So, this country has a caste system. There are some nobles on top, administrators/etc. towards the middle, military/enforcers further down, and the peasant caste on the bottom.

Some of these peasants decide to rebel, because, frankly, caste systems aren't really good for things like "self-determination" or "rights". They form a Taliban-style insurgency in this country's mountains, which are, for all intents and purposes, the Catskills by a different name.

The nobility, of course, believe that these peasants have overstepped their place in life, but they don't really want to actually "solve" the problem; having a constantly-present but weak insurgent force enables them to prove that they're "doing something about it", even if they're not actually crushing the insurgency, since it brings them fame, public recognition, and privileges from the old, semi-senile top caste member/ruler who thinks that their underlings are actually saving the place.

This country has an incredibly strong history in regards to knights/elite noble warriors. To that end, a popular method for nobles to prove that they're doing something about the insurrection is to hop in a one-crew armored fighting vehicle and head off into the mountains where the insurrection makes its home; the image they're trying to project is a modern knight, except one which rides a horse of steel rather than of sinew.

Such vehicles are personalized and highly unique designs; some examples:

  • An M3 Bradley-esque tracked vehicle armed with a 20mm cannon and 32 127mm surface-to-surface rockets somewhat similar in design to the Zuni aircraft rocket. Armored all-round in 20 millimeters of steel/7017 aluminum. Road speed 100 kph, overland speed 60 kph.

  • A 12-foot-tall quadrupedal mecha with four .50-caliber machine guns mounted in a triple remotely controlled weapons station, and an automatic 40mm grenade launcher. Speed in all circumstances is 40 kph. 50mm RHA all-round.

  • A "tumbleweed tank"-type vehicle with a hyper-compact energy source reverse-engineered from alien technology found in a perpetual hurricane; said energy source powers a 100-kilowatt-per-shot directed energy weapon. Armored with 35 millimeters of composite armor all-round. Road speed 140 kph, overland speed 50 kph.

None of them are very practical, but that's not the point; they're flashy, and the more expensive/awesome one is the better, since they're a display of wealth by the nobility manning them.

However, that impracticality means that they generally can't do the job on their own (seriously, it's one unit, it can't do much), and while the "noble modern knight destroying the filthy terrorists" is what's seen on the propaganda on television, in actuality most of the combat is done by a retinue of support vehicles and personnel, who are also responsible for most of the kill count figures that are cited on TV.

The question: what would a battalion-sized counter-insurgency armed force and its support structure look like if it was:

- (a) entirely privately funded and operated by someone with the net worth relative to ~$10 billion nowadays


- (b) structured around the glorification of a single noble and the exotic-but-impractical war machine they pilot?

Don't cite that alien technology I mentioned - the nobles hoard it for themselves.

  • $\begingroup$ You say it's a counter insurgency operation (which is a long term occupation dedicated to pacifying an area) but it doesn't sound like one; see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterinsurgency#Tactics . If it's just a "drain the sea" (a.k.a. kill anybody who seems as if they might be an insurgent and level their homes), then it's just an ordinary assault and ordinary unit compositions are fine. $\endgroup$ Sep 2, 2021 at 1:09
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    $\begingroup$ @GrumpyYoungMan They can't kill anyone who seems like an insurgent; to them, that's all of the peasantry. Therefore, the next best option is to go into the mountains, beat up on a bunch of poorly-fed freedom fighters who are armed with small arms and man-portable artillery, publicize it, and go home for the next year or two. $\endgroup$
    Sep 2, 2021 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ What kind of weaponry are the insurgents sporting? Since you mention Taliban in your question, is it safe to assume that they have assault rifles, RPGs and IEDs? $\endgroup$
    – Mookuh
    Sep 2, 2021 at 12:09

3 Answers 3


A noble out for the glory isn't going to be seen with an armed retinue on a jaunt like this they're going to be seen heading out into the hills with a minimal cadre of support crew to maintain their vehicle and a small supply train. This emphasises their personal prowess and self-sufficiency, it also minimises the risk they taking as a group it says "I can defend all of this alone and get the job done".

In the field it becomes a completely different story, if there is an actual rebel force that could threaten the status quo that is. If there isn't an actual rebellion worth mentioning then it's like Willk has it, your nobles hook up with their preferred film industry people and get it done. So assuming there is an actual organised rebellion to fight your noble goes on a tour of the latest hotspots with the troops that are permanently stationed up in the hills keeping an eye and a lid on that noble's assigned sector to get some good shots of them engaging enemy positions and the aftermath thereof while the real firepower is kept out of frame.

Depending on how much of the terrain has been made accessible by roading etc... most of the posted troops are going to either be infantry, mechanised infantry, or air cavalry, and there will certainly be some mix of those three branches needed to fight effectively in mountainous terrain unless you plan to simply bomb indiscriminately, (which some of the nobles who don't think they have anything to prove may do, simply plastering their whole assigned zone with napalm on an every changing roster to make their sector uninhabitable). The troops permanently posted to the warzone aren't going to be carrying the latest and greatest in the way of weaponry, they're going to be armed and armoured roughly equally to their opposition so that A. the rebels can't capture superior equipment from them, B. the war keeps grinding on for publicity purposes and C. the troops don't get ideas about turning their weapons on their betters after years stuck in the back of beyond chasing ghosts.


/structured around the glorification of a single noble and the exotic-but-impractical war machine they pilot?/

Special effects crews and actors.

You can't count on finding real insurgents to fight. Or maybe you find them and one of the ones you kill has beautiful eyes and then when people watch the video they think you are a bully, killing beautiful insurgents. Bah. Or what if they have snipers?? You have heard they shoot for the groin.

You want glory and you want it safely, you need to bring the ingredients yourself. Your ancestors went up into the hills and returned with the head of the dragon that they had quietly commissioned to be made for the occasion. You bring a camera crew and a bunch of actors who look like hillbilly insurgents should, appropriate vehicles for the insurgents (that you will blow up), stunt dummies and pyrotechnics.

You can hire some of the locals for authentic color but all of the fighting will be staged. And it will look great! It turns out you save the hillbilly with beautiful eyes (there really was one!) from brutal captors (that you brought with you) and your noblesse oblige melts that hard beautiful-eyed insurgent heart. The viewers love it!

The hillbilly with the beautiful eyes was astonished to have been hired by a noble to play a role for a show but turns out to be a natural talent. Sequel coming!

  • $\begingroup$ It's a good idea, but the end-goal is them generating tangible evidence of having "reduced the autonomous peasant population" - i.e. dead bodies, blown-up camps, etc. The fighting isn't staged, it's just that the noble isn't actually doing much of the actual fighting beyond posing their vehicle in front of a TV camera as it "fires on distant insurgent positions". Who cares if it hits? Rockets are cheap, the viewers can't see them landing anyway, the actual military forces attached will mop the insurgents up even if you don't kill them, and there'll always be more. $\endgroup$
    Sep 2, 2021 at 2:13
  • $\begingroup$ You give up the real game here: /even if they're not actually crushing the insurgency, since it brings them fame, public recognition/. The only real military attached are there to get the noble out fast if things go south. No-one is killed. Why should they be? The nobles like the insurgency as you point out. There is no reason for violence when you can accomplish your ends more spectacularly with much less risk. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Sep 2, 2021 at 2:23
  • $\begingroup$ @KEY_ABRADE If the main point is fame and the appearance of gloriously holding the line against the rebel scum then this is the way to go. If the nobles are actually trying to suppress the rebellion then a totally different approach is absolutely mandatory with standing patrols and permanent garrisons in the hills, as well as check points, travel documents, etc... to make rebellion harder to start and easier to spot, throughout the empire. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Sep 2, 2021 at 2:45
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    $\begingroup$ @KEY_ABRADE "Tangible evidence" can be created by SFX teams or practical effects. It seems like what your nobles really want is a mashup between a mecha anime and Hurt Locker starring themselves $\endgroup$ Sep 2, 2021 at 3:40
  • $\begingroup$ @KEY_ABRADE The other thing in favor of this answer is that the real insurgency has no reason to come out to get butchered by the nobility. The sensible thing for them to do is to go to ground and stay hidden until the battalion is withdrawn or, better yet, conduct guerilla attacks on other holdings of the nobility far away from the battalion's location. $\endgroup$ Sep 2, 2021 at 6:05

If you genuinely want them to do any fighting, or at least appear to do so, you'd want a) a large number of infantry to perform a lot of the genuine combat duties; b) excellent reconnaissance and intelligence gathering abilities - so you can strike at insurgents where it's safe and easy to do so; and c) the ability to bring down so much pain in a certain area that even if the insurgents manage to pull off a fast one and strike at a noble, there's no real danger to the noble as there is a large, well equipped and firepower-intensive force able to extract a nobleman from danger at the drop of a hat.

Expect lots of rotary wing air-cavalry. Plenty of drone or rotary wing reconnaisance capability. Lots of well-trained, SOF recon, too. Sprinkle in a dose of intelligence gathering from speaking to locals, etc. Don't forget the camera crew(s)!


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