I wonder if the rank insignia from "The Gathering" shouldn't be moved to it's own sub-section of the article, since it seams to have been retconned?Blind Wolf 01:03, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

I agree that much of the look of The Gathering has been retconned. Perhaps there should be a "Behind the Scenes" section at the bottom of the article describing how the look of the insignia changed between "The Gathering" and the TV series. This section would also feature a gallery of the "Gathering" insignia. How does that sound? --JemHadar359 03:11, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
That's pretty much what I had in mind. It would be different if the system had simply changed, but we saw in "Babylon Squared" and "In The Beginning" that the same insignia have been in use for at least 15 years. Blind Wolf 03:22, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

The rank of major has been recently moved so that it is now over captain, and one level below colonel. There is no evidence throughout the Babylon 5 series to adequately justify this change. Majors Louis Krantz and Leanna Kimmer both deferred to Commander Sinclair. Major Ryan was treated as a peer by the command crew of B5; however, at no point does Sheridan defer to him. Aceron29 23:48, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

No, it hasn't been moved at all. It's quite clearly between Lt and LtCMD. Blind Wolf 09:11, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

What do we know about the various grades of general rank? Some of the general officers have been called major-general or lieutenant-general in the credits of different episodes. Richard Franklin's rank insignia appeared to only have two stars. General Fontaine's has only three. Does anyone know what rank the character Frank (from "Gropos") was? Also, Lefcourt's insignia from "In the Beginning," not only has only one star, but it appears to be upside-down (perhaps a designation for a single-star rank).Aceron29 21:04, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Yes, I have done the different insignia graphics for the other Generals, it's just a matter of getting round to matching up rank to insignia. As for Frank, it's hard to tell. He's either a Commander, or a Lieutenant Commander. Actually, he might be a Lieutenant since I've yet to figure out the difference between Lt & LtCmdr insignia since unless I'm missing something, they both appear to consist of a silver bar. There are a couple other oddities like the Colonel insignia being rotated 90 degrees between it's two sole appearances, that neither the PFCs nor the Pvts had any insignia at all (which I really should correct) and for some odd reason the "Senior NCO" in 'Endgame' only had a green tinted command patch on each arm. Blind Wolf 21:20, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Excellent work on this page by the way! It seems that the B5 art department was just kind of winging it. Until season 2, I assumed blue uniformed space force guys held naval ranks, and brown/olive uniformed marines held military (army) ranks. Then we see blue uniformed generals (season 2), and a major (Ryan- season 3). I had always thought the bar for lt.cmdr. was half silver and half bronze, like the stat bar Ivanova wore. Full lieutenant was a single silver bar. Also interesting that junior officers, such as Corwin, wore what appeared to be enlisted/NCO uniforms. This may suggest that ensign and second lieutenant were actually some sort of midshipmen or training grade in the EF. Perhaps the official o1 rank began with full lieutenant. It was at Corwin's promotion to lieutenant that he began wearing the standard officer's uniform and had a definitive rank insignia. While Garibaldi (as a CWO) may contradict this hypothesis, I believe it was the original intent that Garibaldi was a lieutenant (as stated throughout the first season).Aceron29 21:43, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Actually they did appear to have a pre-planned insignia "plan" as it appears in the B5 Security manual as something that looks as though it was taken straight from the show bible. The catch is that it described the insignia system used in "The Gathering" that was immediately jettisoned and retconned. Not a huge tragedy as those fiddly little circles were hard to distinguish at a glance, which defeats the purpose of insignia and probably the very reason they were abandoned. When it comes to Army vs Navy ranks, I think JMS and "The Official Guide to Babylon 5 CD ROM" says that the ranks are the same right across every branch of the service. So Majors Kemmer, Krantz and Ryan are all of equal rank. The stat bars aren't in and of themselves an indicator of rank, rather the wearer's position or status (hence "stat".) So the CO wears Gold, the XO wears Gold & Silver, staff officers wear silver etc. etc. That's why Commander Sinclair had a Gold bar while Ivanova's was still half & half even after she was promoted to Commander and why Maj Ryan's was half & half and Krantz's was silver (he wasn't the CO, just overseeing the operation.) As for the uniforms, I will get around to an article for that too, when I have everything together, but in short, Based on what JMS has said I don't think Corwin was always an EF officer, or even an NCO but an civilian employee that later earned a commission, like Zack. The give away is that EF officers all have the 'EA' emblem on the chest and the EA Division patch on the left arm. The security officers, maintenance personnel and C'n'C workers just had the "B5" symbol on the arm (or MarsCommand, Earth Central etc. depending on where they worked) and in the case of the C'n'C workers, the silver stat bar. Blind Wolf 23:27, 2 June 2009 (UTC)


Turns out Major does go between Colonel and Captain after all. To save further disagreement, I'll transcribe a letter from John Copeland that was published in The Official Babylon 5 Magazine: Issue 17, p.58: -

"We actually had a chart somewhere in Wardrobe. Kim Holly might know where it resides these days. Anyway, let's see what I can do: the ranking system was kind of created by Joe, and then we sort of worked [with the continuity] on an ongoing basis in the series.
"It's really a blend of Naval and Air Force ranks, but we didn't adhere strictly to only US military rankings. We tried to throw a little wider loop with some ranks from world military organisations. The wings on the sleeves of the EarthForce Blues is also a nod to other military organisations, which is quite common in some European groups."
So, I've listed the ranks in grouping as a breakdown. Each rank listed second or third is lower than the first, except for Admiral and General. (i.e. Lieutenant Colonels are lower than Colonels.)
Admiral/General: They are of equal standing, however Admirals (and one of the reasons we didn't see them) are fleet (as in Pacific Fleet, or Atlantic Fleet) commanders. Generals (at least in our series) tend to be involved still on the tactical level. General Franklin and General Hague are two examples of tactical appearances on the show.
Colonels, Lt.Colonels, Majors: This is why Major Krantz outranked Sheridan, because Captains come next in the order.
Captain, Commander, Lt.Commander: The two commander ranks tuck back into the Naval system.
Lieutenant, 1st Lieutenant and Ensign: These are the next levels coming down the ladder.
Security Chief: (As in Garibaldi) Even though Garibaldi was really, technically, outside the military. We never really explored how EarthForce Security worked in tandem with the military. I have also thought they were like the Air Police or AirForce, but again we never set that in stone.
And then we go into the regular ranks. Our chevrons and all were based on the British versions. Some of our officers, like Maj. Krantz, wore British style pips of rank.

That seems pretty definitive I think. Blind Wolf 22:46, July 29, 2010 (UTC)

Yeah, but I don't really buy it. From the beginning of the series the rank system seemed really fly-by-night. There is no on-screen evidence to suggest that a major outranks a captain and the whole general/admiral issue just doesn't make any sense whatsoever. I like the whole run of Babylon 5, but somewhere along the line there appears to be a point where the producers suddenly decided to merge the rank system, and then use exclusively Air Force ranks. Never in Crusade do we see Lt.Commanders and Commanders. XOs of ships are suddenly Lieutenants, who wear the old insignia of a lieutenant commander. Aceron29 20:28, August 7, 2010 (UTC)

Buy it or not, it comes from John Copeland and was published in the official magazine, therefore it's canon and from what he said it's what they were working with behind the scenes. More to the point there's nothing that directly contradicts it. Peculiarities sure, but nothing definitive. As far as Crusade goes, we only saw a handful of EF officers so that argument doesn't hold a lot of water. As for the rest, Admirals were mentioned but never seen and they can't really me senior to Generals as we saw a General serve as one of the Joint Chiefs and having them be junior flag officers makes even less sense.
The idea that Crusade totally ditched the the naval style ranks is just nonsense because we see a flashback of Gideon as an Ensign in 'Path of Sorrows', I believe there was an "Ensign James" in 'War Zone' and a passing mention of a "Commander Paine" in 'Visitors from Down the Street' too. As for the Lt/LtCmdr insignia, near as I can tell and unless I'm missing something, they've always been identical...or very close to it, dating all the way back to 'Midnight on the Firing Line'.
As for the Navy/Air Force thing, Copeland specifically says they intentionally mixed and matched, not following any scheme in particular so it's not supposed to have any clear correlation towards any one 20th/21st century military service or any particular nation.Blind Wolf 04:40, August 8, 2010 (UTC)

There are plenty of on-screen contradictions to this stated scheme. Major Krantz salutes Cmdr. Sinclair first, calls him "sir," and defers to him; Major Kemmer is put in place by Ivonova being also reminded of Ivonova's rank; Sheridan receives his orders from generals exclusively (Smitts, Lefcourt, Hague, etc...). Wouldn't B5 be strategic enough to be part of an admiral's command in the Copeland scheme? I understand colonel may rate higher than captain in EF, but major most assuredly doesn't. Heck, Lt. Commander Ivonova once asked for a Major Atambe to relieve her in the command dome. She was the XO of the station. Did B5 have a large surplus of senior officers who actually outranked the command staff, available to take over a lieutenant-commander's duties?

Coming in a few years late to this conversation (and the main Wiki page seems more correct than the Copeland information cited aobve anyway), but jms seems to imply that Major would definitely be at least one grade below Captain — if not more — in his comments cited on the Lurker's Guide page for "Severed Dreams":

Major Ryan was overstepping his rank.
Except, of course, you now have an extraordinary situation in which the Major, through the death of his CO, was now the commanding officer of the Alexander. In ordinary circumstances, this would mean he'd be given a field promotion.

Second, I don't recall any situation where the Major was "giving orders to a commander." The aide on the deck of the Alexander was a Lieutenant, as I recall. Also, if Hague indicated that he was to be given command as he died, that would likely be honored. Finally, yes, the Major was involved in the discussions of strategy, but in *every case* he presented Sheridan and Hiroshi with options, and because it was Sheridan's neck of the woods, it was left to Sheridan to give orders. He coordinated the defense, and was the only one speaking directly with the Agrippa.

I think Sheridan was kinda up to his ears in matters graver than the Major's field promotion, though you're right, he had one coming (as I noted in an earlier message). Given that they'd just broken away from Earthforce, and walked away from the rank structure to some extent, it would seem a rather indulgent exercise, since Earth certainly wouldn't recognize the field promotion of a renegade officer.

I think from jms' comments here it's pretty clear that Major Ryan was definitely outranked by Sheridan, although it's obviously unclear from the Ryan example where Major otherwise fits into the chain of command in regard to Commander and Lieutenant Commander. Jhollington 18:07, November 17, 2016 (UTC)

Generally speaking, we don't enen see too many higher grades commanding fleets in B5. Generals nor admirals typically command large formations of ships. The CO of the Apollo thought it strange that Lefcourt had assumed responsibility for the ship and the fleet. At the battle of Proxima, one captain commanded the group of six destroyers. Where were all of the majors, colonels, and admirals during the Earth Civil War?

Admiral has always seemed more like a position in the EF than a separate rank. Meaning that Ivonava's line about getting an Admiral as a new station commander in "Points of Departure," probably meant getting someone who held a rank of general, but by virtue of his position (fleet commander or district commander) was called an admiral. Aceron29 17:15, August 8, 2010 (UTC)

You also have a Major John Clemens running an entire prison system on Beta 7, supervising the final stages of construction of Babylon 4, in charge of the President's security, acting as XO to a full General and one of the JCoSs. These are not the kind of jobs entrusted to someone just barely above a Lieutenant. As for the who-salutes-who first business, that's hardly a contradiction. Leaving aside that it could just have been a simple production error or honest oversight, Krantz was in a state of borderline panic throughout the entire episode, I doubt the exact details of military protocol were foremost in his mind.
As for Kemmer, she was brought up short by Ivanova not because she was outranked by her but because she wasn't in her chain of command. Kemmer was EF security and if she wanted something out of B5's XO then the proper thing to do is ask, not demand or order and thereby undercutting Sinclair's authority. Same thing applies when Captain Pierce tried to throw his weight around with Commander Sinclair. Sinclair was his subordinate in terms of rank but he wasn't in his chain of command and had no business issuing him orders. Major Atumbe was something of an anomaly, yes, but she was only ever mentioned ONCE in a relatively early episode and even then just in passing.
As for the Admirals, The way I read Copeland's explanation is that the EF Admiralty pretty much stays at headquarters organising deployments and issuing orders...just like real Admirals. He seems to indicate that the distinguishing factor between EF Generals and Admirals is that the ones that stay on Earth issuing orders are mostly Admirals while the ones that actually go out with the fleets are Generals, which is why we only saw the latter. As I said, nothing here is a direct contradiction and like it or not it's canon, so unless you have JMS saying unequivocally that Copeland is flat wrong, any further discussion is entierly moot.Blind Wolf 21:05, August 8, 2010 (UTC)

Is it possible that Colonel Ari Ben Zayn's insignia represents the Lieutenant-Colonel rank? Or did Lochley's insignia just retcon the old insignia? Aceron29 21:48, August 10, 2010 (UTC)

While it is true that Lieutenant Colonels can be addressed as just "Colonel", the character at one point specifically says his rank is Colonel and indeed the character is credited as "Colonel Ari Ben Zayn." I wouldn't go so far as to call Lochley's insigna as a retcon exactly more like a very minor costume inconsistency as it's still the same insignia, it's just that he (or more to the point the costume department) wore it differently than Lochley.
If I were to take a guess at what an EF LtCol insignia might be, I'd say the most likely candidate would be three silver bath stars. Of course that's just speculation and until that costume department chart turns up (if ever) we can't be sure about anything we haven't seen on screen.Blind Wolf 23:07, August 10, 2010 (UTC)

Hi! Excellent page an nice pictures. I just wanted to share some screenshots I took from the DVDs. They show some rank insignias which are not shown on the insigina article. Maybe someone could make them nice looking and add them to the article...--Sani123 19:59, August 12, 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for that. I have already done the graphics for most of the various General ranks but have been holding off putting them up until I can be sure about matching up specific ranks to their insignias. If you could list which episode those screens were taken and on which character they're those insignia are on that'd be a big help for the research. Blind Wolf 21:51, August 12, 2010 (UTC)
The information was added to the pictures. I have re-watched the respective episodes. Unfortunately in all three cases Lefcourt, Fontaine and Franklin were refered to as "General". You might want to visit the following websites. They have several (pretty good) explanations for the different General ranks.--Sani123 20:10, August 13, 2010 (UTC)

Thanks but those first two links are just fan speculation and pretty damn inaccurate at that. As for the third one, its a forum thread started by me about two years back. ;)

Stat BarsEdit

While there's always been some confusion around the stat bars, I did find one interesting note in the Lurker's Guide Page for "The Hour of the Wolf" where jms states that the Gold and Silver Stat Bars are actually for Command and Administrative job responsibilities, which seems to make more sense to me. The implication being that Ivanova wears a Gold/Silver as she has both responsibilities ("command/administrative liaison" are the words jms uses). The other C&C staff would also presumably have silver on the basis of filling "administrative" roles rather than "command" roles specifically Jhollington 18:12, November 17, 2016 (UTC) 

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