Ranks of the People's Liberation Army Ground Force

The People's Liberation Army has not always used ranks or insignia. In common with the practice of the Red Army at the time of its founding in 1927, neither were used until 1955 when a system of ranks was established. As a result of the Cultural Revolution, ranks were abolished in May 1965. After the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979, reforms in the PLA began to be made to professionalize the armed forces once more. The 1984 Military Service Law provided for the resumption of rank, but disagreements on what ranks were to be used and who would receive them caused the revival of rank to be delayed until 1988. The following ranks and their respective insignia shown are those used by the People's Liberation Army Ground Force.

Current ranking system

PLAGF officers

The current system of officer ranks and insignia, a revision of the ranks and insignia established in 1955, began use in 1988. The 1955–1965 marshal officer ranks of Yuánshuài (Marshal) and Dà Yuánshuài (Grand Marshal) were not revived. The general officer ranks (Jiang) were revised by the addition of semi-circular wreath at the bottom of the insignia and by a change in the name of the highest general officer rank from Da Jiang (General of the Army) to 一級上將 Yi Ji Shang Jiang (literally: First Class Senior General). This highest rank in the new system was never held and was abolished in 1994. The field officer (Xiao) and company officer (Wei) ranks were the same in title and insignia except that highest company-level officer rank of Da Wei in the 1955–1965 system was not included in the revived ranks. The final difference between the two systems is that in 1955–1965 there existed a warrant officer rank, Zhun Wei, which was not incorporated in the revived rank system, while new system had a rank for officer cadets, Xue Yuan. Despite being the rank below Shao Wei in both systems, the insignia have no similarities.

Officer rank names are usually not translated literally, but rather to a corresponding rank system. This can lead to different translations being used depending on the system chosen for the correspondences. The 1955–1965 system, with its greater number of officer ranks, is usually translated using the Soviet rank system of that era, while the modern officer ranks are usually given a NATO rank correspondence. For example, the non-literal translation used for the rank of Shang Jiang (literally: Senior General) depends on whether one is comparing it to Soviet or Russian ranks (Colonel General) or to British or American ranks (General).

Title 学员
Xue Yuan
少尉
Shao Wei
中尉
Zhong Wei
上尉
Shang Wei
少校
Shao Xiao
中校
Zhong Xiao
上校
Shang Xiao
大校
Da Xiao
少将
Shao Jiang
中将
Zhong Jiang
上将
Shang Jiang
Usual Translation Officer Cadet
(OF-D)
2nd Lieutenant
(OF-1)
Lieutenant
(OF-1)
Captain
(OF-2)
Major
(OF-3)
Lieutenant Colonel
(OF-4)
Colonel
(OF-5)
Colonel Commandant
(OF-6)
Major General
(OF-7)
Lieutenant General
(OF-8)
General
(OF-9)
Shoulder Insignia
Collar Insignia

PLAGF enlisted personnel

The current system of enlisted ranks and insignia dates from 2009.[1]

Title 列兵
Lie Bing
上等兵
Shang Deng Bing
下士
Xia Shi
中士
Zhong Shi
上士
Shang Shi
四级军士长
Si Ji Jun Shi Zhang
三级军士长
San Ji Jun Shi Zhang
二级军士长
Er Ji Jun Shi Zhang
一级军士长
Yi Ji Jun Shi Zhang
Usual Translation Private
(OR-1)
Private 1st Class
(OR-2)
Lance Corporal
(OR-3)
Corporal
(OR-4)
Sergeant
(OR-5)
Chief Sergeant 4th Class
(OR-6)
Chief Sergeant 3rd Class
(OR-7)
Chief Sergeant 2nd Class
(OR-8)
Chief Sergeant 1st Class
(OR-9)
Shoulder Insignia
Collar Insignia

Other Military Branches

The People's Liberation Army Air Force generally has the same names, position and ranks as the People's Liberation Army Ground Force, however, and their insignia correspond except Air Force ranks have light blue fimbriations instead of green (red is now only used in ceremonial occasions).

Ranks of the People's Liberation Army Navy also correspond, except with dark blue fimbriations, but now only worn with the dress white uniform as only sleeve insignia are used in the dress blue uniform only for officers with ratings retaining the shoulder board insignia.

1955–65 Ranking System

The insignia used by officers in the period 1955–1965 by the PLA Ground Force were similar in style to those used by the Soviet Army at the time, with the primary differences being the existence of an additional field officer rank, and the insignia of the highest general officer rank being four stars unlike the one large star used starting 1963. The NCO insignia of that period showed Japanese influence with the use of stars on the collars with the specialty badge on the side. While general duties officers wore the shoulder board pattern shown below (gold and red), technical service officers sported white and red shoulder boards with their rank insignia.

Officers

Equivalent
NATO code
OF-10OF-9OF-8OF-7OF-6OF-5OF-4OF-3OF-2OF-1OF(D) and student officer
China
Grand Marshal of the PRC Marshal of the PRC Senior General
大将
General
上将
Lieutenant General
中将
Major General
少将
Colonel Commandant
大校
Colonel
上校
Lieutenant colonel
中校
Major
少校
Captain
大尉
First lieutenant
上尉
Second Lieutenant
中尉
Junior Lieutenant
少尉
Aspirant
准尉

Enlisted personnel

Rank category Rank Shoulder board insignia Collar insignia
NCOs Staff Sergeant No shoulder insignia
Sergeant
Corporal
Privates Private First Class
Private

See also

References

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