The army rank of Captain is an 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 the commander, or second in command, of a company or squadron (NB: in the U.S. Army, a squadron is a larger, battalion-equivalent, unit). But in the Chinese People's Liberation Army, this rank maybe is the commander of a platoon or company, or even a second commander of a battalion.
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.
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 epaulette (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 epaulette (same as a naval captain).
Equivalent Captain ranks
- Jeg-tooran (جګتورن) (Afghanistan)
- Hauptmann (Germany)
- Hauptsturmführer (Nazi SS)
- Lochagos (Greece)
- Taewi (South Korea)
- Kapitein (The Netherlands)
- Kapteeni (Finland)
- Kapten (Sweden)
- Taii (Japan)
- Roi Ek (ร้อยเอก) (Thailand)
- Yüzbaşı (Turkey)
- Đại Úy (Vietnam)
- Százados (Kapitány) (Hungary)
- Satnik (Croatia)
- Seren (סרן) (Israel Defence Forces)
- Shangwei (China)
A variety of images illustrative of different forces' insignia for captain (or captain-equivalents) are shown below:
Hauptmann insignia of German Army
Lochagos insignia of the Hellenic Army
Captain (Captaen) insignia of the Irish Army
Kapitein insignia of the Royal Netherlands Army
Yüzbaşı insignia of the Turkish Army
Căpitan insignia of the Romanian Armed Forces
Thai army O2.png
Roi Ek (ร้อยเอก) insignia of the Royal Thai Army
Captain insignia of US Army and US Air Force.
CSA Captain Insignia.png
Captain rank insignia of the Confederate Army as used during the American Civil War
References and notes
- ↑ 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.