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A platoon is a military unit usually composed of two to four sections or squads and containing about 30 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organised into a company, which typically consists of three, four or five platoons. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer — the platoon leader or platoon commander, usually a lieutenant. He is assisted by a senior non-commissioned officer — the platoon sergeant.
In some armies, platoon is used throughout the branches of the army. In others, such as the British Army, most platoons are infantry platoons, while some carry other designations such as tank, mortar, or heavy weapons platoons. In a few armies, such as the French Army, a platoon is specifically a cavalry unit, and the infantry use "section" as the equivalent unit.
The word is derived from the 17th-century French peloton, meaning a small ball or small detachment of men, which came from pelote, (originally from Latin 'pillula', meaning 'little ball').
- English: platoon
- French: peloton
- German: zug
- Russian: взвод vzvod
- Spanish: pelotón