Notes on World Militaries
Compiled the Volksreich Institute of Defense
Edited by Doctor David Risona
Designation: Light assault infantry
National Origin: Cathay, some international
Allegiance: Federal Republic of Cathay
Motto: "Many are called. We survive."
Standard Equipment: Red silk and chest plate uniform, ceremonial black cap, Shen Zhi Ying Type 3 slidelock carbine (though some units have adopted newer Type 8 rotolocks), Dao Sword (akin to a scimitar, some soldiers carry a second), canteen, supply pack, spare ammunition
Cathay is simultaneously one of the oldest cultures and newest governments in the world. With a large population and large borders, it has lots of territory to defend. While warlords still control significant parts of Cathay, the new federal government has been systematically weakening them with the use of their Federal army. At the front of this army are the Arquebusiers, one of the largest military units in the world. Despite their name, their weapon is a slidelock instead of a matchlock or "true" flintlock weapon. (The name was merely a traditional term literally translated that stuck.) Holding three shots, the weapon is an old design, reputed to have been originally designed by Jiao Yu, a Ming Dynasty expert on all things involving gunpowder. In his work, Huolongjing (Fire Drake Manual), Jiao Yu mentions how important firearms, bombs, rockets, mines, and gunpowder weapons were to the survival of Cathay. His slidelock weapon was believed to be one of the first practical ones, predating European designs by centuries. As a military unit, the Arquebusiers rose to prominence during the Ming Dynasty.
However, Western designs of guns have gradually diffused throughout Cathay in the aftermath of the Entity War. An ad-hoc, but durable, rotolock, the Type 8, was manufactured by the Shen Zhi Ying Arsenal. Consisting of a rotating chamber replacing the sliding rack of three bullets, the Type 8 has achieved greater ammunition capacity and reliability. However, literally thousands of the older Type 3 carbines exist, so it will be a while before all units are given the new gun. A number of conversion kits were manufactured for those who would manually upgrade the gun. A few components need to be changed, and manually upgrading is a fairly cheap and simple operation to perform.
Despite the recent upgrade of a classic weapon, many of the other gear used to equip the Cathayan soldiers can trace its roots to the Song Dynasty, before the Mongol invasion destroyed Cathay's early industries. Cathayan weapons may look crude, but their efficiency has only recently been matched by Western counterparts. While lacking the automation of several other Mechanist countries, Cathay has a largely technical and educated peasantry compared to Russia. Their special weapons include rocket-launching tubes, flame-throwers, and several different types of mines. Many Cathayan weapons are ancient, and are decorated with markings from the Ming and Song dynasties. The Qing dynasty lost the arts of reproducing many of these advanced weapons, until they were recently rediscovered.
While gunpowder and fire are the two most common Cathayan methods of waging war, another aspect of Cathayan culture deserves mention. Many armies issue knives and swords for soldiers in close combat, but Cathayans give their soldiers training in many traditional martial arts. The dao is nearly identical to the saber issued to countless officers and cavalry, but Cathayan blades are sometimes used in a very different way. Some soldiers, namely close combat specialists and certain officers, are trained in a fighting style known as "shuang dao," or double blade. This style was used by Mongol, Manchu, and Koryean cavalry originally, before Cathayan martial arts styles adopted it. Soldiers are trained to strike down opponents in a few cuts, hitting several of the most vulnerable points on the human body. There are also specialized techniques for fighting soulshells and abdead, as well as constructs. Several officer's blades are customized with additional features, such as alchemical batteries and fire, for specialized roles. Mostly, this is a status symbol for several officers and close combat specialists. Some other soldiers carry other melee weapons, such as butterfly knives (used in the Wing Chun martial art), clubs, or simple knives. Some soldiers with longer rifles and muskets use bayonets as well. Some, notably practitioners of the Gun Sau marksmanship style, carry a pair of weighted pistols.
The Cathayan Arquebusiers are organized by the Federal government, and units are drawn from different provinces. Many are volunteers, and some are conscripts. Most of the Arquebusiers are Han Cathayan, but there are some members of other ethnic groups inside the state. There are some Mongols, Koryeans, and other groups from the edges of the nation. A few foreigners have been induced in niche roles, mainly as instructors in certain Western fighting techniques. The Eirish diaspora that followed the British invasion three decades ago means that several nations have Eirish battalions. Oddly enough, the Cathayans do as well. Of note is an Eirish man known as Sean O'Connell, allegedly the son of the late Eirish Prime Minister, who serves as a general in the Cathayan forces. His wife is the founder of the female Arquebusier militia the Daughters of the Revolution.
The Arquebusiers have recently seen action against several outlaw groups, pirates, and barbarians along the edges of their empire. The modern Cathayan army is a far ccry from the disorganized rabble of peasant conscripts that was the Qing army. With armored, naval, automaton, and air support, they are both an ancient and a modern force to be reckoned with. With mysterious deployments near the border with Mongolia, and with the brazen and recent pirate raid on the Shen Zhi Ying Arsenal itself, they certainly will be busy for the near future. Thankfully, the Cathayans have good relations with the Volksreich, USA, and Samsara. Ill-will remains with the Allies, but with Napoleon interested in expanding into southeast Asia, the future political scene remains uncertain.