“Information, the first principle of warfare, must form the foundation of all your efforts. Know, of course, thine enemy. But in knowing him do not forget above all to know thyself. The commander who embraces this totality of battle shall win even with the inferior force.”
— Spartan Battle Manual
This secret project video starts with a depiction of Planet. When the camera swings around it, the viewer realizes that it’s not actually the real Planet, it’s a holographic globe map inside a futuristic command center. The center is staffed by a female officer who walks up to a large, flat computer screen and inspects it. Then it closes with the downward-pointing arrow logo that represents the Spartan Federation. All the while, the voice of Colonel Santiago reads the above quote from the Spartan Battle Manual.
Basically, this is a Spartan recruitment video. But it’s pitched at officers instead of grunts. So instead of lots of waving flags, songs, and bluster, you get a restatement of Sun Tzu’s famous injunction to know thine enemy and thyself in order to win.
Which I think says a lot about how the Spartans see themselves. Their best minds are strategists, employed in the business of optimizing for repeatable military victory. And, therefore, they put a huge emphasis on information. So much so, that they go so far as to call it the first principle of warfare in their core military text. This is another one of those things that’s simultaneously true, important, and leads to all sorts of radical shifts if you take this lesson to heart deep enough to base your life on it.
This ties back into the overall theme of SMAC. Everyone is so smart in the future. This isn’t merely IQ. It’s also all over the main characters’ approaches to life and philosophy. We see that Colonel Santiago has a set of axioms and a distinct style. In this, she represents a deep current found recurrently all throughout history. But she’s really, really good at it. And she’s focused on the process by which she’ll get better still.
It’s pretty easy to tell from the movie what the Command Nexus represents. It’s obviously a large installation that enables the efficient coordination of large-scale military efforts. Something like a futuristic Pentagon. But it’s interesting to see how this advantage is reflected in the game mechanics.
In the game, the Command Nexus serves as a Command Center in all of a faction’s bases. Which, in practice, only really helps a faction if they intend to be building units in many bases. That’s because the primary benefit of the Command Center is to improve the quality of the troops that are built at that base. If a player is specializing just a couple of high-mineral bases for military production, then it’s cheaper and more effective to only build Command Centers in those few bases and then dedicate the others to energy production to rush-buy units or perform research, as needed.
So the game mechanics make this a natural fit for the Spartans. They don’t want to be spending too much time building infrastructure. Plus, they don’t really believe in the distinction between military and civilian. So ideally, they want to be building Impact Rovers all over the place to go dominate their enemies. It makes total sense that in canon the Spartans would have ended up building this. They name their capital Sparta Command, after all.