Ranks of the German Bundeswehr

The names of the ranks of the Armed Forces shall be fixed by the President by order of the Federal President on the grade names and the uniform of the soldiers on the basis of the Military Law.

Ranks arrange the soldiers in the rank order of the Bundeswehr. The arrangement of the German President defined for the German Army Ranks 24 and 85 grade designations.

  • 4.2.1 officers
  • 4.2.2 NCOs
  • 4.2.3 Teams
  • 5.1 grade additives for candidates
  • 5.2 grade additives for reservists and former soldiers
  • 5.3 grade additives for officers in the General Staff
  • 5.4 Informal grade additives for female soldiers
  • 6.1 Major General and Lieutenant General
  • 6.2 transport times for conscripts

Function of the service levels

The Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions provide ranks for combatants. Ranks arrange the soldiers in the rank order of the Bundeswehr.

At the rank of the remuneration of professional and regular soldiers is largely tied by the federal pay scale. Soldiers will be addressed in the rule with their rank; Soldiers of higher rank groups (see below) are to salute.

In contrast to the previous military law, which tied the superior property of the rank, based supervisors property in the Armed Forces, especially on the official position of the soldier. A supervisor relationship solely on the basis of the service level is based on the § 4 ( " supervisor ratio on the basis of service level ") of the superior regulation usually during the service within the unit, as well as in and out of service in enclosed military installations. Only soldiers of higher rank group may grant the soldiers of a lower rank group commands on the basis of § 4. Officers outside enclosed military installations never communicate with each other on the basis of § 4, but in a superior relationship. However, as often certain service positions are subject to certain ranks, supervisors are on duty everyday mostly higher ranking soldiers. Therefore, can be calculated from the ranks in practice already often the supervisor relationship and service positions of a group of soldiers derived.


The ranks of the Armed Forces are divided according ZDv 14/5 Soldatengesetz in grade seven groups:

  • Generale
  • Staff officers
  • Captains
  • Lieutenants
  • NCOs with Portepee
  • NCOs without Portepee
  • Men

The rank of the group of generals is also referred to as generals. Marineunifomträger this group is also described as admirals Admiralty or flag officers. NCOs with sword knot are usually referred to as a sergeant or sergeant ranks and boatmen.

The superior regulation describes besides the division into seven rank groups a classification of ranks in officers, noncommissioned officers with sword knot, sword knot and NCOs without teams. In the arrangement of the Federal President on the grade names and the uniforms of the soldiers in the ranks officers, NCOs and men are divided. The rank groups generals, staff officers, captains, lieutenants are finally combined approach shown as officers after these two. Officers form the officer corps; NCOs with and without Portepee form the NCO corps under their leader of the NCO corps.

Note: The allocation of individual ranks in the rank groups can be seen in the table below.


The Soldatenlaufbahnverordnung defined grades and associated raceways. The joint service 20/7 meets additional requirements. Soldiers usually run sequentially laid down for her career ranks. The sequence of grades in common raceways ( 1) is usually:

  • Category of teams Teams according to § 9: soldier, Private, Private First Class ( 2) Corporal ( 2) Corporal (2 ), Upper Stabsgefreiter ( 3)
  • Specialist officers in accordance with § 12: soldier, Corporal, Corporal, Sergeant, Staff Sergeant ( 3) (4 )
  • Sergeant in accordance with § 16: first as a professional non-commissioned officer, then Staff Sergeant, Sergeant, Master Sergeant ( 4), First Sergeant ( 4), Warrant Officer ( 4), Sergeant Major ( 3)
  • Troops officers pursuant to § 24, § 25: soldier, Corporal, Corporal, cadet, cadet, midshipman, lieutenant, lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel, colonel ( 3), Brigadier General ( 3), Major General ( 3), Lieutenant General (3) general (3)
  • Officers of the military professional service in accordance with § 41: as sergeant, then sergeant, midshipman, lieutenant, lieutenant (4) Captain (4) Staff Captain ( 3) (4 ).
  • Medical officers in accordance with § 31: as troops officers (4 ) ( rank lieutenant must not be traversed ). After approval of the medical officers wear special rank designations (see below). Top rank is dependent on the approval.

List of Ranks and rank designations

The grade designations of teams from the corporal are identical in all areas of the Bundeswehr. In the Army and Air Force Uniform carriers to find otherwise the same rank designations. Marine Uniform ( officers and NCOs ) have deviating grade designations. In the following, therefore, the ranks and rank designations for Air Force and Army Uniform are first described together; then those of the Navy Uniform.

Particularly interesting are the rank names of medical officers, which is usually between on the one hand both Air Force and Army uniform beams and on the other hand, naval uniform makers as well as between the different approval directions differ. An illustration of this grade designations is in each case directly to the representation of the rank names of the other officers.

Specified in the tables in each case and the corresponding NATO rank code after ZDv 64/10 - defined in the Bundeswehr abbreviations common abbreviations and acronyms in lists and grade for professional and regular soldiers under federal salary scale.

Army and Air Force Uniform




Marine Uniform




Grade additives

Grade additives for candidates

According Soldatenlaufbahnverordnung ( see also ZDv 14/5 ) and similar after ZDv 20/7 wear contender in correspondence behind the grade the following brackets:

  • ( Sergeant contender ) or ( NCO candidate ), short ( UA)
  • ( Reserve Sergeant contender ) or ( Reserve Sergeant contender ), short ( RUA )
  • ( Sergeant contender ) or ( sergeant candidates ), short ( FA)
  • ( Reserve Sergeant contender ) or ( Reserve Sergeant contender ), short ( RFA)
  • (Officer aspirant ) or ( cadets ), short ( OA)
  • ( Reserve Officer contender ) or ( reserve officer candidate ), short ( ROA)
  • ( Medical officer contender ) or ( medical officer candidate ), short ( Sanoa )
  • ( Military music officer contender ) or ( military music officer candidate ), short ( MilMusikOA )

Since the ranks cadet, Ensign and Ensign clearly the officer's career can be assigned already, the grade additives (OA ) / ( ROA ) and corresponding long form after Soldatenlaufbahnverordnung not be performed. Medical officer cadets of all ranks wear the rank additive ( Sanoa ) to the approbation and transport to the medical officer. Until the abolition of the doctor in the lab, there was the addition AiP place ( Sanoa ) for the medical officer candidate in the last year before the approval, that " Lieutenant ( naval ) AiP ".

In naval uniform makers are not mentioned in the Soldatenlaufbahnverordnung names mate and boatswain contender, often abbreviated as (MA ) or ( BA), commonly used for corporal and sergeant candidates. Unofficially lead NCO candidate who passed the training NCO rank the additional who passed the course (MBL ).

Grade additives for reservists and former soldiers

According to the reservists and reservists law lead reservists and former soldiers after leaving active duty ratio, the term d R. ( the reserve) behind the service level last reached. Earlier Occupation soldiers perform their final grade designation with the addition of out of service ( ret. ). If a professional soldier awarded a higher rank after retirement from active service, the terms are combined, for example HptFw retired and STFW d R. In reconvening in a military service ratio ( eg for reserve duty ) is the grade additive for the duration of the military service ratio not being worn.

Grade additives for officers in the General Staff

Officers in the General Staff shall bear their particular service position in correspondence to the rank of Additional iG. A rise in rank does not go hand in hand with the addition.

Informal grade additives for female soldiers

The order of the Federal President on the grade names and the uniform of the soldiers does not provide for different term for female soldiers. Frequently still is informal in correspondence of the additional (w ) (w and female ) used to identify behind the service level.


Major General and Lieutenant General

That the Major General rank lower than lieutenant general, although the Major is higher than the lieutenant, can be historically justified, because in the 15th century, the largest organization in the form of a military force was the company. A company led by a (field) captain or a captain. His deputy was the lieutenant (French: lieu (-) tenant, ie placeholders deputy ), the second deputy was the ensign or cornet. Responsible for the internal service, the recruits training and security division were the sergeant or sergeant. These four soldiers formed the leadership of the company, the so-called prima plan.

With the increase of troop levels over time, several companies were grouped into regiments. The regiment led a Obrist ( frame home man ), now Colonel, his deputy was the lieutenant-colonel, and who is responsible for organizing and training officer was Colonel Wachtmeister, who was later called Major.

At the end of the 16th century, several regiments were merged to OU Army. The army led a general ( frame home man ), his deputy, was lieutenant general. For the individual branches of service or for conducting parts of the army general field sergeant were (now Major General ) appointed.

Transport times for conscripts

One reason for compulsory military service ( GWDL ) was the basic and special education promoted since the beginning of the Bundeswehr as a rule with conclusion after six months to the corporal, after another year he was promoted to corporal; Conscripts with an above average rating were as Lance Corporal d.Res. dismissed. When reducing the length of military service to fifteen months, the minimum time for corporal was reduced accordingly. End of the eighties there were only six months in the rank of corporal condition.

Last of conscripts was promoted to corporal during the six-month military service under normal conditions of carriage during his service, usually after three months. In voluntarily longer serving conscripts ( FWDL ) and regular soldiers a promotion to corporal after 6 months and to Corporal after 12 months, promoted to Corporal at the earliest after 36 months, to the upper Corporal at least 48 months of service time is possible. The latter ranks are therefore achieved neither of GWDL nor FWDL.


Rank insignia used to represent the ranks and are part of the uniforms of the Bundeswehr. Often identify additional elements belonging to a soldier's career, using series, branch of service or the like. Only soldiers in the lowest rank not wear rank insignia. The key factors legal basis for carrying method and design of the arrangement of the Federal President on the grade names and the uniforms of the soldiers. More concrete carrying provisions and design variants containing the ZDv 37/10.