Commanding officer

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The commanding officer ( CO ; German: commanding officer ) is the officer in the Anglo-Saxon armed forces who is in command of a military unit , facility or ship.


The CO is usually the highest officer of this unit and also its disciplinary superior. Accordingly, he has a high level of responsibility (e.g. compliance with the Geneva Conventions , deployment of the unit and supervision of finances) but also duties (e.g. order fulfillment and readiness for action of his unit) and rights (e.g. punishment of personnel under his Command). He can hold any officer rank . The CO is supported by his deputy (English: Executive Officer ), who is responsible for personnel matters and the operation of the service.

Other uses of the term

Great Britain

In the British Army , Royal Marines and other Commonwealth armed forces, the title of commanding officer is reserved for commanders of units ( battalion size and above ). Here he usually holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel . The leader of a smaller unit, e.g. B. a company is usually referred to as "Officer Commanding" (OC) or "Officer in Charge" (OiC) . Officers and NCOs who are in command of platoons or groups are only called "commander" (leaders). In the Royal Air Force , the title of CO is intended for the command of a squadron or squadron.

Naval forces

In the Royal Navy and the US Navy , the title is the commander of a ship, the commander of a base or the head of a unit. Due to the close connection between the two armed forces , the US Marine Corps also makes use of this tradition. Regardless of his rank, he is addressed as Captain ; in the US Navy the term skipper is also used informally , but it is entirely at the discretion of the respective commander to allow this as a salutation for himself.

See also