US Military Enlisted Rank Insignia

Identification insignia of the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard show rank or grade of the individual within his organization and indicate certain specialties in which he excels. Other symbols, such as aiguillettes and brassards, are evidence of special assignments. The enlisted men's uniforms are also worn devices revealing the length of service.

Insignia is worn upon shoulders, sleeves, caps, breasts, collars, and lapels.

Military rank is more than just who salutes whom. Military rank is a badge of leadership. Responsibility for personnel, equipment, and mission grows with each advancement.

Do not confuse rank with paygrades, such as E-1, W-2, and O-5. Paygrades are administrative classifications used primarily to standardize compensation across military services. The "E" in E-1 stands for "enlisted," while the "1" indicates the paygrade for that position. The other pay categories are "W" for warrant officers and "O" for commissioned officers. Some enlisted paygrades have two ranks.

The Army, for example, has the ranks of corporal and specialist at the paygrade of E-4. A corporal is expected to fill a leadership role and has a higher rank than a specialist, even though both receive E-4 pay. In the Marine Corps, a master gunnery sergeant and a sergeant major are both E-9s, but the sergeant major has the higher rank.

US Military Enlisted Insignia For All Branches of Services.

US Military Enlisted Insignia For All Branches of Services. Department of Defense, 2022. GGA Image ID # 1b4b9de56f

Enlisted Personnel E-1 Through E-9

Service members in paygrades E-1 through E-3 are usually either in training status or on their initial assignment. The training includes the basic training phase, where recruits are immersed in military culture and values and are taught the core skills required by their service component.

Basic training is followed by a specialized or advanced training phase that provides recruits with a specific area of expertise or concentration. In the Army and Marine Corps, this area is called a military occupational specialty; in the Navy, it is known as a rate; and in the Air Force, it is simply called an Air Force specialty.

Leadership responsibility significantly increases in the mid-level enlisted ranks. This responsibility is given formal recognition using the terms noncommissioned officer and petty officer. An Army sergeant, an Air Force staff sergeant and a Marine corporal are NCO ranks. The Navy NCO equivalent, petty officer, is achieved at the rank of petty officer third class.

At the E-8 level, the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force have two positions at the same paygrade. Whether one is, for example, a senior master sergeant or a first sergeant in the Air Force depends on the person's job.

Marine Corps master gunnery sergeants and sergeants major receive the same pay but have different responsibilities. The same is true for the positions at the E-9 level. All told, E-8s and E-9s have 15 to 30 years on the job and are commanders' senior advisers for enlisted matters.

A third E-9 element is the senior enlisted person of each service. The sergeant major of the Army, the sergeant major of the Marine Corps, the master chief petty officer of the Navy, and the chief master sergeant of the Air Force are the spokespersons of the enlisted force at the highest levels of their services.

Enlisted Insignia Notes

Army: * For rank and precedence within the Army, specialist ranks immediately below corporal. Among the services, however, rank and precedence are determined by paygrade.

Navy / Coast Guard: * A specialty mark in the center of a rating badge indicates the wearer's particular rating. ** Gold stripes indicate 12 or more years of good conduct. *** 1. Master chief petty officer of the Navy and fleet and force master chief petty officers. 2. Command master chief petty officers wear silver stars. 3. Master chief petty officers wear silver stars and silver specialty rating marks.

Coast Guard The Coast Guard is a part of the Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and the Navy in times of war. Coast Guard rank insignia are the same as the Navy except for color and the seaman recruit rank, which has one stripe.

"U.S. Military Rank Insignia: Enlisted Insignia," U. S. Department of Defense, 2022.

Return to Top of Page