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The army rank of captain (from the French capitaine) is a commissioned officer rank historically corresponding to 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 platoon, or be the second-in-command of a battalion.

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.

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 equivalent to the army rank of colonel.


[hide] *1 History


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 forcesEdit

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 the air force rank titles are identical to that of the army as are army and air rank insignia with both wearing two gold stripes on the sleeve or epaulette. While the rank is equivalent to a naval lieutenant, naval lieutenant rank insignia is embellished with the executive curl. The modern equivalent of the British group captain bears the rank and insignia of colonel, i.e. four gold stripes on sleeve or epaulette (same as a naval captain).

Equivalent Captain ranksEdit

Rank name Country name
Akhmad Mongolia
Capitaine France
Capitaine Belgium (Fr.)
Capitano Italy
Capitão Brasil
Capitão Portugal
Hauptmann Austria
Hauptmann Germany
Capitán Spain
Hauptmann Switzerland
Hauptsturmführer Nazi SS
Jeg-tooran (جګتورن) Afghanistan
Kapetan (Капетан) Serbia
Kapitan (Капитан) Bulgaria
Kapitan Poland
Kapitan (Капитан) Russia
Kapitan (Капітан) Ukraine
Kapitán Czech Rep. & Slovakia
Kapitein Netherlands
Kapitein Belgium (Nl.)
Kaptajn Denmark
Kaptan (کپتان) Pakistan
Kapteeni Finland
Kapitonas Lithuania
Kaptein Norway
Kapten Sweden
Kapten Indonesia
Lochagos (Λοχαγός) Greece
Phu Kong (ผู้กอง) Thailand
Roi Ek, Roi Ek (ร้อยเอก) Thailand
Satnik Croatia
Seren, Seren (סרן) Israel
Shangwei, Shangwei China – both PRC and ROC/Taiwan
Százados Hungary
Taewi (대위) South Korea
Taii (大尉), Ichii (一尉) Japan
Yüzbaşı Turkey
Đại Úy Vietnam


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

Finnish Defence Force

  • Capitaine

French Army

German Army

Hellenic Army

Irish Army

Italian Army

  • Kapitonas

Lithuanian Land Force

  • Kapitein

Royal Netherlands Army

Romanian Armed Forces

Swedish Air Force

  • Kapten

Swedish Army

  • Roi Ek (ร้อยเอก)

Royal Thai Army

See alsoEdit

References and notesEdit

  1. ^ The US 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 US Navy lieutenant.
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