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An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an
armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...

armed force
or uniformed service. Broadly speaking, "officer" means a commissioned officer, a
non-commissioned officer A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not pursued a Commission (document), commission. Non-commissioned officers usually earn their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks. (Non-officers, which inclu ...
, or a
warrant officer Warrant officer (WO) is a rank Rank is the relative position, value, worth, complexity, power, importance, authority, level, etc. of a person or object within a ranking A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such that, for any two ...

warrant officer
. However, absent contextual qualification, the term typically refers only to a force's ''commissioned officers'', the more senior members who derive their authority from a
commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase or the creation of a piece of art most often on behalf of another ...
from the
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional ch ...
.


Numbers

The proportion of officers varies greatly. Commissioned officers typically make up between an eighth and a fifth of modern armed forces personnel. In 2013, officers were the senior 17% of the British armed forces, and the senior 13.7% of the French armed forces. In 2012, officers made up about 18% of the German armed forces, and about 17.2% of the United States armed forces. Historically, however, armed forces have generally had much lower proportions of officers. During the First World War, fewer than 5% of British soldiers were officers (partly because World War One junior officers suffered very high casualty rates). In the early twentieth century, the Spanish army had the highest proportion of officers of any European army, at 12.5%, which was at that time considered unreasonably high by many Spanish and foreign observers. Within a nation's armed forces, armies (which are usually larger) tend to have a lower ''proportion'' of officers, but a higher ''total'' number of officers, while navies and air forces have higher ''proportions'' of officers, especially since military aircraft are flown by officers and naval ships and submarines are commanded by officers. For example, 13.9% of British Army personnel and 22.2% of the RAF personnel were officers in 2013, but the British Army had a larger total number of officers.


Commission sources and training

Commissioned officers generally receive training as
leadership Leadership, both as a research area and as a practical skill, encompasses the ability of an individual, group or organization An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and B ...

leadership
and
management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spok ...

management
generalists, in addition to training relating to their specific
military occupational specialty A United States military occupation code, or a military occupational specialty code (MOS code), is a nine-character code used in the United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land military branch, service branch of the United Stat ...
or function in the military. Many advanced militaries such as the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
typically require
university degree A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in various Discipline (academia), academic d ...
s as a prerequisite for commissioning, even when accessed from the enlisted ranks. Others, including the
Australian Defence Force Australians, colloquially referred to as "Aussies", are the citizens Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determine ...
, the
British Armed Forces The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom ...
(BAF),
Nepal Army The Nepalese Army ( ne, नेपाली सेना, translit=Nēpālī Sēnā), formerly known as the Gurkha Army ( ne, गोरखाली सेना, translit=Gōrakhālī Sēnā, label=none; see ''Gurkha The Gurkhas or Gorkh ...

Nepal Army
, the
Pakistan Armed Forces The Pakistan Armed Forces (; ) are the Military, combined military forces of Pakistan. It is the List of countries by number of military and paramilitary personnel, world's sixth-largest military measured by Active duty, active military personne ...
(PAF), the
Swiss Armed Forces The Swiss Armed Forces (German: ''Schweizer Armee,'' French: ''Armée suisse,'' Italian: ''Esercito svizzero,'' Romansh: ''Armada svizra)'' operates on land and in the air, serving as the primary armed forces of Switzerland ,german: Schw ...
, the
Singapore Armed Forces The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is the military component of the Ministry of Defence (Singapore), Ministry of Defence of the Singapore, Republic of Singapore as part of the city-state's Total Defence strategy. The SAF has three services: the S ...
, the
Israel Defense Forces The Israel Defense Forces (IDF; he, צְבָא הַהֲגָנָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל ; ), commonly referred to by the Hebrew-language acronym ''Tzahal'' (), are the combined military forces of the Israel, State of Israel, consisting of t ...
(IDF), the
Swedish Armed Forces The Swedish Armed Forces ( sv, Försvarsmakten, "the Defense Force") is the Government agencies in Sweden, government agency that forms the armed forces of Sweden, tasked with the defense of the country as well as with promoting Sweden's wider int ...
, and the
New Zealand Defence Force New is an adjective referring to something recently made, discovered, or created. New or NEW may refer to: Music * New, singer of K-pop group The Boyz (South Korean band), The Boyz Albums and EPs * New (album), ''New'' (album), by Paul McCartn ...
, are different in not requiring a university degree for commissioning, although a significant number of officers in these countries are
graduates Graduation is the award of academic degree, or the ceremony that is sometimes associated with it. The date of the graduation ceremony is often called graduation day. The graduation ceremony is also sometimes called: commencement, convocation o ...

graduates
. In the Israel Defense Forces, a university degree is a requirement for an officer to advance to the rank of
lieutenant colonel Lieutenant colonel ( or ) is a rank of commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly orga ...

lieutenant colonel
and beyond. The IDF often sponsors the studies for its officers in the rank
major Major is a military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchical A hierarchy (from the Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are repre ...

major
, while
aircrew Aircrew, also called flight crew, are personnel who operate an aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle or machine that is able to fly Flies are insect Insects or Insecta (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belongi ...
and
naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically authorized a ...

naval
officers obtain academic degrees as a part of their training programmes.


United Kingdom

In the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
, there are three routes of entry for
British Armed Forces The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom ...
officers. The first, and primary route are those who receive their commission directly into the officer grades following completion at their relevant military academy. In the second method, an individual may gain their commission after first enlisting and serving in the junior ranks, and typically reaching one of the senior non-commissioned officer ranks (which start at
sergeant Sergeant ( ; abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; ...

sergeant
(Sgt), and above), as what are known as direct entry or DE officers (and are typically and informally known as an ex-ranker). The third route is similar to the second, in that they convert from an enlisted to a commission; but these are only taken from the highest ranks of SNCOs, and are known as 'late entry' or LE officers. LE officers, whilst holding the same Queen's commission, generally work in different roles from the DE officers. In the
infantry Infantry is an army specialization whose military personnel, personnel engage in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored warfare, armored forces. Also known as foot soldiers, infantrymen or infanteer, i ...

infantry
, a number of warrant officer class 1s are commissioned as LE officers. In the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
, commissioning for DE officers occurs after a 44-week course at the
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS or RMA Sandhurst), commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is one of several military academy, military academies of the United Kingdom and is the British Army's initial Commissioned officer, officer trai ...
for regular officers or the Army Reserve Commissioning Course, which consists of four two-week modules (A-D) for
Army Reserve A military reserve force is a military organization composed of citizen-soldiers of a country who combine a military role or career with a civilian career. They are not normally kept under arms Under arms describes a state of military readiness ...
officers. The first two modules may be undertaken over a year for each module at an
Officers' Training Corps The Officers' Training Corps (OTC), more fully called the University Officers' Training Corps (UOTC), are military leadership training units similar to a university club but operated by the British Army The British Army is the principal ...
, the last two must be undertaken at Sandhurst. For
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
and
Royal Air Force The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for th ...
officer candidates, a 30-week period at
Britannia Royal Naval College Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), commonly known as Dartmouth, is the naval academy A naval academy is a national institution that provides undergraduate-level education for prospective naval officers. Naval training commonly took place only ...

Britannia Royal Naval College
or a 24-week period at
RAF College Cranwell , colors = , colors_label = , march = The Lincolnshire Poacher , mascot = , battles = , notable_commanders = , identification_symbol = , identification_symbol_label = , anniversaries = The Royal Air Force College (RAFC) is the ...
, respectively.
Royal Marines The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is an amphibious Amphibious means able to use either land or water. In particular it may refer to: * ''Amphibious'' (film), a 2010 film * Amphibious aircraft An amphibious aircraft or amphibian is an airc ...
officers receive their training in the Command Wing of the
Commando Training Centre Royal Marines Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) is the principal military training centre for the Royal Marines. It is situated near the villages of Lympstone and Exton, Devon, Exton, between the city of Exeter, and the town of Exmouth in Devon. The ...
during a gruelling 15-month course. The courses consist of not only tactical and combat training, but also leadership, management, etiquette, and international affairs training. Until the
Cardwell Reforms The Cardwell Reforms were a series of reforms of the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 regular full-time ...
of 1871, commissions in the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
were purchased by officers. The Royal Navy, however, operated on a more meritocratic, or at least socially mobile, basis.


United States


Types of officers

Commissioned officers are considered commanding officers under presidential authority. A ''superior officer'' is an officer with a higher rank than another officer, who is a ''subordinate officer'' relative to the superior.
Non-commissioned officer A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not pursued a Commission (document), commission. Non-commissioned officers usually earn their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks. (Non-officers, which inclu ...
s (NCOs), to include U.S. Navy and Coast Guard petty officers and chief petty officers, in positions of
authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empiric ...

authority
can be said to have control or charge rather than command ''per se'' (although the word "command" is often used unofficially to describe any use of authority). These enlisted naval personnel with authority are officially referred to as officers-in-charge rather than commanding officers. Commissioned officers in the Armed Forces of the United States come from a variety of accessions sources:


Service Academies

*
United States Military Academy The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point or simply Army is a four-year United States service academy in West Point, New York West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United Stat ...
(USMA) (commissions 2nd lieutenants in the
U.S. Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water. The vast majority of human activity throughout history has occurred in land areas that support agriculture ...
) *
United States Naval Academy The United States Naval Academy (USNA, Annapolis, or simply Navy) is a federal service academy adjacent to Annapolis Annapolis ( ) is the capital of the U.S. state of , as well as the of . Situated on the at the mouth of the , south ...

United States Naval Academy
(USNA) (commissions both ensigns in the
U.S. Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = " Anchors Aweigh" ...
and 2nd lieutenants in the U.S. Marine Corps) *
United States Air Force Academy The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) is a military academy for officer cadets of the United States Air Force and United States Space Force immediately north of Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is the youngest of the five United States se ...
(USAFA) (commissions 2nd lieutenants in the
U.S. Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosphe ...

U.S. Air Force
and ) *
United States Coast Guard Academy The United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) is a service academy of the United States Coast Guard in New London, Connecticut. Founded in 1876, it is the smallest of the five United States service academies, U.S. service academies and provid ...
(USCGA) (commissions ensigns in the U.S. Coast Guard) *
United States Merchant Marine Academy The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA or Kings Point) is a United States service academy located in Kings Point, New York. It trains officers to serve in United States Merchant Marine, branches of the military, and the transportati ...
(USMMA) (commissions ensigns in the U.S. Navy Reserve; graduates may apply for active or reserve duty in any of the U.S. Armed Forces or the
NOAA Corps The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, known informally as the NOAA Corps, is one of eight federal uniformed services of the United States, and operates under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administr ...
and USPHS) Graduates of the
United States service academies The United States service academies, also known as the United States military academies, are federal academies for the undergraduate education and training of commissioned officers for the United States Armed Forces. There are five U.S. servic ...
attend their institutions for no less than four years and, with the exception of the USMMA, are granted active duty regular commissions immediately upon completion of their training. They make up approximately 20% of the U.S. armed forces officer corps.


Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC)

Officers in the U.S. Armed Forces may also be commissioned through the
Reserve Officers' Training Corps The Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) is a group of college- and university-based officer training programs for training commissioned officers of the United States Armed Forces. Overview While ROTC graduate officers serve in all branches ...
(ROTC). *
Army ROTC The Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (AROTC) is the United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elev ...
*
Naval ROTC The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program is a college-based, commissioned officer training program of the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. Origins A pilot Naval Reserve unit was established in September 1924 ...
(commissions both ensigns in the U.S. Navy and 2nd lieutenants in the U.S. Marine Corps) *
Air Force ROTC The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) is one of the three primary Commissioned officer, commissioning sources for officers in the United States Air Force and United States Space Force, the other two being the United States Air Fo ...

Air Force ROTC
(commissions 2nd lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force) ROTC is composed of small training programs at several hundred American colleges and universities. There is no Marine Corps ROTC program ''per se'', but there exists a Marine Corps Option for selected midshipmen in the Naval ROTC programs at civilian colleges and universities or at non-Federal military colleges such as
The Citadel The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, commonly known simply as The Citadel, is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is ...
and the
Virginia Military Institute Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is a Public university, public Senior Military College, senior military college in Lexington, Virginia. It was founded in 1839 as America's first state military college and is the oldest public senior military col ...
. The Coast Guard has no ROTC program, but does have a Direct Commission Selected School Program for military colleges such as The Citadel and VMI. Army ROTC graduates of the United States four junior military colleges can also be commissioned in the U.S. Army with only a 2-year associate degree through its
Early Commissioning Program Early Commissioning Program (ECP) is a U.S. Army ROTC program that allows graduates of one of the nation's four Military Junior Colleges (MJC) to become commissioned officers An officer is a member of an armed forces A military, also ...
, conditioned on subsequently completing a 4-year bachelor's degree from an accredited 4-year institution within a defined time.


Federal Officer Candidate Schools

College-graduate candidates (initial or prior-service) may also be commissioned in the U.S. Uniformed Services via Officer Candidate School, Officer Training School, or other programs: * Army OCS * Navy OCS * Marine Corps OCS *
Air Force Officer Training School Officer Training School (OTS) is a United States Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents tr ...
(OTS) * Coast Guard OCS *USPHS Officer Basic Course (OBC) *NOAA Corps Basic Officer Training Class (BOTC)


Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class (PLC)

A smaller number of Marine Corps officers may be commissioned via the Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) program during summers while attending college. PLC is a sub-element of Marine Corps OCS and college and university students enrolled in PLC undergo military training at Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in two segments: the first of six weeks between their sophomore and junior year and the second of seven weeks between their junior and senior year. There is no routine military training during the academic year for PLC students as is the case for ROTC cadets and midshipmen, but PLC students are routinely visited and their physical fitness periodically tested by Marine Corps Officer Selection Officers (OSOs) from the nearest Marine Corps officer recruiting activity. PLC students are placed in one of three general tracks: PLC-Air for prospective Marine
Naval Aviator Naval aviation is the application of Military aviation, military air power by Navy, navies, whether from warships that embark aircraft, or land bases. Naval aviation is typically projected to a position nearer the target by way of an aircraft c ...
s and Marine
Naval Flight Officer A naval flight officer (NFO) is a Officer (armed forces)#Terminological details in the U.S., commissioned officer in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps who specializes in airborne weapons and sensor systems. NFOs are not pilots ...
s; PLC-Ground for prospective Marine infantry, armor, artillery and combat support officers; and PLC-Law, for prospective Marine Corps judge advocate general officers. Upon graduation from college, PLC students are commissioned as active duty 2nd lieutenants in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, with the option to augment their commissions to the regular Marine Corps after five to ten years of commissioned service.


National Guard OCS

In addition to ROTC,
Army National Guard The Army National Guard (ARNG), in conjunction with the Air National Guard The Air National Guard (ANG), also known as the Air Guard, is a federal military reserve force of the United States Air Force The United States Air Force (USA ...
(ARNG) officers may also be commissioned through state-based Officer Candidate Schools. These schools train and commission college graduates, prior-servicemembers, and enlisted Guard soldiers specifically for the National Guard.
Air National Guard The Air National Guard (ANG), also known as the Air Guard, is a Reserve components of the United States Armed Forces, federal military reserve force of the United States Air Force, as well as the militia (United States), militia air force of eac ...

Air National Guard
officers without prior active duty commissioned service attend the same active duty
Officer Training School Officer Training School (OTS) is a United States Air Force and United States Space Force Officer (armed forces), commissioning program located at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Overview Officer Training School is a part of the ...
(OTS) at
Maxwell AFB Maxwell Air Force Base , officially known as Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, is a United States Air Force (USAF) installation under the Air Education and Training Command (AETC). The installation is located in Montgomery, Alabama, Montgomery, Alabam ...
, Alabama as do prospective active duty USAF officers and prospective direct entry
Air Force Reserve The Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) is a MAJCOM, major command (MAJCOM) of the United States Air Force, with its headquarters at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. It is the federal Air Reserve Component (ARC) of the U.S. Air Force, consisting of ...
officers not commissioned via
USAFA The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) is a military academy A military academy or service academy is an educational institution which prepares candidates for service in the officer corps. It normally provides education in a milita ...
or
AFROTC The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) is one of the three primary commissioning sources for officers in the United States Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, ...
.


Other commissioning programs

In the
United States Armed Forces The United States Armed Forces are the Military, military forces of the United States of America. The armed forces consists of six Military branch, service branches: the United States Army, Army, United States Marine Corps, Marine Corps, Uni ...

United States Armed Forces
, enlisted military personnel without a four-year
university degree A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in various Discipline (academia), academic d ...
at the bachelor's level can, under certain circumstances, also be commissioned in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard
Limited Duty Officer#REDIRECT Limited duty officer A limited duty officer (LDO) is an officer in the United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and go ...
(LDO) program. Officers in this category constitute less than 2% of all officers in those services. Another category in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are (CWO). These are specialist officers who do not require a bachelor's degree and are almost exclusively selected from the senior enlisted ranks (e.g., E-7 and above). The rank of Warrant Officer (WO1, also known as W-1) is an appointed rank by warrant from the respective branch secretary until promotion to Chief Warrant Officer (CWO2, also known as W-2) by presidential commission, and are entitled to the same customs and courtesies as commissioned officers. Their difference from line and staff corps officers is their focus as single specialty/military occupational field subject matter experts, though under certain circumstances they can fill command positions. The Air Force, which has discontinued their warrant officer program and has no LDO program, requires all commissioned officers to possess a
bachelor's degree A bachelor's degree (from Middle Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area ...
prior to commissioning.


Direct commission

Direct commission is another route to becoming a commissioned officer. Credentialed civilian
professional A professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns a living from a specified professional activity. The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowled ...
s such as
scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves ...

scientist
s,
pharmacist A pharmacist, also known as a chemist (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which ...

pharmacist
s,
physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English), medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a professional who practices medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintainin ...

physician
s,
nurse Nursing is a profession within the health care Healthcare is the maintenance or improvement of health Health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being Well-being, also known as ''wellness'', ''prudential value'' or ''qua ...

nurse
s,
clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established s. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's s and practices. Some of the terms used for ind ...
, and are directly commissioned upon entry into the military or another federal uniformed service. However, these officers generally do not exercise command authority outside of their specific branches (e.g., U.S. Army
Medical Corps A medical corps is generally a military branch or officer corps An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organ ...
; U.S. Navy
Judge Advocate General's Corps The Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG Corps) is the branch or specialty of a military concerned with military justice and military law. Officers serving in a JAG Corps are typically called ''judge advocates''. Only the chief attorney within e ...
, etc.). The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, known informally as the NOAA Corps, is one of eight federal uniformed services of the United States The United States The United States of America (USA), ...
exclusively use direct commission to commission their officers. In the past (
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
), industrial management expert
civilian Civilians under international humanitarian law are "persons who are not members of the armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War ...

civilian
s were also direct-commissioned to stand up
materiel Materiel or matériel (; ) refers to supplies, equipmentEquipment most commonly refers to a set of tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals u ...
production for the Armed Forces.


Discontinued U.S. officer commissioning programs

Although significantly represented in the retired senior commissioned officer ranks of the U.S. Navy, a much smaller cohort of current active duty and active Reserve officers (all of the latter being captains or flag officers as of 2017) were commissioned via the Navy's since discontinued Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) program for college graduates. AOCS focused on producing line officers for
Naval Aviation Naval aviation is the application of military air power by navies A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a Nation's armed forces principally designated for naval warfare, naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake-borne, ...

Naval Aviation
who would become
Naval Aviator Naval aviation is the application of Military aviation, military air power by Navy, navies, whether from warships that embark aircraft, or land bases. Naval aviation is typically projected to a position nearer the target by way of an aircraft c ...
s and
Naval Flight Officer A naval flight officer (NFO) is a Officer (armed forces)#Terminological details in the U.S., commissioned officer in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps who specializes in airborne weapons and sensor systems. NFOs are not pilots ...
s upon completion of flight training, followed by a smaller cohort who would become Naval Air Intelligence Officers and Aviation Maintenance Duty Officers. Designated as Aviation Officer Candidates (AOCs), individuals in the AOCS program were primarily non-prior military service college graduates, augmented by a smaller cohort of college-degreed active duty, reserve or former enlisted personnel. In the late 1970s, a number of
Air Force ROTC The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) is one of the three primary Commissioned officer, commissioning sources for officers in the United States Air Force and United States Space Force, the other two being the United States Air Fo ...
cadets and graduates originally slated for undergraduate pilot training (UPT) or undergraduate navigator training (UNT) lost their flight training slots either immediately prior to or subsequent to graduation, but prior to going on active duty, due to a post-Vietnam
reduction in force A layoff is the temporary suspension or permanent termination of employment of an employee or, more commonly, a group of employees (collective layoff) for business reasons, such as personnel management or downsizing (reducing the size of) an org ...
(RIF) that reduced the number of flying slots for
AFROTC The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) is one of the three primary commissioning sources for officers in the United States Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, ...
graduates by approximately 75% in order to retain flight training slots for
USAFA The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) is a military academy A military academy or service academy is an educational institution which prepares candidates for service in the officer corps. It normally provides education in a milita ...
cadets and graduates during the same time period. Many of these individuals, at the time all male, resigned their inactive USAF commissions and also attended AOCS for follow-on naval flight training. AOCs were active duty personnel in pay grade E-5 (unless having previously held a higher Active Duty or Reserve enlisted grade in any of the U.S. armed forces) for the duration of their 14-week program. Upon graduation, they were commissioned as ensigns in the then-
U.S. Naval Reserve The United States Navy Reserve (USNR), known as the United States Naval Reserve from 1915 to 2005, is the Reserve components of the United States Armed Forces, Reserve Component (RC) of the United States Navy. Members of the Navy Reserve, called re ...
on active duty, with the option to augment their commissions to the Regular Navy after 4 to 6 years of commissioned service. AOCS also included the embedded Aviation Reserve Officer Candidate (AVROC) and Naval Aviation Cadet (NAVCAD) programs. AVROC was composed of college students who would attend officer training in two segments similar to Marine Corps PLC, but would do so between their junior and senior year and again following college graduation, receiving their commission upon completion of the second segment. The NAVCAD program was in operation from 1935 through 1968 and again from 1986 through 1993. NAVCADs were enlisted or civilian personnel who had completed two years of college, but lacked bachelor's degrees. NAVCADs would complete the entire AOCS program, but would not be commissioned until completion of flight training and receiving their wings. After their initial operational tour, they could be assigned to a college or university full-time for no more than two years in order to complete their bachelor's degree. AVROC and NAVCAD were discontinued when AOCS was merged into OCS in the mid-1990s. Similar to NAVCAD was the Marine Aviation Cadet (MarCad) program, created in July 1959 to access enlisted Marines and civilians with at least two years of college. Many, but not all, MarCads attended enlisted "boot camp" at
Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island (often abbreviated as MCRD PI) is an military installation located within Port Royal, South Carolina, approximately south of Beaufort, South Carolina, Beaufort, the community that is typically associated ...
or
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot (commonly referred to as MCRD) San Diego is a United States Marine Corps military installation in San Diego, California. It lies between San Diego Bay and Interstate 5, adjacent to San Diego International Airport and the ...
, as well as the School of Infantry, before entering naval flight training. MarCads would then complete their entire flight training syllabus as cadets. Graduates were designated Naval Aviators and commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants on active duty in the Marine Corps Reserve. They would then report to
The Basic School The Basic School (TBS) is where all newly commissioned and appointed (for Warrant officer (United States), warrant officers) United States Marine Corps officers are taught the basics of being an "Officer of Marines". The Basic School is at Cam ...
(TBS) at
Marine Corps Base Quantico Marine Corps Base Quantico (commonly abbreviated MCB Quantico) is a United States Marine Corps installation located near Triangle, Virginia, covering nearly of southern Prince William County, Virginia, northern Stafford County, Virginia, Staff ...
prior to reporting to a Replacement Air Group (RAG)/Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) and then to operational Fleet Marine Force (FMF) squadrons. Like their NAVCAD graduate counterparts, officers commissioned via MarCad had the option to augment to the regular Marine Corps following four to six years of commissioned service. The MarCad program was closed to new applicants in 1967 and the last trainee graduated in 1968. Another discontinued commissioning program was the Air Force's Aviation Cadet program. Originally created by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1907 to train pilots for its then-fledgling aviation program, it was later used by the subsequent U.S. Army Air Service, U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Army Air Forces to train pilots, navigators, bombardiers and observers through World War I, the interwar period, World War II, and the immediate postwar period between September 1945 and September 1947. With the establishment of the
U.S. Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosphe ...
as an independent service in September 1947, it then became a source for USAF pilots and navigators. Cadets had to be between the ages of 19 and 25 and possess either at least two years of college/university level education or three years of a scientific or technical education. In its final iteration, cadets received the pay of enlisted pay grade E-5 and were required to complete all pre-commissioning training and flight training before receiving their wings as pilots or navigators and their commissions as 2nd lieutenants on active duty in the U.S. Air Force Reserve on the same day. Aviation cadets were later offered the opportunity to apply for a commission in the regular Air Force and attend a college or university to complete a 4-year degree. As the Air Force's AFROTC and OTS programs began to grow, and with the Air Force's desire for a 100% college-degreed officer corps, the Aviation Cadet program was slowly phased out. The last Aviation Cadet Pilot graduated in October 1961 and the last Aviation Cadet Navigators in 1965. By the 1990s, the last of these officers had retired from the active duty regular Air Force, the
Air Force Reserve The Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) is a MAJCOM, major command (MAJCOM) of the United States Air Force, with its headquarters at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. It is the federal Air Reserve Component (ARC) of the U.S. Air Force, consisting of ...
and the
Air National Guard The Air National Guard (ANG), also known as the Air Guard, is a Reserve components of the United States Armed Forces, federal military reserve force of the United States Air Force, as well as the militia (United States), militia air force of eac ...

Air National Guard
.


Commonwealth of Nations

In countries whose ranking systems are based upon the models of the
British Armed Forces The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom ...
(BAF), officers from the rank of
Second Lieutenant Second lieutenant is a junior Officer (armed forces), commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces, comparable to NATO OF-1a rank. Australia The rank of second lieutenant existed in the Colonial forces of Australia, military forces of ...
(army),
Sub-Lieutenant Sub-lieutenant is a junior military officer rank. In many navies, a sub-lieutenant is a naval commissioned or subordinate officer, ranking below a lieutenant. In the Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's Navy, naval war ...
(navy) or Pilot Officer (air force) to the rank of
General A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral zone in suppo ...

General
,
Admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer, general in ...

Admiral
or Air Chief Marshal respectively, are holders of a commission granted to them by the appropriate awarding authority. In
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
(UK) and other
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s, the awarding authority is the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, monarch (or a Governor General representing the monarch) as
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional ch ...
. The head of state often is granted the power to award commissions, or has commissions awarded in his or her name. In Commonwealth nations, commissioned officers are given commissioning scrolls (also known as commissioning scripts) signed by the wikt:sovereign#Noun, Sovereign or the Governor General acting on the monarch's behalf. Upon receipt, this is an official legal document that binds the mentioned officer to the commitment stated on the scroll. Non-commissioned members rise from the lowest ranks in most nations. Education standards for non-commissioned members are typically lower than for officers (with the exception of specialised military and highly-technical trades; such as aircraft, weapons or electronics engineers). Enlisted members only receive leadership training after they are promotion (rank), promoted to positions of responsibility, or as a prerequisite for such. In the past (and in some countries today but to a lesser extent), non-commissioned members were almost exclusively conscription, conscripts, whereas officers were volunteers. In certain Commonwealth nations, commissioned officers are made commissioner of oaths, commissioners of oaths by virtue of their office and can thus administer oaths or take affidavits or statutory declaration, declarations, limited in certain cases by rank or by appointment, and generally limited to activities or personnel related to their employment.


Warrant officers

In some branches of many armed forces, there exists a third grade of officer known as a warrant officer. In the armed forces of the United States, warrant officers are initially appointed by the Secretary of the service and then commissioned by the President of the United States upon promotion to chief warrant officer. In many other countries (as in the armed forces of the Commonwealth nations), warrant officers often fill the role of very senior non-commissioned officers. Their position is affirmed by Warrant (law), warrant from the bureaucracy directing the force—for example, the position of regimental sergeant major in regiments of the British Army is held by a warrant officer appointed by the British Government, British government. In the U.S. military, a warrant officer is a technically-focused subject matter expert, such as helicopter pilot or information technology specialist. There are no warrant officers in the
U.S. Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosphe ...
and the ; the USAF last warrant officers retired in the 1980s, and ranks became dormant. The USSF has not established any warrant officer ranks. All other U.S. Armed Forces have warrant officers, with warrant accession programs unique to each individual service's needs. Although Warrant Officers normally have more years in service than regular commissioned officers, they are below regular commissioned officers in the rank hierarchy. In certain instances, commissioned chief warrant officers can command units.


Non-commissioned officers

A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is an Enlisted rank, enlisted member of the armed forces holding a position of some degree of authority who has (usually) obtained it by advancement from within the non-commissioned ranks. Officers who are ''non-commissioned'' usually receive management and leadership training, but their function is to serve as supervisors within their area of trade specialty. Senior NCOs serve as advisers and leaders from the duty section level to the highest levels of the armed forces establishment, while lower NCO grades are not yet considered management specialists. The duties of an NCO can vary greatly in scope, so that an NCO in one country may hold almost no authority, while others such as the United States and the United Kingdom consider their NCOs to be "the backbone of the military" due to carrying out the orders of those officers appointed over them. In most maritime forces (navies and coast guards), the NCO ranks are called petty officers and chief petty officers while enlisted ranks prior to attaining NCO/petty officer status typically known as seaman, airman, fireman, or some derivation thereof. In most traditional infantry, marine and air forces, the NCO ranks are known as corporals and
sergeant Sergeant ( ; abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; ...

sergeant
s, with non-NCO enlisted ranks referred to as privates and airmen. However, some countries use the term ''commission'' to describe the promotion of enlisted soldiers, especially in countries with mandatory service in the armed forces. These countries refer to their NCOs as professional soldiers, rather than as officers.


Officer ranks and accommodation

Officers in nearly every country of the world are segregated from the enlisted soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen in many facets of military life. Facilities accommodating needs such as messing (i.e., mess hall or mess deck versus officers mess or wardroom), separate billeting/berthing, domiciles, and general recreation facilities (officer clubs versus NCO Clubs and CPO Clubs versus enlisted clubs) are separated between officers and enlisted personnel. This class system, historically correlated to socioeconomic status, is focused on discouraging fraternization and encouraging professional and ethical relations between officers and enlisted military personnel. Officers do not routinely perform physical labor; they typically supervise enlisted personnel doing so, either directly or via non-commissioned officers. Commissioned officers will and do perform physical labor when operationally required to do so, e.g., in combat. However, it would be very unusual for an officer to perform physical labor in garrison, at home station or in homeport. Article 49 of the Third Geneva Convention stipulates that even as prisoner of war, prisoners of war, commissioned officers cannot be compelled to work, and NCOs can only be given supervisory work.


See also

*Brevet (military) *Exchange officer *Foreign Service Officer *List of comparative military ranks *Mustang (military officer) *Officer (disambiguation) *Roving commission *STA-21 *Staff officer


References


External links


U.S. DoD Officer Rank Insignia
{{DEFAULTSORT:Officer (Armed Forces) Military officers, Military ranks Command and control