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Israel: Rank, Insignia, and Uniforms
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > The Israel Defense Forces > Rank, Insignia, and Uniforms


Three basic commissioned officer ranks existed in the IDF: commander of tens (segen); commander of hundreds (seren); and commander of thousands (aluf). All other ranks were variations of these, with prefixes and suffixes to indicate relative seniority. Thus, a lieutenant general was rav aluf, a major general was aluf, a brigadier general was tat aluf, and a colonel was aluf mishne. A captain was seren and a major was rav seren. Rank titles were the same for the ground forces, the navy, and the air force. The rank of lieutenant general was held by only one officer serving on active duty, the chief of staff. Major generals included each of the three area commanders, the commander of the ground corps, the chiefs of the five branches of the general staff, and the commanders of the navy and air force.

United States equivalents for enlisted ranks were less exact than for officers. The three senior NCO grades were often equated to warrant officer rank; status and function were much alike. The lowest career NCO rank was sergeant (samal).

For ground forces' officers, rank insignia were brass on a red background; for the air force, silver on a blue background; and for the navy, the standard gold worn on the sleeve. Officer insignia were worn on epaulets on top of both shoulders. Insignia distinctive to each service were worn on the cap.

Enlisted grades wore rank insignia on the sleeve, halfway between the shoulder and the elbow. For the army and air force, the insignia were white with blue interwoven threads backed with the appropriate corps color. Navy personnel wore gold-colored rank insignia sewn on navy blue material.

The service uniform for all ground forces personnel was olive green; navy and air force uniforms were beige. The uniforms consisted of shirt, trousers, sweater, jacket or blouse, and shoes. The navy had an all white dress uniform. Green fatigues were the same for winter and summer. Heavy winter gear was issued as needed. Women's dress paralleled that of men but consisted of a skirt a blouse, and a garrison cap. Headgear included a service cap for dress and semi-dress and a field cap worn with fatigues. Army and air force personnel also had berets, usually worn in lieu of the service cap. The color of the air force beret was blue-gray; for armored corps, mechanized infantry, and artillery personnel, it was black; for infantry, olive drab; for paratroopers, red; for combat engineers, gray; and for the Golani Infantry Brigade, purple. For all other army personnel, except combat units, the beret for men was green and for women, black. Women in the navy wore a black beret with gold insignia.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Israel was first published in 1988. 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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