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Common Military Ranks</font>
Naval forcesLand / Air forcesCommonwealth air forces
This table shows the hierarchy of widely recognized military rank titles. Not all variants ranks in between are included. If "broadly" equivalent ranks do not appear alongside each other, they are indicated by matching numerical notation.

A General is an officer of high military rank. The term is used by nearly every country in the world. General may be a rank on its own (four stars, in the American military), or can be used as a generic term for all grades of General or above.

The various grades of General are at the top of the rank structure, but in some countries the highest general officers are titled Field Marshal or Marshal.

"General Officer", often referred to less formally and imprecisely as "General", refers to a military officer who holds any rank grade of General. The exact rank of a general may be determined by combining a prefix (e.g. Major General) or suffix (e.g. General of the Army).

While historically an army rank, General is also used in most air forces, although many air forces are based on the British Royal Air Force system (e.g. UK, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Nigeria etc.) and use Air Marshal instead, with Air Officer being the generic title for general officers in these air forces. In most navies of the world, the equivalent rank is Admiral and the generic term is Flag Officer; however a noteworthy historical exception was the Cromwellian naval rank General at sea. In the Israeli Defence Forces there are no separate naval ranks and the Hebrew term Aluf can be both "General" and "Admiral". 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.

The rank of General began appearing around the time of the organization of professional armies in the 17th century. At first, it was added as an adjective to existing names of ranks, yielding Colonel General, Captain General, Lieutenant General and Sergeant Major General. These titles were used to distinguish the ruler's most important officers and usually involved a certain amount of negotiation over precedence.


[edit] General officer ranks

[edit] Common systems

There are two common systems of using general ranks. One is an old system perpetuated in particular by British usage which spread to the commonwealth and USA. The system is not particularly British in origin, and variations of this system were once used throughout Europe, but today the system follows the British pattern. The other is an ostensibly more logical derived from the French revolution, where generals' ranks are named according to the unit they (theoretically) command.

British system

Field Marshal
Lieutenant General
Major General
Brigadier (General)

European and Communist systems

Army General
Colonel General
Lieutenant General
Major General

French (Revolutionary) system

Army General
Corps General
Divisional General
Brigade General

Special General ranks

General of the Armies
General of the Army
General of the Air Force
General Admiral
Captain General

In the old system, a General, without prefix or suffix (and sometimes referred to informally as a "full general"), is usually the most senior general officer rank, above Lieutenant General. In some armies, however, the rank of Captain General, General of the Army, Army General or Colonel General occupied or occupies this position. These ranks may be considered to be equivalent to a full General or to a Field Marshal, depending on the army in question.

Other common versions of general are:

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 a part entiere, although it is always treated as equivalent to the rank of Brigadier General for comparative purposes.

[edit] Other versions

Other versions of general include:

[edit] General ranks by country

The following articles deal with the rank of General as it is employed in the militaries of various countries.

[edit] General equivalent ranks

[edit] Other General ranks

[edit] Quote

  • As for being a General, well, at the age of four with paper hats and wooden swords, we're all Generals. Only some of us never grow out of it.
    –Sir Peter Ustinov

[edit] See also

Look up General in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

[edit] External links

bg:Генерал bs:General ca:General cs:Generál da:General de:General et:Kindral es:General eo:Generalo fa:تیمسار fr:Général id:Jenderal it:Generale (esercito) he:גנרל lt:Generolas nl:Generaal ja:将軍 no:General pl:Generał pt:General ru:Генерал simple:General sk:Generál sl:General sr:Генерал fi:Kenraali sv:General vi:Đại tướng tr:General uk:Генерал zh:將軍


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