A Guide for US Army Ranks and Army Rank Insignia

The US Army is one of seven branches of the United States military. Within the different divisions or branches of the military, there exist specific ranking systems. The most commonly recognized branches of the military are the Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force, Navy and Army. Individuals of authority in the Army refer to other military personnel through the use of the US army ranks system.

The US military ranks system provides tiers of authoritative figures, delegation of responsibility and position of importance within a certain branch. Most branches refer to US military ranks with different terms to describe each tier of authority. Three general categories were created to help organize the separate tiers. The leading category in terms of authority is commissioned officers. The secondary category in terms of authority refers to warrant officers. And last, but not least among US army ranks are the enlisted personnel.

Ranks in the army are separated and filed in the order of smallest authority powers to largest authority powers. Enlisted personnel come first with regards to US army ranks. Military personnel of entry level authority are referred to as Privates. Advancements through the chain of authority are as follows: Private First Class, Specialist, Corporal, Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, Sergeant First Class, Master Sergeant and First Sergeant.

The advancements through the category of warrant officers are much simpler in reference to naming, than enlisted personnel. For instance, the individual with the least authority in this category is referred to as Warrant officer. Subsequently, the following US army ranks are Chief Warrant Officer 2, Chief Warrant Officer 3, Chief Warrant Officer 4 and Master Warrant Officer 5.

Commissioned officers have the highest level of authority within the Army ranks. The positions of authority progress as follows: Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, Brigadier General, Major General, Lieutenant General, General and General of the Army. In wartimes, the General of the Army does not assume the ultimate position of authority. Instead, the General determines the course of action in wartimes from within the US army ranks.

Army Rank Insignia

Each branch of the military wear specific insignia to display their position of authority and importance. Ranks in the army can be easily identified by looking at one’s army rank insignia.

A Private within US army ranks will wear the army rank insignia of a single, yellow stripe, shaped in a triangular fashion but missing the “bottom” portion of the triangle. This stripe is surrounded by a green border. For a Private First Class, another stripe is added to fix a convex “bottom” to the Private’s incomplete triangle as their army rank insignia. A Corporal wears two stripes in a similar fashion to the Private’s single stripe.

The Sergeant’s army rank insignia follows suit of the Private and Corporal but has a third strip added. The Staff Sergeant’s army rank insignia displays the Sergeant’s initial 3 stripes and adds a convex “bottom” to the last stripe of the original 3. A Sergeant First Class Army rank insignia resembles the Staff Sergeant’s insignia and adds an additional stripe below the convex, “bottom” of the triangle. The Master Sergeant follows suit by adding yet another stripe under the convex stripe. The Sergeant Major retains the same design as a Master Sergeants army rank insignia and displays their achievements by adding a star in the middle of the triangle. The Command Sergeant Major also retains the original design of the Sergeant Major’s insignia but a different symbol is used in the middle of the triangle.

The commissioned officers wear different styles of metallic emblems as their army rank insignia.

7 Comments on “A Guide for US Army Ranks and Army Rank Insignia”

  1. SGT M.P. said:

    A warrent officer 1 is called Warrent Officer 1, Mr./Ms., or Sir/Ma’am
    A warrent officer 5 is called Chief Warrent Officer 5, Mr./Ms., or Sir/Ma’am
    Corporal is not awarded to every Soldier. Corporals and Specialists are the same paygrade but a Corporal has command responsibility and is the most junior grade in the Non-Comissioned Officer corps.

  2. Lt./Colonel Lathan A Varnado, Arizona Rangers said:


    I am at a TOTAL LOSS..Been on the web (google) for hours….


    Do you have a diagram which I may use or down load ? I am in charge of the Arizona Rangers, uniform committee and need to publish such for our officer corps.

    Thank you for any support you may offer

    Lt./Colonel Lathan A Varnado
    State Adjutant, Arizona Rangers
    I.D. # 09 -334
    17993 Avenida Armoniosa
    Sahuarita, Arizona, 85629 – 9165
    [520] 303 – 1254

  3. Chris said:

    what units are on the ground that really fight in the war, In the army? Please and thank you!!!

  4. Mark said:

    While placing flags on graves of veterans our Scout Troop found a marker that we believe read: C 231’ NY RS.S. *** (The * indicate illegible markings). Does anyone know what the RS.S. stands for and if we have the right numbers for a regiment in NY? (And; the date he died was 1863 …a very memorable year in the Civil war.)

  5. Charles Greywolf said:

    Did you guys forget us 1SG?

  6. Charles Greywolf said:

    I don’t see any comment about First Sergeants.

  7. david said:

    what is a pv2

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