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Author Topic: Militaries  (Read 1646 times)

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Offline MacheteTopic starter

Militaries
« on: November 12, 2011, 10:15:59 PM »
I'm not sure if this belongs here or in "Off Topic".

I'm working on a character whose parents are of Captain-equivalent rank.  The character's father was a Captain in the U.S. Army when he retired while the character's mother is a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force.  How old should the Officers be?

Edit: What is/are the military courtesy(ies) in the U.K.?  I know the courtesies in the States are "Sir", for men, and "Ma'am", for women, however, "Sir" is used for knights in the U.K.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2011, 12:28:52 AM by Machete »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Ages for Military Ranks
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2011, 10:27:05 PM »
The youngest captain in the US Army was a man named David Hackworth.  He joined the Merchant Marines in 1944 at the age of 14 (he lied about his age), and joined the Army when he was 15.  He received his captaincy during the Korean War, which ended in 1953, meaning he was no older than 23 when he achieved that rank.

Any help?

Offline MacheteTopic starter

Re: Ages for Military Ranks
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2011, 10:48:42 PM »
Yep.  Thanks.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Militaries
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2011, 11:12:24 AM »
That might have been a Brevet Rank, and in the US, were largely temporary, except for retirement pay. Captaincy can be earned a lot earlier than 23, though. David Christian got it at 20.

You can see averages and low-end requirements for enlisted promotion rates and commissioned officer grades. A captain in the army is O-3.

Offline The Golden Touch

Re: Militaries
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2011, 02:30:17 PM »
I'm not sure about U.K. standards sadly, though in my squadron most of the Officers are early twenties to late twenties up to 0-3/0-4. The only captain we had flying with us had to be in early to late 30s. But for the Navy, a Captain is an 0-6.

Offline Missy

Re: Militaries
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2011, 08:50:49 PM »
I would say it mostly depends on the character your writing. His or her age of enlistment, whether he or she went to an academy and how well he or she performed previously to earn his or her rank.

Captain Samantha Carter from Stagate Sg1 was about 30 when the show first started.

Though I think I heard once you could calculate a year per promotion on the early once, don't know how accurate that is though.

Offline GypsyBook

Re: Militaries
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2011, 03:59:43 PM »
I would say it depends on the PC and the army you are putting them in. Armies that are down sizing have a lot less promotions so it will take longer to get them.

My brother is a Captain in the USA Army and he is late 20s (28). He is considered a young Army Captain by modern standards from what I know. If they joined at 17 (youngest US Army enlist age these days) then getting it by early 20s would be doable, but with the army trying to down size promotions are a lot harder. To get Captain in late 20s means you are damn good at what you do and impressed the right people. Early 20s means you are really damn good and have impressed people you didn't know you could impress. XD

Offline Malefique

Re: Militaries
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2011, 02:50:07 PM »
UK courtesies use sir and ma'am just as in the US; but I believe non-coms are not addressed as sir unless there is no commissioned officer present. 

Offline consortium11

Re: Militaries
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2011, 03:49:28 PM »
UK courtesies use sir and ma'am just as in the US; but I believe non-coms are not addressed as sir unless there is no commissioned officer present.

Even then, from my somewhat limited experience, you'll probably get a rebuke if you call them "Sir/Ma'am" rather than their rank (i.e. Sergeant, Corporal etc)

Offline ryushialthane

Re: Militaries
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2011, 04:44:27 PM »
Depends on the service. The navy and marines are all about addressing by rank. (even had one navy chief tell us "dont call me sir, i work for a living, ect.) Pretty sure the army use a combination of rank and sir/ma'am. The air force is generally pretty lax and you can get away with just a sir, NCOs and SNCOs, you kinda just have to know the person to know what you can get away with. And I'm pretty sure our last captain was 25-26 when he sewed on... hope this helps.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Militaries
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2011, 05:22:09 PM »
(even had one navy chief tell us "dont call me sir, i work for a living, ect.)

I've heard this in a number of places, not just Navy.

Offline NiceTexasGuy

Re: Militaries
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2011, 05:35:41 PM »
I'm not sure if this belongs here or in "Off Topic".

I'm working on a character whose parents are of Captain-equivalent rank.  The character's father was a Captain in the U.S. Army when he retired while the character's mother is a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force.  How old should the Officers be?

Edit: What is/are the military courtesy(ies) in the U.K.?  I know the courtesies in the States are "Sir", for men, and "Ma'am", for women, however, "Sir" is used for knights in the U.K.

Regarding the original question, it might help to know the setting.  Examples some people gave (like the famous and controversial Hackworth) are the exceptions to the rule which occurred in a different period than now.  I think I even remember hearing about a 19 year old general in the Civil War, but he wouldn't make a very believable character in a modern setting.

Yes, there are exceptions, but if you want the standard way things are, you can go something like this:

A character graduated high school at 18 and went directly to college, where he spent four years earning a bachelor's degree.  He is then commissioned into the Army as a Second Lieutenant.  Then figure two years to make First Lieutenant, another couple or three years for Captain, then the promotions slow down considerably.

In this case, he probably wouldn't retire as a captain (in a normal retirement situation.)  In the U.S. military, people can retire after 20 years service.  If he hasn't been promoted past captain in 20 years, there's a problem, and he would probably not last that long in the Army.  It is also possible to stay past 20 years, up to 30.  Yes, there are exceptions, but they're rare.

The most likely way to "retire" with less than 20 years service is a medical retirement.  In that case, he could be a retired captain.

The most likely way for someone to be a retired captain is for him to have taken a different path than the four years of college then get commissioned at 22 years of age.  He could have enlisted (at age 18) and served for several years, then receive a commission through one of many enlisted commissioning programs in the various services.  That way, if he was commissioned as a second lieutenant at 30 years of age, he would probably make captain at age 34, and retired a captain at 38.

As I said, there are exceptions, loopholes, etc, but this is what you would most likely encounter in the modern U.S. system.

Oh, another note which someone brought up earlier ... the names of equivalent ranks are different in the Army and the Navy.   An army captain is the same rank as a Navy lieutenant, while a Navy captain is equal to an Army colonel.  So, if you've seen references to a "retired captain" it might very well have been a Navy captain.

Hope this helps, and I'd be happy to answer any other military related questions.  Unfortunately, my knowledge of the RAF is limited to what I can look up on Wikipedia, and the British education system is a mystery to me (even with Wikipedia.)

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Re: Militaries
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2011, 05:38:38 PM »
Do you still call Warrant Officers Mister/Ma'am?

Offline NiceTexasGuy

Re: Militaries
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2011, 10:57:43 AM »
Do you still call Warrant Officers Mister/Ma'am?

Ouch... serves me right for volunteering.

Navy, it seems, is really an acronym for "never again volunteer yourself" ... but some people never learn.

Warrant officers are a big gray area which sort of lies between officer and enlisted and has changed much over time.  In the UK they are the more "senior enlisted" ranks while in the U.S. they are more like officers (well, actually, they are officers, albeit junior ones despite their age and technical expertise.)

In the old days, these were men who were given officer-like status via a "warrant" rather than a "commission".  Of course since the military is involved, they had to confuse things even more by inventing the "commissioned warrant officer" ... go figure.

Usually they are crusty old guys who came up through the ranks and know all there is to know about a particular field, but their training hasn't been as well rounded as the regular commissioned officers (who hope to someday grow up and command something.)  But, sometimes, they might fall into some other specialized category (current and past examples have been pilots, nurses, and physicians assistants) so they are commissioned as warrant officers at a much younger age than the crusty (or in the Navy, salty) old stereotype.

Sir or Ma'am are appropriate in the U.S. forces, though what they're actually called (forms of address?) will vary with place, time, and service.  "Chief" is (or was, not sure about the present) used in the Army (for Chief Warrant Officer) but not in the Navy, where Chief is an enlisted rank unto itself.  In the Navy "Mister" followed by the last name was used in the old days, but again not sure about the present.   Though I have been in the military, it's been a while, and my exposure to Warrant Officers was limited.  Also, changes have occurred since then. 

So, I'm not really the guy to ask, but I didn't want to ignore the question altogether.  My advice would be to avoid making a Warrant Officer character unless you know what is involved, do the  research, or ask someone smarter than me.

Or, you can set it in a sci-fi futuristic setting and make your own traditions.