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

Mark Simmons (
Wed, 3 Feb 1999 17:59:55 -0800

Dafydd writes,

>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.

  So in a way, using army ranks across the board would actually be _less_
confusing, since you could then reserve the terms "captain" and "commander"
for job descriptions rather than ranks. Hm...

>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.

  As you may note, when I wrote those One Year War ace bios, I'd adopted
army ranks for members of Kishiria's Mobile Assault Force, likening them to
marines. This was further bolstered by the fact that, unlike Dozul's Space
Attack Force, the Mobile Assault Force is organized into divisions rather
than fleets (ditto the Earth Attack Force, which was organized as an
offshoot of the Mobile Assault Force).

  Meanwhile, the Earth Federation has leaders who are identified in some
cases as "general" (like Revil) and in other cases as "admiral" (e.g.
Tianem). So you could make a case for separate branches of both the Zeon
and Federation military, with army ranks for one and naval ranks for the
other. The only problem is that, in most cases, the Japanese dialogue
provides no cues as to which would be appropriate...

>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.

  Yep, and that's exactly the role of the Mobile Assault Force - at least
at the start of the war. By the end, of course, they have their own ships.
And then there's the submarine fleet attached to the Earth Attack Force...
sigh. Hard to draw the line, but I'm starting to favor army ranks as the
best across-the-board solution. Saves you from calling all the enlisted men
"Chief Petty Officer"!

-- Mark

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Mark Simmons <>
MacAddict: the magazine! <>
Gundam: the Project! <>

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