List of Army Officer Ranks

by Tola LaForce

The United States Army assigns a variety of ranks for both commissioned and warrant officers.

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The U.S. military Army officer ranks consist of commissioned individuals.These officers hold the highest ranks in all fields of military including the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. The commissioned officers are also known as pay-grade officers and are ranked from O-1 to O-3 for company grade and O-4 to O-6 for field grade. General officers are ranked at O-7 or higher.

5-Star General

The 5-star General is the United States Army's highest commissioned officer. A 5-Star General is a person of at least 60 years of age or older and is only necessary during times of war. The 5-star General rank is the highest achievement for any officer in the military. The last appointed 5-star General was Omar Bradley who served during World War I.

4 Star-General

The 4-star General is also known as the Army Chief of Staff. This is the highest political position or divisional commander within the United States Army. The pay grade of a 4-star General is O to 10. An officer may only achieve the 4-star ranking if they are put into a position that requires such a rank. The President offers the 4-star ranking appointment to an officer holding a ranking of Brigadier General or higher. Eligibility for the position involves an officer servicing chiefs of staff for four years. A 4-star General requires Army retirement after holding the ranking for 5 years, or after 40 years of military service.

Lieutenant General

The Lieutenant General is a 3-star General that also holds a political position or a commander of divisions within the United States Army. The Lieutenant General position has a pay grade of O to 9. The 3-star General rank is temporary and only appointed when such a ranking is necessary. The President nominates appointment of this rank and only those who currently hold a rank of Brigadier General or higher meet eligibility. This rank also requires a majority vote by Senate.

Major General

The 2-star Major General is in charge of all commands that are handed down to the troops they are in charge of. To achieve the rank of Major General, an officer must undergo review by a board of other officers. The service secretary and joint chiefs review a list of eligible applicants, which the President nominates from. Senate is in charge of confirming a nominee for the position. Major Generals must retire after five years in the grade or 35 years of service.

Brigadier General

The 1-star Brigadier General holds the lowest of political and command positions. This commander is usually in charge of a particular brigade within an Army unit. The Brigadier General must be at least 50 years of age for a commissioned position and must pass a screening by other officers. The President considers each qualifying applicant before the Senate makes the final decision.

Colonel

A soldier in his mid-forties generally holds the Colonel position. The Colonel is in charge of particular brigades within the Army.The Colonel is a senior officer who is equal to a captain of other armed forces. Colonels are often the chief of staff at the divisional level.

Lieutenant Colonel

The Lieutenant Colonel is a commission held by someone in his mid-thirties who handles battalions within the Army. The battalion usually consists of 300 to 1,000 soldiers. The Lieutenant Colonel is the director of operations who oversees the activities of the group he commands. The first instance of Lieutenant Colonel ranking occurred during the Revolutionary War by those who aided the Regiment Colonels.

Major

An Army Major is in command of small units or battalions. that acts as an executive officer to a Lt. Colonel. The Major is usually in his mid-thirties and a main staff officer for a brigade or any other area concerning personnel and logistical operations. Majors are often in charge of special operations.

Captains

Army Captains command companies or perform administrative tasks. Soldiers who have a degree often commission the position of Captain by the age of twenty-five. They also answer to Company Captain as they command company-sized units. Captains commonly instruct soldiers in training centers and service schools.

1st Lieutenant

The 1st Lieutenant is an executive officer for a Captain and typically performs administrative duties. However, the 1st Lieutenant may also have command of a large squad or platoon. The main difference between the 1st and 2nd Lieutenant positions is that a 1st Lieutenant is at a higher pay grade which is O-2.

2nd Lieutenant

The 2nd Lieutenant may also be an executive officer to a Captain and is generally the youngest in the group of officers. Recently trained officers generally commission this position. 2nd Lieutenants garner promotion to the 1st Lieutenant position after 18 months of service with the ranking of 2nd Lieutenant. They lead a platoon that consists of 16 to 44 soldiers. The insignia for this rank officially emerged in December 1917.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Tola LaForce began writing for London Brokers in 2009 and has since had articles published on various websites. She specializes in writing about health, travel and higher-education topics. LaForce holds an Associate of Science in general studies with a primary focus on health studies from Ivy Tech Community College.