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.

1 comment:

  1. Warrant Officers: The subject matter experts in their field.

    This elusive rank can often be spotted around office-like environments sporting a cup of coffee and a grin as they move from location to location with no apparent pattern.

    I kid. Kind of.

    Warrant Officers are always former enlisted, knowing their job so well that they're promoted to a special kind of officer, maintaining a single-specialty, unlike their commissioned officer counterparts, who focus on command and leadership. Warrant officers, through gaining more expertise, provide guidance to the commanders and organizations in their specialty.