Singapore Armed Forces ranks
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Only two exceptions exist to the unified rank structure. Firstly, among the flag officer ranks, the Navy retains the Admiral ranks. Other traditional Navy ranks such as Ensign and Commander have been replaced with Army-style ranks. The second exception is for the rank insignia for Private and Private First Class between the Air Force, and the Army and Navy.
Unlike most Commonwealth countries, the armed forces of Singapore no longer use British-style rank insignia nor many British rank titles. Company officers are represented by bars, field officers by coats-of-arms (nicknamed "crabs")and flag and general officers are represented by stars, similar to the systems of the Republic of China, South Korea, and (in particular) Indonesia for example. American influence is obvious in relation to the existence of two Rear Admiral ranks.
The SAF rank structure is largely similar to that of the Singapore Civil Defence Force up to the rank of Colonel.
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Potential officers in the SAF are selected at Basic Military Training Centre and School of Infantry Specialists. They are sent to Officer Cadet School to train, and are commissioned on graduation. Specialists may attend Officer Cadet School on recommendation as well. Even officers sent to train at friendly service academies complete the majority of the Officer Cadet Course and are commissioned prior. As a result, SAFTI Military Institute is considered the spiritual home of the Officer Corps.
Graduating from junior colleges or polytechnics is a prerequisite to be selected for OCS. Career officers with A level qualifications are expected to obtain further studies in university; many scholarships are given for university education at local or overseas universities.
The role of officers in the SAF mirrors that of most Western militaries. Officers are generalists who exercise leadership and command. They are assisted by the Specialists who provide technical expertise, train and discipline the enlistees, and serve as the institutional memory of the SAF.
Farmers vs. Scholars
As with many militaries, there exists numerous rivalries such as officer/non-officer, combat/logistics divides, Army/Navy/Air Force. Fortunately, because the members of the SAF are thoroughly integrated into society at large, there are no major military/civilian issues.
Apart from such minor divisions, a more important dichotomy is observed between officers who are polytechnic or local university graduates (Farmers), and former scholarship holders who studied overseas (Scholars). This phenomenon exists because of fast-tracked careers, quick promotions, a dual-track career in the Civil Service after mandatory retirement offered as enticement for young men to take up SAF scholarships. While this state of affairs has existed since the Singapore government started giving out scholarships, the issue was mentioned in Parliament for the first time in a speech decrying the class-consciousness and social stratification resulting from the existing policies.
Potential Specialists are selected at Basic Military Training Centre and are trained at School of Infantry Specialists (SISPEC). All army specialist get promoted to Corporal after completing a 8 week Basic Section leader course (BSLC), and Infantry and Guards Specialists undergo a further 13 week Advanced section leader course (ASLC) at SISPEC to get their 3rd Sergeant rank; for the others, they undergo special-to-arms training at their respective formations, after initial training at SISPEC, to receive their chevrons. With effect from 22 December 2008, SISPEC trainees will be given the newly-created rank of Specialist Cadet (SCT). This rank is worn throughout their course in SISPEC.
The requirements for selection are similar to that of officers - graduation from junior college or polytechnic. 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 ITE and polytechnics, through various schemes which provide study grants.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.
The Specialist Corps forms the backbone of the Singapore Army's operations as Specialists are often referred to as "SMEs" or "Subject Matter Experts". They are specifically trained in a variety of weaponries and/or equipment as well as perform other duties such as Administration and/or handle discipline issues (hence the term "Specialist") The Specialist, though the lowest 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 Officer Corps and the Enlistee by providing a dual link of feedback from the top superiors to the lower enlistees. They are welfare managers as well as authoritative figures that execute the commands of their superiors in lieu of them.
SISPEC also regularly conducts advanced courses like the Platoon Sergeant's Course and Company Sergeant Major Course, in which regular, NSmen and full-time National Service Men who have exhibited and showcased outstanding military performance on/off the field, are selected to train to take up more responsibilities. Hence, it is not surprising to find an NSF Company Sergeant Major in the Singapore Army. More importantly, it is a way to ensure continual NCO Leadership in reserve NS Battalions by providing for, capable and well-trained Specialists to take up the roles which are often given only to Regular Servicemen in active Battalions.
Regular Specialists who have completed their career advancement tours (usually after 10 years) will be offered a chance to progress further in their careers as a Warrant Officer. NSmen who have also exhibited excellent track records as well as excellent military performance can also be considered for conversion to be a Warrant Officer.
Specialists train to be a Warrant Officer at SAFWOS (Singapore Armed Forces Warrant Officer School) 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 battalion units. They are usually referred to as "Encik" , which means "Mister" in malay, in deference to their seniority as well as experience and knowledge. Otherwise, they are referred to by juniors as "Sir".
The Warrant Officer's creed details the roles and responsibilities of the Specialist as a commander and as a leader of men under his charge.
The Singapore Armed Forces rank system uses the same rank name for all three services until the rank of colonel (inclusive). Currently, the official table of ranks stops at three stars for Army service only.
The rank insignia for officers and warrant officers are worn on the shoulder boards with the appropriate background (green for Army, black for Navy, blue for Air Force, camouflage, etc.).
To assist in the comparison of ranks in the armed forces of different countries, established NATO rank codes are used.
|NATO rank code||OF-1||OF-2||OF-3||OF-4||OF-5||OF-6||OF-7||OF-8|
|Rank||Second Lieutenant||Lieutenant||Captain||Major||Lieutenant Colonel||Senior Lieutenant Colonel||Colonel||Brigadier General|
|NATO rank code||OR-8||OR-9|
|Rank||Second Warrant Officer||First Warrant Officer||Master Warrant Officer||Senior Warrant Officer|
Note: As of 15 May 2009, the SAF has officially introduced a new rank, Third Warrant Officer.
Specialists wear their rank insignia on their chests.
|Rank||Third Sergeant||Second Sergeant||First Sergeant||Staff Sergeant||Master Sergeant|
The situation for enlistees is a bit more complicated. Recruits of all services do not wear any rank insignia. Only Army Infantry Privates who are awarded the Private First Class rank wear the single chevron. The rank of Private First Class are no longer awarded to active Enlistees, although NSmen or personnel who has achieved this rank prior to it being decommissioned are allowed to wear them. Privates, like recruits, would not have any rank insignia.
The rank of Corporal First Class is awarded to Corporals who have held the rank for at least six months, a pass in their IPPT, an application and a recommendation.
|Private First Class||Lance Corporal||Corporal||Corporal First Class|
- ^ MINDEF, Scholarships, 19 April 2006, accessed 19 November 2006.
- ^ Chang, C., "Why have we become OBSESSED WITH PERFORMANCE?", The New Paper, 10 September 2006.
- ^ MINDEF, Fact Sheet: New Specialist Cadet Rank, accessed 23 November 2006.
- ^ MINDEF, Army Recruitment Centre, accessed 19 November 2006.
- ^ MINDEF, Republic of Singapore Navy Scholarships and Awards, 30 October 2006, accessed 19 November 2006.
- ^ MINDEF, Sponsorships for RSAF Officers and Specialists, accessed 19 November 2006.
- ^ MINDEF, Fond Memories of the SAF Boys School, accessed 19 November 2006.
- Ranks and Paramilitary Ranks of Singapore, accessed 23 October 2006.