Major general, major-general and similar are the names of a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer; normally the rank is subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general. Where relevant, the rank has a NATO code of OF-7, and is considered to be a two-star rank. A major general in most armies commands a division, however in some countries he commands a brigade.
In a number of countries, major general is the highest active rank used; for example, the Commander-in-Chief of the Estonian Defence Forces holds the rank of major general. The rank of major general is equivalent to the navy rank of rear admiral, and in air forces with a separate rank structure, it is equivalent to air vice-marshal.
- 1 Countries
- 1.1 Australia
- 1.2 Austria
- 1.3 Canada
- 1.4 Estonia
- 1.5 Finland
- 1.6 France
- 1.7 Georgia
- 1.8 Germany
- 1.9 Hungary
- 1.10 Iran
- 1.11 Ireland
- 1.12 India
- 1.13 Israel
- 1.14 Italy
- 1.15 Kenya
- 1.16 North Korea
- 1.17 South Korea
- 1.18 New Zealand
- 1.19 Norway
- 1.20 Pakistan
- 1.21 Poland
- 1.22 Portugal
- 1.23 Somalia
- 1.24 Sweden
- 1.25 Thailand
- 1.26 Turkey
- 1.27 United Kingdom
- 1.28 United States
- 1.29 Vietnam
- 2 Insignia
- 3 Fictional references
- 4 See also
- 5 Footnotes
- 6 References
In the Canadian Armed Forces, the rank of major-general (MGen) (major-général and Mgén in French) is both an Army and Air Force rank equivalent to the Navy's rank of rear-admiral. A major-general is a general officer, the equivalent of a naval flag officer. The major-general rank is senior to the ranks of brigadier-general and commodore, and junior to lieutenant-general and vice-admiral. Prior to 1968, the Air Force used the rank of air vice-marshal instead.
The rank insignia for a major-general is two gold maple leaves beneath crossed sword and baton, all surmounted by St. Edward's Crown. It is worn on the shoulder straps of the service dress tunic, and on slip-ons on other uniforms. The service dress tunic also features a wide strip of gold braid around the cuff. On the visor of the service cap are two rows of gold oak leaves.
Major-generals are initially addressed as "general" and name, as are all general officers; thereafter by subordinates as "sir" or "ma'am" as applicable in English or "mon général" in French. Major-generals are normally entitled to staff cars.
In the Estonian military, the major general rank is called kindralmajor.
The Finnish military equivalent is kenraalimajuri in Finnish, and generalmajor in Swedish.
The French equivalent to the rank of major general is général de division.
In the French military, major général is not a rank but an appointment conferred on some generals, usually of général de corps d'armée rank, acting as head of staff of a branch of service. This should not be confused with the chief of staff, who is usually a général d'armée, and the true commander of each service. The position of major général can be considered the equivalent of a deputy chief of Staff. There are five major generals: the Major General of the Armies, head of the General Staff, the Major General of the Army, the Major General of the Navy, the Major General of the Gendarmerie and the Major General of the Air Force.Major-General(General en Chef d'Armee)the Marquis de la Lafayette, is a prominent example of a Major-General holding the same equivalent rank in both the newly created United States and in Ancien-Regime France.
Historically, the French army had some sergent-majors généraux, also called sergents de bataille, whose task was to prepare the disposition of the army on the field before a battle. These sergents-majors généraux became a new rank, the maréchal de camp (not the same as a field marshal, in the French Army from antiquity called a Maréchal de France), which was the equivalent of the rank of major general. However, the term of major général was not forgotten and used to describe the appointment of armies chiefs of staff. One well-known French major général was Marshal Louis Alexandre Berthier; Major General of Napoléon's Grande armée.
In Georgia the rank major-general (გენერალ მაიორი) has one star as for security forces. The army however doesn't follow the traditional soviet model and uses the nowadays more common two-star insignia.
The German Army and Luftwaffe referred to the rank as Generalmajor (OF-7) until 1945. Prior to 1955, the rank of Generalleutnant (OF-8) was used to define a division commander, whereas Generalmajor was a brigade commander.
With the remilitarization of Germany in 1955 on West Germany's admission to NATO, (West) Germany adopted the rank structure of the U.S., with the authority of the three lower ranks being moved up one level, and the rank of Brigadegeneral (brigadier general, OF-6) added below them. The rank of Generaloberst (OF-9, Colonel general) was no longer used.
National People's Army
The Nationale Volksarmee of the German Democratic Republic continued the use Generalmajor (OF-6), short GenMaj, as the lowest general officer rank (one-star rank), (followed by Generalleutnant (OF-7), Generaloberst (OF-8), Armeegeneral (OF-9), and Marshal of the German Democratic Republic), until reunification 1990. The Konteradmiral (OF-6), short KAdm (en: Rear admiral) was equivalent to the Generalmajor.
The Hungarian Defence Force (Hungarian: Magyar Honvédség) refer to the rank as vezérőrnagy.
In the Iranian Army and Air Force, the ranks above colonel are respectively sartip dovom (second brigadier general with no equivalent in other countries), sartip (brigadier general), sarlashkar (major general), sepahbod (lieutenant general), and arteshbod (general)
In the Irish Defence Forces, there are two major generals. They are Deputy Chiefs of Staff with separate responsibility for operations (DCOS Ops) and support (DCOS Sp).
Major general in the Indian Army is equivalent to rear admiral in the Indian Navy and air vice marshal in the Indian Air Force and is the lowest of the general officer ranks, ranking higher than a brigadier and lower than a lieutenant general.
In Kenya, major general is the third highest rank. It is subordinate to General and Lieutenant General, and superior to Brigadier and Colonel.
The rank of sojang is also used in North Korea, where it is the lowest general officer and flag officer rank, equivalent to a one-star general. The North Korean equivalent to a two-star General is jungjang, which roughly translates as lieutenant general.
In the New Zealand Army, major-general is the rank held by the Chief of Army (formerly the Chief of General Staff). The more senior rank of lieutenant-general is reserved for when an army officer holds the position of Chief of Defence Force, who commands all New Zealand's armed forces. This position is subject to rotation between the heads of the air force, army, and navy.
Major general in the Pakistan Army is equivalent to rear admiral in the Navy and air vice marshal in the Air Force. It is the lowest of the general officer ranks, ranking between brigadier and lieutenant general. The Pakistan Army has two female major generals.
Generał brygady (Polish pronunciation: [ɡɛˈnɛraw brɨˈɡadɨ], literally General of a brigade, abbreviated gen. bryg.) is the lowest rank for generals in the Polish Army (both in the Land Forces and in the Polish Air Force). Depending on the context, it is equivalent to either the modern rank of major general, or the rank of brigadier general (mostly in historical context). Also look Generał dywizji or "General of the Division."
The rank of major-general was reintroduced in the Portuguese Army, Air Force and National Republican Guard in 1999 in place of the former rank of brigadier. It was previously used in the Army, from 1862 to 1864. It is equivalent to the rank of contra-almirante (rear-admiral) in the Portuguese Navy.
In the first half of the 20th century, major-general was not used as a rank in the Portuguese military, but as an appointment title conferred to the general officers that acted as the service branch military heads of the Navy and of the Army. The roles of Major-General of the Navy (Major-General da Armada) and Major-General of the Army (Major-General do Exército) were extinct in 1950, with their functions being transferred to the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces.
In Sweden, the rank of generalmajor (Genmj) is used in the Army, the Amphibious Corps and the Air Force. It is the equivalent to konteramiral in the navy. It is typically held by the Inspector Generals of the three service branches, and the head of the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service.
In Thailand, the rank of major general is called Pon-tree "พลตรี" for the Royal Thai Army, which is equivalent to rear admiral (Pon-reu-tree "พลเรือตรี") for the Navy, and air vice marshal (Pon-akat-tree "พลอากาศตรี") for the Air Force.
The Turkish Army and Air Force refer to the rank as tümgeneral. The Turkish Navy equivalent is tümamiral. The name is derived from tümen, the Turkish word for a military division (tümen itself is an older Turkish word meaning "10,000"). Thus, linguistically, it is similar to the French equivalent for a major general, général de division.
In the British Army and Royal Marines, major-general ranks below lieutenant-general and above brigadier, and is thus the lowest of the general officer ranks, although always considered equivalent to major-general in other countries. Divisions are usually commanded by major-generals, and they also hold a variety of staff positions. The professional head of the Royal Marines currently holds the rank of major-general.
From 1 April 1918 to 31 July 1919, the Royal Air Force maintained the rank of major-general. It was superseded by the rank of air vice-marshal on the following day.
In the United States Army, a major general commands a division of 10,000–20,000 soldiers and is capable of fully independent field operation.
In Vietnam, the rank of major general is known as thiếu tướng. It is used in the army and the air force. It is the equivalent to chuẩn Đô đốc in the Navy.
The rank of thiếu tướng is the lowest general officer and flag officer rank, equivalent to a one-star general and admiral. In the Vietnamese People's Army, a major general commands a corps of 30,000–40,000 soldiers and is capable of fully independent field operation.
Austrian Armed Forces
general de brigada
Georgian Armed Forces
Guyana Defence Force
Army of the Republic of Macedonia
Генерал мајор (general major)
general de división
- Major-General Stanley is the "modern major general" from Gilbert and Sullivan's 1879 comic opera, The Pirates of Penzance. Stanley is a satire of the aristocratic, learned officers in the British Army of the day who were commissioned as general officers without any military experience. He sings the enduring "Major-General's Song" ("I am the very model of a modern major-general, I've information vegetable, animal and mineral...")
- In the science fiction television series Stargate SG-1, the commanding officer of Stargate Command from seasons 1 to 7 is Major General George Hammond (played by Don S. Davis). From season 9, the position is taken up by Major General Hank Landry.
- Bartholomew Bandy, the air ace from Donald Jack's Bandy Papers series, ends the First World War as a major general at the age of only 26.
- In the anime movie Robotech II: The Sentinels, the lead character, Rick Hunter, holds the rank of major general.
- Con artist Private Harry Frigg, played by Academy Award-winning actor Paul Newman, is promoted overnight to major general in the 1968 war comedy, The Secret War of Harry Frigg.
- The third Judge Advocate General of the show JAG (1995–2005) is a major general: Major General Gordon "Biff" Cresswell, USMC, portrayed by David Andrews.
- The U.S. Army forces sent to occupy Brooklyn, New York in The Siege are commanded by Major General William Deveraux, portrayed by Bruce Willis.
- In countries that do not maintain the rank of brigadier general, including much of Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth, major general is the lowest of the general-officer ranks. Note, however, if the rank of brigadier is used, although brigadiers are not classed as "generals", they are of equal rank to brigadier generals, and are still considered to be a one-star rank. If neither of the ranks of brigadier or brigadier general (or an equivalent rank) are used, the major general is still considered a two-star rank (independent of how many stars there actually are in the insignia), and that armed force simply has no one-star rank.
- "Commander of the Defence Forces - Estonia". Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- Bowden & Tarbox, p 24. The authors write that FML (field-marshal-lieutenant) is the same as lieutenant-general and general-feldwachtmeister the same as major-general. But they list no equivalent rank to brigadier-general. Nevertheless, the page cited is an excellent source of Austro-Hungarian ranks.
- Somalia: A Country Study – Army Ranks and Insignia, www.marines.mil
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Major generals.|
- Boatner, Mark M., III. The Civil War Dictionary. New York: David McKay, 1959. ISBN 0-679-50013-8.
- Bowden, Scotty & Tarbox, Charlie. Armies on the Danube 1809. Arlington, TX: Empire Games Press, 1980. OCLC 6649795.
- Foote, Shelby. The Civil War: A Narrative. Vol. 2. New York: Random House, 1986. ISBN 0-394-74621-X.