Heritage Structure | Section 3 – Distinguishing flags and pennants for officers of the Canadian Armed Forces

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GENERAL

  1. This section deals with distinguishing flags for officers of flag/general rank, for senior officers' distinguishing pennants or pennants of command flown at bases and units, and for distinguishing flags and pennants flown on vehicles and aircraft and worn in boats.
  2. Camp flags flown in accordance with established custom as identifying vehicle radio-antenna pennants do not fall into this category.

DISTINGUISHING FLAGS

  1. The flags described in this article are the only authorized distinguishing flags to be flown by flag/general officers in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).
  2. Distinguishing flag patterns are based on appointment rank as shown in Figure 14-3-1.
  3. Distinguishing flags are designed for flag/general officer appointments and shall be flown by officers appointed to acting capacity, regardless of their actual rank, provided that the acting appointments have been specifically authorized by National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ). (Officers in temporary command during a commander's absence do not adopt the latter's flag as the flag accompanies the actual commander or awaits a permanent replacement. See paragraphs 18 and 19.)
  4. The only distinguishing flags authorized to carry a badge or other individual device are those for:
    1. the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS);
    2. a vice-admiral or lieutenant-general at NDHQ; and
    3. commanders of commands and field formation commanders of flag/general officer rank.
  5. The distinguishing flag of the CDS is the CAF Ensign.
    1. It:
      1. shall be flown by day at defence establishments when the CDS is present in an official capacity,
      2. displaces all other military distinguishing flags and pennants, and
      3. when the CDS is embarked on a ship in an official capacity, shall be worn at the main or only mast, and displaces all other distinguishing flags and pennants.
    2. At a defence establishment, the CDS's distinguishing flag shall be flown below the CAF Ensign and be one size smaller.
  6. The distinguishing flag of a vice-admiral or lieutenant-general on the staff at NDHQ (see also paragraph 9) shall carry the CAF badge, less the wreath of maple leaves, and:
    1. be flown by day at defence establishments when the officer is present in an official capacity, and displaces all other military distinguishing flags and pennants except that of the CDS; and
    2. when the officer is embarked on a ship in an official capacity, be worn at the main mast, and displaces all other military distinguishing flags and pennants except that of the CDS and those denoting command.
  7. The distinguishing flag of the commander of a command or a field formation commander shall normally carry the distinctive devices of the command or formation's badge and shall be flown in accordance with the rules of common usage detailed in paragraphs 13 to 21.

DISTINGUISHING PENNANTS OF COMMAND

  1. Distinguishing pennants of command as illustrated in Figure 14-3-2 are provided for officers as follows:
    1. a white distinguishing pennant (denoting command, rather than administrative control, of an independant static formation or installation) with a red maple leaf, for:
      1. a colonel, lieutenant-colonel or major commanding a base, military college or station, and
      2. a colonel, lieutenant-colonel or major who is a Canadian Defense Attaché, as prescribed in sub-paragraph 22.h.
    2. an environmentally coloured pennant in traditional service colours (except for army brigade commanders, see also A-DH-265-000/AG-001, CAF Dress Instructions, Chapter 1, paragraph 16, "Environmental Colours")  denoting command of a combat capable formation, carrying the formation's badge, for:
      1. a captain(N) commanding a formation (navy blue),
      2. a colonel commanding an army brigade (green), and
      3. a colonel commanding an air force wing (air force light blue); and
    3. a naval commissioning pennant for use in ships and boats by an officer below the rank of commodore commanding one of Her Majesty's Canadian Ships in commission.
  2. Distinguishing pennants for officers (other than Canadian Defence Attachés) denote command, and normally should be flown within the recognized area limits of the command. Distinguishing pennants do not replace naval commissioning pennants or traditional regimental pennants (see paragraph 2), which will continue to be flown according to customary usage.
  3. The distinguishing pennant designated for a given appointment shall be flown by an officer appointed to acting capacity if the appointment is authorized by NDHQ, regardless of the officer's actual rank.

COMMON USAGE

  1. On land, distinguishing flags and pennants shall be flown by day at one of the following positions on a defence establishment:
    1. below the CAF Ensign;
    2. when the pole is a mast fitted with a gaff, at the masthead; and
    3. when a flagpole is fitted with a crosspiece (yard) and not a gaff, at the crosspiece.
  2. Distinguishing flags and pennants flown from a flagpole shall be at least one size smaller than the CAF Ensign. As a guide, the approximate sizes of the distinguishing flags and pennants to be flown are as follows:
Flown With CAF Ensign (cm) Pole Height (m) Distinguishing Flag Size (cm)
69 x 137 5 to 6 45 x 90
90 x 180 5 to 6 45 x 90
137 x 274 9 to 11 90 x 180
180 x 360 12 to 14 90 x 180
229 x 457 15 90 x 180
  1. Detailed regulations for flying distinguishing flags in ships are given in Chapter 4, Section 3.
  2. When flags are required to be flown at half-mast, the position of distinguishing flags and pennants flown from a mast fitted with a gaff shall not be altered. Distinguishing flags and pennants flown from the same halyard as the National Flag or the CAF Ensign shall continue to be flown below these flags during periods of half-masting.
  3. The distinguishing flag or pennant for an entitled officer is hauled down immediately after the officer:
    1. dies;
    2. proceeds on leave;
    3. is confined to hospital; or
    4. proceeds on duty outside the jurisdiction of the appropriate defence establishment.
  4. When one officer transfers command to another, the right to use the appropriate distinguishing flag or pennant is transferred simultaneously.
  5. The distinguishing flag of a visiting superior officer displaces all subordinate military distinguishing flags and pennants when that officer visits a defence establishment or ship under his or her command in an official capacity.
  6. The distinguishing flag of a visiting officer is raised or broken immediately on arrival at and lowered immediately on departure from a defence establishment or other location.
  7. Distinguishing flags mark an officer's presence or residency, and therefore shall not be flown from a flagpole in more than one place at a time. It follows that:
    1. the distinguishing flag flown on the main flagpole of a defence establishment shall be that of the senior military officer in the establishment's chain of command present in an official capacity;
    2. if the officer in sub-paragraph a. is the inspecting officer of a parade located in that same defence establishment, his or her distinguishing flag is not broken to mark his or her arrival at the parade ground, although an appropriate flag may be broken at the dais if circumstances dictate; and
    3. if the inspecting officer of a parade is from outside the defence establishment's chain of command, his or her distinguishing flag may be broken at the dais marking the moment of official arrival at the parade and lowered to mark departure.

DISTINGUISHING FLAGS AND PENNANTS ON VEHICLES, AIRCRAFT AND BOATS

  1. When the following personages, officials and officers are travelling in military vehicles or aircraft, their personal standard or distinguishing flag or pennant may be flown:
    1. the Sovereign or any member of the Royal Family;
    2. any member of foreign royalty (although foreign Heads of State have their own flags and standards, only the foreign national flag is flown in connection with a visit from a Head of State);
    3. the Governor General of Canada;
    4. the Prime Minister;
    5. the lieutenant governor of a province within the limits of his or her jurisdiction;
    6. the Minister of National Defence;
    7. flag/general officers who are entitled to a distinguishing flag carrying a badge or other distinctive devices (see paragraph 6); and
    8. officers listed in paragraphs 10 to 12 within the recognized area limits of their command, except that Canadian Defence Attachés may fly a distinguishing flag or pennant only on a military vehicle or boat, and only when travelling to a formal diplomatic function.
  2. On vehicles, personal or distinguishing flags shall be flown from a flagstaff mounted on the right front fender of the vehicle (the left front fender in the United Kingdom and other countries in which vehicles drive on the left). Flagstaffs already mounted on the centre of the hood on vehicles other than staff cars may continue to be used, but all new installations shall be as noted above.
  3. The personal or distinguishing flag shall be flown only when the personage, official or officer for whom it is authorized is in the vehicle. The flag shall be removed or hooded when the person is not in the vehicle.
  4. When an entitled person arrives by aircraft, the appropriate flag may be displayed on the aircraft at the moment it completes its landing run and removed when the person leaves the aircraft. When departing by air, the appropriate flags may be displayed the moment the person enters the aircraft and removed at the moment the aircraft begins its take-off run.
  5. When embarked on a boat, the appropriate standard or distinguishing flag or pennant may be displayed in the bow of the boat between dawn and dusk and continue to fly on occasions of half-masting for:
    1. personages, officials, or officers listed in paragraph 22;
    2. a commanding officer of a ship when proceeding to or from his ship (commissioning pennant);
    3. members of a court martial when proceeding to or from the court (commissioning pennant); and
    4. a guard officer in an official capacity (commissioning pennant).
  6. Miniature distinguishing flags and pennants flown on vehicles and aircraft shall:
    1. for the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence, be the National Flag, size 15 x 30 cm; and
    2. for military officers, conform to the illustrations in figures 14-3-1 and 14-3-2, size 15 x 30 cm (except for naval commissioning pennants which are 7.6 x 183 cm).

Figure 14-3-1 Flag/General Officers Distinguishing Flags

Figure 14-3-2 Distinguishing Pennants (Pennants of Command)

CANADIAN ARMED FORCES DISTINGUISHING PENNANTS DIMENSIONS

Flags, Organizational, Rectangle

A
(Hoist/Breadth)
B
(Fly/Length)
C
(Canton Breadth)
D
(Canton Length)
90 cm 180 cm 45 cm 90 cm
45 cm 90 cm 22.5 cm 45 cm
15 cm 30 cm 7.5 cm 15 cm

Flags, Individual, Swallowtail

A
(Hoist/Breadth)
B
(Fly/Length)
C
(Canton Breadth)
D
(Canton Length)
E F
90 cm 180 cm 37.5 cm 75 cm 150 cm 45 cm
45 cm 90 cm 18.75 cm 37.5 cm 75 cm 22.5 cm
15 cm 30 cm 6.25 cm 12.5 cm 25 cm 7.5 cm

Figure 14-3-3 Canadian Armed Forces Distinguishing pennants dimensions

Flags, Individual, Tapered Swallowtail

A
(Hoist/Breadth)
B
(Fly/Length)
C
(Canton Breadth)
D
(Canton Length)
E F G
90 cm 180 cm 37.5 cm 75 cm 150 cm 34 cm 68 cm
45 cm 90 cm 18.75 cm 37.5 cm 75 cm 17 cm 34 cm
15 cm 30 cm 6.25 cm 12.5 cm 25 cm 5.5 cm 11 cm

Pennant, Individual, Triangle

A B C
90 cm 45 cm 180 cm
45 cm 22.5 cm 90 cm
15 cm 7 cm 30 cm

Figure 14-3-4 Canadian Armed Forces Distinguishing Pennants Dimensions

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