|NATO rank code||OF-7|
|Next higher rank||Lieutenant general|
|Next lower rank||Brigadier general|
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 major general ranks above a brigadier general and below a lieutenant general. Maj Gen in the Air Force and Space Force.The pay grade of major general is O-8. It is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other United States uniformed services which use naval ranks. It is abbreviated as MG in the Army, MajGen in the Marine Corps, and
Major general is the highest permanent peacetime rank in the uniformed services as higher ranks are technically temporary and linked to specific positions, although virtually all officers promoted to those ranks are approved to retire at their highest earned rank. A major general typically commands division-sized units of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers.
The United States Code explicitly limits the total number of general officers that may be on active duty at any given time. The total number of active duty general officers is capped at 231 for the Army, 62 for the Marine Corps, and 198 for the Air Force.Some of these slots are reserved or finitely set by statute. For example, the Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Army is a major general in the Army; the same rank is held by the Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Air Force; the Army's Chief of Engineers is also appointed as a major general and thereafter promoted to lieutenant general.
The United States Code also limits the total number of general officers that may be on the Reserve Active Status List (RASL) in the Reserve Component, which is defined in the case of general officers as the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve.
To be promoted to the permanent grade of major general, officers who are eligible for promotion to this rank are screened by an in-service promotion board composed of other general officers from their branch of service.This promotion board then generates a list of officers it recommends for promotion to general rank. This list is then sent to the service secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff for review before it can be sent to the President, through the Secretary of Defense for consideration. The President nominates officers to be promoted from this list with the advice of the Secretary of Defense, the service secretary, and if applicable, the service's chief of staff or commandant. The President may nominate any eligible officer who is not on the recommended list if it serves in the interest of the nation, but this is uncommon. The Senate must then confirm the nominee by a majority vote before the officer can be promoted. Once confirmed, the nominee is promoted to that rank on assuming a position of office that requires an officer to hold the rank. For positions of office that are reserved by statute, the President nominates an officer for appointment to fill that position. For all three of the applicable uniformed services, because the grade of major general is a permanent rank, the nominee may still be screened by an in-service promotion board to add their input on the nominee before the nomination can be sent to the Senate for approval. Since the grade of major general is permanent, the rank does not expire when the officer vacates a two-star position. Tour length varies depending on the position, by statute, and/or when the officer receives a new assignment or a promotion, but the average tour length per two-star billet is two to four years.
In the Army, Major Generals (MG) typically serve as division commanders (e.g., infantry divisions, cavalry division, etc.), training center commanders, joint task force commanders, deputy commanding generals to 3-star generals, chief of staff in 4-star commands, senior directors on Army and joint staffs, and, in the case of the Army National Guard, as The Adjutant General (TAG) for their state, commonwealth or territory. In certain situations, states can promote their Adjutant General to general officer ranks without Senate confirmation. The officer will wear the general rank, yet only be recognized at their lower federally recognized rank. They're identified with the two letter state identifier of their respective National Guard being listed after their rank. Some examples of this are Major General (GA) Jim Butterworth and Major General (GU) Esther Aguigui.
In the Marine Corps, Major Generals (MajGen) typically serve as commanding generals or deputy commanding generals of Marine Expeditionary Forces, Marine Divisions, Marine Aircraft Wings, Joint Task Force Commanders, or senior directors on Marine Corps and joint staffs.
In the Air Force, Major Generals (Maj Gen) typically serve as Numbered Air Force commanders, vice commanders of 3-star commands, joint task force commanders, warfare center, training center, weapons center, or logistics center commanders, or senior directors on Air Force and joint staffs. In the case of the Air National Guard, they may also serve as The Adjutant General (TAG) for their state, commonwealth or territory.
Other than voluntary retirement, statute sets a number of mandates for retirement of general officers (called flag officers in the Navy and Coast Guard). All major generals must retire after five years in grade or 35 years of service, whichever is later, unless appointed for promotion or reappointed to grade to serve longer.Otherwise, all general officers must retire the month after their 64th birthday.
The Continental Army was established on June 15, 1775, when the Continental Congress commissioned George Washington as a general and placed him in command of the Army of Observation then besieging Boston. The rank of major general was first established two days later on June 17, 1775, when two major generals were commissioned by Congress soon followed by two more major generals being appointed on June 19.
Following the disbanding of the Continental Army at the end of 1783 only one major general, Henry Knox, remained in service until his resignation in June 1784. The rank was revived on March 4, 1791, when Arthur St. Clair was appointed as major general in command of the U.S. Army. St. Clair was succeeded by Major General Anthony Wayne who commanded the Army (then named the Legion of the United States) until his death on December 15, 1796. The rank was revived on July 19, 1798, when Alexander Hamilton and Charles C. Pinckney were commissioned as major generals during the Quasi War with France. The expanded Army was demobilized on June 15, 1800, when it was reduced to only four regiments of infantry and two of artillery commanded by a brigadier general.
The rank of major general was abolished in the U.S. Army by the Act of March 16, 1802,and restored by the Act of January 11, 1812, as preparations were being made for the War of 1812. Major general has been a rank in the U.S. Army ever since.
Until the American Civil War, major general was the highest rank that could be attained by an officer in the U.S. Army, though Winfield Scott had been given the brevet rank of lieutenant generalin 1855. This was a consequence of the fact that at his death George Washington was officially listed as holding the rank of lieutenant general, rather than full general, and it was regarded as improper for an officer to hold a rank equal to or superior to Washington's. To address this anomaly, Washington was posthumously promoted by Congress to the rank of General of the Armies of the United States in 1976.
The position of Major General Commanding the Army was entitled to wear three stars according to General Order No. 6 of March 13, 1861.When Ulysses S. Grant was appointed lieutenant general on March 9, 1864, and took command of the Union forces, he used the three-star insignia formerly assigned to that position.
The Confederate States Army maintained a similar rank of major general, usually associated with the command of a division, while lieutenant generals often commanded corps and full generals led armies as a general convention.
There was no major general in the U.S. Marine Corps until Commandant Charles Heywood was specially promoted by Act of Congress in July 1902. From his retirement on October 3, 1903, brigadier general was again the highest rank in the Marine Corps until May 21, 1908, when the rank held by the commandant was raised to major general. It remained the highest rank in the Marine Corps until January 20, 1942, when the rank held by the commandant was raised to lieutenant general.
Given that the U.S. Air Force evolved from its predecessors, the U.S. Army Air Service, the U.S. Army Air Corps and the U.S. Army Air Forces, the rank of major general in the Air Force coincides with its establishment as an independent service in 1947.
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Military ranks are a system of hierarchical relationships in 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.
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.
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.
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 Armed Forces, a lieutenant general is a three-star general officer in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force.
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.
The United States Marine Corps' Judge Advocate Division serves both to advise the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) and other officials in Headquarters, Marine Corps on legal matters, and to oversee the Marine Corps legal community. The head of the Judge Advocate Division (JAD) is the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant.
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.
A rear admiral in the U.S. uniformed services is either of two different ranks of commissioned officers: one-star flag officers and two-star flag officers. By contrast, in most nations, the term "rear admiral" refers to an officer of two-star rank.
Lieutenant commander (LCDR) is a mid-ranking officer rank in the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, with the pay grade of O-4 and NATO rank code OF-3. The predecessors of the NOAA Corps, the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Corps (1917–1965) and the Environmental Science Services Administration Corps (1965–1970), also used the lieutenant commander rank, and the rank is also used in the United States Maritime Service and the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps. Lieutenant commanders rank above lieutenants and below commanders, and rank is equivalent to a major in the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps.
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).
First sergeant is typically a senior non-commissioned officer rank, used in many countries. In NATO armed forces the rank is on OR8 level.
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