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U.S. Military Ranks

The Chain of Command is Represented through U.S. Military Ranks

U.S. Military Ranks: Overview

Military ranks in the United States Armed Forces, and in military forces across the globe, are meant to signify the status or authority of an individual. As the rank of the individual ascends, so does the level of responsibility and authority charged to that individual. The main U.S. Military Rankspurpose of the military ranking system is to establish a chain of command. This is quite advantageous from an operational standpoint due to the fact that it organizes any military campaign, coordinating the command over battlefield logistics.

U.S. Military Ranks are made up of two separate hierarchical levels; the officer ranks and the enlisted ranks. The officer ranks are made up of commissioned officers and warrant officers. There are many ways to become a commissioned officer. Attending one of the service academies, a military university, or going through a Reserve Officer Training Corps program in college are some of the paths available to become an officer. Others become commissioned officers by earning a university degree and then applying for a commission. This is a very thorough application process. Once accepted, the individual must attend the Officer Candidate School of their branch of service.

Warrant officers are technically focused officers, specializing and becoming experts in a particular military technology or capability. These individuals are irreplaceable assets due to the fact that the units to which they are assigned benefit tremendously from their level of expertise. For example, many helicopter pilots in the U.S. Army are warrant officers. These individuals have the ability to focus on constantly improving technical skills rather than managing other troops, which is one of the primary duties of a commissioned officer.

The enlisted ranks are made up of the individuals that “work for a living.” Enlisted personnel in the U.S. Military are highly trained and highly skilled individuals that perform their duties under the command of a noncommissioned officer or commissioned officer. Lower ranking enlisted individuals have no command authority, which allows them to focus on their area of expertise. Noncommissioned officers (NCO) are higher ranking enlisted military members that obtain some degree of authority by being promoted to that level. NCO’s are considered the “backbone” of the service, since they are the most visible leaders to inferior ranking enlisted members and are charged with training and preparing them for their missions.

U.S. Military Ranks: Section Description

This section is meant to familiarize our visitors with the military ranks of the United States Armed Forces. Even though each branch of service has a similar military ranking system, there are differences that require individual focus. A visual representation of each rank is provided in order to further educate visitors regarding military ranks.

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