Another loud ping issued from Woolsey’s computer and the man noted the action with a deep sigh.
“I know the feeling,” Caldwell said simply, glancing up from his own laptop computer.
“I am tempted to implement a restriction on how many messages the science department can send each day.” Rolling his eyes, Woolsey turned back to the laptop in front of him. “Anyway, back to the matter at hand… How serious is it?”
“Overall?” Caldwell did the calculations in his head. “We’re looking at about 10 % drop in military personnel since December. That’s on top of those who are undergoing medical and psychological treatment, serving disciplinary actions or have requested administrative discharges. Overall, it leaves us at about 70 % combat effectiveness.”
Woolsey’s eyes widened. “So many have decided to quit?”
I’d rather have half our original strength than have soldiers in our ranks that refuse to follow direct orders, Caldwell thought quietly. Aloud, he said, “We’ll make do for now. In the near future, however, we should consider recruiting off world. This ‘reproduction’ policy you’ve condoned won’t bring enough new blood into our ranks for at least two decades. In fact, it’ll bring our combat effectiveness even further down once the female soldiers go off on maternity leave.”
Caldwell resisted the urge to fist his hand in annoyance. Even though he knew the Council’s reproduction policy was the only way to go if they were to survive as a society, he didn’t like the military being weakened like this. It was just another reminder that they were in a cluster**** without Earth to back them up.
On the plus side, though, it meant the scientists were beginning to research ways to make the soldiers more efficient despite low numbers, the latest project being improved body armour based on Vanir suit designs.
Sighing, Caldwell said, “Bringing in recruits now would shorten that to two years. In addition, we should train everyone on this base in the use of weaponry and basic tactics. Even the scientists and politicians should be able to defend this base from any potential incursions.”
The Genii and the Travelers might be our allies and train with us for now, but history should warn us to be prepared for anything, including a double-cross. Caldwell knew that thought wouldn’t sit well with Carter and Sheppard, but he was a pragmatic at heart and he had seniority. They would listen to him.
“I see,” Woolsey said, nodding grimly. “I’ll bring the topic up on the next council meeting. There will be some protests, I’m sure, but I’ll stand behind your decision one hundred per cent. Caution has served us well in the past, as you and Colonel Carter’s actions against the Wraith proved.” (...)