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Bolivia: Ranks, Uniforms, and Insignia
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Manpower and Training > Ranks, Uniforms, and Insignia


The rank structure of the FF.AA. was conventional and conformed to the pattern of the United States services, although minor variations reflected disparities in force levels. The army had nine officer ranks, ranging from subteniente (second lieutenant) to three general officer ranks: general de brigada (brigadier general); general de división (division general), which was equivalent to a United States major general or lieutenant general; and general de fuerza (force general), whose United States counterpart was general. The rank general de división was usually reserved for the FF.AA. commander and the minister of national defense, if the latter was a military officer, as well as the army commander and president of the Supreme Tribunal of Military Justice (Tribunal Supremo de Justicia Militar).

Promotion from second lieutenant to first lieutenant, and from the latter to captain were made almost automatically after four years in each grade. Subsequent promotions were influenced greatly by completion of schooling, types of assignments, and performance ratings. Requirements included command of a unit, frontier service, and seniority. For promotion to major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel, five years in each grade were required. The Senate could veto a promotion to colonel or general. Army warrant officers and enlisted personnel ranged from cabo (private first class) to sub oficial mayor (sergeant major).

FAB's nine officer ranks went from subteniente de aviación (second lieutenant) to general de fuerza aéra (general). FAB's nine enlisted ranks began with soldado (airman basic) and dragoneante (airman) and ended with sub oficial mayor or sub oficial maestre (chief master sergeant).

The navy's ten officer ranks ranged from alférez (ensign) to almirante (admiral), equivalent to a United States vice admiral. Naval warrant officers and enlisted personnel had ten ranks, from the equivalent of seaman recruit to fleet force master chief petty officer.

Insignia of rank conformed to the designs adopted in 1968 by the Central American Defense Council (Consejo de Defensa Centroamericano -- Condeca). The commissioned officers' rank insignia for the three services were as follows: the army had silver stars on a blue background with a red border for the equivalent of second lieutenant through captain, silver stars on a red stripe with a blue background for major through colonel, and gold stars on a gold stripe with a red background for generals; the air force had gold stars for second lieutenant through colonel and gold stars on a gold background for general officers; and the navy had traditional gold stripes on the lower sleeve. Enlisted personnel of all three services wore the following: the army had silver bars or stripes; the navy had red or gold stripes or gold bars; and the FAB had a blue bar or gold stripes.

The military uniforms varied depending on climate and use -- field, daily service, semidress, parade, ceremonial, and dress. Uniforms for army officers, NCOs, and enlisted personnel were generally gray or, for tropical areas, gray-green khaki. Naval uniforms for officers and NCOs were beige for cold climates, khaki for temperate areas, and white for lowland regions. Enlisted personnel wore the traditional blues and whites; their uniforms included a blue wool fatigue for cold climates and khaki or white uniforms for tropical areas, and black shoes. Officers and enlisted personnel in FAB wore blue squadron caps and blue uniforms for cold climates, and they wore khaki with blue garrison caps for tropical climates. Officers wore gray, green, or orange flight suit; enlisted personnel wore orange or green flight suits.

Data as of December 1989

Last Updated: December 1989

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Bolivia was first published in 1989. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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Section 143 of 171


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