General Question

Skysong's avatar

In the military, can a soldier order another solider around if they are the same rank, but one has been that rank for longer?

Asked by Skysong (25points) March 22nd, 2009

How does ‘Time-In-Rank’ affect your ability to give orders to people of the sme rank as you?

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8 Answers

asmonet's avatar

No, they can’t.
I don’t think.

That would mess up the whole system, don’t you think?

Skysong's avatar

I’ve heard that ‘senior’ officers of the same rank have more experience and can therefore give orders to ‘juniors’

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Skysong: I think that is how it works with senior officers. For example, if two officers are both 2 star generals, the one who was promoted first technically has priority as far as giving orders goes. I think in other situations, an officer is chosen to be in charge.

Skysong's avatar

Can the more experienced general tell the lesser one what to do though? Or is that just priority in ordering OTHERS?

Bluefreedom's avatar

In the military, it is referred to as time in grade. There are two terms and I’ll refer to Air Force examples since that is the service I am in:

Rank such as E-1, E-2, E-3, E-4, E-5, etc.

Grade which describes the rank such as Amn, A1C, SrA, SSgt, TSgt, etc.

Just because two people have the same rank but one of the two might have a little more time wearing that identical rank doesn’t mean that they automatically have authority or influence over that person.

Now, if you’re looking at this from a leadership standpoint, if someone is the same rank as another person but has more time in grade, he would probably be in a position where he can issue orders or give directives to people the same rank and lower because of his position such as a squad leader or a fire team leader, for example.

There can be a few exceptions to this but it has mostly been what I described above in what I’ve seen in my 13 years in the Air Force and 8 years in the Army. I can’t definitively state what happens in the Marine Corps, Navy, or Coast Guard, though, because I have no knowledge about what happens with their rank systems.

StellarAirman's avatar

That really doesn’t happen in the way you describe it. People don’t go around saying “I’m not going to do what you say because I have had this rank longer than you!” etc. But, some situations do come into play such as if two people are of the same rank in a class, then usually the person with more time in grade would be designated the class leader. Or for instance when I traveled to Iraq there were two Senior Airmen, so the one that had the longer time in grade was the leader of the group during the trip, but he passed it off to the other Senior Airman because he had been deployed already and was more experienced.

And it’s not like the person designated the leader is running around dishing out orders to everyone, he’s simply a central point of contact for decisions, accountability, making people are where they are supposed to be, etc.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Bluefreedom: Oh good, an actual military member. I was just getting my information from watching Stargate.

And I am not ashamed!

asmonet's avatar

^Me too.

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