Military rank is a partial indication of status within a military organization. A basic division is into officer, non-commissioned officer (NCO), and enlisted ranks; different countries vary in their terminology such as referring to enlisted personnel, or enlisted and NCO, as "other ranks".
Officers have higher status, usually with some specific type of grant of authority from their government. Their fundamental role is commanding units, although they may be military staff or other specialists. They may be of the "line", which puts them into the overall line of authority over all personnel, or perhaps restricted to authority over personnel in their specialty.
In land and most air forces, officer ranks usually break into three levels. The most senior are called flag or general officers, the intermediate grade may be called staff level, and then there are junior officers, sometimes called company level.
Naval forces also have traditional categories of admirals or flag officers, senior and staff officers that command vessels or have other major responsibilities, and junior officers,
Officers tend to have authority for preparing and leading units rather than individuals.
There may be a category of officer trainee.
Non-commissioned officers are considered the backbone of many militaries, often the repositories of tradition and culture. Their responsibilities deal with the preparation and supervision of individuals, or sometimes small units; senior NCOs advise and effectively train junior officers.
- Raymond Oliver. Why is the Colonel called "kernal"? The origin of the ranks and rank insignia now used by the United States armed forces, McClellan Aviation Museum. Retrieved on 2011-04-22. mirror