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-4. Awards and Decorations

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5-4. Awards and Decorations

Personal Decorations and Awards

Personal decorations and awards are bestowed upon an individual for his or her act of heroism, specific act of gallantry, or for meritorious service during military or non-military feats.

Collective (Unit) Citations

Collective citations are made to an operating unit for outstanding performance inside or outside of the U.S. It is worn by only those persons who were members of that unit during the action or period specified by the award.


Commemorative, campaign, and service medals are issued to Soldiers who take part in particular campaigns or periods of service for which a medal is authorized.

Ribbons representing the medals issued are normally worn on the ASUs. Some units, such as the 3rd Infantry (Old Guard) where the full-size medals on their uniforms.


The Army Service Ribbon is awarded to Soldiers who successfully complete BCT or OSUT. More information can be found in AR 600-8-22.

Marksmanship Badges

Marksmanship badges are awarded to individuals who qualify, because they have demonstrated some special proficiency or skill. Marksmanship badges are worn to indicate the individual’s prowess with specific weapons, pistols, and/or rifles and during specified competitions, matches, or practice exercises. You will earn one of the marksmanship badges during BCT.

Chapter 6 – Critical Information Required for BCT / OSUT / AIT

6-1. Rank Insignia

Military customs and courtesies dictate that you render the appropriate greeting and salute to officers when you encounter them in the performance of your duties.

The chart can assist you in understanding the Army rank structure. The individual’s title reflects the rank of the person. You should never address a person by their pay grade.


Pay Grade



Private (PVT)


No Chevron

Private (PV2)



Private First Class (PFC)



Specialist (SPC)



NCOs are "the backbone" of the Army. They are responsible for executing a military organization's mission and serve as the principal instructor for training military personnel so they are prepared to execute those missions.

Senior NCOs are considered the primary link between enlisted personnel and the commissioned officers. If they are the senior NCO in a staff section they may be referred to as an NCO-in-charge (NCOIC). Their advice and guidance is particularly important for junior officers, who begin their careers in a position of authority but generally lack practical experience.

Corporal (CPL)



A SPC recognized with NCO authorities

Sergeant (SGT)



Team leader

Staff Sergeant (SSG)



Squad leader or section chief

Sergeant First Class (SFC)



Senior NCO in a platoon

Master Sergeant (MSG)



NCOIC at battalion and brigade

First Sergeant (1SG)



Senior NCO in a company; advisor to the commander

Sergeant Major (SGM)



Principal advisor on a battalion and higher HQs staff

Command Sergeant Major (CSM)


sma rank.jpg

Senior enlisted advisor at battalion and higher HQs

Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA)



Senior NCO in the Army; advisor to the Chief of Staff of the Army

Warrant Officers are highly specialized technicians and trainers in their career fields. By gaining progressive levels of expertise and leadership, these leaders provide valuable guidance to commanders and subordinate Soldiers in their units.

Warrant Officer 1 (WO1)



Company and battalion staffs

Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CW2)



Company and battalion staffs

Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CW3)



Company and higher staffs

Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CW4)



Battalion and higher staffs

Chief Warrant Officer 5 (CW5)



Brigade and higher staffs

Commissioned Officers are responsible for planning and leading demanding missions while ensuring the welfare, morale and professional development of the Soldiers entrusted to them.

At the Captain, Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel level they may serve as commanders for companies, battalions and brigades. In that capacity, they have disciplinary authorities over you under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

2nd Lieutenant (2LT)



Platoon Leader

1st Lieutenant (1LT)



Company Executive Officer

Captain (CPT)



Company Commander; Battalion Staff Officer

Major (MAJ)



Battalion Executive Officer; Brigade Staff Officer

Lieutenant Colonel (LTC)



Battalion Commander; Division Staff Officer

Colonel (COL)



Brigade Commander; Division Staff Officer

General Officers are commissioned officers who serve as commanders at division-size units and larger, as commanders of installations, and as principal advisors to senior national and state civilian leaders and higher-ranking general officers.

Brigadier General (BG)



Major General (MG)



Lieutenant General (LTG)



General (GEN)









6-2. Customs and Courtesies


The origin of the hand salute is uncertain. Some historians believe it began in late Roman times when assassinations were common. A citizen who wanted to see a public official had to approach with his right hand raised to show that he did not hold a weapon. Knights in armor raised visors with the right hand when meeting a comrade. This practice gradually became a way of showing respect and in early American history sometimes involved removing the hat. By 1820, the motion was modified to touching the hat, and since then has become the hand salute used today.

While in the Army, you salute to show respect toward an officer, flag, or our country. The proper way to salute with or without a weapon is described in Field Manual (FM) 3-21.5, paragraph 4-4. Follow these rules:

When you meet someone outside, salute as soon as you recognize that he or she is an officer, or if you are walking toward the officer, wait until you are about six steps away.

Salute all officers (recognized by grade) in official vehicles identified by special plates or flags.

Salute only on command when in a formation.

If in a group and an officer approaches, the first Soldier to recognize the officer calls the group to attention and all personnel salute.

If you approach an officer while you are double-timing alone, assume quick time march and render the hand salute. When the salute is returned, execute order arms and resume double-timing.

The salute is always initiated by the subordinate and terminated only after acknowledgment by the individual saluted.

Accompany the salute with an appropriate greeting, such as, "Good morning/afternoon, sir/ma'am."

Salutes are not required to be rendered by or to personnel who are driving or riding in privately owned vehicles.

It is not customary for enlisted personnel to exchange salutes, except in some ceremonial situations.

Never render a salute with a noticeable object in your mouth or right hand.

If you are on detail and an officer approaches, salute if you are in charge of the detail. Otherwise, continue to work. When spoken to, come to the position of attention while addressing an officer.

Hand Salute

The Hand Salute is a one-count movement. The command is Present, ARMS. The Hand Salute may be executed while marching. When marching, only the Soldier in charge of the formation salutes and acknowledges salutes.

When wearing headgear with a visor (with or without glasses), on the command of execution ARMS, raise the right hand sharply, fingers and thumb extended and joined, palm facing down, and place the tip of the right forefinger on the rim of the visor slightly to the right of the right eye. The outer edge of the hand is barely canted downward so that neither the back of the hand nor the palm is clearly visible from the front. The hand and wrist are straight, the elbow inclined slightly forward, and the upper arm horizontal.sfc hutton salute with visor

When wearing headgear without a visor (or uncovered) and not wearing glasses, execute the Hand Salute in the same manner as previously described, except touch the tip of the right forefinger to the forehead near and slightly to the right of the right eyebrow.

When wearing headgear without a visor (or uncovered) and wearing glasses, execute the Hand Salute in the same manner as previously described, except touch the tip of the right forefinger to that point on the glasses where the temple piece of the frame meets the right edge of the right brow.

Order Arms

Order Arms from the Hand Salute is a one-count movement. The command is Order, ARMS. On the command of execution ARMS, return the hand sharply to the side, resuming the Position of Attention.

When reporting or rendering courtesy to an individual, turn the head and eyes toward the person addressed and simultaneously salute. In this situation, the actions are executed without command. The Salute is initiated by the subordinate at the appropriate time (six paces) and terminated upon acknowledgment.

Rendering customs and courtesies to NCOs and Warrant Officers

When addressing an NCO you will need to be in one of the positions of Rest at the halt; Parade rest; Stand at Ease; At Ease or Rest.

When walking with someone of higher rank, stand or walk to left side.

Always greet individuals with the greeting of the day.

Be respectful at all times.

Warrant Officers will be treated in the same respect as Officers.

Rendering Honor to the Flag

The flag of the U.S. is the symbol of our nation. The union, white stars on a field of blue, is the honor point of the flag. The union of the flag and the flag itself, when in company with other flags, are always given the honor position, which is on the right.

The flag of the U.S. is displayed outdoors at all Army installations.

The flag is displayed daily from reveille to retreat. If illuminated, it may be displayed at night during special events or on special occasions deemed appropriate by the commander.

When the flag is being raised in the morning or lowered in the evening, stand at attention on the first note of Reveille or "To the Colors.” "Colors" refer to the flag of the U.S. and can include the unit flag. Give the required salute. If you are actively involved a duty that would be hampered by saluting, you do not need to salute. You normally face the flag when saluting, unless duty requires you to face in some other direction. At the conclusion of the ceremony, resume your regular duties.

The flag, when flown at half-staff, is hoisted to the peak/top of the flagpole and then lowered to the half-staff position. At the end of the day, the flag is hoisted to the peak before lowered. "Half-staff" means lowering the flag to one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff.

Whenever Reveille is played, and you are not in formation and not in a vehicle, come to attention at the first note, face the flag, and give the required salute. If no flag is near, face the music and salute. If you are in formation, salute only on the order "Present arms.” If you are in civilian clothing, stand at attention and place your right hand over your heart.


The following rules will help you conduct yourself appropriately in the presence of officers and those senior in grade:

When talking to an officer or Warrant Officer, stand at attention unless given the order "At ease.” When you are dismissed, or when the officer departs, come to attention and salute.

When an officer enters a room, the first Soldier to recognize the officer calls personnel in the room to attention but does not salute. When a Soldier reports indoors render a salute to the officer.

When accompanying a senior, walk on his left.

When an officer enters a dining facility, unless he directs otherwise or a more senior officer is already present, the diners will be given the order "At ease" by the first person who sees the officer. You will remain seated at ease and will continue eating unless the officer directs otherwise. If you are directly addressed, you should rise to attention when seated in a chair. If you are seated on a bench, stop eating and sit at attention until the conversation ends.

Note: The officer or NCO may give the directive "Carry on.” This means the Soldier or Soldiers should continue with whatever they were doing previously. This same directive is used in many other situations outside of formation, such as in the barracks and break areas.

When outdoors and approached by an NCO, you should stand (when seated) and greet the NCO by saying, "Good morning, sergeant," "Good afternoon, sergeant," or "Good evening, sergeant (last name, if known)."

While going through BCT, you will address all drill sergeants as “Drill Sergeant”.

When you report to an officer and you are outdoors, approach the officer to whom you are reporting and stop about two steps from him, assume the position of attention. Give the proper salute and say, for example, "Sir/Ma'am, Private Smith reports.” If you are indoors, use the same procedures as above, except remove your headgear before reporting.

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