Rank and Responsibility

Table of Ranks & Responsibilities

Table of Ranks & Appointments

Staff Officers

Rank & Appt Abbreviations



►►Lieutenant General

►►Major General

►►Brigadier General

►►Brigadier (1928-1968)

►►Col.-Commandant (1922-1928)


►►Lieutenant Colonel




►►2nd Lieutenant

►►Officer Cadet

Warrant Officers

►►Chief Warrant Officer (1968-)

►►W.O. Class I (1915-1968)

►►Master Warrant Officer (1968-)

►►W.O. Class II (1915-1968)

►►Warrant Officer (1968-)

►►W.O. Class III (1939-1945)

Non-Commissioned Officers

►►Staff Sergeant (1900-1968)


►►Lance Sergeant (1900-1968)

►►Master Corporal (1968-2000+)


►►Lance Corporal  (1900-1968)

Non-Commissioned Mbrs (Men)




Master Gunner

Platoon Sergeant Major

Honorary Ranks


Colonel of the Regiment

Honorary Colonel

Colonel Commandant

Rank and Responsibility

The Canadian Army in the 20th Century was patterned after the British Army from whom most traditions were drawn until Unification in 1968. Authority was delineated by two types of organizational structures; rank and appointments.


Rank refers to a basic grade of military promotion; it was a manner of granting seniority and authority within the Canadian Army. This was also further accomplished by the use of appointments.


An appointment was a temporary status within a rank; a soldier in an appointment was holding a particular office or function, for which he is granted an appropriate rank.

Appointments might have been associated with a formal title and set of responsibilities, such as the Regimental Sergeant Major of a unit. These titles and responsibilities may also be associated with a specific rank; again, a Regimental Sergeant Major was almost always either a Warrant Officer Class I (between 1915 and Unification) or a Chief Warrant Officer (after Unification). Other appointments were not rank specific; for example any non-commissioned officer could conceivably hold the appointment of Drum Major. However, the responsibilities of a Chief Warrant Officer would very much depend on the appointment he held; a Regimental Sergeant Major would have authority over, and responsibility for, all non commissioned soldiers in an infantry battalion while a Drum Major would have responsibility only for the members of his band, even if both were ranked as Chief Warrant Officer.


Within military organizations, the use of ranks has been almost universal, with notable exceptions such as the Chinese People's Liberation Army, the Albanian Army (19701991), and the Soviet Red Army (19181935). The use of a formalized system of ranks dates back to the Romans, and reforms by the consul Gaius Marius in circa 60 BC.

Modern Ranks

The Canadian Army has always had four basic categories of rank:

  • Commissioned Officers

  • Warrant Officers

  • Non-Commissioned Officers

  • Men (or, more recently, Non-Commissioned Members)

These categories were themselves often subdivided in various ways, for example Junior NCOs and Senior NCOs, etc.


  • Substantive Rank: A soldier confirmed in a permanent rank, fully paid and confirmed.

  • Acting Rank: A soldier assumed the pay and allowances appropriate to the acting rank, but may have been ordered to revert to a previous substantive rank held. May have been lacking in training or experience prerequisites for permanent promotion.

  • Brevet Rank. A soldier assumed a rank but without the pay and allowances appropriate to that rank.

  • Local Rank. A soldier assumes a temporary unpaid rank, usually only for a specific operation or mission.

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