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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

A general officer is an officer of very high military rank. The term or equivalent is used by nearly every country in the world. General can be used as a generic term for all grades of general officer, or it can specifically refer to a single rank that is simply called general.

Contents

All general officer ranks

The various grades of general officer are at the top of the rank structure; lower-ranking officers are known as field officers or field-grade officers, and even lower-ranking officers are known as company-grade officers. All officers who commanded more than a single regiment (the most significant level of unit) came to be known as "general officers". The word "general" is used in its ordinary sense in English (and other languages) as relating to larger, general, military units, rather than smaller units in particular.

Common systems

There are two common systems of using general ranks.

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, to field officer ranks, although in some countries the highest general officers are titled Field Marshal or Marshal.

The other is derived from the French Revolution, where generals' ranks are named according to the unit they (theoretically) command.

Old European system

Field Marshal or Field Marshal General
Colonel General
General or Captain General
Lieutenant General
Sergeant Major General or Major General
Brigadier (General)

The system used either a brigadier general rank, 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), 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. Unlike other general officers, the brigadier general rank is not derived from a field rank of brigadier.

The rank of major general is a shorter form of sergeant major general, and is lower than lieutenant general as a lieutenant outranks a sergeant major, although outranked by a major.

French (Revolutionary) system

Marshal
Army General
Corps General
Divisional General
Brigade General

More information about this system can be found on the page: Général.

Other variations

Other nomenclatures for general officers include the titles and ranks:

The specific General 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. Usually it is the most senior peace-time rank, with more senior ranks (for example, Field Marshal) 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 organization of professional armies in the 17th century. In most countries "Captain-General" contracted to just "General".

General ranks by country

The following articles deal with the rank of General, or its equivalent, as it is or was employed in the militaries of those countries.

Air Force and Navy equivalents

Some countries (such as the United States) use the General Officer ranks for both the army and the air force; others 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 those based on it (e.g. India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Nigeria 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.

See also

External links


Common anglophone military ranks
Navies Armies Air forces
Officers
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
Lieutenant
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

A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force.[1] The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given.

The term General is used in two ways: as the generic title for all grades of general officer; and as a specific rank. Since the late twentieth century, the rank of General is usually the highest active rank of a military not at war.

Contents

All general officer ranks

The various grades of general officer are at the top of the rank structure. Lower-ranking officers are known as field officers or field-grade officers, and below them are company-grade officers. All officers who commanded more than a single battalion (the most significant level of unit) came to be known as "general officers".[citation needed] The word "general" is used in its ordinary sense in English (and other languages) as relating to larger, general, military units, rather than smaller units in particular.

Common systems

There are two common systems of general ranks.

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 or Marshal.

The other is derived from the French Revolution, where generals' ranks are named according to the unit they (theoretically) command.

Old European system

Field Marshal or General Field Marshal
Colonel General
General or Captain General
Lieutenant General
Sergeant Major General or Major General
Brigadier (General)

The system used either a brigadier general rank, 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), 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. Unlike other general officers, the brigadier general rank is not derived from a field rank of brigadier.

The rank of major general is a shorter form of sergeant major general, and is lower than lieutenant general as a lieutenant outranks a sergeant major, although outranked by a major.

French (Revolutionary) system

Marshal
Army General
Corps General
Divisional General
Brigade General

More information about this system can be found on the page: Général.

Other variations

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 most senior chaplain, Chaplain General, is also considered to be a general officer rank.

The specific General 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. Usually it is the most senior peace-time rank, with more senior ranks (for example, Field Marshal) 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 organization of professional armies in the 17th century. In most countries "Captain-General" contracted to just "General".

General ranks by country

The following articles deal with the rank of General, or its equivalent, as it is or was employed in the militaries of those countries.

Army generals' insignia

Air force generals' insignia

Air Force and Navy equivalents

Some countries (such as the United States) use the General Officer ranks for both the army and the air force; others 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 those based on it (e.g., India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Nigeria, 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.

See also

External links

References








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