Habitats in Space

How are the Fremens and Sarduakar Depicted in Modern History?

Since the beginning of human history, the empire with the best military is often regarded as the strongest country. The Persian Emperor Xerxes I 's Immortals are such an example as they helped expand the Persian Empire into one of the largest in the history of humanity. However, history often neglected the soldiers of weaker empires who fought bravely and inflicted considerable damage to their enemies. The Spartans are such an example,and in the famous battle of Thermopylae, 300 Spartans faced a well-trained army of nearly 100,000 soldiers for seven days. Time after time these under-equipped soldiers fought to protect and serve their homelands and they inflicted considerable damages to their foe. This show that many of the toughest militaries are derived from poor empires and can rival the stronger military.

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In Frank Herbertís science fiction novel, Dune, the known universe under the Padishah emperor Shaddam IV is another great example. The Emperor commands the Sardaukar, the most elite and deadliest force in the whole entire universe. They are better equipped and are feared by all military forces in the universe. In Dune, the weaker natives, Fremen, are also known for their fierce fighting abilities and survival skills. In fact, Emperor Shaddam IV once noted "I only sent in 5 troop carriers with a light attack force to pick up prisoners for questioning. We barely got away with three prisoners and one carrier. Mind you, my Sardakar were almost overwhelmed by a force composed mostly of women, children, and old men".The defeat of the Sardaukar by the Fremen shows that the power of military is parallel to the quality of the soldier and not quantity. When fighting the war in a planet like Dune, the Fremen have a huge advantage.

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Sarduakar = Spetsnaz

In more recent history, the relationship between the Russian Spetsnaz and the Afghan freedom fighters (Taliban) are parallel to the Sardaukar and the Fremens. Like the Sarduakar, Spetsnaz operatives undergo extreme trainings to maximize their endurance and stamina. Spetsnaz are trained in parachuting, long-period swimming, martial arts, sabotage, high-tech infiltration, languages, and survival in harsh environment, interrogations, and weapons familiarities. One famous weapon of Spetsnaz militants is aballistic knife which (as aired in TV series Deadliest Warrior can propel the blade into the enemy at a stunning 30 miles per hour using spring power. This type of weapon usage is similar to the Sarduakar who use knife as primary weapons to combat enemy shield protections. The Sardaukar are bred from the emperorís prison planet, Salusa Secundus, where the mortality rate is higher than 60 percent, creating the toughest soldiers of their kind. Like the Sarduakar in Dune, the Spetsnaz were typically trained in the Soviet Union where intense trainings were accepted as a necessity for national security. These trainings include being drag behind a truck and daily physically beating to maximize the endurance of each Spetnaz so they will become in a sense, "super soldiers". The Saudaukar faced similar training as they are all criminals that fight to survive to become the perfect soldier for the emperor.


Spestnaz Weapons and Equipments

The standard weapons of a Spetsnaz operative are sub-machine guns, knives, grenades. They are also trained to perfection in hand-to-hand combat in a tactic known as CQB (Close Quarter Battle). A Spestnaz operative will fashion a weapon on whatever he/she can get his hands on just like the Sarduakar. In the novel, the Sarduakar use a body shield which protects against all forms of projectile. The Spetsnaz however, are shields themselves as they are subjected to intense,physical violence and their tolerance to pain is unbelievable. The reason for this military training is to prevent Spetsnaz operative to give in to pain in the event of interrogations. In Dune, the Sarduakar hid concealed weapons during their interrogation and almost kill the leader of the Fremen.

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Fremen = Taliban

On the other hand, the Taliban is a loosely configured terrorist organization who followed a religious belief to restore Afghanistan after years of oppression from the Soviet Union. Likewise, The Fremen follow their messiah "Muah Dib" to fight for their ultimate freedom and to terraform Arrakis to a water planet. Both the Taliban and Fremens fought because they were suffering from oppression and fought for better life after victory. The Taliban was originally funded by the United States to fight the Soviet Army and their effort caused the Soviets to pull out of a "bleeding wound" (Mikhail Gorbachev). The Fremen similarly received help from their Reverend Mother Ramallo who predicted that Paul Atreides and Lady Jessica will come to the Fremenís aid and make life better in Arrakis. In the Talibanís perspective, their savior is Osama Bin Ladin who led the attack on 9/11. and created an international terrorism war. In both cases, the Fremen and Taliban are fighting oppression by putting their trust on a religious figure. That figure in turn created an international and galactic jihad for the Taliban and Fremen.

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The Fremen have survived and adapted to the harsh condition of Arrakis and the constant strive between life and death produced some of the toughest and most effective fighters in existence. The Fremen do not wear shields like the Sardakuar because shields attracts sandworms, so they have to move quickly and decisively on combat. Unlike the Sardakaur who rely on shields during combat, the Fremens have a major advantage because the Sardakaur are fighting out of their comfort zone and playing the Fremen game.

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The Taliban are a group of Sunni Muslim militants who are mostly battle-hardened Islamic fighters who defeated the Soviet military in Afghanistan in the 1980s. They promise to restore peace and security and enforce their version of Islamic law once in power. The Taliban weapon includes tanks, towed guns, rocket launchers, and anti-tank and aircraft missiles. Most of the Taliban weapons come from leftover Soviet arsenals. The Taliban stronghold is mostly spread among Pakistan and Afghanistan. All these characteristics show parallelism to the Fremen in which both groups are oppressed races looking upon a religious figure for a better life. At the same time, both have a strong terrain advantage because the fighting takes part in their homeland. Similarly, the Fremen tribes are spread throughout the planet Arrakis and they all have the same custom/religion. Fremen were also oppress by the House of Harkonnen who use them as slaves for spice production. The rebellion of the Taliban and Fremen against a ruling class generated a series of "jihad" all over the world and universe respectively.

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The comparison between the Spetsnaz and the Taliban proved that the more equipped army does not necessary mean the army with the strongest soldiers. In the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, the poorly equipped Taliban managed to keep a world super power in bay and even drove them out of Afghanistan. In Dune, the Fremens won decisive victories against the Sarduakar and all military of the universe despite being technologically behind and in poverty. The reason why the Fremens won is because they have considerable advantage in Arrakis (their homeland). Every day in Arrakis is a struggle between life and death as the limited water supply dwindles and the constant fear of being attack by sandworms. The harsh conditions there hardened each child to a level where no Sardaukar can ever achieve through training. Likewise, the Spetsnaz were trained in Russia where basic necessities of life exist such as food and shelter exist. In contrast, most Taliban fighters were born in an era of extreme dictatorial oppression and poverty. Thus, the Taliban insurgents were born to fight to survive and they fought for a better future. The Spestnaz, on the other hand, have no real reason to fight except to glorify the Soviet Union.

Chao W. Zheng| Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University | HU-338| Fall 2013