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In the first episode of season 5 we are told that Babylon 5 is to remain independent until it can be purchased from Earth by the InterStellar Alliance. However, the practicalities seem a bit more complicated.

  • Lochley wears an EarthForce uniform together with a lot of the other staff from CIC, whereas Zack still wears the independent B5 uniform. Not sure about Stephen's uniform, it looks like an EarthForce one.

  • I saw a framed plaque on Lochley's desk in one episode (I think 5x11) saying "EarthForce Station Babylon 5" with her name, which must mean it was still known as an EarthForce Station at the time she came on board.

  • If it's really independent (from Earth, as well as everyone else) then I don't understand why it would need to be bought from Earth at all.

Can anyone clarify?

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    Per the Midwinter guide "B5 hasn't rejoined Earth yet. The Alliance is discussing buying it from Earth. In the meantime it remains an independent state." – Valorum Sep 14 '15 at 0:16
  • Okay, I've reworded the third bullet. I knew that the answer to "who would it need to be bought from" was Earth, I was just trying to highlight my confusion. But my sentence was badly worded before. – Kidburla Sep 14 '15 at 0:27
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In a (speculative) word, politics.

They don't really detail this in the show because they quickly get into other plots, but it seems fairly simple. Babylon 5 was originally Earth Force property, under Earth Force command, and funded by Earth government. While it became an independent state, expectations back on Earth would probably have been that once questions of command, responsibility, and prosecution surrounding Sheridan's rebellion had been settled, that control of the station would have reverted back to Earth.

Except, no, surprise! We're announcing an Alliance, and we'd like to keep your stuff!

Cutting Earth out of the picture on such a straightforward concern would have been political suicide at that point, especially with all the other trouble they were stirring up. Promises of further tech or not, few would have believed their promises if they were willing to just take what they needed right off the bat. So on the books, Babylon 5 stayed an independent state so that Earth would be clear the Alliance was calling the shots there. Earth Force personnel, presuming they wanted to stay with Earth Force, would have been considered on loan, or inserted into the Interstellar Alliance chain of command (which I presume was the case with Lochley), and would probably have rotated in and out as needs demanded or tours and terms expired. The Alliance would have arranged payment for the physical property of Babylon 5 once all the bureaucratic terms had been hashed out so no one would have felt that Earth was shafted. Once it's all evened out it can be officially considered a state or outpost of the Alliance.

Politics can add spice, but this is largely boring gap-filler, so thus why I beleive it was never covered in-show.

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It's like buying a car. Even though you're the one driving the car around town, and you're parking it in your driveway at night, the title is in the bank's name. When you take out that loan on the car, you're really convincing the bank to buy the car FOR you and then you're buying it from the bank. The bank literally OWNS the car until you finish paying it off.

In a similar vein, Earth still held the title on Babylon 5 while the Earth & Alliance hashed out the details of the purchase. In the time between, however, the station remained POLITICALLY independent. Earthforce personnel handled the day-to-day operations of the station, while the Alliance maintained a presence and used it as their unofficial headquarters (but only until the permanent one on Mimbari could be finished).

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