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The Empire of Hetkaptah, with its capitol in Alexandria, Khemet / Egyptos, dominates the modern solar system. While their science has obviously moved on from the old Platonism, allowing them to establish colonies on multiple extraterrestrial bodies, but Greek philosophy is still an important part of their cultural heritage.

One way this manifests is in the emblems of the major branches of the military:

  1. The army operates over land, and uses the cube as its emblem, associated with the classical element of earth.
  2. The navy operates on and in water, and uses the icosahedron as its emblem, associated with the classical element of water.
  3. The air force operates in the air, and uses the octahedron as its emblem, associated with the classical element of air.
  4. The space force operates in outer space, and uses the dodecahedron as its emblem, associated with the classical element of cosmic quintessence.

But, that leaves one element and one regular polyhedron unused, which simply will not do!

So, what sort of branch of military service could be created with an association with fire, to use the tetrahedron as its emblem?

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    $\begingroup$ This seems like a entirely subjective question, where you're asking us to make up a new military branch that's somehow associated with fire. Please keep in mind that brainstorming and idea generation are both not a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 6 at 2:48
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    $\begingroup$ The only thing you seem to have left is subterranean - where you'd find lava and heat. Am I missing something? $\endgroup$ May 6 at 3:22
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    $\begingroup$ Greek philosophy is still an important part of our cultural heritage. (And I don't see the relationship between any kind of quintessence and classical Greek philosophy. Did you mistype quintessence for aether?) (The word quintessence is obviously Latin, not Greek; it was coined by a Pseudo-Lully in the 14th century, about 1700 years after the death of Plato; and it was used mostly in the context of some late forms of alchemy, never in the context of the Platonic elements.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 6 at 4:45
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    $\begingroup$ @LittlePickle. Actually, if you had a subterranean force, I'd make them the Earth branch, and give Fire to the Army instead. Make their preferred weapons be flamethrowers or something. (They also blow a lot of stuff up, so fire works there as well.) $\endgroup$ May 6 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ The truth is that the organization of a country's military is completely arbitrary. Some countries base theirs off another country's military, so there is some tradition there, but it's still essentially arbitrary. The "air force" is only a separate branch because a particularly vocal US Army general managed to lobby for its elevation from a corps of the US Army into its own branch (and many nations have followed suit due to tradition). The US marines aren't quite their own branch (more like branch lite). You can arrange these however you like, fire could even just be the artillery branch. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    May 6 at 20:13

18 Answers 18

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Reserves.

A National Guard, an organized militia, even conscripts if they're that sort of Empire.

The fire, so goes the saying, is in the belly. In this case, the belly of the people. It is their national spirit and determination, hot and bright and fierce, and whatever other adjectives best fit.

The Empire makes it very clear that its reservists are not "lesser" soldiers, but are commendable in being brave enough to step up from their civilian jobs to join the fight when their country calls on them. Fire starts as a spark but can send a whole forest roaring; one call to arms brings the whole Empire to bear soon enough.

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    $\begingroup$ "In times of great need, light the Fires of the Masses and watch them burn through our enemies, consuming everything!" $\endgroup$ May 6 at 10:17
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    $\begingroup$ I like the answer ! But does the word "Reserves" really capture the essence here? The word could be seen as referring to "back up folk" rather than the heart of the people. $\endgroup$
    – Behacad
    May 6 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps it could be called Civil Reserve, Militia, or maybe some greek name like Politis, which apparently means civilian: translate.google.com/… $\endgroup$
    – Blueriver
    May 6 at 19:27
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    $\begingroup$ Their motto: "Keep the home fires burning"? $\endgroup$ May 6 at 22:31
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Manufacturing and Supply

The first instinct with fire and the military is to go to fire's destructive might, but in spite of it being called a fire-fight, there's very little fire used.

Instead, look at the Greek god of fire, Hephaestus, and realize that the true home of fire is in the forge! Everything the military uses, from the largest space-dreadnought to the smallest bullet was shaped and formed here. This is where fire can truly shine, providing the burning heart that keeps the entire military running.

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  • $\begingroup$ For how valuable attacking supply lines could be, this could be extended to include point-defense forces intended to protect factories, shipyards, rails etc. $\endgroup$
    – Wazoople
    May 6 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ Also: energy supplies for all the other branches $\endgroup$
    – Bergi
    May 7 at 23:32
  • $\begingroup$ In another word "logistics" - every military needs supply, and the failure of the supply chain is a critical fail. Fire is also used for cooking, and cooked food is far better than raw. $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    May 8 at 20:40
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Strategic forces (nuclear/handwavium dissuasion)

The branch that control the most deadly weapons (and their conveyors), capable of destroying entire planets / civilizations, used only in last resort, similar to our nuclear missiles.

These weapons bring the fire of hell upon their targets, burn/destroy everything, and thus are clearly linked to fire.

The tetrahedron can be seen as just a simplification of a flame or (if it's more "pointy") as an arrow / missile.

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Electronic / Cyberwarfare operations

Cyberops affect all theatres of warfare and "peacetime" intelligence gathering, so it organisationally makes sense for it to be a separate branch. As for the association with fire - viral attacks are quickly changing, expand wherever there is "fuel" (unprotected devices) and are the essence of human advancement, embodied by the taming of fire.

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  • $\begingroup$ Relying as they do on invisible radio waves, these also make a great option for the Aether force, if OP chooses to follow other suggestions and make Space Force be Fire. $\endgroup$ May 6 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ I was going to answer secret police, because they burn books ... but that is fairly duplicative of this one. $\endgroup$ May 7 at 14:26
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Artillery / Bombardment Not sure this could be considered a Branch as a whole, but would operate much like the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Which was the aerial warfare service component of the United States Army before and during WWII. But controlling artillery ordnance delivery from orbit or land operations.

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    $\begingroup$ ...and the thing they do is actually, technically, called "making fires" on a target. $\endgroup$
    – fectin
    May 6 at 13:35
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Frame challenge: the best branch to associate to fire is the space force

In ancient philosophy, all elements had an own place* to which they tend to belong and that they tend to naturally reach

From bottom to top the elements were earth, water, air and fire... The plane of fire was above the sky (because fire tends to go above the air) So I would suggest that the fire should be associated to the space force.

The "fifth" element was usually an embodyment of the order to which the four elements are mixed (i.e. love), so I would associate it to the headquarter, or the royal guard.

** Probably this is a concept more pertinent to Aristotle than Plato, but I'm a bit rusty on my philosophy studies

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    $\begingroup$ It's indeed Aristotle who made that Elements idea popular, but for him, it was the element of the celestial spheres. Quintessence as something that transcends normal physical elements, as the "finest destillation" of something, came up in late medieval times. It depends on the author's intentions whether he wasn to stick with the original meaning or the medieval one; given that Egyptian-themed fiction typically uses older memes, I'd expect him to stick with "space". (Then again, elements are Greek philosophy, not Egyptian...) $\endgroup$
    – toolforger
    May 7 at 18:58
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Special Forces

Fire represents the combination of multiple elements as fire requires fuel (from earth), oxygen (from air) and heat (and I'm sure you can work water and cosmic quintessence in there somewhere).

The best-of-the-best from the army, navy, air force and space force come together for additional multidisciplinary training and the four branches together have the four-sided tetrahedron as its symbol.

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    $\begingroup$ That would make fire a combination of four other elements, i.e. it wouldn't be an element anymore. This could be a plot hook (e.g. one party sees the fire forces as superior because combined, the other as inferior because not pure element), but it's not an answer that fits well with the question as stated. $\endgroup$
    – toolforger
    May 6 at 11:14
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    $\begingroup$ @toolforger Everything was fine. Until the fire nation attacked. $\endgroup$ May 6 at 16:43
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This is based on some comments, but might as well make it a full answer.

Subterranean Force

How does a Subterranean force represent Fire you say? It doesn't. They'd be the Earth force, and you'd give Fire to the Army instead.

They might prefer flamethrowers and explosives as their weapons, which would line up with Fire pretty well. And what does a gun do? It fires bullets. They call it "firepower" for a reason. Cannons, mortars, missiles, artillery, bombs, they all involve fire, so it totally lines up.

As for the Subterranean force, they'd be all about digging tunnels and attacking the enemy from below. Picture Elon Musk's "Boring Company", only with weapons. Or Underminer from the Incredibles, only a whole force of them.

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    $\begingroup$ Ah, so "Earth" is the army engineering corps! $\endgroup$ May 6 at 16:11
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Make space be fire instead

Each branch of the military is associated with the element composing the "terrain" that its vehicles operate on.

The army mainly uses land vehicles, which travel by pushing against the earth.

The navy mainly uses sea vehicles, which travel by pushing against the water. (Sailboats are propelled by the wind, but even they still push against the water.)

The air force mainly uses aircraft, which travel by pushing against the air.

And the space force mainly uses rocket ships, which travel by creating a plume of fire and pushing against that.

If you want to keep quintessence, you can use it for the cyberwarfare branch.

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Different Roles Within the Branches

I'd consider branching into two types of soldiers: active combat and support personnel.

All active combat soldiers are in the Fire group. A navy ship, for example, is crewed by people who work for the "water" force, and they handle damage control, logistics and basically everything that does not revolve around firing weapons. The people who fire the weapons work for the "fire" force (and have their own uniforms). (Possibly the ship even has two captains! The Fire Captain commands in combat situations while the Water Captain commands outside of combat situations.)

Similarly, the air force is everything with support and logistics for air operations but the combat pilots, security forces, combat controllers, etc, are all fire personnel.

It would basically be like if you took the American Marines and extended them to take over all combat roles in all other branches of the American armed forces. That's the Fire branch.

This might have some interesting implications in the culture or even prisoner exchanges. Maybe you capture an enemy naval ship and just let all the water personnel go, but the fire personnel are your real prisoners of war.

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The commanders in chief

It might not perfectly in line with the classical elements to put fire above the other elements, but it's very fitting for a Egyptian culture. For much of Egyptian history Ra, the god of the sun, was worshipped as the ruler of the world and all the other gods.

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Your ground units are the exclusively ground trained.

Your sea units are exclusively build and trained for water (small exception: marines).

Your air units are exclusively aircraft trained.

Your space units are exclusively build and trained in space.

Your Espatiers (more official word for Space Marines) are the ones who do operations in all 4. They are the ones who are send down to a planet to assault it or reinforce it. They have the equipment to stage assaults from the planet back into orbit. For these reasons they also have to have access to ground, air, water and space equipment simultaneously, with much of that equipment having overlaps with one another to achieve their goals.

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I mean...if you really wanted to they could operate near stars especially if there was significant stellar infrastructure. That would be specialized stuff compare to the regular space forces.

Like, why does water get it's own force when water combat is probably completely pitiful in the scheme of interstellar warfare? Sure, Earth is covered in water, but how many planets are actually like that? I would say that you have a similar problem justifying a navy because of that since it could easily become redundant when you have starships, especially in-atmosphere capable starships. Even without in-atmosphere capable starships, they could just deny use of the oceans like you can deny air space.

You're also stuck because then what happens if there's a planet covered in a liquid other than water? Is your water-element force allowed in? Or do you just send in the starships?

You would need a similar justification for the navy: significant ocean infrastructure on what few planets are actually covered in liquid bodies.

Land-based armies aren't redundant because it is easy to imagine most of the infrastructure being on land and we are land-based creatures.

An airforce is redundant too if you have space craft capable of seamessly operating in atmosphere. Even if the space craft aren't capable of operating in atmosphere, the air forces could still get absorbed into the much larger space forces if there is transferability in the skill set of operating space craft and aircraft.

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  • $\begingroup$ There is no interstellar warfare. Interplanetary, at best. The empire is still restricted to the solar system, and does not have a hegemony over Earth. $\endgroup$ May 8 at 19:14
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Clearly, the Fire emblem belongs either to the Witch-Hunting branch, or the book-burning Truth Maintenance branch of your military. Given that those are probably the same branch, you're good to go.

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Intelligence.

Fire is the fundamental change. Change without knowledge or guidance is chaos. To effect change that advances your objectives, one must have knowledge.

All your military branches are agents of action: they do. Your intelligence force does not do - it learns and it knows. The tetrahedron is the simplest of the solids. As regards military endeavors, intelligence is the most fundamental.

Of course the Intelligence corps reveres Athena, goddess of war, wisdom and far sight.

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The terraforming force.

The presence of a navy and airforce suggests that a terraforming process is going on for all or most of the planets the empire encounters, giving their colonies oxygen atmospheres and liquid water oceans. That takes time and specialized work. This force would be not unlike an engineer corps, but specifically organized and designed towards creating habitable colonies on otherwise hostile worlds.

The symbolic association of this organization with fire would be two-fold; on one hand, fire as a representation of civilization, technology, and transformation, often through destruction. The terraformers would disrupt the existing ecosystem and transform it forcefully into something they could use. On the other hand, fire could also represent the worlds they are changing. Extraterrestrial atmospheres could offer fire-adjacent risks like radiation, acidity, burning hot temperatures and enourmous electrical storms. The ships of the fire corps would be designed specifically to protect against these kinds of hazards, to brave the fires of alien worlds. These same ships would not be useful in an earth-like atmosphere or in open space, and their pilots and technicians would need an entirely different set of training, so it makes sense for them to fall under a wholly different organization than either the space or air forces.

An unspoken third rationale for the fire force is that, should the empire ever encounter a planet that already had life, they would burn it away to pave the path for humanity to expand ever further.

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The Nation

Call it what you will - the civilian population, the heart/soul/mind/will of the citizens, the popular opinion, the confidence of the Mothers, or the spirit of the mothers.

The Tripod of Military and Leadership structures still needs the support of the People to continue doing it's thing.

There's the possibility of many stirring phrases around "keeping the home fires burning"

While not strictly a branch of the military, there's a definite tripod between the armed forces, the political structures, and the civilians/scientists/farmers/transport/shipbuilders doing their part.

When the heart-fires of the home hearths grow cold and listless, the far-flung fighters loose their confidence, lacking the support of their home.

I suggest that FIRE represents the will and vigour of the people.

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  • $\begingroup$ this answer is expressly excluding any religious connection or symbolism. $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    May 8 at 20:50
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The Salvation Army

Because faith spreads like fhe fire of a candle lighting up other candles.

This is a christian symbolism but you can apply tbis to your fictional people even if they are not christians. Fire has historically been symbolically meaningful in most religions.

You could call that branch the divine branch, or faith branch, purification branch or something else just as ominous. It can either offer just regular religious service or work towards ensuring the empire is heathen-free.

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