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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Common military ranks
Navies Armies Air forces
Admiral of
the Fleet
Marshal /
Field Marshal
Marshal of
the Air Force
Admiral General Air Marshal
Commodore Brigadier Air Commodore
Captain Colonel Group Captain
Commander Lt. Colonel Wing Commander
Lt. Commander Major / Commandant Squadron Leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight Lieutenant
Sub-Lieutenant Lieutenant Flying Officer
Ensign 2nd Lieutenant Pilot Officer
Midshipman Officer Cadet Officer Cadet
Seamen, soldiers and airmen
Warrant Officer Sergeant Major Warrant Officer
Petty Officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading Seaman Corporal Corporal
Seaman Private Aircraftman

The army rank of Captain is a commissioned officer rank historically corresponding to command of a company of soldiers. The rank is also used by some air forces and marine forces. Today a captain is typically either the commander or second-in-command of a company or cavalry troop. In the Chinese People's Liberation Army, a captain may also command a platoon, or be the second-in-command of a battalion.

Captain is one rank above an lieutenant (or first lieutenant) and one below a major (or commandant).

The rank of captain should not be confused with the naval rank of captain or with the Commonwealth air force rank of Group Captain, both of which are far more senior.



Prior to the professionalization of the armed services of European nations subsequent to the French Revolution, a captain was a nobleman who purchased the right to head a company from the previous holder of that right. He would in turn receive money from another nobleman to serve as his lieutenant. The funding to provide for the troops came from the monarch or his government; the captain had to be responsible for it. If he was not, or was otherwise court-martialed, he would be dismissed ("cashiered"), and the monarch would receive money from another nobleman to command the company. Otherwise, the only pension for the captain was selling the right to another nobleman when he was ready to retire.

Air forces

In most countries the air force is the junior service and so air force ranks have been adopted or modified from one of the other services. Many, such as the United States Air Force, use a rank structure and insignia similar to those of the army.

However, the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and the air forces of many Commonwealth countries use a rank structure in which Flight Lieutenant is OF-2. A Group Captain is OF-5 and was derived from the naval rank of captain.

In the unified system of the Canadian Forces, however, the air force rank titles are identical to that of the Army, while the rank insignia is common to Army, Navy, and Air Force; thus, an air force or army captain wears two gold stripes on sleeve or epaulette (the same as a naval lieutenant), while the modern equivalent of the British group captain bears the rank and insignia of colonel, i.e. four gold stripes on sleeve or epaulette (same as a naval captain).

Equivalent Captain ranks


A variety of images illustrative of different forces' insignia for captain (or captain-equivalents) are shown below:

References and notes

  1. ^ The US Marine Corps insignia for Captain is slightly different from the USA / USAF insignia depicted above in that it lacks beveled edges and the cross-bars are further towards the ends. See collar insignia for US Navy Lieutenant.

See also



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