A MechCommander was a command officer position introduced during Operation Bird Dog. These officers used a software package developed by the NAIS to have a "big picture" view of a battlefield. The software suite was based on existing C4 and logistical software packages, and in addition to providing a command interface, this software also automated the logistical part of command so the MechCommander could focus on tactics. These officers could oversee operations for lance or company sized units. Unlike traditional battlefield commanders, they were located in command posts rather than on the battlefield itself.
A MechCommander was a position held within the Inner Sphere Defense Force that gained prominence during the Clan Invasion. Outnumbered by Clan Mechwarriors piloting technologically superior OmniMechs, the Mechwarriors of the Inner Sphere found themselves fighting a losing war. In response, MechCommanders were created to allow MechWarriors to focus on combat while the commanders directed the overall flow of the battle via satellite uplink.
The role of a MechCommander was to both direct his forces, typically composed of BattleMechs and vehicles, in such a way as to accomplish mission objectives in a dynamic battlefield environment. During combat, MechCommanders often had additional resources such as artillery strikes or sensor probes available to them. Pre-mission management was also considered crucial, with MechCommanders determining the equipment acquired, stolen, and salvaged, and then equipping their unit accordingly. In addition to outfitting their forces for combat, MechCommanders were responsible for the pilots of their Mechs as well, both seeing to the welfare of individual pilots as well as hiring or recruiting new ones. The position was usually granted at a company level.
MechCommanders saw use during Operation Bulldog, with at least two being deployed to Port Arthur. One of them, a MechCommander named Harrison, was responsible for a scouting campaign that cleared the way for preliminary invasion, while another officer conducted a campaign that weakened the bondsmen and Clan forces on Port Arthur and successfully cleared Clan Smoke Jaguar forces from the star port, allowing additional Inner Sphere DropShips to land. A MechCommander was later deployed to Cermak also, in order to contain the threat of old Star League weapons of mass destruction being deployed.
The Inner Sphere was not the only organization to utilize the concept of tactical MechCommanders. Mercenary units sometimes fielded them, though significant C4 capabilities were needed effectively field a MechCommander-led unit. One such mercenary unit became involved in unrest on Carver V after first being contracted to Steiner during the FedCom Civil War. This unit would later be used by House Liao to instigate a war between Steiner and Davion forces, but an unlikely alliance between Steiner and Liao saw the mercenary MechCommander betrayed. In the end, the commander survived the betrayal, united with Davion and native partisan forces, and defeated Steiner and Liao, leading to an independent government on Carver V.
- Imminent Crisis, p. 116
- Imminent Crisis, p. 115