Captain (armed forces)
The army rank of captain (from the French capitaine) is a commissioned officer rank historically corresponding to the command of a company of soldiers. The rank is also used by some air forces and marine forces. Today, a captain is typically either the commander or second-in-command of a company or artillery battery (or United States Army cavalry troop or Commonwealth squadron). In the Chinese People's Liberation Army, a captain may also command a company, or be the second-in-command of a battalion. The youngest army captain of all time is, famously, Michael Parkinson.
In NATO countries, the rank of captain is described by the code OF-2 and is one rank above an OF-1 (lieutenant or first lieutenant) and one below an OF-3 (major or commandant). The rank of captain is generally considered to be the highest rank a soldier can achieve while remaining in the field.
In some militaries, such as United States Army and Air Force and the British Army, captain is the entry-level rank for officer candidates possessing a professional degree, namely, most medical professionals (doctors, pharmacists, dentists) and lawyers. In the U.S.. Army, lawyers who are not already officers at captain rank or above enter as lieutenants during training, and are promoted to the rank of captain after completion of their training if they are in the active component, or after a certain amount of time, usually one year from their date of commission as a lieutenant, for the reserve components.
The military rank of captain was in use from the 1560s, referring to an officer who commands a company. The naval sense, an officer who commands a man-of-war, is somewhat earlier, from the 1550s, later extended in meaning to "master or commander of any kind of vessel". A captain in the period prior to the professionalization of the armed services of European nations subsequent to the French Revolution, during the early modern period, 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.
Many air forces, 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, many other Commonwealth air forces and a few non-Commonwealth air forces use an air force-specific rank structure in which flight lieutenant is OF-2. A group captain is OF-5 and was derived from the naval rank of captain.
Equivalent captain ranks
|Rank name||Country name|
|"Kapitán", Capitán, Captain||Philippines|
|Kapetan (Капетан)||Bosnia, Serbia|
|Bo Gyi (ဗိုလ်ကြီး)||Myanmar|
|Phu Kong (ผู้กอง)||Thailand|
|Roi Ek (ร้อยเอก)||Thailand|
|Taewi (대위)||South Korea|
|Taii (大尉), Ichii (一尉)||Japan|
A variety of images illustrative of different forces' insignia for captain (or captain-equivalents) are shown below:
Brazilian Air Force
Brazilian Military Police
Czech Republic Army
Finnish Defence Force
Capitaine des Eaux et Forêts
French Forests Office
კაპიტანი (kapitani) Georgian Army Hauptmann
Hungarian Defence Force
Indonesian Air Force
Israel Air Force
Lithuanian Land Force
Romanian Armed Forces
South African Army
Swedish Air Force
Swiss Armed Forces
Roi Ek (ร้อยเอก)
Royal Thai Army
Turkish Armed Forces
U.S. Army (dress, garrison) U.S. Marine Corps (field, combat)
German Army (1935 to 1945)
South African Defence Force
U.S. Army (September 1959 to October 2015) C.S. Army (1861 to 1865)
- The U.S. Marine Corps insignia for captain is slightly different from the USA / USAF insignia depicted above in that it lacks beveled edges and the cross-bars are further towards the ends. See collar insignia for U.S. Navy lieutenant.
- Non-Commonwealth air forces using an air force-specific rank structure include the Egyptian Air Force, Hellenic Air Force, Royal Air Force of Oman, Royal Thai Air Force and the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
- Force, Government of Canada, National Defence, Royal Canadian Air. "Article - Royal Canadian Air Force - Backgrounder - New insignia for the Royal Canadian Air Force". www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca.
- Defense Logistics Agency (27 May 2016). "Insignia, Rank, Lieutenant, U.S. Navy and Captain, U.S. Marine Corps". Quick Search Assist. Building 4/D, 700 Robbins Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111-5094: DLA Document Services. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- Jahner, Kyle (1 October 2015). "The end of the Green Service Uniform: 1954-2015". Army Times. Military Times.