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A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing 25 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organized into a company, which typically consists of three, four or five platoons. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer — the platoon leader or platoon commander, usually a lieutenant. He is usually assisted by a senior non-commissioned officer — the platoon sergeant.

In some armies, platoon is used throughout the branches of the army. In others, such as the British Army, most platoons are infantry platoons, while some carry other designations such as tank, mortar, or heavy weapons platoons. In a few armies, such as the French Army, a platoon is specifically a cavalry unit, and the infantry use "section" as the equivalent unit.

The word is derived from the 17th-century French peloton, meaning a small detachment of soldiers, which came from pelote meaning a small ball (originally from Latin 'pillula', meaning 'little ball').

Australian Organization

A doctrinal platoon from an infantry company consists of three sections of nine men plus a platoon signalman, giving the platoon a strength of 30 men. Each section is commanded by a Corporal, a Lance Corporal is section second-in-command, the remaining seven men being privates. Each section is divided into an Assault Team (3 men), Gun Team (3 men) and Command Team (3 men). These teams are employed in fire and maneuver tactics.

British Organization

In the British Army, a platoon is commanded by either a Second Lieutenant or Lieutenant, assisted by a platoon Sergeant (holding the rank of Sergeant). A Rifle platoon from an infantry company consists of three sections of eight men, plus a signaller (operating the radio), Platoon Sergeant, Plt Commdr and a Mortar Man operating a Light Mortar, this means the platoon has 27 men and one Officer. Each Section is commanded by a Corporal, with a Lance Corporal as second-in-command and 6 Private divided into two fireteams. Other types of platoons (such as Mortar or anti-tank) are generally smaller and are commanded by a Lieutenant or Captain.

Bangladeshi Organization

In the Bangladeshmarker Army infantry regiments, platoons are commanded by a major or a captain, assisted by two to four lieutenants (or combination of lieutenants and JCOs) and at least two sergeants. The platoon strength is typically thirty to fifty soldiers.

The infantry platoons of the Bangladesh Army are armed with at least one heavy machine gun, rocket launcher or anti-tank gun, with these weapons commanded by a corporal. In addition, there are at least two light machine guns, each commanded by a lance corporal. Each soldier is armed with an automatic rifle or semi-automatic rifle and all commissioned officers carry a side arm.

Canadian Organization

In the Canadian Army, the infantry Platoon Commander is a Lieutenant or Second Lieutenant, assisted by a Platoon Warrant (who may hold the rank of Warrant Officer, but is often a Sergeant). It is usually divided into three eight man section and a heavy weapons detachment which will deploy a GPMG, Carl Gustav, and/or 60 mm mortar depending on mission requirements. Specialist platoons may be led by a Captain, assisted by a Warrant Officer. Some very large specialist platoons will actually have a Lieutenant as the second-in-command. In many corps, platoon-sized units are called troops instead.

Colombian Organization

Within the Colombian Army a platoon (in Spanish peloton) can be led by a higher rank soldier known as "Dragoneante", which is usually a soldier that excels in discipline or skills. However a Dragoneante is still a soldier and can be removed from his position if a commander sees it fit. Dragoneantes will usually lead platoons in companies of training. For combatant platoons (platoons that would usually combat guerrilla rebels) a Corporal or Sergeant would be the most likely commander.

French organization

In the French military, a peloton is a unit of cavalry or armour corresponding to the platoon, equivalent in size to an infantry section, and commanded by a lieutenant or sergeant. It may also mean a body of officers in training to become noncommissioned officers, sous-officiers or officers (peloton de caporal, peloton des sous-officiers). Finally, "peloton d'exécution" is the French term for a firing squad.

German organization

German equivalent of the platoon is the Zug, consisting of a platoon squad / platoon HQ (Zugtrupp) of four to six men and three squads (Gruppen) of eight to eleven men. As three platoons make up a company (Kompanie) the first platoon is usually led by an officer of 2nd or 1st lieutenant rank, called company officer (Kompanieoffizier) who is company's second leader at the same time. Second and third platoon are led by experienced NCOs such as master sergeants. In first platoon a master sergeant is assistant to the platoon leader as a sergeant is in second and third platoon. Each squad is led by a corporal and its size is in close conjunction to the typical crew capacity of its squad vehicle (either wheeled or armoured). The task of the platoon squad is usually provide mobility and support for the platoon leader plus giving him an extra force such as two additional snipers or an anti-tank weapon crew (especially in infantry units).

Airborne platoons (Fallschirmjägerzug) are somewhat special regarding their commissioned commando posts as each functional position is one up the ranks in comparison to other platoons. A captain is platoon leader, assisted by a 1st lieutenant and each squad has a 2nd lieutenant or a master sergeant in charge, often supported by a long-serving sergeant or skilled senior corporal.

New Zealand Organization

In the New Zealand Army, an Infantry Platoon is commanded by a 2nd Lieutenant or a Lieutenant with a Platoon Sergeant, a Platoon Signaller and a medic (where relevant) comprising the Platoon Headquarters. The Platoon is sub-divided into three section of between 7-10 soldiers, each commanded by a Corporal with a Lance-Corporal as the Section 2iC. Each section can be sub-divided into two fire-teams, commanded by the Section Commander and 2iC respectively, as well as normal two man Scout, Rifle and Gun Teams.

There are three Platoons in a Rifle Company, which is commanded by a Major, and Three Rifle Companies within an Infantry Battalion, which is commanded by a Lieutenant-Colonel. An Infantry Battalion will also contain an organic Support Company (Mortars, Machine-Guns etc) and a Logistics Company (Transport and Stores).

Singapore Organization

In the Singapore Army, a platoon is a Lieutenant billet. In practice, usually a Second Lieutenant is appointed the platoon commander, and will eventually be promoted to this rank. A typical infantry platoon consists of three seven-man section of riflemen and a machine gun team, both commanded by Third Sergeants, a platoon sergeant and a medical orderly for a total of 27 soldiers.

Thai Organization

In the Royal Thai Army, a platoon is commanded by a Lieutenant or Second Lieutenant assisted by a Platoon Sergeant, usually of the rank of sergeant major. In infantry units, rifle platoons are generally made up of five squads (three rifle squads, one machine gun squad and command squad).

United States Organization

In the United States Army, Rifle Platoons are normally composed of 42 Soldiers. They are led by a Platoon Leader (PL), usually an Infantry Second Lieutenant (2LT), and with a Platoon Sergeant (PSG), usually a Sergeant First Class (SFC). Rifle Platoons consist of three nine-man Rifle Squads and one nine-man Weapons Squad. The Platoon Headquarters includes the PL, PSG, along with the PL's Radio-Telephone Operator (RTO), Platoon Forward Observer (FO), the FO's RTO and the Platoon Medic.In the United States Marine Corps, rifle platoons are led by a Platoon Commander, usually a Second Lieutenant. The billet of Platoon Sergeant is a position intended for a Staff Sergeant but it can be held by a Marine ranking from Corporal to Staff Sergeant. In a Marine regiment, rifle platoons usually consist of three rifle squads of 13 men each, usually led by a Sergeant, with three Navy Corpsmen, a Platoon Commander, a Platoon Sergeant and a Platoon Guide, usually a Sergeant. Each squad is further divided into 3 fireteams. A weapons platoon replaces the 3 squads with a 60mm mortar section, an assault section, and a medium machine gun section. The assault section consists of dual-purpose rockets such as the FGM-172 SRAW. A single platoon can cost up to $1,834,326 a year.

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