#WARFIGHTING – Master-at-Arms

October is #Warfighting month focusing on Navy Warfighters, a fast and flexible force deployed worldwide to preserve peace, protect commerce, and deter aggression on, above, and below the sea. This is another in a series of blogs highlighting different enlisted ratings found in your Navy. Here we take a look at  the Master-at-Arms rating. This rating provides the Navy with security specialists who perform antiterrorism, force protection, physical security, and law enforcement duties on land and at sea. 

Master-at-Arms (MA)

Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Thomas Bohannon, left, and Master-at-Arms Seaman Sharon Berg follow military working dog, Axel, as part of a patrol and scout training exercise at Naval Station Mayport. The military working dogs are trained to provide deterrence, drug or bomb detection and patrol services. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Damian Berg/Released)


MA’s are the Navy’s security and force protection professionals. An MA may operate a force protection watercraft, direct an investigation, control a base access point, or supervise a K-9 asset.

Master at Arms 1st Class (SW/AW) Derek Vasko instructs Sailors from the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) during a Navy Security Force training exercise. Boxer is currently off the coast of California. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (EXW) J. Michael Schwartz


Some specific MA duties are listed below:

  • Conduct waterborne security patrol and interdiction operations.
  • Conduct U. S. Customs inspections.
  • Conduct base security patrols.
  • Conduct base access and entry control operations.
  • Implement aircraft and flightline security standards.
  • Conduct law enforcement operations.
  • Provide Oil Platform protection.
  • Conduct river security operations.
  • Provide protective service to high ranking dignitaries and government officials.
  • Supervise K-9 explosive and narcotics detection operations/missions.
  • Perform physical security inspections.
  • Conduct preliminary investigations into UCMJ violations.
  • Organize and train security force personnel.
  • Conduct crime prevention programs.
  • Operate brigs (jails).
  • Perform weapons and funds escorts.

Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Alejandro Abreu (left), from Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron (MSRON) 4 teaches proper weapon handling of a M2HB .50-caliber heavy machine gun to Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Sarah Eickholt aboard High-Speed Vessel 2 Swift (HSV 2). Swift is preparing to participate in Africa Partnership Station 2012 which is an international security cooperation initiative aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Garcia/Released)


MA’s may expect to be assigned to duty at shore stations in the United States and overseas; aboard ships as either ship’s company or embarked security team; or as part of a maritime expeditionary security squadron. The work environment varies widely with individual assignments. MAs are currently serving in expeditionary security locations worldwide and providing landward and seaward security in support of Joint Service operations. Due to the unique functions of the MA, strict adherence to eligibility criteria must be maintained.


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Learn more about all the enlisted ratings with our Owners and Operators Manual.