Military ranks of the Swiss Armed Forces

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The military ranks of the Swiss Armed Forces have changed little over the centuries, except for the introduction, in 2001, of a new set of warrant officers. The rank insignia for all personnel are worn on shoulder boards with the appropriate background colour (see below). The exception is that, in all services, rank insignia is not worn by recruits; it is however worn by privates once they have finished recruit school. Designations are given here in German, French, Italian and Romansh (in this order), with an English translation which is used during overseas missions. In the chart below, NATO codes are used for comparison purposes only; Switzerland is not a member of NATO, and the rank structure in the senior officer region can be seen to diverge significantly from other armies'.

Enlisted ranks[edit]

Enlisted men[edit]

Ranks for enlisted personnel (de: Grade der Mannschaften), with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
Flag of NATO.svg
rank
Rank insignia Name Description
Mounting loop Camouflage German French Italian Romansh English equivalent
OR-1b Rekrut (Rek) Recrue (recr) recluta recrut Recruit
OR-1a CHE OR1 Sdt.svg OR-1a - Soldat Soldat (Sdt) Soldat (Sdt) soldato schuldà Private (PTE)
OR-2 CHE OR2 Gfr.svg OR-2 - Appointé Gefreiter (Gfr) appointé (App) appuntato appuntà appointee
OR-3 CHE OR3 Obgfr.svg OR-3 - Appointé-Chef Obergefreiter (Obgfr) appointé-chef (App chef) appuntato capo primappuntà Private first class (PFC) Specialists who take over tasks of responsibility or hold the position of a squad commander. If the Obgfr has a commanding role, they count among the NCOs, otherwise they are enlisted men. A soldier may be promoted to Obgfr after attending the NCO course at the Swiss Army's Recruit School, during which time they are also called Anwärter. Upon very good conduct, a Gefreiter may also be promoted to Obergefreiter at a "repetition course". This promotion is not linked to extended duty (service time).

Non-commissioned officers (NCO)[edit]

Ranks for NCOs (de: Grade der Unteroffiziere), with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
Flag of NATO.svg
rank
Rank insignia Name Description
Mounting loop Camouflage German French Italian Romansh English equivalent
OR-4 CHE OR4 Kpl.svg OR-4 - Caporal Korporal (Kpl) Caporal (Cpl) Corporale (Cpl) Caporal (Cpl) Corporal Before the reorganization of the Swiss Armed Forces, this was the standard junior NCO rank, while the rank of Wachtmeister (Sergeant) was awarded to NCOs upon good conduct. Currently, the standard junior NCO rank is Wachtmeister (Sergeant), while soldiers in the rank of a Korporal (Corporal) serve as specialist NCOs (e.g. arms specialization, CBRN specialization etc.)
OR-5b CHE OR5b Wm.svg OR-5 - Sergent Wachtmeister (Wm) Sergent (Sgt) Sergente (Sgt) Sergent (Sgt) Sergeant
OR-5a CHE OR5a Obwm.svg OR-6 - Sergent-Chef Oberwachtmeister (Obwm) Sergent chef (Sgt chef) Sergente capo (Sgt capo) Caposergent (Csgt)

Higher NCOs[edit]

Ranks for higher NCOs (de: Grade der höheren Unteroffiziere), with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
Flag of NATO.svg
rank
Rank insignia Name Description
Mounting loop Camouflage German French Italian Romansh English equivalent
OR-6 CHE OR6 Fw.svg OR-6 - Sergent-Major Feldweibel (Fw) Sergent-major (Sgtm) Sergente maggiore (Sgtm) Primsergent (Psgt) Master sergeant
(SSgt)
Lowest rank of "Higher non-commissioned officers" (NCO); it used to be a higher rank than Feldweibel and to oversee unit-level military service and operations. Changed under the 1995 reform to a specialist rank. Nowadays, Feldweibel are almost only seen in military police and NBC units.
OR-7 CHE OR7b Four.svg OR-7a - Fourrier Fourier (Four) Fourrier (Four) Furiere (Fur) Furier (Fur) Quartermaster sergeant (QMS) The higher NCO who administers a company's finances, subsistence and lodging.
OR-7 CHE OR7a Hptfw.svg OR-7b - Sergent-Major Chef Hauptfeldweibel (Hptfw) Sergent-major chef (Sgtm chef) Sergente maggiore capo (sgtm capo) Capoprimsergent (cpsgt) First sergeant
(SFC)
The Hauptfeldweibel oversees unit-level military service and operations.
OR-8 CHE OR8b Adj Uof.svg OR-8 - Adjudant sous-officier Adjutant Unteroffizier (Adj Uof) Adjudant sous-officier (Adj Sof) Aiutante sottufficiale (aiut suff) Adjutant sutuffizier (Adj suff) Warrant officer class 2
OR-9 CHE OR8a Stabsadj.svg OR-9a - Adjudant d'état-major Stabsadjutant (Stabsadj) Adjudant d'état-major (adjut EM) Aiutante di stato maggiore (aiut SM) Adjutant da stab (Adj S) Warrant officer class 1
OR-9 CHE OR9b Hptadj.svg OR-9b - Adjudant-major Hauptadjutant (Hptadj) Adjudant-major (Adjm) Aiutante maggiore (Aiut magg) Adjutant principal (Adj prin) Warrant officer class 1
OR-9 CHE OR9a Chefadj.svg OR-9c - Adjudant-Chef Chefadjutant (Chefadj) Adjutant-chef (Adj chef) Aiutante capo (Aiut capo) Chefadjutant (Schefadj)

Officers[edit]

Subaltern officers and Hauptleute (captains)[edit]

Ranks for subaltern officers, with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
Flag of NATO.svg
rank
Rank insignia Name Description
Mounting loop Camouflage German French Italian Romansh English equivalent
OF-1b CHE OF1b Lt.svg OF-1a - Lieutenant Leutnant
(Lt)
Lieutenant
(Lt)
Tenente
(Ten)
Litenet
(Lt)
Second lieutenant
OF-1a CHE OF1a Oblt.svg OF-1b - Premier-Lieutenant Oberleutnant
(Oblt)
Premier-lieutenant
(Plt)
Primo tenente
(I ten)
Primlitenant
(Plt)
First lieutenant
OF-2 CHE OF2 Hptm.svg OF-2 - Capitaine Hauptmann
(Hptm)
Capitaine
(Cap)
Capitano
(Cap)
Chapitani
(Chap)
Captain

Staff officers, specialist[edit]

Ranks for staff officers and specialists, with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
Flag of NATO.svg
rank
Rank insignia Name Description
Mounting loop Camouflage German French Italian Romansh English equivalent
OF-3 CHE OF3 Maj.svg OF-3 - Major Major
(Maj)
Major
(Maj)
Maggiore
(Magg)
Maior
(Mai)
Major
(Maj)
Several assignments in a battalion's staff (deputy S1-7), under special circumstances appointment to battalion commander, teacher or staff officer on a military academy, commander of a HQ company, staff officer in major units.
OF-4 CHE OF4 Oberstlt2.svg OF-4 - Lieutenant-Colonel Oberstleutnant
(Oberstlt)
Lieutenant-colonel
(Lt col)
Tenete colonnello
(Ten col)
Litinent colonel
(Lt col)
Lieutenant colonel
(Ltc)
Battalion commander, staff officer in major units.
OF-5 CHE OF5 Oberst.svg OF-5a - Colonel Oberst
(Oberst)
Colonel
(Col)
Colonnello
(Col)
Colonel (Col) Colonel (Col) Under special circumstances appointment to battalion commander, deputy commander of a brigade, staff officer in major units.
OF1a-5 CHE OF1-5 FachOf.svg OF1a-5 - Officier Spécialiste Fachoffizier (FachOf) Officier spécialiste
(Of spéc)
Ufficiale specialista (Uff spec) Uffizier spezialist
(Uff spez)
Specialist Officer "Specialist Officer", variable from OF1a to OF5, all officer's rank groups.

Higher staff officers[edit]

Higher staff officers wear black lampasses on the outside seam of dress uniform trousers.

Ranks for higher staff officers, with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
Flag of NATO.svg
rank
Rank insignia Name Description
Mounting loop Camouflage Kepi German French Italian Romansh English equivalent
OF-6 CHE OF6 Br.svg OF-6 - Brigadier Général Uniform Képi of a Brigadier General of the Swiss Army.jpg Brigadier (Br) Brigadier (Br) Brigadiere Brigadier Brigadier general One-star rank, commander of a brigade, also military attaché
OF-7 CHE OF7 Div.svg OF-7 - Divisionaire Divisionär.jpg Divisionär (Div) Divisionnaire (div) Divisionario Divisionär Major general Two-star rank, commander of territorial region, also in an Army HQ or staff.
OF-8 CHE OF8 KKdt.svg OF-8 - Commandant de Corps Korpskommandant.jpg Korpskommandant (KKdt) Commandant de corps (cdt C) Comandante di corpo Korpskommandant Lieutenant general Three-star rank, highest rank in peace time.

Commander-in-chief[edit]

Rank for the commander-in-chief, with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
Flag of NATO.svg
rank
Rank insignia Name Description
Mounting loop Camouflage Kepi German French Italian Romansh English equivalent
OF-9 CHE OF9 General.svg OF-9 - Général Kepi General.jpg General (Gen) Général Generale Generale General The rank is assigned only during time of war, when the Federal Assembly chooses one general to command the entire Swiss military. Otherwise the word "general" is not used.[1]

Generals were appointed during the Neuchâtel Crisis (Guillaume Henri Dufour), Franco-Prussian War (Hans Herzog), First World War (Ulrich Wille) and Second World War (Henri Guisan). The general remains subordinate to the Federal Council.

Shoulder board colour (Waffenfarbe)[edit]

Armored Corps Infantry Staff officers, engineers, intelligence, chaplaincy Artillery Air Force Signal and command support corps Medical corps, Red Cross service
Rescue corps Logistic corps Territorial service Military security NBC defence corps Armed Forces Legal Service Peace Support Operation

References[edit]

  1. ^ McPhee, John (1983-10-31). "La Place de la Concorde Suisse-I". The New Yorker. p. 50. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Military rank insignia of Switzerland at Wikimedia Commons