Military Ranks

Military rank is a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces or certain civil institutions organized along military lines.
Ranking systems have been known for centuries; as time continued and military operations became larger and more complex, military ranks increased and ranking systems themselves became more complex. 

Although the Army includes a wide assortment of equipment—including weaponry, vehicles, electronic and communications technology, and thousands of facilities from small outposts to huge training areas -- it is primarily a social organization. 

The most basic, most important, and most precious resources of the Army are its soldiers. In carrying out the mission of defending the nation, people in the Army, soldiers, officers and generals must work closely as a well bonded team to execute complex tasks under difficult, dangerous conditions. Success in training and combat requires a common culture, including three critical components:
• A system of ranks reflecting a person’s responsibilities and experience
• An organizational structure in which people know their responsibilities
• Military courtesies, customs, and traditions that serve to bond military professionals together.
(from Army Rank, Structure, Duties, and Traditions, 161)

Army Rank
Army rank, and military rank in general, binds all military personnel together as a team. In the army, this relationship is called the chain of command. Rank is an official position or grade. It has existed for thousands of years. Army rank identifies who is in charge—whom to look to for orders, guidance, and leadership. Historically, as military structures became larger and more complex, rank and insignia became increasingly important. (from Army Rank, Structure, Duties, and Traditions, 162) 

We will include comparison table of different military ranks on this page. However, we need to know what is actually is the definition of a rank?

Rank (noun) is:
  • - a number of persons forming a separate class in a social hierarchy or in any graded body.
  • - a social or official position or standing,
  • - a class in any scale of comparison. / relative position or standing: a writer of the first rank.

 Level     Rank Duties   /   Skills
 Insignia     Time / Conditions for promotion
 1 Candidate / Cadet Learn how to become a soldier     none / letter "C"
 3 months - complete basic training.
 2 Private     Basic soldier's duties | 3-6 months - complete advance training. 
 3 Private 1st class / 
 Special skills on one of the areas of military body of knowledge,
 Able to perform certain tasks independently and unsupervised.
 ||     Special training; 6 months and more of service after completion of advanced training.
 4     Efreitor     Same as above, plus combat experience; Command 1-2 soldiers, performs duties of corporal in certain situations.
Second-in-command of a fire team
 As above;
 plus combat experience.        
 5 Master efreitor
 Same as above, plus could command a fire team in certain situations.
 |||* As above;
plus at least 5 years of service.
 6     Lance Corporal /
 Command of fire team (3-4) or a specialist often performing independently. (signaler, observer, scout, sniper, etc)
| > Special training; at least 6 months of experience.    
 7 Staff corporal /

 Command of assault fire team (3-4), mortar team (2-5), anti-armor team; second-in-command of a squad.
Tank commander, armored vehicle commander, mobile long-range radio-transmitting station, etc. 
| >>Advanced training;  Special training with at least 6 months of experience. Additional training (courses for corporals).  
 8 First Corporal
 As above; also able to command a half-squad and a squad in certain situations;    
| >>> As above; at least 1-2 years of service in staff corporal rank.    
 9 Master Corporal
 As above; usually performs duties in company/battalion headquarters and as a personal assistant to certain officers
| *>>> As above; at least 5 years of service and/or combat experience
 10 Staff Sergeant     Commands a squad or a team of highly trained specialist <|> Basic, advance and/or special training. Completion of sergeants' school.    
 11 First Sergeant As above. Occasional second-in-command of a platoon. <|>> As above, at least 6 months of experience in sergeant role.
 12 Chief Sergeant As above. Second-in-command of a platoon. Occasionally performs duties in company/battalion headquarters(<|>>> As above. 1 year of experience 
 13 Master Sergeant As above. Command of a platoon in some scenarios. Certain duties in battalion/regiment headquarters. (<|*>>> As above. At least 2 years of experience. Mandatory combat experience    
  Warrant Officers   
 14 Staff warrant officer As above. More independent than sergeant. More special training. Usually gets promoted within one year. (* Basic, advance and/or special training. Completion of 1-2 years special training program.
 15 First Warrant officer    As above. Certain duties in battalion/regiment headquarters. (** As above, 1 year of experience.
 16 Chief Warrant officer As above. More special training. Performs sometimes regular officer's duties. (*** As above. Minimum 3 years of experience.
 17 Master Warrant Officer As above. Certain duties in regiment/brigate headquarters. Certain duties in battalion/regiment headquarters (#*** As above. Minimum 5 years and mandatory combat experience

 18 Lieutenant-trainee Officer in training/orientation. Usually gets promoted to Second Lieutenant within 3-6 months. ' 
 19 Second Lieutenant  Commands platoon. Usually gets promoted withing 1-2 years. " Completion of military academy (4 years program) or completion of University (4 years program) and Basic, advance and/or special training. 
 20 First Lieutenant     Commands platoon. Second-in-command of company "' As above. Min 2 years experience.
 21 Captain     Commands company "" As above Min 4-5 years of experience.
  Senior Officers   
 22 Major Commands independent company. Battalion / Regiment headquarters. # 5-10 years of experience. 1 year mandatory upgrade training.
 23 Lieutenant Colonel Commands battalion. Regiment / division headquarters. ## As above
 24 Colonel Commands Regiment. ### 10-15 years of experience. and mandatory commanding training
 25 Brigadier /
 Commands Brigades or Division #### As above. Plus, mandatory combat experience.     
  Generals / Marshals   
 26 Major-General Division one star 
 27 Lieutenant-General Corps, Smaller army two stars 
 28 General of the Army /  Air Marshal Army 3 stars 
 29 Field Marshal /
 Fronts / Forces
 one star and shield     
 30 Royal Marshal  Highest rank in the Military.  large shield  

One might ask why do we need so many military ranks. The answer is simple - the larger the army, the longer is the chain of command. As a result this long chain of command does need extra ranks to accommodate extra positions and various duties performed by military personnel.

For example the Luxembourg Army has approximately 450 professional soldiers, about 340 enlisted recruits and 100 civilians (for the total of ~900 members). It is commanded by a General and the Grand Duke is the Commander-in-Chief. There are 22 ranks in the Luxembourg Army including 5 officer ranks, 1 warrant officer rank, 6 sergeants ranks, 4 corporals, 4 soldiers. So, despite having very small number of military personnel, Luxembourg Army is following old traditions and also to match the larger armies (such as Belgium) hierarchy of ranks.

Even in the smallest (and oldest) regular army in the world - the Pontifical Swiss Guard of Vatican City with only 130 members, there are still 10 ranks: 5 officers' ranks, 2 sergeants', 2 corporals' and 1 soldier.

On the other hand in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China there are only 20 ranks - from a Private to a Grand Marshal. By the way the rank of Grand Marshal was not used since 1995.

We strongly believe that creating additional number of military ranks, especially for soldiers, corporals and sergeants gives army members higher chance of been promoted sooner than later and thus it creates higher rate of job satisfaction among personnel, enhances morale and creates more opportunities to grow and develop for the staff members.