Four-star rank


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A four-star rank is the rank of any four-star officer described by the NATO OF-9 code. Four-star officers are often the most senior commanders in the armed services, having ranks such as (full) admiral, (full) general, colonel general, army general, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air chief marshal. This designation is also used by some armed forces that are not North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members.

A US general's rank insignia[a]


In the Australian Defence Force, the following ranks of commissioned officers are awarded four-star ranks:

The four-star rank is reserved in Australia for the Chief of the Defence Force, the highest position in peacetime.

In times of major conflict, the highest ranks are the five-star ranks: admiral of the fleet, field marshal, and marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force.



Brazilian general de exército

The four-star rank is reserved in Brazil for the highest post in the military career. The officers in this position take part of the high command of their corporations. The commanders of army, navy and air force are also four-star generals, but they have precedence to all the others military in this rank.



General/admiral is the highest rank within the Canadian Armed Forces as defined within the National Defence Act.[1] Usually, only one officer, the Chief of the Defence Staff, carries the rank of full admiral or general at any one time. However, the crown may authorize additional officers at that rank for special cases such as for Canadian officers in the position of Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, who are usually former Chiefs of the Defence Staff seconded to NATO for that duty.

The King of Canada, Charles III, is Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces.[2] However, in line with the Letters Patent, 1947, the duties and title of commander-in-chief are normally exercised by the Governor General of Canada.[3] The Minister of National Defence, since not a member of the Canadian forces nor within the military chain of command, has no rank. Prince Philip held the four-star rank of admiral in the Royal Canadian Navy in an honorary capacity from 2011 until his death in April 2021.

Before unification in 1968, the rank of air chief marshal (maréchal en chef de l'air) was the four-star equivalent for the Royal Canadian Air Force.


The equivalent modern German four-star ranks (OF-9) of the Bundeswehr are as follows:

Not to be confused with Generaloberst and Generaladmiral, the Wehrmacht and Kriegsmarine equivalent until 1945, or Armeegeneral and Flottenadmiral, the National People's Army (NVA) and Volksmarine (East Germany) equivalent until 1990.


These four star rank officers from respective services are appointed as Chiefs of the Army (COAS), Navy (CNS), Air Force (CAS). A four star rank officer from either service is appointed to the post of Chief of Defence Staff.



  • Generale di Corpo d'Armata con Incarichi Speciali (general with special duties) – Chief-of-Staff of the Italian Army
  • Ammiraglio di Squadra con Incarichi Speciali (admiral with special duties) – Chief-of-Staff of the Italian Navy
  • Generale di Squadra Aerea con Incarichi Speciali (general with special duties) – Chief-of-Staff of the Italian Air Force
  • Generale di Corpo d'Armata Comandante Generale (commander general) – Commander of the Carabinieri


  • General or Admiral - 統合幕僚長たる陸将、海将または空将 (Tōgōbakuryōchō-taru-rikushō,- kaishō-matawa-kūshō, (LTG, VADM or Lt.Gen serving as Chief of Staff, Joint Staff)) - Japan Self-Defense Forces four-star rank.  
  • General – 陸上幕僚長たる陸将 (Rikujōbakuryōchō-taru-rikushō, (Lieutenant general serving as Chief of Staff JGSDF))Japan Ground Self-Defense Force four-star rank
  • Admiral – 海上幕僚長たる海将 (Kaijōbakuryōchō-taru-kaishō, (Vice admiral serving as Chief of Staff JMSDF))Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force four-star rank
  • General – 航空幕僚長たる空将 (Kōkūbakuryocho-taru-kūshō, (Lieutenant general serving as Chief of Staff JASDF))Japan Air Self-Defense Force four-star rank

The rank designations of general and admiral are merely the status and treatment of the position of chief of staff, with lieutenant general and vice admiral being the highest ranks.


In Nepal the Chief of the Army Staff holds a four-star rank.



See also:

Sri LankaEdit

In Sri Lanka Armed Forces only the Chief of the Defence Staff can hold a four-star rank.


See also:


Philippine Army General
Philippine Air Force General

United KingdomEdit

See also:

United StatesEdit

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Former USSR and RussiaEdit

While the general armii wore shoulder insignia with four small stars, the marshal and admiral flota wore one single large star on their shoulder boards, and the glavnii marshal the same large star with a laurel wreath, very similar to the modern army general insignia of the Russian Army.

Upon their formation, the Russian armed forces discontinued the ranks of marshal and glavnii marshal.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ This rank insignia is not worn by all NATO officers.


  1. ^ Canada – Department of Justice "Laws of Canada: National Defence Act, Schedule I"
  2. ^ Lagassé, Philippe (December 2013). "The Crown's Powers of Command-in Chief: Interpreting Section 15 of Canada's Constitution Act, 1867" (PDF). Review of Constitutional Studies. 18 (2): 189–220.
  3. ^ The Governor General, Commander-in-Chief "[1]"
  4. ^ "Ranks - British Army Website". Archived from the original on 2012-08-21. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
  5. ^ RAF Glossary Archived 2008-04-13 at the Wayback Machine, "Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation",