2TOOTLIFESTDemonstrate recognition of rank and paygrade of ALL Enlisted and Officer Rank Active Duty and CadetGiven a picture of ranks students will demonstrate knowledge by successfully identifying them and their paygrade.Rank knowledge is required to be considered for promotion.1st Year Cadets are required to miss no more than 25 questions on PFEReturning Cadets are required to miss no more than 15 questions on PFE
3AF Grade InsigniaThe Air Force grade insignia system is broken down into two“general” categories:Officer gradesO-1 through O-10 are the pay grades.Remember “O” is for OfficerEnlisted gradesE-1 through E-9 are the pay grades.Remember “E” is for EnlistedAn insignia is a badge or mark of office or honor. Insignia identifyThe rank of each member of the Armed Forces. There is differentbut distinctive insignia for each AF rank, enlisted and officer.
4AF Airmen (E-1 to E-4)Airman Basic (AB). The AB is an apprentice. Airmen Basics have no rank insignia. The official term of address is “airman basic” or “airman.” (Unofficially called: ‘Slick sleeves’)Airmen (Amn) wear a chevron of one stripe with a silver star in the center. Pay grade is E-2. An Amn is an apprentice (learning their job). The official term of address is “airman.”Airman First Class (A1C) wear a chevron of two stripes with a silver star in the center. Pay grade is E-3. An A1C complies with Air Force standards and is a role model for subordinates. The official term of address is “airman first class” or “airman.”Senior Airmen (SrA) wear a chevron of three stripes with a silver star in the center. Pay grade is E-4. Personnel serving as SrA are in a transition period from journeyman/worker to NCO. The official term of address is “senior airman” or “airman.”No Insignia
5AF Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) (E-5 to E-6) Staff Sergeants (SSgt) wear a chevron of four stripes with a silver star in the center. Pay grade is E-5. SSgts are primarily craftsmen with certain NCO supervisory responsibilities. The official term of address is “staff sergeant” or “sergeant.”Technical Sergeants (TSgt) wear a chevron of five stripes with a silver star in the center. Pay grade is E-6. TSgts hold a 7-skill level (or technician) and are qualified to perform highly complex technical duties and they also provide supervision. The official term of address is “technical sergeant” or “sergeant.”
6AF Senior NCOs – “Top 3” (E-7 to E-9) Master Sergeants (MSgt) wear a chevron of six stripes with a silver star in the center. One of the six stripes is in an inverted V position above the star. Pay grade is E-7. MSgts function primarily in craftsman and supervisory positions as they prepare for more advanced leadership and management positions. The official term of address is “master sergeant” or “sergeant.”Senior Master Sergeants (SMSgt) wear a chevron of seven stripes with a silver star in the center. Two of the seven stripes are in an inverted position above the star. Pay grade is E-8. SMSgts perform as superintendents or managers. The official term of address is “senior master sergeant” or “sergeant.”Chief Master Sergeants (CMSgt) wear a chevron of eight stripes with a silver star in the center. Three of the eight stripes are in an inverted position above the star. Pay grade is E-9. The rank of CMSgt is the highest Air Force enlisted rank, with the exception of the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force (CMSAF). CMSgts are superintendents and managers who provide senior enlisted leadership. The official term of address is “chief master sergeant” or “chief.”
7First SergeantIn the United States Air Force, First Sergeant is not a rank, but a special duty held by a senior enlisted member of a military unit who reports directly to the unit commander. This billet is held by individuals of ranks Master Sergeant, Senior Master Sergeant and Chief Master Sergeant, and is denoted on the rank insignia by a French lozenge. The first sergeant is responsible for the morale, welfare, and conduct of all the enlisted members in a squadron and is the chief adviser to the squadron commander concerning the enlisted force.
8Command Chief Master Sergeant The position of Command Chief Master Sergeant was created in November Formerly titled Senior Enlisted Advisor, Command Chief Master Sergeants serve as senior advisors to commanders at Wing, Numbered Air Force (NAF), Field Operating Agency (FOA), and Major Command (MAJCOM) levels.
9Chief Master Sergeant of the AF Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. RoyHolds highest position of any AF enlisted personnelActs as personal advisor to Air Force Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air ForceProvides information about welfare, effectiveness, and progress of enlisted force
10AF & AFJROTC Enlisted Ranks “The Differences” For enlisted grades, there are only slight differences between active duty insignia and Junior ROTC insignia.AF: Star inside a circleROTC: torch of knowledgeinside a shield andshape of the stripesKey Point! The number of stripes are the same for all of the enlisted ranks.
11Historical Footnote #1The current Air Force officer rank names and insignia were borrowed from the Army upon the establishment of the Air Force as a separate service in This explains why the Air Force has brigadier generals but no brigades. The insignia have been essentially unchanged since then, except for a brief period during the 1990s.
12Company Grade Officers (O-1 to O-3) Second Lieutenant (2nd Lt). Rank insignia is one gold bar. Pay grade is O-1 The "O" stands for officer. You address them as "Second Lieutenant" or "Lieutenant." (or ‘Butter bars’)First Lieutenant (1st Lt). Rank insignia is one silver bar. Pay grade is O-2. You address them as "First Lieutenant" or "Lieutenant."Captain (Capt). Rank insignia is two silver bars connected. Pay grade is O-3. You address them as "Captain."
13Historical Footnote #2"Lieutenant" comes from the French "lieu" meaning "place" and "tenant" meaning "holding." Literally, lieutenants are place holders. A Lieutenant "holds the place" (Latin: “locum tenens”) for, represents, the superior officer (normally the Captain).
14Field Grade Officers (O-4 to O-6) Major (Maj). Rank insignia is a gold oak leaf. Pay grade is O-4. You address them as "Major."Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col). Rank insignia is a silver oak leaf. Pay grade is O-5. You address them as "Lieutenant Colonel" or "Colonel."Colonel (Col). Rank insignia is a silver eagle. Paygrade is O-6. You address them as "Colonel."
15Historical Footnote #3, Part 1 Our present system of officers’ grade insignia began on 18 June 1780 when it was prescribed that Major Generals would wear two stars and Brigadier Generals one star on each epaulette. In 1832, the Colonel’s eagle was initiated and in 1836, leaves were adopted for Lieutenant Colonels and Majors, while Captains received two bars and one bar was prescribed for First Lieutenant. Second Lieutenants did not receive the gold bar until December 1917.
16Historical Footnote #3, Part 2 Gold is worth more than silver, but silver outranks gold. This is because the Army decreed in 1832 that infantry colonels would wear gold eagles on an epaulette of silver and all other colonels would wear silver eagles on gold. When majors and lieutenant colonels received the leaves, this tradition could not continue. So silver leaves represented lieutenant colonels and gold, majors. The case of lieutenants is different: First lieutenants had been wearing silver bars for 80 years before second lieutenants had any bars at all.
17Historical Footnote #3, Part 3 Other than the dates of authorization, nothing has been located as to why the leaf and bar was selected for officer’s insignia. Military routinely incorporate the design representing their country in their insignia and the eagle with shield, arrows and olive leaves was taken from the Coat of Arms of the United States.
18General Officer (0-7 to O-10) Brigadier General (Brig Gen). Rank insignia is one silver star. Pay grade is O-7. Terms of address are "Brigadier General" or "General."Major General (Maj Gen). Rank insignia is two silver stars in line. Pay grade is O-8. Terms of address are "Major General" or "General."Lieutenant General (Lt Gen). Rank insignia is three silver stars in line. Pay grade is O-9. Terms of address are "Lieutenant General" or "General."General (Gen). Rank insignia is four silver stars in line. The pay grade is O-10. Term of address is "General."
19Historical Footnote #4While majors outrank lieutenants: lieutenant generals outrank major generals. This comes from British tradition: Generals were appointed for campaigns and often called "captain generals." Their assistants were, naturally, "lieutenant generals." At the same time, the chief administrative officer was the "sergeant major general." Somewhere along the way, "sergeant" was dropped from the title.
20General of the Air Force In the United States Air Force, General of the Air Force is the highest rank, equivalent to a five star General. The rank has only been held by one person in history: Henry H. Arnold.The insignia for General of the Air Force has never been worn by an officer of the modern Air Force on active duty. Arnold was a General of the Army and retired before the Air Force was made a separate service, but on May 7, 1949 he was awarded the rank of General of the Air Force after his retirement, and was photographed in an Air Force uniform wearing the insignia of that rank.
21AF & AFJROTC Officer Ranks Differences For officer grades, active duty grade insignia are very different from cadet grade insigniaAF: bars, oak leafs, eagle and starsROTC: look like houses with stripes inside of them; the stripes can be thin or thick
22AFJROTC Officer Rank Cadet 2nd Lieutenant – one thin stripe Cadet 1st Lieutenant – two thin stripesCadet Captain – three thin stripes
23AFJROTC Officer Rank Cadet Major – one thick stripe Cadet Lieutenant Colonel – one thin stripe and one thick stripeCadet Colonel – two thin stripes and one thick stripe