Private first class

Last updated

Private first class (PFC) is a military rank held by junior enlisted personnel in some countries' armed forces.



Germany has the rank "Obergefreiter" which is awarded after a minimum of 6 months of active military service, having passed a physical and theoretical test (including shooting exercises and sleeping outside in the field) that completes the initial 3-month intensive training after initial recruitment and being sworn in ("Gelöbnis"). For infantry members, the rank "Obergefreiter" is marked on their uniform's shoulder straps by 2 diagonal black lines.


Soldat de premiere classe Premiere classe.png
Soldat de première classe

France has the rank of Soldat de première classe indicated with a single red chevron.


The Philippine Army private first class rank insignia. PHIL ARMY PFC WOODLAND.svg
The Philippine Army private first class rank insignia.

The rank of private first class is similar to its original U.S. counterpart. The insignia consist of a single chevron with a triangle below. The rank is also in use with the Philippine Marine Corps.


Singaporean private first class rank insignia. Army-SGP-OR-2.svg
Singaporean private first class rank insignia.

Introduced in 1983, the honorific rank is awarded to hardworking conscript citizen-soldiers who performed well in their National Service term. Private first class (一等兵) wear a rank insignia of a single chevron pointing down.

The Private First Class (PFC) rank is rarely awarded nowadays by the Singapore Armed Forces. All private enlistees can be promoted directly to Lance Corporal (LCP) should they meet the minimum qualifying requirements, conduct appraisal and work performance. [1]

United States

United States Army

U.S. Army private first class insignia Army-USA-OR-03 (Army greens).svg
U.S. Army private first class insignia
U.S. Army private first class insignia (1920-1968) Army-USA-OR-02-2015.svg
U.S. Army private first class insignia (1920–1968)

In the United States Army, recruits usually enter service as a private in pay grade E-1. Private (E-2), designated by a single chevron, is typically an automatic promotion after six months of service. Private first class (E-3), equivalent to NATO grade OR-3, is designated by a single chevron and a rocker stripe and is more common among soldiers who have served in the U.S. Army for one year or more. Soldiers who have achieved an associate degree or its equivalent are entitled to enter the Army at this pay grade. [2] Advancement from private first class is to specialist; advancement to corporal requires the Soldier be in a Team Leader position when no SGT/ E-5 is available.

The rank of private first class has existed since 1846 [3] and, prior to 1919, its insignia consisted of the branch of service insignia without any arcs or chevrons. The Secretary of War approved "an arc of one bar" (i.e., a "rocker") under the branch of service or trade insignia for privates first class on 22 July 1919. From August 5, 1920 to May 28, 1968, the rank insignia for private first class was a single chevron, per War Department Circular No. 303. On May 28, 1968, the insignia was changed to its current form, consisting of a single chevron with one arc. [4]

United States Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps private first class insignia. E2 USMC PFC.jpg
U.S. Marine Corps private first class insignia.

In the United States Marine Corps, the rank of private first class is the second lowest, just under lance corporal and just above Private, equivalent to NATO grade OR-2, being pay grade E-2. It was established on June 3, 1916 to match the already existing Army rank, primarily because US Marine units were "often called upon to serve" with US Army organizations, such as in the American Expeditionary Force that served in Europe during World War I (e.g. 4th Marine Brigade of the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division). At the time the two ranks were directly equivalent. However, the USMC rank of PFC is one grade lower (E-2) than the similarly titled US Army rank. [5]


Vietnam People's Army private first class insignia. Vietnam People's Army First Private.jpg
Vietnam People's Army private first class insignia.

In the Vietnam People's Army, private first class (Vietnamese : binh nhất) is the highest junior enlisted rank. Private first class is below corporal and above private second class.

See also

Related Research Articles

A private is a soldier of the lowest military rank.

Military rank Element of hierarchy in armed forces

Military ranks are a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces, police, intelligence agencies or other institutions organized along military lines. The military rank system defines dominance, authority, and responsibility in a military hierarchy. It incorporates the principles of exercising power and authority into the military chain of command – the succession of commanders superior to subordinates through which command is exercised. The military chain of command constructs an important component for organized collective action.

In military terminology, a squad is amongst the smallest of military organizations and is led by a non-commissioned officer. NATO and US doctrine define a squad as an organization "larger than a team, but smaller than a section." while US Army doctrine further defines a squad as a "small military unit typically containing two or more fire teams." In US usage, a squad consists of eight to fourteen soldiers, and may be further subdivided into fireteams.

Sergeant Military rank

Sergeant is a rank in many uniformed organizations, principally military and policing forces. The alternative spelling, serjeant, is used in The Rifles and other units that draw their heritage from the British light infantry. Its origin is the Latin serviens, 'one who serves', through the French term sergeant.

Corporal is a military rank in use in some form by many militaries and by some police forces or other uniformed organizations. Within NATO, each member nation's corresponding military rank of corporal is combined under the NATO-standard rank scale code OR-3 or OR-4. However, there are often differences in how each nation employs corporals. Some militaries do not have corporals, but may instead have a junior sergeant.

Staff sergeant is a rank of non-commissioned officer used in the armed forces of many countries. It is also a police rank in some police services.

A master sergeant is the military rank for a senior non-commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries. This is a NATO ranking.

Sergeant major is a senior non-commissioned rank or appointment in many militaries around the world. In Commonwealth countries, the various degrees of sergeant major are appointments held by warrant officers. In the United States, there are also various grades of sergeant major, all of the same pay grade of E-9; however, the Sergeant Major of the Army and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, as their respective service's Senior Enlisted Advisor, receive a special rate of basic pay that is higher than all other sergeants major.

Lance corporal is a military rank, used by many armed forces worldwide, and also by some police forces and other uniformed organisations. It is below the rank of corporal, and is typically the lowest non-commissioned officer, usually equivalent to the NATO Rank Grade OR3.

The chart below represents the current enlisted rank insignia of the United States Air Force.

The chart below shows the current enlisted rank insignia of the United States Army, with seniority, and pay grade, increasing from right to left. Enlisted ranks of corporal and higher are considered non-commissioned officers (NCOs). The rank of specialist is a soldier of pay grade E-4 who has not yet attained non-commissioned officer status. It is common that a soldier may never be a corporal and will move directly from specialist to sergeant, attaining NCO status at that time.

British Army other ranks rank insignia

The British Army other ranks, is the term used to refer to all ranks below officers in the British Army and the Royal Marines is "other ranks". It includes warrant officers, non-commissioned officers ("NCOs") and ordinary soldiers with the rank of private or regimental equivalent. Officers may, in speaking, distinguish themselves from those "in the ranks".

Gefreiter is a German, Swiss and Austrian military rank that has existed since the 16th century. It is usually the second rank or grade to which an enlisted soldier, airman or sailor could be promoted.

Specialist is a military rank in some countries’ armed forces. In the United States Armed Forces, it is one of the four junior enlisted ranks in the U.S. Army, above private (PVT), private (PV2) and private first class and is equivalent in pay grade to corporal, in the U.S. Space Force it consists of the four junior enlisted ranks, prior to the rank of sergeant.

United States Army enlisted rank insignia of World War II The Ranks Of the United States Army during the second World War

The U.S. Army enlisted rank insignia that was used during World War II differs from the current system. The color scheme used for the insignia's chevron design was defined as olive drab chevrons on a dark blue-black wool background for wear on "winter" uniform dress coats and dress shirts or khaki chevrons on a dark blue-black cotton background for wear on the various types of field jackets and "winter" uniform fatigue shirts. An unauthorized variant that nevertheless saw wide use was olive drab chevrons on a khaki cotton background for wear on the "summer" uniform dress coats and dress shirts. This scheme of rank insignia was established by War Department Circular No. 303 on 5 August 1920 and would see two significant changes in 1942. The usage of this style of insignia was ended by Department of the Army Circular No. 202, dated 7 July 1948, which provided for significant changes in both rank and insignia design.

First sergeant is typically a senior non-commissioned officer rank, used in many countries. In NATO armed forces the rank is on OR8 level.

The rank insignia of the federal armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany indicate rank and branch of service in the German Army (Heer), German Air Force (Luftwaffe), or the German Navy (Marine).

The United States Army's enlisted rank insignia that was used during World War I differs from the current system. The color scheme used for the insignia's chevron was olive drab for field use uniforms or one of several colors on dress uniforms. The chevron system used by enlisted men during World War I came into being in 1895, and was changed to a different system in 1919. Specification 760, which was dated May 31, 1905 contained 45 different enlisted insignia that varied designs and titles by different corps of the army. General Order Number 169, which was enacted on August 14, 1907, created an even larger variety of enlisted rank insignia. Pay grades were not yet in use by the U.S. Army. The pay system identified the job assignment of the soldier. By the end of World War I, the system contained 128 different insignia designs.

Stabsgefreiter is the second highest rank of enlisted men in the German Bundeswehr, which might be comparable to Corporal (OR-4) in Anglophone armed forces.


  1. "SAF Rank Insignias".
  2. "Site Moved" (PDF).
  3. "A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875". Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  4. United States Army Institute of Heraldry (2006). "History of Enlisted Ranks". United States Army. Archived from the original on December 31, 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2006.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  5. Affairs, United States Congress House Committee on Naval; Padgett, Lemuel Phillips (1 January 1918). Hearings Before Committee on Naval Affairs of the House of Representatives, on Estimates Submitted by the Secretary of the Navy, 1918. U.S. Government Printing Office. p.  240 via Internet Archive. secretary of the navy private first class 1918.