Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff render a salute during the departure ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base for former President Ronald Reagan, June 11, 2004.
Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff render a salute during the departure ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base for former President Ronald Reagan, June 11, 2004.

There are currently 44 active-duty four-star officers in the uniformed services of the United States: 17 in the Army, 3 in the Marine Corps, 9 in the Navy, 10 in the Air Force, 2 in the Space Force, 2 in the Coast Guard, and 1 in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Of the eight federal uniformed services, the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps is the only service that does not have an established four-star position.

List of designated four-star positions

Department of Defense

Joint Chiefs of Staff

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Office of the Joint Staff
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS)
General Mark A. Milley.jpg
General
Mark A. Milley
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (VJCS)
ADM Christopher W. Grady (2).jpg
Admiral
Christopher W. Grady
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy

Unified Combatant Commands

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Unified combatant commands
U.S. Africa Command
Commander, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM)
Gen Michael E. Langley.jpg
General
Michael E. Langley
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
U.S. Central Command
Commander, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM)
Michael E. Kurilla (4).jpg
General
Michael E. Kurilla
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
U.S. Cyber Command
National Security Agency
Central Security Service
Commander, U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM),
Director, National Security Agency (NSA) and
Chief, Central Security Service (CSS)
General Paul M. Nakasone (NSA).jpg
General
Paul M. Nakasone
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
U.S. European Command
Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Commander, U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and
Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR)
Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli (3).jpg
General
Christopher G. Cavoli
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM)
ADM John C. Aquilino (USINDOPACOM).jpg
Admiral
John C. Aquilino
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
U.S. Northern Command
North American Aerospace Defense Command
Commander, U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and
Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)
Gen Glen D. VanHerck.jpg
General
Glen D. VanHerck
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
U.S. Southern Command
Commander, U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM)
GEN Laura J. Richardson.jpg
General
Laura J. Richardson
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
U.S. Space Command
Commander, U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM)
Gen. James H. Dickinson.jpg
General
James H. Dickinson
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
U.S. Special Operations Command
Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)
Lt. Gen. Bryan P. Fenton (2).jpg
General
Bryan P. Fenton
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
U.S. Strategic Command
Commander, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)
Chas Richard STRATCOM 2019.jpg
Admiral
Charles A. Richard
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
U.S. Transportation Command
Commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM)
Gen Jacqueline Van Ovost USTRANSCOM.jpg
General
Jacqueline D. Van Ovost
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force

Other joint positions

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
National Guard
Chief of the National Guard Bureau
Chief of the National Guard Bureau (CNGB)
GEN Daniel R. Hokanson.jpg
General
Daniel R. Hokanson
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Sub-unified commands
United Nations Command
ROK/US Combined Forces Command
United States Forces Korea
Korea
Commander, United Nations Command (UNC),
Commander, ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) and
Commander, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK)
GEN Paul J. LaCamera USFK.jpg
General
Paul J. LaCamera
U.S. Army

U.S. Army

Department of the Army

United States Army

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Army staff
Chief of Staff of the Army
Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA)
McConville as CSA.jpg
General
James C. McConville
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army (VCSA)
GEN Randy A. George.jpg
General
Randy A. George
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Army commands
U.S. Army Forces Command
Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM)
GEN Andrew P. Poppas.jpg
General
Andrew P. Poppas
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
U.S. Army Futures Command
Commanding General, U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC)
GEN James E. Rainey.jpg
General
James E. Rainey
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
U.S. Army Materiel Command
Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC)
GEN Daly2.jpg
General
Edward M. Daly
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command
Army University
Commanding General, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and
Chancellor, Army University (ArmyU)
GEN Gary M. Brito (2).jpg
General
Gary M. Brito
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Army service component commands
U.S. Army Europe and Africa
Allied Land Command
Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF) and
Commander, Allied Land Command (LANDCOM)
Gen. Darryl A. Williams (2).jpg
General
Darryl A. Williams
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
U.S. Army Pacific
Commanding General, U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC)
Gen. Charles A. Flynn (2).jpg
General
Charles A. Flynn
U.S. Army

U.S. Army

Department of the Navy

United States Marine Corps

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Headquarters Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC)
Gen. David H. Berger.jpg
General
David H. Berger
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps
Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps (ACMC)
Gen Smith Official Photo V1.jpg
General
Eric M. Smith
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps

United States Navy

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
Chief of Naval Operations
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO)
Gilday CNO.jpg
Admiral
Michael M. Gilday
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Vice Chief of Naval Operations
Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO)
ADM Lisa M. Franchetti.jpg
Admiral
Lisa M. Franchetti
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Naval Reactors
Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program[a] and
Deputy Administrator, NNSA's Naval Reactors[b]
ADM James Caldwell 2015.jpg
Admiral
James F. Caldwell Jr.
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Operating forces
U.S. Fleet Forces Command
U.S. Naval Forces Strategic Command
Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF),
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Northern Command (NAVNORTH),
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Strategic Command (NAVSTRAT) and
Joint Force Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC)
Admiral Daryl L. Caudle (U.S. Fleet Forces Command).jpg
Admiral
Daryl L. Caudle
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa
Allied Joint Force Command Naples
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (CNE-CNA) and
Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples (JFC Naples)
Munsch Official Portrait, 2022.jpg
Admiral
Stuart B. Munsch
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
U.S. Pacific Fleet
Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (USPACFLT)
Admiral Paparo 2021.jpg
Admiral
Samuel J. Paparo Jr.
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy

Department of the Air Force

United States Air Force

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Air staff
Chief of Staff of the Air Force
Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF)
CQ Brown CSAF 2020.jpg
General
Charles Q. Brown Jr.
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force
Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force (VCSAF)
Gen David W. Allvin (2).jpg
General
David W. Allvin
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Air Force major commands
Air Combat Command
Commander, Air Combat Command (ACC)
Gen Mark D. Kelly ACC.jpg
General
Mark D. Kelly
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Air Force Global Strike Command
Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC),
Commander, Air Forces Strategic- Air, U.S. Strategic Command and
Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC)
Gen Anthony J. Cotton.jpg
General
Anthony J. Cotton
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Air Force Materiel Command
Commander, Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC)
Gen Duke Z. Richardson.jpg
General
Duke Z. Richardson
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Air Mobility Command
Commander, Air Mobility Command (AMC)
Minihan AMC 2021.jpg
General
Michael A. Minihan
Mark of the United States Air Force.svg
U.S. Air Force
Pacific Air Forces
Commander, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF),
Air Component Commander for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and
Executive Director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff (PACOPS)
Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach.jpg
General
Kenneth S. Wilsbach
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
United States Air Forces in Europe
United States Air Forces in Africa
Allied Air Command
Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA),
Commander, Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) and
Director, Joint Air Power Competence Center (JAPCC)
Gen James B. Hecker.jpg
General
James B. Hecker
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force

United States Space Force

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Office of the Chief of Space Operations
Chief of Space Operations
Chief of Space Operations (CSO)
Gen B. Chance Saltzman.jpg
General
B. Chance Saltzman
U.S. Space Force

U.S. Space
Force
[Vice Chief of Space Operations
Vice Chief of Space Operations (VCSO)
Gen David D. Thompson (2).jpg
General
David D. Thompson
U.S. Space Force

U.S. Space
Force

Department of Homeland Security

United States Coast Guard

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Office of the Commandant
Commandant of the Coast Guard
Commandant of the Coast Guard
Admiral Linda L. Fagan, Coast Guard Vice Commandant.jpg
Admiral
Linda L. Fagan
U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard
Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard
Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard
ADM Steven D. Poulin.jpg
Admiral
Steven D. Poulin
U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

Department of Health and Human Services

United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health
Assistant Secretary for Health
Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH)[c]
Admiral Rachel L. Levine.jpg
Admiral
Rachel L. Levine
U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

U.S. Public Health Service

List of pending appointments

Designated position insignia Designated position Current position Photo Name Service branch Status and date
U.S. Strategic Command
Commander, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC),
Commander, Air Forces Strategic- Air, U.S. Strategic Command and
Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC)
Gen Anthony J. Cotton.jpg
General
Anthony J. Cotton
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Confirmed by the Senate
29 September 2022[1][2][3]
Air Force Global Strike Command
Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC),
Commander, Air Forces Strategic- Air, U.S. Strategic Command and
Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC)
Deputy Commander, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)
Lt Gen Thomas A. Bussiere (2).jpg
Lieutenant General
Thomas A. Bussiere
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Nomination sent to the Senate
11 October 2022[4][5]

Statutory limits

Gen. Charles C. Krulak, commandant of the Marine Corps, addresses the Marines of Headquarters Battalion, Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, during his farewell tour on May 26, 1999.
Gen. Charles C. Krulak, commandant of the Marine Corps, addresses the Marines of Headquarters Battalion, Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, during his farewell tour on May 26, 1999.
Gen. George S. Brown has his four-star insignia pinned by Air Force vice chief of staff Gen. Bruce K. Holloway.
Gen. George S. Brown has his four-star insignia pinned by Air Force vice chief of staff Gen. Bruce K. Holloway.

The U.S. Code explicitly limits the total number of four-star officers that may be on active duty at any given time. The total number of active-duty general or flag officers is capped at 231 for the Army, 162 for the Navy, 198 for the Air Force, and 62 for the Marine Corps.[6] From 31 December 2022, the cap will be reduced further to 220 for the Army, 151 for the Navy, 187 for the Air Force, and 62 for the Marine Corps.[7] For the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force, no more than about 21%[d] of each service's active-duty general or flag officers may have more than two stars,[8] and statute sets the total number of four-star officers allowed in each service.[8] This is set at 8 four-star Army generals,[8] 6 four-star Navy admirals,[8] 9 four-star Air Force generals,[8] 2 four-star Marine generals[8] and 1 four-star Space Force general.[9][e]

Assistant Secretary of Health Adm. Brett P. Giroir delivers remarks at the coronavirus update briefing on April 27, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House.
Assistant Secretary of Health Adm. Brett P. Giroir delivers remarks at the coronavirus update briefing on April 27, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House.

Several of these slots are reserved by statute. For the Army and the Air Force, the chief of staff and the vice chief of staff for both services are all four-star generals; for the Navy, the chief and vice chief of naval operations are both four-star admirals; for the Marine Corps, the commandant and the assistant commandant are both four-star generals. For the Space Force, the chief of space operations is a four-star general.[9][e] For the Coast Guard, the commandant[10] and the vice commandant[11][12] are both four-star admirals. For the National Guard, the chief of the National Guard Bureau[13] is a four-star general under reserve active duty in the Army or Air Force. And for the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the assistant secretary for health[14] is a four-star admiral if they hold an active-duty appointment to the regular corps.

Exceptions

There are several exceptions to the limits allowing more than allotted four-star officers within the statute. A four-star officer serving as chairman[15] or vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff[15] does not count against his or her service's general- or flag-officer cap. An officer serving as chief of the National Guard Bureau[16] does not count against his or her service's general-officer cap. The secretary of defense can designate no more than 20 additional four-star officers,[6] who do not count against any service's general- or flag-officer limit,[6] to serve in one of several joint positions. These positions include the commander of a unified combatant command[17] and the commander of U.S. Forces Korea.[17] Officers serving in certain intelligence positions are not counted against statutory limit, including the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.[18] The President may also add up to 5 four-star slots to one service if they are offset by removing an equivalent number from other services.[8] Finally, all statutory limits may be waived at the President's discretion during time of war or national emergency.[19]

Appointment

Gen. Thomas S. Power and Gen. Bernard A. Schriever testify at a 1962 hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Gen. Thomas S. Power and Gen. Bernard A. Schriever testify at a 1962 hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Four-star grades go hand-in-hand with the positions of office they are linked to, so these ranks are temporary. Officers may only achieve four-star grade if they are appointed to positions of office that require and/or allow the officer to hold such a rank.[20] Their rank expires with the expiration of their term of office, which is usually set by statute.[20] Four-star officers are nominated for appointment by the president from any eligible officers holding a one-star grade or above, who also meets the other requirements for the position, under the advice and/or suggestion of their respective executive department secretary, service secretary, and if applicable the joint chiefs.[20] The nominee must be confirmed via majority by the Senate before the appointee can take office and thus assume the rank.[20] The Senate (normally in committee)[f] may hold hearings to consider any nominee for appointment or reappointment to four-star grade,[21] but usually only convene for nominations of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, vice chairman, service chiefs,[g] unified combatant commanders, and the commander of U.S. Forces Korea.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John Craddock, outgoing commander, and Adm. James G. Stavridis, incoming commander, salute during the national anthem at the U.S. European Command change of command ceremony at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, June 30, 2009.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John Craddock, outgoing commander, and Adm. James G. Stavridis, incoming commander, salute during the national anthem at the U.S. European Command change of command ceremony at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, June 30, 2009.

It is extremely unusual for a four-star nominee to draw even token opposition in a Senate vote, either in committee or on the floor, because the administration usually withdraws or declines to submit nominations that draw controversy before or during the confirmation process.

Vice Adm. Michael M. Gilday is pinned with his admiral's shoulder boards by his mother and son on August 22, 2019.
Vice Adm. Michael M. Gilday is pinned with his admiral's shoulder boards by his mother and son on August 22, 2019.

When a doomed nomination is not withdrawn, the Senate typically does not hold a vote to reject the candidate, but instead allows the nomination to expire without action at the end of the legislative session.

Additionally, events that take place after Senate confirmation may still delay or even prevent the nominee from assuming office, necessitating that another nominee be selected and considered by the Senate.

Command elevation and reduction

Adm. Charles D. Michel, Coast Guard vice commandant, is pinned with his new rank by his wife Claudia on June 1, 2016.
Adm. Charles D. Michel, Coast Guard vice commandant, is pinned with his new rank by his wife Claudia on June 1, 2016.
Gen. Frank J. Grass is sworn in as chief of the National Guard Bureau by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on September 17, 2012.
Gen. Frank J. Grass is sworn in as chief of the National Guard Bureau by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on September 17, 2012.

Any billet in the armed forces may be designated as a position of importance requiring the holder of the position to be of three-star or four-star rank.[20] One-star and two-star billets may be elevated to three-star or four-star level as appropriate, either by act of Congress, or within statutory limits by the services at their discretion. Congress may propose such elevations or reductions to the President and U.S. Department of Defense.[41] Due to the limited number of four-star slots available, significant changes occur on average every four to five years.

The existing commander of a lower-level command or office elevated to four-star rank can be appointed to grade in their present position, reassigned to another office of equal grade, or face retirement if another nominee is selected as their relief.

A lower level billet may be elevated to four-star grade, in accordance to being designated as a position of importance, to highlight importance to the defense apparatus as a whole or achieve parity with equivalent commands in the same area of responsibility or service branch.

Tour length

Gen. Alexander Haig is presented the Distinguished Service Medal after his promotion to general by President Richard Nixon at the Oval Office on January 4, 1973.
Gen. Alexander Haig is presented the Distinguished Service Medal after his promotion to general by President Richard Nixon at the Oval Office on January 4, 1973.

The standard tour length for most four-star positions is three years, bundled as a two-year term plus a one-year extension, with the following exceptions:

All appointees serve at the pleasure of the president. Extensions of the standard tour length can be approved, within statutory limits, by their respective service secretaries, the secretary of defense, the president, and/or Congress but these are rare, as they block other officers from being promoted. Some statutory limits of tour length under the U.S. Code can be waived in times of national emergency or war.[54][55] Four-star ranks may also be given by act of Congress but this is extremely rare.

Retirement

Gen. David C. Jones with Vice President George H. W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger during Jones' retirement ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, June 18, 1982.
Gen. David C. Jones with Vice President George H. W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger during Jones' retirement ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, June 18, 1982.
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates presents Gen. Peter Pace with his certificate of retirement, as his wife Lynne looks on during Pace's farewell ceremony on Fort Myer, Virginia, October 1, 2007.
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates presents Gen. Peter Pace with his certificate of retirement, as his wife Lynne looks on during Pace's farewell ceremony on Fort Myer, Virginia, October 1, 2007.

Other than voluntary retirement, statute sets a number of mandates for retirement. Four-star officers must retire after 40 years of commissioned service unless reappointed to grade to serve longer.[56] Four-star officers serving in the reserve active duty must retire after five years in grade or 40 years of commissioned service, whichever is later, unless reappointed to grade to serve longer.[57] Otherwise all general and flag officers must retire the month after their 64th birthday.[58] However, the secretary of defense can defer a four-star officer's retirement until the officer's 66th birthday[58] and the president can defer it until the officer's 68th birthday.[58] Officers that served several years in the enlisted ranks prior to receiving their commission typically don't make it to the 40 years in commission mark, because they are still subject to the age restrictions for retirement.

Gen. John P. Jumper is presented the Defense Distinguished Service Medal by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during Jumper's retirement ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base on September 2, 2005.
Gen. John P. Jumper is presented the Defense Distinguished Service Medal by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during Jumper's retirement ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base on September 2, 2005.
Outgoing Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark delivers his final remarks during his retirement ceremony held at the U.S. Naval Academy, at Annapolis, Maryland on July 22, 2005.
Outgoing Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark delivers his final remarks during his retirement ceremony held at the U.S. Naval Academy, at Annapolis, Maryland on July 22, 2005.

Senior officers typically retire well in advance of the statutory age and service limits, so as not to impede the upward career mobility of their juniors. Since there are a finite number of four-star slots available to each service, typically one officer must leave office before another can be promoted.[59] Maintaining a four-star rank is like a game of musical chairs; once an officer vacates a position bearing that rank, he or she has no more than 60 days to be appointed or reappointed to a position of equal or greater importance before he or she must involuntarily retire.[20] Historically, officers leaving four-star positions were allowed to revert to their permanent two-star ranks to mark time in lesser jobs until statutory retirement, but now such officers are expected to retire immediately to avoid obstructing the promotion flow.

Annie McChrystal and her husband Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal smile during his retirement ceremony at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., on July 23, 2010.
Annie McChrystal and her husband Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal smile during his retirement ceremony at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., on July 23, 2010.

To retire at four-star grade, an officer must accumulate at least three years of satisfactory active-duty service in that grade, as determined by his or her service secretary.[60] The president and Congress must also receive certification by either the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, the deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, or the secretary of defense that the retiree served satisfactorily in grade.[60] The secretary of defense may reduce this requirement to two years, but only if the officer is not being investigated for misconduct.[61] The president may also reduce these requirements even further, or waive the requirements altogether, if he so chooses.[60][61] Four-star officers who do not meet the service-in-grade requirement will revert to the next highest grade in which they served satisfactorily for at least six months which is normally the three-star grade.[60] Since three-star ranks are also temporary, if the retiree is also not certified by the secretary of defense or the president to retire as a three-star, the retiree will retire at the last permanent rank he or she satisfactorily held for six months.[60] The retiree may also be subject to congressional approval by the Senate before the retiree can retire in grade.[h] It is extraordinarily rare for a four-star officer not to be certified to retire in grade or for the Senate to seek final approval.

Four-star officers who are under investigation for misconduct typically are not allowed to retire until the investigation completes, so that the Secretary of Defense can decide whether to certify that their performance was satisfactory enough to retire in their highest grade.[60][68]

Gen. David Petraeus reviews troops at his retirement ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, August 31, 2011.
Gen. David Petraeus reviews troops at his retirement ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, August 31, 2011.

Furthermore, retired four-star officers may still be subjected to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and disciplinary action, including reduction in retirement rank, by the secretary of defense or the president if they are deemed to have served unsatisfactorily in rank, post their retirement.[72]

Adm. William J. Crowe Jr. shares a lighter moment with guests attending his retirement ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, September 29, 1989.
Adm. William J. Crowe Jr. shares a lighter moment with guests attending his retirement ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, September 29, 1989.

Four-star officers typically step down from their posts up to 60 days in advance of their official retirement dates. Officers retire on the first day of the month, so once a retirement month has been selected, the relief and retirement ceremonies are scheduled by counting backwards from that date by the number of days of accumulated leave remaining to the retiring officer. During this period, termed transition leave or terminal leave, the officer is considered to be awaiting retirement but still on active duty.

A statutory limit can be waived by the president with the consent of Congress if it serves national interest. However, this is extremely rare.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Historically, the Director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program is held by an officer in the Navy, however 50 U.S.C. § 2511 - Executive Order No. 12344, states a civilian can be appointed to that position without joining or being a serving member of the Navy.
  2. ^ By statute, 50 U.S.C. § 2406, any person serving as Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program also concurrently serves as the National Nuclear Security Administration's Deputy Administrator, Naval Reactors.
  3. ^ The position of Assistant Secretary of Health has historically been held by either a civilian or an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
  4. ^ Dividing the total number of general and flag officers above two stars (138) from the total number of general and flag officers overall (653) is 21.13%.
  5. ^ a b The U.S. Code does not provide for a statutory grade for the vice chief of space operations, a four-star Space Force general.
  6. ^ Department of Defense nominees are considered by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Coast Guard nominees are considered by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and the director of the National Security Agency is considered by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
  7. ^ This refers to the chiefs of staff of the Army and Air Force, commandant of the Marine Corps, chief of naval operations, chief of space operations and the commandant of the Coast Guard.
  8. ^ The U.S. Constitution gives Congress oversight over retirement of military personnel if they so choose.

References

  1. ^ "Hearings to examine the nomination of General Anthony J. Cotton, USAF, for reappointment to the grade of general and to be Commander of United States Strategic Command, Department of Defense". U.S. Congress. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. 8 September 2022. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  2. ^ "PN2229 — Gen. Anthony J. Cotton — Air Force, 117th Congress (2021-2022)". U.S. Congress. 29 September 2022. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  3. ^ "General Officer Announcements". U.S. Department of Defense. 8 June 2022. Retrieved 9 June 2022.
  4. ^ "PN2681 — Lt. Gen. Thomas A. Bussiere — Air Force, 117th Congress (2021-2022)". U.S. Congress. 11 October 2022. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  5. ^ "General Officer Announcement". U.S. Congress. 12 October 2022. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  6. ^ a b c 10 U.S.C. § 526 - Authorized strength: general and flag officers on active duty.
  7. ^ 10 U.S.C. § 526a - Authorized strength after December 31, 2022: general officers and flag officers on active duty.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g 10 U.S.C. § 525 - Distribution of commissioned officers on active duty in general officer and flag officer grades.
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