In season 4 of The Expanse, Mars is in the process of demilitarizing. To me this doesn't make much sense. Why would Mars limit its military capability? With only Earth and the OPA guarding the ring, Mars limits its ability to influence what choices are taken with the ring.

With lots of colonists from every faction looking to settle on the gate planets, shouldn't Mars at least maintain their military and demand an equal footing with Earth and the OPA in protecting/monitoring the ring?

2 Answers 2


Mars is a society fueled by the dream of one day, centuries from now, having a terraformed Mars that is as habitable as Earth. With the opening of the rings, suddenly there are dozens of worlds that are already habitable. No one is willing to invest in the terraforming of Mars anymore, and so Mars is undergoing a social and economic collapse as people give up on their life's work and resources are invested in colonization missions instead.

This leads to a necessary downsizing of the Martian military. However, the Martians do maintain a navy, it's just not the military superpower it used to be.

  • I don't see how this means Mars gives up their military.
    – svenvo7
    Mar 23, 2020 at 17:10
  • 12
    @svenvo7 Their economy is bust, so supporting a huge military (remember spaceships are expensive!) doesn't make much sense any more.
    – Hans Olo
    Mar 23, 2020 at 17:19
  • 1
    @svenvo7 Mars is essentially downsizing from a major power to a minor one. They can't afford to maintain their fleet. There are of course, many people who are unhappy with this situation, but going too far into that leads to massive plot spoilers.
    – Harabeck
    Mar 23, 2020 at 17:32
  • 4
    @svenvo7 It's not that they're giving up, they're just accepting that reality means they have to downsize. The Martian navy doesn't disappear completely, it just becomes smaller and falls behind state of the art.
    – Harabeck
    Mar 23, 2020 at 17:42
  • 10
    For a real-world example of @Harabeck's "major power to a minor one", look at the British Navy after WWII.
    – ceejayoz
    Mar 24, 2020 at 2:46

There is a quote somewhere in the books that I'll bring here from memory:

If 15% of people from Earth would decide to go beyond the rings, we would have maybe a bit more living space. If 15% of people from Mars would do the same, we can forget about terraforming.

This means that in Martian society, everyone is important - there is no room for unemployment because everyone has to do it's part one way or another. From the military perspective, that forced Mars to create highly advanced technology, that allowed them to compete with Earth numerical superiority (someone compared it to the situation similar to Germany and USSR during the WW II). Still, even those highly advanced spaceships, even those Marines need humans to control them.

So when Martians started emigrating through the Rings, their government was forced to offset those missing people by taking them from somewhere, and since the relationships with Earth are better than they were, the Navy was the obvious source.

  • The 15% quote is also intentionally selling it short because Mars is generally seen to be full of "go getters", so it could be 50%, and that'd be the 50% that are dreaming big already, i.e. of terraforming Mars.
    – Nick T
    Mar 24, 2020 at 17:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.