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Mustang (military officer)

A mustang is slang term in the United States Armed Forces, referring to a commissioned officer who began his or her career as an enlisted service member. Mustangs are older and more experienced than their peers-in-grade who entered the military via commissioning from one of the service academies (such as the United States Merchant Marine Academy, United States Military Academy, United States Air Force Academy, United States Naval Academy, or United States Coast Guard Academy), Officer Candidate School, or the Reserve Officer Training Corps. During the Vietnam War, however, when some Army warrant officer pilots were offered a direct commission to 2nd or 1st Lieutenant, they were usually younger than 25 at the time of commission.


A United States Navy mustang can be a Chief Warrant Officer, a Limited Duty Officer, a Staff Officer, a Restricted Line Officer or an Unrestricted Line Officer, depending on their particular situation.

A United States Marine Corps mustang can be a Chief Warrant Officer, who has gone on to get a commission from Officer Candidate School

The original definition of a mustang was a military officer who had earned a battlefield commission; they were especially prevalent during World War II and the Korean War. Notable examples include Audie Murphy (World War II) and David Hackworth (Korean War).

A mustang is currently defined[citation needed] by a continuity in military service from enlisted to officer (i.e., no break in military service). Being a slang term, there is no precise definition or set of criteria to determine which officers can properly be called a "mustang"; as the term varies in usage and criteria from service to service.

The term originated either just prior to, or during[which?] World War II, initially as a naval term, although other services' officers are beginning to adopt the term.

It refers to the mustang horse, a wild animal and therefore not a thoroughbred. A mustang, after being captured, can be tamed and saddle broken but it always has a bit of wild streak, and can periodically revert to its old ways unexpectedly and therefore the owner needs to keep an eye on it at all times. However, since a mustang was formerly a wild and free animal, it may very well be smarter, more capable and have a better survival instinct than thoroughbreds.

Notable mustangs

19th century

20th and 21st centuries

See also


  1. ^ "James Mattis speech, "In the Midst of the Storm: A US Commander's View of the Changing Middle East"". 2013-09-25. 80:10 minutes in.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Reynolds, Nicholas E. (2005). Basrah, Baghdad and Beyond. p. 4. ISBN 9781591147176. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 

External links