Viceroy's commissioned officer

A viceroy's commissioned officer (VCO) was a senior Indian member of the British Indian Army. VCOs were senior in rank to warrant officers in the British Army, and held a commission issued by the viceroy. Also known as "Indian officers" or "native officers", they were treated in almost all respects as commissioned officers, but had authority only over Indian troops and were subordinate to all British King's (and Queen's) commissioned officers and King's commissioned Indian officers.


The term "Viceroy's Commissioned Officer" was formally adopted in 1885 as a substitute for the previously used "Native Officer".[1] By 1914 the proportion of VCOs to KCOs in an Indian infantry battalion was 16 to 14.[2] These ranks were created to facilitate effective liaison between the British officers and their Indian troops. The soldiers who were promoted to VCO rank had long service and good service records, spoke reasonably fluent English, and could act as a common liaison point between officers and men and as advisers to the British officers on Indian affairs.[3]


VCOs were treated and addressed with respect. Even a British officer would address a VCO as, for instance, "subedar sahib" or "sahib".

Ranks held by VCOs were:

Modern armiesEdit

Similar ranks are retained in the Indian Army and Pakistan Army, where they are known as junior commissioned officers.


  1. ^ Mason, Philip. A Matter of Honour. p. 347. ISBN 0-333-41837-9.
  2. ^ Creese, Michael. Swords Trembling in their Scabbards. p. 46. ISBN 9-781909-982819.
  3. ^ Mason, Philip. A Matter of Honour. An Account of the Indian Army, its Officers and Men. pp. 174 & 457. ISBN 0-333-41837-9.