World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Major general

Navies Armies Air forces
Admiral of
the fleet
Marshal or
Field marshal
Marshal of
the air force
Admiral General Air chief marshal
Vice admiral Lieutenant general Air marshal
Rear admiral Major general Air vice-marshal
Commodore Brigadier Air commodore
Captain Colonel Group captain
Commander Lieutenant colonel Wing commander
Major or
Squadron leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight lieutenant
Sub-lieutenant Lieutenant Flying officer
Ensign Second
Pilot officer
Midshipman Officer cadet Officer cadet
Seamen, soldiers and airmen
Chief petty officer or
Warrant officer
Sergeant major or
Warrant officer
Warrant officer
Petty officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading seaman Corporal Corporal
Seaman Private Aircraftman

Major-general (or major general) is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general.

In the Commonwealth and United States, it is a divisional command rank subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the rank of brigadier/brigadier general.

In some countries, including much of Eastern Europe, major general is the lowest of the general officer ranks and theoretically commands a brigade.

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.[1]

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.


  • Countries 1
    • Australia 1.1
    • Austria 1.2
    • Canada 1.3
    • Estonia 1.4
    • Finland 1.5
    • France 1.6
    • Georgia 1.7
    • Germany 1.8
      • West Germany 1.8.1
      • National People's Army 1.8.2
    • Hungary 1.9
    • Iran 1.10
    • Ireland 1.11
    • India 1.12
    • Israel 1.13
    • Italy 1.14
    • Kenya 1.15
    • North Korea 1.16
    • South Korea 1.17
    • New Zealand 1.18
    • Norway 1.19
    • Pakistan 1.20
    • Poland 1.21
    • Portugal 1.22
    • Somalia 1.23
    • Sweden 1.24
    • Thailand 1.25
    • Turkey 1.26
    • United Kingdom 1.27
    • United States 1.28
    • Vietnam 1.29
  • Insignia 2
    • Army 2.1
    • Air Force 2.2
  • Fictional references 3
  • See also 4
  • Footnotes 5
  • References 6




In the old Austro-Hungarian Army, the major general was called a generalmajor.[2] Today's Austrian Federal Army still uses the same term.


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 two gold maple leaves beneath crossed sword and baton, all surmounted by St. Edward's Crown. The service dress tunic also features a wide strip of gold braid around the cuff. 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 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.

West Germany

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 the Israel Defence Forces, a major general is called an aluf and is the second highest rank, subordinate to rav aluf (lieutenant general or general), the rank held by the Chief of Staff.


In Italy, the equivalent of major general is the army rank of generale di divisione. In the army the generale di divisione is the commander of a division.


In Kenya, major general is the third highest rank. It is subordinate to General and Lieutenant General, and superior to Brigadier and Colonel.

North Korea

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.

South Korea

In South Korea, the rank of major general is known as sojang (Korean: 소장; Hanja: 少將).

New Zealand

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.


In the Norwegian Army, the Air Force and the Home Guard, generalmajor is the lowest general officer rank, equivalent to kontreadmiral in the 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: , 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 Somalia, major general is used within the Somali Armed Forces (SAF) for the highest-ranking military official.[3]


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.

United Kingdom

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.

Major-general is equivalent to rear admiral in the Royal Navy and air vice-marshal in the Royal Air Force.

United States

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.



Air Force

Fictional references

See also


  1. ^ "Commander of the Defence Forces - Estonia". Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Somalia: A Country Study – Army Ranks and Insignia,


  • 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.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.