20 thoughts on “Rank Structure For The Space Force”

  1. Yes, it was interesting. However, it’s more than a little academic and premature. The whole idea of naval rank structure makes sense only if the Space Force has manned space ships as the central part of its operations. I don’t think anyone is seriously considering such a thing, or even thinking that it will ever happen. And looking at the evolution of military space over the years, there’s no good reason, in my opinion, to think that it should. The rank structure should really be more like a bureaucracy (the FAA and NASA come to mind), and I don’t mean that as a pejorative term.

    Also, if they want to get the best people as “officers,” they shouldn’t use the concept of “commission.” Straight salary or nothing, that’s what I say.

      1. Or womaned ships! The women’s uniforms could have been either Star Trek Original Series mini-skirts or Barbarella outfits, but that’s not the future we got.

      2. How much would an Elon Musk Starship/BFR cost? Given refueling depots in high earth orbit or at one the Lunar L points you would have access throughout Cislunar space and beyond.

  2. I don’t know why calling the students at the Space Force Academy “Space Cadets” would be at all undignified.

  3. I propose adopting stellar classes as ranks. In my experience senior officers tend to be massive and full of hot gas.

  4. Lot of racism inherent in stellar classes. I mean, there are dwarves and giants and in-between in all the star colors except one: all the black stars are holes. Now surely that’s evidence stars are patriarchal?

  5. I could get behind that. Blue dwarf for captains, and red giants for admirals, or maybe even brown stars for admirals. Brown works on a lot of levels.

  6. They should establish rank by shirt color. The red shirt guys are the ones that get killed off at the beginning of each episo… uh, I mean mission.

  7. There’s no real reason, other than tradition, to have duplicate grading systems in the military. E# and O# are as much pay grades as anything else, much like the WG# and GS# civilian employees get. Civilian job titles are mostly by function. The RAF attempt to make functional ranks didn’t work out, but it could have. You could have an O# determining the size of your paycheck, and if you commanded a wing, then you’d be a wing commander. The end result would be officers titles resembling those of RN ratings and chiefs.

    1. Part of the problem with functional job titles combined with pay grades is it makes it harder for joint ops to determine where people stand. It’s useful to ensure everybody at some general level of responsibility is called “Sgt” or “Lieutenant ” even if it’s not exactly equal to your Sgt or Lieutenant. Otherwise it’s gets confusing like the naval enlisted rate system which confuses all other services in joint ops.

      1. Your suggestion {“because we’re used to them”) has the merit of being more or less right, though it depends on language. No one is going to recognize that Lieutenant and Taii (the Japanese equivalent) are the same rank.

        Fundamentally, military rank titles have become meaningless jumbles of sound, since their historical etymology is lost. You have to know what they mean, just the same as you have to know that a US police lieutenant is the same as a British police inspector, and be able to decode abbreviations. Which is exactly the same thing as being cofused by naval ratings. At least those are meaningful words whose decoding is at least possible.

        1. “Fundamentally, military rank titles have become meaningless jumbles of sound, since their historical etymology is lost.” Somewhat true, but functional ranks as pointed out in the article can easily slip into the same place unless you insist on having potentially several different titles for someone at the same rough level of responsibility. So now you have to remember that a guy could be four or five different titles equivalent to Lieutenant or whatever depending on his job.

  8. The overwhelming majority of military members performing space duties are in the Air Force. It’s likely those people would be transferred to Space Force. Why should they let science fiction dictate their rank structure?

    1. It’s true that the first Air Force officers had been Army officers who wanted to keep their usual rank, and it’s likely the first Space Force officers will be Air Force officers who will feel the same way.

      As for Science Fiction, that’s silly. Why should they let Medieval knotheads who didn’t undertstand Roman military ranks dictate their rank structure? (Ans: “because we’re used to it?”). Science fiction has traditionally used Army and Navy ranks for equivalent services, and many of the prominent stories and escpecially TV shows and movies, have been about space navies. Anything else has been rare.

      As it happens, my 1995 novel “When Heaven Fell” used ranks from the Indian army for the simple reason my soldiers were the equivalent of Sepoys. When my main chjaracter comes on stage, he’s just been promoted to Jemadar Major.

      The Roman Army under the Dominate used functional ranks all the way to the top. So you could be a Magister Peditum, a Magister Equitum, or even a Magister Utriusque Militiae. Alaric sacked Rome because he didn’t get the promotion he wanted. Finally, you could probably use Hellenistic ranks because of loan words into so many modern languages. You could call a senior general officer a Strategos, and most literate people would get it.

  9. Of course they should use Naval rank. Heinlein made that quite clear over half a century ago. I am not going to argue with Him.

    As to Commodore, of course. The Navy should never have been allowed to make two grades with the same name – it is just a recipe for confusion. It apparently goes back to a rivalry started when the Army decided that Brigadiers should be Brigadier Generals.

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