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THEFIRST5STARGENERALHENRYH.HAPARNOLD

HapArnoldwasapioneerairmanwhowastaughttoflybytheWrightBrothers,andcommanderofArmyAirForcesinvictoryoverGermanyand
JapaninWorldWarII:bornGladwyne,Pa.,June25,1886,diedSonoma,Calif.,Jan.15,1950."Hap"Arnold,ashewasfondlyknownandcalled,dating
fromhisearlydaysatWestPoint,wasintheclassof1907attheU.S.MilitaryAcademy.FromthenonhislifeparalleledthegrowthofAmerica'sair
powerandhepersonallycontributedtomostofthemajormilestonesofdevelopmentduringthelongperioduntilheretiredin1946.Threeyearslater,
byactofCongress,hereceivedpermanentfivestarrankasgeneraloftheAirForce,thefirstsuchcommissionevergranted.
OFFICERRANKSTRUCTUREOFTHEUNITEDSTATESAIRFORCE

IntheUnitedStatesAirForce,GeneraloftheAirForceisthehighestrank,equivalenttoafivestarGeneral.Therankhasonlybeenheldbyone
personinhistory:HenryH.Arnold.

GeneraloftheArmyistheequivalentrankintheUnitedStatesArmyandtheinsigniaforthetwopositionswereoriginallythesame.Theinsigniafor
GeneraloftheAirForcewasslightlymodifiedinthe1950sforwearonthenewblueAirForcedressuniform.GeneraloftheAirForce,however,has
neverbeenwornbyanofficerofthemodernAirForceonactiveduty.ArnoldwasaGeneraloftheArmyandretiredbeforetheAirForcewasmadea
separateservice,buthewasawardedtheGeneraloftheAirForcerankafterhisretirementandwasphotographedinanAirForceuniformwearingthe
insigniaofthatrank.
DuringtheColdWar,withtheriseoftheStrategicAirCommand,itwasproposedthatGeneraloftheAirForcebereestablishedandgrantedtosenior
AirForcegenerals,suchasthecommanderofNORAD.Asaresult,GeneraloftheAirForcecanstillbeseenonmoderninsigniachartsanditisstill
consideredanofficialrankoftheUnitedStatesAirForce.Todate,however,nooneexceptHenryArnoldhaseverheldtherankGeneraloftheAir
Force.
RANKSTRUCTUREANDINSIGNIAOFMILITARYOFFICERS(O1thurO10)ANDNCOs(E1thruE9)FORTHEUNITEDSTATESAIRFORCE

TheUnitedStatesNavyequivalentofGeneraloftheAirForceisFleetAdmiral.

AGeneralisanofficerofhighmilitaryrank.Thetermisusedbynearlyeverycountryintheworld.Generalmaybearankonitsown,orcanbeusedas
agenerictermfor"generalofficers".Inmostnations,thevariousgradesofGeneralareatthetopoftherankstructurebutsomecountrieshaveeven
higherrankssuchasFieldMarshalorMarshal.
MILITARYOFFICERS(O1thurO10)UNITEDSTATESAIRFORCE

"GeneralOfficer",oftenreferredtolessformallyandimpreciselyas"General",referstoamilitaryofficerwhoholdsanyrankgradeofGeneral.The
exactrankofageneralmaybedeterminedbycombiningaprefix(e.g.MajorGeneral)orsuffix(e.g.GeneraloftheArmy).

OFFICERRANKINSIGNIAFORUSMILITARYAirForce,Army,MarinesAndNavy

AGeneral,withoutprefixorsuffix(andsometimesreferredtoinformallyasa"fullgeneral"),isusuallythemostseniorgeneralofficerrank,above
LieutenantGeneral.Insomearmies,however,therankofCaptainGeneral,GeneraloftheArmy,ArmyGeneralorColonelGeneraloccupiedor
occupiesthisposition.TheseranksmaybeconsideredtobeequivalenttoafullGeneralortoaFieldMarshal,dependingonthearmyinquestion.

Whilehistoricallyanarmyrank,Generalisalsousedinmostairforces,althoughthosebasedontheBritishRoyalAirForceuseAirMarshalinstead,
withAirOfficerbeingthegenerictitle.Inmostnaviesoftheworld,theequivalentrankisAdmiralandthegenerictermisFlagOfficerhowevera
noteworthyhistoricalexceptionwastheCromwelliannavalrankGeneralatsea.

TherankofGeneralbeganappearingaroundthetimeoftheorganizationofprofessionalarmiesinthe17thcentury.Atfirst,itwasaddedasan
adjectivetoexistingnamesofranks,yieldingColonelGeneral,CaptainGeneral,LieutenantGeneralandSergeantMajorGeneral.Thesetitleswere
usedtodistinguishtheruler'smostimportantofficersandusuallyinvolvedacertainamountofnegotiationoverprecedence.

LieutenantGeneralisamilitaryrankusedinalmosteverycountryintheworld.TheranktracesitsoriginstotheMiddleAgeswherethetitleof
LieutenantGeneralwasheldbythesecondincommandonthebattlefield,normallysubordinatetoaCaptainGeneral.Inmostnations,aLieutenant
GeneralranksimmediatelybelowaGeneralandaboveaMajorGeneral.Theoddityinprecedence,whereaLieutenantGeneraloutranksaMajor
GeneralwhereasaMajorwouldnormallyoutrankaLieutenant,iscausedbytherankofMajorGeneralpreviouslyhavingbeenknownasSergeant
MajorGeneral,whichwasinturnsubordinatetoLieutenantGeneral.

MajorGeneralorMajorGeneralisamilitaryrankusedinmanycountries.ItisderivedfromtheolderrankofSergeantMajorGeneral.Amajorgeneralis
ahighrankingofficernormallysubordinatetoaLieutenantGeneralandseniortoaBrigadierGeneral.Incountriesthatdonotmaintaintherankof
BrigadierGeneral,includingmuchofEasternEurope,MajorGeneralnormallyservesasthelowestGeneralOfficerrank.

BrigadierGeneral(sometimesknownasaonestargeneralfromtheUnitedStatesinsignia)isthelowestrankofgeneralofficerinsomecountries,
usuallyrankingjustaboveColonelandjustbelowMajorGeneral.

Colonelisamilitaryrankofacommissionedofficer,withthecorrespondingranksexistinginnearlyeverycountryintheworld.TherankofColonelis
oneoftheoldestinexistence,datingasfarbacktothetimeoftheRomanEmpire.Inthemodernage,aColonelisusuallyamilitarytitleratedasthe
highestfieldrankbelowthegeneralgrades.

LieutenantColonel(LieutenantColonelinBritishEnglish)isarankofcommissionedofficerinthearmiesandmarinecorps(andsomeairforces)of
theworld,typicallyrankingaboveaMajorandbelowaColonel.TherankofLieutenantColonelisoftenverballyshortenedtosimply"Colonel".

Majorisamilitaryrankdenotinganofficerofmidlevelcommandstatus.ItisusuallyimmediatelysuperiortotherankofCaptainandimmediately
subordinatetotherankofLieutenantColonel.InmostcomparativemilitaryscalesaMajorisrankedasa"Level4"(O4)officeralthoughsome
systems(amongthemtheNATOrankcodes)listaMajorasaLevel3.ThenavalequivalenttoaMajoris,inmostnations,therankofLieutenant
Commander.

Captainisbothanauticaltermandarankinvariousuniformedorganizations.ThewordcametoEnglishviaFrenchfromtheLatincapitaneus
("chief")whichisitselfderivedfromtheLatinwordfor"head"(caput).Thetermhasdifferentmeaningsbothatseaandinthemilitary.Confusion
betweenthethreetypesofcaptain(nautical,navalandarmy)oftenexistsinliterature,dramaandreallife.Thecustomsindicatedarenecessaryto
avoidconfusionatseawhenthequestionof"Whoisinchargeoftheship?"maybeamatteroflifeanddeath.

TherankofLieutenanthasdifferentmeaningsindifferentmilitaryformations(seecomparativemilitaryranks),butinallcasesitiscommonforitto
bedivided.

IntheUnitedStatesArmy,AirForceandMarineCorps,FirstLieutenantisthesecondlowestrankingcommissionedofficer.Itisonestepabovethe
rankofSecondLieutenant,usuallypromotedafter18to24monthsservice.AFirstLieutenantusuallyleadsmorespecializedplatoonsormaybethe
ExecutiveOfficerofacompanysizedunit(110to140personnel).

IntheUnitedStatesNavy,FirstLieutenantisapositiontitleandisheldbytheofficerincommandoftheDeckdepartment.Onsmallerships,aFirst
LieutenantholdstherankofLieutenantJuniorGrade.Onlargervessels,thepositionisheldbyaLieutenantor,inthecaseofextremelylarge
warshipssuchasaircraftcarriers,aLieutenantCommanderorevenfullCommander.However,onUSsubmarines,wherethedeckdeparmentmay
onlyhaveafewjuniorsailors,theFirstLieutenantmaybeaseniorenlistedmember,suchasafirstclasspettyofficerorchiefpettyofficer.

InGermanytherankofFirstLieutenantisknownasOberleutnant,whileinPolandasporucznik.

SecondLieutenantisthelowestcommissionedrankinmanyarmedforces.IntheUnitedStates,SecondLieutenantistypicallytheentrylevelrankfor
mostCommissionedOfficers.ASecondLieutenanttypicallyleadsaplatoonsizeelement(16to44soldiers).

IntheUnitedStatesArmy,therankborenoinsigniauntilDecemberof1917,whenagoldbarwasintroducedtocontrastwiththesilverbarofaFirst
Lieutenant.TherankisalsousedintheUnitedStatesAirForceandtheUnitedStatesMarineCorps.Asaresultofthegoldcolorofthebars,second
lieutenantsareoftenreferredtocolloquiallyas"Butterbars."ThecorrespondingUnitedStatesCoastGuardandUnitedStatesNavyrankisEnsign.

TheChiefMasterSergeantoftheAirForce(CMSAF)representsthehighestenlistedlevelofleadershipintheUnitedStatesAirForce,andassuch,
providesdirectionfortheenlistedcorpsandrepresentstheirinterests,asappropriate,totheAmericanpublic,andtothoseinalllevelsof
government.HeservesasthepersonaladvisertotheChiefofStaffandtheSecretaryoftheAirForceonallissuesregardingthewelfare,readiness,
morale,andproperutilizationandprogressoftheenlistedforce.TheChevronforCMSAFwasoriginallydesignedwithchevronsthatconsistedofsix
lowerandtwoupperones.

ThecurrentChiefMasterSergeantoftheAirForceisGeraldR.Murray.HewasappointedtothepositionofChiefMasterSergeantoftheAirForceon
July1,2002.ChiefMurrayisthe14thchiefmastersergeantappointedtothehighestnoncommissionedofficerposition.

OnNovember1,2004,theCMSAFinsigniawasupdatedtoincludetheGreatSealoftheUnitedStatesofAmericaandtwostarsintheupperfield.The
laurelwreatharoundthestarinthelowerfieldremainedunchangedtoretainthelegacyoftheChiefMasterSergeantsoftheAirForce.

AllChiefMasterSergeants,includingtheCMSAF,mayalsobereferredtobytheterm"Chief."

ChiefMasterSergeantistheninth,andhighest,enlistedrankintheU.S.AirForce,justaboveSeniorMasterSergeant,andisanoncommissioned
officer.ChiefMasterSergeantsareaddressedas"Chief."AttainingtherankofChiefMasterSergeantisthepinnacleofanenlistedAirForcemember's
career.SomeChiefsmanagetheeffortsofallenlistedwithintheirunitormajorsubsectionthereof,whileothersrunmajorstafffunctionsathigher
headquarterslevel.AllChiefsareexpectedtoserveasmentorsforjuniorandmidgradecommissionedofficersaswellasnoncommissionedofficers
andtoserveasadvisorstocommandersandseniorofficers.ByFederallaw,onlyonepercentoftheAirForceenlistedpopulationmayholdthisrank.

FirstSergeantisthetitlegiventoholdersofcertainranksandpositionswithintheUnitedStatesArmedForces.Whilethespecificsofthetitlemay
differbetweentheUnitedStatesArmy,MarineCorpsandAirForce,allFirstSergeantsarenoncommissionedofficersandcanbeidentifiedbythe
presenceofadiamond,calleda"Frenchlozenge,"ontheirrankinsignia.

SeniorMasterSergeantistheeighthenlistedrankintheU.S.AirForce,justaboveMasterSergeantandbelowChiefMasterSergeant,andisanon
commissionedofficer.PromotiontoSeniorMasterSergeantisthemostdifficultenlistedpromotiontoattainintheAirForce.Itisthefirstenlisted
gradetowhichresultsofacentralpromotionboardaretheprimaryfactorinselectionforpromotion.Usually,lessthantenpercentofeligibleMaster
SergeantsareselectedforpromotiontoSeniorMasterSergeantinmostyears.Selecteestypicallyhavevasttechnicalandleadershipexperience
gainedfromabroadvarietyofassignmentsatbothlineandstafffunctionsthroughouttheircareers.Additionally,thesuccessfulcandidatewill
typicallyhaveataminimumcompletedanassociate'sorbachelor'sdegreeintheirAirForcespecialtyaswellastheSeniorNoncommissionedOfficer
CorrespondenceCourseandhavehadtheirlatestperformancereportendorsedbyaseniorrater,usuallyaColonelorBrigadierGeneral.SeniorMaster
Sergeantstypicallyassumesuperintendentduties,overseeingenlistedmembers'effortstoaccomplishamajorsegmentofaunit'smission,in
preparationforpromotiontotherankofChiefMasterSergeant.Theyareexpectedtoserveasmentorsfornoncommissionedandjunior
commissionedofficers.SeniorMasterSergeantsintheFirstSergeantspecialdutyserveasFirstSergeantsoflargerunitsthanthoseemployinga
MasterSergeantasaFirstSergeant.ByFederallaw,onlytwopercentoftheAirForce'stotalactivedutyenlistedstrengthmayholdthisrank.Senior
MasterSergeantsmaybereferredtobythenicknameof"Senior".Thisusageisaninformalone,however,andwouldnotbeusedinanofficialor
formalsetting.UseofthisnicknamebyAirmenofsubordinaterankisattherankholder'sdiscretion.

AMasterSergeantistheeighthenlistedrankintheUnitedStatesArmy,justaboveSergeantFirstClassandbelowFirstSergeant.Itisabbreviatedas
"MSG."theeighthenlistedrankintheUnitedStatesMarineCorps,justaboveGunnerySergeant,belowMasterGunnerySergeant,SergeantMajor,and
SergeantMajoroftheMarineCorps.ItisequalingradetoFirstSergeant.Itisabbreviatedas"MSgt."MasterSergeantsintheU.S.MarineCorps
providetechnicalleadershipasoccupationalspecialistsattheE8level.Generalcommandleadershipatthispaygradeisprovidedbytheseparate
rankofFirstSergeant.theseventhenlistedrankintheUnitedStatesAirForce,justaboveTechnicalSergeantandbelowSeniorMasterSergeant.Itis
abbreviatedas"MSgt."AdvancementtoMasterSergeantisoneofthemostsignificantpromotionswithintheenlistedAirForce.AttherankofMaster
Sergeant,theairmanenterstheseniornoncommissionedtierandhisorherdutiesbegintofocusonleadershipandmanagementratherthan
technicalperformance.PerAirForceInstruction362118,MSgtstypicallyserveasflightchiefs(analogoustoplatoonsergeantsintheUSArmy)and
sectionchiefs(leadersofdutysectionswithinasquadron).IntheMarineCorps,MasterSergeantsmaybereferredtobythenicknameof"Top".This
usageisaninformalone,however,andwouldnotbeusedinanofficialorformalsetting.UseofthisnicknamebyMarinesofsubordinaterankisat
therankholder'sdiscretion.AllMasterSergeantsarenoncommissionedofficers.

TechnicalSergeantisthesixthenlistedrankintheU.S.AirForce,justaboveStaffSergeantandbelowMasterSergeant.Atechnicalsergeantisanon
commissionedofficerandabbreviatedasTSgt.WithintheenlistedAirForce,promotiontoTSgthashistoricallybeenthesecondmostdifficultrankto
achieve(onlytherankofSeniorMasterSergeant,cappedbyFederallaw,haslowerpromotionrates)andisthemostdifficultpromotionmostcareer
AirForcemembersachieve.TobeconsideredforpromotionaStaffSergeantmusthave6yearstimeinserviceand2yearsasaStaffSergeant.
TechnicalSergeantsprovidetechnicalmentorshiptojuniorenlistedmembersinpreparationforentryintotheseniornoncommissionedtierand
promotiontotherankofMasterSergeant.

TechnicalSergeantwasalsoarankintheUnitedStatesArmyuntilafterWorldWarII,whenitwasreplacedbySergeantFirstClass.

StaffSergeantisarankofnoncommissionedofficerusedinseveralcountries.

SeniorAirman(SrA)isthefourthenlistedrankintheUnitedStatesAirForce,justaboveAirmanFirstClassandbelowStaffSergeant.IthasaUS
militarypaygradeofE4.

TheAirForcepromotesanAirmantoSeniorAirmanuponacommander'srecommendationafter36monthstimeinserviceand20monthstimeinthe
gradeofAirmanFirstClass(A1C),or28monthstimeinA1C,whichevercomesfirst.OutstandingAirmenFirstClass,limitedtonomorethan15per
centofthetotal,maybepromotedtoSeniorAirmensixmonthsearly,acompetitiveprocesscalledBelowtheZone(BTZ)whichnormallyinvolves
goingbeforeacompetitiveboard.SeniorAirmenareexpectedtobetechnicallyproficientandbegintodevelopleadershipskills,andmaybeexpected
tosuperviseayoungerairman.SeniorAirmenareexpectedtoattendtheAirmanLeadershipSchool,whichispartoftheAirForce'sProfessional
MilitaryEducation,beforebeingpromotedtoStaffSergeant.Formerly,thisgradehadtwoseparatetitles:Sergeant,whichwasconsideredtobea
noncommissionedofficerrank,andSeniorAirman,whichwastheequivalentofSpecialistintheUnitedStatesArmy.SeniorAirmenwerepromotedto
Sergeantafter12months'timeingradeandcompletionofthenowdefunctNoncommissionedOfficerPreparatoryCourse.ThelastAirForce
promotionstoSergeantwereeffectiveMay1,1991.SergeantsworethesamechevronsaspresentdaySeniorAirmen.SeniorAirmenworesimilar
chevrons,butlackingthecentralstar.

Aswithanychangeinpolicy,manyairmensupportedthischange,whileothersprotested.ThegradesofSeniorAirmanandSergeantheldthesame
paygrade,butSergeantswereexpectedtosuperviseotherairmenaspartoftheirdutiesasNCOs.Thoseagainstthechangeprotestedthattherank
ofSergeantpreparedairmenfortransitiontoStaffSergeant,andthatnewStaffSergeantswouldthereforebelesswelltrainedfortheirnewposition.
Supportersarguedthatproperleadershiptrainingeliminatedtheneedforaseparaterankwithinthepaygrade,andthatthetworankscreated
disparitybetweenindividualsearningthesamepayandbenefitsbutwithdifferentworkloads.

AirmanFirstClass(A1C)isthethirdenlistedrankintheUnitedStatesAirForce,justaboveAirmanandbelowSeniorAirman.Itisamemberofthe
AirmenTieroftheAirForceRankStructure,withtheNCOandSeniorNCOtiersbeingaboveit.PromotiontoA1Coccursupon10monthstimeinthe
gradeofAirman,orearlierforAirmenwithspecificcertainspecialties,previousJuniorReserveOfficerTrainingCorps(JROTC)experience,theGen.
BillyMitchellAwardinCivilAirPatrol,educationlevelsorenlistmentcontractlengths.AnA1Cisconsideredtobefullyadjustedtomilitarylifeandhis
orherdutiesfocusonhoningjobskills.

AirmanisatermusedtorefertoanyenlistedpersonnelintheUnitedStatesAirForceorOtherRanksintheRoyalAirForce(inwhichairwomanis
alsoseen).ItisalsoaspecificUnitedStatesAirForcerankandUnitedStatesNavyrate.Moreinformally,itcanrefertoanymemberofanairforceorto
anypilot,militaryorcivilian.IntheUnitedStatesAirForce,Airman(Amn)isthesecondlowestenlistedrank,justaboveAirmanBasicandbelow
AirmanFirstClass.AnAirmanBasicistypicallypromotedtoAirmanaftersixmonths.AnAirman'sdutiesincludeadjustingtomilitarylifeand
becomingproficientintheirAirForcespecialty.

InFederalAviationAdministrationparlance,anairmanisanyoneincontrolofanaircraft.

AirmanBasic(AB)isthelowestenlistedrankintheUnitedStatesAirForce,justbelowAirman.ItiscategorizedasE1ontheU.S.militarypayscale.
AnAirmanBasic'sdutiesrevolvearoundadjustingtomilitarylife.TheyarepromotedtoAirmanupontheircommander'srecommendationaftersix
months'timeingrade.Airmenbasicdonotbearanyuniformrankinsignia,whichwouldnormallybewornonthesleeves.

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