Personnel and Training - Ranks, Uniforms, and Insignia
The three armed forces use several different uniforms, including
full dress, dress, service, and fatigue. The army
service uniform is green; the navy,
navy blue; and the air
force, a lighter blue. The senior commissioned rank (four stars)
in the army is general (general de exército ); in the navy,
admiral (almirante de esquadra ); and in the air force, general
(tenente-brigadeiro ) (see fig. 15). In time of war, or in exceptional
circumstances, a fifth star may be worn by the highest-ranking officer
in the army (marechal , or general of the army) navy (almirante
, or fleet admiral), and air force (marechal do ar , or general
of the air force). Army and air force officers wear rank insignia
on shoulder boards; navy officers wear them on sleeve cuffs. Each
service has ten officer grades, excluding officer candidates.
Army officer grades from second lieutenant to colonel equate directly
with counterparts in the United States Army, but thereafter the
systems diverge. A Brazilian brigadier general (general de brigada
) wears two stars, and the next higher rank, known as major general
(general de divisão ), wears three; their United
States counterparts have only one and two stars, respectively.
The next higher rank, designated by four stars, is general (general
de exército ). The marshall wears five stars, but that rank
is rarely attained on active duty. There is no rank that corresponds
to United States lieutenant general.
Brazil's army has strict up-or-out retirement rules, which were
developed in the mid-1960s by President Castelo Branco. The internal
command structure determines all promotions through the rank of
colonel. The president is involved in the promotions to general
and chooses one candidate from a list of three names presented to
him by the High Command. Once passed over, the colonel must retire.
All colonels must retire at age fifty-nine; and all four-star generals
must retire at age sixty-six, or after twelve years as general.
Despite the up-or-out system, under President Sarney the army became
top-heavy as generals began to occupy many positions that previously
had been reserved for colonels. In 1991 there were fifteen four-star,
forty three-star, and 110 two-star generals. The figure for four-star
generals did not include four who were ministers in the Superior
Military Court (Superior Tribunal Militar--STM). Thus, in the mid-1990s
the army sought to reduce the number of active-duty generals.
Air force ranks have the same designations as those of the army
through colonel, and there is also no rank corresponding to lieutenant
general. Air force general officer ranks are brigadier, major brigadier,
lieutenant brigadier, and air marshal; the five-star rank is seen
rarely. Navy ranks correspond directly to the United States Navy
counterparts, except that there is no one-star rank, equivalent
to rear admiral (lower half) in the United States. The flag ranks
are rear admiral, vice admiral, admiral, and fleet admiral.
The highest army enlisted rank is subtenente , which is the equivalent
of the United States master sergeant and sergeant major ranks (see
fig. 16). The navy's highest enlisted rank is suboficial , which
is the equivalent of the United States senior chief petty officer
and master chief petty officer. In the air force, the top enlisted
rank is also suboficial , which is comparable with the United States
senior master sergeant and chief master sergeant.
Data as of April 1997