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This question is borne mainly out of this statement given on the Memory Alpha page for Bajoran ranks:

The Star Trek Encyclopedia (2nd ed.), proposes that the ranks below major were captain, lieutenant, lieutenant junior grade, and ensign. Source - Memory Alpha Wiki Contributors.

Since there was an official Chain of Command on Deep Space Nine which involved Bajoran officers taking precedence over Starfleet officers (Kira being the most obvious example - being immediately in command after Captain Sisko) it would imply that some compatibility between Bajoran and Starfleet ranks would exist.

Since the first three ranks of both organizations were the same (ensign, lieutenant junior grade, and lieutenant), continuing the analogy would imply that 'Captain' on Bajor would be equal to Starfleet's 'Lieutenant Commander,' 'Major' would be equal to 'Commander,' and 'Colonel' would be equal to 'Captain' (this is also partly supported by the fact that in many real life militias Colonel is the last non-general rank - a distinction admirals hold in Starfleet, unless the 'Commodore' rank is canonical, which would likely have a Bajoran counterpart in 'Brigadier').

However, there are two discrepancies that appear to contradict this analogy:

  1. Colonel Kira is only given a field commission of Commander near the end of season 7.

  2. This system would imply that Sisko and Kira are the same rank throughout large swatches of the show - Seasons 1-3 and Season 7, which would likely cause issues with the power structure of the station, ie. Kira would technically be able to give orders to Sisko.

Does there exist any official (through the showrunners or 'commonly-agreed-upon') correspondence between the two ranks?

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    Note that it's common in RL militaries for someone to be authorized to give orders to someone of the same or even higher rank as part of a specific assignment. Rank precedence comes in to play when things fall apart. Jun 22, 2020 at 12:47
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    What problems would there be with the chain of command? It's so simple it doesn't need to be mediated by rank. Sisko -- Kira -- everybody else. Easy to remember. We rarely if ever see Kira outside of the context of either the station or the Defiant, where her position overrules whatever her rank might or might be.
    – Cadence
    Jun 22, 2020 at 12:48
  • @Cadence Would Kira not be able to refuse a direct order from Sisko if their ranks were equivalent? Jun 22, 2020 at 12:49
  • @RobertColumbia I did not know that. Regardless, the first point, I think, remains valid. Jun 22, 2020 at 12:52
  • If they're on a base or ship where he's the duly appointed commanding officer, she would not be allowed to refuse his orders, even if they were of analogous ranks. (Well, there are exceptions if he's ordering her to do something unethical, medically unfit, replaced by an alien etc. etc. And there's the whole political angle to consider. But in general, no.)
    – Cadence
    Jun 22, 2020 at 13:02

2 Answers 2

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I'm not very familiar with Bajoran culture because I've not had the opportunity to finish DS9, and I watched it some years ago. However, after doing a little research, I found that Wikipedia has some good information:

The structure was comparable to that of an Earth army, with similar ranks. Bajoran officers were organized by divisional specialty, wearing different uniform colors for each (similar to Starfleet). Flag officers wear a more elaborate version of the normal duty uniform.
Officers of the Militia were usually graduates of the Bajoran Military Academy, although many commissions were awarded on the basis of demonstrated skills and merit of the soldiers who were part of the resistance against the occupation.
The militia jointly operated Deep Space 9 with Starfleet. From 2369 to 2375 the station was commanded by a Starfleet command level officer and the executive officer was a Militia member. When the station's commander, Captain Sisko, disappeared in late 2375, his executive, Colonel Kira, took command.

So here, Major Kira is described as "colonel."

According to Memory Alpha's Bajoran ranks list,

The rank system of the Bajoran Militia bore some resemblance to various Earth infantry ranking systems, most notably that of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Listed ranks included:

*Colonel
*Major
*Lieutenant
*General

Alpha also states that,

Colonel Kira was given a Starfleet commission in 2375 with the rank of commander, suggesting an equivalence between the two.

(Emphasis Mine)

So I think that you can use that as a reference point for comparing ranks of the Bajoran Militia and Starfleet.

Additionally,

First lieutenants were often referred to as "lieutenant,"

and

Bajoran enlisted personnel were given rates similar to Starfleet.

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Traditional Army/Navy rank comparisons would set Major equal to Lieutenant Commander, because otherwise Kira would outrank Worf when both are onboard the Defiant. After Major would come Lieutenant Colonel which equals Commander, this would be where Kira stood in season 7, then a full Colonel which is equal to Captain

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. The question wasn't about real-world U.S. military ranks, even if that is what the Bajoran system of rank is based on, but if there is any information about how the ranks compare in the show. Do you have any evidence (in-universe or from background material for DS9) that supports the ranks being used the same way as in real life?
    – DavidW
    Dec 31, 2020 at 21:12

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