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Rank (or Rating) is a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces or similar civil institutions. A person has authority over any person in the same force with a lower rank.

Ranking systems have been known for most of military history to be advantageous for military operations, in particular with regards to logistics, command, and coordination; as time continued and military operations became larger and more complex, military ranks increased and ranking systems themselves became more complex.

Most rank systems are split into two sections - Commissioned Officers and Enlisted Rates. Most forces use Rank Insiginia to denote rank, and Uniform is often different.

Within modern armed forces, the use of ranks is almost universal. Communist states have sometimes abolished rank (e.g. the Soviet Russian Red Army 1918–1935, the Chinese People's Liberation Army 1965–1988, and the Albanian Army 1966–1991) only to re-establish them after encountering operational difficulties of command and control.

For a comparison between British Armed Forces and US Military ranks, see Comparative Ranks.

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