Second lieutenant

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Second lieutenant (called under-lieutenant in some countries) is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.


Like the United Kingdom, the rank of second lieutenant replaced the rank of ensign and cornet in 1871. The rank of second lieutenant was phased out in the Australian Regular Army in 1986.[1]


The Canadian Forces adopted the rank with insignia of a single gold ring around the service dress uniform cuff for both army and air personnel upon unification in 1968 until the late 2000s.[2][3] For a time, naval personnel used this rank but reverted to the Royal Canadian Navy rank of acting sub-lieutenant, though the CF green uniform was retained until the mid-1980s. Currently, the Canadian Army insignia for second lieutenant is a pip and the Royal Canadian Air Force insignia for lieutenant is one thick braid. The equivalent rank for the Royal Canadian Navy is acting sub-lieutenant.


Since 1951 in the Israel Defense Forces (סגן-משנה (סג"מ segen mishne (sagam) has been equivalent to a second lieutenant (NATO OF-1). From 1948 – 1951 the corresponding rank was that of a (סגן) segen, which since 1951 has been equivalent to lieutenant. Segen mishne means "junior lieutenant" and segen literally translates as "assistant". Typically it is the rank of a platoon commander. Note that the IDF uses this rank across all three of its services.


The equivalent rank in Norway (O-1) is "fenrik". This is the first rank, where they are commanding officer. Fenriks are usually former experienced sergeants but to become a fenrik one has to go through officer's training and education. Fenriks fill roles as second in command within a platoon. Fenriks are in some cases executive officers. Most fenriks have finished the War Academy as well, and are fully trained officers. To qualify for the Military Academy, Fenriks are required to do minimum 6 months service in international missions, before or after graduation.


The Pakistan Army follows the British pattern of ranks. A second lieutenant is represented by one metal pip on each shoulder in case of "khaki uniform" and one four quadric[clarification needed] printed star on the chest in case of camouflage combat dress. However a second lieutenant in the Pakistan Army is usually promoted to lieutenant 6 months after commissioning.

United Kingdom and Commonwealth

The rank second lieutenant (abbr: 2LT; coll: "one-pip") was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign (cornet in the cavalry), although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Fusilier and Rifle regiments. At first the rank bore no distinct insignia. In 1902 a single Bath star (now commonly referred to as a pip) was introduced; the ranks of lieutenant and captain had their number of stars increased by one to (respectively) two and three. The rank is also used by the Royal Marines.

New British Army officers are normally commissioned as second lieutenants at the end of their commissioning course at RMA Sandhurst, and continue with specific training with their units, often with mentoring from senior NCOs. Progression to lieutenant rank usually occurs after about a year. In the British armed forces, "second lieutenant" is a rank which is not used as a form of address. A second lieutenant called Smith is addressed and referred to as "Mr Smith", except that in the Blues and Royals, the title "cornet" is still used verbally, in the Foot Guards "ensign". These are used only in the Household Division.[4]

In the Royal Air Force the comparable rank is pilot officer. The Royal Navy has no exact equivalent rank, and a second lieutenant is senior to a Royal Navy midshipman but junior to a sub-lieutenant. The Royal New Zealand Navy – breaking with Royal Navy tradition – uses the ensign grade for this rank equivalent. The Royal Australian Navy also breaks tradition in the sense that it has the equivalent rank of ensign, but it is titled "acting sub lieutenant."

United States

In the United States, second lieutenant is the normal entry-level rank for most commissioned officers in the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps and is equivalent to the rank of ensign in the Navy and Coast Guard.

In the Army and Marine Corps, a second lieutenant typically leads a platoon-size element (16 to 44 soldiers or marines). In the army, until December 1917 the rank bore no insignia other than a brown sleeve braid on blouses and an officer's cap device and hat cord. In December 1917, a brass bar similar to the silver bar of a first lieutenant was introduced.

In the Air Force, depending upon the career field, a second lieutenant (2d Lt) may supervise flights (of varying sizes) as a flight leader or deputy flight leader, or may work in a variety of administrative positions at the squadron, group, or wing level. A significant number of Air Force second lieutenants are full-time flight students in training for eventual designation as USAF pilots, combat systems officers or air battle managers.

In the past, a second lieutenant was often referred to as a shavetail. In the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps of today, non-commissioned officers often refer to a second lieutenant as a "second looey", "bootenant", or a "butterbar" in reference to the gold bar rank insignia.


The following are a selection of second lieutenant rank insignia, attempting to illustrate the range of variation (and similarity) between the insignia. Note that although many air forces use the rank of second lieutenant, in most Commonwealth air forces the equivalent rank of pilot officer is used. Very few navies use the rank "second lieutenant".

Army Australian-Army-2LT-Shoulder.png Rank insignia of Лейтенант of the Bulgarian Army.png Cdn-Army-2Lt(OF-1)-2014.svg Rank insignia of løjtnant of the Royal Danish Army.svg GAF army lieutenant.jpg Leutnant Army-GRE-OF-01b.svg 2nd Lieutenant Indian Army.gif Letda pdh ad.png Sotvan 2.png IE-Army-OF1b.png Rank insignia of sottotenete of the Army of Italy (1973).svg Mexican Military Subteniente.gif OF-1(A) Pakistan Army.svg RAF A F1-2Lt 2010.png UK Army OF1a-2.png Army-USA-OF-01b.svg US Army O1 shoulderboard rotated.svg
Australia Bulgaria Canada Denmark Georgia Germany Greece and Cyprus India Indonesia Iran Ireland Italy Mexico Pakistan Russia UK US US (1959–2014)
Rank insignia of Лейтенант of the Bulgarian Air forces.png CDN-Air Force-2nd Lieutenant (OF1B)-2015.svg RDAF 2nd Lt.svg GAF airforce lieutenant.jpg Leutnant Hellenic Air Force OF-1B.svg Pilot Officer of IAF.png Letda pdh au.png 11- ستوان دوم--IRIAF.png IE-Aircorps-OF1.png IT-Airforce-OF1.png Subteniente FAM.gif Pilot
RAF AF F1-2Lt 2010.png Pilot
US Air Force O1 shoulderboard.svg
IN Sublieutenant.png Letda pdh al.png US Marine O1 shoulderboard.svg

See also


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de:Leutnant el:Ανθυπολοχαγός pt:Segundo-tenente ru:Второй лейтенант tr:Teğmen