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Junior commissioned officer

Junior commissioned officer (JCO) is a group of military ranks which is higher than havildar (non-commissioned officer) and lower than lieutenant (commissioned officer). The term is only used by Nepal, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.[1] Senior havildars are promoted to JCO rank on the basis of merit and seniority, restricted by the number of vacancies.[2] JCOs are treated as a separate class and hold additional privileges. Primarily the term was associated with armies but since the 2000s India's and Pakistan's navies and air forces are using the term to indicate their chief petty officers and warrant officers.

The Indian Army has recruited Gurkha soldiers from Nepal since the 19th century and separate Gurkha regiments were created for them, the Gurkha soldiers got same ranks as other Indian soldiers; the modern Nepal Army officially used the Indian Army rank system for their soldiers in the 1960s through a series of reorganizations and the JCO term has been used by them from then.[3] After the secession of East Pakistan in 1971, the Bangladesh Army inherited the JCO rank system from the Pakistan Army though since the early 2000s the army has used the warrant officer terms.

The pay scale for Indian Naib Subedar, Subedar and Subedar major rank is pay levels 6, 7 and 8 (Respectively)


The JCO evolved from the viceroy's commissioned officers (VCOs), established in the Indian Army 1 during the British Raj in 1885. The VCOs themselves succeeded the so-called native officers holding a commission from the Governor General.[4] Gurkha regiments in British service had also their set of 'native officers' resp. VCOs, although their homeland Nepal was never a British colony.

Under the British, there was a clear colonial context, with the VCOs being the highest ranks an Indian could attain. The full commissioned officers were British, from the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century. However, that changed slowly under the principles of Indianisation. In 1905, a special form of a king’s Commission in His Majesty’s Native Land Forces was instituted. Indians who had qualified through the Imperial Cadet Corps would earn a commission that was limited to having authority over Indian troops only. Its holders could not rise above major. From 1917, in the midst of World War I, Indians 'with good family background' became eligible to study at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and earn a commission as King's Commissioned Indian Officer (KCIO).[5] By the time of independence in 1947, there were many Indian (and Pakistani) officers who had graduated from Sandhurst or the Indian Military Academy.


Rank group Junior commissioned officers
 Indian Army[6]
Infantry ranks Subedar Major Subedar Naib Subedar
Cavalry ranks Risaldar Major
रिसालदार मेजर
Naib Risaldar
नायब रिसालदार
 Indian Navy[7]
Master chief petty officer 1st class Master chief petty officer 2nd class Chief petty officer
 Indian Air Force[8]
Master warrant officer Warrant officer Junior warrant officer
Rank group Junior commissioned officers


Rank group Junior commissioned officers
 Pakistan Army[9]
Infantry ranks Subedar-major
صوبیدار میجر
Naib subedar
نائب صوبیدار
Cavalry ranks Risaldar major
رسالدار میجر
Naib risaldar
نائب رسالدار
 Pakistan Navy
Master chief petty officer
ماسٹر چیف پیٹی آفیسر
Fleet chief petty officer
فلیٹ چیف پیٹی آفیسر
Chief petty officer
چیف پیٹی آفیسر
 Pakistan Air Force
Chief warrant officer Warrant officer Assistant warrant officer
Rank group Junior commissioned officers

Honorary commissions

There is also a custom of giving honorary commissions to deserving JCOs. Every year a list of eligible JCOs is drawn up and honorary commissions awarded to them. This could be at the time of retirement, or when still in service. Honorary commissioned officers may wear the appropriate rank insignia, but they do not become members of the officers' mess. They do, however, receive the pay and pension of their honorary rank. The honorary ranks in the various forces are:

Indian Army:

Indian Navy:

Indian Air Force:

Generally, in official documents the JCO rank held by the person is also added before the Honorary Commission rank.


  1. ^ "Junior Commissioned Officers Are Gazetted Officers, Says Army". NDTV. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  2. ^ Kumar, M. K. Sunil (16 May 2012). "Rules of the Raj hindering havildars' promotion". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on September 5, 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  3. ^ "History - Nepali Army नेपाली सेना".
  4. ^ Stevenson, Richard (2015). Beatson's Mutiny. The Turbulent Career of a Victorian Soldier. London. New York: I.B.Tauris. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-784531-10-2.
  5. ^ Singh, Brigadier, Member of Parliament (retd) (14 December 2019). "How Indians rose up to be Officers". Retrieved 9 July 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "Indian Army Rank Badges". Indian Army. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  7. ^ "Ranks & Insignia". Join Indian Navy. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  8. ^ "For Airmen". Indian Air Force. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Pakistan Army Ranks with Salary and Insignia". Retrieved 27 May 2021.


  • Johnson, Rob (2014). The British Indian Army:Virtue And Necessity. India: Cambridge Scholars.
  • Singh, V. K. (2005). Leadership in the Indian Army: Biographies of Twelve Soldiers. India: SAGE Publishing India.
  • Nawaz, Shuja (2008). Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army and the Wars Within. Pakistan: Oxford University Press.
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Junior commissioned officer
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