Imperial Insignia: Nomenclature

Rank Table

Below I tabulate the military titles of the English language, adapted from various references on etiquette (eg. Titles and Forms of Address - A guide to their correct use; Collins Australian Pocket English Dictionary : military ranks), removing or adjusting terms which are geocentric or superfluous to the STAR WARS milieu. Seniority increases towards the top of the table; levels on the same row of the table are of equal status. The upper section consists of commissioned ranks; the lower section is non-commissioned.

American departures from international English terminology are reconciled with the usual system and noted as grey ammendments, intermediates and equivalent alternatives. It should be noted that the air forces of the USA actually originated within that country's army, which accounts for the confusing, anomalous and continuing use of army ranks. However the use of the ordinary air force ranks of Wing Commander and Squadron Leader in the canon as early as A New Hope supports the international English interpretation.


High Admiral		Surface Marshal		High Marshal?

Fleet Admiral		High General		Force Marshal

Admiral			General			Chief Marshal

Vice-Admiral		Lieutenant-General	Marshal

Rear-Admiral		Major-General		Vice-Marshal

Commodore		Brigadier-General	Commodore

Line Captain		High Colonel		-

Captain			Colonel			Group Captain

Commander		Lieutenant-Colonel	Wing Commander

Lieutenant-Commander	Major			Squadron Leader

Lieutenant		Captain			Flight Lieutenant

Sub-Lieutenant		First Lieutenant	Flying Officer

Acting Sub-Lieutenant	Second Lieutenant	Pilot Officer

Midshipman/Ensign	-			-

Fleet Chief Petty Off. Warrant Officer I Warrant Officer = Warrant Officer = Chief Master Sgt. Master Chief Petty Off. Army Sgt.Major Chief Master Sgt. = Command Sgt.Major = Sergeant Major Senior Chief Petty Off. 1st Sergeant Senior Master Sgt. = Master Sgt. Chief Petty Officer Warrant Officer II Master Sergeant = Sergeant I - Staff Corporal Flight Sergeant Petty Officer I Staff Sergeant Chief Technician = Technical Sergeant Petty Officer II Sergeant Staff Sergeant Leading Crewman Corporal Corporal = Petty Officer III - - Junior Technician - - Senior Spacecraftsman = Senior Spaceman Able Crewman Lance Corporal Leading Spacecraftsman = Crewman = Private I = Spaceman I Ordinary Crewman Private Spacecraftsman = Crewman Apprentice = Spaceman Crewman Recruit Private Spaceman Basic = Junior Crewman


The rank titles tabulated above are those used in a Sector Group. This is the gathered total of the Empire's naval and military forces assigned to a particular sector of space. Sectors are political regions defined so that they encompass several hunderd to several thousand inhabited worlds, and several million systems without permanent settlement.

The supreme commander of a Sector Group is a Moff, the military official who governs the sector politically as well as martially. Higher commands are given to Grand Moffs, who possess the equivalent of several sector groups for the purpose of pacifying temporary territories called Priority Sectors. These regions are composed of adjacent parts of one or more sectors where rebellion, piracy or organised crime are rife. More than a tenth of the Empire's armed forces are kept in reserve in the Galactic Core without attachment to any particular regional government. These forces are at the disposal of the Emperor, the twelve Grand Admirals or for deployment in elite roving commands such as those of Lord Darth Vader and Admiral Giel.

There are more possible combinations of the insignia units than there are realistic ranks. Therefore the Imperial officer rank plaque/cylinder insignia system provides enough flexibility to distinguish fine shades of seniority between officers of the same rank, and in some circumstances intermediate rank titles may be formally used. Alternatively, the choice of plaque configuration used to represent a given rank may be dictated by aesthetic regulations specific to local units, or may reflect an individual officer's history of promotion.

Verbal Address

Naval officers ranking as Rear-Admiral or higher are addressed as "Admiral". An Acting Sub-Lieutenant is addressed as "Sub-Lieutenant", and use of the "Acting" prefix is impolite except in formal naval communications. Midshipmen, ensigns and naval Warrant Officers are addressed as "Mr", "Ms" or an equivalent. Other naval officers and personnel are addressed simply by their literal rank.

Army officers ranking as Major-General or above are verbally addressed as "General" A Lieutenant-Colonel is addressed as "Colonel". An army Lieutenant or 2nd Lieutenant is addressed as "Mr", "Ms" or an equivalent. Warrant Officers of first and second class are addressed as "Warrant Officer". Other army officers and personnel are addressed according to their literal rank.

Starfighter officers ranking as Vice-Marshal or higher are addressed as "Marshal". Flying Officers and Pilot Officers are addressed as "Mr", "Ms" or an equivalent. All other starfighter officers and personnel are addressed according to literal rank.

Commodores and brigadiers arguably could be addressed as "Admiral" and "General", but this would be considered highly informal. [This would accommodate the American identification of commodores and brigadiers with one-star admirals and one-star generals.]

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Online since 16 November 1997.
Last updated 15 October 2000.

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