Marine ranks in descending order, with tables indicating abbreviations in the style used by the Marine Corps, pay grades, and 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. Commissioned officer ranks are further subdivided into generals, field-grade, and company-grade officers. The Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps are, by statute, 4 star ranks.
|General (Gen)||Lieutenant General (LtGen)||Major General (MajGen)||Brigadier General (BGen)|
|Field-grade Officers||Company-grade Officers|
|Colonel (Col)||Lieutenant Colonel (LtCol)||Major (Maj)||Captain (Capt)||First Lieutenant (1stLt)||Second Lieutenant (2ndLt)|
Warrant Officers provide leadership and training in specialized fields and skills. Unlike most other militaries, the United States military confers warrants and commissions on its Warrant Officers, though they are generally not responsible for leadership outside of their specialty. Warrant officers come primarily from the senior Non-Commissioned Officer 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 informally also referred to as "Gunner".
|Chief Warrant Officer-5 (CWO5)||Chief Warrant Officer-4 (CWO4)||Chief Warrant Officer-3 (CWO3)||Chief Warrant Officer-2 (CWO2)||Warrant Officer (WO)||Infantry Weapons Officer|
Enlisted Marines with paygrades of E-4 and E-5 are considered non-commissioned officers (NCOs) while those at E-6 and higher are considered Staff Noncommissioned Officers (SNCOs). 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.
The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps is a billet and special rank, conferred on the senior enlisted Marine of the entire Marine Corps, personally selected by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. It and the Marine Gunner are the only billets which rate modified rank insignia in place of the traditional rank insignia.
|Staff Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs)|
|Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps||Sergeant Major (SgtMaj)||Master Gunnery Sergeant (MGySgt)||First Sergeant (1stSgt)||Master Sergeant (MSgt)||Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt)||Staff Sergeant (SSgt)|
|Non-commissioned Officers (NCOs)||Junior enlisted|
|Sergeant (Sgt)||Corporal (Cpl)||Lance Corporal (LCpl)||Private First Class (PFC)||Private (Pvt)|
Different styles of rank insignia are worn on different Marine uniforms:
The gold stripes on red flash are worn on the Dress Blue coat, green stripes on red flash are worn on the Service "A" uniform coat; the rank insignia are worn on the upper sleeve of both coats. The khaki uniforms use green stripes on khaki flash, and again are worn on the upper sleeves of both long and short-sleeved service shirts. Utility uniform rank insignia are black metal pins and are worn on the collars. Musicians in the United States Marine Band wear insignia with the crossed rifles replaced by a lyre to denote their lack of a combat mission; full-service Marines who are attached to other bands continue to wear their normal rank insignia.
Forms of addressEdit
Marines address all enlisted personnel by rank, and all Commissioned officers with "sir" or "ma'am". Warrant Officers, regardless of rank, are addressed just as commissioned officers, but may also be addressed as "Warrant Officer", or "Gunner", although the latter is sometimes considered improper unless the officer is an Infantry Weapons Officer (MOS 0306). During recruit training, recruits are indoctrinated to address all superiors as "sir" or "ma'am".
The most junior ranks between pay grades E-1 and E-3 (Privates, Privates First Class, and Lance Corporals) are also referred to by proper rank and/or last name only, though the latter is informal.
During recruit training, recruits are not considered full-fledged Marines; as a result, all Marines who have completed recruit training are addressed as "sir" or "ma'am" by incoming recruits who are beginning recruit training. Also, incoming recruits must refer to themselves in the third person (i.e. "this recruit"), and their rank is replaced with the word "Recruit". This usually lasts until the last week of recruit training when in most instances, recruits are then considered-full fledged Marines. Likewise, during officer training, officer candidates are not yet commissioned Marine officers, and must refer to themselves as "this candidate" or "the candidate", even though some officer candidates have evolved to officer training from the enlisted ranks where they hold enlisted ranks. During the period of Officer Candidate School, each candidate is referred to as "candidate", and not "Marine".
Informally, some enlisted ranks have commonly used nicknames, though they are not official and may be improper for use in formal situations. The acceptability of nickname use by juniors is at the discretion of the individual rank holder. A Gunnery Sergeant is typically called "Gunny" and occasionally "Guns", a Master Sergeant is commonly called "Top", a First Sergeant is sometimes referred to as "The First Shirt", and a Master Gunnery Sergeant is "Master Gunny" or "Master Guns". Differing from the Army and Air Force, all ranks containing "Sergeant" are always addressed by their full rank and never shortened to simply "Sergeant" or "Sarge". A Private First Class is usually referred to as a PFC, instead of simply "private"; similarly, Lance Corporal is not shortened to "Corporal". The rank of Lance Corporal has some pejorative nicknames: "Lance Coolie", "Lance Coconut" and "Lance Criminal." Senior Officers may informally address junior officers by first name. Marines of the same rank may also address each other by first name when among peers only and never in the presence of junior or senior Marines.
Finally, Marines generally consider it an insult to be called a "Soldier" (as Soldiers are in the Army); the proper term is always Marine. When writing journalism or scholarly references to the Marine Corps, its elements, and/or individual Marines, the correct attributions might include, "Soldiers or Sailors and Marines", "members of the U.S. armed forces", or even simply "troops", which is an acceptable collective reference.