Thursday, July 28, 2011

In the Army Now - Officer and Enlisted

The Edgewood Chemical Biological Center blog is kicking off a regular series titled “In the Army Now,” featuring information pieces addressing frequently asked questions about the Army culture and structure. In this month’s “In the Army Now,” we look at the designations of “Officer” and “Enlisted” of the U.S. Army and the Army Materiel Command chain of command.

Enlisted members are the backbone of the U.S. military. They perform the primary jobs that need to be done hands-on. Enlisted members are specialists: they are trained to perform specific specialties in the military. As Enlisted Personnel progress up the ranks (there are nine Enlisted ranks), they assume more responsibility and provide direct supervision to their subordinates. Well-prepared and highly adaptable, Enlisted Soldiers are regarded for their sense of duty and the sacrifices they have made for their country. Much like employees at a company, Enlisted Soldiers perform specific job functions and have the knowledge that ensures the success of their unit’s current mission within the Army.

Training for service members through Private First Class includes the basic training phase, followed by a specialized training phase that provides recruits with a specific area of expertise or concentration. In the Army and Marines, this area is called a Military Occupational Specialty.

Enlisted personnel in certain grades have special status. In the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, this status is known as Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) status. In the Army and Air Force, enlisted personnel that are Sergeant through Command Sergeant Major are NCOs. However, some Specialists are laterally promoted to Corporal and are considered NCOs. Within the worker group, Non-NCOs are the foremen and line-supervisors.

They perform the job, but also provide direct supervision to the other workers. Senior NCOs are expected to exercise leadership at a more general level. They lead larger groups of service members, mentor junior officers and advise senior officers on matters pertaining to their areas of responsibility. A select few senior NCOs who are Sergeant Majors or Command Sergeant Majors serve as Senior Enlisted Advisors to senior commanders in each Service and in the Department of Defense Officer ranks in the United States military consist of Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers. The commissioned ranks are the highest in the military. These officers hold presidential commissions and are confirmed at their ranks by the Senate. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps officers are called company grade officers in the pay grades of O-1 to O-3, field grade officers in pay grades O-4 to O-6 and general officers in pay grades O-7 and higher.

Warrant officers hold warrants from their service secretary and are specialists and experts in certain military technologies or capabilities. The lowest ranking Warrant Officers serve under a warrant, but they receive commissions from the president upon promotion to Chief Warrant Officer 2. These Commissioned Warrant Officers are direct representatives of the President of the United States. They derive their authority from the
same source as commissioned officers but remain specialists, in contrast to Commissioned Officers, who are generalists.

Commissioned Officers outrank all Warrant Officers and Enlisted personnel. Commissioned Officers must have a minimum of a four-year bachelor’s degree and are commissioned through specific commissioning programs, such as one of the military academies (United States Military Academy, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy), Reserve Officer Training Corps or Officer Candidate School.

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