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In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general.[1][Note 1] A major general typically commands division-sized units of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers. Major general is equivalent to the two-star rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy
United States Navy
and United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
and is the highest permanent rank during peacetime in the uniformed services. Higher ranks are technically temporary ranks linked to specific positions, although virtually all officers who have been promoted to those ranks are approved to retire at their highest earned rank.

Contents

1 Statutory limits 2 Promotion, appointment, and tour length 3 Retirement 4 History

4.1 U.S. Army 4.2 Confederate States Army 4.3 U.S. Marine Corps 4.4 U.S. Air Force

5 See also 6 References

Statutory limits[edit]

U.S. major general flag

Rank flag of a major general in the United States Army. The flag of a major general of the Army Medical Department has a maroon background; the flag of a chaplain (major general) has a black background.

Flag of a United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
Major general.

Flag of a United States Air Force
United States Air Force
Major general.

U.S. Army insignia of the rank of Major general. Style and method of wear may vary between the services.

U.S. Marine Corps
Corps
insignia of the rank of Major general. Style and method of wear may vary between the services.

U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force
insignia of the rank of Major general. Style and method of wear may vary between the services.

The United States Code
United States Code
explicitly limits the total number of general officers that may be on active duty at any given time. The total number of active duty general officers is capped at 231 for the Army, 62 for the Marine Corps, and 198 for the Air Force.[2] Some of these slots are reserved or finitely set by statute. For example, the Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Army[3] is a major general in the Army; the same rank is held by the Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Air Force;[4] the Army's Chief of Engineers[5] is also appointed as a major general and thereafter promoted to lieutenant general. The United States Code
United States Code
also limits the total number of general officers that may be on the Reserve Active Status List (RASL) in the Reserve Component, which is defined in the case of general officers as the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Marine Corps
Corps
Reserve, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve. Promotion, appointment, and tour length[edit] To be promoted to the permanent grade of major general, officers who are eligible for promotion to this rank are screened by an in-service promotion board comprising other general officers from their branch of service.[6] This promotion board then generates a list of officers it recommends for promotion to general rank.[7] This list is then sent to the service secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff
for review before it can be sent to the President, through the Secretary of Defense for consideration.[8] The President nominates officers to be promoted from this list with the advice of the Secretary of Defense, the service secretary, and if applicable, the service's chief of staff or commandant.[9] The President may nominate any eligible officer who is not on the recommended list if it serves in the interest of the nation, but this is uncommon. The Senate must then confirm the nominee by a majority vote before the officer can be promoted. Once confirmed, the nominee is promoted to that rank on assuming a position of office that requires an officer to hold the rank. For positions of office that are reserved by statute, the President nominates an officer for appointment to fill that position. For all three of the applicable uniformed services, because the grade of major general is a permanent rank, the nominee may still be screened by an in-service promotion board to add their input on the nominee before the nomination can be sent to the Senate for approval. Since the grade of major general is permanent, the rank does not expire when the officer vacates a two-star position. Tour length varies depending on the position, by statute, and/or when the officer receives a new assignment or a promotion, but the average tour length per two-star billet is two to four years. In the Army, Major Generals (MG) typically serve as division commanders (e.g., infantry divisions, cavalry division, etc.), training center commanders, joint task force commanders, deputy commanding generals to 3-star generals, chief of staff in 4-star commands, senior directors on Army and joint staffs, and, in the case of the Army National Guard, as The Adjutant General (TAG) for their state, commonwealth or territory. In the Marine Corps, Major Generals (MajGen) typically serve as commanding generals or deputy commanding generals of Marine Expeditionary Forces, Marine Divisions, Marine Aircraft Wings, Joint Task Force Commanders, or senior directors on Marine Corps
Corps
and joint staffs. In the 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. Retirement[edit] Other than voluntary retirement, statute sets a number of mandates for retirement of general officers (called flag officers in the Navy and Coast Guard). All major generals must retire after five years in grade or 35 years of service, whichever is later, unless appointed for promotion or reappointed to grade to serve longer.[10] Otherwise, all general officers must retire the month after their 64th birthday.[11] However, the Secretary of Defense may defer a general officer's retirement until the officer's 66th birthday and the President may defer it until the officer's 68th birthday. Because there are a finite number of General Officer positions, one officer must retire before another can be promoted. As a result, general officers typically retire well in advance of the statutory age and service limits, so as not to impede the upward career mobility of their juniors. History[edit]

Lafayette in a uniform of a major general of the Continental Army.

U.S. Army[edit] The Continental Army
Continental Army
was established on June 15, 1775 when the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
commissioned George Washington
George Washington
as a general and placed him in command of the Army of Observation then besieging Boston. The rank of major general was first established two days later on June 17, 1775 when two major generals were commissioned by Congress soon followed by two more major generals being appointed on June 19. Following the disbanding of the Continental Army
Continental Army
at the end of 1783 only one major general, Henry Knox, remained in service until his resignation in June 1784. The rank was revived on March 4, 1791 when Arthur St. Clair
Arthur St. Clair
was appointed as major general in command of the U.S. Army. St. Clair was succeeded by Major General Anthony Wayne who commanded the Army (then named the Legion of the United States) until his death on December 15, 1796. The rank was revived on July 19, 1798 when Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
and Charles C. Pinckney
Charles C. Pinckney
were commissioned as major generals during the Quasi War
Quasi War
with France. The expanded Army was demobilized on June 15, 1800 when it was reduced to only four regiments of infantry and two of artillery commanded by a brigadier general. The rank of major general was abolished in the U.S. Army by the Act of March 16, 1802,[12] and restored by the Act of January 11, 1812,[13] as preparations were being made for the War of 1812. Major general has been a rank in the U.S. Army ever since. Until the American Civil War, major general was the highest rank that could be attained by an officer in the U.S. Army, though Winfield Scott had been given the brevet rank of lieutenant general[14] in 1855. This was a consequence of the fact that at his death George Washington was officially listed as holding the rank of lieutenant general, rather than full general, and it was regarded as improper for an officer to hold a rank equal to or superior to Washington's. To address this anomaly, Washington was posthumously promoted by Congress to the rank of General of the Armies
General of the Armies
of the United States in 1976. The position of Major General Commanding the Army was entitled to wear three stars according to General Order No. 6 of March 13, 1861.[15] When Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
was appointed lieutenant general on March 9, 1864,[16] and took command of the Union forces, he used the three-star insignia formerly assigned to that position. Confederate States Army[edit] The Confederate States Army
Confederate States Army
maintained a similar rank of major general, usually associated with the command of a division, while lieutenant generals often commanded corps and full generals led armies as a general convention. U.S. Marine Corps[edit] There was no major general in the U.S. Marine Corps
Corps
until Commandant Charles Heywood
Charles Heywood
was specially promoted by Act of Congress in July 1902. From his retirement on October 3, 1903, brigadier general was again the highest rank in the Marine Corps
Corps
until May 21, 1908, when the rank held by the commandant was raised to major general. It remained the highest rank in the Marine Corps
Corps
until January 20, 1942, when the rank held by the commandant was raised to lieutenant general. U.S. Air Force[edit] Given that the U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force
evolved from its predecessors, the U.S. Army Air Service, the U.S. Army Air Corps
Corps
and the U.S. Army Air Forces, the rank of major general in the Air Force coincides with its establishment as an independent service in 1947. See also[edit]

United States Army
United States Army
portal United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
portal United States Air Force
United States Air Force
portal

List of major generals in the United States Regular Army before July 1, 1920 List of United States military leaders by rank United States Army
United States Army
officer rank insignia United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
officer rank insignia United States Air Force
United States Air Force
officer rank insignia

References[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Generals of the United States.

^ Cite error: The named reference Foot01 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ 10 USC § 526. Authorized strength: general and flag officers on active duty ^ 10 USC 3037 Judge Advocate General, Assistant Judge Advocate General, and general officers of Judge Advocate General's Corps: appointment; duties ^ 10 USC 8037 Judge Advocate General, Deputy Judge Advocate General: appointment; duties ^ 10 USC 3036 Chiefs of branches: appointment; duties ^ 10 USC 611 Convening of selection boards ^ 10 USC 616 Recommendations for promotion by selection boards ^ 10 USC 618 Action on reports of selection boards ^ 10 USC 624 Promotions: how made ^ 10 USC 636 Retirement for years of service: regular officers in grades above brigadier general and rear admiral (lower half) ^ 10 USC 1253 Archived 2015-11-01 at the Wayback Machine. Age 64: regular commissioned officers in general and flag officer grades; exception ^ Act of March 16, 1802, ch. 9, 2 Stat. 132 ^ Act of January 11, 1812, ch. 14, 2 Stat. 671 ^ Foote, p 918 ^ General Order No. 6 Archived 2008-02-15 at the Wayback Machine. Regulations for the Uniform and Dress of the Army of the United States 1861 ^ Boatner, p 353

^ Lt. General outranks a Maj. General because historically the title of Maj. General began as Sergeant-major general. A Lt. outranks a Sergeant-major, which is typically the highest rank in the enlisted ranks. Over time the "Sergeant" was dropped and by about the late 17th/early 18th century it had been shortened to Maj. General. But the ranking remained the same, i.e. under that of Lt. General.

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United States uniformed services commissioned officer and officer candidate ranks

Pay grade / branch of service Officer candidate O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6 O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10 O-11 Special grade

Insignia [1]

[6]

[6] [6] [6]

[2]

Army CDT / OC 2LT 1LT CPT MAJ LTC COL BG MG LTG GEN GA[3] GAS[3]

Marine Corps Midn / Cand 2ndLt 1stLt Capt Maj LtCol Col BGen MajGen LtGen Gen [5] [5]

Navy MIDN / OC ENS LTJG LT LCDR CDR CAPT RDML RADM VADM ADM FADM[3] AN[3]

Air Force Cadet / OT / OC 2d Lt 1st Lt Capt Maj Lt Col Col Brig Gen Maj Gen Lt Gen Gen GAF[3] [5]

Coast Guard CDT / OC ENS LTJG LT LCDR CDR CAPT RDML RADM VADM ADM [5] [5]

PHS Corps [OC] ENS LTJG LT LCDR CDR CAPT RADM RADM VADM ADM [5] [5]

NOAA Corps OC ENS LTJG LT LCDR CDR CAPT RDML RADM VADM [4] [5] [5]

[1] No universal insignia for officer candidate rank; Navy candidate insignia shown [2]Official 1945 proposal for General of the Armies
General of the Armies
insignia; John J. Pershing's GAS insignia: ; George Dewey's Admiral of the Navy insignia: [3] Rank used for specific officers in wartime only, not permanent addition to rank structure [4] Grade is authorized by the U.S. Code for use but has not been created [5] Grade has never been created or authorized [6] USAF and U.S. Army insignia shown

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United States warrant officer ranks

W-1 W-2 W-3 W-4 W-5

Army

WO1

CW2

CW3

CW4

CW5

Marine Corps

WO1

CWO2

CWO3

CWO4

CWO5

Navy

WO1[1]

CWO2

CWO3

CWO4

CWO5

Air Force

WO1[1]

CWO2[1]

CWO3[1]

CWO4[1]

CWO5[1]

Coast Guard

WO1[1]

CWO2

CWO3

CWO4 [2]

PHS Corps

[2] [2] [2] [2] [3]

NOAA Corps

[3] [3] [3] [3] [3]

[1] Grade inactive [2] Grade is authorized for use by U.S. Code but has not been created [3] Grade never created o

.