Is there a way to estimate the amount of people in Mobile Infantry in "Starship Troopers"?

I remember there was a discussion about the rank structure of MI, that indicated 10,800 men in an "ideal" MI division, but don't recall any mention of how many divisions MI had.

  • I don't recall seeing a quote, and given that they instituted another training base for the war in the book they may have been tooling up the force-size as well. Aug 31, 2013 at 19:20
  • @dmckee - I DO recall the quote - see related question here: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/40146/… :) - good timing Aug 31, 2013 at 19:23
  • Well, I meant I didn't recall a quote answering this question. I did recall about the new boot camp. One could argue that that camp was needed just to keep up with casualties, so it is not obvious that they were adding divisions, but I suspect that the author assumed that they were: it is what the US did for both world wars. Aug 31, 2013 at 19:25
  • @dvk - Perhaps the answer is somewhere in one of the sequel films?
    – Valorum
    Jun 16, 2014 at 19:21
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    @Richard - they haven't even made Starship Troopers film. What sequels are you speaking of? Jun 17, 2014 at 0:48

3 Answers 3


Heinlein never explicitly gives us any numbers, but it is implied to be very small. The books explicit state that, with the advent of smart rockets, nukes and other ways of dealing massive death from a distance, the MI is really only useful when the task involves something other than straight up death dealing.

In the books, Heinlein was always very specific in his military talk. He mentions the different divisions of the military on many occasions, and we hear about divisions up to the Fifth. The Fourth is never mentioned, but presumably it exists.

So we can be almost certain in an estimate of 4-6 divisions.

  • 3
    Adding to this, if I recall correctly, Rico narrates that the point of the MI was for those times when you need to get up close and personal and punch them in the nose and then stomp on them face to face. Which it sounds like isn't all that often but is one tool of many.
    – Broklynite
    Aug 2, 2016 at 16:40
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    "The Fourth is never mentioned, but presumably it exists." Real world army divisions are often given non-consecutive numbers to avoid this sort of deduction being made by the enemy. Aug 2, 2016 at 18:20

I seem to recall the lieutenant saying "over 100,000 casualties'while on planet Klendathu.

  • 4
    Do you mean dialog in the "Bug hunt on Outpost Nine" movie, that for marketing reasons was renamed to "Starship Troopers" despite basically having very little to do with the book? As I noted in a comment to a now-deleted answer (which made the same point yours did), Using Verhoeven to explain Heinlein canon is somewhat like using Satanist Bible to explain Christian canon :) And the question tags are specifically about Heinlein's work. Dec 13, 2016 at 20:41

It would be hard to get a true number being that every citizen is a reserve military officer so if the need truly arose billions could be called in and mobilized. This is my favorite book so this question might be a good excuse to re read it see if I can gleam a little bit more info

  • 2
    Is the reserve fact canon from RAH? Jun 16, 2014 at 18:48
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    @DVK-in-exile No, I can verify that the book is explicit throughout in disagreeing with this "reserve" idea.
    – Jonathon
    Aug 2, 2016 at 15:14

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