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Uniforms, Ranks, and Insignia

Uniforms worn by personnel of Saudi Arabia's armed services, including the national guard, were closely patterned on the British and United States models that influenced those forces during their early development. The most common uniform colors were khaki or olive drab for the army and national guard, blue or white for the navy, and blue for the air force. Officers had semidress uniforms for various functions and dress uniforms for formal occasions. All personnel wore berets, and officers also had visored caps. Members of the Royal Guard Regiment often wore the flowing white thaub (robe) and white kaffiyah and qutrah (traditional Arab headgear of skullcap and scarf). Berets were usually of distinctive colors that designated branches, e.g., paratroops wore maroon, tank troops wore black, and the Royal Guardsmen--when in conventional uniforms--wore bright green berets.

National guardsmen wore the traditional redcheckered Arab headdress, although some more modern units wore red berets. Tribal units often wore the thaub with crossed bandoliers. The brass badge worn by all ranks depicted the national symbol--a date palm with crossed sabers beneath a crown, all enclosed by a wreath.

There were ten grades of commissioned officers in the army, navy, air force, and air defense force, corresponding to the grades of second lieutenant (ensign) to general (admiral) in the United States forces. The Saudi ranks in all services were known by the same designations; for example, mulazim thani corresponded to second lieutenant in the army, air defense force, and air force and to ensign in the navy.

Enlisted rank structure was the same in all services, and ranks were known by the same terms. There were seven enlisted ratings plus the entry level of recruit. Chevrons to denote rank were worn on both sleeves; the recruit had no chevron. The NCO grades did not correspond exactly to those of the United States forces, and the Saudi army or air force warrant officer (the navy had none) corresponded more closely to master sergeant or sergeant major rather than to any of the four grades of warrant officer in the United States forces.

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Page last modified: 05-01-2013 19:26:39 ZULU