Brigadier is a
military rank
military rank
, the seniority of which depends on the country. In some countries, it is a senior rank above
, equivalent to a
brigadier general
brigadier general
or commodore, typically commanding a brigade of several thousand soldiers. In other countries, it is a non-commissioned rank.

Origins and history

The word and rank of "Brigadier" originates from
. In the French Army, the Brigadier des Armées du Roi (Brigadier of the King's Armies) was a general officer rank, created in 1657. It was an intermediate between the rank of
Mestre de camp
Mestre de camp
and that of Maréchal de camp. The rank was first created in the cavalry at the instigation of Marshal Turenne on June 8, 1657, then in the infantry on March 17, 1668, and in the dragoons on April 15, 1672. In peacetime, the brigadier commanded his regiment and, in maneuvers or in wartime, he commanded two or three - or even four - regiments combined to form a brigade (including his own, but later the rank was also awarded to lieutenant-colonels, which allowed for the promotion of an officer who did not have his own regiment). Before the rank of brigadier of the armies was dissolved in 1788, it was materialized by the wearing of a single star. And when it was abolished that year, the number of stars of its immediate superiors was not modified, which explains why today French generals have one more star on their insignia than their foreign counterparts (notably American). Note that the rank of "Chef de brigade" created during the French Revolution replaced that of Colonel. A brigade commander then commanded... a half-brigade (a name that replaced the regiment). The rank of Brigadier of the Armies reappeared during the Third Republic. It designates a colonel, experienced as a regimental commander, who has under his command several regiments without having the annexed units that would make this group a brigade. The army brigadier wears the colonel's uniform and insignia. The rank was definitively abolished in 1945. Until 1788, a rank of ("brigadier of the armies"), which could be described as a senior colonel or junior brigade commander, was used in the French Army. The normal brigade command rank was field marshal () (which elsewhere is a more senior rank). During the
French Revolution
French Revolution
, the ranks of and were replaced by brigade general (). In common with many countries, France now uses the officer rank of brigade general (Général de brigade) instead of a "brigadier" rank. The held a one-star insignia, while the inherited the two-stars insignia. The disappearance of the rank is the reason that there is no one-star insignia in the French Army. The rank of is still nonetheless used in some regiments as an equivalent of
. By extension, this also applies to the , equivalent in rank to a corporal in the infantry.

General officer rank


( Angolan Army) File:Bundesheer - Rank insignia - Brigadier.png,
( Austrian Land Forces) File:blank.svg,
( Cape Verdean National Guard) File:Norway-army-OF-6.svg,
( Norwegian Army) File:blank.svg,
( Army of São Tomé and Príncipe) File:18-Slovenian Army-BG.svg,
( Slovenian Ground Force) File:CHE OF6 Br.svg,

Senior officer rank

British tradition

In many countries, especially those formerly part of the
British Empire
British Empire
, a brigadier is either the highest field rank or most junior
appointment, nominally commanding a brigade. It ranks above
and below major general. The rank is used by the British Army, the Royal Marines, the Australian Army, the
Bangladesh Army
Bangladesh Army
, the
Indian Army
Indian Army
, the Sri Lankan Army, the
New Zealand Army
New Zealand Army
, the Pakistan Army and several others. Although it is not always considered a general officer rank, it is always considered equivalent to the
brigadier general
brigadier general
and brigade general rank of other countries. In
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 30 Member sta ...
forces, brigadier is OF-6 on the rank scale. "The grade of brigadier-general, also called, almost interchangeably, brigadier, first appeared in the British army during the reign of King James II. A warrant of 1705 placed the grade directly below major-general, but the appointment was always considered temporary and not continuous. The British were ambiguous over whether the holder was considered a general officer or a senior field grade office". The title is derived from the equivalent British rank of brigadier-general, used until 1922 and still used in many countries. "Brigadier" was already in use as a generic term for a commander of a brigade irrespective of specific rank. Until the rank was dissolved in 1922, brigadier-generals wore a crossed sword and baton symbol on its own. From 1922 to 1928, the British rank title used was that of colonel-commandant, with one crown and three 'pips', a rank which, although reflecting its modern role in the British Army as a senior colonel rather than a junior general, was not well received and was replaced with brigadier after six years. Colonel-commandant was only ever used for officers commanding brigades, depots or training establishments. Officers holding equivalent rank in administrative appointments were known as "colonels on the staff", also replaced by brigadier in 1928. Colonel-commandants and colonels on the staff wore the same rank badge later adopted by brigadiers."New Army Rank of Brigadier", ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'', 23 December 1997.
Until shortly after
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, brigadier was an appointment conferred on colonels (as commodore was an appointment conferred on naval captains) rather than a substantive rank. In countries, and most
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C ...

-speaking countries (in which the rank is called ''amid''), the rank insignia comprises a crown (or some other national symbol) with three stars, (sometimes called "pips"), which are often arranged in a triangle. A brigadier's uniform may also have red gorget patches. It is otherwise similar to that of a colonel (colonel's rank insignia have a crown/emblem with two stars/"pips".) The Canadian Army used the rank of brigadier (following British tradition, with identical insignia) until the unification of the Canadian Forces in 1968. The rank then became brigadier-general with the insignia of St. Edward's Crown surmounting a crossed sword and baton over one gold maple leaf.


The rank of a ''brigadier'' was established by in 1702 as an intermediate rank between and true s. In some Iberoamerican republics (see below), the rank survived after independence. In
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = ''Plus ultra'' (Latin)(English: "Further Beyond") , national_anthem = (English: "Royal March") , i ...

, brigadiers came to be considered full generals in 1871, and in 1889 they were renamed . The historical rank is distinct from the current NCO rank of , although sometimes translators confuse the two. The name has survived as a rank at the Spanish Naval Academy.

Latin America

Many countries in and
Central America Central America ( es, América Central or ) is a subregion of the Americas. Its boundaries are defined as bordering the United States to the north, Colombia to the south, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Cen ...

Central America
were formerly Spanish or Portuguese (Brazil) possessions. Brigadier
general A general officer is an Officer (armed forces), officer of highest military ranks, high rank in the army, armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, and marines or naval infantry. In some usages the term "general officer" refers t ...

is used in , in the normal sense of brigade commander rank (e.g.
Colombia Colombia (, ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a country in South America with insular regions in North America—near Nicaragua's Caribbean coast—as well as in the Pacific Ocean. The Colombian mainland is bordered by the Cari ...

Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America. It is the southernmost country in the world, and the closest to Antarctica, occupying a long and narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east a ...

), although most Latin American nations instead use the rank of brigade general. In
Mexico Mexico (Spanish language, Spanish: México), officially the United Mexican States, is a List of sovereign states, country in the southern portion of North America. It is borders of Mexico, bordered to the north by the United States; to the so ...

, brigadier general is the rank below brigade general, both ranks falling between colonel and divisional general. However, both the Argentine and s use a curious system of variations on brigadier for all (
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of , making it the List of South American countries by area, second-largest ...

) or most (
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...

) general officers. The origin of this system is not entirely clear, but in the case of Argentina may be due to army air units being commanded by brigade generals before the establishment of the Air Force as an independent armed force.


File:Australian Army OF-6.svg, Brigadier
( Australian Army) File:Botswana-Army-OF-6.svg, Brigadier
( Botswana Ground Force) File:SS.OO.8.EJER.BRIGADIER.svg,
Chilean Army The Chilean Army ( es, Ejército de Chile) is the land arm of the Military of Chile. This 80,000-person army (9,200 of which are conscripts) is organized into six divisions, a special operations brigade and an air brigade. In recent years, and a ...
) File:Fijian-OF-06.svg, Brigadier
( Fiji Infantry Regiment) File:Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Brigadier rank insignia.svg, Brigadier
( Guyana Army) File:Brigadier of the Indian Army.svg, Brigadier
() File:Jamaica-Army-OF-6 (new).svg, Brigadier
( Jamaican Army) File:13. Kenyan Army BG.svg, Brigadier
( Kenya Army) File:Brig_LDF.png, Brigadier
( Lesotho Army) File:13. Malawi Army - BG.svg, Brigadier
( Malawi Army) File:14.Malta Army-BG.svg, Brigadier
() File:New Zealand-Army-OF-6.svg, Brigadier
() File:OF-7 Pakistan Army.svg, Brigadier
( Pakistan Army) File:PNGDF Land OF-06.svg, Brigadier
( Papua New Guinea Land Element) File:Seychelles Army OF-06 (2018).svg, Brigadier
( Seychelles Infantry Unit) File:blank.svg, Brigadier
( Sierra Leone Army) File:Sri Lanka-army-OF-6.svg, Brigadier
( Sri Lanka Army) File:Tonga-Army-OF-6.svg, Brigadier
( Tongan Land Component) File:blank.svg, Brigadier
( Eswatini Army) File:Uganda-Army-OF-6.svg, Brigadier
( Ugandan Land Forces) File:British Army OF-6.svg, Brigadier
( British Army) File:Zambia-army_13.gif, Brigadier
( Zambian Army) File:Zimbabwe-Army-OF-6.svg, Brigadier
( Zimbabwe National Army)

Junior officer rank

United Kingdom

In the UK, brigadier and sub-brigadier were formerly subaltern ranks in the Royal Horse Guards.

Non-commissioned rank

Brigadier also exists as a non-commissioned rank. This usage derives from the use of "brigade" to denote a squad or team, similar to the occasional English civilian usage "work brigade".



In , and some countries whose forces were structured based on the method used in France, some branches of the army and the use for a rank equivalent to (), and for a rank equivalent to . Brigadier is used by arms of the army that are by tradition considered "mounted" arms, such as logistics or
cavalry Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were the most mobile of the combat arms, operating as light cavalr ...

units. A similar usage exists elsewhere. In the French gendarmerie, the brigadier ranks are used as in the army, i.e. as junior enlisted ranks (), while the French police use brigadier ranks as their sub-officer () ranks. Since all professional police and gendarmes have sub-officer status in France, the gendarmerie brigadier ranks are rarely used, since they are used only by auxiliaries. On the other hand, the police brigadier ranks, which are used to indicate professional ranks, are common. In the French gendarmerie and in "mounted" arms of the French army, the brigadier ranks are:

National police

In the French National Police, the sub-officer variations are used for non-commissioned officers are: * ( OR-6, equal to gendarmerie ) * ( OR-8, equal to gendarmerie ) * ( OR-9, equal to gendarmerie ) * ( OR-9, equal to gendarmerie )


In the Indonesian National Police force, this rank is referred to as the ranks in the regular police units. It is equivalent to the "sergeant" rank in the armed forces. This rank is the most junior rank in the regular police units of Indonesia but is above the enlisted ranks () of the special police units such as in the Mobile Brigade corps and water police units. This rank is below the "Sub-inspector" () ranks. The police Brigadier ranks are as shown below: * , abbreviated (Police Chief Brigadier) * , not abbreviated (Police Brigadier) * , abbreviated (Police Brigadier 1st class) * , abbreviated (Police Brigadier 2nd class) In addition, Police Brigadier General () and Brigadier General () are general officer ranks in the Indonesian Police,
Army An army (from Old French ''armee'', itself derived from the Latin verb ''armāre'', meaning "to arm", and related to the Latin noun ''arma'', meaning "arms" or "weapons"), ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on ...
and Marine Corps respectively.


In the Italian and , the ranks of vice-brigadier (), brigadier (), and chief brigadier () correspond roughly to the army ranks based on . The rank of brigade general () is used throughout the armed forces as the most junior general rank, and corresponds to the British rank title of brigadier.


is traditionally the most senior non-commissioned rank in the Dutch police, for example the National Police Corps (). It’s predecessors also used this rank. The Royal Marechaussee (military police/gendarmerie) does not use this rank.


Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = ''Plus ultra'' (Latin)(English: "Further Beyond") , national_anthem = (English: "Royal March") , i ...

, a has a NATO rank code of OR-8 (and is thus a senior NCO). The Spanish rank is distinct from the Spanish-language ''brigadier
general A general officer is an Officer (armed forces), officer of highest military ranks, high rank in the army, armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, and marines or naval infantry. In some usages the term "general officer" refers t ...

' used for senior officers in Latin America (and historically in Spain).


File:02. Burkina Faso Army - CPL.svg,
( Burkina Faso Ground Forces) File:06. EGLF-SGM.svg,
( Army of Equatorial Guinea) File:Army-FRA-OR-03.svg,
( French Army) File:Monaco-army-OR-4.svg,
( Army of Monaco) File:Spain-Army-OR-8.svg,
( Spanish Army)

See also

* List of comparative military ranks


{{Reflist Military ranks Military ranks of the Commonwealth Military ranks of the Francophonie Military ranks of Australia Former military ranks of Canada Military ranks of France Military ranks of Pakistan One-star officers