REPLY #6 TO
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(R) A recent question on the NCO chat page:
What is the difference between an NCO and a Sergeant? The people on the chat page believe that there is almost a mystical quality attached to NCO's, but Sergeants are just people that trot through the system. Curious to hear your opinion.
(MB) On the surface, of course, there is no difference (although, technically, Corporals are also NCOs). In colloquial usage, a "Sergeant" is any enlisted person in the grades of E5-E8, while an "NCO" is a leader -- either by virtue of position or performance. Similar distinctions are applied to the ranks of commissioned officers, as well. It's just an indication that the military is no different from most other jobs in that different people perform to different levels of ability and competence.
As far as any "mystical quality" goes that might be associated with NCOs, I'd say that the closest you'll find to such a thing would be with Chief Petty Officers in the Navy. There will undoubtedly be a few Marine "Gunnies" who might take exception to that...*grin*