Resource Military Rankings

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by ladubois, Feb 3, 2014.

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  1. ladubois

    ladubois Jedi Youngling

    Feb 3, 2014
    So, I'm new to these forums and I'm not entirely certain this is the correct area for this question, but it was my best guess. Apologies if I was wrong. Anyway...

    I'm starting a project with a friend of mine creating a sort of internal mini-universe set during the Cold War inspired by our collective SWTOR characters (of which we have over 30, so we obviously won't be using the in-game storylines...). We may or may not actually post the resulting fanfics, since it's mostly a just-for-fun thing, but who knows. Anyway, a couple of our characters are going to be officers in the Imperial Navy and so we need to know at what rank one would need to reach before getting the opportunity to captain a ship, specifically a capital ship. My guess is Captain, but that's really just a wild stab in the dark.
  2. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Well, a check of Wookieepedia suggests that Captain is a good bet.

  3. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    Technically, anyone who commands a ship is called 'captain': hence 'Captain Solo', 'Captain Sparrow', etc. Han quit the Navy long before he made the rank of 'Captain', but since he owns the Falcon, he can still be given the title. Capital ships would be most certainly 'captained' by a Captain (the Naval equivalent to the rank of Colonel), but anything smaller than a Star Destroyer could be 'captained' by a lesser rank…a 'Commander' or 'Lt Commander' if you're using USN or Royal Navy ranks.

    Hope this helps.
  4. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo

    CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 1, 2000
    Normally the Captain rank is the highest commanding officer that commands a single capital ship. Like SiouxFan said, someone of lower rank such as Cmdr or Lt Cmdr can also command the ship. Usually this happens when the Captain is off-duty or incapacitated/killed. A Commodore (next rank after Capt) through full Admiral can also command a single capital ship, but they also command an entire fleet of capital ships as well. Admiral Firmus Piett of the SSD Executor was one such officer that commanded a ship in addition to a fleet.

    Honestly though, a Lieutenant is quite eligible to command a capital ship but usually that happens under special circumstances and often when the chain of command has been removed and the Lieutenant is next in line. On rare occasions a Captain or Commander can leave command of the bridge to a Lieutenant if necessary.

    But to be promoted a ship command in a career, an officer usually is a Captain or at least a Commander first.
  5. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    May 11, 2011
    Depends on the size of the ship. If we're talking the Imperial Navy of the TORverse, then this translates to whether or not they're going to be in control of one of the smaller starships such as those used by the Sith Warrior or Imperial Agent (technically these were analogous to corvettes), a frigate, a cruiser, or the Harrower-class Star Destroyer. Corvettes and small patrol craft could be commanded by a senior lieutenant, frigates by a lieutenant commnader, and cruisers by a commander or captain depending on size. The biggest Star Destroyers would often be commanded by a very senior captain or an admiral; often in the post-Endor Galactic Empire an ISD would be under the command of an admiral, with a captain as his/her executive officer.

    The term "capital ship" can also be deceptive, as just about anything above corvette could be considered one. For you and your friends' purposes, ladubois, I would recommend you not go higher than the Terminus-class frigate (the smaller capital ships seen in space battles), both for the purpose of believability (there were lots in service) and ease of management, as running one of them would be a lot simpler than commanding a Harrower-class. Given the parallels between canon fleet operations and real-world navies, I'd say one of those ships could easily be captained by a lieutenant commander, though when in command such a person would always be referred to as "Captain."

    Example: During World War II, U.S. Navy submarines and destroyers were almost never led by someone of Commander rank or higher.
  6. jedi1952

    jedi1952 Jedi Master star 1

    Apr 15, 2007
    Hi all,

    I am confused about the military ranks in the SW universe. Specifically in Navel, Star fighter command.

    I have an idea, but not sure.

    Any help would be appreciated.


    Bri note: Normally I'd ask for specific questions such as this to be moved to the Fanfic Writer's desk, but because the Wookieepedia page on military ranks is rather confusing and badly sourced, and because this question may apply to many people, I'm going to allow this as a resource thread. So if anyone has any clear info on military ranks of different forces in different eras, feel free to post here.

    Mav Note: This thread has been merged with previous thread on this question as they both had good information.
  7. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    May 11, 2011
    Hello there, Sue!

    Well, it depends on the era and faction, but generally-speaking, most Navy and Starfighter Command ranks follow the system used by the United States Navy (crewmen, petty officers, chiefs, and officer ranks). The main exception is the Rebel Alliance and its successor state, the New Republic, which used a mish-mash of ranks for pilots and warship officers alike, finally standardizing somewhat toward the end of the Galactic Civil War (this has a lot to do with the ineptitude of some writers of EU material and/or sourcebooks). The Rebels' own model, for starfighter pilots, was kind of a blend of Royal Air Force and American ranks, from lowest to highest: pilot officer, lieutenant, captain, commander, and general. This was later revamped to generally follow that used by the United States Air Force: pilot officer, lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel (rarely used), and colonel.

    The general ranking system used by most other factions for their space navies (including any starfighter commands) is as follows, from lowest to highest, near as I can tell (anyone else can feel free to correct any blunders):

    Petty officer (various grades)
    Chief petty officer (various grades)
    Lieutenant junior grade (j.g.)—usually referred to as Lieutenant
    Lieutenant senior grade (s.g.)—usually referred to as Lieutenant
    Lieutenant Commander—usually referred to as Commander
    Commodore (limited use)
    Rear Admiral
    Vice Admiral
    Fleet Admiral
    Grand Admiral (Galactic Empire only)

    If you want more detailed information, I and others would be happy to provide it.
  8. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 7, 2010
    Here's the Rebellion ranks from the WotC Rebellion Era Campaign Guide:


    I do not see a similar table for the Empire in that book.
    Ewok Poet likes this.
  9. jedi1952

    jedi1952 Jedi Master star 1

    Apr 15, 2007
    First, let me apologize for the late response.

    Bri, I am sorry. I always seem to get the wrong forum for my questions. My apologizes. But thank you for letting this one stay.

    Goodwood, that is kinda how I thought it might be. More later.

    jcgoble3, what a great chart! That gives me a general feel for it.

    Now, if I may drill down on this issue a bit more.

    Let us focus on starfigher command. I am thinking about Luke specifically. So the organizations would be the Rebel Alliance and the beginning of the New Republic.

    Now at the beginning of ESB and drawing on what is now called Legacy, as well as the radio drama, Luke is mostly addressed as "Commander". Even though he was only a Lt. Commander at that point. Narra was still alive. There are also references to Rogue flight and Rogue group...not Rogue Squadron. So this implies he had command of less that a squadron.

    Later, in ROJ, Han and Lando are suddenly made generals. Well, Han I can understand. But Lando?

    But I digress.

    Well this never made sense to me. Why, although he deserved it, would Han be a general and Luke still only a commander???

    It gets even worse in the NJO. Luke, who is I guess inactive reserve/retired, shows up with a wing of multiple squadrons. Would this be the equivalent to a Wing Commander? Meaning someone equivalent to a general? And is this the rank he held at the end of the Rebellion and the beginning of the New Republic?

    I am uncertain. But I do have some ideas that I have written for a draft of my unpublished and unfinished story.

    Any thought would be appreciated.

  10. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    May 11, 2011
    During revolutions and civil wars, you'd be surprised how many people are suddenly made generals, for if no other reasons than they either bring their own resources (personnel, vehicles, supplies, etc.), possess and/or demonstrate some skill at leadership, or that they have some intimate knowledge of a relevant subject (Imperial defectors, for example, since they would have intimate working knowledge of Imperial tactics and doctrine from whichever branch they once served). This is really just another case of art imitating life; just because the scope is galactic doesn't mean Earth-isms wouldn't still apply.

    As for Luke's progression through the ranks from ANH to ESB, well, he did demonstrate considerable and innate piloting skills plus a capacity to lead—in addition to being Force-sensitive. As one of only a couple of survivors of the squadron he set out with, it's only natural he'd be given command when one takes into consideration his actions during the battle. As for his rank, as far as I can tell in ESB it was indeed full commander, and I can only assume that it is indeed Rogue Squadron that he leads into battle when the Empire attacks Hoth. I've never been into the comics (or listened to the audio dramas) so I don't know what they say about his rank, but given the fact that he returns to the Alliance as a Jedi in RotJ, I think it's safe to say he's at least temporarily foresworn his former military rank to aid the Rebels in this new capacity. Of course, then they go and make him a general too, for the Bakura campaign and the mission to Mindor.

    Confusing, I know, but once again, the authors Didn't Do the Research.

    Later on, he gives up his commission once again, in order to focus on rebuilding the Jedi Order, but as far as I know he never had a "reserve commission" that could be reactivated. Sure he'd lend a hand if the New Republic really needed it, but the Jedi Order he created was specifically designed to operate outside the government or military chain of command. In a number of stories and sources it is implied that the military-grade equipment that the Order does use is privately-funded or procured with donations. But then, he's also pretty tight with a number of quite rich folks, and it would be in those friends' interests (and even those of the government) to keep the Jedi supplied with starfighters and other things.
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