The Structure of the Survey Corps
I read the guidebook’s description of the Corp’s command structure a while ago and was thoroughly confused. I think it either didn’t translate well or simply wasn’t written by someone that had a grasp of how military units are shaped. So, after talking about world building a lot with Cello, also known as Karaneses, I decided to write and diagram my own interpretation of the “Legion”, using as much information from the guidebook and source materiel as I could. Of course, a lot of my own head-canons made it in, so bear with me.
Maybe this will be of some use to some fic writers who need a reference, and maybe some of you hardcore nerds might find this interesting.
Whichever, I highly encourage nitpicking.
*1) Command Unit
The command team consists of the Commander (eg, Erwin Smith), his/her adjutant, or assistant (eg, Pearue, that Murderface-looking dude that was arguing about dumping the bodies in the anime), two messengers (eg, Tomas?), Senior Team Leader (eg, Dita Ness), and the Assistant to the Senior Team Leader (eg, Luke Siss). The Command unit rides just behind the tip of the formation. The two messengers deliver specific orders to the surrounding teams in the formation that can’t easily be relayed via smoke-flare, as well as deliver official messages to and from the commander when within the walls. The Senior Team Leader is somewhat like a Company First Sergeant in our modern-day militaries. His/her duties are that of enforcing the orders of the Commander among the enlisted personnel, seeing to the training, assignment, and issuing of gear to new recruits, and generally seeing to the moral of the Scouts. His/her Assistant helps in any way the STL sees fit, and acts as a bodyguard of sorts, as the STL is not always with the Command Team when on Expeditions, but is free to roam the formation as he/she sees fit, often seeing to the recent recruits.
*2) 1-3rd Squads
The standard Survey Corps “Squad” is a bit of a misnomer, as in our modern militaries the term “squad” typically refers to a small group of 6 to 12 soldiers. But in the Survey Corps, a “Squad” is actually up to 75 scouts when the corps is at full strength, though it usually isn’t, so typically one consists of 50 to 60 scouts. A more accurate term would be “Section”, or “Platoon”, or even a small “Company” (But it just doesn’t sound right when Moblit pleads to his “Section Commander” get away from the titan, so the term “Squad” stays.)
The “Squad Leader” (eg, Mike Zacharias), one of 5 combat officers within the Corps (not counting Captain Levi), leads his/her Squad when not in “Long Range Enemy Detection Formation”, as it would be impractical to try to issue direct orders when spread out in titan occupied territory. When in formation the individual teams that a squad consists of typically only orders are from the smoke-flare signals issued by the commander (some special circumstance orders delivered by messenger aside).
*3) 4th Squad
4th Squad was usually just a normal Survey Corps squad, but when the Scientist Hange Zoe (Zoe Hanji, whatever) took command, it became partially dedicated to the study and occasional capture of titans, though sometimes when needed elsewhere, soldiers of the local Garrison Regiment assist in the Squad Leader’s experiments.
*4) Service Squad
A NON-COMBAT squad, that consists of vital personnel either not trained in the use of 3DMG, or no longer capable of it. They stay behind within the walls when the main contingent of the Corps goes on expedition, though some accompany the main unit to and remain behind in the Gate District that the Corps left from, so they can immediately provide service to them upon their return from beyond the walls.
The Payroll/Administration team’s duty is to receive and distribute and issue the Scout’s monthly pay, as well as to do bureaucrat-type duties that are too time consuming for combat-capable Scouts who need to be training in most down time to keep sharp for the next expedition. Scouts who were maimed in the line of duty and can no longer serve a combat role often end up here rather then be discharged and possibly starve to death.
The Medical Team consists of 6 military trained surgeons, 12 military trained nurses, and a number of orderlies (many of which are also disabled veterans).
The Veterinarian Team consists of 5 equine vets who’s only duty is to see to the health of the Survey Corp’s 600 (give or take) specially bred horses. A number of orderlies (often disabled combat vets again), also serve under them.
The Quartermaster, or Supply Team, sees to the acquisition, issuing, and storage of the Corp’s gear, clothing, and consumables. (Also often consists of disabled veterans, but sometimes will have Scouts who “need a break” from the arduous lifestyle of the Corps (or to be put bluntly, soldiers who are on the verge of mental collapse and need to be taken “off the line” to give them time to recover, if they can).
The Supply Team is sometime callously refereed to as the Freak Show by new recruits and soldiers from other branches, due to its high number of amputees, paraplegics, and mentally troubled scouts.
*5 – Special Operations Squad
The Special Operations “Squad”, or “Squad Levi”, is a relatively new addition to the structure of the Corps, created when Commander Erwin realized that a small, highly skilled team of scouts would be of great use to the Corps. They are referred to as Squad Levi rather then Team Levi because the theory is that they packed the strength of a full Squad within a single, highly mobile team, therefor it’s leader, Captain Levi, is generally treated as a 5th Squad Leader, and is equal in rank to one, therefor they are not actually within the command structure of any true squad, though when they are not needed for special ops mission, they typically act as a team within a normal squad, often 4th Squad under Squad Leader Hange.
A Squad within the Survey Corps consists of (officially) 10 teams of 8 scouts each, with the Squad Leader choosing a smaller personal team that includes their chosen Adjutant/2nd in command (eg, Moblit Berner), and 3 handpicked scouts (usually skilled veterans, eg, Nanaba, Gelgar, Keiji, ect.)
But since the Survey Corps is hardly ever at full strength, these teams usually consist of 5 or 6 scouts each. The teams (and sometimes squads) are often reorganized, shuffling scouts around where needed after taking casualties on an expedition, or when receiving fresh replacements from the Trainee Corps. The new recruits are especially often shuffled around, due to their high casualty rate.