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United States Army Ranks, Listed From Highest To Lowest

Heidi Mülla
Heidi Mülla August 30, 2022
united states army ranks

The United States Army (USA) is a land warfare service branch that is part of the eight uniformed services in the United States. It is also one of the most respected branches of the U.S. military, with a long and proud history. The modern U.S. Army has its origins in the Continental Army, which was formed to combat the American Revolutionary War (1775–83).

Today, the U.S. Army servicemembers hold a variety of ranks, ranging from private up to general.

united states army ranks

General (four-star)

At the top of the list is the General of the Army. This is the highest ranking officer in the United States Army and is a four-star general. The most famous General in recent history is George Patton, who led troops during World War II.

There are only ever a handful of Generals in the Army at any given time. They are responsible for commanding entire armies and making strategic decisions. They also serve as the chief of staff of the Army, as well as commanders of various Army units.

Lieutenant General (three-star)

A Lieutenant General typically commands an entire army or multiple corps within an army. They report directly to the General.

Lieutenant Generals is one of the most prestigious positions in the Army. To become a Lieutenant General, an officer must first be promoted to Major General, and then spend several years in that position before being considered for promotion to Lieutenant General.

Major General (two-star)

Major Generals usually oversee brigades, which are smaller groups of soldiers than divisions or corps. They may also be responsible for important departments within the Army.

To achieve the rank of Major General, an officer must first be promoted to Brigadier General. This promotion is typically given to Colonels who have demonstrated exceptional leadership ability and service to their country. Once promoted to Brigadier General, an officer serves for a minimum of three years before being eligible for promotion to Major General.

Brigadier General (one-star)

A Brigadier General typically commands a brigade, but may also have other important positions within the Army. Brigadier Generals are typically appointed as senior staff officers for brigades, divisions, or large departments within the Army structure. In some cases, they may also be responsible for commanding lower-ranked units such as battalions or regiments.

The rank of Brigadier General is considered a stepping stone to higher levels of command, such as Major General or Lieutenant General. Many successful Generals began their careers as Brigadier Generals.


A Colonel is one of the highest-ranking officers in the Army and is in charge of a regiment or brigade. A Colonel must have a minimum of 10 years of experience as an officer and have served in a variety of leadership roles. They must be able to lead troops in combat and make decisions under pressure. Colonels are also responsible for the training and development of their subordinates.

Being a Colonel is a demanding job, but it comes with many rewards. Colonels are respected leaders within the Army and are often seen as role models for younger soldiers. They also receive great benefits, such as housing allowances and access to exclusive clubs and restaurants.

Lieutenant Colonel

Lieutenant colonels are typically commanding officers of battalions or infantry companies, though they can also be found leading special units like Army Rangers and Green Berets. In addition to leading troops into combat, lieutenant colonels may also serve as staff officers at various levels in Army organizations.

In the United States Army, promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel is highly competitive. To be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, an Army officer must first serve at least 10 years as a commissioned officer and must have held the rank of Major for at least two years.


The rank of Major in the United States Army is that of a commissioned officer who has been promoted from Captain. A Major typically commands company-sized units (100 to 250 soldiers). In some larger organizations, majors may also hold command positions at the battalion or brigade level.

To be promoted to the rank of Major, an Army Officer must first serve at least four years as a Captain, and then they must complete the Army Command and General Staff College. The vast majority of Majors are also graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, or they have earned a degree from another accredited university.

Majors typically serve for a total of 20 to 30 years in the Army before they are eligible for retirement.


The captain is the commander of a company, which is a military unit consisting of soldiers. A company usually consists of three to six platoons, with each platoon having sixteen to forty soldiers. The captain is responsible for ensuring that his or her company operates effectively and efficiently.

The captain also has several other responsibilities, such as training and leading his or her troops, maintaining discipline within the ranks, and acting as a liaison between the troops and their commanding officers. In addition to these duties, captains also play an important role in planning and executing military operations.

1st Lieutenant

The 1st Lieutenant is responsible for leading a platoon of soldiers, which is typically around 40 soldiers. They also help to coordinate activities between different platoons and companies. In addition, they may be asked to provide input on missions and operations to their commanding officer.

1st Lieutenants typically have at least two years of experience as a 2nd Lieutenant. They must also complete an Officer Candidate School program and receive a commission from the President of the United States.

2nd Lieutenant

The 2nd Lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer. After completing Officer Candidate School (OCS) and being commissioned as an officer, 2nd lieutenants are typically assigned to a unit within the Army. They may serve in a variety of roles within their unit, but all 2nd lieutenants are responsible for leading and supervising soldiers.

Despite being the lowest-ranking commissioned officer in the Army, 2nd lieutenants play an important role in ensuring that the Army runs smoothly. They are responsible for leading and supervising soldiers, and they must also be able to effectively communicate with their superiors.

Are you interested in a career in the United States Armed Forces? If so, you’ll need to pass several aptitude tests as part of the recruitment process. These examine skills such as verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, and mechanical comprehension: all crucial for any occupation in the armed forces.

Check out our ASVAB Test to learn more about how these tests work, and practice some realistic samples.

Heidi Mülla August 30, 2022

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