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Military rank
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Military rank

Military rank, or simply rank, is a system of grading seniority and command within military organizations. The U.S. Navy uses naval rate for enlisted men.

A separate set of ranks was also used for secular, and occasionally ecclesiastic, rulers, as discussed in Ranks of nobility and peerage. A set of rank is also used in academic organizations.

Within military organizations, the use of ranks is almost universal. The Chinese People's Liberation Army of the 1960s and 1970s is a rare example of a military which attempted (quite unsuccessfully) to abolish rank.

Table of contents
1 Roman ranks
2 Modern ranks
3 See also
4 External link

Roman ranks

The use of formalized ranks came into widespread use with the Roman Legions, after the introduction of reforms by the consul Gaius Marius which were completed around 60 CE. In the new system a legion would be commanded by a legate (legatus), typically a senator given a three-year term. Immediately beneath the legate were six tribunes of the soldiers (tribuni militum), five senior officers and one nobleman who was headed for the Senate.

The fighting men in the legion were formed into ranks, rows of men who fought as a unit. In the new system these were divided into groups of ten cohorts (cohors, pl. cohortes), each consisting of six centuries of 100 men. Each century was led by a centurion (centurio, pl. centuriones). Additional centurions served as scribes and filled other duties. Centuries were further broken into ten contubernia, of eight soldiers each. Individual soldiers were referred to as soldiers (miles, pl. milites) or legionaries (legionarii).

Modern ranks

Most modern military services recognize three broad categories of serviceman. These are codified in the Geneva Conventions, which somewhat ambiguously distinguishes "officers", "non-commissioned officers" and "men".

Apart from possible conscripted personnel one can distinguish:

Typical Army commissioned officer ranks and responsibilities

a/anis typically led by aand consists of
Army GroupGeneral or Field Marshalseveral Armies
ArmyGeneralseveral Corps
CorpsLieutenant Generalseveral Divisions
DivisionMajor Generalseveral Regiments or Brigades
Brigade or RegimentBrigadier General or Colonelseveral Battalions
Battalion or Task ForceLieutenant Colonelseveral Companies
Battalion or Task ForceMajorStaff adjutant or Second-in-Command
CompanyCaptainseveral Platoons
PlatoonFirst or Second Lieutenantseveral squads or sections

Many of these ranks are recent additions. Many officers have no direct command function but are Staff Officers charged with stratgeic planning, training, intelligence transportation, logistics, supply, pay, medical, and any of the other minutia of modern military organization.

The basic unit, that is the smallest unit capable of self-supporting operation, of an army up to about the 16th century was the Company, which was known as a Troop in the cavalry and Battery in the artillery.

By the 18th and into the 19th century, the Regiment formed the basic army unit, broken into companies and sometimes arranged as Battalions.

Brigades and Divisions later became the basic unit, with the Brigade replacing the Regiment outright in the British Army. The Division is now the lowest regular army unit that is equipped and supplied to routinely operate independently in the field. (Armored Cavalry Regiments and Special Operations teams are the exception.)

During most of the time since the fall of the Roman Empire the head of the military forces has been the King, often leading in person. This role, if filled, has since been passed on to dedicated military officers known either as General of the Army or by a Field Marshal.

Typical Army non-commissioned officer ranks and responsibilities

a/anis typically led by aand consists of
RegimentRegimental Sergeant-Major or Warrant Officer Iseveral Battalions
BattalionBatallion Sergeant-Major or Warrant Officer IIseveral Companies
CompanyCompany Sergeant-Major or First Sergeantseveral Platoons
PlatoonSergeant First Classseveral Squads
SectionStaff Sergeant or Corporal7 to 10 soldiers

In the complexity of modern military structrure the designation Master is often used with the ranks of Sergeant and Corpral to denote an NCO who is a specialist. Staff Sergeants are usually outside the command structure and in charge of administrative duties, supply requisition, distribution of orders, and minor disciplinary matters.

Naval rates and ranks

The United States Navy uses naval rate for enlisted men and rank for officers. See U.S. Navy enlisted rate insignia and U.S. Navy officer rank insignia for examples. Naval rate should not be confused with naval rating.

See also

For specific insignia and history:

External link