Tales of the Solar Patrol: Class of 2058
The Solar Patrol has two main avenues of entrance (though given the strict requirements, they are more like narrow alleys). The first is via the Solar Patrol Cadet Corps. All secondary schools throughout the Earth League offer a Patrol Cadet Program, and anyone of age 12 to 16 may volunteer for it. Entry to the Cadet Program is competitive but not overly harsh; the benefits of it are many, and the primary requirement is that a candidate be physically, mentally, and emotionally fit enough to not pose a danger to himself or others.
The Cadet Program occurs alongside regular schooling.
Typically, it is expected cadets will spend one to two hours a day in special training and classes, which focus on astronomy, engineering, general science, and physical training. Body and mind are both sharpened and tested. As a rule, 75% of those who enter the Cadet Program complete it with at least a “Competent” score, and they are entitled to add “spcc” to their formal signatures. While this is a relatively minor honor – millions successfully graduate from the Cadet Program – it is still a source of pride and can occasionally open doors or grant a small edge when interviewing for jobs. Former Cadet Corps members form a large and dilute “Old Boys Club,” not nearly as close-knit as a fraternity or the like, but enough to merit a small favor here and there. In game terms, this can be purchased as Social Regard 2 (Only among other former cadets, -50%) 5.
Throughout the cadet-training process, the most promising candidates are noted and tested, often subtly and without their knowledge. For example, a student might find the monorail car that he rides home on every day suddenly filling with acrid smoke from an electrical fire. Unknown to him, the other passengers in his car are Patrol observers, often retirees or civilian associates, and they watch his reactions. Does he just rush to another car, heedless of any others who might need his aid? Does he try to assist the (seemingly) old and infirm man to safety? Does he take command and try to organize a safe evacuation?
Without knowing he was ever tested, his actions might earn him a guaranteed commission, or it might cause him to never be accepted to the Patrol and never know why. Cadet training (and Patrol training in general) is not based on brutalizing and dehumanizing soldiers, breaking them down so that they can be rebuilt into a desired image. Rather, it focuses on strengthening the best within a candidate and suppressing, or destroying, the worst. Members of the Solar Patrol are not expected to obey because they’ve been conditioned to obey – they’re expected to obey because they fully understand their duty and the correctness of their orders.
In any given year, about 1% of those who pass the Cadet Program are offered a commission in the patrol, and 75% of those accept it.
The commission does not make one a full Patrolman, though. An intensive two-year training program follows, with those who performed well in the Cadet Corps considered “very likely” to advance to Patrolman junior grade, with a 50% failure rate.
Those who did not partake in the Cadet Program are still able to join the Patrol, though it is more difficult. The Patrol is demanding and expects a lot of service out of each recruit, so the age window for volunteers is narrow – 16 to 24. Non-Cadet Corps volunteers receive a range of basic physical, mental, and psychological tests, as well as a background check, over a period of two days. If they pass these, they are sent to an intensive testing camp, which compresses the multi-year program of the Cadet Corps into three months of grueling hell. Those who make it through the program – 5% of admittees – enter the full two-year Patrol Training Course.
More rarely, experienced soldiers from other branches of the military are transferred to the Patrol. This can sometimes result in friction, as a general belief pervades the members that anyone good enough to be in the Patrol would have joined up directly; the rest of the military is a sort of “consolation prize” for those who failed to make the cut. Despite this condescending (and not wholly accurate) attitude, those who make such transfers are known for performing with honor and distinction, as well as serving the vital duty of keeping the Patrol from becoming too isolated and elitist.