Ranks of the
United States Army
Officers are commisioned into the United States Army to lead the everyday soldier who is in the Army. To become commissioned, the person must have completed a 4 year Bachelor's Degree program or meet the requirements for an Officer Candidate School (OCS) Program in their area.
Officers are addressed as either "Sir or Ma'am" by subordinates and addressed by their rank by superior officers. Please see the "Officers Page" for pictures of the different Officer ranks.
Officers enter the ranks of Officerhood as a 2nd Lieutenant. After serving for a period of time, the officer is then promoted to 1st Lieutenant and then to Captain where the person either becomes a Company (Battery) Commander or else takes a staff job at a Headquarters Unit. The next promotion will be to Major, which is the first of the "Staff Grade" ranks. Major is followed by Lieutenant Colonel which is generally a Battalion Commander, staff officer, or Brigade Executive Officer. While a Lieutenant Colonel, the person will then be promoted to Colonel ("Full Bird"). After being a Colonel, the person then enters into the "General Officers" ranks.
General Officers begin with the Brigadier General (1 Star), then the Major General (2 Star), followed by the Lieutenant General (3 Star), and finally the highest ranking Officer Grade, the General (4 Star). In times of war, the Commander in Chief (President of the United States), is authorized to promote a 4 Star General to the Rank of "General of the Army(ies)" which is a 5 Star insignia. The person would revert to a 4 Star upon completion of the war or retirement.
Warrant Officer Ranks
Warrant Officers are soldiers who attained the rank of E-5 (Sergeant) or higher in the Enlisted Service. They are addressed as "Mr" or "Chief" by other members of the military service. Please see the "Officers Ranks" page to view pictures of the ranks. They have gone through more advanced schools than an Enlisted soldier normally does, and have been given their "commission without a degree" in a specialized field. The majority of the Warrant Officers in the National Guard are found to be Helicopter pilots or maintenance "chiefs."
Enlisted Soldiers join the Army by signing an Enlistment Contract to complete Basic Training and an Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for their particular Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) and serve for a designated period of time.
Most soldiers come into the Army as an E-1 (private) and progress through the ranks of E-2 (PV-2), then E-3 (private first class) followed by E-4 Specialist. As an E-4, the soldier can either be laterally promoted and given the rank E-4 as a Corporal which is the NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) version of the Specialist (has more responsibility) or they can be promoted up to E-5 (sergeant). To become an E-5, you must complete the Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC). Sergeants can then be promoted to E-6 (staff sergeant) after completing a Basic NCO Course which is specifically designed for their MOS. An E-6 can then be promoted to E-7 (sergeant first class) after completing an Advanced NCO Course which is also specifically designed for their MOS.
The rank of E-7 is considered to be a Senior NCO in the US Army. E-7 is sometimes considered a Platoon Sergeant and the person can be given the responsibility of being the Senior NCO for a Platoon Size unit. The next rank is E-8 which is a Master Sergeant or First Sergeant. The First Sergeant (affectionately called "Top") is the Senior NCO in a Company or Battery. E-9 is the Senior most Enlisted Rank in the US Army. There are three job titles for this rank. Sergeant Major, Command Sergeant Major, and Command Sergeant Major of the Army. A Sergeant Major is a normal E-9. Each large unit has a Command Sergeant Major who is the senior most Enlisted soldier in that unit. There is one Command Sergeant Major of the Army who works with the Chief of Staff of the Army.