South African military ranks

The South African National Defence Force's rank system is largely based on the British system, with the Air Force (and later the Military Health Service) sharing the Army rank titles. Rank titles changed over time as did the insignia.

In 2002 the South African Air Force redesigned its insignia completely, while keeping the Army titles.

Evolution of rank titles

Army and Air Force ranks

General officers

  • Field marshal (1923–c1950)
  • General (1914– ) (called "commandant-general" 1956–68)
  • Lieutenant-general (1914– )
  • Major-general (1914– ) (called "combat general" 1960–68)
  • Brigadier-general (1912–40, 1998– )

Field officers

  • Brigadier (1937–98) (called "colonel-commandant" 1937–40)
  • Colonel (1912– )
  • Chief commandant (Used in the Commandos 1968–70)[1]
  • Lieutenant-colonel (1912– ) (called "commandant" 1950–94)

Company / junior officers

  • Major (1912– )
  • Captain (1912– )
  • Lieutenant (1912– ) (called "field cornet" 1960–68)
  • Second lieutenant (1918– ) (called "assistant field cornet" 1960–68)

Warrant officers

PRE 1994 SOUTH AFRICAN WO1 BADGE
Warrant officer class 1 rank badge 1921–2002
PRE 1994 SOUTH AFRICAN WO2 BADGE
Warrant officer class 1 rank badge 1921–57

In June 2008[2] a new series of warrant officer ranks were introduced.

  • Warrant officer 1st class (1921– )
  • Warrant officer 2nd class (1921– )
  • Warrant officer (1912–21)

Non-commissioned officers

  • Staff sergeant (1912– ) (Air Force equivalent "flight sergeant")
  • Sergeant (1912– ) (Air Force equivalent called "air sergeant" until 1970)
  • Corporal (1912– ) (Air Force equivalent called "air corporal" until 1970)
  • Lance-corporal (1912– ) (Air Force equivalent called "leading air mechanic" until 1970)

Rank and file

  • Private (1912– ) (Air Force equivalent called "air mechanic" 1920–70, "private" 1970–82 and "airman" 1982–)

Naval ranks

Flag officers

  • Admiral (1972– )
  • Vice-admiral (1965– )
  • Rear-admiral (1940– )
  • Rear-admiral junior grade (1998– )

Senior officers

  • Commodore (1946–98)
  • Captain (1941– )
  • Commander (1913– )
  • Lieutenant-commander (1913– )

Junior officers

  • Lieutenant (1913– )
  • Sub-lieutenant (1913– )
  • Ensign (1913– ) (called "acting sub-lieutenant" until 1965)
  • Warrant officer 1st class (1955– )
  • Warrant officer 2nd class (1955– )
  • Warrant officer (1913–55)

Petty officers

  • Chief petty officer (1913– )
  • Petty officer (1913– )
  • Leading seaman (1913– )
  • Able seaman (1913– )

Ratings

  • Seaman (1913– )

1961–1994 rank structure

During the Apartheid era, the South African Army's rank structure was shared between the Army, Air Force and SAMS with some small differences. In the Air Force a staff sergeant was a flight sergeant for example. The Air Force ranks had a blue background and the NCO stripes were blue. For SAMS the ranks had a maroon background.

Officers

Equivalent
NATO code
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and student officer
South Africa
(edit)
No equivalent South Africa-Army-OF-9-1961.svg South Africa-Army-OF-8-1961.svg South Africa-Army-OF-7-1961.svg South Africa-Army-OF-6-1961.svg South Africa-Army-OF-5-1961.svg South Africa-Army-OF-4-1961.svg South Africa-Army-OF-3-1961.svg South Africa-Army-OF-2-1961.svg South Africa-Army-OF-1b-1961.svg South Africa-Army-OF-1a-1961.svg South Africa-Army-OF-(D)-1961.svg
General
Generaal
Lieutenant general
Luitenant generaal
Major general
Generaal-majoor
Brigadier
Brigadier
Colonel
Kolonel
Commandant
Kommandant
Major
Majoor
Captain
Kaptein
Lieutenant
Luitenant
2nd lieutenant
Tweede luitenant
Candidate officer
Kandidaat offisier

Other ranks

Rank insignia of the South African Defence Force
Warrant officers and other ranks Senior chief warrant officer Chief warrant officer Master warrant officer Senior warrant officer Warrant officer class 1 Warrant officer class 2 Staff sergeant Sergeant Corporal Lance corporal Private

South African Defence Force: pre 1994
Not used
Not used
Not used
Not used
PRE 1994 SOUTH AFRICAN WO1 BADGE.jpg
PRE 1994 SOUTH AFRICAN WO2 BADGE.jpg
SAArmyRankStructurePre1994SSgt.jpg
SAArmyRankStructurePre1994Sgt.jpg
SAArmyRankStructurePre1994Cpl
SAArmyRankStructurePre1994LCpl.jpg
No insignia

Note: in the artillery and anti-aircraft corps, the corporal and lance-corporal are called "bombardier" and "lance-bombardier". The private is called a "gunner" in the artillery and anti-aircraft, a "rifleman" in the infantry, a "trooper" in the armoured corps, a "sapper" in the engineers, a "signalman" in the signals corps, and a "scout" in the intelligence corps.

Substantive warrant officer posts

Cornelissen W01
A WO1 wearing RSM insignia

Any warrant officer class 1 could be posted to substantive posts, including

However they would retain the rank of WO1, while wearing unique rank insignia. To distinguish the posting different colour backgrounds were used; for example, red for regimental sergeant major and black for command sergeant major. The sergeant major of each arm of service wore insignia topped by the arms of their respective arm of service.

In 2008 the warrant officer ranks were expanded to make each substantive rank a formal rank.

Army

The SA Army was formed in 1912 as the Union Defence Force. It was given its present name in 1951. The rank system is derived from that of the British Army. The ranks of General Officers changed in September 2003 when the rank previously called Brigadier became known as Brigadier General.[3]

Officers

Equivalent
NATO Code
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) & Student officer
South Africa South Africa
(Edit)
No equivalent SAA-OF-9.svg SAA-OF-8.svg SAA-OF-7.svg SAA-OF-6.svg SAA-OF-5.svg SAA-OF-4.svg SAA-OF-3.svg SAA-OF-2.svg SAA-OF-1b.svg SAA-OF-1a.svg SAA-OF-(D).svg
General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Lieutenant 2nd lieutenant Candidate officer

Warrant officers

Equivalent NATO rank WO-1 WO-2 WO-3 WO-4 WO-5
South Africa South Africa
(Edit)
SAA-WO-1 SAA-WO-2 SAA-WO-3 SAA-WO-4 SAA-WO-5
Senior warrant officer Master warrant officer Chief warrant officer Senior chief warrant officer Master chief warrant officer

Other ranks

Equivalent
NATO code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
South Africa South Africa
(Edit)
SAA-OR-9 SAA-OR-8 SAA-OR-7 SAA-OR-6 No equivalent SAA-OR-4 SAA-OR-3 No insignia
Warrant Officer Class 1 Warrant Officer Class 2 Staff Sergeant Sergeant Corporal Lance Corporal Private
(or equivalent)

Air Force

The SA Air Force was formed in 1920. Unlike many other Commonwealth air forces, it had army style rank system. In 2002 the Air Force officer rank insignia structure was changed from one which was shared with the Army to a new pattern based on stripes. The Air Force stated that this was "in order to bring it more in line with international forms of rank".[4] The army-style rank titles were retained. Note: The Rank of General is only used when the Chief of the Air Force is also the Chief of the Defence Force which has occurred on occasion in the past.

Officers

Equivalent
NATO Code
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and student officer
South Africa South Africa
(Edit)
No equivalent SAAF-OF-9.svg SAAF-OF-8.svg SAAF-OF-7.svg SAAF-OF-6.svg SAAF-OF-5.svg SAAF-OF-4.svg SAAF-OF-3.svg SAAF-OF-2.svg SAAF-OF-1b.svg SAAF-OF-1a.svg SAAF-Candidate Offr.svg
General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second lieutenant Officer candidate

Warrant officers

Equivalent NATO rank WO-5 WO-4 WO-3 WO-2 WO-1
South Africa South Africa
(Edit)
SAA-WO-5 SAA-WO-4 SAA-WO-3 SAA-WO-2 SAA-WO-1
Master chief warrant officer Senior chief warrant officer Chief warrant officer Master warrant officer Senior warrant officer

Other ranks

Equivalent
NATO Code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
South Africa South Africa
(Edit)
SAA-OR-9 SAA-OR-8 SAAF-OR-7.svg SAAF-OR-6.svg No equivalent SAAF-OR-4.svg SAAF-OR-3.svg No equivalent No insignia
Warrant officer class 1 Warrant officer class 2 Flight sergeant Sergeant Corporal Lance corporal Aircraftman

Navy

The SA Navy was originally two separate organisations, namely the South African Division of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (formed in 1913) and the South African Naval Service (formed in 1922 and renamed the "Seaward Defence Force" in 1939). They amalgamated in 1942 to form the SA Naval Forces, which were renamed "SA Navy" in 1951. The rank system is based on that of the (British) Royal Navy.

The ranks of Flag Officers changed in 1997 when the rank previously called Commodore became known as Rear Admiral (Junior Grade).[5]

Officers

Equivalent
NATO code
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and student officer
South Africa South Africa
(Edit)
No equivalent Generic-Navy-O11.svg Generic-Navy-O10.svg Generic-Navy-O9.svg Generic-Navy-O8.svg Generic-Navy-O7.svg Generic-Navy-O5.svg Generic-Navy-O4.svg Generic-Navy-O3.svg Generic-Navy-O1.svg POR-Navy-OFD.svg 07.RNO-MIDN.svg
Admiral Vice admiral Rear admiral Rear admiral
(junior grade)
Captain Commander Lieutenant
commander
Lieutenant Sub lieutenant Ensign Midshipman

Warrant Officers

Equivalent NATO code WO-1 WO-2 WO-3 WO-3 WO-5
South Africa South Africa
(Edit)
SAA-WO-1 SAA-WO-2 SAA-WO-3 SAA-WO-4 SAA-WO-5
Senior warrant officer Master warrant officer Chief warrant officer Senior chief warrant officer Master chief warrant officer

Enlisted

Equivalent
NATO code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
South Africa South Africa
(Edit)
SAA-OR-9 SAA-OR-8 SAN-Navy-OR-7 SAN-Navy-OR-6 No equivalent British Royal Navy OR-4 No equivalent Trinidad and Tobago-Navy-OR-2 No equivalent
Warrant officer class 1 Warrant officer class 2 Chief petty officer Petty officer Leading seaman Able seaman

Military Health Service

The South African Military Health Service uses the Army rank system. There is a differentiation in that the rank insignia is displayed on a red background as opposed to the army, which is displayed on an olive background.

Master Chief and Senior Chief Warrant Officers

The highest ranking South African non-commissioned officer is the Warrant Officer of the South African National Defence Force. They are the sole holder of the rank of Master Chief Warrant Officer (NATO equivalent WO-5).[6] As of October 2012 the incumbent MCWO is Mothusi Kgaladi[7]

The rank of Senior Chief Warrant Officer (NATO equivalent WO-4) is only held by the Master at Arms of the Navy, the Sergeant Major of the Army, the Sergeant Major of the Air Force, and the Sergeant Major of the Military Health Service.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ Radburn, Arthur (1990). "South African Army Ranks and Insignia". South African Journal of Military Studies. 20 (2): 2.
  2. ^ Pale, Frans (Lt Col). "DOD News Sep 2008" (pdf). SA Department of Defence.
  3. ^ "Airforce Rank Structure". Unofficial SA Airforce website.
  4. ^ SAAF Rank Insignia
  5. ^ Bennett, C. H.; Söderlund, A. G. (2008). South Africa's navy : a navy of the people and for the people. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-620-41446-3.
  6. ^ a b "Fact file: Comparative military and civil service grades". DefenceWeb.
  7. ^ "Mothusi Victor Kgaladi new WO SANDF". DefenceWeb.
6 Medical Battalion Group

6 Medical Battalion Group (6 Med Bn Gp or 6 Med) is a Medical Battalion in the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS), part of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). As a reserve unit, it has a status roughly equivalent to that of a British Army Reserve or United States Army National Guard unit. It is based in Kempton Park in Gauteng, South Africa.

8 Mobile Hospital

8 Mobile Hospital (8 Mob Hosp) was a mobile hospital in the South African Medical Service (SAMS), part of the South African Defence Force (SADF). As a Citizen Force unit, it was roughly equivalent to a Clinical Wing in the current medical battalion in the SANDF or a mobile field hospital. The unit was based in Pretoria in the Transvaal province of South Africa.

Comparative Ranks of Apartheid States in Southern Africa

Rank comparison charts of armies/ land forces of apartheid states and territories in Southern Africa.

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.

Master at Arms of the Navy

Master at Arms of the Navy is the most senior Warrant Officer in the South African Navy (SAN). It is a singular appointment – it is only held by one person at any time. The Master at Arms of the Navy holds the rank of Senior Chief Warrant Officer

The Master at Arms of the Navy is responsible to the Chief of the Navy and is a member of his staff as well as the Navy Command Council. The Master is responsible for monitoring and improvement of discipline, morale, well being of sailor and ensuring that the Navy maintains high professional standards.

Sergeant Major of the Air Force

The Sergeant Major of the South African Air Force is the most senior Warrant Officer in the South African Air Force. The post was created in 1979. It is a singular appointment – it is only held by one person at any time. The Sergeant Major of the Air Force reports to the Chief of the Air Force and is responsible for maintaining discipline in the Air Force.

Sergeant Major of the Army (South Africa)

The Sergeant Major of the South African Army is the most senior Warrant Officer in the South African Army. The post was created in 1967. It is a singular appointment – it is only held by one person at any time. The Sergeant Major of the Army reports to the Chief of the Army and is responsible for maintaining discipline in the Army

Sergeant major

Sergeant major is a senior non-commissioned rank or appointment in many militaries around the world. In Commonwealth countries, the various degrees of sergeant major are appointments held by warrant officers. In the United States, there are also various grades of sergeant major (command sergeant major, Sergeant Major of the Army, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps), but they are all of the same pay grade of E-9. However, the Sergeant Major of the Army and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, as their respective service's Senior Enlisted Advisor, receive a special rate of basic pay that is higher than all other sergeants major.

South African Army

The South African Army is the army of South Africa, first formed after the Union of South Africa was created in 1910. The South African military evolved within the tradition of frontier warfare fought by Boer Commando (militia) forces, reinforced by the Afrikaners' historical distrust of large standing armies. It then fought as part of the wider British effort in World War II, but afterwards was cut off from its long-standing Commonwealth ties with the ascension to power of the National Party in South Africa in 1948. The army was involved in a long and bitter counter-insurgency campaign in Namibia from 1966 to 1990. It also played a key role in controlling sectarian political violence inside South Africa during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The role of the Army was fundamentally changed by the upheavals of the early 1990s and after 1994 the Army became part of the new South African National Defence Force. It is now becoming increasingly involved in peacekeeping efforts in southern Africa, often as part of wider African Union operations. The Army is composed of roughly 40,100 regular uniformed personnel, augmented by 12,300 reserve force personnel. The rank/age structure of the army, which deteriorated desperately during the 1990s, is greatly improving through the Military Skills Development (MSDS) voluntary national service system. Through this system, young healthy members are being inducted into the regular and reserve forces every year.

South African National Defence Force

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) comprises the armed forces of South Africa. The commander of the SANDF is appointed by the President of South Africa from one of the armed services. They are in turn accountable to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans of the Defence Department.

The military as it exists today was created in 1994, following South Africa's first post-apartheid national elections and the adoption of a new constitution. It replaced the South African Defence Force and also integrated uMkhonto we Sizwe guerilla forces.

South African Navy

The South African Navy (SAN) is the naval warfare branch of the South African National Defence Force. The role of the navy is to prepare for and to conduct naval operations in defence of the South African state, its citizens and interests and to carry out peacetime operations in support of other national objectives.Other tasks include the maintenance, preservation and the provision of naval services in support of other state departments and authorities, including search and rescue, protection of maritime resources, and diplomatic sea transport support.

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