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c c c

A \   is a group of officers and enlisted personnel that provides a bi-directional flow of
information between a commanding officer and subordinate military units.

Officers oversee staff sections, Senior Enlisted Personnel task personnel in the maintenance of tactical
equipment and vehicles. Senior Analysts are tasked with the finalizing of reports, and enlisted personnel
participate in the acquisition of information from subordinate staffs and units.

The purpose of a military staff is mainly that of providing accurate, timely information which by category
represents information on which command decisions are based. The key application is that of decisions
that effectively manage unit resources. While information flow toward the commander is a priority,
information that is useful or contingent in nature is communicated to lower staffs and units.

S1-4 in the US Army deal with specific duties; these are:

, Personnel: processes awards, solves problems with pay, requests new troops for assignment, and
addresses issues under UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice).

S-1: Personnel. Deals with processing awards, handles pay problems, requesting new people, some stuff
with UCMJ actions. The officer in charge is known as the adjutant and may function like a commander's
aide. Or may not. Depends on the commander.

c , Intelligence: collects data on enemy movement, strengths, and battlefield deployments, and makes
recommendations for command. The S-2 office also handles security clearances, maintains the
battalion/brigade's Signal Operating Instructions and radio codes, and usually maintain's the battalion's
map collection.

S-2: Intelligence. Monitors what the bad guys are doing and makes forecasts for the commander
regarding what they will do in the future.

c , Training and Operations: S3 has different missions in war and peace times. During peacetime, S3
schedules and monitors training within the unit and for subordinate units. For tactical operations, S3
plans all movements and deployments. S-3 is also responsible for ammunition supply.

S-3: Training/Operations. In peace/garrison environments, monitors training in lower level units and
plans unit level stuff. In tactical settings will plan all actions including tactical movements. This is usually
done through operations orders.
c , Supply: As implied by the name, Supply is the clearing house for all military materials. They handle
requests for new supplies and replacement equipment, keep unit property books, and plan logistical
movement of equipment. S-4 has no responsibility for ammunition supply.

S-4: Supply. Is a conduit for supply requests. Maintains property books and manages equipment
accountability. Plans logistical unit movements.

Most NATO countries have adopted the  \ (also known as the 
\) in structuring their militaries' staff functions. In this system, which is based on one originally
employed in by the French Army in the 19th Century, each staff position in a headquarters or unit is
assigned a letter-prefix corresponding to the formation's element and one or more numbers specifying a

The element prefixes are:

æ ˜, for Joint (multiple services) headquarters

æ j, for combined headquarters (multiple nations) headquarters

æ Ã, for Army or Marines headquarters division level and above ("General") [1]
æ , for Navy headquarters
æ , for Air Force headquarters

æ c, for staff roles within headquarters of organizations commanded by a colonel or below (e.g.,
divisional brigades, regiments, groups, battalions, and squadrons; not used by all countries)

On some occasions the letter  can also be observed, though it is not an official term. In that case it's for
ž žž and it will be used to identify a small independent element, that is a part of a non-staff
organization, i.e. an E3 is a operational element on a logistics site or a E4 is a logistics element on a
forward medical support site.

The staff numbers are assigned according to custom, traceable back to French practice;
is not "higher"
than :

, for personnel and administration
æ , for intelligence and security
æ , for operations
æ , for logistics
æ 6, for Plans
æ M, for signal (i.e., communications or IT) [FM 101-5, page 4-16]
æ {, for Training.
æ ’, for Finance and contracts. Also known as "Resource Management".
æ g, for CIMIC or Civil Affairs.
Thus, the personnel officer of a naval headquarters would be referred to as 
. In reality, in large
organizations each of these staff functions will require the support of its own large staff, so 
both to the office and the officer in charge of it. The continental staff system can be carried down to the
next level: ˜
is thus the operations officer of the personnel office of a joint headquarters, but the exact
definition of the roles at this level may vary. Below this, numbers can be attached following a hyphen,
but these are usually only positional numbers assigned arbitrarily to identify individuals (Ã could be
the budget officer in the operations section of the intelligence department; 

might simply be a


The personnel and administration officer supervises personnel and administration systems. This
department functions as the essential administrative liaison between the subordinate units and the
headquarters, handling personnel actions coming from the bottom up (such as a request for an award
be given to a particular soldier) or from the top down (such as orders being received from the army level
directing a particular soldier be reassigned to a new unit outside the command). In army units, this
person is often called the Adjutant.


The intelligence section is responsible for collecting and analyzing intelligence information about the
enemy to determine what the enemy is doing, or might do, to prevent the accomplishment of the unit's
mission. This office may also control maps and geographical information systems and data. At the unit
level, the S2 is the unit's security officer, and the S2 section manages all security clearance issues for the
unit's personnel.


The operations office, which may include plans and training. The operations office plans and coordinates
operations, and all things necessary to enable the formation to operate and accomplish its mission. In
most units, the operations office is the largest of the staff sections and considered the most important.
All aspects of sustaining the unit's operations, planning future operations, and additionally planning and
executing all unit training, fall under the responsibility of operations. The operations office is also tasked
with keeping track of the weekly training schedules.


The logistics office, is responsible for managing logistical support and providing all manner of supplies
and services such as ammunition, fuel, food, water, maintenance, materials, engineering, and

In U.S. military staff structure, all medical equipment, consumables, support equipment and vehicles,
i.e., tents, ambulances, etc., are included in the Logistics office. All medical personnel are members of
the Logistics team. The senior medical officer and/or senior medical enlisted member also report
directly to the commanding officer. In other words, the medical support required by a unit is considered
to be a logistics "function" and all that it takes to perform that functions are considered logistics

The plans office, responsible for military affairs or strategy.

j\\   M

The communications office directs all communications and is the point of contact for the issue of
communications instructions during operations as well as for communications troubleshooting. At the
unit level, S6 is also usually responsible for all electronic systems within a unit to include computers,
faxes, copy machines, and phone systems.


The training branch will organize and coordinate training activity conducted by a Headquarters and also
supervise and support subordinate units.


The finance branch, not to be confused with Administration from which it has split, sets the finance
policy for the operation. Operationally, the Administration and Finance may be interlinked, but have
separate reporting chains.


Civil Military Co-operation or Civil Affairs are the activities that establish, maintain, influence, or exploit
relations between the military forces, the government or nongovernment civilian organizations and
authorities, and the civilian populace in a friendly, neutral, or hostile area of operations in order to
facilitate military operations and consolidate and achieve mission objectives. See Army FM 41-10

     is the structuring of the armed forces of a state so as to offer military capability
required by the national defense policy. In some countries paramilitary forces are included in a nation's
armed forces. Armed forces that are not a part of the military or paramilitary organizations, such as
insurgent forces, often mimic military organizations, or use ad hoc structures.

Military organization is hierarchical. The use of formalized ranks in a hierarchical structure came into
widespread use with the Roman Army. In modern times, executive control, management and
administration of military organizations is typically undertaken by the government through a
government department within the structure of public administration, often known as a Department of
Defense, Department of War, or Ministry of Defense. These in turn manage Armed Services that
themselves command combat, combat support and service support formations and units.

 \\\   \    

The usually civilian or partly civilian executive control over the national military organization is exercised
in democracies by an elected political leader as a member of government's Cabinet, usually known as a
Minister of Defense. (In presidential systems, such as the United States, the president is the
commander-in-chief, and the cabinet-level defense minister is second in command.) Subordinated to
that position are often Secretaries for specific major operational divisions of the armed forces as a
whole, such as those that provide general support services to the Armed Services, including their
dependants. Then there are the heads of specific departmental agencies responsible for provision and
management of specific skill and knowledge based service such as Strategy advice, Capability
Development assessment, or Defense Science provision of research, and design and development of
technologies. Within each departmental agency will be found administrative branches responsible for
further agency business specialization work.


In most countries the armed forces are divided into three or four Armed Services (also called branches):
an army, a navy, and an air force. Gendarmeries (including equivalents such as Internal Troops,
Paramilitary Forces, etc.) are an internal security service common in most of the world but are
uncommon in Anglo-Saxon countries. This is particularly in contrast to the United States whose armed
forces are prohibited from enforcing the law.

Many countries have a variation on the standard model of three or four basic Armed Services. Some
nations also organize their marines and special forces as independent armed services. A nation's coast
guard may also be an independent armed service of its military, although in many nations the coast
guard is a law enforcement or civil agency. A number of countries have no navy, for geographical
reasons, and some other variations include:

æ China: army, navy, air force, strategic missile force

æ South Africa: army, navy, air force, military health service
æ Egypt: army, navy, air force, air defense
æ Hungary: army, air force
æ The Netherlands: army, navy, air force, military police
æ United States: army, navy, air force, Marines, coast guard
æ Italy: army, navy, air force, military police and financial police

In Germany, the defense part of the Bundeswehr consists of the Army (), Navy (ž), Air Force

ž), Joint Support Service ( ž 

ž), and Central Medical Services (ž ž

In larger armed forces the culture between the different Armed Services of the armed forces can be
quite different.

Most smaller countries have a single organization that encompasses all armed forces employed by the
country in question. Third-world armies tend to consist primarily of infantry, while first-world armies
tend to have larger units manning expensive equipment and only a fraction of personnel in infantry
It is worthwhile to make mention of the term ô . In western militaries, a joint force is defined as a unit
or formation comprising representation of combat power from two or more branches of the military.

j\\ \   

It is common, at least in the European and North American militaries, to refer to the building blocks of a
military as commands, formations and units.

In a military context, a command is a collection of units and formations under the control of a single
officer. Although during the Second World War a Command was also a name given to a battle group in
the US Army, in general it is an administrative and executive strategic headquarters which is responsible
to the national government or the national military headquarters. It is not uncommon for a nation's
services to each consist of their own command (such as Land Force Command, Air Command, and
Maritime Command in the Canadian Forces), but this does not preclude the existence of commands
which are not service-based.

A formation is a composite military organization that includes a mixture of integrated and operationally
attached sub-units, and is usually combat-capable. A formation is defined by the US Department of
Defense as 'two or more aircraft, ships, or units proceeding together under a commander.'[1] The Shorter
Oxford English Dictionary describes a formation as an 'arrangement or disposition of troops.' Formations
include brigades, divisions, wings, etc.

A typical unit is a homogeneous military organization, either combat, combat support or non-combat in
capability, that includes service personnel predominantly from a single Arm of Service, or a Branch of
Service, and its administrative and command functions are integrated (self-contained). Anything smaller
than a unit is considered a "sub-unit" or "minor unit".

Different armed forces, and even different branches of service of the armed forces may use the same
name to denote different types of organizations. An example is the "squadron". In most navies a
squadron is a formation of several ships; in most air forces it is a unit; in the U.S. Army it is a battalion-
sized cavalry unit; and in Commonwealth armies a squadron is a company-sized sub-unit.


A table of organization and equipment (TOE or TO&E) is a document published by the U.S. Army Force
Management Support Agency which prescribes the organization, manning, and equipage of units from
divisional size and down, but also including the headquarters of Corps and Armies.

It also provides information on the mission and capabilities of a unit as well as the unit's current status.
A general TOE is applicable to a type of unit (for instance, infantry) rather than a specific unit (the 3rd
Infantry Division). In this way, all units of the same branch (such as Infantry) follow the same structural


This gives an overview of some of the terms used to describe army hierarchy in armed forces across the
world. Whilst it is recognized that there are differences between armies of different nations, many are
modeled on the British or American models, or both. However, many military units and formations go
back in history for a long time, and were devised by various military thinkers throughout European
history. For example, j  were first introduced in France in the 18th century, but have become
integrated into the organization of most armies around the world. Readers interested in the detailed
specifics of a national army (including the British and American) should consult the relevant entry for
that country.

 M j\\

c\  \ c j   

JJJJJJ region, theater, or front 1,000,000+ 4+ army groups general, army

general, or field

JJJJJ army group 250,000+ 2+ armies general, army

general, or field

JJJJ army 60,000ʹ 2ʹ4 corps general, army

100,000+ general, or
colonel general

JJJ corps 30,000ʹ 2+ divisions lieutenant

80,000 general

JJ division 10,000ʹ 2ʹ4 brigades or regiments major general


J brigade 2000ʹ5000 2+ regiments, 3ʹ6 brigadier general,

battalions or brigadier or
Commonwealth regiments colonel

III regiment or group 2000ʹ3000 2+ battalions or U.S. colonel

Cavalry squadrons

II infantry battalion, U.S. Cavalry 300ʹ1000 2ʹ6 companies, batteries, lieutenant

squadron, or Commonwealth U.S. Cavalry troops, or colonel
armored regiment Commonwealth
I infantry company, artillery 70ʹ250 2ʹ8 platoons or chief warrant
battery, U.S. Cavalry troop, or Commonwealth troops officer, captain or
Commonwealth armor or major
combat engineering squadron

ͻͻͻ platoon or Commonwealth troop 25ʹ60 2+ squads, sections, or warrant officer,

vehicles first or second

ͻͻ section or patrol 8ʹ12 2+ fireteams corporal to staff


ͻ squad or crew 8ʹ16 2+ fireteams or 1+ cell corporal to staff


Ø fireteam 4ʹ5 n/a lance corporal to


Ø fire and maneuver team 2 n/a any/private first


Rungs may be skipped in this ladder: for example, typically NATO forces skip from battalion to brigade.
Likewise, only large military powers may have organizations at the top levels and different armies and
countries may also use traditional names, creating considerable confusion: for example, a British or
Canadian armored regiment (battalion) is divided into squadrons (companies) and troops (platoons),
whereas an American cavalry squadron (battalion) is divided into troops (companies) and platoons.

Army, army group, region, and theatre are all large formations that vary significantly between armed
forces in size and hierarchy position. While divisions were the traditional level at which support
elements (field artillery, hospital, logistics and maintenance, etc.) were added to the unit structure, since
World War II, many brigades now have such support units, and since the 1980s, regiments also have
been receiving support elements. A regiment with such support elements is called a regimental combat
team in US military parlance, or a battle group in the UK and other forces.

During World War II the Red Army used the same basic organizational structure. However, in the
beginning many units were greatly underpowered and their size was actually one level below on the
ladder than usually used elsewhere; for example, a division in the early-WWII Red Army would have
been about the size of most nations' regiments or brigades.

At the top of the ladder, what other nations would call an army group, the Red Army called a front. By
contrast, during the same period the German Wehrmacht Army Groups, particularly on the Eastern
Front, such as Army Group Centre significantly exceeded the above numbers, and were more cognate
with the Soviet Strategic Directions.


Naval organization at the flotilla level and higher is less-commonly abided by, as ships operate in smaller
or larger groups in various situations that may change at a moment's notice. However there is some
common terminology used throughout navies to communicate the general concept of how many vessels
might be in a unit.

Navies are generally organized into groups for a specific purpose, usually strategic, and these
organizational groupings appear and disappear frequently based on the conditions and demands placed
upon a navy. This contrasts with army organization where units remain static, with the same men and
equipment, over long periods of time.

 \      \\

Navy or All vessels in a navy 2+ Fleets Fleet Admiral or Admiral of

Admiralty the Fleet or Grand Admiral

Fleet All vessels in an ocean 2+ Battle Fleets or Task Admiral

or general region Forces

Battle Fleet or A large number of 2+ Task Groups Vice Admiral

Task Force vessels of all types

Task Group A collection of 2+ Task Units or Squadrons Rear Admiral (upper half) or
complementary vessels Rear Admiral

Squadron (naval) Usually capital ships A small number of vessels Rear Admiral (lower half),
or Task Unit Commodore, or Flotilla

Flotilla or Task Usually not capital ships A small number of vessels, Rear Admiral (lower half),
Unit usually of the same or similar Commodore, or Flotilla
types Admiral

Task Element A single vessel One Captain or Commander

Auxiliary ships are usually commanded by officers below the rank of captain. These vessels include
corvettes, gunboats, minesweepers, patrol boats, military riverine craft, tenders and torpedo boats.
Some destroyers, particularly smaller destroyers such as frigates (formerly known as destroyer escorts)
are commanded by officers below the rank of captain as well. Usually, the smaller the vessel, the lower
the rank of the ship's commander. For example, patrol boats are often commanded by ensigns, while
frigates are rarely commanded by an officer below the rank of commander.

Historical navies were far more rigid in structure. Ships were collected in divisions, which in turn were
collected in numbered squadrons, which comprised a numbered fleet. Permission for a vessel to leave
one unit and join another would have to be approved on paper.

The modern U.S. Navy is primarily based on a number of standard groupings of vessels, including the
Carrier Strike Group and the Expeditionary Strike Group.

Additionally, Naval organization continues aboard a single ship. The complement forms three or four
departments, each of which is has a number of divisions.


The organizational structures of air forces vary between nations: some air forces (such as the United
States Air Force and the Royal Air Force) are divided into commands, groups and squadrons; others
(such as the Soviet Air Force) have an Army-style organizational structure. The modern Canadian Forces
Air Command uses Air Division as the formation between wings and the entire air command. Like the
RAF, Canadian wings consist of squadrons.

c\ \   

  \       \\
\  c!      c! c!

JJJJJJ + Air Force Entire air force Entire All Major Gen / MRAF or
air force Commands / Air Chf Mshl

JJJJJ Major Command / Varies Varies By Region or Duty Gen / Air Chf
Command or (subordinate units Mshl or Air
Tactical Air Force varies) Mshl

JJ Numbered Air By Region Varies 2+ Wing / Groups Maj-Gen / N/A

Force / No RAF (subordinate
Equivalent units varies)

J Wing / Group (inc. 1,000-5000 48-100 2+ Groups / Wings Brig-Gen / AVM

EAGs) or Air Cdre

III Group / Wing (inc. 300-1,000 17-48 3-10 Squadrons / Col / Gp Capt
EAWs) or Station 3-4 Squadrons or Wg Cdr

II Squadron 100-300 7-16 3-4 Flights Lt Col or Maj /

Wg Cdr or Sqn

ͻͻͻ Flight 20-100 4-6 2 Sections plus Capt / Sqn Ldr

maintenance and or Flt Lt
support crew

ͻͻ Section (or Detail) 2-4 2-3 n/a Junior Officer

or Senior NCO


A " is a unit or formation created as a temporary grouping for a specific operational purpose.
Aside from administrative hierarchical forms of organization that have evolved since the early 17th
century in Europe, fighting forces have been grouped for specific operational purposes into mission-
related organizations such as the German Kampfgruppe or the U.S. Combat Team (Army) and Task Force
(Navy) during the Second World War, or the Soviet Operational maneuver group during the Cold War. In
the British and Commonwealth armies the battlegroup became the usual grouping of companies during
WWII and the Cold War.

Within NATO, a ˜  " (JTF) would be such a temporary grouping that includes elements from
more than one armed service, a j\  " (CTF) would be such a temporary grouping that
includes elements from more than one nation, and a j\ ˜  " (CJTF)would be such a
temporary grouping that includes elements of more than one armed service and more than one nation.

  " is a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces or civil institutions organized along
military lines. Usually, uniforms denote the bearer's rank by particular insignia affixed to the uniforms.
Ranking systems have been known for most of military history to be advantageous for military
operations, in particular with regards to logistics, command, and coordination; as time continued and
military operations became larger and more complex, military ranks increased and ranking systems
themselves became more complex.

Within modern armed forces, the use of ranks is almost universal. Communist states have sometimes
abolished rank (e.g., the Soviet Russian Red Army 1918ʹ1935[1], the Chinese People's Liberation Army
1965ʹ1988[2], and the Albanian Army 1966ʹ1991[3]), only to re-establish them after encountering
operational difficulties of command and control.


The army of ancient Persia consisted of manageable military groupings under the individual commands.
Starting at the bottom, a unit of 10 was called a  and was led by a . A unit of 1,000
was a  and was commanded by a . A unit of 10,000 was a  and was
commanded by a . The Greeks called such masses of troops a  or . Among
mounted troops, an  was a cavalry unit led by an .

Historians have discovered the existence of the following ranks in Parthian and Sassanian armies:

æ Commander in Chief: „   (to be replaced with four  , one for each frontier of
the Empire during the reign of Khosrau I).
æ Commander of the Cavalry:     (Parthian) or     (Sassanian).
æ Commander of the Archers: ‘ 
æ Commander of the infantry: |  
æ Castellan:  or  
æ Commander of a frontier March:   (Parthian) or  (Sassanian)
æ Marzban of Central Asian Marches was called ½ž.


From 501 BC the Athenians annually elected ten individuals to the rank of ž , one for each of the
ten "tribes" that had been created with the founding of the democracy. Strategos literally means "army
leader" and so it is usually translated as "general." Originally these generals worked together with the
old  ž  ("war lord") but over time the latter figure lost all military function.

The ten generals were equals to one another; there was no hierarchy amongst them, however a basic
form of democracy was in effect: For example, at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, the generals
determined the battle plan by majority vote. Particular assignments, however, might have been given to
individual generals; inevitably there was a regular division of responsibilities.

The rank that was subordinate to a top general was a   or  , something akin to the
modern brigadier. In Sparta, however, the title was polemarchos. Below this was the  ,
which can be translated as "leader of a regiment" () and was therefore like a modern colonel.
Below him was the  , a commanding officer of a  (near to the modern battalion). The
rank was roughly equivalent to the ž  of a Roman legion. Next was the  , an officer who led
an infantry unit called a   that consisted of roughly a hundred men, much the same as in a modern
company led by a captain.

A Greek cavalry ( ) regiment was called a  and was commanded by a   or
hipparch, but Spartan cavalry was led by a  ž. A     was a horse archer. A Greek
cavalry company was led by a ž or tetrarch.
The rank and file of the military in most of the Greek city states was composed of ordinary citizens.
Heavily armed foot soldiers were called    or hoplites and a     was a drill or weapons

Once Athens became a naval power, the top generals of the land armies had authority over the naval
fleets as well. Under them, each warship was commanded by a   or trierarch, a word which
originally meant "trireme officer" but persisted when other types of vessels came into use. Moreover, as
in modern navies, the different tasks associated with running a ship were delegated to different
subordinates. Specifically, the ž was the helmsman, the ž ž  managed the rowing speed,
and the   was the flute player who maintained the strike rate for the oarsmen. Following
further specialization, the naval strategos was replaced by a   , a sea officer equating to an

With the rise of Macedonia under Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great, the Greek military
became professional, tactics became more sophisticated and additional levels of ranking developed.
Foot soldiers were organized into heavy infantry phalanxes called  ž. These were among the
first troops ever to be drilled, and they fought packed in a close rectangular formation, typically eight
men deep, with a leader at the head of each column (or file) and a secondary leader in the middle so
that the back rows could move off to the sides if more frontage was needed.

A ž was a unit of four files and a ž or tetrarch was a commander of four files; a  
was a double file and a   was a double-file leader; a lochos was a single file and a lochagos was a
file leader; a   was a half file and a  ž was a half-file leader. Another name for the half file
was a    with a   being a half-file leader.

Different types of units, however, were divided differently and therefore their leaders had different
titles. For example, under a numbering system by tens, a ž  or ž  was a unit of ten led by a
ž  , a ž   was a unit of hundred led by a ž   and a    or  
was a unit of a thousand led by a  .

The cavalry, for which Alexander became most famous (in a military sense), grew more varied. There
were heavy cavalry and wing cavalry ( ) units, the latter commanded by an  .


The use of formalized ranks came into widespread use with the Roman legions after the reforms by
Marius. Under the new system, a legion would be commanded by a legate ( ž ), typically a senator,
for a three-year term. Immediately beneath the legate were six military tribunes (   ), five of
whom were young men of Equestrian rank and one of whom was a nobleman who was headed for the

The    were the Roman army's senior officers who commanded the rough equivalents to the
US and British armies battalions and brigades (the relevant modern ranks being major, lieutenant
colonel, colonel and brigadier general). Note that these comparisons are only loose because the Roman
army's command structure was much different from the organizational structure of its modern
counterparts, which arose from the medieval mercenary companies, rather than from the writings of
Fourth Century Roman writer Vegetius and Caesar's commentaries on his conquest of Gaul and the civil

The term military tribune is sometimes translated into English as "colonel" Ͷ most notably by the late
classicist Robert Graves in his "Claudius" novels and his translation of Suetonius' ‘ ž žjž Ͷ to
avoid confusion with the political "tribunes of the people."

The fighting men in the legion were formed into  , rows of men who fought as a unit. Under
Marius's new system, legions were divided into ten cohorts (  ž), each consisting of six ž ž,
each of between 60 and 160 men. Each century was led by a centurion (ž  ) who was assisted by a
number of junior officers, such as an Optio. Centuries were further broken into ten   ž of eight
soldiers each. Individual soldiers were referred to as soldiers ( ž) or legionaries ( ž ).

Roman discipline was severe, with all ranks subject to corporal and capital punishment at the
commander's discretion. For example, if a cohort broke in battle, the typical punishment was
ž , in which every tenth soldier, selected by lot, was killed. However, the Romans were sensible
and would not sacrifice too many men in this way.


There were no ranks in the Mongol Empire in the modern sense of a hierarchy of titles, although the
army was organized into a hierarchical command (see "Mongol military tactics and organization"). The
organization of the Mongol army was based on the decimal system, much like that of the Achaemenid
Empire of Persia. The army was built upon a squad of ten () led by an appointed chief. Ten of these
would then compose a company of a hundred ( ), also led by an appointed chief. The next unit was a
regiment of a thousand () led by an appointed   . The largest organic unit was a ten
thousand man unit ( ž) also led by an appointed  .[4] The   ž is what we would call
General of the Army.

Medieval ranks



The king͛s army was placed under the command of the High Constable as commander-in-chief. The High
Constable had authority over the local constables, commanders of the garrisons of major castles. The
High Constable had the help of the Field Marshal, an officer that set up the army͛s camp. (Marshals
acted as chiefs of logistics and were also employed by royal and noble courts.) The High Constable
derived his authority over the army from his role of head of the Cavalry.


As the Middle Ages came to an end, the rank structure of medieval armies became more formalized. The
top officers were known as commissioned officers because their rank came from a royal commission.
Army commissions were reserved for the elite Ͷ the aristocracy of mainland Europe and the aristocracy
and gentry of Great Britain.
The basic unit of the medieval army was the company, a band of soldiers assigned (or raised) by a vassal
lord on behalf of   (in later times the King himself). The vassal lord in command of the company
was a commissioned officer with the rank of captain. Captain was derived from the Late Latin word
capitaneus (meaning ž or chief).

The commissioned officer assisting the captain with command of the company was the lieutenant.
Lieutenant was derived from the French language; the ž meaning ͞place͟ as in a position; and ž
meaning ͞holding͟ as in ͞holding a position͟; thus a ͞lieutenant͟ is somebody who holds a position in
the absence of his superior. When he was not assisting the captain, the lieutenant commanded a unit
called a platoon, particularly a more specialized platoon. The word is derived from the 17th-century
French peloton, meaning a small ball or small detachment of men, which came from pelote, a ball.

The commissioned officer carrying the (infantry) company͛s flag was the ensign. The word ensign was in
fact derived from the Latin word insignia. In cavalry companies the equivalent rank was cornet. In
English usage, these ranks were merged into the single rank of Second Lieutenant in the 19th Century.

Not all officers received a commission from the King. Certain specialists were granted a warrant,
certifying their expertise as craftsmen. These warrant officers assisted the commissioned officers but
ranked above the noncommissioned officers. They received their authority from superior officers rather
than the King. The highest rank of NCO was sergeant. The first sergeants were the armed servants (men-
at-arms) of the aristocracy, assigned to command, organize and train the militia units raised for battle.
After years of commanding a squad, a NCO could be promoted to sergeant. While a sergeant might have
commanded a squad upon promotion, he usually became a staff officer. While commissioned staff
officers assisted their commander with personnel, intelligence, operations and logistics, the sergeant
was a jack of all trades, concerning himself with all aspects of administration to maintain the enlisted
men serving under his commander. Over time, sergeants were differentiated into many ranks as various
levels of sergeants were used by the commanders of various levels of units.

A corporal commanded a squad. Squad derived from the Italian word for a ͞square͟ or ͞block͟ of
soldiers. In fact, corporal was derived from the Italian caporal de squadra (head of the squad). Corporals
were assisted by lancepesades. Lancepesades were veteran soldiers; lancepesade was derived from the
Italian lanzia spezzata meaning broken spear - the broken spear being a metaphor for combat
experience, where such an occurrence was likely. The first lancepesades were simply experienced
privates; who either assisted their corporal or performed the duties of a corporal themselves. It was this
second function that made armies increasingly regard their lancepesades as a grade of corporal rather
than a grade of private. As a result, the rank of Lance Corporal was derived from combining lancepesade
and corporal.

As the Middle Ages came to an end, kings increasingly relied on professional soldiers to fill the bottom
ranks of their armies instead of militiamen. Each of these professionals began their careers as a private.
The private was a man who signed a private contract with the company commander, offering his
services in return for pay. The money was raised through taxation; those yeomen (smallholding
peasants) who did not fulfill their annual 40-day militia service paid a tax that funded professional
soldiers recruited from the yeomanry. This money was handed to the company commanders from the
royal treasury, the company commanders using the money to recruit the troops.

As armies grew larger, composed of multiple companies, one captain was granted general (overall)
authority over the field armies by the King. (National armies were the armies of the kings. Field armies
were armies raised by the King to enter the battle field in preparation for major battles.) In French
history, ͞lieutenant du roi͟ was a title borne by the officer sent with military powers to represent the
king in certain provinces. A lieutenant du roi was sometimes known as a lieutenant general to
distinguish him from lieutenants subordinate to mere captains. The sergeant acting as staff officer to the
captain general was known as the sergeant-major general. This was eventually shortened to major
general, while captain general was shortened to simply general. This is the reason why a major outranks
a lieutenant, but a lieutenant general outranks a major general.

As armies grew bigger, heraldry and unit identification remained primarily a matter of the regiment.
Brigades headed by brigadier generals were the units invented as a tactical unit, by the swedish king
Gustavus Adolphus the second ("Gustav II Adolf", dead at battle of Lutzen 1632). It was introduced to
overcome the normal army structure, consisting of regiments. The so-called ͞brigada͟ was a mixed unit,
comprising infantry, cavalry and normally artillery too, designated for a special task. The size of such
͞brigada͟ was a reinforced company up to two regiments. The ͞brigada͟ was a 17th century form of the
modern ͞task force͟.

Around the end of the 16th century, companies were grouped into regiments. The officers
commissioned to lead these regiments were in fact called colonels (column officers). They were first
appointed in Spain by King Ferdinand II of Aragon where they were also known as coronellos (crown
officers) since they were appointed by the Crown. Thus the English pronunciation of the word colonel.

The first colonels were captains granted command of their regiments by commission of the King. The
lieutenants of the colonel were the lieutenant colonels. In the 17th century, the sergeant of the colonel
was the sergeant major. These were field officers, third in command of their regiments (after their
colonels and lieutenant colonels), with a role similar to the older, army-level sergeants major (although
obviously on a smaller scale). The older position became known as sergeant major general to distinguish
it. Over time, the sergeant was dropped from both titles since both ranks were used for commissioned
officers. This gave rise to the modern ranks of major and major general.

The full title of sergeant major fell out of use until the latter part of the 18th century, when it began to
be applied to the senior non-commissioned officer of an infantry battalion or cavalry regiment.

Regiments were later split into battalions with a lieutenant colonel as a commanding officer and a major
as an executive officer.


Modern military services recognize three broad categories of personnel. These are codified in the
Geneva Conventions, which distinguish

ž,    ž

ž, and ž žž.

Apart from conscripted personnel one can distinguish:


Officers are distinguished from other military members(or an Officer in Training) by holding a
commission; they are trained or training as leaders and hold command positions.

Officers are further generally separated into four levels:

æ General, Flag, or Air Officers

æ Field or Senior Officers
æ Company Grade or Junior Officers
æ Subordinate Officer (Naval Cadet or Officer Cadet in the Canadian Forces)



Officers who typically command units or formations that are expected to operate independently for
extended periods of time (i.e., brigades and larger, or flotillas or squadrons of ships), are referred to
variously as General Officers (in armies, marines, and some air forces), Flag Officers (in navies and coast
guards), or Air Officers (in some Commonwealth air forces).

General Officer ranks typically include (from the most senior) General, Lieutenant General, Major
General, and Brigadier General, although there are many variations like Division General or (Air-,
Ground-) Force General.

Flag Officer ranks, named after the traditional practice of showing the presence of such an officer with a
flag on a ship and often land, typically include (from the most senior) Admiral, Vice Admiral and Rear
Admiral. In some navies, such as Canada's, the rank of Commodore is a flag rank.

In the United Kingdom and most other Commonwealth air forces, air officer ranks usually include Air
Chief Marshal, Air Marshal, Air Vice-Marshal and Air Commodore. For some air forces, however, such as
those of Canada, United States and many other air forces, general officer rank titles are used. Brazil and
Argentina use a system of general officer ranks based on the term brigadier.

In some forces there may be one or more superior ranks to the common examples, above, that are given
distinguishing titles, such as Field Marshal or General of the Armies (many armies), Fleet Admiral (U.S.
Navy), Marshal of the Royal Air Force, or other national air force. These ranks have often been
discontinued, such as in Germany and Canada, or limited to wartime and/or honorific promotion, such
as in the United Kingdom and the United States.

In various countries, particularly the United States, these may be referred to as "star ranks" for the
number of stars worn on some rank insignia: typically one star for Brigadier General or equivalent with
the addition of a star for each subsequent rank. In the United States, five stars has been the maximum
used in all services (excluding the Marines and Coast Guard, which have only used four). There has also
historically been a theoretical "six-star" rank held by John J. Pershing and to which George Washington
was posthumously promoted, referred to as the General of the Armies of the United States.
Additionally, see Admiral of the Navy for the US Navy's Six-Star equivalent, awarded to Admiral George
Dewey and subsequently removed after his death.

Some titles are not genuine ranks, but either functions assumed by generals or honorific titles. For
instance, in the French Army à   ž  ž is a function assumed by some à   ž
 , and   žž, which is a distinction denoting the most superior military office, but
one that has often neutered the practical command powers of those on whom it is conferred. In the
United States Navy, a Commodore currently is a senior Captain commanding a squadron that is too
small for a Rear Admiral to command, although that name has historically been used as a rank. The title
(not rank) of Commodore can also indicate an officer who is senior to a ship's Captain (since only the
ship's commander is addressed as Captain while underway). Marine Captains are referred to as Major to
distinguish themselves while shipboard.


Field officers, also called "field-grade officers" or "senior officers," are officers who typically command
units that can be expected to operate independently for short periods of time (i.e., infantry battalions,
cavalry or artillery regiments, warships, air squadrons). Field officers also commonly fill staff positions of
superior commands.

The term "field(-grade) officer" is primarily used by armies and marines; air forces, navies and coast
guards generally prefer the term "senior officer." The two terms are not necessarily synonymous.

Typical army and marine field officer ranks include Colonel (pronounced /wkwrn l/), Lieutenant Colonel,
Major and, in the British army, Captains holding an adjutant's appointment. In many Commonwealth
countries the field rank of Brigadier is used, although it fills the position held by Brigadier General in
other countries.

Naval and coast guard senior officer ranks include Captain and Commander. In some countries, the more
senior rank of Commodore is also included. In others Lieutenant-Commanders, as equivalents to army
and marine Majors, are considered senior officers.

Commonwealth air force senior officer ranks include Group Captain, Wing Commander, and Squadron
Leader, where such ranks are still used.


The ranks of junior officers are the three or four lowest ranks of officers. Units under their command are
generally not expected to operate independently for any significant length of time. Company grade
officers also fill staff roles in some units. In some militaries, however, a captain may act as the
permanent commanding officer of an independent company-sized army unit, for example a signal or
field engineer squadron, or a field artillery battery.

Typical army company officer ranks include Captain and various grades of Lieutenant. Typical naval and
coast guard junior officer ranks include grades of Lieutenant Commander, Lieutenant, Lieutenant Junior
Grade and Ensign. Commonwealth (excluding Canada) air force junior officer ranks usually include Flight
Lieutenant, Flying Officer, and Pilot Officer.

"The [U.S.] commissioned officer corps is divided into 10 pay grades (O-1 through O-10). Officers in pay
grades O-1 through O-3 are considered company grade officers. In the Army, Marine Corps, and Air
Force, these pay grades correspond to the ranks of second lieutenant (O-1), first lieutenant (O-2), and
captain (O-3), and in the Navy, ensign, lieutenant junior grade, and lieutenant. Officers in the next three
pay grades (O-4 through O-6) are considered field grade officers. In the Army, Marine Corps, and Air
Force, these pay grades correspond to the ranks of major (O-4), lieutenant colonel (O-5), and colonel (O-
6), and in the Navy, lieutenant commander, commander, and captain. The highest four pay grades are
reserved for general officers in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force, and flag officers in the Navy. The
ranks associated with each pay grade are as follows: in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force, brigadier
general (O-7), major general (O-8), lieutenant general (O-9), and general (O-10); in the Navy, rear
admiral-lower half, rear admiral-upper half, vice admiral, and admiral."


Officers in Training in the Canadian Armed Forces either Naval Cadet for Naval Training or Officer Cadet
for Army or Air Force Training.

In the US and several other western forces, officers in training are referred to as student officers, and
carry the rank of Cadet ( the Army, and Air Force) or Midshipman (in the Navy and in some countries,
Marines). These officers may be serving at a military academy, or (as common in the United States), as
members of a military training unit attached to a civilian college or university, such as an ROTC unit. This
is due to a common requirement that commissioned officers have at least a four-year degree. The
British Army refers to its trainee officers as Officer Cadets (OCdt), who hold no authority over other
ranks (except when appointed to carry out a role as part of training). OCdts are referred to as
Mister/Miss until the completion of the early stages of their training, thereafter non-officers will refer to
him/her as Sir/Ma'am.

While Cadet has always been a rank of limited authority and prestige (Cadets and US Navy midshipmen
have no authority over commissioned personnel, warrants, or officers, only subordinate cadets),
Midshipman has historically been a rank with limited leadership responsibility, particularly in the Royal
Navy. This tradition was continued by the US Navy after its original adoption of the rank, but now US
Navy Midshipmen are limited in the same manner as Cadets in the other US services. Additionally, US
Marine officers in training are also Midshipmen, trained and educated alongside their naval
counterparts, and wear distinctive insignia to indicate their branch of service.

Note: US Coast Guard Academy students are referred to as cadets, while those attending the military
branch's Officer Candidate School are officer candidates.

In the US an alternative to spending four years as a Cadet or Midshipmen is for college graduates with a
four-year degree to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS), an intensive twelve week training course
designed to convert college graduates into military officers. Each service has at least one, and usually
several, OCS facilities. Students at these programs are called Officer Candidates.


Warrant officers (as receiving authority by virtue of a ) are a hybrid rank treated slightly
differently in each country and/or service. WOs may either be effectively senior non-commissioned
officers or an entirely separate grade between commissioned and Non-Commissioned Officers, usually
held by specialist personnel.
In the United States, Warrant Officers are appointed by warrant then commissioned by the President of
the United States at the rank of Chief Warrant Officer.


Enlisted personnel are personnel below commissioned rank and make up the vast majority of military
personnel. They are known by different names in other countries, such as Other Ranks (ORs) in the
United Kingdom and some Commonwealth countries, and Non-commissioned members (NCMs) in


Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) are enlisted personnel, under the command of an officer, granted
delegated authority to supervise other military members or assigned significant administrative
responsibilities. In U.S. Army parlance: "NCOs are the backbone of the Army!"

They are responsible for the care and direct control of junior military members, often functioning in the
smaller field units as Executive Officers.

Even the most senior NCO officially ranks beneath the most junior commissioned officer or warrant
officer. However, most senior NCOs have more experience, possibly including combat, than junior
officers. In many armies, because junior officers have a great amount of responsibility and authority but
little operational experience, they are paired with senior NCO advisers. In some organizations, senior
NCOs may have formal responsibility and informal respect beyond that of junior officers, but less than
that of warrant officers. Many warrant officers come from the ranks of mid-career NCOs. In some
countries warrant ranks replace senior enlisted ranks.

NCO ranks typically include a varying number of grades of Sergeant and Corporal (Air Force, Army and
Marines), or Chief Petty Officer and Petty Officer (Navy and Coast Guard). In many navies the term ž
is used to designate specialty, while  denotes pay grade.


Personnel with no command authority usually bear titles such as Private, Airman/Aircraftman, Guard
and Seaman ( ž ž  in the United States Navy and Coast Guard). In the United States Marine
Corps individuals of all ranks regardless of command status may be referred to as "Marine". In some
countries and services, personnel in different branches have different titles. These may have a variety of
grades, but these usually only reflect variations in pay, not increased authority. These may or may not
technically be ranks, depending on the country and/or service. Each rank gives the individual an
indication of how long and how well they have served in combat and training.


Appointment refers to the instrument by virtue of which the person exercises his or her authority.
Officers are appointed by a Royal Commission in most monarchies or a Presidential Commission in many
other countries. In the Commonwealth, Warrant Officers hold a Royal or Presidential Warrant. In the
United States, officers are commissioned by the United States Senate after nomination by the President.
Most officers are approved ž  by voice vote, but flag officers are usually required to appear before
the Armed Services Committee and answer questions to the satisfaction of its members, prior to a vote
on their commission.

NCOs are appointed by an instrument of appointment, a written document, often a certificate, usually
from the service head. Entry into service is often referred to as enlistment throughout the English
speaking world, even in countries where soldiers do not technically enlist.

Sometimes personnel serve in an appointment which is higher than their actual rank. For instance,
commodore used to be an appointment of captain in the Royal Navy and lance corporal used to be an
appointment of private in the British Army.

c \\


To get a sense of the practical meaning of these ranksͶand thus to be able to compare them across the
different armed services, different nations, and the variations of titles and insigniaͶan understanding of
the relative levels and sizes of each command will be helpful. The ranking and command system used by
U.S. Marine ground forces or U.S. Army infantry units can serve as a template for this purpose. It should
be remembered that different countries will often use their own systems that don't match the
presentation here.

Under this system, starting from the bottom and working up, a Corporal leads a Fireteam consisting of
three other individuals. A Sergeant leads a Squad consisting of three fireteams. As a result, a full squad
numbers 13 individuals. Squads usually have numbered designations (e.g., 1st Squad).

Generally, in most armies and marine units, a Lieutenant or equivalent rank commands a Platoon, which
can consist of three or four squads. For example, in U.S. Marine infantry units, rifle platoons usually
consist of three rifle squads of 13 men each, with a Navy Corpsman, the Platoon Commander, and a
Platoon Sergeant (i.e., a Staff Sergeant who serves as second-in-command). An infantry platoon can
number from 42 to 55 individuals, depending on the service. Platoons are usually numbered (e.g., 1st
Platoon) or named after their primary function (e.g., Service Platoon).

A Captain or equivalent rank commands a Company, usually consisting of four Platoons (three line
platoons and one heavy weapons platoon). His headquarters can include a First Sergeant and as many as
seven others. As such, a Company can comprise from roughly 175 to 225 individuals. Equivalent units
also commanded by Captains are Batteries (for field artillery units) and Detachments. In English speaking
countries, a Company (or troop in the Cavalry or Armor, and Battery in the Artillery) is usually
designated by a letter (e.g., A Company). In non-English speaking countries, they are usually numbered.
In most Commonwealth armies a company is commanded by a Major, assisted by a Captain.

A Lieutenant Colonel or equivalent rank commands a Battalion or a Squadron, often consisting of four
companies, plus the various members of his headquarters. A battalion is around 500ʹ1,500 men and
usually consists of between two and six companies.
A Colonel or equivalent commands a Regiment or Group, often consisting of four battalions (for an
Infantry unit) or five to six Air Groups (for a Wing). Battalions and Regiments are usually numbered,
either as a separate Battalion or as part of a Regimental structure (e.g., 1-501st Infantry in the US Army).

In these latter, abstractions cease to be helpful and it becomes necessary to turn to an actual unit. The
1st Battalion of the 1st Marine Regiment of the 1st Marine Division of the I Marine Expeditionary Force
consists of three infantry companies, one weapons company, and one headquarters and service
company. Above that, the 1st Marine Regiment (aka First Marines) consists of four such Battalions and
one headquarters company. Marine Air Control Group 18 of 1st Marine Air Wing of the III Marine
Expeditionary Force consists of four squadrons, one battery, and one detachment, a mix of different-
sized units under a regimental equivalent-sized unit.

The next level has traditionally been a Brigade, commanded by a Brigadier General, and containing two
or more Regiments. But this structure is considered obsolete today. At the present time, in the U.S.
Army, a Brigade is roughly equal to or a little larger than a Regiment, consisting of three to seven
battalions. Strength typically ranges from 1,500 to 3,500 personnel. In the U.S. Marines, Brigades are
only formed for certain missions. In size and nature they are larger and more varied collections of
Battalions than is common for a Regiment, fitting them for their traditional role as the smallest
formation able to operate independently on a battlefield without external logistical tactical support.
Brigades are usually numbered (e.g., 2nd Brigade).

The level above Regiment and Brigade is the Division, commanded by a Major General and consisting of
from 10,000 to 20,000 persons. The 1st Marine Division, for example, is made up of four Marine
Regiments (of the type described above), one Assault Amphibian Battalion, one Reconnaissance
Battalion, two Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalions, one Combat Engineer Battalion, one Tank
Battalion, and one Headquarters BattalionͶtotaling more than 19,000 Marines. (Within the
Headquarters Battalion are one Headquarters Company, one Service Company, one Military Police
Company, one Communications Company, and one Truck Company.) An equivalent elsewhere within the
same Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) might be a MEF Logistics Group (MLG) - which is not a
regimental-sized unit (as the word "group" implies), but rather a large support unit consisting of several
battalions of support personnel. Divisions are normally numbered, but can be named after a function or

Considering such a variety of units, the command sizes for any given rank will vary widely. Not all units
are as troop intensive as infantry forces need to be. Tank and Artillery crews, for example, involve far
fewer personnel. Numbers also differ for non-combat units such as quartermasters, cooks, and hospital
staff. Beyond this, in any real situation, not all units will be at full strength and there will be various
attachments and detachments of assorted specialists woven throughout the system.

The 1st Marine Division is part of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, which also includes the 3rd Marine
Air Wing, 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade (as required), three Marine
Expeditionary Units (featuring helicopter groups), and a Battalion-sized Marine Air Ground Task Force. In
the U.S. Marine Corps there are three Marine Expeditionary Forces.

In the U.S. Army, the level above Division is called a Corps instead of an Expeditionary Force. It is
commanded by a Lieutenant General. In many armies, a Corps numbers around 60,000, usually divided
into three divisions. Corps (and similar organizations) are normally designated with roman numerals and
their nationality when operating in a Combined (international) force, e.g. V (US) Corps, VIII (ROK) Corps,
II MEF, I Canadian Corps.

During World War II, due to the large scale of combat, multiple Corps were combined into Armies
commanded in theory by a General (four stars), but often by a Lieutenant General (three stars), and
comprising as many as 240,000 troops. Armies are numbered by spelled-out numerals or functional
titles, using their nationality in "combined" forces (e.g., Eighth US Army, Third ROK Army, British Army of
the Rhine). These were in their turn formed into Army Groups, these being the largest field organization
handled by a single commander in modern warfare. Army Groups included between 400,000 and
1,500,000 troops. Army Groups received Arabic numeral designations and national designations when

These examples illustrate a standard that holds true all over the world and throughout military history,
namely that higher rank generally implies command of larger units in a nested system of ranks and
commands. The specific size of a command for any given rank will, however, depend on the task the unit
performs, the nature of weapons used, and the strategies of warfare.

In United States Army units, a \ is a company sized military

unit, found at the battalion level and higher. In identifying a specific headquarters unit, it is usually
referred to by its abbreviation as an j. While a regular line company is formed of three or four
platoons, an HHC is made up of the headquarters staff and headquarters support personnel of a
battalion, brigade, division, or higher level unit. As these personnel do not fall inside one of the regular
line companies of the battalion, brigade, or division, the HHC is the unit to which they are
administratively assigned. The typical personnel strength of an average HHC is 80 to 110 personnel.

Inside a battalion HHC, the headquarters staff will usually include the following key officers and primary
staff officers:

æ a battalion commander, usually a lieutenant colonel or colonel

æ a battalion executive officer, usually a major
æ a personnel officer (S1), usually a captain
æ an intelligence officer (S2), usually a captain
æ an operations officer (S3), usually a captain or major
æ a logistics officer (S4), usually a captain
æ a communications officer (S6), usually a captain

Depending on the unit, extra support officers will round out the staff, including a medical officer, Judge
Advocate General's Corps (legal) officer, and a battalion chaplain (often collectively referred to as the
"special staff"), as well as essential non-commissioned officers and enlisted support personnel in the
occupational specialties of the staff sections (S1 through S4 and the S6), and a battalion command
sergeant major, who is principal advisor to the battalion commander on matters regarding enlisted
personnel. Additionally, the HHC will contain further personnel assigned to support and sustain the
mission of the battalion headquarters, including maintenance and motor pool, field feed and mess, and
The HHC itself will be commanded by a company commander (usually a captain) who is supported by a
company executive officer (usually a first lieutenant) and a company first sergeant. All personnel in the
HHC fall under the administrative command of the HHC company commander, but in practice, the
primary and special staff officers report directly to the battalion commander, and while the battalion
commander is administratively assigned to the HHC, he or she is the HHC company commander's higher
commander and thus the HHC company commander operationally answers directly to the battalion
commander. The mission of the HHC company commander is to run the administrative and soldier
training aspects of the HHC, and to support the battalion primary staff by facilitating the environment in
which they operate and in turn support the battalion commander in commanding the battalion.

At the brigade and division level, an HHC is similarly constituted of the brigade commander or division
commander, his or her staff, and the support elements, but the ranks of the staff and support personnel
are typically greater to reflect the greater level of responsibility at higher echelon units. However, the
company commander of a brigade or division HHC is usually still a captain.

In keeping with the long standing practice of referring to company sized artillery units as "batteries" and
company sized cavalry units as "troops," the headquarters company element of an artillery battalion or
higher is referred as a Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, or HHB, and the headquarters company
element of a cavalry regiment or higher is referred as a Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, or HHT.
Additionally, some high level headquarters elements for special units are not company sized and are
referred to as "detachments;" as a result, these units are formally referred to as Headquarters and
Headquarters Detachments, or HHD.

c 9ʹ13 soldiers

 20ʹ42 soldiers
j\ 70ʹ200 soldiers
 : 300ʹ1,300 soldiers
  3,000ʹ5,000 soldiers

  10,000ʹ15,000 soldiers
j 20,000ʹ45,000 soldiers

A   is a military unit of around 300-1300 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven
companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel. Several battalions are
grouped to form a regiment or a brigade.

The nomenclature varies by nationality and by branch of arms, for instance, some armies organize their
infantry into battalions, but call battalion-sized cavalry, reconnaissance, or tank units a squadron or a
regiment instead. There may even be subtle distinctions within a nation's branches of arms, such as a
distinction between a tank battalion and an armored squadron, depending on how the unit's
operational role is perceived to fit into the army's historical organization.

A battalion is generally the smallest military unit capable of independent operations (i.e. not attached to
a higher command), although many armies have smaller units that are self-sustaining. The battalion is
usually part of a regiment, group or a brigade, depending on the organizational model used by that
service. The bulk of a battalion will ordinarily be homogeneous with respect to type (e.g. an infantry
battalion or a tank battalion), although there are many exceptions. Every battalion will also include
some sort of combat service support, typically organized within a combat support company.

The term is Italian in origin, appearing as   ž. The French changed the spelling to  ,
whereupon it directly entered into German.

In the United States Army and United States Marine Corps, a battalion is a unit composed of a
headquarters and two or more batteries, companies or troops. They are normally identified by ordinal
numbers (1st Battalion, 2nd Squadron, etc.) and normally have subordinate units that are identified by
single letters (Battery A, Company B, Troop C, etc.). Battalions are tactical and administrative
organizations with a limited capability to plan and conduct independent operations and are normally
organic components of brigades, groups, or regiments.

A United States Army battalion includes the battalion commander (Lieutenant Colonel), his staff, and
headquarters, the Command Sergeant Major (CSM), and usually 3-5 companies, with a total of 300 to
1,200 soldiers. A regiment consists of between two and six organic battalions, while a brigade consists of
between three and seven separate battalions.

During World War II, most infantry regiments consisted of three battalions (a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd) with
each battalion consisting of four companies. That is, companies A, B, C, and D were part of the 1st
battalion, companies E, F, G, and H constituted the 2nd battalion, and I, K, L, and M in the 3rd. There
was no J company. [The letter J was traditionally not used because in 18th and 19th century old style
type the capital letters I and J looked alike and were therefore too easily confused with one another.] It
was common for a battalion to become temporarily attached to a different regiment. For example,
during the confusion and high casualty rates of both the Normandy landings and the Battle of the Bulge,
in order to bolster the strength of a depleted infantry regiment, battalions and even companies were
moved around as necessary.

From the 1960s through approximately 2005, a typical maneuver (infantry or tank) battalion has had
four companies: Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) and A, B, and C Companies. In
addition to the battalion staff, the HHC also included a scout platoon and a mortar platoon.

In this older structure, United States Army mechanized infantry battalions and tank battalions, for
tactical purposes, cross-post companies to each other, forming a battalion-sized task force (TF).

Starting in 2005-2006 with Transformation, US Army mechanized and tank battalions were reorganized
into Combined Arms Battalions (CABs). Tank battalions and mechanized infantry battalions no longer
exist. These new combined arms battalions are modular units, each consisting of a headquarters
company, two mechanized infantry companies, two armor companies, an engineer company, and a
forward support company. This new structure eliminated the need to cross-post (or as it is more
commonly referred to, cross-attach) companies between battalions; each combined arms battalion was
organically composed of the requisite companies. At a higher level, each heavy brigade is composed of
two CABs, an armored reconnaissance squadron, a fires battalion (field artillery), a special troops
battalion (STB), and a brigade support battalion (BSB).

A United States Marine Corps battalion includes the battalion headquarters, consisting of the
commanding officer (usually a lieutenant Colonel, sometimes a colonel), an executive officer (the
second-in-command, usually a major), the Sergeant Major, and the executive staff (S-1 through S-8). The
battalion headquarters is supported by a Headquarters and Service Company (Battery). A battalion
usually contains 2-5 organic companies (batteries in the artillery), with a total of 500 to 1,200 Marines in
the battalion. A regiment consists of a regimental headquarters, a headquarters company (or battery),
and two to five organic battalions (Marine infantry regiments - three battalions of infantry; Marine
artillery regiments - three to five battalions of artillery; Marine logistics regiments - two or more logistics
battalions). In the US Marine Corps the brigade designation is used only in "Marine Expeditionary
Brigade" (MEB). A MEB is one of the standard Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTF), is commanded
by a brigadier or major general, and consists of command element, a ground combat element (usually
one reinforced Marine infantry regiment), an air combat element (a reinforced Marine Air Group), and a
service support element (a Marine Logistics group, which includes Naval Construction Force (SEABEEs)
and naval medical elements).

In the US Marine Corps an infantry or ͞rifle͟ battalion typically consists of a Headquarters and Service
Company (H&S Co.), three rifle, or ͞line,͟ companies (designated alphabetically A through M depending
upon which battalion of the parent regiment to which they are attached) and a weapons company.
Weapons companies do not receive a letter designation. Marine infantry regiments use battalion and
company designations as described above under World War II, with company letters D, H, and M not
normally used but rather held in "reserve" for use in augmenting a fourth rifle company into each
battalion as needed.

United States Marine Corps infantry battalions are task organized into Battalion Landing Teams (BLT's)
as the Ground Combat Element (GCE) of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). A "standard" Marine
infantry battalion is typically reinforced with an artillery battery and a platoon each of tanks, amphibious
assault vehicles, light armored reconnaissance vehicles, reconnaissance Marines, and combat engineers.
The battalion structure is designed to readily expand to include a fourth rifle company, if required, as
described above under battalion organization.

During the American Civil War, an infantry or cavalry battalion was an   grouping of companies
from the parent regiment (which had ten companies, A through K, minus J as described above), except
for certain regular infantry regiments, which were formally organized into three battalions of six
companies each (numbered 1 - 6 per battalion vice sequential letter designations). After 1882, cavalry
battalions were renamed squadrons and cavalry companies were renamed troops. Artillery battalions
typically comprised four or more batteries, although this number fluctuated considerably.

The United States Navy has also had Construction Battalions since World War II.


Tank and mechanized infantry battalion task forces apply their combat power toͶ

æ Conduct sustained combat operations in all environments with proper augmentation and
æ Conduct offensive operations.
æ Conduct defensive operations.
æ Accomplish rapid movement and limited penetrations.
æ Exploit success and pursue a defeated enemy as part of a larger formation.
æ Conduct security operations (advance, flank, or rear guard) for a larger force.
æ Conduct stability operations and support operations as part of a larger force.
æ Conduct operations with light infantry forces.

The commanding officer of a battalion is usually a lieutenant colonel or colonel, although a major can be
selected for battalion command in lieu of an available lieutenant colonel. A typical tour of duty for this
assignment is twenty-four to thirty-six months.

A battalion command is the first unit command position at which the commanding officer is given an
appreciably sized headquarters and staff to assist him or her in commanding the battalion and its
subordinate company units. The typical staff usually includes:

 , usually a major
æ a battalion command sergeant major
æ  c
, usually a captain
æ    c , usually a captain
æ   c , usually a major
æ    c , usually a captain
æ     c6, usually a captain
æ \\   cM, usually a captain
æ \  , usually a captain
æ ˜Ã , usually a captain
æ    , usually a captain

In addition, the headquarters will include non-commissioned officers and enlisted support personnel in
the occupational specialties of the staff sections; these personnel will ordinarily be assigned to the
battalion's headquarters and headquarters company.