As with most armies based on the British Army model, the Canadian Armed Forces have utilized the rank of sergeant since their creation. Up until the 1920s, it was spelled "serjeant," but the modern spelling gradually took over in the years leading up to and during World War II. The sergeant is the lowest-ranking non-commissioned officer (NCO) rank in the Canadian Forces.

Sergeants are addressed by rank (and never as "sir"), as with the example "Sergeant Bloggins, come here." The use of the abbreviated term "sarge" is not tolerated. (On parade, the rank may be pronounced "s'r'ant," frequently during roll call.) In the Navy, the equivalent rank to the sergeant is the Petty Officer, 2nd Class (PO2). Sailors of this standing should addressed as "Petty Officer," or "P.O.". Sergeants in French-speaking units are addressed as "sergent"; the French translation of PO2 is "un maître de deuxieme classe" (m 2).

Presently, sergeants in the Canadian Forces are identified by an insignia consisting of three downward-pointing chevrons topped by a maple leaf. The emblem is worn on the upper part of both sleeves (excepting mess kit, when it is only worn on the right side) in most cases, including dress tunics and combat uniforms. The insignia may be affixed to an epaulet when worn with work-dress sweaters, parkas or flight suits. Air Force units use the same ranks as Army units.

Prior to the 1967 unification of the Canadian armed services, the rank insignia for sergeants consisted of three chevrons. An additional rank of staff sergeant/flight sergeant was used (denoted by three chevrons topped with a British Imperial Crown), but was phased out in 1967.

Examples of posts held by servicemen and servicewomen holding this rank include CQMS (Company Quartermaster Sergeant), Platoon 2IC (Second-in-Command), Company Clerk and Detachment Commander.

Master CorporalCanadian Forces Ranks and InsigniaWarrant Officer

D-Net -
CANUCK: The Canadian Soldier in the 20th Century -

A rank in the United States Marine Corps.

Sergeant (E5) is a senior noncommissioned officer rank above Corporal (E4) and below the staff noncommissioned officer rank of Staff Sergeant (E6). A Sergeant's rank insignia is three chevrons with crossed rifles underneath. After E5 every enlisted rank is some form of Sergeant (Master Sergeant, Sergeant Major, etc...) and the associated insignia never has more than three chevrons, instead adding rockers. Sergeant is never to be shortened to Sarge.


In the infantry Sergeants are generally squad leaders, commanding three four man fire teams. In more technical fields Sergeants are squad or section leaders expected to have strong skills in their specialty. Sergeants are charged with training, enforcing discipline, and caring for the wellbeing of their Marines. Sergeants are also eligible to hold the "B" Billets of drill instructor and recruiter (there are many other "B" billets but most are also open to Corporals).

A Sergeant may hold formations, inspections, lead physical training, and perform many other platoon level duties.

Becoming a Sergeant:

Corporals compete with other Marines in their MOS for promotion to Sergeant.

Competition for promotion is generally fierce. Every Corporal will have a cutting score after one year time in grade. The cutting score is calculated based on physical fitness, rifle qualification score, proficiency and conduct marks, time in grade and service, and education completed in grade with bonus points awarded for recruiting referrals that enlist and service in special duty areas (drill school, recruiting, Marine security guard).

Every month (or quarter for the reserves) the respective monitors for each MOS evaluate how many Sergeants remain in the MOS (have not been discharged, lateral moved, etc...) and how many the MOS rates. The monitor then looks at the cutting scores of the eligible Marines and determines where he will have to set the official score (score to beat) to promote the sufficient number. If the MOS already has the appropriate number of Sergeants no score will be issued and the MOS will be closed for the period (no promotions). This is an inexact science due to a number of factors:

1: Does not take into account Marines with a sufficient score that have been "not recommended" (non-recced) for promotion by their command.
2: Does not take into account meritorious promotions
3: Does not take into account Marines that may be leaving active duty before the end of the promotion period.

An example: Gunnery Sergeant Smith is the monitor for the 0311 MOS, Marine Corps Rifleman. He determines that he will need 325 Marines promoted this month to meet billet vacancies. He sets the cutting score at 1675, a number that exactly 325 Corporals can beat. In a perfect world, this would mean that each and every one of the Corporals with a score higher than 1675 would be promoted, however 15 are non-recced for promotion for lack of leadership, 10 for being placed on the body composition program (overweight), and 20 are getting out of the Corps. This leaves the MOS 45 Sergeants short. Conversely, if none of the Marines were non-recced and 15 Marines with lower scores were meritoriously promoted before the end of the promotion period the MOS would have a 15 Sergeant surplus.

Sergeant is the last rank that this system is used for. For Staff Noncommissioned Officer promotions Marines are selected by a board of Officers and Senior enlisted on an individual basis.

Promotion to Sergeant in four years or less (the initial enlistment) is considered the hallmark of a squared-away Marine but failure to do so should not be held against an individual due to a the possibility of a closed or slow promoting MOS.


Sergeants are expected to complete the Marine Corps Institute's Sergeants Distance Education Program regardless of MOS. The program consists of seven courses:

1: Basic Grammar
2: Leadership
3: Military Studies
4: Introduction to Warfighting
5: Warfighting Tactics
6: Warfighting Techniques
7: Weapons

These courses cover material that every Sergeant needs to be an effective NCO.

Sergeants are also encouraged to attend a resident Sergeants course (6 weeks for active duty, 2 for reserves) covering, among other things, drill, formations, conducting inspections, and counseling junior Marines.


Sergeants are the lowest rank to receive fitness reports (fitreps). A fitrep is an in depth evaluation of a Marine's performance. Their Reporting Senior (the officer in charge) rates them on the following areas:

    1: Mission Accomplishment

      a: performance
      b: proficiency

    2: Individual Character

      a: courage
      b: effectiveness under stress
      c: initiative

    3: Leadership

      a: leading subordinates
      b: developing subordinates
      c: setting the example
      d: ensuring the well being of subordinates
      e: communication skills

    4: Intellect and Wisdom

      a: professional military education
      b: decision making ability
      c: judgment

Each of these areas is rated on a scale of A-G with A being the lowest and G the highest. The report is then looked over by a Reviewing Officer (usually an officer holding a higher billet than the Reporting Senior) who ensures that the report is not unjustly biased and offers a comparative assessment ranking the subject against the other Marines of his billet in the unit.

Due to differing standards among Reporting Seniors an individual fitrep is judged against all the other fitreps that the Reporting Senior has written for the rank.

An example: Captain Black's average fitness report is straight D's. He gives Sergeant Jones straight E's. Captain Black transfers to another unit and Sergeant Jones' new Reporting Senior, First Lieutenant Clark (who writes C average fitreps), gives him a straight D fitness report. Instead of surmising that Sergeant Jones' performance has suffered because he dropped an entire letter grade on his fitness report, anybody reviewing the Sergeant's record will take into account the Sergeant's score versus the Reporting Seniors average. In both cases the Sergeant outperformed the average Marine being reported on by a full letter grade.

A little history about the role and name of the sergeant.

Sergeants were originally, during the middle ages, professional soldiers who fought as knights but held no noble title. That is: In armour, mostly on horseback and in formation. They were mostly mercenaries who filled up the nobles' ranks in combat and trained the forces held by the nobility.

This is where the NCO's role as an instructor comes from. In a time when the only professional soldiers were mercenaries or nobles, there was little time to train the rallied forces or militia. The sergeants took it upon them to train the infantry and nobility in warfare. The ancient picture of a sergeant standing behind a formation of pressed infantry -holding a lance too keep them in place comes from this time.

During the reconquista and during the crusades sergeants fought with the knights of different orders and kings. Indeed the term sergeant became a rank in some of the orders of the Holy Land.

Ser"geant (?), n. [F. sergent, fr. L. serviens, -entis, p. pr. of servire to serve. See Serve, and cf. Servant.] [Written also serjeant. Both spellings are authorized. In England serjeant is usually preferred, except for military officers. In the United States sergeant is common for civil officers also.]


Formerly, in England, an officer nearly answering to the more modern bailiff of the hundred; also, an officer whose duty was to attend on the king, and on the lord high steward in court, to arrest traitors and other offenders. He is now called sergeant-at-arms, and two of these officers, by allowance of the sovereign, attend on the houses of Parliament (one for each house) to execute their commands, and another attends the Court Chancery.

The sergeant of the town of Rome them sought. Chaucer.

The magistrates sent the serjeant, saying, Let those men go. Acts xvi. 35.

This fell sergeant, Death, Is strict in his arrest. Shak.


(Mil.) In a company, battery, or troop, a noncommissioned officer next in rank above a corporal, whose duty is to instruct recruits in discipline, to form the ranks, etc.

⇒ In the United States service, besides the sergeants belonging to the companies there are, in each regiment, a sergeant major, who is the chief noncommissioned officer, and has important duties as the assistant to the adjutant; a quartermaster sergeant, who assists the quartermaster; a color sergeant, who carries the colors; and a commissary sergeant, who assists in the care and distribution of the stores. Ordnance sergeants have charge of the ammunition at military posts.

3. Law

A lawyer of the highest rank, answering to the doctor of the civil law; -- called also serjeant at law.




A title sometimes given to the servants of the sovereign; as, sergeant surgeon, that is, a servant, or attendant, surgeon.


5. Zool.

The cobia.

Drill sergeant. Mil. See under Drill. -- Sergeant-at-arms, an officer of a legislative body, or of a deliberative or judicial assembly, who executes commands in preserving order and arresting offenders. See Sergeant, 1. -- Sergeant major. (a) Mil. See the Note under def. 2, above. (b) Zool. The cow pilot.


© Webster 1913.

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