ESIS, or the External Security Intervention Service, is Serica’s closest analog to a standing army. It is a volunteer force that spends almost all of its time training, and offers extensive benefits in exchange for the portion of personal freedom it commandeers. It is worth noting that even during The Reformation War ESIS has never ‘relaxed’ its standards for mental, physical, and psychological fitness, and the idea of conscription or a more conventional ‘draft’ is almost unthinkable. ESIS is not, however, above utilizing and communicating with the armed militias such emergencies tend to generate, even if they are not fit for proper service.
ESIS was originally founded, officially, at least, to counter the bandit and pirate groups that plagued the isles of the Serica Band up through the early second century SEC. Unofficially, many suspect ESIS was more of a political maneuver on the part of the newborn government in Zenith to safely vent the destructive energies and personalities of the newly-unified Serican city-states, many of which had developed an extensive warrior class through centuries of warfare with each other. While ESIS’ budget, size, and equipment may have been wildly disproportionate to the real threats it faced, it served the far more important purpose of creating a sense of unity between bitter historical enemies while retaining useful aggression-venting features such as murdering other people and literally vaporizing taxpayer money.
The Reformation War obviously changed all this, and swiftly silenced nearly two centuries of complaints that ESIS remained too large and too powerful for the global situation. Illegal immigration, terrorism, and crime on the Rastakgic border and around Midstream had drawn ESIS’ attention North long ago, but the eruption of the war led to a groundswell of public support (and enlistment) that the organization had not known before (and hasn’t since). After the war, ESIS has remained at a state of readiness and budget far beyond pre-war levels, a phenomenon predicted by nearly every strategic analyst and increasingly criticized in public circles.
Unlike ISIS’ focus on preparation and absolute operational security, the War has reinforced ESIS’ emphasis on total independence down to squad-sized units and utter commitment to mission completion above all other concerns. ESIS training frequently deals with unrealistically skewed odds, massive equipment failure, friendly fire, and units being forced to operate far outside their conventional deployments, all grim realities the organization faced during the War.
The ratio of these complex, expensive training operations to actual action, however, is what sparks much of the rivalry between ESIS and their ISIS counterparts. While the average ISIS patrol officer is more likely than not to fire their weapon in self-defense at least once during their career, most ESIS combat-duty personnel are never within visual range of hostile fire. Those operating in the far North are an important exception, however, as they face very real threats from pirates and Rastakgic extremists as well as more conventional criminals. ESIS officers who deploy exclusively in the South are extremely unlikely to see any form of combat. Another key difference is in career. Most ESIS operators serve one or two five-cycle terms before moving to more relaxed employment in the private security sector, whereas ISIS operators tend to be career.
At the individual level, ISIS and ESIS use similar weapons and equipment, though ESIS soldiers are more frequently seen in heavier combat and encounter armor (which ISIS officers would quip is simply because they only have to look pretty in it for a few minutes at a time, rather than actually do anything). ESIS, however, does not face the heavy restrictions ISIS does in vehicle deployment. ESIS completely shuns the ISIS Patrol VTOLs and Linerunner hydrofoils, what some would say is a deliberate snub of the heaviest machinery available to their ISIS counterparts.