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US Army ranks, insignia, and descriptions


Note: I thought this would be a useful writing reference if you’re creating your own army. Outrageously plagiarized from with a few notes added by myself in italics. Rank refers to that Soldier’s hierarchy in the Army, pay grade refers to what their salary is.

Rank                                                           Pay Grade        

Junior Enlisted                                               

Private (PVT)                                                    E-1

Private Second Class (PV2)                             E-2


(Both addressed as “Private”)
Lowest rank: a trainee who’s starting Basic Combat Training (BCT). Primary role is to carry out orders issued to them to the best of his/her ability. PVT does not have an insignia. You are allowed to throw small animals at them and shove them into mud puddles.

Private First Class (PFC)                                  E-3


(Addressed as “Private” or “PFC”)
PV2s are promoted to this level after one year—or earlier by request of a supervisor. Individual can begin BCT at this level with experience or prior military training. Carries out orders issued to them to the best of his/her ability. Less twitchy than the other privates.

Specialist (SPC)                                               E-4


(Addressed as “Specialist”)
Can manage other enlisted Soldiers of lower rank. Has served a minimum of two years. People enlisting with a four year college degree can enter BCT as a Specialist. The sweetest enlisted rank, as you have all the knowledge and none of the responsibility.

Noncommissioned Officers

Corporal (CPL)                                                  E-4


(Addressed as “Corporal”)
The base of the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) ranks, CPLs serve as team leader of the smallest Army units. Like SGTs, they are responsible for individual training, personal appearance and cleanliness of Soldiers.   

Sergeant (SGT)                                                  E-5


(Addressed as “Sergeant”)
Typically commands a squad (9 to 10 Soldiers). Considered to have the greatest impact on Soldiers because SGTs oversee them in their daily tasks. These baby sergeants do their best but often run crying to Mommy (read: platoon leader).

Staff Sergeant (SSG)                                         E-6


(Addressed as “Sergeant”)
Also commands a squad (9 to 10 Soldiers). Often has one or more SGTs under their leadership. Responsible for developing, maintaining and utilizing the full range of his Soldiers’ potential. AKA Mommy.

Sergeant First Class (SFC)                                E-7


(Addressed as “Sergeant”)
Key assistant and advisor to the platoon leader. Generally has 15 to 18 years of Army experience and puts it to use by making quick, accurate decisions in the best interests of the Soldiers and the country.

Master Sergeant (MSG)                                     E-8


(Addressed as “Sergeant”)
Principal NCO at the battalion level, and often higher. Not charged with all the leadership responsibilities of a 1SG, but expected to dispatch leadership and other duties with the same professionalism.

First Sergeant (1SG)                                          E-8


(Addressed as “First Sergeant”)
Principal NCO and life-blood of the company: the provider, disciplinarian and wise counselor. Instructs other SGTs, advises the Commander and helps train all enlisted Soldiers. Assists Officers at the company level (62 to 190 Soldiers). Often found choking junior officers to death. We call this natural selection.

Sergeant Major (SGM)                                       E-9


(Addressed as “Sergeant Major”)
SGMs’ experience and abilities are equal to that of the CSM, but the sphere of influence regarding leadership is generally limited to those directly under his charge. Assists Officers at the battalion level (300 to 1,000 Soldiers).

Command Sergeant Major (CSM)                      E-9


(Addressed as ” Command Sergeant Major”)
Functioning without supervision, a CSM’s counsel is expected to be calm, settled and accurate—with unflagging enthusiasm (read: the seething, magma-hot rage of a 20 year veteran who still has to salute baby officers who cannot yet wipe themselves without supervision). Supplies recommendations to the commander and staff, and carries out policies and standards on the performance, training, appearance and conduct of enlisted personnel. Assists Officers at the brigade level (3,000 to 5,000 Soldiers).

Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA)                    Senior Enlisted Advisor


There’s only one Sergeant Major of the Army. This rank is the epitome of what it means to be a Sergeant and oversees all Non-Commissioned Officers. Serves as the senior enlisted advisor and consultant to the Chief of Staff of the Army (a four-star General). Has larger genitals than you. Always.

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