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 2005 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 officers

Company / junior officers

Warrant officers

Warrant officer class 1 rank badge 1921–2002
Warrant officer class 1 rank badge 1921–2002
Warrant officer class 1 rank badge 1921–57
Warrant officer class 1 rank badge 1921–57

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

Non-commissioned officers

Rank and file

Naval ranks

Flag officers

Senior officers

Junior officers

Petty officers

Ratings

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 African Army
No equivalent
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


South African Air Force
No equivalent
Unknown
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


South African Navy
No equivalent
Unknown
Admiral
Admiral
Vice admiral
Vise admiral
Rear admiral
Skout admiral
Commodore
Kommodoor
Captain
Kaptein
Commander
Kommandeur
Lieutenant commander
Luitenant-Kommandeur
Lieutenant
Luitenant
Sub Lieutenant
Onderluitenant
Ensign
Vaandrig


South African Medical Service
No equivalent
Unknown
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


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

Other ranks

Equivalent
NATO code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
South African Army

No insignia
Sergeant Major of the Army
Sersant-Majoor van die Leer
Warrant officer class 1
Adjudant-Offisier Klass I
Warrant officer class 2
Adjudant-Offisier Klass II
Staff sergeant
Staf-Sersant
Sergeant
Sersant
Corporal
Korporaal
Lance corporal
Onderkorporaal
Private
Soldaat


South African Air Force

No equivalent No insignia
Sergeant Major of the SA Air Force
Sersant-Majoor van die SA Lugmag
Warrant officer class 1
Adjudant-Offisier Klass I
Warrant officer class 2
Adjudant-Offisier Klass II
Flight sergeant
Vlug-Sersant
Sergeant
Sersant
Corporal
Korporaal
Lance corporal
Onderkorporaal
Aircraftman
Vliegtuigman


South African Navy

No equivalent
No equivalent
Master at Arms of
the South African Navy

Sersant-Majoor
van die SA Vloot
Warrant Officer Class 1
Adjudant-Offisier Klass I
Warrant Officer Class 2
Adjudant-Offisier Klass II
Chief petty officer
Eerste Bootsman
Petty officer
Bootsman
Leading seaman
Baasseeman
Able seaman
Bevare Seeman

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

A WO1 wearing RSM insignia
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][4]

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 African Army
No equivalent
General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Lieutenant 2nd lieutenant Candidate officer

Warrant officers

Equivalent
NATO rank
WO-5 WO-4 WO-3 WO-2 WO-1
 South African Army
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 African Army

No insignia
Warrant Officer Class 1 Warrant Officer Class 2 Staff Sergeant Sergeant Corporal Lance Corporal Private
(or equivalent)
Aandredingsbeampte Klas 1 Aandredingsbeampte Klas 2 Stafsersant Sersant Korporaal Onderkorporaal

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".[5] 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 African Air Force
1994-2002

No equivalent
Unknown
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


 South African Air Force
No equivalent
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 African Air Force
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 African Air Force
1994-2002


No equivalent No insignia
Warrant officer class 1
Adjudant-Offisier Klass I
Warrant officer class 2
Adjudant-Offisier Klass II
Flight sergeant
Vlug-Sersant
Sergeant
Sersant
Corporal
Korporaal
Lance corporal
Onderkorporaal
Aircraftman
Vliegtuigman


 South African Air Force

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.[6]

The ranks of Flag Officers changed in 1997 when the rank previously called Commodore became known as Rear Admiral (Junior Grade).[7]

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 African Navy
1994-2002

No equivalent
Admiral
Admiral
Vice admiral
Vise admiral
Rear admiral
Skout admiral
Commodore
Kommodoor
Captain
Kaptein
Commander
Kommandeur
Lieutenant commander
Luitenant-Kommandeur
Lieutenant
Luitenant
Sub Lieutenant
Onderluitenant
Ensign
Vaandrig
Midshipman


 South African Navy
No equivalent
Admiral Vice admiral Rear admiral Rear admiral
(junior grade)
Captain Commander Lieutenant
commander
Lieutenant Sub lieutenant Ensign Midshipman

Warrant Officers

Equivalent
NATO rank
WO-5 WO-4 WO-3 WO-2 WO-1
 South African Navy
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 African Navy
1994-2002


No equivalent
No equivalent
Warrant Officer Class 1
Adjudant-Offisier Klass I
Warrant Officer Class 2
Adjudant-Offisier Klass II
Chief petty officer
Eerste Bootsman
Petty officer
Bootsman
Leading seaman
Baasseeman
Able seaman
Bevare Seeman


 South African Navy

No equivalent
Warrant officer class 1 Warrant officer class 2 Chief petty officer Petty officer Leading seaman Able seaman 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.

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 African Military Health Service
No equivalent
General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Lieutenant 2nd lieutenant Candidate officer

Enlisted

Equivalent
NATO code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
South African Military Health Service

No insignia
Warrant Officer Class 1 Warrant Officer Class 2 Staff Sergeant Sergeant Corporal Lance Corporal Private
(or equivalent)

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).[8] As of October 2012 the incumbent MCWO is Mothusi Kgaladi[9]

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.[8]

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. ^ "Uniform: rank insignia". army.mil.za. Archived from the original on 20 October 2020. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  5. ^ SAAF Rank Insignia
  6. ^ "Rank insignia of the South African Navy". navy.mil.za. Archived from the original on 18 May 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  7. ^ 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ a b "Fact file: Comparative military and civil service grades". DefenceWeb.
  9. ^ "Mothusi Victor Kgaladi new WO SANDF". DefenceWeb.