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 of service has their own respective U.S. Military Ranks to represent authority level. These military branches are:
|Pay Grade||Army and Marine Corps||Navy and Coast Guard1||Air Force||Total|
|E-1||Private||Seaman Recruit||Airman Basic||49,046|
Army: Private (PV2)
Marines: Private First Class
Army: Private First Class
Marines: Lance Corporal
|Airman First Class|
|Petty Officer, Third Class|
|Petty Officer, Second Class|
|Petty Officer, First Class|
Marines: Gunnery Sergeant
|Chief Petty Officer|
|Senior Chief Petty Officer|
Senior Master Sergeant
Command Sergeant Major
Master Gunnery Sergeant
Master Chief Petty Officer
Chief Master Sergeant
Command Chief Master Sergeant
Sergeant Major of the Army
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
|Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force|
|W-1||Warrant Officer 1|
|DISCONTINUED 1975||NO WARRANT||2,526|
|W-2||Chief Warrant Officer 2|
Chief Warrant Officer 2
|Chief Warrant Officer 3|
|Chief Warrant Officer 3|
|W-4||Chief Warrant Officer 4|
|Chief Warrant Officer 4|
|W-5||Chief Warrant Officer 5|
|Chief Warrant Officer 5|
|Total Warrant Officers||18,307|
|Lieutenant Junior Grade|
|Rear Admiral Lower Half|
Chief of Staff of the Army
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Chief of Naval Operations
Commandant of the Coast Guard
Chief of Staff of the Air Force
|5 Stars||General of the Army||Fleet Admiral||General of the Air Force|
|TOTAL COMMISSIONED OFFICERS||223,738|
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.
In terms of authority, enlisted ranks 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.
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.
|U.S. Military Spending, 1946–2009||Military Personnel||Active Duty Military Personnel, 1940–2011|