General of the Army (United States)
Overview
 
General of the Army is a five-star general officer and is the second highest possible rank 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...

. A special rank of General of the Armies
General of the Armies
General of the Armies of the United States, or more commonly referred to as General of the Armies, is the highest possible officer rank of the United States Army.Only two soldiers have been granted the rank of General of the Armies; John J...

, which ranks above General of the Army, does exist but has only been conferred twice in the history of the Army. A General of the Army ranks immediately above a general
General (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, general is a four-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. General ranks above lieutenant general and below General of the Army or General of the Air Force; the Marine Corps does not have an...

 and is equivalent to a fleet admiral and a General of the Air Force
General of the Air Force (United States)
General of the Air Force is a five-star general officer rank and is the highest possible rank in the United States Air Force. General of the Air Force ranks immediately above a general and is equivalent to General of the Army in the United States Army and Fleet Admiral in the United States Navy;...

. There is no established equivalent five-star rank in the other Federal 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:...

 (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...

, Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

, PHSCC, and NOAA Corps).
Encyclopedia
General of the Army is a five-star general officer and is the second highest possible rank 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...

. A special rank of General of the Armies
General of the Armies
General of the Armies of the United States, or more commonly referred to as General of the Armies, is the highest possible officer rank of the United States Army.Only two soldiers have been granted the rank of General of the Armies; John J...

, which ranks above General of the Army, does exist but has only been conferred twice in the history of the Army. A General of the Army ranks immediately above a general
General (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, general is a four-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. General ranks above lieutenant general and below General of the Army or General of the Air Force; the Marine Corps does not have an...

 and is equivalent to a fleet admiral and a General of the Air Force
General of the Air Force (United States)
General of the Air Force is a five-star general officer rank and is the highest possible rank in the United States Air Force. General of the Air Force ranks immediately above a general and is equivalent to General of the Army in the United States Army and Fleet Admiral in the United States Navy;...

. There is no established equivalent five-star rank in the other Federal 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:...

 (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...

, Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

, PHSCC, and NOAA Corps). Often referred to as a "five-star general," the rank of General of the Army has historically been reserved for wartime use and is not currently active in the U.S. military.

Post-American Civil War era

On July 25, 1866, the U.S. Congress established the rank of "General of the Army of the United States" for General Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

. When appointed General of the Army, Grant wore the rank insignia of four stars and coat buttons arranged in three groups of four.

Unlike the World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 rank with a similar title, the 1866 rank of General of the Army was a four-star rank. This rank held all the authority and power of a 1799 proposal for a rank of "General of the Armies
General of the Armies
General of the Armies of the United States, or more commonly referred to as General of the Armies, is the highest possible officer rank of the United States Army.Only two soldiers have been granted the rank of General of the Armies; John J...

" even though Grant was never called by this title.

Unlike the modern four-star rank of general
General (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, general is a four-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. General ranks above lieutenant general and below General of the Army or General of the Air Force; the Marine Corps does not have an...

, only one officer could hold the 1866–1888 rank of General of the Army at any time.

After Grant became President, he was succeeded as General of the Army by William T. Sherman, effective March 4, 1869. In 1872, Sherman ordered the insignia changed to two stars with the coat of arms of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in between.

By an Act of June 1, 1888, the grade was conferred upon Philip Sheridan
Philip Sheridan
Philip Henry Sheridan was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. His career was noted for his rapid rise to major general and his close association with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S...

, who by then was of failing health. (The cover of Sheridan's autobiography was decorated with four stars within a rectangle evocative of the four-star shoulder strap worn by Grant.) The rank of General of the Army ceased to exist with Sheridan's death on August 5, 1888.

World War II era

The second version of General of the Army was created by Pub.L.
Public law
Public law is a theory of law governing the relationship between individuals and the state. Under this theory, constitutional law, administrative law and criminal law are sub-divisions of public law...

 78-482 passed on 14 December 1944, as a temporary rank, subject to reversion to permanent rank six months after the end of the war. The temporary rank was then declared permanent 23 March 1946 by Public Law 333 of the 79th Congress, which also awarded full pay and allowances in the grade to those on the retired list. It was created to give the most senior American commanders parity of rank with their British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 counterparts holding the rank of field marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

. The acts also created a comparable rank of fleet admiral
Fleet Admiral (U.S.)
Fleet Admiral of the United States Navy, or more commonly referred to as Fleet Admiral , is a five-star flag officer rank, and it is considered to be the highest possible rank attainable in the United States Navy. Fleet Admiral ranks immediately above admiral and is equivalent to General of the...

 for the Navy. This second General of the Army rank is not considered comparable to the American Civil War era version.

The insignia for General of the Army, as created in 1944, consisted of five stars in a pentagonal pattern, with points touching. The five officers who have held the 1944 version of General of the Army are:
      •   George Marshall  16 December 1944
      •   Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 
18 December 1944
      •   Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

     
20 December 1944
      •   Henry H. Arnold
Henry H. Arnold
Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold was an American general officer holding the grades of General of the Army and later General of the Air Force. Arnold was an aviation pioneer, Chief of the Air Corps , Commanding General of the U.S...

 
21 December 1944
      •   Omar Bradley
Omar Bradley
Omar Nelson Bradley was a senior U.S. Army field commander in North Africa and Europe during World War II, and a General of the Army in the United States Army...

 
22 September 1950


The timing of the first four appointments was coordinated with the appointments of the U.S. Navy's first three five-star fleet admirals (12/15/44: William D. Leahy
William D. Leahy
Fleet Admiral William Daniel Leahy was an American naval officer, building his reputation through administration and staff work. As Chief of Naval Operations he was the senior officer in Navy, overseeing the preparations for war. After retiring from the Navy he was appointed by his close friend...

, 12/17/44: Ernest J. King, 12/19/44: Chester W. Nimitz) to establish both a clear order of seniority and a near-equivalence between the services.

Although briefly considered, the US Army did not introduce a rank of field marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

. The United States traditionally uses the term "marshal" for a senior law enforcement officer, particularly the US Marshals
United States Marshals Service
The United States Marshals Service is a United States federal law enforcement agency within the United States Department of Justice . The office of U.S. Marshal is the oldest federal law enforcement office in the United States; it was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789...

, as well as formerly for state and local police chiefs. In addition, giving the rank the name "marshal" would have resulted in George Marshall being designated as "Field Marshal Marshall," which was considered undignified.

Dwight Eisenhower resigned his Army commission on May 31, 1952 to run for president. After he served two terms, his successor, John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

, signed on March 23, 1961, which returned Eisenhower to Active Duty of Regular Army in grade of General of the Army dated back to December 1944.

This rank is today commemorated on the signs denoting Interstate Highways as part of the Eisenhower Interstate System, which display five silver stars on a light blue background.

Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, a general
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 in the Army, was the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces when he was promoted to the rank of General of the Army. After the United States 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...

 became a separate service on September 18, 1947, Arnold's rank was carried over to the Air Force, as all Army Air Force personnel, equipment, etc. also carried over. Arnold was the first and, to date, only General of the Air Force. He is also the only person to hold a five-star rank in two branches of the US Armed Forces.

Modern use

There have been no officers appointed to the rank of General of the Army since Omar Bradley
Omar Bradley
Omar Nelson Bradley was a senior U.S. Army field commander in North Africa and Europe during World War II, and a General of the Army in the United States Army...

. The rank of General of the Army is still maintained as a rank of the U.S. military, and could again be bestowed, most likely during a time of war, pending approval of the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

. United States military policy since the creation of a fifth star in World War II has been to award it only when a commander of U.S. forces must be equal to or of higher rank than commanders of armies from another nation under his control. However, Congress and the President may award a fifth star at any time they see fit.

Although the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by law the highest ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces, and is the principal military adviser to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and the Secretary of Defense...

, Omar Bradley, was eventually awarded a fifth star, the CJCS does not receive one by right, and Bradley's award was politically motivated so as to not allow his subordinate, Douglas MacArthur, to outrank him.

In the 1990s, there were proposals in U.S. Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 academic circles to bestow on the office of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a five-star rank.
At one time, after the conclusion of the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 but before his tenure as Secretary of State, there had been some talk of awarding General Colin Powell
Colin Powell
Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to serve in that position. During his military...

, who had served as CJCS during the conflict, a fifth star. But even in the wake of public and Congressional pressure to do so, Clinton-Gore presidential transition team staffers decided against it.

As recently as the late 2000s, some commentators had proposed that the military leader in the War on Terror
War on Terror
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

 be promoted to a five-star rank. In January 2011, the founders of the Vets for Freedom
Vets For Freedom
Vets For Freedom is an American political advocacy organization founded in 2006 by veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars. Its stated purpose is advocacy of victory in America's ongoing War on Terrorism, and support of candidates with positions consistent with this goal. Vets For Freedom is a...

 political advocacy group published an op-ed
Op-ed
An op-ed, abbreviated from opposite the editorial page , is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a named writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper's editorial board...

 in the Wall Street Journal calling for David Petraeus
David Petraeus
David Howell Petraeus is the current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, sworn in on September 6, 2011. Prior to his assuming the directorship of the CIA, Petraeus was a four-star general serving over 37 years in the United States Army. His last assignments in the Army were as commander...

 to be awarded a fifth star in recognition of his work and the importance of his mission.

General of the Armies

The rank of General of the Armies is considered senior to General of the Army, and has been bestowed on only two officers in history, John J. Pershing
John J. Pershing
John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, GCB , was a general officer in the United States Army who led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I...

, in 1919 for his services in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 for his service as the first Commanding General of the United States Army. (An equivalent rank, Admiral of the Navy
Admiral of the Navy (United States)
Admiral of the Navy is a rank in the United States Navy that has only been held once in history, by George Dewey. In recognition of his victory at Manila Bay in 1898, Congress authorized a single officer to hold the rank of Admiral, and promoted Dewey to this rank in March 1899...

, was given to George Dewey
George Dewey
George Dewey was an admiral of the United States Navy. He is best known for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War...

.)

When the five-star rank of General of the Army was introduced, it was decided that General Pershing (still living at the time) would be superior to all the newly-appointed Generals of the Army. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson
Henry L. Stimson
Henry Lewis Stimson was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican Party politician and spokesman on foreign policy. He twice served as Secretary of War 1911–1913 under Republican William Howard Taft and 1940–1945, under Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the latter role he was a leading hawk...

 was asked whether Pershing was therefore a five-star general (at that time the highest rank was a four-star general). Stimson stated:
It appears the intent of the Army was to make the General of the Armies senior in grade to the General of the Army. I have advised Congress that the War Department concurs in such proposed action.


Section 7 of Public Law 78-482 read: "Nothing in this Act shall affect the provisions of the Act of September 3, 1919 (41 Stat. 283: 10 U.S.C. 671a), or any other law relating to the office of General of the Armies of the United States."

George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 was posthumously appointed to the rank of General of Armies in 1976 as part of the American Bicentennial celebrations. According to Public Law 94-479, General of the Armies of the United States is established as having "rank and precedence over all other grades of the Army, past or present," clearly making it distinctly superior in grade to General of the Army. Given the retroactive nature of the promotion, Washington will always be the seniormost general of the United States. During his lifetime, Washington was appointed a general in the Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

 during the Revolutionary War, and a three-star lieutenant general in the Regular Army during the Quasi-War with France.

Twin services

The rank of General of the Army is equivalent to the U.S. Air Force's rank of General of the Air Force and the U.S. Navy's rank of fleet admiral. None of the other uniformed services of the United States
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:...

 has an equivalent rank.

Foreign armies

In the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, the equivalent rank would be field marshal
Field Marshal (UK)
Field Marshal is the highest military rank of the British Army. It ranks immediately above the rank of General and is the Army equivalent of an Admiral of the Fleet and a Marshal of the Royal Air Force....

, although that rank is currently only ceremonial. Some other countries, such as France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, would use the rank of marshal
Marshal
Marshal , is a word used in several official titles of various branches of society. The word is an ancient loan word from Old French, cf...

.

See also

  • List of United States military leaders by rank
  • General officers in the United States
  • 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...

  • Six-star rank

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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