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Chile-Uniforms, Ranks, and Insignia

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Chile Index


Figure 17. Officer Ranks and Insignia, 1993


Figure 18. Enlisted Ranks and Insignia, 1993


The uniforms and insignia of the three services reflect mainly British and German influence but also United States influence. The German influence is predominant in the army's uniforms (which are gray) and insignia, whereas the navy's uniforms (which are blue) and insignia and the air force's uniforms (which are blue-gray) and insignia resemble those of their British and United States counterparts (see fig. 17; fig. 18).

The army's service and dress uniforms closely resemble those of the old German Imperial Army. The uniform of the cadet corps of the Military Academy still features a pickelhaube (tall, plumed headgear) of the type worn by the Kaiser's Imperial Guard. The gray service uniform, with its stand-and-fall collar buttoned to the neck, worn with a plastic replica of the German "coal-scuttle" helmet, also evokes memories of the Reichsheer (a German paramilitary force).

Army rank insignia that are based on a series of gold or silver stars on shoulder straps or shoulder plaits are used for ranks up to and including that of brigadier, an unusual transitory grade between that of colonel and brigadier general. According to the Santiago newspaper Hoy, the rank of brigadier did not exist before 1981, when the reformulation of Chile's army ranks went into effect. Under the new military rank structure, brigadier is not a rank but a category that is assigned to senior colonels, including those slated for promotion to general. Noncommissioned officers' rank insignia consist of combinations of chevrons, worn point downward as in the British Army. Although a brigadier has the rank of coronel and wears the three stars of a coronel on the shoulder boards, a brigadier wears a general's national coat of arms and laurel leaves on the collar. When the rank of brigadier was created, the names given to the generals were also changed, to include brigadier general (major general) and mayor general (lieutenant general). General officers wear rank insignia consisting of two to five gold or silver stars on shoulder boards similar to those used by general officers of the United States Army. A president may designate officers who remain on duty beyond the compulsory thirty-eight years with the category of lieutenant general, although it is not a rank. The rank of capitán general (captain general), the armed forces' highest rank (held by General Pinochet), is indicated by five stars.

In summer a white tunic is substituted for the gray one. Combat uniforms in olive-green, khaki-drab, or camouflage pattern, worn with the World War II-style United States M-1942 steel helmet, are virtually indistinguishable from those worn until the early 1980s by the United States Army. Mountain troops wear white coveralls when operating in the snow.

Data as of March 1994

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