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Common military ranks
Officers
Navies Armies Air forces
Admiral of
the Fleet
Marshal /
Field Marshal
Marshal of
the Air Force
Admiral General Air Marshal
Commodore Brigadier Air Commodore
Captain Colonel Group Captain
Commander Lt. Colonel Wing Commander
Lt. Commander Major / Commandant Squadron Leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight Lieutenant
Sub-Lieutenant Lieutenant Flying Officer
Ensign 2nd Lieutenant Pilot Officer
Midshipman Officer Cadet Officer Cadet
Seamen, soldiers and airmen
Warrant Officer Sergeant Major Warrant Officer
Petty Officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading Seaman Corporal Corporal
Seaman Private Aircraftman

Field Marshal is a military officer rank. Today, it is the highest rank in the armies in which it is used, one step above a general or colonel-general.

Contents

Usage and hierarchical position

The origin of the rank of field marshal 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.

Some nations use the title of marshal instead, while some have used field marshal general. The Air Force equivalent in the Commonwealth and many Middle Eastern air forces is marshal of the air force (not to be confused with air marshal). The corresponding naval ranks are normally fleet admiral, grand admiral or admiral of the fleet.

Traditionally, upon their promotion, field marshals are awarded a decorative baton as a symbol of their rank. The baton is often studded with jewels and inlaid with precious metals.

Historically, however, several armies used field marshal as a divisional command rank, notably Spain and Mexico (Spanish: mariscal de campo). In France, Portugal and Brazil (French: maréchal de camp, Portuguese marechal de campo) it was formerly a brigade command rank.

Regional examples

Rank insignia of a British Field Marshal
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Australia

British army

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was a field marshal in twelve armies. His twelve field marshal batons are on display in Apsley House.

China

During Imperial rule in China, successful generals were given the title of field marshal (元帥 Yuan Shuai) or grand field marshal (大元帥 da yuan shuai). One of the most famous of these generals was Yue Fei from the Song Dynasty.

French army

In the French army of the Ancien Régime, the normal brigade command rank was field marshal (maréchal de camp). In 1793, during the French Revolution, the rank of field marshal was replaced by the rank of brigade general. The rank insignia of field marshal was two stars (one star being used for a senior colonel rank). The French field marshal rank was below lieutenant-general, which in 1793 became divisional-general. In the title maréchal de camp and the English "field marshal", there is an etymological confusion in the French camp between the English words "camp" and "field". The French rank of field marshal should not be confused with the rank of Marshal of France, which was the highest rank of the Ancien Régime and is in effect the highest French rank today (although in theory it is not an actual rank but a "state dignity").

Gensui Badge

Japan

Until the end of World War II, Japan also bestowed the honorary title of field marshal (元帥 gensui) on successful generals and admirals; they would however retain their ranks of general and admiral.

Indian army

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw was the 8th chief of staff of the Indian Army in 1969 and under his command, Indian forces concluded a victorious campaign during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Sam Manekshaw was the first of only two Indian military officers to hold the highest rank of Field Marshal in the Indian Army the other being Field Marshal K M Cariappa.

Replica of the Marshal's baton of Generalfeldmarschall von Richthofen

Turkish army

In the Turkish Armed Forces, the corresponding rank is Mareşal. The rank of Mareşal can trace its origins to the Ottoman Empire and to the military of Persia, where it was called "مشير" (müşir)[1] and bestowed upon senior commanders upon order of the ruling Sultan. The rank of Mareşal can only be bestowed by the National Assembly, and only given to a General who leads an army, navy and/or air force successfully in three battles or at various front lines at the same time, gaining a victory over the enemy. Only two persons have been bestowed the rank Mareşal to date: Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, and his chief of staff Fevzi Çakmak, both for their successes in the Turkish War of Independence.

United States

The United States has never used the rank of field marshal, however General Douglas MacArthur was a field marshal in the Philippine Army.

On December 16, 1944, George Marshall became the first American general to be promoted to 5-star rank, the newly created General of the Army. A Washington columnist suggested (with tongue in cheek) that Marshall disliked the plan because five stars was the rank of field marshal and the Chief of Staff could then be addressed as “Marshal Marshall.”[2]

Field marshal ranks

Other meanings

References and notes

See also


Simple English

A Field Marshal is the highest rank in the British Army, and some other armies, such as the German Army. The equivalent rank in the U.S. Army is the Five-star General.

The rank of Field Marshal is never awarded except to a General who has commanded an army in war.


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