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efreysson
05-18-2016, 12:44 PM
I know that in America "army" refers to a subset of the overall military, but isn't the word generally interchangeable with "military"? As in, a state's entire armed forces?
In my space opera WIP I've been referring to the armed forces as the Royal Army.

Albedo
05-18-2016, 01:13 PM
Not in English AFAIK. In English-speaking countries it's incorrect to call a navy or an air force (or marine expeditionary forces, if the nation has them) an army, but they are armed forces. Canada's weird because they have one unified force, but its land element is still referred to as the 'Canadian Army'.

But there's no reason a military in a science fiction culture couldn't be organised predominantly like an army. France calls its air force the 'Air Army', I think.

efreysson
05-18-2016, 03:32 PM
organised predominantly like an army.

What does this mean?

Aerial
05-18-2016, 04:35 PM
I know that in America "army" refers to a subset of the overall military, but isn't the word generally interchangeable with "military"? As in, a state's entire armed forces?

The short answer is no.

Even historically, the army of a king or other sovereign was his land-based military assets. He might also have a navy (water-based military assets) he could deploy.

R.Barrows
05-18-2016, 05:45 PM
In my space opera WIP I've been referring to the armed forces as the Royal Army.

When I think of military forces in space opera, I usually think in naval terms. That's probably due to Star Trek, although I doubt Roddenberry was the first to use naval terminology in SF. It's a very common trope. See: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SpaceIsAnOcean (http://Personally, if I came across the term 'Royal Army' in an SF story, my first assumption would be that it's a ground force first but that it might have space, air, and potentially naval components. Most modern armies do, but the term 'Army' does indicate a ground force and while they have other components, those components were introduced to support infantry. If, in your story, the term has evolved to encompass a space force, then that's understandable. Particularly if all 'armies' are space armies.)

Personally, if I came across the term 'Royal Army' in an SF story, my first assumption would be that it's a ground force first but that it might have space, air, and potentially naval components. Most modern armies do, but the term 'Army' does indicate a ground force and while they have other components, those components were introduced to support infantry. If, in your story, the term has evolved to encompass a space force, then that's understandable but still potentially confusing to a reader. They may assume that the Royal Army is primarily an infantry force with other components. 'Royal StarForce' or 'Royal Fleet' or simply 'Royal Forces' might be more descriptive and also more in-line with what you typically see in the SF genre. You can still incorporate infantry in the Royal Forces, just call them the Royal Space Marines.

When you look at Star Wars, the Empire and the Alliance both possessed fleets and infantry ground forces. You didn't see too many examples of Alliance infantry, but Storm Troopers were commonplace. And you'll note that the Alliance fleet was led by Admiral Ackbar - a naval rank.

Curlz
05-18-2016, 06:43 PM
But there's no reason a military in a science fiction culture couldn't be organised predominantly like an army.
There is. When you call their transport "(space)ships" then you have a strong connection with the navy we have now. Hence the "fleets" and "admirals" we see in space sci-fi. That's the way it's spoken in English. "The Army" is only one variety of "the armed forces", those are similarly sounding words but the meaning is not interchangeable.

efreysson
05-18-2016, 09:30 PM
Alright, I'm switching to "military" instead of "army". And no, I won't be using "navy". I just don't like it.

Amadan
05-18-2016, 09:55 PM
It's possible your fictional setting could have a single unified armed services called the Royal Army or whatever.

If it's descended from any Earth culture, though, a division between the portion of the military that operates ships and the portion that fights battles on the ground would be likely. It's not just tradition - the skillsets for fleet and ship commanders and ship crews and ground unit commanders and troops are completely different.

Bing Z
05-18-2016, 10:26 PM
It can also depend on the world you create.

Let's say your planet is 80% land. The waters are mostly ice packs near the poles, some small running rivers here and there, and lakes. Basically no vast oceans. In this case the land army is what matters. Whoever controls the Army controls the empire/planet. Sure, they have some boats patrolling these separated waters and carrying combat soldiers around, but the "navy" is so small and insignificant that the commander doesn't have direct reporting channel to the emperor. Thus the navy may just be a part of the army (The Gliese 633.5c Royal Army's Maritime Expedition Division?)

benbenberi
05-19-2016, 06:13 PM
We've been conditioned by 100 years of SciFi to assume that a space-based military is necessarily going to operate like a navy, in its organization, strategy, etc. But many actual air forces grew out of the army, not the navy, & they show it. (As distinct from naval air forces, e.g. the ones on airplane carriers, that are still part of the navy.)

I could certainly imagine a space opera universe where the Space Force is derived from the army/air force & uses that sort of structure, terminology, etc. But I don't see them being called the Army without other qualifiers.

Duncan J Macdonald
05-21-2016, 06:11 AM
It certainly can be confusing. When I was at the Army's Command and Staff College, there was a foreign Army officer who stated it the best:

"You have an Army, a Navy, and an Air Force. But your Army has an Air Force and a Navy, your Navy has an Army and an Air Force and your Navy's Army has an Air Force, and your Air Force has an Army. Why?"

blacbird
05-21-2016, 06:53 AM
"You have an Army, a Navy, and an Air Force. But your Army has an Air Force and a Navy, your Navy has an Army and an Air Force and your Navy's Army has an Air Force, and your Air Force has an Army. Why?"

Historically, dating back at least to the Romans, and probably to the Greeks, there was an Army (land forces) and a Navy (sea forces). That division of duties persisted into the first half of the 20th Century, when airplanes came into being as military utilities. In the U.S., both the Army and the Navy invested in air power. Ultimately, the Army Air Corps was split off into the separate military branch of the Air Force. The Navy, however, has always maintained its own "air corps", connected with aircraft carriers, in particular. That division of duties persists to this day.

caw

Haggis
05-21-2016, 06:59 AM
It certainly can be confusing. When I was at the Army's Command and Staff College, there was a foreign Army officer who stated it the best:

"You have an Army, a Navy, and an Air Force. But your Army has an Air Force and a Navy, your Navy has an Army and an Air Force and your Navy's Army has an Air Force, and your Air Force has an Army. Why?"

Indeed. And don't forget the Marine Corp who also fly planes. I think the Coast Guard flies helicopters, and perhaps planes, but that's probably a different thing.

Bren McDonnall
05-29-2016, 05:01 PM
Yep, Coast Guard has planes. Army National Guard also has planes, though not as nice as the Air National Guard.

The spacefaring navies of SF are generally called navies because their craft are more akin to naval vessels than aircraft. Living quarters and such. You don't see many aircraft with crews quarters, dispensaries, or mess halls.

If you don't like the idea of space navies, there's nothing keeping you from calling them whatever you want, but be wary of breaking convention. Potential reader backlash may ensue. The thing you don't want to do, though, is call them a thing that already has a definition.

Army is a ground force. Marines are an assault and amphibious force, and when troops are assigned to Naval vessels, they'll usually be Marines rather than army.

You can always give your space force Air Force type organization and have the ships themselves seconded to Army control. That way, a given ship would still be Navy, but you'd go through Army to deploy it, as it's essentially an integral part of that Army unit.

And, of course, politicians are likely to call anything army, navy, marines, or whatever, regardless of who they're actually talking about.

Rufus Coppertop
05-30-2016, 03:04 PM
Alright, I'm switching to "military" instead of "army". And no, I won't be using "navy". I just don't like it.Would knowing that 'navy' comes from the Latin 'navis' meaning ship and 'naval' from 'navalis' the adjectival form change your mind?

If not, maybe 'spacefleet' would work for you.

Rufus Coppertop
05-30-2016, 03:08 PM
It certainly can be confusing. When I was at the Army's Command and Staff College, there was a foreign Army officer who stated it the best:

"You have an Army, a Navy, and an Air Force. But your Army has an Air Force and a Navy, your Navy has an Army and an Air Force and your Navy's Army has an Air Force, and your Air Force has an Army. Why?"With the army having a navy, I imagine their ships and boats are specifically for littoral jobs and maybe river patrols and their air force for ground attack and tactical bombing. Why a navy's army should have its own air force when the navy already has an air force is a bit of a mystery to me.

Bren McDonnall
05-31-2016, 06:14 AM
The Army's navy is the riverine force of shallow water patrol boats. Their air force consists of helicopters and fixed wing small transports so far as I know. I believe it's still Air Force who flies recon.


The Marine Corps is under Department of Navy, but has duties that overlap many of the other forces. They have amphibious, air, ground, and naval duties. Combat troops aboard a Navy ship will be (blue water) Marines rather than sailors.

Of course, Navy also has the SEALs. (SEAirLand, IIRC) They grew out of the fabled 'frogmen' of the WWII as mission creep took over.

Coast Guard was originally charged with policing and providing aid internally and in the coastal waters of the country. That's another thing that didn't last. They have air assets and waterborne assets. I do not know of any CG forces that aren't basically sailors or airmen.

blacbird
05-31-2016, 07:08 AM
"You have an Army, a Navy, and an Air Force. But your Army has an Air Force and a Navy, your Navy has an Army and an Air Force and your Navy's Army has an Air Force, and your Air Force has an Army. Why?"

Regards the Army's "navy", I have some direct experience. When I returned from Vietnam in 1970, I was sent to Ft. Eustis, Virginia, where I was initially supposed to become NCO for the stevedores dealing with cargo in small river-based boats. I told the major who wanted to send me to that assignment that I didn't feel qualified* for it, and he sent me instead to be NCO to a small office of public relations people. In combat arenas, like Vietnam, those Army boat people deal with river transport situations supporting ground troops that the U.S. Navy isn't equipped for, or should be.

caw

*As I recall, when I reported to him, he didn't wear a Vietnam unit patch, and I did. What I said to him was "Fuck that. Sir." At that point I didn't give much of a shit, and I think he was afraid of me.

It was a different time.