General officer


General officer

A general officer is an officer of high military rank. The term or equivalent 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.

All General officer ranks

The various grades of general officer are at the top of the rank structure; lower-ranking officers are known as field officers. 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

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.

Note that a Lieutenant General outranks a Major General, although a (field) Lieutenant is outranked by a Major.

French (Revolutionary) systemMore 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, Aviation General, or General of the Air (Uruguayan & Chilean Air Forces; 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 (for example, Field Marshal) being used only in wartime, 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, or its equivalent, as it is or was employed in the militaries of those countries.

* General (Australia)
* General (Canada)
* Shang Jiang (China - PRC and ROC)
* Kindral (Estonia)
* Général (France)
* General (Germany)
* Obergruppenführer (Nazi Germany)
* Strategos (Greece)
* Aluf (Israel)
* Generale (Italy)
* Daejang (Korea - DPRK and ROK)
* General (Mexico)
* General (Switzerland)
* General (United Kingdom)
* General (United States)

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; others 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 Flag Officers are the equivalent of General Officers, and the naval rank of Admiral is equivalent to the specific army rank of General. 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.

ee also

*Generalissimo
*Général
*Shogun
*Comparative military ranks

External links

* [http://www.generals.dk/ Generals of World War II]
* [http://schema-root.org/region/americas/north_america/usa/government/executive/departments/defense/personnel/generals/ Schema-root.org: US Generals] News feeds for US Generals in the news
* [http://www.marines.mil/genbios2.nsf/bio+Main/ Marines.mil: General Officer Biographies] Biographies of United States Marine Corps General Officers
* [http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-generals-of-western-history.php Bios & Information on Generals of Western History] Information on 10 Generals who influenced Western History


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • General officer — Officer Of fi*cer, n. [F. officier. See {Office}, and cf. {Official}, n.] 1. One who holds an office; a person lawfully invested with an office, whether civil, military, or ecclesiastical; as, a church officer; a police officer; a staff officer.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • General officer — General Gen er*al, a. [F. g[ e]n[ e]ral, fr. L. generalis. See {Genus}.] 1. Relating to a genus or kind; pertaining to a whole class or order; as, a general law of animal or vegetable economy. [1913 Webster] 2. Comprehending many species or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • general officer — n. Mil. any officer above a colonel in rank …   English World dictionary

  • general officer — /dʒɛnrəl ˈɒfəsə/ (say jenruhl ofuhsuh) noun an officer of or above the rank of brigadier, holding the rank of either major general, lieutenant general, or general, having command of military formations larger than a brigade or having the duties… …   Australian English dictionary

  • general officer — noun officers in the Army or Air Force or Marines above the rank of colonel • Topics: ↑military, ↑armed forces, ↑armed services, ↑military machine, ↑war machine • Hypernyms: ↑commissioned military officer …   Useful english dictionary

  • general officer — noun Date: 1681 any of the officers in the army, air force, or marine corps above colonel compare company officer, field officer, flag officer …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • general officer — Mil. an officer ranking above colonel. [1635 45, Amer.] * * * …   Universalium

  • general officer — gen′eral of′ficer n. mil any military officer ranking above colonel …   From formal English to slang

  • General Officer Commanding — (GOC) is the usual title given in the armies of Commonwealth (and some other) nations to a general officer who holds a command appointment. Thus, a general might be the GOC II Corps or GOC 7th Armoured Division. A general officer heading a… …   Wikipedia

  • General Officer Commanding — (GOC) ist der militärische Titel, den ein General der britischen Armee trägt, der eine Formation befehligt. Ein General, der eine besonders bedeutende Formation kommandiert, wird auch als General Officer Commanding in Chief bezeichnet. Siehe auch …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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