Gefreiter is the German, Swiss and Austrian equivalent for Private (OR-2) (US Army E-2) in the armed services. Gefreiter was the lowest rank to which an ordinary soldier could be promoted. As a military rank it has existed since at least the 16th century. From the 1920s on Gefreiter has expanded into several ranks equivalent to Private (OR-3) to Corporal, those being Obergefreiter, Hauptgefreiter, Stabsgefreiter and Oberstabsgefreiter.
In today's German Federal Armed Forces Bundeswehr, almost every soldier or sailor successfully passing the 12 weeks basic training is promoted to Gefreiter. Following the NATO ranking system, Gefreiter ranks as Private (OR-2), Obergefreiter as PFC (OR-3 lower half), Hauptgefreiter as Lance-Corporal (OR-3 upper half), Stabsgefreiter and Oberstabsgefreiter as Corporal (OR-4). The German equivalent of Private (OR-1) is Schütze or another unit type-specific term (like Kanonier, "gunner") in the Heer (German Army), Matrose in the Deutsche Marine (German Navy), Flieger in the Luftwaffe (Air Force), or simply Soldat ("[ordinary] soldier").
See Swiss army ranks.
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