CORPORAL, U.S. ARMY
The rank of corporal was established in 1775 with the birth of the Army and the NCO Corps. Along with the rank of sergeant, the corporal is the only rank which has never disappeared from the NCO Corps.
The rank of corporal has always been placed at the base of the NCO ranks. For the most part, corporals have served as the smallest unit leaders in the Army: principally, leaders of teams.
During the Vietnam conflict, the Army adopted the NCO Candidate Course. Going through this course, the soldier would by-pass the corporal rank and be promoted to sergeant or staff sergeant.
This policy, combined with the increased use of specialists, lessened the overall number of corporals authorized in the Army.
Like the grade of sergeant, corporals are responsible for individual training, personal appearance and cleanliness of their soldiers.
As the command sergeant major is known as the epitome of success in the NCO Corps, the corporal is the beginning of the NCO Corps. As the NCO Corps is known as the backbone of the Army, the corporal is the backbone of the NCO Corps.