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Hungary-Uniforms and Rank Insignia

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Hungary Index

Figure 11. Military Ranks and Insignia, 1989

In 1989 the army had approximately the same number of ranks found in other typical military organizations, but these ranks were grouped into six classifications, the names of which did not always translate readily to those used by other military organizations. Commissioned officer ranks, however, were standard and ranged from second lieutenant to general. They included four general officer ranks: brigadier general, lieutenant general, colonel general, and army general. Field grades were major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel. Junior officer ranks began with sublieutenant and advanced through second lieutenant and first lieutenant to captain.

Enlisted grade nomenclature differed from that used by most of the world's armies. The three lowest grades--private first class, corporal, and lance sergeant--were called noncommissioned officers. The next four grades--staff sergeant, sergeant first class, master sergeant, and command sergeant major--were called regimental sergeants major; in the armies of most countries these ranks would also be included among the NCO grades. Above the regimental sergeants major but below the lowest commissioned officer ranks were two grades that were translated as ensigns, which were the equivalent of warrant officers in other armies.

Rank insignia consisted of shoulder boards for officers, ensigns, and higher-grade enlisted men (see fig. 11). Lower grades wore patches on shirt or blouse collars. Rank was indicated by the amount of ornamentation and the number of stars on the shoulder board. Officers had gold piping around the edges of the boards; ensigns and enlisted men had silver. Generals' stars were placed upon a solid gold braid background. Junior officers' boards did not have braiding; officers of field grades had boards that were partly braided. Except for the outer braiding, boards of the higher-grade enlisted men resembled those of junior officers. Background colors and bronze devices identified service branches. Uniforms were brownish-olive drab. Enlisted men wore heavy wool in winter and a lighter colored cotton in the warmer seasons. Officers wore the same colors, but the materials were worsted wool for winter and either cotton or tropical-weight worsted wool for summer. The most frequently seen uniforms were the service, dress, and field uniforms. The service uniform was worn for most light-duty work, recreation, and informal social occasions. It consisted of a comfortably fitting "blouse," long trousers, and low shoes. In summer a lighterweight , light-colored shirt was worn instead of the blouse. The dress uniform consisted of the same blouse and trousers but had extra ornamentation, and the trousers were tucked into high boots. Officers wore a Sam Browne belt (a belt with a strap over the right shoulder) and, for the most formal occasions, a sword. Field uniforms included high boots into which the trousers were tucked. In summer the officers' field uniforms included a short jacket, Sam Browne belt, and sidearm; enlisted men's uniforms had a cotton shirt, which could be worn with the sleeves rolled up. A heavy overcoat was added in the winter.

Twelve decorations were still being awarded in the late 1980s for extraordinary achievement, special merit, or outstanding performance. Another twenty-four were authorized to be worn but were no longer awarded. A few of those had been discontinued, but most of them were applicable to earlier service, such as during World War II or the communist takeover after the war.

The highest-ranking decoration was the Hero of Socialist Labor. It was followed in order by the Medal of the Hungarian People's Republic, the Red Banner Order of Merit, and the Red Star Order of Merit. Some of these decorations were awarded in two or more degrees, in which the first degree was the highest class. The Order of Merit for Outstanding Service was frequently awarded to higher-ranking military personnel. Although it ranked twenty-fourth in the list of thirty-six decorations, it was one of the few that was accompanied by a monetary award. A substantial pension supplement accompanied three or four of the more important decorations.

Data as of September 1989

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