Apollo holds the rank of Major until given command of the Pegasus at which point Adama promotes him to Commander. I cannot recall any specific mention of his demotion, but after

the destruction of the Pegasus

he seems to lose the rank of commander and be referred to as Major in subsequent episodes. I was wondering if this is simply due to

the loss of the Pegasus

but if so, why does Adama remain an Admiral as at the time of his promotion to Admiral, Roslin states that

An officer who commands more than one ship is referred to as an Admiral.

Due to this inconsistency I was wondering if there is any other reason for Apollo changing from Commander to Major. I don't remember any mention of it in the program but Apollo does seem to be a naughty boy from time to time so I wondered if it is mentioned in the series and I just don't remember it or whether it is mentioned in any behind the scenes documentaries or if it is just totally unexplained.

  • 2
    Cannot find references to give a proper answer, but I believe in this context, Apollo's title of "commander" is a role description and not a permanent rank: he is given command of the Pegasus, hence he is a commander for the duration. When the Pegasus is destroyed, Apollo no longer commands a ship and therefore cannot be called a commander. His actual military rank is always Major. He was only an interim commander.
    – Andres F.
    Jul 13, 2013 at 22:24
  • @AndresF. I see what you are saying - but he was given new pips/insignia (whatever they are called) by Adama at the time so I assumed it was a straight up promotion. Even so, what you say does make sense and seems logical.
    – bazz
    Jul 13, 2013 at 22:56
  • Was he perhaps promoted from Captain to Major, hence the insignia, and then addressed as Commander while he commanded a ship as @AndresF. suggests?
    – terdon
    Jul 14, 2013 at 3:09
  • @terdon Lee was already promoted to Major just prior to the beginning of The Captain's Hand. At the end of the episode he is given command of the Pegasus so it seems like he was given a second promotion to Commander. However, I agree with comment above that it seems like it was temporary (see my comment to the answer below).
    – amcintosh
    Jul 14, 2013 at 4:16

3 Answers 3


For me this always has been a case of "keeping the chain of command":

  • When given command of the Pegasus, he's also been "promoted" to commander. Despite the title and clear position within the chain of command, this probably doesn't mean anything anymore, given the whole fleet/military being reduced to one/two ship(s). (Anyone expecting payments or a retirement plan other than getting blown up?)

  • With the destruction of the Pegasus they had to adjust his rank once again, to avoid confusion and keep Galactica's chain of command intact. Otherwise Lee would be second-in-command, essentially demoting Tigh to third-in-command.

  • With the first two points in consideration, yes, I assume this hasn't been a promotion to the new rank, instead, it's more like "you are now the one in command" title. Remember, you could describe a "commander" as a "commanding officer" as well.

  • So why did the Old Man keep his promotion? I think it has to do with the whole drama going on before the events of New Caprica as well as the occupation. Before that point Adama always considered his ship(s) the military fleet and the civilian fleet exactly that: Civilians he's vowed to protect, but still being something separate. Post New Caprica he considers the whole fleet his fleet or more specific one fleet, "the family". IIRC they introduced this a bit earlier, when they reunited with the rogue fleet that split off, but it still influenced Adama a lot. By dropping his title/promotion, to be only commander again (due to having only one (military) ship anyway) would just show he doesn't consider the other ships belonging to the fleet. Also, I think this earned him more respect within the fleet, because the captains of other ships now knew (or at least thought) they're part of the whole planning and strategy, rather than being a drag. Remember before, there's been more than one point where civilians complained about "military this, military that".


According to Battlestar Wiki, Apollo was indeed promoted to Commander:

Admiral Adama debriefs his son, who gave Garner a lot of credit for saving the ship, despite their disagreements. When asked about Garner's flaws, Lee says that he only knew machines, while command is about people. His father tells him to keep that in mind and gives him command of Pegasus, together with a promotion to commander; possibly giving him his old rank insignia (TRS: "The Captain's Hand").

The same page gives no explanation of the demotion but it does mention it:

As of the episode "Torn", Lee has returned to the role of Galactica's CAG, with the rank of Major.

  • 5
    The page on military ranks lists Apollo as Major (Season 2.5+) and Commander (breveted, Season 2.5-Season 3.0). From wikipedia: "a brevet was a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily"
    – amcintosh
    Jul 14, 2013 at 4:04
  • 1
    The brevet explanation makes sense - it isn't a true promotion or demotion as such - just that there's a position needing to be filled that requires recognition of a particular rank (in Earth terms - a captain or major will typically be breveted to colonel when given a battalion command to show clear authority over subordinates).
    – HorusKol
    Jul 14, 2013 at 23:19

The question on why Apollo's rank changed back to Major is that after the Pegasus where he held the position Commander (of the Battle Star) which is a position filled by someone with the rank of Commander was destroyed he returned to the Galactica where he held the CAG (Commander of Air Group) position which is a position with someone of the lower rank of Captain or Major.

In the episode Exodus part 2, in one of the deleted scenes on the DVD it shows the discussion between Admiral Adama and Commander Adama in the CIC (ship command center) discussing what is needed next and the Admiral says the highest priority is to get the pilots & their fighters who protect the fleet back up to standards because they had been away for years while trapped on New Caprica by the Cylons and they need Apollo as "the new old CAG". Apollo agrees and jokes that the book (regulations) says that CAG is a position for a Captain or Major so that means he will have to take a demotion pay cut which would cut his retirement pension plans ;-). Adama stayed an Admiral even with only 1 ship left just like Admiral Cain when she only had Battle Star Pegasus left.

Fact that Apollo had Commander rank insignia means had he had the rank of Commander. Just like in the U.S. Navy anyone who captains / commands a ship is addressed as Captain (position) regardless of rank. Being ship captain does not mean you can put on the Captain rank insignia. FYI: a Mark VI Patrol Boat (descendent of the PT Boat) is commanded / captained by a Lieutenant.

Also the CAG as a department head reports to the Executive Officer (XO) who is second in command. Commander outranks Colonel (i.e. Commander Adama and Colonel Tigh) so as a matter of chain of command it was most expedient to simply reduce Commander Apollo's rank back to Major rather than have him routinely reporting to and answering to a lowering ranking officer Colonel Tigh, XO who has higher position. Everybody gets their old job back. Career paths are limited anyway in a one ship fleet when you are in the top echelon & pay difference doesn't seem to matter as much when you are trying to survive for another day as a species.

  • A direct quote from the deleted scene would improve this.
    – Valorum
    May 27, 2018 at 19:07

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