|NATO rank code||OF-8|
|Next higher rank||General|
|Next lower rank||Major general|
In the United States Armed Forces, a lieutenant general is a three-star general officer in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force.
A lieutenant general ranks above a major generaland below a general. The pay grade of lieutenant general is O-9. It is equivalent to the rank of vice admiral in the other United States uniformed services which use naval ranks. It is abbreviated as LTG in the Army, LtGen in the Marine Corps, and Lt Gen in the Air Force and Space Force.
The United States Code explicitly limits the total number of generals that may be concurrently active to 231 for the Army, 62 for the Marine Corps, and 198 for the Air Force.For the Army and Air Force, no more than about 25% of the service's active duty general officers may have more than two stars. Some of these slots can be reserved by statute. Officers serving in certain intelligence positions are not counted against either limit, including the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The President may also add three-star slots to one service if they are offset by removing an equivalent number from other services. Finally, all statutory limits may be waived at the president's discretion during time of war or national emergency.
The three-star grade goes hand-in-hand with the position of office to which it is linked, so the rank is temporary. Officers may only achieve three-star grade if they are appointed to positions that require the officer to hold such a rank.Their rank expires with the expiration of their term of office, which is usually set by statute. Lieutenant generals are nominated for appointment by the president from any eligible officers holding the rank of brigadier general or above, who also meet the requirements for the position, with the advice of the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The nominee must be confirmed via majority vote by the Senate before the appointee can take office and thus assume the rank. The standard tour length for most lieutenant general positions is three years but some are set four or more years by statute.
Extensions of the standard tour length can be approved, within statutory limits, by their respective service secretaries, the Secretary of Defense, the president, or Congress but these are rare, as they block other officers from being promoted. Some statutory limits under the U.S. Code can be waived in times of national emergency or war. Three-star ranks may also be given by an act of Congress but this is extremely rare.
Other than voluntary retirement, the statute sets a number of mandates for retirement. Lieutenant generals must retire after 38 years of service unless appointed for promotion or reappointed to grade to serve longer.Otherwise, all general officers must retire the month after their 64th birthday. However, the Secretary of Defense can defer a three-star officer's retirement until the officer's 66th birthday and the president can defer it until the officer's 68th birthday.
General officers typically retire well in advance of the statutory age and service limits, so as not to impede the upward career mobility of their juniors. Since there is a finite number of three-star slots available to each service, typically one officer must leave office before another can be promoted.Maintaining a three-star rank is a game of musical chairs; once an officer vacates a position bearing that rank, they have 60 days to be appointed or reappointed to a position of equal or higher importance or involuntarily retire. Historically, officers leaving three-star positions were allowed to revert to their permanent two-star ranks to mark time in lesser jobs until statutory retirement, but now such officers are expected to retire immediately to avoid obstructing the promotion flow.
An Army or Marine Corps lieutenant general typically commands a corps-sized unit (20,000 to 45,000 soldiers for an Army Corps and a similar number of Marines for a Marine Expeditionary Force), while an Air Force lieutenant general commands a large Numbered Air Force consisting of several wings or a smaller USAF Major Command (MAJCOM) such as the Air Force Special Operations Command or the Air Force Reserve Command. Additionally, lieutenant generals of all services serve as high-level staff officers at various major command headquarters and The Pentagon, often as the heads of their departments. In 2014 five women were serving as lieutenant generals in the US Army.
After the close of the Second World War, generals were normally promoted permanently to brigadier general and major general, with temporary promotions to lieutenant general and general to fill senior positions as needed. In theory, a general vacates their three or four-star rank at the termination of their assignment unless placed in an equal ranking billet. Douglas MacArthur, who served as a four-star general and Army Chief of Staff, reverted to two stars after his CoS tour ended but chose to stay on active duty in the United States Army.
The practice of using lieutenant general and general grades as a temporary rank continues, with the President and the Department of Defense creating temporary or indefinite three- and four-star assignments, with a fixed term of office, with the approval of the Senate. Even with the temporary status, such officers are also almost always granted permanent retirement in the last grade they held with the satisfactory completion of at least two or three years in grade.
Listed in order of receiving the rank:
Military ranks are a system of hierarchical relationships, within an armed forces, police, intelligence agencies or other institutions organized along military lines. The military rank system defines dominance, authority, and responsibility in a military hierarchy. It incorporates the principles of exercising power and authority into the military chain of command – the succession of commanders superior to subordinates through which command is exercised. The military chain of command constructs an important component for organized collective action.
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in the armed forces, fire services, police and other organizations of many nations.
Lieutenant commander is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander. The corresponding rank in most armies and air forces is major, and in the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces is squadron leader.
Brigadier general or brigade general is a military rank used in many countries. 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).
In the United States Navy, officers have various ranks. Equivalency between services is by pay grade. United States Navy commissioned officer ranks have two distinct sets of rank insignia: On dress uniform a series of stripes similar to Commonwealth naval ranks are worn; on service khaki, working uniforms, and special uniform situations, the rank insignia are identical to the equivalent rank in the US Marine Corps.
The United States Air Force officer rank insignia in use today.
A general denotes the most senior general-grade officer; it is the highest achievable commissioned officer rank that may be attained in the United States Armed Forces, with exception of the Navy. The official and formal insignia of General is defined by its four-stars.
In the United States Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Space Force, colonel is the most senior field-grade military officer rank, immediately above the rank of lieutenant colonel and just below the rank of brigadier general. It is equivalent to the naval rank of captain in the other uniformed services. By law, an officer previously required at least 22 years of cumulative service and a minimum of three years as a lieutenant colonel before being promoted to colonel. With the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, military services now have the authorization to directly commission new officers up to the rank of colonel. The pay grade for colonel is O-6.
In the United States Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force, major is a field-grade military officer rank above the rank of captain and below the rank of lieutenant colonel. It is equivalent to the naval rank of lieutenant commander in the other uniformed services. Although lieutenant commanders are considered junior officers by their respective services, the rank of major is that of a senior officer in the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Air Force.
In the United States Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force, lieutenant colonel is a field-grade officer rank, just above the rank of major and just below the rank of colonel. It is equivalent to the naval rank of commander in the other uniformed services.
In the United States uniformed services, captain is a commissioned-officer rank. In keeping with the traditions of the militaries of most nations, the rank varies between the services, being a senior rank in the naval services and a junior rank in the ground and air forces. Many fire departments and police departments in the United States also use the rank of captain as an officer in a specific unit.
In the United States Armed Forces, a brigadier general is a one-star general officer in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force.
In the United States Armed Forces, a major general is a two-star general officer in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force.
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).
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 apparent confusion of a lieutenant general outranking a major general, whereas a major outranks a lieutenant.
In the United States Army (USA), U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), U.S. Air Force (USAF), and U.S. Space Force (USSF), captain 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.
|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 |||
|Air Force||Cdt / OT||2nd Lt||1st Lt||Capt||Maj||Lt Col||Col||Brig Gen||Maj Gen||Lt Gen||Gen||GAF |||
|Space Force||Cdt / OT||2nd Lt||1st Lt||Capt||Maj||Lt Col||Col||Brig Gen||Maj Gen||Lt Gen||Gen|||||
|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|
 No official insignia and not currently listed by the Army as an obtainable rank. John J. Pershing's GAS insignia:
 These ranks are reserved for wartime use only, and are still listed as ranks within their respective services
 Grade is authorized by the U.S. Code for use but has not been created
 Grade has never been created or authorized
| Army || |
| Marine Corps || |
| Navy || |
| Air Force || |
| Coast Guard || |
| PHS Corps |||||||||
Grade is authorized for use by U.S. Code but has not been created