When did the use of chevrons as military rank devices begin?

When did the use of chevrons as military rank devices begin?

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In US, Commonwealth and certain other militaries, the chevron is used as rank devices for non-commissioned members. I'm curious when did this practice start. Historically, up until and including the 19th Century, rank devices seemed to be differently colored or styled armor, clothing, headdress or other accoutrements.

According to The Encyclopedia of the War of 1812: A Political, Social, and Military History:

In 1802 the British introduced the system of chevrons to distinguish NCO rank… Corporals wore two chevrons, and sergeants wore three… The color sergeant rank, introduced in 1813, had a single chevron with a regimental flag surmounted by a crown in the angle. Sergeant majors and quartermaster sergeants wore four chevrons. The rank of chosen man… had a single chevron… evolved into the rank of lance corporal…

The Royal Marines followed in 1810 - adopting Army ranks and insignia.

The Napoleonic French Army used chevrons on the upper arm to indicate veteran status - 1 chevron indicated 5-15 years of service, 2 chevrons for 15-20, and 3 chevrons for more than 20 years service. Ranks were indicated by stripes on the cuff.

The French introduced chevrons for ranks sometime before 1914, but only for some units - I'm having trouble finding exactly when.

The US Army introduced chevrons in 1847 - previously, a combination of button placement and cuff lacing indicated NCO rank.

As for the global prevalence of chevrons, the British established local regiments in many of their colonies, and introduced all manner of traditions and symbols, and these seem to have hung around even in countries where the British no longer rule. As countries gained independence from other various colonial powers, they have likely copied the chevrons and other insignia from the British and US armies.

United States Marine Corps rank insignia

Commissioned officers are distinguished from other officers by their commission, which is the formal written authority, issued in the name of the President of the United States, that confers the rank and authority of a Marine Officer. Commissioned officers carry the "special trust and confidence" of the President of the United States. [1] Commissioned officer ranks are further subdivided into general officers, field-grade officers, and company-grade officers. The highest billets in the Marine Corps, the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps are, by statute, four-star ranks, as the Marine Corps is a separate naval service under the Department of the Navy. [2]

pay grade
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6 O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10
NATO code OF-1 OF-2 OF-3 OF-4 OF-5 OF-6 OF-7 OF-8 OF-9
Service Uniform Insignia
Title Second lieutenant First lieutenant Captain Major Lieutenant colonel Colonel Brigadier general Major general Lieutenant general General
Abbreviation 2ndLt 1stLt Capt Maj LtCol Col BGen MajGen LtGen Gen

Warrant Officers provide leadership and training in specialized fields and skills. Unlike other nations' militaries (which rank warrant officers as Staff NCO equivalents), the United States military confers warrants and commissions on its warrant officers and classifies them into a separate category senior to all enlisted grades of rank (including officer candidates), cadets, and midshipmen. As warrant officers are officer-level technical specialists they generally do not exercise command outside of their specialty. Warrant officers come primarily from the staff non-commissioned officer (SNCO) ranks.

A chief warrant officer, CWO2–CWO5, serving in the MOS 0306 "Infantry Weapons Officer" carries a special title, "Marine Gunner," which does not replace his rank. A Marine Gunner replaces the chief warrant officer insignia on the left collar with a bursting bomb insignia. Other warrant officers are sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Gunner."

US DoD pay grade W-1 W-2 W-3 W-4 W-5 Marine Gunner
NATO code WO-1 WO-2 WO-3 WO-4 WO-5
Title Warrant officer 1 Chief warrant officer 2 Chief warrant officer 3 Chief warrant officer 4 Chief warrant officer 5
Abbreviation WO CWO2 CWO3 CWO4 CWO5

Enlisted Marines with paygrades of E-4 and E-5 are non-commissioned officers (NCOs) while those at E-6 and higher are Staff Noncommissioned Officers (SNCOs). [3] The E-8 and E-9 levels each have two ranks per pay grade, each with different responsibilities. Gunnery Sergeants (E-7) indicate on their annual evaluations (called "fitness reports") their preferred promotional track: Master Sergeant or First Sergeant. The First Sergeant and Sergeant Major ranks are command-oriented Senior Enlisted Advisors, with Marines of these ranks serving as the senior enlisted Marines in a unit, charged to assist the commanding officer in matters of discipline, administration, and the morale and welfare of the unit. Master Sergeants and Master Gunnery Sergeants provide technical leadership as occupational specialists in their specific MOS. First Sergeants typically serve as the senior enlisted Marine in a company, battery, or other unit at similar echelon, while Sergeants Major serve the same role in battalions, squadrons, or larger units. [4]

The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps is a billet and with it carries a special rank insignia, conferred on the senior enlisted Marine of the entire Marine Corps, personally selected by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. [5] It and the Marine Gunner are the only billets which rate modified rank insignia in place of the traditional rank insignia. [ citation needed ]

When did the use of chevrons as military rank devices begin? - History

Old Corps Enlisted Rank 1798 -- 1958 Except as otherwise indicated, the following information is from, Enlisted Rank Insignia In The U.S. Marine Corps 1798--1958*, by Michael O'Quinlivan, Historical Branch, G-3 Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps Washington, D.C. June 1959 *Note: There is no information available on rank insignia as worn by the Continental Marines. When the Marine Corps was re-established by Congress in July 1798, noncommissioned rank was indicated by means of silk epaulettes--sergeants wore one on each shoulder and corporals one on the left shoulder. In 1804, the epaulettes were replaced by yellow silk shoulder knots for sergeants and corporals.
A further mark of rank was accorded to the sergeant a year later in allowing him a leather cockade similar to that worn by other enlisted men with which to fasten the plume to the hat. As an additional distinction, the sergeant wore his plume on the left side of the hat whereas other enlisted men wore their plumes on the front of the hat.

The shoulder knots as insignia of rank for sergeants and corporals with the addition of the plume for sergeants continued in effect until 1833. In that year, the symbol of noncommissioned rank on the dress uniform was displayed by four buttons for the sergeant major and quartermaster sergeant, three buttons for other sergeants and two buttons for corporals and privates. In addition, worsted yellowfringes on their shoulder wings, which were, in effect, modified epaulettes, were prescribed for all noncommissioned officers. The year 1833 marked the debut of the chevron on the enlisted Marine uniform. This familiar symbol of noncommissioned rank originally appeared in the Marine Corps in the form of "angles" worn point -down on the lower coat sleeves of first and second lieutenants. The chevron was dropped from thw subaltern's uniform in 1833 and taken up on the enlisted as a symbol of length of service, one chevron worn point-up above the elbow for each four year's service. The equally familiar "hash-mark," which in later years was to be used as the service stripe in the Marine Corps, also made its first appearance on the enlisted uniform in 1833, but, ironically as an insignia of rank on the fatigue uniform -- sergeants and corporals wore two stripes and one stripe respectively below the elbow.

The designations prevailed until 1859. The uniform regulations issued in that year are of great historical significance with regard to noncommissioned rank symbols, since they set the pattern which has generally prevailed until the present. In 1859, variations of the "point-up" yellow lace chevron, 1/2 inch wide, extending from seam to seam on the sleeve, were established as the mark of the noncommissioned officer. For the sergeant major, there were three chevrons and three arcs on a scarlet ground for the quartermaster sergeant, three chevrons and three bars on a scarlet ground for the drum major, three chevrons and three bars on a scarlet round with a five-pointed star in the center for the first sergeant, a detached lozenge in the angle of three chevrons for other sergeants, three chevrons, and for the corporal, two chevrons, all edged in red.

Except for the insertion of new ranks and the intrpduction of field service insignia, the regulations of 1859 remained virtually unchanged until World War I and the adoption of the smaller chevron. The first mention of field service insignia on Marine uniforms occurred in the regulations of 1900, although these insignia had been used by Marines in the field during the Spanish war. In their earliest form these service insignia consisted of the regulation chevrons in gray linen braid worn on "summer undress and campaign coats.

A new rank, dating from the time of the Spanish war, also appeared in the 1900 regulations -- the gunnery sergeant. The original insigne prescribed for the gunnery sergeant was to be of short life and in appearance was unique among Marine insignia. The design prescribed for gunnery sergeant consisted of three chevrons and three bars with the "device of the school of application" -- a crossed rifle and naval gun behind a globe, anchor and eagle -- in the center. (Click Here!) This insigne gave way in the next revision of the regulations, in 1904, to the design by which the gunnery sergeant was to be traditionally known, the bursting bomb and crossed rifles on a scarlet field set in the angle of three chevrons. (Click Here!)

The next rank to be recognized by a distinctive insigne was that of quartermaster sergeants detailed for service in the Paymaster's Department who were accorded in 1908 a device representing a pile of gold coins crossed by a quill to be worn in the center of the quartermaster sergeant's insignia. The 1908 regulations also prescribed distinguishing devices for drummers and trumpeters. Drummers were to wear on both sleeves a pair of crossed drumsticks and trumpeters a trumpet on a dark blue ground. A further change in field service insignia was also made in 1908 when olive drab made its debut in Marine insignia as the color for chevrons when worn on khaki uniforms.

The next major revision of the uniform of the Marine Corps came in 1912. While continuing the basic configuration of enlisted rank insignia, the modification, nevertheless, must be ranked with the regulations of 1859 in establishing precedents which have prevailed to the present day. Basic among innovations in the 1912 regulations which made other changes necessry was the adoption of the now-traditional :Marine green" winter field service uniform. Having made this radical departure from the old blue uniform which was used both for dress and winter service, rank insignia of a new shape and color were prescribed. Prior to 1912, insignia worn on field uniforms were exactly the same as that for dress uniforms except for material and color. The new regulations called for a reduction in width of the chevrons, arcs and bars from 1/2 to 3/8 of an inch as well as a new design very similar to the dress and service chevrons worn at the present time. Along with the adoption of the green winter service uniform the colors of green on a scarlet backing for noncom chevrons were also adopted in 1912. Although the size and shape of the old gold on scarlet dress chevrons remained unchanged in 1912, the die had been case, and by the next complete revision of the uniform regulations ten years later, the graceful broad dress chevron would be cut down and re-designed to conform to the service chevron. Apart from these basic innovations, the 1912 regulations made few changes in the basic symbols of noncommissioned rank.

For the first time an insigne for lance corporal was prescribed -- one chevron to be worn on the right sleeve. The next significant revision of enlisted rank insignia came in 1922 with the adoption of dress insignia of the same pattern as the service insignia in augurated in 1912. Gold on scarlet, the traditional colors of the dress insignia remained unchanged, but the dark green on khaki colors for summer service uniforms repaced the old olive drab on khaki which had been in use since 1908. An unusual badge consisting of crossed rifles on a dark blue ground was adopted for the rank of private first class. The rank of staff sergeant came into existence too late to be recognized in the basic regulations of 1922. An insigne for this rank was prescribed in 1924 to consist of three chevrons and one arc.

Addition of several new ranks of noncommissioned officer in the mid-twenties produced many changes in insignia which were reflected in the Uniform Regulations of 1929. The most significant changes were made in the insignia of the quartermaster sergeant which had until then remained vitually the same as the design adopted in 1859. The familiar three chevrons and three bars which had traditionally marked the quartermaster sergeant were given to the newly created rank of master technical sergeant. Three chevrons and three bars with a wheel in the center became the new insigne of the quartermaster sergeant, while three chevrons and three bars with a shield in the center became the insigne of quartermaster sergeants assigned to duty in the Adjutant and Inspector's Department. The insigne adopted in 1908 for quartermaster sergeants detailed for service in the Paymaster's Department -- three chevrons consisting of a quill superimposed upon a pile of gold coins -- was formally assigned in 1929 to the newly created rank of paymaster sergeant. Another entirely new insigne appearing in 1929 was that of supply sergeant -- three chevrons and two bars with a wheel in the center. The 1929 regulations altered the insignia of the first sergeant and the gunnery sergeant by the addition of two arcs to each while that of the drum major, which had consisted of three chevrons and three bars with a star in the center since 1859, was changed by the removal of one bar. The one-chevron insigne of the lance corporal was re-assigned to the private first class.

Between 1934 and 1937 there was a multiplicity of ranks and titles. Certain short-lived insignia were prescribed for some of these, but the system was obviously becoming so complicated that a halt had to be called somewhere. The next issuance of uniform regulations for the Marine Corps stressed simplicity rather than attempt to establish individual symbols for each enlisted title. Thus, in 1937, enlisted rank insignia was set up according to pay grade. Three basic types of insignia were prescribed: plain chevrons, chevrons with bars and chevrons with arcs. Here was provided for the first time a clearcut distinction between line and staff. The allocation of these new simplified insignia was as follows:

First Grade, Line (three chevrons and three arcs):
sergeants major
master gunnery sergeants
First Grade, Staff (three chevrons and three bars):
master technical sergeants
master technical sergeants (mess)
quartermaster sergeants
paymaster sergeants
Second Grade, Line (three chevrons and two arcs):
first sergeants
gunnery sergeants
Second Grade, Staff (three chevrons and two bars):
technical sergeants
technical sergeants (Paymaster's Department)
technical sergeants (mess)
drum majors
supply sergeants
Third Grade, Line (three chevrons and one arc):
platoon sergeants
Third Grade, Staff (three chevrons and one bar):
staff sergeants (clerical)
staff sergeants (mechanical)
staff sergeants (mess)
Fourth Grade (three chevrons):
mess sergeants
chief cooks
drum sergeants
trumpet sergeants
Fifth Grade (two chevrons):
mess corporals
field cooks
drum corporals
trumpet corporals
Sixth Grade (one chevron):
privates 1st class
assistant cooks
drummers 1st class
trumpeters 1st class

The system of assigning insignia by pay grade rather than by rank or title remained in effect througout World War II. Although there were changes within the structure during the war -- for example, the first sergeant went up to the first pay grade in 1943 -- and new titles were added -- for example, stewards and steward's assistants, -- the insignia remained constant.
(Click Here)

A complete revamping of the rank structure took place in the latter part of 1946 whereby the supernumery titles within pay grades were pared down to one per grade. This reorganization had little effect upon the insignia system established in 1937, except for the removal of the bars from the old style "square" chevron, which had come to be identified with staff or technical ranks. Thus, was established the basic system of insignia in use at the present time:

First Grade (three chevrons and three arcs):
master sergeant
Second Grade (three chevrons and two arcs):
technical sergeant
Third Grade (three chevrons and one arc):
staff sergeant
Fourth Grade (three chevrons):
Fifth Grade (two chevrons):
Sixth Grade (one chevron):
private first class

Between 1946 and the present only three important changes occurred in the history of Marine rank insignia. In December 1954, insignia were approved for the newly revived ranks of sergeant major and first sergeant -- three chevrons and three arcs with a star and a lozenge in the center, respectively.
At the same time the size of the stripe in the chevron returned to its World War I width of 1/2 inch instead of the then current 3/8 inch width. Approval was also given for the use of metal chevrons to be worn as symbols of rank on the collar of the utility uniform replacing the procedure of painting rank insignia on the sleeves which had grown up in World War II.
Note: To view the Enlisted Rank Structure of 1959--Present, CLickHere!

This is an extension/satellite site of Gunny G's Marines

WebSites By Dick Gaines GySgt USMC Ret. (1952--72) Return To: Gunny G's HomePage This page created with Netscape Navigator Gold

A Civilian’s Primer on Military Rank and Insignia

If you’re a regular ol’ civilian like me, you might have a lot of respect for the military, but you don’t know much about military culture. For example, military ranking. Thanks to television, books, and movies, and simply absorbing stuff from the ether by living in America all of my life, I’d picked up a bit on how ranking works in the various branches of the armed forces. But my knowledge was pretty cursory. I could tell you that stars on a shoulder meant the person in uniform was a general or that a single chevron on the sleeve meant they were a private, but that’s about it.

You might think that military rank isn’t something you need to know if you’re not in the service yourself, but as someone who reads a lot of biographies and military history books, I’ve found myself getting lost and a bit confused with the different ranks thrown around, the significance of moving from one rank to the next, or the authority that a certain figure did or did not have over another.

So I decided to study up and learn about ranks in the different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, their respective insignia, and where to look on uniforms to locate this insignia. I’ve got to say, it’s been one of the most fruitful, knowledge-building exercises I’ve done in awhile I’m already seeing payoffs with my historical reading. And it’s nice to know that should I run into a member of the military, I’d be able to know at a glance where they fall in the hierarchy.

In the course of my research, I discovered that there really didn’t exist a guide to rank out there that I found sufficiently comprehensive and useful. So I decided to create my own and share it with all you fellow clueless civilians. Ten-hut! And read up.

United States Army Ranks and Insignia

Where to Look

With all branches of the military, where rank insignia is placed on the body depends on two factors: 1) the type of uniform (combat, dress, etc.), and 2) whether the individual is enlisted or an officer.

All the branches follow pretty much the same pattern in regards to both factors, but there are some subtle differences.

Combat Uniform

Center of the chest: Whether he’s an officer or enlisted, the Soldier’s rank will be on a patch in the middle of the chest on a combat uniform.

Service Dress Uniform

Enlisted: Both sleeves.

Officers: Shoulders. While the Marines and Air Force use pins on the shoulders of the uniform to indicate officer rank, the Army uses shoulder boards similar to the Navy. They’re pieces of fabric that have the officer’s rank embroidered on it.

Army Enlisted Ranks & Insignia (from lowest to highest)

Private First Class
Corporal (From corporal on, all ranks are considered non-commissioned officers. Unlike commissioned officers who receive their authority via a commission from the President, non-commissioned officers get their authority simply from their rank.)
Staff Sergeant
Sergeant First Class
Master Sergeant
First Sergeant
Sergeant Major
Command Sergeant Major
Sergeant Major of the Army

Army Warrant Officer Ranks & Insignia

Warrant officers are technical leaders and specialists. There are warrant officers for intelligence, aviation, and military police. They take the same oath as commissioned officers, but they are ranked below commissioned officers.

Warrant Officer
Chief Warrant Officer Two
Chief Warrant Officer Three
Chief Warrant Officer Four
Chief Warrant Officer Five

Army Commissioned Officer Ranks & Insignia

Commissioned officers receive their authority from the President of the United States and take part in executive leadership training.

Note that the highest rank in the Army — General of the Army or what is often called a “five-star general” — is a wartime rank. It is not currently active in the U.S. military and hasn’t been held since the mid-20th century. The same applies to the General of the Air Force and the Fleet Admiral of the U.S. Navy.

RankInsigniaShoulder Board
Second Lieutenant
First Lieutenant
Lieutenant Colonel
Brigadier General
Major General
Lieutenant General
General of the Army

United States Marine Corps Ranks and Insignia

Where to Look

Combat Uniform

Enlisted and officers: Collar. For both enlisted and officers, rank insignia is pinned on the collar of the combat uniform. Enlisted ranking insignia is black metal. Officer ranking insignia are polished pins while in garrison subdued black in the field.

Service Uniform

Enlisted: Both sleeves.

Officers: Pins on both jacket epaulets and/or both shirt collars.

The same protocols apply to blue dress, blue-white dress, red dress, and evening dress uniforms. Enlisted Marines wear insignia on sleeves officers wear pins on shoulders.

Marine Enlisted Ranks & Insignia (from lowest to highest)

Private First Class
Lance Corporal
Corporal (From here on out, all ranks are considered non-commissioned officers.)
Staff Sergeant
Gunnery Sergeant
Master Sergeant
First Sergeant
Master Gunnery Sergeant
Sergeant Major
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps

Marine Warrant Officer Ranks & Insignia

Warrant Officer
Chief Warrant Officer Two
Chief Warrant Officer Three
Chief Warrant Officer Four
Chief Warrant Officer Five

Marine Commissioned Officer Ranks & Insignia

RankInsigniaShoulder Strap
Second Lieutenant
First Lieutenant
Lieutenant Colonel
Brigadier General
Major General
Lieutenant General

United States Air Force Ranks and Insignia

Where to Look

Air Combat Uniform

Enlisted: Both sleeves will have a black embroidered patch of the enlisted Airman’s rank.

Officer: Rank insignia is embroidered on both sides of the collar.

Service Dress Uniform

Enlisted: Both sleeves. You’ll see a blue and white patch on both the upper sleeves of the uniform.

Officers: Shoulder pins.

Air Force Enlisted Ranks & Insignia (from lowest to highest)

Airman First Class
Senior Airman
Staff Sergeant (From here on out, all ranks are considered non-commissioned officers.)
Technical Sergeant
Master Sergeant
Senior Master Sergeant
Chief Master Sergeant
Command Chief Master Sergeant
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force

Air Force Warrant Officer Ranks & Insignia

The Air Force discontinued the Warrant Officer grade in 1958.

Air Force Commissioned Officer Ranks & Insignia

RankInsigniaShoulder Strap
Second Lieutenant
First Lieutenant
Lieutenant Colonel
Brigadier General
Major General
Lieutenant General
General of the Air Force

United States Navy Rates and Insignia

Where to Look

Thanks to its rich nautical history, the Navy has some subtle differences on how they display rank, particularly on the dress uniforms of officers.

Navy Working Uniform

Enlisted and officers: Patch on center of chest. Both enlisted Sailors and officers have an insignia patch sewn onto the center of the chest of the working uniform.

Navy Service Uniform

Enlisted and officers: Pin on shirt collars. Both enlisted Seamen and officers display rank on the collar of their shirt when in service uniform.

Service/Full Dress Blue

Enlisted: Patch on the left sleeve.

Chief Petty Officers: Patch on the left sleeve.

Officers: Stripes on the bottom of both jacket sleeves.

Service/Full Dress White

Enlisted: Patch on the upper left sleeve.

Chief Petty Officer: Pins on both sides of the collar.

Officers: Boards on shoulders.

Navy Enlisted Rates & Insignia (from lowest to highest)

RankSleeve InsigniaCollar Device
Seaman Apprentice
Petty Officer Third Class (From here on out, all ranks are considered non-commissioned officers.)
Petty Officer Second Class
Petty Officer First Class
Chief Petty Officer (Chief Petty Officers are non-commissioned offers, but form a separate community within the Navy. There's a lot of speciality exams, a peer review process, and even an approval by Congress before a Seaman can become a Chief Petty Officer.)
Senior Chief Petty Officer
Master Chief Petty Officer
Command Senior Chief Petty Officer
Command Master Chief Petty Officer
Fleet/Force Master Chief Petty Officer
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

Navy Warrant Officer Rates & Insignia

RankInsigniaShoulder Board
Chief Warrant Officer Two
Chief Warrant Officer Three
Chief Warrant Officer Four
Chief Warrant Officer Five

Navy Commissioned Officer Rates & Insignia

RankInsigniaShoulder Board
(Dress White)
Sleeve Cuff
(Dress Blues)
Lieutenant Junior Grade
Lieutenant Commander
Rear Admiral (lower half)
Rear Admiral
Vice Admiral
Fleet Admiral

United States Coast Guard Ranks and Insignia

It’s very similar to the Navy rankings and insignia with a few style changes to differentiate the two branches.

When did the use of chevrons as military rank devices begin? - History

The Navy ranks are not as hard to learn as they look and knowing them will keep you out of trouble.

E-2 = 2 strips then just add another for E-3.

Petty Officers have the same thing.. Just add a Chevron as you go from E-4 to E-6.

Chiefs do kind of the same thing. Just keep adding a star as they go up in rank. Chiefs get a anchor, Senior Chiefs get a star and Master Chiefs get 2 stars. Pay attention to the fact that the Fleet and Force Master Chiefs are two separate ranks but wear the same insignia.

You will figure it out. I didn’t even know what a petty officer was when I got to RTC in 2005, but I am a quick learner and picked it up pretty easy. For the kind of people who are searching through BootCamp4Me and other sites, you guys are going above and beyond the call and thats great! So get to studying.

Pay Grade Rank Shoulder Insignia Spoken Description Collar Device Collar Device Description
Navy Enlisted Ranks & Insignia
E-1 Seaman Recruit (SR) No Insignia No Description No Description No Description

Some Differences

The Navy changes the color of its lower pay grades to help with recognition. Since you are not Petty Officers and do not have your rate on your sleeves, the Navy uses color to signify your position on the team.

For Example, lets say your job is to work on airplanes, if you are an E-2/E-3 when you graduate basic training you will have a green patch on your uniform. Same difference if you are a fireman or construction man. Everyone else gets the black and white.

Pay Grade Rank Regular Patch Construction man Airman Fireman
Navy Enlisted Ranks & Insignia
E-2 Seaman Apprentice (SA)
E-3 Seaman (SN)

When did the use of chevrons as military rank devices begin? - History

By JOSHUA KARSTEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 26, 2019

MANAMA, Bahrain — The Navy is doing away with “misconduct” red stripes for senior sailors, among other changes outlined in a new uniform policy released Monday.

The 13 changes are a result of feedback received from the fleet, according to the message signed by Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke.

Starting June 1, all sailors over the 12-year service mark will be authorized to wear gold chevrons on their dress and service uniforms, a stark contrast to the red stripe worn by some senior enlisted sailors as a visible sign of misconduct from some point in their careers.

The current policy mandates that sailors who have received nonjudicial punishment or court-martials within the past 12 years wear red stripes. Sailors who already have reached the milestone had to restart the 12-year clock if they had further infractions. Each stripe represents four years of service, with the gold previously indicating good conduct.

While multiple enlisted sailors welcomed removal of the stigma associated with red stripes, others online cried foul on the CNP Facebook page, viewing their gold stripes as a badge of honor.

“Gold stripes mean something,” one user commented. “Some traditions are worth keeping, this was one of them,” another said.

“It says you did the right things for over a decade and it was reflected on your uniform,” Chief Petty Officer Steve Owsley, who has gold stripes and has been in the Navy just shy of 20 years, told Stars and Stripes. “Many times, when servicemembers make a mistake in the Navy, the most important part is to own that mistake and accept responsibility for it.”

Another change is the authorization of the command patch to replace the left-shoulder “Don’t Tread On Me” patch, currently a standard across the fleet since the Navy transitioned to the Type III green digital camouflage uniform in 2016.

Although the command patches will be considered optional, sailors have pushed for this change as a source of pride and distinction between commands.

“I think the option for sailors to wear command or unit patches is a great, new change,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Tristan Collop, currently serving in Bahrain. “It allows commands to wear their unit pride on their sleeves, literally.”

The design of a command logo patch must be approved by the unit’s commanding officer, the message said.

Meanwhile, the all-too common occurrence of E-4 sailors receiving salutes now has a potential remedy. Navy captains will have the option to purchase silver-thread O-6 rank insignias for the Type III uniform to distinguish them from 3rd class crows, which have a strong resemblance to the black O-6 eagle when seen at a distance.

Other items will affect female uniforms, including new slacks and skirts for chiefs and officers, flat shoes for dress uniforms and a clarification on the use of ponytails, previously ambiguous for both style and use in uniform. The message also introduced an optional-wear T-shirt for nursing sailors.

Other updates include information on mandatory sea bag items. The full message can be found at https://www.public.navy.mil.

The Navy released a new uniform policy update. Dress and service uniform gold chevrons for 12-year sailors and the long-awaited type III uniform command patches are among the list.

Navy Ratings

Rating Structure
The U.S. Navy rating structure is confusing to most people outside the organization. A brief overview of Navy enlisted rate and ratings follows. Two similar sounding terms are used to describe Navy enlisted status - rate and rating. Rate equates to military pay grade and rating is one's occupational specialty. Petty officer third class (PO3) is a rate. Boatswain Mate is a rating. Used in combination, Boatswain Mate Third Class (BM3), defines both the rate, petty officer third class, and rating Boatswain Mate.

Pay Grade
Pay grade constitutes a numbering system from junior to senior, and is linear across all five branches of the U.S. military. The lowest military enlisted pay grade is E-1 and the highest E-9 in the Army as well as the Navy. Officer pay grades include W-1 through W-5 for warrant officers and O-1 through O-10 for officers. Enlisted personnel may be promoted from enlisted to warrant officer status and in some cases directly to officer status. In example, the writer served as an E-1 through E-7, W-1 through W-4, and O-2 through O-6, sixteen different pay grades in a four decade career.

Rate or rank?
Rate, such as First Class Petty Officer, describes the Navy enlisted pay grade E-6. Officers do not have rates but are said to have rank. Lieutenant (rank) describes a Naval officer of pay grade O-3. The officer's occupational specialty is described in a numerical code.

A Navy rating is defined as an occupation that consists of specific skills and abilities. Each rating has its own specialty badge which is worn on the left sleeve by all qualified men and women in that field. In the Navy and Coast Guard, pay grades E-4 through E-9 fall within a rating and reflect a distinct level of achievement within the promotion pyramid.

General ratings. Broad occupational fields such as Electronics Technician, Machinist Mate or Electrician are general ratings. During World War I the Navy survived with but thirteen ratings. Through the years the Navy has used over 100 ratings with 60+ remaining in use today. In some cases ratings combine at the Senior Chief Petty Officer (E-8) or Master Chief Petty Officer (E-9) level. In example, CU Constructionman combines the Builder (BU), Engineering Aide (EA and) Steelworker (SW) Seabee ratings at the Senior Chief and Master Chief Petty Officer levels.

Service ratings
. Service ratings are sub categories of general ratings that require further specialized training and qualifications. They are established and deleted with service requirements and changes in personnel management philosophy. In example, Gunner's Mate, a general rating, has been at times divided into the service ratings of Gunner's Mate Guns (GMG) and Gunner's Mate Missiles (GMM). Service ratings are most used in the E-4 and E-5 pay grade with the ratings merging at the senior Petty Officer level.

Navy Enlisted Classifications (NEC). Numerical codes appended to a rating are heavily used in the modern Navy to indicate specialized qualifications. For example, a Master-at-Arms First Class with a specialty of handling drug detecting dogs, is a MA1 (2005). A list of these NEC codes is provided in the Navy Personnel Command's reference library NAVPERS 180086F. The pdf file located off site. Note: NEC's are undergoing major revision (July 2017).

Emergency ratings . Emergency ratings may be established in time of war. World War Two saw twenty-two Navy Specialist ratings and the Coast Guard used six additional Specialist ratings. The term Specialist evolved to Emergency Service Rating and finally to Emergency Rating in the thirty-two years of use. Emergency rating badges are distinguished by a letter of the alphabet enclosed in a diamond below the eagle. One example is Welfare & Recreation Leader, a "W" inside a diamond. This emergency rating most often worked with the chaplain. The rate was discontinued following World War Two. For a number of years the chaplain's assistant was a Yeoman with NEC 2525. The YN (2525) became a full fledged rating in 1979 as the present day Religious Program Specialist, RP.

Non rate
A non rate (not rated) is one serving in pay grade E-1 to E-3. The non rate is further subdivided by a general career path, aviation (airman), deck (seaman), engineering (fireman), construction (constructionman), and medical (hospitalman).

Many bluejackets enter advanced training schools following recruit training to complete the entry level requirements for a career field. Graduates are designated in an occupational specialty even though they have not achieved Petty Officer status of pay grade E-4 and up. CSSN Jane P. Jones has passed the specific career field qualifications for entry into the general rating of Culinary Specialist, but is not a petty officer. CS denotes the career field of Culinary Specialist and SN is the abbreviation for Seaman, the non rated E-3 pay grade.

Sailors who go directly to a station, ship or squadron without specialized school training following recruit training are encouraged to select a career field. Through correspondence courses provided for self study and on-the-job training (OJT), they may qualify for entry into a rating. This path is called "striking for rate." A seaman working in the deck department of a ship will by work assignment find herself most often in training for the deck rating of Boatswain Mate. Many "strikers" will venture into other departments to become a Yeoman, Damage Controlman or other rating as openings occur. Many technical ratings are restricted to formal school graduates and thereby closed to "strikers." Having experienced the width and depth of Navy life, most "strikers" become excellent petty officers.

Going to extremes

The US Army Alpha and Beta test results garnered widespread publicity and were analyzed by Carl Brigham, a Princeton University psychologist and early founder of psychometrics, in a 1922 book A Study of American Intelligence. Brigham applied meticulous statistical analyses to demonstrate that American intelligence was declining, claiming that increased immigration and racial integration were to blame. To address the issue, he called for social policies to restrict immigration and prohibit racial mixing.

A few years before, American psychologist and education researcher Lewis Terman had drawn connections between intellectual ability and race. In 1916, he wrote:

High-grade or border-line deficiency … is very, very common among Spanish-Indian and Mexican families of the Southwest and also among Negroes. Their dullness seems to be racial, or at least inherent in the family stocks from which they come … Children of this group should be segregated into separate classes … They cannot master abstractions but they can often be made into efficient workers … from a eugenic point of view they constitute a grave problem because of their unusually prolific breeding.

There has been considerable work from both hard and social scientists refuting arguments such as Brigham's and Terman's that racial differences in IQ scores are influenced by biology.

Critiques of such "hereditarian" hypotheses — arguments that genetics can powerfully explain human character traits and even human social and political problems — cite a lack of evidence and weak statistical analyses. This critique continues today, with many researchers resistant to and alarmed by research that is still being conducted on race and IQ.

But in their darkest moments, IQ tests became a powerful way to exclude and control marginalized communities using empirical and scientific language. Supporters of eugenic ideologies in the 1900s used IQ tests to identify "idiots", "imbeciles", and the "feebleminded." These were people, eugenicists argued, who threatened to dilute the White Anglo-Saxon genetic stock of America.

Compulsory sterilization in the US on the basis of IQ, criminality, or sexual deviance continued formally until the mid 1970s when organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center began filing lawsuits on behalf of people who had been sterilized. In 2015, the US Senate voted to compensate living victims of government-sponsored sterilization programs.

Add one rank level for each set of chevrons. For example, three wings denotes an E-4 Senior Airman.

Make note of the chevrons being added on top of the Air Force insignia. Once five chevrons have been added to the middle and bottom of the insignia to denote the rank of E-6 Technical Sergeant, ranks will then fill in additional chevrons on top of the insignia. Again, each chevron indicates another increase in rank. For example, five chevrons on the middle and bottom and two above the insignia for a total of seven chevrons indicates the rank of E-8.

Union Troops Capture Atlanta

With the outcome of the Civil War still in doubt, the North turned its hopes to Ulysses S. Grant, who in March 1864 was given command of all Union armies and promoted to lieutenant general, a rank last held in wartime by George Washington. In this capacity, Grant came up with a plan to attack the Confederacy simultaneously on multiple fronts, using 𠇊ll parts of the army together.” 

He participated in the so-called Overland Campaign himself, in which a large Union force engaged Confederate General Robert E. Lee in several bloody battles around Richmond, Virginia, the Southern capital. But after suffering an estimated 55,000 casualties (killed, wounded and missing) in just a few weeks, Grant was forced to back off and initiate a siege of Petersburg, Virginia, a rail hub that Richmond depended on for supplies. 

Smaller Union forces fared no better on Virginia’s Bermuda Hundred peninsula and in the Shenandoah Valley, whereas a planned offensive against Mobile, Alabama, never even got off the ground following the disastrous Red River Campaign in Louisiana. To add insult to injury, Confederate raiders in July came within a hair’s breadth of entering Washington, D.C.

William T. Sherman (center, with arm on cannon) surveys the field during the siege of Atlanta.

Only a campaign against Atlanta seemed to be making progress. Under General William T. Sherman, the successor to Grant as the top Union commander in the West, about 100,000 men departed Chattanooga, Tennessee, in May, heading south along a railroad line. In their way stood some 63,000 troops led by Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, who took up a series of strong defensive positions only to retreat each time after being outflanked by long, roundabout Union marches. 

Wary of engaging his numerically superior opponents head on, Johnston tried to goad them into attacking. This strategy worked once, as his trench-protected soldiers cut down roughly 3,000 northerners who charged up Kennesaw Mountain on June 27, while losing fewer than 1,000 of their own. 

But neither this setback nor near-daily skirmishes prevented Sherman from continuing his advance, oftentimes through heavy rain, including one storm in which a single lightning bolt killed or wounded 15 of his men. By the second week of July, Sherman’s force had reached the outskirts of Atlanta, then a city of around 20,000 that served as a rail hub and manufacturing center.

Lieutenant General John Bell Hood

Fed up with the constant withdrawals, Confederate President Jefferson Davis replaced Johnston on July 17 with the aggressive General John B. Hood, whose right leg had been amputated at the Battle of Chickamauga and whose left arm had been permanently crippled at the Battle of Gettysburg. True to form, Hood decided not to rely on the extensive defensive fieldworks ringing Atlanta, which had been built largely by slave labor, and instead went on the attack. 

His first offensive took place on July 20, when he attempted to drive back one of the three armies under Sherman’s command as it crossed Peachtree Creek. But although the Union force bent, it ultimately held its position, suffering about 1,700 casualties while inflicting at least 2,500.

Undeterred, Hood targeted a second Sherman army two days later in what would become known as the Battle of Atlanta. Prior to the fighting, he sent thousands of men on a secret, overnight march around the Union’s left flank. Despite arriving into position hours later than planned, they caught their opponents by surprise. 

The delay proved costly, however, because Union commanders had readjusted their troops that morning. As a result, they were able to meet certain Confederate divisions head-on rather than being attacked from the side or rear. During the course of the battle, the southerners launched assault after assault from seemingly all directions, killing high-ranking General James B. McPherson and briefly breaching the Union line. Yet the Yankees rallied under McPherson’s replacement, General John A. 𠇋lack Jack” Logan, and when darkness fell the rebels were no closer to dislodging them. 

Once more, the Confederates suffered more casualties than their Northern counterparts𠅊n estimated 6,000 compared to 3,700𠅊 particularly devastating outcome considering their already limited manpower.

Major General James B. McPherson was the second highest ranking Union officer killed during the war.

On July 28, Hood initiated still another battle, his third in nine days. But his troops were defeated again at Ezra Church, an encounter that cost him some 3,000 men, in contrast to only 632 on the Union side. With it now clear that Hood could no longer effectively confront Sherman in the field, the Yankees stepped up their artillery bombardment of Atlanta and maneuvered to cut its railroad supply lines. 

Once the last line fell in the midst of a fourth Union victory𠅊rguably the most one-sided yet—Hood evacuated the city on September 1, blowing up a long munitions train on the way out so that it wouldn’t fall into enemy hands. As Yankee troops prepared to pour in the following day, Atlanta’s mayor officially surrendered. 𠇊tlanta is ours, and fairly won,” Sherman boasted in a telegram.

Just a few weeks earlier, President Lincoln had doubted his re-election chances. “I am going to be beaten𠉪nd unless some great change takes place, badly beaten,” he purportedly told a White House visitor. Yet the capture of Atlanta, along with a subsequent Union victory in the Shenandoah Valley, completely changed the national mood. Lincoln would go on to win 55 percent of the popular vote and all but three states that November, receiving overwhelming support from the armed forces. 

Meanwhile, Sherman’s troops were still in Atlanta, deporting over 1,600 of the city’s remaining civilian residents and destroying factories, warehouses and railroad installations, along with numerous private homes. “If the people raise a howl against my barbarity and cruelty,” Sherman wrote to another general, “I will answer that war is war and not popularity-seeking.”

Rather than spend much time chasing Hood, who was attacking his supply line from Chattanooga to Atlanta, Sherman decided to press onward. On November 15, he and some 60,000 men set out on their so-called March to the Sea, in which they wrecked railroad tracks, pillaged and otherwise terrorized Georgia’s populace from Atlanta to Savannah. 

Watch the video: Top 15 Largest Armies in the World 1816-2020


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