Commissioned Army Ranks
Australian Army officers receive a commission that is personally signed by the Governor-General of Australia, acting for the Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, of Australia.
Officer Cadet (OCDT)
The rank of Officer Cadet is given to those who are studying at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Their rank is then changed to Staff Cadet upon entry to the Royal Military College, Duntroon (RMC-D) where they become a part of the Corps of Staff Cadets. Officer cadets wear a 10mm wide white stripe, on a DPCU slide or hard shoulder board, as their rank insignia. Officer Trainees in University Regiments undergoing Army Reserve Officer Training have also been known as Officer Cadets as of November, 2009. Previous to this they administratively belonged to RMC-D and were known as Staff Cadets. Staff Cadets are presently only full-time RMC-D officer trainees. Staff Cadets wear “RMC” on their rank slides in order to distinguish them from other training establishments.
Lieutenant is a rank typically held for three years. They normally command a platoon or troop of around 30 soldiers and with experience may command more specialised platoons/troops such as mortar platoon or a reconnaissance troop. Along with Captain, they comprise the subaltern ranks.
Captains are normally second-in-command of a sub-unit of up to 120 soldiers. They are key players in the planning and decision-making process within tactical level units, with responsibility for operations on the ground as well as equipment maintenance, logistical support and manpower.
Promotion to Major generally occurs after 8-10 years service. Majors are field rank officers who command a sub-unit – a company, squadron or battery – of up to 120 officers and soldiers with responsibility for their training, welfare and administration as well as the management of their equipment. Majors are also employed across all levels of headquarters in staff roles.
Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL)
Lieutenant Colonels typically command units of up to 650 soldiers, containing three to five sub-units. They are responsible for the overall operational effectiveness of their unit in terms of military capability, welfare and general discipline. Lieutenant Colonels also hold staff officer appointments on headquarters at the Brigade level and higher.
Brigadiers command at the Brigade level and are also Directors General within Army Headquarters and non-Army groups. They are responsible for branches within the headquarters such as Personnel, Operations and Career Management. The rank of Brigadier is referred to as ‘one star’ rank.
Major General (MAJGEN)
Major Generals command formations of division size, or equivalent, and hold senior executive appointments within the Department of Defence such as Special Operations Commander – Australia. The rank of Major General is referred to as ‘two star’ rank.
Lieutenant General (LTGEN)
Lieutenant General is the second-highest active rank in the Australian Army. The Rank of Lieutenant General is held by the Chief of Army, currently Lieutenant General David Morrison AO. The rank is also held when an Army Officer is the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, the Chief of Joint Operations, or the Chief of Capability Development. The rank of Lieutenant General is referred to as ‘three star’ rank.
General is the highest active rank of the Australian Army. The rank of General is only held when an Army Officer is appointed as the Chief of the Defence Force, currently held by General David Hurley AC, DSC. The rank of General is referred to as ‘four star’ rank.
The Australian Army does not use the term ‘enlisted’ to describe its non-commision ranks. Instead, personnel who are not Commission Officers are referred to as Other Ranks. These personnel are Soldiers, Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and Warrant Officers (WOs).
A soldier under training who has not yet passed basic training.
A soldier under training who has not yet passed basic training.
Lance Corporal (LCPL)
Promotion to Lance Corporal may follow after Initial Employment Training (IET) or after about 3 years as a Private. Lance Corporals are required to supervise a small team of up to four soldiers referred to as a fire team, brick or crew. They also have opportunities to specialise and undertake specialist military training. Lance Bombardier (LBDR) is used in the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery.
After normally 6-8 years, and depending on ability to lead, promotion to Corporal typically follows. In this rank additional trade and instructor qualifications can be gained. Corporals usually are in command of section of soldiers which consist of two fire teams, bricks or be in command of a crew, team or detachment. Corporals are also employed in logistics and technical trades across most corps of the Army. Corporals can also be employed as instructors in Army schools particularly engaging in junior soldier training. Bombardier (BDR) is used in the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery.
Sergeant is a senior role of responsibility, promotion to which typically takes place after normally 12 years depending on ability. Sergeants typically are second in command of a troop or platoon of up to 40 soldiers, with the important responsibility for advising and assisting junior officers. Often, in the absence of the junior officer, the Sergeant will command the platoon or troop, and Sergeants normally have the role of administration, discipline, training and the maintenance of standards. Sergeants are employed in senior logistics and technical positions across most corps of the Army. Sergeants can also be employed as instructors in Army schools.
Staff Sergeant (SSGT)
After a few years as a Sergeant promotion to Staff Sergeant may follow. This is a senior role combining human and resource management in administrative or logistics roles. Staff sergeants are always addressed as “Staff Sergeant” or “Staff”, never as “Sergeant” as it degrades their rank. This rank is currently being phased out of the Australian Army.
Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2)
This is a senior management role focusing on the training, welfare and discipline of a company, squadron or battery of up to 200 soldiers. WO2s act as senior adviser to the commander of a sub-unit. Company Sergeant-Major (CSM) in all sub-units except for the following:
• Squadron Sergeant-Major (SSM) in Armoured, Aviation and Engineer sub-units
• Artificer Sergeant-Major (ASM) in RAEME sub-units.
• Battery Sergeant-Major in Artillery sub-units.
WO2s are also employed in more senior logistics and technical trades across most corps of the Army. They can have titles such as Artificer Sergeant-Major, Chief Clerk or Quarter Master Sergeant. WO2s are also employed as supervising instructors in Army schools.
Warrant Officer Class One (WO1)
The senior soldier rank in the Australian Army, typically reached after about 18 years of outstanding service. WO1s are the senior advisors of their unit’s Commanding Officer, with leadership, discipline and welfare responsibilities of up to 650 officers and soldiers and their equipment. The Sergeant Major of a unit is a Warrant Officer Class One and holds a special position within the unit as the commander’s right hand man and his senior soldier. He or she is known as the Regimental Sergeant Major regardless of whether the unit is a Regiment or Battalion. WO1s also fill very senior and important supervisory roles as clerks, tradesmen, storemen and in technical trades and have titles such as Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant, Trade Conductor and Senior Technical Advisor. WO1s from all corps can be employed as advisors, career managers and senior instructors.
Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army (RSM-A)
The senior warrant officer in the Australian Army holds the rank of Warrant Officer (introduced in 1991 and senior to WO1) and the appointment of Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army. The position of RSM-A was established in 1983 with the first incumbent being WO1 Wally Thompson OAM. The RSM-A is responsible to the Chief of Army, but responsive to all ranks across Army. The RSM-A is a member of the personal staff of the Chief of Army. The RSM-A’s primary role is to represent to the Chief of Army, and others, the solicited and unsolicited views concerns and opinions of Soldiers in the Army, but also carry the Chief of Army’s message down and across the ranks.