If any MOD, Admin can confirm or deny this, please do so ASAP!! I'm sure people want to know about this.
This video is from TmarTn. He is a well know youtube commentary, he helps COD players get better by offering up his help, strategies and so forth. He has some proof that US non-prestigers might just get the shit stick if we do NOT prestige.
Treyarch is basically trying to make you prestige.
PAY CLOSE ATTENTION to the 3:50 mark, that is the part you want to REALLY listen to.
I'll summarize, basically, you get a point each time you level up and each time you level up you can choose to unlock ONE of 7 items per rank up, 1-55. You will NOT be able to unlock all equipment, guns, attachments, etc. in one full rank level. It will take several prestiges to unlock all that stuff.
Take a look for your self and see if you understand it that way as well.