The term "general" is used in two ways: as the generic title for all grades of general officer and as a specific rank. It originates in the 16th century, as a shortening of captain general, which rank was taken from Middle French capitaine général. The adjective general had been affixed to officer designations since the late medieval period to indicate relative superiority or an extended jurisdiction.
Today, the title of "General" is known in some countries as a four-star rank. However different countries use different systems of stars or other insignia for senior ranks. It has a NATO code of OF-9 and is the highest rank currently in use in a number of armies, air forces and marine organizations.
The various grades of general officer are at the top of the military rank structure. Lower-ranking officers in land-centric military forces are typically known as field officers or field-grade officers, and below them are company-grade officers.
There are two common systems of general ranks used worldwide. In addition, there is a third system, the Arab system of ranks, which is used throughout the Middle East and North Africa but is not used elsewhere in the world.
Variations of one form, the old European system, were once used throughout Europe. It is used in the United Kingdom (although it did not originate there), from which it eventually spread to the Commonwealth and the United States of America. The general officer ranks are named by prefixing "general", as an adjective, with field officer ranks, although in some countries the highest general officers are titled field marshal, marshal, or captain general.
The other is derived from the French Revolution, where generals' ranks are named according to the unit they (theoretically) command.
|Field marshal or general field marshal|
|General or captain general|
|Sergeant major general or major general|
|Brigadier or brigadier general|
The system used either a brigadier general or a colonel general rank (i.e. exclude one of the italicised ranks).
The rank of field marshal was used by some countries as the highest rank, while in other countries it was used as a divisional or brigade rank. Many countries (notably pre-revolutionary France and eventually much of Latin America) actually used two brigade command ranks, which is why some countries now use two stars as their brigade general insignia. Mexico and Argentina still use two brigade command ranks.
In some nations (particularly in the Commonwealth since the 1920s), the equivalent to brigadier general is brigadier, which is not always considered by these armies to be a general officer rank, although it is always treated as equivalent to the rank of brigadier general for comparative purposes.
As a lieutenant outranks a sergeant major; confusion often arises because a lieutenant is outranked by a major. Originally the serjeant major was, exclusively, the commander of the infantry, junior only to the captain general and lieutenant general. The distinction of serjeant major general only applied after serjeant majors were introduced as a rank of field officer. Serjeant was eventually dropped from both rank titles, creating the modern rank titles. Serjeant major (later spelled sergeant major) as a senior rank of non-commissioned officer was a later creation.
The armies of Arab countries use traditional Arabic titles. These were formalized in their current system to replace the Turkish system that was formerly in use in the Arab world and the Turco-Egyptian ranks in Egypt.
|مشير||mushīr||Counsellor||compare Counsellor of State, State Counsellor etc.|
compare etymology "mushir" with "shura"
|farīq awwal||First general||equivalent to Commonwealth|
|فريق||farīq||General||equivalent to lieutenant general or corps general|
|لواء||liwāʾ||Ensign||(more loosely "flag officer" or "banner")|
(not to be confused with aqīd, the
equivalent rank to a Commonwealth colonel)
|compare etymology with "ʿamood" ("column");|
etymologically, translates as "colonel" but
equivalent to brigadier/brigade general
Other nomenclatures for general officers include the titles and ranks:
In addition to militarily educated generals, there are also generals in medicine and engineering. The rank of the most senior chaplain, (chaplain general), is also usually considered to be a general officer rank.
In the old European system, a general, without prefix or suffix (and sometimes referred to informally as a "full general"), is usually the most senior type of general, above lieutenant general and directly below field marshal as a four-star rank (NATO OF-9). Usually it is the most senior peacetime rank, with more senior ranks (for example, field marshal, marshal of the air force, fleet admiral) being used only in wartime or as honorary titles.
In some armies, however, the rank of captain general, general of the army, army general or colonel general occupied or occupies this position. Depending on circumstances and the army in question, these ranks may be considered to be equivalent to a "full" general or to a field marshal.
The rank of general came about as a "captain-general", the captain of an army in general (i.e., the whole army). The rank of captain-general began appearing around the time of the organisation of professional armies in the 17th century. In most countries "captain-general" contracted to just "general".
The following articles deal with the rank of general, or its equivalent, as it is or was employed in the militaries of those countries:
Some countries (such as the United States) use the general officer ranks for both the army and the air force, as well as their marine corps; other nations only use the general officer ranks for the army, while in the air force they use air officers as the equivalent of general officers. They use the air force rank of air chief marshal as the equivalent of the specific army rank of general. This latter group includes the British Royal Air Force and many current and former Commonwealth air forces—e.g. Royal Australian Air Force, Indian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Nigerian Air Force, Pakistan Air Force, etc.
In most navies, flag officers are the equivalent of general officers, and the naval rank of admiral is equivalent to the specific army rank of general. A noteworthy historical exception was the Cromwellian naval rank "general at sea". In recent years in the American service there is a tendency to use flag officer and flag rank to refer to generals and admirals of the services collectively.
The air commanders of World War I were army or navy officers who came to command air services during the first major conflict in which air power played a significant role.Brigadier general
Brigadier general (Brig. Gen.) or Brigade general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000 troops (four battalions). In some countries a brigadier general is informally designated as a one-star general (OF-6).
In some countries, this rank is given the name of brigadier, which is usually equivalent to brigadier general in the armies of nations that use the rank, although the rank is not regarded as a general officer.
The rank can be traced back to the militaries of Europe where a brigadier general, or simply a brigadier, would command a brigade in the field. The rank name général de brigade, (which translates as "brigade general"), was first used in the French revolutionary armies.
In the first quarter of the 20th century, British and Commonwealth armies used the rank of brigadier general as a temporary appointment, or as an honorary appointment on retirement; in the 1920s this practice changed to the use of brigadier, which was not classed as a general officer.
Some armies, such as Taiwan and Japan, use major general as the equivalent of brigadier general. Some of these armies then use the rank of colonel general to make four general-officer ranks.Mexico uses the ranks of both General brigadier and General de brigada.Brigadier general (United States)
In the United States Armed Forces, brigadier general (BG, BGen, or Brig Gen) is a one-star general officer with the pay grade of O-7 in the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. The rank of brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral (lower half) in the other uniformed services (the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, as both Armed Forces and Uniformed Services; and the Public Health Service and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, as Uniformed Services). The NATO equivalent is OF-6.Commander of the Canadian Army
The Commander of the Canadian Army (French: Commandant de l'Armée canadienne) is the institutional head of the Canadian Army, and is based at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario.Commanding officer
The commanding officer (CO) or sometimes, if the incumbent is a general officer, commanding general (CG), is the officer in command of a military unit. The commanding officer has ultimate authority over the unit, and is usually given wide latitude to run the unit as they see fit, within the bounds of military law. In this respect, commanding officers have significant responsibilities (for example, the use of force, finances, equipment, the Geneva Conventions), duties (to higher authority, mission effectiveness, duty of care to personnel), and powers (for example, discipline and punishment of personnel within certain limits of military law).
In some countries, commanding officers may be of any commissioned rank. Usually, there are more officers than command positions available, and time spent in command is generally a key aspect of promotion, so the role of commanding officer is highly valued. The commanding officer is often assisted by an executive officer (XO) or second-in-command (2i/c), who handles personnel and day-to-day matters, and a senior enlisted advisor. Larger units may also have staff officers responsible for various responsibilities.Defense Superior Service Medal
The Defense Superior Service Medal (DSSM) is a senior American military decoration of the Department of Defense, awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces who perform "superior meritorious service in a position of significant responsibility".
The decoration is most often presented to senior officers in the flag and general officer grades, followed by a lesser number of colonels and USN and USCG captains. The medal is presented in the name of the Secretary of Defense and was established by President Gerald R. Ford on February 6, 1976, in Executive Order 11904. It is analogous to the Legion of Merit, albeit awarded for service in a "joint" duty capacity.General (United Kingdom)
General (or full general to distinguish it from the lower general officer ranks) is the highest rank currently achievable by serving officers of the British Army. The rank can also be held by Royal Marines officers in tri-service posts, for example, General Sir Gordon Messenger the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff. It ranks above lieutenant-general and, in the Army, is subordinate to the rank of field marshal, which is now only awarded as an honorary rank. The rank of general has a NATO-code of OF-9, and is a four-star rank. It is equivalent to a full admiral in the Royal Navy or an air chief marshal in the Royal Air Force.
Officers holding the ranks of lieutenant-general and major-general may be generically considered to be generals.General (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, general (abbreviated as GEN in the Army or Gen in the Air Force and Marine Corps) is a four-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. General ranks above lieutenant general and below General of the Army or General of the Air Force; the Marine Corps does not have an established grade above general. General is equivalent to the rank of admiral in the other uniformed services. Since the grades of General of the Army and General of the Air Force are reserved for wartime use only, and since the Marine Corps has no five-star equivalent, the grade of general is currently considered to be the highest appointment an officer can achieve in these three services.General Officer Commanding, Ceylon
General Officer Commanding, Ceylon (also known as Commander of Troops) was the designation of the General Officer appointed to command all British Army units stationed in the island of Ceylon during the British colonial administration of the island. The post was succeeded by the Commander of the Ceylon Defence Force.General officer commanding
The general officer commanding (GOC) is the usual title given in the armies of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth (and some other nations, such as Ireland) to a general officer who holds a command appointment.
Thus, a general might be the GOC British II Corps or GOC British 7th Armoured Division. A general officer heading a particularly large or important command, such as Middle East Command or the Allied Armies in Italy, may be called a general officer commanding-in-chief (GOC-in-C).
The equivalent term for naval officers is flag officer commanding (FOC) and that for air force officers is air officer commanding (AOC). In the United States Armed Forces, the equivalent is commanding general (CG).Generalleutnant
Generalleutnant, short GenLt, (English: lieutenant general) is the second highest general officer rank in the German Army (Heer) and the German Air Force (Luftwaffe).Generalmajor
For the use of this Two-star rank in other countries, see Major general.
Generalmajor, short GenMaj, (English: major general) is a general officer rank in many countries, and is identical to and translated as major general.
It is currently the third highest general officer rank in the German Army (Heer), German Air Force (Luftwaffe). This rank is also used in the Austrian Armed Forces, but is abbreviated as GenMjr.
Historically, German Army ranks for their Generals prior to 1945 were offset by one from western nomenclature. Thus, prior to 1945 the Generalmajor rank in the German Army was equivalent to the Brigadier General rank in the West, and so forth.Homosexuality in ancient Egypt
Homosexuality in ancient Egypt is a passionately disputed subject within Egyptology: historians and egyptologists alike debate what kind of view the ancient Egyptians' society fostered about homosexuality. Only a handful of direct hints still survive and many possible indications are only vague and offer plenty of room for speculation.Karl Philipp Sebottendorf
Karl Philipp Sebottendorf van der Rose (17 July 1740 – 11 April 1818) enrolled in the Austrian army at the age of 18, became a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars, and commanded a division against Napoleon Bonaparte in several notable battles during the Italian campaign of 1796.List of serving Generals of the Pakistan Army
This is the list of the serving generals of the Pakistan Army. At present, the army has two full generals, 30 lieutenant generals and 161 major generals.Major general
Major general (abbreviated MG, Maj. Gen. and similar) is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparently confusing phenomenon whereby a lieutenant general outranks a major general while a major outranks a lieutenant.
In the Commonwealth and the United States, it is a division commander's rank subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general. In the Commonwealth, major general is equivalent to the navy rank of rear admiral, and in air forces with a separate rank structure, it is equivalent to air vice-marshal.
In some countries, including much of Eastern Europe, major general is the lowest of the general officer ranks, with no brigadier-grade rank.One-star rank
An officer of one-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-6. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members. Typically, one-star officers hold the rank of commodore, flotilla admiral, brigadier general, brigadier, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air commodore.
Officers of one-star rank are either the most junior of the flag, general and air officer ranks, or are not considered to hold the distinction at all. Specifically, in many navies, one-star officers are not considered to be flag officers, although this is not always the case. The army and air force rank of brigadier general is, by definition, a general officer rank. However, the equivalent rank of brigadier is usually not designated as a general officer. The air force rank of air commodore is always considered to be an air-officer rank.Ranks of the National People's Army
The Ranks of the National People's Army were the military insignia used by the National People's Army, the army of the German Democratic Republic from 1956 to 1990.Scottish Command
Scottish Command or Army Headquarters Scotland (from 1972) is a command of the British Army.
|Field marshal or
General of the Army
the air force
|Admiral||General||Air chief marshal|
|Vice admiral||Lieutenant general||Air marshal|
|Rear admiral||Major general||Air vice-marshal|
|Commander||Lieutenant colonel||Wing commander|
junior grade or
|Second lieutenant||Pilot officer|
|Officer cadet||Officer cadet||Flight cadet|
|Warrant officer or
chief petty officer
|Warrant officer or
|Leading seaman||Corporal or
Military ranks and insignia by country
|Commonwealth of Nations|
Star officer grades
|By star ranks|