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A QUICK LESSON ON RANK STRUCTURE

 

 
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I get a lot of questions about the Marine Corps rank structure and most people do not understand the differences. This causes much confusion and to understand thesimple structure, I have posted a quick explanation from a letter I wrote to a friend.



To answer some of your questions about rank, the first thing that you must realize is that there are two completely different structures and I will explain it in terms of a civilian company. First, you have enlisted and officers. Enlisted Marines are like the blue-collar workers in the company. They do most of the physical labor. If you go enlisted, you have requirements to meet such as a high school diploma. You go to boot camp, usually right out of high school, and then are trained to do a job. You pick up rank depending on how good you are and how long you stay in. The rank structure and collar insignias go like this:

1. Private (none)

2. Private First Class (One stripe)

3. Lance Corporal (One stripe with two crossed rifles below)

4. Corporal (Two stripes up with two crossed rifles below)

5. Sergeant (Three stripes up with two crossed rifles below)

6. Staff Sergeant (3 stripes up with two crossed rifles in the middle and one stripe below)

7. Gunnery Sergeant (3 stripes up with two crossed rifles in the middle and two stripes below)

8. Master Sergeant (3 stripes up with two crossed rifles in the middle and three stripes below)
or (these are equal in rank)
First Sergeant (3 stripes up with one diamond in the middle and three stripes below)

9. Master Gunnery Sergeant (3 stripes up with a bursting bomb in the middle and four stripes below)
or (these are equal in rank)
Sergeant Major (3 stripes up with a star in the middle and four stripes below)

There is one more rank. It is call the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. There is only one of these at a time and he is the senior enlisted Marine in the entire Corps. His insignia is 3 stripes up with an eagle, globe, and anchor (the Marine Corps symbol) flanked by two stars in the middle and four stripes below.

Now for the officers. Officers are like the management portion of a company. They are the leaders and are more trained than the average enlisted. Officers must have a college degree, go through a 6-week bootcamp calls Officers' Candidate School, and then go to a 6-month training regiment called The Basic School (TBS). After that, they are trained in their specific job and sent out to the fleet where they are put in charge of a number of enlisted troops. They have their own rank structure and insignia as follows:

1. 2nd Lieutenant (One gold bar)
2. 1st Lieutenant (One silver bar)
3. Captain (Two silver bars)
4. Major (One gold oak leaf)
5. Lieutenant Colonel (One silver oak leaf)
6. Colonel (One eagle)
7. Brigadier General (One star)
8. Major General (Two stars)
9. Lieutenant General (Three stars)
10. General (Four stars)

There is also the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He is the senior officer in the Corps much like the CEO of a company. He has four stars.

There is also warrant officers which kind of fall between the enlisted and officers. These are usually enlisted marines who have become so good and specialized at what they do, they are promoted to warrant officer and have a rank structure all of their own..

The most junior officer outranks the most senior enlisted. All officers are senior to all warrant officers who are all senior to enlisted personnel.

I took a strange route. I was enlisted up to the rank of Sergeant and then got into a commissioning program where the Marine Corps sent me to college to get a degree. After that, I did all the requirements for being an officer and switched over to the officer ranks. We are known as "mustangs" and are usually held in a little higher regard due to our prior service. There are not very many of us because usually you are either enlisted or officer your entire career.


Email -- jdgrose115@polyglut.net
Web -- http://members.tripod.com/~jdgrose115/

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