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A master sergeant is the military rank for a senior non-commissioned officer in some armed forces.

United StatesEdit

Master Sergeant insignia
U.S. Army

Master Sergeant insignia
U.S. Marine Corps

Master Sergeant insignia
U.S. Air Force

E-7 First Sergeant insignia
U.S. Air Force

Obsolete Master Sergeant insignia
Master Sergeant insignia
U.S. Air Force

A Master Sergeant is:

  • the eighth enlisted rank in the U.S. Army, just above sergeant first class, below sergeant major, and equal in grade but not authority to first sergeant. It is abbreviated as "MSG" and indicated by three chevrons above three rockers. A Master Sergeant is typically assigned as a brigade-level section noncommissioned officer in charge and serves as the subject matter expert in their field, but may also hold other positions depending on the type of unit.
  • the eighth enlisted rank in the U.S. Marine Corps, just above gunnery sergeant, below master gunnery sergeant, sergeant major, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. It is equal in grade to first sergeant. It is abbreviated as "MSgt." In the U.S. Marine Corps, master sergeants provide technical leadership as occupational specialists at the E-8 level. General command leadership at this paygrade is provided by the separate rank of first sergeant.
  • the seventh enlisted rank in the U.S. Air Force, just above technical sergeant and below senior master sergeant. It is abbreviated as "MSgt." Advancement to master sergeant is one of the most significant promotions within the enlisted Air Force. At the rank of master sergeant, the Airman enters the senior non-commissioned tier and his or her duties begin to focus on leadership and management rather than technical performance. Per Air Force Instruction 36-2618, MSgts typically serve as flight chiefs (analogous to platoon sergeants in the U.S. Army) and section chiefs (leaders of duty sections within a squadron). It is also the lowest rank in the Air Force that one can hold in order to attain the special duty position of first sergeant. These Air Force first sergeants occupy the grades of E-7 through E-9 and are referred to officially as "first sergeant" regardless of their pay grade, and unofficially as "first shirt" or simply "the shirt." In 1991 the Air Force changed its NCO insignia so that a maximum of five stripes, or rockers, were placed on the bottom of the chevrons. The master sergeant rank insignia was changed by removing the bottom (6th) rocker, and relocating it above as a single chevron, on top of the five lower stripes.

In the U.S. Army, the rank of master sergeant is usually held by staff members serving as NCOICs as well as commonly held by the motor pool NCOIC as the advisor to the motor pool chief, who is usually a warrant officer. When holding the position of first sergeant, while uncommon, the master sergeant is referred to as "first sergeant."

In the Marine Corps, master sergeants may be referred to by the nickname of "top." This usage is an informal one, however, and would not be used in an official or formal setting. Use of this nickname by Marines of subordinate rank is at the rank holder's discretion.

As with the first sergeant, a master sergeant is usually given the courtesy of having a room called to "at ease" upon entrance, regardless of duty position.

All master sergeants are senior non-commissioned officers.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


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