View Full Version : Need some military lingo

08-26-2016, 01:39 AM
In my space opera WIP I have an ex-soldier being asked what military structure he belonged to, and I want him to answer in detail.
"X, part of Y, part of Z..." ending in the national military he was a part of.

How is this kind of designation (?) structured?

08-26-2016, 02:08 AM
It's going to vary somewhat based on the type of forces.

I was in the US Army for a while. I was assigned to D (Delta) Battery, 6th Battalion, 52d Air Defense Regiment. We were part of the 69th Air Defense Brigade, which was one of several brigades and commands under the 32d Army Air Defense Command in Europe. If someone asked my my unit, I'd say "Delta, 6-52 ADA."

Someone in an infantry company might be assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment, and answer "Charlie, 1-61 Infantry."

Someone in a force structured like the US Marine Corps would answer differently. The Navy and Air Force would also answer differently.

What does your military force look like?

08-26-2016, 02:23 AM
What does your military force look like?

Well, I have to admit I don't intend to feature the military in a direct role, so I haven't created a detailed structure. But the soldier in question was part of a special battalion using experimental science. It was part of the armed forces of an entire planet (split into several nations but with a unified military to fight a space war), and its main purpose was to be transferred about quickly and making sharp strikes in urban areas.

Does that help?

08-26-2016, 03:05 AM
That sounds like the SAS

James D. Macdonald
08-26-2016, 07:18 AM
In the Navy you have an administrative and an operational chain of command.

On the operational side, a ship may be attached ad hoc to one or another Task Force or Task Group. When the specific task is done, the ship is operationally re-assigned to some other TF or TG.

On the administrative side, where training and maintenance takes place, a ship may be in one chain of command for years. For example, at one time I was assigned to USS Hawkins, DD-873. She was part of DESRON 30 (DESRON = Destroyer Squadron), which was part of CRUDESGRU 8 (CRUDESGRU = Cruiser/Destroyer Group). CRUDESGRU 8 came under the administrative and operational command of Second Fleet (East coast of the US from North Pole to Caribbean, and to mid-point of Atlantic (half-way to Europe).

Which isn't to say that anyone would identify with any of those organizations above the ship level (unless they were a squad dog). While I might say that I was assigned to the Hawk (which I was), and I might say I was in Desron 30 because destroyers in the same squadron frequently operated together, that's about as high as anyone would usually take the chain of command when discussing an assignment. The folks higher on the chain made sure you had bullets and beans and bunker, but other than that their existence was of little importance, and might as well be mythical, to the folks on the deck plates.

James D. Macdonald
08-26-2016, 07:26 AM
This discussion of US Marine unit designations may prove enlightening: https://www.strategypage.com/militaryforums/10-201.aspx#startofcomments

If you aren't building an entire military you probably don't need much more than a little flavor.

08-26-2016, 07:37 AM
If he was in a special unit (and the stuff was secret at all), he might just name the highest command possible, like "I was part of the security staff for the 3d Planetary Defense Brigade."

"Oh yeah? What did you do there?"


08-28-2016, 12:42 PM
Who is asking and in what context?

While he can identify himself down to the platoon (or similar unit in another service) in many circumstances there would be no reason to do so.

If a civilian asks, as a general interest question, he could ID himself with the type of unit he was in (Space Navy, Army, Colonial Marines, whatever) or could id himself with the overall unit they might have heard of. "I was in the Fifth Spaceborne Infantry" (or whatever).

Unless they understand the military there's no real reason to ID himself in any more detail.

Now, talking to another military person he might get more detailed, especially if they are comparing notes as to where they served, who they served with, etc. Then you'd get into: Overall command, subunit, subunit, down to whatever level is needed. But, as a general rule, he wouldn't get into that much detail unless there is a reason. (Like, which Platoon or Company he was in, unless they want to know if he knows someone in that Company)

08-28-2016, 09:12 PM
And if he is in something that was high security like the SAS, he probably wouldn't say, but would have a much more general answer.

08-28-2016, 11:40 PM
Well, I have to admit I don't intend to feature the military in a direct role, so I haven't created a detailed structure.

If you don't have a military structure, how could you expect a character to provide theirs and another character to understand what was said? :)

Okay, it's a space opera. Steal a military structure from whatever military you like. It doesn't exist yet, but it will likely be based on an organization of the past. Depending on your needs, it could be as complex as him replying "I was in delta squad, fifth company, third ranger battalion, on loan to baker group of the ninth invasion force." Or as simple as "I served under Bob Taggart's command."