Guard Outpost 12
Historical analysts will argue over the inevitability of the Martian victory over the Belters in this war. Revisionists will twist facts and trends to match their thesis in ways we never imagined at the time. But in this analysis of a war barely ended, let me make some statements of fact based on what we contemporary observers knew and saw.
First, Mars has twice the population of the Belt and essentially the same economic and industrial capacity. True, a greater proportion of the Belt's economy is in space. Try to tell that to a farmer on Ceres or an accountant on Vesta, but still, fifty percent of the Belt's economy was "space" related and a vacsuit is as ubiquitous to a Belter as an automobile to a twentieth century American. And yes, less than a tenth of Martian industry was space-related at the start of the war, but the Martian space industry was focused on defense, not economics.
In tonnage, the Martian and Belter fleets started near equal. The Martian fleet was newer and its navy less skilled, but it was the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Marines that fought the war.
The Belt, unlike its autocratic upstart adversary, was a highly decentralized polity with the unified Guard service to provide defense and tariff control. The Guard was never meant to engage in pitched battles against anything more than pirates. To avoid the hint of "offense", the heaviest vessel in the fleet was the Orion class defender. In any other navy, the vessel would have been classed as a heavy destroyer or a light cruiser, but defender was both its name and its mission. The Martian press would rail about the ravages of Marauder gunboats, but they were just gunboats, tiny ships with a crew of three that could wander just a few million klicks from their bases without support.
As the war progressed, the Martians churned out cruisers and destroyers, but the Belt never launched anything larger than the defenders. The corvette-sized "patrol cruiser" was the mainstay of the Guard in numbers and philosophy. And yes, as the war progressed the Belters became more aggressive, even daring in their tactics, but their goal remained defense and liberation, not conquest.
Let the revisionist spin their stories. But no matter what, the Belt could not have won the war, not unless Imperial Mars chose to surrender. And that wasn't going to happen.
-- Professor Jon Waquim Nestor, opening remarks at the Copernicus Conference of Contemporary Affairs, 5 June 2529.
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