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Army Officer Ranks

Each U.S. Army officer rank possesses it's own insignia, pay grade and summary duties. The U.S. Army has three categories of soldiers serving their country: the enlisted soldier, warrant officers and commissioned officers. The demands of military life, including armed conflicts, require specialized personnel. Officer ranks denote areas of specialization, experience and duties.

Army Officer Ranks

The following U.S. Army officer ranks include the warrant officers and the commissioned officers. The abbreviation is listed first, followed by title, pay grade, and collar insignia.

Warrant Officers:

  • WO1 Warrant Officer, W-1, silver bar with black stripe
  • CW2 Chief Warrant Officer 2, W-2, silver bar with two black stripes
  • CW3 Chief Warrant Officer 3, W-3, silver bar with three black stripes
  • CW4 Chief Warrant Officer 4, W-4, silver bar with four black stripes
  • CW5 Chief Warrant Officer 5, W-5, silver bar with one black stripe lengthwise

Warrant Officers manage and maintain systems and equipment in all Army operations. They are addressed as Mr. or Ms.


  • 2LT Second Lieutenant, O-1, gold bar
  • 1LT First Lieutenant, O-2, silver bar
  • CPT Captain, O-3, two silver bars
  • MAJ Major, O-4, gold oak leaf
  • LTC Lieutenant Colonel, O-5, silver oak leaf
  • COL Colonel, O-6, silver eagle
  • BG Brigadier General, O-7, one silver star
  • MG Major General, O-8, two silver stars
  • LTG Lieutenant General, O-9, three silver stars
  • GEN General, O-10, four silver stars
  • GA General of the Army (Wartime), O-10 special, five sliver stars in a circle

Summary of Duties

Following is a summary of all U.S. Army officer ranks and related duties, including warrant officers.

  • Warrant Officer 1 - This rank is appointed by the Secretary of the Army and is a technical leader whose duties may include: training, operating, sustaining, managing, and advising.
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 - CW2s become commissioned officers by the president and are intermediate level tactical and technical experts. They are dispatched through battalion levels.
  • Chief Warrant Officer 3 - These are the advanced level of technical and tactical experts. They provide guidance and direction along with the supervision of subordinates.
  • Chief Warrant Officer 4 - CW4s are at the senior level in their field. Their duties include mentoring of other Warrant Officers and giving technical and tactical advice to commanders.
  • Chief Warrant Officer 5 - This rank is for master level experts who support major command operations. Their duties include mentoring, advising, leading, and counseling to branch leaders and other Warrant Officers.

Commissioned Officers:

  • Second Lieutenant - This entry level Commissioned Officer leads two or more squads consisting of 16 to 44 soldiers.
  • First Lieutenant - A person of this rank has at least 18 months of service and leads weapons platoons and indirect fire computation centers. They are often the Executive Officer of a company unit with 110 to 140 soldiers.
  • Captain - Along with an NCO assistant, this rank commands a unit of between 62 and 190 soldiers. A captain may also teach skills or become a Staff Officer.
  • Major - A major is usually a Staff Officer for a brigade and/or task force in regards to personnel, operational missions, and logistics.
  • Lieutenant Colonel - This rank commands a battalion of 300 to 1,000 soldiers along with a Command Sergeant Major and may become an Executive Officer for a brigade or task force.
  • Colonel - Colonels will command brigades of 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers along with a Command Sergeant Major. They may also be the chief of staff agencies.
  • Brigadier General - These are Deputy Commanders to the general in command of Army divisions. They assist in the planning and coordination of missions.
  • Major General - Commands a division of between 10,000 and 15,000 soldiers.
  • Lieutenant General - Command a Corps of between 20,000 and 45,000 soldiers.
  • General - This is the senior level for Commissioned Officers with usually over 30 years of experience. A general commands any operation in his geographical area and may be the Army Chief of Staff.
  • General of the Army - This rank is used only in wartime and has to be a rank equal to or above the ranks of armies from other countries.

The Importance of Ranks in the Military

The military duties and responsibilities are dictated by rank. In the army, working as a cohesive unit is absolutely essential for success and survival. For more information about the U.S. Army or to join, visit their website.