RIFT Rank Structure

Because the standard rank system for the United States Colonial Marine Corps is based on expectations that personnel will advance in rank in certain time frames and be payed a specific rate based on their rank, this system is unsuitable for the much more dynamic requirements of Reconnaissance In Force Team personnel. Therefore, an entirely seperate rank track exists for both enlisted and commissioned officers who hold a RIFT position.

Although rank is typically the defining aspect of a RIFT member’s seniority and compensation (pay and other benefits), there is a number of other factors that determine both. RIFTs are based around the doctrine of keeping the same personnel assigned together for as long as possible to maximize unit cohesion and effectiveness in the field and so more emphasis is placed on keeping members within a given unit than on forcing them to accept a promotion that would require them to transfer out to a different position that fits the responsibilities of their higher rank. This means that RIFT members will typically hold onto a given rank for much, much longer than conventional personnel. In many cases, RIFT personnel can receive promotions that have no effect on their position at all; these promotions are awarded primarily to reflect their seniority among RIFT members.

Certain RIFT Military Occupational Specialties are restricted to certain ranks based on the requirements of their position. For example, an enlisted RIFT member with the 1281 Ground Weapon Systems Specialist MOS serves as their team’s M577 Stryker 2 APC driver and is expected to remain subordinate to the vehicle commander. Because this commander might hold a rank as low as RIFT Lance Corporal, the 1281 MOS is restricted to a maximum rank of RIFT Lance Corporal to maintain a clear chain of command. Other MOSs are restricted due to their responsibilities in the field. The 1231 Heavy Weapons Operator MOS is a prime example of this, as Marines with this MOS should be expected to focus on operating their issued weapons in the field and not on leading a fireteam or an entire RIFT.

Because RIFT personnel can be expected to hold onto a given rank for a long time and some cannot be promoted beyond a certain rank, there is only a loose correlation between rank and actual paygrade. Pay and other benefits are primarily based on an individual Marine’s evaluated performance, experience, and the time they’ve spent in a specific rank. As such, RIFT ranks should be considered more of a reflection of a Marine’s seniority and not an obvious indicator of the compensation they are receiving for their service. This further sets them apart from the conventional rank tracks where rank and pay are closely connected.

It should be noted that in the proper term of address for a RIFT member of a given rank, “RIFT” is always included in the rank name (i.e. “RIFT Corporal”), but this is often dropped in casual conversation and the individual is referred to by their rank without the “RIFT” attached, so a RIFT corporal would be referred to simply as “Corporal”. However, “RIFT Corporal” and “Corporal” are two different ranks and referring to a RIFT Corporal simply as “Corporal” in a formal setting is not accurate or appropriate; the same applies to all other RIFT ranks which have the same name as a rank in the conventional rank track.

Enlisted ranks in the USCM. Note that for the paygrades of E8 and E9, lateral movement between the Command and Technical tracks is common, with Master Sergeants and Sergeant Majors serving as senior enlisted personnel among unit headquarters and First Sergeants and Master Gunnery Sergeants filling the role of senior enlisted personnel in their Military Occupational Specialty. However, lateral movement is NOT possible between either of these two tracks and the RIFT track.

Enlisted Personnel:

Twenty-three of the twenty-four personnel in a Reconnaissance In Force Platoon are enlisted members of the Colonial Marines, and as such they make up the vast majority of total RIFT personnel. Promotion through the various RIFT ranks relies on a large number of factors including general performance, leadership capabilities, the technical skill a Marine demonstrates in their Military Occupational Specialty, and even the suitability of their MOS for promotion. Certain MOSs are not considered suitable for promotion to certain ranks due to the responsibilities of their MOS; for example, the 1281 Ground Weapon Systems Specialist MOS serves as a RIFT’s Stryker 2 APC driver, a position not suitable for promotion to a rank beyond RIFT Lance Corporal for a number of reasons.

The only way for RIFT personnel in a “rank restricted” MOS to be promoted beyond the limits of these restrictions is to go through RIFT officer training or switch to a different enlisted MOS. While it is possible for a RIFT member with a specific primary MOS to switch to a different MOS, incentives in the form of additional pay and benefits are typically given to these restricted MOSs to encourage them to stay in their position and avoid the need to provide them with costly and time-consuming retraining. Therefore, while a Marine with a given MOS might be restricted to a specific rank in terms of seniority, their actual pay might be more in line with the pay given to someone of a slightly higher rank.

RIFT Private:

RIFT Private is the rank given to all RIFT personnel in training. The paygrade is E3, equivalent to Lance Corporal in the standard rank system. All RIFT privates are promoted to RIFT Private First Class, RIFT Lance Corporal, or RIFT Corporal after graduating training.

RIFT Private First Class:

RIFT Privates First Class make up the bulk of Reconnaissance In Force Team personnel. The rank holds the paygrade of E4, equivalent to a Corporal in the standard rank system. PFCs can remain in their grade for a long time and promotion to higher ranks is based on experience, general performance, and their skill level in their specific MOS.

RIFT Lance Corporal:

The rank of RIFT Lance Corporal holds a paygrade of E5, equivalent to a Sergeant in the standard rank system. Because of the required level of technical skill and leadership abilities in the 1206 D-4 Pilot and 1267 Stryker 2 Commander Military Occupational Specialties, this rank is automatically given to graduates of these MOS training programs, bypassing the rank of RIFT Private First Class entirely.

The rank of RIFT Lance Corporal can be given to graduates of other MOS training programs who demonstrate well-above average capabilities in leadership and/or their technical skills in their specific MOS. It can also be awarded to RIFT Privates First Class who demonstrate performance above the responsibilities of their rank and who fall into one of three categories: those who are perform above the expectations of their rank in their MOS but are found lacking in leadership skills or who have limited desire to take on a leadership position, those who are considered suitable for promotion to a higher rank and a leadership position at a time when no such positions are available, and those who can only be promoted to a certain grade due to restrictions placed on their MOS. The 1224 D-4 Crew Chief, 1231 Heavy Weapons Operator, and 1281 Ground Weapon Systems Specialist MOSs are restricted to a maximum rank of RIFT Lance Corporal due to the responsibilities of their MOS making them unsuitable for a command position.

Because RIFT Lance Corporal is a rank typically awarded to RIFT Privates First Class who perform beyond the expectations of their rank but are unable to be promoted to a command position for one reason or another, it is not uncommon for RIFT PFCs to bypass this rank entirely and be promoted directly to RIFT Corporal if they are considered suitable for promotion to a command position at a time when such a position is available.

RIFT Corporal:

RIFT Corporal, paygrade E6, is the lowest rank in the RIFT ranking system that is typically given any type of true command position. A single RIFT will have up to four corporals at any given time; each of the two infantry fireteams in a RIFT typically has one corporal, while the team’s dropship pilot and Stryker 2 commander may also hold the rank of RIFT Corporal. In a RIFT, the A-Team corporal technically has limited authority as they are subordinate to the leadership of their team sergeant, who leads the fireteam. The B-Team corporal has more authority as they are the leader of their fireteam; this means that a RIFT’s B-Team corporal will always be the more experienced of the two and is technically considered the team sergeant’s second-in-command. In extremely rare cases, exceptional RIFT trainees can be promoted directly to the rank of RIFT Corporal after graduating training.

RIFT Lance Sergeant:

RIFT Lance Sergeant is a relatively uncommon rank with a paygrade of E7, equivalent to a standard Gunnery Sergeant. This rank is most frequently awarded to RIFT Corporals with the 1206 D-4 Pilot or 1267 Stryker 2 Commander MOS who have exceeded the responsibilities of their rank but are unable to take on the role of RIFT team leader due to the responsibilities of their MOS making them unsuitable for this position. It can also be awarded to high-achieving RIFT Corporals in a team-leader-suitable MOS as an indicator that they are considered ready for promotion to RIFT team leader once such a position is available. RIFT Lance Sergeants who are given command of a RIFT can expect promotion to the next grade at the beginning date of their new assignment. Much like RIFT Lance Corporal, this rank can be skipped entirely if a RIFT Corporal is viewed as suitable for a RIFT leader position at the time when such a position is available.

RIFT Staff Sergeant:

RIFT Staff Sergeants, paygrade E8, are considered junior RIFT leaders. RIFT Corporals who are promoted to a RIFT leader position are typically promoted directly to RIFT Staff Sergeant, while RIFT Lance Sergeants who are given command of a RIFT will be promoted to the grade of RIFT Staff Sergeant on the beginning date of their new assignment. RIFT Staff Sergeants make up the bulk of RIFT leaders due to the lengthy service required to advance in grade to the next and final rank in the RIFT rank system, RIFT Command Sergeant.

RIFT Command Sergeant:

RIFT Command Sergeants, paygrade E9, are senior RIFT leaders who have already gained significant experience in their position. Promotion from RIFT Staff Sergeant to RIFT Command Sergeant happens automatically after ten years of holding the grade of RIFT Staff Sergeant, although excellent performance can earn a RIFT Staff Sergeant promotion to the rank of RIFT Command Sergeant in as little as seven years. Apart from the transition from RIFT Lieutenant Commander to RIFT Commander, promotion from RIFT Staff Sergeant to RIFT Command Sergeant is the only promotion in the entire USCM to use the “up or out” system; RIFT Staff Sergeants who are not considered suitable for promotion at the ten-year mark are typically removed from their position. Therefore, RIFT Command Sergeant is the only rank that a RIFT member might ever be “required” to accept, although the responsibilities of a RIFT Staff Sergeant and RIFT Command Sergeant are identical and the two ranks are only used to denote differing levels of experience and leadership abilities.

Commissioned officer ranks in the USCM. Note that like enlisted personnel, lateral movement between the standard and RIFT tracks is not possible.

Commissioned Officers:

Reconnaissance In Force Team platoons are always led by a commissioned officer, who has the 1270 RIFT Platoon Commander Military Occupational Specialty. This is the only MOS available to RIFT platoon commanders as it focuses strictly on the requirements and duties of leading a RIFT platoon both on base and in the field.

Because Officer Training School is the USCM’s primary source of commissioned officers, the typical track for a Marine to become a RIFT officer is to enlist, go through basic training, be accepted into and graduate from Officer Training School, and be accepted into and graduate from RIFT Platoon Commander School. Less commonly, experienced enlisted RIFT members can take a shorter training course to receive their officer’s commission, and even more rarely, senior enlisted RIFT members can be given a commission for displaying exceptional battlefield merit.

RIFT Lieutenant:

RIFT Lieutenant is the rank given to RIFT officer trainees. The rank holds a paygrade of O2, equivalent to a First Lieutenant in the standard rank track, although RIFT Lieutenants are considered personnel in training and technically have no authority of any kind. All personnel who graduate RIFT officer training are automatically promoted to the next rank.

RIFT Lieutenant Commander:

RIFT Lieutenant Commanders are junior RIFT platoon commanders with a paygrade of O3, equivalent to the standard rank of Captain. RIFT Lieutenants are promoted to this rank on graduation of training and will typically hold it for ten to twelve years before being promoted to the rank of RIFT Commander.

RIFT Commander:

RIFT Commanders are senior RIFT platoon commanders with a paygrade of O4, equivalent to the standard rank of Major. This rank is ordinarily given to RIFT Lieutenant Commanders after ten to twelve years of time in their grade, although in limited circumstances this can occur sooner. Much like the promotion from RIFT Staff Sergeant to RIFT Command Sergeant, promotion from RIFT Lieutenant Commander to RIFT Commander is done on an “up or out” basis, and all RIFT Lieutenant Commanders who are not considered deserving of promotion after twelve years in their grade are removed from their position.

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