General officer

NaviesArmiesAir forces
Commissioned officers
Admiral of
the fleet
Field marshal or
General of the Army
Marshal of
the air force
AdmiralGeneralAir chief marshal
Vice admiralLieutenant generalAir marshal
Rear admiralMajor generalAir vice-marshal
CommodoreBrigadier or
brigadier general
Air commodore
CaptainColonelGroup captain
CommanderLieutenant colonelWing commander
Major or
Squadron leader
LieutenantCaptainFlight lieutenant
junior grade
Lieutenant or
first lieutenant
Flying officer
Ensign or
Second lieutenantPilot officer
Officer cadetOfficer cadetFlight cadet
Enlisted grades
Master chief petty officer
of the navy
Sergeant major
of the army
Chief master sergeant
of the air force
Warrant officer or
master chief petty officer
Warrant officer or
sergeant major or
command sergeant major
Warrant officer or
chief master sergeant
Petty officer or
chief petty officer
Sergeant or
staff sergeant or
gunnery sergeant or
master sergeant
Sergeant or
staff sergeant or
technical sergeant or
master sergeant
Leading seamanCorporal or
Corporal or
senior airman
Seaman or
seaman recruit or
seaman apprentice
Private or
gunner or
Aircraftman or
airman or
airman basic

A General Officer is an officer of high rank in the army, and in some nations' air forces or marines.[a]

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.

General officer ranks

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.

Common systems

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.

Old European system

Field marshal or general field marshal
Colonel general
General or captain general
Lieutenant 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.

French (Revolutionary) system

Army general
Corps general
Divisional general
Brigade general

Arab system

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.

Rank Translation Notes
مشير mushīr Counsellor compare Counsellor of State, State Counsellor etc.
compare etymology "mushir" with "shura"
farīq awwal First general equivalent to Commonwealth
"full" general
فريق farīq General equivalent to lieutenant general or corps general
لواء liwāʾ Ensign (more loosely "flag officer" or "banner")
عميد ʿamīd Colonel
(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 variations

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.

Other Languages
asturianu: Xeneral
azərbaycanca: General
беларуская: Генерал
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Генэрал
Bikol Central: Heneral
български: Генерал
bosanski: General
буряад: Жанжан
català: General
Cebuano: Heneral
čeština: Generál
dansk: General
Deutsch: General
eesti: Kindral
Ελληνικά: Στρατηγός
español: General
Esperanto: Generalo
فارسی: ارتشبد
français: Général
Frysk: Generaal
galego: Xeneral
한국어: 장성급 장교
հայերեն: Գեներալ
हिन्दी: जनरल
hrvatski: General
Bahasa Indonesia: Jenderal
Ирон: Инæлар
italiano: Generale
עברית: גנרל
Jawa: Jéndral
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಜನರಲ್
ქართული: გენერალი
қазақша: Генерал
Kiswahili: Jenerali
Кыргызча: Генерал
latviešu: Ģenerālis
lietuvių: Generolas
македонски: Генерал
മലയാളം: ജനറൽ
मराठी: जनरल
Bahasa Melayu: Jeneral
Nederlands: Generaal
日本語: 将官
norsk: General
norsk nynorsk: General
occitan: Generau
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: General
Plattdüütsch: General
polski: Generał
português: General
română: General
Runa Simi: Wamink'a
русский: Генерал
Scots: General
shqip: Gjenerali
Simple English: General officer
slovenčina: Generál
slovenščina: General
српски / srpski: Генерал
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: General
suomi: Kenraali
svenska: General
Tagalog: Heneral
ไทย: พลเอก
Türkçe: General
тыва дыл: Генерал
українська: Генералітет
Tiếng Việt: Sĩ quan cấp tướng
ייִדיש: גענעראל
粵語: 將官