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Please see "Major" for other countries that use this rank

In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, major is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. It is equivalent to the rank of lieutenant commander in the other uniformed services.

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.


A major in the U.S. Army typically serves as a battalion executive officer or as the battalion operations officer (S-3). A major can also serve as a primary staff officer for a brigade or task force in the areas concerning personnel, logistical and operations. In addition, majors command augmented companies in Combat Service and Service Support units. U.S. Army majors also command Special Operations companies, such as U.S. Army Special Forces companies, Civil Affairs companies, Psychological Operations 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 Leavenworthmarker, with a smaller number attending satellite schools administered by Fort Leavenworth at Fort Belvoirmarker, Fort Lee, Virginiamarker and Fort Gordonmarker. 960 graduated the Leavenworth course in 2009 (the largest class in Army history).

American Civil War

During the American Civil War the Union 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, the Confederate Army retained the same titles of rank as its Union counterpart, but developed a new system of rank identification 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 pattern on each sleeve. The number of rows of gold lace increased with the rank of the officer.

Air Force

A major in the Air Force typically has duties as a senior staff officer at the squadron level. In flying squadrons majors are generally flight commanders or assistant directors of operations. In the mission support and maintenance groups majors may occasionally be squadron commanders. In the medical corps, a major may be the head of a clinic or flight.

Police officer

The rank is also used in some police departments.



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