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Major General or Major-General is a military rank used in many countries. A Major General is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of Lieutenant General and senior to the rank of Brigadier General or Brigadier (depending on nationality). "Major General" is generally considered to be a 2 star rank.

In countries that do not maintain the rank of Brigadier General, including many in Eastern Europe and many others in the Commonwealth, Major General is the lowest of the General Officer ranks. Even if a nation's military does not class Brigadiers as Generals, however, prevailing order of precedence deems that nation's Brigadiers to be of the same 1 star rank as are other nations' Brigadier Generals. If a nation's military uses neither the rank of Brigadier General nor that of Brigadier nor any other equivalent rank, order of precedence still considers the nation's Major Generals to hold a 2 star rank regardless of how many (if any) stars appear in the nation's insignia for the rank, and that military is simply deemed to have no 1 star rank.



Army insignia

Air Force insignia

Common military ranks
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



In the old Austro-Hungarian Army, the major general was called a Generalmajor.[1] Today's Austrian Federal Army still uses the same term. (Collar insignias)


In the Canadian Forces, the rank of Major-General (MGen) (Major-général or Mgén in French) is an Army or Air Force rank equal to a Rear-Admiral of the Navy. A Major-General is a General Officer, the equivalent of a Naval Flag Officer. A Major-General is senior to a Brigadier-General or Commodore, and junior to a Lieutenant-General or Vice-Admiral.

The rank insignia for a Major-General is two gold maple leaves beneath crossed sword and baton, all surmounted by St. Edward's Crown. It is worn on the shoulder straps of the Service Dress tunic, and on slip-ons on other uniforms. The Service Dress tunic also features a wide strip of gold braid around the cuff. On the visor of the service cap are two rows of gold oak leaves.

Major-Generals are initially addressed by rank and name; thereafter by subordinates as "Sir" or "Ma'am", as applicable. Major-Generals are normally entitled to staff cars.


Canadian Forces ranks and insignia


In the Estonian military, the major general rank is called Kindralmajor.


The Finnish military equivalent is Kenraalimajuri, or Generalmajor in Swedish.


In the French military, Major général is not a rank but an appointment conferred on some generals, usually of Général de corps d'armée rank, acting as head of staff of a branch of service. This should not be confused with the chief of staff, who is usually a Général d'armée, and the true commander of each service. The position of major général can be considered the equivalent of a deputy chief of Staff. There are five Major Generals: the Major General of the Armies, head of the General Staff, the Major General of the Army, the Major General of the Navy, the Major General of the Gendarmerie and the Major General of the Air Force.

Historically, the French army had some sergent-majors généraux, also called sergents de bataille, whose task was to prepare the disposition of the army on the field before a battle. These sergents-majors généraux became a new rank, the maréchal de camp (not the same as a Field Marshal, in the French Army from antiquity called a Maréchal de France), which was the equivalent of the rank of major general. However the term of major général was not forgotten and used to describe the appointment of armies chiefs of staff. One well-known French Major général was Marshal Berthier, Major General of Napoléon's Grande armée.

The French equivalent to the rank of Major General is Général de division.


The German Army and Luftwaffe refer to the rank as Generalmajor. It was the lowest general officer rank used in German armies until the remilitarization of Germany in 1955 with West Germany's admission to NATO, when the rank of Brigadegeneral was introduced as the lowest rank for the Bundeswehr of West Germany and the former highest rank of Generaloberst was not used. The change was likely made to avoid confusion over relative rank in NATO forces. The Nationale Volksarmee of East Germany continued the use Generalmajor as the lowest general officer rank until reunification.


In Imperial Iranian army and air force, the rankings of the above Colonel are respectively Sar-teep (Brigadier General), Sar-Lashgar (Major General), Sepah-Boad (Lieutenant General), and Artesh-Boad (General)


In the Irish Defence Forces there are 4 Major Generals, each Commanding a Brigade. These are the 1st Southern Brigade, 2nd Eastern Brigade, the 4th Western Brigade and the Defence Forces Training Centre (DFTC)


In the Israel Defence Forces, a Major General is called an Aluf and is the second highest rank, only outranked by Rav Aluf (Lieutenant General or General), who is also the Chief of Staff.


In Italy exists the Army rank of Generale di Divisione. In the army the Generale di Divisione is the commander of a division or as other duties in the various national or international staff, in the Carabinieri or Guardia di Finanza. He/she is usually the commander of the units in a zone of the country.


In South Korea, the rank of Major General is known as Sojang (Hangul: 소장, Hanja: 少將).

The rank of Sojang is also used in North Korea, where it is the lowest general officer and flag officer rank, equivalent to a one star General and Admiral. The North Korean equivalent to a two star General is Jungjang, which roughly translates as Lieutenant General.

New Zealand

In the New Zealand Army, Major-General is the rank held by the Chief of Army (formerly the Chief of General Staff). The more senior rank of Lieutenant-General is reserved for when an Army officer holds the position of Chief of Defence Force, who commands all New Zealand's armed forces. This position is subject to rotation between the heads of the Air Force, Army, and Navy.


Major General in the Pakistan Army is equivalent to Rear Admiral in the Pakistan Navy and Air Vice Marshal in the Pakistan Air Force and is the lowest of the general officer ranks, ranking between Brigadier and Lieutenant General. The Pakistan Army has two female Major Generals. The longest server is Shahida Malik.


The rank of Major-General was reintroduced in the Portuguese Army, Air Force and National Republican Guard in 1999 in place of the former rank of brigadier. It was previously used in the Army, from 1862 to 1864. It is equivalent to Contra-Almirante (Rear-Admiral) in the Portuguese Navy.


In Sweden the rank of Generalmajor (Genmj) is used in the Army, the Amphibious Corps and the Air Force. It is the equivalent to Konteramiral (Counter Admiral) in the navy. It is typically held by the Inspector Generals of the three service branches and the head of the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service.


The Turkish Army and Turkish Air Force refer to the rank as Tümgeneral. The Turkish Navy equivalent is Tümamiral. The name is derived from tümen, the Turkish word for a military division (tümen itself is an older Turkish word meaning "10,000"). Thus, linguistically, it is similar to the French equivalent for a Major General, Général de division.

United Kingdom

In the British Army and Royal Marines, Major-General ranks below Lieutenant-General and above Brigadier, and is thus the lowest of the general officer ranks, although always considered equivalent to Major-General in other countries. Divisions are usually commanded by Major-Generals and they also hold a variety of staff positions. The professional head of the Royal Marines currently holds the rank of Major-General.

From 1 April 1918 to 31 July 1919, the Royal Air Force maintained the rank of Major-General. It was superseded by the rank of Air Vice-Marshal on the following day.

Major-General is equivalent to Rear Admiral in the Royal Navy and Air Vice-Marshal in the Royal Air Force.

United States

In the United States Army, a major general commands a division of 10,000 to 20,000 soldiers and is capable of fully independent field operation.

Fictional references

See also


  • Boatner, Mark M. III. The Civil War Dictionary. New York: David McKay, 1959. ISBN 0-679-50013-8
  • Bowden, Scotty & Tarbox, Charlie. Armies on the Danube 1809. Arlington, TX: Empire Games Press, 1980.
  • Foote, Shelby. The Civil War: A Narrative. Vol. 2 New York: Random House, 1986. ISBN 0-394-74621-X


  1. ^ Bowden & Tarbox, p 24. The authors write that FML (Field-Marshal-Lieutenant) is the same as Lieutenant-General and General-Feldwachtmeister the same as Major-General. But they list no equivalent rank to Brigadier-General. Nevertheless, the page cited is an excellent source of Austro-Hungarian ranks.


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