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Army Officer Ranks, Salary & Responsibilities

The Army officers rank table outlines the ranks, abbreviations, grades, and typical roles of various US Army officer ranks.

Please note that officers’ specific roles and responsibilities may vary depending on the unit and mission requirements.

Army Officers Rank OrderAbbreviationGradeArmy Officers Role
Second Lieutenant2LTO1Executive officer to the 1LT
First Lieutenant1LTO2Platoon Leader (PL)
CaptainCPTO3Commanding Officer (CO)
MajorMAJO4Executive officer to the LTC
Lieutenant ColonelLTCO5Battalion Commander (BC)
ColonelCOLO6Brigade Commander
Brigadier GeneralBGO7Assistant Division Commander
Major GeneralMGO8Division Commander
Lieutenant GeneralLTGO9Corps Commander
GeneralGENO10Army Chief of Staff or
Combatant Commanders
General of the ArmyGAO11Only used in times of war,
typically serves as the senior military leader
US Army Officer Ranks

US Army Officer Ranks in Order & Qualifications


  • Army officer ranks designated as O1 to O10
  • Company grade officers (O1 – O3), field grade officers (O4 – O6), flag or general officers (O7 – O10)
  • Flag officers have a flag corresponding to their rank

Becoming a US Army Officer

  • Bachelor’s degree and commission from the US government required
  • Four ways to obtain commission: service academy, Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), Officer Candidate School (OCS), or direct commission
  • Basic officer course attendance

Executive Summary of Officer Ranks and Titles in the US Military

Let’s make an executive summary of the officer ranks and titles for all branches of the US military. Officer ranks are designated as O for Officers and are numbered between 1 and 10, with 1 being the youngest officer and 10 being the most senior officer

Company Grade Officers: O1 to O3

  • O1 to O3 are considered company-grade officers because they generally work at the tactical or company level. They are generally in harm’s way more often, directly fighting or providing direct support

Field Grade Officers: O4 to O6

  • O4 through O6 are called field grade officers. These officers work at the operational level and have an indirect influence on the tactical battlefield. They are the orchestrators. 

Flag Officers or General Officers: O7 to O10

  • 07 to 010 are called flag officers or general officers. The reason they are called flag officers is because they have a flag that flies with them or is posted wherever they go. 
  • For example, if you are a one-star army officer, you will have a red flag with one silver star. If you are an Air Force two-star general, then you will have a blue flag with two silver stars. 

Leadership and focus

My general observation is that any flag officer who actually cares about flying his or her flag is a major tool. The best generals and the best admirals I’ve ever worked with don’t care much about silly things like putting their flags up in the right spot before a meeting. They simply care about leading.

United States Army Officers Rank in Order

Company Grade Officers (O1 – O3)

  • O1: Second Lieutenants (Army, Marines, Air Force); Ensigns (Navy)
    • Gold bar rank, bachelor’s degree, and commission required, basic officer course attendance
  • O2: First Lieutenants (Army, Marine, Air Force); Lieutenant Junior Grade (Navy)
    • Silver bar rank, promotion usually happens automatically after two years
  • O3: Captains (Army, Marines, Air Force); Lieutenants (Navy)
    • Two silver bars rank, promotion usually happens after plus or minus four years of service, advanced officer training attendance

Field Grade Officers (O4 – O6)

  • O4: Majors (Army, Marines, Air Force); Lieutenant Commanders (Navy)
    • Gold oak leaf rank, promotion usually happens after 10 years of service, 12-month Commandant General Staff College attendance
  • O5: Lieutenant Colonels (Army, Marines, Air Force); Commanders (Navy)
    • Silver oak leaf rank, promotion usually happens after 17 years of service as an officer
  • O6: Colonels (Army, Marines, Air Force); Captains (Navy)
    • Silver eagle rank, promotion usually happens after 22 years of service as an officer, War College Attendance

Flag or General Officers (O7 – O10)

  • O7: Brigadier Generals (Army, Marines, Air Force); Rear Admirals (Lower Half) (Navy)
    • One silver star rank, promotion not tied to a specific timeline
  • O8: Major Generals (Army, Marines, Air Force); Rear Admirals (Upper Half) (Navy)
    • Two silver stars rank
  • O9: Lieutenant Generals (Army, Marines, Air Force); Vice Admirals (Navy)
    • Three silver stars rank
  • O10: Generals (Army, Marines, Air Force); Admirals (Navy)
    • Four silver stars rank

Wartime Designations

  • Five-star general or admiral (not applicable for Marine Corps)
    • General of the Army (Army), General of the Air Force (Air Force), Fleet Admiral (Navy)

During wartime, branches may designate a five-star general or admiral. The Marine Corps does not have this army officer rank, but in the other branches, they are called Generals of the Army, Generals of the Air Force, or Fleet Admirals.

Approximate Number of US Army Officers in Each Rank:

RankNumber of Officers
O-1 Second Lieutenant8,500
O-2 First Lieutenant11,000
O-3 Captain14,000
O-4 Major10,000
O-5 Lieutenant Colonel5,500
O-6 Colonel3,000
O-7 Brigadier General400
O-8 Major General200
O-9 Lieutenant General50
O-10 General10
Number of Officers in US Army

Please note that these numbers are rough estimates based on available information and should be used for reference purposes only. The actual numbers may vary.

US Army Officer Salary Pay

The army officer salary figures above are based on 2021 rates; they don’t include any additional allowances or bonuses.

Army officer pay rates may have changed since then, and actual pay can also vary based on years of service, promotions, and cost-of-living adjustments.

Army Officers RankAbbreviationPay GradeBase Pay (2021)
Second Lieutenant2LTO-1$3,385.80
First Lieutenant1LTO-2$4,136.40
Lieutenant ColonelLTCO-5$6,942.90
Brigadier GeneralBGO-7$10,715.70
Major GeneralMGO-8$13,178.10
Lieutenant GeneralLTGO-9$16,283.70
Army Officer Pay

Army Officer Responsibilities & Duties

Today we will talk about what army officers do. We will cover the top 12 most common things and the most common duties that army officers are responsible for. So if you’re thinking about becoming an army officer or a brand new officer and wondering what you should do, this post is for you. 

I have narrowed it down to the 12 things that will take up 90 % or more of your time. First, however, remember that, as an officer, you are responsible for everything that happens and doesn’t happen in your unit. 

Army Officer Duty 1: Mission Planning

Mission planningArmy officers are responsible for mission planning, which involves coming up with operation orders, troop-leading procedures, and military decision-making processes. They focus on missions that are 30, 60, or 90 days out.

The biggest difference between an officer and an NCO is that the former is focused on the future, whereas the NCO handles the day-to-day. For example, in the business world, the officer is more like the CEO, and the NCO is more like the Vice President of Operations, who runs the day-to-day activities. The CEO determines where they want the organization to go; that’s what Army officers do. Army officers also

  • Plan missions
  • Come up with operation orders.
  • Go through the troop-leading procedures of the military decision-making process, 
  • They are focused on missions that are 30, 60, or 90 days out. 

When Army officers get a mission or a task from a higher headquarters, they formulate a plan for their unit, whether they are generals or brand-new lieutenants. They are coming up with a plan for our platoon; they are the mission-planning experts in their platoon.

In summary, this army officer’s duty means they come up with the plans, the NCOs supervise those plans, and the soldiers execute those plans. 

Army Officer Duty 2: Collective Training

Collective trainingArmy officers ensure that their unit is proficient in collective tasks, which involve tasks that groups such as squads, fire teams, platoons, or companies do as a whole.

In the army, you have individual training in shooting, moving, and communicating. The NCOs are in charge of that. Then you have collective training. Collective training is a task that we do as groups. It could be what a squad, a fire team, a platoon, or a company does as a whole. It’s their wartime mission. It is what they do as a complete organization. 

For example, there is a soldier named Johnny who is shooting, and another guy is moving, but they’re all working together, which is their collective task. 

Army officers have a duty to ensure their unit is proficient in their collective tasks. Each organization lists collective tasks based on its mission and what unit it is; an army officer is responsible for ensuring their unit is trained in those tasks. 

Army Officer Duty 3: Leader Development

Leader development: Army officers are responsible for their own professional development and the development of subordinate officers and NCOs.

Army officers are responsible for developing themselves, so we need to ensure our subordinate officers and NCOs are getting their professional development. They’re getting the schools that they need, and they’re getting the mentoring and counseling that they need. 

In many cases, as army officers, we’re doing this ourselves. In other cases, we’re making sure it gets done. We typically develop leaders up to two levels down, mainly with the people we directly supervise, and then we make sure they’re supervising, mentoring, leading their people, and so forth. 

Army Officer Duty 4: Develop policies and procedures

Develop policies and procedures: Army officers, particularly commanders, develop policies and procedures for their units, such as unit SOPs, tactical SOPs, and policy letters.

Now, not all officers will develop policies and procedures. This is usually reserved for commanders, but sometimes a staff officer or another officer could end up developing one. These are unit SOPs, tactical SOPs, policy letters, and other things that an officer would come up with and sign, typically done by a unit commander. 

Army Officer Duty 5: Enforce Army Standards

Enforce army standardsArmy officers are responsible for enforcing army standards, setting an example, and correcting issues when they arise.

Now, I’ll be honest with you: most of the time, the NCOs have this covered. They’re working with the privates and the specialists in the private first class, ensuring that when they mess up, the standards are being enforced. 

But we, as officers, have responsibilities, too. We need to make sure that we are following Army standards as officers. We also need to make sure that our subordinate officers and NCOs are enforcing the standards and living by them.

So we set the example: when we see something wrong, we fix it. Now, there’s a right and wrong way to do this. I’ve always believed that when something is wrong, you can pull the person aside privately and knock it out. 

Regardless of how you handle it, it is your job as an officer to enforce the standards. If you let things slip by and see something wrong and don’t correct it, you’re doing a disservice to your unit and your soldiers. 

Army Officer Duty 6: Tacticians

TacticiansArmy officers are responsible for tactical decision-making and leading units in the field.

I was told long ago that the quickest way to find out if you have a good officer is when you go to the field. In most cases, NCOs run the show in garrison, but in combat, in the field, or in a tactical situation, that’s really where officers make their money. 

If they’re in a combat unit, you’ll find out quickly how good or bad your officer is when you go to the field because that’s where they make their money. That’s where they shine, or that’s where they collapse. 

Army Officer Duty 7: Property Accountability

Property accountabilityArmy officers are responsible for property accountability, including maintaining and inventorying equipment.

In most cases, as an Army officer with a primary hand receipt holder, we are responsible for ensuring that people are safeguarding their equipment. They’re maintaining their equipment. This includes removing excess equipment, replacing damaged equipment, and ensuring inventories are done on time and to standard.

Army Officer Duty 8: Mission Accomplishment

Mission accomplishmentArmy officers ensure that their units accomplish their missions on time and to a high standard.

When your unit accomplishes its mission, your boss will look at you. Your boss will look at you when your unit fails to accomplish its mission. You are responsible for ensuring the mission gets done on time, to standard, and, ideally, with no setbacks or issues. 

This includes your job as an officer and everyone working under your authority. Everything in the Army is about mission accomplishment. 

Army Officer Duty 9: Supervision

Supervision: Army officers supervise NCOs and soldiers, leading anywhere from a few to a few thousand people.

As an officer, you will be a supervisor. Depending on your duty position, you will typically lead an NCO, a staff sergeant, or someone above. So you could supervise anywhere from a few to a few thousand people.

Army Officer Duty 10: Readiness

ReadinessArmy officers are responsible for ensuring their units and soldiers are ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.

The army is not only about its mission but also about readiness. You want to make sure your equipment is ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. Likewise, you need to make sure that your soldiers are prepared to deploy at a moment’s notice. 

You must ensure your unit is trained for its wartime task. That is what readiness is. Everything affects readiness.

  • Are soldiers getting their physical fitness?
  • Are they MS-qualified? 
  • Are they getting the schools they need? 
  • Is your equipment PMCS-compliant? 
  • If the equipment is on deadline, is it getting fixed? 

All of those things affect unit readiness. So you’ll spend a lot of time on this one, especially when you’re at the small unit level, company level, and below. 

Army Officer Duty 11: Leadership and Management

Leadership and managementArmy officers are responsible for leading and managing tasks, setting the tone for their organization, and empowering others.

As officers, regardless of our position, we are in a leadership role; the buck stops with us. 

  • We are responsible for setting an example.
  • We are responsible for managing tasks and leading people.
  • We command units.
  • We lead the staff.
  • We lead sections.
  • We set the tone for our organization 
  • We supervise.
  • We delegate.
  • We empower other soldiers.

When you think about a leader you work with in any capacity, that’s what you will be doing as a leader in the army. 

  • You inspire people.
  • You make tough decisions. 
  • You accept responsibility when things go wrong. 
  • You give credit when things go right.
  • You make sure things go right. 
  • You make sure that the plan is done. 
  • You handle issues.
  • You put out fires.
  • You deal with soldiers’ problems. 

All of those things fall under leadership and management. 

Army Officer Duty 12: Soldier morale

Soldier moraleArmy officers are responsible for monitoring and addressing soldier morale, working closely with their NCOs.

This is the last one we will cover in this post. Ultimately, as an Army officer, you are responsible for soldier morale. Your NCOs will have a significant impact on the morale of your unit. But as an officer, it’s your job to spot-check that. 

If there’s an issue, it’s your job to identify and fix it. You will work closely with your NCO. Some people call this a spree to the core.

You want to ensure your soldiers have the skill and the will to do their job and, more importantly, the resources to do it so they’re satisfied and content. 

You should be monitoring retention in your unit. If everybody is ETS or getting out, there’s probably a moral problem. If the performance is low, there’s a morale problem. Morale always starts at the top and works its way down. 

So if there’s a morale problem, it’s your fault, directly or indirectly, and you must ensure it gets fixed. 

Army officer responsibilities

As listed above, these are just 12 duties you will get as an army officer. Being an officer is fun, challenging, and exciting. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes you scratch your head, especially when you’re brand new, and you’re like, What did I get myself into? But you will figure it out as you mature, gain experience, and learn from your NCOs.

You will learn, figure things out, and be very good at what you do, even if you don’t start that way. 

Being an army officer is an honor. It’s a privilege. It’s a tough job. But it prepares you for just about anything in life. If you can succeed in this type of job, you can succeed easily in the civilian and private sectors. 

If you are thinking about becoming an army officer, I highly encourage it. It’s a great career. It’s a great stepping stone to other things that you can do in your life. And if you have been an officer before, I would love it if you commented below and talked about some of the things you did and some of your most common duties, just in case I missed something. 

Army Officer Salary & Ranks Conclusion

Okay, there you have it. An executive summary of the commissioned officer ranks, titles, salary, duties, and responsibilities. It was a privilege to have served my entire career as a US Army commissioned officer, leading some of the best men and women of the army in the special operations community.

Although I retired as a Major and made my largest contribution to global security as a major, for sure, I had the most fun as a captain and would love to be given an opportunity to go back to do it all over again.

Thanks for reading.

George N.