The Indian Army is the largest and most visible arm of the Indian Armed Forces. It has a presence across India, particularly close to the border regions, through an elaborate network of Army Commands and allied formations for operational, training, support and maintenance purposes.
The Indian Army played a significant role in World War I and was reorganized soon after with a command each being set up for the Northern, Eastern, Western and Southern Regions. The Army again performed commendably in various theatres during World War II.
After Independence, the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army was KM Cariappa, who later became a Field Marshal.
We take a look at the ranks and structure of the Indian Army as it exists today.
Structure of the Indian Army
The Indian Army has an elaborate command and operations structure.The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces.
Chief of Army Staff
The Indian Army is headed by the Chief of Army Staff (CoAS), who is a four-star General, the highest in the operating hierarchy of the force after the Field Marshal, which is an honorary rank. The Chief of Army Staff is based out of the Army Headquarters located in New Delhi. The Chief heads all the Operational Commands as well as the Army Training Command.
At the top of the pyramid after the Army Chief are the General Officers Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), also known as the Army Commanders. They head the Army’s Operational Commands (6 in number) and the Army Training Command (1 in number). They are of the rank of Lieutenant-General, a three-star general.
The six Operational Commands in the Indian Army are:
- The Northern Command, Headquartered at Udhampur, Jammu & Kashmir.
- The Eastern Command, Headquartered at Kolkata, West Bengal.
- The Western Command, Headquartered at Chandimandir, Haryana
- The Central Command, Headquartered at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
- The South-Western Command, Headquartered at Jaipur, Rajasthan
- The Southern Command, located at Pune, Maharashtra
Each of these Operational Commands is made up of several Corps, Divisions and Brigades. The only exception is the Central Command, which has no units assigned to it currently.
The Indian Army has 1 Army Training Command or the ARTRAC, Headquartered at Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. The GOC-in-C, Army Training Command, is in charge of Training Establishments.
A Corps, which is the highest field unit of the Army,comprises 3-4 Divisions. Each Corps is headed by a General Officer Commanding (GOC) or a Corps Commander who is a Lieutenant-General.
A Division comprises 3-4 Brigades and is headed by a General Officer Commanding (GOC) or Division Commander of the rank of Major General. Divisions have specialisations depending upon their role like Infantry, Mountain, Armoured, Artillery and Reorganised Army Plains Infantry Divisions (RAPID).
Each Brigade, comprising roughly 3 battalions and support elements, is headed by a Brigade Commander who is of the rank of Brigadier. One of the Brigades, the 15th Parachute based in Agra, operates under the direct supervision of the Chief of Army Staff.
Battalions are Army formations made up of four Companies. Each of these is headed by a Commanding Officer of the rank of Colonel.
Rifle Companies which constitute a Battalion have a Company Commander of the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel or Major as its head. A company is made up of three to four platoons and has about 120 men.
A Platoon is headed by Platoon Commander who is Lieutenant, a Captain or a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO). Each Platoon is made up of three Sections and has about 32 men.
A Section is the smallest unit of the Army. It has 10-12 personnel each and is headed by a Section Commander who is of the rank of a Havildar.
Indian Army Officer Ranks
The highest rank that one can attain in the Indian Army is that of a Field Marshal, which is an honorary rank. There have been only two Field Marshals in the history of the force, Sam Manekshaw and KM Cariappa. The hierarchy of officers of the Indian Army is as follows.
Field Marshal (Honorary Rank)
General (Chief of the Army Staff)
Lieutenant-General (Army Commanders, Corps Commanders)
Major General(Division Commanders, Commanders of Training Establishments)
Brigadier (Brigade Commanders)
Colonel (Battalion and Regiment Commanders)
Lieutenant-Colonel (Company Commanders)
Major (Company Commanders)
The Indian Army also has Junior-Commissioned Officer or JCOs including Subedar Majors, Naib Subedars and Subedars. The force also has a category of Non-Commissioned Officers or NCOs designated as Regimental Havaldar Major, Regimental Quarter Master Havildar and Company Havildar Major and Jawans comprising Havildars, Naiks and Lance Naiks.