Finnish military ranks
Finnish military ranks form a system that incorporates features from Swedish, German, and Russian armed forces. In addition, the system has some typically Finnish characteristics that are mostly due to the personnel structure of the Finnish Defence Forces. The ranks have official names in Finnish
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

 and Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 languages and official English translations. The Swedish forms are used in all Swedish-languages communications in Finland, e.g. in Swedish-speaking units of Finnish Defence Force. The system of ranks in the Swedish Armed Forces
Swedish Armed Forces
The Swedish Armed Forces is a Swedish Government Agency responsible for the operation of the armed forces of the Realm. The primary task of the agency is to train, organize and to deploy military forces, domestically and abroad, while maintaining the long-term ability to defend the Realm in the...

 is slightly different.

Finland practices universal conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 of men (ca. 80% of each age cohort), and maintains only a cadre of paid personnel for training and maintaining military readiness. Most of lower ranks are conscripts, and leave service as sotamies (Private) or korpraali (Private 1st Class). Junior leaders, about 20% of age cohort, serve 12 months and leave service as alikersantti (Corporal) or kersantti (Sergeant). 10% of conscripts are trained as reserve officers, serving 12 months, and leave service usually as vänrikki (2nd Lieutenant) or in the Navy as aliluutnantti (Ensign). In principle, there should be no distinction between reserve and active ranks, and NCOs and reserve officers can be promoted in reserve, up to everstiluutnantti (Lieutenant Colonel). During peace time, reserve officers are inactive, i.e. they do not receive pay or have a position in the chain of command
Chain of Command
Chain of Command may refer to:* Chain of command, in a military context, the line of authority and responsibility along which orders are passed* "Chain of Command" , the fifth episode of the first season of Beast Wars...

. Reservists are in duty only when mobilized during a crisis or when attending mandatory or voluntary refresher exercises. Nevertheless, reserve NCO or officer ranks are respected within the Finnish society and are an entrance requirement to a military or border guard
Finnish Border Guard
The Finnish Border guard is the national security agency responsible for enforcing the security of Finland's borders...


Rank and file and non-commissioned officers are promoted to their ranks by the commander of a brigade or equivalent, with the exception of the highest NCO ranks of ylivääpeli (Master Sergeant) and sotilasmestari (Sergeant Major). All officers from vänrikki (2nd Lieutenant) and higher are promoted to their ranks and commissioned
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

 to their offices by the President of Finland
President of Finland
The President of the Republic of Finland is the nation's head of state. Under the Finnish constitution, executive power is vested in the President and the government, with the President possessing extensive powers. The President is elected directly by the people of Finland for a term of six years....

. Professional officers are trained at the Finnish National Defence University
Finnish National Defence University
The Finnish National Defence University is the Finnish Defence Forces' university located in Helsinki. The university trains officers for the Defence Forces and the Finnish Border Guard...

. Career officers graduate first as sotatieteen kandidaatti (Bachelor of Military Science), which enables promotion to luutnantti (Lieutenant) then continue after 3–4 years temporary work to sotatieteen maisteri (Master of Military Science), which enables promotion to yliluutnantti (1st Lieutenant) and a commission to an office.

Table of ranks

The ranks currently used by the Finnish Defence Forces are (Finnish name above, and Swedish name below):

Army and Air Force ranks

Officers Translation Collar Insignia Sleeve Insignia
General (Sweden)
General, is the highest officer's rank in Sweden and Finland. In Sweden, it is held by the supreme commander of the Swedish Armed Forces and the monarch. In Finland, it is held by the Chief of Defence...

Finnish Defence Forces rank of Kenraaliluutnantti is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-8- Holders of the rank in Sweden :* Head of operations* Head of productions—responsible for the training of all troops* Head of special forces...

Lieutenant General
Generalmajor (Sweden)
Finnish Defence Forces rank of Kenraalimajuri is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-7- Holders of the rank in Sweden:* The Inspectors of the Army and Air Force hold this rank...

Major General
-Finland:Finnish Defence Forces rank of Prikaatinkenraali is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-6. A prikaatikenraali can serve as a commander of a brigade or in senior administrative, staff or planning tasks....

Brigadier General
Finnish Defense Forces rank of Eversti is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-5- 1600 - 1700 :Commander of a regiment that consisted of 1200 troops split into eight companies held this rank. One of the companies was called lifeguard company and was commanded by the överste himself...

Finnish Defence Forces rank of Everstiluutnantti is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-4- 1600 - 1700 :The holder of the rank was typically the deputy head of a regiment of 1200 troops as well as the commander of a battalion during battle....

Lieutenant Colonel
Major (Sweden)
Finnish Defence Forces rank of Majuri is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-3- 1600 - 1700 :The original title was Sergeant Major, which means the most senior servant to the Överste....

Finnish Defence Forces rank of Kapteeni is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-2.-Origin:The basic military unit during the Middle Ages was the company raised by a vassal lord on behalf of his lord usually the King. The lord was commissioned by the king as Kapten to lead the unit...

Finnish Defence Forces rank of Yliluutnantti is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-1- History and related ranks:The Army of the Finnish Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire had a rank of alikapteeni, similar in use as Prussian and Russian Stabskapitän...

1st Lieutenant
Finnish Defence Forces rank of Luutnantti is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-1- Obtaining the rank in Finland :The Finnish army is bilingual; the rank is known in Swedish as löjtnant and Finnish as luutnantti....

Vänrikki is a Finnish military rank. In Finland, the rank vänrikki is used in active service by reserve officers who extend their term by 6 to 12 months and serve as sopimussotilas. In addition, it is the lowest reserve officer rank...

2nd Lieutenant
Non-commissioned officers
- History and related ranks :The rank derives from the erikoismestari rank that was originally available only in some branches of service...

Sergeant Major
- History and related ranks:The rank was introduced to promote professional NCOs, graduated from Maanpuolustusopisto, in the rank of vääpeli, with a similar purpose as the higher rank of sotilasmestari. Between 1993-2007 the rank was not being actively awarded....

Master Sergeant
- Yksikön vääpeli :Vääpeli may also refer to a position of yksikön vääpeli , a position comparable to First Sergeant of US...

Sergeant 1st Class
Staff Sergeant
Officer Candidate
Officer Student
- Obtaining the rank :Basic military training 2 months and selected for NCO training followed by 10 months of reserve NCO training. This is the most common conscript leader rank....

Private 1st Class
NCO Student

Navy ranks

Officers Translation Shoulder Insignia Sleeve Insignia
Rear Admiral
Flotilla Admiral
Flotilla admiral is the lowest flag rank, a rank above captain, in the modern navies of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden. It corresponds to the ranks of commodore or rear admiral ....

Commodore (Finland)
Commodore is a rank of Finnish Navy equal to Captain in English-speaking navies being above Commander and below Flotilla Admiral , equal Army rank is Colonel....

Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Sr. Grade
Lieutenant Jr. Grade
Petty Officers
Master Chief Petty Officer
Senior Chief Petty Officer
Chief Petty Officer
Petty Officer 1st Class
Officer Candidate
Petty Officer 2nd Class
Officer Student
Petty Officer 3rd Class
NCO Student
Seaman Apprentice

Soldiers in the rank of a Private have branch-specific titles such as tykkimies "gunner"; the general rank of sotamies is no longer in use (see below).

The insignia is different from other European systems by some features. Stars are not used in the insignia. Large roses, instead of oak leaves, denote ranks from major to colonel. Generals wear lions (Lion of Finland), not stars. The qualifiers yli "Senior" and ali "Junior" are used in the names of some ranks; for example, kersantti is "Sergeant", while alikersantti is "Junior Sergeant" (Corporal).

In the army the insignia are placed in the collar in parade and service uniforms M/58 and M/83 and in field uniforms M/62 and M/91. The airforce places the M/58 insignia on the sleeve instead of the collar. In the navy where they have different parade dress they place the ranks on the sleeve and they also have the M/83 insignia on the shoulders. If the insignia are placed on the arm or on the sleeve, sleeve insignia are used. In the modern field uniform M/05, the collar insignia are placed on the chest. The colours of the background and the lining on the Army and Airforce collar patches indicate branch of specialization. In field uniforms, the collar patches do not carry branch colours, borders or corner accents. The national flag is carried in all uniforms and the unit insignia on background of the serviceman's branch colour is carried on the arm in battledress M/91 and M/05. In the table above, the army insignia for ranks from Private to Major are depicted on infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 collar patches, with the exception of Officer Student, which features Reserve Officer School
Reserve Officer School
According to the military, the Finnish defence doctrine relies on the principle of territorial defence which means that the whole of Finland must be defended in all cases. It is claimed that this requires a very large war-time reservist defence force to deter and fight aggression. Career officers...

 collar patches. General officers' collar patches are most often gold on red. However, in some cases, the background of the collar patch retains the original colour of his branch of service.

In the Navy uniform, officers wear the Lion of Finland on the top of their insignia, while Warrant officers use the special insignia of their duty branch. In field uniforms, these emblems are dropped. Specialist officers always wear their specialist insignia in addition to their rank insignia on the collar patches. On sleeve and shoulder insignia, the specialty is denoted by coloured insignia background.

The NCO students do not wear any collar insignia. Their sole rank insignia consists of a silver line worn on the shoulder or arm of all uniforms, except in M/05 where the silver line is worn on the chest.

General officers

The ranks of Field Marshal
Field Marshal (Finland)
In Finnish Defence Forces Field Marshal is officially not an active military rank but an honorary rank that can be bestowed upon 'especially distinguished generals'...

 (sotamarsalkka) and Marshal of Finland
Marshal of Finland
Marshal of Finland was the title awarded to the Finnish Commander-in-Chief Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim on his 75th birthday on June 4, 1942. The fully honorary rank was specially created for Mannerheim...

 (Suomen marsalkka) were bestowed on Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim was the military leader of the Whites in the Finnish Civil War, Commander-in-Chief of Finland's Defence Forces during World War II, Marshal of Finland, and a Finnish statesman. He was Regent of Finland and the sixth President of Finland...

 in 1933 and 1942, respectively. These are officially not military ranks but honorific titles, but were used like military ranks senior to the rank of General. The rank of General may, as a sign of special recognition, include a service branch: those historically used were General of Infantry (jalkaväenkenraali), General of Cavalry (ratsuväenkenraali) and General of Artillery (tykistökenraali). These additions do not affect seniority. There are no living general officers with such recognition, the last one being General of Infantry Adolf Ehrnrooth
Adolf Ehrnrooth
Adolf Erik Ehrnrooth was a Finnish general.Ehrnrooth entered cadet school in 1922 and served in the Uusimaa Dragoon Regiment ....


All generals from Brigadier General to General are addressed as Mr./Mrs. General (herra/rouva kenraali), and similarly for Admirals.

Military civil servants and specialist officers

Personnel serving in technical duties belonging to the officers without officer training hold the position of military civil servant (sotilasvirkamies). Their rank is comparable to either Senior Lieutenant, Lieutenant and Staff Sergeant, depending on the level of the civilian education required to serve in this position. The lowest class is reserved for non-salaried military civil servants. Usually the military civil servants are an exception as their positions are likely to be filled by special officers, who have received officer training and hold commissions in addition to civilian academic education. The most typical specialties are engineering and medicine.

Reservists may be promoted up to the rank of Major both in special and normal officer ranks, if they show extraordinary commitment to national defence. In rare cases, reservists have been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Chaplains serve in the ranks of Chaplain (sotilaspastori), Senior Chaplain (kenttärovasti, literally, Field Dean), and Chaplain General (kenttäpiispa, literally, Field Bishop), corresponding to the ranks of Captain, Lieutenant Colonel, and Brigadier General, respectively. In addition, they have a personal rank into which they revert at the end of their clerical service in the Finnish Defence Force. Conscript chaplains and deacons serve in their personal rank.

Officer training

Conscripts who have passed a reserve officer course, serve as Officer Candidate (upseerikokelas) and are considered NCOs ranking as sergeants, although usually senior to conscript sergeants (they are promoted at least one day before any Corporal of the same induction year is promoted to Sergeant). They are addressed rouva/herra kokelas or rouva/herra upseerikokelas. At the end of their service period, they are promoted to 2nd Lieutenants. Cadets (kadetti) are career military, attending their professional officer education in the National Defence College. Cadets are senior to 2nd Lieutenants. In addition, the cadets may hold a cadet NCO rank which pertains to the seniority inside the Cadet Corps but does not affect their ranks in relation to other military personnel.

NCO ranks

The NCO ranks in the Finnish Defence Force are filled by conscripts, career NCOs and contractual military personnel. The basic NCO rank is Enlistee (sotilasammattihenkilö), which is a rank and file position reserved for career NCOs who have not received reserve NCO training. Its relation to other rank and file ranks is unspecified. Career NCOs usually serve in the ranks of Sergeant Major, Master Sergeant, Sergeant 1st Class, Staff Sergeant and Sergeant, the rank of Enlistee being reserved for career NCOs without conscript NCO training.

The contractual military personnel (sopimussotilaat) serve in their reserve ranks. Until 2007, reserve officers served in the rank of Staff Sergeant. This practice has now been abolished and nowadays reserve officers use their reserve rank of 2nd Lieutenant. As both conscript and career NCOs may serve in the rank of Sergeant, career Sergeants use a small sword insignia in conjunction of the chevrons to distinguish them from conscripts.

After discharge from the military, both career NCOs and contractual military personnel revert to their personal reserve ranks. The conscripts may hold the NCO ranks of Officer Cadet, Sergeant, Officer Student, or Corporal. Reserve personnel may hold any NCO rank.

Special positions

There are some positions, which resemble military ranks in their name, but are not. The position of the "Sergeant Major
Sergeant Major
Sergeants major is a senior non-commissioned rank or appointment in many militaries around the world. In Commonwealth countries, Sergeants Major are usually appointments held by senior non-commissioned officers or warrant officers...

 of a company" (or other unit such as battery
Artillery battery
In military organizations, an artillery battery is a unit of guns, mortars, rockets or missiles so grouped in order to facilitate better battlefield communication and command and control, as well as to provide dispersion for its constituent gunnery crews and their systems...

 in artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

) is called komppanian vääpeli "Sergeant 1st Class of the company". In past times it just to be position of the units most senior career NCO, but in now days the post in training units is held often by a Senior Lieutenant, and in mobilized units, a conscript NCO (alikersantti, kersantti etc.). Another example is komendantti, which is not a rank but a security/executive officer position in a brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

. While the rank of komentaja is found in the Navy, in general use it refers to a commander of a battalion or a larger unit.


Sotamies is the generic rank for Private, however the word sotamies is no longer used in any service branch apart from the air-force private, lentosotamies and land-force transports, car private, autosotamies. The rank is always given the name specific to the service branch:
  • Jaeger (jääkäri) in infantry
    Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

     (including mortar personnel, who may be subordinated to artillery units)
  • Signalist (viestimies) in signals corps
  • Armourman (panssarimies) in tank units and Armour Jaeger (panssarijääkäri) in mechanised infantry
  • Driver (autosotamies) in transport corps
  • Gunner (tykkimies) in anti-aircraft corps, field artillery and coastal units of the Navy
  • NBC private (suojelumies) in NBC defence units
  • Engineer (pioneeri) in engineers
  • Border Jaeger (rajajääkäri) in the Border Guard
    Finnish Border Guard
    The Finnish Border guard is the national security agency responsible for enforcing the security of Finland's borders...

    (Conscript rank, enlisted Border Guard personnel are NCOs in ranks of Border Guard (nuorempi rajavartija), Senior Border Guard (vanhempi rajavartija), Border Guard Sergeant (ylirajavartija) and Border Guard Master Sergeant (rajavartiomestari).)
  • Special Border Jaeger (erikoisrajajääkäri) in Special Border Jaeger company of Border and Coast Guard School (Raja- ja merivartiokoulu).
  • Airman (lentosotamies) in the Air Force
  • Seaman (matruusi) in the Navy
  • Coastal Jaeger (rannikkojääkäri) in certain units of Uusimaa Brigade (Uudenmaan prikaati)
  • Dragoon (rakuuna) in the Dragoon troop of Army Warfare School (Rakuunaeskadroona/Maasotakoulu)
  • Cavalryman (ratsumies) in the Häme Regiment (Hämeen rykmentti)
  • Guard Jaeger (kaartinjääkäri) in Guard Jaeger Regiment (Kaartin jääkärirykmentti)
  • Paratroop Jaeger (laskuvarjojääkäri) in Utti Jaeger Regiment (Utin jääkärirykmentti)

NCO students hold either the permanent rank of Private or Lance Corporal and rank accordingly. The rank of alokas is used to denote privates in basic training. The recruite, alokas is a new private, who has not been trained enough to have given a military oath or military guarantee. After having given an oath or such guarantee, the private soldier is not called anymore alokas, but he or she will be addressed as private or corresponding private level military rank.

See also

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