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U.S. Military Ranks

The Branches of Service

There are five branches of the U.S. military, represented to the government by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Each branch has their own respective U.S. Military Ranks to represent authority level. These military branches are:

Seal of the Army
The Army
Seal of the Marine Corps
The Marines
Seal of the Navy
The Navy
Seal of the Coast Guard
The Coast Guard
Seal of the Air Force
The Air Force
Seal of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The JCS

 

Enlisted Personnel

Pay GradeArmy and Marine CorpsNavy and Coast Guard1Air ForceTotal
number2
E-1PrivateSeaman RecruitAirman Basic49,046
E-2PV2PFC

Army: Private (PV2)

Marines: Private First Class
(PFC)

SASeaman Apprentice
(SA)
AMNAirman
(Amn)
70,517
E-3PFCLCpl

Army: Private First Class
(PFC)

Marines: Lance Corporal
(LCpl)

SNSeaman
(SN)
A1CAirman First Class
(A1C)
183,394
E-4SPCCPLCpl

Army:
Specialist
(SPC)3

Corporal
(CPL)

Marines: Corporal
(Cpl)

PO3Petty Officer, Third Class
(PO3)
SrASenior Airman
(SrA)
252,961
E-5SGTSgt

Sergeant
Army:
(SGT)
Marines:
(Sgt)

PO2Petty Officer, Second Class
(PO2)
SSgtStaff Sergeant
(SSgt)
218,457
E-6SSG
SSgt

Staff Sergeant
Army:
(SSG)
Marines:
(SSgt)

PO1Petty Officer, First Class
(PO1)
TSgtTechnical Sergeant
(TSgt)
157,201
E-7SFCGySgt

Army:
Sergeant First Class
(SFC)

Marines: Gunnery Sergeant
(GySgt)

CPOChief Petty Officer
(CPO)4
MSgtFirstSgt

Master Sergeant
(MSgt)

First Sergeant
(––)

87,672
E-8MSG1SGMSgt1stSgt

Master Sergeant
Army:
(MSG)
Marines:
(MSgt)

First Sergeant
Army:
(1SG)
Marines:
(––)

SCPOSenior Chief Petty Officer
(SCPO)
SMSgt1stSgt

Senior Master Sergeant
(SMSgt)

First Sergeant
(––)

26,562
E-9SGM
CSM
SgtMajMGySgt

Army:
Sergeant Major
(SGM)

Command Sergeant Major
(CSM)


Marines:
Sergeant Major
(SgtMaj)

Master Gunnery Sergeant
(MGySgt)

MCPO
FleetMCPO

Master Chief Petty Officer
(MCPO)5

Fleet/Command
Master Chief Petty Officer
(––)

CMSgt1stSgtCommandCMSgt

Chief Master Sergeant
(CMSgt)

First Sergeant
(––)

Command Chief Master Sergeant
(––)

10,607
Special Grades6
E-9SMASgtMajMC

Sergeant Major of the Army
(SMA)

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
(SgtMajMC)

MCPON

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
(MCPON)

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
(MCPOCG)

CMSAFChief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
(CMSAF)
5
TOTAL ENLISTED1,055,972
Warrant Officers
W-1WO1WOWarrant Officer 1
Army:
(WO1)
Marines:
(WO)
DISCONTINUED 1975NO WARRANT2,526
W-2CW2CWO2Chief Warrant Officer 2
Army:
(CW2)
Marines:
(CWO2)
CWO2CWO2

Chief Warrant Officer 2
(CWO2)
 

NO WARRANT6,842

W-3

CW3CWO3Chief Warrant Officer 3
Army:
(CW3)
Marines:
(CWO3)
CWO3CWO3Chief Warrant Officer 3
(CWO3)
NO WARRANT5,445
W-4CW4CWO4Chief Warrant Officer 4
Army:
(CW4)
Marines:
(CWO4)
CWO4CWO4Chief Warrant Officer 4
(CWO4)
NO WARRANT2,732
W-5CW5CWO5Chief Warrant Officer 5
Army:
(CW5)
Marines:
(CWO5)
CWO5Chief Warrant Officer 5
(CWO5)7
NO WARRANT762
Total Warrant Officers18,307

Commissioned Officers

Cadets/Midshipmen812,176
O-12LT

Second Lieutenant
Army:
(2LT)
Marines: (2ndLt)

ENSEnsign
(ENS)
2LT

Second Lieutenant
(2d Lt)

25,118
O-21LT

First Lieutenant
Army:
(1LT)
Marines: 1stLt

LTJGLieutenant Junior Grade
(LTJG)
1LT

First Lieutenant
1st Lt

27,986
O-3CPT

Captain
Army:
(CPT)
Marines:
Capt

LT

Lieutenant
(LT)

CPT

Captain
(Capt)

75,984
O-4MAJ

Major
Army:
(MAJ)
Marines:
Maj

LCDRLieutenant Commander
(LCDR)
 
MAJ

Major
(Maj)

42,934
O-5LTC

Lieutenant Colonel
Army:
(LTC)
Marines:
(LtCol)

CDRCommander
(CDR)
LTCLieutenant Colonel
(Lt Col)
27,278
O-6COLColonel
Army:
(COL)
Marines:
(Col)
CAPTCaptain
(CAPT)
COLColonel
(Col)
11,364
O-7BG

Brigadier General
Army:
(BG)
Marines:
(BGen)

RDMLRear Admiral Lower Half
(RDML)
BGBrigadier General
(Brig Gen)
407
O-8

MG

Major General
Army:
(MG)
Marines:
(MajGen)

RADMRear Admiral
(RADM)
MGMajor General
(Maj Gen)
312
O-9LTG

Lieutenant General
Army:
(LTG)
Marines:
(LtGen)

VADMVice Admiral
(VADM)
LTGLieutenant General
(Lt Gen)
141
O-10GEN

Chief of Staff of the Army

Commandant of the Marine Corps

General
Army:
(GEN)
Marines:
(Gen)

ADM

Chief of Naval Operations

Commandant of the Coast Guard

Admiral
(ADM)

GEN

Chief of Staff of the Air Force

General
(Gen)

38
Special Grades9
5 StarsGeneral of the ArmyGeneral of the ArmyFleet AdmiralFleet AdmiralGeneral of the Air ForceGeneral of the Air Force

––

TOTAL COMMISSIONED OFFICERS223,738
TOTAL OFFICERS242,045
TOTAL PERSONNEL1,298,017

 

 

The Five Branches

The Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense. The Coast Guard operates under the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, but may be moved to the Navy during wartime. The Joint Chiefs of Staff drawn from the service branches report directly to the Secretaries of their respective services.

The National Guard is also represented by the JCS, but the Guard comprises reserve troops. Their ranks reflect those of their respective services. Across all branches of service, there are 813,017 reserve members as of June 30, 2017. There are reserve personnel from every pay grade. We have not included them in the count below.

Organization

In terms of authority, enlisted personnel are at the bottom, warrant officers in the middle, and commissioned officers are at the top. Enlisted personnel may become non-commissioned officers, giving them command authority. Warrant officers are enlisted personnel who are promoted by "warrant" due to technical expertise. Commissioned officers are leaders appointed by government documentation (by "commission").

We've organized our table by pay grade, which pretty handily corresponds to level of authority. But, it is important to note that pay grade is an administrative distinction; in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force one's position is their rank, and in the Navy and Coast Guard it is their rate. Corresponding rates and ranks have different names across branches and more than one may fall under the same pay grade.

Chart Footnotes:

1. The Navy and Coast Guard share rank insignia, but the background color is different. The Coast Guard wears blue uniforms.

2. These numbers do not include Coast Guard personnel, for whom the Department of Defense has not published breakdown by rank. There are 41,121 service members of the Coast Guard as of June 2017.

3. Within the Army, a Specialist is ranked lower than a Corporal. But, they are of equal rank to E-4 service members in other branches.

4. Gold stripes on Navy insignia indicate 12+ years of good conduct.

5. Command MCPOs have silver stars. MCPOs have silver stars and silver specialty rating marks.

6. These senior advisers are the highest ranking enlisted members of each service, who are responsible for presenting the concerns and opinions of the enlisted service members to the officers.

7. The Coast Guard had this rate authorized, but as of yet they have not used/issued the rate of Chief Warrant Officer 5.

8. Cadets and midshipmen are commissioned officers in training, and so we have included them with the commissioned officers for our count. However, one should not be mistaken, a cadet or midshipman does not have the same authority.

9. The rank of 5 Stars is solely reserved for wartime, and as such there are currently no 5 Star Generals or Admirals.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Defense, Jun 30, 2017.
U.S. Military Spending, 1946–2009Military PersonnelActive Duty Military Personnel, 1940–2011
Military Personnel