The United States Army, the largest branch of the U.S. military, boasts close to 500,000 active personnel. To institute a chain of command, as well as to provide motivation for promotion, it divides its soldiers by rank. Army ranks fall 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. We also broke out how much pay each rank is entitled to, as well as how much pay they are entitled to, by reviewing the latest basic pay tables from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service for the Department of Defense.
Among enlisted members, there are 13 ranks, categorized into three groups: junior enlisted (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 receive automatic promotions based on time in service and within their pay-grade. New recruits begin as privates and eventually ascend to the rank of private first class. Subsequently, they may become specialists (E-4) after at least two years of service and specific field training, and later, corporals (E-4) following completion of the Army’s Basic Leadership Course.
Progressing to the ranks of sergeant (E-5) or staff sergeant (E-6) necessitates leadership training and high performance in a graded Army-wide competition that assesses physical fitness, education, firing range scores, awards, and other attributes. Sergeants oversee daily activities and serve as primary leaders with the most direct influence on soldiers. Sergeant major (E-9) represents the highest position attainable for enlisted personnel, with only one sergeant major in the army, overseeing all non-commissioned officers and acting as an advisor to the four-star general.
To achieve the rank of warrant officer 1 (WO1), the highest non-commissioned officer rank, enlisted officers must accumulate several years of expertise, garner recommendations from commanding officers, and gain approval from a selection board. There exist five warrant officer ranks, responsible for combat leadership, expertise, training, and operations management.
Commissioned officers are tasked with mission planning, issuing orders, and serving as key problem solvers in the Army. There are eleven commissioned officer ranks, encompassing lieutenants, captains, majors, colonels, and generals. The highest rank is four-star general, the senior commissioned officer, except during 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 figures such as General Dwight D. Eisenhower and General Douglas MacArthur. Explore the profiles of 50 of America’s most distinguished war heroes here. Here are 50 of the most decorated war heroes in American history.
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