- Company (military unit)
Chain of Command of the British Army Unit Soldiers Commander Fireteam 4 NCO Squad/Section 8–13 Squad leader Platoon 26–55 Platoon leader Company 80–225 Captain/Major Battalion 300–1,300 (Lieutenant) Colonel Regiment/Brigade 3,000–5,000 (Lieutenant) Colonel/
Division 10,000–15,000 Major General Corps 20,000–45,000 Lieutenant General Field army 80,000–200,000 General Army group 400,000–1,000,000 Field Marshal Army Region 1,000,000–3,000,000 Field Marshal Army theater 3,000,000–10,000,000 Field Marshal
A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 80–225 soldiers and usually commanded by a Captain, Major or Commandant. Most companies are formed of three to five platoons although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure. Several companies are grouped to form a battalion or regiment, the latter of which is sometimes formed by several battalions.
The British Army infantry normally identifies its rifle companies by letter (usually, but not always, A, B and C) within a 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 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 companies are designated by a letter that is unique across the Corps, not just within their Command. The Intelligence Corps, Royal Army Medical Corps, Royal Military Police and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers all have companies uniquely numbered across their corps.
The Household Cavalry, Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Engineers, Royal Corps of Signals, Army Air Corps, Special Air Service, Honourable Artillery Company and Royal Logistic Corps use the term squadron instead of company (although the Royal Engineers and Royal Signals had companies until after the Second World War, except in armoured divisions). The Royal Artillery use the term battery.
British companies are usually commanded by a Major, the Officer Commanding (OC), with a Captain or senior Lieutenant as Second-in-Command (2i/c). The company headquarters also includes a Company Sergeant Major (CSM) normally holding the rank of WO2 and a Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS) of Colour Sergeant rank, the two most senior soldiers in the company.
Canadian Army organisation is modelled after the British. However, 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 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 honours or former units which 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
- Grenadier Company—The Royal Regiment of Canada
The Combat Support Company administratively contains the specialized infantry platoons such as Recce Platoon, Pioneer Platoon, HQ and Signals Platoon, Anti-Armour Platoon, and Mortar Platoon. The Administration Support Company contains the support tradesmen which a battalion requires, such as cooks, vehicle technicians, supply, medics, etc.
In the Irish Army, a company usually consists of three rifle platoons plus HQ and weapons platoons.
United States of America
In the United States Army, infantry companies are usually made up of three rifle platoons and a heavy weapons platoon; mechanized infantry companies are usually made up of three rifle platoons and a command element; tank companies are usually made up of three tank platoons and a command element. A company is usually commanded by an Army captain, although in rare cases they may be commanded by a 1st lieutenant or a major. By tradition, the corresponding unit of artillery is always called a "battery". Similarly, the term "troop" is used for cavalry units, including both the horse-mounted units of history as well as modern armored cavalry and air cavalry units. Companies which are not separate from their parent battalion are identified by letter—for example, "A Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment." This would commonly be abbreviated as "A 1/15 INF" in writing, but not in speaking. The letters are usually pronounced using the NATO phonetic alphabet or, before that, the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet, resulting in names such as "Bravo Company" and "Echo Company" (formerly "Baker" and "Easy" Companies, respectively). Companies with a separate Table of Organization and Equipment are identified by a number, and are able to operate completely independently from any other unit's support. Company-sized units which are organized under a Table of Distribution and Allowance are identified with a name or number.
Company-sized units usually consist of four to six platoons (each led by a 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. These platoons are led by first lieutenants, while the company is commanded by a major.
While companies are typically commanded by captains, some special units are commanded by majors, and have platoons commanded by captains. Examples of this arrangement include aviation platoons and many special forces units. This is not a punishment but an honor, as such platoons usually have some special operational capacity that requires them to be commanded by an officer with more experience than a lieutenant. A captain reports to his commander, usually the battalion commander (a lieutenant colonel). However, there are some administrative and other duties at battalion level and larger (brigade or division) which are also handled by captains, for example the S-1 through S-4 officers of a battalion, or some staff positions in the G shops at division
The senior non-commissioned officer of a company is called a first sergeant. Any sergeant holding this position is referred to as "first sergeant" regardless of actual rank and pay grade, though the non-commissioned officer assigned ordinarily has the rank of first sergeant and a grade of E-8. A master sergeant (E-8) 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 (E-7) will be appointed to the job in lieu of a 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, at a grade of E-7.
- Rifle company
- three rifle platoons
- a weapons platoon
- five Navy hospital corpsmen (one attached to each rifle and weapons platoon and the senior corpsman with the company headquarters)
- an administrative clerk
- a police sergeant (typically holding the rank of corporal or sergeant)
- a training NCO
- a company Gunnery Sergeant
- a first sergeant
- an Executive Officer (XO), typically a first lieutenant
- a Commanding Officer (CO), typically a captain
- 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 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 four hospital corpsmen per company.
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 which became the focus of the BBC/HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.
- Military organization
- Infantry of the British Army
- ^ The artillery equivalent of a company is a Battery and within armoured and engineering units, the equivalent is known as a Squadron.
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