What are Military Rankings?

The military ranks determine who says what to whom and who has authority over who is responsible for what. This hierarchy of authority is universal with slight variations of names and signs from one country to another and from one military branch to another. Security agencies such as the police have adopted this classification system. The highest ranking officer in most countries is the President, Prime Minister, King or Queen mostly with the title of Commander-in-Chief. Other armies have higher ranks like the field marshal. Countries have generally adopted a classification system for their colonial or occupational masters.

History of the military classification system

The structure of the rankings within the military dates back to medieval armies where the base unit of the army commanded by a captain was the company. With the expansion of military operations, the need for more ranks increased and the armies became complex. The Americans inherited the classification system from the English who had adopted the same from the Romans. Between 17 th and 18 thcenturies, both colonel and captain, were similar ranks, although over time, the colonels led more regiments while the captains guided the companies. In the first armies, including the United States under George Washington, different grades wore different uniforms. The armies adopted the signs to differentiate the ranks as the enemies could identify and eliminate the commanding officers by looking at their uniforms. With advanced technology and different military needs, countries have adopted various degrees of deployment. Several badges / signs have differentiated the ranks in history including symbols of feathers, railways, straps, strips, ribbons, arms courts, eagles, oak leaves and bars among others and were worn on hats, shoulder pads, chest, waist, wrists,

Examples of military ranks

The Geneva Convention is codified in three main categories; commissioners, non-commissioned officers (non-commissioned officers) and enlisted (other ranks). The officers in charge have command and command positions and are divided into four levels;

  • General, flag or air officers
  • Field officers or superiors
  • Company or junior managers
  • Official cadets or naval cadets.

The generals, flag and flight officers command the brigades, flotillas and squadrons that operate for long periods of time. The generals include general, lieutenant general, major general and brigadier general. Naval flag officers include Admiral, Vice Admiral, Rear Admiral, Commodore (Canada). Air officers in some countries include Air Chief Marshal, Air Marshal, Air Vice Marshal and Air Commodore. The lieutenants generally delegate their superiors, however, this is apparently contradictory because a Lieutenant General lays the General, both higher than the Major General, while the higher ranks are a Major. An Admiral commands a fleet of ships, the Vice Admiral commands the detached vans of ships within the admiral’s fleet. Rear Admiral commands a detached van of rear ships. The Brigadier General commands a brigade defined as a mixed unit of several regiments. Field officers command units that can operate independently for short periods of time such as infants, battalions, warships and air squadrons. The field officials include the colonel, the lieutenant colonel, the major, the captain and the lieutenant plus the wing commander and the squadron commander of some air forces.

A major is an experienced tactical expert, a personnel officer, and usually trains troops while a captain is at the head of a military base force unit, a company or a navy ship. The lower or lower grade officers included lower-ranking officers who commanded smaller units as captain and lieutenant of a signaling or field artillery battery or flight lieutenant, flight officer and flight officer in some air forces. Official cadets, naval cadets or student officers are officers in formation, usually a four-year university degree, during which they have no authority over any rank, but after which they become commission officers. The warrant officers are a hybrid rank of senior non-commissioned officers appointed by virtue of the experience and leadership. Other members of the recruitment staff such as non-commissioned officers and experienced sergeants acquire the authority delegated by the officers in charge of supervising other grades or undertaking some administrative tasks. Sergeants are officers of personnel with experience of commanding a team as corporals. Enlisted officers or other grades (OR) constitute the majority in the armed forces including the lower ranks.

Other military troops

Staff can hold temporary degrees during times of war and return to their normal ranks from then on. Military officers maintain the highest ranks after an honorable discharge, sometimes adding the word “retired”, while war veterans maintain their uniform and the highest rank.

Importance of military ranks

The rankings are important in military coordination, command and logistics. It is interesting to note that when the Soviet Army (1918-1935), the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (1965-1988) and the Albanian Army (1966-1991) abolished military classification systems, they faced operational problems ; the command and control became chaotic which had to reintroduce the ranking. Ranks facilitate decision-making and information flow within the military, allowing them to know who does what, where and how.

by Abdullah Sam
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