The way the Army's enlisted ranks are set up now, sergeants major who serve in battalions make the same base pay as those who work for four-star generals.
But the sergeant major of the Army has an idea that could change that.
Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey floated the idea of adding E-10 and E-11 pay grades to a group of E-9s during a senior leadership conference in June at Fort Bliss, Texas, according to his spokesman, Master Sgt. Tyrone Marshall.
Such a move could potentially increase base pay for the Army's top sergeants major.
The story was first reported by Military.com after one of the NCOs in attendance posted his conference notes to a closed Facebook group, Marshall told Army Times on Friday.
"...which is precisely what we asked them not to do, but it was done anyway," he added.
The idea was just that, he said, and no steps have been taken to put it into action.
"This was discussed in an open forum at the [conference] last month in El Paso, Texas," he said. "It was simply dialogue, and that was the appropriate venue to have that discussion because he was among the Army's senior enlisted leaders."
Though a rank structure change isn't currently in the works, adding two new senior enlisted pay grades would be a big shift.
The Army's current enlisted rank structure goes up to E-9, which includes high-level policy NCOs and battalion or brigade command sergeants major, all the way up to the SMA. All of those billets are responsible for varying numbers of people — a division CSM can oversee anywhere from 10,000 to 17,000 soldiers — but all receive the same base pay.
Adding more NCO ranks would even out opportunities for raises. For instance, battalion, brigade and division commanders get a raise with each promotion, while their top enlisted advisers earn the same amount.
However, command sergeants major do earn a special incentive pay once they started working alongside generals, and the sergeant major of the Army gets a special monthly pay bump for being the service's top enlisted soldier. The increases affect the senior NCOs' paychecks but is not factored into retirement pay the way it would be if a soldier last served as an E-10 or E-11.