Rebel Squadrons

State of the Rebel Squadrons, July 2007

By FA Dave Trebonious-Astoris
Unit: The Rebel Squadrons
SotRS, Jul 30, 2007
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State of the Rebel Squadrons
Monday, July 30, 2007

I. State of the RS
II. New Fleet Commander
III. High Command News
IV. Fleet & Division News Shorts
V. Executive Projects
VI. Recognitions
VII. The RS: Successes and Challenges
VIII. Farewell

Greetings, Members of the Rebel Squadrons!

Welcome to the July State of the Rebel Squadrons! This is a special newsletter for me. It is not only the July installment, but also my last SotRS as your Fleet Commander. I have a lot to say, so I hope you will bear with me. Traditionally, an FC uses his last newsletter to the club at large to brag about what he did during his tenure and to thank the folks that helped most. I certainly plan to do some of that, but I'm also going to make an assessment of where the RS is as a club right now and try to outline some of its future challenges. In a sense this is a cop-out, because I am leaving these challenges on the table for others who follow me to solve. Still, I think it's better that they be said than that they be buried in silence. So please, read on. I have news, opinions, personal insights and reflections lined up for you. Stay awhile, and listen!

II. New Fleet Commander

This first piece of news is the most important I have and therefore I feel like I should share it first. High Command needed only brief deliberation to determine who should be my successor as Fleet Commander. I am extremely delighted and honored to announce to you all that Rear Admiral Michael Raven has been unanimously elected as the thirteenth Fleet Commander as the Rebel Squadrons! Raven has a long and distinguished record of service in the RS. He is perhaps most widely known at the moment for his excellent narratives that he writes for the RS-wide ITOD. He has served as ABG CO for over a year and has been my Executive Officer for the past 10 months during which he and I have worked together closely to run the RS. Raven is a guy who has a lot of passion for improving the RS, and I know that he will bring that passion to the top spot. At the end of this email I will be formally transferring over command to him. I hope you will all join me in congratulating him.

III. High Command News

As you no doubt noticed through the various emails and news announcements, I appointed a new Vigilance Starfighter Group CO this past month. LCL Kirghy Lommax has taken over command of the VSG and is currently seeking applications for the XO spot. High Command's only duty this month (and it was an important one) was selecting the new Fleet Commander.

IV. Fleet & Division News Shorts

Patriot Battle Fleet: Tour 7 is currently in its eleventh mission. This mission took a little longer to get released, but it has just become available and with a snazzy narrative written by PBF CO Josh Hawkins as well. The 710 missions were fun, if a wee bit annoying, and I hope that the 711 missions will be just as much a blast. The missions are due August 26th.

Vigilance Starfighter Group: We are still waiting on the release of VSG106, but that should hopefully be out any day now. The biggest news for Vigilance is the appointment of LCL Kirghy Lommax as the new CO. Kirghy has the desire to make the fleet better that the VSG really needs right now. He cares about doing a good job and has been very big on communication so far, which makes him awesome in my book. Best of luck to Kirghy and to all of VSG in the upcoming mission!

Allegiance Battle Group: The ABG is still at very high levels of activity with sims happening on a regular basis. As Raven would say, the ABG is "doing its stuff." There was a recent conversation on character death, which goes to show that the ABG command staff is being careful to hold itself to rigorous standards.

Redemption Fleet: In Righteous Indignation Division, the unit is still waiting on the release of RID106, which is expected very soon. LCM Reb Jaxra resigned command of the Commando Division and RF CO Harley "Jester" Quinn is searching for a replacement. Zealot remains very active with plenty of narratives being written for the Zealot 105 mission, which will hopefully wrap up soon so that Zealot can begin preparing for 106.

V. Executive Projects

Most recently in RS fiction writing news, Logistics Officer David Vaughan posted an excellent narrative in the FC's storyline of the Greeop Defense Force. I am extremely tardy in posting my own update to the storyline, but I do plan to do so in the near future. The 106 missions, along with Raven's usual narrative, are expected to be released any day now.

RS Academy CO Luren "DaLe" Ketan is rapidly expanding the structure of the new RS Academy. A roster has emerged on our database and he is updating the wiki on a regular basis with more information, as well as assembling a full staff.

Logistics Officer David Vaughan has kept up one of his pet projects: giving every character on the wiki more complete information, including an infobox and a fictional birthdate. If your character sheet on the wiki is lacking these things, ask him for help and he'd jump at the opportunity!

Medal Officer Tyrell "Spokes" Borran did some work on cleaning up medal text which describes what each medal is for in an effort to promote more wide-spread use of the RS Medals system.

RS Wiki: This month's RS Wiki page of the month is a tie! I am a fan of both the "Rank" page created largely by Super and the "Academy" page updated largely by Dale. The Rank page offers insights on the reason behind our ranking system, while the Academy page is a blueprint of what the Academy will become. Runner-up goes to Licah who edited the Main page to be prettier. The wiki is a webpage that anybody can edit. Feel free to make your own pages about information pertinent to your character, your unit, or even the RS as a whole!

In other wiki news, this past month Licah has been very busy working on pages like the RS World Project and RS Card Game while Super has been busy updating historical people entries and perfecting a member infobox (for real life member information as opposed to our standard character infobox).

Congratulations: To Sarriah on her promotion to 1LT, Nicolai on his promotion to CMDR, Kirghy on his appointment as VSG CO, to Damon for X-Wing Top Gun, to Licah for TIE Top Gun, to Jester and Seeks for VSG Top Guns, and of course to Raven on being the new FC.

VI. Recognitions

The first person I'd like to acknowledge is Lieutenant Colonel Kirghy Lommax. Unfortunately I come sort of empty-handed to this recognition. Kirghy has only recently taken command of VSG, but he's doing an awesome job of it, and I just wanted to publicly commend him for that. I feel it's a little too early to promote him for what is happening there, but I am confident that such recognition will come to him soon if he keeps up this level of work. Great job Kirgs, keep it up! ":)

Colonel Luren "DaLe" Ketan has been very much hard at work on Academy stuff. Dale, I am very impressed by your dedication to the Academy and the work you have been doing there. I know that you will continue to prosper and I look forward to the day when you can say that the Academy is pretty much complete. To recognize your hard work so far, I hereby present you with the Alvace Star. Congratulations! ":)

General Harley "Jester" Quinn has been overseeing Redemption Fleet now for several months. I have never ceased to be impressed by his work ethic and his reasonable ideas. Jester, thank you for everything you've done with the RF. It makes me comfortable to know that you are in command of a fleet that I once called my own. Take good care of it, alright? For your work and dedication to the fleet I am happy to promote you to the rank of Commodore. Congrats! ":)

Commodore Joshua Hawkins is a name that scarcely needs introduction. Josh is a solid RS member and has been an important part of the RS leadership team for more than a year. Josh, thanks for always being willing to step in and take care of an Internet-related task when it is asked of you. Even if you don't know how to do it, you always find out and get it done anyway. For your hard work as Internet Officer and for your continued dedication to the PBF, it is my pleasure to promote you to the rank of Rear Admiral. Congratulations! ":)

Rear Admiral Michael Raven is the RS jack of all trades. If you take a look at his roster profile, you will see that he holds a bewildering array of positions. In addition to being my right hand as RSXO the past 9 months, he has continued to lead the ABG to what is essentially unprecedented levels of activity. At the same time he's writing for Zealot, writing the regular RS-wide storyline narratives, making himself the best EaW player in existence, and cracking jokes in the B&G. This is a long laundry list by any standard. I think it's fair to say that Raven has exceeded simply going above and beyond the call of duty. He has made the kind of impression on the RS that will last for years. Raven, thank you for everything you have done and everything you will continue to do. It is my pleasure to present Raven with the Excellency of Service. This is the highest commendation medal the RS can award and is only given on extremely rare circumstances (less than once a year). Thank you Raven, congratulations, and good luck! ":)

VII. The RS: Successes and Challenges

The RS has had a lot of successes since I took over command in October of 2006, there's no doubt about that. Renegade Fleet and Intrepid Battlegroup were combined to form the Vigilance Starfighter Group. The RS-wide ITOD kicked off with a bang with the Battle of Blerthmore and continues to this day to be perhaps the most exciting thing about the RS. Outer Rim War III took place, and despite the fact that it abruptly ended because of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood's mysterious withdrawal, it may still be considered a success. The RS proved that it still has the ability to put together and administer such a large, complicated competition which is a feat all by itself. The fact that the RS was able to claim victory in the contest was simply another point in our favor. Another tangible success which should be acknowledged is the creation of the Zealot Special Operations Writing group, which added yet another dimension to the massive RS-wide storyline.

There were also some intangible successes that I remain particularly proud of, although they may not have been visible or obvious to everyone. The first is simply the fact that I was able to provide effective leadership for this period of 9 months. That may sound like a little thing, but it's really not. RS Fleet Commanders have a tendency to burn bright and fast or dim and long. Licah (of course we all still love him anyway) took off after only a few months, and the RS desperately needed some stability. I am proud to have supplied that. Also important has been the gradual decline of the use of High Command as a regulatory body. High Command can be an unwieldy body, and in previous years posturing and discussion on the High Command email list has consumed much of the time and energy of the top officers of the RS. During the past 9 months I have managed to run the RS essentially with the executive staff and without much reference to High Command as a group, which has allowed for smoother daily operations and cost less in terms of "wasted" energy. This is a good thing, in my opinion.

Despite these tangible and intangible successes, the RS faces many challenges within the next year of its existence. Some of them are my fault for not fixing, and others are inherent to the structure of the club. What challenges lie ahead? I have identified four major issues.

First, the RS currently faces an issue among its upper leadership of punctuality and passion. The problem of failing to be punctual is extremely easy to identify. The VSG/RID/CD 105 missions were due on July 8th of this month. It is now July 30th and VSG/RID/CD 106 have still not been released. Typically, the goal of the TacOps team is to release the new mission one week after the old is due. 106 is therefore seriously late. I do not mean to carp on the TacOps team in particular - this is only one example among many. RS leadership needs to make punctual release of critical narratives, missions, and reports a regular habit. The passion issue is connected. Why are things being released late? Because of lack of passion to get them done on time. Interest and energy in leadership has waned over the past couple months. RS leadership needs to find that fire again, or try to hire new officers who do have that fire. The simple fact is that if we all don't want to be here, then nobody else will want to be here either.

Second, the RS is in a major slump in terms of single player (TOD/ITOD) participation. Both VSG and PBF had extremely low (>50%) reporting ratios for their most recent mission. Because single player mission play has become the hallmark activity of the RS (outside of simming and fiction writing, both of which are alive and well), it is somewhat concerning to see them dropping so low. This may mean nothing more than that the RS is in a summer slump that will be repaired when the school year begins again. However, it could also indicate that what we were doing 8 months ago to interest people in the RS-wide storyline is no longer valid and that we need to fundamentally re-address some of our ways of doing things. The low activity should be raising some kind of red flag.

Third, the RS has virtually ceased to have multiplayer activity. Since the end of ORW3, participation in multiplayer of any kind, including WoWs and other monthly competitions, has sagged to the point of nearly disappearing. This is troubling. Nobody should be forced into multiplayer activity if they are not interested in it, of course, but the fact is that if we don't have an MP presence, we'll never attract people interested in it. There is a vicious, symbiotic circle between not doing MP and not getting anybody interested in MP. The RS either needs to start offering more MP options and making a name for itself in MP (which will attract new recruits), or give up on MP altogether. The club has reached a crossroads in this regard.

Fourth and last is something that is extremely general in nature. The very format of the club (php roster databases, email communication for formal issues, IRC communication for informal chat) is rapidly aging. Although we shouldn't declare this type of club to be extinct, it is becoming less relevant by the day. In an age where the VAST majority of people interested in forming online gaming communities are playing Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games and enjoying the social interaction of their guild entirely within that game, the RS looks old and uninteresting. The format of the RS does have some advantages, however. It allows people with far less time commitment to remain a part of the community, for example. However, we need to be aware as a club of the aging nature of our club format and of the rise of MMOs in general. The separation of the RS at large from our RS Star Wars Galaxies guild is a glaring example that our format is not really compatible with an MMO world.

None of these problems are insurmountable. The right leadership will find ways to solve or get around each of these, and will continue to lead the RS into the future. I only offer these as my own personal observations.

VIII. Farewell

Well, my time here has come to a close. It is now my duty to officially remove the mantle from my own shoulders and pass it on to my former Executive Officer, Rear Admiral Michael Raven. Raven, you are hereby the Fleet Commander of the Rebel Squadrons. This is an extremely important position - perhaps more important now than at any time in the last 10 years of RS history. The Fleet Commander calls the shots and is in charge of almost every aspect of the RS. Beyond this, the FC is responsible for everything that occurs in the RS, either good or bad. Holding the position is not only an enormous honor but also an enormous responsibility. You will need energy, passion, kindness, patience and more to be successful. Having known you and served with you this long, I know that you can and will succeed. All hail Raven, RS Fleet Commander! Congratulations Raven, and may God have special mercy on your soul! ":)

Having completed my last official duty, it is my special privilege to reflect on my time here. As some of you know, I was Fleet Commander once before, back in 2000. Over the past 9 months, I have often been asked to compare the two tenures. To do so would be impossible - a comparison of apples to oranges. Each tenure had its own challenges. Perhaps the single most important feature of my time as Fleet Commander this time around was the extreme emphasis on the fictional aspect of the RS. This emphasis owes just about everything to our Logistics Officer, David Vaughan. Vaughan pressured me from day one to be heavily involved in the fictional continuity, and I dove in. I might have been somewhat reluctant at first, but looking back on it that was one of the best decisions I could have made. The RS is much stronger now and has a much better sense of community because of this wonderful fictional world that has been created in the form of our RS-wide storyline. In leaving the FC's chair, I have the privilege of continuing to remain a part of this storyline. I will continue to write the GDF (FC narrative) storyline for as long as it is allowed to me - and I do promise to release a new story soon.

The thing that I will miss most about leading the RS is the camaraderie that exists among the leadership of this club and the friendships I have formed. The chance to work with Raven, Vaughan, Josh, Heavy, Jester and others on a regular basis has been a true joy. I enjoyed the simple things like one sentence emails fired back and forth. I even enjoyed the more complicated emails - everybody knows that Vaughan rarely sends an email which is less than a page long. Writing narratives and reviewing the narratives of others is fun as well, and it better be considering how often we do it. What can one say about the B&G? It remains much the same as it always has: fun, disgusting, rude, and welcoming all at once. Conversation with B&G regulars is not for the faint of heart, but I enjoy being a part of that community and talking with them all.

There's so many people that I should thank for helping me out along the way that I don't know where to start. How about the beginning? My start in the RS back in 1996 owed almost everything to a man I only know by his AOL name of "WegAntiles." Weg got me started, showed me how to fly X-W missions, and gave me my first squadron command. Former FC Castor Efrata Landis taught me most everything I know about leadership in the RS. He's a brilliant guy and one that I consider myself lucky to know. Former FC Rahj Tharen is a great friend of mine, and if he had not become Fleet Commander after I retired the first time in 2001 I might never have returned to active duty in the RS. I owe the fact that I was here to be FC a second time to him.

A Fleet Commander does not lead on his own. His is the responsibility and the authority, but without the help of a whole host of officers no single person could lead the RS. I owe thanks to a GREAT number of people for helping me out in the past 9 months. If I forget somebody, I can only beg for their forgiveness. In no particular order, I owe thanks to:

Licah - First of all, I wouldn't be FC if you hadn't jump-started the club last summer. And thanks for being around to talk when I needed someone to complain to. :P
Jester - Thanks for the games of DoW and the random mockery. Oh, and for stepping up to take RS command positions. That's cool too.
Heavy - I miss you, man. You were an awesome VSG CO and a good friend. Without you I think the VSG might have fallen apart. Well done.
Seeks - Thanks for the medal graphics, the work in the historical office, and for constantly volunteering for stuff.
Gavin Kravis - Gav, I appreciate the occasional words of advice and reassurance that you provided at key moments.
TJ - Without your graphic skills, TJ, a lot would not have happened. You were especially critical for ORW3, something which I am still grateful for much later.
Jon - Thanks for getting us started on ORW3 and for having faith that the competition would occur. You couldn't stick with us for the whole thing, but I appreciate what you did.
Dale - Dale, thank you for renewing my hope in the new generation of RS leadership. Your dedication to RID and CD was impressive, but what's most awesome right now is your burning passion to get the Academy rolling. I know that you'll take it to great places.
Spokes - Thanks for the advice and for taking care of medals, Spokes. It was a big load off Raven and I's shoulders to know that you'd be on that task.
Josh - I don't know where to start, Josh. Thanks for being such a stalwart and reliable PBF CO. The way you stepped in as Internet Officer was also key. Without you I'm not sure what the RS would have done at that position. You know you're not a coding genius, but despite that you have done what you are able to do and have kept things running, and that's really as much as we could ask for. Thanks for that. And thanks for being a friend and for sharing my irritations and thoughts as I struggled through being FC.
Vaughan - I've got used to thanking you lately, Vaughan. Seems like every time I turn around I'm awarding you with something. This is for good reason - without you the RS' fictional revival would not be happening at all. We owe a lot to you. Thanks for being RS LO, for keeping tabs on fiction, and for making sure it all makes sense. And thanks for the millions of little things you do every day that people don't necessarily notice. Thanks for updating wiki pages, monitoring the updates of others, coordinating people to help with your projects, and for the big crazy projects that you do all on your own which take forever but end up producing documents hundreds of pages long. All of this enriches the RS and makes it a better place.
Raven - Thanks for simply being yourself, Raven. By being yourself, you kept me on my toes and made sure I didn't get complacent. You have such a fiery passion for the RS that it can be infectious. When I first ran against you for the FC spot back in October, I was absolutely certain that I couldn't let you be both ABG CO and FC. Your energy has changed my mind. I know that you can do any combination of RS jobs that you put your mind to. Thanks for being my partner these past 9 months and for helping me in almost every decision I made. Your advice was always very valued. Thanks for being a friend and for talking with me when I needed an ear to listen.

I could go on and on, but it would simply take too much time to continue on by thanking people like Kaz, Sentry, Karel, Orv, Max, Sconn, Biggie, Indy, Cody, Blast and Macman. I also want to thank you. Yes, you, person still reading this announcement. I thank every member of the RS who has made this the community that it is. Without you, the community and club would be diminished. The RS is, and always has been, about its members. The RS isn't a website or an organization or an administration - it is a group of people who gather to have fun in the Star Wars universe. This is what we are. As my last bit of advice, I hope you all will keep your friendships alive and continue to enjoy just talking with each other. Deep down, that's really what it's all about.

Au revoir!

Dave Trebonious-Astoris
Fleet Commander

=The Rebel Squadrons=
A H.I.E.R. Organization: Honesty, Integrity, Equanimity, Respect

"I want you to understand this, and I want future generations to believe it; you and they will do more than adequate service to my reputation if I am held to be worthy of my forebears, careful for your interests, steadfast in danger, and not afraid to be unpopular if I am serving the national good." -Tiberius Caesar Augustus


COM Wes Belden - Tue Jul 31 2007, 5:38pm
Many thanks Dave, you did more than good :)
FA Joshua Hawkins - Wed Aug 01 2007, 12:55pm
So long Dave, thanks for all the fish!
RA Lamin Zykara - Wed Aug 01 2007, 3:51pm
Thanks Dave! You rock!
FA Danny "David Lee Japan" Qatar - Wed Aug 01 2007, 7:54pm
i wub dave
BGN Gavin Starseeker - Thu Aug 02 2007, 3:37am
Thanks very much, Dave and good luck for the future!

RA Harley Quinn - Thu Aug 02 2007, 5:49am
It's been a blast Dave, now maybe you can concentrate in getting Green back to the top ":)
COL Kane "Kid" Dev Redron - Fri Aug 03 2007, 3:15pm
Good job Dave, thanks for everything.