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red hawk
07-23-2008, 10:15 PM
So, I write mostly Sci-fi war, I have a problem with figuring out military ranks. I know that Star trek uses Navy ranking system, others simply wing it. I also know there are dozens of positions that arenít listed, such as Gunnery sergeant. I mean to say, by this I have a list that breaks down the chain of command, but I canít seem to find a list on the internet that would list the jobs say on board a helicopter, a tank crew, a boat crew ( like in Apocalypse Now) etc. I have struggled mostly making it up as I go knowing Iíll eventually have to change it, along with ranks. I find it annoying to have to guess it all. Also what are the ranks of Special Forces commandos? Can any help me here? The internet is a great tool, but seriously still limited.

To add, if someone can help more directly, my story involves some Special Forces commando going onto enemy lines to find someone. They will travel by tank for a while, so that hints what are the jobs on board, and does a tank commander out rank a commando? Also on board a drop ship would there be a higher ranking officer? Such as the drop ship in Aliens, or is it just a Captain like in the air force?

Gary
07-23-2008, 10:30 PM
Here are a couple of places to get general info:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/1281461.html
http://specialforcesforums.com/

dpaterso
07-23-2008, 11:00 PM
Everything revolves around the mission. The Special Forces unit team leader might only be an LT, but the importance of his mission may be such that technically superior officers like a ship's CPT or CMDR who are tasked by senior brass to deliver the unit to its destination will defer to the LT's strategic decisions. The LT will of course address superior officers as "Sir" even tho' they follow his mission-related instructions, and the LT in turn will follow shipboard protocol as directed by officers and crew who have their own specific areas of expertise (e.g. the SGT-loadmaster who directs their drop).

-Derek

MelancholyMan
07-23-2008, 11:16 PM
...and does a tank commander out rank a commando?

This question reveals that you need to do a lot more than ask a few questions on a forum if you have any hope of writing convincing characters and scenes. Neither tank commander nor commando are ranks, and the United States has no commandos. Only the UK. And I'm not sure that is an active designation any more. You need to pick up a good book on a military campaign that reflects the aura you are trying to capture. Then do some serious reading in the areas that your are intersted in. If at all possible you need to hang around some grunts. At the very least you need to really immerse yourself in the culture. The following is a list of movies that will get you started. It is by no means exhaustive.

Full Metal Jacket - ultra-gritty military feel
The Longest Day - operations, structure, chain of command
A Bridge Too Far - ops, structure, chain of command, defeat
Aliens - interaction between soldiers (one of the best)
Band of Brothers - mileu, structure, ranks, chain of command, interaction
The Dirty Dozen - For when things go bad
Das Boot - Interaction (awesome, amazing, incredible story)
U-571 - Chain of command and officer responsibility
Gallipoli - Poor decisions by command
Saving Private Ryan - All of the above (Just remember, it tends to go a bit Hollywood as the story moves forward.)

Movies to avoid if you are hoping to capture realism:
Platoon - Bullshit
Apocalypse Now - Bullshit
G.I. Jane - Bullshit
Jarhead - Bullshit
Starship Troopers - Bullshit

If you can find a copy of A BRIDGE TOO FAR you can read that. It is long but amazing, and covers all the salient points of your question.

You should know that the military culture is very difficult thing to capture without having experienced it at some level. But not impossible.

-MM

auntybug
07-23-2008, 11:17 PM
Hope this helps

U.S. Navy & U.S.C.G.

E-1 Seaman Recruit/ Fireman Recruit
E-2 Seaman Apprentice/ Fireman Apprentice
E-3 Seaman / Fireman
E-4 Petty Officer 3rd Class
E-5 Petty Officer 2nd Class
E-6 Petty Officer 1st Class
E-7 Chief Petty Officer
E-8 Senior Chief Petty Officer
E-9 Master Chief Petty Officer

Warrant Officer 1 thru 4
Ensign
Lieutenant Junior Grade
Lieutenant
Lieutenant Commander
Commander
Captain
Rear Admiral
Vice Admiral
Admiral
Fleet Admiral (USN Only)

USMC


E-1 Private
E-2 Private 1st Class
E-3 Lance Corporal
E-4 Corporal
E-5 Sergeant
E-6 Staff Sergeant
E-7 Gunnery Sergeant
E-8 1st Sergeant or Master Sergeant
E-9 Sergeant Major or Master Gunnery Sergeant

Warrant Officers 1 thru 4
2nd Lieutenant (Gold Bar)
1st Lieutenant (Silver Bar)
Captain (Double Silver Bar)
Major (Gold Leaf)
Lieutenant Colonel (Silver Leaf)
Colonel (Bird)
Brigadier General (1 Star)
Major General (2 Stars)
Lieutenant General (3 Stars)
General (4 Stars)

ARMY


E-1 Private
E-2 Private
E-3 Private 1st Class
E-4 Corporal or Specialist 4 (Spec 4)
E-5 Sergeant or Spec 5
E-6 Staff Sergeant or Spec 6
E-7 Sergeant 1st Class or Spec 7
E-8 1st Sergeant or Master Sergeant or Spec 8
E-9 Staff Sergeant Major or Command Sergeant Major or Spec 9

Warrant Officers 1 thru 4
2nd Lieutenant (Gold Bar)
1st Lieutenant (Silver Bar)
Captain (Double Silver Bar)
Major (Gold Leaf)
Lieutenant Colonel (Silver Leaf)
Colonel (Bird)
Brigadier General (1 Star)
Major General (2 Stars)
Lieutenant General (3 Stars)
General (4 Stars)
General of the Army (5 Stars)


USAF


E-1 Basic Airman
E-2 Airman
E-3 Airman 1st Class
E-4 Sergeant
E-5 Staff Sergeant
E-6 Technical Sergeant
E-7 Master Sergeant
E-8 Senior Master Sergeant
E-9 Chief Master Sergeant

Warrant Officers 1 thru 4
2nd Lieutenant (Gold Bar)
1st Lieutenant (Silver Bar)
Captain (Double Silver Bar)
Major (Gold Leaf)
Lieutenant Colonel (Silver Leaf)
Colonel (Bird)
Brigadier General (1 Star)
Major General (2 Stars)
Lieutenant General (3 Stars)
General (4 Stars)
General of the Air Force (5 Stars)

Gary
07-24-2008, 12:16 AM
Hope this helps



USAF


E-1 Basic Airman
E-2 Airman
E-3 Airman 1st Class
E-4 Sergeant
E-5 Staff Sergeant
E-6 Technical Sergeant
E-7 Master Sergeant
E-8 Senior Master Sergeant
E-9 Chief Master Sergeant

Warrant Officers 1 thru 4
2nd Lieutenant (Gold Bar)
1st Lieutenant (Silver Bar)
Captain (Double Silver Bar)
Major (Gold Leaf)
Lieutenant Colonel (Silver Leaf)
Colonel (Bird)
Brigadier General (1 Star)
Major General (2 Stars)
Lieutenant General (3 Stars)
General (4 Stars)
General of the Air Force (5 Stars)

This is an old rank structure. E4 has not been called a sergeant since 1991. It's now Senior Airman, and there are no longer warrant officers in the Air Force, just as there are currently no 5-star generals.

Also, while there are no longer commandos in the Air Force, through most of WWII and the Vietnam War, Air Force Spec Ops teams were known as Commandos, and their unit was the 1st Air Commando Group, which later became a wing.

I agree with MelencholyMan. Forget most of what you see in the movies, and talk the folks who've been there and done that. Rank structure is not precise when operations are underway. While courtesies are extended, the one running the show might not be the senior person in the field.

One other point...I can't imagine a situation where a tank would be used to transport a team to infiltrate enemy lines. That would be like carrying a brass band on a stealth mission.

I don't know your story, but the team would probably be inserted by air. Look up HALO jump, to see how that might be used, but the most probable method would be to use a Special Ops aircraft to put them on the ground. Look up Pave Hawk.

jclarkdawe
07-24-2008, 12:50 AM
If you really want to understand the military, MM lists some good books. There are also a lot of books by military people in the nonfiction category. It's hard to understand without a lot of work.

You need to understand the chain of command versus rank versus job. My daughter, who is a petty officer third class, refused to allow an admiral through the gate she was guarding, as he did not have a flight pass. She was very polite, but very emphatic. As both her Chief and I explained to her afterward, she didn't want to be the enlisted person who had an admiral sucked into a jet. Very messy.

Depending upon the situation, job can trump or rank can trump.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

trwithe
07-24-2008, 01:29 AM
Red Hawk,

The U.S. military does in fact have commandos, but does not have a specific branch or service within the DoD that people join called Commandos.

Instead, each of the service components (Army, Navy, AF) have units that are administratively subordinate to them with personnel assigned to them with 'commando' skills/training. A couple of specific examples, the 75th Ranger Regiment of the Army, the 1st Special Operations Wing of the Air Force, etc. These units fall operationally under what is known within the U.S. Military as USSOCOM - U.S. Special Operations Command. In other words, the service organizes, trains, and equips these units, then USSOCOM tells them where to go, and what to do when they get there. It also provides a nice mix of capability for USSOCOM to draw upon for operations.

The rank structure in each of these units mirrors the rank structure of the parent service (e.g. in the Air Force you can be a Staff Sergeant or a Captain, in the Marine Corps you can be a Gunnery Sergeant or a Lieutenant, in the Navy, you can be a Senior Chief or a Lt. Commander, etc.). It all depends on how you entered the service - no college degree = enlisted person (E1-E9); college degree or commissioning course = officer (O-1 - O9). What makes you a Special Forces operator is your training resulting from the job you have in your parent service.

As a more specific example: You want to be a SEAL? Join the Navy (enlisted or officer, depending on your education level). Then complete basic training, and then volunteer for SEAL training. You attend and complete BUD/S at Coronado, and then train with your Team for a year. Two years or so after you choose to volunteer for SEAL training, if you measure up, you are a SEAL. Either way, you are still in the enlisted or officer corps of the Navy.

Which brings me to my final point, and the answer to what I think is the core of your question. The RANK or PAYGRADE (E-1 - E-9 or O-1 - O9 (see Autie Bug's Post) is INDEPENDENT of what your job is as a SEAL, Army Ranger, AF Pararescueman, or Recon Marine.

You do need to do a serious amount of research, on the military itself not just the Special Forces side of things. So in addition to some of the suggestions above, read Tom Clancy's Shadow Warriors, watch Discovery Channel's series on BUD/S Class 234 on SEAL Training, it's series on Ranger Training, and the rest of the hoard of information available from books and videos you can find on Amazon, etc. so you can write convincingly.

Good Luck.

Tom

red hawk
07-24-2008, 02:05 AM
thanks everybody that contributed their advice.

Linda Adams
07-24-2008, 02:30 AM
Here's the official source for all the U.S. military ranks, courtesy of the Department of Defense.
http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/insignias/officers.html
http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/insignias/enlisted.html

The army ones posted in this thread are also outdated; Spec 5-9 were discontinued prior to 1989.

I was enlisted, so this is rank 101 for the beginner.

Private, Pee-Vee Two, and Private First Class are worker bees. They're the guys you send out to pick up the trash, paint rocks, clean the latrine and whatnot. Even though they may have been trained in the military job they enlisted for, it's more likely that they were be paired with someone more experienced and get more training.

Specialist or Spec-4. This is the only one of the specialist ranks remaining. If they need a worker bee, you're a worker bee. If they need a non-commissioned officer, you're a non-commissioned officer. In order to get promoted beyond this point, you have to go before a board and be awarded points (at least if the system hasn't changed). Then you become promotable and get a P after your rank: SPC(P). You also have to go to Primary Leadership Development School. If the points drop to the number you have, you get promoted.

Corporal: In terms of pay grade, it's the same rank as specialist. But a corporal is a special rank--it's a junior leadership rank. Not all units may be authorized it. In our unit, they had to specially request authorization for a corporal, so it meant they saw promise in you.

Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, Sergeant First Class: These are all leadership positions. A sergeant or staff sergeant might be in charge of a squad. A staff sergeant or sergeant first class might be in charge of a platoon. A sergeant first class might also be a first sergeant.

First Sergeant: There's only one of these in the company. It's an actual rank, though a sergeant first class can act as one. The first sergeant is like the head of personnel. He handles the issues involving the soldiers. He's the guy who goes and picks a couple soldiers who got arrested for under age drinking at oh-dark thirty; lowers the boom on the soldier who stole from another soldier; and inspects the barracks to make sure people aren't leaving trash on the floor. A first sergeant can make or break a company.

You'll hear the term "chain of command." That doesn't refer to the enlisted structure here--it refers to the officer side of the house. I want to say the enlisted one is called the NCO Support Channel, but I'm not sure if my memory is correct. If you have a problem, you'd most likely talk with your squad leader first and let him try to resolve.

Maybe someone here will try Officer 101. We had lieutenants and a captain and a chief warrant where I was, but the soldiers often didn't associate with the officers--but we also had only about four or five total. One captain, maybe an executive officer (a first lieutenant, who usually got picked up by battallion), and three platoon leaders (first or second lieutenants).

jst5150
07-24-2008, 02:44 AM
Military ranks differ from position. For instance, aboard a C-17 (built in nearby Long Beach), there is a pilot, a co-pilot and a flight engineer/loadmaster. That's it. On a B-52, there's a pilot, a co-pilot, a navigator, and a weapons systems officer. However, all of those positions will have different ranks.

Each military service has its own branch of special-operatons forces. The Army has Green Berets and Special Forces; the Navy has SEALs; the Marines have Marine Recon; and the Air Force has pararescuemen and combat controllers. All services have tactical party air controllers. The Air Force owns the majority of special-forces aircraft. The Navy the ships. And so on.

"Commando" ranks vary by position. If you want a shooter, he's probably an E-4/5/6 in almost evey service. Platoon commanders are generally captains or senior lieutenants (younger, though). Commanders of multple platoons are majors or lieutenant colonels. Colonels and generals command much larger groups, wings and battalions. Just increase the mulitple and the rank goes up.

Answering your questions more directly, the tank commander probably would outrank the commando. However, the tank commander would have zero authority over the commando's mission. The commando is just "hitching a ride." And what you've described sounds almost exactly like what Marty Sheen did in "Apocalypse Now." In other words, while riding in the tank, the commander could tell him how to act in the tank, for the tank's safety and such. But the tank commander has no authority over the commando's mission.

Meanwhile, since the dropship is a larger unit, the commander of the dropship would be higher ranking. However, would have no authority over the commando's mission (see above).

Rule of thumb: more people, more resources and more money = higher rank. Esp. more people. :)

If I can help further, let me know.


So, I write mostly Sci-fi war, I have a problem with figuring out military ranks. I know that Star trek uses Navy ranking system, others simply wing it. I also know there are dozens of positions that aren’t listed, such as Gunnery sergeant. I mean to say, by this I have a list that breaks down the chain of command, but I can’t seem to find a list on the internet that would list the jobs say on board a helicopter, a tank crew, a boat crew ( like in Apocalypse Now) etc. I have struggled mostly making it up as I go knowing I’ll eventually have to change it, along with ranks. I find it annoying to have to guess it all. Also what are the ranks of Special Forces commandos? Can any help me here? The internet is a great tool, but seriously still limited.

To add, if someone can help more directly, my story involves some Special Forces commando going onto enemy lines to find someone. They will travel by tank for a while, so that hints what are the jobs on board, and does a tank commander out rank a commando? Also on board a drop ship would there be a higher ranking officer? Such as the drop ship in Aliens, or is it just a Captain like in the air force?

BlueLucario
07-24-2008, 04:00 AM
May I ask my own question?
Excuse me for being off topic but, does the military have their own personal tactitian/strategist? Like someone who can plan out battle formations and stuff.

jst5150
07-24-2008, 04:02 AM
May I ask my own question?
Excuse me for being off topic but, does the military have their own personal tactitian/strategist? Like someone who can plan out battle formations and stuff.
Yes.

It's called the Pentagon.

Details if asked.

Ralph Pines
07-24-2008, 06:29 AM
A few questions:

Is your story military-light or hardcore militech?

Most movies and TV shows are military-light, most of the casual behavior seen in shows like Star Trek will not be tolerated in most military units. Not to say that soldiers or sailors are robots, but the sort of easy going interaction between enlisted personnel and officers is rather rare if non existent. Function trumps form most of the time and questioning orders, however bizarre they may be is par for the course.

What branch/branches of the military (and what nation's military) are you basing your military structure?

It is common in sci-fi to equate ground forces with Marines (U.S. Marines, but Royal Navy Marine Commandos could be an alternative) while spaceships are commanded by naval ranks. But you don't have to follow that structure. Just be sure not to mix them haphazardly (a common mistake of many sci-fi shows like B5). Jobs do then to overlap. Also realize that increasingly many jobs in the military from trainning to supply are done by contractors/mercenaries. The Company Man is a civilian and he doens't fit in the rank structure (he maybe a civilian intelligence agent, a politician or a contractor).

You can invent new ones, just make sure that you are consistant.

What are the threats that the characters face?

Threats define responses. The most crucial yet difficult thing to transmit to the reader is military doctrine. That is the who, what where and why off a military force. In other words, it is how said military force sees itself, it's mission and the threat enviroment. Reading up on military doctrine is a good way to inject consistency to your story. Once you have that down, everything else will start to make sense.

Wikipedia (a good starting source) defines Military Doctrine thus:


Military doctrine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_doctrine)is the concise expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaign), major operations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation), battles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle), and engagements (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engagement). It is a guide to action, not hard and fast rules. Doctrine provides a common frame of reference across the military. It helps standardize operations, facilitating readiness by establishing common ways of accomplishing military tasks. Doctrine links theory, history, experimentation, and practice. Its objective is to foster initiative and creative thinking. Doctrine provides the military an authoritative body of statements on how military forces conduct operations and provides a common lexicon for use by military planners and leaders.

I hope that helps. If you have more questions I can try to help you. Just send me a PM. :Lecture::e2salute:

FinbarReilly
07-24-2008, 03:29 PM
Officer 101: Generally, the more important the mission, the higher the rank of the officer assigned to it. A platoon, for example, would most likely be a lieutenant (or equivalent low-ranking officer (O1-2)) assigned to it, with a captain (or O3) for a company (he would have at least one lieutenant under him as an executive officer). As you go up, the higher rank of the officer.

For a combat platoon, you are usually looking at a lieutenant being in charge, just as if they were in barracks.

Keep in mind that this chain of command goes down as well; a platoon is likely to have an 01/O2 as well as a first sergeant (E8). The platoon would have sergeants in charge of its squads, and then corporals or specialists in charge of its fire teams.

It's important to note that positions that need to act independently may have an officer or NCO assigned to them. The company chaplain, for example, requires a certain amount of weight, so he's likely to be an O3. However, the company's JAG rep doesn't really require as much weight (he's usually just the equivalent of a paralegal), so he's likely to be corporal or specialist (E4).


And just to mess you up: Warrant officers. Usually restricted to small craft (such as helicopters), they are used as sort an intermediary rank between NCO's and officers, where it's important to have to an officer, but not one of an actual rank.

Also, cadets: Essentially an O0, they have whatever power is assigned to them. Strictly speaking, even a private E-1 outranks them, but they are given the courtesy due to officers out of respect of what they will become (including being called "sir"). They are assigned to companies in order to give them leadership experience. It's unlikely that they would be assigned a combat mission, but it does happen.

If it helps...
FR

Paichka
07-24-2008, 04:58 PM
Army knowledge only! Hope this helps.

OFFICER 101

O1 = second lieutenant, also called a "Gold Bar" for the little gold bar of his or her rank. These are usually your platoon leaders (20-45 troops). They are paired with a Sergeant First Class (SFC, or E-7) as their platoon sergeant. In the Army, you are promoted from 2LT to 1LT in 18 months, so your gold bars are THE MOST JUNIOR guys in their platoon, usually. The lowliest PFC in their unit has been promoted two more times than they have. They are usually straight out of school, and without a strong non-commissioned officer to back them will fall on their faces.

O2 = first lieutenant. They wear a black bar, or a silver bar in a dress uniform. These can be platoon leaders (20-45 troops), or perhaps Executive Officers for companies. You may also see them serving in staff positions in Battalions. They will typically get promoted to Captain within 36 months, so you're talking about someone with a little more time under their belt, but still relatively junior. Again, when in a platoon, they are paired with an E7 (sometimes a "promotable" E6, which is a Staff Sergeant).

O3 = Captain. These are your company commanders (100-200 troops), primary staffers on Battalion staffs, or junior staff officers at the brigade level. They have been in the Army anywhere from 4-8 years (8 is generally when they are promoted to Major, the next higher grade). These guys are the moneymakers for the Army (says the Captain :)). They are the ones who are actually ON THE GROUND making decisions, or being worker bees on the staff.

An E8, called a Master Sergeant if they are on a staff somewhere, or a First Sergeant if they are in charge of a company, works as the Company Commander's Battle Buddy. (I have never met an E8 who was a platoon sergeant. That would be a waste of an E8, honestly, and would look awful on their NCO Evaluation Report. Unless they're a shitbag, in which case they have no business leading a platoon anyway.)

Majors (O4s) are usually Executive Officers of battalions, or Primary staff officers at the Brigade level (or junior staff officers at the Division level). A Major is a staff rank. They are generally paired with an E8 or E9 (Sergeant Major) as their Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC). They are never in command of anything, unless they are standing in for their boss if he/she has been relieved or is on vacation.

Lieutenant Colonels (O5s) are your Battalion Commanders (600-1000 troops), occasionally found as Staff officers at Brigade, and usually primary staff officers at Division or Corps level. They are paired with E9s -- either as a Command Sergeant Major (his battle buddy in a battalion) or as a Sergeant Major on staff.

Colonels (O6s) are also paired with E9s. They are your Brigade commanders (3000-6000 troops), staff officers at Division, Corps or higher, and they make coffee at the pentagon.

Brigadier Generals (O7s, or One-Stars) can serve a couple of functions. In the logisitics world, they can be the command general in charge of a Sustainment Command. In the combat arms world, they are the Deputy Commanding Generals of either Support or Operations -- they work directly for the Commanding General (who is a Two-Star at Division Level).

Major Generals are Two-Stars. They are in charge of Divisions (20-30 thousand troops), or working up at the Pentagon as mid-grade staffers.

Lieutenant Generals are Three-Stars. They are your Corps Commanders (60 thousand troops +), or they are the primary staff officers at the Pentagon.

Generals are Four Stars. They are the commanders of what is called a MACOM, or Major Command (200,000 troops). Ie, GEN David Petraeus, who is the Multi-National Forces-Iraq commander. Nobody outranks them, except a 5 star, and we haven't had one of those in decades.

So, to give an example from my chain of command, when I was a platoon leader:

Forces Command: GEN Campbell (current, forget who it used to be)
18th Airborne Corps: LTG Vines
3rd Infantry Division: MG Webster
36th Engineer Group (Brigade): COL Brooks
92nd Engineer Battalion (Combat Heavy): LTC Landry
92nd Chemical Company: CPT Porter
3rd Platoon: 2LT Paichka

Non-Commissioned Officers are never in the chain of command, because technically, they aren't in command of anything. They have RESPONSIBILITY for the Soldiers under their guidon (organizational flag), but have no authority to bring the Uniform Code of Military Justice, sign orders, etc. They're vitally important to good standards and discipline in the unit, and an officer is borderline incompetant if he doesn't make good use of them.



Keep in mind that this chain of command goes down as well; a platoon is likely to have an 01/O2 as well as a first sergeant (E8). The platoon would have sergeants in charge of its squads, and then corporals or specialists in charge of its fire teams.


Depends on the unit. Sergeants (E5s) are usually team leaders. Staff Sergeants (E6s) are usually your squad leaders. Obviously that can change, depending on where your studs are or who you actually have assigned to your formation, but the way the set up is SUPPOSED to work [in an infantry rifle platoon] is:

A company has 4 platoons (CPT/E8)
A platoon as 4 squads (LT/E7)
A squad as two teams (SSG = squad, E5 = team)
A team has 4 Soldiers (E5 = team, E4 = buddy team leader)


It's important to note that positions that need to act independently may have an officer or NCO assigned to them. The company chaplain, for example, requires a certain amount of weight, so he's likely to be an O3.

Our chaplains serve at Battalion level -- I've never seen one assigned to a company. There just aren't enough of them to go around, generally. Battalion chaplains are usually Captains, Brigade Chaplains are usually Majors.



However, the company's JAG rep doesn't really require as much weight (he's usually just the equivalent of a paralegal), so he's likely to be corporal or specialist (E4).

In my unit, our companies do not have JAG reps, even specialists. We have personnel clerks at the company level; all of our JAG representatives (From the Brigade Judge Advocate, who is a Captain, to her clerks, who are all Sergeants) work at the Brigade level. Even Battalion doesn't have a JAG.



And just to mess you up: Warrant officers. Usually restricted to small craft (such as helicopters), they are used as sort an intermediary rank between NCO's and officers, where it's important to have to an officer, but not one of an actual rank.

Warrants also are your TECHNICAL specialists. They do most of the flying in aviation units, and in logistics units will be your subject matter experts on maintenance, ammunition, food service, and signal communications. They are probably the most important officers in the unit for the breadth of their technical knowledge. And I take exception with the "actual rank" thing. :-) Warrant Officers are every bit as much of an Officer as I am, even though even my CW5s (chief warrant officer -5, the highest ranking warrant officer) have to call me ma'am. A WO1 (lowliest warrant officer rank) outranks the Sergeant Major of the Army.



Also, cadets: Essentially an O0, they have whatever power is assigned to them. Strictly speaking, even a private E-1 outranks them, but they are given the courtesy due to officers out of respect of what they will become (including being called "sir"). They are assigned to companies in order to give them leadership experience. It's unlikely that they would be assigned a combat mission, but it does happen.

This is a great program -- cadets (at least from West Point and ROTC), have the opportunity to "shadow" a lieutenant for two to three weeks; this is called Cadet Troop Leadership Program. The combat mission assignment is a little misleading. A cadet would never go to Iraq or Afghanistan, so they would never get a "combat" mission.

I have, however, seen a cadet get a mission during training exercises. When we were out in the field prepping for OIF III, we had a couple of West Point cadets get assigned to my company. We let them run a movement to contact for practice. They totally got slaughtered.

HTH!

JimmyB27
07-24-2008, 05:29 PM
May I ask my own question?
Excuse me for being off topic but, does the military have their own personal tactitian/strategist? Like someone who can plan out battle formations and stuff.
Well, tactics and strategy are actually quite different. In a nutshell, strategy is big picture, tactics is small.
As Jason says, strategy will be handled by the Pentagon. Strategy is the direction of the overall war effort, all the stuff like which targets to attack, where to deploy forces and so on.
Tactics is essentially how each of the strategic moves is carried out. Tactics are usually decided on the ground, by the officers in charge of the operation. Tactics involves things like what equipment to use, whether the soldiers go in the front or the back, and so on.

jst5150
07-24-2008, 05:38 PM
Also, too, war is an arm of diplomacy. So, strategy, really, is dictated out of the White House (Or No. 10, parlament or wherever the seat of power resides). There's even someone (in the White House) called a "Iraq War Czar" right now. There's also a national security adviser. And so on. War is an extension of politics. I may be over-thinking the room here, but any war effort is usually steered by some sort of political or national ambition. Just something to keep in mind when your commando goes hopping and popping.

ETA: Army rank chart, below.

Also, another technical note: cadets at the US Military Academy (a la West point), the US Air Force Academy and midshipmen at the Naval Academy are ranked E-5 (and are paid as such, too). In the Air Force, a staff sergeant. In the Army, a sergeant. In the Navy, a Petty Officer 3rd Class. ;)

Well, tactics and strategy are actually quite different. In a nutshell, strategy is big picture, tactics is small.
As Jason says, strategy will be handled by the Pentagon. Strategy is the direction of the overall war effort, all the stuff like which targets to attack, where to deploy forces and so on.
Tactics is essentially how each of the strategic moves is carried out. Tactics are usually decided on the ground, by the officers in charge of the operation. Tactics involves things like what equipment to use, whether the soldiers go in the front or the back, and so on.

http://www.28-110-k.org/images/rank_insignia.gif

red hawk
07-24-2008, 06:32 PM
A few questions:

Is your story military-light or hardcore militech?

Most movies and TV shows are military-light, most of the casual behavior seen in shows like Star Trek will not be tolerated in most military units. Not to say that soldiers or sailors are robots, but the sort of easy going interaction between enlisted personnel and officers is rather rare if non existent. Function trumps form most of the time and questioning orders, however bizarre they may be is par for the course.

What branch/branches of the military (and what nation's military) are you basing your military structure?

It is common in sci-fi to equate ground forces with Marines (U.S. Marines, but Royal Navy Marine Commandos could be an alternative) while spaceships are commanded by naval ranks. But you don't have to follow that structure. Just be sure not to mix them haphazardly (a common mistake of many sci-fi shows like B5). Jobs do then to overlap. Also realize that increasingly many jobs in the military from trainning to supply are done by contractors/mercenaries. The Company Man is a civilian and he doens't fit in the rank structure (he maybe a civilian intelligence agent, a politician or a contractor).

You can invent new ones, just make sure that you are consistant.

What are the threats that the characters face?

Threats define responses. The most crucial yet difficult thing to transmit to the reader is military doctrine. That is the who, what where and why off a military force. In other words, it is how said military force sees itself, it's mission and the threat enviroment. Reading up on military doctrine is a good way to inject consistency to your story. Once you have that down, everything else will start to make sense.

Wikipedia (a good starting source) defines Military Doctrine thus:



I hope that helps. If you have more questions I can try to help you. Just send me a PM. :Lecture::e2salute:


To answer your Question Ralph Pines, and to give everyone that's curious a better understanding of the project.

The story is sorta Military hard, A person did ask me why they wouldn't simply be dropped in by air? Well I'll answer several questions including this one.

The story at hand first off involves a one world goverment, governed by counsel much like the European Union, even then every country apart of the union acts as one body when orders come from the top, but those countries would fight along side allied forces but not blended in with them. Sorta like any major war, or imagine D-DAY or just any campaign in general with milti-nations involved.

Anyhow, the reason there wasn't an air drop to the target was the target was a person on the move in a wasteland with no cover, also the ground forces consisted of tank divisions, best protection on the Alien planet. The Special Forces or commandos where hitching a ride simply cause walking was both impossible since the surface is softer than sand, and there is zero cover.

As for what the characters will be ecountering? An enemy much like the Viet-cong, using underground tunnel systems.

As for other things to mention, This elite group will travel from safe zones to hot spots, even assit crippling enemy communications to break an enemy flank.

Hope that helps outline it better.

Paichka
07-24-2008, 08:57 PM
Hmmm.

Are you sure tanks is the best vehicle? I think a stryker platform might be more maneuverable, for what you're talking about.

Tanks are great, but they're all about laying down fire on the enemy. For a fast-moving infantry force, I think we're talking Bradleys and Strykers. Tanks aren't that speedy. They're impressive as all hell, but your infantry bubbas won't ride in them. :)

Also, I'd be worried about the weight of the vehicles if the surface is softer than sand. You might be better off with something like an armored humvee.

I bow to someone else's superior wisdom though.

dpaterso
07-24-2008, 09:10 PM
I'm guessing they must be darn big tanks if they have room for passengers in addition to crew -- either that or an external passenger pod is maybe slung on the back?

-Derek

red hawk
07-24-2008, 09:37 PM
That raises a good question, isn't a Bradley and a stryker a tank? I had been curious about these vehicles as well.

Oh, I should mention I considered it to some kind of land and sea type hovercraft with perhaps a turret? I don't know what the top section of a tank is called, but a cannon and possibly a 50?

Vincent
07-24-2008, 09:55 PM
That raises a good question, isn't a Bradley and a stryker a tank? I had been curious about these vehicles as well.

Oh, I should mention I considered it to some kind of land and sea type hovercraft with perhaps a turret? I don't know what the top section of a tank is called, but a cannon and possibly a 50?

Bradleys and Strykers are light armoured vehicles, not tanks. They have wheels, not treads, and often carry soldiers. They should at least have a machine gun mounted, maybe some anti-tank missiles too. You just said what the top of a tank is called. It's a turret. Some troop carriers are also fitted with a turret for a heavy gun.

Higgins
07-24-2008, 10:11 PM
Bradleys and Strykers are light armoured vehicles, not tanks. They have wheels, not treads, and often carry soldiers. They should at least have a machine gun mounted, maybe some anti-tank missiles too. You just said what the top of a tank is called. It's a turret. Some troop carriers are also fitted with a turret for a heavy gun.

Oh my god...finally a military question I know something about thanks to Shock Force a computer game with Bradleys in it.

The Bradley is an APC and it looks sort of like a tank, but it is designed to carry infantry. It has treads and a small turret.
The Stryker has wheels and carries more troops and is lighter and less heavily armored than the Bradley. There are various specialized versions of these APCs and many have automatic cannon (30mm) in their turrets for use against anything but heavy armor. They have missiles with shaped charge warheads to deal with heavy armor.

Vincent
07-24-2008, 10:14 PM
Oh you're right. I was thinking of a LAV. Oops.

Ralph Pines
07-25-2008, 01:16 AM
The M4 Bradley is a IFV, an Infantry Fighting Vehicle designed to carry troops into battle and support them by fire. It is equipped with a 25mm Bushmaster cannon (a chaingun) and side turret with two TOW anti-tank missiles (newer versions may carry other missile types, at least one version is an anti-air vehicle or at least it pretends to be).

The Stryker is also an IFV although it is supposed to be cheaper due to the fact that it does not have tracks (unlike the Bradley). APCs are besicly battle taxis, designed to carry troops to and from the battleline, while IFV are desinged to hand with the tanks (like the M1 Abrahms) although they themselves are not as heavy or powerful as a MBT (Main Battle Tank). The IFV of today fullfill the role of the light tank/infantry tank doing battlefield recon and fire support roles. The army is even developing a version of the Stryker with either a 90mm or a 105mm gun (the French have a few AMX IFVs armed that way). That certainly would fit the light tank/infantry tank role, but at a lower price.

APCs are seen as obsolete, most Armies today use either wheeled or tracked IFVs armed with light cannon (from 20mm-40mm) and some form of anti-tank missile plus a coax machine gun (7.62mm) and one or more machine guns on top.

A futuristic version of these vehicles could be a hover vehicle of some sort (especially in the type of terrain you describe) however heavy weapons on a turret like a 120mm cannon might simply throw the vehicle of aligment due to recoil. Of course energy weapons, missiles and perhaps gauss/rail guns would have little or no recoil (or compesate for it in someway). Of course combat would occur at higher speeds and it would be more like fighter planes or ships at sea than tank warfare.

Paichka
07-25-2008, 10:23 AM
It's all about what you're trying to do with your vehicles.

You have to remember that the entire force would NOT have the same types of vehicles -- you'd need something to lay down suppressive fire from relatively close (tanks!), then something to rain down fire from far away (MLRS, Paladins, Howitzers). Bradleys and Strykers are fighting vehicles, yes, but their main purpose is to get ground troops to the battle so they can close with and destroy the enemy. An M1A1 Abrams only has enough room for the crew -- Bradleys and Strykers can carry up to 6 extra folks.

On a soft surface, you'd most likely want something with a tred, as opposed to a wheeled vehicle, so I'd lean more towards the Bradley.

My concern with hovercrafts on a "softer than sand" surface would be the amount of dust blown up by the propulsion system. You'd kick up a terrific cloud just moving around -- so you'd have to address that in the story. They wouldn't be able to see well without optics...infrared, maybe, but the ambient heat of the ground would probably make infrared difficult to use in the daytime. Also, it'd be very hard to sneak up on anyone, because the huge dust cloud would follow your troops and be seen from a long ways out.

Remember, military members are one of your largest audiences for military-type stories -- we're extremely picky about the details. One of your beta readers for this story should definitely be someone with military experience, so they can give you some feedback.

My opinion is that if your force is a ground-assault type force, base its structure on the Army. The marines wouldn't be a bad choice, either, I guess. ;)

red hawk
07-25-2008, 06:31 PM
Thanks Ralph Pines, and Paichka. This gives me a lot to think about. At least if I went with a hovercraft the enemy in my story having never seen a machine might consider a dust cloud a sandstorm.

Oh one question about the structure, you think Army would be first ones in to lay down the assault? Not the Marines?

I imagined using a high altitude bombing raid before commencing ground troops.

PS. The shitty part about all this that I have a deep affection for writing these types of stories but never could go into the service, I guess this is the closes I'll ever get.

milhistbuff1
07-30-2008, 01:24 AM
Army and Marines both were in initial waves of assaults.

Couple of examples from WWII

Army: Operation Overlord
Operation Anvil
Operation Huskey

Marines
Tarawa

jst5150
07-30-2008, 02:33 AM
PS. The shitty part about all this that I have a deep affection for writing these types of stories but never could go into the service, I guess this is the closes I'll ever get.
Never EVER feel badly about this. It's not for some and, at least in the Air Force and Air Force Reserve, the bar is set fairly high right now for new entrants. Just write as accurately as you can. Military people appreciate THAT more than anything else about a good military yarn. :)