Country Listing

Nepal Table of Contents


Rank Structure and Insignia


Figure 12. Nepal: Military Ranks and Insignia, 1991

Royal Nepal Army rank structure was, like most other aspects of military life, a blending of British, Indian, and Nepalese practices. Except for honorary military titles, most commissioned officer ranks were the same as their United States and British equivalents. Exceptions included the titles field marshal (equivalent to the United States general of the armies) and colonel in chief of the army. As of 1991, Nir Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana was the only field marshal; Crown Prince Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev was the colonel in chief. Nepal's senior officer corps in 1991 numbered one general, five major generals, and about twenty-one brigadier generals. Officers' insignia displayed a variety of symbols; all, however, bore the emblem of the crossed kukri that identified Gurkha soldiers the world over.

Between the commissioned officers and the enlisted ranks was a separate category of junior commissioned officers (JCOs), who acted as a bridge between the officers and their troops. Adapted from the colonial commissioned officer system of the old British Indian Army, JCOs were roughly equivalent to United States Army warrant officers (although few JCOs were skilled technicians). JCOs were selected from noncommissioned officer ranks and advanced through a three-tier ranking system (jamadar, subedar, and subedar major). At the bottom of the military hierarchy were the "other ranks" (commonly referred to as ORs). These included several ranks of noncommissioned officers, sepahis (or, the Anglo-Indian corruption, "sepoys") and jawans, who together made up the bulk of the army (see fig. 12). Although the lowest army ranks had their equivalents in the Brigade of Gurkhas and the colonial successor armies of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, the Royal Nepalese Army maintained a distinct nomenclature not found anywhere else.

Data as of September 1991