Explanation of Defence Force ranks

Table of ranks

The following table displays ranks as in the Australian Defence Force in 2002. The ranks have remained unchanged, except for minor variations, since the earliest days of the ADF. The services are ranked in columns from left to right, that on the left being the senior service. Within services, seniority is indicated by reading from top to bottom, the most senior being at the column top. Equivalence in ranks between the services is indicated by reading horizontally across rows but note that this does not indicate relative seniority (e.g. A Lieutenant in the RAN is not necessarily senior to a Captain in the Army, but could be, depending on the date of rank; both would be senior to a Flying Officer in the RAAF.)

Royal Australian Navy Australian Army Royal Australian Air Force
Admiral of the Fleet Field Marshal Marshal of the Air Force
Admiral General Air Chief Marshal
Vice Admiral Lieutenant General Air Marshal
Rear Admiral Major General Air Vice Marshal
Commodore Brigadier Air Commodore;
Captain Colonel Group Captain
Commander Lieutenant Colonel Wing Commander
Lieutenant Commander Major Squadron Leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight Lieutenant
Sub Lieutenant Lieutenant Flying Officer
Midshipman Second Lieutenant Pilot Officer
Warrant Officer Warrant Officer Class 1 (or Regimental Sergeant Major) Warrant Officer
Chief Petty Officer Warrant Officer Class 2 (or Company Sergeant Major) Flight Sergeant
  Staff Sergeant  
Petty Officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading Seaman Corporal (Bombardier in Artillery) Corporal
  Lance Corporal (Lance Bombardier in Artillery) Leading Aircraftman
Able Seaman Private (Trooper in Armoured Corps) (Gunner in Artillery) (Sapper in Engineers) (Signalman in Signals) Aircraftman

Forms of address for members of the Australian Defence Force

In formal correspondence, officers in the Australian Defence Force are addressed by their rank, given name or initials, family name and any post nominals; thus, Rear Admiral Felix Lewis, AO. In informal correspondence, officers of the rank of Army lieutenant, Navy sub lieutenant and Air Force flying officer and below are given conventional title (Mr, Ms, Mrs or Miss). Officers of the rank of colonel and above can be addressed by their rank alone, without their name. Non commissioned officers and other ranks are addressed by their rank and family name, not by their given name - thus Private Johnson.

Post nominals for honours and awards are shown immediately after the family name and before abbreviations that indicate service or regiment.

Military ranks consisting of more than one word do not take a hyphen - for example, Lieutenant Colonel. A military rank precedes other titles. Chaplains have military rank but they are addressed with their ecclesiastical title only (i.e. Father O'Malley, Reverend Thomas).