Captain (land)

Captain (land)

The army rank of Captain is an officer rank historically correponding to command of a company of soldiers. The rank is also used by some air forces and marine forces. Today a captain is typically the commander, or second in command, of a company or squadron (NB: in the US a squadron is a larger, battalion-equivalent, unit).

Captain is one rank above a lieutenant (or first lieutenant) and one below a major (or commandant).

The rank of captain should not be confused with the naval rank of captain or with the commonwealth air force rank of Group Captain, both of which are more senior.


Prior to the professionalization of the armed services of European nations subsequent to the French revolution, a captain was a nobleman who purchased the right to head a company from the previous holder of that right. He would in turn receive money from another nobleman to serve as his lieutenant. The funding to provide for the troops came from the monarch or his government; the captain had to be responsible for it. If he was not, or was otherwise court-martialed, he would be dismissed ("cashiered"), and the monarch would receive money from another nobleman to command the company. Otherwise, the only pension for the captain was selling the right to another nobleman when he was ready to retire.

Air forces

In most countries the air force is the junior service and so air force ranks have been adopted or modified from one of the other services. Many, such as the United States Air Force, use a rank structure and insignia similar to those of the army.

However, the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and the air forces of many Commonwealth countries use a rank structure in which Flight Lieutenant is OF-2. A Group Captain is OF-5 and was derived from the naval rank of captain.

In the unified system of the Canadian Forces, however, the air force rank titles are identical to that of the Army, while the rank insignia is common to Army, Navy, and Air Force; thus, an air force or army captain wears two gold stripes on sleeve or epaulet (the same as a naval lieutenant), while the modern equivalent of the British group captain bears the rank and insignia of colonel, i.e. four gold stripes on sleeve or epaulet (same as a naval captain).

Equivalent Captain ranks

* "Taewi" (South Korea)
* "Hauptmann" (Germany)
* "Hauptsturmführer" (Nazi SS)
*"Lokhagos" (Greece)
* "Yüzbaşı" (Turkey)
* "Jeg-tooran" (جګتورن) (Afghanistan)
* "Đại Úy" (Vietnam)
* "Kapten" (Sweden)


A variety of images illustrative of different forces' insignia for captain (or captain-equivalents) are shown below:

References and notes

ee also

*Captain (United Kingdom)
*Captain (United States)

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