only real means of instantaneous communication across interstellar distances (on a good day at least), aside from maybe the Webway and/or C'tan enhanced Necron technology (which routinely takes a sledgehammer to the physical laws of the universe). Without any of those things, the Tau are stuck bouncing reletavistic signals along a network of relay beacons and waystations, which while good enough for binding together an interstellar empire, is still far from instantaneous. Thus, in an empire where it can take days if not weeks for a message to circulate from the capital, at least some degree of decentralisation is essential.

That's why each Sept has its own Ethereal council with its attendant advisory groups and its ow ar'tol branches. These local leadership bodies manage the day-to-day administration of the Sept, while the Council of the Highest on T'au focuses on larger scale Empire-wide developments and imperatives. You can read about it in the introduction of this official GW background article on Crisis Suit configurations, first published in White Dwarf issue 263 (US) then later on the old GW website, and currently hosted on ATT. I suppose a good analogy would be (my very rudimentary understanding of) US states - they all follow a central government that handles the big picture, but at the same time are their own self-contained entities with their own leadership apparatus.

Thus, the answer to the question of the Tau Empire's stability probably rests with the Ethereals. It's up to them to make sure that each Sept works together for the Greater Good, and Each Sept has at least a few Ethereals for this reason, so at the largest interstellar scale the Ethereal Caste is ultimately the political glue that holds the empire together.
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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#27 » Feb 04 2018 05:04

Kakapo42 wrote:
gunrock wrote:Intelligence is a bit of a murky subject. To the best of my knowledge there's never really been any official word on which caste, if any, handles spying and intelligence gathering. Tauman has some ideas about the Water Caste handling some of it, which makes sense given that they're the caste that spends the most time dealing with outsiders (it's possible they're even helped by a large network of auxiliary and Gue'vessa informants and contacts, with the Water Caste themselves acting as 'ringleaders' as it were).


To bolster TauMans ideas:
Even on Tau Ships there are Water Caste members. They are reading and translating writings on enemy ships.
To identify the name of the vessel and so to get a better understanding of enemy fleet size, fleet compilation and so on,
and to translate writings like "Handle with care - flammable" so the Air Caste gunners know where to shoot best.
One could expect that they do the same job when the Fire Caste is fighting on a planet. Plus translating enemy radio voice signals.


Arka0415 wrote:
gunrock wrote:On the topic, I don't think anyone has talked about how ethereal's fit into the commander structure. Presumably, way up the chain they're the ones calling the shots, but lower level ethereal presumably also operate in cadres in some capacity.

Ethereals tend to come in three types, so far as we've seen- Ethereals attached to Tau cadres, the military high command, and those that are involved with imperial government.

Ethereals in Tau cadres seem to fill the role command advisors, chaplains, and political officers. While Tau commanders run the day-to-day tactical operation of the cadre, an Ethereal might set broad strategic goals, communicate with high command, and oversee secret objectives. They also act as political officers and chaplains, bolstering morale and seeing to the spiritual needs of the troops.


Just for completion. In "The Greater Evil" there seems to be a fourth kind of ethereal. Think he was called a "Seeker".
He worked similar to an imperial Inquisitor (as far as I know about them), travelling alone, being and working quite independent and joining Tau forces where he feels that something interesting can be found. In this case it was Chaos infesting an orbital city.
To do this he mixed himself under Fire Warriors and dressed like them.

So do we have ethereals as secret agents, too?
Makes sense that this job is done by ethereals, otherwise other Castes could gather too explosive information.

I hope I could contribute a bit to this interesting topics. :fear:

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nic
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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#28 » Feb 04 2018 09:22

One of the things that has struck me with T'au is that they have what is essentially an honorific structure of titles beyond which it is really hard to define any equivalent military structure.

Perhaps this is because they do not truly have a military rank structure in the sense that we understand it.

We can see that the leader of a squad of Fire Warriors can be either Shas'la or Shas'ui. With a strong sense of belonging that we ascribe to T'au we can perhaps take it that the Shas'ui there has chosen to remain with their unit - or had that chosen for them. They have the 'ui status which appears to translate across T'au society so it is not strictly a military rank but is a broader recognition of seniority or honour. Militarily the squad will always have a squad leader who could generally be from one of two social grades within the caste.

As we go up the social ladder there are expectations that an individual would have a more senior military role. So a 'vre has too much social rank to be given a team leader role in most situations - unless that team is of the highly valued and prestigious Battlesuits in which case it is fitting that the leader could be of this higher social standing. Again this does not need to be the case, a Battlesuit team leader could be a 'ui who is well regarded or as a result of a field promotion to the position.

When we get to Shas'o it might be better to think of their title as equivalent to Lord rather than General. They are the 'nobility' of a meritocratic system and while they presumably do discern a system of relative merit amongst themselves (Shadowsun is clearly more highly regarded than the average Shas'o) this is only one factor when it comes to assigning military rank to an endeavor. Each Shas'o conventionally belongs to a particular Cadre but clearly they are empowered to sometimes command much larger (potentially vast) forces. Perhaps we should regard those personal Cadre almost as the retainers of a 'noble' who habitually work and train with them and who also supply the sense of belonging that is part of being T'au.

Shas'el are then the minor nobility - Knights rather than Lords.

This is a lot more fluid than modern military hierarchies and reflects their roots in a warrior culture. It also means that trying to work out who is equivalent to a Corporal or a General will always be fraught with problems - sometimes the role of Corporal is filled by a Shas'la and sometimes by a Shas'ui and either appears to be acceptable and normal. Within a Cadre they all know and understand the military hierarchy and they have a means to assess merit (and hence precedence) between Cadres. They do this without the fixed and fine-grained subdivisions of rank that you might find in the AM. This - for them - fixes the whole issue of how to translate ranks across Septs which would very much be an issue when spread across space without instantaneous communication or fast reliable transit.

The last part of my thinking on this is that everything probably varies quite strongly by Sept - and that the rules are quite likely stretched beyond recognition in the Enclaves. One sept might regard it as customary to have only a single Shas'o to command an entire invasion army while another might readily find themselves sending several because they needed those particular Cadres in-theatre and would not consider separating them from their Shas'o. The Farsight Enclaves are in a fairly constant state of military action and apparently see no reason to ration or limit how many Shas can be honoured all the way up to Shas'o rank if they deserve it.

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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#29 » Feb 04 2018 07:35

nic wrote:One of the things that has struck me with T'au is that they have what is essentially an honorific structure of titles beyond which it is really hard to define any equivalent military structure.

Perhaps this is because they do not truly have a military rank structure in the sense that we understand it.


Spot on! Which I was trying to say in my earlier post. Caste rank isn't military rank, it's the ranking within the caste.

Fire Caste Social Ranks
-Saal:...Cadet
-La:.....Warrior
-Ui:.....Veteran
-Vre:....Hero
-El:......Noble/Knight
-O:......Commander (Lord)

FYI: The system of warrior, veteran, hero, noble (champion), commander was the 3rd edition WH40K ranking system for special characters/HQ choices.

nic wrote:We can see that the leader of a squad of Fire Warriors can be either Shas'la or Shas'ui. With a strong sense of belonging that we ascribe to T'au we can perhaps take it that the Shas'ui there has chosen to remain with their unit - or had that chosen for them. They have the 'ui status which appears to translate across T'au society so it is not strictly a military rank but is a broader recognition of seniority or honour. Militarily the squad will always have a squad leader who could generally be from one of two social grades within the caste.

Agreed.

The Shas'la/Shas'Ui commands the firewarrior squads
Image


nic wrote:As we go up the social ladder there are expectations that an individual would have a more senior military role. So a 'vre has too much social rank to be given a team leader role in most situations - unless that team is of the highly valued and prestigious Battlesuits in which case it is fitting that the leader could be of this higher social standing. Again this does not need to be the case, a Battlesuit team leader could be a 'ui who is well regarded or as a result of a field promotion to the position.


For the -Vre on the path of the Mantle of the Hero, he or she, might also be the leader of the commander's crisis battlesuit team. For the -Vre on the path of the Fireblade, it might mean being the second-in-command to the Shas'Nel.

nic wrote:When we get to Shas'o it might be better to think of their title as equivalent to Lord rather than General. They are the 'nobility' of a meritocratic system and while they presumably do discern a system of relative merit amongst themselves (Shadowsun is clearly more highly regarded than the average Shas'o) this is only one factor when it comes to assigning military rank to an endeavor. Each Shas'o conventionally belongs to a particular Cadre but clearly they are empowered to sometimes command much larger (potentially vast) forces. Perhaps we should regard those personal Cadre almost as the retainers of a 'noble' who habitually work and train with them and who also supply the sense of belonging that is part of being T'au.

Shas'el are then the minor nobility - Knights rather than Lords.

Somewhere among the thousands of posts on the A.T.T. forum, a member made the comment about crisis battlesuits that they were in effect like the cavalry. Wow, things were never the same after that for me! And if you add in the stealthsuits as light cavalry, then you have the complete nobility! With the firewarriors being the infantry, you have the complete feudal order - High nobility, lower gentry, and commoners.

Shas'El are the Samurai (Knights) of the Fire Caste
Image


nic wrote:This is a lot more fluid than modern military hierarchies and reflects their roots in a warrior culture. It also means that trying to work out who is equivalent to a Corporal or a General will always be fraught with problems - sometimes the role of Corporal is filled by a Shas'la and sometimes by a Shas'ui and either appears to be acceptable and normal. Within a Cadre they all know and understand the military hierarchy and they have a means to assess merit (and hence precedence) between Cadres. They do this without the fixed and fine-grained subdivisions of rank that you might find in the AM. This - for them - fixes the whole issue of how to translate ranks across Septs which would very much be an issue when spread across space without instantaneous communication or fast reliable transit.

Daimyo Shas'O'Kais and his cadre retinue?
Image


The Tau are a different in terms of both culture and military organization from the Imperium of Man. Whatever differences there are between septs, the cultural continuity provided by the caste system, plus the Ethereal caste, is the glue that hold the various septs together. "Unity and Progress" are the promises of the Tau'va. Emphasis on the "unity", more on this point later.
nic wrote:The last part of my thinking on this is that everything probably varies quite strongly by Sept - and that the rules are quite likely stretched beyond recognition in the Enclaves. One sept might regard it as customary to have only a single Shas'o to command an entire invasion army while another might readily find themselves sending several because they needed those particular Cadres in-theatre and would not consider separating them from their Shas'o. The Farsight Enclaves are in a fairly constant state of military action and apparently see no reason to ration or limit how many Shas can be honoured all the way up to Shas'o rank if they deserve it.


So, this means that within the hierarchy of the fire caste there is an internal division between those who wear the "Hero's Mantle" and who go on to higher command; and those who do not, but instead stay among the infantry. The choice of the Shas'Ui, if he or she earns the Mantle of the Hero, is then whether or not to accept it. Once the choice is made, my guess it is irreversible, and there is no going back. Either a firewarrior chooses the Tau’Er’ex’vre“The Path of the Hero’s Mantle” to become an aristocrat and crisis battlesuit pilot, to eventually become a Commander. Or the Tau’Shas’nan“The Path of the Fireblade” to become a lower aristocrat and infantry leader, to eventually become a cadre Fireblade.

Rethinking the role of the Firebalde after your post nic, and I have come to conclusion that the shas'nan or shas'nel is in fact the true commander of the cadre, and not merely the second to the shas'el or shas'o. Which makes sense if you think of the commander being in the Orca/Manta waiting to drop on to the battlefield; while the shas'nan stands besides his or her firewarriors in the field.

For a firewarror to choose the Hero's Mantle, is in effect, to separate his or her self from the rest of their fellow firewarriors in the cadre. He is now part of a smaller, elite group of firewarriors; who are the "nobility" of the fire caste.

About the Farsight Enclaves: Whatever the organization of the fire caste in the Enclaves it will certainly be different, radically possibly? But that's for a separate discussion thread. Now here's a question - did the followers of Farsight (his cadre, including the earth caste/water caste) provide the core of his breakaway group? In other words, did their personal allegiance to him, override their commitment to the Tau'va; and therefore cause them to follow O'Shovah out of the Empire? Again, does this pose a future problem for the rest of the Empire? Could this happen again?



TauMan
PS To all you have contributed so far, great job! I think (IMHO) that this discussion thread has been one of the most informative, and thought provoking threads, in couple of years now. Again great job everyone!
:)
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Arka0415
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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#30 » Feb 04 2018 08:37

TauMan wrote:
nic wrote:The last part of my thinking on this is that everything probably varies quite strongly by Sept - and that the rules are quite likely stretched beyond recognition in the Enclaves. One sept might regard it as customary to have only a single Shas'o to command an entire invasion army while another might readily find themselves sending several because they needed those particular Cadres in-theatre and would not consider separating them from their Shas'o. The Farsight Enclaves are in a fairly constant state of military action and apparently see no reason to ration or limit how many Shas can be honoured all the way up to Shas'o rank if they deserve it.


So, this means that within the hierarchy of the fire caste there is an internal division between those who wear the "Hero's Mantle" and who go on to higher command; and those who do not, but instead stay among the infantry. The choice of the Shas'Ui, if he or she earns the Mantle of the Hero, is then whether or not to accept it. Once the choice is made, my guess it is irreversible, and there is no going back. Either a firewarrior chooses the Tau’Er’ex’vre“The Path of the Hero’s Mantle” to become an aristocrat and crisis battlesuit pilot, to eventually become a Commander. Or the Tau’Shas’nan“The Path of the Fireblade” to become a lower aristocrat and infantry leader, to eventually become a cadre Fireblade.

Rethinking the role of the Firebalde after your post nic, and I have come to conclusion that the shas'nan or shas'nel is in fact the true commander of the cadre, and not merely the second to the shas'el or shas'o. Which makes sense if you think of the commander being in the Orca/Manta waiting to drop on to the battlefield; while the shas'nan stands besides his or her firewarriors in the field.

I can definitely see Fireblades having a real command rank, but from a tactical standpoint I think there might be some issues. The Fireblade is probably really preoccupied by directing the infantry gunline- I feel like it'd be difficult for a Fireblade to work so closely with infantry while also being the cadre commander.

A battlesuit-equipped Commander, on the other hand, would have access to communications grids, analytic AI, drone information networks, and so on from their battlesuit's cockpit, allowing them to focus on the command of the cadre itself. I'm sure an AI software suite could control the weapons, while the majority of the Commander's concentration was on formations and tactics.

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Shas'nel Lar'shi here is certainly heroic, but he looks a little busy!

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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#31 » Feb 04 2018 09:21

Fireblades from my point of view are unsung champions of the Tau'va. They turn down greater honor and glory to stand with the gunline. The caste rank of shas'nel is a recognition of service above the rest of the infantry and equal but different than the battlesuit pilots.

In combat their role is clear. They provide a link between the commander's orders and the reality of getting the gunline to do things.

Outside of combat though I see them talking with the squad leaders and warriors. Helping guide their practice and reporting on morale and readiness to their commanders. I can't see that any firecaste command council would be complete without a seinor Shas'nel to advise on the status of the troops.

Likely enough they talk to Ethereals and point towards worried squads that need guidance. Aun'nels any one? I expect that relationship varies wildly from cadre to cadre

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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#32 » Feb 04 2018 09:33

Now if a shas'o were sitting inside a command post 300 kilometers away, or in a command post in a Manta high above the battlefield, or in a command post somewhere in space, then okay. But he's not is he?
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Instead the shas'o is busy jumping out of a perfectly good Manta into a hot LZ. When does he have the time to direct the action on the ground?
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Which leaves the only effective commander in field, the man who knows what's going on, the shas'nel.
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Arka0415 wrote:A battlesuit-equipped Commander, on the other hand, would have access to communications grids, analytic AI, drone information networks, and so on from their battlesuit's cockpit, allowing them to focus on the command of the cadre itself. I'm sure an AI software suite could control the weapons, while the majority of the Commander's concentration was on formations and tactics.


This is the 41st millennium and the Tau Empire has the most advanced integrated battlefield systems. Everything the shas'o, the shas'nel has too. It has to be, otherwise the fire caste would be the Astra Milawhatnow. The shas'o is the person with the authority of command, but the responsibility for command lies with the shas'nel. The tactical command of battlefield operations is with the shas'nel; which frees up the shas'nel or shas'o to focus on strategic or larger meta aspects of the battlespace.

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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#33 » Feb 04 2018 10:24

TauMan wrote:
Arka0415 wrote:A battlesuit-equipped Commander, on the other hand, would have access to communications grids, analytic AI, drone information networks, and so on from their battlesuit's cockpit, allowing them to focus on the command of the cadre itself. I'm sure an AI software suite could control the weapons, while the majority of the Commander's concentration was on formations and tactics.

This is the 41st millennium and the Tau Empire has the most advanced integrated battlefield systems. Everything the shas'o, the shas'nel has too. It has to be, otherwise the fire caste would be the Astra Milawhatnow. The shas'o is the person with the authority of command, but the responsibility for command lies with the shas'nel. The tactical command of battlefield operations is with the shas'nel; which frees up the shas'nel or shas'o to focus on strategic or larger meta aspects of the battlespace.

This is the sticking point for me though. Unless the Shas'nel has an impressive set of implants or a really detailed wrist-mounted touchscreen or something, there's just no way that a Commander in a battlesuit wouldn't have access to a much more impressive command suite inside that giant XV85. Performing a Manta Strike isn't like making a parachute jump- the Commander could leave nearly everything to software and AI, with little need to concentrate on the physical aspect of the jump itself. In fact, the whole idea of having a command figure who also actively pilots a battlesuit seems to necessitate giving over many functions to software and AI.

That said, I also would assume that most XV85 Commanders are Shas'el rank- piloting a battlesuit on the front lines really doesn't seem like something a senior general/field marshal-level commander officer would be doing.

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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#34 » Feb 04 2018 11:13

TauMan wrote:
This is the 41st millennium and the Tau Empire has the most advanced integrated battlefield systems. Everything the shas'o, the shas'nel has too. It has to be, otherwise the fire caste would be the Astra Milawhatnow. The shas'o is the person with the authority of command, but the responsibility for command lies with the shas'nel. The tactical command of battlefield operations is with the shas'nel; which frees up the shas'nel or shas'o to focus on strategic or larger meta aspects of the battlespace.


Not necessarily. The Tau might indeed be extremely technologically advanced, but they're still bound to laws of physics (as much as physics apply in the 40k setting), so their communications and command and control equipment will still take up space and weight. Thus, a counter-point would be "If the Shas'nel is sitting inside a devilfish or a dedicated command vehicle loaded up with radios, computers, displays and other such gear then OK, but they're not are they? They're standing around by themselves or in a Firewarrior team". At the end of the day between its larger size and mechanically-assisted strength, a battlesuit can carry a lot more useful command and control equipment than a Fire Warrior can on their own (because from a perspective of how much equipment they can carry, that's exactly what the average Shas'nel is).

And sure, Tau systems are really well-integrated so the Shas'nel could probably have all the relevant information bounced to them from other places, but they're still limited in just how much of it they can process at any time - at best they have a helmet HUD, at worst they're stuck looking through the display on their gauntlet electronics. Even if the standard Fire Warrior or Pathfinder helmet display is adequate, they're still going to process it all less efficiently than a commander in a battlesuit packed full of high-powered computers and assisted by at least one AI (probably more, to say nothing of stuff like Puretide Engram Chips).

As an aside, this is also the Kakapo Canon(tm) explanation as to why the XV-85 battlesuit is a thing - its larger size over the standard XV8 is used to accommodate more communications and command/control equipment, as well as the larger reactor needed to power it, with the extra hardpoint capacity being a pleasant byproduct.

Now, the argument in turn would then be that any frontline Tau commander should then be riding around in some kind of command variant devilfish, since you can fit even more communications and command/control equipment on a devilfish or related vehicle than you can on a battlesuit, and indeed that kind of thing is exactly what most armies in real life tend to do (as well as the Space Marines, oddly enough), but for whatever reason GW and FW have both come to the conclusion that a Tau command vehicle is not worth making, so we're stuck having to make do without one (unless of course one were to kitbash such a vehicle and create some homebrew rules for it...).

It should also be noted that a Shas'nel isn't any more likely to be out of harm's way than a Shas'O in a battlesuit. They're still on the front lines, guiding the Fire Warriors in the thick of it. They're in just as much danger as a battlesuit commander, arguably even more given that they have less protection (neither a ton of battlesuit plating nor an optional shield generator) and can't move away as easily if their position is about to be overrun.

It should also be noted that a battlesuit commander jumping out of a Manta or Orca dropship isn't necessarily going to land right in the teeth of the enemy - the 6th edition codex mentions that there are a lot of battlesuit commanders who direct from behind the lines and only start fighting themselves when they absolutely positively need to. Indeed, it could be argued that a battlesuit commander controlling a cadre has the same kind of workload and danger level as a Soviet tank battalion commander (or Western tank company commander) sitting in their command tank - sure they can use it to fight if necessary (it is a tank after all), but they're probably going to spend most of their time and energy using the extra radios and gadgets in the command tank to direct the forces under them.

Now a senior Shas'O in charge of a Contingent or Battle is a different matter, but then going by most background they usually are in a command post hundreds of kilometres away from the fighting unless their cadre has to do something really, really, really important.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that there's as much precedent for a battlesuit commander to be actually commanding a Hunter Cadre as there is for a Shas'nel.

EDIT: Ninja'd a bit by Arka.
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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#35 » Feb 05 2018 12:03

I hear you guys talking but you're forgetting about drones, of course the Shas'nel has drones along. Not as effective as suit screens, but alleviates the need to carry the stuff.

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Re: Tau Command/Rank Structure

Post#36 » Feb 05 2018 12:09

Shas'la Cali Nate wrote:I hear you guys talking but you're forgetting about drones, of course the Shas'nel has drones along. Not as effective as suit screens, but alleviates the need to carry the stuff.


I don't think we're forgetting them, more simply going by what the models and artwork suggest, and since the Shas'nel model isn't accompanied by drones of any kind (unless you equip them with a couple of standard drones, but even then those are just regular old gun, shield or marker drones, not really the kind of drones you'd want to carry stuff), and there's no official artwork I've ever seen of them being accompanied by a swarm of equipment drones, it's reasonable to assume that they don't have them (most notably Shadowsun's command-link drone being something unique to her suggests that dedicated equipment drones like that are a relative rarity for front-line Fire Caste commanders). Based on such evidence it's much more likely that a Shas'nel simply focuses on smaller-level stuff and directs the Fire Warriors around them with what equipment they can carry on them.

Besides, any equipment mounted on a drone can probably be used just as easily to help commander in a battlesuit, on top of all the extra gear on the battlesuit itself.
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