Specialist ranks, quick question




 
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August 5th, 2005  
Arclight
 

Topic: Specialist ranks, quick question


I saw that a few people in the "Post a picture of yourself" thread were talking about Specialist ranks going up to Spec 8. I'm curious as to how these Specialist ranks differ from the standard Army ones and why were they, for the most part, taken out. That is all. Any related information would be wonderful too.

Thanks.
August 5th, 2005  
c/Commander
 
 
The specialist ranks, if I'm not mistaken, were applied to non-combat jobs around the vietnam era. I have no idea why they aren't used anymore...equality maybe.
August 5th, 2005  
Charge 7
 
 
You are mistaken. Specialists saw and still see combat. A Specialist is merely the same pay grade in a non-NCO position. As I mentioned in that thread, there are no Specialists other than E-4s anymore. So an E-4 can be either a Corporal if they are an NCO or a Specialist if they are not. What makes an NCO? Many things, but to put it simply, an NCO is in a formal position to direct troops - a Specialist is not. When there were multiple grades of Specialists the idea was that the individual would be in that rank to enable them to attain a higher pay grade and have some professional development. For example, a very senior medic might be a Specialist E-7. When Specialists went up to E-9 (yes briefly) there was the NCO grade of Sergeant Major and the NCO grade opposite the Specialist E-8 was of course, the First Sergeant. These ranks didn't last long. Quite correctly, the Army felt that anybody who had attained the level of an E-8 or E-9 deserved to be an NCO. So the rank of Command Sergeant Major was created for E-9s who directed troops and those who did not were Staff Sergeant Majors. Likewise, the old rank of Master Sergeant was resurected for E-8s who were not in formal positions of directing troops. Some ten or more years later the Army came to the same conclusion about E-7s, E-6s, and E-5s except in their cases there was felt no need to differentiate and they all became "hard stripe" NCOs. That is, Sergeant First Classes, Staff Sergeants, and Sergeants. So why was the E-4 version kept? Most likely because the Army just didn't need that many more NCOs. Corporals became a rarity and for awhile there in the 1980s it was thought they'd disappear altogether. Only infantry and MP units had Corporals. Time passed and NCO needs changed and now there are many Corporals once again. So will the final Specialist grade now go away? Not likely. It's still a useful demarcation.
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August 5th, 2005  
Arclight
 
Thanks for the info Charge (and for moving the thread, I wasn't sure where to put it).
August 13th, 2005  
DTop
 
 
The "Specialist" actually had a true MOS related specialty whereas a "hard striper" was able to lead troops no matter what (MOS) they were.
Examples of the speedies (the nickmane for Specialists) included every skill you could think of other than infantry (11B). You would have seen speedy 4 (and up) radio men, or cooks, or armorers, or mortarmen all in the same infantry company for example. The section and platoons would be led by a hard striper of appropriate rank (SSG or PSG).
I personally never held the rank of corporal because I was part of a heavy (4.2") mortar platoon at that time in my career and my slot called for a Specialist rank. I subsequently went to NCO Academy and my next promotion was to Sergeant in a scout platoon (light infantry). As a result of being a hard stripe NCO, I was able to move into other platoons (Anti-Tank, Anti-Aircraft, Rifle) and gain across the board experience in an infantry company. I think that helped me greatly to become a 1SG as I was able to relate to all the MOSs in my company.
August 22nd, 2005  
mmarsh
 
 
DTOP

Then where does Specialist fit in the Chain of Command? My understanding that it was above PFC but beneath Corporal. Is this correct?
August 22nd, 2005  
Charge 7
 
 
A Specialist is above a PFC (E-3). Both the Specialist and the Corporal are E-4s and so same paygrade, however, the Corporal is an NCO and the Specialist is not. The Corporal has formal authority to direct troops - a Specialist does not.
August 23rd, 2005  
FULLMETALJACKET
 
 
so the NCO.
August 24th, 2005  
mmarsh
 
 
Charge 7

I see, thanks...