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I've got a setting where a small group (10 million) of survivors rebuilt semi viable civilization on a distant, hospitable planet. They used superscience teleportation, actually their technology is not much better than early XXIst century.

They've lost contact with other human groups for almost 100 years. According to their knowledge at least few other groups should have survived. No idea about their intent. No idea about their strength. No idea whether there would be any contact. Actually teleportation "technology" allows even small group to open their gate.

Society on its own is quite peaceful, low-crime, prudent, risk averse etc. What would be the realistic military level that they keep anyway?

I know that there is a hint of opinion based, so I'd like more to put some reasonable brackets, between which such society should stay under normal conditions.

I see that there is a risk of some subjectivity, not mentioning that real life military spending fluctuate based on gov in power and mood of public opinion. So instead I ask what are realistic lower and upper bounds, that such society should stay within? My types:

Lower bounds:

  • some police special unit (they should have it anyway)

  • air control / weather radars, that would also be able to detect intruder aircraft

  • surveilance system to detect home grown potential terrorist and organized crime, what could also have a chance to detect some spies

  • some armored cars to be able to overwhelm a person with hunting rifle

  • stockpiled reserves in case of natural disaster

Upper bounds:

  • military strong enough to be able to make a coup d'etat (so their military should be a bit defanged), so very high civilian supervision even if it means reduced efficiency

  • military would be a tempting target for budget cuts so it's unlikely that they would spend more than a contemporary social democracies

  • small society means lack of economics of scale, so huge part of military equipment would have to be off the shelf civilian equipment

Any more ideas where I should put lower and upper bands? I specially think to what extend they should be able to make themsleves not worthy target for band of low tech but numerous nomads, or high tech mercenaries that read too much about Hernan Cortes? Or maybe its 100% based on their opinion, and the only thing to make it realistic is to show that such opinion changes every few elections?

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    $\begingroup$ What is «10 mln»? You've already got different guesses in different answers, so some posting effort is being wasted by your post being unclear. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Apr 23 '17 at 23:28
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    $\begingroup$ @JDługosz 10 millions obviously $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Apr 24 '17 at 0:32
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    $\begingroup$ It's not “obvious” when next to “small group”, and not every poster read it that way. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Apr 24 '17 at 3:47
  • $\begingroup$ Teleportation and loss of contact? $\endgroup$ – pjc50 Apr 24 '17 at 9:45
  • $\begingroup$ Where did they teleport from? Who else has teleportation tech? Who else knows the location of their planet? Is there any other way of interstellar travel in the universe? Can spaceships teleport? These need to be known for a threat assessment. $\endgroup$ – Solanacea Apr 24 '17 at 14:25
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As an example of a military force with a long period of peace consider the Swiss army:

  • About 6 million citizens and 2 million foreign people, so the total population is about 8 million
  • all male citizens should keep a personal weapon at home. (Note: this is a military weapon, like an assault rifle, not a hunting weapon)
  • about 20,000 people are trained in recruiting centers every year
  • there are professional soldiers
  • many weapons are manufactured inside the country, not imported
  • air forces and tanks are not brand-new, but not totally obsolete.

For an isolated space colony, without any competition and estimation of enemy's potential, I suppose that military high-tech development would be modest.

Combat readiness could vary depending on many circumstances:

  • common development/degradation
  • traditions
  • war awareness
  • etc.

At worst case you get

  • obsolete weapons without ammo
  • rusty semi-automatic planet defence system
  • only rumors about people outside the colony

At best you get

  • anyone could handle a hand gun,
  • ready-to-shoot weapons
  • some technologies developed in their own way and therefore not-known and dangerous for invaders
  • some well-trained professionals
  • but nobody is prepared for the pain, deaths and cruelty
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  • $\begingroup$ A civilization could maintain war games with death, pain and cruelty in them, even in peace. Imagine the equivalent of gladatorial games, but wars. $\endgroup$ – Yakk Apr 24 '17 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Yakk good point. Although only gladiators would be prepared to die to the glory of his country. Spectators wouldn't prepared to sacrify own life $\endgroup$ – ADS Apr 25 '17 at 13:21
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    $\begingroup$ I see you are unfamiliar with sports fans. $\endgroup$ – Yakk Apr 25 '17 at 13:41
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10 million people, 100 years and a whole hospitable planet to inhabit would break up into groups and soon be at war with each other.

I see no reason why this 10 million would remain as one group under one central authority. Malcontents and ambitious people would just move away from the group. There would be strife over control of resources and eventually (probably pretty quickly) bloodshed.

The only way this could be prevented is by violence which would mean a substantial investment in military or police.

That's how it has worked out on Earth so far anyway.

It's not a matter of just moving on and exploiting resources as one comment suggests if he/she needed a forest he/she would just explore for one.

No, a forest isn't much use, you would be exploring for a forest with a lumber mill, processing plant, trucks and a lot of transport machinery and the people who know how to make it all work. If it was a sustainable forest you want, include a nursery, planters, sprayers, pruners, plus a host more infrastructure and human resources. With the exception of the forest itself, these things don't grow on trees.

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    $\begingroup$ Ten million people to a whole planet is a lot of natural resources, though. If I have modern technology and want a forest, I'd probably rather go exploring to find a new one than fight you over yours. $\endgroup$ – Maxander Apr 24 '17 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Maxander if you were one person, yep, different for groups, Islands had plentiful easily acquired food, yet warfare was constant. 10 Million people not practicing birth control and 100 years would be a whole lot of people. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Apr 24 '17 at 16:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Maxander I live in modern times, we have birth control here if we choose to use it, yet families of 10+ kids are not uncommon in my country.Chinese when they move out of China with the one child law, often have very large families if they can. Modernish World view is relative to the individual and society. Some societies in modern times have multiple wives. The islands I meant were Polynesia and Melanesia, but you can take any countries history and see the same trends. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Apr 24 '17 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Maxander - "Ten million people to a whole planet is a lot of natural resources" Yeah, and no infrastructure to exploit those resources. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Apr 24 '17 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ @WhatRoughBeast yes, a forest for example isn't much use without a lumber mill, you can't just go exploring for a lumbermill or a farm or a factory etc,. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Apr 25 '17 at 3:01
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I zoomed in and saw this was 10 mln: 10 million. That is some people.

Absent any external military threat there would be no military. There would be police, and 10 million+ population is enough to have professional full timers, with additional mustered if needed from a national guard- type volunteer corps. The police would keep order, promote public safety, enforce laws, help resolve disputes etc. They would know how to use weapons.

I picture your risk averse people like the Swedes, Sweden has a population of 9.5 million and 21,300 police officers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_Police_Authority In Sweden the police force is under the control of centralized government.

But 10 million is enough for several smaller states. I could imagine a decentralized system where each polity had their own police force. If these different polities started to become antagonistic to one another / launching raids etc I could imagine a police force which had to deal with those issues evolving into something closer to a military. During most of the Middle Ages there were less than ten million persons in Scotland, Wales and Britain combined but those various groups made war on each other just fine, with warrior classes (knights) and peasant armies raised as needed.

It depends on how much conflict there is in your society.

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  • $\begingroup$ He did say it was a “small group” though. 10 million doesn’t track with that. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Apr 23 '17 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ @JDługosz .14% of the population of earth, or a 5/4 of the population of New York. When talking about a 21st century society, possibly alone on its planet, that does seem pretty small. Large in one context is small in another, I suppose. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Apr 24 '17 at 1:49
  • $\begingroup$ "Scotland, Wales and Britain combined"? Did you mean "England" rather than "Britain"? $\endgroup$ – Monty Harder Apr 24 '17 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ 10 million is huge by historical terms, classical Athens had 250k-500k people and all of Greece at that point might have been 800k-3000k a century earlier en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_demography#Greece_proper $\endgroup$ – Michael Shopsin Apr 24 '17 at 20:45
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In general, military forces are quickly downsized in the absence of a credible threat for two reasons: They are very, very expensive (the peacetime US military, with less than 0.5% of the population on active duty, consumes about 5.5% of GDP) and they sometimes overthrow the government (who is going to stop them?).

However, some societies maintain military forces for internal political reasons (Thailand) or have assigned non-combat missions (US Army Corps of Engineers). These non-warfare roles do not imply combat readiness. Quite the opposite.

Developing (frontier) societies often relied upon a militia structure to provide reserve to a small active duty cadre, with accompanying poor organization and combat readiness. Para-military forces are more common, generally conducting constabulary duties (RCMP, US Coast Guard, Indiana Yellowjackets) with the additional rare military mission. Private or local paramilitaries often grow from local militia in response to local troubles.

It's certainly possible for a three-tier structure to emerge: Local militias providing the reserve, regional paramilitaries providing constabulary, and a small corps of active duty maintaining real warfighting skills.

Warfighting skills practiced by that small cadre may-or-may-not match the actual threat environment that someday emerges. The US Army of 1897 was an excellent Native American suppression force, but dismally prepared and equipped for force-on-force skirmishes with Spanish garrisons the next year.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd say the US Army did pretty well for themselves against Spain. $\endgroup$ – Michael McGriff Apr 24 '17 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelMcGriff, the US had the luxury of enough resources to overcome their relative technical and tactical disadvantage. Had the US Army used equipment and tactics from the 1890s (instead of the 1860s), they likely would have done better. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Apr 24 '17 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ The spanish army was a total disgrace since the napoleonic wars and up until the recent modernization when Spain joined the NATO. The german observers who were in Cuba during the US disembarking dryly noted that "a dozen well-trained soldiers could have derailed the whole operation". $\endgroup$ – Rekesoft Apr 25 '17 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Rekesoft, yes it was a comedy of errors on both sides...like many smaller wars were (and are). $\endgroup$ – user535733 Apr 25 '17 at 12:10
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No military, their defense is concentrating everything they have to research and improve their teleportation technology.

Weapons are only as the other answers suggested for police work and probably to combat native dangers (predators etc.). The point is that space is so damn big that it is the very best defense against hostile invaders.

Teleportation is the single point of failure, if you can control and jam teleportation, no amount of military force can ever touch you.

You can even make extremely powerful weapons out of it: somebody threatening you ? Teleport them into the sun.

Once teleportation is invented, who will ever risk his life on a generation spaceship for millenia (!) which is the only non-teleportation solution to invade another world? Such aggressive intentions will lose their edge after hundred of years in the void are passing, it is much more likely that the crew will kill themselves out of boredom. If they don't kill themselves, I am seriously asking how do they can uphold the necessary aggression for an invasion.

This super technology will on the positive side allow colonization of the milky way and a prospering colony, giving an edge to other groups which may have survived. If you are not aware of it: such a technology would be extremely precious and powerful.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like the idea of teleportation as a weapon $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Apr 25 '17 at 2:42

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