The Hierarchy Of The British Army

The system of rank in the British army, ensures that each soldier or officer understands what is expected of them. It is used to organise and describe what each individuals duties and obligations are. There are two groups of rankings, one relates to officers and one to soldiers.

Officer Ranks

Officer Cadet

Whilst in training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, this is the rank held by all recruits.

Second Lieutenant

The rank held after initial training, they participate in specialist training relating to their Corps. They become leaders to platoons of up to 30 soldiers in service and drills.


More responsibility comes with this rank, they command around 30 troops and can train in more specific areas.


Captains assist with resource and personnel management, as well as tactical issues. They are usually next in rank to the leader of their sub-unit.


Majors command sub-units of troops and officers, with accountability for their wellbeing, career progression and management, in the field and at base. Generally officers receive this rank after 8-10 years of outstanding service.

Lieutenant Colonel

Lieutenant Colonels hold the post for two years, it is their duty to ensure the optimum performance of their unit of 650 soldiers. They oversee the combative force but also the welfare of the troops.


Colonels generally have a non-combat role, advising more senior officers in manoeuvres and operations. They may even be based in an office.


Brigadiers are field officers, they command a brigade in the field. They can be involved in planning and strategy committees, in a senior role.

Major General

A Major General will hold a senior position at an army head quarters, the Ministry of Defence or at Sandhurst. They can command a division of troops.

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Lieutenant General

Lieutenant Generals lead a Corps and have other personnel responsibilities worldwide. They are appointed to some of the most senior roles in the Ministry of Defence.


A General assumes the most senior defence, coordination and military roles, for example; Commander in Chief of Land Forces or Chief of Defence staff.

Other Ranks


After they have completed their initial training all new recruits are ranked as Privates. Depending on the Corps or Regiment, they may have a different title, such as Signaller or Rifleman.

Lance Corporal

Privates may be promoted after around three years or after Phase 2 training. Lance Corporals lead a small team of soldiers and they can pursue a specialism.


If an individual shows aptitude for leadership, they will generally receive this rank after 6-8 years. They can gain further qualifications, lead more soldiers and have access to vehicles and armaments.


A senior rank which capable individuals may receive after 12 years service. Sergeants support junior officers and may lead up to 35 soldiers.

Staff/Colour Sergeant

A senior rank, which involves overseeing troops and materials, with responsibility for around 120 soldiers.

Warrant Officer Class 2

This is a management position, individuals oversee units of 120 soldiers, their welfare, training and discipline. They advise the Major in command of the unit and could be promoted to an officer rank.

Warrant Office Class 1

This rank is concerned with the leadership and welfare of up to 650 troops and their equipage. They are the primary advisors to the units senior officer.

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