Children of planet dirt, Now that your humble civilization has developed ballistic flight, it is only a matter of time before conflict using orbital weapons becomes inevitable. In order to increase the likelihood of you surviving such a conflict, my mother, the queen of heaven, has sent me to instruct you in the art of planetary defense against orbital weapons systems. Although I cannot hope to prepare all of you for every eventuality, I do hope that at least one of you will find my lesson fruitful. Firstly, know that I am the champion of a thousand battles on a thousand worlds and master of a thousand weapons, and that I have never witnessed anything that might be described as honor in your language. Before I learned your language, I spoke the language of violence, and the language of machines. Two languages you must learn if you ever hope to face anybody like me on the battlefield and hope to survive.
The first word you must learn, is Agoraphobia. In it’s original context, it meant fear of markets, but latter came to mean “fear of open spaces.” before linguistic shifts on it’s planet of origin rendered it completely obsolete. If you wish to survive as I do, you must understand the true meaning of this word.
For the entire history of your civilization, mother dirt has protected you from the dangers of space. Even today, the air above your head provides a comfortable degree of protection against the most common directed energy weapons used in space to space combat. All but the most tame frequencies of light are absorbed by her upper atmosphere, but even she cannot protect you from long rod kinetic energy penetrators. A Tungsten rod descending from orbit will penetrate the atmosphere at hypersonic velocity, and strike with an energy roughly comparable to it’s own mass in conventional explosives. Such weapons can be manufactured with ease in great numbers with the mineral wealth of asteroids, and are among the least destructive weapons available to a mature spacefaring civilization. If the enemy has orbital supremacy, they can strike any target on the surface with pinpoint accuracy in a matter of minutes, with little or no warning available to the target on the ground. Whether shot from a gun, or falling from the sky, kinetic energy weapons will kill their targets before the sound of thunder announces their presence.
Attack from above is not however, unavoidable. While the penetrators are traveling through the atmosphere, they are effectively blind and unable to track moving targets. Furthermore, even the most powerful weapon is useless when it’s master is unable to find an appropriate target, or unwilling to risk collateral damage. As long as these conditions are met, the enemy will be unable to direct their full power against you, and will be forced to engage you with more conventional weapons systems.
By now you will be well aware of the inability of static defenses such as fortresses or walls to defend against a coordinated combined arms assault by mobile armored units supported by air and artillery. However, such an army must first travel over land or sea to reach it’s target. Orbital weapons on the other hand can strike anywhere in the globe within minutes. Observe as this model airfield is destroyed by Kinetic bombardment. Even protected by armored bunkers, the aircraft are destroyed by weapons which cost a fraction of the time and energy required to manufacture them. And the runway itself is transformed into a row of craters in an even smaller fraction of the time it took to pave it. Even if the defender can afford to repair this infrastructure, a well prepared attacker will be able to manufacture and launch additional salvos until the planetary defender is completely exhausted.
While the ability of Orbital Kinetic weapons to strike moving targets is limited, Large armies are particularly vulnerable when crossing fields. Observe this drone footage of a mechanized infantry division consisting of unmanned ground vehicles and ballistic gelatin dummies. Although the vehicles are moving too fast to accurately target with long rod penetrators, a bundle of smaller flechettes over a wider area makes escape impossible. Even if the enemy appears to have no orbital assets overhead, once you have been caught out in the open, the flechettes can arrive from over the horizon with little to no warning. Observe how the flechettes have perforated the entire field, destroying every target. Even armored vehicles rarely have sufficient armor to protect against attacks from above. Again, it must be stressed, that an enemy making use of asteroid logistics, can manufacture and deliver these weapons for a small fraction of what it costs to train and equip a conventional army.
Orbital strikes can also be used to sever vital infrastructure, such as this bridge, or these communications lines. These vehicles traveling on roadways at a constant speed are also particularly vulnerable as their movement is easily predicted. A combination of Penitrators and flechettes is able to disable both the vehicle, and the road it is traveling on. Anything that is stationary, must remain hidden, and anything that moves, must be able to change it’s velocity and heading quickly. Modern And and Naval assets are capable of both speed and stealth, but can be easily countered with thermonuclear warheads. While the use of such weapons against ground targets is considered taboo by most mature civilizations, there utility against targets at sea or in the air is too great to ignore. Such weapons can also be used to knock out electronic infrastructure across an entire planetary hemisphere if the defender has not taken the proper precautions.
How then, can an individual warrior hope to survive against foes that can devastate entire armies from afar? The answer is a mastery of agoraphobia. Observe the rightly guided hero in a crowded marketplace. The hero does not fear the sky, and the children do not fear the Hero. With the full mastery of senses, The Hero observes the enemy’s observation drone before it observes the Hero, and with laser rifle the Hero shoots it out of the sky. If the enemy seeks to murder innocent children, it will retaliate immediately, killing the Hero and everyone else in the marketplace. But if the enemy is unwilling to do so, then it must deploy conventional ground forces, and engage the Hero on the Hero’s own terms. That is to say, in the marketplace. And it is only in the market place that the Hero will be victorious against heaven.