Överste (eversti in Finnish) is an officer rank in Finland and Sweden, immediately above överstelöjtnant (everstiluutnantti) and below brigadgeneral (prikaatikenraali). It literally means "the highest" and has originally been a rank for regiment commanders. In Finland, brigades are also commanded by holders of this rank. It is the highest rank below general officers.

Finnish Defense Forces rank of Eversti is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-5

Swedish Army
Swedish Air Force

Finnish Army


History and related ranks

1600 - 1700

Commander of a regiment that consisted of 1200 troops split into eight companies held this rank. One of the companies was called lifeguard company and was commanded by the överste himself with a kaptenlöjtnant as his deputy. However, the command of the lifeguard company was mostly delegated to the kaptenlöjtnant during battle. The regiment was split into two battalions during battle where the överste was in command of the first battalion. The holder was not paid by his rank but by his line of command. Thus, he received three salaries: salary for being the head of the regiment, the head of a battalion as well as being the head of a company.

Sweden: Before 1983

The holder of the rank who served as a commander of a regiment was also assigned a wartime position as commander of the corresponding brigade. A regiment is a pure training institution and produced about one battalion a year to populate the brigade.

Sweden: Currently

The war organization has drastically been reduced from about 30 brigades to a few battalions (Military units of the Army). As a result, there is a major surplus of officers with 330 officers in this rank. Almost all do not command any military battle units; but take up senior tasks related to administration, staff, education, training, planning.[1]

Some holders of the rank are also seen as heads or deputy heads of training centers (called regiment) that employ about 600 military and civilian staff and train about 1200 conscripts.


Colonels (eversti) have usually fulfilled roles similar to Brigadier General in other armies. Indeed, the rank of Brigadier General (prikaatikenraali) has been introduced relatively recently, enabling better compatibility of ranks in peacekeeping operations. In most large military installations such as training brigades, the commander is a Colonel, and several officers of the General Staff, such as inspectors of services, are also Colonels. Promotion to colonel requires graduation from a general staff officer course (80 study credits).[2]


Fältöverste (fält "field") is an obsolete rank that used to denote the highest commander, equivalent of a general.

See also


  1. ^ Personnel department of the National Defense at Lidingövägen Stockholm “Bastionen”
  2. ^ "Maanpuolustuskorkeakoulu - Suomen ryhdikkäin yliopisto - Maanpuolustuskorkeakoulu". www.mpkk.fi.
Air force officer ranks

Many Air forces of use a rank system similar to Armies, however, the RAF and the air forces of many Commonwealth countries, or those formerly under a British influence, use a different set of ranks loosely based on naval equivalents; Lieutenant, Commander, Captain and Commodore are prefixed for air force use with Flight, Wing, Group and Air, respectively (the first three being the units that they used to command).

Army officer ranks

Armies have military rank systems that are often used by other military services such as air forces or marines.

Battalion (Sweden)

A Swedish battalion during the mid 17th century up to the mid 18th century was the smallest tactical unit in combat. The 600 man unit was formed, temporarily, at the inception of a battle by joining four foot companies from a foot regiment of eight companies. The commander of the regiment, an Överste (Colonel), led the first battalion and his deputy, an Överstelöjtnant (Lieutenant Colonel), the second battalion. Battalion commanders and all other officers marched in front of the formation. Non-commissioned officers (underofficers) marched beside and behind to prevent desertion, and to replace officers who were killed. In addition to his principal duties, senior officers, such as Majors, the Överstelöjtnant and Överste, also commanded a company. So that the Överste could focus on the operations of his regiment and first battalion, command of his company was delegated to a Kaptenlöjtnant. During battle, each officer, except the Fänriks, was in charge of a portion of his company. Underofficer (NCO) ranks comprised Furir, Förare, Fältväbel, Sergeant and Rustmästare.

Bo Pellnäs

Bo Pellnäs (born 22 October 1939 in Stockholm) is a retired Brigadier (Swedish: överste av första graden) in the Swedish Army.

Pellnäs started his studies in Karlstad in 1958 and then went on to serve as an officer in the Swedish Army. He served as head of the Norrbotten Regiment, head of battalion on Cyprus from 1983 to 1984, head of the United Nations Military Observers (UNMO) in Afghanistan from 1988 to 1989, head of the United Nations Military Observers on Balkan during the Yugoslav wars from 1992 to 1993, military advisor to David Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg from 1993 to 1994, and head of the head of an international mission to monitor the Yugoslav-Bosnian border from 1994 to 1995 when he retired from the military. He later served as head of the OSCE mission office in Belgrade from 1998 to 1999.

Today, Pellnäs is an active commentator on defense policy and security issues in Sweden. He also served as a member of the Swedish Tsunami Commission that was appointed in 2005 to evaluate the Swedish government's response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.


Brigadgeneral is an officer's rank in Sweden and Finland, immediately above Överste and below Generalmajor. Sweden: The rank was introduced in 2000 to replace the old rank of Överste av 1:a graden (Colonel 1st Class). It is translated officially by the Swedish Army to Brigadier General. However, almost all officers in this rank do not command brigades, regiments or battalions; but take up senior tasks related to administration, staff, education, planning. Each of the (F)HQ units available (see Swedish Armed Forces) supports a unit which is commanded by a Brigadgeneral


Colonel ( "kernel"; abbreviated Col., Col or COL) is a senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Monaco or the Vatican, colonel is the highest rank. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations.

Historically, in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a colonel was typically in charge of a regiment in an army. Modern usage varies greatly, and in some cases, the term is used as an honorific title that may have no direct relationship to military service.

The rank of colonel is typically above the rank of lieutenant colonel. The rank above colonel is typically called brigadier, brigade general or brigadier general.

Equivalent naval ranks may be called captain or ship-of-the-line captain. In the Commonwealth air force rank system, the equivalent rank is group captain.

Comparative air force officer ranks of Europe

Rank comparison chart of all air forces of European states.

Comparative army officer ranks of Europe

Rank comparison chart of all armies and land forces of European states.

Historical ranks of the Swedish Armed Forces

The following article lists the historical military ranks used by personnel of the Swedish Armed Forces.


Kapten (Kapteeni in Finnish) (From the Latin word capitaneus meaning head man or chief) is a professional and conscripted military rank in Sweden obtained by employed military personnel after one year as löjtnannt and completing a 40-week course (Note. It is no longer possible for conscripts to obtain the rank); Finland and Estonia, immediately above Löjtnant in Sweden and Yliluutnantti in Finland and just below Major in the Army ranks. In the Navy, the rank is immediately above Löjtnant and just below Örlogskapten.

Finnish Defence Forces rank of Kapteeni is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-2.

Lord High Admiral of Sweden

The Lord High Admiral or Admiral of the Realm (Swedish: Riksamiral) was a prominent and influential office in Sweden, from c. 1571 until 1676, excluding periods when the office was out of use. The office holder was a member of the Swedish Privy Council and the head of the navy and Admiralty of Sweden. From 1634, the Lord High Admiral was one of five Great Officers of the Realm.

Lord High Treasurer of Sweden

The Lord High Treasurer (Swedish: Riksskattmästare) was a highly prominent member of the Swedish Privy Council between 1602 and 1684, excluding periods when the office was out of use. The Lord High Treasurer was head of the Kammarkollegium and, from 1634, one of five Great Officers of the Realm.

Major (Sweden)

Major (Majuri in Finnish) is a military officer's rank in Sweden and Finland, ranking above Kapten and below Överstelöjtnant. Swedish Kapten(s) are promoted to the rank after the completion of a 40-week course at the National Defense College.Finnish Defence Forces rank of Majuri is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-3.

Military ranks of the Swedish Armed Forces

Military ranks of the Swedish Armed Forces shows the rank system used in the Swedish Armed Forces today, as well as changes during the 20th century due to changes in the personnel structure.


Oberst (German pronunciation: [ˈʔoːbɐst]) is a military rank in several German-speaking and Scandinavian countries, equivalent to Colonel. It is currently used by both the ground and air forces of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, and Norway. The Swedish rank överste is a direct translation, as are the Finnish rank eversti and the Icelandic rank ofursti. In the Netherlands the rank overste is used as a synonym for a lieutenant colonel.

RAF officer ranks

The officer ranks of the Royal Air Force, as they are today, were introduced in 1919. Prior to that Army ranks were used.

The Staffan Stolle Story

The Staffan Stolle Story (Swedish: Ratataa eller The Staffan Stolle Story) is a 1956 Swedish musical comedy film directed by Hasse Ekman. The film was selected as the Swedish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 29th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee. The film stars Povel Ramel in a leading role, and features many scenes where Ramel performs musical numbers.

Ulf Henricsson

Ulf Hugo Henricsson (born 1 February 1942) is a former Swedish officer. He is best known for his achievements in the Bosnian War as commander of the peacekeeping operations from September 1993 to April 1994. There he commanded the Nordic battalion (Nordbat 2) which was a part of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR).


Överstelöjtnant (Everstiluutnantti in Finnish) is an officer's rank in Finland and Sweden, immediately above Major (Majuri) and just below Överste (Eversti). Majors who completes a two year management course at the National Defense college in Sweden are promoted to the rank.

Finnish Defence Forces rank of Everstiluutnantti is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-4

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