Officer (armed forces)

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An officer is a member of an armed force or in some cases uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position. Commissioned officers are typically the only persons, in a military environment, able to act as the commanding officer (according to the most technical definition of the word) of a military unit.[1] A superior officer is an officer with a higher rank than another officer.

Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in positions of authority can be said to have control or charge rather than command per se, although the use of the word "command" to describe any use of authority is widespread and often official.

Having officers is one requirement for combatant status under the laws of war, though these officers need not have obtained an official commission or warrant. In such case, those persons holding offices of responsibility within the organization are deemed to be the officers, and the presence of these officers connotes a level of organization sufficient to designate a group as being combatant.


Commissioned officers

Commissioned officers generally receive training as leadership and management generalists, in addition to training relating to their specific military occupational specialty or function in the military. 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 (e.g. the battlefield commission). Many advanced militaries require university degrees as a prerequisite for commissioning, even from the enlisted ranks.

The Australian Defence Force, the British Armed Forces, Nepal Army, the Pakistani Armed Forces (except the Pakistan Air Force), the Swiss Army, the Singapore Armed Forces, the Israel Defense Forces and the New Zealand Defence Force are different in not requiring a university degree for commissioning. They emphasise military, technical and leadership training and skills over academic qualifications, although a majority of officers in some of these militaries are now graduates.[citation needed] In the Israel Defense Forces, a university degree is a requirement for an officer to advance to a Lt. Colonel rank. The IDF often sponsors the studies for its Majors. In the Pakistani Army all officers are by definition graduates, since in Pakistan, officer training is recognized as the equivalent of a Pakistani bachelor's degree.[citation needed]

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