Ranks of the People's Liberation Army Ground Force

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The People's Liberation Army has not always used ranks or insignia. In common with the practice of the Red Army at the time of its founding in 1927, neither were used until 1955 when a system of ranks was established. As a result of the Cultural Revolution, ranks were abolished in May 1965. After the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979, reforms in the PLA began to be made to professionalize the armed forces once more. The 1984 Military Service Law provided for the resumption of rank, but disagreements on what ranks were to be used and who would receive them caused the revival of rank to be delayed until 1988. The following ranks and their respective insignia shown are those used by the People's Liberation Army Ground Force.

1955-65 Ranking System[edit]

The insignia used by officers in the period 1955-1965 by the PLA Ground Force were similar in style to those used by the Soviet Army at the time, with the primary differences being the existence of an additional field officer rank, and the insignia of the highest general officer rank being four stars unlike the one large star used starting 1963. The NCO insignia of that period showed Japanese influence with the use of stars on the collars with the specialty badge on the side. While general duties officers wore the shoulder board pattern shown below (gold and red), technical service officers sported white and red shoulder boards with their rank insignia.

Rank category Rank Shoulder board insignia Collar insignia
Marshals Grand Marshal of the PRC Generalissimo of the PRC rank insignia.svg Generalissimo of the PRC collar insignia.jpg
Marshal of the PRC Marshal rank insignia (PRC).jpg Marshal of the PRC collar insignia.jpg
General officers General of the Army General of the Army rank insignia (PRC).jpg General of the Army collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Colonel General
General rank insignia (PRC, 1955-1965).jpg General collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Lieutenant General Lieutenant General rank insignia (PRC, 1955-1965).jpg Lieutenant General collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Major General Major General rank insignia (PRC, 1955-1965).jpg Major General collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Field grade officers Senior Colonel
(Brigadier)
Senior Colonel rank insignia (PRC, 1955-1965).jpg Senior Colonel collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Colonel Colonel rank insignia (PRC, 1955-1965).jpg Colonel collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Lieutenant Colonel Lieutenant Colonel rank insignia (PRC, 1955-1965).jpg Lieutenant Colonel collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Major Major rank insignia (PRC, 1955-1965).jpg Major collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Unit grade officers Senior Captain Captain rank insignia (PRC).jpg Captain collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Captain Senior Lieutenant rank insignia (PRC, 1955-1965).jpg Senior Lieutenant collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Lieutenant Lieutenant rank insignia (PRC, 1955-1965).jpg Lieutenant collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Second Lieutenant Junior Lieutenant rank insignia (PRC, 1955-1965).jpg Junior Lieutenant collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Cadet officers Cadet officer Warrant Officer rank insignia (PRC, 1955-1965).jpg Warrant Officer collar insignia (PRC).jpg
NCOs Staff Sergeant No shoulder insignia Senior Sergeant collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Sergeant Sergeant collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Corporal Junior Sergeant collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Privates Private First Class Private First Class collar insignia (PRC).jpg
Private Private collar insignia (PRC).jpg

Current ranking system[edit]

PLAGF officers[edit]

The current system of officer ranks and insignia is a revision of the ranks and insignia established in 1955, which were used starting 1988. The 1955-1965 marshal officer ranks of Yuánshuài (Marshal) and Dà Yuánshuài (Grand Marshal) were not revived. The general officer ranks (Jiang) were revised by the addition of semi-circular wreath at the bottom of the insignia and by a change in the name of the highest general officer rank from Dàjiàng (General of the Army) to 一級上將 yījí shàngjiàng (literally: First Class Senior General). This highest rank in the new system was never held and was abolished in 1994. The field officer (Xiao) and company officer (Wei) ranks were the same in title and insignia except that highest company-level officer rank of Dàwèi in the 1955-1965 system was not included in the revived ranks. The final difference between the two systems is that in 1955-1965 there existed a warrant officer rank, Zhǔnwèi, which was not incorporated in the revived rank system, while new system had a rank for officer cadets, Xuéyuán. Despite being the rank below Shaowei in both systems, the insignia have no similarities.

Officer rank names are usually not translated literally, but rather to a corresponding rank system. This can lead to different translations being used depending on the system chosen for the correspondences. The 1955-1965 system, with its greater number of officer ranks, is usually translated using the Soviet rank system of that era, while the modern officer ranks are usually given a NATO rank correspondence. For example, the non-literal translation used for the rank of Shàngjiàng (literally: Senior General) depends on whether one is comparing it to Soviet or Russian ranks (Colonel General) or to British or American ranks (General).

Equivalent
NATO Code
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and Student Officer
China People's Republic of China
(Edit)
No Equivalent
General
Lieutenant General
Major General
Brigadier
Colonel
Lieutenant Colonel
Major
Captain
First Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Officer Cadet
Superior General
(上将)
Middle General
(中将)
Junior General
(少将)
Captain Commander
(大校)
Superior Commander
(上校)
Middle Commander
(中校)
Junior Commander
(少校)
Superior Lieutenant
(上尉)
Middle Lieutenant
(中尉)
Junior Lieutenant
(少尉)
Officer Cadet
(学员)

PLAGF enlisted personnel[edit]

The current system of enlisted ranks and insignia dates from 2009.[1]

Equivalent
NATO Code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
China People's Republic
of China

(Edit)
PLAGF-0709-1CSGT.png PLAGF-0708-2CSGT.png PLAGF-0707-3CSGT.png PLAGF-0706-4CSGT.png PLAGF-0705-SSG.png PLAGF-0704-SGT.png PLAGF-0703-CPL.png PLAGF-0702-PFC.png PLAGF-0701-PVT.png No Equivalent
Chief Sergeant 1st Class
(一级军士长)
Chief Sergeant 2nd Class
(二级军士长)
Chief Sergeant 3rd Class
(三级军士长)
Chief Sergeant 4th Class
(四级军士长)
Staff Sergeant
(上士)
Sergeant
(中士)
Corporal
(下士)
Private 1st Class
(上等兵)
Private
(列兵)

Other Military Branches[edit]

The People's Liberation Army Air Force generally has the same names, position and ranks as the People's Liberation Army Ground Force, however, and their insignia correspond except Air Force ranks have light blue fimbriations instead of green (red is now only used in ceremonial occasions).

Ranks of the People's Liberation Army Navy also correspond, except with dark blue fimbriations, but now only worn with the dress white uniform as only sleeve insignia are used in the dress blue uniform only for officers with ratings retaining the shoulder board insignia.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]