Watts just came out with the sequel to Blindsight -- Echopraxia. There's also his Rifters series, which is quite good. Not necessarily a combat series,
While it's not short fiction, you might want to give Ann Leckie's award winning novel Ancillary Justice a looksie.
Right now, we've chosen to gut the planet and destroy it instead, so I don't see Tier 1 ever being an actual goal of human beings outside of science fiction.
Yes, I think we are done with this topic, though I commend both of you for keeping it level. If you ever want to, you can do a separate thread on it.
These are all different stories using different styles to do different things.
In Malazan, the characters are not the center of the piece.