Replacing rank with pay grade is among the second order effects of the unification of the services and the resulting balkanization of the leadership bureaucracy of the Department of Defense.
Recognizing that captains in the Army, Air Force, and Marines rank with lieutenants of the Navy and Coast Guard appears to be far too complicated for many people in leadership positions to grasp. These leaders, civilian and military, responsible for overseeing programs costing billions and organizations of thousands of people, seem to be unable or unwilling to address officers by their proper titles. Instead of military title—titles that have a glorious history and cultural significance, bestowed on individuals by the order of the President by and with the consent of the Senate—mongrelization has resulted in referring to officers by their pay grades. This disregard for custom, tradition, and dignity is easily detected in any hall in the Pentagon where the "oh fives" and "oh sixes" of the armed forces work.