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Question about military terminology

  • Avatar of 123home123

    123home123

    [1]Oct 20, 2007
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    I know at least a couple of you are military veterans so maybe you can answer this question. Does the term "soldier" include Marines? For example, if there are a group of Army infantrymen and a group of Marines fighting together, would you use the term "soldiers" to describe all of them at once?

    I figure this is relevant because of the frequent use of military terminology on the show.
    Edited on 10/21/2007 6:09am
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  • Avatar of adamathrace

    adamathrace

    [2]Oct 21, 2007
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    It makes sense to call them all soldiers... Because at the end of the day thats what they all are, but they just have seperate divisions. So you could use soldiers to describe them all.
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  • Avatar of MichaudMR

    MichaudMR

    [3]Oct 21, 2007
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    As a retired grunt, I could tell you that a good way to start a bar fight would be to call a Marine "soldier." Soldiers are members of the Army, Marines are members of (in the case of the U.S.) the United States Marine Corps. Airmen are members of the Air Force and Sailors are members of the Navy and the Coast Guard. Each branch of the armed services has its own mission, training, history, and purpose. The term "Division" is used as part of the command structure in ground forces (Fire Team, Squad, Platoon, Company, Battalion, Brigade, Division, Corps, Army).

    Note that an Army Corps is a fighting force of 20,000 to 45,000 soldiers. Two to five divisions constitute a corps, which is typically commanded by a lieutenant general. As the deployable level of command required to synchronize and sustain combat operations, the corps provides the framework for multi-national operations.

    In the case of the U.S. Marine Corps, it has traditionally consisted of four ground divisions with one Air Wing and has less than 100,000 personnel. The mission of a Marine Corps is "The seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and other land operations to support naval campaigns," "Conducting boarding operations and defending navel vessels from hostile boarders," "Providing security for the Captain and command crew during times of mutiny," and "Other duties as the President may direct."

    The "other duties" part has caused the U.S.M.C. to evolve into America's 911 force due to the highly mobile, self contained nature of the Corps.

    The mission of the Army and focus of training is different but I have already gone on too long.

    Hope this helps.

    Semper Fi

    Edited on 04/15/2008 3:33am
    Edited 2 total times.
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  • Avatar of 123home123

    123home123

    [4]Oct 21, 2007
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    Thanks. This is exactly what I was looking for. By the way, what do you think about the use of the military terminology on the show. I know that Ronald Moore generally tries to keep a realistic feel to the military elements. He once said he wanted to make sure that his former buddies from Navy ROTC in college wouldn't be disappointed with the military lingo on the show.

    However, I know they had to make some adjustments to rank names on the show to accommodate the terms used in the original series. Apparently they didn't want to stray too far from that.
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  • Avatar of MichaudMR

    MichaudMR

    [5]Oct 22, 2007
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    IMHO - For the most part Mr. Moore and his team get it dead on. I recognize that they're not going for a direct one to one parallel with the US military, but a depiction of the remnants of a military force thrown together with what's left of a civilisation on the run in outer space, so he threads the needle beautifully.

    The "real" military uses a quasi-dialect that I call "Mil-Speak" which relies heavily in acronyms, abbreviations, and jargon to compress large volumes of information into minimal amounts of spoken verbiage (ironically, it's just the opposite in written documents as the "Pentagon publishes by the pound"). For example: no one ever transmits radio messages "in the clear" like the characters on the show do. However, using standard radio protocol would be intelligible to the audience and detract from the overall experience.

    One of the most chilling scenes for me was in "Fragged" when the young Air officer tried to lead a combat op. by issuing a five paragraph order directly out of the manual to a bunch of techs. and they promptly put his lights out.

    Edited on 10/23/2007 2:35am
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    psg11990

    [6]Oct 22, 2007
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    Well, the jarhead gave you some really good info on the military terminology, but he forgot to tell you that the Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy, which is why you will see Naval Hospitals on Marine bases and Navy Corpsmen assigned to virtually every Marine platoon, including recon. Basically, the Marines hop on gator freighters and get transported to their destination by the Navy, which is why "MARINE" is really just an acronym for "My Ass Rides In Navy Equipment." Anyway, it is sometimes a love/hate relationship between squids and jarheads.

    Anchors away.
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  • Avatar of 123home123

    123home123

    [7]Oct 22, 2007
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    How separate are the Marines from the Navy? I know they have had a shared and intertwined history.

    As for the Pentagon publishing by the pound, I've had some indirect experience with that end. I interned at a foreign policy journal after college. The institute published articles and books about U.S. foreign policy. Most of the articles were written by university professors and post-doctoral researchers but there were also many articles written by people more directly involved in military planning, such as those at the Naval War College and the National Defense University. Lots of lists of enemy tank deployments and such. I guess this stuff is more exciting on the movie screen but reading about it isn't exactly thrilling, at least not the statistical side of it.

    All of this was public information only, no classified material. I guess it didn't matter too much because the only people who read those articles are all concentrated at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. Articles about hostile radical governments and analyses of foreign armies just can't compete with the latest updates on Britney and Lindsay.

    ***

    Another item: I don't think there is an army on the show. It seems like the people that operate and staff the military ships are akin to the U.S. Navy while the Marines handle ground operations and MP-type duties on the show. This would make sense if the only fighting the Colonies ever did was with space-based fleets. In that case, they wouldn't really need large-scale land-based armies.

    However, there have been several hints that the Twelve Colonies were independent and hostile to one another until the first Cylon War began. That's when they signed the Articles of Colonization and formed a united government. I assume that there must have been some wars between the various Colonies. Even though they are located on different planets, they must have had some land invasions during previous wars or skirmishes. As most military-minded people know, you can't win a war and occupy a hostile territory only using air power (or in the case of the show, space-based forces). At some point, the Colonies must have tried to land ground troops on another planet. Maybe they just used Marines (like we've seen on the show). Or maybe there used to be Armies but those organizations fell into disuse after the first Cylon War ended.

    ***

    And one more item: I've read comments online in the past from U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. They seemed to only have good things to say about the military realism of the show.

    EDIT-I wrote all this before I saw the previous post, especially the part about the Marines and the Navy. So I'm not really that clueless.
    Edited on 10/22/2007 8:40pm
    Edited 2 total times.
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  • Avatar of MichaudMR

    MichaudMR

    [8]Oct 23, 2007
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    I thought U.S.M.C. stood for "U Signed My Contract" or "U Suckers Miss Christmas" (a couple more, but they're not fit for print) . Note that they didn't pay me to learn how to spell.

    The Marines are very much the infantry arm of the Navy and I've had a Hospital Corpsman save my bacon in the field, so no problem here with the fact that my paycheck came from the Dept. of the Navy.

    I thought the Mission statements with "Secure and defend advanced Naval bases" and "Defending Naval vessels" was enough of a clue, but squids can be a bit thick at times. All kidding aside, I am honored to be a part of the Navy.

    This is just speculation on my part, but it seems logical to create a psychological barrier between potential mutineers and the folks who are hired to keep them in line. Thus the tendency for shipboard Marines to think of themselves as a separate entity. It is also possible that the very different focus of training, from basic (boot camp) on up has promoted the tradition of Marines as separate from the Navy.

    How does this relate to BSG? With everyone thrown in together like they are it just doesn't seem relevant to get that granular with the mechanics of how it all works. The fact that they have a few grunts around when they need them is good enough for me.

    Edited on 10/23/2007 7:12am
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  • Avatar of ChewinFoil

    ChewinFoil

    [9]Apr 15, 2008
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    Sorry a bit off topic here but I'd like to remind MichaudMR of the other Sailors out there the Fifth Armed service the United States Coast Guard pretty much the 911 force in the Homeland. Not trying to troll or anything but I usually find that Marines (being a relativly small service as well) seem to remember us more than most. And back on topic being a current active duty E-8 I find that most of the "Mil-Speak" is fairly accurate without being too obtuse.
    Edited on 04/14/2008 11:12pm
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  • Avatar of MichaudMR

    MichaudMR

    [10]Apr 15, 2008
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    No, I hadn't forgotten about the Coasties, but was attempting to be both brief and somewhat generic (many nations do not have a Coast Guard as a separate service) in the post where I was outlining the names for the various service personnel.

    However, out of respect for those folks who put it on the line in both peace time and war, I went back and edited the post for you. As a side note, why the heck does the DOD deploy you people outside of U.S. waters??? I remember spotting cutters off the coast of Norway, England, and in the Mediterranean. I get why we need a presence in the Caribbean, but the other side of the pond seems a bit out of place.

    Semper Fi

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  • Avatar of ChewinFoil

    ChewinFoil

    [11]Apr 15, 2008
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    Actually all sorts of reasons we wind up everywhere. Nation building, International training, Joint Operations, Ice Patrol, LORAN, and Law Enforcement Authority to name a few. And the funny thing is we're alot of other places where small contingents of Coasties show up rather than a whole Cutter. I remember a few years back when we had a team in Georgia helping them stand up thier Coast Guard on the Black Sea. Hey we (the CG) are the 4th largest "navy" in the world. Actually depending on the source this ranges from 4th to 12th, but 4th sounds better to me.
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  • Avatar of 123home123

    123home123

    [12]Apr 16, 2008
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    ChewinFoil wrote:
    Sorry a bit off topic here... And back on topic being a current active duty E-8 I find that most of the "Mil-Speak" is fairly accurate without being too obtuse.

    No, it's not off-topic. I specifically started up this thread to get some first-hand info and insight from people with military experience. I think those perspectives help viewers to get a more full appreciation for the show. It might also help people who are just dropping by this forum for the first time to realize that BSG isn't just a typical sci-fi space opera.

    When Ronald Moore was talking about the prequel Caprica series recently, he compared BSG to the movie Black Hawk Down. That further confirms the importance he places on the military realism of the show (within the sci-fi space-based setting).
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  • Avatar of MichaudMR

    MichaudMR

    [13]Apr 16, 2008
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    ChewinFoil wrote:
    Actually all sorts of reasons we wind up everywhere.....

    OK, so what does any of that have to do with securing our coastlines? Not that I'm complaining or anything like that. I've spent more time than I care to remember in the jungles of South and Central America wondering what the hell this all had to do with defending my country.

    Come to think about it, this does have a good tie in to BSG. If everyone had just minded their own business and stayed out of each others kitchens there wouldn't have been a war in the first place.

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  • Avatar of ChewinFoil

    ChewinFoil

    [14]Apr 16, 2008
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    We currently have 11 different mission areas outlined by statute: Alien Migrant Interdiction Operations (AMIO) , Defense Readiness, Drug Interdiction, Ports, Waterways and Coastal Security, Other Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Aids to Navigation, Marine Safety, Living Marine Resources, Marine Environmental Protection, and Ice Operations. So If someone wants us somewhere its fairly easy to squeeze the operation into one of those areas.

    As far as BSG goes you would have to think about the development of a space-faring race's military. When planet bound you have an Army who's primary duty is to fight on land, a Navy to fight at sea, an Air Force to fight in the skies, and Marines to secure the Navy's shore-based interests / establish beachheads, etc. Now we move into space things become a bit dicey. The Army IMO would be your planetary defence and/or occupation forces. Marines would protect spaceports, establish secure landing zones and be generally be your rapid deployment force. The confusion lies with the Navy and Air Force; space being how it is you'd really need to mash these too concepts together. The longer your species is in space the more I could see all of these branches kind of merging into one amalgous organization with two semi-distinct branches. These would be your 2d feet on the ground folks (Marines) and your 3D up down all around folks (Fleet). A corollary to our militaries here on earth is how nowadays each branch has a sea / air / land component. We used to joke when I was stationed in Guam, the Navy had more aircraft than the Air Force, the Coast Guard had more vessels than the Navy and the Air Force had better golf courses.

    Edited on 04/16/2008 9:28am
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    MrShotShot

    [15]Apr 16, 2008
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    Good questions. I tend to think that the ground troops we see on Galactica are somewhat of a blend of what we call Marines and Army forces. They don't seem to have an army type group that functions the way our army functions.

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  • Avatar of MichaudMR

    MichaudMR

    [16]Apr 16, 2008
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    The first question we would have to answer is if the entire planet is unified under one government. If not, then they would still have need of national DOD's and all the trappings like we have, with an additional branch of a space service. If the individual planets have unified governments but those planets are formed in a somewhat loose confederation as it appears the Colonial civilization was, then I imagine we would see something like this.

    A planetary defense force with some level of police powers along the lines of the Senior Chiefs Coast Guard. They would have jurisdiction over everything that fly's, floats, crawls, or swims, from low orbit on down. This would imply some form of ground troops, an air wing capable of space flight, and naval forces.

    The next level would be a military capable of projecting force onto other worlds and defending inter-planetary space such as the fleet that the Galactica belonged to. If we use the American Colonies prior to the revolution in 1775-1783, as a model, we could envision the colonies of the BSG universe banding together to fight the outside threat of the Cylons (as happened during the French and Indian wars), but maintaining quasi-independent forces who would also fight amongst themselves if circumstances called for it.

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  • Avatar of 123home123

    123home123

    [17]Apr 16, 2008
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    Interesting that you brought up the American Colonies and the Revokutionary War. I've been reading the Joseph Ellis biography of George Washington this month. Many of the battle scenarios remind me of BSG. He had ill-equipped forces at the beginning and he was hardly the most experienced military officer but he had a physical presence and a calm demeanor similar to that of Adama. Washington faced superior forces and he lost many of his early battles but he was determined to win.

    When I read some of the war sections, I think about certain scenes and episodes from BSG.
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  • Avatar of MichaudMR

    MichaudMR

    [18]Apr 17, 2008
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    Indeed the parallels between the American Colonials of the 18th century and the BSG Colonials are I think, not incidental. George Washington fought simply to keep his army alive and survive long enough to wear out his opponents' ability to continue. The Continentals effectively lost all but a few battles, their capitols were taken and occupied, and the British forces chased them from one end of the eastern seaboard to the other.

    The American Revolution is living proof that force of military arms is only a part of a far more complex dynamic, with collective will, and economic ability to support the fight playing very important roles. There was of course, one other major factor in the revolution. France and England had been fighting with each other for generations over world supremacy, with the British having come out on top in the previous round, but exhausting herself in the process.

    Washington knew that once he had proven the viability of our cause at Saratoga, all he had to do was keep his army in the field long enough to give time for the French to come in on his side. Sure enough, when the French forces, most notably the French Navy showed up at Yorktown, the British knew it was all over, they knew they could not sustain yet another global conflict and capitulated.

    Interestingly, while England signed the treaty officially ending her claim to the colonies in Paris, she did not admit capitulation to the French, only to her former colonies. It is also worth noting that the French spent themselves into near bankruptcy supporting the American Revolution, leading in no small part to the collapse of Frances' economy and their own revolution a few years later.

    This all makes me wonder if Mr. Moore is going to surprise us with some kind of third party saviour during his endgame. The original BSG had the "Ship of Lights," this would be a little too neat and tidy for BSG(2003) but I'm sure they would do it justice in any case.

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    ChewinFoil

    [19]Apr 18, 2008
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    I've seen all sorts of parallels between events in BSG and many conflicts throughout human history. I was just thinking that wouldn't it be funny if at the end of it all the Cylons and Colonials had to band together against the greater evil of Earth. I mean after all, prior to WWI the majority of U.S. strategies for the next war were scenarios against Britain.
    Edited on 04/18/2008 2:29pm
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  • Avatar of 123home123

    123home123

    [20]May 29, 2008
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    The National Geographic Channel is showing a documentary about the supercarrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, the most advanced nuclear-powered carrier in the U.S. Navy, and in the world. The ship weighs 97,000 tons fully loaded and yet it can still reach a top speed of 30 knots.

    As I'm watching, I notice a lot of little details that match or nearly match details from BSG. The aircraft have almost the same type of name plate next to the cockpit, with the call sign in quotes. The planes launch by means of catapults that pull the planes across the flight deck toward the edge of the ship, just like the catapults we see on the Galactica. The catapult moves the planes from 0 to 165 mph in just 2 seconds. The Galactica catapults operate in a similar manner.

    A neat detail is the method that the real-life crew uses to coordinate fighter deployment from the hangar to the flight deck. The team on the Ronald Reagan uses a bunch of plastic or cardboard cutouts that represent each plane. They physically move the cutouts on a clear plastic screen that they call the Ouija board. There is another board underneath that represents the hangar. To indicate the status of each plane, the team uses push pins and metal nuts. A red pin means the plane is on alert. A green pin means the pin is about to be launched. A nut means the plane is being repaired. It's really as simple as that, and this is the most modern real-life carrier. The team leader said that no one has been able to write a software program that can handle all of the variables adequately so they stick to the cardboard, plastic, pins and nuts to coordinate the movement of billions of dollars of advanced military equipment. The "Ouija board" looks a lot like the simplistic plastic board and plastic models that we often see on the show when Adama and other officers are plotting attack plans.
    Edited on 05/29/2008 8:04pm
    Edited 3 total times.
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