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The RMA ranking system is heavily influenced by the Code of Ranks formerly used by the British military on Old Earth. This system, which has been in use for the past several hundred years, suits the RMA well. It allows for promotions, an important key to morale, yet the number of ranks allows plenty of time to judge a soldier’s ultimate abilities. This helps to prevent incompetent soldiers from being promoted too far too fast, which can sometimes happen in militaries with too small a number of ranks.
In the RMA, ranks have a multitude of functions. First, because they are dependent on the accomplishment of a certain amount of academy course work, they can be an indicator of an individual member’s dedication and interest in the club and second, they provide an avenue by which members can roleplay in the Honorverse. The accompanying rank & insignia images will help you to understand the RMA structure version. Study it carefully, paying particular attention to the abbreviations, which will be used extensively from this point forward.
There are two basic forms of rank: enlisted and officer. The enlisted ranks are separated into two sets: basic enlisted, grades E-1 through E-3, and non-commissioned officers (NCOs), grades E-4 through E-11. In a similar fashion, the officer ranks are separated into two sets: junior/senior officers, grades O-1 through O-6, and flag officers, grades F-1 through F-6.
The enlisted ranks are designated by a system of stripes worn on the left arm of the uniform.
E-1, Private (PVT)
Recruits who have reached their 16th birthday may enter the RMA with the rank of Private. Each combat theater must provide for the initial training of its soldiers and therefore operates their own boot camps. The drill instructors at these camps are not active-duty members of the RMA, but retirees, reservists and soldiers who work as instructors to free up active sergeants and lieutenants for more important tasks.
Privates wear one gold hash mark.
E-2, Private First Class (PFC)
Having completed boot camp training, the young soldier attends one of the several specialty schools located in the Manticoran Home System. These schools teach recruits particular skills such as battlefield communications or combat vehicle operation. After successful specialty training, the private is usually promoted and assigned to a regiment. Most soldiers are assigned to a regiment within their native home world, and is likely to remain with it for the standard 5-year tour with the RMA.
Privates First-Class wear two gold hash marks.
E-3, Lance Corporal (LCPL)
After a short time, usually less than a year, the soldier is promoted to lance corporal. Though there is little distinction between the duties of a lance corporal and a PFC, lance corporals receive higher pay and begin to collect death compensation (a fund for the next-of-kin in case of the soldier’s death). Lance corporals who have shown leadership ability will be sent to a small units school for training in tactical skills.
A lance corporal is usually a fireteam leader. This is the minimum rank required to command a fireteam.
Lance corporals wear three gold hash marks.
E-4, Corporal (CPL)
The rank of Corporal, along with the rank of sergeant, are the only ranks that have not disappeared from the NCO Corps since the days of Old Earth. The rank of corporal has always been placed at the base of the NCO ladder. For the most part, corporals serve as the smallest unit leaders in the RMA. Principally team leaders, like sergeants, CPLs are responsible for individual training, personal appearance and cleanliness of their troops. As the SGTMAJ is known as the epitome of success in the army, the CPL is its humble beginnings. This is the minimum rank required to have the billet of non-commissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) at the level of company and higher.
The rank of corporal nominally corresponds to commanding a section of soldiers.
Corporals wear one inverted gold chevron.
Non-commissioned officers, more commonly referred to as sergeants, play an important role in the RMA. In infantry units, sergeants must play the dual role of tactician and protector of the men and women in their units. In other branches of the RMA, sergeants are assigned to be vehicle commanders, gunnery chiefs, or other positions of importance. The many demands facing sergeants are why few common soldiers in the RMA ever attain this rank. For this reason, the RMA considers the sergeant to be an NCO with pay and privileges far above the lower ranks.
E-5, Platoon Sergeant (PSGT)
The sergeant operates in an environment where the sparks fly; where the axe meets the stone. Although not the lowest level of rank where command is exercised, this level is the first at which enlisted soldiers are referred to as "sergeant," and out of all the NCO grades, this one very possibly has the greatest impact on the lower ranking troops. Like the staff sergeant, the sergeant is responsible for the individual training, personal appearance, and cleanliness of their troops. While a new sergeant certainly will be developing new skills, strengthening old ones and generally getting better, he IS a sergeant! And therefore, is no less a professional than those grades of rank to follow. The sergeant is responsible at the squad level and has several teams under his authority.
Platoon sergeants wear two inverted gold chevrons.
E-6, Staff Sergeant (SSGT)
This grade closely parallels that of the sergeant (SGT) in duties and responsibilities. In fact, the basic duties and responsibilities of all NCO ranks never change, but there are significant differences between this step in the NCO structure and the preceding one, and understanding these differences is vital. The staff sergeant is a more experienced leader of troops; he has considerably more time in the RMA than the SGT. It is proper to expect that the staff sergeant can bring the benefits of that experience to bear in any situation. A staff sergeant is usually also the color sergeant of a regiment and responsible for the color guard on ceremonial occasions.
The major difference between the SSGT and the SGT is not, as often mistakenly believed, authority, but rather the sphere of influence. The SSGT is in daily contact with large numbers of troops, and will often have one or more sergeants who work under his direct leadership; he is responsible for their continued successful development as well as that of the other soldiers in the platoon.
More often than not, a lack of understanding of the function of this important NCO position by leaders is the cause of disruption and failure in small unit training. If NCOs are the "backbone of the army, then SSGTs are the vertebrae". The complexity of the SSGT's job increases as the responsibilities broaden, so how well the staff sergeant develops, maintains and uses the full range of potential of his troops measures his professional competence. The success of the SSGT, more than any other NCO rank, leads the path to the army success, and the footprints you see behind those of our greatest military leaders are probably those of a staff sergeant, where he stood confident, proud, and eager to assist.
Staff Sergeants wear three inverted gold chevrons.
E-7, Master Sergeant (MSGT)
Master Sergeants wear three inverted gold chevrons with one gold rocker on top.
E-8, First Sergeant (1SGT)
First sergeants wear three inverted gold chevrons with two gold rockers on top.
E-9, Sergeant-Major (SGTMAJ)
The sergeant-major carries out policies and polices standards of performance, training, appearance and conduct of enlisted personnel. They advise and initiate recommendations to the High Command and Marshal of the Army in matters pertaining to the NCO support channel. Enlisted troops who attain the distinction of being selected by the Marshal of the Army for the position of sergeant-major have reached the epitome of their careers. Perhaps slightly wiser and more experienced, the SGTMAJ is expected to function completely without supervision. Like the ancient sage, the sergeant-major's counsel is expected to be calm, settled, unequivocally accurate, but with an energy and enthusiasm that never wanes.... even in the worst of times.
The SGTMAJ provides information on problems affecting enlisted personnel and proposes solutions to these problems; on standards, professional development, growth and advancement of NCOs, morale, training, promotions and quality of life for troops and their family members. By utilizing command information channels, the SGM keeps troops current on enlisted issues and through the public media, informs the public of the RMA's mission, troops accomplishments, and future enlisted trends. Other functions of the SGM/A include: presenting the enlisted viewpoint to the Joint Chiefs, boards and committees, meeting with representatives of military and civilian organizations to discuss enlisted affairs and receiving enlisted personnel at appropriate ceremonies.
Sergeant-majors wear three inverted gold chevrons with three gold rockers on top.
E-10, Regimental Sergeant-Major (RSGTMAJ)
Both the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major and the special billets of Command Sergeant-Major (CSGTMAJ) and Sergeant Major of the Army (SGTMAJA) designate the senior enlisted positions in the RMA. It should be noted that the titles are a duty assignment rather than an actual rank.
A command sergeant major works for either a division, corps, field army or High Command staff member. Command sergeant majors wear three inverted gold chevrons with three gold rockers on top and a star in the middle.
The RMA has separate ranks for technicians and engineers, known as warrant officers. A warrant officer (WO) is a technician or engineer in the RMA who is designated an officer by a warrant, as distinguished from a commissioned officer who is designated an officer by a commission. WOs are highly skilled, single-track specialty officers. The authority they wield with this rank is restricted to matters concerning the repair and maintenance of equipment or their area of expertise.
Warrant officers are usually selected among the best and brightest nominees within the enlisted ranks. If someone is given a promotion with the enlisted ranks and they want to pursue a warrant then they must go through the Warrant Officer Promotion Board just like any other high ranking enlisted member. There is NO guarantee of being given a warrant when applying through the board system. Character, integrity, work ethic, and chapter role all factor into decisions made by the Warrant Officer board in their selections. If you do not make the cut the first time then you can apply again next cycle.
In the RMA, a WO (grade WO-1 to WO-5) is ranked as an officer above the senior-most enlisted ranks, as well as officer cadets and candidates, but below the officer grade of O-1. The warrant ranks are designated by a system of stripes worn on the left arm.
W-1, Warrant Officers Second Class (WO2)
Warrant officers 2nd class wear one inverted silver chevron and one silver crown on the collar.
W-2, Warrant Officer First Class (WO1)
Warrant officers 1st class wear one inverted silver chevron and two silver crowns on the collar.
W-3, Chief Warrant Officer (CWO)
Chief warrant officers wear two inverted silver chevrons and two gold crowns with wreaths on the collar.
W-4, Senior Chief Warrant Officer (SCWO)
Senior chief warrant officers wear two inverted silver chevrons and two gold crowns on the collar.
W-5, Master Chief Warrant Officer (MCWO)
Master chief warrant officers wear three inverted silver chevrons and three gold crowns with wreaths on the collar.
Officers in the RMA are not primarily charged with the safety of those they command, that responsibility falls to the sergeants and sergeant-majors. An officer’s primary task is to make and carry out plans. They must rid their minds of the fact that the blips of light on a computer screen represent people if they want to do their job efficiently, because only when the officers are efficient do the majority of soldiers survive.
The officer ranks are designated by a system of pips, planets and stars worn on the epaulets and collar.
Junior & Senior Officers
O-1 Second Lieutenant (2LT)
Second lieutenants wear one silver pip.
O-2 First Lieutenant (1LT)
First lieutenants are usually responsible for command of infantry and tank platoons, and artillery batteries in combat units.
This is the minimum rank required to command a platoon.
First Lieutenants wear one gold pip.
O-3 Captain (CPT)
Captains are responsible for carrying out plans given to them from above and for improvising new tactics if the plan begins to fail. This ability to think on the run is a trait highly prized in the RMA, and is something no amount of training can teach, though the academies try.
This is the minimum rank required to command a company.
Captains wear two gold pips.
O-4 Major (MAJ)
A major is usually the commanding officer (CO) of a battalion. However, in the RMA, an elite regiment of tanks, special infantry, or fighter craft might also be led by a major. At the battalion level, the major is expected to integrate strategic plans that his colonel has given him with the tactical realities reported by his subordinates. If this proves impossible, the major must develop a plan to save the majority of his forces without placing the rest of the regiment in danger.
Majors wear three gold pips.
O-5 Lieutenant Colonel (LCOL)
A lieutenant colonel usually commands a larger battalion or smaller regiment. He may also be the executive officer (XO) of a regiment or larger unit. Whether the unit’s first or second-in-command, it falls to the LCOL to see that the orders of the regimental commander are carried out. It is also the duty of the LCOL to handle most of the unit’s administrative duties to free the colonel for more planning time on the regiment’s future. In real-world battle, the light colonel is often placed in temporary command of a special group, such as a battalion being held in reserve or a group of combat engineers.
This is the minimum command rank for a battalion.
Lieutenant colonels wear four gold pips.
O-6 Colonel (COL)
A colonel commands a regiment or a minor department within an armed forces bureaucracy. Line colonels are expected to be both tacticians and strategists. Supplying his regiment is also the responsibility of the COL, which often means that he spends as much time fighting the bureaucracy as he does the enemy. This is the last rank where the officer is expected to show loyalty to one particular regiment.
This is the minimum rank required to command a regiment, and the minimum rank needed to hold a billet with High Command that is not MotA or DMotA.
Colonels wear one gold planet (bas relief circle).
F-1 Brigadier General (BGEN)
Brigadier generals wear two gold planets.
F-2 Major General (MGEN)
The major general commands a division, but could be assigned as executive officer (XO) of a corps or field army. When acting as the XO in a so-called frontline corps, this officer must act as his superior’s eyes and ears, often traveling to the heart of the battle to assume command of key regiments while constantly reporting back to his commander.
Major generals wear one gold nine-pointed star.
F-3 Lieutenant General (LGEN)
The lieutenant general usually commands a corps. Because corps are composed of many divisions, which are composed of multiple regiments, that are often spread out over several worlds, this officer must learn both tact and politics to manage such a large group of soldiers.
Lieutenant generals wear two gold nine-pointed stars, side by side.
F-4 General (GEN)
Once a LGEN has proven his abilities to lead widely scattered corps, he is promoted to command of a field army. When commanding a field army, a general must be intimately acquainted with the planets, soldiers, civilians, and resources entrusted to his care. He must also somehow manage the mountains of supplies needed to keep his field army and subordinate coordinating units capable of fighting.
Generals wear three gold nine-pointed stars arranged in a triangle.
F-5 Field Marshal (FMAR)
Appointed by the Marshal of the Army, the field marshals are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the RMA units. Specifically, they report all news and directives from the Marshal of the Army to their respective field army commands and ensure such information is passed on to all subordinate elements. Likewise all reports, concerns and requests from all subordinate elements must be reported via the chain of command to the field marshals and through them to the Marshal of the Army. There are presently two authorized field marshal positions within the Royal Manticoran Army, which consists of both the MotA and the DMotA.
Field marshals wear four gold nine-pointed stars.