Rank & File (Was: [gundam] More help for the contest)


-Z- (Z@gundam.com)
Wed, 03 Feb 1999 17:22:52 -0800


At 01:35 2/3/99 -0800, you wrote:
>Dafydd writes,
>>Note that they use Army-style ranks, even though the military is organized
>>Navy-style....
>
> Curious, eh? On the other hand, the enlisted ranks are all army-style
>(Japanese uses different kanji to describe naval enlisted ranks). And
>some of the terminology used for mobile suit formations, notably
>"division" and "brigade," doesn't have a naval equivalent so far as I can
>tell. If it weren't for the cognitive dissonance of having a warship
>commanded by a colonel, I'd recommend the use of army-style ranks across
>the board.

Well, there's an "out" for you there: "Captain" is the title given to a
ship's commander, regardless of actual rank. (See also "skipper") Only
the commander of a ship is addressed or referred to as "Captain" aboard
that ship; if another officer with the rank of Captain is aboard, s/he's
addressed with the courtesy title of Commodore.

So a Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel or Major (the lowest rank you'd expect in
command of a ship of the line) could be a Captain, as could a civilian, if
the title were functional rather than formal.

"Commander" is an equally slippery title. It's a Navy rank (O-5,
equivalent to a Lieutenant Colonel in the other three services) but it's
also a functional title: Base Commander, Battalion Commander, Wing
Commander, etc.

In the days when the ranking systems evolved, all we had were Army (land
forces) and Navy (sea-going forces). The Marines are land forces who are
transported by sea forces to establish beachheads and occupy land, so they
used Army-style ranks, with some adaptations. The Air Force began as the
Army Air Force, so it too inherited adapted Army-style ranks.

In the future, one can foresee a return to the Army/Navy system, with a
Space Navy (Spacy -- or Astry, which would give you "astral" forces
equivalent to the "naval" forces that preceded them) that carries ground
troops from planet to planet or asteroid or space colony. (Starship
Troopers, anyone?) These troops would technically be a Marine Corps that
doubles as an Army of occupation. My own contribution to the military SF
genre has been the term "Terrene Corps" (or simply "Terrenes") to describe
this force....

-Z-



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