This piece will focus on the identity categories of age and social status. I believe that these two categories coincide in the military: the expectation is that in order to achieve one of them, you must have the other. The military has a very fixed structure and a distinction between the officer and enlisted ranks. Conversely, in the civilian world, this may not be the case. For example, if you are born into a wealthy or affluent family with lots of connections this automatically places you in higher social standing despite your age.

When first joining the military, your age and social standing are comparatively low. As you slowly grow in age, maturity, and increase in rank, you will find that your social standing increases within the military and you receive an increase in pay, freedoms, or privileges.  

Identity may be acquired indirectly from parents, peers, and other role models. Children come to define themselves in terms of how they think their parents see them. If their parents see them as worthless, they will come to define themselves as worthless. People who perceive themselves as likable may remember more positive than negative statements.

I witnessed a good example of behavior not conforming to the social expectations of the age identity category during a deployment in Afghanistan. There, the culture is set up in such a way that the village elders make the decisions for the village and its people based on what they believe to be best for the people. The village elders hold the highest social status within their village or district, and this status is mostly based on age, reputation, and knowledge — not just on age alone as some are led to believe. Therefore, as an outsider, it is wise to set up a meeting or locate the village elder and deal with him directly for any approval or cooperation from the villagers.