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A Private is a soldier of the lowest military rank (equivalent to NATO Rank Grades OR-1 to OR-3 depending on the force served in). The term dates from the Middle Ages, where privates were known as "private soldiers" (a term still used in the United Kingdom) who were either hired, conscripted, or feudalized into service by a nobleman forming an army. The usage of Private dates from the 18th century, when the army of Napoleon Bonaparte first established the permanent rank of Soldat.They are sometimes known as 'Recruits'. In modern military parlance, 'Private' is shortened to 'Pte' in the United Kingdommarker and other Commonwealth countries and to 'Pvt.' in the United Statesmarker. Also informally known in UK as a "Squaddie".


In the Australian Army, a soldier of Private rank wears no insignia [4097]. Like its British Army counterpart, the Australian Army rank of Private (PTE) has other titles, depending on the Corps and specification of that service member.

The following alternative ranks are available for Privates in the Australian Army:

The term Digger is a common Australian military slang used for referring to soldiers from Australia. The name originated during World War I and remains in current usage today. It is mainly used to describe soldiers from the rank of private to junior NCOs, but can be used to describe an Australian soldier of any rank (although it is uncommon to refer to an officer as a "digger").

In the Australian Army there are technically four levels of Private, these are: Private (Recruit), Private (Trainee), Private 1 and Private (Proficient). These are only used on employment records and in determining levels of pay and qualifications and no authority is derived from these levels (i.e. a Private (Proficient) doesn't have authority over a Private (Trainee) unless placed within a sub-unit command structure from which authority might be derived - e.g. if a Private (Proficient) was acting as a section commander, or 2-i-c, over the top of a Private (Trainee), which is unlikely in the Regular Army, but quite common in the Australian Army Reserve). Private (Recruit) relates to soldiers who are undergoing or who have not yet completed their basic training at the Army Recruit Training Centre, Kapooka. Private (Trainee) refers to soldiers who have completed basic training and are either undertaking specific to Corps employment training, or who have not yet completed that training. Private 1 relates to soldiers who have completed basic and employment training and are normally on their first posting. Finally, Private (Proficient) refers to soldiers who are fully qualified in their rank and trade and who have either completed a further one year of service after becoming full qualified, or who have not completed a further year, but have instead undertaken and successfully completed two specialisation courses that would normally qualify them for an extra pay grade.


In the Canadian Forces there are three levels of Private: Private (Recruit), Private (Basic), and Private (Trained). All persons holding the rank of Private are referred to as such and the qualifier shown in brackets is used on employment records only. A Private is considered an "apprentice" in their trade, and there are no pay raises between the various levels of private except for time in rank raise. The Canadian Army and Air Force have an identical rank structure.

  • Private (Recruit) (Pte(R)) - Fresh recruit, untrained. Holds this rank through recruit training.
  • Private (Basic) (Pte(B)) - After finishing recruit training, a member becomes a Private (Basic). This rank is held through training and beyond.
  • Private (Trained) (Pte(T)) - A Private (Basic) becomes a Private (Trained) a year after completion of their DP 1 training depending on their Regiment, some Regiments may promote them right away. A Private (Trained) is the only Private to wear rank insignia, a single chevron.

An Army Private may also be known by other titles, depending on unit and/or branch:

The Canadian Navy's equivalents are:


The Germanmarker equivalent of Private (OR-1) is Schütze, until 1918 it was Gemeiner ("common man"). The rank of Schütze has existed as a military rank since at least the 18th century and the term has been used since the Middle Ages.

As in the British Army, different names for this lowest rank are in use in the German Army, for example Pionier (engineer), Kanonier (gunner) or Fallschirmjäger (paratrooper), or Funker (wireless operator). In contrast, Soldat (meaning simply "soldier") is strictly used as a general term, not as a rank.

The Naval equivalent is known as Matrose, and the Luftwaffe (air force) equivalent is Flieger.

According to the NATO rank code, the rank of Gefreiter is equivalent to Private (OR-2), and Obergefreiter is equivalent to Private (OR-3).


2* Private
3* Private

Private (Pte) (Saighdiúr Singil in Irish), is the lowest enlisted rank in the Irish Army. Soldiers enlist as recruits then undergo a basic course of instruction. There are three grades of Private in the Army. After basic training the soldier is upgraded (rather than promoted) from Recruit to Private 2 Star (Pte 2*) (Saighdiúr Singil, 2 Réalta). After more Corps Specific Training (usually lasting eight weeks) the Soldier is upgraded to Private 3 Star (Pte 3*) (Saighdiúr Singil, 3 Réalta). All are usually just addressed as "Private", although before being upgraded, Recruits may be addressed as "Recruit".

In corps units the rank designation changes. In the Artillery the rank is known as Gunner (Gnr), but usually only after the completion of a Gunners Course, and in the Cavalry it is known as Trooper (Tpr).Communications and Information Services Privates are known as Signalman or Signalwoman. Medical Orderlies are sometimes referred to as Medic, although this can apply to Privates and Corporals.


The equivalent ranks to Privates within the North and South Korean armies are Il-byong and E-byong. The symbol for this rank is 1 line( - ) or 2 lines( = ). Private second class is known by 1 line, while Private first class is 2 lines.

Spain, Mexico and Argentina

The equivalent rank to private in the Spanish, Mexican and Argentine army is the "soldado raso" meaning rankless soldier.

Brazil and Portugal

The equivalent rank to Private in the Brazilian and Portuguese Armed Forces is the soldado meaning soldier.


In the Royal Netherlands Army, the Landmacht, the equivalent ranks are 'Soldaat' (soldier), similar to the original French, with different classes:

'Soldaat der derde klasse' (Soldier/Private 3rd Class), for soldiers in Algemene Militaire Opleiding or AMO (General Military Training), with insignia.

'Soldaat der tweede klasse'(Soldier/Private 2nd Class), the basic infantry rank, an insignia single striped red band, obtained after AMO but before completion of Initiële Functie Opleiding or IFO (Initial Job Training).

'Soldaat der eerste klasse'(Soldier/Private 1st Class), comparable to Private First Class, with an insignia with 2 neighbouring striped red bands, obtained automatically a year after completion of IFO.

Depending on where the 'Soldaat' serves, he may be deemed a 'kanonnier' (gunner in the artillery), 'huzaar' (hussar in the cavalry) or 'fuselier' (Rifleman in the rifles) as well as 'commando', 'jager' or 'rijder'.

There is less differentiation than in other countries between different armed forces. A 'Soldaat' can be promoted to 'Korporaal' (Corporal) .

Republic of Singapore

Once Recruits complete their Basic Military Training , they attain the rank of Private (PTE). Privates do not wear ranks on their sleeves.

United Kingdom

In the British Army, a Private (Pte) equates to both OR-1 and OR-2 on the NATO scale, although there is no difference in rank. Privates wear no insignia. Many regiments and corps use other distinctive (and descriptive) names instead of Private:

United States

In the U.S. Army, Private (PVT) is used for the two lowest enlisted ranks, just below Private First Class. The lowest rank (officially known as Private E-1 (PVT) and sometimes referred to as recruit but also held by some soldiers after an Article 15 or prisoners after conviction until they are dishonorably discharged) wears no uniform insignia, while the second, Private E-2 (PV2), wears a single chevron. Advancement to the higher rank is currently automatic after six months time in service, but may get shortened to four months if given a waiver (a pay raise may take effect after four months of service, even without advancement to Private E-2 if the private's commanders believe the private's performance has warranted it).

In the U.S. Marine Corps, Private (Pvt) only refers to the lowest enlisted rank, just below Private First Class. A Marine Corps Private wears no uniform insignia. Most new, non-officer Marines begin their military career as a Private.


In the Pakistan Army the lowest enlisted rank is Sipahi, literally meaning Soldier in Urdu. A Sipahi does not wear any rank insignia on his uniform. Sipahis are sometimes also referred to as Jawan, literally meaning "young" in Urdu.

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