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General is a high military rank, used by nearly every country in the world. General may be a rank on its own, or can be used as a generic term for "general officers". In most nations, the various grades of General are at the top of the rank structure; but some countries have even higher ranks such as Field Marshal or Marshal.

General Officer, often referred to less formally and imprecisely as "General", refers to a military officer who holds any rank grade of General. The exact rank of a general may be determined by combining a prefix (e.g. Major General) or suffix (e.g. General of the Army) with the word general.

A General, without prefix or suffix (and sometimes referred to informally as a "full general"), is usually the most senior general officer rank, above Lieutenant General. In some armies, however, the rank of Captain General, General of the Army, Army General or Colonel General occupied or occupies this position. These ranks may be considered to be equivalent to a full General or to a Field Marshal, depending on the army in question.

While historically an army rank, General is also used in most air forces, although those based on the British Royal Air Force use Air Marshal instead, with Air Officer being the generic title. In most navies of the world, the equivalent rank is Admiral and the generic term is Flag Officer; however a noteworthy historical exception was the Cromwellian naval rank General at sea.

The rank of General began appearing around the time of the organization of professional armies in the 17th century. At first, it was added as an adjective to existing names of ranks, yielding Colonel General, Captain General, Lieutenant General and Sergeant Major General. These titles were used to distinguish the ruler's most important officers and usually involved a certain amount of negotiation over precedence.


General ranks by seniority

The following are the commoner modern grades of General, listed by seniority. Not all countries use all these ranks, although the lowest four are common to many. Grades of general are also not necessarily equal in all countries (for instance, in some countries Major General is the lowest general officer rank and may well be closer to Brigadier General in countries that have them).

General of the Armies
General of the Army
Colonel General
Lieutenant General
Major General
Brigadier General

In some European and Commonwealth nations, the equivalent to Brigadier General is Brigadier, which is not considered to be a general officer rank, although it is generally considered to be equivalent to the rank of Brigadier General. During World War I and World War II, the German Navy maintained a rank known as General Admiral, but this was a naval position unconnected to the regular land forces rank of General.

The rank of General may also be found commonly in fiction sources especially war dramas or science fiction settings.

General ranks by country

The following articles deal with the rank of General as it is employed in the militaries of various countries.

See also

Look up General on Wiktionary, the free dictionary

External links

This page aims to list articles related to the military rank of General. This is so that those interested in the subject can monitor changes to the pages by following the Related changes link. This list is not necessarily complete or up to date; if you see an article that should be here but is not (or one that should not be here but is), please update the page accordingly.

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