In the US military, a squad leader or squad commander is a Non-Commissioned Officer who leads a squad of typically 9 Soldiers (US Army: squad leader and two fireteams of 4 men each) or 13 Marines (US Marine Corps: squad leader and three fireteams of 4 men each) in a rifle squad, or 3 to 8 men in a crew-served weapons squad. In the United States Army the Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) rank of a rifle squad leader is Staff Sergeant (US military & naval pay grade E-6 or NATO designation OR-6) and in the United States Marine Corps the TO rank is Sergeant (E-5 or OR-5), though a Corporal may also act as a squad leader in the absence of sufficient numbers of Sergeants. Squad leaders of crew-served weapons squads range from Corporal through Staff Sergeant, depending upon the branch of service and type of squad.
In some armies, notably those of the British Commonwealth, in which the term section is used for units of this size, the NCO in charge, which in the British Army and Royal Marines is normally a Corporal (OR-4), is termed a section commander. A section is referred to as a squad, in the British Army, only on the parade ground.
Equivalent appointments or assignments to squad leader in other armed forces are as follows:
- German Bundeswehr = Gruppenführer (en: group leader)
- Austrian Bundesheer = Gruppenkommandant (en: group commander)