For the uninitiated, in every military service in every country there exist two worlds. That of the commissioned officers, and that of the enlisted men. And ne'er the twain shall meet. Commissioned officers start at the rank of second lieutenant and as long as they keep their nose clean they automatically get promoted to first lieutenant in 6 months. And in a year (2 years?) they are then automatically promoted to Captain. (After that promotion gets a bit harder and more complicated. Since there is a fixed number slots for each rank every so whenever the Promotions Board convenes to evaluate what slots are open and who's eligible to get promoted. The competition/apple-polishing hence gets pretty fierce, but *largely* promotion is still based on a time clock.)
But in FMA Havoc has been a 2nd lieutenent for over five years. And Hawkeye, who is clearly a most exemplary officer, has been a first lieutenant for four years. And these are the easy promotions. They're automatic.
Okay, fine. Willing suspension of disbelief and all that.
But then there's
Fury hurts my brain. Don't get me wrong, I love
Fury is an enlisted man. So what a member of the enlisted is doing as part of Mustang's staff when everyone else is a commissioned officer puzzles me. Because, for one thing, while everyone else in the unit is at the beginning of their careers Fury is at the end of his. He's reached the highest rank an enlisted man can. That's it. (Well, technically a sergeant major CAN be awarded a commission but it's really out of the ordinary) But that's fine, that's not so bad. Fury is shown in one scene fixing a telephone, maybe he's their telecommunications guy or something.
But Fury is a SERGEANT MAJOR. Highest rank for an enlisted man! And, unlike commissioned officers, promotion in the enlisted ranks is NOT timebased. Or, well, they are, but only in the sense that (for example) to be promoted to corporal you must have served for at least 12 months, although your commander has the authority to waive that requirement with sufficient cause. But just because you've been in the service for a year doesn't get you promoted to corporal. No. Your direct superiors have to really feel that you show considerable leadership qualities.
And here's the part that really hurts my brain. To get reach the rank of sergeant major Fury had to have been promoted SEVEN TIMES. And you know that guy, that really charismatic apple-polishing guy who's on the army fast track? That Colonel Mustang guy? He's been promoted TWICE. (I say twice instead of five times because it's my opinion that Mustang grabbed his Nat'l Alchemist license immediately after he got his commission and hence leapfrogged over the first three commissioned ranks and went straight to major)
And on top of that, there's the fact that Fury is portrayed as being the youngest member of Mustang's staff. There's no way to prove that of course, but I think his appearence and characterization points to him being in his early twenties. And you know how I mentioned that there's a time-in-service requirement of 1 year to be promoted to corporal? The time-in-service requirement to make sergeant major is *nine years.* And that's just the requirement! Sergeant majors have a vital role in the military, they need a lot of experience behind them. The average time-in-service of someone promoted to sergeant major is about 21 years.
You have no idea how much Fury hurts my brain.
So I have fanwanked an explanation for Fury's inexplicable existence, as well as his presence in Mustang's unit.
Now, I mentioned above that time requirements for enlisted promotions can be waived at a commander's discretion. This often happens in times of war, battle field promotions. My father came home from Vietnam a Master Sergeant (that's one rank below Sergeant Major) at the age of 19. So it IS possible, but only in a battlefield environment.
So Fury must have been in Ishbar. He enlists near the very end of the seven year war, gets promoted to private first class, maybe corporal. Then his unit gets into a huge firefight and he's the only one who makes it out alive. So therefore the military (as is its way) pins a medal on his chest and promotes him up to Master Sergeant. Then in the some five or six years after the end of Ishbar, Fury achieves the last promotion to Sergeant Major on the weight of his exemplary service record. By coincidence or design, Fury's path now crosses with Colonel Mustang's. And Mustang remembers Fury from the war, either personally or by rumor. (Mess tent talk, you know. "Hey, you hear about Bravo Company?" "Yeah, some stuffed shirt made a bad call and they all bought it." "Nah, one guy made it out. Fury something. I hear they're promoting him.") So, naturally, Mustang snaps him up for his unit.
That's my pet theory anyway.
(It's important to note that my references are all to the US Army's standard way of doing things and it's entirely possible that the military makeup and system of promotion of FMA is completely different. However, I strongly doubt it. The exact time requirements may vary from country to country, but this is the way it's done pretty much everywhere.)