Brigadier general (United States)

Brigadier general (United States)

Overview

A brigadier general in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

, and Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

, is a one-star
1 star rank
An officer of one-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-6. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members...

 general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel
Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, colonel is a senior field grade military officer rank just above the rank of lieutenant colonel and just below the rank of brigadier general...

 and below major general
Major general (United States)
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...

. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral (lower half) in the other uniformed services
Uniformed services of the United States
The United States has seven federal uniformed services that commission officers as defined by Title 10, and subsequently structured and organized by Title 10, Title 14, Title 33 and Title 42 of the United States Code.-Uniformed services:...

.

U.S. Code of law explicitly limits the total number of general officers that may be on active duty. The total of active duty general officers is capped at 230 for the Army, 208 for the Air Force, and 60 for the Marine Corps.
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Encyclopedia

A brigadier general in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

, and Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

, is a one-star
1 star rank
An officer of one-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-6. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members...

 general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel
Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, colonel is a senior field grade military officer rank just above the rank of lieutenant colonel and just below the rank of brigadier general...

 and below major general
Major general (United States)
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...

. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral (lower half) in the other uniformed services
Uniformed services of the United States
The United States has seven federal uniformed services that commission officers as defined by Title 10, and subsequently structured and organized by Title 10, Title 14, Title 33 and Title 42 of the United States Code.-Uniformed services:...

.

Statutory limits


U.S. Code of law explicitly limits the total number of general officers that may be on active duty. The total of active duty general officers is capped at 230 for the Army, 208 for the Air Force, and 60 for the Marine Corps. Some of these slots are reserved by statute.

Promotion, appointment and tour length


For promotion to the permanent grade of brigadier general, eligible officers are screened by a promotion board consisting of general officers from their branch of service. This promotion board then generates a list of officers it recommends for promotion to general rank. This list is then sent to the service secretary and the joint chiefs for review before it can be sent to the President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, through the defense secretary, for consideration. The President nominates officers to be promoted from this list with the advice of the Secretary of Defense
United States Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries...

, the service secretary, and if applicable, the service's chief of staff or commandant. 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 the nominee is confirmed, they are promoted to that rank once they assume or hold an office that requires or allows an officer of that rank. For positions of office reserved by statute, the President nominates an officer for appointment to fill that position. For all three uniformed services, because the grade of brigadier general is a permanent rank, the nominee may still be screened by an in-service promotion board. The rank does not expire when the officer vacates a one-star position. Tour length varies depending on the position, by statute, or when the officer receives a new assignment. The average tour length per one-star billet is two to four years.

Retirement


Other than voluntary retirement, statute sets a number of mandates for retirement. All brigadier generals must retire after five years in grade or 30 years of service, whichever is later, unless selected or appointed for promotion, or reappointed to grade to serve longer. Otherwise all general and flag officers must retire the month after their 64th birthday. However, the Secretary of Defense can defer a general or flag officer's retirement until the officer's 66th birthday and the President can defer it until the officer's 68th birthday. General and flag 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


The rank of brigadier general has existed in the United States armed forces
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 since the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. A brigadier general was, at first, strictly an infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 officer who commanded a brigade
Brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

; however, over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, the responsibilities of the rank expanded significantly.

During the period from March 16, 1802 to January 11, 1812, the rank of major general was abolished and brigadier general became the highest rank in the U.S. Army. Foreseeing the need for an expanded general staff in case of war, which seemed imminent, Congress restored the rank of Major General in January 1812.

The first brigadier general in the U.S. Marine Corps was Commandant
Commandant of the Marine Corps
The Commandant of the Marine Corps is normally the highest ranking officer in the United States Marine Corps and is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff...

 Archibald Henderson
Archibald Henderson
Archibald Henderson was the longest-serving Commandant of the Marine Corps, serving from 1820 to 1859. He is often referred to as the "Grand old man of the Marine Corps," serving in the United States Marine Corps for 53 years.-Biography:Born in Colchester, Fairfax County, Virginia to successful...

, promoted to the rank of brevet
Brevet (military)
In many of the world's military establishments, brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily, but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in that role. An officer so promoted may be referred to as being...

 brigadier general in the 1830s for his service in the Second Seminole War
Second Seminole War
The Second Seminole War, also known as the Florida War, was a conflict from 1835 to 1842 in Florida between various groups of Native Americans collectively known as Seminoles and the United States, part of a series of conflicts called the Seminole Wars...

. The first non-brevet brigadier general in the Marines was Commandant Jacob Zeilin
Jacob Zeilin
Brigadier General Jacob A. Zeilin was the first United States Marine Corps non-brevet general. He served as the seventh Commandant of the United States Marine Corps from 1864 to 1876.-Biography:...

 who was promoted to the rank in 1874, but when he retired in 1876, colonel once again became the highest rank in the Marines until March 1899 when Commandant Charles Heywood
Charles Heywood
Major General Charles Heywood was the ninth Commandant of the Marine Corps. He served as an officer for over 45 years and was the first Marine to reach the rank of major general...

 was promoted. Ever since then the office of Commandant has been held by a general officer, with the permanent rank of the Commandant raised to major general in 1908 and to first lieutenant general and then general during World War II, which rank it has held ever since.

The insignia for a brigadier general is one silver star worn on the shoulder or collar, and has not changed since the creation of the rank two centuries ago. Since the Mexican-American War, however, the lower rank of colonel
Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, colonel is a senior field grade military officer rank just above the rank of lieutenant colonel and just below the rank of brigadier general...

 has been the normal rank appointed to command a brigade that is organic to a division (e.g., the 1st Brigade of the 94th Infantry Division, vice the 187th Infantry Brigade
187th Infantry Brigade (United States)
The 187th Infantry Brigade was an infantry brigade of the United States Army. It was first formed under the United States Army Reserve's 94th Army Reserve Command, which wore the patch of the inactivated 94th Infantry Division, from which the 187th was formed when the 94th was inactivated and the...

).

Today, an Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 or Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 "BG" typically serves as Deputy Commander to the Commanding General of a division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

 or division-sized units and assists in overseeing the planning and coordination of a mission. In an infantry brigade not organic to a division, a brigadier general serves as the unit's commander, while a colonel
Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, colonel is a senior field grade military officer rank just above the rank of lieutenant colonel and just below the rank of brigadier general...

 serves as deputy commander
Executive officer
An executive officer is generally a person responsible for running an organization, although the exact nature of the role varies depending on the organization.-Administrative law:...

. An Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 brigadier general typically commands a large wing
Wing (air force unit)
Wing is a term used by different military aviation forces for a unit of command. The terms wing, group or Staffel are used for different-sized units from one country or service to another....

. Additionally, one-star officers of all services may serve as high-level staff officers in large military organizations.

See also


  • List of United States military leaders by rank
  • United States Air Force officer rank insignia
    United States Air Force officer rank insignia
    -Current insignia:This chart displays the United States Air Force officer rank insignia. The ranks are divided into three sections: company grade, field grade, and general officers. Company grade officers are those officers of grades O-1 to O-3. Field grade officers are those of grades O-4 to O-6...

  • United States Army officer rank insignia
    United States Army officer rank insignia
    United States Army officer rank insignia in use today.-History:The structure of U.S. ranks has its roots in British military traditions. At the start of the American Revolutionary War, uniforms, let alone insignia, were barely affordable and recognition of ranks in the field was problematic...

  • United States Marine Corps officer rank insignia