Major general (abbreviated MG, maj. gen. and similar) is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparent confusion of a lieutenant general outranking a major general whereas a major outranks a lieutenant.
In the Commonwealth and in the United States, it is a division commander's rank that is subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the rank of brigadier or brigadier general. In the Commonwealth, major general is equivalent to the navy rank of rear admiral, and in air forces, with a separate rank structure, it is equivalent to air vice-marshal.
Major general in the Bangladesh Army is equivalent to Rear Admiral in the Bangladesh Navy and Air Vice Marshal in the Bangladesh Air Force. The rank is higher than a Brigadier General and lower than a Lieutenant General.
General de Brigada (Brigade General) is the lowest rank of general officers in the Brazilian Army. A General de Brigada wears two-stars as this is the entry level for general officers in the Brazilian Army. See Military ranks of Brazil and Brigadier (officer rank in Latin America) for more information.
In the Canadian Armed Forces, the rank of major-general (MGen) (major-général and Mgén in French) is both a Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force rank equivalent to the Royal Canadian Navy's rank of rear-admiral. A major-general is a general officer, the equivalent of a naval flag officer. The major-general rank is senior to the ranks of brigadier-general and commodore, and junior to lieutenant-general and vice-admiral. Prior to 1968, the Air Force used the rank of air vice-marshal, instead.
The rank insignia for a major-general in the Royal Canadian Air Force is a wide braid under a single narrow braid on the cuff, as well as two silver maple leaves beneath crossed sword and baton, all surmounted by St. Edward's Crown. In the Canadian Army, the rank insignia is a wide braid on the cuff, as well as 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. 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 général in French. Major-generals are normally entitled to staff cars.
In the Estonian military, the major general rank is called kindralmajor.
Finland, Denmark, and Sweden
The Finnish military equivalent is kenraalimajuri in Finnish, and generalmajor in Swedish and Danish.
The French equivalent to the rank of major general is général de division.
In the French military, major général is not a rank but an appointment conferred on some generals, usually of général de corps d'armée rank, acting as head of staff of one of the armed forces. The major general assists the chief of staff of the French army with matters such as human resources, management, and discipline, and his role is roughly analogous with the British Army position of Adjutant-General to the Forces. The position of major général can be considered the equivalent of a deputy chief of staff. The five major generals are: the Major General of the Armed Forces, 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.
In the French Army, Major General (in full "Major General of the Army", Major général de l'armée de terre) is a position and the major general is normally of the rank of corps general.
Historically, the French army had some sergent-majors généraux, also called sergents de bataille, whose task was to prepare the disposition of the army on the field before a battle. These sergents-majors généraux became a new rank, the maréchal de camp (not the same as a field marshal, in the French Army from antiquity called a Maréchal de France), which was the equivalent of the rank of major general. However, the term of major général was not forgotten and used to describe the appointment of armies chiefs of staff. One well-known French major général was Marshal Louis Alexandre Berthier; Major General of Napoléon's Grande armée. In addition, maréchal de camp was renamed général de brigade (brigade general) in 1793. The rank was decided to correspond to brigadier general after WWⅡ.
In Georgia, the rank major-general (გენერალ მაიორი) has one star as for security forces. The army, however, does not follow the traditional soviet model and uses the now more common two-star insignia.
The German Army and Luftwaffe referred to the rank as Generalmajor (OF-7) until 1945. Prior to 1945, the rank of Generalleutnant (OF-8) was used to define a division commander, whereas Generalmajor was a brigade commander.
With the remilitarization of Germany in 1955 on West Germany's admission to NATO, the Heer 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, OF-6) added below them. The rank of Generaloberst (OF-9, colonel general) was no longer used.
GDR National People's Army
The Nationale Volksarmee of the German Democratic Republic continued the use Generalmajor (OF-6), abbreviated as "GenMaj", as the lowest general officer rank until reunification in 1990. It was equivalent to Konteradmiral (KAdm).
In the Magyar Honvédség (Hungarian Defence Force), the equivalent rank to major general is vezérőrnagy.
Major general in the Indian Army is equivalent to Rear Admiral in the Indian Navy and Air Vice Marshal in the Indian Air Force. The rank is higher than a brigadier and lower than a Lieutenant General.
In the Iranian army and air force, the ranks above colonel are respectively sartip dovom (second brigadier general with no equivalent in other countries), sartip (brigadier general), sarlashkar (major general), sepahbod (lieutenant general), and arteshbod (general); nonetheless, major general is the highest available rank for current Iranian commanders.
The Irish Defence Forces have two major generals. They are deputy chiefs of staff with separate responsibility for operations (DCOS Ops) and support (DCOS Sp).
Because no brigadier-general rank is used in Japan, major-general is the rank of brigade commander. In the past, rikugun-shōshō (陸軍少将) in the Imperial Japanese Army was equivalent to major-general; in the current Japan Self-Defense Forces, rikushō-ho (陸将補) in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and kūshō-ho (空将補) in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force are equivalent to it.
In Kenya, Major General is the third-highest rank, subordinate to General and Lieutenant General, and superior to Brigadier and Colonel. Current General is Gen. Robert Kariuki Kibochi
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.
In South Korea, the rank of major general is known as sojang (Korean: 소장; Hanja: 少將). In the Republic of Korea Army, a sojang typically commands a division of size ~10,000 soldiers. In the Republic of Korea Navy, a sojang typically commands a fleet. They both can operate an independent field operation. In the Republic of Korea Air Force, a sojang is typically the head of a command headquarter and a junjang, one rank lower than sojang, takes charge of operations. A Republic of Korea Marine Corps sojang commands a division and the South Korean Marine Corps is organized under the Navy.
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.
Major general in the Pakistan Army is equivalent to rear admiral in the Navy and air vice marshal in the Air Force. It is the lowest of the general officer ranks, ranking between brigadier and lieutenant general. The Pakistan Army has four female major generals.
Generał dywizji, literally "general of a division (military)", abbreviated gen. dyw.) is the second rank for generals in the Polish Army (both in the land forces and in the Polish air force). Depending on the context, it is equivalent to either the modern rank of major general, or the rank of brigadier general (mostly in historical context). However in navy the equivalent is Kontradmirał, the Rear admiral. In special forces, it is usually the rank of Chief of Special Forces.
The rank of major-general was reintroduced in the Portuguese Army, Air Force and National Republican Guard in 1999, replacing the former rank of brigadier in the role of brigade commander. As a rank, it had previously been used in the Army only for a brief period (from 1862 to 1864). It is equivalent to the rank of contra-almirante (rear-admiral) in the Portuguese Navy. In 2015, the rank of major-general was moved up one level, with the role of brigade commander being assumed by the below rank of brigadier-general.
In most of the 19th and first half of the 20th century, major-general was not used as a rank in the Portuguese military, but as an appointment title conferred to the general officer that acted as the military head of a service branch. The roles of Major-General of the Navy (Major-General da Armada) and Major-General of the Army (Major-General do Exército) became extinct in 1950, with their roles being unified in the then created Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces.
In the Russian Army, the rank "Major general" is known as Генера́л-майо́р. Rated OF-6, it is equivalent to Brigadier in the British Army and to Brigadier General in the US Army.
In Somalia, Major General is used within the Somali Armed Forces (SAF) for the highest-ranking military official in the Air Force and Navy and the second highest ranking military official in the Army.
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 Swedish Navy. It is typically held by the heads of the three service branches, and the head of the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service.
In Switzerland, the rank of generalmajor is called Divisionär (German) or Divisionaire (French).
In Thailand, the rank of major general is called pon-tree "พลตรี" for the Royal Thai Army, which is equivalent to rear admiral (Pon-reu-tree "พลเรือตรี") for the Navy, air vice marshal (Pon-akat-tree "พลอากาศตรี") for the Air Force , and police major general ("Pon-tamruad-tree" "พลตำรวจตรี") for the Royal Thai Police.
The Turkish Army and Air Force refer to the rank as tümgeneral. The Turkish Navy equivalent is tümadmiral. The name is derived from tümen, the Turkish word for a military division (tümen itself is an older Turkish word meaning "10,000"). Thus, linguistically, it is similar to the French equivalent for a major general, général de division.
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. 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.
In the United States Army, a major general (MG) typically commands a division of 10,000–20,000 soldiers and is capable of fully independent field operations. They may also serve as deputy commanders in 3-star commands or as senior directors on Army and joint staffs. In the case of the Army National Guard, they may also serve as The Adjutant General (TAG) for their state, commonwealth or territory.
In the United States Marine Corps, major generals (MajGen) typically serve as commanding generals of Marine Expeditionary Forces, Marine Divisions, Marine Aircraft Wings, Joint Task Force Commanders, deputy commanders in 3-star commands or as senior directors on Marine Corps and joint staffs.
In the United States 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.
In Vietnam, the rank of major general is known as thiếu tướng. It is used in the army and the air force. In navy it is the equivalent to Chuẩn Đô đốc. Overall the major general is a one-star rank.
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.
Afghan National Army
Austrian Armed Forces
Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Georgian Armed Forces
Guyana Defence Force
Army of the Republic of Macedonia
Генерал мајор (general major)
Singapore Armed Forces:
Royal Thai Army
Turkish Land Forces
major general (September 1959 to October 2014)
Czech Air Force
Royal Danish Air Force
Irish Air Corps
Royal Malaysian Air Force
Royal Netherlands Air Force
Romanian Air Force
Serbian Air Force
Swedish Air Force
Turkish Air Force
US Air Force
- MILITÄRISCHES STUDIENGLOSAR ENGLISCH Teil I, L – Z, Bundessprachenamt (Stand Januar 2001), page 742, definition: Major General [MG].
- 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.
- Somalia: A Country Study – Army Ranks and Insignia Archived 2012-10-04 at the Wayback Machine, www.marines.mil