Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Military Monday: Ranks

I am aware that it is Tuesday, but yesterday was such a beautiful day outside that there was no way I was going to spend it inside the house!  After taking the kiddo's to school, Little Guy and I took a nice long walk around campus and enjoyed the sun.

But I still wanted to post something "military" for the week.  This last week, I have been doing a lot of research on line about military wives and how they feel about the rank structure.  I, of course, had my own opinion but I have never lived on base/post and we haven't experienced the Active Duty life yet.  Yet, what I read about rank structure from other wives was more of small scale class warfare rather than the facts.  I could NOT believe the bickering and verbal slaps going on in the enlisted vs officer threads.  And the sad thing is, most of the questions start like:  "What is the difference between an Enlisted soldier vs and Officer?"  Innocent enough right?


The answers that followed made me have to "x" out, take a deep breath, remind myself that I am better than that, and then move on.

Here are the facts:

Enlisted Soldiers:  These are the guys that actually go to a recruiter and "enlist" into the service.  Most guys in the Army and National guard will start at the first rank:  Private (or E1 they call it, which also refers to the pay grade).  However, if you have some extra qualifications, sometimes you can skip a couple ranks.  Here are a few examples:  If you are bilingual, have a college degree or college credits, Eagle Scout, if you attended the Jr. ROTC in High School, etc.  Ben had a few of those above, so when he enlisted he went straight to Private First Class (E-3).  The vast majority of the Armed Forces are enlisted personal.  Enlisted guys go to Basic Training and then they go to AIT (at least it is called that in the Army) where they are training in their MOS (Military Occupational Specialty).

Other Confusing Terms:

NCO:  (Non Commissioned Officer) These are still "enlisted" soldiers who reach the pay grade of E-5 and up and are called Sergeants (in one way or another). They do special leadership training and become leaders among the other enlisted soldiers.  Great NCO's are essential in the military to have things move smoothly.  These are the soldiers that get things going and done. Some of the greatest guys in the military I know are NCO's including my brother-in-law.  My father-in-law was an NCO up until just before Ben and I got married (or right after, I can't remember)... then he became a Warrant Officer.

Warrant Officer:  This term isn't commonly understood because there aren't a whole lot of these guys.  Ben has yet to be in a unit with a warrant officer in it.  A WO used to be an NCO who decided to take some extra extensive training, and become a specialist in his field (MOS).  Warrant Officers are commonly found piloting the helicopters.  Warrant Officers are treated like officers, they are saluted often and highly respected.  When addressing one, you call them "Mr. So-n-So". (Their ranks are included in the picture below)

Now the Officers....

Officers:  These are the basic leadership of the military.  They organize things, deal with all the political stuff, and make the big choices.  Their orders are passed down to the NCO's who then make it happen usually.  That's just the basic idea.  Depending on the unit and circumstances things may be different, especially if there are incompetent soldiers within the ranks some people have to step up and then things can get confusing.

To become an Officer things are different from the enlisted side.  Where enlisted guys sign up, do their training, and then work their way up the chain by serving time and showing skill, Officers become officers a little different.  There are a couple different ways to become an officer, but to be an officer, one MUST have a 4 year college degree.  Then at that point they can only work their way up the chain so far until they have to have a Master's degree to advance.

OCS: (Officer Candidacy School) This is called by other names too depending on the branch of service.  But basically this is for Prior Enlisted soldiers who get their college degrees to have the chance to become an officer by going through the training.  It's about a year long (at least it was for a friend of mine whose husband went through it).  Say your husband has a college degree and worked for a firm of some sort for several years then got laid off.  He decided then that he wants to join the Army.  Well, he would then enlist, go through the basic training, and then if he preforms well and has the desire to be an officer (many guys don't... they like the action of being enlisted) then he can get recommended to go to OCS.  As far as I know, anyway.

ROTC:  This a another route for people who know they want to be officers in the military when the graduate.  It's a way to get the officer training out of the way WHILE you are going to school at the same time.  We are going this route, and it has been a blast!  The ROTC offers scholarships and a stipend to help the "cadets" get through school.  When you graduate with your 4 year degree, you also get your commission and become an officer in the military branch you chose.  Ben is doing the Army ROTC, but there is also an Air Force ROTC in the same building.  Most guys that are in the ROTC are not prior enlisted.  However, there is a handful that are, like my Ben.

Cadet:  The Cadet is not included on the charts above, and lots of soldiers don't know who they are when they see one walking around.  Ben has two different ranks that he wears as a cadet.  He wears one within the ROTC that shows what year he is, and he wears a big black dot when he is with his unit that says he is a cadet.  Which is basically an "Officer in Training" or "Jr. Officer".  When Ben first came to his unit sporting the dot, one of his buddies took a look at it and said, "What the hell is that!?"

So those are the basic facts.  What does differ between units and bases and all that stuff is the way they interact with one another, the way the wives socialize and so on.  Those of you who live on base or post, would know more about that than me... I only read about it on forums where everyone seems to hate each other.


Okay, friends now it is your turn!  If you want to participate, take this button and post it in your post today:

THEN write a post on this topic:

Rank structure and anything I missed you would like to add...


What's the deal with rank-warfare?  
(PS: I don't want to start a fight, I just want to understand a little of what can go on)


How you feel about your spouse's rank and some career goals the two of you have?

THEN come back here and leave us a link so we can come check it out!!

If you have no idea what "Military Monday" is click here!


armywife said...

Cat, my husband is an officer but I do not go prancing around announcing that to people. lol I have gotten treated differently and I have had some nasty stuff said to me. I do not even pretend to understand it, especially since my husband was enlisted for 12 years, before becoming an officer. He is in school now again and we will move this summer... somewhere lol He is working on his Master's Degree and is really happy, so that is good. We are hopeful for the rest of his career and he loves talking to new soldiers and mentoring both officers and enlisted personnel. I love the Army and most of the people in it, but the catty wives or the ones that hate me just because of my husband's rank; I could do without. Thank you for this post today; I am going to forward it to a few friends that are new to the Army. I know this will help them tremendously.

Cat said...

Army Wife -- Thanks for your great comment! Even though we have been at this for a few years now, I have no clue how things work on post. I didn't realize how sensitive people got about rank. Growing up around enlisted, I didn't know much about officer stuff, and had no idea about some of the petty stuff thrown out there. My husband is in rank-limbo being a cadet, but even though he will be an officer some day, it will never affect my deep and abiding appreciation for the enlisted soldiers. To me, there may be different roles and responsibilities, but aren't we all on the same team??

Thanks again for your great comment!!

Chelsea said...

Just posted about Air Force rank!


Ana said...

On either side, the rank divide is stupid when it's the spouses that are feuding. Last time I checked, none of us earned ANY rank (prior duty excepted, but since they aren't in anymore, um, what does it matter?). The main problems I've encountered in the Navy have come from finding an officer wife I like, but having to be careful about our relationship since it can't involve our husbands if they are in the same command (or even if they aren't, since mine steers clear of officers as much as he can).

The only time I've had to deal wtih "attitude" was when I worked with our Family Support Group. A lot of the officer wives just wouldn't come to it because they considered it an enlisted resource, and one officer wife helping us lead it (she went to the Naval Academy, so maybe this was part of it?) felt that she couldn't deliver baby gifts because the enlisted wives would be "intimidated". I was shocked because I am pretty sure most of these poor enlisted wives have absolutely no idea who her husband is unless she announced it on their doorstep. These are not things you worry about when you have a baby.

Cat said...

Good points! I have no experience what so ever with all the rank divide stuff as I haven't lived on post or anything yet. But after reading about everyone's issues and stuff, I just decided that the best plan for me is to just be myself. I am nice to everyone. I like to participate in activities and make friends. I don't talk about private matters with most people anyway so that wouldn't be a problem. If I get "put in my place" by someone, I have decided to just let it roll off and not let it get to me as it may just be a matter of someone's opinion. I guess time will tell :) Thanks for your comments! (I always love to read your input!)