This is page is an overall Guide to Military Life for those seeking further information on RPing a character in the Colonial Fleet.  It contains a basic overview of military life and the military system as well as numerous links to other more detailed pages on individual subjects.

Chain of Command and RanksEdit

Chain of CommandEdit

The military is an authoritarian organization that relies upon orders down the chain and (near blind) obedience back up it creating a great hierarchical pyramid system through the ranks. Military personnel MUST show respect and obey all orders from superiors. They may issue orders of their own (depending on their level of authority and relationship to others) and expect obedience and respect from those below them on the chain (respect back down the chain is always nice but is not a requirement of the system). Failure to follow orders will likely result in disciplinary action, potentially even capital punishment. In the heat of combat, orders need to be followed without question (see A Few Good Men and the question of whether a soldier may chose which orders to follow).

Unlawful OrdersEdit

Soldiers, however, do not have to follow every order given to them. A solider may, and is in fact required to, refuse an illegal/unlawful order. In short, one cannot be lawfully ordered to commit a crime. Thus, a soldier who disobeys will not be punished (assuming the person giving the order doesn't go on a power trip before others can intervene). A soldier who obeys such an order will be guilty of that crime and cannot fall back on the "I was only following orders" defense.

For the most part, one cannot simply refuse an order because it is unpopular or suicidal. If it relates to your duties as a soldier and violates no law then it must be followed. If it violates a law then you must refuse the order. Examples of unlawful orders include: mistreating prisoners of war, targeting civilian populations, destroying or seizing civilian property without cause, etc.

Using the Chain of CommandEdit

Just as orders filter down through the chain, so too do issues filter back up. Issues should be handled at the lowest level of the chain possible. If someone has an issue they are to go to their direct superior for help or redress. If that person can not solve the issue (but deems it worth solving and not just trivial) then he will go to his direct superior or give the subordinate permission to do so. Only under the most extreme of circumstances are soldiers to "jump" the chain of command and go over their superior.

This works in reverse as well (although it is not always practiced and superiors can get away with breaking small rules like this). For the most part, superiors will work through their direct subordinates who then work through their subordinates and so on when giving orders or solving a problem. In many instances it simply is not worth the high rank's time or attention or if an exception is made for one instance soon everyone will be "appealing to Caesar" with their issues. It is also arguably best for issues to be handled within the smallest unit possible in the interests of efficiency, unit cohesion, and maintaining the authority of junior leaders.

Ranks and Address ProtocolsEdit

To accommodate the chain of command and military hierarchy, BSG uses a modified rank structure. A full and detailed list and explanation of the ranks can be found here.  There are also numerous protocols for generally addressing others in the service which can be found here.

Joining the Fleet and PromotionEdit

Joining the FleetEdit

Whether it is simply building a character's past or RPing appropriately for one's origins it is important to understand the paths into military service pre-war. For those civilian characters who have joined after the Fall is is even more important to understand what signing up to fight means.

Further reading on the topic can be found here.


Although many will likely remain at the rank they apply for with their character, promotion is still very possible throughout prolonged RP. Promotion, however, must be earned. This means: OOC that the player behind the character reflects a positive attitude, activity, and has proven to be a valuable member of the site; IC the individual character through the RP has shown he is ready for promotion (e.g. aptitude at one's current level, leadership skills, experience, etc.); and IC the promotion needs to make sense. This means that no character is going to suddenly jump numerous ranks, receive promotions rapidly in an unrealistically quick succession, be promoted to positions that don't need filling, or be promoted when it simply doesn't make sense with the story line.

Anyone interested in having a character promoted should mention it to an admin via PM or through chat. If the promotion is approved then shortly it will be put in motion. This might include an IC thread that involves a promotion ceremony (formal or informal) or even a preceding test in certain circumstances. Although asking for a promotion OOC is permitted (and the only way to be promoted without waiting for the admins to decide it would "make sense" to promote your character), asking with your character directly in an IC thread is highly frowned upon and will most likely result in getting stonewalled from promotion even if it is deserved (i.e. it no longer "makes sense" if your character is actively self-promoting too much). Ultimately the decision is with the admins.

Colonial Fleet Rules and RegulationsEdit

The re-imagined series might lead you to believe that the Colonial Fleet, particularly in a desperate war scenario does not adhere to the strict discipline, rules, and regulations of modern militaries. This is not the case in BSH. All military personnel are expected to act appropriately and follow the rules. Some slack will be given due to the hectic circumstances of the times, but this will not reach anywhere close to the leniency of Adama in BSG.

For more information on these topics, see:

Military DepartmentsEdit

To manage a ship, the crew is divided into numerous different departments, large organizational groups with their own tasks and responsibilities aboard ship.

Major Ship DepartmentsEdit

  • Command Staff
  • Combat Information Center
  • Air Wing/Flight
  • Deck Crew
  • Colonial Marine Corps
  • Engineering
  • Medical
  • Gun Crew
  • Manufacturing
  • Support
    • Quartermaster
    • Maintenance
    • Custodial
    • Culinary

These departments are typically broken down into further subdivisions (and often further divisions down from there).  More information on the departments and the positions within them can be found here.

Military DutiesEdit

Military life is just one big collection of duties.  Between one's basic "job", extra work that might fall one's way, and emergency situations (combat or otherwise), a service member's day never lacks for something to do (although that something might be mind-numbingly boring).

Watch SystemEdit

Military ships (and any installation) are 24 hour a day operations which require personnel working at all hours of the day. Similar to civilian establishments, the military uses a system of shifts called watches (i.e. you are on watch for your buddies who currently are off duty). The standard watch system is broken into six (sometimes seven) separate watches of four hours each. With the exception of extra duties and the needs of emergency situations, personnel will be on for two watches per day. That is, they will work for four hours, be off for eight, work four, and then off for eight.

Much more on the watch system can be found here.

Military DutiesEdit

Although the general watch system is shared across the ship, what one does on watch varies considerably from department to department and even within individual departments.  Aboard a massive ship like Hyperion, there are hundreds of jobs with thousands of duties performed daily.  Information on the basic duties of various military positions and jobs can be found here.

Extra DutiesEdit

In addition to their standard watch, some might have to pull extra duties either with another watch or portions of another watch. This might be caused by the needs of the service (the ship is falling apart and we're all going to die unless you pull two shifts to repair it), disciplinary reasons (you're cleaning toilets because you got drunk on duty), covering (your friend is sick enough to need a rest but not sick enough to be excused from duties so you do him a favor), or for incentives (pay bonus for teaching the rookie pilots or helping the cooks to peel potatoes). Sometimes these extra duties are merely a continuation of your normal work, sometimes it is work in a related field, and sometimes it will be something completely different to your normal duties.

Damage ControlEdit

Threat LevelsEdit

Living ArrangementsEdit

Quarters and Berthing AssignmentsEdit

Living arrangements aboard ship are all assigned by the Quartermaster.  Most crew members live with nine others in a communal bunk room.  Only senior officers, the rare civilians, and the occasional family aboard the ship have special accommodations.  Much more detailed information on the living arrangements and crew facilities can be found here.