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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

Corporal is a rank in use in some form by most militaries and also by some police forces or other uniformed organizations. It is usually equivalent to NATO Rank Code OR-4. The word is probably derived from a medieval Italian phrase capo corporale, meaning "head of a body (of soldiers)".[1] It may also derive from an appointment as an officer's bodyguard, "corporal" originally being an adjective pertaining to the word body.

In most countries the rank of corporal nominally corresponds to being second-in-command of a squad of soldiers. In the commonwealth (except Canada) it is a more senior rank, commanding a squad of soldiers. In several countries such as Italy and Norway, Corporal is a more junior rank, indicating a more experienced soldier than a private, on a higher pay scale, but having no particular command appointment corresponding to the rank; similar to the U.S. Army 'Specialist'.



Al three branches of the Argentie Armed Forces use two or three ranks of Corporal, or cabo. Corporals in the Argentine military are considered suboficiales subalternos (subaltern sub-officers/lower non-commissioned officers), superior only to all ranks of Volunteers (enlisted members of the Army and Air Force) and Seamen (enlisted members of the Navy).

In the Argentine Army there are two ranks of Corporal, from junior to senior: Cabo (Corporal) and Cabo Primero (First Corporal).

On the other hand, the Argentine Navy has three Corporal ranks, from junior to senior: Cabo Segundo (Corporal Second Class), Cabo Primero (Corporal First Class) and Cabo Principal (Principal Corporal), which is equal to the Army rank of Sargento (Sergeant). The Air Force has the same number of Corporal ranks as the Navy, and keeps the same titles, with the exception of Cabo (Corporal) instead of the Navy's Cabo Segundo (Corporal Second Class).

The rank is also used by the Argentine National Gendarmerie and the Argentine Federal Police, which use the rank in the same manner as the Army, as well as the Argentine Naval Prefecture.


Corporal is the second lowest of the non-commissioned officer ranks in the Australian Army, falling between Lance-Corporal and Sergeant. A Corporal is usually a Section Commander (Sect Comd), and is in charge of 7-14 men of private rank. He is assisted by a second-in-command, a Lance-Corporal or a senior Private. The same ranks within artillery units are Bombardier and Lance-Bombardier respectively. A Corporal is frequently referred to as 'seco' (abbv. of Section Commander) by all ranks in everyday speech but never in written correspondence.

Corporal is also a rank of the Royal Australian Air Force, being equal to both the Australian Army and Royal Air Force rank of Corporal. There is no RAAF equivalent to the Army rank of Lance-Corporal. The rank of "Cadet Corporal" is also used within the Australian Air Force Cadets and Australian Army Cadets


All branches of the Belgian Armed Forces, except the Naval Component, use three ranks of Corporal: Corporal (Dutch: Korporaal, French: Caporal), Master Corporal (Dutch: Korporaal-chef, French: Caporal-chef) and 1st Master Corporal (Dutch: 1ste Korporaal-chef, French: 1e Caporal-chef). Corporal is equivalent to NATO Rank Code OR-3, whereas Master Corporal and 1st Master Corporal are equivalent to OR-4. The rank immediately below Corporal is 1st Private and the rank directly above 1st Master Corporal is Sergeant.

The equivalent of these ranks in the Naval Component are Quartermaster, Chief Quartermaster and 1st Chief Quartermaster.


Corporal (in Portuguese cabo) is the second lowest soldier rank in the three Brazilian military. The first lowest is soldado (soldier) and the third is terceiro-sargento (third sergeant).


Corporal (Cpl) is an Army and Air Force non-commissioned member rank of the Canadian Forces. Its Naval equivalent is Leading Seaman (LS). It is senior to the rank of Private and its Naval equivalent Able Seaman, and junior to Master Corporal (Caporal-Chef)and its equivalent Master Seaman (Matelot-Chef). It is part of the cadre of junior non-commissioned officers, and one of the Junior Ranks. In French the rank is caporal (cpl).

The rank insignia of a Corporal is a 2-bar chevron, point down, worn in gold thread on both upper sleeves of the Service Dress jacket; in rifle green (Army) or dark blue (Air Force) thread on CADPAT slip-ons for Operational Dress; in old gold thread on blue slip-ons on other Air Force uniforms; and in gold metal and green enamel miniature pins on the collars of the Army dress shirt and outerwear coats. On Army ceremonial uniforms, it is usually rendered in gold braid (black for rifle regiments), on either both sleeves, or just the right, depending on unit custom.

Corporal is the first non-commissioned officer rank, and the lowest rank officially empowered to issue a lawful command. Corporals can lead troops if they have the formal qualifications to be promoted to Master Corporal but have not been promoted yet. However, the rank of Corporal was severely downgraded after Unification, along with the attendant responsibilities. A Corporal in the Canadian Army in 1967 had the same duties and responsibilities that a Sergeant has today.

Another effect of Unification was to delete the appointments of Lance Corporal and Lance Sergeant (a Corporal holding the acting rank of Sergeant). The former is still common in other Commonwealth militaries.

Corporal is deemed to be the substantive rank of the members carrying the appointment of Master Corporal. On pay documents, Corporal was formerly listed as "Cpl (A)" and Master Corporal as "Cpl (B)".

Privates in the Canadian Forces are considered to be apprentices in their trades, and Corporals are journeymen. To become a Corporal one must have served four years as a private, and have achieved Qualification Level 5 trades training, or two years in the reserves but only require the completion of their trades course (DP1). In some cases, privates having served a minimum of 3 years may be advance promoted to the rank of Corporal with the approval of their superiors, providing they have shown dedication to the military and exemplary skills with reference to their trade. The rank of corporal in artillery units follows the British convention and is styled Bombardier (Bdr) — thus a Master Corporal is a Master Bombardier (MBdr).

In rifle regiments, a distinction was historically drawn between a Corporal and an Acting Corporal; The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada had a special insignia to distinguish between the two.


In the Danish military the rank of corporal (Korporal in Danish) is the lowest rank of the NCO group. Professional (non-conscripted) soldiers, often those with the rank of "Overkonstabel" (somewhat similar to "Specialist" in the U.S. Army) may sometimes get selected for the rank of corporal, if they have unique experience or skills. This can't be given as a battlefield commision and the aspirering corporal has to take a 3-week course in order to be promoted. A corporal will often be given a task similar to that of other countries corporals; i.e. ad hoc assistance of squad-commanders. The rank of corporal was phased out but was reintroduced into the Danish Army in October 2008. [2][3]


Korpraali (literally translated as "Corporal"), carrying one-chevron rank insignia, is the equivalent to Lance Corporal in most foreign forces and it is the most senior rank of Private. Korpraali is only an appointment without a leader's training, responsibilities and benefits. The OR-4 equivalent two-chevron rank is called "alikersantti" meaning junior sergeant.


There are three ranks of corporal (caporal in French). In the French army these are not NCO ranks, but enlisted ones. The corporals are called "ranked" (gradés), .NCO start at the rank of Sergent (OR-5).

  • "Corporal" (caporal) is a NATO OR-3 level rank. The insignia is two chevrons of wool (vs. the two gold chevrons of a sergent).
  • "Staff Corporal" (caporal-chef) is OR-4. The insignia is two chevrons of wool plus a gold chevron
  • "First Class Staff Corporal" (caporal-chef de première classe) is intermediate between OR-4 and OR-5. The insigia is one gold chevron and two gold chevrons[citation needed].

In the regiments of cavalry traditions, the caporaux are called brigadiers, but not in Troupes de Marine where they are still called caporaux whether they are infantry, cavalry or artillery.


German Army Corporal's (Oberstabsgefreiter) shoulder board

The German military had no direct equivalent to a corporal in either the Commonwealth or US militaries, in terms of duties and responsibilities. Some sources identify Unteroffizier as the traditional German equivalent to Corporal, and this grade has existed as a military rank since at least the 18th century. Other sources identify the lower rank of Gefreiter as being equivalent to a Corporal of other armies, though in the German military this rank conferred a higher rate of pay without any of the duties and responsibilities granted Corporals in other armies (hence being more like ranks such as Private First Class). This and the rank of Oberstabsgefreiter (highest rank of Privates) are today classified by NATO as OR-4 ranks, with Unteroffizier (lowest NCO-rank) being classified as OR-5. Given the vastly different status of the rank of Corporal in the British (section commander) and American (section second-in-command) armies, identifying equivalents in the German military is largely fruitless, though the American rank system corresponds more accurately to the overall German NCO rank system. For Example: Sergeant (E-5) = Unteroffizier, Staff SGT (E-6)= Stabsunteroffizier, SGT 1stClass(E-7)= Feldwebel, Master SGT (E-8)= Oberfeldwebel, First SGT (E-8) = Hauptfeldwebel, SGT Major (E-9) = Stabsfeldwebel

SS equivalent to Unteroffizier was Unterscharführer.

India and Pakistan

The equivalent to Corporal in the British Indian Army was Naik in all units. These ranks are still used in the Indian Army and Pakistan Army.


Corporal (in Persian سرجوخه Sarjukhe) is one of the lower ranks of the Iranian army. A Sarjukhe is usually responsible for 4 to 5 soldiers. See also: Iran's Army Ranks Insignia.


Irish Army Cpl's subdued rank slider

Corporal (Cpl) (Ceannaire in Irish) is the lowest rank of non-commissioned officer within the Irish Army and Air Corps. The Naval equivalent is Leading Seaman (LS).

The Army rank insignia consists of two winged chevrons (or "stripes"). The Dress Uniform being red chevrons with a yellow border. The main role of an infantry Corporal is to either command a section as the section commander or to command the Fire Support Group (FSG) of a section as the 2I/C. Another role is that of training NCO of a section, as all Corporals must be qualified instructors. In the Artillery Corps, the Corporal is normally assigned to a gun detachment as a Layer, or a Detachment Commander. Artillery corporals can also find themselves in charge of the battery signals section.

Before 1994, the Air Corps was considered part of the Army and wore Army uniforms with distinct corps badges but the same rank insignia. With the introduction of a unique Air Corps blue uniform in 1994, the same rank markings in a white colour were worn, before the introduction of a new two-chevron badge with wing rank marking.


In the Israel Defense Forces, soldiers are promoted from Private to Corporal (Rav-turai or Rabat) after 7-10 months of service (7 for combatants, 8 for combat support and 10 for non-combatants), if they performed their duties appropriately during this time. Soldiers who take a commander's course, Prisoner Instructors and Practical Engineers become Corporals earlier. Corporals get a symbolic pay raise of 3.60 NIS and those who are also noncommissioned officers (mashak) are able to command privates in their respective units.

A Corporal may be promoted to Sergeant about 11 or 12 months after becoming a Corporal, or to a Second Lieutenant if they complete an officer's course.



A soldier can be promoted from Private (soldato) to Corporal rank (caporale) after 3 months of service[4]. A VFB (volontario in ferma breve, volunteer for short time service) can be promoted to the rank of Senior Corporal (caporale scelto) after 6 months[4] of service, compatibly with the needs of the Corps.


Corporal (in Spanish "Cabo") is one of the lower ranks of the Mexican army.


In the Norwegian Defence Force, promotion to the rank of Korporal is used as a way to acknowledge soldiers who have done a good job in their service, without giving them any real authority, though they are often delegated some more responsibilities from sergeants and officers. Promotion may come after six months or more, and the rank carries two chevrons and a slight pay increase. In addition, every candidate who completes a special selection period, the Aspirantperiode, including those aspiring to become a Sergeant and drafted personnel in the Military Police automatically qualifies for the rank of Korporal.

The pay raise is fondly known as Colatillegget, or the "coke raise", as the sum in question is approximately enough to buy one Coke each day.


Shoulder strap of a kapral in the Polish Army

In the Polish Army the rank of kapral is the lowest rank in the NCO corps (OR-3 in NATO code). Most commonly the rank is held by a NCO commanding an infantry squad, tank or gun crew, or a similar unit. The equivalent rank in the Polish Navy is mat.

As with many other military ranks, direct comparison between various armies might be misleading. Before World War II Polish Army's kapral was more or less equivalent to the British rank of Lance Corporal, while British rank of Corporal was named plutonowy (lit. Platooner). In modern times the rank is still equivalent to Lance Corporal in UK or Private First Class in US Army (OR-3), while British and American rank of Corporal (OR-4) is equivalent to the Polish rank of starszy kapral (lit. Senior Corporal), introduced in 1971.

Historically, the rank was first introduced in Poland in 17th century, together with mercenary troops of Italian origin. In foreign troops on royal payroll kapral commanded four ranks of musketeers or part of a company of pikemen. In 20th century, between the world wars, the rank of corporal was held by both conscripted NCOs and professional soldiers alike. This was changed after World War II, when the Polish Army was under Soviet command and the rank of kapral was modified to resemble that of Soviet Junior Sergeant, reserved for conscripted NCOs. In modern Polish Army the rank is reserved for professional soldiers exclusively.

The insignia of kapral (worn on shoulder straps and/or badge above breast pocket) are two bars.


The rank of Corporal (Russian: капрал) existed in Russian army from 1647 to 1798, when it has been replaced with that of Non-Commissioned Officer (Russian: унтер-офицер, from German: Unteroffizier, literally sub-officer). Soviet and modern Russian armies have the rank of Junior Sergeant (Russian: младший сержант) that is more or less equivalent to Corporal.


SAF Corporal rank insignia

Corporals (CPL) in the Singapore Armed Forces lies between Lance Corporal and Corporal First Class. It is a rank most commonly held by Full Time National Servicemen with at least a pass in their IPPT. The rank insignia for a Corporal is two chevrons pointing downward with an arc.

In the past, the SAF followed the British model, and Corporals were non-commissioned officers often holding the appointment of section leader. Today, a Corporal is not a Specialist (NCO-equivalent), and holds no command authority, although they may be given higher responsibilities such as appointment as a section 2IC[citation needed]

In the Singapore Police Force, a Corporal is a non-commissioned officer ranking below Sergeant.


In the Spanish Armed Forces Cabo (Corporal) is the rank between Soldado de Primera (First Class Private) and Cabo Primero (First Corporal). It actually equates to a NATO OR-3, with Cabo Primero equating to an OR-4 and Cabo Mayor to an OR-5.


In the Swedish Army,Navy and Airforce the rank of Korpral is a rank for soldiers with a specialization, but without any leadership or commanding duties.

Army Navy Airforce
SWE-Kadett2.svg SWE-Navy-2UpArrow.svg SWE-Airforce-korpral.png

United Kingdom

RAF corporal insignia

Corporal (Cpl) is the second rank of non-commissioned officer in the British Army and Royal Marines, falling between Lance Corporal and Sergeant. The badge of rank is a two-bar chevron (also known as "stripes", "tapes" or "hooks"). A corporal's role varies between regiments, but in the standard infantry role a corporal commands a section, with a Lance Corporal as Second-in-Command (2ic). When the section is split into fire teams, they command one each. In the Royal Armoured Corps, a Corporal commands an individual tank. Their duties therefore largely correspond to those of Sergeants or even Staff Sergeants in the United States Army and Corporals are often described as the "backbone" of the British Army.

In the Household Cavalry all non-commissioned ranks are designated as different grades of Corporal up to Regimental Corporal Major (who is a Warrant Officer class 1). Ironically, there is no effective actual rank of Corporal however, and the ranks progress directly from Lance-Corporal to Lance-Corporal of Horse (who is effectively equivalent to a Corporal; technically a LCoH holds the rank of Corporal, but is automatically give the appointment of LCoH). Similarly, in the Foot Guards the appointment of Lance-Sergeant is effectively used instead of Corporal, with the equivalent of a Lance Corporal being referred to as a Corporal and possessing two stripes: this is often said to originate because Queen Victoria didn't like 'her own guardsmen' having only one chevron.

Royal Artillery Corporals are called Bombardiers, although until 1920 the Royal Artillery had Corporals and Bombardier was a lower rank. The rank of Second Corporal existed in the Royal Engineers and Army Ordnance Corps until 1920.

A common nickname for a corporal is a "full screw", with lance-corporals being known as "lance-jacks", e.g. in the popular television series 'Dad's Army', lance-corporal Jack Jones the Butcher.

Corporal is the lowest NCO rank in the Royal Air Force, coming between Junior Technician (up to 2008) or Senior Aircraftman Technician (from 2004) in the technical trades, or SAC in the non technical trades, and Sergeant. Between 1950 and 1964, Corporals in technical trades were known as Corporal Technicians and wore their chevrons point up.

Although classified as NATO OR-4, British Corporals frequently fill OR-5 equivalent posts.

The Army Cadet Force, Combined Cadet Force, Air Training Corps and Royal Marines sections of the Sea Cadet Corps all have the rank of Corporal, reflecting the rank structure of their parent service - therefore it is the second NCO rank of the ACF, CCF and Marine Cadets, and the first NCO rank in the ATC.

United States

United States Army

US Army E-4.svg

In the U.S. Army Corporal (CPL) is preceded by the first three forms of Private and the rank of Specialist. A Corporal rank shares the same pay grade (E-4) as a Specialist. Unlike a Specialist, however, a Corporal is a junior non-commissioned officer and may direct the activities of other soldiers. A soldier may be promoted to corporal directly from the rank of Private First Class or laterally promoted from Specialist. Direct promotion from PFC to Corporal is very rare.[citation needed]

Currently, very few soldiers are made Corporal.[citation needed] Most go from Private First Class to Specialist to Sergeant. Most Corporals are found in recruiting units in which Specialists are temporarily given a lateral appointment to Corporal as an incentive for recruiter duty.[citation needed] In rare cases soldiers in regular units are permanently promoted to Corporal. The typical criterion for promotion to Corporal is that the junior enlisted soldier must be serving in a leadership position that would typically be occupied by an NCO such as a Sergeant or higher. Normally these promotions are given to Specialists who work in an NCO position but who are prevented promotion to Sergeant (E-5) due to promotion point quotas.

It is common for a Corporal to lead a fireteam; however, if a soldier is promoted to Corporal and there are too many soldiers of that rank, the new Corporal will stay in his current position.

The rank of Corporal is the only rank in the United States Army that was never removed from the NCO Corps since the earliest days of the Army.[citation needed]

United States Marine Corps


Corporal (Cpl) is the fourth enlisted rank in the U.S. Marine Corps, ranking immediately above Lance Corporal and immediately below Sergeant. The Marine Corps, unlike the Army, has no other rank at the pay grade of E-4. Corporal is the lowest grade of non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, though promotion to Corporal traditionally confers a large jump in authority and responsibility compared to promotion from Private through Lance Corporal. Theoretically, Marine Corporals generally serve as "fire-team leaders," commanding a 4-man team or unit of similar size. In practice, however, the billet of fire team leader is generally held by a Lance Corporal, while Corporals serve in the squad leader billet that would normally be held by a Sergeant (E-5) in infantry units. In support units, they direct the activities of junior Marines and provide technical supervision. Because of its emphasis on small-unit tactics, the Marine Corps usually places Corporals in billets where other services would normally have an E-5 or E-6 in authority. Similarly, the term "Strategic Corporal" refers to the special responsibilities conferred upon a Marine Corporal.



  1. ^ corporal.>.< Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. (accessed: April 18, 2008).
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b VFB (volunteer for short time service) and VFA (volunteer for yearly service)

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