Star Army Special Operations (SASO, pronounced Seiso) is a joint grouping and collaboration mechanism for organising the unconventional forces of the Star Army of Yamatai. Star Army Special Operations Command consists of command staff from all such forces. The Chair of Special Operations reports directly to the Commander of the Star Army.
Members of Special Operations and its assembled bodies are known as “Operators” as a collective noun. Operators are given security clearances far more often than less experienced members of the Star Army of Yamatai. Generally, Operators function under a intel-inspired system of compartmentalization at the boots-on-the-ground level.
Administratively, the distinction between truly 'command' level Operators and other Operators is whether or not they are part of Special Operations Command. Special Operations Command includes such figures as the: Chief of Staff of Star Army Rikugun, Ranger-General of Star Army Reconnaissance, Director of the Star Army Research Administration and the Provost Marshal of the Star Army Military Police. SAINT is no longer a member or party to SASO.
Special Operations Command itself has almost full clarity at the highest level, so that coordination and designation of resources is done most appropriately. Special Operations Command only controls the Special Forces elements, not other functions, of its member bodies.
It was realised during YE 42 by the veteran reformist Iemochi Feyani that the various Special Forces that existed often had individual sources of intel and independent requests for assistance. This sometimes led to overlappings of deployments or certain more applicable Special Forces not being utilised in place of another. As Director of the Star Army Research Administration, her HAZMAT and classified research teams had come back with such reports of clashes or confusion that led to wastes of resources.
Investigation yielded that a lot of overhead such as resourcing and intelligence could be centralised for Special Forces, but this needed to be aside from Infantry Command due to classified and specialized nature of the Special Forces units, which had a potential to leak.
Feyani considered SAINT in of itself too monolithic in its mandate to be applicable to the need for great adaptability and agility in Special Operations. Therefore, a joint command body was created. Through this, the previously existing command and management structures were folded into Special Operations Command, with instructions, resources and intel being disseminated centrally. SAINT opted out of this change and SASO became a separate body.
Generally, Special Operations Command divides Star Army Special Operations into three “Echelons”. This helps group the general distinctions and sizes of its subordinate forces. Further information regarding the below forces can be found after the listings. Layout is “Name (Occupation)”. The higher the role is in the order, the more 'special' it is considered.
Further to the information detailed above, this section will give some historical context and changes that came with the creation of Special Operations Command.
Needle's Point is characterized by being the highest level within Star Army Special Operations. It contains the administrative 'Special Operations Command' and top-tier forces of the Yamatai Star Empire. Officers in Needle's Point are given a “Gold ID Card” which bears the signature of the Empress herself. A “Gold Card” gives all access to practically anywhere in the Star Army of Yamatai.
Colloquially known as the “Plunger”, Special Operations Command contains the handlers, liaisons, analysts and quartermasters as well as any other support staff. Universally, they have the highest levels of security clearances. It contains much of the Star Army Reconnaissance administrative staff, with Shosho Kanachi Hibe as sub-chair.
Star Army Special Operations Command is one of the two most highly classified and selective bodies within the Star Army of Yamatai. It is focused on directing actions based on intelligence, rather than collecting it explicitly. It comprises the unifed command and control of all units designated as “Star Army Special Operations” personnel, or more broadly “Special Forces”.
TANTOs perform at the highest level of discretion. TArget NeuTralisation Outfits (TANTOs) are hand selected by Special Operations Command. Their true identities and operations are only ever disclosed to 5 people: The Empress, The Commander of the Star Army, The Director of Personnel, The Chair of SASO and the Director of SAINT.
Becoming a member of a TANTO is a life's pursuit requiring practically decades of experience in other Special Forces. It comes with great sacrifices, like never having a family and living under a fake identity. TANTOs consist of a maximum of 5 people, but often less than the full team is deployed. The occupation makes socialising difficult, as TANTO members are not permitted to meet outside of operations.
There is estimated to be only one TANTO per world in the Empire or less, but they can rapidly deploy wherever they're needed and complete almost any task. The position comes with a bottomless operational budget, near unlimited clearance and the most experienced comrades.
PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) is an element of special forces whose responsibility is to organise various unconventional methods of morale damage, as well as using disinformation to assist Operators. This often comes in the form of political broadcasts, production and distribution of pro-Yamatai media, and other less moral methods. It arranges cover identities and fake credentials for Operators.
Spear's Tip is the echelon that stands as a necessary middle ground between Needle's Point and Sword's Edge. It contains the Special Forces that can be more liberally deployed than Needle's Point, but not so large as to constitute a Sword's Edge force. Officers in Spear's Tip are given a “Silver ID Card” for use on deployment, which often acts as a form of identification when operating covertly. A “Silver Card” also gives access to no-questions transportation on Star Army of Yamatai ships.
The Rangers' Unconventional Regiment are part of Star Army Reconnaissance. They are asymmetric warfare specialists with a full suite of Ranger training. They are sent to occupied or hostile worlds to organise resistance movements and prepare for a Star Army of Yamatai invasion. They often deploy in small groups, but avoid active combat and detection by all means necessary. Out of all Ranger forces, Unifiers are by far the most scarce and are almost never deployed outside of Unifier duties, even if bearing multiple Regiment patches.
Special Operations Fire Teams are fireteam-sized shipboard Special Forces. Members are often chosen for being exemplary in their past service rather than being trained specifically for the role, therefore SOFT positions are normally collateral to regular duties. However, Infantry members in these teams can consider it a primary occupation - often using it as a stepping stone to other Special Forces (or even TANTOs), unlike other MOSes in a SOFT. As SOFT teams comprise a mix of primary specialties, they are generally more less specialised and instead flexible to changing or varied scenarios than other Special Forces. However, after formation they often receive KATANA, VANGUARD, or COMMANDO training.
SOFT are teams formed at the discretion of a ship's Captain, based on advice from Special Operations Command. They usually receive less standardised training than other Special Forces, which can lead to wide gaps in standards, but are always useful to have on-hand. There can only be one SOFT on a ship. Non-shipbased SOFT were transferred into TANTO during Special Operations restructuring.
UMBER teams are made up of some of the Empire's best and brightest. They are jointly controlled between Special Operations Command and the Star Army Research Administration. These are groups of HAZMAT or containment specialists. Unlike most of SARA, UMBER teams are given substantial combat and survival training, as they are often only called to crisis scenarios. Usually they're containing something while practically under fire, or handling something that could cause chaos if not done so correctly. They are generally only called when regular scientists cannot operate in the prevalent conditions. They use the term 'UMBER' as their teams constitute red and green panels, making a mix of brown.
Comprised of Special Investigators and Close Protection Specialists as a collateral duty, BATON is jointly controlled between Special Operations Command and SAMP. They act as SWAT and hostage rescue exclusively in Yamatai-controlled space, or planets occupied by the SAOY. They are often deployed for domestic incidents that don't require a TANTO. There are likely several dotted across each world in the Empire. As law enforcement, they are the first choice when a scenario is too visible to the public or subjects need to be taken alive. Rarely, they need to board a subverted ship to regain control with minimal collateral or friendly harm.
The elite combat-trained search-and-rescue teams of the Star Army, part of Star Army Emergency Services. This collaboration with the greater special forces management structure is exclusively regarding their combat medevac or search-and-rescue operations.
Sword's Edge consists of rank-and-file Special Forces, which fill a necessary and expert role in the Special Forces roster, but are too many in number to not resemble a conventional force in some ways. Special Forces are not a replacement for Infantry and are deployed as such - sparingly and only where required. Additionally, standard Infantry will have greater in-force frontline-to-frontline capabilities than any Special Forces. Sword's Edge officers are given a “Bronze ID Card”, which allows them access to otherwise restricted equipment options, such as TARSA armour, depending on their missions.
KATANA forces are the naval Infantry equivalent of the Giretsu. Their training time is the same as the Giretsu and the Giretsu often run some of the KATANA training, being the senior of the two. KATANA forces spend most of their time on advanced power armour training, but also cover hand-to-hand combat, melee weaponry, DMR training and demolitions. They are also given given limited first aid and damage control training.
KATANA forces can only be Infantry, as it is an Infantry-only designation. KATANA is broadly considered the 'least Special' of the Special Forces, but follows similar requirements to the Giretsu. Attendance of the Star Army School of Advanced Infantry Combat is mandatory to apply, and any unprofessionalism or lack of standards result in removal of KATANA status.
Naval Strikers are fighter aces that have been pulled into wings that are designed to be used in the hardest naval dogfights or missions. Aces are identified based on their experience and individual proficiency. NAV-STRIKE wings are often given the top-of-the-line naval equipment and ships. These wings can be of wildly varying size, but never constitute a full fighting compliment alone. Naval Strikers have to maintain strong statistics to keep their status, and the transition from their original unit to a NAV-STRIKE wing is often a difficult endeavour.
The Rangers' Guerrilla Regiment are part of Star Army Reconnaissance. They are given 4-5.5 month training surrounding how to operate behind enemy lines and with no conventional logistic support. They are expected to be unsupported for an extended period of time with greatly reduced resources. More often than not, the mission involves direct or extended combat with sizeable hostile forces. They can be deployed in large numbers, but outside of large battles are most often seen in platoon sizes. Commandos were disbanded in YE 45.
The Rangers' Far Line Regiment are part of Star Army Reconnaissance. They deploy in force as sentries, forward observers and skirmishers on the edges of armies or fleets. Vanguard forces can be as small as a squad or as large as a scout ship. They have Ranger training, are often with less equipment than their regular Infantry counterparts and are more likely to be separated from the main body of a force. They were relieved of their SASO connections in YE 45.
The Rangers' Garrison Regiment are part of Star Army Reconnaissance. They operate as a military border force on the edges of Yamatai-controlled space. They are exclusively a naval Special Force, trained in a similar fashion to the Far Line Regiment but with the same principles applied to ship combat. They patrol the edges of space with no fleet support nearby, are expected to dispatch with small problems alone or successful delay larger ones until a response can be scrambled. Oftentimes, they have extra training in damage control and some level of repair engineering proficiency. They were relieved of their SASO connections in YE 45.
Giretsu once composed of a single Century inside a Rikugun Legion. They received double the training time of a regular member of the Infantry. Training was based on planetary combat. It included advanced power armour training, vehicular training, hand-to-hand combat, sniper, demolitions and equipment repair. The occupation was disbanded in mid-YE 44 with the last Giretsu Class occurring in 44.7 at Star Army School of Advanced Infantry Combat.
Operators generally prioritize stealth, speed, weight, and endurance over full fighting power. Giretsu is the one exception, who often fight with heavier and stronger equipment than the rest of the Operators. Operators equipment allocation reflects this. SASO utilizes whatever is needed for the task at hand, here are some examples. Obsolete equipment from storage is occasionally used, especially if casualties are likely.
The following is a sample list of equipment that is usually made available at the request of SASO officers, depending on echelon membership, some of which are usually restricted: