Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Private (rank)

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A private is a soldier of the lowest military rank (equivalent to NATO Rank Grades OR-1 to OR-3 depending on the force served in).


In modern military parlance, "private" is shortened to "Pte" in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries and to "Pvt." in the United States.


The term derives from the medieval term "private soldiers" (a term still used in the British Army), denoting individuals who were either hired, conscripted, or mustered into service by a feudal nobleman commanding a battle group of an army. The usage of "private" dates from the 18th century.


For information, you may refer to Israel Defense Forces ranks.

In the Israel Defense Forces, טוראי Turai ("private") refers to the lowest enlisted rank. After 7–10 months of service (7 for combatants, 8 for combat support and 10 for non-combatants) soldiers are promoted from private to corporal (rav-turai or rabat), if they performed their duties appropriately during this time. Soldiers who take a commander's course, are prisoner instructors or practical engineers become corporals earlier. An IDF private wears no uniform insignia and is sometimes described as having a "slick sleeve" for this reason.


The equivalent ranks to privates within the North and South Korean armies are il-byong(private first class) and e-byong(private second class). The symbol for this rank is 1 line ( | ) or 2 lines ( || ). Private second class is known by 1 line, while private first class is 2 lines.


Once recruits complete their Basic Military Training (BMT) or Basic Rescue Training (BRT), they attain the rank of private (PTE). Privates (列兵) do not wear ranks on their rank holder. PTEs who performed well are promoted to the rank of Private First Class (PFC). The PFC rank insignia is a single chevron pointing downward.


In Indonesia, this rank is referred to as Tamtama (specifically Prajurit), which is the lowest rank in the Indonesian Armed Forces and special Police Force. In the Indonesian Army, "Private" has three levels, which are: Private (Prajurit Dua), Private First Class (Prajurit Satu), and Master Private (Prajurit Kepala). After this rank, it is promoted the rank: Corporal.


In the Australian Army, a soldier of private rank wears no insignia. Like its British Army counterpart, the Australian Army rank of private (PTE) has other titles, depending on the corps and specification of that service member.

The following alternative ranks are available for privates in the Australian Army:

  • Craftsman (CFN) – Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
  • Gunner (GNR) – Royal Australian Artillery
  • Sapper (SPR) – Royal Australian Engineers;
  • Musician (MUSN) – Australian Army Band Corps
  • Signalman (SIG) – Royal Australian Corps of Signals
  • Trooper (TPR) – Royal Australian Armoured Corps, Australian Army Aviation and the Australian Special Air Service Regiment
  • Canada

    The Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force have had an identical rank structure since 1968, with private being the lowest rank in the Canadian Army. There are three levels of private: private (recruit), private (basic), and private (trained). All persons holding the rank of private are referred to as such and the qualifier shown in brackets is used on employment records only. A private is considered an "apprentice" in their trade, and there are no pay raises between the various levels of private except for time in rank raise.

    In the Royal Canadian Air Force, the rank is called Aviator and is also broken into three levels: aviator (recruit), aviator (basic) and aviator (trained). The rank is in most regards identical to the army rank of Private. The insignia for aviator (trained) is a propeller.

  • Private (recruit) (Pte(R)) / Aviator (recruit) (Avr(R))– fresh recruit, untrained; holds this rank through recruit training.
  • Private (basic) (Pte(B)) / Aviator (basic) (Avr(B)) – after finishing recruit training, a member becomes a private (basic). This rank is held through training and beyond.
  • Private (trained) (Pte(T)) / Aviator (trained) (Avr(T)) – A private (basic) becomes a private (trained) a year after completion of their DP 1 training depending on their regiment; some regiments may promote them right away. Typically in the Regular Force, this rank is awarded after two and a half years of service, not a year after completion of one's trade qualifications. A private (trained) is the only private to wear rank insignia, a single chevron. An aviator (trained) is the only aviator to wear rank insignia, a propeller.
  • In the Canadian Army a private may be known by other titles, depending on unit and personnel branch:

  • Craftsman – Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
  • Fusilier – Royal Canadian Infantry Corps (RCIC) members of fusilier regiments
  • Guardsman – RCIC members of foot guards regiments
  • Gunner – Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery
  • Rifleman – RCIC members of rifle regiments
  • Sapper – Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers
  • Signaller – Royal Canadian Corps of Signals
  • Trooper – Royal Canadian Armoured Corps
  • The Royal Canadian Navy's equivalents are:

  • Ordinary seaman (OS) – private (recruit/basic)
  • Able seaman (AB) – private (trained)
  • India and Pakistan

    In the Indian Army and Pakistan Army the lowest enlisted rank is sepoy (/ˈsiːpɔɪ/), literally meaning "soldier" in Hindi and Urdu. A sepoy does not wear any rank insignia on his uniform. Sipahis are sometimes also referred to as jawan in India, literally meaning "young" in Hindi and Urdu.

    United Kingdom

    In the British Army, a private (Pte) equates to both OR-1 and OR-2 on the NATO scale, although there is no difference in rank. Privates wear no insignia. Many regiments and corps use other distinctive and descriptive names instead of private, some of these ranks have been used for centuries, others are less than 100 years old. In the contemporary British Armed Forces, the army rank of private is broadly equivalent to able seaman in the Royal Navy, aircraftman, leading aircraftman and senior aircraftman in the Royal Air Force, and marine (Mne) or bandsman, as appropriate equivalent rank in the Royal Marines. Also in the Boys Brigade the rank of private is used when a boy moves from the junior section to the company section.

    Notably, both Sir Fitzroy Maclean and Enoch Powell are examples of rare, rapid career progression with the British Army, both rising from the rank of private to at least brigadier during World War II.

    Distinctive equivalents for private include:

  • Airtrooper (AirTpr) – Army Air Corps
  • Bugler (Bgr) – buglers in The Rifles and formerly also in other Rifle regiments
  • Craftsman (Cfn) – Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (women as well as men use this rank)
  • Drummer (Dmr) – drummers in infantry regiments
  • Fusilier (Fus) – Fusilier regiments
  • Gunner (Gnr) – Royal Artillery
  • Guardsman (Gdsm) – Foot Guards
  • Highlander (Hldr) – The Highlanders
  • Kingsman (Kgn) – Duke of Lancaster's Regiment
  • Musician (Musn) – military bands (formerly if a military band had a Bandmaster, they would be known as Bandsman (Bdsm))
  • Piper (Ppr) – bagpipers in Scottish and Irish regiments
  • Ranger (Rgr) – Royal Irish Regiment and Royal Irish Rangers
  • Rifleman (Rfn) – Rifle regiments
  • Sapper (Spr) – Royal Engineers
  • Signaller (Sig) – Royal Corps of Signals (formerly called signalman)
  • Trooper (Tpr) – Household Cavalry, Royal Armoured Corps, Special Air Service and Honourable Artillery Company
  • Trumpeter (Tptr) – trumpeters in the Household Cavalry (and formerly in all cavalry regiments)
  • Austria

    The lowest rank in the Austrian Armed Forces is the Rekrut (literally Recruit). For recruits in training to become non-commissioned or commissioned officers the rank bears an additional silver crossbar.

    Up until 1998 the rank was called Wehrmann. In 2017 the silver crossbar was removed, as the system of the 'officers career' changed.

    Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Spain

    The equivalent rank to private in the Spanish, Mexican, Colombian, Dominican and Argentinian army is the soldado raso meaning "rankless soldier" or simply soldado.


    On enlistment in the Belgian army one is given the rank of soldaat (Dutch) or soldat (French), whether one wishes to be a volunteer, non-commissioned officer or officer. Subsequent rank depends on the branch of the service: for example, at the Royal Military Academy (for officer training) one is soon promoted to the rank of corporaal (Dutch) or caporal (French) i.e. "corporal". The insignia is a simple black mark.

    Brazil and Portugal

    Soldado is the rank equivalent to private in the Brazilian and Portuguese Armed Forces. Soldado means "soldier" in Portuguese.


    The Finnish equivalent rank is sotamies (literally "war man"), although since 1973 this has been purely a paper term as all infantry troopers were renamed as jääkäri troops, previously reserved only to mobile light infantry. As in the British army, the various branches use different names:

  • Infantry – jääkäri ("jaeger")
  • Military engineers – pioneeri ("pioneer")
  • Signal corps – viestimies ("message man")
  • Cavalry – rakuuna ("dragoon")
  • Artillery – tykkimies ("cannon man")
  • Tank corps – panssarimies ("tank man")
  • In the Finnish Air Force, the basic rank is lentosotamies ("flight war man"). In the Finnish Navy, the basic rank is matruusi ("seaman").

    Special corps troopers may be referred by their function or unit, such as kaartinjääkäri (Guards jaeger), panssarijääkäri (panzerjäger), laskuvarjojääkäri (paratroop jaeger), rajajääkäri (border jaeger) or rannikkojääkäri (coastal jaeger).


    In the French army soldat de seconde classe is the lowest military rank. This rank is also referred to as recrue ("recruit").


    The German Bundeswehr modern-day equivalent of the private rank (NATO-standard code OR-2) is Gefreiter.

    The equivalent of the lowest rank (NATO-standard code OR-1) is either Schütze (rifleman), Kanonier (gunner) or Jäger (light-infantryman otherwise ranger), and sometimes in general simply Soldat (soldier), as well as other unit-specific distinctions. Up until 1918 it was Gemeine (Ordinary [soldier]) as well as unit-specific distinctions such as Musketier (musketeer), Infanterist (infantryman), Kürassier (cuirassier), Jäger (light-infantryman otherwise ranger), Füsilier (fusilier) etc., until 1945 Soldat (soldier) and unit-specific distinctions such as Schütze (rifleman), Grenadier (grenadier) etc. The navy equivalent of the OR-1 rank is known as Matrose (sailor or seaman), and the German Air Force equivalent is Flieger (aviator or airman) which is also used by army aviators.

  • Bundeswehr OR-1-rank: Soldat (Heer), Flieger (German Air Force) and Matrose (German Navy)
  • Hungary

    The name of the lowest rank in the Hungarian army (Magyar Honvédség) is the honvéd which means "homeland defender". The word is also used informally for a soldier in general of any rank (i.e. "our honvéds" or an officer referred as a honvédtiszt, honvéd officer). This is because Hungarian military traditions are strictly defensive, despite the Hungarian army participating in offensives on foreign soil in both world wars. The word honvéd has been in use since the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.


    Private (Pte) (saighdiúr singil in Irish), is the lowest enlisted rank in the Irish Army. Soldiers enlist as recruits then undergo a basic course of instruction. There are three grades of private in the army. After basic training the soldier is upgraded (rather than promoted) from recruit to private 2 star (Pte 2*) (saighdiúr singil, 2 réalta). After more corps-specific training (usually lasting eight weeks) the soldier is upgraded to private 3 star (Pte 3*) (saighdiúr singil, 3 réalta). All are usually just addressed as "private", although before being upgraded, recruits may be addressed as "recruit".

    In corps units, the rank designation changes. In the artillery, the rank is known as gunner (Gnr), but usually only after the completion of a gunners' course, and in the cavalry it is known as trooper (Tpr). Communications and Information Services privates are known as signalman or signalwoman. Medical orderlies are sometimes referred to as medic, although this can apply to privates and corporals.


    In the Italian Army soldato is the lowest military rank. This rank is also referred to as recluta (meaning recruit). Soldato is the generic term for private. But in many specialized corps this term is never used. For instance the lowest rank in Alpine troops is alpino, and the lowest rank in the artillery is artigliere. In the air force this is ranked as aviere and in the navy as marinaio.


    In the Royal Netherlands Army, the Landmacht, the equivalent ranks are soldaat (soldier), similar to the original French, with different classes:

  • Soldaat der derde klasse (soldier/private 3rd class), for soldiers in Algemene Militaire Opleiding or AMO (General Military Training), with insignia.
  • Soldaat der tweede klasse (soldier/privat 2nd class), the basic infantry rank, an insignia single striped red band, obtained after AMO but before completion of Initiële Functie Opleiding or IFO (initial job training).
  • Soldaat der eerste klasse (soldier/privat 1st class), comparable to private first class, with an insignia with two neighbouring striped red bands, obtained automatically a year after completion of IFO.
  • Depending on where the soldaat serves, he may be deemed a kanonnier (gunner in the artillery), huzaar (hussar in the cavalry) or fuselier (rifleman in the rifles) as well as commando, jager or rijder. There is less differentiation than in other countries between different armed forces. A soldaat can be promoted to korporaal (corporal).


    In the Swiss Armed Forces a recruit is given the rank of Soldat when he finishes basic training, mostly after 13 weeks.

    United States Army

    In the U.S. Army, private is used for the two lowest enlisted ranks, just below private first class. The lowest rank is "private E-1" (PV1) and sometimes referred to as recruit, but also held by some soldiers after punishment through the Uniform Code of Military Justice or prisoners after conviction until they are discharged. A PV1 wears no uniform insignia; since the advent of the Army Combat Uniform, the term "fuzzy" has come into vogue, referring to the blank velcro patch on the ACU where the rank would normally be placed. The second rank, private E-2 (PV2), wears a single chevron, known colloquially as "mosquito wings". Advancement to the PV2 is automatic after six months' time in service, but may get shortened to four months if given a waiver. A person who earned the Eagle Scout award, the Gold Award, or completed at least two years of JROTC may enlist at any time at the rank of PV2. The term of address, "Private", may be properly applied to any Army soldier E-1 (PV1) to E-3 (PFC). A private E-1 with no insignia (normally a trainee in Basic) was often referred to as "Fuzzy" in reference to his lack of rank insignia and the "Fuzzy" place on his chest where the Velcro rank insignia will go once it has been achieved.

    United States Marine Corps

    In the U.S. Marine Corps, private (Pvt) refers only to the lowest enlisted rank, just below private first class. A Marine Corps private wears no uniform insignia and is sometimes described as having a "slick sleeve" for this reason. Most new, non-officer Marines begin their military career as a private. In the Marine Corps, privates first class are not referred to as "private"; it is more appropriate to use either "private first class" or "PFC".


    Private (rank) Wikipedia

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