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Major general

Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general. Where relevant, major general has a NATO code of OF-7, and is considered to be a two-star rank.[1] A major general in most armies commands a division, however in some countries he commands a brigade.




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 Forces, the rank of major-general (MGen) (major-g n ral or Mg n in French) is an Army or Air Force rank equal to a rear-admiral of the Navy. A major-general is a general officer, the equivalent of a naval flag officer. A major-general is senior to a brigadier-general or commodore, and junior to a lieutenant-general or vice-admiral. Prior to 1968, the Air Force used the rank of air vice-marshal instead.

The rank insignia for a major-general is two gold maple leaves beneath crossed sword and baton, all surmounted by St. Edward's Crown. It is worn on the shoulder straps of the service dress tunic, and on slip-ons on other uniforms. The service dress tunic also features a wide strip of gold braid around the cuff. 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 g n ral" 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, or generalmajor in Swedish.


The French equivalent to the rank of major general is g n ral de division.

In the French military, major g n ral is not a rank but an appointment conferred on some generals, usually of g n ral de corps d'arm e rank, acting as head of staff of a branch of service. This should not be confused with the chief of staff, who is usually a g n ral d'arm e, and the true commander of each service. The position of major g n ral can be considered the equivalent of a deputy chief of Staff. There are five major generals: the Major General of the Armies, 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.Major-General(General en Chef d'Armee)the Marquis de la Lafayette, is a prominent example of a Major-General holding the same equivalent rank in both the newly created United States and in Ancien-Regime France.

Historically, the French army had some sergent-majors g n raux, also called sergents de bataille, whose task was to prepare the disposition of the army on the field before a battle. These sergents-majors g n raux became a new rank, the mar chal de camp (not the same as a field marshal, in the French Army from antiquity called a Mar chal de France), which was the equivalent of the rank of major general. However, the term of major g n ral was not forgotten and used to describe the appointment of armies chiefs of staff. One well-known French major g n ral was Marshal Louis Alexandre Berthier, Major General of Napol on's Grande arm e.


The German Army and Luftwaffe refer to the rank as generalmajor. Prior to 1955,, the rank of generalleutnant was used to define a division commander, whereas genralmajor was a brigade commander. With the remilitarization of Germany in 1955 with West Germany's admission to NATO, 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) added below them. The rank of generaloberst was no longer used. The change was likely made to avoid confusion over relative rank in NATO forces. The Nationale Volksarmee of East Germany continued the use generalmajor (brigadier general) as the lowest general officer rank until reunification.


The Hungarian Defence Force (Hungarian: Magyar Honv ds g) refer to the rank as vez r rnagy.


In the Imperial Iranian Army and Air Force, the ranks above colonel are respectively 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, only outranked by rav aluf (lieutenant general or general), who is also the Chief of Staff.


In Italy, there exists the army rank of generale di divisione. In the army the generale di divisione is the commander of a division or as other duties in the various national or international staff, in the Carabinieri or Guardia di Finanza. He/she is usually the commander of the units in a zone of the country.


In South Korea, the rank of major general is known as sojang (Hangul: , Hanja: ).

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.

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 Royal Norwegian Air Force and the Norwegian Home Guard, generalmajor is the lowest general officer, equivalent to kontreadmiral in the Royal Norwegian Navy.


Major general in the Pakistan Army is equivalent to rear admiral in the Pakistan Navy and air vice marshal in the Pakistan Air Force and is the lowest of the general officer ranks, ranking between brigadier and lieutenant general. The Pakistan Army has two female major generals.


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 1862-1864. It is equivalent to contra-almirante in the Portuguese Navy.


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.


The Turkish Army and Turkish Air Force refer to the rank as t mgeneral. The Turkish Navy equivalent is t mamiral. The name is derived from t men, the Turkish word for a military division (t men itself is an older Turkish word meaning "10,000"). Thus, linguistically, it is similar to the French equivalent for a major general, g n ral 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 thi u t ng. It is used in the army and the air force. It is the equivalent to chu n c in the Navy.

The rank of thi u t ng 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.



Image:Genmjr aut rockkragen.gif|Austrian Armed Forces
generalmajor File:CDN-Army-MGen-Shoulder.svg|Canadian Army
major general File:Rank insignia of mayor general of the Colombian Army.svg|Colombian Army
major general File:General bojnik.jpg|Croatian Army
general bojnik

File:EgyptianArmyInsignia-MajorGeneral.svg|Egyptian Army
major general
Image:ES-Army-OF19.jpg|Estonian Army

File:OF07 Heer.png| German Bundeswehr

File:Army-GRE-OF-07.svg|Greek Army
File:IE-Army-OF7.png|Irish Army
major general File:Maj Gen-Army-India.jpg|Indian Army
major general File:IT-Army-OF7.svg|Italian Army
generale di divisione
maggiore generale

File:Army-NOR-OF-07.svg|Norwegian Army
generalmajor File:Nl-landmacht-generaal majoor.svg|Dutch Army
generaal-majoor File:20 - Major-general.svg|Portuguese Army
major-general File:RO-Army-OF7.png|Romanian Army

File:SP-07_General_de_Division.svg|Spanish Army
general de divisi n File:SL-Army-OF7 Major General.PNG|Sri Lanka Army
major general Image:SWE-Army-OF7.png|Swedish Army
generalmajor Image:UK-Army-OF7-shoulder.svg|U.K. (British) Army
major-general Image:Army-USA-OF-07.svg|U.S. Army
major general

Air Force

File:CDN-Air_Force-MGen-Shoulder.svg|Canadian Air Force
major general Image:RDAF Maj Gen.svg|Denmark File:Luftwaffe-321-Generalmajor.png|Germany Luftwaffe File:Hellenic Air Force OF-7.svg|Greece
( ) File:IE-Aircorps-OF7.png|Ireland File:RNAF Maj Gen.svg|Netherlands File:General Dywizji Lotnicze.svg|Poland File:RO-Airforce-OF-7s.PNG|Romania File:SAAF Mgen.jpg|South African Air Force
Major General File:Gd-ea.svg|Ej rcito del Aire (Spain)
General de Divisi n Image:US Air Force O8 shoulderboard.svg|U.S. Air Force
Major General

Fictional references

See also


  1. In countries that do not maintain the rank of brigadier general, including much of Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth, major general is the lowest of the general-officer ranks. Note, however, if the rank of brigadier is used, although brigadiers are not classed as "generals", they are of equal rank to brigadier generals, and are still considered to be a one-star rank. If neither of the ranks of brigadier or brigadier general (or an equivalent rank) are used, the major general is still considered a two-star rank (independent of how many stars there actually are in the insignia), and that armed force simply has no one-star rank.
  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.


  • 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. .
  • Foote, Shelby. The Civil War: A Narrative. Vol. 2. New York: Random House, 1986. ISBN 0-394-74621-X.

ar: ( ) be: - bg: - ca:General Major cs:Gener lmajor da:Generalmajor de:Generalmajor et:Kindralmajor el: fa: fr:Major-g n ral hr:General bojnik id:Mayor Jenderal it:Maggior generale jv:Mayor J ndral lt:Generolas majoras arz: nl:Generaal-majoor ja: no:Generalmajor nn:Generalmajor pl:Genera pt:Major-general ro:General-maior ru: - sk:Gener lmajor sl:Generalmajor sr: - fi:Kenraalimajuri sv:Generalmajor tr:T mgeneral uk: - vi:Thi u t ng zh:

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