Second lieutenant

Last updated

Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces. The lowest officer rank, it is usually placed below lieutenant or first lieutenant.



The rank of second lieutenant existed in the military forces of the Australian colonies and Australian Army until 1986.

In the colonial forces, which closely followed the practices of the British military, the rank of second lieutenant began to replace ranks such as ensign and cornet from 1871.

New appointments to the rank of second lieutenant ceased in the regular army in 1986. [1] Immediately prior to this change, the rank had been effectively reserved for new graduates from the Officer Cadet School, Portsea which closed in 1985. (Graduates of the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and the Royal Military College, Duntroon (RMC-D) are commissioned as lieutenants.). [2] [3] The rank of second lieutenant is only appointed to officers in special appointments such as training institutions, university regiments and while under probation during training. Trainees undertaking Special Service Officer (SSO) training are also appointed at higher rank (as second lieutenants) than General Service Officer (GSO) trainees who start off at the rank of officer cadet (ADFA/Australian Army Reserve officer trainees) or staff cadet (Royal Military College, Duntroon). [4]

Ranks equivalent to second lieutenant are acting sub-lieutenant in the Royal Australian Navy and pilot officer in the Royal Australian Air Force.


The Canadian Forces adopted the rank with insignia of a single gold ring around the service dress uniform cuff for both army and air personnel upon unification in 1968 until the late 2000s. [5] [6] For a time, naval personnel used this rank but reverted to the Royal Canadian Navy rank of acting sub-lieutenant, though the CF green uniform was retained until the mid-1980s. Currently, the Canadian Army insignia for second lieutenant is a pip and the Royal Canadian Air Force insignia for lieutenant is one thick braid. The equivalent rank for the Royal Canadian Navy is acting sub-lieutenant. Also known as an Ensign in the Foot Guards units (Canadian Grenadier Guards & Governor General's Foot Guards).


In Indonesia, "second lieutenant" is known as letnan dua (letda) which is the most junior ranked officer in the Indonesian Military. Officers in the Indonesian National Armed Forces are commissioned through one of four major commissioning programs. Upon graduation the candidates are promoted to the rank of second lieutenant, thus becoming commissioned officers. The four programs are:

New Zealand

Like many other Commonwealth countries, the rank structures of the New Zealand Defence Force usually follow British traditions. Hence the New Zealand Army maintains a rank of second lieutenant and the Royal New Zealand Air Force has its exact equivalent, pilot officer.

However, the Royal New Zealand Navy breaks with British tradition and uses the name ensign for its most junior commissioned officer rank (rather than the usual equivalents, such as acting sub-lieutenant or second lieutenant).

United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries

The rank of second lieutenant (2Lt) was introduced throughout the British Army in 1877 to replace the short-lived rank of sub-lieutenant, although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Fusilier and Rifle regiments. At first the rank bore no distinct insignia. In 1902, a single Bath star was introduced; the ranks of lieutenant and captain had their number of stars increased by one to (respectively) two and three. The rank is also used by the Royal Marines.

New British Army officers are normally commissioned as second lieutenants at the end of their commissioning course at RMA Sandhurst, and continue with specific training with their units. Progression to lieutenant rank usually occurs after about a year. In the British armed forces, second lieutenant is a rank which is not used as a form of address. Instead a second lieutenant named, for example, Smith is addressed and referred to as Mr Smith, with the exception that the alternative titles ensign (Foot Guards) and cornet (in the Blues and Royals [7] and Queen's Royal Hussars [8] ) are still used. In the Royal Air Force, the comparable rank is pilot officer. The equivalent in the Royal Navy is midshipman.

United States

Second lieutenant insignia of the United States Armed Forces. US-O1 insignia.svg
Second lieutenant insignia of the United States Armed Forces.

In the United States, second lieutenant is the normal entry-level rank for most commissioned officers in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force. It is equivalent to the rank of ensign in the Navy, Coast Guard, Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps.

In the Army and Marine Corps, a second lieutenant typically is a platoon leader who leads a platoon-size element, usually consisting of 16 to 44 soldiers or marines. A rifle platoon is composed of several squads with each squad led by a non-commissioned officer as squad leader. The second lieutenant is usually assisted by a platoon sergeant who advises and supports the platoon's commanding officer in leading the unit.

In the Army, until December 1917, the rank bore no insignia other than a brown sleeve braid on blouses and an officer's cap device and hat cord.[ citation needed ] In December 1917, a gold-colored bar similar to the silver-colored bar of a first lieutenant was introduced. In U.S. military slang, the rank is sometimes called "butterbar" or "brown bar" in reference to the insignia. [9]



Air Force

Space Force

See also

Related Research Articles

Warrant officer (WO) is a rank or category of ranks in the armed forces of many countries. Depending on the country, service, or historical context, warrant officers are sometimes classified as the most junior of the commissioned officer ranks, the most senior of the non-commissioned officer (NCO) ranks, or in a separate category of their own. Warrant officer ranks are especially prominent in the militaries of Commonwealth nations and the United States.

A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer rank in the armed forces of many nations, as well as fire services, emergency medical services, security services and police forces.

Lieutenant general is a military rank used in many countries. The rank originates from the Old European System. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages, where the title of lieutenant general was held by the second-in-command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a captain general.

Lieutenant Commander is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander. The corresponding rank in most armies and air forces is major, and in the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces is squadron leader. It is roughly equivalent to the Corvette Captain rank in central European countries and the Captain 3rd rank rank in eastern European/CIS countries.

Brigadier general or brigade general is a military rank used in many countries. The rank is usually above a colonel, and below a major general or divisional general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000 troops or.

Sergeant (Sgt) is a rank in use by the armed forces of many countries. It is also a police rank in some police services. 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 Old French term serjant.

Commander is a common naval officer rank as well as a job title in many armies. Commander is also used as a rank or title in other formal organizations, including several police forces. In several countries this naval rank is termed frigate captain.

Corporal is a military rank in use by the armed forces of many countries. It is also a police rank in some police services. The rank is usually the lowest ranking non-commissioned officer. In some militaries, the rank of corporal nominally corresponds to commanding a section or squad of soldiers.

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.

First lieutenant is a commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces; in some forces, it is an appointment.

Pilot officer is a junior officer rank used by some air forces, with origins from the Royal Air Force. The rank is used by air forces of many countries that have historical British influence.

Ensign is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the regimental colours, the rank acquired the name. This rank has generally been replaced in army ranks by second lieutenant. Ensigns were generally the lowest-ranking commissioned officer, except where the rank of subaltern existed. In contrast, the Arab rank of ensign, لواء, liwa', derives from the command of units with an ensign, not the carrier of such a unit's ensign, and is today the equivalent of a major general.

Captain lieutenant or captain-lieutenant is a military rank, used in a number of navies worldwide and formerly in the British Army.

The Military ranks of the Netherlands Armed Forces are the military insignia used by the armed forces of the Netherlands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Captain (naval)</span> Naval military rank

Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The rank is equal to the army rank of colonel and air force rank of group captain.

Lieutenant (abbreviated Lt, LT (U.S.), LT(USN), Lieut and LEUT, depending on nation) is a commissioned officer rank in many English-speaking nations' navies and coast guards. It is typically the most senior of junior officer ranks. In most navies, the rank's insignia may consist of two medium gold braid stripes, the uppermost stripe featuring an executive curl in many Commonwealth of Nations; or three stripes of equal or unequal width.

Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officers in the armies, most marine forces and some air forces of the world, above a major and below a colonel. Several police forces in the United States use the rank of lieutenant colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence. Sometimes, the term 'half-colonel' is used in casual conversation in the British Army. In the United States Air Force, the term 'light bird' or 'light bird colonel' is an acceptable casual reference to the rank but is never used directly towards the rank holder. A lieutenant colonel is typically in charge of a battalion or regiment in the army.

The following tables present the ranks of the Malaysian Armed Forces.

Commissioned officers' and enlisted rank comparison chart of all marine forces.

This page shows the lieutenant-general insignia, by country, for the rank of lieutenant general in the different branches of the armed forces.


  1. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Commissioned Officer Ranks". Australian Army. Archived from the original on 8 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  3. "General Service Officer". Defence Jobs. Defence Force Recruiting. Archived from the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  4. "Commissioned Officer Ranks | Australian Army". Archived from the original on 15 January 2019. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  5. Navy marks centennial by reinstating 'executive curl' "Navy marks centennial by reinstating 'executive curl' | CTV News". 2 May 2010. Archived from the original on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  6. Canadian Army goes back to the future with return to British-style ranks and designations "Canadian Army goes back to the future with return to British-style ranks and designations". Toronto Star . 8 July 2013. Archived from the original on 28 June 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  7. "The Household Cavalry Command Structure - Forms of Address". Enasec Ltd. Archived from the original on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016. In The Blues And Royals, the most junior Officer rank (equivalent to 2nd Lieutenant) is known as "Cornet".
  8. "The Armed Forces".
  9. Dalzell, Tom (2009). The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English. Taylor & Francis. p. 154. ISBN   978-0-415-37182-7.
  10. Antigua & Barbuda Defence Force. "Paratus" (PDF). Regional Publications Ltd. pp. 12–13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2020.
  11. "Badges of rank" (PDF). Department of Defence (Australia). Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  12. "Ranks & insignia". Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  13. "Barbados Defence Force Medal Ceremony". YouTube . Barbados Defence Force. 18 July 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2022.
  14. 1 2 "Ranks". Government of Botswana. Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  15. "Postos e Graduações - Exército". (in Portuguese). Brazilian Army. Archived from the original on 7 May 2021. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  16. 1 2 "Ranks and appointment". Government of Canada. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  17. "Hærens Gradstegn" (PDF). (in Danish). Danish Defence. October 2021. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  18. 1 2 "Insignias". (in Spanish). Ministry of Defense (Dominican Republic). Archived from the original on 26 February 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  19. Merrill, Tim (1993). Guyana and Belize: country studies. Library of Congress. p. 138. LCCN   93010956 . Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  20. 1 2 3 "Pangkat Harian". (in Indonesian). Indonesian National Armed Forces. Archived from the original on 24 November 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  21. "Army Rank Markings". Defence Forces (Ireland). Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  22. "BADGES OF RANK". Official Jamaica Defence Force Website. 2019. Archived from the original on 20 August 2020. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  23. "KDF Ranks". Ministry of Defence - Kenya. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
  24. "Ranks in the Army". Lesotho Defence Force. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  25. 1 2 "Defense Act of 2008" (PDF). 3 September 2008. p. 8. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  26. 1 2 "Rank Insignia". Armed Forces of Malta. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  27. "Government Notice" (PDF). Government Gazette of the Republic of Namibia. Vol. 4547. 20 August 2010. pp. 99–102. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  28. 1 2 3 "De rangonderscheidingstekens van de krijgsmacht" (PDF) (in Dutch). Ministry of Defence (Netherlands). 19 December 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  29. "Badges of Rank" (PDF). New Zealand Defence Force. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  30. Smaldone, Joseph P. (1992). "National Security". In Metz, Helen Chapin (ed.). Nigeria: a country study. Area Handbook (5th ed.). Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. pp. 296–297. LCCN   92009026 . Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  31. "Pakistan Army Ranks with Salary and Insignia". Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  32. 1 2 "RDF Insignia". Government of the Republic of Rwanda. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  33. SAINT CHRISTOPHER AND NEVIS DEFENCE FORCE ACT. Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis. 31 December 2009. pp. 110–111.
  34. 1 2 3 "Rank structure". Seychelles People's Defence Forces. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  35. 1 2 3 "SAF Rank Insignias". Ministry of Defence (Singapore). Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  36. "Uniform: Rank insignia". Department of Defence (South Africa). Archived from the original on 20 October 2020. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  37. "Dress Regulation PDF - Part I" (PDF). Sri Lanka Army. January 2019. pp. 10-4–10-11. Retrieved 20 May 2021.
  38. Dyer, Gwynne (1979). "Surinam" . In Keegan, John (ed.). World armies. Sandhurst: Royal Military Academy. p. 663. LCCN   79-9217 . Retrieved 9 March 2022.
  39. "Rank Chart (Commissioned Officers)". Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. Retrieved 27 May 2021.[ permanent dead link ]
  40. "Uganda Peoples' Defence Forces Act" (PDF). The Uganda Gazette. CXII (46). Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation: 1851–1854. 18 September 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 August 2021. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  41. "Rank structure". British Army. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  42. "U.S. Army Ranks". United States Army. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  43. 1 2 Hudson, Rex A.; Meditz, Sandra W., eds. (1992). "Chapter 5. National Security". Uruguay: A Country Study (PDF) (2nd ed.). Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. pp. 222–223. ISBN   0-8444-0737-2 . Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  44. Ehrenreich, Frederick (1983). "National Security". In Nelson, Harold D. (ed.). Zimbabwe: a Country Study. Area Handbook (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. p. 267. LCCN   83-11946 . Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  45. "ރޭންކް ސްޓްރަކްޗަރ". (in Divehi). Maldives National Defence Force. Archived from the original on 29 February 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  46. "Ranks". U.S. Marine Corps. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  47. "Postos e Graduações". (in Portuguese). Brazilian Navy. 11 July 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  48. "Grados Militares". (in Spanish). Joint Command of the Armed Forces of Peru. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  49. "Os Postos". (in Portuguese). Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  50. "Postos e Graduações". (in Portuguese). Brazilian Air Force. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  51. "Flyvevåbnets Gradstegn" (PDF). (in Danish). Danish Defence. 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  52. "Air Corps Rank Markings". Defence Forces (Ireland). Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  53. "Ranks". Philippine Air Force. Archived from the original on 18 October 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  54. "Rank Insignia". Department of Defence (South Africa). Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  55. "Air Force Instruction 36-2903" (PDF). Department of the Air Force. 25 June 2021. p. 108. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 August 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.