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Canadian Armed Forces ranks and insignia

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This is a table of the ranks and insignia of the Canadian Armed Forces. As the Canadian Armed Forces is officially bilingual, the French language ranks are presented following the English (in italics).

Contents

Commander-in-chiefEdit

The Queen of Canada, normally represented by the Governor General, is the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces,[1][2] who, in that capacity, may wear a Canadian Armed Forces uniform of any of the three elements.[3][4] The rank insignia is a special sleeve braid embellished with the crest of the Royal arms of Canada and this same embroidered crest is worn on the shoulder straps.

Commander-in-chief as Description
Naval officer Army officer Air force officer
            Crest of the arms of Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada[5][6]

Flag officer / general officer rank insigniaEdit

Flag and general officers wear St. Edward's crown, a crossed sabre and baton, and a number of maple leaves corresponding to their rank on shoulder straps or shoulder boards, along with a wide (1 34 in or 44 mm) rank braid on each sleeve. Additionally, army general officers wear scarlet and gold gorget patches on their collars. Navy and air force flag/general officers wear additional rows of regular (12 in or 13 mm) braid above the wide braid, in the style of traditional Commonwealth flag and air officer ranks.

Navy Army Air force Description
Admiral / amiral General / général General / général
              St. Edward's crown, crossed sabre and baton, four maple leaves

Vice admiral / vice-amiral Lieutenant-general[7] /
lieutenant-général
Lieutenant-general[7] /
lieutenant-général
              St. Edward's crown, crossed sabre and baton, three maple leaves

Rear admiral / contre-amiral Major general / major-général Major general / major-général
              St. Edward's crown, crossed sabre and baton, two maple leaves

Commodore Brigadier general /
brigadier-général
Brigadier general /
brigadier-général
              St. Edward's crown, crossed sabre and baton, one maple leaf

Officer rank insigniaEdit

Navy and air force officer rank insignia consist of rows of regular (12 in or 13 mm) and narrow (14 in or 6.4 mm) braid worn on the lower sleeve. Army officers' rank insignia consist of stars (or "pips") and crowns (St. Edward's Crown), which are pinned to the shoulder straps.

Navy[8] Army[9] Air force[10] Description
Captain /
Capitaine de vaisseau
Colonel Colonel
        Navy:
Four rows of standard braid with executive curl
Army:
St. Edward's Crown and two stars
(Colonel gorget)
Air Force:
Four rows of standard braid

Commander /
Capitaine de frégate
Lieutenant colonel[7] Lieutenant colonel[7]
      Navy:
Three rows of standard braid with executive curl
Army:
St. Edward's crown and one star
Air Force:
Three rows of standard braid

Lieutenant-commander[7] /
Capitaine de corvette
Major Major
      Navy:
One row of narrow braid between two rows of standard braid with executive curl
Army:
St. Edward's crown
Air Force:
One row of narrow braid between two rows of standard braid

Lieutenant[7] /
Lieutenant de vaisseau
Captain / Capitaine Captain / Capitaine
      Navy:
Two rows of standard braid with executive curl
Army:
Three stars
Air Force:
Two rows of standard braid

Sub-lieutenant[7] /
Enseigne de vaisseau
de première classe
Lieutenant[7] Lieutenant[7]
      Navy:
One row of standard braid with executive curl over one row of narrow braid
Army:
Two stars
Air force:
One row of narrow braid over one row of standard braid

Acting sub-lieutenant[7] /
Enseigne de vaisseau
de deuxième classe
Second lieutenant[7] /
Sous-lieutenant
Second lieutenant[7] /
Sous-lieutenant
      Navy:
One row of standard braid with executive curl
Army:
One star
Air force:
One row of standard braid

Naval cadet /
Aspirant de marine
Officer cadet /
Élève-officier
Officer cadet /
Élève-officier
      Navy:
One row of narrow braid
Army:
One star in a white ribbon
Air Force:
One row of narrow braid

Non-commissioned member (NCM) rank insigniaEdit

NCM rank insignia for the rank of Petty Officer 1st class/Warrant Officer and above are worn on the lower sleeve, while those for the rank of Petty Officer 2nd class/Sergeant and below are worn on the upper sleeve.

Navy[11][12] Army[13][14] Air force[15][16] Description
Senior appointments  
Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer
(CFCWO)
Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer
(CFCWO)
Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer
(CFCWO)
A simplified version of the 1957 Arms of Canada within a wreath of maple leaves.
Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Command Chief Petty Officer
Army Sergeant-Major
Command Chief Warrant Officer
Chief Warrant Officer of the RCAF
Command Chief Warrant Officer
A simplified version of the 1957 Arms of Canada over a wreath of laurel.

The Command CWO/CPO of Military Personnel Command (MILPERSCOM) may be of any element
Formation Chief Petty Officer
Formation Chief Warrant Officer
Formation Chief Warrant Officer
A simplified version of the 1957 Arms of Canada over tri-service emblem.
Senior ranks (Rangs supérieurs)  
Chief Petty Officer 1st Class
(CPO1)
Premier maître de 1re classe
(pm1)
Chief Warrant Officer
(CWO)
Adjudant-chef
(adjuc)
Chief Warrant Officer
(CWO)
Adjudant-chef
(adjuc)
A simplified version of the 1957 Arms of Canada.
Chief Petty Officer 2nd class
(CPO2)
Premier maître de 2e classe
(pm2)
Master Warrant Officer
(MWO)
Adjudant-maître
(adjum)
Master Warrant Officer
(MWO)
Adjudant-maître
(adjum)
St. Edward's crown within a laurel wreath.
Petty Officer 1st class
(PO1)
Maître de 1re classe
(m1)
Warrant Officer
(WO)
Adjudant
(adj)
Warrant Officer
(WO)
Adjudant
(adj)
St. Edward's crown.
Petty Officer 2nd class
(PO2)
Maître de 2e classe
(m2)
Sergeant
(Sgt)
Sergent
(sgt)
Sergeant
(Sgt)
Sergent
(
sgt)
Three-bar chevron surmounted by a maple leaf
Junior ranks (Rangs subalternes)  
Master Seaman
(MS)
Matelot-chef
(matc)
Master Corporal
(MCpl)
Caporal-chef
(cplc)
Master Corporal
(MCpl)
Caporal-chef
(cplc)
Two-bar chevron surmounted by a maple leaf.
Leading Seaman
(LS)
Matelot de 1re classe
(mat1)
Corporal
(Cpl)
Caporal
(cpl)
Corporal
(Cpl)
Caporal
(cpl)
Two-bar chevron.
Able Seaman
(AB)
Matelot de 2e classe
(mat2)
Private
(Pte)
Soldat
(sdt)
Aviator
(Avr)
Aviateur
(avr)
One-bar chevron for Army and Navy. One propeller for Air Force.
Ordinary Seaman
(OS)
Matelot de 3e classe
(mat3)
Private (basic)
(Pte)
Soldat (confirmé)
(sdt [c])
Aviator (basic)
(Avr [B])
Aviateur (confirmé)
(avr [c])
No insignia.
No equivalent
Private (recruit)
(Pte)
Soldat (recrue)
(sdt [r])
No equivalent No insignia for Army. No equivalents for Navy and Air Force.

Rank slip-onsEdit

The tables above describe the rank insignia worn on the service dress jacket. On DEU shirts, sweaters, and outerwear; and operational dress shirts and jackets, rank insignia are worn on slip-ons with the word "CANADA" or a regimental/branch title embroidered underneath. Flag/general officers' slip-ons include only the crown, crossed sabre and baton, and maple leaves worn on the shoulder straps; they do not include the braid worn on the sleeve. Army NCM slip-ons for DEU shirts, sweaters, and outerwear display only the word "CANADA" or a regimental/branch title, rank insignia being worn instead as enamelled metal pins on collar points or lapels.

Service stripesEdit

From 1955 to 1968 Militia personnel were permitted to wear service insignia on the right jacket sleeve.[17][18] There were one to five silver chevrons on drab backing for every two years of service or a maple leaf in silver thread on a drab cloth circle to represent 10 years of service. Chevron points were worn either up or down; even official documents and photos were confused on the matter. Further awards after 10 years were believed covered by the Canadian Forces Decoration, which was awarded after 12 years and a clasp added for every 10 years afterwards.

Qualifying service could include prior active service in the active reserves of the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force or the regular or territorial forces of a fellow Commonwealth member nations. Service in Canadian Army reserve forces units (like the regular reserve, supplementary reserve and reserve militia) did not count. The awarding of Service Stripes ceased in 1968 after the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Distinctive rank namesEdit

Some branches and regiments use distinctive rank names in place of master corporal, corporal and private:

Branch Master corporal Corporal Private
Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Master corporal (caporal-chef) Corporal (caporal) Trooper (cavalier)
Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery Master bombardier (bombardier-chef) Bombardier (bombardier) Gunner (artilleur)
Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers Master corporal (caporal-chef) Corporal (caporal) Sapper (sapeur)
Royal Canadian Corps of Signals Master corporal (caporal-chef) Corporal (caporal) Signalman (signaleur)
Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Master corporal (caporal-chef) Corporal (caporal) Craftsman (artisan)
Royal Canadian Infantry Corps (RCIC) members of guards regiments Master corporal (caporal-chef) Corporal (caporal) Guardsman (garde)
RCIC members of rifle regiments Master corporal (caporal-chef) Corporal (caporal) Rifleman (carabinier)
RCIC members of fusilier regiments Master corporal (caporal-chef) Corporal (caporal) Fusilier (fusilier)

In the guard regiments, warrant officers are known as "colour sergeants" and second lieutenants are known as "ensigns".

 
LCdr (medical)'s sleeve variant

Except for those who acquired the Canadian Forces mess dress after 1968 to 2010, naval officers have always worn the Royal Navy-style executive curl rank insignia on mess uniforms (see Royal Navy officer rank insignia). The colour designations for specialist officers are not used except for naval medical officers who may use a variant of the standard rank slip-ons and shoulder boards incorporating a scarlet red background between the gold braid of their rank insignia and naval medical service officers (nursing officers, pharmacy officers, health care administration officers, social work officers, physiotherapy officers, and bioscience officers) who have shoulder boards incorporating a dull cherry red background between the strips of their rank.

Reinstatement of Royal Canadian Navy rank and insigniaEdit

When the Canadian Navy was established in 1910 it was natural to adopt the same straight rings with the executive curl for the permanent navy that was designated as the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in August 1911 and subsequently the "wavy" shaped rings for the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) and the rings of narrow interwoven gold lace for the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve (RCNR). Other variations in rank insignia included sky blue lace with a diamond shaped loop for officers of the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service, and warranted Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps officers, who had a small anchor in place of the executive curl.

Following the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Navy was reorganized with a single reserve component. In 1946 the distinctive wavy gold braid of the reserves gave way to the straight braided executive curl of the regular force until 1968. With the integration of the Canadian Forces the sea element was designated as Canadian Forces Maritime Command. Unembellished straight braid became the common rank insignia for officers of both the regular and reserve forces. The executive curl rank insignia has been in continuous use in the Royal Canadian Navy, but from 1968 to 2010 it appeared only on navy mess dress.

On 5 March 2010, the Canadian House of Commons passed a motion (moved by Guy Lauzon[19]) recommending the executive curl be reinstated on the Canadian navy uniform. Subsequently, in recognition of the Canadian Naval centennial, Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, authorized the use of the executive curl for the Canadian Navy on 2 May 2010. The insignia became effective on 11 June 2010, on the occasion of the Pacific Canadian Naval International Fleet Review parade of nations in Victoria, B.C.[20][21]

More than 54 countries including Canada and 18 other of the 22 Commonwealth navies use the insignia. Most navies that do not use the executive curl insignia substitute a star or other national device above the top row of lace such as the United States Navy and the French Navy.

Timeline of changes (sleeves only)Edit

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
Maritime Command
(1968 - 2010)
No Equivalent                     No Equivalent  
Royal Canadian Navy
(Present)
                     
Rank titles Admiral Vice-admiral Rear-admiral Commodore Captain(N) Commander Lieutenant-commander Lieutenant(N) Sub-lieutenant Acting sub-lieutenant Naval
cadet
Amiral Vice-amiral Contre-amiral Commodore Capitaine de vaisseau Capitaine de frégate Capitaine de corvette Lieutenant de vaisseau Enseigne de vaisseau de 1re classe Enseigne de vaisseau de 2e classe Aspirant de marine

Reinstatement of Canadian Army ranks and insigniaEdit

 
 
On the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge (9 April 2017), the Bath Star was replaced by the "Vimy Star". It depicts a maple leaf and is surrounded by the Latin motto vigilamus pro te ("we stand on guard for thee").

The Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay, announced on 8 July 2013 their intention to restore the traditional rank names for all Canadian Army non-commissioned members, as well as the reintroduction of Canadian Army officers' rank insignia.[22] Instead of the navy-style rank insignia, Canadian Army officers once again use the traditional St Edward's Crown and Star of the Order of the Bath insignia, commonly called "pips and crowns", a system which is more than one hundred years old.[23] The traditional gorget patches were also restored for officers of the rank of colonel or higher.[24] The re-introduction of Canadian Army rank insignia was expected to save the Canadian Armed Forces $53,550 per year, but with an initial outlay of $245,000, savings are not expected to be realized until after the first five years.[25] The reasons behind the return to the traditional Canadian Army ranks and insignia were explained by the minister of national defence as strengthening Canadian Army identity as "our officers who accepted the (German) surrender, were wearing pips and Crowns. This in no way diminishes Canada's identity, and I would suggest we are returning to the insignia that was so much a part of what the Canadian Army accomplished in Canada’s name".[26] The reinstated insignia for officers, instead of using the current British rank insignia for brigadier (used in the Canadian Army until 1968), had the pre-1920 brigadier-general insignia (crossed sabre and baton) instead.

Supported by a new Liberal government, on April 2, 2016, the Commander of the Canadian Army announced that the army was abandoning the traditional rank insignia for general officers announced in 2013 and instituted in 2014 and that general officers would revert to the unification-era rank insignia worn between 1968 and 2013. This rank insignia is based on the shoulder board rank insignia of Royal Canadian Navy flag officers, which in turn is derived from the shoulder board rank insignia of Royal Navy flag officers. The rank insignia of general officers now consists of a crown, crossed sabre and baton, and a series of maple leaves on shoulder straps along with one broad naval-style gold band on each of the lower sleeves of the service dress tunic.[27]

Timeline of changesEdit

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
Mobile Command & Land Force Command
(1968 - 2013)
No Equivalent                     No Equivalent  
Canadian Army
(2013 - 2016)
                     
Canadian Army
(2016-2017)
                     
Canadian Army
(Present)
                     
Rank titles General Lieutenant-General Major-General Brigadier-General Colonel Lieutenant-Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant Officer Cadet
Général Lieutenant-général Major-général Brigadier-général Colonel Lieutenant-colonel Major Capitaine Lieutenant Sous-lieutenant Élève-officier

Reinstatement of Royal Canadian Air Force rank and insigniaEdit

In April 2015,[28] the Royal Canadian Air Force adopted new rank insignia reminiscent of the pre-unification RCAF system. The new officer rank insignia uses pearl-grey-on-black rank stripes instead of gold. Non-commissioned members (NCMs) rank insignia is pearl grey instead of gold. The colour gold found elsewhere on the uniform was also changed to pearl-grey. The air force rank of private, formerly indicated by one chevron, became aviator (Fr: aviateur), and is indicated by a horizontally-aligned two-bladed propeller. All other ranks titles remain as they were.[29]

Timeline of changesEdit

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
Air Command
(1968 - 2010)
No Equivalent                     No Equivalent  
Royal Canadian Air Force
(Present)
                     
Rank titles General Lieutenant General Major-general Brigadier-general Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second
lieutenant
Officer Cadet
Général Lieutenant-général Major-général Brigadier-général Colonel Lieutenant-colonel Major Capitaine Lieutenant Sous-lieutenant Élève-Officier

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Lagassé, Philippe (December 2013). "The Crown's Powers of Command-in Chief: Interpreting Section 15 of Canada's Constitution Act, 1867" (PDF). Review of Constitutional Studies. 18 (2): 189–220. 
  2. ^ Federal Court of Canada (21 January 2008), In the Matter of Aralt Mac Giolla Chainnigh v. the Attorney-General of Canada (PDF), T-1809-06; 38, Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, p. 5, 2008 FC 69, retrieved 7 February 2008 
  3. ^ Canadian Forces Dress Instructions. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. 1995. pp. 3–1–1. 
  4. ^ Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. "Commander-in-Chief". Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  5. ^ Department of Canadian Heritage (2015). A Crown of Maples - Constitutional Monarchy in Canada (PDF). Ottawa: Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-100-20079-8. 
  6. ^ Canadian Heraldic Authority (March 2005). "Arms and Supporters of Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada". Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l In the Canadian military lieutenant is pronounced /lɛfˈtɛnənt/ in English. Language Portal of Canada. Retrieved on: 15 September 2015.
  8. ^ National Defence Canada Navy Rank and Appointment Insignia. Retrieved on: 11 February 2015
  9. ^ National Defence Canada Army Rank and Appointment Insignia. Retrieved on: 11 February 2015
  10. ^ National Defence Canada Air Force Rank and Appointment Insignia. Retrieved on: 11 February 2015
  11. ^ "Royal Canadian Navy Rank and Appointment Insignia", Défense nationale et les Forces canadiennes (www.forces.gc.ca), retrieved 10 July 2013 
  12. ^ "Insignes de grade et de fonction de la Marine royale canadienne", Défense nationale et les Forces canadiennes (www.forces.gc.ca), retrieved 10 July 2013 
  13. ^ "Canadian Army Rank and Appointment Insignia", Défense nationale et les Forces canadiennes (www.forces.gc.ca), retrieved 10 July 2013 
  14. ^ "Insignes de grade et de fonction de l'Armée canadienne", Défense nationale et les Forces canadiennes (www.forces.gc.ca), retrieved 10 July 2013 
  15. ^ "Royal Canadian Air Force Rank and Appointment Insignia", Défense nationale et les Forces canadiennes (www.forces.gc.ca), retrieved 10 July 2013 
  16. ^ "Insignes de grade et de fonction de l'Aviation royale canadienne", Défense nationale et les Forces canadiennes (www.forces.gc.ca), retrieved 10 July 2013 
  17. ^ Service Stripes
  18. ^ Grimshaw, Lou. Military Collector's Club of Canada Journal (Spring 1997 issue)
  19. ^ "Guy Lauzon on Canadian Navy". Hansard. 5 March 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2011. 
  20. ^ Marotte. B. (May. 03, 2010). "Navy celebrates centennial by restoring historic insignia." The Globe and Mail. Retrieved on: 20 June 2010.
  21. ^ National Defence Canada. Photo of the day archive. Retrieved on: 20 June 2010.
  22. ^ "Canada restores historical features of the Canadian Army". Department of National Defence. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  23. ^ "Restoring the Canadian Army's historical identity". The Department of National Defence. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  24. ^ Pugliese, David (8 July 2013). "Government Intends To Restore Canadian Army Rank Insignia, Names and Badges To Their Traditional Forms". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  25. ^ Pugliese, David (21 July 2013). "New Canadian Army insignias to pay for themselves, military says". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  26. ^ Brewster, Murray (8 July 2013). "Canadian Army goes back to the future with return to British-style ranks and designations". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  27. ^ "Canadian Army Announces Changes to the General Officer Rank Insignia". "Department of National Defence". April 2, 2016. Retrieved April 2, 2016
  28. ^ Pugliese, David (24 September 2014). "New RCAF Insignia and rank colours not available until March 2015". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  29. ^ unknown (21 September 2014). "New Uniform for the Royal Canadian Air Force". Government of Canada. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 

External linksEdit