Rating Badge MA.jpg
Rating insignia
Issued by: United States Navy
Type Enlisted rating
Abbreviation MA
Specialty Master at Arms

A master-at-arms (MA) may be a naval rating responsible for discipline and law enforcement, an army officer responsible for physical training, or a member of the crew of a merchant ship (usually a passenger vessel) responsible for security and law enforcement.


United Kingdom

Royal Navy

The master-at-arms is a ship's senior rating, comparable in many respects to the regimental sergeant major in the Army and the Station Warrant Officer in the Royal Air Force. A warrant officer or chief petty officer, the MAA is in charge of discipline and is addressed as "Master"; even if the rating in question is a woman, she is still addressed as "Master" and known as the master-at-arms. The MAA is assisted by regulators of the Royal Navy Police, of which he is himself a member. He is nicknamed the "jaunty", a corruption of the French gendarme, or the "joss/jossman". The non-substantive (trade) badge of an MAA is a crown within a wreath.

British Army

In the British Army, a master-at-arms is a commissioned officer of the Army Physical Training Corps posted as an SO2 or SO3 at divisional HQ or higher command, responsible for overseeing all fitness training in subordinate units. APTC Warrant Officers Class 1 fill the role at brigade HQs, while Warrant Officer Class 2 or staff sergeant physical training instructors are embedded at unit level. Master-at-arms is also an appointment in the Army Cadet Force, given to a cadet with the rank of cadet sergeant or above who takes command of drill on a divisional level.

United States Navy

Two Masters-at-Arms conducting a security patrol near the USNS Comfort (T-AH-20)

In the United States Navy, a Master-at-Arms (MA) is the rating concerned with law enforcement, antiterrorism, force protection and expeditionary warfare. They serve as a military police force onboard Naval ships and installations, both Continental United States (CONUS) and Outside Continental United States (OCONUS). MAs traditionally report to the Commanding Officer (CO) of the command, through the Executive Officer (XO) or Operations Officer (OPS), in maintaining good order and discipline, enforcing rules and regulations, and protecting life and property. The MA rating is also supplemented by DoD personnel and contractors. The current active duty number of MAs consists of approximately 10,000 sailors. The expansion from 3,500 personnel in the year 2000 to the current manning level is due to the expanding role of the MAs in Antiterrorism/Force Protection (ATFP) duties rather than traditional law enforcement.

Some law enforcement duties may include Military Working Dog (MWD) handlers (NEC 2005/2006), Criminal Investigators (NEC 2002), Brig Afloat/Naval Corrections (NEC 2008), Patrolmen, Gate Sentries, Physical Security Specialist, Small Arms Marksmanship Instructors (SAMI) (NEC 0812), AT/FP Training Supervisor (NEC 9501), and at some bases Harbor Patrol. In support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), today's MA force is being forward deployed to many places around the world including Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Djibouti, among other locations overseas. MAs may be assigned to a Mobile Security Expeditionary Force (MESF) or Squadrons, Riverine Squadrons (RIVRON), Maritime Civil Affairs Group (MCAG), or a special forces unit where they will conduct ATFP and expeditionary missions. These missions typically include Protective Service Specialist (NEC 2009), Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) Teams, Embarked Security Teams aboard a ships with minimal self-defense capability, fortifying landside locations, and securing foreign ports for use by U.S. warships. Most MAs who perform these type of ATFP related duties now report through the newly formed Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) from their chain of command. In civilian life, MAs would be detectives, police officers, corrections officers, and port security personnel. MA "A" School is located at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas. MAs also receive further training and certifications depending on their specialties within the rate.

U.S. Navy MAs are often called upon by commanding officers to train ship's troops in tactical boarding and seizure to deter piracy worldwide. Masters at Arms are highly trained in preplanned responses in regards to multiple variances of maritime terrorist attacks such as piracy. These highly trained individuals are designated to neutralize threats and promote safely executed maritime missions.

See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • master-at-arms — n. (Naut.) The senior petty officer of a ship, responsible for discipline aboard the ship. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • master-at-arms — [mas′tərət ärmz′, mäs′tərət ärmz′] n. pl. masters at arms U.S. Navy a petty officer responsible for keeping order, maintaining discipline, taking charge of prisoners, etc. on a ship or in a shore station …   English World dictionary

  • master-at-arms — n an officer with police duties on a ship …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • master-at-arms — noun a) A warrant officer or chief petty officer responsible for discipline aboard a naval ship. Then he was telling us the master at arms comes along with a long cane and he draws out and he flogs the bloody backside off of the poor lad till he… …   Wiktionary

  • master-at-arms — mas′ter at arms′ n. pl. mas•ters at arms 1) navig. a naval petty officer who keeps order aboard ship 2) an officer of an organization who keeps order • Etymology: 1740–50 …   From formal English to slang

  • master-at-arms — noun (plural masters at arms) Date: 1732 a petty officer charged with maintaining discipline aboard ship …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • master-at-arms — /mas teuhr euht ahrmz , mah steuhr /, n., pl. masters at arms. 1. an officer of a fraternal organization, veterans society, or the like, empowered to maintain order, exclude unauthorized persons, etc. 2. Navy. a petty officer who has various… …   Universalium

  • master-at-arms — noun (plural masters at arms) a warrant officer appointed to carry out or supervise police duties on board a ship …   English new terms dictionary

  • master-at-arms — noun (C) an officer with police duties on a ship …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • master-at-arms — /mastər ət ˈamz/ (say mahstuhr uht ahmz) noun Nautical 1. a petty officer in the navy responsible for the maintenance of disciplinary regulations on board ship. 2. an officer on a merchant ship performing the same function …   Australian-English dictionary

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