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What Determines Military Ranks and how Space seems to fit in

August 21, 2013

Something I thought of (and I see it’s raised questions in forums). Of why the Army, Marines and Air Force use the same officer ranks, but the Navy (As well as fictional space forces) use a different set of titles.

Land; Army; free movement of personnel
NCO’s: “Sergeants”; CO’s: Lt., Captain, Major, Col., General
organized rebellion: “sedition”.
localized force: National Guard (apart of main force)

Sea; Navy, personnel confined aboard a ship for long periods of time.
NCO’s: “Petty Officer”; CO’s: Ensign, Lt., Cmdr., Captain, Admiral
organized rebellion: “mutiny”
localized force: Coast Guard (became separate branch)

Sea/land hybrid; Marines, Apart of Navy (and basically arriving by ship), but since it then operates mostly on land, it is then set up like the Army. Became big enough to become separate branch (but not separate Dept. )

Relatively new realm
Air: Personnel are usually not confined to planes in large numbers, and not for extended periods of time; usually one or two pilots in a fighter jet for short flights. Air formations consist of individual planes in free movement (sort of like soldiers on the ground).
Plus, enlisted personnel are generally on the ground doing support functions (pilots are commissioned officers)
So it remained set up more like the Army. (Big enough to become separate branch and Dept. )

The next realm after air would be space. Since we do not know of any alien civilizations to be fighting against, we do not have a fully developed Space Force. However, in the fictional world of TV, there are long term space missions, and I noticed they used Navy ranks. Think “Captain Kirk” (highest rank on the ship, just like the Navy). I also remember hearing “Admiral” and “Commander” used. To try to take over the ship would also be “mutiny”.
That’s what made me realize that space, like sea, has you confined for long periods on a ship, so it is set up like the Navy.
A space colony on the ground of another planet/moon (that hasn’t been terraformed, so everyone remains confined) would probably also use the same setup.
Space missions for now are most connected with the Air Force. If it ever became a full fledged force, it would be like the Marines to the Navy; apart of the same department, yet using the different style ranks.

  1. So maybe we’ll see this now:

    President Donald Trump’s new Space Force will fall under Air Force


    “The Space Force will be the smallest branch of the U.S. military, and will draw its personnel from current Air Force staff. The new branch will also absorb many of the Air Force’s existing responsibilities, including satellite operations and support for missile warning systems. Its first chief, General John Raymond, was sworn in last month.”

    Since this new Space Force is just an extension of the Air Force beyond the air, and will still be ground-based operation, rather than long term space travel (like the Navy’s long term sea-based operation), then it apparently will still use Army, rather than Navy-style commissioned rank names (not sure if the lowest enlisted personnel will still be “Airmen”, though).

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