[W]hy are we still here? Why are we the tip of the spear, the ones making a difference, while the White Guard shuttle Elders about and the Fedayeen do...whatever it is the Fedayeen do, if they even exist? How did a bunch of Second and Third Fleet rooks spit in the face of the greatest war machine in human space and live to brag about it?
In the big picture I think it's because the Wargods aren't special at all. We are the Federation unleashed. We are what ordinary Ubuntu citizens can become, given a mission and the means to achieve it. What happened here in Sol didn't breed a race of pampered weaklings - it made a generation of smart, tough, versatile men and women. If our leaders ever took to the taste of blood, we could be a nightmare.
The biggest difficulty facing the UEF was never a lack of warships or competent officers. Even as early as the first FV it's confirmed that Calder's 3JRF held back Severanti's superior numbers for 18 months, with little to no support from Mars or Earth. Netraba's artillery puts an abrupt end to the Blitz within half an hour of it starting; that it was so successful is speaks more of the BBlue than anything. The Wargods had the Agincourt
of their insertion; all it took was a location and a commander willing to use it. (While their success against the Carthage
' escorts is debatable, Calder, Al-da'wa, and Bei Sr. all confirm that losing the Agincourt
hurt Steele badly; I can't believe that was part of his plan.) When the Feds get their act together, they get results. The fatal flaw in Severanti's plan was assuming Byrne's doctrine would hold. Netraba and Calder's actions, even as early as Darkest Hour
but certainly by the start of Act 2, say otherwise. (Would they have broken away without Steele in command? Yes. Resentment towards Byrne's defensive posture was brewing even in early Act 1, while Severanti was still theatre commander.)
And Byrne isn't an idiot. I'm convinced that his Shambhala, whatever it is, would lead to a UEF victory (in some real, but possibly non-military, sense), if
executed successfully. Leaving aside 2 and 3 Fleet autonomy for the moment, if Byrne and Severanti had exchanged slow, cautious strikes long enough, he'd have had time to implement Shambhala and do... whatever it is Shambhala does.
Third, the Fedayeen. I agree with the analysis that they're less effective against Severanti than Steele, but the fact remains that they could open up a deadly second front from positions Severanti thought safe. If Severanti leaves enough assets to guard against a Fedayeen strike at his rear positions, then those assets aren't fighting the UEF regulars... and the Fedayeen are the Fedayeen. They've got CASSANDRA. Given enough time to construct an accurate psych profile and run their simulations, they will
find a weakness. And Severanti would give them time. In chess, there's the concept of sharp
play: if every move is dramatic, you'll cut your opponent or yourself. A player accustomed to a sharp playstyle can force their opponent to match it; if they're unaccustomed, that unfamiliarity buys the sharp player protection from their own risks. This is what Steele did to Byrne. Leaving Severanti in charge would be to give him to the Fedayeen, and they would enact their own sharpness.