The long strange trip
Imperial Interstellar Scout Service
The Imperial Interstellar Scout Service is a major service within the Imperium, equal in stature to the Imperial Army and the Imperial Navy, although assigned a variety of unique, primarily non-military missions. Its duties include exploration of the Imperial frontiers, on-going mapping and surveying of Imperial territory, and the maintenance of interstellar communications through its express boat network.
In the last century before the end of The Long Night, the Sylean Federation began its coalescence into a powerful empire. A major force in this move into interstellar space was the Sylean Federation Scout Service. The SFSS was established with two main missions: first, the exploration of neighboring regions for the consequent contact or re contact of their inhabitants; and second, the use of advanced Sylean technology to lure these contacted planets into the growing Federation.
Largely due to the efforts of the Scouts, the Sylean Federation rapidly turned into an empire – the Third Imperium. The Sylean Federation Scout Service became the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service: the IISS.
With the passage of time, however, the missions of the Scout Service have evolved into different pursuits. The original assignment of recontact soon turned to one of actual discovery and exploration of unknown worlds. With the maturity of the Imperium, that mission lost importance, and newer ones have taken its place. In any analysis, the Scout Service is a survivor, changing its missions and evolving its structure in order to maintain its numbers and (some cynically say) its budget.
In order to handle the great diversity of missions assigned to it, the Scout Service is organized into a variety of offices. These offices are themselves further divided into branches (or sometimes services), each responsible for a specific mission or duty. The Imperial Scout Service Organization diagram shows the basic structure of the Scout Service with its many offices and branches. Placed in authority over the several offices is a central command structure (called Headquarters) which provides overall control of the Scout Service. Because Headquarters controls the operations of the entire Scout Service throughout the Imperium, it is concerned primarily with policy and administrative detail, rather than the accomplishment of specific missions, and is rarely more than a distant office providing instructions and direction to the service.
The offices of the Scout Service are divided into the Bureaucracy (a standard, structured establishment), and the Field (an informally structured group of individuals who accomplish many of the goals of the service). The Bureaucracy is strict and governed by regulations; the Field is unconventional and flexible. Because some of the missions of the Scout Service are best handled by the individualistic type of person, the overall structure of the Scouts allows their inclusion in the service. Three offices in the Scout Service (the Exploration Office, the Communications Office, and the Survey Office) comprise the Field, and are loosely organized without formal rank or position for their members. Individuals hold temporary positions (such as ship captain, team leader, project head) based on their record and suitability for the job. These offices make use of the individual Scout without restricting his or her freedom of action. Where necessary, the Operations Office provides control and direction for these three Field offices.
The remainder of the Scout Service is the more traditionally organized Bureaucracy. The offices in the Bureaucracy provide the rigidly controlled supervision and structure that is necessary in any large organization.
Offices and Branches
Within the various offices of the Scout Service, the branches are responsible for specific duties which accomplish the missions of the office.
The Administration Office contains the bureaucracy that keeps the IISS functioning smoothly. Its three branches are: Personnel, Finance, and Procurement.
Personnel is responsible for the service records of Scouts and ex-Scouts, for recruiting, hiring, and retirement, and for personnel transfers between branches. It manages the careers of the members of the Scout Service.
Finance is responsible for all fiscal matters, including payroll for Scouts (salaries, pensions, bonuses, and other rewards) and payment for goods and services procured for the service.
Procurement is responsible for purchasing the goods and services which the service requires. It establishes standards for material to be used by the service, and lets contracts to suppliers for material and equipment – everything from uniforms and microfilm readers to starships.
The Detached Duty Office was created to keep track of all retired and detached Scout personnel in order to be able to swiftly recontact them and return them to active service in an emergency. In addition, the Detached Duty Office controls all surplus IISS craft (scout ships and courier vessels), making them available to some ex-Scouts if that will help the IISS in its missions, The office is divided into two branches- Records and Intelligence.
The Records Branch maintains documentation on all Scouts serving on detached duty. Virtually all former Scouts fit this classification and are subject to recall for military service or for specific scout missions. Normally, however, only those Scouts with surplus scout vessels on loan to them are actively monitored.
The Intelligence Branch is an information gathering agency for the Scouts. Its primary function is to debrief detached duty Scouts when they visit scout bases for refueling or maintenance on their vessels. The Intelligence Branch also maintains active agents (spies) in areas where information is vitally needed.
The Technical Services Office is responsible for scientific and technical activity within the service. It is divided into the Education Branch and the Research & Development Branch.
The Education Branch provides information and data to offices, branches, and individual Scouts who need it. It maintains education and intelligence enhancement courses and treatments necessary for individuals to accomplish their missions. It is responsible for the development and dissemination of library data programs for Scout Service vessels. In addition, the Education Branch maintains and administers standards for skills learned In the Service, and provides educational courses to Scouts in order to fill their time when on duty or on long voyages.
The Research & Development Branch is responsible for scientific inquiry into data obtained by the Scout Service, and is responsible for the development of equipment needed by the Service to accomplish its mission. This R&D Branch is also responsible for the design of specialized scout vessels used by the IISS.
The Operations Office is responsible for the activities of the Service in the establishment, maintenance, and operation of its bases and fleets. It is divided into Maintenance, Security, Bases, and Scout Fleet branches.
The Maintenance Branch is charged with preventive maintenance of the equipment used by the Scout Service and with repairs as necessary. Maintenance is capable of repairing many Imperial Navy vessels as well.
The Security Branch is charged with providing security and law enforcement for the Scout Service. Security Branch Scouts serve as police enforcers on Scout property, as commandos or shipboard light troops, for special Scout activities, and as clandestine agents for Intelligence Branch. Agents of the IISS Security Branch have great authority to arrest, detain, or question individuals suspected of violations of Imperial law, and can demand cooperation from local authorities as the need arises.
The Base Branch is responsible for the operation of the Scout Service’s bases, way stations, and other establishments.
The Scout Fleet consists of all of the vessels used by the Scout Service. Because the operation of space vessels requires a great deal of supervision, training, and control, the Scout Fleet is organized similar to a naval unit. Vessels used in the Field (for exploration or communications, for example) belong to the Scout Fleet, even if operated by individuals not specifically assigned to that office. The Scout Fleet supports the Communications Office and Exploration Office activities, and provides ships (as well as some personnel to crew them] to those offices.
The Imperial Grand Survey prefers to retain its original name rather than taking its proper name – the Survey Office. Regardless of what it is called, it is responsible for producing and maintaining maps and charts of the Imperium, and of areas outside the Imperium which are of importance to it. The office is divided into Internal and External Mapping Branches.
The Internal Mapping Branch is responsible for resurveying and updating the basic navigational charts of the Imperium, and for mapping world surfaces when necessary.
The External Mapping Branch is responsible for mapping areas outside the Imperium. Such maps may be used for navigation, settlement, or planning, and are essential in time of war. Generally, external mapping takes place in areas already explored by the Exploration Office.
The Communications Office is responsible for interstellar message and data transmission within the Imperium. It serves as a large scale Imperial Post Office and consists of the Express Boat Service and the Imperial Courier Service.
The Express Boat Service is responsible for operation of the express boats carrying xboat messages over the xboat routes of the Imperium. Service also extends to neighboring Imperial client states to which service and routes exist. The Service also staffs the various express boat tenders along the routes.
The Imperial Courier Service is responsible for carrying messages, small packages, and important personnel to worlds off the main express boat routes, and operates small courier ships running unscheduled routes as the needs of the Service demand.
The Exploration Office is responsible for the exploration of areas previously discovered but not explored, or incompletely charted. It is divided into the Exploration Branch ad the Contact and Liaison Branch.
The Exploration Branch undertakes actual exploration of space and planets, compiling data on local flora and fauna, on planetological features, and on hazards to navigation or dangers to individuals.
The Contact & Liaison Branch was originally charged with locating, making first contact (and maintaining friendly relations) with non-human intelligent races. As the Imperium expanded, the C&L Branch was given the additional duty of acquainting the various races of the Imperium with each others cultures, and with smoothing over the inevitable conflicts that arise between cultures. Another function of the C&L Branch is the controlled dissemination of technological information to backward worlds within the Imperium, with a goal of bringing them up to Imperial standards slowly enough to minimize cultural shock effects.
Together, the many parts of the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service create a large, responsible organization within the Imperium capable of many diverse and important missions.