Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Army Terms to Know Part V: Rank

Rank is tricky.  You've probably heard lots of different terms thrown around in the movies and such, but what do the different names mean and how do they relate to each other?  I can't speak for the other branches, but I'll give the best account I can for the Army (though the information for the Navy/Marines/Air Force is out there if you're terribly curious).

Let's start with the ranks in a Squad:
PVT: E-1 Private
PV2: E-2 Private Second Class
PFC: E-3 Private First Class
SPC: E-4 Specialist
CPL: E-4 Corporal
SGT: E-5 Sergeant
SSG: E-6 Staff Sergeant

Privates and Specialists ill answer to a Sergeant or Corporal acting as a team leader.  Those team leaders will answer to a staff sergeant acting as squad leader.  Depending on the nature of the squads, several will make up a Platoon:

SFC: E-7 Sergeant First Class
2LT: O-1 Second Lieutenant
1LT: O-2 First Lieutenant

The Lieutenant (O-1 or O-2) is the only Officer in a Platoon and ultimately in-charge of the platoon even though the Sergeant First class will almost always have more experience and time-in-service.  LTs will differ to their SFCs at their discretion, which means much of the day-to-day leadership flows from there.  Withing the Platoon, power and responsibility follows upward from E-1s fresh out of initial training to salty Specialists up into the NCO corps (corporals and sergeants).

Several Platoons will then be organized into one Company.  At the company level, you add a First Sergeant (E-8) to manage the NCOs and day-to-day stuff and a Captain (O-3) to be in overall command.

Several Companies will then be organized into a Battalion.  An E-8 serving in other capacities is a Master Sergeant; the term First Sergeant refers to their role in a company as well as their paygrade.   Majors (O-4) will staff the battalion and command for coordinated tasks.  The Battalion has a Sergeant Major (E-9) to manage the NCOs and advise with a Lieutenant Colonel (LTC, O-5) in command.

Beyond the battalion level is less standardized throughout the army, considering the different roles battalions can have, but it generally follows Brigade (commanded by a Colonel, O-6), then Division (Brigadier General or Major General, O-7 and O-8), and Corps (Lieutenant General, O-9).  Each General will have considerable staff and a Command Sergeant Major (E-9) to advise and implement policy.  Generals (O-10) are in charge of huge things like the Chief of staff of the army or all forces (in their branch) in Europe.  The Chief of Staff is accompanied and advised by the Sergeant Major of the Army, who oversees all NCOs in the  Army.

Images from http://www.army.mil/symbols/armyranks.html 
If you're wondering why I'm ignoring Warrant Officers, it's simply because I haven't had any interaction with them beyond a salute.  I'll give them their own post if/when I have firsthand knowledge.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Army Terms to Know Part IV

AO: Area of Operations
PX: Post Exchange. The military Wal-Mart.
AKO: Army Knowledge Online.  The portal for Email, online courses, and HR records.
ADO: Army Direct Ordering.  Uniform replacements and such you can order while deployed.  The is an allotment per month that you can spend, but it does not roll over.
EOF: Escalation of Force
ROE: Rules of Engagement
FRG: Family Readiness Group
MOS: Military Occupational Specialty.  Basically your role/trade/job in the military.
PLB: Personnel Locator Beacon
APFU: Army Physical Fitness Uniform
ECWS: Extreme Cold Weather System
PALS: Pouch Attachment Ladder System
UCMJ: Universal Code of Military Justice
AAFES: Army & Air Force Exchange Service.  Operates PXs, barbers, and the like.
ALICE: All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment.  The system of harness, pouches, and rucksacks used from the middle of Vietnam to the present.  I used a medium ALICE pack for my initial training at Leonard Wood, but it's largely been phased out in favor of
MOLLE: Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment.  New integrated system using PALS and plastic frames for rucksacks.

I still don't have any concrete date for my return to the US or when I'll be released from Fort Hood on leave.  However I have turned in my PLB, Night vision goggles, and exchanged my M249 squad automatic weapon for a dainty (in comparison) M16 rifle.  Good signs, I suppose.  The Wifi access in the tent I'm living in is still terrible, but there is an MWR not too far away so I can check email regularly.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hello Kuwait, Goodbye Mustache

Image from Geology.com

We've safely arrived in Kuwait.  The evening of our arrival I ceremonially shaved the mustache to commemorate the switch from hazardous duty back to garrison duty.  Several people have joined the platoon since I started growing it in June, so this has been the first time they've seen me clean shaven.  There is supposed to be wireless internet access in the big tent my platoon is now living in, but I have not had much success connecting or maintaining access.  Currently accessing the internet from a very crowded MWR.  This is just to let you all know I'm here and the packages from my Aunt and Grandma were finally received!  Thank you both!  I'll be going through my inbox and getting back into things online as soon as I can.  I'm not sure how long we'll be here, but expect news by email when I get a more concrete timeline.