Singapore Armed Forces ranks

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has three different rank structures for active personnel and reservist personnel, plus a fourth for volunteer servicemen of the SAF Volunteer Corps.

The SAF (since 1983) uses a unified rank structure, with identical rank names and insignia throughout the Army, Navy, and Air Force. For example, traditional navy ranks such as ensign and commander have been replaced with army-style ranks. Only two exceptions exist to the unified rank structure. Firstly, among the flag officer ranks, the navy retains the admiral ranks.

The addendum (NS) beside military personnel ranks will be used when NSFs passed their ORD date and for ex-regulars who still need to complete their reservist cycles until their respective statutory ages eg. 3SG(NS), COL(NS), ME4-1(NS) etc. The addendum (Ret) will be used for regulars who are honorably discharged from service after they reach their statutory age eg. MAJ(Ret), BG(Ret), SWO(Ret) etc.

Comparisons

Unlike most Commonwealth countries, the armed forces of Singapore no longer use British-style rank insignia nor many British rank titles, although rank of rear admiral in the Navy is retained. Company officers are represented by bars, field officers by coats-of-arms and flag and general officers are represented by stars, similar to the rank structures of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Israel and South Korea for example.

The SAF rank structure shares similar rank structure with the Singapore Civil Defence Force up to the senior officer rank of colonel.

Officer corps

Potential officer cadets in the SAF are selected at Basic Military Training Centre and Specialist Cadet School. They are sent to Officer Cadet School to train, and are commissioned upon graduation. Outstanding specialists can cross-over to attend Officer Cadet School based on recommendation letters. Outstanding officer cadets are sent to friendly foreign military academies as exchange cadets to complete the majority of the officer cadet course and are commissioned prior. The SAFTI Military Institute is the spiritual home of the officer corps.

Graduating from junior colleges or polytechnics is a mandatory prerequisite for selection to OCS. Career officers with GCE Advanced Level and polytechnic diploma qualifications are encouraged to obtain further tertiary studies in universities; Scholarships and sponsorships are awarded for university education at local or overseas universities.

The role of officers in the SAF are generalists who exercise leadership and command. They are assisted by the specialists who provide technical expertise to train enlistees. The SAF's cream-of-the-crop officers have had operational military experience overseas such as participating in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions.[1][2]

The Junior Officers wear bars on their epaulettes. Commanding a platoon of specialists and enlistees, they oversee the execution of orders and ensure the welfare of the soldiers. They usually serve as platoon commanders at battalion level although some officers may be given command of companies or appointed as Company Second in Command. Junior officers may also serve as assistant staff officers in various units. Junior Officers graduate from OCS with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant (2LT), and are usually promoted to Lieutenant (LTA) when they are two months or so before they complete their full-time National Service. The reservist NS officers may later be moved to higher appointments after attaining the rank of Captain (CPT) if nominated/ selected to go for upgrading courses at the SAF Advanced Schools.

Senior Officers wear the National Coat of Arms on their epaulettes. Affectionately, they are known as "crabs" while the correct pronunciation is crests. They make command decisions in combat and peacetime, taking charge of units or higher branches. Senior Officers are crucial in the formulation and execution of missions, as well as overseeing the training and direction of their charges.

Commanding Officers begin their tour duties at the rank of Major (MAJ), and few who can distinguish themselves will attain the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (LTC). It is an even greater challenge and responsibility for a senior officer to attain the ranks of Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) and Colonel (COL).

The highest senior officer ranks in the Army and Air Force are known as the Generals (Admirals in the case of the Navy), and their rank insignias consist of a number of stars (one to three). They are responsible for the planning of policies which affect the entire nation. Presently, the three levels of general/flag officers are: Brigadier-General (BG), Major-General (MG) and Lieutenant-General (LG)

The following are rank insignia for commissioned officers for the army, navy and air force respectively.

Equivalent
NATO code
OF-10OF-9OF-8OF-7OF-6OF-5OF-4OF-3OF-2OF-1OF(D) and student officer
Singapore
(Edit)
No equivalent
Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Senior lieutenant colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second lieutenant Professional Term Service Term Officer Cadet
Singapore
(Edit)
No equivalent
Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Rear Admiral Colonel Senior Lieutenant Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant Midshipman Midshipman Midshipman
Singapore
(Edit)
No equivalent
Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Senior
lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second lieutenant Officer Cadet Officer Cadet Officer Cadet
Equivalent
NATO code
OF-10OF-9OF-8OF-7OF-6OF-5OF-4OF-3OF-2OF-1OF(D) and student officer

Enlistees and Specialists

Enlistees

New NS enlistees are given the rank of Recruit until they passed out (completed) their respective Basic Military Training (BMT).[3] Once Recruits (REC) complete their BMT, they attain the rank of Private (PTE), personnel who didn't complete BMT will attain the PTE rank at the end of their 2 years service.[4] Enlisted men form the basic foundation of the SAF manpower. Recruits and Privates of all armed services do not have any rank insignia. Enlistees include all basic vocationalists in the SAF.[5]

The rank of Private First Class insignia, a single chevron pointing downward, was awarded to Privates who performed well.[6] Privates after the year 2010 would be directly promoted to Lance Corporal. The rank of Lance Corporal (LCP) is usually attained after the privates passed out of their respective vocational courses and within the 1st year of service. The rank of Corporal (CPL) is usually attained within the 2nd year of service unless the personnel fails to pass their IPPT where they will stay as LCP until they pass the test. The rank of Corporal First Class (CFC) is awarded to proficient Corporals in the top tier of their NS units who hold the rank for >6 months, and is by recommendation.

Singapore Armed Forces enlistee ranks
Insignia(No insignia)(No insignia)
RankRecruitPrivatePrivate first classLance corporalCorporalCorporal first class
AbbreviationRECPTEPFCLCPCPLCFC

Specialists

The specialist corps forms the mid-level management of the Singapore Army's operations as specialists are often referred to as subject matter experts (SMEs). They are specifically trained in a variety of weaponry and/or equipment as well as perform other supervisory duties such as administration and/or handle minor discipline issues (hence the term "specialist"). The specialist, though the mid-tier in rank in the command hierarchy, is essential in the running and efficient execution of military exercises or training by being the link between the officers and the enlisted men by providing a dual link of feedback from the higher superiors to the enlisted men. They are welfare supervisors who relay the commands of their higher superiors in lieu of them.

Potential specialists are selected at Basic Military Training Centre and are trained at Specialist Cadet School (SCS). As of 22 December 2008, all specialist trainees are given the rank of specialist cadet (SCT).[7] This rank is worn until they pass out from SCS, after which the trainees are promoted to the rank of third sergeant.

The requirements for selection are similar to that of officers - graduation with either GCE Advanced Level or polytechnic diploma qualifications. The majority of soldiers who are selected to train to be specialists by this route remain national servicemen and usually do not decide to sign-on as regulars. This is most likely due to the better career prospects available outside the military to people with such educational qualifications. The primary source of regular specialists is from institutes of technical education (ITE) and polytechnics, through various schemes which provide study grants.[8][9][10] This scheme replaces the now-defunct SAF Education Centre, whose role was to give boys aged 14–17 who were not academically inclined, a career in the military.[11]

Specialist cadets who have undergone professional military training courses are known as Specialists. They progress from Third Sergeant (3SG) to Second Sergeant (2SG) to First Sergeant (1SG). If they prove themselves to be capable and responsible, they may even attain staff-level ranks, such as Staff Sergeant (SSG) or Master Sergeant (MSG).

Specialists usually serve as instructors or are put in charge of groups of enlisted men. They serve as the link between the Officers and the men.

The Air Force has an exception where Flight Line Crews are able to obtain the rank of 3SG without enrolling into SCS on one condition where they pass their annual IPPT requirements or are PES C status.

Singapore Armed Forces specialist ranks
Insignia
RankThird sergeantSecond sergeantFirst sergeantStaff sergeantMaster sergeant
Abbreviation3SG2SG1SGSSGMSG

Warrant officers

Regular specialists who have done relevant career advancement tours are offered a 2nd career contract to progress further as warrant officers. As of 1 April 2010, outstanding specialists can attain the rank of third warrant officer as soon as six years into service.[12] Selected operationally-ready national servicemen (reservists) who have displayed outstanding reservist performance in their in-camp training are recommended for upgrading courses to be promoted to the ranks of warrant officers in reserve NS units.

Third warrant officers train at SAF Warrant Officer School (SAFWOS) and attend the joint warrant officer course to be promoted to the rank of second warrant officer.

Warrant officers serve as mentors as well as disciplinarians in many training institutes as well as active units. They are usually referred to as "Encik", which means "Mister" in the Malay language, with respect as well as experience and knowledge. Otherwise, they are referred to by the Other Ranks as "Sir".

The warrant officers' creed details the roles and responsibilities of the warrant officer as a commander and as a leader of men.

Unlike most Commonwealth nations, Singapore is one of a few that use multiple warrant officer ranks instead of the two ranks commonly used in most armed services (6 WO ranks in all).

Singapore Armed Forces warrant officer ranks
Image
RankThird warrant officerSecond warrant officerFirst warrant officerMaster warrant officerSenior warrant officerChief warrant officer
Abbreviation3WO2WO1WOMWOSWOCWO

Military Domain Experts Scheme

The Military Domain Experts Scheme consists of eight ranks. The scheme was introduced in April 2010 to develop talented and capable uniformed personnel with deep specialisation in specific military competencies.[13] These ranks do not have names, but are instead indicated as MEX, with X being a digit from 1 to 8. The eight-rank structure is further divided into at least two pay grades. The ranks of ME3, ME4, ME6, ME7 have three pay grades. Pay grades are indicated in the format MEX-Y (for example, ME3-2). Usually, only the main rank (example, ME3) is indicated on any correspondence unless the pay grade is required to be known. Servicemen under this scheme are known as military experts.

The Military Domain Experts Scheme rank structure is an enhancement to existing officers' and warrant officers' career schemes. This is a contiguous rank structure, with continual advancements from ME1 to senior ME ranks for outstanding performers. Being the leadership and deep expertise nucleus of military experts, ME4 and above MEs will be appointed as senior military experts. ME7 and ME8 will hold pinnacle appointments, commensurate with the attainment of deeper expertise and greater leadership responsibilities.[14]

Personnel who have transferred to become military experts will be converted to the ME ranks based on their previous, more traditional SAF ranks. The below shows the ME ranks those who converted will hold:

Singapore Armed Forces Military Expert ranks
Image
RankME1ME2ME3ME4ME5ME6ME7ME8
Rank gradesME1-1
ME1-2
ME2-1
ME2-2
ME3-1
ME3-2
ME3-3
ME4-1
ME4-2
ME4-3
ME5-1
ME5-2
ME6-1
ME6-2
ME6-3
ME7-1
ME7-2
ME7-3
ME8
Equivalent Rank3SG-1SGSSG-MSG2WO-1WOMWO
LTA-CPT
SWO
MAJ
CWO
LTC
COLBG/RADM

The ranks of third warrant officer and senior lieutenant colonel did not exist prior to the implementation of MDES. They were introduced into the SAF rank structure together with the implementation of MDES in April 2010. The rank of chief warrant officer was introduced into the warrant officers rank structure in July 2012.[15]

ME1-T and ME4-T where the T stands for training and ME4-A where the A stands for apprentice.

SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC)

Established since October 2014[16] encouraging Singaporean women, first generation Permanent Residents and new immigrant/naturalised citizens to do their part towards national defence, strengthening support for national service and sharing the responsibility of national servicemen.[17]

A unique rank structure was created for the SAFVC Volunteers (SVs). As their contribution are different from those of Regulars and NSmen, there is no comparison between the SV rank and others in the SAF. It also differentiates them from SAF Volunteers, former NSmen who continue to service past the statutory age.[18] The SAFVC ranks comprise five tiers, enumerated by winged chevrons. SV (Trainee), SV1, SV2, SV3 and SV4.

See also

References

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