Things to Know About Master Chief in the Military

Having a grasp of things to know about Master Chief in the military will only serve as supplement or an added knowledge of information about the military world and this is why this content is important. Who is the Master Chief in the Military? What is its major roles and responsibilities in that area of operations? Or is it more of a game than it is reality?

The military involves a very wide circle of field operation personnel and it is endless when they are services and means of operations are considered in relation to the other sectors of the society. A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare.

The military are typically authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with their members identifiable by distinct military uniform. They may consist of one or more military branches such as an army, navy, air force, space force, marines, or coast guard. The main task of the military is usually defined as defense of the state and its interests against external armed threats.

The Concept Behind the Master Chief

The Master Chief, also known as the Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO) is an enlisted rank in some navies. It is the ninth (just below the rank of MCPON) enlisted rank (with pay grade E-9) in the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard, just above Senior Chief Petty Officer (SCPO).

Master chief petty officers are addressed as “Master Chief (last name)” in colloquial contexts. They constitute the top 1.25% of the enlisted members of the maritime forces. Prior to 1958, chief petty officer was the highest enlisted rate in both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard. This changed on 20 May 1958 with the passage of Public Law 85-422, the Military Pay Act of 1958, which established two new enlisted pay grades of E-8 and E-9 in all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

In the Navy and Coast Guard, the new E-8 pay grade was titled Senior Chief Petty Officer and the new E-9 pay grade as Master Chief Petty Officer, with the first selectees promoting to their respective grades in 1959 and 1960.

Facts About the Master Chief Officer

Below are the few things to know about Master Chief in the military and wherever you find them:

  • Progress of Ranks to MASTER CHIEF

In the Navy, advancement to master chief petty officer is similar to that of chief petty officer and senior chief petty officer. It carries requirements of time in service, superior evaluation scores, and selection by a board of master chiefs.

Similarly, senior chief petty officers and chief petty officers are chosen by selection boards. In the Coast Guard, advancement to master chief petty officer is done by competing in an single annual board. The board ranks all eligible senior chiefs using their career records. Master chief petty officers are then selected monthly from this prioritization list as positions become available.

Each rating has an official abbreviation, such as FC for fire controlman, FT for fire control technician, and STS for sonar technician, submarines. When combined with the rate abbreviation (MC for master chief without rating), it produces the full rate designation, such as FCCM for fire controlman chief master (more commonly said as Master Chief Fire Controlman).

It is not uncommon practice to refer to the master chief by this shorthand in all but the most formal correspondence (such as printing and inscription on awards). Mostly, though, they are simply called “master chief”, regardless of rating.

  • Rank Description and Symbol

The rate insignia for a master chief is a white eagle with spread wings above three chevrons. The chevrons are topped by a rocker (arc) that goes behind the eagle.

Two inverted silver stars (a reference to the stars used on the sleeves of line officers) are placed above the eagle. Between the arc and the top chevron is the specialty mark of the enlisted rating. This is used on the service dress blue, dinner dress blue jacket, and dinner dress white jacket uniforms.

On other uniforms, the insignia used for shirt collars and caps is the one that has become universally accepted as the symbol of the chief petty officer.

  • Similarities of Ranks

A force master chief petty officer (FORCM) is a master chief who has virtually the same responsibility as command master chiefs, but for larger force commands rather than a single unit. There are 15 force master chief positions in the Navy:

  • Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
  • Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet
  • Naval Air Forces
  • Naval Education and Training Command
  • Naval Facilities Engineering Command
  • Naval Special Warfare
  • Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet
  • Naval Surface Forces
  • Naval Information Forces
  • Navy Expeditionary Combat Command
  • Navy Installations Command
  • Navy Personnel Command
  • Navy Reserve Forces
  • Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet
  • Submarine Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet

A fleet master chief petty officer (FLTCM) is a master chief who again has virtually the same responsibility as command master chiefs, but for larger fleet commands. There are four fleet master chief positions in the Navy:

  • United States Fleet Forces Command
  • United States Pacific Fleet
  • United States Naval Forces, Europe/Africa
  • Fleet Master Chief, Manpower, Personnel, Training, and Education (N1/NT)

The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG) is appointed by the Commandant of the Coast Guard to serve as the most senior enlisted member in the Coast Guard. The MCPOCG adds a third star above the rating insignia described earlier, and all three stars are gold (silver on the gold foul anchor collar device).

Read Also: Who is a Special Master in a Law Court

Other Recognitions and Use of the RANK

The master chief rank has really gone popular in modern culture and it has in several ways been adapted into different games and movies. Below are few examples:

  • In the Halo video game franchise, the protagonist, Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, commonly referred to as “Master Chief” or simply “Chief”, derives his nicknames from his rank of master chief petty officer.
  • In the 2012 TV series Last Resort, the character Joseph Prosser, (portrayed by Robert Patrick) is the Chief of the Boat (COB) of USS Colorado and holds the rank of master chief petty officer.
  • In the 2000 film Men of Honor, the character Leslie William “Billy” Sunday (portrayed by Robert De Niro) is a U.S. Navy diver with the rank of master chief petty officer. This film is based on real-life events of Carl Brashear, the first black man to be accepted into the salvage divers school; he eventually also earned the rank of master chief himself.
  • In the 2017 TV series SEAL Team, the character Jason “Jace” Hayes (portrayed by David Boreanaz) is a United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group leader of a Navy SEAL team (Bravo Team) with the rank of master chief petty officer.
  • In the film GI Jane, Viggo Mortensen plays a master chief in charge of training elite Navy SEALs.

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