Major general (or major-general, short MG) is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparently confusing phenomenon whereby a lieutenant general outranks a major general. (Though a major outranks a lieutenant, a lieutenant outranks a sergeant-major.)
In France, major general (major général) is an appointment, normally of corps general. The major general assists a chief of staff. There is one major general for the chief of staff of the armed forces as a whole, and one for each of the four armed forces chiefs (army, navy, air force and gendarmerie).
In some small countries, such as Estonia, major general is the highest rank currently used.
In the Commonwealth, 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 Japan
- 1.16 Kenya
- 1.17 South Korea
- 1.18 New Zealand
- 1.19 North Korea
- 1.20 Norway
- 1.21 Pakistan
- 1.22 Poland
- 1.23 Portugal
- 1.24 Somalia
- 1.25 Sweden
- 1.26 Switzerland
- 1.27 Thailand
- 1.28 Turkey
- 1.29 United Kingdom
- 1.30 United States
- 1.31 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 a Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force rank equivalent to the Royal Canadian 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 in the Royal Canadian Air Force is a wide braid under a single narrow braid on the cuff, as well as two silver maple leaves beneath crossed sword and baton, all surmounted by St. Edward's Crown. In the Canadian Army, the rank insignia is a pip on top of a crossed sword and sabre. It is worn on the shoulder straps of the service dress tunic, and on slip-ons on other uniforms. 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 one of the armed forces. The major general assists the Chief of Staff of the French army with matters such as human resources, management, and discipline, and his role is roughly analogous with the British Army position of Adjutant-General to the Forces. 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 Armed Forces, 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.
In the French Army, Major General (in full "Major General of the Army", Major général de l'armée de terre) is a position and the major general is normally of the rank of corps general.
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 1918, the rank of Generalleutnant (OF-8) was used to define a division commander, whereas Generalmajor was a brigade commander.
With the re-militarization of Germany in 1955 on West Germany's admission to NATO, the Heer 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.
GDR National People's Army
The Nationale Volksarmee of the German Democratic Republic continued the use Generalmajor (OF-6), abbreviated as "GenMaj", as the lowest general officer rank until reunification in 1990. It was equivalent to Konteradmiral (KAdm).
In the Magyar Honvédség (Hungarian Defence Force), the equivalent rank to major general is 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), nonetheless major general is the highest available rank for current Iranian commanders.
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.
Because there is no brigadier-general in Japan, major-general is the rank of brigade commander. Although former "rikugun-shōshō"(陸軍少将) in the "Imperial Japanese Army" was equivalent to major-general,"Rikushōho"(陸将補) in the "Japan Ground Self-Defense Force" is equivalent to major-general at present.
In Kenya, major general is the third highest rank. It is subordinate to general and lieutenant general, and superior to brigadier and colonel.
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.
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.
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).
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) became 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 Switzerland, the rank of generalmajor is called Divisionär (German) or Divisionaire (French).
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 (MG) typically commands a division of 10,000–20,000 soldiers and is capable of fully independent field operations. They may also serve as senior directors on Army and joint staffs. In the case of the Army National Guard, they may also serve as The Adjutant General (TAG) for their state, commonwealth or territory.
In the United States Marine Corps, Major Generals (MGen) typically serve as commanding generals of Marine Expeditionary Forces, Marine Divisions, Marine Aircraft Wings, Joint Task Force Commanders, or senior directors on Marine Corps and joint staffs.
In the United States Air Force, Major Generals (Maj Gen) typically serve as Numbered Air Force commanders, vice commanders of 3-star commands, joint task force commanders, warfare center, training center, weapons center, or logistics center commanders, or senior directors on Air Force and joint staffs. In the case of the Air National Guard, they may also serve as The Adjutant General (TAG) for their state, commonwealth or territory.
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
Georgian Armed Forces
Guyana Defence Force
Army of the Republic of Macedonia
Генерал мајор (general major)
major general (September 1959 to October 2014)
- 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.
|Commissioned officer ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces|
|NATO rank code||Student Officer||OF-1||OF-2||OF-3||OF-4||OF-5||OF-6
|Royal Canadian Navy||NCdt||A/SLt||SLt||Lt (N)||LCdr||Cdr||Capt (N)||Cmdre||RAdm||VAdm||Adm
|Canadian Army||OCdt||2Lt||Lt||Capt||Maj||LCol||Col||BGen||MGen||LGen||Gen||Not used|
|Royal Canadian Air Force||OCdt||2Lt||Lt||Capt||Maj||LCol||Col||BGen||MGen||LGen||Gen||Not used|
- MILITÄRISCHES STUDIENGLOSAR ENGLISCH Teil I, L – Z, Bundessprachenamt (Stand Januar 2001), page 742, definition: major general [MG].
- "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.