In this video the human General makes the claim that the Minbari dedicate a third of their population to war, Londo corrects him and says that they have a Warrior Caste and it's not the same thing.

But Londo does not give more details about what the Minbari having a Warrior Caste actually means.

Obviously there's more to the Warrior Cast than simply being soldiers, let's say that the Minbari police and other security organizations fall under the Warrior Cast, let's say their intelligence service does as well it seems more relevant to the WC than the other two, let's say firefighters and other emergency response organizations do as well.

That still doesn't even come close to a third of the population, Londo doesn't say that the general got the numbers of the WC wrong he said that he misunderstood what the WC is.

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    I think you're forgetting the vast standing army as well as all of the crews on the (tens of?) thousands of Minbari warships and all of the people in charge of training and outfitting them. For every front-line soldier you need at least 5-10 support staff to keep them fighting. In a hyper-advanced army, that ratio might be even higher; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tooth-to-tail_ratio
    – Valorum
    Nov 10, 2017 at 16:15
  • @Valorum thanks this is very interesting, I was counting non-frontline personal but I don't think they're enough to push the WC near 1/3 of the population unless the ratio is very high. Nov 10, 2017 at 16:25
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    Well, let's imagine that they have a foot army of 50 million spread across their empire. Add in ten million for ship crews. Times that by a support ratio of 1:10 and you're looking at 600 million directly involved in the army. Now add in children, wives and elders and you're up to over a billion
    – Valorum
    Nov 10, 2017 at 16:36

2 Answers 2


From https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minbari

"Membership in a caste appears to be a hereditary matter - children of parents from one caste will usually follow their parents. If the parents are of different castes, the mother's caste takes precedence - any children would belong to the mother's caste. Sometimes Minbari who have a deep feeling for one caste - which they refer to as a "Calling of the Heart" - will join a different caste. The castes are not as limited as their titles would suggest, and to some degree try to be self-sufficient. For instance, all three castes maintain armed security forces. However, the only caste permitted to maintain a full military force among the three has always been the Warrior Caste, with the exception of the Grey Council's Sharlin Class Warcruisers."

So to answer your question, the human general erroneously assumed that everyone in the warrior caste is completely dedicated to war. Since the castes are mostly hereditary, it is necessary that members of each caste would take up duties not associated with their caste. So while it is true the warrior caste make up nearly all their military, presumably many of them are largely dedicated to jobs outside the military.


We don't know for certain.

Notably, Londo doesn't correct the general's statement about their numbers. He corrects the general's intent - the Minbari doesn't have a third of their population engaged in active aggressive warfare, but they do have (potentially) a sizable portion of their population committed to learning the art of war. The general's statement as taken suggests Earth already views the Minbari as a threat, while Londo is trying to dismiss those concerns.

The Minbari themselves do not elaborate on this over the course of the series, but presuming Valen set them up intending to get as close to a representative system with the Grey Council as he could, then yes, each of the three castes having equal membership on the council does point towards a third (or near enough to it) of Minbari population serving their military, or as you point out, similar functions. The Rangers themselves were supposed to be Warrior caste (or so Neroon claims to contest Delenn assuming command of them in Grey 17 is Missing), suggesting the scouting and exploration portions of Minbari civilization would be pulled from the same ranks.

Also keep in mind, that before the events of Babylon 5 - this video would be from In The Beginning, the prequel movie - the Minbari were quite insular. Londo likely doesn't know much beyond the hearsay he's giving the general.

  • "each of the three castes having equal membership on the council does point towards a third (or near enough to it) of Minbari population serving their military, or as you point out, similar function". Equal representation does not necessarily mean equal population. Take the US Senate for example. Each state has 2 senators, but California has a much larger population than Wyoming. Nov 11, 2017 at 17:19
  • @Brandon - yes, it could be set up that way, but I've made the answer as speculative as I'm going to. Besides, US Senate is a good example, but it doesn't exist on it's own, it's one of many moving parts.
    – Radhil
    Nov 11, 2017 at 17:27

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