A five-star rank is a very senior military rank, first established in the United States in 1944, with a five-star general insignia, and corresponding ranks in other countries. The rank is that of the most senior operational military commanders, and within NATO's "standard rank scale" it is designated by the code OF-10.
Not all armed forces have such a rank, and in those that do the actual insignia of the "five-star ranks" may not contain five stars. For example: the insignia for the French OF-10 rank maréchal de France contains 7 stars; the insignia for the Portuguese marechal contains four gold stars; and many of the insignia of the ranks in the Commonwealth of Nations contain no stars at all.
Typically, five-star officers hold the rank of general of the army, admiral of the fleet, field marshal, marshal or general of the air force, and several other similarly named ranks. Five-star ranks are extremely senior--usually the highest ranks. As an active rank, the position exists only in a minority of countries and is usually held by only a very few officers during wartime. In times of peace, it is usually held only as an honorary rank. Traditionally, five-star ranks are granted to distinguished military commanders for notable wartime victories and/or in recognition of a record of achievement during the officer's career, whether in peace or in war. Alternatively, a five-star rank (or even higher ranks) may be assumed by heads of state in their capacities as commanders-in-chief of their nation's armed forces.
Despite the rarity and seniority of five-star officers, even more-senior ranks have been adopted in the United States, namely, admiral of the navy and general of the armies. Other names for highly senior ranks from the twentieth century include généralissime (France), generalissimo (Spain) and generalissimus (USSR).
Only one Australian-born officer, Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey, has held a substantive Australian five-star rank. Lord Birdwood, who commanded the Australian Imperial Force in the First World War, was appointed to honorary five-star rank in the Australian Military Forces on his promotion to field marshal in the British Army in 1925.King George VI and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh have held all three Australian five-star ranks in an honorary capacity, and have been the only holders of the Australian ranks of admiral of the fleet and marshal of the RAAF.
Australian Army Field Marshal
RAN Admiral of the Fleet
Marshal of the RAAF
Five-star ranks in Brazil are only used in wartime.
Refer to government regulation No. 32/1997, The Indonesian five star ranks are:
The five-star ranks above are honorary rank and does not provide additional authority or responsibility.
However, as government regulation No. 32/1997 have been revoked and replaced by government regulation No. 39/2010, whereas the latest regulation don't mentioned five-star rank. Therefore, it is unlikely there will be any Indonesian military personnel to be awarded five-star rank.
General of the Italian Army - shoulder board
Admiral of the Italian Navy - sleeve
General of the Italian Air Force - sleeve
This ranks is used by the Italian Chief of General Staff only.
Marshal of Poland (Marsza?ek Polski) is a Polish Army five-star rank. There are today no living marshals of Poland, since this rank is bestowed only on military commanders who have achieved victory in war. The last appointment was in 1963 to Marian Spychalski.
Since 1922 it's not properly a rank but a "military dignity". The only full Capitán General is currently His Majesty the King of Spain, the last not-royal appointment (honorary) was in 1994 to Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado. The rank of Capitana General is currently bestowed also to several images of the Virgin Mary, among them la Virgen de Butarque, la Virgen del Pilar, la Virgen de Guadalupe, Nuestra Señora de los Reyes, la Virgen de los Desamparados (this one properly Capitana Generalísima), la Virgen de la Serra, la Virgen del Canto y la Virgen de los Remedios. The latest appointment was to Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, April 2011.
Capitán general de la Armada ("Captain general of the Navy")
Capitán general del Aire ("Air captain general")
The monarch of Thailand is appointed to the three ranks automatically upon accession as he is the constitutional Head of the Royal Thai Armed Forces. Since 1973 the three ranks have been reserved for members of the royal family.
The worn insignia of British five-star commanders do not contain stars; the vehicle star plate, mounted on the front of a staff car, does display five stars.
Royal Navy admiral of the fleet (shoulder board)
Royal Navy admiral of the fleet (sleeve lace)
Field marshal of the British Army epaulette
Captain general of the Royal Marines epaulette
Marshal of the Royal Air Force (shoulder board)
Promotion to the ranks of admiral of the fleet and marshal of the Royal Air Force is now generally held in abeyance in peacetime with exceptions for special circumstances. Promotion to the rank of field marshal was generally stopped in 1995 as a cost-cutting measure but is still made in some cases. The most recent appointments to five-star ranks are the promotions in 2012 of the Prince of Wales to honorary five-star rank in all three services, and of former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank to the honorary rank of field marshal. In 2014 the former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Stirrup was promoted to the honorary rank of marshal of the Royal Air Force.
During World War II and after, serving NATO, a small number of British five-star commanders have held the additional title Supreme Allied Commander, given operational control over all air, land, and sea units led by the four-star commanders of multi-national forces.
Before the five-star ranks were established in 1944, two officers had previously been promoted from their four-star ranks to the superior and unique ranks of Admiral of the Navy and General of the Armies: Admiral George Dewey (appointment 1903 retroactive to 1899, died 1917) and General John J. Pershing (appointed 1919, died 1948). In 1944 the Navy and Army specified that these officers were considered senior to any officers promoted to the five-star ranks within their services (but it was not clear if they were senior by rank or by seniority due to an earlier date of rank).
Five-star ranks were created in the U.S. military during World War II because of the awkward situation created when some American senior commanders were placed in positions commanding allied officers of higher rank. U.S. officers holding five-star rank never retire; they draw full active duty pay for life. The five-star ranks were retired in 1981 on the death of General of the Army Omar Bradley.
Nine Americans have been promoted to five-star rank, one of them, Henry H. Arnold, in two services (U.S. Army then later in the U.S. Air Force). As part of the bicentennial celebration, George Washington was, 177 years after his death, permanently made senior to all other U.S. generals and admirals with the title General of the Armies effective on 4 July 1976. The appointment stated he was to have "rank and precedence over all other grades of the Army, past or present".[nb 2]
During World War II and (later) serving NATO, a small number of American five-star commanders have also held the additional title of Supreme Allied Commander, given operational control over all air, land, and sea units led by the four-star commanders of multi-national forces.
|o||Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy||15 December 1944|
|o||General of the Army George Marshall||16 December 1944|
|o||Fleet Admiral Ernest King||17 December 1944|
|o||General of the Army Douglas MacArthur||18 December 1944|
|o||Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz||19 December 1944|
|o||General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower||20 December 1944|
|o||General of the Army & Air Force Henry H. Arnold||21 December 1944 & 7 May 1949|
|o||Fleet Admiral William Halsey, Jr.||11 December 1945|
|o||General of the Army Omar Bradley||20 September 1950|
|o||General of the Armies George Washington||4 July 1976, with an effective appointment date of 4 July 1776a|
The timing of the first seven appointments was to establish both a clear order of seniority and a near-equivalence between the Army and Navy services. In 1949, Arnold was honored by being made the first, and to date only, general of the air force. He is the only American to serve in a five-star rank in two of its military services. By a Congressional Act of 24 March 1903, Admiral George Dewey's rank was established as admiral of the navy, a rank which was specified to be senior to the four-star rank of admiral and was equal to admiral of the fleet in the British Royal Navy. Admiral Dewey was the only individual ever appointed to this rank, which lapsed with his death on 16 January 1917. Admiral of the navy was considered superior to fleet admiral during World War II. On 3 September 1919, John Pershing was promoted to the rank of General of the Armies (officially General of the Armies of the United States) in recognition of his service during World War I. He is the only person promoted to this rank during their lifetime.