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• View topic - U.S. Armed Forces’ “4½-star” rank
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AMERICA - MILITARY BRANCH & RANK INSIGNIA

U.S. Armed Forces’ “4½-star” rank

Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines

Moderators: Miklós Lovász, kaldi, Chuck Anderson, Pavel Močoch, Erskine Calderon, Lukasz Gaszewski, ChrisWI, Zdzislaw Rudzki

U.S. Armed Forces’ “4½-star” rank

Unread postby jrichardn2 » Thu Jun 02, 2016 9:24 pm

When dcfowler posted his update about the Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard I was reminded of the special pay grade above O-10 (General or Admiral). According to the pay scale I downloaded from the U.S. Defense Finance and Accounting Service’s Web site:

“While serving as Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff/Vice Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff, Chief of Navy Operations, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Army/Air Force Chief of Staff, Chief of the National Guard Bureau Commander of a unified or specified combatant command, basic pay is $21,147.30”, which is quite a bit above the usual O-10 level.

Since I first heard about this, I’ve found it intriguing. It’s a kind of secret 5-star rank, where the 16 (I think) most senior generals are more senior than they appear.

I can see part of the problem. Except for autocracies, like North Korea, “O-11” ranks are rare, and usually only applied to great generals in wartime. Getting the real O-11 rank in place was a struggle in the U.S. Congress when America’s armed forces were counted in the millions. So I can see that 16 mostly deskbound Generals of the Army, Generals of the Air Force, and Fleet Admirals* would seem, well, odd.

What might be possible would be to call them, perhaps, Senior General or Senior Admiral, and to give them some special mark on their badges of rank. Gold stars are out: gold rather than silver betokens juniority, not seniority.

A little bar at the bottom? A wreath around the 4th star? Any thoughts on what would work in the American tradition? The Senior Admiral could have a half-stripe on top of his 3 full stripes (like a Lieutenant, j.g., or Lieutenant Commander).

* I’m about to post a separate topic about what a 5-star in the Marine Corps would be called!
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Re: U.S. Armed Forces’ “4½-star” rank

Unread postby marcpasquin » Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:43 am

in theory, four silver stars and one gold star in a 2-1-2 horizontal arrangement could work as subodinate to a 5 (silver) stars general but the difference might be lost on many.

2 stars on either sides of a US shield would be elegant in my view. if like you suggest you added a wreath, i think it should go around both outer so as not to look odd when display horizontally.
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Re: U.S. Armed Forces’ “4½-star” rank

Unread postby SFMRAS » Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:59 am

I like the stars-eagle-stars arrangement.
Other thoughts:
Five gold stars.
Change the orientation of the stars, perhaps in a square.
Different backing, say a colored band under the stars.

Not sure about naval cuff ranks. Maybe a line or rink under the two inch band.
Replacing the star or shield with a specific device of the service, of the US Eagle. For future O-11s, the device would be incorporated into the traditional cuff insignia.
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Re: U.S. Armed Forces’ “4½-star” rank

Unread postby J.T. Broderick » Thu Jun 09, 2016 5:50 pm

jrichardn2 wrote:Since I first heard about this, I’ve found it intriguing. It’s a kind of secret 5-star rank, where the 16 (I think) most senior generals are more senior than they appear.


This is conflating pay and rank. The special O-10 pay originated as extra money to cover high-level social and hospitality obligations. It is a perk for those very high positions, but it is not about rank or authority. The only flag/general officers whose rank precedence is set by law are the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (number one and two in the armed forces) and the service chiefs who are top officers in each of their services (except for the CJCS and VCJCS as noted). All other four-stars, including the unified combatant commanders, rank according to their date of rank by federal law.

The question of higher rank has already been addressed historically by the five-star grades, there is no need for yet another grade above four stars nor will there be in the foreseeable future.

--Justin
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Re: U.S. Armed Forces’ “4½-star” rank

Unread postby Helios88 » Thu Jun 09, 2016 9:44 pm

In the Italian Armed Forces there are “3½-star” rank, which have a rather similar nature. In this case, “3½-star” ranks wear 4 stars, but the fourth is placed on a red trim.
This is the shoulder rank insignia for an Army Corps General with Special Duties:
Image

I suppose that a red-trimmed fifth star in the US military tradition would be out of place.
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Re: U.S. Armed Forces’ “4½-star” rank

Unread postby jrichardn2 » Thu Jun 09, 2016 9:59 pm

Justin is right that I was inferring a rank from a pay supplement. :-)

Mostly, in this forum, having fun with the questions of whether the 15 men and 1 woman in those “4½-star” billets indeed were of higher rank than other O-10s, and if that rank were to be distinguished what would be its badge.

My understanding is that all O-9s and O-10s are temporarily promoted O-8s, so having an O-10½ title and badge might not be so silly—except that it would signalize the top-heaviness of modern command structures. (A quick Google search suggests that the U.S. Army in 1865, when Grant became the first [and only] 4-star was almost twice as big as today’s Army.)
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Re: U.S. Armed Forces’ “4½-star” rank

Unread postby jrichardn2 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:02 pm

SFMRAS wrote:I like the stars-eagle-stars arrangement.
Other thoughts:
Five gold stars.


I like the five gold stars - in a circle or a line - following the U.S. practice that gold signifies juniority.
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