A five-star rank is a very senior military rank, first established in the United States in 1944, with a five-star general insignia, and corresponding ranks in other countries. The rank is that of the most senior operational military commanders, and within NATO's "standard rank scale" it is designated by the code OF-10.
Not all armed forces have such a rank, and in those that do the actual insignia of the "five-star ranks" may not contain five stars. For example: the insignia for the French OF-10 rank maréchal de France contains 7 stars; the insignia for the Portuguese marechal contains four gold stars; and many of the insignia of the ranks in the Commonwealth of Nations contain no stars at all.
Typically, five-star officers hold the rank of general of the army, admiral of the fleet, field marshal, marshal or general of the air force, and several other similarly named ranks. Five-star ranks are extremely senior—usually the highest ranks. As an active rank, the position exists only in a minority of countries and is usually held by only a very few officers during wartime. In times of peace, it is usually held only as an honorary rank. Traditionally, five-star ranks are granted to distinguished military commanders for notable wartime victories and/or in recognition of a record of achievement during the officer's career, whether in peace or in war. Alternatively, a five-star rank (or even higher ranks) may be assumed by heads of state in their capacities as commanders-in-chief of their nation's armed forces.
Despite the rarity and seniority of five-star officers, even more-senior ranks have been adopted in the United States, namely, admiral of the navy and general of the armies. Other names for highly senior ranks from the twentieth century include généralissime (France), generalisimo (Spain) and generalissimus (USSR).
Only one Australian-born officer, Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey, has held a substantive Australian five-star rank. Lord Birdwood, who commanded the Australian Imperial Force in the First World War, was appointed to honorary five-star rank in the Australian Military Forces on his promotion to field marshal in the British Army in 1925. HM King George VI and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh have held all three Australian five-star ranks in an honorary capacity, and have been the only holders of the Australian ranks of admiral of the fleet and marshal of the RAAF.
Five-star ranks in Brazil are only used in wartime.
Field marshal epaulette
The Indonesian five star ranks are:
This ranks is used by the Italian Chief of General Staff only.
Marshal of Poland (Marszałek Polski) is a Polish Army five-star rank. There are today no living marshals of Poland, since this rank is bestowed only on military commanders who have achieved victory in war. The last appointment was in 1963 to Marian Spychalski.
Since 1922 it's not properly a rank but a "military dignity". The only full Capitán General is currently His Majesty the King of Spain, the last not-royal appointment (honorary) was in 1994 to Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado. The rank of Capitana General is currently bestowed also to several images of the Virgin Mary, among them la Virgen de Butarque, la Virgen del Pilar, la Virgen de Guadalupe, Nuestra Señora de los Reyes, la Virgen de los Desamparados (this one properly Capitana Generalísima), la Virgen de la Serra, la Virgen del Canto y la Virgen de los Remedios. The latest appointment was to Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, april 2011.
Capitán general ("Captain general")
Chom Phon (Field Marshal)
Chom Phon Ruea (Admiral of the Fleet)
Chom Phon Akat (Marshal of the Royal Thai Air Force)
The monarch of Thailand is appointed to the three ranks automatically upon accession as he is the constitutional Head of the Royal Thai Armed Forces. Since 1973 the three ranks have been reserved for members of the royal family.
The worn insignia of British five-star commanders do not contain stars; the vehicle star plate, mounted on the front of a staff car, does display five stars.
Royal Navy Admiral of the Fleet
Field Marshal Army epaulette
Captain General of the Royal Marines epaulette
Marshal of the RAF
Promotion to the ranks of Admiral of the Fleet and Marshal of the Royal Air Force is now generally held in abeyance in peacetime with exceptions for special circumstances. Promotion to the rank of Field Marshal was generally stopped in 1995 as a cost-cutting measure but is still made in some cases. The most recent appointments to five-star ranks are the promotions in 2012 of The Prince of Wales to honourary five-star rank in all three services, and of former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank to the honorary rank of Field Marshal. In 2014 the former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Stirrup was promoted to the honourary rank of Marshal of the Royal Air Force.
During World War II and after, serving NATO, a small number of British five-star commanders have held the additional title Supreme Allied Commander, given operational control over all air, land, and sea units led by the four-star commanders of multi-national forces.
Before the five-star ranks were established in 1944, two officers had previously been promoted from their four-star ranks to the superior and unique ranks of Admiral of the Navy and General of the Armies: Admiral George Dewey (appointment 1903 retroactive to 1899, died 1917) and General John J. Pershing (appointed 1919, died 1948). In 1944 the Navy and Army specified that these officers were considered senior to any officers promoted to the five-star ranks within their services (but it was not clear if they were senior by rank or by seniority due to an earlier date of rank).
Five-star ranks were created in the US military during World War II because of the awkward situation created when some American senior commanders were placed in positions commanding allied officers of higher rank. US officers holding five-star rank never retire; they draw full active duty pay for life. The five-star ranks were retired in 1981 on the death of General of the Army Omar Bradley.
Nine Americans have been promoted to five-star rank, one of them, Henry H. Arnold, in two services (US Army then later in the US Air Force). As part of the bicentennial celebration, George Washington was, 177 years after his death, permanently made senior to all other US generals and admirals with the title General of the Armies effective on 4 July 1976. The appointment stated he was to have "rank and precedence over all other grades of the Army, past or present".[nb 2]
During World War II and (later) serving NATO, a small number of American five-star commanders have also held the additional title of Supreme Allied Commander, given operational control over all air, land, and sea units led by the four-star commanders of multi-national forces.
|•||Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy||15 December 1944|
|•||General of the Army George Marshall||16 December 1944|
|•||Fleet Admiral Ernest King||17 December 1944|
|•||General of the Army Douglas MacArthur||18 December 1944|
|•||Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz||19 December 1944|
|•||General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower||20 December 1944|
|•||General of the Army & Air Force Henry H. Arnold||21 December 1944 & 7 May 1949|
|•||Fleet Admiral William Halsey, Jr.||11 December 1945|
|•||General of the Army Omar Bradley||20 September 1950|
|•||General of the Armies George Washington||4 July 1976, with an effective appointment date of 4 July 1776a|
The timing of the first seven appointments was to establish both a clear order of seniority and a near-equivalence between the Army and Navy services. In 1949, Arnold was honored by being made the first, and to date only, general of the air force. He is the only American to serve in a five-star rank in two of its military services. By a Congressional Act of 24 March 1903, Admiral George Dewey's rank was established as admiral of the navy, a rank which was specified to be senior to the four-star rank of admiral and was equal to admiral of the fleet in the British Royal Navy. Admiral Dewey was the only individual ever appointed to this rank, which lapsed with his death on 16 January 1917. Admiral of the navy was considered superior to fleet admiral during World War II. On 3 September 1919, John Pershing was promoted to the rank of General of the Armies (officially General of the Armies of the United States) in recognition of his service during World War I. He is the only person promoted to this rank during their lifetime.
An admiral of the fleet or fleet admiral (sometimes also known as admiral of the navy or grand admiral) is a military naval officer of the highest rank. In many nations the rank is reserved for wartime or ceremonial appointments. It is usually a rank above admiral (which is now usually the highest rank in peacetime for officers in active service), and is often held by the most senior admiral of an entire naval service.
It is also a generic term for a senior admiral in command of a large group of ships, comprising a fleet or, in some cases, a group of fleets. If actually a rank, its name can vary depending on the country. In addition to "fleet admiral" and "admiral of the fleet", such rank names include "admiral of the navy" and "grand admiral".It ranks above vice admiral, rear admiral and usually full admiral, and is usually given to a senior admiral commanding multiple fleets as opposed to just one fleet. It is often classified in NATO nations as a five-star rank.Admiral of the fleet is equivalent to an army field marshal. It is also equivalent to a marshal of the air force which in many countries has a similar rank insignia to admiral of the fleet.Admiral of the fleet (Australia)
Admiral of the fleet (AF) is the highest rank in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), but is a ceremonial, not active or operational, rank. It equates to the rank code O-11. Equivalent ranks in the other services are field marshal and marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force. Like those ranks, admiral of the fleet is a five-star rank.
The subordinate naval rank, and highest active rank in the RAN, is admiral. This rank is only held when the Chief of the Defence Force is a naval officer. The highest permanent rank in the RAN is vice admiral, held by the Chief of Navy.Admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union
An Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union (Russian: Адмирал Флота Cоветского Cоюза, romanized: admiral flota Sovietskogo Soyuza), was the highest naval rank of the Soviet Union. It was comparable to NATO five-star rank (OF-10 level).Arjan Singh
Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh, DFC (15 April 1919 – 16 September 2017) was an Indian Air Force marshal who served as Chief of the Air Staff from 1964 to 1969. For his distinguished service in commanding the IAF during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan and in 1966 became the first IAF officer to be promoted to air chief marshal. After retiring from the IAF, he served as a diplomat, politician and advisor to the Indian government. He was Lieutenant Governor of Delhi from 1989 to 1990. In 2002, he became the first and only officer of the Indian Air Force to be promoted to five-star rank as Marshal of the Indian Air Force, equal to the army rank of Field Marshal.Chief of the Air Staff (India)
Chief of the Air Staff is the professional head and the commander of the Indian Air Force. The position is abbreviated as CAS in the Indian Air Force cables and communication, and is usually held by a four-star air officer of the rank Air Chief Marshal. The current CAS is Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa who took office on 31 December 2016, following the retirement of Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha.The position was held by an Air Commodore (1919–1923), by an Air Vice-Marshal (1923–1929) and by an Air Marshal (1929–1965). In 1966, the position was upgraded to that of an Air Chief Marshal. The highest rank in the India's IAF is Marshal of the Air Force, which is conferred by the President of India only in exceptional circumstances. It has only been given once in January 2002 to Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh. This is a five-star rank and is equivalent to a Field Marshal in the Army and Admiral of the Fleet in the Navy.Field marshal
Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is a very senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually it is the highest rank in an army, and when it is, few (if any) persons are appointed to it. It is considered as a five-star rank (OF-10) in modern-day armed forces in many countries. Promotion to the rank of field marshal in many countries historically required extraordinary military achievement by a general (a wartime victory). However, the rank has also been used as a divisional command rank and also as a brigade command rank. Examples of the different uses of the rank include Austria-Hungary, Prussia, Germany, India and Sri Lanka for an extraordinary achievement; Spain and Mexico for a divisional command (Spanish: mariscal de campo); and France, Portugal and Brazil for a brigade command (French: maréchal de camp, Portuguese: marechal de campo).
The origin of the term dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses (from Old German Marh-scalc = "horse-servant"), from the time of the early Frankish kings. The exact wording of the titles used by field marshals varies: examples include "marshal" and "field marshal general". The air force equivalent in Commonwealth and many Middle Eastern air forces is marshal of the air force (not to be confused with air marshal). Navies, which usually do not use the nomenclature employed by armies or air forces, use titles such as "fleet admiral," "grand admiral" or "admiral of the fleet" for the equivalent rank. The traditional attribute distinguishing a field marshal is a baton. The baton nowadays is purely ornamental, and as such may be richly decorated. That said, it is not necessary for the insignia to be a baton (Such is the case in Russia post-1991 and the former Soviet Union, which use a jewelled star referred to as a Marshal's star).Field marshal (Uganda)
The rank of Field marshal is a five-star rank in the military of Uganda. President Idi Amin was the commander-in-chief of the Ugandan Armed Forces (present-day Uganda People's Defence Force, UPDF), awarding himself the rank of field marshal on 17 July 1975. Presently, the highest ranking individual in the UPDF is President Yoweri Museveni, who uses the rank of general.General of the Air Force
The General of the Air Force (abbreviated as GAF) is a five-star general officer rank and is the highest possible rank in the United States Air Force. General of the Air Force ranks immediately above a general and is equivalent to General of the Army in the United States Army and Fleet Admiral in the United States Navy. The rank has been held only once in history, by General Henry H. Arnold, who served as head of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.General of the Army (United States)
General of the Army (abbreviated as GA) is a five-star general officer and the second highest possible rank in the United States Army. A General of the Army ranks immediately above a general and is equivalent to a Fleet Admiral and a General of the Air Force. There is no established equivalent five-star rank in the other federal uniformed services (Marine Corps, Coast Guard, United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps). Often called a "five-star general", the rank of General of the Army has historically been reserved for wartime use and is not currently active in the U.S. military. The General of the Army insignia consisted of five 3/8th inch stars in a pentagonal pattern, with points touching. The insignia was paired with the gold and enameled United States Coat of Arms on service coat shoulder loops. The silver colored five-star metal insignia alone would be worn for use as a collar insignia of grade and on the garrison cap. Soft shoulder epaulettes with five 7/16th inch stars in silver thread and gold-threaded United States Coat of Arms on green cloth were worn with shirts and sweaters.
The rank of "General of the Army" has had two incarnations. The rank was introduced in 1866, the year after the American Civil War. It was reserved for the single senior officer of the U.S. Army, was a four-star rank, and was held by three different individuals from 1866 to 1888. The rank was revived as the modern five-star rank during World War II, and may be awarded to more than one serving officer at a time. It was held by five different individuals from 1944 to 1981. A special rank of General of the Armies, which ranks above General of the Army, exists but has been conferred only twice, a four-star rank with unique gold (rather than silver) stars to World War I's John J. Pershing, and posthumously to George Washington, by proclamation 177 years after his death, with no specific star insignia designated.Generalfeldmarschall
Generalfeldmarschall (English: general field marshal, field marshal general, or field marshal; listen ; abbreviated to Feldmarschall) was a rank in the armies of several German states and the Holy Roman Empire (Reichsgeneralfeldmarschall); in the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary, the rank Feldmarschall was used. The rank was the equivalent to Großadmiral (English: Grand admiral) in the Kaiserliche Marine and Kriegsmarine, a five-star rank, comparable to OF-10 in today's NATO naval forces.Gensui (Imperial Japanese Navy)
Marshal-admiral (元帥海軍大将, gensui-kaigun-taishō) was the highest rank in the prewar Imperial Japanese Navy. The term gensui was used for both the navy and the Imperial Japanese Army, and was a largely honorific title awarded for extremely meritorious service to the Emperor. In the Meiji period, the title was awarded to five generals and three admirals. In the Taishō period it was awarded to six generals and six admirals, and in the Shōwa period it was awarded to six generals and four admirals. Equivalent to a five-star rank (OF-10), it is similar to Admiral of the Fleet in the UK Royal Navy and fleet admiral in the United States Navy.
Note that several were promoted the same year they died; these were posthumous promotions.Marshal of the Royal Air Force
Marshal of the Royal Air Force (MRAF) is the highest rank in the British Royal Air Force (RAF). In peacetime it was granted to RAF officers in the appointment of Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), and to retired Chiefs of the Air Staff (CAS), who were promoted to it on their last day of service. While surviving marshals of the RAF retain the rank for life, the highest rank to which officers on active service are promoted is now air chief marshal. Although general promotions to Marshal of the Royal Air Force have been discontinued since the British defence cuts of the 1990s, further promotions to the rank may still be made in wartime, for members of the Royal Family and certain very senior RAF air officers in peacetime at the discretion of the monarch; all such promotions in peacetime are only honorary, however. In 2012, Charles, Prince of Wales was promoted to the rank while in 2014 Lord Stirrup, who had served as Chief of the Air Staff and Chief of the Defence Staff for over seven years, was also promoted.
Marshal of the Royal Air Force is a five-star rank and unlike the air marshal ranks, can properly be considered a marshal rank. MRAF has a NATO ranking code of OF-10, equivalent to an admiral of the fleet in the Royal Navy or a field marshal in the British Army.The rank was instituted in 1919 and the first officer to be promoted to MRAF was Sir Hugh Trenchard in 1927. Since that time, including Trenchard, there have been 27 men who have held the rank. Of those, 22 have been professional RAF officers and five have been senior members of the British Royal Family. King George V did not formally hold the rank of marshal of the RAF; rather he assumed the title of Chief of the Royal Air Force. In this capacity from time to time he wore RAF uniform with the rank insignia of a marshal of the RAF. He first publicly wore such uniform in 1935, the year before his death.Excluding monarchs and other members of the Royal Family, the only two RAF officers ever to have held the rank without serving as Chief of the Air Staff were Lord Douglas of Kirtleside and Sir Arthur Harris. Both held high command during the Second World War. Harris was Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Bomber Command and Douglas was Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Fighter Command, Middle East Command and Coastal Command.Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force
Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force (MRAAF) is the highest rank of the Royal Australian Air Force and was created as a direct equivalent of the British Royal Air Force rank of Marshal of the Royal Air Force. It is considered a five-star rank.
It has only twice been awarded, each time as an honorary rank to a senior member of the Royal Family. On 2 June 1939 King George VI assumed the rank which he held until his death in 1952. Two years later in 1954, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was granted the rank. He was present at 50th anniversary celebrations of the Royal Australian Air Force in March 1971 as a marshal of the RAAF; and continues to hold the rank to the present day.Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force is a higher rank than air chief marshal. Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force is a direct equivalent of admiral of the fleet in the Royal Australian Navy and field marshal in the Australian Army.
The insignia is four light blue bands (each on a slightly wider black band) over a light blue band on a black broad band.Marshal of the Soviet Union
Marshal of the Soviet Union (Russian: Маршал Советского Союза; Russian pronunciation: [ˈmarʂəɫ sɐˈvʲɛtskəvə sɐˈjuzə]) was the highest military rank of the Soviet Union.
The rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union was created in 1935 and abolished in 1991, and forty-one people held this rank. The equivalent naval rank was until 1955 Admiral of the fleet and from 1955 Admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union. Both ranks were comparable to NATO rank codes OF-10, and to the five-star rank in anglophone armed forces.
While the supreme rank of Generalissimus of the Soviet Union, which would have been senior to Marshal of the Soviet Union, was proposed for Joseph Stalin after the Second World War, it was never officially approved.Marshal of the air force
"Marshal of the Air Force" (Five Star Rank) is the English term for the most senior rank in a number of Air Forces. The ranks described by this term can properly be considered "Marshal" ranks.
No Air Force in an English-speaking country formally uses the exact title "Marshal of the Air Force", although it is sometimes used as a shortened form of the full title. In several Commonwealth Air Forces and many Middle Eastern Air Forces the most senior rank is named "Marshal of the", followed by the name of the air Force (e.g. Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force).
Brazil and Italy have used rank titles which literally translate as Marshal of the Air, whereas Portugal's rank translates as "Marshal of the Air Force". Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe used the rank of Generalfeldmarschall (also used by the German Army). The premier rank of Reichsmarschall was held solely by Hermann Göring.
The first instance of this rank was Marshal of the Royal Air Force, which was established on paper in 1919 and was first held by Lord Trenchard (from 1927 onwards). Other Commonwealth countries later adopted their own national versions of the rank but, unlike the United Kingdom, they have only used it as a ceremonial honour.Six-star rank
A six-star rank was a short-lived 1955 proposal for a special grade immediately superior to a five-star rank, to be worn by a proposed General of the Armies of the United States. The rank was also briefly considered near the end of World War II, just prior to the planned invasion of Japan, which would have potentially seen a six-star Admiral of Navy, equal to the then also proposed rank of General of the Armies and superior to five-star rank of Fleet Admiral.United States Fleet
The United States Fleet was an organization in the United States Navy from 1922 until after World War II. The acronym CINCUS, pronounced "sink us", was used for Commander in Chief, United States Fleet. This was replaced by COMINCH in December 1941, under Executive Order 8984, when it was redefined and given operational command over the Atlantic, Pacific, and Asiatic Fleets, as well as all naval coastal forces. Executive Order 9096 authorized the offices of the CNO and COMINCH to be held by a single officer; Admiral Ernest J. King was first to do so, and in 1944 was promoted to the five-star rank of fleet admiral.United States military seniority
United States military seniority is the method by which the United States Armed Forces determines precedence among commissioned officers, in particular those who hold the same rank. Seniority is used to determine assignments, tactical commands, promotions and general courtesy. To a lesser extent, historical seniority is used to recognize status of honor given to early United States military leaders such as inaugural holders of certain ranks or those officers who served as leadership during major wars and armed conflicts.William D. Leahy
Fleet Admiral William Daniel Leahy (May 6, 1875 – July 20, 1959) was an American naval officer who served as the senior-most United States military officer on active duty during World War II. He held multiple titles and was at the center of all major military decisions the United States made in World War II.
As Chief of Naval Operations from 1937 to 1939, he was the senior officer in the navy, overseeing the preparations for war. After retiring from the navy, he was appointed in 1939 by his close friend President Franklin D. Roosevelt as Governor of Puerto Rico. In his most controversial role, he served as the United States Ambassador to France 1940–42, but had limited success in keeping the Vichy government free of German control.
Leahy was recalled to active duty as the personal Chief of Staff to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942 and served in that position throughout World War II. He chaired the Chiefs of Staff and was a major decision-maker during the war. He continued under President Harry S. Truman until finally retiring in 1949. From 1942 until his retirement in 1949, he was the highest-ranking active duty member of the U.S. military, reporting only to the President. He was the United States' first de facto Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (not his official title) and he also presided over the American delegation to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, when the American and British staffs worked together.
As fleet admiral, Leahy was the first U.S. naval officer ever to hold a five-star rank in the U.S. Armed Forces. USS Leahy (DLG-16) was named in his honor.
Star officer grades
|By star ranks|