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A company is a
military unit Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intens ...
, typically consisting of 80–250
soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of a professional army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the ...

soldier
s and usually commanded by a
major Major is a military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchical A hierarchy (from the Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are repre ...

major
or a
captain Captain is a title for the commander of a military unit, the commander of a ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel, or the commander of a port, fire department or police department, election precinct, etc. The captain is a military rank in ar ...
. Most companies are formed of three to six or seven
platoon A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two or more squads, sections, or patrols. Platoon organization varies depending on the country and the branch, but a platoon generally comprises 50 people, although specific platoons may ran ...
s, although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure. Usually several companies are grouped as a
battalion A battalion is a military unit Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intend ...

battalion
or
regiment A regiment is a military unit Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed forces of a state so as to offer such military capability as a national defense policy may require. In some countries param ...
, the latter of which is sometimes formed by several battalions. Occasionally, ''independent'' or ''separate'' companies are organized for special purposes, such as the 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company or the 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company. These companies are not organic to a battalion or regiment, but rather report directly to a higher level organization such as a Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters (i.e., a
corps Corps (; plural ''corps'' ; from French , from the Latin "body") is a term used for several different kinds of organization. A military innovation by Napoleon, the formation was first named as such in 1805. The size of a corps varies greatly ...

corps
-level command).


Historical background

The modern military company became popularized during the reorganization of the Swedish Army in 1631 under King
Gustav II Adolph Gustavus Adolphus (9 December Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates">N.S_19_December.html" ;"title="Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates.html" ;"title="/nowiki>Old Style and New Style dates">N.S 19 December">Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates.html" ;"title="/nowi ...
. For administrative purposes, the infantry was divided into companies consisting of 150 men, grouped into regiments of eight companies. Tactically, the infantry companies were organized into
battalion A battalion is a military unit Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intend ...

battalion
s and grouped with cavalry troops and artillery batteries to form
brigade A brigade is a major tactical military formation Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed forces of a State (polity), state so as to offer such military capability as a military policy, national de ...

brigade
s. From ancient times, some armies have commonly used a base administrative and tactical unit of around 100 men. (Perhaps the best known is the Roman
century A century is a period of 100 years. Centuries are numbered names of numbers in English#Ordinal numbers, ordinally in English and many other languages. The word ''century'' comes from the Latin ''centum'', meaning ''one hundred''. ''Century'' is s ...
, originally intended as a 100-man unit, but later ranging from about 60 to 80 men, depending on the time period.) An organization based on the decimal number system (i.e., by tens, hundreds, thousands, and ten-thousands) might seem intuitive. To the Romans, for example, a unit of 100 men seemed sufficiently large to efficiently facilitate organizing a large body of men numbering into the several thousands, yet small enough that one man could reasonably expect to command it as a cohesive unit by using his voice and physical presence, supplemented by musical notes (e.g., drum beats, bugle or trumpet blasts, etc.) and visual cues (e.g., colors, standards, guidons, etc.). Furthermore, recent studies have indicated that humans are best able to maintain stable relationships in a cohesive group numbering between 100 and 250 members, with 150 members being the common number (see
Dunbar's number Dunbar's number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships—relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. This n ...
). Again, a military unit on the order of no more than 100 members, and perhaps ideally fewer, would perhaps present the greatest efficiency as well as effectiveness of control, on a battlefield where the stress, danger, fear, noise, confusion, and the general condition known as the "fog of war" would present the greatest challenge to an officer to command a group of men engaged in mortal combat. Until the latter half of the 19th century, when infantry troops still routinely fought in close order, marching and firing shoulder-to-shoulder in lines facing the enemy, the company remained at around 100, or fewer, men. The advent of accurate, long-range rifle fire,
repeating rifle A repeating rifle is a single-barrel A barrel or cask is a hollow cylindrical A cylinder (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, ...
s, and
machine gun A machine gun is an auto-firing, rifling, rifled long gun, long-barrel action (firearms)#Autoloading operation, autoloading firearm designed for sustained direct fire with fully powered cartridges. Other automatic firearms such as assault ri ...

machine gun
s necessitated highly dispersed combat formations. This, coupled with radio communication, permitted relatively small numbers of men to have much greater firepower and combat effectiveness than previously possible. Companies, however, continue to remain within the general range of 100–250 members, perhaps validating the premise that humans fight best (as well as live, work, socialize, play, etc.) in organizations of around 150 members, more or less. While historically companies were usually grouped into battalions or regiments, there were certain sub-units raised as '' independent companies'' that did not belong to a specific battalion or regiment, such as
Confederate States of America The Confederate States of America (CSA), commonly referred to as the Confederate States or simply the Confederacy, was an unrecognized herrenvolk republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system ...

Confederate States of America
state local militia companies. However, upon activation and assimilation into the army, several of these ''independent'' companies would be grouped together to form either a battalion or a regiment, depending upon the number of companies involved. (Usually two to five would form a battalion, while six to twelve would form a regiment.) More recent examples of ''separate'' companies would be the divisional support companies (i.e., signal, military police, ordinance maintenance, quartermaster, reconnaissance, and replacement companies) of a U.S. Army, Korean War-era infantry division and the divisional aviation company of a U.S. Army "Pentomic" infantry division. These companies were not organic to any intermediate headquarters (viz., battalion/group/regiment/brigade), but rather reported directly to the division headquarters.


NATO

NATO defines a company as "larger than a platoon, but smaller than a battalion" while being a "unit consisting of two or more platoons, usually of the same type, with a headquarters and a limited capacity for self-support." The standard
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 27 European ...
symbol for a company consists of a single vertical line placed above a framed unit icon. Member nations have stipulated the different names they will use for organizations of this size.


British Army

Rifle companies consist of three
platoon A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two or more squads, sections, or patrols. Platoon organization varies depending on the country and the branch, but a platoon generally comprises 50 people, although specific platoons may ran ...
s and a company headquarters. Company-sized organisations in units with a horse-mounted heritage, such as the
Household Cavalry The Household Cavalry (HCav) is made up of the two most senior regiments of the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises ...

Household Cavalry
,
Royal Armoured Corps The Royal Armoured Corps is the component of the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 regular full-time person ...
,
Royal Engineers The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers (RE), and commonly known as the ''Sapper A sapper, also called pioneer or combat engineer, is a combatant Combatant is the legal status of an individual who has the ri ...
,
Royal Corps of Signals The Royal Corps of Signals (often simply known as the Royal Signals – abbreviated to R SIGNALS) is one of the combat support arms of the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a p ...
,
Army Air CorpsArmy Air Corps may refer to the following army aviation corps: * Army Air Corps (United Kingdom), the army aviation element of the British Army * Philippine Army Air Corps (1935–1941) * United States Army Air Corps (1926–1942), or its pr ...
,
Special Air Service The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 regular ...
,
Honourable Artillery Company The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) was incorporated by royal charter in 1537 by King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The King ...
,
Royal Army Medical Corps The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) is a specialist corps in the British Army which provides medical services to all Army personnel and their families, in war and in peace. The RAMC, the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, the Royal Army Dental Corps an ...
and
Royal Logistic Corps The Royal Logistic Corps provides logistic support functions to the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 reg ...
, use the term
squadron Squadron may refer to: * Squadron (army), a military unit of cavalry, tanks, or equivalent subdivided into troops or tank companies * Squadron (aviation), a military unit that consists of three or four flights with a total of 12 to 24 aircraft, dep ...
instead of company, and in the
Royal Artillery The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is the artillery Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch Ammunition, munitions far be ...
they are called ''batteries''. Until after the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, the Royal Engineers and Royal Signals had both squadrons and companies depending on whether the units were supporting mounted or foot formations. The
British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 regular full-time personnel and 30,020 Army Reserve (United Kingdom), reserve personnel ...
infantry normally identifies its rifle companies by letter (usually, but not always, A, B and C) within a
battalion A battalion is a military unit Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intend ...

battalion
, usually with the addition of a headquarters company and a support/heavy weapons company. Some units name their companies after regimental battle honours; this is commonly the case for composite units, for example the London Regiment with its Somme, Messines and
Cambrai Cambrai (, ; pcd, Kimbré; nl, Kamerijk), formerly Cambray and historically in English Camerick or Camericke, is a Communes of France, commune in the Nord (French department), Nord Departments of France, department and in the Hauts-de-France R ...

Cambrai
companies. The foot guards regiments use traditional names for some of their companies, for example Queen's Company, Left Flank, Prince of Wales's Company etc.
Royal Marines The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is an amphibious Amphibious means able to use either land or water. In particular it may refer to: * ''Amphibious'' (film), a 2010 film * Amphibious aircraft An amphibious aircraft or amphibian is an airc ...
companies are designated by a letter that is unique across the corps, not just within their
command COMMAND.COM is the default command-line interpreter A command-line interface (CLI) processes commands to a computer program in the form of lines of text. The program which handles the interface is called a command-line interpreter or comma ...
. The Intelligence Corps,
Royal Military Police The Royal Military Police (RMP) is the corps of the British Army responsible for the Service Police, policing of army service personnel, and for providing a military police presence both in the UK and while service personnel are deployed overseas ...
and
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers The Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME ) is a corps Corps (; plural ''corps'' ; from French language, French ''corps'', from the Latin ''corpus'' "body") is a term used for several different kinds of organisation. A mi ...
all have companies uniquely numbered across their corps. The defunct
Royal Army Service Corps The Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was a corps Corps (; plural ''corps'' ; from French language, French ''corps'', from the Latin ''corpus'' "body") is a term used for several different kinds of organisation. A military innovation by Napoleon, ...
,
Royal Pioneer Corps The Royal Pioneer Corps was a British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 regular full-time personnel and 30,020 Army ...
and
Royal Army Ordnance Corps The Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) was a corps Corps (; plural ''corps'' ; from French , from the Latin "body") is a term used for several different kinds of organization. A military innovation by Napoleon, the formation was first named as ...
had companies; the
Royal Corps of Transport The Royal Corps of Transport (RCT) was a British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 regular full-time personnel and 30 ...
had squadrons. British companies are usually commanded by a
major Major is a military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchical A hierarchy (from the Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are repre ...

major
, the officer commanding (OC), with a
captain Captain is a title for the commander of a military unit, the commander of a ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel, or the commander of a port, fire department or police department, election precinct, etc. The captain is a military rank in ar ...
or senior
lieutenant A lieutenant ( or abbreviated Lt., Lt, LT, Lieut and similar) is a commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, i ...

lieutenant
as
second-in-command {{unreferenced, date=May 2007 Second-in-command (2i/c or 2IC) is a title denoting that the holder of the title is the second-highest authority within a certain organisation. In the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land ...
(2i/c). The company headquarters also includes a
company sergeant major The company sergeant major (CSM) is the senior non-commissioned soldier of a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal personality ...
(CSM) normally holding the rank of WO2 and a company quartermaster sergeant (CQMS) of
colour sergeant Colour sergeant or color sergeant (CSgt or C/Sgt) is a rank of non-commissioned officer found in several armies and marine corps. Canada Colour sergeant is a rank in the Foot Guards regiments of the Canadian Forces, specifically the Governor Gene ...

colour sergeant
rank, the two most senior soldiers in the company. The
Honourable Artillery Company The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) was incorporated by royal charter in 1537 by King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The King ...
is in fact a
regiment A regiment is a military unit Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed forces of a state so as to offer such military capability as a national defense policy may require. In some countries param ...
, not a company, in terms of organisation and size.


Canadian Army

In the
Canadian Army The Canadian Army (french: Armée canadienne) is the command (military formation), command responsible for the operational readiness of the conventional ground forces of the Canadian Armed Forces. , the Canadian Army has 23,000 regular soldiers, 1 ...
, the company is the standard sub-unit organization for infantry and
combat service support The term combat service support (or CSS) is utilized by numerous military organizations throughout the world to describe entities that provide direct and indirect sustainment services to the groups that engage (or are potentially to be engaged) ...
, as modelled after the British. A Canadian infantry battalion consists of three or four rifle companies identified by letter (A Company, B Company, etc.), a Combat Support Company, and an Administration Support Company. A notable exception is
The Royal Canadian Regiment , colors = , identification_symbol_2 = Maple Leaf (2nd Bn pipes and drums) , identification_symbol_2_label = Tartan , identification_symbol_4 = The RCR , identification_symbol_4_label = Abbreviation , march = Quick – "The Royal Canadian Re ...
, which names its companies sequentially throughout the regiment from the Duke of Edinburgh's Company (instead of A Company) in the 1st Battalion to T Company in the 4th Battalion. Many regiments name their companies after
battle honour A battle honour is an award of a right by a government or sovereign to a military unit to emblazon the name of a battle or operation on its flags ("colours"), uniforms or other accessories where ornamentation is possible. In European military t ...
s or former units that make up the current regiment, for example: * 75th Company— The Toronto Scottish Regiment (Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's Own) * Victoria Company—
The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada , colors = None (rifle regiments have no colours) , march = Quick: "The Buffs"Double Past: "Money Musk" , mascot = , website = , notable_commanders = , anniversaries = 150th Anniversary on April 26, 2010 , identification_symbol = , ...
* Grenadier Company—
The Royal Regiment of Canada , website= , identification_symbol= , identification_symbol_label=Tactical recognition flash , nickname=Royals , battles= , march= The Royal Regiment of Canada is a Primary Reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Army based in Toronto, Ontari ...
* No.2 (Prince of Wales) Company-
Canadian Grenadier Guards , colors = , march = Quick: " The British Grenadiers""Slow: "Grenadiers Slow March""Slow: "Scipio" , mascot = , identification_symbol = White (left side of bearsk ...
The combat support company administratively contains the specialized platoons, such as reconnaissance, pioneer, headquarters and signals, anti-armour, and mortar. The administration support company contains the support tradesmen that a battalion requires, such as cooks, vehicle technicians, supply, medics, etc. As in the British Army, company sized units with a mounted heritage use the term squadron, and in the artillery they are called batteries.


Soviet/Russian armed forces


Motorised rifle company

A
Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovere ...
motorised rifle company could be mounted in either BTR
armoured personnel carrier An armoured personnel carrier (APC) is a broad type of armoured, military vehicle designed to transport personnel and equipment in combat zones. They are sometimes referred to colloquially as "battle taxis" or "battle buses". Since World War I ...
s or BMP
infantry fighting vehicle An infantry fighting vehicle (''IFV''), also known as a mechanized infantry combat vehicle (''MICV''), is a type of armoured fighting vehicle used to carry infantry into battle and provide direct fire , direct-fire support. The 1990 Treaty on C ...
s, with the former being more numerous into the late 1980s. A BTR rifle company consisted of a company headquarters, three motorised rifle
platoon A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two or more squads, sections, or patrols. Platoon organization varies depending on the country and the branch, but a platoon generally comprises 50 people, although specific platoons may ran ...
s and a machine gun/antitank platoon equipped with three
PK machine gun The PK (russian: Пулемёт Калашникова, transliterated as ''Pulemyot Kalashnikova'', or "Kalashnikov's machine gun"), is a belt-fed general-purpose machine gun A general-purpose machine gun (GPMG) is an air-cooled, usually am ...
s and three
AT-7 Saxhorn The 9K115 Metis (; NATO reporting name AT-7 Saxhorn) is a man-portable, tube launched, SACLOS wire-guided anti-tank guided missile An anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), anti-tank missile, anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) or anti-armor guided wea ...
launchers for a total of 110 personnel and 12 BTRs. A BMP rifle company had the same number of personnel and carriers and consisted of a company headquarters, three motorised rifle platoons and a machine gun platoon equipped with six
RPK-74 The RPK (russian: Ручной пулемёт Калашникова/РПК, Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova, link=no, English: "Kalashnikov hand-held machine gun") is a Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Rep ...
s. While seemingly containing less firepower, US commanders were advised to include the BMP's heavier weaponry in their calculations.


Tank company

Prior to the late 1980s, a
Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovere ...
tank A tank is an armored fighting vehicle An armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) is an armed combat vehicle protected by armour, generally combining operational mobility with offensive and defensive capabilities. AFVs can be wheeled or tr ...

tank
company within a Motorised Rifle Regiment consisted of a company headquarters and three tank platoons with
T-64 The T-64 is a Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or worke ...
,
T-72 The T-72 is a family of Soviet Union, Soviet/Russian main battle tanks that entered production in 1969. The T-72 was a development of the T-64, which was troubled by high costs and its reliance on immature developmental technology. About 25,000 ...

T-72
or
T-80 The T-80 is a main battle tank A main battle tank (MBT), also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the armor-protected direct fire and maneuver role of many modern armies. Cold War-era development of more powerful ...

T-80
tanks for a total of 39 personnel and 13 tanks; companies using the older
T-54 The T-54 and T-55 tanks are a series of Soviet main battle tank A main battle tank (MBT), also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the armor-protected direct fire and maneuver role of many modern armies. Cold ...
,
T-55 The T-54 and T-55 tanks are a series of Soviet main battle tank A main battle tank (MBT), also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the armor-protected direct fire and maneuver role of many modern armies. Cold W ...

T-55
or
T-62 The T-62 is a Soviet main battle tank A main battle tank (MBT), also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the armor-protected direct fire and maneuver role of many modern armies. Cold War-era development of mor ...

T-62
s tanks had 13 additional enlisted personnel. Companies within Tank Regiments or independent Tank Battalions had a slightly smaller establishment, having 10 tanks and 30 personnel (40 with older tanks).


Research company

Research companies (single. nauchnaya rota, научная рота) were established in 2013 to allow conscripts with higher education to serve doing scientific and research tasks. There are seven research companies: * 2nd and 3rd research company (Aerospace Forces) * 5th research company (Army) * 6th research company (General Headquarters) * 7th research company (Communication) * 8th research company (Medical) * 9th research company (Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Defense)


United States


Army


Historical background

In the 1700s, British Army,
American Colonial Militia
American Colonial Militia
, and Provincial Regulars (e.g., the
Virginia Regiment The Virginia Regiment was formed in 1754 by Virginia's Royal Governor Robert Dinwiddie Robert Dinwiddie (1692 – 27 July 1770) was a British colonial administrator who served as lieutenant governor of Colony of Virginia, colonial Virginia from ...
), and later American Army infantry, regiments were organized into companies of somewhat less than 100 officers and enlisted men, although the actual totals widely varied. For example, in 1775, a typical British Army infantry company contained only 47 personnel (comprising 3 officers, 5 noncommissioned officers, a drummer, and 38 privates). However, by 1792, an American infantry company contained 98 personnel (comprising 3 officers, 9 noncommissioned officers, a drummer, a fifer, and 84 privates). Beginning in 1775, American forces began to develop their own organizational doctrine somewhat based on the Franco-Prussian model (with much influence beginning in 1777 from Continental European expatriates and future American generals the
Marquis de Lafayette Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette (6 September 1757 – 20 May 1834), known in the United States as Lafayette (, ), was a French aristocrat and military officer who fought in the American Revolutionary War, co ...
of France, Count Casimir Pulaski of Poland, and
Baron von Steuben Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand von Steuben (born Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin von Steuben; September 17, 1730 – November 28, 1794), also referred to as Baron von Steuben (), was a Kingdom of Prussia, Prussian and ...
of Prussia). As a result, in 1776, a Continental Army Infantry company was authorized one captain, one first lieutenant, one second lieutenant (both lieutenants serving as platoon commanders – not designated as platoon ''leaders'' until 1943 under the "Triangular Division" reorganization begun in 1939), an ensign (an obsolete subaltern officer rank charged with carrying the regimental colors in rotation with the other ensigns of the battalion/regiment), four sergeants (section leaders/squad leaders with two to a platoon), four corporals (assistant section leaders/squad leaders with two to a platoon), two musicians (a drummer and a fifer), and 76 privates. The company was organized into two platoons, each consisting of two sections/squads (the terms were sometimes used interchangeably) consisting of one sergeant, one corporal, and 19 privates. (Wright, 1983)Wright, R. ''The Continental Army'' (1983) Center of Military History: Washington, DC From the late 1700s up until the late 1800s, a US infantry company was commanded by a captain and assisted by a
first sergeant #REDIRECT First sergeant First sergeant is typically a senior non-commissioned officer A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not earned a commission. Non-commissioned officers usually obtain their position of authority ...
(first authorized in 1781), and consisted of a small company headquarters and two identical platoons commanded by lieutenants. Even though from 1808 until 1821 companies were authorized two first lieutenants and two second lieutenants (and again from 1861 to 1866 for two second lieutenants), the positions of company executive officer (second-in-command) and a third platoon commander were not authorized until 1898 when the army expanded under mobilization for the war with Spain. During the 1800s the authorized strength of infantry companies fell to a low of 54 officers and men during periods of relative peace from 1821 to 1838 and again from 1842 to 1846. In contrast, from 1812 to 1815 (second war with Great Britain), 1846 to 1848 (war with Mexico), 1861 to 1890 (American civil war and wars with the plains Indians), and 1898–1899 (war with Spain) authorized company strength ranged from over 100 officers and men up to a high of 119. Also, in 1861 a company quartermaster sergeant was added to the authorized manning of an infantry company and a wagoner was reinstituted (previously authorized from 1796 to 1808) to drive the company supply wagon. During the 1700s and up until the late 1800s, the company was an administrative and tactical unit seldom employed in other than as a massed formation. The standard procedure, once the company had marched into its position in the line of battle, was for the company to form facing the enemy as two ranks, by platoon, one behind the other. The commanding officer (a captain), and the one to four lieutenants (depending upon the time period) serving as platoon commanders/assistant platoon commanders (1808 to 1821) and the executive officer would direct the fighting, leading from the front in the attack and on the flanks in the defense. The executive officer, or more usually the junior lieutenant, and the first sergeant were normally positioned behind the battle line so as to assist the company commander in overseeing the company and managing the rear (company trains with the quartermaster sergeant and wagoner, casualties, enemy prisoners, non-combatants, deserters, etc.). The sergeants, acted as "file closers", working the line by putting men forward to replace casualties in the front rank, encouraging men to fire, reload, move forward, etc. and if need be, physically assisting or restraining men who refused to move forward or attempted to flee. The corporals physically led by example (much like modern fire team leaders) by taking their place in the line with their privates and fighting alongside them. The ensign, the junior officer in the company from 1775 until 1808 and nominally the "color bearer", usually either personally carried the regimental battle flag or supervised the detailed party of NCOs and privates drawn from the companies tasked with bearing and protecting the flag. The rank and position of ensign (as well as cornet in mounted units) was eliminated in the early 1800s when incumbents were converted to second lieutenants. It had already become the custom to assign a veteran sergeant to carry the national colors as only regiments and separate battalions were authorized to carry a "battle flag". A special group of NCOs, led by the "color sergeant", chosen for their experience and fighting skills, were detailed from the companies to the regimental headquarters to carry and defend the national colors (the United States flag) and the regimental colors (the regiment's unique standard bearing its branch and regiment designation as well as its battle honors and unit decorations). The musicians remained with the commanding officer to relay orders by sound (i.e., musical notes and drumbeats). Sometimes, the regimental commander would group the musicians as a regimental band positioned behind the left center company in the line of battle, with the drummers forming a regimental drum-line for use by the regimental commander in giving orders to the several companies by drumbeats. As needed, the musicians also served as orderlies and guards at either the company or battalion/regimental headquarters and in combat served as messengers, water carriers, stretcher bearers, and temporarily guarded enemy prisoners of war until they were passed to the rear for processing and internment. In 1898, with the expansion of the rifle company to three platoons under mobilization for the
Spanish–American War The Spanish–American War (April 21 – August 13, 1898, es, Guerra hispano-estadounidense or ; fil, Digmaang Espanyol-Amerikano) was an armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, S ...
, the company gained two officers (an additional first lieutenant as executive officer and an additional second lieutenant to command the third platoon). Additionally, there was an increase in the number of noncommissioned officers (NCOs) to serve as section leaders (sergeants) and squad leaders (corporals) to the point that in 1901 with the increase in privates to 127 (from 84 in 1898) that there were then authorized 18 corporals and six sergeants, along with two buglers (the bugle having replaced both the drum and the fife in infantry companies), the wagoner, two senior NCOs (first sergeant and quartermaster sergeant), and five officers for a total of 161 officers and men. In 1905, a mess sergeant was added to the company's senior NCO staff and the company quartermaster sergeant was renamed supply sergeant. Due to mobilization for World War I, the army adopted its "square division" organization structure, significantly increasing unit sizes from platoon up. In 1917, a fourth platoon was added to the company, increasing its size to 256 officers and men, including six officers (a captain as commanding officer, a first lieutenant as executive officer, and two first lieutenants and two second lieutenants as platoon commanders). Enlisted strength became: three senior NCOs (first sergeant, supply sergeant, and mess sergeant), 12 sergeants, 33 corporals (one company clerk and 32 squad leaders with eight per platoon), eight specialists (four cooks and four mechanics), two buglers, 64 privates first class, and 128 privates. Of the 12 sergeants, while eight of them continued to serve as section leaders (with two in each platoon), the four senior ranking sergeants were assigned to a new position in each platoon headquarters as "assistant to platoon commander". This was the forerunner of the modern platoon sergeant slot created in 1943 (originally known in 1940 as the "platoon leader", as the officer was styled as the "platoon commander" until 1943) to provide an experienced senior NCO as an advisor and second-in-command to the officer commanding the platoon. Cavalry companies (not officially re-designated as "troops" until 1883) had a similar organization to the infantry, but with fewer men, companies rarely exceeding around 70 men. In the Field Artillery, the company-equivalent unit is designated as a "battery" and historically consisted of a battery headquarters and two or three gun platoons, each with two gun sections. At full authorized strength, a typical battery of six gun sections would consist of approximately 100 officers and enlisted men.


Modern use

In the
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
,
infantry Infantry is an army specialization whose military personnel, personnel engage in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored warfare, armored forces. Also known as foot soldiers, infantrymen or infanteer, i ...

infantry
companies are usually made up of three rifle
platoon A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two or more squads, sections, or patrols. Platoon organization varies depending on the country and the branch, but a platoon generally comprises 50 people, although specific platoons may ran ...
s and a
heavy weapons platoon Heavy weapons platoon (HWP) is a term from military science Military science is the study of military processes, institutions, and behavior, along with the study of warfare, and the theory and application of organized coercive force. It is main ...
;
mechanized infantry Mechanized infantry (or mechanised infantry) are infantry Infantry is an army specialization whose military personnel, personnel engage in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored warfare, armored forc ...
companies are usually made up of three rifle platoons consisting of four infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) each and a command element containing two IFVs; tank companies are usually made up of three tank platoons consisting of four tanks each and a command element containing two tanks; support companies are typically divided into platoons of specialization that may contain additional special sections. A company is usually commanded by a
captain Captain is a title for the commander of a military unit, the commander of a ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel, or the commander of a port, fire department or police department, election precinct, etc. The captain is a military rank in ar ...
, although in some cases they may be commanded by a
first lieutenant First lieutenant is a commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily ...

first lieutenant
or a
major Major is a military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchical A hierarchy (from the Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are repre ...
. Unlike its component platoons, a company typically has additional positions of supporting staff, such as an executive officer (XO), a first sergeant, a readiness/training NCO, and other positions (e.g., supply sergeant, armorer). The corresponding unit of
artillery Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch Ammunition, munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications dur ...

artillery
is always called a ''
battery Battery may refer to: Energy source * Electric battery, an electrochemical device to provide electrical power ** Automotive battery, a device to provide power to certain functions of an automobile ** List of battery types * Energy storage, inclu ...
''. Similarly, the term ''troop'' is used for
cavalry Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of a professional army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via O ...

cavalry
units, including both the horse-mounted units of history as well as modern armored cavalry and air cavalry units. Companies that are not separate from their parent
battalion A battalion is a military unit Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intend ...

battalion
are identified by letter—for example, "Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment". This would commonly be abbreviated as "A/1-15 INF" in writing, but not in speaking. The dash in "1–15" indicates that the unit's history stems from the 15th Infantry Regiment of the Army, in its lineage. Companies normally do not have their own overhead, but share the overhead of the parent organization. When the regimental headquarters exists as a separate echelon of command (e.g., the 75th Ranger Regiment, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, and the 1st Marine Regiment), as virtually all U.S. Army regiments did until after the Korean War, a slash separates the battalion/squadron number from the regimental number (i.e., B/2/75 Ranger, C/3/11 ACR, E/2/1 Marines). Although not official designations, the letters are often pronounced in "GI slang" using the
NATO phonetic alphabet The International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet, commonly known as the NATO phonetic alphabet, NATO spelling alphabet, ICAO phonetic alphabet or ICAO spelling alphabet, is the most widely used radiotelephone spelling alphabet Spelling is a ...
or, before that, the
Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet The Allied military phonetic spelling alphabets prescribed the words that are used to represent each letter of the alphabet, when spelling other words out loud, letter-by-letter, and how the spelling words should be pronounced for use by the Allies ...
, resulting in names such as "Bravo Company" and "Echo Company" (formerly "Baker" and "
Easy Easy may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media Film and television * Easy (film), ''Easy'' (film), a 2003 American independent romantic comedy film * ''Easy!'', or ''Scialla!'', a 2011 Italian film * ''Easy (TV series), ''Easy'' (TV series)'', ...
" companies, respectively). Companies with a separate
table of organization and equipment #REDIRECT Table of organization and equipment A table of organization and equipment (TOE or TO&E) is the specified organization, staffing, and equipment of units Unit may refer to: Arts and entertainment * UNIT Unit may refer to: Arts and entertai ...
(TO&E) are identified by a number, and are able to operate completely independently from any other unit's support. Company-sized units that are organized under a table of distribution and allowance (TDA) are identified with a name or number. Company-sized units usually consist of four to six platoons each led by a
lieutenant A lieutenant ( or abbreviated Lt., Lt, LT, Lieut and similar) is a commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, i ...

lieutenant
, although there are examples of combat service and combat service support companies that have seven or more platoons. For example, a transportation terminal service company normally has two ship platoons, two shore platoons, one documentation platoon, one maintenance platoon, and the headquarters platoon. While companies are typically commanded by captains, some have a special operational capacity that requires them to be commanded by an officer with greater command authority and experience; such companies are commanded by majors, and have platoons commanded by captains. Examples of this arrangement include aviation platoons, military intelligence companies, military police companies, and
special forces Special forces and special operations forces (SOF) are military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict ...

special forces
companies. A captain reports to his commander, usually the battalion commander (a
lieutenant colonel Lieutenant colonel ( or ) is a rank of commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly orga ...

lieutenant colonel
). However, there are some administrative and other duties at battalion level and larger (
brigade A brigade is a major tactical military formation Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed forces of a State (polity), state so as to offer such military capability as a military policy, national de ...

brigade
or
division Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics), the inverse of multiplication *Division algorithm, a method for computing the result of mathematical division Military *Division (military), a formation typically consisting o ...
) that are also handled by captains, for example the S-1, S-2, & S-4 officers of a battalion (S-3 is a major), or some assistant staff positions in the G shops at division. The senior non-commissioned officer of a company is called a
first sergeant #REDIRECT First sergeant First sergeant is typically a senior non-commissioned officer A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not earned a commission. Non-commissioned officers usually obtain their position of authority ...
. Any sergeant holding this position is referred to as "first sergeant" regardless of actual rank, though the non-commissioned officer assigned ordinarily has the rank of first sergeant. A master sergeant assigned to this position will be "laterally promoted" to the rank of first sergeant, unless the appointment is temporary. In some instances, a sergeant first class will be appointed to the job in lieu of a rank-qualified first sergeant or master sergeant. Again, in such situations, the NCO holds the duty position and title of "First Sergeant", while retaining the rank of sergeant first class.


Marine Corps

;Rifle Company *Company Headquarters ** Company Commander (Commanding Officer/CO) – Captain (O-3) ** Executive Officer (XO) – usually a First Lieutenant (O-2) ** First Sergeant (1stSgt, E-8) ** Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt, E-7) ** Property NCO (Sgt, E-5) ** Messenger/Driver (Pvt-LCpl, E-1/3) * Rifle Platoon (3) ** Platoon Headquarters *** Platoon Commander – Lieutenant (O-1/2) *** Platoon Sergeant – Staff Sergeant (E-6) *** Platoon Guide – Sergeant (E-5) *** Messenger – (Pvt-LCpl, E-1/3) ** Rifle Squad (3) *** Squad Leader – Sergeant (E-5) *** Fire Team (3) **** Team Leader/Grenadier – Corporal (E-4) **** Automatic Rifleman – Lance Corporal (E-3) **** Assistant Automatic Rifleman – (Pvt-LCpl, E-1/3) **** Rifleman/Scout – (Pvt-LCpl, E-1/3) * Weapons Platoon ** Platoon Headquarters *** Platoon Commander – usually a First Lieutenant (O-2) *** Platoon Sergeant – Gunnery Sergeant (E-7) ** Machine Gun Section (6 – M240G 7.62mm general-purpose machine guns) *** Section Leader – Staff Sergeant (E-6) *** Machine Gun Squad (3) **** Squad Leader – Sergeant (E-5) **** Machine Gun Team (2) ***** Team Leader – Corporal (E-4) ***** Gunner – Lance Corporal (E-3) ***** Ammunition Man – (Pvt-LCpl, E-1/3) ** LWCMS Mortar Section (3 – M224 60mm Light Weight Company Mortar Systems) *** Section Leader – Staff Sergeant (E-6) *** Mortar Squad (3) **** Squad Leader/Gunner – Corporal (E-4) **** Assistant Gunner – Lance Corporal (E-3) **** Ammunition Man (2) – (Pvt-LCpl, E-1/3) ** Assault Section (6 – Mk153 SMAW Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon launchers) *** Section Leader – Sergeant (E-5) *** Assault Squad (3) **** Squad Leader/Team Leader/Gunner – Corporal (E-4) **** Team Leader/Gunner – Lance Corporal (E-3) **** Assistant Gunner (2) – (Pvt-LCpl, E-1/3) *Attachments (notional, dependent upon mission and availability) ** Company Medical Team from Medical Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, Infantry Battalion ** Forward Observer from Fire Direction Center, 81mm Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, Infantry battalion ** Forward Air Control Party from S-3 Section and Communications Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, Infantry Battalion ** Forward Observer Team from the Battalion's Direct Support 155mm Howitzer Battery, Artillery Battalion ** Dining Facility Team from Dining Facility Section, Service Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, Infantry Battalion ** Heavy Machine Gun Squad/Section (M2HB .50 cal. BMG and/or Mk 19 40mm AGL) from Heavy Machine Gun Platoon, Weapons Company, Infantry Battalion ** Javelin Squad (4 – FGM-148 Javelin Anti-Tank Missile launchers) from Javelin Section, Antiarmor Platoon, Weapons Company, Infantry Battalion ** Antitank (TOW) Squad (2 – BGM-71 Tube launched, Optically tracked, Wire command link guided missile launchers) from Antitank (TOW) Section, Antiarmor Platoon, Weapons Company, Infantry Battalion ** Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) Platoon (12 – AAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicles) from the Battalion's Direct Support AAV Company/Battalion ** Tank Section/Platoon (2/4 M1A2 Main Battle Tanks) from the Battalion's Direct Support Tank Company/Battalion ** Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) Platoon (4 LAV-25 Light Armored Reconnaissance Vehicles) from the Battalion's Direct Support LAR Company/Battalion ** Other Ground Combat Element assets as required (e.g., Scout Sniper, Reconnaissance, Combat Engineer, etc.) ; Weapons company A weapons company has in place of the three rifle platoons, an 81 mm mortar platoon, an anti-armor platoon, and a heavy machine gun platoon. ;
Headquarters and Service Company A headquarters and service company is a company (military unit)#United States, company-sized military unit, found at the Battalion#United States Marine Corps, battalion and Regiment#United States Marine Corps, regimental level in the United States ...
*Headquarters Platoon consists of Marines from S-1, S-2, S-3, the Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Defense section, and the Chaplain section (one Navy chaplain and an enlisted religious program specialist). *Communications Platoon, consisting of Radiomen, Wiremen, Techs, Data Marines, and the associated staff. *Service Platoon, consisting of S-4, Motor Transportation, Food Service, armorers, and Supply. * Scout Sniper Platoon. *Medical Platoon, which includes all of the Navy medical personnel for the rifle companies and the Battalion Aid Station (BAS). The allowance of 65 hospital corpsmen and two Medical Corps officers (doctors) is usually not completely staffed. As such, the BAS usually fields one doctor and 10–12 hospital corpsmen. The remaining personnel are assigned to the rifle companies, usually five hospital corpsmen per company. ;Tank and
Light Armored Reconnaissance Image:LAV-25_armored_vehicle.jpg, 250px, LAV 25 conducting recon in Iraq. The United States Marine Corps Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalions, or LAR Battalions, are fast and mobilized Armoured reconnaissance, armored terrestrial reconnaissance ...
(LAR) companies USMC tank and LAR companies are organized similarly to US Army tank and mechanized infantry companies, with the three line platoons consisting of four tanks or LAVs each, and the company command element containing two tanks or LAVs. ; Assault Amphibian Vehicle (AAV) companies AAV companies have three platoons containing four sections of three AAVs each, for a total of 12 AAVs per platoon, and a headquarters section of three AAVs. The company also includes both command and recovery variants of the AAV, giving the company a grand total of approximately 42–45 AAVs.


Disambiguation

Some companies were well enough known that they have been identified with their company letter. Examples include: * Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment,
101st Airborne Division The 101st Airborne Division ("Screaming Eagles") is a light infantry division (military), division of the United States Army specializing in air assault military operation, operations. The Screaming Eagles were referred to as "the tip of the s ...
, which became the focus of the
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London. It is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcasting, broadcaster in the world by ...

BBC
/
HBO Home Box Office (HBO) is an American pay television Pay television also known as subscription television, premium television or, when referring to an individual service, a premium channel, refers to subscription-based television Tel ...
miniseries '' Band of Brothers''. * Able Company of the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, which landed at Dog Green Sector on Omaha Beach during the Normandy landings and suffered 96% casualties.


See also

*
Military organization Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed forces of a State (polity), state so as to offer such military capability as a military policy, national defense policy may require. In some countries paramilitary f ...
*
Infantry of the British Army The Infantry of the British Army, part of the structure of the British Army, comprises 49 infantry at the Battle of the Somme (July–November 1916) during the First World War Infantry is an army specialization whose military personnel, ...


References


External links

{{DEFAULTSORT:Company (Military Unit) Military units and formations by size *