Friday, February 5, 2010

Reviewing Wikipedia's accuracy: Regimental Sergeant Major

Next in my review of Wikipedia's accuracy is, quite appropriately for a blog about Wikipedia warriors, the article on Regimental Sergeant Major. It could be the case that the article is factually accurate, but they do a lousy job of explaining the concept. From the very first line any reader with a passing familiarity with American military ranks will be confused. A Regimental Sergeant Major is a Warrant Officer in the Royal Army? What? I know they do things differently in the United Kingdom, but that sounds like a huge difference.

You see, back in high school, I was in Army ROTC. I seriously thought about joining the Army, but I have not inhaled, if you catch my drift. Still, I remember what I was taught about the difference between officers and enlisted personnel. A Sergeant Major is a senior enlisted rank. And while no Sergeant Major would mind terribly being addressed as "Sir," I doubt a Warrant Officer would much like being addressed as "Sergeant Major." There has been a lot of discussion on this particular point in the article's talk page, but it looks like a very confused argument between weaklings who would be turned away by even the most overzealous recruiters.

The article mentions that the equivalent in the U. S. Army is Command Sergeant Major, which is an E-9 rank. But the article says nothing about why it's WO-1 in the various military branches of the Commonwealth but not the American military.

Now, I realize that I set out to gauge accuracy, not clarity of presentation. So I will have to table this part of the review until I can consult with someone more knowledgeable on the British military.

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