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Sub-Officer is a term used in many armed forces used to indicate ranks below commissioned officers. Sub-Officer is equivalent to the term warrant officer in the British Commonwealth and the United States. Historically armed forces using the term sub-officer have used it to refer to more senior non-commissioned ranks, typically from sergeant upwards, but often the term now covers all non-commissioned ranks.

There is also a specific rank of "sub-officer" in some armed forces and in the UK Fire and Rescue Services, and in the Irish Fire Services.


In Argentina the term sub-officer indicated only the more senior non-commissioned ranks. Now these ranks are known as "superior sub-officers" and lower ranks as "junior sub-officers". All the Argentine armed forces use Principal Sub-Officer (suboficial principal) and Sub-Officer Major (suboficial mayor, which can also translate as senior sub-officer) as the second highest and highest non-commissioned ranks. The Navy and Air Force also use other "superior sub-officer" ranks.

Argentine Superior Sub-Officer Ranks:

Argentine Army Rank Argentine Navy Rank Argentine Air Force Rank
------------- ------------- -------------
Sub-officer Major - Suboficial Mayor Sub-officer Major - Suboficial Mayor Sub-officer Major - Suboficial Mayor
Principal Sub-officer - Suboficial Principal Principal Sub-officer - Suboficial Principal Principal Sub-officer - Suboficial Principal
Adjutant Sergeant - Sargento Ayudante Sub-officer First Class - Suboficial Primero Adjutant Sub-officer - Suboficial Ayudante
Sergeant First Class - Sargento Primero Sub-officer Second Class - Suboficial Segundo Auxiliary Sub-officer - Suboficial Auxiliar


In all three services of the Chilean Armed Forces, in the Carabineros de Chile and in the Chilean Gendarmerie, only two Sub-officer ranks are used and these are:

  • Suboficial (Sub-officer)
  • Suboficial Mayor (Sub-officer Major)

These sub-officer ranks are the same in all the military and police services.


In France a sub-officer is sergeant (or equivalent) and above as well as the rank of student sub-officer. (The equivalents to sergeant are 2nd Master in the French navy, and Maréchal-des-logis in some army units (often abbreviated to "margi"), mostly cavalry and logistics arms, and most gendarmerie units.) Lower non-commissioned ranks, such as corporal and brigadier, are not considered sub-officers. Traditionally, French sub-officers are often recruited directly as sub-officers rather than rising from more junior ranks.

France Army Rank France Navy Rank France Air Force Rank
------------- ------------- -------------
Major Major Major
Adjudant-chef Maître principal Adjudant-chef
Adjudant Premier maître Adjudant
Sergent-chef / maréchal des logis-chef Maître Sergent-chef
Sergent / maréchal des logis Second-maître Sergent

UK Fire and Rescue Services

Sub-Officer (usually addressed as "Sub") was a rank in the British fire services, between Leading Firefighter and Station Officer.

A Sub-Officer was usually in charge of a small one-pump fire station or a watch in a larger station. In some brigades they may be in charge of multi-pump stations.

The badge of rank is two white or silver bars on the epaulettes (or the collar of the firefighting uniform), the helmet was yellow with two 12.5mm bands on it.

With the transition from a rank based structure to a role based structure, the rank of Sub Officer has disappeared and is now replaced by the role of Watch Manager A. The role of Crew Commander / Crew Manager now wear the markings of two silver bars.[1]

The female equivalent in the days when women in the fire services performed administrative and control room roles only was Senior Leading Firewoman. With the advent of mixed sex control rooms, the title has now changed to Senior Fire Control Operator (SFCOp).

Republic of Ireland Fire and Rescue Services

Sub-Station-Officer (usually addressed as "Sub" or "Subbo") is a rank in the Irish Fire Services, below the rank of Station Officer.

A Sub-Station-Officer usually performs a command function in support of the Station Officer's role on the fireground, and occasionally may take command role at less-serious incidents and takes command when the Station Officer is absent.

The badge of rank is two white or silver bars on the epaulettes (or the collar of the firefighting uniform), the helmet is yellow with two black 12.5mm bands on it.

See also


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