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Canadian officer ranks get same courtesies

  • Published
  • By Capt. Matthew Bannister
  • Canadian Forces
New to working with Canadians or a new Canadian working at Tyndall AFB? Then this article may be for you. Ranks are part of any military. They delineate the chain of command and allow everyone to understand at a glance who they are talking to in terms of general responsibility and experience. Within both of our own organizations, ranks are one of the first things taught to us, however when working with foreign military it is something that gets "picked up as you go". This article will provide some information to possibly make understanding the differences in rank structures a little easier.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) consists of eight Non Commission Members (NCM) ranks and ten Officer ranks. The NCM ranks consist of two groups, Junior Non Commissioned Officers (Jr. NCO) and Senior Non Commissioned Officers (Sr. NCO) much the same as in the USAF. In the CAF, Jr. NCOs consist of Privates through Master Corporals, while Sr. NCOs consist of Sergeants through Chief Warrant Officers. The transition occurs at the Sergeant rank to delineate the additional responsibilities of leadership and administrative duties required of the member. Within the USAF, the same division applies, however Jr. NCO's consists of only Staff Sergeants and Technical Sergeants, while Sr. NCO's consist of Master Sergeant through Chief Master Sergeant.

As you look through the insignias of the Canadian and US Air Force ranks, you may notice there are some similarities at the lower ranks but overall a lot of differences. The chevron, commonly used by several military organizations is consistent throughout the USAF enlisted ranks, however in the Canadian structure, it is only utilized up to the rank of Sgt. Above Sgt, the CAF utilizes the St. Edward's Crown, which is commonly used within the Commonwealth States (Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand) and the Coat of Arms of Canada depicting not only Canada's commonwealth relationship but also a piece of Canadian history.

The rank insignia of Officers has a few similarities but is largely different. The Canadian officer ranks utilize combination of wide and thin stripes to depict rank up to colonel and maple leafs to identify the General Officers. The USAF utilize several insignias consisting of the gold and silver bars, oak leaves, the eagle and stars to make up the ranks of Major through to the General ranks respectively.

The third difference you may have noticed between the CAF and USAF ranks is the placement on the uniform. In the CAF, the ranks are placed at the same place for both NCM and Officers, on the front and centre of the combat shirt and on the shoulders for flight suits.

No rank is worn on CAF berets or wedge caps; instead a badge is worn depicting the members unit in the case of the Canadian Army, or the member's primary role; either operations (pilot, navs), administrative, logistics, military police and medical to name a few.