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The Different Ranks in the US Air Force

December 25, 2011  by: Madan G Singh  Points: 15   Category: Others    Views: 376

The US Air Force is the largest in the world and its rank structure needs to be understood

         

The United States Air Force is the only Air Force in the world which has a global reach. The USAF can operate in any part of the world with a string of airbases spread from Japan to Germany and Diego Garcia (Indian Ocean) to the Pacific. This massive Air Armada obviously must have a rank structure and a system of command and control to be able deliver to its optimum potential.

During the Second World War the USAF functioned as a part of the US army, hence the pattern of ranks is similar to the US Army, unlike the Royal Air Force and the Indian Air Force where the ranks are distinct from the Army. The United Air Force though now an independent entity, thus has ranks that conform to the US Army.

The American air force has two sets of classes referred to as officers and enlisted men. The officers start from Second Lieutenant which is the lowest rank. This conforms to the rank of Pilot Officer in the RAF. The next promotion Second Lieutenant is awarded to an Officer on successfully passing out of the Academy. It is the junior most officers. The next rank is Lieutenant, followed by Captain and Major. These correspond to Flying Officer, Flight Lieutenant and Squadron Leader in the R A F and the IAF.

Generally promotions to these ranks are automatic, but a selection procedure is involved in the promotions after Major. The promotions after Major are Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel and Brigadier General. These are senior appointments and achieved by selection and after being cleared by a promotion board. The corresponding ranks in the RAF are Wing Commander, Group Captain and Air Commodore.

The set of promotions after Brigadier General are referred to as general cadre and are Major General, Lieutenant General and General. These are senior positions and achieved after at least 20 years of active service. During war time or as a mark of great service there is another rank referred to as General of the Air force that can be conferred. This is equivalent to Field Marshal in the Army. A GOAF is awarded to only a select few and must be cleared by the US President.

Another set of ranks is for the enlisted men. These commence from Airman and follow up with Airman First class, Sergeant and staff Sergeant. There are a further set of 3 promotions referred to as Master Sergeant, Chief Master Sergeant and Command Master Sergeant. The Sergeant ranks are the backbone of the Force and extremely important.

The ranks in the USAF also have distinct ensigns which are worn on the shoulders or the sleeves and are easily recognizable.




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