12 April 2009 @ 04:14 am
JACK O'NEILL: PROMOTION TIMETABLE: REASONABLE OR NOT?  
Every community needs a first post, so I'm going to re-write mine about Jack O'Neill's rank and whether or not it's reasonable for him to be stuck at "Colonel" for that long. He was a colonel for at least ten years before being promoted to General (and apparently he'll be getting a third star with the next Stargate movie, taking him from Major General to Lieutenant General), and was apparently figuring he was going to retire from the Air Force with the rank of Colonel. Is his promotion schedule logical or reasonable?

We know he was a Captain in 1982 (East Berlin and East Fly) and a Colonel by fourteen years later (the first Abydos Mission, c. 1996) and we also know that with the military it's either up or out (i.e. if you're passed over for a "scheduled" bump-up in rank too many times, or, god help you, refuse an offered promotion, you are politely or not so politely invited to just leave.)

Now, certainly Jack, as leader of SG-1, was so vital in that position that he wouldn't be pushed out of the military. It's also true that while (a) Field Command (as opposed to Support and Supply) is absolutely the track to a General's Stars, by the fall of Dakara, it's possible he'd been in this particular position and at this particular rank for so long that yes, he is expecting to retire (again!) as a Colonel (a rank at which there is a mandatory retirement age, though there isn't, incidentally, for Generals...)

So ... is it common to remain a Colonel for a decade? I go with the version of canon that gives his DoB as 1952, which means he's 44 in 1996, which not only means it's a good age for him to have achieved his Colonelcy (yeah, I set up this sentence this way just to use that word; geeks R us), it also means he's staring his retirement in the face right then, since he's certainly done his 20 at this point (if you presume he had a conventional military track, going into the Academy or the Air Force by some other means at 18/19) and can retire. But then SG-1 takes precedence, and he has to go off and save the Earth for the next ten years or so. (This career track also explains his immediate retirement after his return from the first Abydos Mission.)

As for (2) his promotion from Brigadier General to Major General after only one year (in peacetime, while he's flying a desk), IMO (I am not military) it's shockingly previous. Military Beta says the formula is five years between stars, plus a Board of Review (and possibly the sacrifice of chickens): I suspect, if you want to reconcile everything and give a nod to the Real World, Jack's second star was by Presidential fiat, and he got it because he needed more brass to deal with his new position in Homeworld.

You can also handwave it on the basis of the idea that he was slated to make General rather earlier, something that was "held off" so that it wouldn't be a case of General George Hammond having to command General Jack O'Neill (though Hammond would have clear seniority due to date-of-rank), and so the second star was rushed through because it was the rank he "should" have been holding by that point in his career.

But overall (3), yes, despite his comment to the others that "it's on my list," I really don't think that Jack ever aimed to make General. Generals don't go into combat. Generals do paperwork and deal with bureaucrats and send other people off to die, and although anyone who has reached the rank of Colonel is obviously familiar with paperwork and being a member of the Chairborne Division, it's unlikely to be something Jack would be aiming for instead of aiming for retirement...
 
 
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princessofgeeks[personal profile] princessofgeeks on April 12th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
I am no expert on the military, but what you say makes perfect sense. I've wondered about the Shroud where we see Jack and Hank, both two-stars at that point, and Jack still calls him sir, though there's some kind of pecking order with two-stars as well? How does that work?

I can also imagine Jack's promotion to 2-star getting rushed.

It didn't seem to me unreasonable that he stayed at colonel a long time and expected to retire there.

You say:

"if you're passed over for a "scheduled" bump-up in rank too many times, or, god help you, refuse an offered promotion, you are politely or not so politely invited to just leave."

I say, yes but -- not all colonels would be expected to make General. Aren't there fewer of each rank the higher you go? Not everyone gets promoted after a certain point?

Again: My ignorance is showing.

Now what can we do about getting Paul Davis promoted, LOL...

Thanks for creating this comm over here.
beatrice_otter[personal profile] beatrice_otter on April 13th, 2009 06:41 am (UTC)
Within grade, the pecking order is determined by seniority--how long you've had that rank. So a colonel who had been a colonel for six months can order around a colonel who's been a colonel for two months, and both could be ordered around by a colonel who's been a colonel for a year. That's the pecking order.

And yeah, not everyone gets promoted. But the higher you go up the ranks, the fewer posts there are available and that has a lot to do with promotions, too. If you've been passed over twice, there's probably a reason. You may be good, but not good enough to make the cut for the next pay grade. At that point, they want your position for someone who actually has a chance of getting promoted and rising higher. Note that this doesn't really apply in time of war: in war time, the military expands and lots of people die, both of which increase possibilities for promotion. (The British Army used to have a toast: "Here's to bloody wars and sickly seasons!" because those were two sure ways for an officer to be promoted.)

My problem with the idea of Jack's promotion being held off for his field work is that there's a darn good reason that colonels have a mandatory retirement age while generals don't. Colonels still sometimes go out and slog in the field. Generals stay behind at headquarters running the show. Running around the field is a young person's game--your body needs to be in top shape, and the older you get the harder that is to maintain until finally it's not possible any longer. Which means if you want to keep Jack's expertise in the program, you've got to promote him.

Yeah, with Hammond not getting promoted there's no room at the top for Jack to be promoted ... and that's a whole nother kettle of fish. Why the heck wasn't Hammond promoted for eight years?!? You'd think he'd be promoted if for no other reason than to provide cover. Not being promoted for eight years and yet still being in the Air Force is incredibly unlikely, and there aren't enough Air Force generals running around to have it slip peoples' attention. You can bet that Hammond had regular contact with a variety of other high-ranking Air Force officials--Colorado Springs houses the Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, NORAD (during the time of the show) and assorted other AF things. He wasn't exactly hard to find.
lavenderlocks[personal profile] lavenderlocks on April 13th, 2009 11:18 am (UTC)
Hello

Does it matter that the SGC was considered 'Special Operations' and utterly classified? Perhaps George and Jack were held in post by order from above.

I think Jack's second star was a two-fold:

i. He commanded the base when they killed off Goa'uld and Replicators, thus saving the world again
ii. They needed/wanted him for Hammond's job

I suppose, along those lines, the third star was in part for overseeing the destruction of the Ori and/or Wraith?
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