Hey Battletech Fans, we’re back with another feature on the Star League Era for Battletech. Today we’re taking a look at the conflict that serves as the origin of the Star League, the Reunification War. The Reunification War has several different perspectives to take a look at, and I’m going to cover the broadest strokes of that conflict. If you’re interested in more, I strongly encourage you to dive into the Historical: Reunification War book from Catalyst Game Labs. It’s the book i’m using to put this write up together for you, and will hopefully give you depth of details you’re looking for.
The Context for Unity
The foundations of the Star League can be tied directly to the ambition of one man, Ian Cameron, Director General of the Terran Hegemony, and the stalwart support of Albert Marik, the Captain General of the Free Worlds League. Through political maneuvering, economic incentives, and saber rattling, Ian and Albert managed to bring the rest of the major Inner Sphere powers together in a united coalition of allied states. Eventually, the five major Inner Sphere powers banded together under the authority of the Terran Hegemony and formed the Star League in 2571. The Star League was the grand attempt to unite all of humanity under one, singular government. They offered technological innovation, economic assistance, and the protection of a newly formed army to protect their member states from predation and piracy.
The Army of Peaceful Intentions/The Army of Unexpected Consequences
The Star League Defense Force was intended to be a peacekeeping force that protected member states from external threats, pirates, and other reprobates. Every member state contributed forces in both manpower and naval assets to the newly formed Star League Defense Force. Troops hailing from worlds within the original borders of the Terran Hegemony would categorized as “Royal” units, and had access to the best equipment and training available to the Star League. Units that were donated to the SLDF from member states were categorized as “Regular” units, and would occupy a lower place on the logistics and supply chain than their royal counterparts. (interestingly enough, none of the four major periphery powers were signers of the Star League Accords and contributed no forces to the SLDF).
However, the same legislation that brought the SLDF into existence also included mandatory Drawdowns of military assets in every single member state and signing party of the Accords. This put a large number of trained soldiers out of work in every corner of the Inner Sphere. Tensions rose across multiple borders, and the Star League moved to bring the Periphery nations into their Grand Alliance. Periphery Nations across the galaxy looked nervously towards the Inner Sphere. What external threats could the SLDF be meant for, if not them?
The Periphery Perspective
The original periphery world colonists/founders/builders were people who’d had enough with the ruling government and had intended to settle in places that were too far for them to reach. These were self directing, self governing people who for all intents and purposes wanted to be left to their own devices. These were people who theoretically would have been good neighbors if they’d been left alone.
The Star League first offered economic incentives to boost trade and inject Star League currency into their local economies. Then they exercised political power to move troops onto border worlds for the stated goal of warding off pirates and bandits operating in the deeper Periphery. The Periphery nations (aside from the Rim Worlds Republic, which had strong ties to the former Terran Hegemony anyway) thought that they could govern and protect their worlds far more effectively than a distant government on Terra.
This Impasse could lead to a singular conclusion, and after numerous high profile military actions (The Santiago Massacre and the Malgoratta crisis to name a couple) brought the Periphery powers into conflict with Star League Member States, The First Lord issued the Pollux Proclomation in January of 2575. The message was simple, surrender and be ruled peacefully, or be broken under the heel of SLDF and be ruled as occupied territories. SLDF projections expected an 18 month war to conquer the three Periphery Powers that had refused the offer ( The Rim Worlds Republic would agree to the terms, but a military coup turned that peaceful front into a shooting war quickly).
What they got instead was nearly twenty years of the dirtiest, ugliest fighting in the history of mankind. The war would reshape the political landscape of the Inner Sphere, and help to shape the Star League into the government that it would be. The SLDF would emerge from this crucible as the battle hardened monolith that would help bring peace to the Inner Sphere for the next 150 years.
After the suspension of the Ares Conventions at the outset of the war, both sides used orbital bombardment, nuclear, chemical and biological weapons against their enemies. It was the ugliest fighting in the memory of humanity. Planetary infrastructures were destroyed, population centers were levelled, and war crimes ran rampant on both sides of the conflict. Some combatants held themselves to higher standards of conduct, but they were by far the exception, and not the rule.
Soldiers on all sides were shaped by this singular, bloody conflict. In one way, the horrors of this war (combined with the incredibly strict punitive measures forced on the Periphery Nations) made every one hesitant to unleash a conflict of this scale again. From this perspective, the Reunification War brought peace and prosperity to the Inner Sphere.