Major general is a senior military rank, in the middle to bottom range the top of the "general officer " system that divides officers into junior, field, and general/flag. In the NATO designation system (STANAG 2116), it is level OF-7, which is equivalent to the naval rank of rear admiral. The next lower rank is "brigadier general". The next higher, again depending on the specific military organization, is usually "lieutenant general". In the U.S. system, however, it is one grade higher than NATO; a U.S. major general is officer grade O-8, not O-7.
In modern militaries, typical command assignments at this level would be a division unit, or a very high level of staff responsibilities. Typical modern assignments for a lieutenant general not commanding troops include, in the U.S., director of a branch of the national-level staff.
Some militaries either do not have the title of brigadier/brigadier general; the Russian military, for example, goes from colonel to major general. Lieutenant general in such an organization, therefore, is equivalent to major general in an army that has the brigadier general level.
Many countries follow U.S. or British usages. In the U.S. military, which does have a brigadier general rank, major generals wear two stars.
The British and widespread Commonwealth usage has a crown.
- NATO codes for grades of military personnel: Agreed English texts, 1992, NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 2116