United States Army Officer rank insignia in use today.
|US DoD Pay Grade||O-1||O-2||O-3||O-4||O-5||O-6||O-7||O-8||O-9||O-10||Special||Special|
|Army Service Uniform Insignia (for infantry officer)|
Warrant Officers (WO) and Chief Warrant Officers (CW) in the US Military rank below officers but above officer candidates and enlisted servicemen. The first warrant officer rank, WO1 does not have a "commission" associated with it, instead having a "Warrant" from the Secretary of the Army. Warrant officers are allowed the same courtesies as a commissioned officer, but may have some restrictions on their duties that are reserved for commissioned officers. Warrant officers usually receive a commission once they are promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CW2), but are usually not referred to as "commissioned officers". WO-1s may be and sometimes are appointed by commission as stated in title 10USC.
|US DoD Pay Grade||WO1||CW2||CW3||CW4||CW5|
| United States
|Warrant officer 1
||Chief warrant officer 2
||Chief warrant officer 3
||Chief warrant officer 4
||Chief warrant officer 5|
The structure of United States military ranks had its roots in British military traditions, adopting the same or similar ranks and titles. At the start of the American Revolutionary War in 1775, the Continental Army's lack of standardized uniforms and insignia proved confusing for soldiers in the field. To correct the situation, at least in the short term, General George Washington recommended the following stopgap solution for distinguishing the ranks:
"As the Continental Army has unfortunately no uniforms, and consequently many inconveniences must arise from not being able to distinguish the commissioned officers from the privates, it is desired that some badge of distinction be immediately provided; for instance that the field officers may have red or pink colored cockades in their hats, the captains yellow or buff, and the subalterns green."
In 1780, regulations prescribed silver stars for general officers, worn on epaulettes. From 1821 to 1832, the Army used chevrons to identify officer grades, a practice that is still observed at West Point for cadet officers.
In 1832, epaulettes were specified for all officers, and colonels began wearing the familiar eagle insignia. The epaulettes worn by the infantry were silver, while all other branches had gold epaulettes. In order that the rank insignia would be clearly discernible, they were of the opposite color; that is, the infantry colonels had an eagle of gold because it was placed on a silver epaulette and all other colonels had silver eagles on gold epaulettes. No insignia existed yet for lieutenant colonels, majors, captains, and lieutenants—the length and size of the fringe showing the difference of grade.
In 1836, shoulder straps were adopted to replace the epaulette for field duty. The straps followed the same color combination as the epaulettes; that is, the border was gold with silver insignia for all officers except those of infantry which had silver border with gold insignia. At that time, lieutenant colonels and majors were authorized leaves, captains were authorized two bars, and first lieutenants were authorized one bar on the shoulder straps.
In 1851, it was decided to use only silver eagles for colonels, as a matter of economy. The silver eagle was selected based on the fact that there were more colonels with the silver eagle that those with gold, primarily in the cavalry and artillery, hence it was cheaper to replace the numerically fewer gold ones in the infantry. At that time on the shoulder straps, lieutenant colonels wore an embroidered silver leaf; majors wore a gold embroidered leaf; and captains and first lieutenants wore gold bars. The second lieutenant had no grade insignia, but the presence of an epaulette or shoulder strap identified him as a commissioned officer. For majors, the shoulder strap contained an oak leaf, but like the second lieutenant, the epaulette had no grade insignia. However, the major was still distinguishable from the second lieutenant due to the more elaborate epaulette fringes worn by field grade officers.
In 1872, epaulettes were abolished for officers and replaced by shoulder knots. As the shoulder knots had no fringe, it was necessary that some change in the insignia on the dress uniform be made in order to distinguish the major from the second lieutenant. It was natural to use the gold leaf which the major had been wearing on the shoulder strap. In the same year, the bars on the shoulder straps of the captains and first lieutenants were changed from gold to silver.
By 1917 and the time of World War I, the olive drab service uniform had gradually become used more frequently and the blue uniform was worn only on formal dress occasions. As a result, metal insignia was authorized for wear on the service uniform on the shoulder loop and on the collar of the shirt when worn without a jacket. Shortly after the United States entered the war, only the service olive drab uniform was being worn. The need for an insignia for the second lieutenant became urgent. Among the proposals was one to authorize for that grade a single bar, the first lieutenant two bars, and the captain three bars. However, the policy of making as little change as possible prevailed, and a gold bar was adopted in 1917, following the precedent previously established by the adoption of the major’s insignia.
In terms of heraldic tradition, these changes created the curious situation of silver outranking gold. One anecdotal explanation suggested by some NCOs is that the more-malleable gold suggests that the bearer is being "molded" for his or her responsibilities—as a junior company grade officer (while a second lieutenant) or a junior field grade officer (while a major). Another rationale, perhaps originally devised as a tool for recruits to sort out the confusion, proposed that the symbolism was expressed as proximity to the heavens. Gold metal is denser, thus deeper in the ground, than silver, followed by leaves on a tree above the metals, with eagles flying above the trees, and finally the stars in the firmament. In actuality, the precedence of silver outranking gold was a consequence of the decision in 1851 to select silver over gold as a matter of economy.
While not currently in use today, special insignia were authorized by Congress for ten general officers who were promoted to the highest ranks in the United States Army: general of the army, designed as a "five-star" rank, and general of the armies, considered to be the equivalent of a "six-star" rank. Eight generals were promoted to the rank and title General of the Army (Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip Sheridan, George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Henry H. Arnold, and Omar Bradley), while two generals were promoted to the higher rank and title of General of the Armies of the United States (George Washington and John J. Pershing).
Congress created the rank of general of the armies specifically for Washington, although while living he never officially accepted the honor. Pershing received the rank in 1919 and was allowed to choose his own insignia; he chose to use four gold stars. While a conjectural design for the rank of general of the armies was proposed using six silver stars when the promotion of Douglas MacArthur to the rank was considered in 1945, no design was ever officially authorized. In 1976, Congressman Mario Biaggi of New York submitted a house resolution granting Washington the promotion. The promotion was effective on July 4, 1976, the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence. Although Pershing accepted the rank in 1919 and technically had a date of rank that preceded Washington's, the new law specified that no other officer of the United States Army should ever outrank Washington, including Pershing. Hence, effective date of rank notwithstanding, Washington was permanently made superior to all other officers of the United States Armed Forces, past or present.
While no living officer holds either of these ranks today, the General of the Army title and five-star insignia designed in 1944 are still authorized for use in wartime. Congress may promote generals to this rank for successful wartime campaigns, or to give the officer parity in rank to foreign counterparts in joint coalitions, specifically with respect to field marshals.
|Title||General of the Army1||General of the Army2||General of the Armies3||General of the Army4||General of the Armies5|
|1 Worn by Grant (1866 to 1872).|
2 Worn by Sherman (1872 to 1888) and Sheridan (1888).
|NATO code||OF-10||OF-9||OF-8||OF-7||OF-6||OF-5||OF-4||OF-3||OF-2||OF-1||OF(D)||Student officer|
| United States
|General of the Army[note 1]||General||Lieutenant general||Major general||Brigadier general||Colonel||Lieutenant colonel||Major||Captain||First lieutenant||Second lieutenant||Officer candidate||Officer cadet|
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.Captain (United States O-3)
In the United States Army (USA), U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), and U.S. Air Force (USAF), captain (abbreviated "CPT" in the USA and "Capt" in the USMC and USAF) is a company grade officer rank, with the pay grade of O-3. It ranks above first lieutenant and below major. It is equivalent to the rank of lieutenant in the Navy/Coast Guard officer rank system. The insignia for the rank consists of two silver bars, with slight stylized differences between the Army/Air Force version and the Marine Corps version.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 of the Armies
The General of the Armies of the United States, or more commonly referred to as General of the Armies (abbreviated as GAS), is the highest possible rank in the United States Army. The rank is informally equated to that of a six-star general or Generalissimo and is one of the two highest possible military ranks in the United States Armed Forces.
The rank has been held only twice in history – by an active-duty officer (John J. Pershing), and by posthumous promotion to George Washington in 1976. The rank of General of the Armies is equivalent to the Admiral of the Navy and is senior to General of the Army, General of the Air Force, and Fleet Admiral.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.General officers in the United States
A general officer is an officer of high military rank; in the uniformed services of the United States, general officers are commissioned officers above the field officer ranks, the highest of which is colonel in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force and captain, in the Navy, Coast Guard, Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps (NOAACC).
General officer ranks currently used in the uniformed services are:
One-star – Brigadier general in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force and rear admiral (lower half) in the Navy, Coast Guard, PHSCC, and NOAACC
Two-star – Major general in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force and rear admiral in the Navy, Coast Guard, PHSCC, and NOAACC
Three-star – Lieutenant general in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force and vice admiral in the Navy, Coast Guard, PHSCC, and NOAACC
Four-star – General in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force and admiral in the Navy, Coast Guard, PHSCC, and NOAACCAbove these four general-officer ranks are five-star ranks, but these are generally reserved for wartime use. They are the General of the Army (in the Army, equivalent to the foreign rank of field marshal), Fleet Admiral (in the Navy), and General of the Air Force (in the Air Force). Nine Americans have held five-star ranks, but none currently.
The highest ranks, senior to the five-star ranks, are General of the Armies (in the Army) and Admiral of the Navy (in the Navy). These ranks are sometimes called six-star ranks, but holders of the ranks have never used six-star insignia. Only three people have ever held these ranks, which are sometimes considered to be the equivalent of the foreign ranks of generalissimo or grand marshal, and they have never been used at the same time as all other general-officer ranks. The rank of General of the Armies has been held only by John Pershing, promoted in 1919, and George Washington, promoted posthumously in 1976 as part of American Bicentennial celebrations. The rank of Admiral of the Navy has been held only by George Dewey, promoted in 1903 with date of rank retroactive to 1899. Proposals to bring back these ranks was made during World War II, with Douglas MacArthur and Chester W. Nimitz under consideration for appointment as General of the Armies and Admiral of the Navy, respectively, but this was never implemented.
Throughout much of U.S. history, ranks above three stars were either not used at all, used only on a temporary basis, or only used one at a time, with different titles used at different times for the same rank.Illinois Army National Guard
The Illinois Army National Guard is a component of the United States Army and the United States National Guard. With the Illinois Air National Guard it forms the Illinois National Guard. National coordination of various state National Guard units are maintained through the National Guard Bureau. The Illinois Army National Guard is composed of approximately 10,000 soldiers.
Illinois Army National Guard units are trained and equipped as part of the United States Army. The same ranks and insignia are used (see United States Army enlisted rank insignia and United States Army officer rank insignia). National Guardsmen are eligible to receive all United States military awards. The Illinois Guard also bestows a number of state awards for local services rendered in or to the state of Illinois.Lieutenant general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and the United States Air Force, lieutenant general (abbreviated LTG in the Army, Lt Gen in the Air Force, and LtGen in the Marine Corps) is a three-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-9. Lieutenant general ranks above major general and below general. Lieutenant general is equivalent to the rank of vice admiral in the other uniformed services.Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general. A major general typically commands division-sized units of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers. Major general is equivalent to the two-star rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard, and is the highest permanent peacetime rank in the uniformed services. Higher ranks are technically temporary and linked to specific positions, although virtually all officers promoted to those ranks are approved to retire at their highest earned rank.United States Army enlisted rank insignia
The chart below shows the current enlisted rank insignia of the United States Army, with seniority, and pay grade, increasing from right to left. Enlisted ranks of corporal and higher are considered non-commissioned officers (NCOs). The rank of specialist is a soldier of pay grade E-4 who has not yet attained non-commissioned officer status. It is common that a soldier may never be a corporal and will move directly from specialist to sergeant, attaining NCO status at that time.
In the beginning, US army enlisted rank was indicated by colored epaulettes. The use of chevrons came into being in 1821, with the orientation changing from point-down to point-up and back again, to the point-down orientation seen on Civil War soldiers. Around the turn of the 20th century, point-up wear was ordained and has remained so.United States Army enlisted rank insignia of World War I
The United States Army's enlisted rank insignia that was used during World War I differs from the current system. The color scheme used for the insignia's chevron was olive drab for field use uniforms or one of several colors (depending on the corps) on dress uniforms. The chevron system used by enlisted men during World War I came into being in 1895, and was changed to a different system in 1919. Specification 760, which was dated May 31, 1905 contained 45 different enlisted insignia that varied designs and titles by different corps of the army. General Order Number 169, which was enacted on August 14, 1907, created an even larger variety of enlisted rank insignia. Pay grades were not yet in use by the U.S. Army. The pay system identified the job assignment of the soldier. By the end of World War I, the system contained 128 different insignia designs.United States Army enlisted rank insignia of World War II
The U.S. Army enlisted rank insignia that was used during World War II differs from the current system. The color scheme used for the insignia's chevron design was defined as either light Olive Drab (shade OD-3) on dark blue stripes for wear on the Olive Drab "Winter" uniform or medium olive drab (shade OD-2) on dark blue for wear on the khaki "Summer" uniform (as seen in the charts below). This scheme of rank insignia was established by War Department Circular No. 303 on 5 August 1920 and would see two significant changes in 1942. The usage of this style of insignia was ended by Department of the Army Circular No. 202, dated 7 July 1948, which provided for significant changes in both rank and insignia design.United States Army rank insignia
United States Army enlisted rank insignia
United States Army enlisted rank insignia of World War I
United States Army enlisted rank insignia of World War II
United States Military warrant officer rank insignia
United States Army officer rank insigniaValley Forge Military Academy and College
Valley Forge Military Academy and College (VFMAC) is an American independent college preparatory boarding school (grades 7–12) and, as of Fall 2006, coeducational independent military junior college located in Wayne, Pennsylvania that follows in the traditional military school format with Army tradition. Though military in tradition and form, the high school portion of VFMAC, Valley Forge Military Academy, is a college preparatory boarding institution specializing on student leadership. VFMAC's administration is composed almost entirely of current or retired military. The Board of Trustees are almost entirely alumni. Some graduates pursue careers in the armed services, and VFMAC has one Rhodes Scholarship recipient. The school has established a tradition with the British Monarchy and follows an American military academy model and practices the American Army tradition.
VFMAC has a British Army Garrison Sergeant Major with William 'Billy' Mott, OBE MVO, Welsh Guards (organized the British Armed Forces for the Royal Wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II, Ceremonial Funeral of Baroness Thatcher and 13 Trooping the Colours) as the first Garrison Sergeant Major appointed as VFMAC staff.
The Valley Forge Corps of Cadets, which is entirely student run, is the only American military organization that maintained British rank, drill, customs and ceremonies. All cadets must pass a board and earn a "Capshield" to be a member of the Corps of Cadets. It is the only Corps of Cadets in the United States to still have a traditional mounted battalion of one cavalry troop and one artillery battery. College cadet uniforms are styled after the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. VFMAC Regimental Sergeant Major, Drum Major and Field Music Drum Major wears the British Army Foot Guard uniform. Cadet Senior NCOs carry a British Military pace stick.
Valley Forge Military College, "The Military College of Pennsylvania", is the only private military junior college in the United States where the entire college student body consists of military cadets from the United States and international cadets. All students are members of the Corps of Cadets. The Academy and College was once fully residential, but in recent years the academy also offers a day student program. VFMC is the only junior military college that caters to all branches of the United States military through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) and the "Prepster" program for all five United States service academies.
United States Uniformed Services rank and rate insignia
|Operations and history|
|Pay grade / branch of service||Officer
|Army||CDT / OC||2LT||1LT||CPT||MAJ||LTC||COL||BG||MG||LTG||GEN||GA||GAS|
|Marine Corps||Midn / Cand||2ndLt||1stLt||Capt||Maj||LtCol||Col||BGen||MajGen||LtGen||Gen|||||
|Navy||MIDN / OC||ENS||LTJG||LT||LCDR||CDR||CAPT||RDML||RADM||VADM||ADM||FADM||AN|
|Air Force||Cadet / OT / OC||2nd Lt||1st Lt||Capt||Maj||Lt Col||Col||Brig Gen||Maj Gen||Lt Gen||Gen||GAF|||
|Coast Guard||CDT / OC||ENS||LTJG||LT||LCDR||CDR||CAPT||RDML||RADM||VADM||ADM|||||
| No universal insignia for officer candidate rank; Navy candidate insignia shown|
Official 1945 proposal for General of the Armies insignia; John J. Pershing's GAS insignia: ; George Dewey's Admiral of the Navy insignia:
 Rank used for specific officers in wartime only, not permanent addition to rank structure
 Grade is authorized by the U.S. Code for use but has not been created
 Grade has never been created or authorized
 USAF and U.S. Army insignia shown
United States warrant officer and commissioned warrant officer ranks
 Grade is authorized for use by U.S. Code but has not been created
Military ranks and insignia by country
|Commonwealth of Nations|