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Field marshal

Navies Armies Air forces
Admiral of
the fleet
Marshal or
Field marshal
Marshal of
the air force
Admiral General Air chief marshal
Vice admiral Lieutenant general Air marshal
Rear admiral Major general Air vice-marshal
Commodore Brigadier Air commodore
Captain Colonel Group captain
Commander Lieutenant colonel Wing commander
Major or
Squadron leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight lieutenant
Sub-lieutenant Lieutenant Flying officer
Ensign Second
Pilot officer
Midshipman Officer cadet Officer cadet
Seamen, soldiers and airmen
Chief petty officer or
Warrant officer
Sergeant major or
Warrant officer
Warrant officer
Petty officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading seaman Corporal Corporal
Seaman Private Aircraftman

Field marshal is a very senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually it is the highest rank in an army, and when it is, few (if any) persons are appointed to it.

The origin of the term dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses (from Old German Marh-scalc = "horse-servant"), from the time of the early Frankish kings.

Promotion to the rank of field marshal in many countries historically required extraordinary military achievement by a general (a wartime victory). However, the rank has also been used as a divisional command rank and also as a brigade command rank. Examples of the different uses of the rank include Austria-Hungary, Prussia and Germany for an extraordinary achievement; Spain and Mexico for a divisional command (Spanish: mariscal de campo); and France, Portugal and Brazil for a brigade command (French: maréchal de camp, Portuguese: marechal de campo).

The traditional attribute distinguishing a field marshal is a baton. The baton nowadays is purely ornamental, and as such may be richly decorated. That said, it is not necessary for the insignia to be a baton. (Such is the case in Russia post-1991 and the former Soviet Union, which use a jewelled star referred to as a marshal's star.)

The exact wording of the titles used by field marshals varies: examples include "marshal" and "field marshal general". The air force equivalent in the Commonwealth and many Middle Eastern air forces is marshal of the air force (not to be confused with air marshal). (Navies, which usually do not use the nomenclature employed by armies or air forces, use titles such as "fleet admiral," "grand admiral" or "admiral of the fleet" for the equivalent rank.) Note that 'Field Marshal' or 'Marshal' is never written as 'Marshall' with two ls.


  • Regional examples 1
    • Australia 1.1
    • China 1.2
    • Egypt 1.3
    • France 1.4
    • India 1.5
    • Japan 1.6
    • Pakistan 1.7
    • Portugal and Brazil 1.8
    • Philippines 1.9
    • Serbia 1.10
    • Turkey 1.11
    • United Kingdom 1.12
    • United States 1.13
    • Uganda 1.14
  • Other Nations 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5

Regional examples



During Imperial rule in China, different dynasty gave different titles to generals. A very similar title is “司馬” (sima) in Eastern Han dynasty, which literally means "master of horse", and later became a two-character surname too. “司馬” is one of the Three Excellencies in Eastern Han, who is in charge of the country's military affairs.

Later, a more common title for a field marshal or a commandant was (元帅 Yuan Shuai) or grand field marshal (大元帅 da yuan shuai). One of the most famous of these generals was Yue Fei from the Song Dynasty

After the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, it has promoted 10 military commanders to the rank of marshal, all in 1955, and the rank is currently defunct.


Egypt military history had 9 Field Marshals. currently there are two field marshals living; ex military chief Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Previous field marshals are Abdel Hakim Amer, Mohamed Abdel Ghani el-Gamasy, Ahmad Ismail Ali, Fouad Zekry, Ahmed Badawi, Mohammed Aly Fahmy and Abd al-Halim Abu Ghazala.


In the French army of the Ancien Régime, the normal brigade command rank was field marshal (maréchal de camp). In 1793, during the French Revolution, the rank of field marshal was replaced by the rank of brigade general. The rank insignia of field marshal was two stars (one-star being used for a senior colonel rank). The French field marshal rank was below lieutenant-general, which in 1793 became divisional-general. In the title maréchal de camp and the English "field marshal", there is an etymological confusion in the French camp between the English words "camp" and "field".

The French rank of field marshal should not be confused with the rank of Marshal of France, which has been the highest rank of the French Army since the higher dignity of Marshal General of France was abolished in 1848 (although in theory it is not an actual rank but a "state dignity")


There have been two Indian field marshals. Sam Manekshaw, the 8th chief of staff of the Indian Army in 1969, was the first Indian military officer to hold the rank. The other was Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa.


Gensui badge

Until the end of World War II, Japan also bestowed the honorary title of field marshal (元帥 gensui) on successful generals and admirals; they would however retain their ranks of general and admiral.


Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan has remained the only field marshal in the history of Pakistan Army to date. He appointed himself as a field marshal when he was the second president of Pakistan, as well as the commander in chief of the army.

Portugal and Brazil

Field marshal can be translated into Portuguese as marechal de campo. By other hand, marechal de campo can also be translated literally into English as "camp marshal".

In the Portuguese Army, the rank of marechal de campo was created in 1762, as the most junior general officer rank. Hierarchically, it was between the rank of tenente-general (lieutenant-general) and the rank of brigadeiro (brigadier), this last one not being considered a general rank, but a kind of senior colonel.

In Portugal, the ranks of marechal-general (marshal-general) and marechal do Exército (marechal of the Army) or simply marechal also existed. Distinctively from the rank of marechal de campo, the ranks of marechal-general and marechal were the highest in the Portuguese Army, usually being reserved for the commanders-in-chief of the Army. Latter, the rank of marechal-general became reserved for the Monarch, as a mere honorary dignity.

When Brazil became independent from Portugal in 1822, the Portuguese system of ranks was maintained by the Brazilian Army, including the rank of marechal de campo.

In the second half of the 19th century, the rank of marechal de campo was replaced, both in Portugal and Brazil, by the rank of general de brigada (brigade general). This last rank still exists today in the Brazilian Army, but corresponds to the present rank of major-general (major-general) in the Portuguese Army.


US Army General Douglas MacArthur was the first and only field marshal in the history of the Philippine Army, a position he held while also acting as the Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines with a rank of major general. President Quezon conferred the rank of field marshal on August 24, 1936 and MacArthur's duty includes the supervision of the creation of the Philippine Army.


Epaulettes for the rank Field marshal (Voivode) Serbia

Serbian Field marshal can be translated as Vojvoda or etymologically (Lieutenant colonel (later Divisional General) Miloš Vasić who was Minister of the Defense at the time. The rank was awarded only during the war for Particular military contributions of top generals.

In the Balkan Wars and World War I this title was used to designate the highest military rank in Serbian Army (above the General - as equalent of Field Marshal in other armies). The first Field Marshal (Vojvoda) was promoted by the Great military decree of the Kingdom of Serbia on 20 October 1912. Only four people ever officially held that military rank: Radomir Putnik (got it in 1912), Stepa Stepanović (1914), Živojin Mišić (1914) and Petar Bojović (1918). Honorary title but not military rank held Montenegrin General Janko Vukotić (1915) and French General Louis Franchet d'Espérey (1921). During the World War I, General Petar Bojović held the position of Chief of Staff of the Supreme Command (the highest military position in the Serbian Army) and was a superior to two army commanders who were field marshal's (Stepa Stepanović and Živojin Mišić).

Before this rank was introduced, the highest rank in the Kingdom of Serbia was Army General. After Second World War, newly formed Yugoslav People’s Army stopped using Royal ranking system, so this rank ceased to exist.


In the Turkish Armed Forces, the corresponding rank is mareşal. The rank of mareşal can trace its origins to the Ottoman Empire and to the military of Persia, where it was called "مشير" (müşir)[1] and bestowed upon senior commanders upon order of the ruling Sultan. The rank of mareşal can only be bestowed by the National Assembly, and only given to a General who leads an army, navy and/or air force successfully in three battles or at various front lines at the same time, gaining a victory over the enemy. Only two persons have been bestowed the rank mareşal to date: Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, and his Chief of Staff Fevzi Çakmak, both for their successes in the Turkish War of Independence.

United Kingdom

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, held the rank of a field marshal, or equivalent rank, in eight armies. Nine of his field marshal batons are on display in Apsley House (see Batons of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington).

United States

The United States has never used the rank of field marshal; however, General Douglas MacArthur was field marshal of the Philippine Army from August 24, 1936, until December 31, 1937.

On December 14, 1944, Congress created the rank of "tongue in cheek) that Marshall disliked the plan because five stars was the rank of field marshal and the Chief of Staff could then be addressed as “Marshal Marshall.”[2]


Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada was the military dictator and third President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Amin joined the British colonial regiment, the King's African Rifles in 1946, serving in Somalia and Kenya. Eventually, Amin held the rank of major general in the post-colonial Ugandan Army and became its commander before seizing power in the military coup of January 1971, deposing Milton Obote. He later promoted himself to field marshal while he was the head of state.

Other Nations

See also


  1. ^ The equivalent of a Generalfeldmarschall in the German navy was Großadmiral (grand admiral). The rank of Generalfeldmarschall was abolished after the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945.


  1. ^ "Great Turkish Dictionary".  
  2. ^ "Eisenhower Memorial Commission - The Story Behind Ike’s Fifth Star". Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
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