The ranks of the U.S. Military in the Napoleon's Legacy Universe are largely the same as reality, although in some cases their roles / functions may be slightly different. The methods of displaying ranks (insignia & uniform embellishments) are also different, drawing heavily from the American Civil War period (i.e. chevrons on most insignia point downward, whereas in reality the modern insignia chevrons point up).
Before reading the tables, please refer to the section at the bottom concerning how the uniforms of the different Service Branches display rank and position if you would like to know more detailed information as to how various personnel are distinguished.
The tables below work as follows:
Ranks are given in their full name, followed by the official abbreviation in parenthesis and then the [pay] grade separated by a forward slash (/). After the name of each rank is a description
U.S. Army Enlisted RanksEdit
Private (Pvt.) / E-1 & E-2Edit
- Position: Private (E-1) is the rank held by recruits [and is also sometimes referred to as 'Recruit' to differentiate it from the E-2]; Private (E-2) is the lowest service rank in the U.S. Army - promotion from E-1 to E-2 is automatic after six months enlistment; E-2s are sometimes also demoted back to E-1 as a disciplinary measure. (Note: when the term 'Private' is used outside of recruitment / training situations, it is understood to refer to an E-2).
- Insignia: E-1 has no insignia (servicemen being awarded their promotion to E-2 and their insignia upon completion of basic training); Private (E-2)'s insignia is a single downward-oriented chevron
- Nicknames: E-1s are referred to as 'Fuzzies' (because of the blank patch on the collar where the insignia would be located) or 'slick sleeves (because of their lack of any rank patch on the uniform jacket sleeve); an E-2s Insignia is called 'Mosquito Wings' (because of their appearance)
Private First Class (PFC) / E-3Edit
- Position: little different from a normal Private except for slightly higher pay; commonly awarded to Privates after roughly one year of service, or in recognition for conspicuous deeds.
- Insignia: Single donwards-oriented chevron with one "rocker" (an arc connecting the two ends of the chevron, giving the insignia a tear-drop shape)
- Nicknames: none common
Corporal (CPL) / E-4 Edit
- Position: in most armies, serves as assistant squad leader; in the U.S. Army, Sergeants (E-5) are assistant squad leaders, so Corporals act as assistant fireteam leaders - each 12-man Squad normally has 2 Corporals; given to soldiers who have passed their basic leadership courses as a precursor to non-commissioned officer status. Sometimes also given in recognition of meritorious conduct, or for a Private who has served more than 2 years with distinction. Corporal is fairly rare in the U.S. Army on the battlefield compared to other countries, but is more common in administrative / staff situations.
- Insignia: Two downward-oriented chevrons
- Nicknames: "Full Screw" [borrowed from the United Kingdom]
Specialist (SPC or SP#) / E-4 through E-9Edit
- Position: parallel rank to Corporal which is much more common, used to designate enlisted personnel with special skills; there are six 'grades' of Specialist to designate differing degrees of experience or expertise; when differentiating between different grades of Specialist the abbreivation SP# is used instead of 'SPC' with '#' being the specific Specialist grade.
- Insignia: hollow diamond in the center of the field with varying numbers of rockers and chevrons for different grades. E-4 has just the diamond, E-5 has one downard-oriented chevron below the diamond; E-6 has two chevrons; E-7 through E-9 add one to three rockers above the diamond
- Nicknames: "Spec" or "Spec #" with '#' being the number of the Specialist's grade
Sergeant (Sgt.) / E-10Edit
- Position: assistant squad leader (leads one of the two 6-man fireteams comprising an Infantry Squad)
- Insignia: three downwards-oriented chevrons
- Nicknames: 'Sarge [note that all grades of Sergeant are often referred to as just 'Sergeant' for brevity's sake), "buck sergeant" (to distinguish from other grades of Sergeant)
Staff Sergeant (SSgt. or SSG) / E-11Edit
- Position: squad leader or headquarters staff position, can also act as a Platoon Sergeant in absence of a Sergeant First Class
- Insignia: three downwards-oriented chevrons plus one upwards-oriented rocker
- Nicknames: 'Sarge or Sergeant
Sergeant First Class (SFC) / E-12Edit
- Position: Platoon Sergeant (assistant platoon leader), various other duties in specialist units or staff roles
- Insignia: three downards-oriented chevrons plus two upwards-oriented rockers
- Nicknames: 'Sarge or Sergeant
Senior Non-commissioned OfficersEdit
Master Sergeant (MSG) / E-13Edit
- Position: Serves as a senior NCO within a Battalion or on leadership and Staff assignments at the Regimental and Brigade level; also as the chief expert of a particular field of specialization within a unit.
- Insignia: three downwards-oriented chevrons plus three upwards-oriented rockers
- Nicknames: 'Sarge or Sergeant [not abbreviated simply to 'Sergeant' as frequently as other NCOs due to seniority]
First Sergeant (1SG or FSG) / E-13Edit
- Position: equal in grade & pay to Master Sergeant but senior in authority, with different responsibilities; serves chiefly as the senior non-commissioned officer at the Company / Battery level or in a similar position to a Master Sergeant but with greater authority
- Insignia: three downwards-oriented chevrons with a diamond nestled at the bottom of the 'V' the chevrons form
- Nicknames: 'Sarge or Sergeant [not abbreviated simply to 'Sergeant' as frequently as other NCOs due to seniority] - also called "First Shirt", "Top kick" or "top hat" due to their pre-eminent seniority among a company's enlisted personnel.
Sergeant Major (SGM) / E-14Edit
- Position: senior-most NCO position, serves primarily as the chief advisor / assistant to a Battalion commanding officer (larger units have General Staffs headed by officers rather than just a retinue of NCOs to assist the their COs). Larger units (Regiment / Brigade and up) also will have a Sergeant Major serving directly under their commanding officers, who will be termed the 'Command Sergeant Major' or 'Regiment / Brigade / Division Sergeant Major' (always abbreviated to CSM, for Command Sergeant Major). The CSM is part of the unit's general staff, serving as the senior enlisted advisor to its Commanding Officer and advising the Staff officers on the state / condition of the men within the unit. Thus, it is something of a 'personnel management' position - the CSM is the monitor of, and the advocate for, the men in his unit. CSMs also have certain ceremonial duties, such as carrying the Regimental Colors.
- Insignia: three downwards-oriented chevrons with a hollow five-point star in the center; Command Sergeant Major (CSG) insignia have a solid "colored-in" star
- Nicknames: being the most senior NCO grade, Sergeant Majors are pretty much always just called 'Sergeant Major' to show respect
Other NCO ranks:Edit
The U.S. Army has additional "Sergeant" ranks and positions that designate primarily administrative or leadership roles or posts in non-combat capacities. As such, these types of Sergeants are not on the Rolls of any Regiment, but rather on the rolls of administrative or support organizations (which are almost always some special type of Detatchment [Battalion-equivalent organizational component]). The Combat Support Detatchments integral to combat formations (a Division's quartermaster company, for example) follow this same tradition: NCOs holding these specific Sergeant ranks are only listed on the Rolls of the Detatchments to which they belong, even when those Detatchments are integral organic components of a particular combat unit. This is a tradition coming from Article XIV of the Revised Regulations of the U.S. Army, 1861, which specifies that Ordnance Sergeants are removed / detatched from their Regiments / Companies and assigned fixedly to a particular post, with each such post having one (no more, no less) Ordnance Sergeant who is permanently a part of it. The role of Ordnance Sergeant has evolved considerably since then and all but the smallest posts have more than one soldier holding the position, but the tradition remains.
Note that Pioneer units, being Combat Engineers, are considered combat units rather than combat support units and thus do not use these alternative positions.
Ordnance Sergeant / E-13 (OSG):Edit
Equivalent to a Master Sergeant (E-13) in a combat unit (although the position of Ordnance Sergeant was originally senior to a First Sergeant in the 19th Century, before the creation of Master Sergeant, when the rank table was considerably more simple). Ordnance Sergeants are responsible for overseeing the practical day-to-day operations of the Detatchments in which they serve. Thus, true to the name of their rank, they are generally found managing the supplies and ordnance of the combat unit their Detatchment supports. In cases where the Detatchment in question is the Headquarters Detatchment of a major combat formation (the HQ of a Division or larger), or the administrative organ of a post or base, the Ordnance Sergeants oversee the rank-and-file administrative personnel. As senior experts in particular fields also hold the rank of First Sergeant / Ordnance Sergeant, the Ordnance Sergeants of an HQ Detatchment have positions / titles relating to the various specializations required by a Headquarters body, and thus direct the conduct of, and advise, other specialists in their particular field within that Detatchment.
The insignia of an Ordnance Sergeant is three downwards-oriented chevrons with the inner-most having its points connected by a horizontal bar, so that the emblem forms a triangle.
Gunnery Sergeant / E-13 (GSG):Edit
Significantly different from the Marine Corps rank of the same name, being slightly more senior (the USMC Gunnery Sergeant is the same grade as the Army's Sergeant First Class). Army Gunnery Sergeants are equivalent to First Sergeants (E-13), and thus senior in authority but not in grade to Ordnance / Master Sergeants. Gunnery Sergeants are the senior company NCOs of combat support detatchments and thus are responsible for the day-to-day leadership of a given Detatchment's larger components. For example, a Divisional Special Troops Detatchment contains many different companies and platoons with varying specializations and responsibilities - its organization does not follow the standard "squad -> platoon -> company -> battalion / detatchment" format. Thus, in those components of the Special Troops Detatchment large enough to be designated as companies, a Gunnery Sergeant would serve as the senior NCO and be responsible for conducting it in the name of its commanding Lieutenant.
The insignia is the same as that of an Ordnance Sergeant, except that two of the chevrons (all but the outer-most) have cross-bars.
Like the Marine Corps, Army personnel often refer to Gunnery Sergeants as "Gunny", although the nickname and position do not carry as much respect or esteem. To the Army, it's just another rank. Also like the USMC, Gunnery Sergeants are typically directly responsible for training new recruits (because each 'cell' for Basic in the Army is a Company rather than a platoon as in the USMC, thus the Gunnery Sergeant still does the job despite being one grade higher than his USMC counterpart). However, both the Gunnery Sergeant of a training company and the Ordnance Sergeants of its various component platoons are referred to as "Drill Sergeants", especially by the trainees they command.
Quartermaster Sergeant / E-14 (QSG):Edit
Equal to a Sergeant Major, thus being the highest rank of non-commissioned officer in a combat support unit. Quartermaster Sergeants conduct / lead the operations of their respective Detatcments. A Division's Quartermaster Company also has a Quartermaster Sergeant attached to it with the special title / position of 'Divisional Quartermaster Sergeant' (Abbreviated 'DQS' and usually referred to as just 'Quartermaster'). The DQS is responsible for all of a Division's supplies and stores, but especially its arms and ammunition, and thus has practical authority over all the combat support detatchments of that Division in so far as prosecuting this duty is concerned. Although he is attached to the unit's Quartermaster Company, the DQS is part of the Division Commander's general staff and thus also has responsibilities pertaining to Staff work (even though he himself, being an enlisted soldier, cannot be a member of the General Staff Corps). The DQS, in this capacity, advises the Staff on the state of his unit's supplies, arms and equipment, and in this sense serves much the same role as the Command Segeant Major - but for matériel rather than personnel. The DQS is, by convention, junior to his unit's Command Sergeant Major even though they hold the same grade and their ranks are equivalents.
Quartermaster Sergeant's insignia is three chevrons, each with a cross-bar. The insignia for a Divisional Quartermaster Sergeant Major includes a small five-point starr in the center.
Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) / E-14Edit
The Sergeant Major of the Army is a unique non-commissioned rank held by only one soldier at any given time, being the most senior enlisted serviceman in the whole U.S. Army - unless the current Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff is an Army NCO, in which case the holder of that post would be the most senior enlisted man and the SMA the second-most. The SMA is appointed to serve as a spokesman to address the issues of enlisted soldiers to all officers, from warrant officers and lieutenants to the army's highest positions. As such, he is the senior enlisted advisor to the U.S. Army General Staff and its Chief-of-Staff. Much of the SMA's time is spent traveling throughout the army to observe training or to talk to soldiers and their families, keeping himself and thus the Army's leadership appraised of the average soldier's condition.
The SMA's insignia is three downwards-oriented chevrons with a U.S. Eagle (in the style of the one on the Great Seal of the United States) in the field. This insignia is gold on a dark purple background (dark purple being the Corps Color of Staff personnel). The SMA also, obviously, has special ornamentations on his uniform.
Note that the Sergeant Major of the Army will continue to be listed on the Roll of whatever unit he served in prior to holding his position, as a mark of honor and pride for that unit. Also, the SMA is of the same pay-grade as a normal Sergeant Major but receives very substantial bonuses befitting his position.
The current and first holder of the position is Barney Fushimi Hajiro, a second generation Japanese-American who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Anglo-American War. Many have accused the U.S. Military of "sucking up" to Japan by appointing him, although his esteemed rank is a major point of pride among the U.S.'s Japanese community and in U.S.-Japan relations. In recognition of his deeds, his prominent position and the high regard in which he is held by Japanese-Americans, Hajiro was granted honorary Japanese citizenship in 1961, approximately one year after receiving the post.
U.S. Army Officer RanksEdit
Insignia & Indicators of Rank and PositionEdit
Note about detail colors on U.S. Uniforms:
The U.S. Military uses a system of colors to indicate the different functions of troops / units (a concept originally used, in a much simplified and unrelated form, during the American Civil War). The original colors during the 19th Century were, primarily: sky blue for infantry, red for artillery, yellow for cavalry, with various other colors to indicate positions and roles. This early system became more complicated with time, even just during the course of the Civil War: the massive conflict resulted in many developments in organization and the creation of new branches / services. The colors concept then largely fell out of favor in the U.S. Army and was reduced back to the basic early form, until it no longer appeared on uniforms at all and became largely relegated to history and reference. The new 1951 regulations re-introduced the Distinctive Colors concept using an entirely new more specific and flexible system that could be applied to the huge range of specializations and functions required within a modern army. In the current 1951 methodology, there are two types of these colors: "Branch Color" and "Service Color". The entire system together is technically called "Distinctive Colors", but often "Service Color" or "Corps Color" is used mistakenly instead. "Corps Colors", specifically, is entirely erroneous: neither the whole system nor one of its two components is properly known by that name, but it is the name of some of the similar - less extensive - systems used in certain other countries.
- Service Color: the more common and important of the two Distinctive Colors, used for rank insignia and so-forth. Unlike similar such systems used by some other militaries, the Service Color, in the U.S. Army, indicates the role or function of the specific soldier wearing the uniform, rather than either what Branch or what type of unit he belongs to. When designing the 1951 Distinctive Colors system, the U.S. War Department considered it more important to make this individual distinction due to the large numbers of differing types of personnel that make up all but the smallest of modern military formations. This decision would become even more useful and insightful in later years as American Divisions started developing the distinctive combined-arms composition for which they are now famous, with large numbers of specialists and sub-units of differing Branches (every Infantry Division now has a whole detatchment / battalion of assault guns, for example). In many foreign color systems, meanwhile, almost all personnel within a given unit have the same color regardless of the function they perform within it; not to mention, when these systems make special distinctions and use a different color than the one common to the rest of the unit, the type of unit to which the serviceman belongs is no longer so readily apparent. Some of the other color systems - such as the original American one adopted around the time of the Civil War - indicate a serviceman's Branch (in fact, all early color systems did so; they were originally developed for this). However, the notion of Branch has become increasingly useless with time as the structure of militaries has grown more complex. Originally, in a mid-1800s army like the Union Army of the Civil War, organizations were largely homogenous; the Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery (the three main Branches of the day) were all separate units from one another. Countries which have retained this early method into the modern day thus run into the problem of not being able to tell precisely the role of EITHER the individual soldier OR the type of unit he belongs to, since modern military units always contain at least small numbers of personnel from more than one Branch (artillery in an infantry Division, for example).
- Branch Color: the secondary Distinctive Color, more similar to other systems. It indicates the type of UNIT to which a soldier belongs, not the Branch of the individual (as was the case with the original colors systems, even if it made little difference at the time). The system normally makes its distinctions at the Division level, such that the uniforms of all personnel within a given Division display the same Branch Color (i.e. sky blue for an Infantry Division). Strictly speaking, despite the name, these colors do not indicate the Branch to which the unit belongs, but rather what type of formation it is (which is the same thing except for a few special cases). The meanings of both Distinctive Colors systems are almost totally synonymous; although there are, understandably, fewer Branch Colors, as less variety exists among whole Divisions than among individual soldiers. However, a few differences between the schemes exist. Pure white, in the case of an individual's Service Color, denotes that he is a military Chaplain. However, since there are no units of Chaplains (beyond the Chaplain Corps itself), white as a Branch Color instead indicates an independent Brigade or Detachment - regardless of what type of unit it is. Thus, for example, a tank crewman in an Independent Heavy Tank Detachment would have rose-red / pink (the Armor's Distinctive Color) as his individual Service Color but white as his Branch Color, even though his unit is a tank detachment and thus technically part of the Armor Branch.
U.S. Army Rank InsigniaEdit
The M-1956 Uniform Ensemble (specifically the M-1951 Field Jacket) indicates rank and position in a rather complex manner, especially when compared to previous U.S. uniforms (of the 20th Century at least). Many elements of this hearken back to the American Civil War. However, this makes each man's rank, position, Service Branch and unit (as well as said unit's type / Branch) very easily identifiable. The display consists of three elements: collar, sleeves and shoulderstraps.
The M-1951 Field Jacket is of a relatively tight fitting with prominent padded shoulders and tightly-cut sleeves, leaving little sagging or excess fabric (this is necessary because of the U.S. Army's pervasive Mechanized Warfare practice). An American Flag patch is worn at the top of the right sleeve just barely below the shoulder head seam, oriented so that the "Union" [the canton with the stars] is pointing toward the soldier's front (imitating the appearance of a standard during a charge, i.e. trailing from the staff) The entire flag is sewn into the badgecloth patch using red, white & blue silk to make it more brilliant as well as to represent the value of, and to honor, the American flag. The soldier's Distinctive Unit Insignia (the unique badge of his Division or, in some cases, Brigade or Detachment) goes in the same position as the flag patch but on the opposite sleeve. A soldier wears his rank insignia in the form of a patch on both sleeves, on the lower portion of the upper sleeve below the flag / unit patches. The rank insignia patch itself is made of dark 'Federal Blue' badgecloth with the actual design sewn in silk in the soldier's individual Service Color. Finally, there is a thin stylized chevron patch sewn onto the lower part of either sleeve that is made of silk in the Branch Color of the soldier's unit on dark blue badgecloth. The chevron starts at the end of the sleeve, being partially covered by the cuff, and goes about halfway up to the elbow. This chevron is, like many features of the 1951 & '56 Ensembles, a nod to American Civil War era uniforms. Non-commissioned Officers' sleeves have two of these chevrons, senior NCOs have three.
The M-1951 Field Jacket has a close-fitting, turned-down (also called "stand-and-fall") collar - similar to, but more prominent and taller than, conventional button-up shirts or dress shirts. It iis colored 'Federal Blue' / dark blue. A large patch, which is the same color as the collar itself but bordered in silk piping of the wearing soldier's individual Service Color, is sewn on both faces. This patch covers the whole of the collar's face: from the inside edge all the way to the fold where it turns back to wrap around the neck, leaving only a very small portion of the actual collar's fabric exposed around it (but stopping at the base of the crease at the top of the collar, leaving somewhat more fabric protruding there). This gives the impression (except perhaps on close inspection) that the collar itself - rather the patch - is actually bordered the Service Color, without really requiring the logistical nightmare that would be manufacturing and properly distributing separate uniforms with all the different possible colors. Each patch has a large U.S. pin of gold brass centered on the far half (the side further from the center of the wearer's neck) and a rank insignia badge in the closer half. The rank badge is made of golden brass or silvered aluminum, with very fine strands of shiny metal foil in the wearer's Service Color inserted into the spaces within the insignia (such as the gaps between chevrons) to create the effect of a bright background "showing through" the insignia.
The collar patches are manufactured with indented cuts to ensure the two ornaments are always placed identically and to help keep them secure. The collar rank insignia of enlisted men are oriented horizontally - turned clockwise, so that the chevrons will point inward toward the center of the throat.
The standard M-1951 Field Jacket has transverse flap-style shoulderstraps that run flush across the top of the tunic almost to the collar, their bases being sewn into the outside edge of the shoulder at the sleeve head seam. Near the strap's end is a hole for a circular brass button on the uniform to hold it flat and flush against the shoulder. This means the soldiers can - and are proscribed by regulation to - wear their shoulderstraps over the suspenders of their gear by unbuttoning them before putting the equipment on and then fastening them back.
Each shoulderstrap is made of dark 'Federal Blue' badgecloth (rather than the normal uniform wool) and rounded to a perfect half-circle at its end; the width is 5.3 cm / 2.1" and it stops exactly 1.5 cm / 0.59" from the edge of the collar when buttoned. The length of a given uniform's straps varies depending on the individual. The whole of the strap apart from the base (where it is sewn onto the uniform) has a prominent border of silk piping in the soldier's Branch Color all the way around its outside. At the base / outer end - just before the strap folds under into the sleeve seam - is emblazoned the wearer's Divisional number, oriented parallel to the base of the strap (such that the tops of the numbers point toward the collar / the wearer's neck). These numerals are sewn with Service Color silk thread in a stylized chain-stitched pattern called 'flat cord' [which also exists in typeface form, being the fonts used by the U.S. Government & Military for official documents]. This results in highly distinctive, almost calligraphic, numbers. Closer to the end of the strap, about half-way between the unit number and the button, is a rank insignia pin as found on the collar (including the fine metal foil detail work). Like the collar patches, the shoulderstraps have an indented perforation to seat the rank badge.
Officers tunics are of a different design from the standard M-1951 enlisted tunic and indicate rank & position through different features.