Military ranks of the Swiss Armed Forces

The military ranks of the Swiss Armed Forces have changed little over the centuries, except for the introduction, in 2004, 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 ranksEdit

Enlisted menEdit

Ranks for enlisted personnel (German: Grade der Mannschaften), with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
Approximate NATO code Rank insignia Name Description
Epaulette Camouflage German French Italian Romansh English designation English equivalent
OR-1 Rekrut
(Rekr)
Recrue
(recr)
Recluta Recruit Recruit
    Soldat
(Sdt)
Soldat
(Sdt)
Soldato Schuldà Private E-1 (PTE) Private (PTE)
OR-2     Gefreiter
(Gfr)
Appointé
(App)
Appuntato Appuntà Private E-2
(PTE)
E-1 Privates can be promoted to E-2 after a minimum of 20 days' service in a refresher course, subject to good performance.[1] E-2 Privates also receive 6 CHF daily pay (as opposed to 5 CHF prior to promotion)[2]
OR-3     Obergefreiter
(Obgfr)
Appointé-chef
(App chef)
Appuntato capo Primappuntà Private first class
(PFC)
Private first class
(PFC)
The rank "Obergefreiter" was removed as of 1 January 2019 with the WEA of the Swiss Army.[3] However those soldiers previously awarded this rank are able to keep it.

Non-commissioned officers (NCO)Edit

Ranks for NCOs (German: Grade der Unteroffiziere), with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
Approximate NATO code Rank insignia Name Description
Epaulette Camouflage German French Italian Romansh English designation English equivalent
OR-4     Korporal
(Kpl)
Caporal
(Cpl)
Caporale
(Cpl)
Caporal
(Cpl)
Corporal
(Cpl)
Corporal Soldiers in this rank serve as specialist NCOs (e.g. arms specialization, CBRN specialization, postal soldiers)
OR-5     Wachtmeister
(Wm)
Sergent
(Sgt)
Sergente
(Sgt)
Sergent
(Sgt)
Sergeant
(Sgt)
Sergeant Currently, the standard junior NCO rank
OR-6     Oberwachtmeister
(Obwm)
Sergent chef
(Sgt chef)
Sergente capo
(Sgt capo)
Caposergent
(Csgt)
Sergeant First Class
(SFC)
Staff Sergeant This rank is awarded to Sergeants who receive very good performance assessments. Holders of this rank are appointed to be the platoon leader's replacement and serve an additional 10 days compared to the standard Sergeant rank.[1]

Higher NCOsEdit

Ranks for higher NCOs (German: Grade der höheren Unteroffiziere), with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
Approximate NATO code Rank insignia Name Description
Epaulette Camouflage German French Italian Romansh English designation English equivalent
OR-7     Feldweibel
(Fw)
Sergent-major
(Sgtm)
Sergente maggiore
(Sgtm)
Primsergent
(Psgt)
Sergeant Major
(SGM/Sgt Maj)
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. Since the 2003 reform a specialist rank only. Nowadays, Feldweibel are mainly seen in military police, NBC and other specialist units.
OR-8     Fourier
(Four)
Fourrier
(Four)
Furiere
(Fur)
Furier
(Fur)
Quartermaster Sergeant
(QMS)
Quartermaster sergeant
(QMS)
The higher NCO who administers a company's finances, subsistence and lodging.
    Hauptfeldweibel
(Hptfw)
Sergent-major chef
(Sgtm chef)
Sergente maggiore capo
(sgtm capo)
Capoprimsergent
(cpsgt)
Chief Sergeant Major
(CSM)
First sergeant
(SFC)
The Hauptfeldweibel oversees unit-level military service and operations.
OR-9b     Adjutant Unteroffizier
(Adj Uof)
Adjudant sous-officier
(Adj Sof)
Aiutante sottufficiale
(aiut suff)
Adjutant sutuffizier
(Adj suff)
Warrant officer
(WO)
Warrant officer class 2
    Stabsadjutant
(Stabsadj)
Adjudant d'état-major
(Adj EM)
Aiutante di stato maggiore
(aiut SM)
Adjutant da stab
(Adj S)
Staff Warrant Officer
(SWO)
Warrant officer class 1
OR-9a     Hauptadjutant
(Hptadj)
Adjudant-major
(Adjm)
Aiutante maggiore
(Aiut magg)
Adjutant principal
(Adj prin)
Master Warrant Officer
(MWO)
    Chefadjutant
(Chefadj)
Adjudant-chef
(Adj chef)
Aiutante capo
(Aiut capo)
Chefadjutant
(Schefadj)
Chief Warrant Officer
(CWO)

OfficersEdit

Subaltern officers and Hauptleute (captains)Edit

Ranks for subaltern officers, with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
 
rank
Rank insignia Name Description
Epaulette Camouflage German French Italian Romansh English designation English equivalent
OF-1b     Leutnant
(Lt)
Lieutenant
(Lt)
Tenente
(Ten)
Litenet
(Lt)
Second Lieutenant
(2Lt)
Second lieutenant Platoon's leader. Promotion to First Lieutenant occurs after a minimum of 3 refresher courses (subject to good performance) or after 6 years' service.[1]
OF-1a     Oberleutnant
(Oblt)
Premier-lieutenant
(Plt)
Primo tenente
(I ten)
Primlitenant
(Plt)
First Lieutenant
(1Lt)
First lieutenant Platoon's leader or future company commander.
OF-2     Hauptmann
(Hptm)
Capitaine
(Cap)
Capitano
(Cap)
Chapitani
(Chap)
Captain
(Capt)
Captain Company commander or officer in battalion's staff

Staff officers, specialistEdit

Ranks for staff officers and specialists, with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
 
rank
Rank insignia Name Description
Epaulette Camouflage German French Italian Romansh English designation English equivalent
OF-3     Major
(Maj)
Major
(Maj)
Maggiore
(Magg)
Maior
(Mai)
Major
(Maj)
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 large units (BDE).
OF-4     Oberstleutnant
(Oberstlt)
Lieutenant-colonel
(Lt col)
Tenente colonnello
(Ten col)
Litinent colonel
(Lt col)
Lieutenant Colonel
(LTC/Lt Col)
Lieutenant colonel
(Ltc)
Battalion commander, staff officer in large units (BDE).
OF-5     Oberst
(Oberst)
Colonel
(Col)
Colonnello
(Col)
Colonel
(Col)
Colonel
(Col)
Colonel
(Col)
Under special circumstances appointment to battalion commander, deputy commander of a brigade, staff officer in larger units (BDE).
OF1-5     Fachoffizier
(FachOf)
Officier spécialiste
(Of spéc)
Ufficiale specialista
(Uff spec)
Uffizier spezialist
(Uff spez)
Specialist Officer
(Spec Of)
Specialist Officer "Specialist Officer", variable from OF1a to OF5, all officer's rank groups.

Higher staff officersEdit

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
 
rank
Rank insignia Name Description
Mounting loop Camouflage Kepi German French Italian Romansh English equivalent
OF-6       Brigadier
(Br)
Brigadier
(Br)
Brigadiere Brigadier Brigadier general One-star rank, commander of a brigade, also military attaché
OF-7       Divisionär
(Div)
Divisionnaire
(div)
Divisionario Divisionär Major general Two-star rank, commander of territorial division, also in an Army HQ or staff.
OF-8       Korpskommandant
(KKdt)
Commandant de corps
(cdt C)
Comandante di corpo Korpskommandant Lieutenant general Three-star rank, also the rank of the Chief of the Armed Forces, highest rank in peacetime.

Commander-in-chief of the Armed ForcesEdit

Rank for the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, with NATO equivalent, insignia, and designations in five languages
 
rank
Rank insignia Name Description
Mounting loop Camouflage Kepi German French Italian Romansh English equivalent
OF-9       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.[4]

Throughout Swiss history, there have only been 4 officers formally designated as General:[4]

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 police Special forces command Armed Forces Legal Service Peace Support Operation

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Swiss Army Regulations, Regellaufbahnen (Arbeitshilfe 40.100 d) https://www.vtg.admin.ch/content/vtg-internet/de/organisation/kdo-ausb/_jcr_content/infotabs/items/dokumente/tabPar/downloadlist/downloadItems/186_1591883129631.download/200710_Brosch_Ausbildungs_Dienstleistungsmodell_40_100_d.pdf
  2. ^ "Sold und Erwerbsersatz (EO)". Schweizer Armee (in German). Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  3. ^ See MG (Militärgesetz) Art. 102.
  4. ^ a b McPhee, John (31 October 1983). "La Place de la Concorde Suisse-I". The New Yorker. p. 50. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  5. ^ Langendorf, Jean-Jacques (7 November 2005). "Dufour, Guillaume-Henri". Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (in German). Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Wyrsch-Ineichen, Paul: Die Schwyzer Truppen im Büsinger-Handel 1849 von 1985 in Mitteilungen des historischen Vereins des Kantons Schwyz". Archived from the original on 28 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  7. ^ Hans Senn: Aktivdienst in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  8. ^ Rapport sur l'armement et la campagne de 1857. Revue militaire Suisse 1857
  9. ^ Toast à la Patrie. Revue militaire Suisse 1860

External linksEdit

  Media related to Military rank insignia of Switzerland at Wikimedia Commons