Tyrese Gibson plays U.S. Air Force Combat Controller Robert Epps (a member of Captain Lenox's special team) who supposedly holds the rank of Technical Sergeant (5 stripes, pay grade E6), but he's actually shown wearing the rank of a Chief Master Sergeant (8 stripes, pay grade E9).

enter image description here

Technical Sergeant (E-6)

  • Air Force Technical Sergeant (TSgt) The Technical Sergeant (TSgt) is the second level of the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) ranks in the Air Force.

  • Technical Sergeants are qualified to perform highly complex technical duties in addition to providing supervision. In addition, they're responsible for the career development of each subordinate under their supervision.

  • It is the TSgt's responsibility to ensure that all enlisted personnel have the tools, training and support they need to achieve maximum performance and accomplish total mission effectiveness.

  • The average Air Force wide active duty time for promotion to the rank of Technical Sergeant is 12 years.

Chief Master Sergeant (E-9)

  • Air Force Chief Master Sergeant (CMSgt) The rank of Chief Master Sergeant is the highest Air Force enlisted rank, with the exception of the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.

  • The CMSAF is a distinctive rank with special basic and retired pay rates set by law. Chief Master Sergeants serve as managers and superintendents, advisors, enlisted force managers, and provide senior enlisted leadership.

  • Following selection, CMSgts are assigned Chief Enlisted Manager (CEM) codes and may fill any managerial-level position and perform all duties not prohibited by law or directive.

  • The average service wide active duty time for advancement to the rank of Chief Master Sergeant is more than 22 years. REF: From the Air Force Handbook

TSgt are typically in their 30's, whereas CMSgts are office pogues in their 50's. Is this just the result of poor understanding of military rank structure or a deliberate plot twist?

  • One day I'll learn how to do that. – Morgan Apr 28 '14 at 20:36
  • What's that, Morgan? – Thaddeus Howze Apr 28 '14 at 20:37
  • I don't really see what you're asking. Is this just a rant about the fact that he's been promoted a bit quickly between the first and second film? Don't forget that it's been like 2 years since the events of Transformers to Transformers : The Fallen – Valorum Apr 28 '14 at 20:42
  • Make a hotlink into an actual pic and condense others down to a title. It presents a much clearer and cleaner post. – Morgan Apr 28 '14 at 20:42
  • 1
    @Morgan - I'm guessing that someone who's involved in the defence of the entire planet would get promoted rather quickly. – Valorum Apr 28 '14 at 20:51

Yes, this is a continuity error (possibly in costuming) or possibly because when actors are portraying military staff in movies, their costumes are supposedly not entirely correct due to military regulation. They usually accomplish this by making minor changes in breadboards (the medals worn by military personnel).

  • Tyrese Gibson's character is listed as Master Sergeant Epps, a grade of E-7. The rank stripes on his uniform are a Chief Master Sergeant, a grade of E-9. REF: IMDB
  • This is a minor mistake but one only military people are likely to recognize. Activate your "suspension of belief" baffles and you will be fine. Considering how young the character is, it is VERY unlikely he would have achieved E-9 rank at his age.

  • I will concede the idea he may have been promoted to allow him access to resources without giving him a supervisor or revealing any more information about the Transformers to anyone who wouldn't need to know.

enter image description here

Here is a better shot of his very advanced rank.

  • Perhaps the promotion was to shoehorn him into the minimum rank necessary to have clearance to work with the Transformers? And promoting him early would mitigate needing to bring someone else into the secret. – Xantec Apr 28 '14 at 20:55
  • Very unlikely to have achieved which rank, E-7 or E-9? – SteB Apr 28 '14 at 21:15
  • 2
    @Xantec Rank does not denote special access or clearance level. He could have received an 'accelerated promotion' to the next higher rank (E7) based on exceptional criteria but to bypassing multiple ranks within the Enlisted rank structure does not happen, though a field promotion from enlisted to commissioned officer is not unheard of in times of war. – Morgan Apr 28 '14 at 21:16
  • 1
    @Thaddeus Yes, an O1 outranks an E9. – Morgan Apr 28 '14 at 21:24
  • 1
    @Xantec I'm here for you bro. – Morgan Apr 28 '14 at 21:51

I fail to see the problem. Yes, he's certainly very young to have been promoted from Technical Sergeant in the first Transformer film to Chief Master Sergeant two and a bit years later but it's not without precedent in the USAF and he certainly wouldn't be the youngest by quite a wide margin.

There have been a considerable number of people promoted to that grade at a younger age, notably Orville C. "Chuck" Miller who attained the rank at the age of 31 and Desire L. "Dutch" D'Orange, Jr. who attained the rank at the age of 29.

It's likely that with the planet on a war footing, with his team involved in regular briefings with the President and Chiefs of Staff and with the opportunity to engage in high-level training, any candidate would be very well placed to receive enhanced promotion prospects. On top of that his character is portrayed as being the best of the best of the best both physically and mentally.

As he says in this cast interview; He's at the top of the rankings due to his close work with the autobots and because he's in control of coordinating what happens on the ground and what happens in the air.

  • 3
    the best of the best of the best So you're saying he is a MiB agent too? – Xantec Apr 28 '14 at 21:43
  • @Richard Great research as usual... but... He says in that interview that he's a Master Sergeant (E7) but wears the rank of a Chief Master Sergeant (E9) and says he's the highest (enlisted) rank and biggest dog in the AF. Both Command Chief Master Sergeant and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force hold higher enlisted rank/position. – Morgan Apr 28 '14 at 22:08
  • Also, why is he now packin' such high enlisted rank while Lenox is still but a lowly Captain? – Morgan Apr 28 '14 at 22:11
  • @Xantec - you may have +1 for spotting the reference. – Valorum Apr 28 '14 at 22:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.