Supreme Marshal Sir Rudolph William Tristan Joseph Lanning, 1st Baronet GSU GCMT GCSM GCGE GSIC OV OM (born 12 August 3233) is a German-Terran military officer who is the current Chief of Staff of the Central Galactic Union Army. As such, he is the most senior uniformed officer to serve in the Department of the Army, and is the principal military advisor to the Secretary of the Army. In a separate capacity, he is the chief representative and advocate for the Army in the Joint Military Staff, and holds considerable influence in the Ministry of War overall. Lanning does not, in his capacity as Army Chief of Staff, have operational control over the land forces of the Republic, and serves in an administrative role. However, he advises the Supreme Chancellor, the Chairperson of the Joint Military Staff, and the High Commander for Joint Forces on the use of Army units in conflicts.
Lanning served as an armoured cavalry officer during the colonial rebellions of the late 3250s. Promoted to the rank of Major General in 3264 after being educated in the Staff College in Berlin, he would command tactical and operational units in the Great War, and achieve recognition for his utilisation of "deep battle" tactics of layered artillery use within mechanized and motorised infantry units. He cut his teeth commanding the 31st Cavalry Corps in the Soviet front from 3265 to 3268, earning the rank of Colonel General through rapid promotion. His lasting fame came from commanding the 67th Panzer Army in the campaign in the Shrike colonies in the early 3270s. He was considered an expert on encirclement tactics by the end of the conflict, having used them to great effect to rapidly destroy planetary defensive fortifications upon landing with fast-moving armoured forces. In 3273, he was promoted to the rank of General Field Marshal in command of the Far Rim Army Group, conducting conquests in the Far Rim and Shrike core worlds. In 3275, he was promoted to Chief Marshal and appointed Commander of Army Forces in the Occupied Territories. Lanning was appointed Vice Chief of Staff of the Army in 3277 and Chief of Staff of the Army in 3281.
Lanning is considered emblematic of the "Berlin establishment" of relatively apolitical but highly nationalist Army officers which formed the backbone of the old Imperial Army. Like some others of his generation, he has expressed loyalties to the feudal ideals of the Terran Empire in the past. However, despite this, Lanning has made more recent statements reflecting upon the creation of the Republic as the "next stage of human civilization." He is considered by some to be a potential successor to the chair of the Joint Military Staff.
Early life and education
Rudolph Lanning was born Rudolf Wilhelm Tristan Josef Lanning on August 12th, 3233 in the church hospital in Quedlinburg, Magdeburg Province, to Joseph Artur Lanning, a tailor, and Theresa Hardin Lanning, an Army officer. He was baptised two days later at Quedlinburg Abbey. Lanning grew up in the North German middle-class, and endeavoured from an early age for a military career. His mother served two tours of duty in the Cruxite War and impressed upon her son the value of military service. The Lanning family moved to Magdeburg, and Rudolph attended junior military academies there. Upon turning 16, he enlisted in the Imperial Army.
Lanning enlisted in August 3249 and set out for Basic Training. He completed basic combat training in late October and went to Armour School, training until January 3251. He enrolled at the Army Officer School in Zossen, Brandenburg Province and attended until December 3252. In between classes, he took Army leadership and specialization courses. He graduated and was commissioned a Lieutenant. Impressing his superiors, he was set on a fast track for promotion and was promoted to Captain by 3254. During this time, he served in platoon-, company-, and battalion-level leadership and staff positions. He was promoted to Major in 3255, just before deployment.
In early 3255, he was shipped out to combat deployment in the Banat province, along with other armoured units. He was transferred to the 12th Guards Cavalry and commanded a tank company. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 3257 and placed in command of an armoured battalion. In 3259, he was again promoted to Colonel after the brigade to which his battalion was attached lost its commander in an ambush, and he was forced to take command while the brigade was under encirclement by highly organized rebel bushwhackers. He led his troops from the front, commanding at the head of the main tank column, as they broke through rebel lines to link up with artillery and defensive infantry elements. He was decorated with the Knight's Cross.
In 3260, after his unit was on leave, Lanning enrolled in the Army Staff College in Berlin, Prussia. He attended studies until 3264, also taking summer courses on unit leadership, professional development, and operational logistics. He also studied political science, psychology, and economics in order to gain a better understanding of how to manage large numbers of people with disparate views and opinions. The looming threat of war with the Soviet Republic impressed upon Lanning the necessity of unity within the ranks. He was commissioned a Major General in July 3264, and he took command of the 78th Panzer Division. On the outbreak of war in September 3265, the 78th Panzer Division was mobilized for front-line combat.
Lanning's success in a stunning string of victories in the Battle of Kalabaska in December earned him a promotion to Lieutenant General and an appointment in command of the 31st Cavalry Corps on 31 December. The 31st Cavalry Corps was, along with the 12th Guards Cavalry Division and the 78th Panzer Division, a component of the 3rd Cavalry Army commanded by General Admiral August Sask. The forces under Admiral Sask's command undertook a series of campaigns in Soviet territory, leading up to the Battle of Khoz. Lanning was deployed on Khoz IV for the duration of the battle, engaging Soviet heavy armoured forces in encirclement campaigns and then suppressing guerrillas. Sask considered redeploying the 31st Cavalry Corps to Khoz Prime to relieve the encirclement of the 12th Cavalry Division, but it was decided that Lanning's troops were needed to keep Khoz IV secured while the 12th Cavalry undertook a breakout operation in November.
After the Battle of Khoz, he was promoted to full General and served on the command staff of Admiral Sask. He advised Sask on the use of armoured units and jockeyed with General Robert Rall for authority over the deployment of ground forces. In 3270, partly as a way to separate him from Rall, he was promoted to Colonel General and took command of the 67th Panzer Army. While most of the Terran Army was deployed against the Soviets, Cassiopeians, and Vryst in the early 3270s, Lanning was in charge of raids against Shrike colonies in the anti-spinward part of the Far Rim, beyond the Vryst-Shrike border. His forces deployed on poorly-defended frontier worlds with rapid armoured assaults that devastated population centres and destroyed military installations before retreating to "redoubt worlds" that had been seized and set up as forward operating positions for the Terran military. His successes distracted and confused the United Suns, in spite of tactical setbacks during his operations. In planetary attacks, his forces often strained their supply lines while engaging in raids; and near the end of the campaign, the Shrike military became adept at responding to the assaults on their colonies and were able to repulse Terran fleets.
In May 3273, he was promoted to General Field Marshal and was placed in command of the Far Rim Army Group, with responsibility to repeat his success and conquer the Shrike colonies. He cooperated with Prince Rupert-Napoleon of Westphalia to conquer the Shrike colonies world by world.