US has 8 uniformed services

Most people know Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Space force.

the other 2 are Public health service and NOAA. They are uniformed but not military.

Coast Guard was in Dept of Transportation but is now in Homeland security.

There are 16 US intelligence agencies

United States Intelligence Community - Wikipedia

Specifically, those are the eight uniformed services as defined by 10 U.S.C. § 101(a)(5). The U.S. has a lot more government agencies than that that have uniformed services as a component.

I did know that, yes. A friend of mine was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Public Health Service at the beginning of the spring. He gets the equivalent pay and benefits as a Navy lieutenant, and will receive the same veterans’ benefits when he leaves the service.

The USPHS, (and NOAA, too) wears Navy uniforms and uses Naval ranks. Which means the top officer, the Surgeon General, is also an Admiral.

That’s not quite right.

The USPHS wears uniforms derived from both USN and USCG uniforms, but with their own insignia and devices.

They do use naval ranks; the Surgeon General also holds the rank of Vice Admiral (O-9), but the top officer is actually the Assistant Secretary for Health, who also holds the rank of Admiral (O-10).

What’s the distinction of being a uniformed service?

There are other federal agencies - like the United States Marshals Service, the United States Border Patrol, and the United States Forest Service - that wear uniforms. Why aren’t they uniformed services?

Those are literally “uniformed services” in the ordinary sense of the words, that is they are services whose members wear uniforms, but they aren’t “uniformed services” as defined under 10 U.S.C. § 101(a)(5). That section defines “uniformed services” as the 6 military branches, the USPHS, and NOAA.

More specifically, the members of USPHS and NOAA are officers who have received a commission from the President of the United States, just like a military officer (unlike the military services, all their members are commissioned officers - neither has enlisted members or warrant officers). They have the ranks and pay grades of military officers and receive the same pay and benefits. They are considered members of the Uniformed Services for a variety of legal purposes, such as being covered by the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. They are not covered by the Civil Service Act. They can be called to active military duty by the President, placed under military command, deployed to combat zones, and so forth. While on military duty, they are also subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

NOAA (or rather its precursor) was legally established as a Uniformed Service specifically so that its members could serve in combat zones with the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Civilians out of uniform collecting weather data in a combat zone could legally be considered spies and would be potentially subject to execution under the Law of War.

IIRC, both the Commissioned Corps of the NOAA and that of the PHS are authorized warrant officers; however, they have never seen the need to actually appoint any.

Another interesting tidbit is that the ranks in the PHSCC follow a weird naming & abbreviation convention, as follows:


|O1|Ensign|Junior Assistant|ENS|
|O2|Lieutenant (junior grade)|Assistant|LTJG|
|O3|Lieutenant|Senior Assistant|LT|
|O4|Lieutenant Commander|Full|LCDR|
|O7|Rear Admiral (lower half)|Assistant Surgeon General|RADM
|O8|Rear Admiral|Deputy Surgeon General/Assistant Surgeon General|RADM|
|O9|Vice Admiral|Surgeon General|VADM|
|O10|Admiral|Assistant Secretary for Health|

As I said, it’s odd.

Drat. I can’t figure out how to do a table on this new site.

I’m not sure what you think is weird about that. As a Uniformed Service, USPHS personnel use the same pay grades as the military services. For historical reasons, they adopted the rank name and abbreviation conventions of the U.S. Navy. They’re still a civilian service though (unless called up to active military duty), so they also have civilian job titles. The only difference between that chart and the equivalent chart for the U.S. Navy is the addition of a column for the civilian title.

What’s weird is the use of two names for each paygrade.

I work with medical devices and we’re subject to inspections by the FDA. The first time I saw an FDA inspector in their military-like uniform was… interesting.