Watching a rerun of West Wing, I saw Josh Lyman pull rank to get attention at a military hospital. He said
“I work at the White House. I have the diplomatic rank of a 3-star general.”
That got me interested: Is there even such a thing? I did some Googling and decided to share the results here, along with some questions.
The following table shows military ranks from lowest to highest. The columns are: (1st) NATO designation, (2nd) U.S. civil service equivalent, (3rd) U.S. designation, (4th) U.S. or U.K. rank name, (5th) literal translation of Thai police or army rank.
 The U.S. and NATO officer ranks have an “off by one” problem. Why does NATO collapse 1st and 2nd Lieutenant into a single rank?
 Different sources map Military ranks to GS ranks differently; one of the maps is shown in parentheses. I’m guessing that, for example, a Major is considered to have the “importance” or “stature” of a GS-13, but earns the salary of just a GS-12. Is that right?
 To view the table, you may need to disable the “Sultan, Please Break CODE” option at the lower left of the SDMB page. Don’t blame me for that!
OR-1 GS-1 E-1 Private [Force] OR-2 GS-2 E-2 Private 2 [Regular Ten 3rd] OR-3 GS-3 E-3 PFC/Lance Corp. [Ten 3rd] OR-4 GS-4/5 E-4 Corporal [Ten 2nd] OR-5 GS-6(1-4) E-5 Sergeant [Ten 1st] OR-6 GS-6(1-4) E-6 Staff Sergeant OR-7 GS-7(1-4) E-7 Sergeant 1st Cl [Sgt Ten 3rd] OR-8 GS-7(5) E-8 Master/1st Sgt [Sgt Ten 2nd] OR-9 GS-7(5) E-9 Sergeant Major [Sword; Sgt Ten 1st] - GS-8 W-1/5 Warrant Officer OF-1 GS-9(6/7) O-1 2nd Lieutenant [Hundred 3rd] OF-1 GS-10(8/9) O-2 1st Lieutenant [Hundred 2nd] OF-2 GS-11/12(10/11) O-3 Captain [Hundred 1st] OF-3 GS-13(12) O-4 Major [Thousand 3rd] OF-4 GS-14(13) O-5 Lt. Colonel [Thousand 2nd] OF-5 GS-15(14/15) O-6 Colonel [Thousand 1st] OF-6 SES-5 O-7 Brigadier [Force 4th] OF-7 SES-4 O-8 Major General [Force 3rd] OF-8 SES-3 O-9 Lt. General [Force 2nd] OF-9 SES-1/2 O-10 General [Force 1st] OF-10 - - Field Marshall [Top Force] -- -- - Generalissimo
Okay so far, but what about “Diplomatic Rank”? I found two different sources for U.S. special executives about GS-15. Since ‘SES’ is often rendered as just ‘ES’, the two sources number these ranks in the opposite order! What’s that about? The two lists come from
(Most SES job titles don’t map into simple titles like “Assistant Secretary.” The titles shown are just examples.)
SES-5 O-7 Deputy Director, etc. SES-4 O-8 Asst. Secretary, etc. SES-3 O-9 Under Secretary, etc. SES-2 O-10 Deputy Secretary, etc. SES-1 O-10 Secretary ES-1-3 O-7 Counselor ES-4/5 O-8 Minister Counselor ES-6 O-9 Career Minister ES-6 O-10 Career Ambassador