United States military command structure

I think I got the Army’s command structure right, please correct me if it isn’t. What about the Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard?

US Army:
x number of soldiers make a squad
x number of squads make a platoon
x number of platoons make a company
x number of companies make a battalion
x number of battalions make a regiment
x number of number of regiments make a division
x number of divisions make a corp
x number of corps make an army
x number of armies make the US Army

I can at least answer the ‘Coast Guard’ part. There is no formal breakdown of ‘x number of people equals a [something]’. Basically, the command structure, from top to bottom, goes something like this:

Commandant, Headquarters, Wash. DC - Admiral
Area Commands (2 - Lant Area and Pac Area) - Vice Admiral
Districts (9 total) - Rear Admiral, Upper or Lower Half
Sectors (a bunch) - Usually a Captain, may be a Commander
Field Units (a whole bunch) - Varies between an E6 (First Class Petty Officer) and 06 (Captain)

That’s the breakdown in the most simple terms. Most of the smaller units - small boat stations, small cutters, aids to navigation teams, etc, report directly to the Sector Commander. Larger units and larger cutters report directly to the District or Area Commander, depending on unit type and size. Here’s a brief look at the Areas and Districts: http://www.uscg.mil/units.shtm

More than you ever wanted to know.

Eh - screwed up that last link:


I’m pretty sure it goes like this:

9 men = squad
4 squads = platoon
4 platoons = company
2-5 companies = batallion
3-7 batallions = brigade
2-3 brigades = division
2-3 divisions = corps
2-3 corps = army

The US hasn’t used regiments in quite a while, at least not in the army. The USMC still has a regiment-based system.

Regiment??? Doin’t you mean brigade?

Here it is for the Air Force.

Historically, US Army Brigades were two or more Regiments. However, you are right that they have replaced Regiments with Brigades in the modern organization.

The Navy doesn’t much work so cleanly, but it looks something like this:

x sailors make a shop
x shops make a division
x divisions make a department
x departments make a ship or squadron.

For aviation, x squadrons make a wing

For ships:
x ships make a destroyer squadron or amphibious group or Cruise/Destroyer Group (CruDesGru) or similar
Desron/CruDes Group + PhibGru + Carrier + Carrier Air Wing = battle group (more or less)
x battle groups make a fleet (2nd=atlantic, 3rd=near pacific, 5th=Persian Gulf, 6th= med, 7th=far pacific)

This is a very simplified version… rarely does the fleet, or even battle group sail around together ala WW II. There a couple other combinations of ships like CruDes Groups.

The Coast Guard has a 1st District, a 5th District, a 7th District, a 8th District, a 9th District, a 11th District, a 13th District, a 14th District, and a 17th District. Who came up with this numbering system?

And to keep things interesting, they still designate unit s as parts of regiments. I spent 3 years in 5th Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment. This was in the incredibly early 1980s.

The missing numbers are old districts that have since been consolidated into other districts. For example, when I came in, the 2nd District was the entire inland region that covered the Mississippi River and it’s tributaries. That district has since been consolidated into the 8th District.

Also, in the Army, there are also these differences:
The equivalent of a line company in the Artillery is called a “battery”
The equivalent of a line company in the Cavalry is called a “troop”
The equivalent of a line battalion in the Cavalry is called a “squadron”

This is mostly for ceremonial lineage, though, not for command structure. It’s just so you can use the nifty flag that some other unit used in world war 2, a unit that most likely had no real continuity or ancestry with yours. Most likely there was no “regimental commander” and there may not have been other battalions in your regiment.