Military Ranks (RDM)
This table is largely based on an older blog entry by Ronald D. Moore, in which he replies to a question about the show's rank structure (see Official Statements below). It has been expanded a little to include additional ranks that have been established since then (lieutenant colonel, rear admiral) and ones they may likely exist as well (e.g. senior chief petty officer).
The ranks are a mix of naval and marine ranks inherited from the Original Series, but mirror naval practices in execution and are elaborated during the series both on-screen and in production notes. It is possible to create a rough equivalence to real world armed forces. However, while the Colonial Fleet has many parallels with modern armed forces it is a fictional organization and diverges from reality in certain places, for example in the duties of commanders and admirals, or the place of the CAG within the ship's hierarchy.
The officer ranks of the Colonial Marine Corps (CMC) have yet to be established on screen (with the exception of lieutenant) or by official sources and thus are not listed here. The Marine Corps's enlisted ranks seen so far mirror real world ranks.
These pictures were created by Jim Stevenson a.k.a. "137th Gebirg". Insignia for the other ranks have yet to be shown on screen and thus aren't listed here.
Senior officers' ranks can also be identified by the color of the piping on their uniforms. While the only person ever officially designated as lieutenant colonel (Jack Fisk in Razor) wore the same red over white piping as a full colonel, since the insignia has also been used by others wearing the simple junior officer grey piping, no piping is shown in the illustration.
- In a blog entry on February 19, 2005 Ronald Moore gave a little insight into the rank structure of Battlestar Galactica:
"What is the rank structure? It doesn't seem consistant [sic] with the Navy."
The rank structure is derived from the original series. I didn't want to change Commander Adama to Captain Adama or Colonel Tigh to Commander Tigh, so I elected to simply embrace the co-mingled nature of the original rank structure. For our internal purposes, we've decided that the ranks are indeed a mixture of naval and army nomenclature and are basically as follows:
- Lieutenant Junior Grade
- Master Chief Petty Officer
- Chief Petty Officer
- Petty Officer (1st, 2nd Class)
- Deck Hand
Just to complicate matters further, there are also Marines aboard Galactica which conform more closely to the traditional enlisted Marine ranks, with Sergeants, Sergeant-Majors (sic), etc. Unresolved is the question of whether the Marine officers would also adhere to the mixed rank structure (which sounds odd) or if they are strictly army equivalents (which makes no sense given that the "Navy" ranks seem oblivious to there being any such distinction). Aren't you glad you asked?
- Uniforms (RDM) - Uniforms of the Re-imagined Series.
- Insignia (RDM) - Additional insignia and patches for uniforms in the Re-Imagined Series.
- Military Ranks (TOS) - Ranks of the Original Series.
A detailed analysis of Battlestar Galactica's uniform devices by Jim Stevenson. Also the source for this article's images.
- Sergent First Class is one instance of a rank that does not correspond to an actual Naval or Corps rank.
- Admiral: Peter Corman wears the same admiral insignia as Adama and Cain, but with thick gold piping on his duty uniform. This raises the question of how a rear admiral can be distinguished from a full admiral in dress uniform, given that dress uniforms have no colored piping. It can be speculated that, as has been the case with the ranks of ensign and junior lieutenant, the production crew uses the same insignia for both admiral ranks, as only one type of admiral pin has been made for the show. It would normally be expected that different admiral grades would be distinguished by the number of gold bars (for example one set for a rear admiral, etc).
- Rear Admiral:
- The extended version of the episode "Pegasus", Adama states "Fleet promoted her to rear admiral over half of the commanders on the list.", thus establishing this rank.
- When Adama is promoted to admiral in "Resurrection Ship, Part II" his new rank insignia are identical to Cain's.
- Cain seems to command both her battlestar and its Battlestar Group. In modern practice, a captain commands only the ship, while a rear admiral is in charge of the Carrier Strike Group.
- While Cain wears a regular rear admiral's duty uniform with gold-over-silver piping, Adama continues to wear his commander's duty uniform with red-over-gold piping after his promotion to admiral. From a production point of view, this was most likely done so that the crew didn't have to create a new set of uniforms for the actor, but can be explained in-universe by the lack of male admiral uniforms in the Fleet's stores following the attack on the Twelve Colonies.
- Lieutenant Colonel:
- This information comes from production materials, which note Jack Fisk's rank as lieutenant colonel in the portions of "Razor" before Jurgen Belzen is executed. Fisk wears different rank insignia from the normal colonel insignia, as seen here and here.
- These devices have been previously used for Dualla in "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II", but she is identified as a lieutenant in dialog. Insiders have indicated that Dualla's use of the lieutenant colonel insignia was a costuming error/necessity, that was necessitated during her first appearances after becoming an officer because there weren't enough junior lieutenant devices to go around. It has also been noticed that other characters including Chief Tyrol have used them from time to time for the same reason.
- Fisk's uniform piping as a lieutenant colonel is the same red-over-white as on a full colonel's uniform. Given that he is the only person ever even referred to as holding that rank, it is likely safe to assume that lieutenant colonel and colonel share the same colors. This is unusual in that all other senior officers' uniforms have a distinctive piping, but can be explained by their potentially similar duties. However, this may - like the use of some rank insignia - be a production necessity: It was far easier to use the actor's existing uniform than create a new one.
- After her promotion to major in "Razor", Shaw wears a colonel's uniform. This may have an intentional decision to denote her position as Pegasus's XO, or just a costuming error.
- Agathon states his rank as "lieutenant junior grade" in "33", but he consistently wears the rank insignia of a full lieutenant.
- Junior Lieutenant:
- The term "junior lieutenant" (or JRLT in short) is used in props and behind the scenes documentation. For example on Boomer's Raptor nameplate in the Miniseries and Kara Thrace's disciplinary records in "The Son Also Rises". Although "lieutenant, junior grade" has also been used in dialogue a few times, for example by Karl Agathon in "33", the vast majority of on-screen references and behind-the-scenes documentation use the term "junior lieutenant", and is thus the preferred term in the Battlestar Wiki.
- While Ron Moore's blog entry from a couple seasons ago (see "Official Statements" below) uses the term "lieutenant junior grade," it should also be pointed out that other differences between the blog entry and the actual terminology and structure have been definitively proven since the entry was written.
- Although to-date it is not referenced in spoken dialogue, the rank of warrant officer is included in costuming notes, and is worn on-screen by background extras.
- Sergeant First Class: In "Litmus" Sergeant Hadrian wears insignia listed here as petty officer 1st class. While she is a Marine, it is possible that some or all rank insignia are used in both services to denote equivalent ranks. The term sergeant first class is never used on screen. However, behind the scenes documents list the Marine rank associated with the single chevron on green background worn by Hadrian (and shared with the rank of petty officer first class) as sergeant first class.
- Specialist: The end credits for "Flight of the Phoenix" and "Revelations" list Anthony Figurski as specialist, 3rd class. Furthermore the rank of specialist, 2nd class was mentioned by writer Bradley Thompson in the Official Communiques. This indicates that there are three subdivisions for this rank which are used in the scripts. However, these ranks have not been used in dialogue yet and only a single rank insignia for specialists has been established so far.
- Crewman: Many sources, including Ron Moore's blog, refer to this rank as "deckhand". However, more recent internal documents reveal the rank to be "crewman."
- Crewman Apprentice/Private: These insignia have not yet been shown on-screen, but are found in production materials.
- Junior Lieutenant/Ensign Rank Device: The use of junior lieutenant insignia for the rank of ensign in episodes like "Scar" and "Dirty Hands" is a costuming necessity, as the production never created a separate pin for the ensign rank.
- Crew Master Chief/Sergeant Major Rank Device: The rank device for crew master chief/sergeant major has never been worn on-screen as such, but the design is part of the civilian flight wings worn by the pilot of Colonial One.