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General is the highest military rank in most militaries; some, such as Israel, do not have this high a grade. In the NATO designation system (STANAG 2116),[1] it is level OF-9, which is equivalent to the naval rank of admiral. The next lower rank is "lieutenant general". While some militaries have a higher grade of "field marshal" or "general of the army", they are no longer used in Western armies. In the U.S. system, however, it is one grade higher than NATO; a U.S. general is officer grade O-10, not O-9.

In modern militaries, typical command assignments at this level would be a field army (i.e., not a ground component commander) or higher unit, or a very high level of staff responsibilities, including being the senior officer of a service or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (or national equivalent) The commanders of U.S. Unified Combatant Commands are generals or admirals. Typical modern assignments for a general not commanding troops include, in the U.S., the Director of National Intelligence, a major support organization such as the Army Training and Doctrine Command or the Naval Materiel Command, or a Chief or Vice Chief of a service.


Many countries follow U.S. or British usages. In the U.S. military, which does have a brigadier general rank, lieutenant generals wear four stars.

The British and widespread Commonwealth usage has a crown, a star and a pair of crossed swords.


  1. NATO codes for grades of military personnel: Agreed English texts, 1992, NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 2116