Finnish military ranks form a system that incorporates features from Swedish, German, and Russian armed forces. In addition, the system has some typically Finnish characteristics that are mostly due to the personnel structure of the Finnish Defence Forces. The ranks have official names in Finnish and Swedish languages and official English translations. The Swedish forms are used in all Swedish-languages communications in Finland, e.g. in Swedish-speaking units of Finnish Defence Force. The system of ranks in the Swedish Armed Forces is slightly different.
Finland practices universal conscription of men (c. 80% of each age cohort), and maintains only a cadre of paid personnel for training and maintaining military readiness. Most of lower ranks are conscripts, and leave service as sotamies (Private) or korpraali (Private 1st Class). Junior leaders, about 20% of age cohort, serve 12 months and leave service as alikersantti (Corporal) or kersantti (Sergeant). 10% of conscripts are trained as reserve officers, serving 12 months, and leave service usually as vänrikki (2nd Lieutenant) or in the Navy as aliluutnantti (Ensign). In principle, there should be no distinction between reserve and active ranks, and NCOs and reserve officers can be promoted in reserve, up to everstiluutnantti (Lieutenant Colonel). During peace time, reservists are inactive, i.e. they do not receive pay or have a position in the chain of command. Reservists are in duty only when mobilized during a crisis or when attending mandatory or voluntary refresher exercises. Nevertheless, reserve NCO or officer ranks are an entrance requirement to a military or border guard career.
Rank and file and non-commissioned officers are promoted to their ranks by the commander of a brigade or equivalent, with the exception of the highest NCO ranks of ylivääpeli (Master Sergeant) and sotilasmestari (Sergeant Major), who are promoted by the service commander and Chief of Staff of the Defence Command, respectively. All officers from vänrikki (2nd Lieutenant) and higher are promoted to their ranks and commissioned to their offices by the President of Finland. Professional officers are trained at the Finnish National Defence University. Career officers graduate first as sotatieteen kandidaatti (Bachelor of Military Science), with an automatic promotion to luutnantti (Lieutenant), then work for 3–4 years' work as temporary officers. After this, they continue their studies to sotatieteen maisteri (Master of Military Science) and are promoted to yliluutnantti (1st Lieutenant). After graduation, they are promoted to kapteeni (Captain) and a commission to a permanent office.
The ranks currently used by the Finnish Defence Forces are (Finnish name above, and Swedish name below):
Army and air force operational ranks
|Rank||Translation||Equivalent rank||Collar insignia||M/05 field insignia|
|Cadet||Senior to 2nd lieutenant|
|Officer candidate||Senior to conscript sergeant|
|Officer student||Senior to conscript corporal|
|NCO student||Private 1st class|
|Rank||Translation||Equivalent rank||Shoulder insignia||Sleeve insignia|
|Cadet||Senior to ensign||—|
|Officer candidate||Senior to conscript petty officer, 2nd class||—|
|Officer student||Petty officer, 3rd class||—|
|NCO student||Seaman apprentice||—|
The military personnel of the Finnish Defence Forces is divided into three groups:
Ranks sotamies and korpraali comprise the rank-and-file (miehistö). Soldiers in the rank of a private always have a branch or service specific title such as tykkimies "gunner" or matruusi, "seaman apprentice"; the non-specific rank of sotamies is no longer in use (see below). The NCO students rank as privates until they are promoted to the rank of Colonel.
The junior command personnel are formed from the professional or reserve NCOs and conscripts serving in ranks of corporal, officer student, sergeant or officer candidate or their naval equivalents. However, by regulation, all professional servicemen outrank conscripts.
The command personnel is formed of commissioned officers, commissioned officer specialists, warrant officers (opistoupseeri) and cadets.
Reservists belong to the personnel group determined by their military rank, but hold the position in the chain of command only from the moment they report to duty (or should have reported to duty) to the moment they have been discharged and have left the military installation. Unlike conscripts, the reservists rank with the professional military personnel without prejudice. The highest rank available to reserve officers is major, and in exceptional cases, lieutenant colonel.
The insignia is different from other European systems by some features. Stars are not used in the insignia. Large roses, instead of oak leaves, denote ranks from major to colonel. Generals wear lions (Lion of Finland), not stars. The qualifiers yli "Senior" and ali "Junior" are used in the names of some ranks; for example, kersantti is "Sergeant", while alikersantti is "Junior Sergeant" (Corporal).
In the army the insignia are placed in the collar in parade and service uniforms M/58 and M/83 and in field uniforms M/62 and M/91. The airforce places the M/58 insignia on the sleeve instead of the collar. In the navy where they have different parade dress they place the ranks on the sleeve and they also have the M/83 insignia on the shoulders. If the insignia are placed on the arm or on the sleeve, sleeve insignia are used. In the modern field uniform M/05, the collar insignia are placed on the chest. The colours of the background and the lining on the Army and Air Force collar patches indicate branch of specialization. In field uniforms, the collar patches do not carry branch colours, borders or corner accents. The national flag is carried in all uniforms and the unit insignia on background of the serviceman's branch colour is carried on the arm in battledress M/91 and M/05. However, conscripts' field uniforms may omit all insignia except the rank markings. In the table above, the army insignia for ranks from Private to Major are depicted on infantry collar patches, with the exception of Officer Student, which features Reserve Officer School collar patches. General officers' collar patches are most often gold on red. However, in some cases, the background of the collar patch retains the original colour of his branch of service.
In the Navy uniform, officers and Warrant officers wear the Lion of Finland on the top of their insignia, while Non-commissioned officers use the special insignia of their duty branch. In field uniforms, these emblems are dropped. Specialist officers always wear their specialist insignia in addition to their rank insignia on the collar patches. On sleeve and shoulder insignia, the specialty is denoted by coloured insignia background.
The NCO students do not wear any collar insignia. Their sole rank insignia consists of a silver line worn on the shoulder or arm of all uniforms, except in M/05 where the silver line is worn on the chest.
The ranks of field marshal (sotamarsalkka) and Marshal of Finland (Suomen marsalkka) were bestowed on Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim in 1933 and 1942, respectively. These are officially not military ranks but honorific titles, but were used like military ranks senior to the rank of general. The insignia used was a general's insignia added with crossed marshal's baton.
All generals from brigadier general to general are addressed as "Mr./Mrs. General"("herra/rouva kenraali"), and similarly for admirals.
The rank of general may, as a sign of special recognition, include a service branch: those historically used were general of infantry (jalkaväenkenraali), general of cavalry (ratsuväenkenraali) and general of artillery (tykistökenraali). These additions do not affect seniority. There are no living general officers with such recognition, the last one being General of Infantry Adolf Ehrnrooth (1905–2004).
Personnel who fought in the Finnish Jaegers of the German Army during World War I are often referred to as such, e.g. jääkärieversti "Jaeger colonel".
Personnel serving in technical duties belonging to the officers without officer training hold the position of military civil servant (sotilasvirkamies). Their rank is comparable to either first lieutenant, lieutenant and staff sergeant, depending on the level of the civilian education required to serve in this position. The lowest class is reserved for non-salaried military civil servants. Usually the military civil servants are an exception as their positions are likely to be filled by special officers, who have received officer training and hold commissions in addition to civilian academic education. The most typical specialties are engineering and medicine. Civilian interpreters hired for UN peace keeping missions abroad are typically ranked as first lieutenant or lieutenant, according to their civilian education level.
Reservists may be promoted up to the rank of major both in special and normal officer ranks, if they show extraordinary commitment to national defence. In rare cases, reservists have been promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Chaplains serve in the ranks of chaplain (sotilaspastori), senior chaplain (kenttärovasti, literally, "field dean"), and chaplain general (kenttäpiispa, literally, "field bishop"), corresponding to the ranks of captain, lieutenant colonel, and brigadier general, respectively. In addition, they have a personal rank into which they revert at the end of their clerical service in the Finnish Defence Force. Conscript chaplains and deacons serve in their personal rank.
Conscripts who have passed a reserve officer course, serve as officer candidates (upseerikokelas) and are considered NCOs ranking always above conscript sergeants but below any career personnel. They are addressed rouva/herra kokelas or rouva/herra upseerikokelas. At the end of their service period, they are promoted to second lieutenants.
Cadets (kadetti) are career military who have already passed their conscription and obtained the reserve officer's training and are now attending their professional officer education in the National Defence University. Cadets are senior to second lieutenants. In addition, the cadets may hold a cadet NCO rank which pertains to the seniority inside the Cadet Corps but does not affect their ranks in relation to other military personnel.
The NCO ranks in the Finnish Defence Force are filled by conscripts, career NCOs and contractual military personnel. The basic NCO rank "professional military person" (sotilasammattihenkilö) was abolished in 2006. It was position reserved for career NCOs who had not received conscript NCO training. Its relation to other rank and file ranks was unspecified. Career NCOs usually serve in the ranks of sergeant major, master sergeant, sergeant first class, staff sergeant and sergeant
The contractual military personnel (sopimussotilaat) serve in their reserve ranks. Until 2007, reserve officers served in the rank of staff sergeant. This practice has now been abolished and nowadays reserve officers use their reserve rank. As conscript, contractual and career NCOs may serve in the rank of sergeant, career NCO sergeants use a small sword insignia in conjunction of the chevrons to distinguish them from conscript and contractual sergeants.
After discharge from the military, both career NCOs and contractual military personnel revert to their personal reserve ranks. The conscripts may hold the NCO rank of officer cadet, sergeant, officer student, or corporal. Reserve personnel may hold any NCO rank.
There are some positions, which resemble military ranks in their name, but are not. The position of the "sergeant major of a company" (or other unit such as battery in artillery) is called komppanianvääpeli "sergeant first class of the company". In past times it was the position of the unit's most senior career NCO, but nowadays the post is held often by someone from sergeant up to senior lieutenant in training units, or by a conscript NCO (alikersantti, kersantti etc.) in mobilized units. Another example is komendantti, which is not a rank but a security/executive officer position in a brigade. While the rank of komentaja is found in the navy, in general use it refers to a commander of a battalion or a larger unit.
Sotamies is the generic rank for private, however the rank of sotamies, as such, is no longer used in any service branch. The rank is always given the name specific to the service branch:
Roughly 10 percent of all privates are promoted to the rank of private 1st class (Korpraali) during their service. In comparison, non-commissioned officer students (Aliupseerioppilas) hold either the permanent rank of private or private 1st class and rank accordingly. The rank of alokas is used to denote privates in basic training. The recruit, alokas is a new private, who has not been trained enough to have given a military oath or military guarantee. After having given an oath or such guarantee, the private soldier is not called anymore alokas, but he or she will be addressed as private or corresponding private level military rank.
Paratroop jaeger (laskuvarjojääkäri) and Special jaeger (erikoisjääkäri) in Utti Jaeger Regiment (Utin jääkärirykmentti) and Special border jaeger (erikoisrajajääkäri) in Special Border Jaeger Company of Border and Coast Guard School (Raja- ja merivartiokoulu) are not ranks, but specializations, where NCO training is given and thus each graduate is at minimum alikersantti.
Historically, the rank of sotamies was used in generic infantry units, while the rank of jaeger was used in specific jaeger battalions, which derived their traditions from the Jäger Movement.
Alikersantti (Undersergeant in Swedish) is the lowest Finnish non-commissioned officer military rank. Alikersantti is one rank above a Korpraali (Lance-Corporal) and one below a Kersantti (Sergeant). A holder of this rank is typically a squad leader, assistant squad leader, gun section leader or a fighting vehicle commander.Brigadgeneral
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 BrigadgeneralFinnish Defence Forces
The Finnish Defence Forces (Finnish: Puolustusvoimat, Swedish: Försvarsmakten) are responsible for the defence of Finland. A universal male conscription is in place, under which all men above 18 years of age serve for 165, 255, or 347 days. Alternative non-military service for all men, and volunteer service for all women are possible.
Finland is the only non-NATO European Union state bordering Russia. Finland's official policy states that a wartime military strength of 280,000 personnel constitutes a sufficient deterrent. The army consists of a highly mobile field army backed up by local defence units. The army defends the national territory and its military strategy employs the use of the heavily forested terrain and numerous lakes to wear down an aggressor, instead of attempting to hold the attacking army on the frontier.
Finland's defence budget equals approximately €3.1 billion or 1.3% of GDP. The voluntary overseas service is highly popular and troops serve around the world in UN, NATO and EU missions. Homeland defence willingness against a superior enemy is at 76%, one of the highest rates in Europe.In war time the Finnish Border Guard (which is its own military unit in peacetime) will become part of the Finnish Defence Forces.Fältväbel
Vääpeli is a Finnish and former Swedish military rank above Ylikersantti and below Ylivääpeli. The rank is derived from the German rank Feldwebel and was used as a rank in the Landsknecht (15th and 16th century) for the one who was responsible for aligning troops during battle.Fänrik
Fänrik (Swedish: [ˈfɛnrɪk]) and vänrikki (Finnish: [ˈʋænrikːi]), both from the German Fähnrich, are a Swedish and Finnish military rank. A typical assignment for a professional Fänrik is as junior instructor of recruits. In Finland, the rank vänrikki is used in active service by reserve officers who remain in service as for 6-to-12-months-long additional term to serve as sopimussotilas. In addition, it is the lowest reserve officer rank. Finnish Defence Forces rank of Vänrikki is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-1.General (Sweden)
General, Finnish: kenraali is the highest officer's rank in Sweden and Finland. In Sweden, it is held by the Supreme Commander (Swedish: överbefälhavare) of the Swedish Armed Forces and the monarch. In Finland, it is held by the Chief of Defence. In Sweden, the monarch still holds the nominal rank of General as well as Admiral and General of the Air Force.
Finnish Defence Forces rank of kenraali is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-9.Generallöjtnant
Generallöjtnant is an officer's rank in Sweden and Finland, immediately above Generalmajor and below General. In Sweden, the rank is translated as lieutenant general. The Director, Joint Staff of Armed Forces Headquarters, the Director of Operations and the Director of Production hold this rank.
Finnish Defence Forces rank of Kenraaliluutnantti is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-8Generalmajor (Sweden)
Generalmajor is an officer's rank in Sweden and Finland, immediately above Brigadgeneral and below Generallöjtnant.
Finnish Defence Forces rank of Kenraalimajuri is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-7Kadett
Kadett corresponds to Cadet in English and is a term used in Sweden to denote officer candidates studying in order to become an officer.
There are basically two ways to become officer as described below.Kapten
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.Lozenge
A lozenge (◊), often referred to as a diamond, is a form of rhombus. The definition of lozenge is not strictly fixed, and it is sometimes used simply as a synonym (from the French losange) for rhombus. Most often, though, lozenge refers to a thin rhombus—a rhombus with two acute and two obtuse angles, especially one with acute angles of 45°. The lozenge shape is often used in parquetry (with acute angles that are 360°/n with n being an integer higher than 4, because they can be used to form set of tiles of the same shape and size, reusable to cover the plane in various geometric patterns as the result of a tiling process called tessellation in mathematics) and as decoration on ceramics, silverware and textiles. It also features in heraldry and playing cards.Löjtnant
Löjtnant (from French lieutenant) is a Swedish and Finnish military rank (in Finnish, luutnantti). In Sweden, it is a Swedish professional, reserve and conscripted military rank, immediately above Fänrik and just below kapten.
In Sweden, the professional rank is obtained after two years as Fänrik.
Finnish Defence Forces rank of Luutnantti is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-1.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.Sergeant (Sweden and Finland)
Sergeant (kersantti in Finnish) is a Swedish and Finnish military rank above korpral in Sweden and alikersantti in Finland; and below förste sergeant in Sweden and Ylikersantti in Finland.
Sergeant is a rank given to contracted personnel. Holders of the rank generally serve as squad leaders or deputy squad leaders (6-8 men).
contracted NCOs usually start from sergeant, in infantry platoons sergeants may serve as squad leaders (6-8 men), deputy platoon commanders (~30 men) or rarely even a platoon commanders, or at company level as Company Sergeant Majors.Sotilasmestari
Sotilasmestari (Militärmästare in Swedish, Chief Warrant Officer or Sergeant Major in English) is a Finnish military rank above Ylivääpeli (Överfältväbel) and below Vänrikki (Fänrik).Vicekorpral
Vicekorpral (Vicekonstapel in the artillery) is a Swedish rank above Menig and below Korpral that existed until 1972 as a trainee rank for conscripts who were undertaking training to become deputy squad leaders or squad leaders.
The rank was reintroduced 2009 to denote soldiers at OR-3 level.Ylivääpeli
Ylivääpeli (Överfältväbel in Swedish) is a Finnish military rank above Vääpeli (Fältväbel) and below Sotilasmestari
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-5Överstelöjtnant
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
Military ranks and insignia by country
|Commonwealth of Nations|