OC/CO/ which is which?

Hi sorry I don’t know really how to do this forum thing, this is my first time,

I use the term Officer Commanding for the “boss” at our squadron but apparently the term Commanding Officer is also used and I don’t know if they both work or you use one for different situations. Nobody has corrected me yet so maybe I’m doing it right or people just don’t know idk. Hope this makes sense and I’ve used this correctly.
P.s. sorry for any gramma or spelling mistakes.

Was told some time ago that anyone can be an Officer Commanding. I.E. An Officer who is Commanding a formation of people.

The term Commanding Officer, was for those who had the power of redress. Someone who could hire and fire, so to say.

Therefore I was under the impression that a Squadron Commander was an OC, where as an Wing Commander for a wing, or a Group Captain as a regional commandant, was a Commanding Officer.

Happy to be corrected.

Officer Commanding (OC) is the correct term for RAFAC Squadron Commanders as they are subordinate unit commanders of a larger formation. Commanding Officer (CO) is usually reserved for commanders of larger unit formations, in our case each ATC Wing. See attached for short definition of what constitutes a unit that would be a CO command .


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But since the hiring and firing in our Organisation is usually the Regional Commandant wouldn’t they be the top formation with Wing Commanders being OC’s?

Particularly since the quote above said an “RAF Station” which would usually be under a Group Captain and the Group Captain is also the DDH.

Welcome to ACC :slight_smile:

In practice, they’re often used interchangeably and most people don’t really know/care about the difference.

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As Tornado says, CO is linked to powers of redress. If I remember correctly, the Armed Forces Act 2011 required a minimum rank (OF5 i.e. Gp Capt) for significant disciplinary actions. This minimum OF5 position was then referred to as someone’s CO, whereas pre-2011 the terms OC/CO were more interchangeable.

So in RAFAC land, everyone would be OCs until the Reg Cmdt, but CO doesn’t really have any meaning for us.

TLDR use OC all the time, as CO doesn’t really apply for RAFAC

Also discussed here:

and briefly here:

As mentioned above / they’re usually the same term for the same person.

In practical terms think of it as Commanding Officer is the noun or title for the role…

ie Flt Lt is the Commanding Officer of xxx Sqn…

Officer Commanding is probably grammatically accurately written as Officer, Commanding… as an adjective…

As opposed to say Officer, retired…

(At least that’s how it was explained to me).

As far you need worry - it doesn’t make any difference.

You’ll hear your Sqn commander as the OC or the CO depending on either their own preference, or by other peoples learned behaviour…:

I agree that it doesn’t make much difference and most people use the terms interchangeably, but OC is the correct term for almost everyone in RAFAC and everything that we do.

If we can use the correct terms, with no extra hassle, let’s try, as in military terminology OC and CO are not the same thing.