Brigadier General

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Brigadier General (sometimes known as a one-star general from the United States insignia) is the lowest rank of general officer in the United States and other countries, ranking just above Colonel and just below Major General.



In the Australian Imperial Force during World War I, the rank of Brigadier-General was always temporary and held only while the officer was posted to a particular task, typically the command of a brigade. When posted elsewhere, the rank would be relinquished and the former rank resumed. This policy prevented an accumulation of high-ranking general officers brought about by the relatively high turnover of brigade commanders.

As in the United Kingdom, the rank was later replaced by Brigadier.


The equivalent modern German rank is Brigadegeneral. The concept of a Brigadier General rank is relatively new, as prior to 1950 the lowest German General Officer rank was Generalmajor, which was often considered equivalent to Brigadier General in other armies.


In the Israeli Defense Forces, the rank of Brigadier General is called Tat Aluf and is the third highest rank, below Aluf (Major General) and Rav Aluf (Lieutenant General or General).


The rank of Brigadier General is known in South Korea as Chunjang and is a direct equivalent to the United States one star rank, with very similar insignia. The military of North Korea does not technically maintain a Brigadier General rank, but the first rank of Major General (Sojang) displays one star as its insignia and is the effective equivalent.

United Kingdom

The rank of Brigadier-General was abolished in the British Army and Royal Marines in 1922. It was replaced initially by the appointment of Colonel-Commandant, but this was seen as rather un-British and in 1928 was replaced by the appointment of Brigadier (which became a full rank after World War II). The old rank of Brigadier General has since been reintroduced in Canada and some other Commonwealth countries.

Strictly speaking, a Brigadier in the British Army is the highest field officer rank - hence the dropping of the word "general" from the rank - whereas a Brigadier-General was the lowest general officer rank. In NATO rank equivalency, however, the ranks are considered equal.

In the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces that use similar ranks, the equivalent rank is Air Commodore.

United States

US Brigadier General insignia
US Brigadier General insignia

The rank of Brigadier General has existed in the United States armed forces since the American Revolutionary War. A Brigadier General was at first strictly an infantry officer who commanded a brigade, but the responsibilities of the rank drastically expanded throughout the 19th and 20th century.

The rank was the equivalent to the United States Navy rank of Commodore, which later became known as Rear Admiral Lower Half. The insignia for a Brigadier General is one silver star worn on the shoudler or collar, with the insignia unchanged dating back to the creation of the rank some two centuries ago.

Since the Mexican-American War, however, the lower rank of Colonel has been the normal rank appointed to command a brigade.

Flag of the United States

U.S. commissioned officer ranks

  Student Officer O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6 O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10 O-11 (wartime only) Special Grade
the Navy
United States Marine Corps: Midn 2ndLt 1stLt Capt Maj LtCol Col BGen MajGen LtGen Gen (no equivalent) (no equivalent)
United States Army: Cdt 2LT 1LT CPT MAJ LTC COL BG MG LTG GEN General of
the Army
General of the Armies
United States Air Force: Cadet 2nd Lt 1st Lt Capt Maj Lt Col Col Brig Gen Maj Gen Lt Gen Gen General of
the Air Force
(no equivalent)
United States Coast Guard: CDT ENS LTJG LT LCDR CDR CAPT RDML RADM VADM ADM (no equivalent) (no equivalent)

List of notable Brigadier Generals

Please see: "General (fiction)" for fictional characters who have held the rank of Brigadier General

See also

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