History of Vietnamese military ranks

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System name of Vietnamese military ranks are a relatively complete set on 22 March 1946 by President Ho Chi Minh, originally based on the military ranks system of Japanese military. Reference designs to the military ranks system of the French military. In 1958, the Vietnam People's Army military ranks system to be changed and used almost constantly since then.

Now, basically, the Vietnamese ranks has no Marshal, General of the Army as some countries. Brigadier General rank did not exist in this system. In contrast, the Colonel General, Senior Colonel or Senior Lieutenant in Vietnam at present do not exist in many countries the military. Therefore, to compare similar levels between Vietnam and other countries, people often use the comparative military ranks equivalent table.


Vietnam People's Army
Vietnam People's Army signal.jpg
Flag of the People's Army of Vietnam.svg
Ministry of Defence
Vietnam People's Army General Staff insignia.jpgGeneral Staff
Vietnam People's Army insignia.png Ground Force
Vietnam People's Air Force insignia.png Air Force
Vietnam People's Navy insignia.png Navy
Vietnam Border Defense Force insignia.jpg Border Guard
Vietnam Marine Police insignia.jpg Coast Guard
Ranks of the Vietnamese Military
Ground Force ranks and insignia
Air Force ranks and insignia
Navy ranks and insignia
Border Guard ranks and insignia
Coast Guard ranks and insignia
History of the Vietnamese Military
History of Vietnamese military ranks
Military history of Vietnam

According to the decree No-33 on 22 March 1946 signed by President Ho Chi Minh, the ranks of the Vietnamese National Army (former name of the Vietnam People's Army since 1950) was as follows:[1][2]

1. General level (3 ranks):

  • General: 3 gold stars on red background
  • Lt.General: 2 gold stars on red background
  • Major General: 1 gold stars on red background

2. Field Grade level (3 ranks):

  • Colonel: 3 yellow chevrons and 1 gold star on red background
  • Lieutenant Colonel: 2 yellow chevrons and 1 gold star on red background
  • Major: 1 yellow chevrons and 1 gold star on red background

3. Company Grade level (4 ranks):

  • Captain: 3 yellow chevrons on red background
  • Lieutenant: 2 yellow chevrons on red background
  • Sun-lieutenant: 1 yellow chevrons on red background
  • Warrant-officer: yellow on red background

4. Non-Commissioned level (3 ranks):

  • Sergeant major: (symbol) red on yellow background
  • Sergeant: (symbol) red on yellow background
  • Corporal: (symbol) red on yellow background

5. Enlisted level (2 ranks):

  • Private 1st class: (symbol) red on light-yellow background
  • Private: no rank insignia

However, due to war conditions, the ranks system had not been applied, except for few exceptions. The rank system was changed to the current one in 1958, and several rank changes have occurred since their adoption.

The adoption of the 1958 rank system and some changes[edit]

  • 1958

With the official adoption of the armed forces rank system in 1958, the VPA has three levels of ranks: General Officers, Field Grade Officers, and Company Grade Officers, and each level has four steps are classified by number of stars: 4 stars, 3 stars, 2 stars and 1 star; specially, Company Grade officers have one more rank which is that of Warrant-officer (professional officer).

Below the Commissioned Officers level are the Non-Commissioned Officers level and Soldiers and Students levels. Non-Commissioned level have 3 steps: Sergeant major, Sergeant and Corporal. Soldiers have 2 ranks: Private 1st class and Private. Until 1982 the Vietnam People's Navy used the same ranks as the rest of the armed forces.

  • 1982

Senior Colonel rank was officially abolished.

The following naval ranks were officially adopted for flag-level officers of the Vietnam People's Navy: Admiral (equivalent to Colonel General), Vice Admiral (equivalent to Lieutenant General), and Rear Admiral (equivalent to Major General). With this change the English language translations of the Vietnamese ranks of the VPN after the 1982 flag officer rank introduction are as follows (with their equivalent land-based ranks in parenthesis):

  • Ensign (Junior Lieutenant)
  • Lieutenant Junior Grade (Lieutenant)
  • Lieutenant (Senior Lieutenant)
  • Captain Lieutenant (Captain)
  • Lieutenant Commander (Major)
  • Commander (Lieutenant Colonel)
  • Captain (Colonel)

Regulations on professional officer ranks were amended, and the ranks were formalised from being Officer Cadet/Warrant Officer (lowest) to Colonel/Captain (highest).

  • 1992

The Senior Colonel rank was restored, and the Commodore rank was adopted in the VPN.

  • 1996

Ranks of the Border Defence Force were formally decreed to use the same ones used by the Army with dark-green background and red piping. The shoulder boards of all officers, NCOs and enlisted personnel formally changed to their present design.

  • 1998

Coast Guard ranks and ratings were defined with dark-purple and yellow background.

  • 2008

New regulations on military rank insignias with some improvements were officially issued.

Professional officers also use the straight metal chevron but have a pink stripe running between the shoulder boards to differentiate.

General and flag officer's shouler boards are woven with floating Dong Son drums and flamingos. Field Grade ranks have woven lines just like the old Generals' shoulder boards.

Current official ranks[edit]

Ranks can show information about branches of military personnel.

Hem Color of the ranks can show branches:

  • Army: red
  • Air Force: azure
  • Navy: dark-purple

Army-Air Force-Navy ranks have background are yellow.

Border Defence Force's ranks have background is dark-green and hem colour is red.

The Coast Guard's ranks have background is blue and hem colour is yellow.

  • The Highest ranks - General Officers:
Ranks Translation Ground Forces Air Force Navy Border Defence Coast Guard
Vietnam Ground Forces symbol.jpg
Air Force wings.jpg
Anchor Navy.jpg
Vietnam Border Defense Force symbol.jpg
Anchor Marine Police.jpg
Đại tướng Army General
Vietnam People's Army General.jpg
Thượng tướng/
Đô đốc
Colonel General/
Vietnam People's Army Colonel General.jpg
Vietnam People's Air Force Colonel General.jpg
Vietnam People's Navy Admiral.jpg
Trung tướng/
Phó Đô đốc
Lieutenant General/
Vice Admiral(Navy)
Vietnam People's Army Lieutenant General.jpg
Vietnam People's Air Force Lieutenant General.jpg
Vietnam People's Navy Vice Admiral.jpg
Vietnam Border Defense Force Colonel General.jpg
Vietnam Marine Police Lieutenant General.jpg
Thiếu tướng/
Chuẩn Đô đốc
Major General.
Rear Admiral(Navy)
Vietnam People's Army Major General.jpg
Vietnam People's Air Force Major General.jpg
Vietnam People's Navy Rear Admiral.jpg
Vietnam Border Defense Force Major General.jpg
Vietnam Marine Police Major General.jpg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://laws.dongnai.gov.vn/1991_to_2000/1999/199912/199912210006[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ http://www.vanbanphapluat.com/danh-muc-van-ban-phap-luat.html?view=doc&id=83282[permanent dead link]