The designation of military units is a mystery to many people outside the armed forces. Journalists often misname units because they don't research military organization, and many people couldn't tell you the difference between a squad and a brigade.

The Chain

The general hierarchy of organization for combat units is team, squad (consists of teams), platoon (consists of squads), company (consists of platoons), battalion (consists of companies) and brigade or regiment, which both consist of battalions. Brigades are assets of divisions, while regiments are historic affiliations that may be independent of divisions or split up between commands.

Identification

A battalion can have anywhere from 300 to 1,300 personnel. A brigade can consist of between two and five battalions.

Difference

The distinction between a brigade and a battalion, aside from size and position in the hierarchy, is that the brigade is the first level at which arms are combined; that is, infantry, armor and artillery are under the same commander.

Example

A typical United States infantry battalion is the 1st Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which is a member of the 505th Infantry Regiment--which has no headquarters or commander (affiliation only). The 1st Battalion 505th PIR is under the operational control of the 3rd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division.