The Armed Services

The following list compares old and new civil service grades with their equivalents in the armed services. But it shouldn't be taken too seriously. Ken Graham pointed out that the list was prepared mainly for arranging travel, accommodation and messing (e.g. whether 'a chap' was likely to know which fork to use!).

  • Principal, Grade 7, Deputy Director, Team Leader etc. = Colonel, Captain, Group Capt
  • Assistant Secretary, Grade 5, SCS Pay Band 1, Director or Deputy Director = 1 star, Brigadier , Senior Captain, Commodore, Air Commodore
  • Under Secretary, Grade 3, SCS Pay Band 2, Director = 2 star, Major General, Rear Admiral, Air Vice Marshall
  • Deputy Secretary, Grade 2, SCS Pay Band 3, Director General = 3 star, Lieutenant General, Vice Admiral, Air Marshal
  • Permanent Secretary = 4/5 star , General, Field Marshal, Admiral, Admiral of the Fleet, Air Chief Marshal, Marshal of the RAF

What do they do?

  • A General commands an Army - probably 300-400,000 strong.
  • A Lieutenant General commands an Army Corps - probably 75-80,000
  • A Major General commands a Division - c.18,000
  • A Brigadier General ('Brigadier') commands a Brigade - c.4,000
  • A Lieutenant Colonel ('Colonel') commands a Battalion - c750-800
  • A Major commands a Company - c.120
  • A Captain is second in command to a Major
  • A Lieutenant or 2nd Lieutenant commands a Platoon - c.35
  • A Corporal commands a Section - 10 to 12.

The larger numbers in this list date back to when we had very big armies. The British Army nowadays has less than 100,000 troops!

The Pecking Order!

Click here to see a delightful chart which compares all the ranks in all four services.

Spotted something wrong?
Please do drop me an email if you spot anything that is out-of-date, or any other errors, typos or faulty links.