When I was making my preparations for the 'Battlecruiser Alamo' series, one of the elements I had the most fun with was creating the tables of rank. This is something that has often bugged me with science-fiction in the past, with television SF by far the worst culprit; naval and military terms are thrown haphazardly about with no regard for logic, reason or tradition, the latter being the most important of all – for essentially all the military ranks stem from some long tradition or another, often now totally irrelevant – but yet the rank remains. I had lots of fun here; given that the series opens with the merger of three militaries into one, I had to create five tables of rank, two for the Triplanetary forces (one Fleet, one Espatier) and one each for the other three services. I have a nice complicated table, but I'll break it down here one at a time. (I'm pondering polishing this as an appendix for one of the books...)
Martian Space Service
General, Colonel-General, Lieutenant-General, Major-General, Colonel, Major, Captain, First Lieutenant, Second Lieutenant, Third Lieutenant
Fleet Sergeant-Major, Squadron Sergeant-Major, Staff Sergeant, Technical Sergeant, Sergeant, Senior Corporal, Corporal, Private First Class, Private Second Class, Private Third Class
Mars, in the series, was colonized mostly by the United States, though with some immigrants from the United Kingdom, Canada, and a few other places; hence these ranks take the Army as their guidelines, following the model of the USAF, though with a few variations. Colonel-General is a rank used extensively in Asia, Russia and parts of Eastern Europe; it seemed to fit nicely, avoiding the need for a 'General of the Space Service'. Third Lieutenant – well, I read Starship Troopers, and let's just leave it at that. As for the enlisted ranks, those are much more conventional – but Sergeant-Major, instead of 'Regimental', or 'Company' (and I know those are titles, not ranks – but then most ranks started out as titles) breaks down as 'Fleet' and 'Squadron'.
Callisto Orbital Patrol
Fleet Commander, Flotilla Commander, Squadron Commander, Flight Commander, Senior Flight Officer, Flight Officer, Junior Flight Officer, Recruit Officer
Master Astronaut, Senior Flight Sergeant, Flight Sergeant, Junior Flight Sergeant, Senior Astronaut, Astronaut First Class, Astronaut Second Class, Astronaut Third Class
This one was treated rather differently; I decided to follow the same sort of design process as used when creating the RAF ranks – essentially, starting from scratch, taking a few bits and pieces where appropriate. Callisto was colonised by Russia and the 'European Federation' mostly, so that had a role as well – and again, title has become rank in short order, with the flag ranks following the French pattern of describing what size of command is appropriate – a fleet, a flotilla, a squadron, or a single ship. The enlisted ranks were rather easier here, again taking inspiration from the RAF.
Commodore, Captain, Commander, Lieutenant, Sub-Lieutenant, Midshipman
Petty Officer, Senior Spaceman, Spaceman, Recruit Spaceman
The Titan Militia was pretty easy; it was settled by the East African Federation mostly, with some from the 'Indochinese Union', but it suggested Royal Naval ranks as a baseline, especially as I established that this was the smallest fleet, the moon having being settled on more of a shoestring. This was to be much more of a 'part-time' service, implied in the 'militia' term; so they didn't need anything like as many ranks. It boiled down to replacing 'Airman' or 'Sailor' with 'Spaceman', and trimming down. Actually, a lot of inspiration also came from the early US Navy rank structure, before the first Admiral rank was created.
Admiral, Vice-Admiral, Counter-Admiral, Commodore, Captain, Lieutenant-Captain, Senior Lieutenant, Lieutenant, Sub-Lieutenant, Midshipman
Senior Petty Officer, Chief Petty Officer, Petty Officer, Junior Petty Officer, Senior Spaceman, Spaceman First Class, Spaceman Second Class, Spaceman Third Class
This one, naturally, I paid the most attention to, but did it after I'd established the planetary ones; the peculiarities of the setting meant that it would have to draw inspiration from the others, but couldn't be a direct copy – the militaries involved would not have gone along with it! So – I went to Russia for the ranks, the four flag ranks ranging down from 'Admiral' to 'Commodore', with 'Counter-Admiral' replacing 'Rear-Admiral'. 'Lieutenant-Captain' was my alternative to Commander, if only because...I liked the sound of it! The idea was that it was the lowest rank of independent ship command, and that 'Captain' should be in it somewhere; the enlisted ranks were fairly conventionally drawn, because I wanted that to be more familiar.
Triplanetary Espatier Corps
Brigadier, Colonel, Major, Lieutenant-Major, Lieutenant, Ensign, Cadet
Sergeant-Major, First Sergeant, Master Sergeant, Sergeant, Lance-Sergeant, Corporal, Lance-Corporal, Private, Recruit
If this looks US Marines, its meant to – but I drew in an additional tweak to reflect the 'combined' nature of the services by incorporating the European rank of 'Lance-Sergeant', which I first saw in the Polish armed forces. I actually rather like the sound of it, if I'm honest! And Ensign? Well, that was originally an Army rank; it seemed an interesting alternative to 'First' and 'Second' Lieutenants...especially as there were going to be a lot of Lieutenants running around anyway! The other new rank, Lieutenant-Major, I humbly submit as my answer to the age-old 'two Captain ranks' problem; evidently someone in the service decided to end it once and for all be eliminating the rank of 'Captain' and replacing it with 'Lieutenant-Major' instead; it goes well with 'Lieutenant-Captain', I think, and you can expect to see this one cropping up...