Indian Army Ranks - CO, JCO, and Highest Rank

By Dhruv Kumar|Updated : October 12th, 2022

Commissioned Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers, and other ranks are the three basic categories into which Indian Army Ranks can be divided. Indian Army is the land-based and most prominent branch of the Indian Armed Forces. A 4-star general heads the Indian Army.

Ranks structure of the Indian Army is the most common question asked in the Defence Forces exam and SSB interview. This article covers all the queries related to the Indian Army rank structure and promotion.

Table of Content


Indian Army Ranks

For administrative efficiency, the Indian Army has implemented a variety of ranks and cadres. Before applying for any position, candidates who want to join the Indian Army through various Defence exams, such as NDA Exam, should be aware of the various roles and the rank system.

The Indian Army Ranks are divided into three general groups. Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO), Commissioned Officers (CO), and other ranks are included here (Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers).

Highest Rank in Indian Army

Field Marshal, who is a five–star general officer rank is the highest rank in Indian Army. The insignia of Field Marshal consists of the national emblem over a crossed baton and sabre in a lotus blossom wreath. Field Marshal is ranked above the Indian Army General. It is a largely ceremonial or wartime rank awarded to two people in history. 

Sam Manekshaw became the first Field Marshal of India on 1 January 1973.

Kodandera M. Cariappa became Chief Marshal on 15 January 1986.

Indian Army Post List

Sipahi is the most junior in Indian Army ranks, and Field Marshal is the highest rank in Indian Army. The following table consists of all Indian Army ranks and their promotions.

Ranks of Indian Army



Field Marshal

On SelectionIt is a ceremonial or wartime rank.


On Selection

Highest rank in Indian Army.

Lieutenant General

On Selection

Ranks below general and above major general.

Major General

On Selection

A senior Indian Army officer is promoted by selection (after 32 years of commissioned service)


26 Years

Generally commands a brigade of several thousand soldiers.


On Selection

Senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks. 

Lieutenant Colonel

13 Years

A lieutenant colonel is typically in charge of a battalion in the army. 


06 Years

Rank is obtained on completion of 6 years of service in Indian Army.


02 Years

A captain is given the second-in-command of a company or artillery battery.


On Commission/ JCO Promotion 

Is a junior most commissioned officer in the armed forces.

Subedar Major

Promotion by selection

Senior rank of junior commissioned officer in the Indian Army.


Promotion by selection

Subedar Major is the chief advisor of the Commanding Officer, responsible for advising him in critical service matters.

Naib Subedar

Promotion by selection

Naib subedar is the most junior JCO post in Indian Army.


Promotion by selection

A Naik and Havildar leads a section as a Section Commander consisting of 10 men or he maybe a MMG detachment Commander. 


Promotion by selection

Lance Naik

Promotion by selection

Lance Naik leads a group of 2/3 riflemen/sepoy for bunker bursting etc.


On Selection

It is normally held by recruits of the Indian army. Candidates join this rank through the Bharti rally of the Indian Army.

All Indian Army officers are initially inducted as officer cadets at the time of enlistment. A uniform for an officer without any insignia serves as a sign of the rank of officer cadet.

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FAQs on Indian Army Ranks

  • The Highest Rank in Indian Army is Field Marshal, equivalent to a five-star general officer rank. The national anthem is displayed over a crossed baton and sabre in a lotus blossom wreath as the Field Marshal's insignia. The Indian Army General is subordinate to the Field Marshal.

  • Sipahi/ Sepoy is the lowest in Indian Army ranks. The rank of sipahi is held by recruits. Candidates join this rank through the Bharti rally of the Indian Army.

  • Subedar Major is the chief advisor of the Commanding Officer, responsible for advising him in critical service matters. Any incident which is affecting the unit administration, security, or morale of troops is reported by him, to the Commanding Officer.

  • Lieutenant are selected through two ways either by promotion or direct entries. Candidates can apply for lieutenant post through different entries like NDA , CDS, NCC, etc.

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