Venezuelan military ranks

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A new law approved in July 2008 changed the military ranks of Venezuela. The law was sanctioned by Venezuela's National Assembly, in terms of names, functions and commanding regulation of the armed forces.

The main changes are for the General Officer Ranks, with the incorporation of the “Comandante en Jefe” rank, the upgrading of the “General en Jefe/Almirante en Jefe” Rank to that of a full 4-star general/flag officer rank, and the creation of the “Mayor General/Almirante” Rank.

Even before these legal changes, the Venezuelan Military ranks system were always notably complex and differs a lot from other armies in Latin America. It has 3 types of Non Commissioned Officers: Technical NCO's and Warrant Officers, Professional NCO's and Enlisted NCO's, the largest ever in any military force worldwide.

Comandante en jefe[edit]

The office of the Venezuelan military supreme commander has always been held by the President of Venezuela as per constitutional requirements, however with the new law sanctioned in 2008, the “Comandante en Jefe” is not only a function and an appointment attributed to the executive branch, but is now set to be a military rank equivalent to a Five Stars General or a Marshall. Anybody who gets elected President of Venezuela is automatically made a full general of the National Armed Forces and may be granted full military uniform, but he may wear it or not depending on the circumstances.

Hugo Chávez left the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1992, but when he became president he adopted the uniform of "Commander in Chief", with distinctive shoulder badge and sleeve and epaulette insignia and carried a saber similar to Simon Bolivar's in military events. During the Nicolas Maduro administration however, the rank insignia and epaulette (as well as the saber) were not worn by him during major military events, instead preferring to wear civilian dress or suits during formal events (with the national flag sash and the presidential medal).

This rank holds the direct operational control and command over all armed forces, and is held while he is in the presidential office.

The position is a copy of the one used by Fidel Castro in Cuba, and the design of the shoulder patch are very similar, but not in the shoulder board and epaulette on the dress uniform since Venezuelan military ranks are inspired by German (especially Prussian) military influence, and thus is similar to a Marshal of the German Democratic Republic but with a dark red star inside.

Officer ranks[edit]

Officer Ranks for the Army, Air Force, National Guard and Militia.

For the Army, National Guard, Air Force and the new Bolivarian National Militia, these are the ranks:

Army and National Guard officers' rank insignia are in shoulder epaulette boards similar to the German Army in the full dress and ceremonial uniform, especially its Prussian predecessor, in the following manner:

  • Lieutenants, First Lieutenants and Captains wear epaulettes constructed by wrapping two side-by-side lengths of braid around the buttonhole and back, giving the appearance of eight parallel cords; the whole was sewn to an underlay of the badge-cloth in the epaulette. Rank is shown in one to three white stars.
  • Epaulettes of Majors, Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels are made by plaiting together double widths of Russia braid and looping them to form a buttonhole, sewn to an underlay on the epaulette; rank again is displayed by one to three gold stars.
  • Generals' shoulder boards (for Brigade Generals, Divisional Generals, Major Generals and Generals-in-Chief) are constructed similarly to those of field-grade officers, but comprise a length of silver Russia braid between two braided cords of gold bullion or Celleon. Since the resulting combination's wider, generals' boards are plaited in four 'loops' rather than five. Their buttons are gilt, their underway is scarlet, and rank is indicated by one to four mythical golden suns. Moreover, the President of Venezuela in his constitutional duty as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces wears a different insignia in the same shoulder board type.

Since 2009 there are also technical officers who graduate and are commissioned from the Military Technical Academy, and hold the same ranks with the addition of the tecnico (technician) title from Lieutenants to Colonels. They wear the same rank pattern epaulettes on the full dress uniform.

For the Navy, these are the ranks for officers (note that the Venezuelan Marine Corps uses naval ranks instead of army-style ranks as a nod to its naval origins):

The Venezuelan Navy's basic officer rank is that of an Ensign, similar to the United States Navy. All officer rank insignia (save for Admirals) use the Executive curl similar to those used in the Commonwealth and some other countries both on the shoulder boards of the dress white uniform and on the sleeves of the dress blue uniform, using the same rank system as the US Navy and the Royal Navy. Ranks are also worn on the collars of the service dress khaki uniform but in gold or silver depending on rank, and on the green duty uniform. Admirals' rank insignia are in gold epaulettes on the dress uniforms with the foul anchor and wreaths with one to four mythical suns indicating officer rank. Naval technical service officers from 2009 onward use the tecnico title from Ensigns up to Captains after commissioning and use the same rank insignia on the shoulders, collars and sleeves depending on the uniform type being worn by the bearer.

Technical Non-commissioned officers and Warrant officers[edit]

Professional Career Warrant Officer ranks of the National Armed Forces (Army, Air Force, National Guard and Militia version).

These were, until their transformation into the technical officers corps in 2009, technical high-ranking non-commissioned personnel and warrant officers, with a technical and professional degree, which are usually assigned to technical positions inside the National Armed Forces and as warrant officers in the different service arms. While the insignia for the ground and air forces and the National Guard and Militia (featured here) are both on the shoulders and collars, naval insignia are also used on the sleeve.

Army, National Guard, Air Force and Militia:

Navy:

Professional and enlisted Other Ranks[edit]

Enlisted Troop on Professional and Non Professional Level, Venezuelan Army

These are the enlisted and NCO ranks and rates of the National Armed Forces.

Professional NCO's and Petty Officers (Army/Navy/National Guard/National Militia):

Professional NCO's (Air Force):

Enlisted Ranks(Army/Air Force/National Guard/Militia):

Enlisted Rates (Navy):

Cadet officer ranks[edit]

In the 5 military schools of Venezuela, special military ranks are used by officer candidates and aspirants, with Cadet as the lowest rank, and with the highest ranks of Ensign or Midshipman depending on the service academy save for the Military Technical Academy whose cadets come from all the service branches, and are ranked as per their service academies.

Cadet ranks of the Military Academies of the Army, Air Force and the National Guard

  • Alférez Mayor (Cadet Senior Ensign)
  • Alférez Auxilar (Cadet Auxiliary Ensign)
  • Alférez (Cadet Ensign)
  • Brigadier Mayor (Cadet Brigadier Major)
  • Primer Brigadier (Cadet Brigadier 1st Class)
  • Brigadier (Cadet Brigadier)
  • Sub-Brigadier (Cadet Sub-Brigadier)
  • Distinguido (Cadet 1st Class)
  • Cadete (Cadet)

Midshipmen ranks of the Venezuelan Naval Academy

  • Guardiamarina Mayor (Senior Midshipman)
  • Guardiamarina Auxiliar (Junior Midshipman)
  • Guardiamarina (Midshipman)
  • Brigadier Mayor (Cadet Brigadier Major)
  • Brigadier Primero (Cadet Brigadier 1st Class)
  • Brigadier (Cadet Brigadier)
  • Sub-Brigadier (Cadet Sub-Brigadier)
  • Distinguido (Cadet 1st Class)
  • Cadete (Cadet)

Rank insignia for the cadets of the service academies are both on the shoulders and on the sleeves of all uniforms save for the combat uniform. Military high schools share the same insignia but use different ranks.

See also[edit]