Modern Rank Stasis
Works About Future Military Forces Retain Modern Military Rank Structure Despite There Being No Reason to Do So


(permanent link) added: 2011-10-17 05:42:28 sponsor: Worldmaker (last reply: 2013-01-27 18:19:49)

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This YKTTW is a restart of an old one that got so tangled up in "That's a bad name, use my suggestion!"/"No your suggestion sucks ass, use my suggestion!"/"This is just Trope X"/"No, its not" arguments that only two examples were ever added. (I have added some more for this restart below.)

So we're trying again in order to generate some examples. PLEASE do not endlessly restart yet another "My idea for a name is better than yours so use mine"/"This is not a separate trope" argument. Just add examples.

Now, on to the trope:


Essentially, there is a tendency for military forces in sci-fi settings to use rank structures strongly resembling those used by turn-of-the-millenium American armed forces. For some flavor, they might use the British or German rank structure instead. This is despite the fact that there really is no reason that the rank structure used by any real world military in the early 2000's should survive for over two hundred years, past World War III, and be adopted by a humanitarian and peacekeeping armada made up of service-members from numerous different planets.

Related to this is the tendency for fans to assume that the rank structure should be identical to that used by a real-world military force, just because it shares some elements with it.

The main problem is that even the rank structure of the American armed forces hasn't managed to stay consistent for the past 20 years, let alone 200. The rank and organization systems of any military service, or indeed almost any organization, are constantly changing, with ranks being introduced or abolished or repurposed to fit the needs of the service (or, if you are more cynical, the whims of the leadership).

The question becomes even larger when you start wondering why an alien species uses modern American ranks. Translation Convention only carries it so far.

Typically a result of the United Space of America. A Sub-Trope of Modern Stasis. Tangentially related to Space Marine, where every space-faring nation regardless of origins has the United States Marine Corps in space.


Examples:

Film

Tabletop Games
  • The Sword Worlds use German ranks in ''Traveller.

Television
  • Star Trek is the most obvious example. Starfleet uses a rank structure lifted directly from the United States Navy.
  • Both Battlestar Galactica series used American ranks, though the structure got a bit muddled as you approached the flag ranks. Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) actually took place a hundred thousand years in the past, but it was still using American ranks.
  • Babylon 5


replies: 16

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