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|Comparative military ranks in English|
A general officer is an officer of high rank in the army, and in some nations' air forces or marines.
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.
|Army corps general|
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.
A lieutenant is the second junior-most or in some cases the junior-most commissioned officer in the armed forces, fire services, police, and other organizations of many nations.
Lieutenant general, lieutenant-general and similar is a three-star military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages, where the title of lieutenant general was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a captain general.
Brigadier general 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. In some countries a brigadier general is informally designated as a one-star general (OF-6).
Sergeant is a rank in many uniformed organizations, principally military and policing forces. The alternative spelling, serjeant, is used in The Rifles and other units that draw their heritage from the British Light Infantry. Its origin is the Latin serviens, 'one who serves', through the French term sergent.
A chief petty officer is a senior non-commissioned officer in many navies and coast guards.
Air vice-marshal (AVM) is a two-star air officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. Air vice-marshals may be addressed generically as "air marshal".
Air Marshal is a three-star air-officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence, including the Commonwealth, and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure.
Air chief marshal is a four-star air officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force, where it is the most senior peacetime air force rank. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries that have historical British influence and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-British air force-specific rank structure.
Wonsu is a high military rank in the armed forces of North Korea and South Korea.
Marshal of the air force, marshal of the air or a similar name is a five-star rank and an English language term for the most senior rank in some air forces. It is usually the direct equivalent of a general of the air force in other air forces, a field marshal or general of the army in many armies, or a naval admiral of the fleet.
An air officer is an air force officer of the rank of air commodore or higher. Such officers may be termed "officers of air rank". While the term originated in the Royal Air Force, air officers are also to be found in many Commonwealth nations who have a similar rank structure to the RAF.
A flag officer is a commissioned officer in a nation's armed forces senior enough to be entitled to fly a flag to mark the position from which the officer exercises command.
Army general was a rank of the Soviet Union which was first established in June 1940 as a high rank for Red Army generals, inferior only to the marshal of the Soviet Union. In the following 51 years the Soviet Union created 133 generals of the army, 32 of whom were later promoted to the rank of marshal of the Soviet Union. It is a direct counterpart of the Russian Federation's "Army general" rank.
Daejang or taejang is a senior military rank of the Korean Peninsula, used by both North and South Korea. It is considered the combined equivalent of a general and admiral in other nations. The rank of daejang is sometimes spelled as taejang, depending on the transliteration system used.
Lieutenant general, formerly more commonly lieutenant-general, is a senior rank in the British Army and the Royal Marines. It is the equivalent of a multinational three-star rank; some British lieutenant generals sometimes wear three-star insignia, in addition to their standard insignia, when on multinational operations.
A four-star rank is the rank of any four-star officer described by the NATO OF-9 code. Four-star officers are often the most senior commanders in the armed services, having ranks such as (full) admiral, (full) general, or air chief marshal. This designation is also used by some armed forces that are not North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members.
An officer of three-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-8. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members. Typically, three-star officers hold the rank of vice admiral, lieutenant general, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air marshal.
An officer of two-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-7. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members. Typically, two-star officers hold the rank of rear admiral, counter admiral, major general, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air vice-marshal.
Major general 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.
Colonel general is a three or four-star rank in some armies, usually equivalent to that of a full general in other armies. North Korea and Russian Federation have used the rank in that fashion throughout their histories. The rank is also closely associated with Germany, where Generaloberst has formerly been a higher rank above full General but below Generalfeldmarschall.
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