In light of the current war, and large-scale asymmetrical warfare in Southwest Asia, as well as several quests encouraging the noding of battles, heros, and geopolitical leaders, a large number of military biographies have found their way onto New Writeups. The following does not reflect official Everything2 policy, but I suggest it nonetheless. Most of the suggestions come from the United States Naval Institute, and the editors of Proceedings, USNI's professional journal relating to everything and anything in the world's sea services, as well as Jane's Defence Weekly's editor policy.
Every good node starts with a good title. There are several good reasons to not use military ranks in node titles.
Primarily, it is an ease of use issue that will come to bear in future use
of Everything 2
Ease of use breaks down into four subpoints: accuracy of writeups, researchers'
knowledge, military culture, and present circumstances.
- Accuracy of writeups: Recently I have seen a rash of writeups
which have been plainly wrong. Why? Because noders whave been using outdated
ranks for officers and enlisted personnel alike. The fact is
that military society is a meritocracy. Personnel who do things that are
meritorious (and therefore tend to merit a writeup because they make news
and history) usually receive promotions. Thus, the old rank is no longer
accurate. But this is not only a problem where the subject of the writeup
is reasonably contemporary: many people falsely assume that senior ranks
are all the same. This is partially the fault of the military. For example,
when referring to any flag officer in the United States Navy, it is proper
to say "Admiral Jones", regarless if Mr. Jones is a Rear Admiral, Vice
Admiral, Admiral or Fleet Admiral. Lieutenant
Commanders and Commanders alike are referred to simply as "Commander".
This also happens in enlisted ranks. Is Sergeant Smith a Technical Sergeant,
Gunnery Sergeant, Master Chief Sergeant, Staff Sergeant or just plain
- Researchers' Knowledge: Is it reasonable to assume that someone
researching Nimitz will remember that he was a Fleet Admiral? Is it reasonable
to assume that the researcher will remember his middle name? For the same
reason that we expect that a new writeup will occur in Chester W. Nimitz
instead of Chester W Nimitz, Nimitz, or Chester Nimitz, we need to eliminate
the ambiguity that would be caused by introducing the variable of the rank
structure. Combining first name (does it appear, is it just the initial,
is there a period if it's abbreviated?), middle name (does it appear, is
it abbreviated, is there a period?), last name and rank (does it appear,
is it spelled out or is it the abbreviated rank?), there are nine possible
combinations for any given person. We have standardized everything
except for the rank, and should standardize the rank usage in light of all
the military personnel writeups that will result from the War in Iraq 2003,
lest numerous duplicate writeups occur between General Tommy Franks, Gen.
Thomas Franks and Thomas Franks.
- Military Culture: Especially in the United States Navy, but
also in other services, enlisted personnel have both a rank and a rate, and
potentially a warfare qualification. Other services and nations have similiar
schemes. For example, my current roommate was a prior enlisted sailor before
becoming a midshipman. He was an Electronics Technian (ET) in rate, Petty
Officer, Third Class in rank. Thus, he could either be called as Petty Officer
Schneider, ET3 Schneider, or Mister Schneider, depending on who was calling
him and what the circumstances were. If I were to do a biographical writeup,
which would be the appropriate title? I am familiar with him; we're good
friends, thus I might use ET3 Schneider, but you are not familiar with
him, so Electronics Technian, Third Class, Submarine Warfare, Brent D. Schneider
might be your choice. Can you see how this might become difficult? Furthermore,
military custom dictates that when an officer retires, their rank is kept,
but a (retired) tag is added to the rank. But seriously, how many people
would search for Lieutenant Commander James Carter instead of Jimmy Carter?
- Present Circumstances: With the current war involving groups
that ordinarily might not have fought war on the lines of combat (especially
women, and more dramatic, young women), there is a new issue of paternalism
arising. Do the women deserve to be referred to by rank in the same way that
men seem to be identified? I would say yes, but at the same time, it's difficult
to be fair to all parties involved without a standard. Thus, I propose that
no ranks are used, as the ranks, and how specific the ranks might be interpolated
to mean a level of associated respect. This is not a issue most of the time,
but some might be offended, and thus it is preferrable to be uniform in our
usage of titles.
At a minimum, all military biographies should contain the following:
- The servicemember's name (duh!), highest rank achieved, and service organization. It might also include their hometown, where they entered service, and the date that they entered service.
- A list of the dates that they were promoted to various ranks.
- The commands that the servicemember served under or as commander. This includes schools that they attended. For officers, this would include academies or colleges, postgraduate schools, war colleges, professional schools (such as Test Pilot School, Nuclear Power School, or Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) school). For enlisted personnel, it would include basic recruit training, as well as entry level training schools. You may want to include the dates they served at these commands, as well as their billet.
- Major awards and medals that they have earned, as well as qualifications that they hold (for example, warfare designation pins).
- Important events that will make this person a hero, memorable to history, or a newsmaker.
- Traditionally, military biographies (especially for press releases) include the family (Typically, this is done in the form of "Colonel Jones is married to the former Ms. Jane Doe of New York City, New York. They have two daughters and a son.")