The Terran Federation is the government of Earth and her Space Colonies.
Although the book is vague on the details of how the world came to its current state, one is able to extract this information: At the end of 20th century, national governments of the world collapse because of so-called unlimited democracies. These "unlimited democracies" are the fraudulent Marxian definition of value from which "Communism derives" and civil unrest due to a "pre-scientific pseudo-professional class" who called themselves Social Workers and Child Psychologists banning Corporal Punishment.
In 1987 there is war between the Russo - Anglo - American Alliance and the Hegemony known as the "Peoples Republic of China". Shortly before the war's end, a group of intellectuals perform a coup d'état in an attempt at creating a utopia. This incident later came to be known as the Revolt of the Scientists.
At the end of the war the Treaty of New Delhi was signed. This treaty freed prisoners captured by the Russo-Anglo-American Alliance. However it left approximately 65,000 civilians (Japanese, Filipino and Russian) and 2 divisions of British Paratroopers in Chinese incarceration to be sentenced for political crimes, forcing the abandoned prisoners to escape to gain freedom. It should also be noted that at the end of the 20th century, the North American Union/Republic was brought down by raging illegal activity which took place all around the world, including Russia and the United Kingdom.
Crime was at its peak for most of the second half of the 20th century, lasting up to the war between the Russo - Anglo - American Alliance and the Chinese Hegemony. After the collapse of national governments, a group of veterans in Aberdeen, Scotland formed a vigilante group to stop rioting and looting. They hanged a few people (including 2 veterans) and decide to only allow veterans to join their committee due to a mistrust of politicians. This contingency plan became routine after a couple of generations, and this group of vigilantes was the start of the Terran Federation.
The Terran Federation is a multicultural society that votes for a global leader, similar to a Representative democracy. However people of higher levels of authority also have to suffer tougher repercussions of their actions e.g. A Lieutenant could hang for making a mistake that a Private would merely be dismissed and maybe lashed for. Corporal and Capital Punishment are practiced by the government as well as physical child rearing being standard use amongst the population. A "History and Moral philosophy" instructor in the Army says "personal freedom for all is greatest in history, laws are few, taxes are low, living standards are as high as productivity permits, crime is at its lowest ebb."
The people of the Terran Federation are made up of either "Citizens" or "Civilians". Everyone is born a "Civilian", and at age 18 every "Civilian" has the right to enroll for a minimal 2 year term of "Federal Service". In theory a completed term of Federal Service ensures a "Citizen" is willing to put the needs of the community before their own personal well-being. This is because Federal Service is tough and dangerous (by design). It can involve joining the Military, being a Human Guinea Pig, testing survival equipment or Manual Labour. The Federation makes it quite easy to quit a term of service before completion (even during war time), but once someone has quit they are never allowed to enroll again. This is to ensure that all volunteers are dedicated, whilst also discouraging people from leaving. The opportunity is open to everyone able-bodied or not. A Doctor giving a medical examination says "if you came in here in a wheelchair and blind in both eyes and were silly enough to insist on enrolling, they would find you something silly to match. Counting the fuzz on a caterpillar by touch, maybe." The only way you can not join is if a psychiatrist decides you cannot understand the oath. "Civilians" are neither discriminated against, nor deprived of legal rights other than that of the ballot. Several examples from the book bear this out, particularly the fact that Juan Rico's family is prosperous and lacks for nothing save the right to vote (which his father regards as "useless" anyway). Only after completing a term of Federal Service, "Civilians" then become "Citizens" and gain the right to vote.</p>
The Terran Federation's military appears to be divided into either Army or Navy (that use spacecraft instead of ships and double as an air force), with dozens of non-combat and support branches e.g. logistics, biological/chemical weapons development, and Terraforming. The "Sky Marshal" commands the entire military. To be eligible for the post of Sky Marshal, an officer must reach certain high Military_rank in both the Army and the Navy. Once in the military a volunteer has the choice to "go career", choosing to devote 20 years of service to the Federation instead of the usual 2 years required to gain Citizenship. After these 20 years they can then leave and get a "reserved job", for example in the police. If they quit before then, after choosing the career path, the Federation is less supportive to them in the Civilian world. A minimal 2 year service can be extended if the Federation deems it necessary, as explicitly stated in the "Service Oath" taken upon enrollment.
The Federation Army is the ground force of the Terran Federation and is a purely volunteer (like all Federation Service branches), paternalistic military organization. The two major sections of the Federation army are the Mobile Infantry, and the K-9 Corps, which are independent but work in conjunction with each other. The Army is transported throughout the galaxy by the Navy in various sized transports ranging from a corvette, which houses a single platoon, to regimental transports which house up to six platoons. The M.I. prefers the smaller, "speedier" corvettes because of the operational pliability they offer. This provides the ability to conduct concurrent and/or consecutive raid-type missions over a large area of operation and on many planets or systems as opposed to larger set-piece battles or invasions in a more concentrated manner.
The Mobile Infantry is an elite fighting force of the Terran Federation. Their training is depicted as extremely strenuous, with a few dying before completion. The books narrator, Juan Rico, describes how out of his entire 2000 man training unit, fewer than 200 make it all the way through. A Mobile Infantryman is equipped with a Power Armor as well as an arsenal of weapons at his disposal, some built into the suit. These weapons range from conventional firearms to micro-nuclear warheads. The armor is strong enough to resist any conventional weapon less than high explosives or anti-tank rounds. The servo-motors give the wearer enough strength to crush a tank or tear through a concrete wall, but are dexterous enough to allow them to pick up an egg without breaking it. The armor is also equipped with jump jets and rockets, allowing the trooper to move rapidly about the field. One expression used in the book as a compliment to good soldiers is that they are "on the bounce." According to Rico, when one is suited up in the Power Armor, they appear like a "steel gorilla". Usually, an MI platoon would drop from individual capsules launched from a troop transport in orbit. The capsule is used only once. The MI platoon will then execute its mission. These missions range from hit-and-run strikes to search and rescue missions. The MI will usually deploy about one trooper every half-mile. After the mission is complete, the Transport will launch a retrieval beacon for the platoon to follow to the retrieval area. Usually the beacon will play music such as, in the case of the TFCT Rodger Young, "The Ballad of Rodger Young." Once the retrieval boat lands, the platoon boards and returns to the transport. The MI prides itself in its esprit de corps. This philosophy includes never leaving a wounded soldier for dead; instead they pick up their wounded and make sure they make it back alive. Also, all MI soldiers are combat soldiers; there are no dedicated support staff. This means that when a unit launches a mission, all soldiers do so. Heinlein depicts the MI as a heavily armored but highly mobile force which virtually dominates the battlefield and greatly utilizes shock effect- much in the way of modern armored units. Likewise, they are utilized in the same missions (raids, screens, interdiction, etc.) as modern cavalry. In effect, the role depicted in the novel, relying on mobility, shock effect, and firepower, greatly follows the modern US Army Armor branch, with components running the gamut from light cavalry to heavy tanks. In addition, elite airborne infantry is a chief inspiration for Heinlein's troopers (both parachute and Air Assault). The Mobile Infantry troops wear power armor in combat. Power armor is worn over the trooper's body and is worn as humans wear their own skin so that they can concentrate on combat actions as opposed to moving the armor itself. Power armor have jumpjets installed into them to allow troopers to jump over obstacles and buildings with ease. According to Rico, when one is suited up in the powered armor, they appear like a "steel gorilla". There are three different types of power armor, Scout Armor which is fast and used for scouting, Command Armor which is able to jump, and see further than regular armor, and Marauder Armor which is the basic armor used by the Mobile Infantry for military missions.
- Scout Armor
Scout armor is a lightly armored variant of power armor which is able to jump and travel faster than regular power armor, for use in recon missions.
- Command Armor
Command armor is a more powerful variant of Power Armor. The main difference in Command Armor to that of Marauder Armor is that Command Armor has much more communications equipment, and controls much more jump power and "juice" than the Marauder Armor.
- Marauder Armor
Marauder Armor is the basic Power Armor used by the Mobile Infantry. Each armored suit is customized to fit each individual. The Armor is designed to give a trooper many times more strength, to let them jump over buildings at ease, and to deflect enemy fire.
The K-9 Corps is an elite division of the Terran Federation military. Troopers are trained with Neodogs, dog-like creatures genetically enhanced that serve as elite scouts. Soldiers in K-9 are selected after intense psychological evaluation, as the bond between the soldier and his neodog (or "caleb") is more intense than any human marriage or relationship. If the master is killed, the neodog is killed at once. If the dog is killed, doctors restrain the master and slowly put his mind back together. Neodogs are genetically-enhanced dogs that serve as elite scouts in the K-9 Corps. Neodogs are said to be over 6 times more intelligent than regular dogs. Every Neodog is assigned a handler and if the Handler is killed, the Neodog is then put down.
The Space Navy refers to all Terran Federation forces based in outer space onboard spaceships. Rico tries to join the Space Navy when applying for Federal Service, believing it to be easier work than in ground forces, than in the Mobile Infantry. Fate had other plans, though. The Navy has powerful weapons capable of destroying planets (e.g. "Nova Bombs"). A majority of ship board ranks are filled by females and the primary role is to provide transportation for infantry forces.