Military Life

How many soldiers are in a platoon? The U.S. Army by the numbers

Turns out, it's not an Army of one after all.
Joshua Skovlund Avatar
The US Army by the numbers
Whether it's a division formation or a fire team, the Army has several layers of structure built within. (U.S. Army photo/Spc. Casey Brumbach; U.S. Army National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathan Campbell. Task & Purpose composite image)

The U.S. Army has been evolving since it was established in 1775. The Army started with six infantry companies and has grown to over 450,000 active duty soldiers — constantly fluctuating with the demands of foreign conflict.

How these soldiers are organized ranges from the division level — commonly staffed with 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers — down to a battle buddy team consisting of two soldiers. If you are more familiar with the U.S. Air Force or the U.S. Navy, remember that each branch structure can vary from the Army’s. 

This story doesn’t cover every nuance within the Army’s structure — like squadrons — but it covers the basics. 

How many soldiers are in a platoon?

An Army platoon breaks down into squads, fire teams, and buddy teams — in that order. There are approximately 36 soldiers within a platoon, but that number can vary due to staffing, battlefield loss, and other unpredictable shortages. 

A platoon falls under the command of a lieutenant, and a platoon sergeant – typically a sergeant first class – is the senior enlisted soldier within a platoon. It is the smallest element of soldiers under the command of an officer. Many Army battle drills are conducted at the platoon or squad level. 

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There are three to four squads per platoon. Infantry platoons typically have a weapons squad of two machine gun teams and two “close-combat missile teams” armed with Javelin missile launchers or the Carl Gustav recoilless rifle. Infantry squads function as a base-of-fire and maneuver elements.

Each squad contains 7 to 10 soldiers assigned to two fire teams, led by a squad leader who is usually a staff sergeant. Fire teams traditionally have four soldiers each and are the smallest element in the army, under the control of a leader — most often, a sergeant. 

The smallest element without a leader is the buddy team, otherwise called the battle buddy system. This system is more of a concept of accountability. A soldier doesn’t go anywhere without their battle buddy in a warzone or during initial entry training. But ensuring you honor the battle buddy system works both at and outside of work. 

How many soldiers are in a company?

A company is usually under the command of a captain — not to be confused with the U.S. Navy’s different captain rank and ratings — with a first sergeant as the company commander’s senior enlisted advisor. The average strength of a company is approximately 100 to 150 soldiers spread out across three to four platoons. 

The number can vary depending on the company’s purpose, so anywhere from 12 to 200 soldiers can staff a company. This number largely depends on the company’s purpose; support companies may not have as many soldiers as an infantry rifle company. 

The Army’s units have different titles for a company, depending on their mission. Artillery companies are called batteries, while armor and air cavalry companies are called troops. Most troop movements or combat-related functions are conducted at a platoon or company level.

How many soldiers are in a battalion?

A battalion contains four to six companies. There can be up to 1,000 soldiers per battalion, but like a company, that number can fluctuate depending on the unit. Battalions can carry out independent operations but are generally limited in scope. 

Lieutenant colonels command the battalion, while a command sergeant major is the senior enlisted advisor. Battalions function as combat arms, combat support, and combat service support. 

Armored and air cavalry units’ equivalent of a battalion is a squadron — though squadrons are a whole different animal and depend on the unit. 

How many soldiers are in a regiment?

The regimental system is largely a thing of the past, but can still be found in some areas of the Army. A regiment contains 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers. The 75th Ranger Regiment, for example, has 3,500 Rangers assigned to the unit, whereas the 2nd Calvary Regiment has just under 5,000 soldiers

A colonel typically commands a regiment. A command sergeant major is the senior enlisted advisor, though units like the 75th Ranger Regiment refer to the position as the regimental sergeant major. 

Regiments and groups can have a varying number of battalions, companies, and platoons depending on their mission. 

How many soldiers are in a brigade?

A brigade is the general term used to describe an element of 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers and is similar in scope and purpose to a regiment. Like a regiment, a “full bird” colonel and command sergeant major are in charge of a brigade. 

Brigades typically have two to three battalions and can conduct independent combat operations. The Army restructured its brigades into brigade combat teams in 2016, with a brigade consisting of both combat arms and support elements.  

How many soldiers are in a division?

A division in the Army typically has a strength of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers under the command of a major general (two-star general). Each division contains three to four brigades. 

The Army has four different types of divisions: airborne, armored, infantry, and mountain. There are currently 32 divisions in the Army. They can work together or independently and commit to sustained combat or peacetime operations anywhere in the world.

D-Day during World War II is an example of a successful multi-division effort. Though the Allied forces lost thousands of soldiers on June 6, 1944, the six divisions that landed overran the overwhelming firepower coming from the German defensive positions lining the beaches. 

How many soldiers are in a corps?

A corps contains 20,000 to 45,000 soldiers under the command of a lieutenant general, (three-star general). The Army has three corps, each containing two to five divisions. 

  • I Corps – Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
  • III Corps – Fort Cavazos, Texas
  • XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Liberty, North Carolina

The corps is the highest level of command in the Army. The staff in command positions within the corps are more focused on administration than operations. Each corps has a designated coverage area around the world. 

How many soldiers are in an army?

The U.S. Army has over 460,000 soldiers. But that number can vary when referring to a general army. The definition of an army is “the complete military organization of a nation for land warfare.” Depending on the nation building the army, the number of soldiers can range from 500 to one million. 

The U.S. military breaks down the ‘army’ topic into three elements. A three or four-star general commands a field army and contains 90,000 soldiers or two or more corps. Six field armies are currently active in the Army and have different responsibilities within a geographic combatant command. There are 11 of these commands and each have headquarters for each component of land, sea, air, and special operations. Each field army bolsters the command they support or run the whole command.

  • First Army: mobilization, readiness, and training command 
  • Third Army, or U.S. Army Central, runs the land component of U.S. Central Command
  • Fifth Army, or U.S. Army North, runs the land component of U.S. Northern Command 
  • Sixth Army, or U.S. Army South, runs the U.S. Southern Command
  • Seventh Army, or U.S. Army Europe, runs the land component of U.S. European Command
  • Eighth Army commands all U.S. Army forces stationed in South Korea
  • Ninth Army, commands the land component of U.S. Africa Command

Army Groups contain four to five field armies. Army groups are responsible for planning and directing operations in specific areas of the world and can carry out operations independently and indefinitely. A general, typically four or five-star generals, commands an army group. 

An army region has only been used in conflicts like WWII. Historically, field armies contain three or more field armies, of 1 to 3 million soldiers.

FAQs about the U.S. Army

You have questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: How old is the Army? 

A: The Army has been defending America for 248 years. 

Q: How many tanks does the Army have?

A: Around 8,000 tanks, but not all are ready for combat. 

Q: How many soldiers are in the Army?

A: According to congressional reports, there are approximately 458,000 soldiers in the Army as of 2023. 

Q: Is the Army better than the Marine Corps?

A: Better at what? Better at eating crayons? No. Better at beach landings? We can’t say for sure, but what branch of the military successfully launched the largest amphibious landing in human history, changing the course of the Second World War? That was the Army, wasn’t it?

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