Talk:Non-commissioned officer

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Merge discussion for Sub-Officer[edit]

Information.svg An article that you have been involved in editing, Sub-Officer, has been proposed for a merge with another article. If you are interested in the merge discussion, please participate by going to the article and clicking on the (Discuss) link at the top of the article, and adding your comments on the discussion page. Thank you. Korporaal1 (talk) 09:18, 18 February 2011 (UTC) Please note that this Merge Discussion is not present on the Sub-Officer Talk Page because that page is protected with the Cascading Option. So we can only discuss it here for now.

Canadian Warrant Officers[edit]

By what definition are Canadian WOs and MWOs (PO1s and CPO2s in the Navy) classified as 'Warrant Officers'? Since they don't actually receive a 'Warrant', how does their status actually differ from a NCO? As far as I'm aware, only CWOs and Navy CPO1s satisfy a strict definition of a 'Warrant Officer' i.e. they receive a 'Warrant' on appointment. --LONDON 10:27, 08 December 05

They do in fact receive a formal Warrant from the Minister of National Defence. Geoff NoNick 15:08, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Last time I read the regs, only CWO/CPO1 received the "warrant scrip", the NCM version of the commissioning scroll. While all commissioned officers get the scroll, only the top NCM rank gets the scrip; might be a holdover from when Army WO1s were sort of in a twilight zone between the Other Ranks and the officers. Despite this, the WOs/PO1s and MWOs/CPO2s are indeed "warrant officers". NCOs are defined by QR&Os as basically just corporals and sergeants. There are certain privileges that WOs and above get, for example with regard to discipline, appointments, etc; other than that, I'm not sure there is the same distinction between Warrant Officers and NCOs as there is between say NCMs and Officers, or between Privates and NCOs.
It almost seems that since:
1. they aren't NCOs, according to QR&Os;
2. they aren't Officers (ditto);
3. the original ranks after unification had the words "warrant officer" in them;
4. they hang out at the Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess;
they must therefore be Warrant Officers. And no, I'm being neither facetious nor sarcastic.
That being said, the "strict definition of a warrant officer" from a dictionary or what have you has no relevance in the CF: The CF can and will come up with its own definition of what constitutes a "real" warrant officer. Sort of in the same way they slap "HMCS" on the side of a building and call it a ship, stick 30 or less men in kilts and call it a highland regiment, or take a unit full of Iltises and call it an armoured regiment. --SigPig 06:10, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Noncommissioned officer vs noncommissioned member[edit]

The entry for Canada, as it stands at this moment (19:21, 12 October 2005 (UTC)), is incorrect. There are no such thin in the CF as "Jr NCMs" or "Sr NCMs" - those have no official status. NCMs are what Canadians call "enlisted" (US) or "other ranks" (UK). They are divided into 3 groups:

  • Warrant Officers, which include Warrant Officers (yes, I know it's redundant), Master Warrant Officers, Chief Warrant Officers; and their naval equivs (PO1, CPO2, and CPO1).
  • Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), further subdivided into Sr NCOs (Sgt/PO2) and Jr NCOs (MCpl/MS and Cpl/LS)
  • Privates, which are Private Recruit, Private Basic, Private Trained, Ordinary Seaman, and Able Seaman.

This division is the one that is most germaine to this article.

Ptes, Cpls, MCpls, and all Seaman are collectively termed "Junior Ranks". Sgt to CWO with PO2 to CPO1 are termed "Warrant Officers and Sergeants" or "Chiefs and Petty Oficers" (navy). Check out the names of the messes on any CF establishment, you'll see what their called.

This division generally deals with messing, billets and quarters, and some duties and responsibilities.

Unless someone can come up with a good reason othewise, I'm going to revert it, without the comment on messes, since it really isn't applicable, tho' it might be in an article on messes. SigPig 19:21, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

In 10 years in the CF I have never heard anyone refer to a corporal as an NCO, junior or otherwise. They have always been called NCMs, which is the collective for Jr Ranks and NCOs. My background is naval, but I have had enough exposure to the army to know that the nomenclature described in the article now isn't accurate there either. It's possible that there is an official document that describes Corporals and MCpls as "Jr NCOs" - if you can produce it, we can keep the entry as is but with a caveat that that use is very uncommon in daily speech. If not, we should kill the Canada entry altogether since the use doesn't seem to deviate signifcantly from that described in the main entry. Geoff NoNick 20:48, 12 October 2005 (UTC)
"Non-Commissioned Member (NCM): Any person, other than an officer, who is enrolled in, or who pursuant to law is attached or seconded otherwise than as an officer to, the Canadian Forces.
"Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO): A Canadian Forces member holding the rank of Sergeant (Sgt) or Corporal (Cpl)." QR&O 1.02 [[1]]
It may be uncommon usage in the Navy - I wouldn't know - but it seemed common enough with us landlubbers, especially when dealing with GSK on recruit courses. I've taught this to recruits and as part of GSK refresher trg. AND you need to know the distinction when the SSM says he wants a meet with all the Sr NCOs and WOs at 2200, or when the CO wants to see the PERs on the NCOs done by a certain date.
With regards to ditching it - the main article states: "The NCO corps includes all the grades of sergeant and, in some militaries, corporal and warrant officer. The naval equivalent includes all grades of petty officer." There is enough difference to warrant (pardon the pun) an entry for the CF.
1. In some militaries, [it includes] Corporal.... Since Canada is one, it deserves a mention.
2. ...and Warrant Officer. Not in Canada: a WO is a WO is a WO.
3. It includes all grades of petty officer. This is not true in Canada. Only the PO2 is an NCO; the PO1 is a warrant officer.
I think there is reason enough to leave the Canada bit, and I honestly do not think there needs to be a caveat, unless you want to state that the terms are rare in the Navy.
SigPig 03:16, 13 October 2005 (UTC)
I'll be damned - I stand corrected. The customary (and I would say exclusive) use in the navy is that all Jr Ranks are not NCOs and that all Petty Officers are (PO1s and up hold a warrant, but they are still "non-commissioned"). I'll add the caveat to the article. Geoff NoNick 14:14, 13 October 2005 (UTC)
I think the problem is the whole unification thing; I now believe that "NCO" was a hard army term foisted on the Navy (along with green uniforms and collar dogs), and was probably discarded with same. SigPig 02:09, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
The Royal Navy certainly doesn't use the term NCO, so presumably the RCN didn't. Leading seamen and below are Junior Ratings; petty officers and above are Senior Ratings. -- Necrothesp 12:47, 14 October 2005 (UTC)

"marine" vs. "Marine"[edit]

Historically in the U.S., all incidences of the word "Marine" are capitalized, even when not preceding a proper name. I was under the impression that this was observed in reference to other nations with Marine units, as well, but I have no information on that at this time. I have reverted the word to its capitalized form in this article, based on the Associated Press style, U.S. Government and Department of Defense reporting style and for uniformity across Wikipedia pages. Note that there does not seem to be a universal concensus on this issue and that very few style manuals address it specifically. In this case, I found the sources for capitalization to outweigh those against.

--Fox1 12 Oct 2004

  • It's not the practice in Britain, as far as I know (except when used as a rank before a name, obviously - it's the equivalent to private in the Royal Marines). And this article is about the armed forces of all nations, not just the US. It looks very odd to me to have that capitalised and not the others. For that reason, I vote we revert to lower case. -- Necrothesp 15:43, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
    • The word is also capped fairly uniformly in reference to Republic of Korea Marines and UK Royal Marines (usage of the word without the leading "Royal" and proper noun status seem very hard to find, but are capped when found). --Fox1 12 Oct 2004
      • Re: Royal Marines: Well, yes, but only if you refer to "the Marines". If you just referred to "a marine" it would be in lower case, just as "a soldier" would be (but "the Army" would often be capitalised). The organisation itself is, but a member of that organisation isn't. However, you're right that the commonest term is "Royal Marine", which would be capitalised since it's an abbreviated term for the whole organisation. The BBC doesn't capitalise the term, even when it probably should. See the first paragraph of this article. -- Necrothesp 16:25, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
    • I understand that, and the New York Times uses lowercase as well. Royal Marine publications themselves, and other Marine-related organizations such as the Royal Marine Museum use the capitalized version. Historically this practice was used to differentiate naval infantry from the general term "marine" in reference to all things nautical. I would suspect that the difference is largely due to journalistic ignorance of military history and custom, rather than a concious decision, in much the same way that news sources often incorrectly use the word "soldier" to refer to Marines or armed servicemembers in general. --Fox1 12 Oct 2004
      • Well, as I said, as someone who's certainly not ignorant of British military history or custom, I wouldn't capitalise it when used in this way. The trouble is that when written like this it makes the 'Marine' sound superior to the other service personnel. Marines may believe this, but I don't think others would necessarily agree. -- Necrothesp 18:00, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
    • Well, as I said, the root of the practice was utilitarian, not really honorific. Persons on both sides have interpreted it to be a sort of superlative since then, though, that's true.
      In any event, while it could be declared a trifling detail, I'm not sure what to say... there's evidence available for both practices, with no definitive source immediately available. I wish we could get some more input, as I'm not sure what the two of us can really do at this point. Fox1 18:42, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
      • Yup. Agreed. I don't disagree with your reasoning and I'm not disputing your claims for an historical basis. I just don't like the look of the thing. -- Necrothesp 22:55, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
    • Would you support just avoiding the issue entirely? Listing the servicemember types doesn't seem to serve an essential function within the article, could it simply read "is a member of an armed force who..." or words to that effect? I realize that leaves the issue up in the air, but maybe it's better to tackle it on a more high-traffic page, if it comes up again at all. --Fox1 23:24, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
      • That looks fine to me. -- Necrothesp 13:12, 16 Oct 2004 (UTC)
        • Historically, the U.S. Marine Corps has always capitalized "Marine." Beginning in 2004 The U.S. Air Force followed suit with "Airman," and the word is capitalized in all Air Force paperwork and publications. 03:34, 10 February 2006 (UTC)
          • Whenever you are refering to a member of the Marine Corps you use capitalize the word marine. It is a proper noun. You would capitilize someones name, right?Bunns USMC 17:06, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

my cousin is in the Marine's and i asked him and he responded that in the Marines he was tought to do that when ever he wrote the word he had to capitalize it in india they do and if we dont its kinda like not respecting the marines right? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:11, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

  • Wikipedia uses universal and agreed-upon norms of typography. Capitalization of airman, sailor, soldier, and marine—in the United States armed forces—is mandated by those services' correspondence or style manuals and is unique to them. There may be other isolated styles that favor this non-standard form of capitalization, but it is not consistent with Wikipedia or more other English-speaking style guides. It has nothing to do with respect or disrespect toward servicemembers, of which I am one. Over-capitalization is epidemic in the U. S. military and business worlds. We don't need that here. Holy (talk) 18:29, 18 April 2013 (UTC)


I removed this sentence:

The exercise of authority by an NCO is technically called control or charge, though colloquial use of the term command is widespread.

This could be an American thing (and if so should be specified as such). In the British Army, NCOs frequently have the official title of e.g. Section Commander or Second-in-Command. -- Necrothesp 01:37, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

Unclear definition?[edit]

I didn't know what a non-commissioned officer was, but reading this article didn't make me much wiser. I had to read about non-commissioned officers under the commissioned officer link to figure out what it was. I think it would be a good idea to copy some of the info from that page to this one, so that others can get a better grasp of the topic on this page.

  • The recursive definition doesn't help much either! : A non-commissioned officer ... is a non-commissioned member of an armed force who has been given authority by a commissioned officer. Robef

Reference the unclear definition, it seems a joke to define an NCO by using the term NCO, so I have changed it to "enlisted member," as all NCOs are in the British forces by definition (well, they're actually ORs, but I've used enlisted for the sake of understanding). If this is wrong for any other country, I'll go and change it right back! 23:18, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

How many soldiers commanded by a centurion?[edit]

The article says "a Roman centurion was responsible for between 60 and 1,200 men" -- but the article Centurion (Roman army) indicates that it was "between 60 and 160 men". Which is correct?

In fiction confusion[edit]

Under the In Fiction headline it states NCOs "In US military movies, they are often depicted as black". Perhaps there is something that I am misunderstanding but if this is to mean something other than 'black' in regards to race, I feel this needs to be removed. I served as an NCO myself in the US Navy and having seen many US military movies, I see this statement as little more than offensive assuming it is only referring to race. Boognish 04:26, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree that the race reference should be deleted, as should the whole "in fiction" section, which adds nothing to the article. Science fiction NCOs are not a good example. 12:49, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Proper word[edit]

I am not sure if it just an American thing, but every reference I know to the noncommissioned officer specifies it as one word, and I'm confused as to why the article is titled Non-commissioned officer with a hyphen. I can't seem to think of any words that use the prefix non followed by a hyphen. I believe it is grammatically incorrect to have a hyphen in the word. I think the title and references inside of the article should omit the hyphen. This is an encyclopedia after all -- shouldn't it follow the rules of grammar? Steven Williamson (HiB2Bornot2B) - talk 21:18, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

It does. Did you check any non-American references? Chambers uses the hyphen, as does the Queen's Regulations and Orders of the Canadian Forces. The same holds true for my copies of the Concise Oxford and Gage Canadian, but you'll have to take my word for it since they're print copies.
As a matter of fact, if you plug "non-" into Chambers (a UK dictionary), you'll note that all of the examples are hyphenated.
The issue of the varieties of English and their use in Wikipedia is extremely contentious, and has led to some of the most extended (and lamest) edit wars. Please check out WP:ENGVAR; bottom line, "non-commissioned" is a valid, acceptable, and perfectly proper spelling. --SigPig |SEND - OVER 22:19, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

global tag on "function" section[edit]

I put the "worldwide perspective" tag on the "function" section because it appears to be describing NCOs in the armed forces of one specific country (I'm guessing the United States) with its discussion of particular training programs and "federal law" and whatnot. I don't know enough about the subject to fix it, but someone who does should take a look, and make the description more generalized. Mycroft7 (talk) 13:20, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

NCM vs NCO[edit]

The Canadian Forces use the term NCM (non-commissioned member) not NCO. Please update the article to reflect that some countries use NCM now.--Sonjaaa (talk) 21:40, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Not objective, US oriented[edit]

The introductory section and Function are very weak. They are very US oriented and not objective, (I deleted a final sentence which related to US Federal Law) and make little effort to explain the topic from an internatinal perspective. Subsequent sections such as on Canada maybe interesting but are rather fruitless until the core definitions are resolved: with false premises all further logic or discussion is meaningless.

I have insufficient knowledge of the military to provide authorative input but I recall that while serving as a civilian instructor with Australian Military officers thatI was told NCO's are from Sergeant upwards. Corporals and Lance Corporals are described as 'appointments'. IF I am correct, this emphasioses the need to write the core information about NCO's from a more generic perspective.

I hope someone can adress this.

Paul T from Sydney. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:54, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Commissioned/Noncom Divide[edit]

How relevant is the divided hierarchy of commissioned and non-commissioned officers in the US as we're seeing a lot of senior enlisted (E-7 and up) with college degrees? Jigen III (talk) 00:47, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

The % of degrees among officers is high in the US military as a whole, and in some services such as USAF, 100%, as a pre-condition for commissioning. Commissioning of mustangs, i.e., "from the ranks" is nearly extinct. % of degrees, even two-year degrees, is still very low on the enlisted side, and nearly all occur after entry into the service. 30 years ago that would have been foundation for commissioning, but commissioned slots are strictly allocated now, and most EMs do so for service perks. As a factor in rationalizing "hierarchy", the divide among degree holders on both sides of the commission barrier is still vast.--Reedmalloy (talk) 05:52, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

Minor point: "backbone" of their service[edit]

It's mentioned twice, both in Function and National usage. Im not sure how to edit this, but it's looks a bit weird. (talk) 22:53, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

Warrant Officers are NCOs?[edit]

The article states that warrant officers (outside of the US) are NCOs - this isn't correct for commonwealth forces. Although WOs may be promoted from the NCO ranks and act effectively as the top of the NCO tree, they are a seperate group. Maybe words to the effect that they are essentially a continuation of the SNCO ranks?Jellyfish dave (talk) 14:40, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

Considering that warrant officers technically don't have a commission, I doubt it's actually wrong. Most likely, whether WOs are considered NCOs depends on the military. I know that in Singapore at least, NCO has always referred to both warrant officers and specialists as a collective.[1] The Warrant Officer and Specialist (WOSpec) Corps was even formerly the NCO Corps. Even now, after the restructure, WOs are still colloquially called NCOs.[2] (talk) 02:15, 1 July 2017 (UTC)

As the article clearly says, in the UK, WOs are not NCOs, but are often generically classed together with SNCOs (e.g. they mess together). While this certainly used to be the case with other Commonwealth countries as well, I can't say whether it is still true or not. -- Necrothesp (talk) 14:25, 3 July 2017 (UTC)


Inclusion of famous NCO names[edit]

I think the recent addition of famous non-coms is problematic. This is an article about the rank in general, and if we start listing names country by country, we will get scads of people. If there is reader interest in such names, categorization should be used. – S. Rich (talk) 22:30, 17 May 2014 (UTC)

Yes, should be removed. Completely pointless. -- Necrothesp (talk) 21:24, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
The listing has been removed. For 3 of the names, their WP articles did not mention military service at all. To add to my rationale, many countries have mandatory military service so typically males will service and reach lower level NCO status in a year or two. That achievement is important to them, but not important enough to warrant a listing of their names here. – S. Rich (talk) 22:24, 18 May 2014 (UTC)