The ranks of the US Military can be a bit confusing, if you’re not a member. There are three basic levels including Enlisted Personnel, Officer and Generals. Enlisted Personnel are the basic ranks and every new recruit will start here.
The first rank of the US Army is known as Private with an E-1 grade. Enlisted rankings go up to E-9. However, Army personnel can achieve officer rankings, which are explained below.
Second Lieutenant – O-1 grade
The rank of Second Lieutenant is abbreviated to 2LT. Anybody with this ranking in the Army will be addressed as “Lieutenant.” This is an entry-level ranking for commissioned officers. a Second Lieutenant has the ability to lead a platoon-size with a Sergeant and two or more squads consisting of 16 to 44 soldiers.
First Lieutenant – O-2 grade
Also addressed as “Lieutenant” a First Lieutenant is a seasoned lieutenant with between 18 and 24 months of service. This rank allows for a more specialized weapons platoon leading and indirect fire computation centers. A First Lieutenant is considered a Senior Lieutenant and may be selected as an Executive Officer of a company of 110 to 140 personnel.
Captain – O-3 grade
A Captain will be addressed as “Captain” and commands a company size of 62 to 190 soldiers with a principal NCO assistant. Captains may also instruct skills at service schools and combat training centers.
Major – O-4 grade
The rank of Major is abbreviated to MAJ and addressed as “Major.” This ranking allows for services as a primary Staff Officer for a brigade. It also allows for task force command of logistical, operational and personnel missions.
Lieutenant Colonel – O-5 grade
A Lieutenant Colonel may be addressed as “Colonel or “Lieutenant Colonel” and it’s abbreviated to LTC. The ranking allows for command of a battalion with 300 to 1,000 soldiers with a CSM as principal NCO assistant. A Lieutenant Colonel may also be selected as a task force or brigade Executive Officer.
Colonel – O-6
Abbreviated to COL, a Colonel is addressed as “Colonel.” This rank allows for command of a brigade of 3,000 to 5,00 soldiers with a CSM as principal NCO assistant. A Colonel may also be the chief of divisional-level staff agencies.
Brigadier General – O-7 grade
A Brigadier General receives one star and is addressed as “General.” This rank usually serves as Deputy Commander to the commanding general for Army divisions. It may include overseeing the planning and coordinating of the mission.
Major General – O-8 grade
A Major General is addressed as “General” and receives two stars. Usually this rank means command of a division of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers.
Lieutenant General – O-9 grade
Also addressed at “General,” a Lieutenant General receives three stars and commands a corps of 20,000 to 45,000 soldiers.
General – O-10 grade
Addressed as “General,” this rank receives four stars. It’s a senior level of Commissioned Officer and usually requires 30 or more years of service. Any operations within the assigned geographical area are commanded by a General.
Only used during wartime, the rank of General of the Army is a five-star General rank. The last officers holding this rank served during or immediately following World War II.