Major (United States)
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...
, major is a field grade
A field officer is an army, marine, or air force commissioned officer senior in rank to a company officer but junior to a general officer; in some navies, it is an officer who is a Lieutenant Commander, Commander, or Captain....
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...
Military rank is a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces or civil institutions organized along military lines. Usually, uniforms denote the bearer's rank by particular insignia affixed to the uniforms...
just above the rank of captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, a lieutenant colonel is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of major and just below the rank of colonel. It is equivalent to the naval rank of commander in the other uniformed services.The pay...
. It is equivalent to the naval rank of lieutenant commander
Lieutenant commander (United States)
Lieutenant commander is a mid-ranking officer rank in the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps, with the pay grade of O-4 and NATO rank code OF-3...
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:...
, although lieutenant commanders are considered junior officers by their respective services while the rank of major is considered field grade.
The pay grade for the rank of major is O-4. The insignia for the rank consists of a golden oak leaf, with slight stylized differences between the Army/Air Force version and the Marine Corps version.
ArmyA major in the U.S. Army typically serves as a battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...
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:...
(XO) or as the battalion operations officer (S3). A major can also serve as a primary staff officer for a regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...
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...
or task force
A task force is a unit or formation established to work on a single defined task or activity. Originally introduced by the United States Navy, the term has now caught on for general usage and is a standard part of NATO terminology...
in the areas concerning personnel, logistical and operations. A major will also be a staff officer / action officer on higher staffs and headquarters. In addition, majors command augmented companies in Combat Service and Service Support units. U.S. Army majors also command Special Operations
Special operations are military operations that are considered "special" .Special operations are typically performed independently or in conjunction with conventional military operations. The primary goal is to achieve a political or military objective where a conventional force requirement does...
companies, such as U.S. Army Special Forces companies, Civil Affairs companies, Military Information Support Operations companies, some Aviation companies, as well as certain types of separate, numbered vice lettered, Military Intelligence companies.
Virtually all majors in the United States Army attend the 10-month Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth
Fort Leavenworth is a United States Army facility located in Leavenworth County, Kansas, immediately north of the city of Leavenworth in the upper northeast portion of the state. It is the oldest active United States Army post west of Washington, D.C. and has been in operation for over 180 years...
, with a smaller number attending satellite schools administered by Fort Leavenworth at Fort Belvoir
Fort Belvoir is a United States Army installation and a census-designated place in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. Originally, it was the site of the Belvoir plantation. Today, Fort Belvoir is home to a number of important United States military organizations...
, Fort Lee, Virginia
Fort Lee, Virginia
Fort Lee is a census-designated place in Prince George County, Virginia, United States. The population was 7,269 at the 2000 census.Fort Lee is a United States Army post and headquarters of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command / Sustainment Center of Excellence , the U.S. Army Quartermaster...
and Fort Gordon
Fort Gordon, formerly known as Camp Gordon, is a United States Army installation established in 1917. It is the current home of the United States Army Signal Corps and Signal Center and was once the home of "The Provost Marshal General School" . The fort is located in Richmond, Jefferson, McDuffie,...
. Nine hundred and sixty graduated the Leavenworth course in 2009 (the largest class in Army history).
American Civil War
During the American Civil War the Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...
continued to use the existing titles of rank and rank insignia established for the US Army. After the Southern states seceded and became the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...
, the Confederate Army retained the same titles of rank as its Union counterpart, but developed a new system of rank identification
Ranks and insignia of the Confederate States
The Ranks and insignia of the Confederate States were a rank insignia system devised by the forces of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War...
and insignia for its officers.
While Union officers continued to wear their rank insignia on their shoulder straps, Confederate officers wore their rank insignia on the collar (one, two, or three horizontal gold bars for lieutenants and captains; one, two, or three gold stars for field grade officers; and three gold stars surrounded by a wreath for all general officers), as well as rows of gold lace forming an Austrian knot
An Austrian Knot is an elaborate design of twisted cord or lace worn as part of a dress uniform, usually on the lower sleeve. It is usually a distinction worn by officers; the major exception is the hussars, in which Austrian knots are worn by all ranks...
pattern on each sleeve. The number of rows of gold lace increased with the rank of the officer.