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a member of the command staff in the armed forces, as well as in the militia and the police. Officers have military ranks conferred on them.
Originally, persons holding certain government posts were called officers. With the rise of standing mercenary armies and navies in the 16th century, first in France and then in other European countries, troop commanders came to be called officers. In the Russian Army, officer ranks were first introduced in the regiments formed and trained according to the Western model (“the new order”). In the feudal states the officers were recruited from among noblemen and formed a separate closed caste. With the development of capitalism, descendants of the bourgeoisie and of the middle classes were increasingly promoted to the officer ranks, and the corps of officers was democratized to some extent.
In the early 18th century in Russia, officers were divided into field-grade officers (from major to colonel) and company-grade officers (captain and lower). According to the Table of Ranks of 1722, an officer’s rank gave him the right to personal nobility, and the rank of captain and above, the right to hereditary nobility. From the mid-19th century, a captain’s rank gave him the right to personal nobility, and a colonel’s rank the right to hereditary nobility. Officer ranks were abolished during the Great October Socialist Revolution. At the time of the introduction of shoulder straps in the Red Army and Navy in 1943, commanders came to be called officers and were divided into junior and senior officers.