Rank insignia of the German Bundeswehr

The rank insignia of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany indicate rank and branch of service in the German Army (Heer), German Air Force (Luftwaffe), or the German Navy (Marine).

They are regulated by the "presidential order on rank designation and military uniform". The 'ZDv-37/10 – Anzugsordnung für Soldaten der Bundeswehr' (ZDv: Zentrale Dienstvorschrift - Central Service Provision) gives the dress order and design variations. Further, the Federal Office of Equipment, IT, and In-Service Support of the Bundeswehr (Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr) provides numerous details.

Types

Basically, the different types of rank insignias might be distinguished as follows:

  • Shoulder straps or boards
  • Cuff titles or sleeve insignias
  • Mounting loops or straps (in de: Aufziehschlaufen)

Basic structure of shoulder straps and sleeve insignias

The rank insignias of all service personnel will be explained initially on the example of shoulder straps to the basic uniform or everyday uniform in order provide a general overview.

As to naval persons in uniform there will be additionally depicted sleeve insignias on the uniform jacket. Pertaining army persons in uniform there will be shown next shoulder straps of the uniform jacket. Variations of the first instance depicted rank insignias will be explained in more detail.

Mannschaften (Personnel)

Army, Luftwaffe Flag of NATO.svg
NATO
Rank insignia Navy
Bundeswehr Logo Heer with lettering.svg Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering Bundeswehr Logo Marine with lettering.svg
(Sleeve and Shoulder)
  • Army: Soldat (army recruit)
  • Luftwaffe: Flieger (airman recruit)
OR-1[1]
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Panzertruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 10er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 81er Verwendungsreihe
Matrose
(seaman recruit)
Gefreiter
(enlisted man)
OR-2
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Jägertruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 20er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 50er Verwendungsreihen
Gefreiter
Obergefreiter
(senior enlisted man)
OR-3
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Heeresaufklärungstruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 30er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 40er Verwendungsreihen
Obergefreiter
Hauptgefreiter
(head enlisted man)
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Artillerietruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 50er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 30er Verwendungsreihen
Hauptgefreiter
Stabsgefreiter
(staff enlisted man)
OR-4
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Heeresflugabwehrtruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 60er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 20er Verwendungsreihen
Stabsgefreiter
Oberstabsgefreiter
(leading staff enlisted man)
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Fernmeldetruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 30er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 10er Verwendungsreihen
Oberstabsgefreiter

Unteroffiziere (Subofficers)

Operational ranks

Heer, Luftwaffe Flag of NATO.svg
NATO
Rank insigniar Marine
Bundeswehr Logo Heer with lettering.svg Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering Bundeswehr Logo Marine with lettering.svg
(shoulder and sleeve)
Non-commissioned Officers "without swordknot"/ Unteroffiziere "ohne Portepee"
Unteroffizier
(Subofficer)
OR-5
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Panzergrenadiertruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 10er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 10er Verwendungsreihen
Maat
(Ship's mate)
Stabsunteroffizier
(Staff subofficer)
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Panzertruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 30er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 20er Verwendungsreihen
Obermaat
(Leading mate)
Non-commissioned Officers "with swordknot"/ Unteroffiziere "mit Portepee"
Feldwebel
(Sergeant)
OR-6
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Artillerietruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 30er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 60er Verwendungsreihen
Bootsmann
(Boatswain)
Oberfeldwebel
(Senior Sergeant)
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Heeresflugabwehrtruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 60er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 70er Verwendungsreihen
Oberbootsmann
(Leading boatswain)
Hauptfeldwebel
(Head sergeant)
OR-7
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger ABC-Abwehrtruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 70er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 50er Verwendungsreihen
Hauptbootsmann
(Head Boatswain)
Stabsfeldwebel
(Staff sergeant)
OR-8
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Fernmeldetruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 10er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 40er Verwendungsreihen
Stabsbootsmann
(Staff boatswain)
Oberstabsfeldwebel
(Senior staff sergeant)
OR-9
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Heeresaufklärungstruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 20er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 30er Verwendungsreihen
Oberstabsbootsmann
(Senior staff boatswain)

Officer cadet ranks

Heer, Luftwaffe Flag of NATO.svg
NATO
Rank insignia Marine
Bundeswehr Logo Heer with lettering.svg Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering Bundeswehr Logo Marine with lettering.svg
(Sleeve and Shoulder)
Non-commissioned Officers - Officer Cadets
Fahnenjunker
(Ensign esquire)
OR-5
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Panzertruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 30er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 20er Verwendungsreihen
Seekadett
(Sea Cadet)
Fähnrich
(Ensign)
OR-6
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Pioniertruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 30er Verwendungsreihen
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger 60er Verwendungsreihen
Fähnrich zur See
(Ensign-at-Sea)
Oberfähnrich
(Senior ensign)
OR-7
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Heeresfliegertruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst oder militärfachlicher Dienst)
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst oder militärfachlicher Dienst)
Oberfähnrich zur See
(Leading ensign-at-sea)

Offiziere (Officers)

Heer, Luftwaffe Flag of NATO.svg
NATO
Rank insignia Marine
Bundeswehr Logo Heer with lettering.svg Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering Bundeswehr Logo Marine with lettering.svg
(shoulder and sleeve)
Lieutenants (de: Leutnante)
Leutnant
(Lieutenant)
OF-1b[2]

OF-1a

Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Fallschirmjägertruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst oder militärfachlicher Dienst)
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst oder militärfachlicher Dienst)
Leutnant zur See
(Lieutenant-at-sea)
Oberleutnant
(Principal Lieutenant)
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Panzertruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst oder militärfachlicher Dienst)
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst oder militärfachlicher Dienst)
Oberleutnant zur See
(Principal lieutenant-at-sea)
Captains and Captains lieutenant (de: Hauptleute)
Hauptmann
(Captain)
OF-2b

OF-2a
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Heeresaufklärungstruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst oder militärfachlicher Dienst)
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst oder militärfachlicher Dienst)
Kapitänleutnant
(Captain-lieutenant)
Stabshauptmann
(Staff captain)
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Artillerietruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (militärfachlicher Dienst)
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (militärfachlicher Dienst)
Stabskapitänleutnant
(Staff captain-lieutenant)
Senior officers (de: Stabsoffiziere)
Major
(Major)
OF-3
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Fedljägertruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Korvettenkapitän
(Corvette Captain)
Oberstleutnant
(Lieutenant colonel)
OF-4
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger Heeresflugabwehrtruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Fregattenkapitän
(Frigate captain)
Oberst
(Colonel)
OF-5
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger ABC-Abwehrtruppe
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Kapitän zur See
(Captain-at-Sea)

Generals and Flag officers

Heer, Luftwaffe Flag of NATO.svg
NATO
Rank insignia Marine
Bundeswehr Logo Heer with lettering.svg Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering Bundeswehr Logo Marine with lettering.svg
(shoulder and sleeve)
Brigadegeneral
(Brigadier general)
OF-6
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger General
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger General
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Flottillenadmiral
(Flotilla admiral)
Generalmajor
(Major general)
OF-7
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger General
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger General
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Konteradmiral
(Counter admiral)
Generalleutnant
(Lieutenant general)
OF-8
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger General
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger General
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Vizeadmiral
(Vice admiral)
General OF-9
Jacke Dienstanzug Heeresuniformträger General
Jacke Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger General
Schulterklappe Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Ärmelabzeichen Dienstanzug Marineuniformträger (Truppendienst)
Admiral

* above: description to person in uniform “ Heer Bundeswehr“ (Federal Armed Forces - Army) and „Luftwaffe Bundeswehr“ (Federal Armed Forces - Air Force) ; below – Description to person in uniform “Deutsche Marine” (German Navy)

Variations

Army- and Air Force persons in uniform of the commissioned officers rank group may carry in line with ZDv 37/10 self-procured hand stitched rank insignias (image: d.) instead of the metallic version (image: e.). However, this type of rank insignias is rather seldom in practice. Beside the rank insignia on light-grey shoulder straps, as shown above, there is to army persons in uniform a version (see image a.) on dark grey cloth. This version of shoulder straps will be worn to uniform shirt and overcoat.

Naval persons in uniform, of the enlisted personnel rank group, wear relatively seldom the dark blue jacket with the above indicated cuff titles, because enlisted mariner in the age below 30 years prefer to wear the white shirt or blue shirt instead of the uniform jacked. Sleeve insignias on shirts more simple, but pertaining form and dimensions identically to those on jackets.

a. Dark grey shoulder strap - Heer (here: Stabsunteroffizier armored corps)

MDHBA 16 Oberstabsgefreiter 10 Lo

b. Cuff title to the dark blue seaman shirt (here: Oberstabsgefreiter with a seamanship rating)

MDHWA 13 Obergefreiter 20 Lo

c. Cuff title to the dark white seaman shirt (here: Obergefreiter with a control & communications rating)

Hauptmann (Gesellschaftsanzug)

d. Shoulder strap dress uniform strap (hand stitched version) - Heer (here: captain - OF2)

HD H 41 Leutnant FschJg

e. Shoulder strap basic form (metallic version) - Heer (here: lieutenant - OF1b infantry)

BW Gesellschaftsanzug Heer (Grundform Frauen)
Mess Dress uniform, female Heer

In the place of stripes, with parts of metallic spinning fibers wire yarn, the oblique chevrons are made from golden-yellow or steel-blue spinning fibers without any metallic parts of wire yarn (see images b and c.). For Army and Air Force personnel in Bundeswehr dress uniform, as well as for all female soldiers, shoulder straps are mandatory. However, male naval persons in uniform wear cuff titles, known from the jacket.

Particularities

Deviating from the description above, naval enlisted personnel of the Guard Battalion of the MOD-Germany (de: Wachbataillon beim BMVg) are exempted from wearing any sleeve rating mark on all uniforms.

In opposition to the ZDv 37/10, in representative military units (e.g. Guard Battalion of the MOD-Germany and Staff Military Band of the Armed Forces) for enlisted personnel and non commissioned officers the background of the basic uniform gorget patches shows the specific corps colour of the appropriate armed service, special troop, corps or assignment.[3]

Also in deviation from the description above, on the service jacket and skiing blouse colour pipings or cops background colour on gorget patches are dropped.[3]

Basic form of mounting straps

Mounting straps or loops (Aufziehschlaufen in German) are in principle identical to the design of the epaulettes depicted above. From this point of view it is sufficient to demonstrate the different versions of the design, instead of showing a complete list. Officially-procured mounting straps are weaved. The field-uniform type of mounting straps, used most, have black or golden emblems on stone-grey/olive-coloured base textiles. Soldiers of the lowest ranks generally do not wear shoulder straps. Exceptions to this are comparatively-low-ranked sub-officers, Mate aspirants, and Boatswain aspirants, as well as wearers of stone-grey/olive Luftwaffe uniforms that do not feature badges with the double wings.

Rank Person in uniform Notes
Bundeswehr Logo Heer with lettering.svg Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering Bundeswehr Logo Marine with lettering.svg
Enlisted personnel Aufschiebeschlaufe Feldanzug Heeresuniformträger Jägertruppe
Aufschiebeschlaufe Feldanzug Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger
Aufschiebeschlaufe Feldanzug Marineuniformträger
On army uniform, the shoulder strap loops consist of a base textile the colour of the collar patch with markings in 0.4-cm-wide coupled flat thread.

Luftwaffe shoulder straps of this type are the only type to have the Luftwaffe double wings woven in. These are longer than all the other types used by the Luftwaffe.

Non-commissioned officers
Aufschiebeschlaufe Feldanzug Heeresuniformträger Stabsunteroffizier Fernmeldetruppe
Aufschiebeschlaufe Feldanzug Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger Oberstabsfeldwebel
Aufschiebeschlaufe Feldanzug Marineuniformträger Bootsmann
Staff officers
Aufschiebeschlaufe Feldanzug Heeresuniformträger Oberst Heereslogistiktruppe
Aufschiebeschlaufe Feldanzug Dienstanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger Oberst
Aufschiebeschlaufe Feldanzug Marineuniformträger Fregattenkapitän
This shoulder strap is also worn on the Battle Dress Uniform featuring 3-colour Flecktarn camouflage.

Epaulettes and armbands on the Battle Dress Uniforms of personnel whose ranks feature stars are only worn by some comparatively-low-ranked Officer aspirants.

General ranks
Flag officers
Aufschiebeschlaufe Feldanzug Heeresuniformträger General
Aufschiebeschlaufe Feldanzug Luftwaffenuniformträger Generalleutnant
Aufschiebeschlaufe Feldanzug Marineuniformträger Admiral

Variations which conform to regulations

Similar mounting straps exist for differently-coloured uniform parts as well as for Army, Air Force, and Navy personnel in uniform. Army personnel in uniform, for example, wear black mounting straps with bright-grey emblems (gold-yellow for Generals) on the epaulettes of grey shirts (see image a.).

For naval personnel, dark-blue mounting straps are widespread, particularly on the ship-parka (see image c.).

For Air Force pilots' flying suits there exists a version of the mounting straps with bright-grey emblems (gold-yellow for Generals) on dark-blue base textile (without double-wing). The Air Force double-wing is mounted to other parts of the flying suit, and is intentionally omitted on mounting straps.

a. Black base textile with bright-grey emblems – Heer (here: colonel NBC defense corps, grey pullover)

b. Dark-blue base textile with bright-grey emblems – Air Force (here: captain grey-blue flying suit)

c. Dark-blue base textile with gold-yellow emblems – Navy (here: captain lieutenant, ship-parka)

Versions being phased out

By amendment of the "Presidential Order on Rank Designation and Uniform of Soldiers" on February 7, 1996, it was decided that the silver-coloured rank insignia on the camouflage fighting suit (de: Kampfanzug Tarndruck) would become obsolete. They will be replaced by black-coloured ones. [4]

According to the ZDv 37/10, ”Until official procurement of the newly designed olive-green mounting loops with black-coloured rank insignias (for enlisted personnel, non commissioned officers, and commissioned officers including colonels of the Heer and Luftwaffe), the old-fashioned mounting loop with grey-colour rank insignias may be worn."

In practice, the replacement of the obsolete grey-coloured mounting loops by the new fashioned black-colour version is almost complete. However, on uni-coloured flying suits of army pilots and aviation technicians, mounting loops with grey-coloured rank insignias conform to the regulations.

a. Mounting loop with bright-grey emblem on stone-grey base textile – Heer (here: Oberstabsfeldwebel renonnaissance corps)

LA OW5 52 Oberstleutnant

b. Mounting loop with bright-grey emblem on stone-olive base textile – Luftwaffe (here: lieutenant colonel)

Tolerated versions

The following tables below depict mounting loops that are used in practice in conjunction with the 3- or 5 colour flecktarn fighting suit. However, these particular versions are not mentioned or depicted in the ZDv 37/10, nor are they officially procured. Mounting loops in 3- and 5-colour flecktarn are de facto in contravention of the Presidential Order on Rank Designation and Uniform of Soldiers, and may be only procured individually. However, the mounting loops in 3- and 5 colour flecktarn with black-, grey- or yellow-coloured emblems depicted below are tolerated and worn up to highest rank groups and grades. In service, some black-colour emblems, e.g. for the feldwebel grades, lieutenant, or major, might not be very visible.

LA 5S5 44 Stabshauptmann
black emblem on 5-colour-flecktarn – Luftwaffe (Stabshauptmann)
black emblem on 5-colour-flecktarn – Heer (Lieutenant Armour corps)
bright-grey emblem on 5-color-flecktarn – Heer (Colonel Supply corps)
LA 5W5 33 Hauptfeldwebel
bright-grey emblem on 5-colour-flecktarn – Luftwaffe (Hauptfeldwebel)
LA 3S3 52 Oberstleutnant
black emblem on 3-color-flecktarn – Luftwaffe (Lieutenant colonel)
black emblem on 3-colour-flecktarn – Heer (Oberstabsfeldwebel Army aviation corps)
gold-yellow emblem on 5-colour-flecktarn – Marine (Hauptgefreiter)
gold-yellow emblem on 3-colour-flecktarn – Marine (Kapitänleutnant)

Additional elements

As illustrated above, all rank insignias come with a number of diverse additional elements. In most cases they characterize a rank or career group within the Bundeswehr. Additional elements are not components of the rank insignia, because the rank or grade level is clearly defined by the rank isignia itself. However, there are additional statuses not defined by these rank markings, such as being a licensed medical officer or a designated officer of NCO rank. These require additional elements to signify such status.

Double wing

The double wing (also: aviator wing) is part of the mounting loop of any Luftwaffe uniform. It is woven in the colour of all other emblems (in most cases: black (image b.) – or gold by general ranks (image c.)). The double wing, also part of other elements on aviator's uniform, unambiguously distinguishes stone-grey/olive Luftwaffe uniforms from those of the Army. Double wing mounting loops are longer and wider than any other in the Bundeswehr. The double wing is even part of the otherwise empty mounting loop of the lowest private OR1-rank (German: Flieger (flyer) or Kanonier (gunner); see image a.), in order to distinguish between the Luftwaffe and Army in flecktarn Battle Dress Uniform.

LA OS5 11 Flieger L
a. Flieger OR1 (flecktarn uniform – Luftwaffe)
LA OS5 51 Major
b.Major (flecktarn uniform – Luftwaffe)
LA OS5 62 Generalmajor
c. Major general (flecktarn uniform – Luftwaffe)

Corps colour

Corps (or troop-function) colours (Waffenfarben in German) have been traditionally used in German armed forces since the 19th century. Corps-coloured piping and padding (4-mm-wide plain braiding) are used on the uniforms of Army and Luftwaffe personnel, placed on shoulder straps and cuffs to characterize the membership of an armed service, a special force, or a particular assignment. Corps-coloured loops might be used on mounting straps of field uniform. The collar patches on uniform jackets show corps colours as well. It should be mentioned that the piping and padding (German.: Litze) on the shoulder (bottom part of the badge) is issued after boot camp and the beret is issued to the Corps that the wearer is currently serving in. Hence, the Litze can have a different colour to the beret since a soldier may have passed boot camp in another Corps than that which they currently serve in.

Corps colours
Collar patches of Army/Luftwaffe general ranks OF6 – OF7:   Deep-red
Army Officers in general staff assignment (i.G.):   Carmine
Personnel in Luftwaffe service uniform:   Gold-yellow
Artillerietruppe (Artillery):   Deep-red
ABC-Abwehrtruppe (CBRN defence):   Maroon ("Bordeaux")
Panzertruppe (Armored, MBT only):   Pink
Heeresaufklärungstruppe (Army reconnaissance, HUMINT):   Gold-yellow
Feldjägertruppe (Military Police):   Pure-orange
Führungsunterstützung (Electronic Warfare, IT, Communication, Psychological):   Yellow
Infanterie (Light Inf., Mechanized, Paratroopers, SOF):   Forest-green
Heereslogistik- und Instandsetzungstruppe (Logistics, Supply, Maintenance):   Medium-blue
Sanitätsdienst der Bundeswehr (Medical Personnel):   Gentian-Violet
Heeresfliegertruppe (Army Aviation):   Ash-grey
Pioniertruppe (Pioneers/Sappers):   Black
Militärmusikdienst (Military bands):   White

Assignment badges

Assignment badges (German: Laufbahnabzeichen) of the German Navy are equivalent to the corps colours of the Army and Luftwaffe and have corresponding functions respectively.

Uniformed Naval personnel of enlisted and NCO rank wear specific marks of distinction or badges on epaulettes (not on mounting straps) and sleeves to characterize the appropriate assignment. The exception to this is officer-designated (OF(D)) grades.

As well as rank insignias on epaulettes, assignment badges are made up of metallic gold-coloured embossed pins or badges. Both are identical in colour and design. However, the assignment badges on sleeves are embroidered by hand or machine. Only the steel-blue assignment badges on white shirts of enlisted personnel are weaved. Seamen (recruit OR-1) wear assignment badges on shoulder straps or upper-sleeves that are otherwise empty. Assignment badges are normally positioned as follows:

  • Enlisted personnel: in the middle below of the rank insignia
  • NCOs with portepeed (sword knot): in the middle above of the rank insignia
  • Maat and Obermaat: in the middle of the square between the sets of stripes

Assignment badges on epaulettes are normally symmetric and placed between the head and rank insignia. The exception is for members of the Naval health service (assignment series 81), where the asymmetrical Rod of Asclepius is placed at the head.

MDHBA 11 Matrose 10 Lo
Nautical Service (10th)
MDJA 22 Obermaat 20 Lo
Navy Command Service (20th)
MDJA 14 Hauptgefreiter 30 Lo
Navy Weapon Service (30th)
MDHWA 15 Stabsgefreiter 40 Lo
Nautical Technical Service (40th)
MDJA 33 Hauptbootsmann 50 Lu
Navy Aviation Service (50th)
Supply and Staff Service (60th)
Transport and Navy Security Service (70th)
MDHBA 14 Hauptgefreiter 81 Lo
AS 81: "Health Service Support"(design to left cuff)
MDHBA 15 Stabsgefreiter 85 Lo
AS 85: "Military Music Service"

Officers and designated officers

Army and Luftwaffe

In the Army and Luftwaffe, the epaulettes of general ranks OF6 to OF9 on service uniform (basic design) and dress uniform are ornamented with a gold border made from metallic fabric (piping), as shown above. Field officer ranks (OF1 to OF5), including the officer designated grade Oberfähnrich (Army: Senior Cadet Sergeant, Luftwaffe: Senior Aviation Cadet, Senior Warrant Officer (Br. Senior Acting Pilot Officer), Navy: Senior Midshipman), have silver-ornamented borders, also made from metallic fabric.

The metallic fabric ornamental border of the general ranks is made of fire-gilded silver wire. As for the field officer ranks, the ornamental border contains aluminium. A similar piping is employed on other uniform parts as well, e.g. on collar points of the service uniform jacket for officer ranks including Oberfähnrich (Army and Luftwaffe), or on the peaked cap (Schirmmütze in German) or mountain cape (German: Bergmütze).

Most officer designated ranks (Army and Luftwaffe) already have this particular silver metallic tissue border on epaulettes, next to the lower end of the mounting loop. The only exception to this is the Oberfähnrich shoulder strap, to be worn on service and dress uniform. This particular epaulette has the silver piping on its outline, indicating the officer's career, but lacks the bronze-coloured edging that usually borders the centre part of NCO-rank insignia, as opposed to the service uniform epaulettes of a Hauptfeldwebel (Staff Sergeant/First Sergeant, OR-7). However, rank badges on the mounting loops of Hauptfeldwebel and Oberfähnrich are identical.

Designated officers of OR-1 rank wear simple silver mounting loops on the otherwise empty epaulettes. A silver cord on the lower end of the mounting loop is usually worn in the Army. Alongside is another loop of corps colour, which indicates the membership to the appropriate branch of service, special force or assignment. The visible, silver-coloured stripes are essential in order to differentiate from equivalent NCO ranks, because an officer candidate with the rank of "Fähnrich" (Army: Cadet Sergeant, Luftwaffe: Aviation Cadet, Warrant Officer, Navy: Midshipman) may not yet have professional knowledge about his future troop type, whose colours he is already wearing, as opposed to a "Feldwebel" (Sergeant, OR-6). This is an issue solely related to specific service requirements, since formally, these ranks (e.g. Fahnenjunker and Unteroffizier) do not differ in their position in the command chain.

HD H 11 Schütze OA MilMus L

Schütze OA
(Army Gunner OA, service uniform epaulette, military musician service)

HD H 21a Fahnenjunker FJg

Fahnenjunker OA
(Army Officer Cadet OA, service uniform epaulette, military police corps)

LD B 33a Oberfähnrich

Oberfähnrich OA
(Senior Warrant Officer OA Luftwaffe, epaulette of basic design for officers in service uniform)

Jäger OA
(Army Jäger OA, mounting loop, field uniform)

HA OS5 32 Oberfeldwebel OA
(Army First/Staff Sergeant OA, Panzer Grenadier Corps, field uniform)

Mounting loop Gefreiter OA
(Army Private OA, Mechanized Infantry Corps, field uniform)

LA OS5 33a Oberfähnrich

Mounting loop Oberfähnrich OA
(Luftwaffe Senior Warrant Officer OA, basic form of mounting loop identical to Hauptfeldwebel, field uniform)

Navy

Regarding the Navy, apart from the rank insignia there are no additional elements given to all officer grades and officer designated ranks. Various assignment badges indicate the different officer chains of career and distinguish designated officers from other rank groups, e.g. enlisted ratings and NCOs. Examples of assignment badges dedicated to officer ranks are:

  • Military geographical service – a stylized globe with GEO written in the middle.
  • Military musician service – a three-sided lyre.
  • Line officers (German: Truppendienstoffizier(e)) and warrant officers (German: Fachdienstoffizier(e)) – a five pointed nautical star (with the a single point at the top).

Assignment badges on shoulder straps are worn principally above the parallel gold-coloured galloons. They are designed as gold-coloured metallic stamped stickers in the style of the rank insignias of NCOs and enlisted men. The exception is weaved mounting loops, because not any assignment badge or career badge has to be worn on it.

Cuff assignment badges for officers are hand-embroidered and made from gold-coloured metallic fabric. In accordance with ZDv 37/10 on dark-blue epaulettes, hand-embroidered naval stars, made from gold-coloured metallic fabric, are tolerated as well.

Kapitänleutnant
(line officer or warrant officer career)

Stabskapitänleutnant
(military geographical service)

MDJA 53 Kapitän zur See Trp Lu

Kapitän zur See
(line officer career)

MDJA 41 Leutnant zur See Geo Lu

Leutnant zur See
(military geographical service)

MDJA 41 Leutnant zur See Mus Lu

Leutnant zur See
(military musician service)

As mentioned above, the nautical star identifies all officer dedicated ranks as well, with the exception of the medical career chain (see below).

Gefreiter OA
(Able Seaman OA epaulettes)

Fähnrich zur See
(Midshipman OA epaulettes)

Oberfähnrich zur See OA
(Senior Mdishipman OA epaulette, designed identically to officer ranks)

MDHWA 11 Matrose OA Trp Lo

Matrose OA
(Seaman Recruit OA sleeve)

MDHBA 12 Gefreiter OA Trp Lo

Gefreiter OA
(Seaman OA sleeve)

MDJA 21a Seekadett Trp Lo

Seekadett OA
(Sea Cadet OA sleeve)

MDJA 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp Lu

Oberfähnrich zur See OA
(Senior Midshipman OA cuff, designed identically to officer ranks)

MA OG5 11 Matrose OA

Matrose OA
(Seaman Recruit OA mounting strap, with embroidered nautical star)

Hauptgefreiter OA
(Able Seaman OA mounting strap, with embroidered nautical star)

Oberfähnrich zur See
(Senior Midshipman OA mounting strap, with embroidered nautical star)

Officers of the Medical Service including Officer Aspirants

The speciality badge is different for medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and pharmacy. As mentioned above, it depicts the Rod of Asclepius. The head of the snake points forward, i.e. the direction the soldier is facing. Officer Aspirants are known as Sanitätsoffizieranwärter or SanOA for short, which translates as Medical Officer Aspirant (MOA). This denotes personnel who are yet to finish their medical studies. Excluding Officer Aspirants and Generals, medical ranks have slightly different names to denote specialities, e.g. a physician holding a rank equivalent to Hauptmann (Captain) is called Stabsarzt (Staff Doctor), a dentist Stabszahnarzt (Staff Dentist), a veterinarian Stabsveterinär (Staff Vet), and a pharmacist Stabsapotheker (Staff Pharmacist).

Sanitätssoldat SanOA
(Army MOA mounting loop, field uniform, studying veterinary medicine)

LD B 12 Gefreiter SanOA HM L

Gefreiter SanOA
(Luftwaffe MOA epaulette, service uniform, studying medicine)

Oberfeldwebel SanOA
(Army MOA, field uniform mounting loop, studying veterinary medicine, patch interrupting border)

Fähnrich zur See SanOA
(Navy MOA, field uniform mounting loop, studying pharmacy, patch not interrupting border)

Leutnant zur See SanOA
(Navy MOA, service uniform shirt epaulette, studying medicine)

HD H 43b Stabsarzt San HM L

Stabsarzt
(Army Staff Doctor, service uniform epaulette)

LA OS5 51d Oberstabsapotheker PH L

Oberstabsapotheker
(Luftwaffe Senior Pharmacist, field uniform epaulette)

MDJA 53b Flottenarzt San HM Lu

Flottenarzt
(Naval Doctor cuff insignias)

Oberfeldarzt
(Army Senior Field Doctor, sweater mounting loop)

HD H 53e Oberstveterinär San TM L

Oberstveterinär
(Army Senior Vet, service uniform epaulette)

HD H 61c Generalarzt ZM L

Generalarzt
(Army General Dentist, service uniform epaulette)

LA OS5 62b Generalstabsarzt HM L

Generalstabsarzt
(Luftwaffe Staff General Doctor, field uniform mounting loop)

SanH 331-Generaloberstabsarzt-(Zahnmedizin)

Generaloberstabsarzt
(Army Senior Staff General Dentist, field uniform mounting loop)

Feldwebel/Bootsmann Aspirants

Feldwebel (Sergeant) Aspirant epaulettes include a bronze cord at the bottom of the strap as career indicator (Barely visible on some pictures; Click on Image to enlarge).

Panzergrenadier FA
(Army sergeant aspirant, Panzer Grenadier Corps, field uniform)

Hauptgefreier FA
(Army lance corporal/Private first class sergeant aspirant, field uniform mounting strap)

Oberstabsgefreiter FA
(Army corporal sergeant aspirant, Mountain Infantry, field uniform mounting strap)

LD B 12 Gefreiter FA L

Gefreiter FA
(Luftwaffe airman sergeant aspirant, service uniform epaulette)

LA OS5 21 Unteroffizier FA

Unteroffizier FA
(Luftwaffe corporal sergeant aspirant, field uniform mounting strap)

Gefreiter BA
(Navy seaman boatswain aspirant, 30th assignment series, service uniform epaulette)

MDHBA 12 Gefreiter BA 40 Lo

Gefreiter BA
(Navy seaman boatswain aspirant, 10th assignment series)

Stabsgefreiter BA
(Navy able seaman boatswain aspirant, field uniform mounting strap. note the small stripes)

Obermaat BA
(Navy senior mate boatswain aspirant, field uniform mounting strap)

Unteroffizier/ Maat cadets

Flieger UA
(Heer, Army aviation, service uniform)

Hauptgefreiter UA
(Heer, mountain infantry, field uniform)

Obergefreiter UA
(Luftwaffe, service uniform)

Hauptgefreiter UA
(Luftwaffe, service uniform)

LA OS5 11 Flieger UA L

Flieger UA
(Luftwaffe, field uniform)

Gefreiter MA
(Marine, 50th assignment series)

MDHWA 12 Gefreiter MA 85 Lo

Gefreiter MA
(Marine, 85th assignment series)

Oberstabsgefreiter MA
(Marine, mounting loop)

Aspirants, examination/course of instruction passed

LD B 13 Obergefreiter UA mbL L

Obergefreiter UA exam.passed
(Luftwaffe, service uniform)

Stabsgefreiter UA exam.passed
(Heer, Panzergrenadie, field uniform)

LA OS5 13 Obergefreiter UA mbL L

Obergefreiter UA exam.passed
(Luftwaffe, field uniform)

Reservist badges

HD H 13 Obergefreiter d.R. Pi L

Obergefreiter der Reserve
(Army lance corporal/private first class reservist, service uniform, engineer corps)

Stabsunteroffizier der Reserve
(Army staff sub-officer reservist, service uniform, military police)

Oberfeldwebel Reserveoffizieranwärter (ROA)
(Army staff sergeant, field uniform, mechanized infantry corps, reserve officer aspirant)

LD B 61 Brigadegeneral a.D.

Brigadegeneral ausser Dienst
(Luftwaffe off-duty brigadier general, service uniform)

LA OS5 22 Stabsunteroffizier RFA

Stabsunteroffizier der Reserve
(Luftwaffe staff sub-officer reservist, field uniform)

Navy

Obergefreiter der Reserve
(Able seaman reservist)

Kapitänleutnant der Reserve
(Captain-lieutenant reservist)

References

  1. ^ The abbreviation "OR" stands for "Other Ranks / sous-officiers et militaires du rang"
  2. ^ The abbreviation "OF" stands for "officer / officier"
  3. ^ a b vgl. "An- und einnähbare Schulterklappen für Heer und Luftwaffe (paspeliert oder unterlegt)" (PDF). Bundesamt für Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung. 2006-09-26. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-14. Retrieved 2013-12-12.
  4. ^ Bundespräsident Roman Herzog; Bundeskanzler Helmut Kohl; Bundesminister der Verteidigung Volker Rühe, eds. (22 February 1996), "Anordnung zur Änderung der Anordnung des Bundespräsidenten über die Dienstgradbezeichnungen und die Uniform des Soldaten. Vom 7. Februar 1996", Bundesgesetzblatt (in German), Bonn, 1996 Teil I (10)
Aarne Kreuzinger-Janik

Aarne Emil Kreuzinger-Janik (born 13 April 1950, Lübeck, West Germany) is a German lieutenant general of the Bundeswehr. He was the commander of the Air Force Forces Command from 2006 to 2009, and, from 2009 to 2012, the 14th Inspector of the Air Force.

Bundeswehr

The Bundeswehr (German: [ˈbʊndəsˌveːɐ̯] (listen), Federal Defence) are the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities. The States of Germany are not allowed to maintain armed forces of their own, since the German Constitution states that matters of defense fall into the sole responsibility of the federal government.The Bundeswehr is divided into a military part (armed forces or Streitkräfte) and a civil part with the armed forces administration (Wehrverwaltung). The military part of the federal defense force consists of the German Army, the German Navy, the German Air Force, the Joint Support Service, the Joint Medical Service, and the Cyber and Information Space Command.

As of 28 February 2019, the Bundeswehr has a strength of 182,055 active soldiers, placing it among the 30 largest military forces in the world and making it the second largest in the European Union behind France in terms of personnel. In addition the Bundeswehr has approximately 28,250 reserve personnel (2018). With German military expenditures at €47.32 billion, the Bundeswehr is among the top ten best-funded forces in the world, even if in terms of share of German GDP, military expenditures remain average at 1.35% and below the NATO target of 2%. Germany aims to expand the Bundeswehr to around 203,000 soldiers by 2025 to better cope with increasing responsibilities.

Hauptmann

Hauptmann is a German word usually translated as captain when it is used as an officer's rank in the German, Austrian, and Swiss armies. While Haupt in contemporary German means 'main', it also has and originally had the meaning of 'head', i.e. Hauptmann literally translates to 'head-man', which is also the etymological root of captain (from Latin caput, 'head').

It equates to the rank of captain in the British and US Armies, and is rated OF-2 in NATO. (For the German maritime counterpart to captain, see Kapitän.)

More generally, it can be used to denote the head of any hierarchically structured group of people, often as a compound word. For example, a Feuerwehrhauptmann is the captain of a fire brigade, while Räuberhauptmann refers to the leader of a gang of robbers.

Official Austrian and German titles incorporating the word include Landeshauptmann, Bezirkshauptmann, Burghauptmann, and Berghauptmann.

In Saxony during the Weimar Republic, the titles of Kreishauptmann, and Amtshauptmann were held by senior civil servants.

Hauptmann (from Early Modern High German Heubtmann) is cognate with the Swedish hövitsman, which also has the root meaning 'head-man' or 'the man at the head', and is closely related to hövding, meaning 'chieftain'. Since medieval times, both titles have been used for state administrators rather than military personnel. Heubtmann may also be the origin of the title hetman, used in Central and Eastern Europe.

List of comparative military ranks

This article is a list of various states' armed forces ranking designations. Comparisons are made between the different systems used by nations to categorize the hierarchy of an armed force compared to another. Several of these lists mention NATO reference codes. These are the NATO rank reference codes, used for easy comparison among NATO countries. Links to comparison charts can be found below.

Major (Germany)

For the use of this rank in other countries, see major.Major (German pronunciation: [maˈjoːɐ]) is the lowest staff officer rank in the German Army (Heer), German Air Force (Luftwaffe). The rank is rated OF-3 in NATO. The rank insignia is a silver oakleaf cluster with a silver pip (star).

The OF-3 equivalent of the German Navy (Marine) is the Korvettenkapitän.

To be appointed to the rank of Major, the officer has to pass a staff officer basic course (Stabsoffizierlehrgang) which is held at the German Armed Forces Command and Staff College (Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr), and serve in a post coded A13 or A13/A14.

In the German Army and the Joint Support Service (Streitkräftebasis), the waiting period between meeting the requirements for promotion and actual promotion to the rank of Major averages 15 months due to budget problems (as of July 2010).

Oberleutnant

Oberleutnant (OF-1a) is the highest lieutenant officer rank in the armed forces of Germany (Bundeswehr), Austrian Armed Forces, and Military of Switzerland.

Obermaat

Obermaat is a military rank of the Bundeswehr and earlier other German-speaking armed forces.

Oberst

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.

Oberstleutnant

Oberstleutnant (German pronunciation: [ˈʔoːbɐstlɔʏtnant]) is a German Army and German Air Force rank equal to lieutenant colonel, above Major, and below Oberst.

There are two paygrades associated to the rank of Oberstleutnant. Paygrade A14 is the standard level paygrade whereas A15 is assigned to senior Oberstleutnant personnel.

Oberstleutnant of the General Staff or Reserve have the words "im Generalstabsdienst" (i.G.), "der Reserve" (d.R.) after their rank—thus: "OTL i.G.", "OTL d.R."

Oberstleutnant who are definitely retired are described as "außer Dienst" (a.D.).

Contrary to (unofficial) practice in many English-speaking militaries, a German Oberstleutnant is never referred to as an Oberst, neither to shorten the address nor as a form of courtesy.

During World War II, the SS maintained an equivalent rank known as Obersturmbannführer.

Ranks of the German Bundeswehr

The ranks of the German Armed Forces, (in German: Bundeswehr), were set up by the President with the Anordnung des Bundespräsidenten über die Dienstgradbezeichnungen und die Uniform der Soldaten on the basis of section 4, paragraph 3 of the Soldatengesetz (federal law concerning the legal status of soldiers). The Bundesbesoldungsordnung (Federal Salary Scale Regulation) regulates the salary scales of all Federal office holders and employees including soldiers. The 'ZdV-64/10 – Abkürzungen in der Bundeswehr' gives the abbreviations and a list of the abbreviations.

Soldat (rank)

Soldat ([zɔlˈdaːt] short: S, plural Soldaten) refers to the lowest rank of enlisted men in the land-based armed forces of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It is usually grouped as OR-1 within the NATO ranking system, excluding the Swiss armed services which is not part of NATO.

Stabshauptmann

Stabshauptmann (short: StHptm) meaning "Staff Captain", is a German Senior Captain rank and the highest military rank in the Bundeswehr for specialist officers (German: Offiziere des Militärfachlichen Dienstes (OffzMilFD)).

Unteroffiziere mit Portepee

Unteroffizier(e) mit Portepee, also Portepeeunteroffizier(e) (en:

NCO(s) with sword knot" also "Sword knot NCO(s)"), is the designation for German senior NCO in the Armed forces of Germany. The name derives from earlier traditions in which senior enlisted men would carry a sword into battle. The word portepee derives from French port(e)-épée.

Any Portepeeunteroffizier of the former Prussian Army was entitled to wear (in addition to the dress uniform - to go with a ...) a "sword knot" to its personal sabre, which was originally restricted to officers only.The sequence of ranks (top-down approach) in that particular group is as follows:

OR-9: Oberstabsfeldwebel / Oberstabsbootsmann this rank was introduced by the Bundeswehr in 1983

OR-8: Stabsfeldwebel / Stabsbootsmann (in the Kriegsmarine Stabsoberbootsmann, Stabsobersteuermann, and Stabsobermaschinist)

OR-7: Hauptfeldwebel (Oberfähnrich)/ Hauptbootsmann (Oberfähnrich zur See), this rank was introduced by the Bundeswehr after being an assignment/ position of service (informally Spieß and officially now Kompaniefeldwebel in the Reichswehr, Wehrmacht, and National People's Army)

OR-6a: Oberfeldwebel / Oberbootsmann

OR-6b: Feldwebel / BootsmannRemark

The abbreviation "OR" stands for "Other Ranks / fr: sous-officiers et militaires du rang / ru:другие ранги, кроме офицероф"!

See also

⇒ Article: NCOs without portepee

⇒ Article: Ranks of the German Bundeswehr

⇒ Article: Rank insignia of the German Bundeswehr

⇒ Article: Ranks and insignia of NATO navies enlisted

And equivalents of the Navy—replacing Feldwebel with Bootsmann—and, historically, the Cavalry and Artillery (with Wachtmeister). The latter is not to be confused with the Navy's "Kompaniefeldwebel" of today which are also called Wachtmeister.

German non-commissioned officers were identified by the use of metallic lace (called Tresse) on the collar of the uniform jacket, as well as the edges of the shoulder straps. Senior non-commissioned officers in the Wehrmacht also used silver "stars" on the shoulder strap to differentiate between ranks; one star for a Feldwebel, two for an Oberfeldwebel, and three for a Stabsfeldwebel.

Military ranks and insignia by country
Africa
Americas
Asia
Europe
Oceania
Post-Soviet states
Commonwealth of Nations
NATO

Languages

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.