Military Ranks and Applicable Insignia

7-uniformed services comprise the United States military. The most commonly known services include but are not limited to The Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, Air Force and The Army. Within each branch of the military, there exists a ranking system. Military ranks delegates military personnel positions in order of authority, importance and responsibilities. Some divisions use different terms for their “ranking system”. Overall, there exist 3 general categories, which further divide into separate elements to comprise a compiled point of reference. US military ranks start with the highest in order, commissioned officers. Warrant officers follow commissioned officers in US military ranks and enlisted personnel complete the categories.

Military Ranks Navy Ranks US Military Ranks Military Rank Insignia Army Ranks

Military Ranks for the Army

Privates or recruits begin the list for enlisted personnel as a point of reference. Enlisted personnel includes specialist as the highest in military rank for this category. Warrant officers are listed with respect to the lowest in the chain of command as Warrant Officer 1, all the way up to Master Warrant Officer 5. Commissioned officers are listed in the order of 2nd Lieutenant at the bottom to the General of the Army at the top. The General of the Army refers to the top in command for the Army in terms of military ranks; however, this title or position is not often considered to be of ultimate authority during wartime. Instead, the Army Chief of Staff (General) assumes the leading position among this division.

Military Ranks for the Air Force

Enlisted personnel for the Air Force begin with Airman Basic as the lowest in the chain of command for US military ranks. This category moves from lowest to highest and closes at Senior Airman. In addition, there exist no definitive terms or listings in the category of warrant officers for The Air Force. Thus, the next general point of reference for military ranks in regards to The Air Force begins with the 2nd Lieutenant. The highest authority figure in the chain of command during non-wartime is the General of the Air Force. As with the US military ranks for the Army, this official title holds little to no authority. Instead, the Air Force Chief of Staff (General) assumes the position of highest in command for US military ranks.

Military Ranks for the Marine Corps & Coast Guard

Military ranks for the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard begin with enlisted personnel as the lowest in the chain of command, Private and Seaman (Recruit), respectively. The Marine Corps begins with Warrant Officer at the lowest personnel in this general category and ends with the highest, Chief Warrant Officer 5. The Coast Guard begins with Warrant Officer 1 in the least authoritative position and ends with Master Warrant Officer as the most authoritative figure. The top personnel in the category of commissioned officers, Coast Guard Fleet Admiral, again do not assume a commanding position in wartime. The Marine Corps does not account for this position. During wartime, the highest authoritative figures in this category for military ranks are Commandant of the Marine Corps (General) and Commandant of the Coast Guard (Admiral)

Military Ranks & Military Rank Insignia

Military rank insignia are displayed on the shoulders of the individual’s uniform to signify their order in the chain of command for their respective division. A Private in the army will wear one stripe at the beginning of their service and can progress through the ranks, whilst adding an additional stripe for each promotion. A Seaman in the Coast Guard will wear two anchors crossed in the middle to identify his position in the ranks. Each promotion will add a stripe as ranks progress. However, when you begin advancing through warrant officer positions, an eagle is added atop the two anchors. For commission officers, military rank insignia reach beyond the scope of the shoulder region and include a metallic emblem to be worm on the collar and cap. An Airman Basic will start in their position with a single stripe, often referred to as a “wing” because of the way it’s shaped. “Wings” or stripes will be added to the original military rank insignia as the individual comes into promotion. A Private for the Marine Corps does not wear a military rank insignia and is one of the few exceptions to the rule of thumb; however, when a Private moves up in rank, they will receive a military rank insignia with a single stripe and crossed guns emblem. Additional stripes and variations in the emblem accompany promotions in rank for the Marine Corps.