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quozaxx
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I am the GM of a zombie related game and the heroes are going to meet up with some military personnel.

 

Now, I don't know that much about the military.  Since it's going to be a mixture of several branches of the military; how does one deal with rank?  A couple of my player's characters are military and I want to know who outranks them.  I know one of the books mentions rank, but I can't remember which one (or which section)

 

Also, an army General will be in charge.  What happens if they disobey him?   What would happen to a real soldier if he disobeyed a general?  

 

 

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https://www.militaryfactory.com/ranks/index.asp

 

Each branch of service has its own rank hierarchy. In missions involving mixed branches, there will usually be a command staff in charge of overall operations from one of the branches (usually the Army, assuming they are involved). If the command staff is eliminated during operations, and there is no way to recover centralized command authority immediately, each constituent unit is expected to continue (or abort) according to mission protocol and the best judgment of each unit's own commanding officer.

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1 hour ago, quozaxx said:

I am the GM of a zombie related game and the heroes are going to meet up with some military personnel.

 

Now, I don't know that much about the military.  Since it's going to be a mixture of several branches of the military; how does one deal with rank?  A couple of my player's characters are military and I want to know who outranks them.  I know one of the books mentions rank, but I can't remember which one (or which section)

 

Also, an army General will be in charge.  What happens if they disobey him?   What would happen to a real soldier if he disobeyed a general?  

 

 

 

Too vague to answer. 

 

What are the PC's and where are they?  You might get a better answer if we had a better idea of the circumstances. 

 

An Army general will be in charge of an large army unit.  Division, Corp, Army etc.

An Admiral would be in charge of a Task Group, Task Force, Fleet etc.

 

But unless the PC's are pretty powerful in some manner themselves or serving as couriers,  I doubt that they would gain access to someone that high in the chain of command just wandering off the street.

 

Odds are you are referring to an encounter in a average town during an emergency.  That would mean you are meeting National Guard not the regular military.  And regular military is prohibited from operating within the US (contrary to the bizarre Hollywood BS) without special dispensation and permission from the State in question.  And even then exactly what they can do is severely limited.  Again nothing like Follywood portrays. 

 

Again a lot depends on the setting.  The answer for "something happened last week and the President will be addressing the nation" would be different from "the cataclysm was two years ago and the government has collapsed".

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yeah there's a need to clarify the setting somewhat in order to answer this kind of question. If the game has a functioning government and military hierarchy then yes, superiors do need to be respected and obeyed but that comes with a caveat of who is in the chain of command and the situation of the ground. An Air Force General is not going to be giving legal commands to Marine Force Recon except under certain conditions for instance, though the Marines will respect the General.

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Each branch of the militaries ranks basically follow the E1 - E9 rankongs for enlisted personel (along with Specialist 4 and 5 in the Army), Warrent Officers 1 - 4, and then Officers which I can't remember how they are reffered to. Each branchs ranks, although they may be called different names depending on the branch, follow the same structure. So an E7 in the Army would outrank an E5 in the Navy, Marines, or Air Force. Same thing with officers however you would have to check a charting of each branches officers to see who outranks who. (I was an elisted man, never made it past E5)  zslane and Spence are right on much of what they have said, although I'm going to assume your situation is some time after the beginning of the apocolypse started, laws would no longer apply to the military not operating in the country. The highest ranking officer would be in charge regardless of the branch he was in. Spence is correct that most

likely it would be National Gaurd personnel, but there are plenty of Army, Marine, Navy, and Air Force personnel all over the US, so having any number of them from any branch is feasible. However, a Colonel may be a more plausable rank for the ranking officer. There are more of them around than there are Generals. Just a thought! Hope some of this may help with your ideas! Have fun!

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Disobeying a direct order from a superior officer varies in penalty by the order, the outcome of the disobedience (if you make him look good, he might overlook it except for a reprimand), the chain of command, and how legal and moral the order is.  There's a standing order in the military that you obey and protect the US constitution, and if you are told to do something illegal (shoot that guy who annoys me) or immoral (torture that guy to death) the soldier has a duty to disobey it.  Punishments go from reprimand and bad mark on your record (will probably block promotion) to demotion, jail time, discharge from the service, and in an emergency like this, summary execution isn't out of the question.

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3 hours ago, rjd59 said:

Each branch of the militaries ranks basically follow the E1 - E9 rankongs for enlisted personel (along with Specialist 4 and 5 in the Army), Warrent Officers 1 - 4, and then Officers which I can't remember how they are reffered to. Each branchs ranks, although they may be called different names depending on the branch, follow the same structure. So an E7 in the Army would outrank an E5 in the Navy, Marines, or Air Force. Same thing with officers however you would have to check a charting of each branches officers to see who outranks who. (I was an elisted man, never made it past E5)  zslane and Spence are right on much of what they have said, although I'm going to assume your situation is some time after the beginning of the apocolypse started, laws would no longer apply to the military not operating in the country. The highest ranking officer would be in charge regardless of the branch he was in. Spence is correct that most

likely it would be National Gaurd personnel, but there are plenty of Army, Marine, Navy, and Air Force personnel all over the US, so having any number of them from any branch is feasible. However, a Colonel may be a more plausable rank for the ranking officer. There are more of them around than there are Generals. Just a thought! Hope some of this may help with your ideas! Have fun!

It's also SOP for situational commands to abrogate rank hierarchy. The captain of a ship at sea outranks the commodore riding along. Besides, the chain of command has nothing to do with rank precedence. It's just an indication of enfolding areas of responsibility. Finally, if the unit is in the field they would probably avoid indicating what rank they held, so as long as you have the hierarchy established you won't need to state who is what.

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To further complicate matters, rank is to some extent relative rather than absolute. For example, thanks to being a nuke, I got to my ship as an Electronics Technician Third Class (that is, a Petty Officer Third Class (pay grade E4) with a rating of "Electronics Technician") which is a low (the lowest) Non-Commissioned Officer rank. In some parts of the military, that rank would have entitled me to be in command of a small number of other service members. In my work center, everyone else ALSO got to the ship as an E4, so it was the lowest rank we had and the bottom of the totem pole. If there was unpleasant work to be done, NCOs were doing it.

 

I got out as an E6, but I was never in charge of anything, and despite being the same rank as my immediate supervisor, I still had to follow his orders.

 

Ah, I'm so glad I got out.

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Dang I never knew you were a fish, you're a big dude for fitting into a submarine.

 

When people talk about "chain of command" think of it like this: a fireman is subordinate to his commander, even if he's a high ranking fireman.  However that commander cannot tell a police officer what to do simply by outranking him -- unless he's given command over an area.  That said, you still kind of have to follow orders of a higher ranking member of a different branch most of the time, or at least you'll probably be in trouble if you don't obey that Colonel of the Marines even if you're in the air force.

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On ‎3‎/‎27‎/‎2018 at 1:55 AM, clnicholsusa said:

It's also SOP for situational commands to abrogate rank hierarchy. The captain of a ship at sea outranks the commodore riding along.

 

Or to pick another situation where the lower rank has authority, say an enlisted person is guarding an area and an officer approaches. That grunt has all the authority he needs to challenge the officer and (politely) deny them entry if they can't demonstrate that they are supposed to be there. Depending on what's being guarded, the guard may have all the authority he needs to shoot an intruder dead, regardless of the intruder's rank.

 

As for the original question "what happens to a soldier who disobeys," Christopher Taylor has it right; it depends. If "zombie related game" means "civilization has fallen, there is no longer a recognizable civil authority" then your general is basically a warlord (perhaps a benevolent warlord trying to rebuild a civilization, but there's nothing to stop him ordering a disobedient underling executed, or drawing a side arm and doing it in person.) If there is still a civil society and functional government, then unless the order itself is illegal, the military member disobeying it is literally committing a crime; the General or other officer issuing the order would probably have the disobedient member arrested and held for a military trial by preference. But if the disobedience is a clear threat to safety and security, that could mean a lethal response is justified.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

A palindromedary related tagline

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Lets make this easy. Regardless of which U.S. service they come from there are two basic types of military critters

E1 - E10: Enlisted, from greenest private to the Sergeant Major of the Army. The lowest rank of noncommissioned officers are Sergeants, which are E5.

O1-O10: Officer, from greenest butterbar lieutenant to God himself.  Officers control enlisted

 

In multi-Service operations (typically large stuff, like carpet bombing the Highway of Death in Iraq or other more recent adventures, they work out who is in overall charge and go from there.

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On a practical level, Lieutenants(1st and 2nd) command platoons of 30-40 men, Sergeants command squads of 10-12 men, Captains command companies of 100-200 men, Majors command battalions of 500-1000 men, and Colonels command brigades of 3-5000 men.  Most likely in a zombie apocalypse, the highest rank commanders the heroes will deal with regularly will be majors and colonels, maybe a one-star general somewhere along the line.  Of course, in a zombie apocalypse, battlefield promotions may become a commonplace!

 

 

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