[LMB] West Wing Question was BCASS Ranks OT:

RosinaRowantree at aol.com RosinaRowantree at aol.com
Wed, 4 Aug 2004 09:28:02 EDT

Martin wrote: "I don't want to enter the contentious and banned subject of 
current US politics, but I hope that this slips in just below the bar.

"Most of my understanding of the mechanics of the the upper ranks of the US 
Government comes from the TV show West Wing.

"In the most recent episode shown here (the last in season 5), there was a 
claim by one of the civilian characters, a political appointee, the deputy chief 
of staff, Josh Lyman, that his rank was equivalent to a IIRC three star 

"In real life, do the US Presidents staff indeed have an 'equivalent' 
military rank ?"

I can't speak for the US, but there were accepted equivalencies in the 
British Civil Service (which, not being US, goes round the hurdle, rather than 
tripping over the bar).  I seem to remember that I was the equivalent of a Colonel, 
which gave me a very poor opinion of Colonels, I must say.  There were 
equivalencies with the police force as well.  The main justification for this, in my 
view, is where the two have to work side by side - as in Ministry of Defence 
jobs, where army (and RN and RAF) officers would go on secondment.  It is 
important that who stood where in the chain of command was clear from the start.  
However, although a colonel working in an office could give 'commands' to his 
staff, I doubt if it would work the other way, with a civil servant of 
suitable rank being able to command a ship, or order his regiment to attack!  

In the Prison Service there was a theoretical permeability between desk jobs 
and prison postings, but while Governors came in to the HQ, and could even 
transfer permanently, there were barriers to stop transfers the other way without 
passing through training which would certificate you as being able to run a 
prison or part thereof.

So Josh may be equivalent to, but not exchangeable with, a three star 

Rosina (Just call me Colonel)