Military Wiki
For more information on commandant when used as a rank, see Commandant (rank).

Commandant (/ˌkɒmənˈdɑːnt/ or /ˌkɒmənˈdænt/) is a title often given to the officer in charge of a military (or other uniformed service) training establishment or academy. This usage is common in anglophone nations. In some countries it may be a military or police rank. It is also often used to refer to the commander of a military prison or prison camp (including Nazi concentration camps and prisoner of war camps).


In the French Army and French Air Force, the term commandant is used as a rank equivalent to major (NATO rank code OF-3). However, in the French Navy commandant is the style, but not the rank, of the senior officers, specifically capitaine de corvette, capitaine de frégate and capitaine de vaisseau.


In the British Indian Army, the commanding officer of an infantry battalion or cavalry regiment was known as the commandant.

The Indian Army also used the appointment of colonel-commandant between 1922 and 1928 in the same way as the British Army.

South Africa

In South Africa, commandant was the title of the commanding officer of a commando (militia) unit in the 19th and early 20th centuries. During the First World War, Commandant was used as a title by officers commanding Defence Rifle Association units, also known as Burgher Commandoes. The Commandoes were militia units raised in emergencies and constituted the third line of defence after the Permanent Force and the part-time Active Citizen Force regiments. The Commandant rank was equivalent to Major[1][2] or Lieutenant-Colonel depending on the size of the Commando. From 1950 to 1994 Commandant (rank) was the rank equivalent of lieutenant colonel.[3] and commander of a battalion. The rank was used by both the Army and the Air Force. The Naval equivalent was Commander [kommandeur in Afrikaans].[4] The rank was not used by the Police who continued with Lieutenant Colonel [luitenant-kolonel]. The rank insignia for a Commandant (Kommandant in Afrikaans) was initially a crown over a five-pointed star.[5][6] In 1957 the crown was replaced by a pentagonal castle device [7] based on the floor plan of the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, South Africa's oldest military building. In 1994,the rank of Commandant / kommandant was changed back to Lieutenant Colonel.[8]

From 1968 to 1970, a related rank, Chief Commandant existed in the Commando Forces [the part-time, territorial reserve, roughly equivalent to a National Guard or Home Guard].[9]

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, the Commandant of the Volunteer Force is the head of the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force. Commandant is also the title used for the commanding officer (one-star rank) of military academies - Sri Lanka Military Academy, Naval and Maritime Academy and Air Force Academy - and the commanding officer (two-star rank) of the Defence Services Command and Staff College. It is also the title of the de facto vice-chancellor of the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, usually an officer of two-star rank.

Colonel-commandant is an honorary post in corps of the army and the Sri Lanka National Guard, similar to that of Colonel of the Regiment found in infantry regiments. The post of centre commandant is the commanding officer of a corps or regiment.

United Kingdom

In the British Armed Forces, a commandant is usually the commanding officer of a training establishment, such as the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst or the Royal Air Force College Cranwell.

Colonel-commandant was an appointment which existed in the British Army between 1922 and 1928, and in the Royal Marines from 1755 to some time after World War II. It replaced brigadier-general in the Army, and was itself replaced by brigadier in both the Army and the Marines. The colonel-commandant is also the ceremonial head of some Army corps and this position is usually held by a senior general.

Commandant was also the appointment, equivalent to commodore, held by the Director of the Women's Royal Naval Service between 1951 and 1993.

United States

In the United States, 'commandant' is an appointment, not a rank, and the following three appointments currently exist:

Formerly, admirals were appointed as commandants of naval districts.

The commandant is the second most senior officer (after the Superintendent) of United States Service academies, such as West Point, Annapolis, and the United States Air Force Academy, equivalent to the Dean of Students at a civilian college. Commandant is also the title of the commanding officer of many units of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, including the non-commissioned officer academies, whose commandants are typically command sergeants major.

Commandant is also the title of the ranking officer in charge of each War College of the United States military, and is responsible for the administration, academic progress and success of the civilians and military officers assigned to the college. He is a model for all personnel, a military academy graduate of impeccable character and bearing who has demonstrated accomplishment in both academic excellence and active military service in the field. They include the Naval War College, the Air War College, the Army War College, the Marine Corps War College and the National War College.[10]

Commandant is also the duty title of the senior enlisted leader of a US Air Force Profesional Military Education (PME) academy, such as the Airman Leadership School, Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, and Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy.

The title may also be used for the commander of a unit headquarters, who is usually responsible for administrative matters such as billeting and is called the headquarters commandant; this may also be a duty assigned to a staff officer in large headquarters.

Republic of Ireland

In the Irish Army commandant is the equivalent of major in other armies.

New Zealand

In the New Zealand Defence Force, the term commandant is used for the senior officer (or commander) of garrisonned units that do not deploy and are not operational. This typically includes learning institutes such as the New Zealand Defence College and (formerly) the Command and Staff College. The title could also be used for other non-deploying units such as the Services Corrective Establishment in Burnham, or depot-level engineering units.

The equivalent term for opertaional units is 'commander', such as commander of the Joint Force Headquarters New Zealand.

Under the 2010 creation of the Training and Education Directorate, an additional position of commandant was established for the Training Institute to complement the commandant of the Defence College.

See also


  1. Radburn,A, South African Army Ranks and Insignia, In: Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, Vol 20, Nr 2, 1990
  2. Naamlys, Lindley Kommando, Military Archives, Pretoria
  3. Government Notice 2092 (25 Aug 1950)
  4. Rank Chart, Paratus, 1974
  5. Jooste,L, Die politieke koerswending van 1948 besorg 'n nuwe identiteit aan die Unieverdedigingsma, In:Militaria, 26(2), 1996, pp 113-128
  6. Radburn,A, South African Army Ranks and Insignia, In: Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, Vol 20, Nr 2, 1990
  7. Radburn,A, South African Army Ranks and Insignia, In: Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, Vol 20, Nr 2, 1990
  8. Salut, Vol 1 No 1, May 1994 p.4
  9. Retief, JJ, Die rang van hoofkommandant in die Suid-Afrikaanse Weermag, In: Military History Journal, Vol 10 No 6 - Desember 1997

External links

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