Ed, nah the AF just "recently" (in Naval history terms) started their "Top Three":
Air Force enlisted force is comprised of distinct and separate ranks. Each correlates to increased levels of training, education, technical competence, experience, leadership, and managerial responsibilities. In 1977, the enlisted force structure was reorganized into three tiers:
The Senior NCO Tier. The top three ranks of the enlisted force structure are master sergeant, senior master sergeant, and chief master sergean
my understanding is this was because the chAir Force did not have much respect/division between their paygrades.
I was a navy E7 on a AFB for three years, and we had an AF E9 in the same office.
i could get his reports in one day by walking around & glaring intently at his Airmen.
it took him weeks to get them.
he always asked, "why are the Airmen afraid of a Navy E7, and not an AF E9?"
i told him "they THINK you MIGHT yell at them....they are pretty sure I will stand on their desk and kick their teeth in, and THEN ask why they are late"
i have had a lot of experience with the Army lately...and they are quite an operation too.
in the Unit I knew about, the E6 broke up with the O3 because he was too immature, and one of the E5's started dating the O3
I could go on on about the Army, but most of it..is SO stupid...you won't believe.
like they FORGOT to schedule the plane to go to Iraq...and had to go a week later to the combat zone.
their rotating unit (2 units, 6 months each) forgot to get all their training & certs done, and they were 2 months late relieving in the combat zone.
and they wanted to "build morale" so they made them stay an extra day to have a "home style BBQ" in Iraq, fixed by the locals...(this was AFTER the two month extension)
one unit went to Iraq, and the Quartermaster guy did NOT order bullets ..."because we never ordered them for training exercises....?!?!?"
that guy is a lead Government employee now, in charge of a Gubmint branch which is HIGHLY behind schedule and all screwed,
only one phrase can explain it: "military intelligence...."