The United States Army is the largest branch of the U.S. military, with over 480,000 active personnel. Army ranks are divided into three categories: enlisted soldiers, warrant officers, and commissioned officers. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed every rank and insignia from the official U.S. Army website.
Among the enlisted members, there are 13 ranks, broken into three groups: junior enlisted (pay-grades E-1 through E-4), non-commissioned officers (E-4 through E-6), and senior non-commissioned officers (E-7 through E-9). Junior enlisted members are promoted automatically, based on their time in service and their time in their particular pay-grade. New recruits start as privates and eventually reach the rank of private first class. They may then become specialists (E-4) after serving a minimum of two years and undergoing specific training in their field, and eventually corporals (E-4) after taking the Army’s Basic Leadership Course.
Advancing further up the ranks to sergeant (E-5) or staff sergeant (E-6) requires leadership training as well as high performance in a graded Army-wide competition that awards points for physical fitness, education, firing range scores, awards, and other attributes. Sargents oversee soldiers in their daily activities and serve as first-line leaders who have the most direct impact on the soldiers. Sergeant major (E-9) is the highest position possible for enlisted personnel. There is only one sergeant major in the army, who oversees all non-commissioned officers and serves as an advisor to the four-star general.
To become a warrant officer 1 (WO1) – the highest of non-commissioned officers – enlisted officers must have several years of expertise, a recommendation from their commanding officer, and approval from a selection board. There are five warrant officer ranks, who serve as combat leaders, experts, trainers, and operations managers.
Commissioned officers plan missions, give orders, and serve as the key problem solvers in the Army. There are eleven commissioned officer ranks, including lieutenants, captains, majors, colonels, and generals. Four star general is the highest rank and the senior commissioned officer, except in wartime, when a five star general of the Army may be appointed. The last five star generals of the Army served during and after World War II, and included General Dwight D. Eisenhower and General Douglas MacArthur. Here are 50 of the most decorated war heroes in American history.
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