Imperial FarSpace Service (IFSS)

MJW's Notes

The overt purpose of the IFSS is to enhance stability of areas outside the Imperium.  It is not to prepare regions for incorporation into the Imperium, and in fact expansionism is against the IFSS charter.  There will always be areas outside the Imperium, and the longer those regions are stable, the better protected are the Imperium's borders.

The enhancement of stability necessitates a diplomatic branch, to advise and guide the polities in stable directions.  Further to these aims, the IFSS plays no favorites.  Their advice will not be accepted if they are perceived to be playing sides -- who knows then whether their advice is beneficial or detrimental?

So the reputation of the IFSS diplomatic branch is vital to the success of the service.  Training and cultivating statesmen is a major drive.  The IFSS statesmen are respected individuals, and their personal reputations are gigantic.

Backing up the diplomatic branch is an extremely effective network of information gathering.  While major resources are directed at the diplomatic branch, the majority of personnel are field operatives.

The field operates much as the IISS.  Ships with small crews, but very high quality sensor installations, are given information tasks.  Most -- almost all -- of the ships operated by the IFSS are Donosev class survey scouts.

While it is usual for field branch crews to be given specific missions, as a crew -- or individual commander -- gains experience and demonstrates initiative -- and intuition -- they are more likely to be assigned more general missions.  The most effective of these crews are given great latitude in how they spend their time.  The best are merely expected to report in every now and again, and then left alone to go their own way.  Such crews can go for years between reports.

The purpose of the field branch is to gather information, to expand the IFSS's knowledge base.  Any and all information, no matter how trivial, is welcomed.  Once in the IFSS system, everything is correlated and analyzed in an attempt to find anomalies -- or to find a big picture.

It is not clear what the IFSS is looking for, but the common joke is "We'll know it when we see it."  There is a policy never to answer the question -- a question that always remains unspoken.

Of course, one destination of this knowledge is in support of the diplomatic branch.  Also, if anything interesting -- diplomatic trends, new exploration, evidence of some "higher plan" even -- turns up under analysis, that is reported back to the head of the Service.  Not just reporting, but extrapolation and prediction, are the business of the IFSS.

An extension of the freedom given to crews is walkabout.  This is an exceptional measure used when conventional information gathering methods break down.  When the intelligence required is not coming through, the Service gives all its personnel free reign to do what they want -- go anywhere, do anything, just report back.  Often quite amazing finds come out of such a widely cast net.

-cam MW