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Does privilege of rank really exist?

Posted by /u/ACountryKindOfLoveTA on


As an O-2 on my second posting though currently back filling for another officer at another base, when working alongside junior enlisted airmen, I'm finding more and more that there is a perception that a commission gives a great deal more 'power' than it actually does in reality.

For example, I had to tell junior troops I was working with that we don't in fact get better food at the Officers' Mess. All the food gets cooked in the same central kitchen and by and large, officers get the same food as enlisted.

When I also informed them that I hadn't been provided with a vehicle for the month I'm attached to their unit they essentially asked why I didn't just go down to the motor pool and pull rank on whoever happened to be working on the vehicle dispatch desk (after I had already requested one and been denied due to unavailability). They were surprised I have to submit a form and request to book one, just like them.

They were also surprised when I needed to get approval from the sergeant in charge of our shift to drive the section vehicle and that I couldn't just authorise myself.

My team seems consistently shocked that in terms of technical skills they are infinitely more qualified than me. They had no idea that I as an officer wasn't in fact trained in any of the skills that they use every day and that I'm effectively a rubber-stamper who gets to wear all the responsibility and risk on their behalf when in reality I have very little technical understanding of their line of work simply because as an officer I'm not expected to do their job and therefore don't receive any training in what they do, other than a very superficial awareness of what their duties are.

I've consistently been confronted with assertions that because I'm an officer I can do whatever I like and I'm not accountable for anything because I'm the one in charge, when in fact I'm still bound by the same rules as them, I still answer to a higher power and the consequences of my mistakes in terms of expected level of responsibility, degree of punishments for mistakes etc. are far greater than theirs despite the fact that I'm trained to a much lower level than them.

Certainly there are some small privileges like I can choose when I go to lunch and I set my own priorities at work for the most part, rather than having my tasks directed, but in reality, I feel those things mean very little compared to the expectations placed on me relative to the very limited amount of training I've been able to do.

I'm genuinely curious about the perception of privilege of rank and the notion that officers are experts in anything at all, and from where these ideas stem, if I'm in fact correct about these perceptions at all.

submitted by /u/ACountryKindOfLoveTA
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