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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



Air Chief Marshal

Vice Admiral

Lieutenant General 

Air Marshal

Rear Admiral

Major General 

Air Vice Marshal



Air Commodore



Group Captain


Lieutenant Colonel 

Wing Commander

Lieutenant Commander


Squadron Leader



Flight Lieutenant

Sub Lieutenant


Flying Officer


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



Leading Seaman

Corporal (Bombardier in Artillery)



Lance Corporal (Lance Bombardier in Artillery)

Leading Aircraftman

Able Seaman


(Trooper in Armoured Corps)
(Gunner in Artillery)
(Sapper in Engineers)
(Signalman in Signals)



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).


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