Can You Earn Your Stripes on This Chain of Command Test?

By: John Miller
Estimated Completion Time
2 min
Can You Earn Your Stripes on This Chain of Command Test?
Image: LifeJourneys/ E+/gettyimages

About This Quiz

Ten-hut! Do you really understand the command hierarchy of the United States Armed Forces?

In both peace and war, the chain of command is an indispensable aspect of the U.S. military. Without it, there’s no one to give orders and no one to follow them. With a specific ranking system – called “rate” in the Navy – service personnel are categorized by their seniority, skills, combat experience, and more. Do you have what it takes to run the gauntlet of this commanding quiz?

Fall in, soldier! This test is a true challenge for new recruits and seasoned soldiers alike. Because ranking systems vary by service branch, the concept can be downright tricky. Take this military chain of command quiz to rank your knowledge now - sir, yes sir! 

What's the lowest rank in the Air Force?
Second Lieutenant
Airman Basic
Before you get your fighter jet, you're still an Airman Basic.
Airman First Class

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What is the highest rank (called "rate" in this branch) in the entire U.S. Navy?
Admiral of the Fleet
Truthfully, we're never going to achieve the rank of Fleet Admiral. These officers are off-the-charts powerful and even have their own special pay grade.
Ensign
Swabbie

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Which of the following Sergeants has the most power?
Sergeant
First Sergeant
Command Sergeant Major
Command Sergeant Majors are major advisors to commanding officers. They offer insights on the performance of soldiers in the unit.

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Which of these Lieutenants ranks highest?
First Lieutenant
There actually is no Third Lieutenant in the Army. And First Lieutenants outrank Second.
Second Lieutenant
Third Lieutenant

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Which of the following ranks is the LOWEST?
Corporal
Corporals are the fundamental first rank of non-commissoned officers. Corporals have actual responsibility, like babysitting unruly Privates.
Staff Sergeant
Master Sergeant

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What's the second lowest rank in the U.S. Navy?
Seaman Recruit
Seaman Apprentice
In the Navy, enlisted personnel start out as Seaman Recruits. Then they move up to Seaman Apprentice.
Lieutenant Commander

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How many stars does a Major General have?
3
2
A Major General is a big deal.
4

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What's the greatest number of stars a general can earn in the Army?
3
5
At five stars, a general has gone as far as he or she can go. They are noted as some of the most powerful minds in American military history.
7

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Which of the following ranks is higher than the other two?
Private
Private First Class
New troops go from Private, to Private Second Class to Private First Class. Many soldiers can make it to First Class in less than a year provided they aren't rebellious or otherwise having trouble.
Private Second Class

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Which of these ranks is the highest of the bunch?
Second Lieutenant
When officers graduate from places like West Point, they immediately become Second Lieutenants. That jumps them past many men who've served for years as sergeants.
Sergeant
First Sergeant

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What is the highest rank an airman can achieve during peacetime?
Colonel
Second Lieutenant
Major General
During peacetime, generals can only get two stars and no more.

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In the Navy, which of the following ranks calls the shots?
Captain
"Commander" sounds more commanding. But it's actually Captains who outrank them.
Lieutenant Commander
Commander

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What rank does an Airman First Class move up to?
Freshman Airman
Junior Airman
Senior Airman
After Airman First Class, you move up to Senior Airman. On average, it takes about three years to become a Senior Airman.

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In the Army, what's an "E-1"?
Private
In the Army, this is as low as rank goes. E-1 is the official designation for Privates.
Sergeant
Major

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Which of these Air Force sergeants has the highest rank?
Master Sergeant
Senior Master Sergeant
Chief Master Sergeant
In the Air Force, Chief Master Sergeant is an E-9 rank. It's the highest of the three listed here, but there are still three ranks of sergeants above it.

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In the Army, how many stars does a Brigadier General have?
1
As generals go, these guys are on the low end. Brigadier Generals are one-star affairs, and likely aiming for at least one more before they retire.
4
5

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Which of these generals has the highest rank?
Major General
Lieutenant General
General
It's just General, and that's all these guys need. They are four-star military masters, and they will destroy your city with their bare hands.

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In the Army, which rank is noted for its large numbers and nicknamed the "Mafia"?
Lieutenant
Specialist
Army specialists are a dime a dozen. They are the "E-4 Mafia," and many of them have no desire to advance any further in the Army, thank you very much.
Major

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Do you know which of these Air Force ranks is highest?
Airman Basic
Airman
Airman First Class
If you hit Airman First Class, you've survived the opening rounds of your military career. On average, it takes about 16 months to make Airman First Class.

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Can you pick the highest-ranking Admiral from this list?
Rear Admiral
Vice Admiral
Fleet Admiral
If you have an entire fleet at your disposal, you know you've made it in the Navy. Fleet Admirals are five-star celebrities.

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In order to make Corporal, soldiers need a minimum of how much time in the service?
26 months
It's only a couple years of your life, soldier! You need a minimum of 26 months of service to move from Private First Class to Corporal.
4 years
7 years

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Which of these Army ranks is highest?
Captain
Major
Colonel
Those lower officers get stuck with bars and leaves on their uniforms. Colonels get screaming bloody eagles, so you know they're way up the food chain.

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Which of these Navy positions is the most powerful?
Master Chief Petty Officer
They are the "MCPO," at E-9. Master Chief Petty Officers are the highest of these three rates.
Senior Chief Petty Officer
Chief Petty Officer

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What's the highest rank possible in the Air Force?
General of the Air Force
As in the Army, the Air Force uses the star ranking system for generals. A five-star Air Force general is a General of the Air Force.
Admiral of the Air Force
Commander of the Air Force

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In the Navy, Seamen move up to which rank?
Ensign
Petty Officer, Third Class
They are the few, the proud, the PO3. They are Petty Officer, Third Class, the rank just above Seaman.
Chief Warrant Officer

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Which of these Warrant Officer ranks is lowest?
Chief Warrant Officer 3
Chief Warrant Officer 4
Chief Warrant Officer 2
Chief Warrant Officers are renowned for the specific technical knowledge. At level 2, they have intermediate knowledge. The CW rank goes all the way to 5.

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In the Army, what rank has no insignia whatsoever?
Sergeant
Private
Welcome to the bottom of the totem pole! In the Army, Private is the is the lowest rank. During basic training, or boot camp, these soldiers receive no insignia whatsoever.
General

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Which of these Air Force sergeants has the highest rank?
Technical Sergeant
Staff Sergeant
Master Sergeant
Master Sergeants sit at E-7, and they are likely career Air Force personnel. It takes more than 17 years for most people to reach this lofty rank.

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In the Navy, can you pick out the lowest rate listed here?
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant
Lieutenant (junior grade)
Lieutenant (junior grade) is a junior commissioned officer in the Navy. They are listed below Lieutenant, but above Ensign.

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