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Common military ranks
Officers
Navies Armies Air forces
Admiral of
the Fleet
Marshal / Field Marshal Marshal of
the Air Force
Admiral General Air Marshal
Commodore Brigadier Air Commodore
Captain Colonel Group Captain
Commander Lt. Colonel Wing Commander
Lt. Commander Major / Commandant Squadron Leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight Lieutenant
Sub-Lieutenant Lieutenant Flying Officer
Ensign 2nd Lieutenant Pilot Officer
Midshipman Officer Cadet Officer Cadet
Seamen, soldiers and airmen
Warrant Officer Sergeant Major Warrant Officer
Petty Officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading Seaman Corporal Corporal
Seaman Private Aircraftman

Commandant (pronounced /ˌkɒmənˈdɑːnt/ or /ˌkɒmənˈdænt/) is a military or police title or rank. In the French, Spanish and Irish militaries it is a rank equivalent to Major. In anglophone nations it is a senior title often given to the officer in charge of a large training establishment or academy.

Contents

India

In the erstwhile British Indian Army, the commanding officer of a regiment or battalion was called the Commandant instead of the CO.

Ireland

Commandant (Comdt) (Ceannfort in Irish) is a military rank in both the Irish Army and Irish Air Corps. It is equivalent to Major in other armed forces. In the Irish Naval Service, the equivalent rank is Lieutenant Commander.

France

Commandant (shortened from Capitaine-commandant, i.e. a "captain commanding" (a battalion)), is an officer-grade rank of the Military of France, specifically the French Army and the French Air Force, which equals to major.

The commandant is also styled chef de bataillon (Battalion Head) in the Infantry, chef d'escadrons (Squadrons Head) in the armored Cavalry and chef d'escadron (Squadron Head - note the lack of s) in the Artillery and the Gendarmerie.

Commandant is also the style, but not the rank, of the senior officers of the French Navy (capitaine de corvette, capitaine de frégate and capitaine de vaisseau).

Commandant.png
Norman/French infantry
Commandant des armes à cheval.png
Norman/French cavalry

Prior to the French Revolution, the Major was the officer appointed by the King to keep track of the expenditures and readiness of a regiment. He could have a deputy (an aide-major) and could be either a commoner or a nobleman. A major was graded as a Commissar, not an officer. The officer at commandant rank level was the chef de bataillon or chef d'escadron.

Major is now, however, the most senior Warrant Officer rank, above Adjudant-chef.

Spain

In the Spanish Army and Spanish Air Force, the rank of comandante is senior to a captain and junior to a lieutenant colonel, making it equivalent to the rank of major or squadron leader in English-speaking countries.

Latin America

Commandant, in Spanish Comandante, is a military officer rank used in some Latin American countries. Comandante can be translated into English either as "commandant" or as "commander". The rank may also be found in numerous paramilitary organizations, such as the Sandinistas.

The rank Comandante en Jefe, (Commandant-in-Chief or Commander-in-Chief) may be found in the nation of Cuba as a supreme military rank held by Raúl Castro. Translated as "Commander in Chief", the rank of Comandante en Jefe is the equivalent of a Field Marshal or General of the Army.

South Africa

Nutria field dress rank insignia of a Commandant in the SA Army 1950-1994

In South Africa, Commandant was the title of the commanding officer of a commando (militia) unit in the 19th and early 20th centuries. From 1950 to 1994 it was the official designation of the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the South African Army, South African Air Force, and South African Medical Service.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, the Commandant of the Volunteer Force is the head of the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force. Commandant is also the title used for the commanding officer (one-star rank) of military academies - Sri Lanka Military Academy, Naval and Maritime Academy and Air Force Academy - and the commanding officer (two-star rank) of the Defence Services Command and Staff College. It is also the title of the de-facto vice-chancellor of the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, usually an officer of two-star rank.

Colonel-Commandant is an honorary post in corps of the army and the Sri Lanka National Guard, similar to that of Colonel of the Regiment found in infantry regiments. The post of Centre Commandant is the commanding officer of a corps or regiment.

United Kingdom

In the British Armed Forces, a Commandant is usually the commanding officer of a training establishment, such as the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst or the Royal Air Force College Cranwell.

Colonel-Commandant was an appointment which existed in the British Army between 1922 and 1928, and in the Royal Marines from 1755 to some time after World War II. It replaced Brigadier-General in the Army, and was itself replaced by Brigadier in both the Army and the Marines. The Colonel-Commandant is also the ceremonial head of some Army corps and is usually a senior general.

Commandant was also the appointment, equivalent to Commodore, held by the Director of the Women's Royal Naval Service between 1951 and 1993. Senior Commandant and Chief Commandant were Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) ranks equivalent to Major and Lieutenant-Colonel respectively used between 1939 and May 1941, when they were replaced by Senior and Chief Commander. These ranks were also used in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force until December 1939, when they were replaced by Squadron Officer and Wing Officer (equating to Squadron Leader and Wing Commander) respectively.

United States

In the United States, 'Commandant' is an appointment, not a rank, and the following two appointments currently exist:

Formerly, Admirals were appointed as commandants of Naval Districts.

The Commandant is the second most senior officer (after the Superintendent) of United States Service academies, such as West Point, Annapolis, and the United States Air Force Academy, equivalent to the Dean of Students at a civilian college. Commandant is also the title of the commanding officer of many units of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, including the Noncommissioned Officer Academies, whose commandants are typically command sergeants major.

The title is also used for the commander of a unit headquarters, who is usually responsible for administrative matters such as billeting and is called the Headquarters Commandant; this may also be a duty assigned to a staff officer in large headquarters.

See also

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