What Is the Hierarchy Chart in the Military?


Quick Answer

A hierarchy chart in the military outlines the relative ranks of military personnel and their commanders. The president of the United States, as Commander-in-Chief, is at the top of the military chain of command, and enlisted personnel are at the bottom.

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Full Answer

Underneath the president are the National Security Council, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretaries of the Departments of the four branches of the armed forces and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Below these in rank are the actual service forces, or the officers and enlisted personnel that make up the military. Officers have the highest rank among service members. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have the rank of O10. The names of the officer ranks are uniform among the forces except for the Navy and Coast Guard, which share their own unique set of rank titles. The Navy and Coast Guard are also unique in having a class of Warrant Officers who rank beneath regular officers but above all enlisted personnel.

E9 is the highest enlisted rank. Each individual force has one E9 rank holder who is designated as the head of the enlisted forces. These are the Sergeant Major of the Army, the Master Chief Petty Officers of the Navy and Coast Guard, the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps and the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.

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