Adjutant is a military appointment given to an officer who assists the commanding officer with unit administration. The term adjudant is used in French-speaking armed forces as a non-commissioned officer rank similar to a staff sergeant or warrant officer but is not equivalent to the role or appointment of an adjutant.
An adjutant general is commander of an army’s administrative services.
Adjutant comes from the Latin adjutans, present participle of the verb adjuvare, “to help”; the Romans actually used adiutor for the noun.
Military and paramilitary appointment
In various uniformed hierarchies, the term is used for number of functions, but generally as a principal aide to a commanding officer.
A regimental adjutant, garrison adjutant etc. is a staff officer who assists the commanding officer of a regiment, battalion or garrison in the details of regimental, garrison or similar duty. In United States Army squadrons, the adjutant is often the officer-in-charge (OIC) of the administrative platoon.
UK and other Commonwealth countries
In the British Army, an adjutant (adj; sometimes actually referred to as this) is usually a senior captain, and sometimes a major. As the colonel’s personal staff officer, he was once in charge of all the organisation, administration and discipline for a battalion or regiment, although now the bulk of administrative work is carried out by the (RAO). Until the 1970s the adjutant was also the regimental operations officer, although this job is now filled by a separate officer. In the British Army, adjutants are given field rank and as such are senior by appointment to all other captains, ranking just behind the majors. Unlike the RAO (who is an officer of the Adjutant General’s Corps), the adjutant is a member of the corps or regiment of which their unit is a part. The adjutant’s job is not solely a ‘backroom’ one, since he usually accompanies the colonel — Captain David Wood, the adjutant of 2 Para, was killed in action at the Battle of Goose Green, for example. Normally, in a British Infantry battalion, the adjutant controls the battle whilst the CO commands it. As such, the adjutant is usually a man of significant influence within his battalion. In the Foot Guards, the adjutant of the unit in charge of Trooping the Colour is one of three officers on horseback.
In many Commonwealth armies, the adjutant performs much the same role as in the British Army. There is no RAO position within the Australian or Canadian armies, where an adjutant performs the administrative role with the assistance of a Chief Clerk, who usually has a rank of Warrant Officer Class Two.
The Bangladesh Army has the appointment of Adjutant which is similar to that in old British system. Adjutants are mostly captains and sometimes lieutenants though the authorization is of Captain rank. Resaldar Adjutant (RA) or Naek Subedar Adjutant (NSA) is a position unique to the Bangladesh Army. He is a Warrant Officer who acts as deputy to the Adjutant. On all formal parades, the standard procedure is for the Squadron/Company Sergeant Major to first report to the Resaldar Adjutant/ Naek Subedar Adjutant, and the Resaldar Adjutant/ Naek Subedar Adjutant in turn to report to the Adjutant.
The Indian Army has the position of Adjutant, which is based on the old British system. The Adjutants in most cases are Captains but in some cases hold the rank of Major (especially in Regimental Centres). Subedar Adjutant (SA) is a position unique to the Bangladesh Army and Indian Army. He is a Subedar who acts as deputy to the Adjutant. On all formal parades, the standard procedure is for the Company Havildar Major to first report to the Subedar Adjutant, and the Subedar Adjutant in turn to report to the Adjutant. In the British Indian Army, the equivalent position was the Jemadar Adjutant, who held the lower rank of Jemadar.
The Pak Army has the appointment of Adjutant which is similar to that in old British system. Adjutants in Pak Army are mostly Captains and some times Lieutenants. Pak Army also holds the rank of Junior Adjutant (JA) who works as an aide to Adjutant and is of the Rank of Subedar equivalent rank to Warrant Officer or Sergeant in Western Armies. The Regimental Adjutant is also Commander of Regimental Provost and Assist Commanding Officer in all matters pertaining to Discipline, Training and Operational planning.
In the US Army, historically the adjutant was generally a member of the branch or regiment of the parent unit (e.g. in an infantry battalion, the adjutant was usually an infantry officer). In 2008, as a result of the Army’s transformation, the Human Resources community implemented the Personnel Services Delivery Redesign, which recoded the adjutant position in battalions to an officer from the Adjutant General branch. The adjutant general at the battalion-level is generally a junior captain or senior first lieutenant and, in conjunction with the S-1 section, manages the administrative functions of the unit. The adjutant also works closely with the unit’s command sergeant major for awards ceremonies, traditional ceremonial functions, casual events (hails and farewells), evaluation reports, and management of correspondence and other secretarial functions. Based upon the needs of the commander, an adjutant typically from the combat arms branches may still be specially appointed in modern-day to assist a brigade commander to ease his/her burden of command.
There is a bugle call announcing the adjutant that is still used in military ceremonies today.
In the USMC, the adjutant serves as the senior administrator for their unit, and is the OIC (officer in charge) of the S-1 or admin shop.
Per the USMC MOS handbook:
“Adjutants coordinate administrative matters for Marine Corps staff sections and external agencies at the staff level. They ensure that every Marine in their command has administrative resources both for day-to-day tasks and long-term career progression. Adjutants supervise the execution of administrative policies. They receive and route correspondence, preparing responses to any special correspondence. They also manage their unit’s legal matters and monitor fitness reports, among other administrative duties.
In the United States, the Adjutant General is the chief military officer of the National Guard units in any one of the American States. This use of the term reflects the early history of the US where each of the 50 States retains partial sovereignty, including the right to maintain military forces; the Army and Air National Guard are state units that can be called to federal duty in case of national emergency.
- http://www.army.gov.au/Who-we-are/Ranks/Other-Ranks Australian Army, ‘Who we are – Other Ranks’, retrieved January 21, 2015. Archived January 8, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
- https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/Active/TAGD/CDID/PSDR/documents/PSDRBrochure.pdf, retrieved June 05, 2010.
- “Roles in the Corps”. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 20 March 2018.