General of the Army (United States)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search Army Service Uniform shoulder strap with the rank of General of the Army Rank flag of a General of the Army This article is about a United States Army rank. For other countries that use a General of the Army rank, see General of the Army.
General of the Army (GA) is a five-star general officer and is the second highest possible rank in the United States Army. A special rank of General of the Armies, 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 and is equivalent to a fleet admiral and a General of the Air Force. There is no established equivalent five-star rank in the other Federal uniformed services (Marine Corps, Coast Guard, 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.
General of the Army shoulder strap insignia, 1866–1872 (Grant and Sherman). General of the Army shoulder strap insignia, 1872–1888 (Sherman and Sheridan).
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. 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 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" even though Grant was never called by this title.
Unlike the modern four-star rank of general, 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 in between.
By an Act of June 1, 1888, the grade was conferred upon Philip Sheridan, 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.
As the logistics and military leadership requirements of World War II escalated after the June 1944 Normandy Landings, the United States government created a new version of General of the Army. The five-star rank and authority of General of the Army and equivalent naval Fleet Admiral was created by an Act of Congress on a temporary basis when Pub.L. 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 counterparts holding the rank of Field Marshal and comparable rank of Fleet Admiral (U.S.) for the Navy's parity with Admiral of the Fleet (Royal 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 December 16, 1944
• Douglas MacArthur December 18, 1944
• Dwight D. Eisenhower December 20, 1944
• Henry H. Arnold December 21, 1944
• Omar Bradley September 22, 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 (William D. Leahy on December 15, 1944, Ernest J. King on December 17, 1944, and Chester W. Nimitz on December 19, 1944) to establish both a clear order of seniority and a near-equivalence between the services. The final naval appointment of five-star rank, December 11, 1945 to William F. Halsey, Jr..
Although briefly considered, the US Army did not introduce a rank of field marshal. The United States traditionally uses the term "marshal" for a senior law enforcement officer, particularly the US Marshals, 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, signed Pub.L. 87-3 on March 23, 1961, which authorized President Kennedy to reappoint Eisenhower " to the active list of the Regular Army in his former grade, of General of the Army with his former date of rank in such grade."
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 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 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.
There have been no officers appointed to the rank of General of the Army since Omar Bradley. 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 major war, pending approval of the United States Congress. 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, Omar Bradley, was eventually awarded a fifth star, such a promotion does not come with the office; Bradley's elevation was a political move to remedy the fact that his subordinate, Douglas MacArthur, would outrank him.
In the 1990s, there were proposals in U.S. Department of Defense 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 but before his tenure as Secretary of State, there had been some talk of awarding General Colin Powell, 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 be promoted to a five-star rank. In January 2011, the founders of the Vets for Freedom political advocacy group published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal calling for David Petraeus to be awarded a fifth star in recognition of his work and the importance of his mission. Earlier, in July of 2010, D.B. Grady wrote an article in The Atlantic supporting the same promotion.
General of the Armies
Main article: 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, in 1919 for his services in World War I, and George Washington for his service as the first Commanding General of the United States Army. (An equivalent rank, Admiral of the Navy, was given to George Dewey.)
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 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 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 during the Revolutionary War, and a three-star lieutenant general in the Regular Army during the Quasi-War with France.
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 has an equivalent rank.
In the British Army, the equivalent rank would be field marshal, although that rank is currently only ceremonial. Some other countries, such as France and Russia, would use the rank of marshal.
June 26, 1950 0915
Secretary of State Acheson was waiting for me at the airport as was Secretary of Defense Johnson. We hurried to Blair House where we were joined by Secretary of the Army Frank Pace. & Secretary of the Navy Francis Matthews; Secretary of the Air Force Thomas Finletter General of the Army Omar N. Bradley; the Army Chief General Collins; the Air Force Chief General Vandenberg; and Admiral Forrest Sherman Chief of Naval Operations.
Dean Acheson was accompanied by Undersecretaries Webb and Rusk and Assistant Secretary John Hickerson and Ambassador- at-Large Philip Jessup. It was late and we went at once to the dining room for dinner. I asked that no discussion take place until dinner was ended and over and the Blair House staff had withdrawn.
Earlier that Sunday evening. Acheson reported, the Security Council of the United Nations had, by a vote of nine to nothing, approved a resolution declaring that a breach of the peace had been committed by the North Korean action and ordering the North Koreans to cease action and withdraw their forces.
I then called on Acheson to present the recommendations which the State and Defense Departments had prepared. He presented the following recommendations for immediate action:
1) That MacArthur should evacuate the Americans from Korea --including the dependents of the military mission — and, in order to do so, should keep open the Kimp'o and other airports, repelling all hostile attacks thereon. In doing this, his air forces should stay south of the 38th Parallel.
2) MacArthur should be instructed to get ammunition and supplies to the Korean army by airdrop and otherwise.
3) That the Seventh Fleet should be ordered into the Formosa Strait to prevent the conflict from spreading to that area. We should make a statement that the fleet would repel any attack on Formosa and that no attacks should be made from Formosa on the mainland.
At this point I interrupted to say that the Seventh Fleet should be ordered north at once, but that I wanted to withhold making any statement until the fleet was in position. After this report I asked each person in turn to state his agreement or disagreement and any views he might have in addition.
Two things stand out in this discussion.
One was the complete, almost unspoken acceptance on the part of everyone that whatever had to be done to meet this aggression had to be done. There was no suggestion from anyone that either the United Nations or the United States could back away from it.
The other point which stands out was the difference in view of what might be called for Vandenberg and Sherman thought that air and naval aid might be enough. Collins said that if the Korean army was really broken, ground forces would be necessary.
I expressed the opinion that the Russians were trying to get Korea by default gambling that we would be afraid of starting a third world war and would offer no resistance. I thought that we were still holding the stronger hand, although how much stronger it was hard to tell.
At 1915 hours
that [Saturday] night [1915+1400=3315-2400=0915] the President landed
at Washington and drove directly to his temporary residence at Blair
House. Here were assembled the key officers of the Departments of State
and Defense, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff: General Omar Bradley
(chairman), General J. Lawton Collins (Army), Admiral Forrest P Sherman
(Navy), and General Hoyt S. Vandenberg (Air Force). Most of the talk
over the dinner table reflected a hope that the South Koreans could
hold with the help of American arms and equipment which General MacArthur
was sending them. The main theme of conversation, however, was that
the Communists appeared to be repeating patterns of aggression similar
to those acts which had set off World War II.
After dinner President Truman opened the conference with the statement that he did not wish to make decisions that night, except such as were immediately necessary. Secretary Acheson then presented three recommendations which had been prepared by the State and Defense Departments:
1) that MacArthur would send arms and ammunition to Korea,
2) that MacArthur would furnish ships and planes to assist and protect the evacuation of American dependents from Korea, and
3) that the U.S. Seventh Fleet would be ordered northward from the Philippines to report to MacArthur.
Truman asked for comments, and the discussion worked around to what the United States might have to do to save South Korea. Vandenberg and Sherman thought that air and naval aid might be enough. Collins stated that if the ROK Army was really broken, American ground forces would be needed. At the end of the meeting President Truman directed that orders be issued implementing the three recommendations made by the State and Defense Departments.#74