| This article uses Creative Commons licensed content from revision 1072597 of Narutopedia's
Shinobi Organisational System article.
The list of authors can be seen in the page history there.
Although there are variations from village to village, the general organisational structure and hierarchy of the ninja systems of each village is about the same. At the top of the organisation is the village head, or the Kage in the case of the Five Great Shinobi Countries. They rule the village and its shinobi together with a council, usually consisting of highly ranked shinobi and elders.
The actual shinobi forces are divided in three groups. The regular forces, the Anbu, and the medical teams.
The regular forces (正規部隊, Seiki Butai) form the foundation of the village and its shinobi system. The majority of shinobi are a part of these forces and together, either individually or in teams, they perform the majority of the missions the village receives. They are also tasked with the various duties within the organisation, such as training and administrative duties.
When an Academy student graduates, they usually become a part of these forces, assuming the rank of genin. Via various exams and tests, they can be promoted to higher ranks, first to chūnin and jōnin after that. Sometimes, when a shinobi is specialised in a very specific skill, they can assume the rank of tokubetsu jōnin, which is a rank between chūnin and jōnin.
- Main Article: Academy Students
Academy students (忍者学校生, Akademī-sei) make up the student body of the Academy, where they are trained and prepared for life as a shinobi. They are not an actual part of the shinobi force, as they are still in the process of mastering the very basics of the ninja lifestyle.
- Main Article: Genin
Genin (下忍, Literally meaning: low ninja) are the lowest level of ninja and also the ones that display the most difference in power. When they become genin, ninja start to do their bit for their village's economy – being sent on missions that the village gets paid for. They are typically sent either on D-Rank missions, which are almost entirely risk-free jobs of manual labour, or, rarely, on C-rank missions, which are a cut above that and begin to verge on real "ninja" work that have a very low possibility of risk to the ninja involved.
- Main Article: Chūnin
Chūnin (中忍, Literally meaning: Middle Ninja) are ninja who are qualified to guide other ninja and lead missions. Chūnin have reached a level of maturity and ability that primarily consists of leadership skills and tactical prowess. Genin who do not have the skills to become chūnin are weeded out in the Chūnin Exams. Some of them, like Iruka Umino, move on to function as Academy teachers and others, like Shikamaru Nara, serve as team leaders in charge of small teams who need to make decisions and utilise the skills of the shinobi under their command to the maximum effect. Chūnin are typically sent on C-rank or B-rank missions.
- Main Article: Jōnin
Jōnin (上忍, Jōnin, Literally meaning: High Ninja) are generally highly-experienced shinobi with great individual skill who serve as military captains. They are often sent on A-rank missions, and experienced jōnin may even be sent on S-rank missions (which are considered to be the greatest difficulty). It is not unusual for jōnin to go on missions alone.
- Main Article: Kage
Kage (影, Literally meaning: Shadow) is a title reserved for the leader of one of the Five Great Shinobi Countries' hidden villages. They are collectively known as the Five Kage (五影, Gokage, Literally meaning: Five Shadows). A Kage oversees the activities of their village, from sending ninja on missions to making the hard decisions regarding the safety of their people. A village's Kage is generally acknowledged as its most powerful ninja.
Although the higher-ranking members of the regular forces often perform missions alone, most are done in teams. The most basic team is the one a genin is placed in after graduation. This so-called three-man cell consists of three genin under the guidance of a jōnin commander. These teams are meant to give the new shinobi practical skills, while already being a productive member of the organisation. Usually, strong bonds are cultivated between the members of such a team, lasting their entire lives. Because of these bonds and the fact that working with one's long-time team-mates is usually more efficient, these teams often last even after all members have been promoted to chūnin or higher.
Besides these basic teams, there are also teams, and groups created for specific missions and tasks.
The Anbu (暗部, English TV: Anbu Black Ops, Literally meaning: Dark Side), short for Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai (暗殺戦術特殊部隊, Literally meaning: Special Assassination and Tactical Squad), are covert operatives dispatched by their Kage.
The medical teams (医療班, Iryō-han) is the supporting side of the shinobi forces. They consist of medical-nin, working behind the scenes to heal sick and injured shinobi and to make sure the organisation's resources are always in peak condition. Medical-nin are similar to a Hospital Corpsman or HM of the military in real life.