This is a list of US Army ranks and insignia used during the Vietnam War (1965-1973). The pay rates are from the Revised Recon sourcebook; they are notional and do not reflect historical pay rates for the period.

Enlisted and NCO rank insignia are made of cloth and are worn on the middle of the upper sleeve on the shirt or jacket. Warrant- and Commissioned Officers' insignia are made of metal and are worn on the epaulets or collars on fatigue shirts or jackets.

Enlisted Pay Grades

Enlisted Pay Grades
Grade Title Insignia Base Monthly Pay
E1 Private Recruit None $288
E2 Private (Pvt.)
US Army-E2
E3 Private First Class (PFC)
US Army-E3
E4 Specialist 4 (SP/4)
US Army-Spec4
E5 Specialist 5 (SP/5)
US Army-Spec5
E6 Specialist 6 (SP/6)
US Army-Spec6
E7 Specialist 7 (SP/7)
US Army-Spec7


Privates are the Enlisted grades. They have no authority over other soldiers. They are addressed as "Private".
Recruits were promoted to Private after attending bootcamp and Advanced Training. Privates who had voluntarily enlisted were promoted to PFC upon being assigned to a combat tour in Vietnam so they wouldn't be outranked by draftees.
The rank of Private did not get insignia until 1968 when it received the single chevron formerly worn by Privates First Class. The rank of Private First Class then received the insignia of a chevron over a rocker.


Specialists [1955-1985] were Enlisted personnel who had passed courses of specialized training. They replaced the Technician grades [1942-1948] from World War Two. Specialists outranked Privates but were subordinate to Non-Commissioned-, Warrant-, and Commissioned Officers. They are addressed as "Specialist".
Specialist insignia is an inversion of regular NCO insignia to prevent confusion. The Specialist 4 patch resembles the space between an NCO's chevrons and rockers and is embossed with the General Service branch insignia of a spread eagle. Senior grades (SP/5 to SP/7) are indicated by rockers (nicknamed "bird umbrellas") rather than chevrons. Specialists who get promoted to NCO rank (regardless of pay grade) become Corporals [Pay Grade E-4]. 
Specialists' pay grades indicated their level of training and education in their MOS rather than seniority. Specialists 4 had an MOS level of 2, Specialists 5 had an MOS level of 3, and Specialists 6 and 7 had an MOS level of 4. The projected Specialists 8 and 9 would have had an MOS level of 5.
The "super grades" of Specialist 8 (SP/8) and Specialist 9 (SP/9) existed from 1958 to 1968; insignia were created and approved but no appointments were made. The grade of Specialist 7 was eliminated in 1978 and the grades of Specialist 5 and Specialist 6 were eliminated in 1985.
Specialist 4 was retained from 1985 onwards. It is now used as a placeholder rank (now just called "Specialist" or SPC) between the ranks of PFC and Sergeant for personnel that were not promotable to Corporal. However, Specialists are now next promoted to Sergeant [Pay Grade E-5] rather than Corporal.  

Non-Commissioned Officer Pay Grades

NCO Pay Grades
Grade Title Insignia Base Monthly Pay
E4 Corporal (Cpl.)
US Army-E4
E5 Sergeant (Sgt.)
US Army-E5
E6 Staff Sergeant (SSgt.)
US Army-E6
E7 Sergeant First Class (SFC)
US Army-E7
E8 Master Sergeant (MSgt.)
US Army-E8(MSGT)
E8 First Sergeant (1Sgt.)
US Army-E8(1SGT)
E9 Sergeant Major (SMaj.)
US Army-E9(SgtM)
E9 Command Sergeant Major (CSM)
US Army-E9(CSM)
E9 Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA)
US Army-E9(CSM)

Non-Commissioned Officers serve as either staff personnel or sub-unit leaders. They perform administrative tasks or act as deputies for their superior officer. They are addressed as "Sergeant".

Corporals are usually enlisted men who were marked promotable or are staff personnel like Clerks. Privates First Class and Specialist-4s are usually appointed as brevet Fire Team Leaders or assistants to the Sergeant.
Sergeants are Fire Team Leaders in charge of a Fire Team of 3-5 men.  
Staff Sergeants are Squad Leaders in charge of a Squad made up of 2 Fire Teams.
Sergeants First Class are usually Platoon Sergeants (the Senior NCO in a Platoon and advisor to the Platoon Leader) or junior Company staff NCOs.
Master Sergeants are usually Battalion staff NCOs. First Sergeants are the NCOs-in-Charge of a Company's staff.
Sergeants Major [1958-Present] are the NCOs-in-Charge of a Battalion's staff. They also act as sttaff NCOs at Regimental / Brigade or higher Headquarters.
Command Sergeants Major [1967-Present] are assigned to a Battalion, Regimental- / Brigade-, Divisional-, or Corps-level command as its senior NCO and personally assists its commanding officer.
The Sergeant Major of the Army [1966-Present] is the NCO assistant assigned to the Army Chief of Staff. It is a two-year appointment that is considered the capstone to a distinguished NCO's military career. They were considered a type of Command Sergeant Major and did not receive a distinct rank insignia until 1979.

Campaign Notes

NCOs above the rank of Master Sergeant [E8] have purely administrative duties. Characters who attain such ranks during play (the result of more than a decade of service) should become non-player characters.

Warrant Officer Pay Grades

Warrant Officer Pay Grades
Grade Title Insignia Base Monthly Pay
W1 Warrant Officer (WO/1)
USArmy WO1
W2 Chief Warrant Officer (CW/2)
USArmy WO2
W3 Chief Warrant Officer (CW/3)
USArmy WO3
W4 Chief Warrant Officer (CW/4)
USArmy WO4
  • Pay for the grades of W2 to W4 were missing from the Revised Recon sourcebook. They have been extrapolated from a comparison between the Warrant and Commissioned pay rates.

Warrant Officers are in a command layer between Non-Commissioned and Commissioned Officers. They have a narrow area of expertise and authority called a Warrant rather than a Commission. They are usually highly trained in a technical field (for instance, some serve as helicopter pilots). Warrant Officers in the US Army are addressed as "Mister", the same as a military cadet or junior commissioned officer.

Technical Warrant Officers are usually older personnel who have a great deal of experience in their fields. This position is usually a capstone to a support or service NCO's career. Pilot Warrant Officers are young men who either volunteered directly for Aviation training after Boot Camp or asked for a transfer to Aviation.

Warrant Officer insignia in the Army is a brown enamel bar set in a metal bracket. The junior ranks of WO/1 and CW/2 use a gold bracket with 1 or 2 crossbars. The senior ranks of CW/3 and CW/4 use a silver bracket with 1 or 2 crossbars. The brown enamel bar refers to the brown braid used in the insignia of the Mine Planter Service, the Army's first Warrant Officers. The metal brackets refer to the ranks of Second and First Lieutenant.

Warrant Officer Candidates must have a high school diploma and have a high-school- or college-level knowledge of science and math. They then attend a technical course and must be certified before they can receive their warrant. Warrant Officer Candidates (WOCs) in training are identified by the orange cloth sliders they wear on the epaulets of their shirts.

Warrant Officers First Grade (WO/1) are equivalent to Second Lieutenants and are considered on probation. Once the probation period ends (usually around 6 months to a year), the soldier is promoted to Chief Warrant Officer Second Grade.

Warrant Officers' warrants are issued by the Secretary of the Army. Chief Warrant Officers' warrants, like the commissions of senior officers, are issued by the President of the United States.

Commissioned Officer Pay Grades

Commissioned Officers have a document called a Commission that is issued by the President and appointed by the Secretary of Defense; Field and General commissions are issued and signed by the authority of the President. It grants the holder general authority over personnel placed under their command and charge. Officers are addressed as "Sir".

Officers receive their training by either attending a full-time 4-year Service Academy (like the Army's West Point) or the part-time Reserve Officer Training Corps(ROTC) while attending a 4-year college. (Senior Military Colleges like Virginia Military Institute and Norwich University give its graduates the option of seeking a commission, but are considered colleges rather than Service Academies).

If the candidate already has a 2-year Associate's Degree or a 4-year Bachelor's Degree, they can attend Officer Candidate School (OCS). This is a 23-week program which trains the candidates to become officers in the Infantry, Field Artillery or Engineers. It is open to qualified Enlisted and NCO personnel as well as civilians. Breveted officers who wish to be permentently commissioned must attend it.

Direct Commissioned Officers are professionals with a post-graduate education, usually in medicine (Doctors, Surgeons, and Nurses), law (JAG Lawyers) or religion (Chaplains). They receive a rank equal to their expertise and training. They usually begin as Captains, though professionals who are still students may be graded as Lieutenants until they are certified.

Soldiers who receive an officer's commission but have not yet completed the educational requirements to hold that rank before a certain deadline may be dismissed from the service or revert to their original Enlisted or NCO rank. Lieutenants must have completed at least a four-year degree in order to retain their commission. Majors must attend the Staff Course at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth (or a similar accredited Allied program); graduates receive a Master of Military Arts and Sciences (MMAS) degree. Lieutenant-Colonels and Colonels must attend the Army War College before assuming the command of a battalion or receiving a promotion to Brigadier-General.

Graduates from Service Academies and the top graduates from ROTC and OCS programs are granted Regular Commissions. ROTC and OCS graduates, Direct Commissioned Officers, and Enlisted or NCO personnel breveted to officer rank receive Reserve commissions. Regular and Reserve commissions are identical in authority, but officers with Regular commissions have more job security and officers with Reserve commissions may be dismissed or demoted at will. Underperforming officers can have their Regular commissions turned into Reserve commissions. Incompetent, negligent or corrupt officers convicted by a court martial can lose their commissions or be allowed to resign them; they must then leave the service.  

Campaign Notes

Most RECON campaigns involve tactical-level combat. Officer characters realistically shouldn't be promoted above colonel; those that do should become Non-Player Characters.

Subaltern Officers

Subaltern Officer Pay Grades
Grade Title Insignia Base Monthly Pay
O1 Second Lieutenant (2 Lt.)
US Army-O1
O2 First Lieutenant (1 Lt.)
US Army-O2
O3 Captain (Cpt.)
US Army-O3

Subaltern Officers (Lieutenants and Captains) are junior officers that command large tactical units (i.e., platoons and companies).

Lieutenants command a Platoon or act as the Executive Officer of a Company.
Captains command a Company or head one of the staff components of a Battalion's headquarters unit.

Field Officers

Field Officer Pay Grades
Grade Title Insignia Base Monthly Pay
O4 Major (Maj.)
US Army-O4
O5 Lieutenant-Colonel (Lt. Col.)
US Army-O5
O6 Colonel (Col.)
US Army-O6

Field Officers (Majors, Lieutenant-Colonels, and Colonels) are senior officers that command maneuver units (i.e., battalions and brigades).

Majors either act as the Adjutant (the head of staff) of a Battalion's headquarters, act as the Executive Officer of a separate Battalion, or act as the Commanding Officer of a "Wing" (a detachment made of 2 or more Companies) or an understrength Battalion.
Lieutenant-Colonels command a separate Battalion or act as the Executive Officer of a Regimental Combat Team or understrength Brigade.
Colonels act as the Commanding Officer of a Regimental Combat Team (like the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment) or divisional Brigade or serve as the Executive Officer on a separate Brigade's Staff.

General Officer Grades

General Officer Pay Grades
Grade Title Insignia Base Monthly Pay
O7 Brigadier-General (Brig. Gen.)
US Army-O7
O8 Major-General (Maj.Gen.)
US Army-O8
O9 Lieutenant-General (Lt.Gen.)
US Army-O9
O10 General (Gen.)
US Army-O10

General Officers command strategic units (Brigades, Divisions, Corps, and Field Armies).

Brigadier Generals command a Brigade. This is a promotion from Lieutenant-Colonel or Colonel.
Major-Generals command a Division. This is a promotion from Brigadier-General.
Lieutenant-Generals command a Corps. This is a congressional appointment from Major-General rather than a permanent rank.
Generals command a Field Army, Army Group, or Theater Command; the Chief of Staff of the Army is a General. It is a presidential appointment from Major-General, usually a general officer who has pereviously held a Lieutenant-General command.
General of the Army (GOA) [Pay Grade O-11] is an honorary rank (similar to Field Marshal). It is bestowed upon Generals who commanded an Army Group or Theater Command with distinction. It is not a regular rank in the US Army and no general officers have attained it since World War Two. 


After the US Air Force became independent of the US Army in 1947, the US Army's Aviation assets were placed under the control of the Army's Transportation Corps. Army Aviation did not become their own service branch until 1983.

Most of the pilots were Warrant Officers. The few Commissioned Officer pilots were recruited from the ROTC and OCS programs. Commissioned pilots were usually rotated to command, staff, or support billets and had trouble logging enough flight hours to keep up their flight status. Warrant Officer pilots usually flew and had little to no command experience.

Aircraft pilots were trained at the Fort Stewart / Hunter Army Air Field complex in Georgia. Helicopter pilots were trained at the Helicopter Schools at Fort Wolters, Texas (Primary Flight Training) and Fort Rucker, Alabama (Advanced Flight Training). Pilots had to sign a commitment to at least 4 years active service, followed by 2 years in the Reserves or National Guard.

Campaign Notes

Revised Recon makes it possible for any character to have flight skills. The skill should be realistically restricted to dedicated specialist Pilot characters. Pilot and aircrew characters should be used in an alternate or secondary campaign in which they support the main action. Players will have more input into the overall campaign and will experience it from a different point of view.   

Bonus Pay (per Month)

  • Clothing Allowance: An allowance to pay for the purchase of standard new or replacement uniform items and pay for their cleaning and repair. It is usually very small.   
  • Hazardous Duty Pay: +$55 (Enlisted), +$110 (Officers). Granted to personnel whose jobs are more dangerous than regular troops. Examples include: Army Aviation Pilots and Aircrew ("Flight Pay") and Airborne Infantry ("Jump Pay"). It can also apply to regular personnel assigned to a unit requiring special qualification in a dangerous specialty (like Parachutist, Diver, or Demolitions). This bonus can be claimed twice, but only if the unit they are assigned to requires the specialty (i.e., an Airborne Combat Engineer who is a Parachutist  with Demolitions training) and they attend refresher courses to maintain their qualification.
  • Overseas Duty Pay: +$8 (Enlisted), +$16 (Officers). Granted to personnel serving outside of the United States and its territories. This is in addition to potential pay for family and dependents (living stateside in non-military housing), separate quarters allowance (living off-base), and separate rations allowance (eating meals off-base). 
  • Immenent Danger Pay: +$65 (Enlisted and Officers). Granted to personnel serving in a Combat Zone. Also known as "Combat Pay". 

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