So, I am working on this military organisation called the United Nations Extraterrestrial Response Unit or UNERU for short, but I have had the problem of developing its doctrine in a plausible manner. But first some background:

UNERU is an XCOM-like military and research conglomerate of organisations that was established by the UN Security Council in 1975 (14 years after an extraterrestrial spacecraft was shot down over Guatemalan airspace and crash landed near the town of Flores), along with a reorganised and reactivated Military Staff Committee as part of the conglomerate on the 30 of June of 1975 (Operations begin effective 00:00 hours UTC on the 1st of July of 1975). The conglomerate is a continuation of the old United Nations Extraterrestrial Investigation Committee (or the UNEIC for short), which was originally an organisation established in secret to study the extraterrestrial technology and preserve the evidence of the Flores Incident. However, on the 17th of June of 1975, sightings of unidentified objects skyrocketed and SETI's discovery of "near-relativistic anomalies" in the Inner Oort Cloud three months prior, began to worry the UN and after four weeks of reports, the Extraterrestrial Response Treaty was signed in Base Aérienne 188 in the French Territory of the Afars and Issas in secret (OTL Djibouti), and thus UNERU was born (and the UNEIC integrated into the new conglomerate, which originally was supposed to be an organisation) as the R&D Division, originally, now retaining the name of the UNEIC, more on that now. So, here is how UNERU is organised:


  • R&D Division (the old UNEIC)
  • Manufacturing Division
  • Public Relations Division (established after UNERU goes public at some point in the first book of the UNERU Trilogy)
  • Counterterrorism Bureau (which deals with any terrorist organisation that has received support and/or funding from our unwelcome guests)
  • Air Forces (Which shoot down extraterrestrial craft and engage in air combat)
  • National Commands (Which deal with the crash sites, and recoveries of said crash sites)
  • Regional Commands (Coordinate with National Commands and deal with attacks and activity near or in major cities)
  • Global Command (The top of the chain and where the top leadership of UNERU meets, including The Commander, and is subordinate only to the Military Staff Committee and via them, the UN Security Council)


  • UNEIC (The R&D organisation of UNERU)
  • Various state and private arms and equipment manufacturers (Their purpose is obvious)
  • Military Staff Committee (The organisation responsible for UNERU's military operations worldwide)
    • UNERU Armed Forces (The Military Branch of UNERU, comprised of specifically selected elite soldiers and pilots; they pick the best of the best)
    • UNERU Rapid Deployment Teams (RDTs for short, they deal with the recovery of extraterrestrial technology and clearing of crash sites; part of the UNERU Armed Forces; think of them as an SAS or Seal Team Six of sorts)
    • UNERU Air Forces (UNERU's military pilots which shoot down extraterrestrial objects, deploy, RDTs, GLINIT agents and UNERU Regulars around the world, and coordinate with national air forces; part of the UNERU Armed Forces)
    • UNERU Army (UNERU's Regular forces, deployed to protect major cities and conduct military operations too large for the RDTs to deal with; part of the UNERU Armed Forces; also coordinate with national armies)
  • NASA and the Soviet Space Program (The Global and Solar System-wide monitoring organisations for UNERU)
  • Global Counterterrorism Initiative (GLINIT) (The anti-terrorist organisation of UNERU, which deals with pro-extraterrestrial terrorist groups and individuals)

Oh and NOTE: UNERU is supposed to = realistic XCOM to a certain extent. Problem is that unlike XCOM, they do not stay secretive for a long period of time.

So, to speak: when I make a fictional military force/organisation such as the one I am describing, what are some factors I need to consider?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This is an extremely broad topic, could you give a little more context? Technology, national basis, size, resources, political support, threats? Factors applicable to one setting may be completely inapplicable to another. $\endgroup$
    – Catgut
    Sep 20, 2016 at 14:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well, alright......what do you need me to do? $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2016 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ We would need you to provide background about how and when does this happens. Place, time (even if it does not exist yet), technology (advanced ? Medieval ?), size of your organization, role, who are they fighting with / fighting against, possible resources and firepower / manpower ... Anything that could help us identify what could possibly go against your organization in an efficient manner. Feel free to overextend ! $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2016 at 14:45
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @David Good point. I can deal with that now. $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2016 at 16:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @FutureHistorian A conglomerate makes a lot of sense; the military guys don't really care about the artifacts they recover, and hand them off to the science guys to do their thing, who in turn give designs to the supply guys, who in turn give bullets to the military guys. None of the parts are lock-stepped with each-other though like they would be if their part of one unit. for the 'specific' part I would consider what specifically you want to know; perhaps propose a scenario and ask if its reasonable. (currently the question is just a 'setting' rather then a scenario') $\endgroup$
    – Marky
    Sep 20, 2016 at 17:06

2 Answers 2


Military doctrine describes the methods and organization of a military unit. Doctrine is a broad set of guidelines for how a unit organizes and what it's "guiding philosophy" (if you will) is. Doctrine must be derived from an understanding of the strategic environment and likely conflicts that the unit will engage in. In the case of an organization set up to defend near Earth space, the guiding element will be the way they analyze space itself as a medium of strategic operations.

Some good work in this area is out there. A while back, there was a serious effort to create a "space command" that would be equivalent to a major branch of the US military, and the basic analysis that was done in those think pieces are what you are going to basically replicate.

For this particular case: what is unique about the terrain in which this conflict takes place? A: a LOT actually. Space is incredibly critical to the security of all nations because any hostile entity that controls near Earth space can freely rain down massive destruction on pretty much any point on the planet. All you need is any hunk of metal with sufficient mass to survive re-entry and you can erase any city on the planet more efficiently than a nuclear bomb. If your bad guys are zipping around in UFOs, then they have the ability to boost such things into orbit (Look up "God Rods"). That makes control of near Earth orbit strategically imperative to any Earth nation.

Now when we look at combat in space, a lot of things are unique. Enough that it makes a lot of sense to have a military organization set up specifically to handle combat in that region. Space, thanks to fuel costs, gravity wells, and orbital mechanics, has LOCs (strategy speak for Lines Of Communication) -which are natural paths of movement across a relatively open medium. LOCs were first theorized and written about in reference to Naval warfare by a very brilliant guy named Mahan. You should read up on his strategic thoughts.

Why are there LOCs in space you ask? Can't you just fly any which way you want any time? Sure you can, but at any given time, there is clearly ONE best orbit to take if you want to get between Mars and Earth, or between Earth and Saturn, etc etc. Those orbits are always changing, and they aren't a static "line in space" -more like a vector- but there are clearly ways of anticipating how enemies are going to be moving through the solar system in order to minimize fuel loss and travel time.

What that means is: if your little grey men have an advance base on Mars or something, we would be able to figure the route they are going to want to take and try to intercept them BEFORE they get into low Earth orbit. It is CRITICAL that we do this BEFORE they get into LEO because once they are in LEO, they can just send a single UFO on a kamikaze run and vaporize most of Washington DC.

Hence; dogfights in close orbit are NOT what we want to see happening up there! Instead, we would likely be trying to put together massive gun platforms that would have line of sight control over LEO. Think of this as a cross between a pre WWII battleship and a Napoleonic gunboat. These floating fortresses would have overlapping fields of fire that could control LEO and ensure that none of the bad guys can come in on a degrading orbit over a major city.

OBVIOUSLY control over such gun platforms would be a major source of political contention between the likes of the USSR (or Russia), USA, and China. This is probably where your need for some kind of UN control mechanism comes in, but there would be no perfect solution. Someone would have more control over the space force than everybody else and there would always be a fight over that spot.

So, analyzing space along Mahanian lines, we end up thinking about space warfare more like a pre-aircraft carrier naval conflict than a modern conflict over air dominance. Naval officers (particularly out of the submarine service) would probably be best prepared to deal with the demands of command in such an environment. I mention subs, because sub commanders must have a lot of independence, be cut off from easy comms for long periods of time, and deal with the psychological issues of a crew crammed into a small space together for long periods of time. They have adapted to deal with these issues, so sub commander makes sense as the background you would want in a space officer.

So, your doctrine grows out of these elements: What is unique about war on this particular terrain? Who are we expecting to fight? How can we conduct that fight? Who are we starting with as far as experience and personnel?

To me, it seems logical that red lines have to be control of low Earth orbit at all costs. Dominating orbital paths/LOEs to/from wherever the enemy is coming from becomes a secondary objective, but one that will become necessary if we ever want to end the war. Organization will have to stress independence for commanders (because once you get out any distance, instant comms go by bye and you have to wait a half hour to get a reply from ground HQ), psychological stability (so people can handle the stresses of being cooped up in a tin can for a long time) and probably would reflect a naval military structure (Mahanian strategy). You can work from there to logically derive how things would HAVE to work, particularly if you know how military units function.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This entire answer brought a whole new level of thinking for me; previously I got stuck on the concept of "Xcom", which is all about ground/infantry engagements of aliens after an interceptor has done its job in atmosphere, but with this sort of doctrine that's what happens when everything has gone wrong $\endgroup$
    – Marky
    Sep 20, 2016 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Marky Makes sense. Then again, this IS the 1970s, so............ :( $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2016 at 19:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @FutureHistorian the 1970s.... when the U.S. had an effective space program that would take someone to the moon. A space navy at that point is not really unreasonable... its just going to feel (more) primitive. $\endgroup$
    – Marky
    Sep 20, 2016 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Marky. True. Then again, NASA in 1975 had only 0.98% of the American budget, and it was dropping. The worst part is that development of spacecraft and/or satellites to fight ET would take time. So, I have extreme doubts that you can develop a new, formalised space force to the maximum limit by 1980 (five years into the war), though I can see satellites capable of delaying the final escalation of the war. $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2016 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ @FutureHistorian, I agree with you wehn you are talking about formal naval craft crewed with warfighters, etc. The question was about doctrine, so I went into doctrine, which is more about end goals and big strategic picture than details. Of course, while you are working to get your new craft cranked out (and remember in times like WWII R&D cycles became incredibly compressed by necessity) ANYTHING you put in orbit is a potential weapon. All you have to do is accelerate a mass the right way and intercept your target. We DID have plenty of ICBMs sitting around in the 1970s for space-denial ops. $\endgroup$
    – JBiggs
    Sep 22, 2016 at 18:12

First, of course, the UNERU is not a military unit. It is an umbrella organization which sets goals and coordinates the resources provided by member states - in this case, mostly the US and Russia.

Second, the behavior of the organization is critically dependent on issues alluded to but not specifically addressed in your description.

Air Forces (Which shoot down extraterrestrial craft and engage in air combat)

Regional Commands (Coordinate with National Commands and deal with attacks and activity near or in major cities)

So, is this a shooting war or not? Are the UFOs landing troops and invading or not? If the answer to either of these is "yes", then your statement that "unlike XCOM, they do not stay secretive for a long period of time." is a masterpiece of understatement.

About the only way the UN would be sucked in to this conflict is if the Bugs have established a beachhead, and it is judged that this must be eliminated, and the job is too big for the affected country. Even then, if the subject country appealed to the US or Russia for help, they'd probably get it in return for control of any recovered alien technology.

If the problem is that the skies are swarming with saucers, but they have no obvious area of concentration, primary action would be handled by each country individually, although the UN would probably be called on to provide coordination of information. The UNERU would, in this case, be an intelligence and research organization. Without a need for global-scale military action (and by that I mean coordinated on a global scale) there is simply no reason to make the UNERU a military unit.

  • $\begingroup$ To be honest, this is a secret war between the formation of UNERU and mid-1976 (when Berlin is hit in the real life equivalent of a terror mission) and to be honest, they do have some bases in the Lunar South Pole later on so..... $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2016 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ To continue, the war after the First Battle of Berlin officially becomes a shooting war and then I ask? Post-Berlin, does UNERU have a reason to militarise? $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2016 at 16:58

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .