Talk:Officer (armed forces)

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Moved to Officer (military). Geoff NoNick 19:45, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

I disagree with moving this page to Officer(Military). The problem is that it then opens up the whole argument over the usage of the term "military" which can mean different things to different people: i.e. to most Americans, it means "of the armed forces", but in Commonwealth English, military has a more precise meaning of "of an army". In order to avoid confusion over the relevance of the Officer (military) article, as to whether it pertains solely to army officers or officers of all armed forces, I suggest a rename. Can this page therefore me renamed once again, perhaps to "Officer (armed forces)" which seems to be a more neutral approach with the issue.
Sounds reasonable enough. Geoff NoNick 03:23, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

General Definition[edit]

There is much in the article as it exists that is either overly specific to a particular nation or which is just not general enough. I know of no definition of a commissioned officer that refers specifically to the "use of deadly force." Geoff NoNick 19:00, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

Rank Duplication[edit]

I seriously disagree with the appending of the table of British commissioned officer ranks to each article discussing a military officer rank. This seems to be entirely unnecessary duplication that could be better served by maintaining the table in a central location (perhaps Commissioned Officers?) and inserting links in these articles. Ray Trygstad 23:35, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Agreed, and the same goes for U.S. military ranks. I believe the articles to refer to already exist. Geoff NoNick 19:00, 28 July 2005 (UTC)
In reading this article I began to wonder why the U.S. rank chart is shown. WP:POV or lack of other information? Now I'm wondering if perhaps changes were made to this and other articles that were never finished, or they were never throught through to judge the impact of the moving of material. Either way, doesn't seem right to me to show only American ranks. BigNate37 03:18, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
I've removed the US rank chart. There is a link to "Comparative military ranks" under "See Also" that can help people looking for information about specific armed forces. As I see it, this article should provide more of a general overview about officers. Geoff NoNick 19:22, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Highest Royal Marine rank[edit]

I corrected the statement that the highest rank currently held by a Royal Marine officer is that of major general: there are two serving Royal Marine lieutenant generals. The professional head of the Royal Marines (the Commandant General RM) is a major general, but there is nothing stopping a Royal Marine filling a higher-ranking tri-service or MoD appointment. Franey 11:44, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Does anyone know if a Royal Marine can fill a four-star (i.e. full general) appointment? Chief of Defence Logistics seems unobjectionable; maybe even Vice-Chief of Defence Staff, who I believe is junior to the service chiefs: but I'm pretty sure you have to be a service chief before you can be Chief of Defence Staff, and I can't see the Navy making a bootneck First Sea Lord. Franey 11:56, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

There have certainly been RM full generals in the past and the rank is still available to RM officers (as far as I know), but I suspect in practice it would only be used in wartime. -- Necrothesp 14:37, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Prussian Military Messing[edit]

While it is true that many countries copied some aspects of the Prussian Army - at it's height of influence in the C18 - this seems pushing things somewhat. All the major European armies had aristocratic officer corps -v- the ranks drawn from hoi polloi. They had had seperate facilities and messing long before the rise of prussia as is easy enough to find in accounts of the crusades or the hundred years war.Alci12 14:47, 18 May 2006 (UTC)


I take umbrage at the inference that officers in the most developed nations are purely graduates. That is a ridiculous notion. Note that the two most capable militaries in the world- the USA and Great Britain- allow members of the ranks to succeed and gain commissions if the ability is there. Only the best are officer- if they come from the ranks, that does not make one nation less fucking developed than another. (unsigned)

I think the statement in question is this:

Most developed nations have set the goal of having their officer corps university-educated, although exceptions exist in some nations to accommodate officers who have risen from the non-commissioned ranks. Most advanced militaries, however, require university degrees as a prerequisite for commissioning, even from the enlisted ranks. The Australian Defence Force, the British Armed Forces, the Israel Defense Forces and the New Zealand Defence Force are different in not requiring a university degree for commissioning.

I know that the US Army does not require a bachelor's degree for commissioning, but I don't want to speculate about the other services. Ninety semester hours are required, however. I'm editing it to simply say "post-secondary education." --VAcharon 00:42, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

In fact, the United States Military requires a bachelor's degree for commissioning. This does not preclude enlisted men from recieving a commission, but they have to acquire the bachelor's degree for commissioning. This can be done while still functioning as an enlisted man by taking night or correspondence courses to fulfill many of the requirements, and by obtaining military scholarships and time assigned to college for the purpose of obtaining the degree. There may be some officer, somewhere, at some time who attained commissioning without a college degree, but that would be extremely, extremely rare. In my 30 year's association with the military, I've never seen one! Sorry, but we are a developed nation, we have a huge cadre of educated people, and we have a college educated officer corps. So sorry if that offends you. Tough! (talk) 02:27, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

battlefield commission (talk) 06:09, 2 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't know about the present, but in the last century having a degree was not a requirement for becoming a Limited Duty Officer in the U.S. Navy. Some LDO's went on to obtain a degree but there were very few. Nor was not having a degree a bar from high rank. I know several Navy LDO Captains who did not have degrees. I am speaking from personal experience as a non-degree Navy LDO (1964-1994).Oldbubblehead (talk) 10:58, 10 August 2018 (UTC)

Which US Rank Leaves The Front Line[edit]

At what rank in the US army does a officer leave the front line combat leader role into more of a managing position? Zachorious 00:38, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

An officer can be moved away from "front line" duties (i.e. the directing of combat personnel) to "managerial" duties (the directing of non-combat personnel) at just about any rank, and can similarly be switched back at any time. That being said, I think you'll find that it's uncommon for officers above the rank of LCOL to be involved in the direction of troops at the tactical level. After that rank, the place of an officer is usually in an HQ. Geoff NoNick 19:26, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

As defined against...[edit]

I am not a historian of modern military history, and so I may be mistaken on this one, but isn't there a general term for all non-officers? Would it not be helpful to mention in the introduction, by way of another method of description or definition, that anyone who is not an officer is called X? Unlike individual ranks, like Captain or whathaveyou, Officer is a very wide grouping of different positions and ranks; I should think that it would be helpful, on a very basic level, to be made aware that all soldiers are essentially divided into Officers and non-Officers. LordAmeth 06:12, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

You might be thinking about Other Ranks or Ratings in the Navy, at least in the British system; Officers and Other Ranks or Officers and Ratings.ALR 15:15, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

There is. They are called 'enlisted men' to differentiate them from the officers. They have their own command structure and promotion tracks. This is where the 'non commissioned officers' come from (NCO's). In the American Army, a great deal of responsibility belongs to the NCO's They are known as the 'backbone' of the Army. --LucasRN 02:59, 3 May 2007 (UTC)


Maybe something about the history of having Officers, the destinction between enlisted and officer, why have them at all, who has them etc. - 01:36, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

yeah I agree it is totally missing. The origin of officers as gentry, previous systems for obtaining commissions (buying, election etc.) as well as some other stuff I am sure, are all missing. (talk) 06:16, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Indeed maybe they should include something about how barons(in Christian western Europe) and mansabdars(in Islamic-ruled India) had military command responsibilities attached to their title and land.


You have gone into excruciating detail about Bevet ranks but you have entirely missed the most esssential part of the bifercated officer rank system. Officers sometimes have two ranks: a "permanent" rank and a "temporary" rank. Where you start out depends on how you were commissioned. If you were commissioned through a service academy your first rank will be either as a "regular" Ensign or Second Lieutenant. If you graduate from ROTC, OCS, or one of the myriad of tracks for enlisted personal you will be commissioned as a "reserve" Ensign or Second Lieutentant (in some very rare cases at a higher rank).

Congress has a quota for officer appointments, which is why service academy graduate garner the "regular" commissions first, essentially making them immmune from "Reductions in Force" (RIFS), a.k.a layoffs. Up until 1973, I believe "distinquished graduates" from ROTC programs were also commissioned as "regular" officers. I know that this was eliminated in 1973, at least in the USAF.

There are two separate promotion boards where each officer is reviewed. "Reserve" officers may or may not receive "regular" commissions. The vast majority of officers initially commissioned as "reserve officers" will only hold one commission during their career. A "regular" officer will hold two commissions. It is usual and customary, for example, for a Major with a "reserve" commission" who was initially commissioned as a "regular" officer to hold the "reserve" rank of Major and a "regular" commission of First Lieutenant. If there is a RIF, based on the manpower and skill requirements of the service, the Major would revert to his former "permanent" rank of First Lieutenant, or perhaps hold a "reserve" commission as a Captain (CPT).

This system of "reserve" and "regular" commissions largely replaced the Brevet system by eliminating all of it's non-HR aspects. One major human drawback of the system is that enlisted personnel intending to make the military service a career find that they get "the boot" long before they have enough years in service for retirement and not enough time to make up the difference on a part-time basis by finding a reserve or national guard unit that has an available slot. This is after making a substantial time, domestic, and frequently large financial investment they normally would not have otherwise made. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:25, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

Backbone of the article?[edit]

This article could really use some sources other than "personality"-based conjecture. In the U.S. military, for example, there are literally tons of regulations, laws, and instructions which define the roles of military officers, NCOs, warrants, and so forth. Nobody can produce one to shore up this article? Where are all these subject matter experts and seasoned professionals? (talk) 03:23, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

U.S. Military Section[edit]

This section has an unsourced assertion that most officers already holding a degree are from the enlisted ranks and comprise less than 2% of the officers serving. I don't have any sources to back it up, but my experience in the Marine Corps tells me that most officers obtain a degree as civilians and go straight to OCS for commissioning with no enlisted experience. I've never heard of an officer at the ranks of O-1 and O-2 earning a commission without a degree outside of combat commissioning. Further, it asserts that nobody without a degree can be promoted to O-3 or above, but--at least, in the Marine Corps--certain Military Occupational Specialties call for experienced enlisted men and Chief Warrant Officers to be commissioned as Limited Duty Officers. LDO's start at O-3 and max out at O-5. Sorry I don't have anything to cite to, which is why I didn't add it to the article, but if anybody can verify it, it seems to be worth including. In the meantime I think that a citation needed tag belongs on the erroneous material, if that information doesn't deserve to be removed altogether. (talk) 23:18, 7 May 2013 (UTC)

US differences (some substantial) from the Common Anglophone Military Ranks[edit]

The ranks listed in the box "Common Anglophone Military Ranks" correspond, as regards the United States (US) military, variably, as follows: In the navy the listed rank "sub-lieutenant" is instead called lieutenant (junior grade); the listed rank "commodore" is now called rear admiral (lower half), the change from "commodore" having been made in 1985 [1]; and the five-star rank of fleet admiral (equivalent to "admiral of the fleet") has not been used since WWII.

In the army the term major is used, not the alternate term "commandant"; the listed rank "brigadier" is called brigadier general; and the rank "field marshall" has never been used [2]. Equivalent to "field marshall" is general of the army, but no active officer has been promoted to this rank since the Korean War (Omar Bradley).

As to air forces, however, the US Air Force (USAF) officer ranks are entirely different from those listed (not even one is the same), and the rank "aircraftman" is just airman. The US Air Force officer ranks and insignia are exactly the same as those of the US Army, reflecting the fact that until 1947 what is now the US Air Force was part of the US Army. [3] [4]

Now as to calling to the attention of the reader the significant differences of US officer ranks (mostly USAF) from those shown in the table, a good way probably would be to prominently say in the body of the text, or perhaps in a notice appended to the table, that there are such differences, which the reader can learn about by reading the "List of comparative military ranks," a link to which is at the bottom of the article under "See also," but could, in addition, be supplied inline when mentioning that there are such differences. Wikifan2744 (talk) 02:14, 15 May 2014 (UTC)


The photo is actually (left to right): Lt Col Alastair Aitken, Major Neil Tomlinson OC A Coy, Maj Chris Gent Royal Artillery The RSM isn't in the picture — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:12, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

Stripping of commission[edit]

Hi, I was wondering if anyone can answer a question for me. It might be a silly one, but here goes. Is it possible for an officer to lose his/her commission and, if so, in what circumstances? For example, Lieutenant busted down to private. (talk) 16:49, 2 October 2017 (UTC)

Add Senior Military Colleges?[edit]

Anyone have thoughts on adding senior military colleges here? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:31, 22 February 2019 (UTC)