Military Wiki

A master sergeant is the military rank for a senior non-commissioned officer in some armed forces.

Israel Defense Forces[]

רב-סמל ראשון
Rav samal rishon
insignia IDF

The רב-סמל ראשון rav samal rishon (abbreviated: "rasar") (master sergeant) is a non-commissioned officer (נגדים) rank in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Because the IDF is an integrated force, they have a unique rank structure. IDF ranks are the same in all services (army, navy and air force). The ranks are derived from those of the paramilitary Haganah developed in the British Mandate of Palestine period to protect the Yishuv. This origin is reflected in the slightly-compacted IDF rank structure.[1]

Israel Defense Forces ranks : נגדים nagadim - non-commissioned officers (NCO)
Rav samal
רב-סמל ראשון
Rav samal rishon
רב-סמל מתקדם
Rav samal mitkadem
רב-סמל בכיר
Rav samal bakhír
רב-נגד משנה
Rav nagad mishne
Rav nagad
NATO  OR-5 OR-6 OR-7 OR-8 OR-9
Abbreviation רס"ל
Sergeant first class Master sergeant Sergeant major Command sergeant major Warrant officer Chief warrant officer
Insignia IDF Ranks Rasal IDF Ranks Rasar IDF Ranks Rasam IDF Ranks Rasab IDF Ranks Ranam IDF Ranks Ranag
More details at Israel Defense Forces ranks & IDF 2012 - Ranks (, english)

United States[]

E-8 insignia
Master sergeant insignia
U.S. Army

E-8 insignia
Master sergeant insignia
U.S. Marine Corps

Master sergeant insignia
Master sergeant insignia
U.S. Air Force

First sergeant insignia
E-7 First sergeant insignia
U.S. Air Force

Obsolete master sergeant insignia
master sergeant insignia
U.S. Air Force

A master sergeant is:

  • The eighth enlisted rank in the U.S. Army, just above sergeant first class, below sergeant major, command sergeant major, Sergeant Major of the Army and equal in grade but not authority to first sergeant. It is abbreviated as MSG and indicated by three chevrons above three arcs. A master sergeant is typically assigned as a brigade-level section noncommissioned officer in charge and serves as the subject matter expert in his or her field, but may also hold other positions depending on the type of unit. The equivalent-grade First Sergeant is the senior noncommissioned officer of a company-, battery- or troop-sized unit.
  • The eighth enlisted rank in the U.S. Marine Corps, just above gunnery sergeant, below master gunnery sergeant, sergeant major, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. It is equal in grade to first sergeant. It is abbreviated as MSgt. In the U.S. Marine Corps, master sergeants provide technical leadership as occupational specialists at the E-8 level. Most infantry Master Sergeants serve as the Operations Chief of a weapons company, in place of the Gunnery Sergeant found in the company headquarters of a rifle company. Infantry MSgts also serve as the Assistant Operations Chief in the S-3 section of the headquarters of an infantry regiment and Marine Expeditionary Unit and in the G-3 section of the headquarters of a Marine Expeditionary Brigade. The Marine division and Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters contains two infantry MSgts, one as the Training NCO and the other as the Readiness Chief. While some combat support battalions have MSgts at the company level (e.g., one as the Tank Leader, again replacing the company Gunnery Sergeant, in the Operations Section of the tank company headquarters, and two in the company headquarters of an assault amphibian company, one MSgt as the Company Gunnery Sergeant in the headquarters section and the other as the Section Leader of the company headquarters AMTRAC Section), most non-infantry MSgts serve as section chief/NCOIC of their MOS type staff section in a battalion or higher level headquarters. General command leadership at this paygrade is provided by the separate rank of first sergeant.
  • The seventh enlisted rank in the U.S. Air Force, just above technical sergeant and below senior master sergeant. It is abbreviated as MSgt. Advancement to master sergeant is one of the most significant promotions within the enlisted Air Force. At the rank of master sergeant, the airman enters the senior non-commissioned tier and his or her duties begin to focus on leadership and management rather than technical performance. Per Air Force Instruction 36-2618, MSgts typically serve as flight chiefs (analogous to platoon sergeants in the U.S. Army) and section chiefs (leaders of duty sections within a squadron). It is also the lowest rank in the Air Force that one can hold in order to attain the special duty position of first sergeant. These Air Force first sergeants occupy the grades of E-7 through E-9 and are referred to officially as "first sergeant" regardless of their pay grade, and unofficially as "first shirt" or simply "the shirt". In 1991 the Air Force changed its NCO insignia so that a maximum of five stripes, or rockers, were placed on the bottom of the chevrons. The master sergeant rank insignia was changed by removing the bottom (sixth) rocker, and relocating it above as a single chevron, on top of the five lower stripes.

In the U.S. Army, the rank of master sergeant is usually held by staff members serving as NCOICs as well as commonly held by the motor pool NCOIC as the advisor to the motor pool chief, who is usually a warrant officer. When holding the position of first sergeant, while uncommon, the master sergeant is referred to as "first sergeant", however; when not in the position of first sergeant, master sergeants are addressed as "sergeant". This is the standard address for all grades E-5 through E-8. Use of the term "top" or "master sergeant" is not a requirement, but is considered courteous and remains to be at the discretion of the one addressing the master sergeant. Only in the Marine Corps are master sergeants required to be addressed as "master sergeant".

In the Marine Corps, master sergeants may be referred to by the nickname of "Top". This usage is an informal one, however, and would not be used in an official or formal setting. Use of this nickname by Marines of subordinate rank is at the rank holder's discretion.

As with the first sergeant, a master sergeant is usually given the courtesy of having a room called to be "at ease" upon entrance, regardless of duty position.

In the US Armed Forces, all master sergeants (Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps) are senior non-commissioned officers (i.e., E-7 through E-9). However, in the US Marine Corps, the non-commissioned officer ranks of Staff Sergeant (E-6) and above, are classified as Staff Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs), a classification that is unique in US usage to the USMC.


In the Singapore Armed Forces, a master sergeant is a high level specialist, ranking above staff sergeant and below third warrant officer.[2] In the Singapore Army, master sergeants are usually instructors, staff specialists, or sergeant majors of battalion or company-sized units.

Insignia Army-SGP-OR-5a Army-SGP-OR-5b Army-SGP-OR-5c Army-SGP-OR-6a Army-SGP-OR-6b
Rank Third Sergeant Second Sergeant First Sergeant Staff Sergeant Master Sergeant
Abbreviation 3SG 2SG 1SG SSG MSG


E-8 insignia
Master sergeant (αρχιλοχίας) insignia
Hellenic Army

In the Hellenic Army, master sergeant (αρχιλοχίας) is the highest rank of non-commissioned officer. The rank is above the staff sergeant (επιλοχίας) and below the warrant officer (ανθυπασπιστής).


In the Vietnam People's Army, master sergeant (thượng sĩ) is the highest rank of non-commissioned officer.

See also[]


  1. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Israel Defense Forces ranks". Retrieved 18 October 2011. 

External links[]

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