Last year, Basic Training discussed Army ranks and since the population of the military installation changes every 18 months or so, I figured it was a good time for a rank refresher! This week’s BT will cover enlisted ranks, and next week will detail officer ranks.
Usually, a Soldier will be identified by either their rank or their paygrade. Fro example, an E-3 is an enlisted Soldier at the third pay level. An officer’s paygrade will begin with the letter O. For enlisted Soldiers, there are 13 ranks and nine paygrades.
A Soldier’s rank can be found on the chest of Army Combat Uniforms and on the upper arm of the Army Service Uniform. Enlisted ranks are a series of chevrons and rockers in a certain order and certain number.
Junior enlisted
Junior enlisted Soldiers generally have been in the service for three years or less. This can vary where disciplinary action has been taken and a Soldier has “lost rank” or been demoted.
Junior enlisted ranks and paygrades are E-1, private; E-2, private second class; E-3, private first class; and E-4, specialist.
E-1, or privates, are commonly only in basic combat training. Typically speaking, once a Soldier graduates from BCT, they are promoted to E-2. An E-1 does not have any insignia and is often referred to as a “fuzzy” because the area where rank is normally placed, a Velcro fuzzy patch, is left empty.
A single chevron denotes a private second class, or an E-2. An E-3, private first class, is identified by a chevron with a rocker on the bottom.
The final junior enlisted rank, a specialist, is the PFC rank flipped upside down with an eagle in the center. A specialist is an E-4, however, there is another rank associated with E-4, corporal, which is no longer considered junior enlisted.
Noncommissioned officers
A Corporal is an E-4 just like a specialist, but they are given more responsibilities on their way to the next rank. Their rank is two chevrons, one on top of the other. Corporals are rare, and this rank is given as more of a sign of recognition by leadership.
The sergeant, E-5, is three chevrons stacked on one another and the staff sergeant, E-6, is three chevrons with a rocker on the bottom. Soldiers have to have seven years in service, command recommendation and have passed a leadership course to obtain the rank of staff sergeant.
Senior NCO
An E-7, a sergeant first class, has three chevrons and two rockers, and is often seen as the “father of the platoon.”
A master sergeant and a first sergeant have the same paygrade, E-8, but their ranks are slightly different. Both have three rockers and three chevrons, but the first sergeant will have a diamond in the center.
The E-9 paygrade also has several ranks associated with it. A sergeant major’s rank also has three chevrons and three rockers, but instead of a diamond, they have a star. A command sergeant major also has three chevrons and three rockers, but the star in the center is surrounded by wreaths.
The final rank is the Sgt. Maj. of the Army. This position can only be held by one person at a time, and it is the most senior enlisted rank in the Army. Daniel A. Dailey is the current Sgt. Maj. of the Army.
The Sgt. Maj. of the Army’s rank is three chevrons, three rockers and the Coat of Arms of the United States with a star on either side.
Knowing ranks can be difficult at first, but it is an important part of living on or near a military installation.