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May 5, 2008

Wikipedia: General Officer

Filed under: — admin @ 4:43 pm
Common military ranks
Navies1 Armies2 Air Forces3
Admiral of
the Fleet
Field Marshal Marshal of
the Air Force
Admiral General Air Chief Marshal
Vice Admiral Lt. General Air Marshal
Rear Admiral Major General Air Vice-Marshal
Commodore Brigadier Air Commodore
Captain Colonel Group Captain
Commander Lt. Colonel Wing Commander
Lt. Commander Major Squadron Leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight Lieutenant
Sub-Lieutenant Lieutenant Flying Officer
Warrant Officer Sergeant Major Warrant Officer
Petty Officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading Rate Corporal Corporal
Seaman Private Aircraftman
1 in the English-speaking world 2 also some Air Forces
3 In many Commonwealth countries

A General Officer is an officer of high military rank. The term is used by nearly every country in the world. General can be used as a generic term for all grades of general officer, or it can specifically refer to a single rank that is just called General.

Contents

All General officer ranks

The various grades of general officer are at the top of the rank structure. The General Officer ranks came about by adding General as an adjective to existing names of ranks, although in some countries the highest general officers are titled Field Marshal or Marshal. All officers who commanded more than a single regiment (the most significant level of unit) came to be known as a “general officer”.

Common systems

There are two common systems of using general ranks.

One form, the old European system, is used in the United Kingdom from which it eventually spread to the Commonwealth and the United States of America. The system is not British in origin, and variations of this system were once used throughout Europe.

The other is derived from the French Revolution, where generals’ ranks are named according to the unit they (theoretically) command.

Old European system

Field Marshal or Field Marshal General
Colonel General
General or Captain General
Lieutenant General
Sergeant Major General or Major General
Brigadier (General)

The system used either a brigadier rank,, 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), 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.

French (Revolutionary) system

Marshal
Army General
Corps General
Divisional General
Brigade General

More information about this system can be found on the page: Général.

Other variations

Other nomenclatures for general officers include the titles and/or ranks:

  • Adjutant General
  • Commandant-General
  • Inspector General
  • Captain General
  • General of the Army (not to be confused with the title Army General)
  • General of the Air Force (USA only)
  • General of the Armies of the United States (of America), a title created for General John J. Pershing, and subsequently granted posthumously to George Washington.
  • Admiral General (or General Admiral) (German Navy)
  • Air General and Aviation General (Chilean Air Force; roughly equivalent to Air Chief Marshal and Air Vice-Marshal respectively)
  • Wing General and Group General (Mexican Air Force; roughly equivalent to Air Commodore and Acting Air Commodore respectively)
  • Lieutenant-Colonel General (A Serb rank immediately inferior to Colonel General, and roughly equivalent to Commonwealth/US Major General)
  • Director General (a common admistrative term sometimes used as an appointment in military services)
  • Director General of National Defence (most senior rank in the Mexican Armed Forces)
  • Controller General (general officer rank in the French National Police)
  • Prefect General (the most senior rank of the Argentine Naval Prefecture)
  • Master-General of Ordnance

The specific General 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. Usually it is the most senior peace-time rank, with more senior ranks (like, for example, Field Marshal) being used only in war time, 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 organization of professional armies in the 17th century. In most countries “Captain-General” contracted to just “General”.

General ranks by country

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

  • General (Australia)
  • General (Canada)
  • Général (France)
  • General (Germany)
  • General (Mexico)
  • General (Switzerland)
  • General (United Kingdom)
  • General (United States)

General equivalent ranks

  • Shang Jiang (China)
  • Kindral (Estonia)
  • Strategos (Greece)
  • Aluf (Israel)
  • Daejang (Korea)

Other General ranks

  • Obergruppenführer (Nazi Germany)

Air Force and Navy Equivalents

Some countries (such as the United States) use the General Officer ranks for both the army and the air force. But some countries 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 Marshal as the equivalent of the specific army rank of General. This latter group includes the British Royal Air Force and those based on it (e.g. India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Nigeria etc.).

In most navies of the world, Flag Officers are the equivalent of General Officers. And the naval rank of Admiral is equivalent to the specific army rank of General. However 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.

See also

  • Generalissimo
  • Général
  • Shogun
  • Comparative military ranks
Look up General Officer in
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This text comes from Wikipedia. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikipedia.

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