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The Gunslinger Program, originally known as the Advanced Combat and Maneuvering Skills Project, was a special training program started by the Star League Defense Force in response to the First Hidden War.
The First Hidden War began after the Council Edict of 2650 forced many units of the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery to be disbanded. This included a number of BattleMech regiments; however the Combine MechWarriors were allowed to take their 'Mechs with them. These ronin, lacking steady employment, challenged other MechWarriors to tests of personal combat, including those of the SLDF. The first of these latter duels took place in 2681 on the planet Benjamin, where the Combine MechWarrior easily defeated her SLDF counterpart. As more soldiers fought and lost these duels, to both ronin and DCMS champions, the SLDF tried to determine how this was happening. After capturing a Combine 'Mech intact and determining that it was no more technologically advanced than the Star League 'Mechs, they realized that it was superior training which contributed to these victories.
Determined to prevent any more loss of both men, material and honor, the Advanced Combat and Maneuvering Skills Project was started to produce superior duelists to take on the Combine warriors. The new program included a wide range of material, from ancient Asian martial philosophies to advanced neural-thought technology. The first graduating class of 2687 consisted of 52 warriors, all of whom were stationed within the Draconis Combine. In the first-ever fight between these new Gunslingers and the ronin, Colonel Donovan Fresnel was able to fight his opponent to a draw after an hour of combat. Just ten days later, Lieutenant Karen Graham was able to defeat a ronin on Awano.
These early victories however did not stop the issue of Combine warriors challenging the SLDF to duels; if anything it inspired them more so now that they faced worthy opponents. The SLDF was however successful in recruiting a few Combine dueling masters to join the ACMS, which was eventually renamed to the Gunslinger Program, and expanded the program further, moving it to the Military Academy of Aphros on Venus. By the time the dueling finished, the final tally between the two sides resulted in House Kurita winning 49% of the time, with the SLDF winning 47% of the time and the rest ending in draws.
While the program would cease upon the collapse of the original Star League in 2781, it would be later revived by the reborn Second Star League in January 3062. Run from the Tukayyid based Focht War College and open troops from any member state, this Gunslinger program was a one year course more specifically designed to teach the one-on-one combat style favored by the Clans.
- Colonel Daniel Allison
- Colonel Neil Campbell
- Captain Wilbur Frews
- Lieutenant Oha Heller
- General Ethan Moreau
- Colonel Hanni Schmitt
- The Star League, p. 58
- The Star League, p. 59
- Field Manual: ComStar, p. 79 "The Star League Defense Force - Focht War College"
- Field Manual: ComStar, p. 99 "Royal Black Watch - Notable Personalities"