Army Unit Sizes – An Overview Of The U.S. Army Organizational System

I have had people ask me what exactly is an Army Unit

  • Platoon
  • Battalion
  • Brigade
  • Regiment
  • Etc…

I will be the first to admit that question about Army Unit can be nerve racking to answer. Unless you can answer it from a civilian perspective, you will get the dumbfounded looks and when you actually try to explain further, those looks just get worse… Normally, they will “roll their eyes” and quickly change the subject…

In today’s post, I am going to try and make it easier for you to answer that question. If nothing else, just have them visit this post.

Army Unit Hierarchy

When you consider the United States Army’s hierarchical structure, it is actually simple in a complex kind of way.

Every Army unit fits within another Army unit all the way up the line. When I consider various business formats, I believe the United States Army closely resembles the multilevel marketing business format. Every person and group fits inside another group and they all duplicate the principles to keep the system running like a finely tuned automobile.

Many other country’s armies have “copied” our system because it works, and it works quite well.

Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. Top 20 Famous Civil War Units: The Best of the Best
  2. Top 10 Famous National Guard Units
  3. Military Units Who Have Been Honored With The Congressional Gold Medal
  4. Top 10 Army Air Defense Artillery Units of All Time
  5. Top 10 Army Field Artillery Units of All Time

U.S. Army Units

Starting at the lowest Army unit and working up, I will explain the basic properties of each unit. Keep in mind that each unit normally fits within all the units above it.

Fire TeamA Fire Team is normally used for special missions or recon. It is usually comprised of 4 soldiers and led by a Sergeant. 2 riflemen, a grenadier and an automatic rifleman.

Squad – Usually led by a Sergeant, a Squad may have from 4 to 10 soldiers.

Section – In some cases, there are Sections which are 2 Squads.

Platoon – A Platoon is normally comprised of 3 to 4 Squads or Sections… 16 to 44 soldiers and is normally led by a Lieutenant and an NCO is second in command.

Company – Normally commanded by a Captain, a Company is a unit that contains anywhere from 3 to 5 Platoons which means 60 to 200 soldiers.

If they are an artillery unit, it is called a Battery and some cavalry units call it a Troop.

Battalion – A Battalion consists of 4 to 6 Companies and will have anywhere from 300 to 1,000 soldiers. Battalions are normally led by a Lieutenant Colonel and a Command Sergeant Major serves as top ranking NCO.

Brigade – Now here is where things can get somewhat confusing for many. Brigades are an independent unit with Brigade Headquarters commanding tactical operations of 2 to 5 Combat Battalions.

A Brigade has anywhere from 1,500 to 3,200 soldiers and in the case of Armored Cavalry, Special Forces and Rangers, instead of Brigade, they may be called a Regiment or a Group.

Brigades are normally commanded by a Colonel but sometimes Brigadier Generals take the helm.

Division – A Division is normally commanded by a Major General and has 10,000 to 16,000 soldiers; 3 Brigade sized elements.

Divisions are numbered and conduct major tactical operations for Corps.

Corps – Corps are made up of 2 to 5 Divisions; 20,000 to 45,000 soldiers. Corps is the base of Multi-National operations and are commanded by a Lieutenant General.

Field Army – The Field Army is 2+ Corps and is loaded with 50,000+ soldiers. They are commanded by a Lieutenant General or higher.

Army Group – This type of unit hasn’t been used since World War II but could at any point be used.

It consists of 2 or more Field Armies and plans plus directs campaigns.

Final Thoughts

These are the basic facts and figures for United States Army units. Do keep in mind that at any given time, the numbers can change. Maybe you will hear of only 8,000 or 18,000 soldiers in a Division.

Also, you may see a unit designated Regimental – Battalion. This is usually just a historical designation and is all about Army pride.

So now, do you have any questions?

I believe I covered these properly but if you see any mistakes, please correct me.

Thank you for visiting and please do share this with others so they can explain Army units.



About The Author

Greg Boudonck is a full time freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He served in the United States Army in the early 1980’s and enjoys writing about military subjects. You can see Greg’s books on Amazon by searching his name and you can also visit his website at

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