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In the
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare, land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight Uniformed services of the United States, U.S. uniformed services, and is designated as the Army o ...
,
Marine Corps Marines, or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate in in support of naval operations. Historically, tasks undertaken by marines have included helping maintain discipline and order aboard the ship (reflecting the natu ...
, and
Air Force
Air Force
, major is a field-grade
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...

military
officer An officer is a person who has a position of authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It ...
rank Rank is the relative position, value, worth, complexity, power, importance, authority, level, etc. of a person or object within a ranking A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such that, for any two items, the first is either "ranked ...
above the rank of
captain Captain is a title for the commander of a military unit, the commander of a ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel, or the commander of a port, fire department or police department, election precinct, etc. The captain is a military rank in ar ...
and below the rank of
lieutenant colonel Lieutenant colonel ( or ) is a rank of commissioned officer in the army, armies, most Marine (armed services), marine forces and some air forces of the world, above a major and below a colonel. Several police forces in the United States use the ...
. It is equivalent to the
naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically authorized a ...

naval
rank of
lieutenant commander Lieutenant commander (also hyphenated lieutenant-commander and abbreviated Lt Cdr, LtCdr. or LCDR) is a commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, als ...
in the other
uniformed services Uniformed services are bodies of people in employment of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The Sta ...
. Although lieutenant commanders are considered junior officers by their respective services (Navy and Coast Guard), the rank of major is that of a senior officer in the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Air Force. The
pay grade A pay grade is a unit in systems of monetary compensation for employment. It is commonly used in public service, both civil and military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primari ...
for the rank of major is O-4. The insignia for the rank consists of a golden
oak An oak is a tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including on ...

oak
leaf, with slight stylized differences between the Army/Air Force version and the Marine Corps version. Promotion to major is governed by the Department of Defense policies derived from the
Defense Officer Personnel Management Act The Defense Officer Personnel Management Act (DOPMA) () is a United States federal law The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the nation's Constitution of the Un ...
of 1980.


Army

A major in the U.S. Army typically serves as a
battalion A battalion is a military unit Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intend ...

battalion
executive officer (XO) or as the battalion
operations officer Military operations is a concept and application of military science Military science is the study of military processes, institutions, and behavior, along with the study of warfare, and the theory and application of organized coercive force. ...
(S3). Majors can also serve as Company Commanding Officers, a major can also serve as a primary staff officer for a
regiment A regiment is a military unit Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed forces of a state so as to offer such military capability as a national defense policy may require. In some countries param ...
,
brigade A brigade is a major tactical military formation Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed forces of a State (polity), state so as to offer such military capability as a military policy, national de ...

brigade
or
task force A task force (TF) is a unit or formation established to work on a single defined task or activity. Originally introduced by the United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficia ...
in the areas concerning personnel, logistics, intelligence, and operations. A major will also be a staff officer / action officer on higher staffs and headquarters. In addition, majors command augmented companies in Combat Service and Service Support units. U.S. Army majors also command
Special operations Special operations (S.O.) are military activities conducted by "specially designated, organized, selected, trained, and equipped forces using unconventional techniques and modes of employment," according to NATO. Special operations may include r ...
companies, such as
U.S. Army Special Forces The United States Army Special Forces, colloquially known as the "Green Berets" due to their distinctive service headgear Headgear, headwear, or headdress is the name given to any element of clothing which is worn on one's Human head, h ...
companies, Civil Affairs companies, Military Information Support Operations companies, and certain types of separate, numbered vice lettered, Military Intelligence companies. Selected majors in the United States Army attend the 10-month
Command and General Staff School The United States Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC or, obsolete, USACGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Kansas () is a state in the Midwestern United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the Uni ...
at
Fort Leavenworth Fort Leavenworth is a United States Army installation located in Leavenworth County, Kansas Leavenworth County (county code LV) is located in the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known ...
, with a greater number attending satellite schools administered by Fort Leavenworth at
Fort Belvoir Fort Belvoir is a installation and a (CDP) in , United States. It was developed on the site of the former , seat of the prominent for whom Fairfax County was named. It was known as Camp A. A. Humphreys from 1917 to 1935 and Fort Belvoir aft ...
,
Fort LeeFort Lee may refer to: * Fort Lee, New Jersey Fort Lee is a borough A borough is an administrative division in various English language, English-speaking countries. In principle, the term ''borough'' designates a self-governing walled town, alt ...
,
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a in the and regions of the , between the and the . The geography and climate of the are shaped by the and the , which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capit ...

Virginia
,
Redstone Arsenal Redstone Arsenal (RSA) is a United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight Uniformed services of the United States, U.S. uniformed servic ...

Redstone Arsenal
, and
Fort Gordon Fort Gordon, formerly known as Camp Gordon, is a United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight Uniformed services of the United States, ...
. 960 graduated from the Leavenworth course in 2009 (the largest class in Army history).


American Revolution

The
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the Thirteen Colonies and the Revolutionary-era United States. It was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and was established by a resolution of ...
mostly followed the organization and rank structure of the British Army. A regiment consisted of 8 companies with three officers (a captain, a lieutenant and ensign) and about 60 enlisted men each. The field grade officers of a regiment were the colonel, the lieutenant colonel and a major. The major was the regiment's third in command and, at least in theory, would command one of the regiment's two battalions if the regiment were divided for tactical purposes.


American Civil War

During the American Civil War the
Union Army During the American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern U.S. state, states loyal to the Union (A ...
continued to use the existing titles of rank and rank insignia established for the US Army. After the Southern states seceded and became the
Confederate States of America The Confederate States of America (CSA), commonly referred to as the Confederate States or simply the Confederacy, was an unrecognized herrenvolk republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system ...

Confederate States of America
, the
Confederate Army The Confederate States Army, also called the Confederate Army or simply the Southern Army, was the military land force of the Confederate States of America (commonly referred to as the Confederacy) during the American Civil War (1861–1865) ...
retained the same titles of rank as its Union counterpart, but developed a new system of rank identification and insignia for its officers. While Union officers continued to wear their rank insignia on their shoulder straps, Confederate officers wore their rank insignia on the collar (one, two, or three horizontal gold bars for lieutenants and captains; one, two, or three gold stars for field grade officers; and three gold stars surrounded by a wreath for all general officers), as well as rows of gold lace forming an
Austrian knot An Austrian knot (or Hungarian knot); alternatively warrior's knot or Vitézkötés; is an elaborate design of twisted cord or lace Lace is a delicate fabric made of yarn or thread in an open weblike pattern, made by machine or by hand. Ge ...
pattern on each sleeve. The number of rows of gold lace increased with the rank of the officer.


Post-Civil War

In the late 1800s the US Army changed from the traditional 10 company regiment to one of 12 companies organized into three four-company battalions, each commanded by a major. Prior to World War II, battalion commanders became lieutenant colonels. The basic regimental organization remained standard until after the Korean War when regiments with organic battalions were no longer used as tactical units. Battalions attached to brigades replaced the regiment. Battalions commanded by lieutenant colonels became the US Army's basic tactical unit. As a result, there were only a limited number of command positions for majors although Medical,
Special Forces Special forces and special operations forces (SOF) are military units trained to conduct special operations. NATO has defined special operations as "military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, trained, and equipped forces ...

Special Forces
and Aviation companies are usually commanded by majors.


Air Force

A major in the Air Force typically has duties as a senior staff officer at the squadron and wing level. In flying squadrons majors are generally flight commanders or assistant directors of operations. In the mission support and maintenance groups majors may occasionally be squadron commanders. In the medical corps, a major may be the head of a clinic or flight.


References


External links


Confederate Army rank insignia: A guide



Rank history
{{US officer ranks Military ranks of the United States Army Military ranks of the United States Marine Corps Officer ranks of the United States Air Force Officer ranks of the United States Space Force