List of active duty United States four-star officers
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- "List of United States four-star officers" redirects here. For a complete historical list of U.S. four-star officers by branch, see Army generals, Marine Corps generals, Navy admirals, Air Force generals, Coast Guard admirals, or Public Health Service admirals.
There are currently 39 active duty four-star officers in the uniformed services of the United States: 13 in the Army, 4 in the Marine Corps, 9 in the Navy, 12 in the Air Force, 1 in the Coast Guard, and none in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Of the seven federal uniformed services, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps is the only service that does not have an established four-star position. Modern day four-star officers' ranks are usually referred to as full general or full admiral, the officers themselves being referred to and addressed as 'General' or 'Admiral'. Four-star officers are ranked in seniority by their time-in-grade and/or by statute via the position of office they hold.
- 1 List of designated four-star positions
- 1.1 Department of Defense
- 1.2 Department of Homeland Security
- 1.3 Department of Health and Human Services
- 2 List of pending appointments
- 3 Statutory limits
- 4 Exceptions to statutory limits
- 5 Appointment
- 6 Tour length
- 7 Retirement
- 8 Notes
- 9 See also
List of designated four-star positions
Department of Defense
|Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS)||GEN Martin Dempsey||USA|
|Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (VJCS)||ADM James A. Winnefeld, Jr.||USN|
|Commander, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM)||GEN David M. Rodriguez||USA|
|Commander, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM)||GEN Lloyd J. Austin III||USA|
|Commander, U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and
Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR)
|Gen Philip M. Breedlove||USAF|
|Commander, U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and
Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)
|GEN Charles H. Jacoby, Jr.||USA|
|Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM)||ADM Samuel J. Locklear||USN|
|Commander, U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM)||Gen John F. Kelly||USMC|
|Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)||ADM William H. McRaven||USN|
|Commander, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)||ADM Cecil D. Haney||USN|
|Commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM)||Gen William M. Fraser III||USAF|
Other Joint Positions
|Chief, National Guard Bureau (CNGB)||GEN Frank J. Grass||USA|
Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and
Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A)
|Gen Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.||USMC|
Commander, United Nations Command (UNC),
Commander, R.O.K.-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) and
Commander, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK)
|GEN Curtis M. Scaparrotti||USA|
|Director, National Security Agency (NSA),
Chief, Central Security Service (CSS) and
Commander, U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM)
|GEN Keith B. Alexander||USA|
Department of the Army
|Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA)||GEN Raymond T. Odierno|
|Vice Chief of Staff of the Army (VCSA)||GEN John F. Campbell|
|Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM)||GEN Daniel B. Allyn|
|Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC)||GEN Dennis L. Via|
|Commanding General, U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC)||GEN Vincent K. Brooks|
|Commanding General, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)||GEN Robert W. Cone|
U.S. Marine Corps
|Headquarters Marine Corps|
|Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC)||Gen James F. Amos|
|Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps (ACMC)||Gen John M. Paxton, Jr.|
|Office of the Chief of Naval Operations|
|Chief of Naval Operations (CNO)||ADM Jonathan W. Greenert|
|Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO)||ADM Mark E. Ferguson III|
|Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and
Deputy Administrator, NNSA's Naval Reactors
|ADM John M. Richardson|
|Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFLTFORCOM)||ADM William E. Gortney|
|Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (USNAVEUR),
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa (USNAVAF) and
Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples (JFC Naples)
|ADM Bruce W. Clingan|
|Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (USPACFLT)||ADM Harry B. Harris Jr.|
|Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF)||Gen Mark A. Welsh III|
|Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force (VCSAF)||Gen Larry O. Spencer|
|Air Force Major Commands|
|Commander, Air Combat Command (ACC)||Gen Gilmary M. Hostage III|
|Commander, Air Education and Training Command (AETC)||Gen Robin Rand|
|Commander, Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC)||Gen Janet C. Wolfenbarger|
|Commander, Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)||Gen William L. Shelton|
|Commander, Air Mobility Command (AMC)||Gen Paul J. Selva|
|Commander, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)||Gen Herbert J. Carlisle|
|Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE)
Commander, U.S. Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA)
Commander, Air Component Command, Ramstein (AIR-COM Ramstein) and
Director, Joint Air Power Competence Center (JAPCC)
|Gen Frank Gorenc|
U.S. Coast Guard
|Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard||ADM Robert J. Papp|
|Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH)||Howard Koh
List of pending appointments
|Designated Position||Photo||Name||Service||Status & Date|
|Position announcement pending||LTG David G. Perkins||USA||(Nomination sent to the Senate)
September 17, 2013 
U.S. Code of law 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 230 for the Army, 162 for the Navy, 208 for the Air Force, 60 for the Marine Corps. For the Army, Navy, and Air Force, no more than about 25% of the service's active duty general or flag officers may have more than two stars, and statute sets the total number of four-star officers allowed in each service. This is set at 7 four-star Army generals, 6 four-star Navy admirals, 9 four-star Air Force generals and 2 four-star Marine generals.
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 of Naval Operations and the 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. In addition, the Commandant of the Coast Guard  is a four-star admiral; for the National Guard, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau  is a four-star general under active duty in the Army or Air Force; for the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the Assistant Secretary for Health  is a four-star admiral if he or she holds an active duty appointment to the regular corps.
Exceptions to statutory limits
There are several exceptions to the limits allowing more than allotted four-star officers within the statute. A four-star officer serving as Chairman  or Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff  does not count against his or her service's general or flag officer cap. An officer serving as Chief of the National Guard Bureau  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, who do not count against any service's general or flag officer limit, to serve in one of several joint positions. These positions include the commander of a unified combatant command, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, and the deputy commander of U.S. European Command  but only if the commander of that command is also the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. Officers serving in certain intelligence positions are not counted against statutory limit, including the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. 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. Finally, all statutory limits may be waived at the President's discretion during time of war or national emergency.
On September 14, 2001, the President declared a national emergency and invoked his authority to waive all statutory limits on the number and grade distribution of general and flag officers on active duty. On this basis, a number of senior officers in the Middle East have been appointed in excess of the normal limits, including the four-star commanders of the Afghanistan and Iraq theaters, and the temporary authorization for their positions will expire shortly following the termination of the national emergency.
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. Their rank expires with the expiration of their term of office, which is usually set by statute. 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 requirements for the position, under the advice and/or suggestion of their respective executive department secretary, service secretary, and if applicable the joint chiefs. The nominee must be confirmed via majority by the Senate before the appointee can take office and thus assume the rank.
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.
- For example, upon encountering opposition in the Senate, the administration declined to submit nominations for General Joseph W. Ralston to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1997, for Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez to be commander of U.S. Southern Command in 2004, or for General Peter Pace to be reappointed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2007; and withdrew the nominations of Admiral Stanley R. Arthur to be commander in chief of U.S. Pacific Command in 1994, and of General Gregory S. Martin to be commander of U.S. Pacific Command in 2004.
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.
- For example, the Senate declined to schedule votes for the nominations of Lieutenant General James A. Abrahamson to be elevated to four-star rank as director of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization in 1986; of Lieutenant General Charles W. Bagnal to be elevated to four-star rank as commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific in 1989; of Major General John D. Lavelle to be posthumously restored to four-star rank on the retired list in 2010; and of Rear Admiral Cristina V. Beato to be assistant secretary for health in 2003. Had Beato been confirmed and assumed office, she would have been the first woman in any uniformed service to achieve four-star grade; instead that honor went to General Ann E. Dunwoody.
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:
- The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff serve for a nominal two years but may serve for up to six years, in three consecutive terms, at the pleasure of the President. The President can appoint them to serve a fourth term, for a combined total of eight years, if it serves in the interest of the nation. Typically, the chairman and vice chairman serve for four years.
- Service chiefs of staff serve for four years in one four-year term.
- Service vice chiefs of staff serve for a nominal four years, but are commonly reassigned after one or two years. The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps serves for two years.
- The Chief of the National Guard Bureau serves a nominal four years.
- The Director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion serves for a nominal eight years.
- The Commandant of the Coast Guard serves for a nominal four years.
- The Assistant Secretary for Health is a civilian appointee or a current serving member of the PHSCC who serves for a nominal four years 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. Four-star ranks may also be given by act of Congress but this is extremely rare.
Other than voluntary retirement, statute sets a number of mandates for retirement. Four-star officers must retire after 40 years of service unless he or she is reappointed to grade to serve longer. Four-star officers serving in the reserve active duty must retire after five years in grade or 40 years of service, whichever is later, unless he or she is reappointed to grade to serve longer. Otherwise all general and flag officers must retire the month after their 64th birthday. However, the Secretary of Defense can defer a four-star officer's retirement until the officer's 66th birthday and the President can defer it until the officer's 68th birthday.
- For example, Admiral Michael G. Mullen was born on October 4, 1946; placed on active duty in 1968 and promoted to admiral on August 23, 2003. Ordinarily, he would have been expected to retire at the end of his four-year term as chief of naval operations in 2008 after 40 years of service. Instead, he was reappointed as an admiral and assigned as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 1, 2007. He retired from the Navy after serving two, two-year terms as chairman on October 1, 2011, at the age of 65 with 43 years of service and eight years in grade.
- Another example, General James F. Amos was born on November 12, 1946; placed on active duty in 1970 and promoted to general on July 3, 2008. Ordinarily, he would have been expected to retire at the end of his two-year term as assistant commandant of the Marine Corps in 2010 after 40 years of service. Instead, he was reappointed as a general and assigned as commandant of the Marine Corps on October 22, 2010. If he continues to remain on active duty until the completion of his four-year term as commandant, which will expire on October 22, 2014, he will be 67 years of age with 44 years of service and six years in grade.
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. Maintaining a four-star rank is 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. 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.
- For example, Vice Admiral Patrick M. Walsh was promoted to admiral and assigned as vice chief of naval operations in 2007. The incumbent vice chief, Admiral Robert F. Willard, was reassigned as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The incumbent Pacific Fleet commander, Admiral Gary Roughead, was reassigned as commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, whose incumbent commander, Admiral John B. Nathman, received no further assignment and retired at the age of 59, with 37 years of service and three years in grade.
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. 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. The Secretary of Defense may reduce this requirement to two years, but only if the officer is not being investigated for misconduct. The President may also reduce these requirements even further, or waive the requirements altogether, if he so chooses. 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. 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. The retiree may also be subject to congressional approval by the Senate before the retiree can retire in grade. 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.
- For example, when removed from office after less than the statutory time in grade, Generals Frederick F. Woerner, Michael J. Dugan and Stanley A. McChrystal were retired as full generals as certified by the President and were not subjected to senatorial confirmation; Admirals Husband E. Kimmel and Richard C. Macke were not certified to retire at three-star or four-star rank, and retired as two-star rear admirals; and General Kevin P. Byrnes had over two years in grade but was being investigated for misconduct, and retired as a lieutenant general. In 1972 General John D. Lavelle was relieved for misconduct and certified to retire as a lieutenant general, but was rejected by a Senate Armed Services Committee vote of 14 to 2 and retired as a major general; in 2010 he was nominated posthumously for advancement to general on the retired list based on newly declassified evidence, however as stated above, the Senate did not vote on the nomination and let it expire at the end of the Congressional session. After achieving the statutory time in grade, Admirals Frank B. Kelso II and Henry H. Mauz Jr. were retired as full admirals, but only after going through a senatorial confirmation vote of 54 to 43 and 92 to 6, respectively.
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.
- For example, an investigation by the Department of Defense comptroller held Generals Roger A. Brady and Stephen R. Lorenz in their four-star commands for up to 13 months beyond their originally scheduled retirements; while General William E. Ward relinquished his four-star command as scheduled, he remained on active duty in his permanent grade of major general, pending an investigation by the Department of Defense inspector general before being allowed to retire as a lieutenant general over a year after his original scheduled retirement.
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.
- For example, General Michael Hagee was relieved as commandant of the Marine Corps on November 13, 2006, and held his retirement ceremony the same day, but remained on active duty until his official retirement date on January 1, 2007.
A statutory limit can be waived by the President with the consent of Congress if it serves national interest. However, this is extremely rare.
- For example, the record for the longest tenure in any service is held by General Lewis B. Hershey who enlisted in the Indiana Army National Guard in 1911 at the age of 18. He was called up for federal active duty during World War I, receiving a commission in 1916, and subsequently transferred to the regular army at the end of the war. He served in active duty in the Army until the age of 80 before being involuntarily retired in 1973 after 62 years of continuous service.
- Historically, the Director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program is held by an officer in the Navy, however 50 U.S.C. §2511 Notes: Ex. Ord. No. 12344 states a civilian can be appointed to that position without joining or being a serving member of the Navy.
- 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.
- The position of Assistant Secretary of Health has historically been held by both a civilian or a serving member of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
-  10 USC 525. Distribution of commissioned officers on active duty in general officer and flag officer grades.
-  14 USC 44. Commandant; appointment.
-  10 USC 10502 Chief of the National Guard Bureau: appointment; adviser on National Guard matters; grade; succession.
-  42 USC 207. Grades, ranks, and titles of commissioned corps.
-  10 USC 668. Joint Officer Management - Definitions
-  10 USC 604. Senior joint officer positions: recommendations to the Secretary of Defense.
-  10 USC 528. Officers serving in certain intelligence positions: military status; exclusion from distribution and strength limitations; pay and allowances.
-  10 USC 527. Authority to suspend sections 523, 525, and 526.
-  Proclamation 7463 of September 14, 2001. Declaration of national emergency by reason of certain terrorist attacks.
-  10 USC 601. Positions of importance and responsibility: generals and lieutenant generals; admirals and vice admirals.
- Henneberger, Melinda; Becker, Elizabeth (August 4, 1999), "For a Scandal-Scarred General, the Gleam Appears to Be Back on the Brass", The New York Times
- Hendren, John (October 15, 2004), "4-Star Plans After Abu Ghraib", Los Angeles Times: A-1
- Shanker, Thom (June 9, 2007), "Chairman of Joint Chiefs Will Not Be Reappointed", The New York Times
- "Clinton Selects Admiral to Lead Forces in Pacific", Associated Press, July 2, 1994
- Kakesako, Gregg K. (October 7, 2004), "General pulls plug on Camp Smith job", Honolulu Star-Bulletin
- Gordon, Michael R. (September 28, 1988), "General Quitting As Project Chief For Missile Shield", The New York Times
- Zucchino, David (December 23, 2010), "Fight to vindicate general dies in the Senate", Los Angeles Times
- Connolly, Ceci (June 10, 2004), "Top Health Official Awaits Hearing on Nomination", The Washington Post: A17
-  10 USC 152. Chairman: appointment; grade and rank
-  10 USC 154. Vice Chairman
-  10 USC 636. Retirement for years of service: regular officers in grades above brigadier general and rear admiral (lower half).
-  10 USC 14508 (d). Removal from the reserve active-status list for years of service: reserve general and flag officers
-  10 USC 1253. Age 64: regular commissioned officers in general and flag officer grades; exception
-  DoD News Briefing on Thursday, June 6, 1996. Retirement of Admiral Leighton W. Smith Jr.
-  10 USC 1370. Commissioned officers: general rule; exceptions
- Gearan, Anne (June 28, 2010), "Cashiered general tells Army he'll retire", Associated Press via The Washington Post
- The U.S. Constitution gives Congress oversite over retirement of military personnel if they so choose.
- Kakesako, Gregg K. (April 9, 1996), "Macke still paying for rape remark", Honolulu Star-Bulletin
-  Congressional Record, October 18, 2005 - H8917. Executive communications, etc.
- Casey, Aloysius; Casey, Patrick (February 2007), "Lavelle, Nixon, and the White House Tapes", Air Force Magazine 90 (2); Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) (August 4, 2010), Lavelle Posthumously Nominated to General, U.S. Department of Defense
- Vandiver, John (May 28, 2012), "Former AFRICOM chief Ward still on active duty pending probe", Stars and Stripes
- Rolfsen, Bruce (December 31, 2010), "Brass sanctions 'unprecedented'", Air Force Times
- Miles, Donna (November 14, 2012), "Panetta: Ward Ruling Recognizes High Standard for Leaders", American Forces Press Service via Defense.gov
- List of United States military leaders by rank
- List of United States Army four-star generals
- List of United States Navy four-star admirals
- List of United States Air Force four-star generals
- List of United States Marine Corps four-star generals
- List of United States Coast Guard four-star admirals
- List of United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps four-star admirals
- Staff (military)
|United States commissioned officer and officer candidate ranks|
|Pay grade / Branch of service||Officer
|Air Force||Cadet / OT||2d Lt||1st Lt||Capt||Maj||Lt Col||Col||Brig Gen||Maj Gen||Lt Gen||Gen||GAF|||
|Army||CDT / OC||2LT||1LT||CPT||MAJ||LTC||COL||BG||MG||LTG||GEN||GA||GAS|
|Marine Corps||Midn / Cand||2ndLt||1stLt||Capt||Maj||LtCol||Col||BGen||MajGen||LtGen||Gen|||||
|Navy||MIDN / OC||ENS||LTJG||LT||LCDR||CDR||CAPT||RDML||RADM||VADM||ADM||FADM||AN|
|Coast Guard||CDT / OC||ENS||LTJG||LT||LCDR||CDR||CAPT||RDML||RADM||VADM||ADM|||||
|Public Health Service||||ENS||LTJG||LT||LCDR||CDR||CAPT||RADM||RADM||VADM||ADM|||||
|National Oceanic and
Unofficial 1945 proposal for General of the Armies insignia; John J. Pershing's GAS insignia: ; George Dewey's AN insignia:
 Grade is inactive; requires Congressional approval for re-activation
 Grade is authorized by the U.S. Code for use but has not been created
 Grade has never been created or authorized
|United States warrant officer ranks|
|Public Health Service|||||||||||
|National Oceanic and
 Grade is authorized for use by U.S. Code but has not been created
 Grade never created or authorized