Indian Military Ranks Discussion

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Indian Military Ranks Discussion

Postby Dartford » 26 Jun 2005 13:51

Are Junior Commissioned Officers an essential part of the modern Indian Armed Forces, or are they a relic of the British Empire?

Why does the Indian Army currently need JCOs when their original function - to act as an interface between British officers and Indian soldiers (before 1948) has disappeared.

Wouldn't the British style Warrant Officer (or Staff NCO in the US Army) better meed the needs of a modern army?

And doesn't the status of JCOs cause confusion when serving with other armed forces (e.g. UN)

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Postby Aditya G » 26 Jun 2005 19:27

The original role of JCOs has expanded from times of the Raj. They are now expected o take charge of small actions. JCOs can take charge of platoons and section size missions if a officer is not 'around', while the Indian officer necessarily commands a Company and upwards (IIRC).

They are now expected to be more than just a bridge and I do not think that the relevance of this role is completely irrelevant today.

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Postby Dartford » 26 Jun 2005 19:40

But if JCOs are platoon commanders how do new Lieutenants gain experience in the field?

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Postby Sachin » 27 Jun 2005 17:58

Another reason I have heard is that, it is these ranks which offer some sort of a better pay and perks for an ordinary jawan/soldier. If these ranks are removed, the promotion prospects would stop at the rank of Havildar (and there would be tough competition to reach that rank too).

I feel for UN based postings, JCOs would be at par at the Warrant Officer ranks. The Indian Air Force has the warrant officer ranks, and a Subedar Major in Indian Army is equivalent to a Master Warrant Officer in Air Force. My guess is that the duties which JCOs do would be some thing similar to what a RSM or RQMS would be doing. In the Indian Army there existed the ranks of Regimental Havildar Major and Regimental Quarter Master Havildar, but these ranks are slowly getting replaced with those duties being actually done by JCOs - Subedar Adjutant, and Naib Subedar Quarter Master.

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Postby Aditya G » 27 Jun 2005 20:25

New Indian Express

Short on men, IAF to promote JCOs instead
Saturday November 1 2003 00:00 IST

NEW DELHI: With its officer cadre dwindling and fewer people joining the services, the Indian Air Force has decided to look inwards.

In the past six months, the IAF has closed doors on short service commission officers, bid goodbyes to those willing to leave and started a survey that would be path-breaking in its recent history.

While the sceptics sniggered and a spate of MiG-21s crashed, Air Chief S. Krishnaswamy ordered a survey, took a closer look at the Warrant Officers in the IAF and lobbied with the Government to ensure that those willing to leave would be allowed to do so. "We said our thank yous and bid our goodbyes."

The nine-month survey looked at the qualifications of the airmen closely. "We were amazed to find 400 graduates, some even PhDs with brilliant records," says Krishnaswamy.

After further selection tests, the IAF sent 17 Warrant Officers to officer school for training before being commissioned. In fact, the IAF has managed to substantially cut down on its officer-shortage while, at the same time, making it easier for those who would like to quit.

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Postby Jagan » 27 Jun 2005 20:43

I guess it is rather encouraging for the rankers to see avenues to become an officer. earlier, the airmen had the option to try for commissions but only after writing the requisite examinations and going thru the SSB selection proecedure.

I wonder how the new system is different.

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Postby Dartford » 27 Jun 2005 23:53

So the Subedar Major now carries out the role of the Regimental Havildar Major. In the British Gurkha Regiments, the Queens Gurkha Officers (equivalent to JCOs) are an intermediate rank between the Commissioned Officers and the WOs (CSM and RSM), but regarded as Officers nevertheless. The ranks are Lieutenant (QGO), Captain (QGO) and Major (QGO). The latter is equivalent in rank to the Subedar Major.


You would hope the Indian Air Force would have policies in place to identify talented airmen on a regular basis and give them the opportunity to become an officer. The comments expressed: "We were amazed to find 400 graduates, some even PhDs with brilliant records," suggest otherwise.

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Postby Jagan » 28 Jun 2005 00:08

Dartford wrote:So the Subedar Major now carries out the role of the Regimental Havildar Major. In the British Gurkha Regiments, the Queens Gurkha Officers (equivalent to JCOs) are an intermediate rank between the Commissioned Officers and the WOs (CSM and RSM), but regarded as Officers nevertheless. The ranks are Lieutenant (QGO), Captain (QGO) and Major (QGO). The latter is equivalent in rank to the Subedar Major.



It would be wrong to say that theSubedar Major is doing therole of the Regimental Havaldar Major. What exactly are the duties of an RHM? Surely he doesnot do all that a SM would be doing?

The SM rank carries the prestige and weight that a RHM can never carry. He is the senior most rank of the JCOs and wears the Ashok emblem - if it wasn't for his stripe, he would be a Major.. ;) -

Being a JCO means you are saluted by all other ranks . There is only one SM in the entire battallion and usually the CO consults him for all major decisions regarding the men..

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Postby Priyank » 28 Jun 2005 00:13

On a related note, what are honorary commissions in the IA?

Eg (from pararegt.org) : Sub Maj (Hony Lt) Roshan Lal 9 PARA (SF)

Subedars and Subedar Majors (or is it Subedars Major? :)) seem to be appointed to the ranks of honorary Lieutenants and honorary Captains. How are these ranks different from a regular Lieutenant or Captain and how is a honorary commission different from a regular commission?

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Postby Dartford » 28 Jun 2005 00:43

Jagan

You'll have to forgive my ignorance on the matter. The first sentence of my previous post should have had a question mark after it. The reason I made the comparison was that a previous post suggested JCOs carried out a similar role to RSMs and RQMSs.

The Regimental Sergeant Major (WO1) in the British Army is the senior non-commissioned rank responsible for advising the Commanding Officer on issues relating to WOs,NCOs and soldiers. He is also responsible for discipline in the regiment. Is this the same role that the Subedar Major has? In general, WOs in the British Armed Forces are being given more responsibility than previously. They can now take part as members of Court Martials.

On the issue of Honourary Commissions, Queens Gurkha Officers in the British Army can also receive these.

What puzzles me though, is why the JCOs in the Army are saluted but those in the Navy (Chief Petty Officers) aren't. Strange when both have the same rank.

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Postby Jagan » 28 Jun 2005 00:45

Priyank wrote:Eg (from pararegt.org) : Sub Maj (Hony Lt) Roshan Lal 9 PARA (SF)

Subedars and Subedar Majors (or is it Subedars Major? :)) seem to be appointed to the ranks of honorary Lieutenants and honorary Captains. How are these ranks different from a regular Lieutenant or Captain and how is a honorary commission different from a regular commission?


They dont get paid - but otherwise they wear the Lt and Capt rank badges. (No stripe designating subedar) - and are welcome to the regular officers mess. Usually these folks get the honorary commissions in the last year/s of thier service - some of them after retirement.

There are also Honorary JCO commissions for the NCOs.. ex a Havaldar can become a Hony Subedar , or a Hony Naib Subedar etc..

Honorary ranks go all the way upto General. Some Vice Chancellors and Principals of college are given hony ranks. I heard about a Principal of a Veterinary college who was a Hony Colonel. There was a civilian PRO who was a hony brigadier. Almost all Nepalese Army Chiefs who visit new delhi are appointed as Hony General of the Indian Army (and vice versa -Indian COAS who visit nepal become Hony Gen of the RNA).

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Postby Jagan » 28 Jun 2005 00:59

I am led to think (by the information in my cadets book :P) that the terms as Battallion Havaldar Major and Coy QM Havaldar in the Indian Army are just 'appointments' not ranks. So a BHM in one unit who goes to another unit, will relinquish the appointment and go to the new unit as just a Havaldar. Ditto with the CQMHs etc... Someone who knows better might confirm or dismiss this.

the system of JCOs is unique to the Indian Army . They have all the trappings of a commisioned rank but yet are junior to the regular commissioned officers. A legacy of the british wanting to give officer recognition to the indians at the same time keeping them 'different' from the regular commisioned officers.. I read that the IA at one point of time tried to get rid of this system but had to revert back to the older system when it did not work out properly.

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Postby Priyank » 28 Jun 2005 01:13

Jagan,

So would I be right to assume that JCOs who have a honorary commission as a Lieutenant/Captain or NCOs who have a honorary commission as a JCO have no combat role in their honorary ranks and that it is a purely ceremonial thing?

One more question, now that you or some other Admin has changed the title of the thread to include all ranks.

Why was the rank of 2nd Lieutenant dropped? What were the problems in having a 2nd Lt and how did removing that rank rectify matters? Who now picks up the workload and role of a 2nd Lt in both peacetime and in combat? I have asked this question before but have never got a satisfactory answer.

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Postby Dartford » 28 Jun 2005 01:18

Regimental Sergeant Major in the British Army is an appointment too, but in the permanent rank of Warrant Officer Class One.

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Postby Balwan » 28 Jun 2005 06:39

Using Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) is not just unique to Indian Army. US Marines and Army have started to use JCO's as designation to seperate boys from men (NCO's). In fact they also have been using JCO designation.
One way Indian Army can reduce the shortage of Officers is to give Commission to JCO's. These JCO's have alot of experience in real life they are trained over years to lead their men, If Commission is opened for these fine Young Professionals, you can make the best use of trained personal. What better way to motivate young enlisted men to look for brighter future.It will reduce training cost in grooming these JCO to look at bigger picture from officers point of view. Who knows may be there is real warrior soldier officer hiding in them.
Since they come from enlisted training regimen they will have far better understanding, stronger camaraderie with them.

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Postby Sachin » 28 Jun 2005 10:58

Dartford,
So the Subedar Major now carries out the role of the Regimental Havildar Major.

Need not neccessarily be. He is more like a father figure for all the enlisted men, and generally the CO consults him in matters of regimental traditions and matters which have an impact on enlisted men.

But other duties like say passing the daily orders, the Subedar Major need not be present. It is a small parade in which the Adjutant, the Subedar Adjutant and the Company Havildar Majors fall in. The CHMs report to SA, and he inturn reports to the Adjutant and the orders gets issued. The Subedar Major would not be in attendance. So the RHM's duties are delegated to the Subedar Adjutant. The RQMH's tasks have been delegated to the Naib Subedar Quarter Master.

Priyank,Jagan,
How are these ranks different from a regular Lieutenant or Captain and how is a honorary commission different from a regular commission?

AFAIK, Honorary Commissioned Officers generally do not goto the Officer's mess. They how ever would be wearing the rank insignia of the honorary rank. They would be still part of the JCOs mess. On retirement their pension etc. would be based on the honorary rank held by them.

Some Vice Chancellors and Principals of college are given hony ranks.

The rule is that Vice Chancellors are honorary colonels. We had a dumb looking Vice Chancellor, who looked pathetic in uniform. But he was wearing the khakhi uniform, and his shoulder stripes had the NCC insignia (it was quite easy to understand that he was NOT a regular full colonel).

will relinquish the appointment and go to the new unit as just a Havaldar. Ditto with the CQMHs etc.

You are correct. The ranks of CQMH and CHM are at the COs descretion. For this rank, they recieve a small allowance known as appointment pay. These ranks are given on vacancies, and if there is none a CHM would go back to the unit as a Havildar only. The other appointments I guess would be the Subedar Adjutant, Nb Sub Quarter Master etc. It is just that in a particular unit they might work as a SA, but if he moves out he becomes a Subedar (with may be some other appointment).

Balwan,
In fact they also have been using JCO designation.

I don't think so. I have heard the term SNCOs (Senior NCO) in the US Army which consists of the umpteen level of Sergeants (First Sergeant, Master Sergeant etc. etc.) they have above the rank of the three chevron Sergeant. The US Army also has the rank of Warrant Officers, which it seems is given to specialists on a particular trade.

One way Indian Army can reduce the shortage of Officers is to give Commission to JCO's.

One of the problems in this is the educational standards. Some of the JCOs come from very rural backgrounds, and the education level may be not upto the mark. Putting them on higher level courses may be problematic for them. How ever this problem would go as the nation's educational standards go up.

Interestingly our CO in the local NCC unit was a Lt.Colonel from the Grenadiers, but he began his service as a MT Driver in the EME. He appeared for the SSB when in service, and then got his commission.

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Postby Aditya G » 28 Jun 2005 20:56

One of the problems in this is the educational standards. Some of the JCOs come from very rural backgrounds, and the education level may be not upto the mark. Putting them on higher level courses may be problematic for them. How ever this problem would go as the nation's educational standards go up.


In this regard (AFAIK) the IAF and IN are much better off than the Army. Unlike the Army, the officers are the only fighting arm of the IAF (except for Garuds and SAM batteries). Given the technical nature of their jobs, airmen acquire a lot more techincal education, and the instruction has to be in English given the nature of the subject. There are openings for Graduates and even Post Graduates for airmen:

http://careerairforce.nic.in/career_opp ... duate.html

The Indian Air Force offers post graduates a challenging career as an Education Instructor in the Group ‘X’ Non-Technical trades. After you have cleared our initial selection procedure, you go through a rigorous training regimen at the training institute. Thereafter, you are inducted and posted as a Sergeant at any of the Air Force Stations.

As you grow in your rank, depending on your suitability and inclination, you can move to specialised areas or get commissioned as an officer in the Air Force.

As an Education Instructor, you will be a part of Combatant Group 'X'. You will be responsible for conducting classes and examinations and also undertaking maintenance and administration of libraries, information rooms and schools.

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Postby Aditya G » 28 Jun 2005 21:07

They dont get paid - but otherwise they wear the Lt and Capt rank badges.

Hmm, I thought a army Lt. is actually paid less salary than his JCOs. This is due to the sarkari system in India where pay increases with service years.

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Postby Dartford » 28 Jun 2005 23:48

The US Warrant Officers are probably the closest in terms of status to JCOs. However they are members of the Officers Mess and the Chief Warrant Officers receive full Commissions, unlike JCOs.

And on a similar vein, are JCOs members of the Officers or SNCOs mess when serving with other armed forces (e.g. UN)?

And do the Indian Armed Forces publish a list of corresponding ranks for the US and British Armed Forces?

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Postby Balwan » 29 Jun 2005 04:14

Putting them on higher level courses may be problematic for them. How ever this problem would go as the nation's educational standards go up.

Sachin
I disagree to some extent on this premise. Higher level courses may or may not be problematic if taught in the language they understand. Greatest quality of a training instructor is, "How you explain the most technical things in such simple method that a 5 yr old can understand". This mantra was taught to me and ever since then I have been using it with exceptional success. Similar problem is faced by US Army here where enlisted man coming from rural america are taught newer systems that need far advanced IT knowledge. But with patience and proven teaching & training methods we are achieving marvelous success.

It can be done in India also, but again, there are so many Psuedo English speakers that even I can't understand their english when they come here for training.

Few years ago there was this Col who was here on advance courses, Honest to god he spoke english with supersonic speed and god awful accent even I had serious problems understanding him forget about American's. When I asked him to slow down and enunciate more, he got very upset and accused us all of hypocrisy. Within 24 hours he was bid adieu from training. He left such a sour taste, now if any Indian officers come to US we have to hire translators for them.

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Postby Sachin » 29 Jun 2005 10:32

Dartford,
And on a similar vein, are JCOs members of the Officers or SNCOs mess when serving with other armed forces (e.g. UN)?

In one of the documents which briefs about the Republic Day celebrations (held at New Delhi), it was clearly mentioned that there would NOT be a JCO mess functioning in the area where the troops are camping for the parade. The JCOs would have to goto the NCO mess. So we can presume the same would be the case in the UN too. But don't know whether an Indian Army Unit posted on UN duties would be sharing the camp premises with other nation's units. May be if the Indian Army unit has a seperate living area, there could be a mess provided for the JCOs alone.

In the Air Force, there is only an SNCO mess for NCOs above a Sergeant right upto the Master Warrant Officer.

Balwan,
I disagree to some extent on this premise. Higher level courses may or may not be problematic if taught in the language they understand.

I do agree with your view point. But if the subject is highly technical in nature, the course materials might be in English, which these people may not be able to grasp properly. But AFAIK, in subjects which are not technical (like say accounts etc.), JCOs have functioned well. Like there are Subedar Clerks etc. etc.

Another point is that JCO promotions are on time scale and also based on the reports of his superiors. His educational qualifications might not be having high weightage at all. So only a limited set of JCOs may be actually fit for very specialised courses. Compare this with US Warrant Officers who are specialists from day one.

But things are not all that bad, and many of the courses are actually done in Hindi (may be they translate all the course materials etc.), and it is working too. But when compared to say the Air Force and Navy, the technical learning skills of men in the Army might be less.

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JCO compared to Polish WO (Chorazy) corps

Postby member_7401 » 30 Jun 2005 05:18

First of all as I am a new member I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Zdzislaw, I am from Poland and I am one of the editors of www.uniforminsignia.net and one of the moderators of the forum (forum.uniforminsignia.net)
I was looking for informations regarding rank structure in Indian armed forces and was redirected to this forum, which I found very informative.

Let me say some words about the WO corps in Polish armed forces. This separate corps was created in 1972 (if I remember the date correctly) and was designated as a separate corps located between NCOs and officers. However they joined officer's mess and were saluted by all lower ranks. The background of the corps was the rank of "chorazy" from 1920's which was rank "in-between" officers and NCOs.
In Poland there were some WO schools which were equivalent to the public secondary schools. This was a separate way of military career. No WO can rich officer's rank (except some special occasions) and no NCO could be promoted to WOrank.
Lately (in 2004) there were some changes. Some of the WO ranks were abolished (remained for the promoted, but no further promotions will be done). But what is more important - all WO ranks will be now treated as the senior NCO ranks. I have no idea about the "mess privilegues".
However during my service days (1980) there were only two different mess services - those for conscript and those for career (however I was conscripted after university degree and had a rank of "sergeant, reserve officers candidate" and had all the carreer privilegues)

Question is - is the JCO corps similar to the Polish (or Americans) WO corps?

Regards to all old members
Zdzislaw

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Postby Pennathur » 30 Jun 2005 07:52

Isn't the Sub.Major always addressed as Saab by everyone including the Officers?

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Postby Sachin » 30 Jun 2005 08:31

Zdzislaw,
Question is - is the JCO corps similar to the Polish (or Americans) WO corps?

I don't think JCOs can be compared with Polish WO Corps. First of all, unlike in Poland we don't have an instituition (like schools) which is specially for JCOs. Every JCO first joins as an NCO, and gets promoted. And JCOs can also be promoted to an officer (an honorary commission), and get some privileges. JCOs can at the most be compared with Senior NCO ranks of some other Armies. And JCOs in India have a seperate mess, and generally are not part of Officer's mess.

Pennathur,
Isn't the Sub.Major always addressed as Saab by everyone including the Officers?

Not only the Subedar Major, but every JCO is addressed as Saab by every one (including officers). I have heard that even President of India addresses them in a similar manner. And Warranted Ranks of Air Force are always addressed as Sir.

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Postby Dartford » 30 Jun 2005 15:51

As previously mentioned, Polish WOs are now part of the NCO corps with the appropriate NATO ranks (OR8 and OR9), the same as the British Armed Forces WO2 and WO1 ranks

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_Arm ... k_insignia

All US WOs however have the status of full officers and are members of the Officers Mess (or Club).

The JCOs in the Indian Army at least, appear to have a status somewhere between the two, but it's difficult to pin them down because India isn't a member of NATO.

And Indian Warrant Officers in the Air Force are addressed in exactly the same way as WOs and Master Aircrew are in the RAF, and occupy the same mess as they would in the RAF (i.e. SNCO mess), which suggests they occupy much the same position in the military hierarchy as WOs in the RAF do.

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Postby Sachin » 01 Jul 2005 11:57

Dartford,
And Indian Warrant Officers in the Air Force are addressed in exactly the same way as WOs and Master Aircrew are in the RAF, and occupy the same mess as they would in the RAF (i.e. SNCO mess), which suggests they occupy much the same position in the military hierarchy as WOs in the RAF do.

I guess this was because the Air Force is a pretty recent fighting force, so the British just modelled the Royal Indian Air Force as the Royal Air Force of that time. The only change I am aware was that at the very start, we only had Master Warrant Officers and Warrant Officers. Below that was the Flight Sergeant known as Chiefie. But now this rank seems to have been removed, and a Warranted Rank of Junior Warrant Officer added to the list.

Since you seem to have knowledge on the US NCO ranks, can you put down a list which shows the equivalent ranks of JCOs/NCOs of Indian Army and the SNCOs/NCOs of the US Army?

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Postby Dartford » 02 Jul 2005 01:10

Try this:

Private(US) -Sepoy (Ind) - Private (UK)
Private 1st Class(US) - no equivalent Ind and UK
No equivalent (US) - Lance Naik(Ind) - Lance Corporal (UK)
Specialist - no equivalent Ind and UK
Corporal(US) - Naik(Ind) - Corporal(UK)
Sergeant(US) - Havildar (Ind)- Sergeant (UK)
Staff Sergeant(US) - no equivalent
Sergeant 1st Class (US)- CQMH (Ind) - Staff Sergeant (UK)
Master Sergeant/1st Sergeant (US) - CHM (Ind) - WO2(UK)
Sergeant Major/Command Sergeant
Major (US) - RHM (Ind)-WO1 (UK)

Naib Subedar(Ind)- Lieutenant (Queens Gurkha Officer) (UK)
Subedar (Ind) - Captain (QGO) (UK)
Subedar Major (Ind) - Major (QGO) UK)

Of course this comparison doesn't show that a British Corporal and a US Staff Sergeant are both section commanders.

The Gurkha Major is the equivalent of the Subedar Major - QGOs and JCOs both originate from Viceroy Commissioned Officers.
Both very roughly equate to US Warrant Officers in status if not in function.
Last edited by Dartford on 02 Jul 2005 01:21, edited 1 time in total.


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