[LMB] Barrayar's rank system

Bo Johansson bo at dendarii.com
Sat, 15 Nov 2003 23:47:32 +0100

This ever-popular thread has surfaced again, and I have been
inspired to speculate. (Re-posted from January this year)

LMB has said (digest 990330-2273) that the Barrayaran Imperial
Service is integrated, there is no Army, Navy, Marine Corps,
Air Defense Force or whatever. But the rank names are not
integrated, so what an officer is called depends on the job he
is doing at the time.

There is textevd that the two lowest officer ranks, Ensign and
Lieutenant, are the same in both rank systems.

The ranks may look like this:

Navy            Ground
------          ------
Ensign          Ensign
Lieutenant      Lieutenant
Lt Commander    Captain
Commander       Major
Captain         Colonel
Commodore       Brigadier (General)
Rear Admiral    Major General
Vice Admiral    Lt General
Admiral         General

this assumes there are no "Lt Colonels", if there are they
may be equivalent to "(Navy) Captain (J.G.)" with Colonel
equivalent to "(Navy) Captain (S.G.)"

It seems quite obvious that an officer with ship duty should
use a naval rank and someone commanding ground troops should
use a ground force rank, but for others it less obvious.
ImpSec for example seems to have both systems, there is a
confusing mixture of Majors, Generals, Commodores and both
kinds of Captain.

Here is now my own Watsonian handwaving to explain Miles's
and Galeni's ranks:

Miles may be promoted from Lieutenant to ground Captain
because his last job before ImpSec was a ground forces post
at Camp Permafrost.

In "Brothers in Arms" Duv Galeni was a Captain at the
Barrayaran embassy on Earth, perhaps he was a ground Captain
because Embassy Security is regarded as a ground forces job.

Some time later he might receive a promotion with his new job
on Komarr, but perhaps this post is traditionally held by a
naval officer, so he is promoted to Commander instead of Major.
Perhaps the first two holders of this post just happened to have
naval ranks, and as Cordelia remarks somewhere "On Barrayar,
if it is done twice, it is a tradition".

In "Memory" he is a Captain and has a new job at ImpSec HQ.
He may have been promoted again, and since his last rank was
a naval one, he is now a navy Captain. This makes it quite
logical that his next promotion is to Commodore when he is
made head of Komarran Affairs at ImpSec HQ.

So, what do you think of this?

// Bo Johansson

P.S. The only time the word Ground-Captain is used is when
   Captain Sphaleros is introducing himself to Nicki, who is
   behind a locked door and therefore cannot see his uniform.
   Aunt Vorthys and Gregor call him just "Captain Sphaleros"
   and he is referred to as "the captain". (ACC chapter 19)

   So all the Barrayaran captains in the books might have
   been ground captains or naval captains depending on their
   jobs, and we have not been told explicitly which.
   Like Captain Toumonen in "Komarr" who presumably is a
   ground captain, although that is never said.

P.P.S. When Aral and Cordelia talk about their first promotions
   to Captain, perhaps they are talking not about ground Captain
   or navy Captain but Ship Captain, i.e. commander of a ship.
   (The birthday message, "Memory" chapter 12)