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List of active duty United States three-star officers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Three-star reserve officers and the chief of the National Guard Bureau testify before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense on April 17, 2018.
Three-star reserve officers and the chief of the National Guard Bureau testify before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense on April 17, 2018.

There are currently 163 active-duty three-star officers in the uniformed services of the United States: 50 in the Army, 17 in the Marine Corps, 37 in the Navy, 49 in the Air Force, five in the Space Force, four in the Coast Guard, and one in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

List of designated three-star positions

Department of Defense

Office of the Secretary of Defense

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Direct reporting officers
Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Lieutenant General
Ronald P. Clark
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
National intelligence agencies
Director, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Lieutenant General
Scott D. Berrier
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Vice Admiral
Frank D. Whitworth III
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Defense Agencies
Director, Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) Lieutenant General
David G. Bassett
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Director, Defense Health Agency (DHA) Lieutenant General
Ronald J. Place
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Director, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and
Commander, Joint Force Headquarters Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DoDIN)
Lieutenant General
Robert J. Skinner
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Director, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Vice Admiral
Michelle C. Skubic
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Director, Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Vice Admiral
Jon A. Hill
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy

Joint Staff

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Office of the Joint Staff
Director of the Joint Staff (DJS) Lieutenant General
James J. Mingus
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (ACJCS) Vice Admiral
Colin J. Kilrain
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Joint Staff directorates
Director for Intelligence (J-2), Joint Staff Lieutenant General
Dimitri Henry
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Director for Operations (J-3), Joint Staff Lieutenant General
Douglas A. Sims II
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Director for Logistics (J-4), Joint Staff Lieutenant General
Leonard J. Kosinski
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Director for Strategy, Plans and Policy (J-5), Joint Staff and
Senior Member, United States Delegation to the United Nations Military Staff Committee
Vice Admiral
Stephen T. Koehler
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Director, Command, Control, Communications and Computers and
Cyber and Chief Information Officer (J-6), Joint Staff
Lieutenant General
Mary F. O'Brien
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Director for Joint Force Development (J-7), Joint Staff Lieutenant General
Dagvin R.M. Anderson
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Director of Force Structure, Resources and Assessment (J-8), Joint Staff Vice Admiral
Sara A. Joyner
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy

Unified Combatant Commands

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Unified combatant commands
Deputy Commander, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) Lieutenant General
Kirk W. Smith
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Commander, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) Lieutenant General
Gregory M. Guillot
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Commander, U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) Lieutenant General
Timothy D. Haugh
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Commander, U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) Lieutenant General
Steven L. Basham
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) Lieutenant General
Stephen D. Sklenka
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Deputy Commander, U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and
Vice Commander, U.S. Element, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)
Lieutenant General
A.C. Roper Jr.
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Military Deputy Commander, U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Lieutenant General
Andrew A. Croft
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Commander, U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) Lieutenant General
John E. Shaw
U.S. Space Force

U.S. Space Force
Deputy Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)
Vice Adm. Collin P. Green.jpg
Vice Admiral
Collin P. Green
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Vice Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Lieutenant General
Tony D. Bauernfeind
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Commander, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Vice Admiral
Richard A. Correll
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Deputy Commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) Lieutenant General
John P. Sullivan
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
In transit
Lieutenant General
Thomas A. Bussiere
Promotable[1]
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force

Other joint positions

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
National Guard
Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau (VCNGB) Lieutenant General
Marc H. Sasseville
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Sub-unified commands
Alaska
Commander, Alaskan Command (ALCOM) and
Commander, Eleventh Air Force (11 AF)
Lieutenant General
David S. Nahom
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Japan
Commander, U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) and
Commander, Fifth Air Force (5 AF)
Lieutenant General
Ricky N. Rupp
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Commander, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and
Commander, Joint Special Operations Command Forward, U.S. Special Operations Command
Vice Admiral
Frank M. Bradley
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Special activities (domestic)
Commander, Joint Task Force Red Hill (JTF-RH) Vice Admiral
John F.G. Wade
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
President, National Defense University (NDU) Lieutenant General
Michael T. Plehn
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Program Executive Officer, F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office Lieutenant General
Michael J. Schmidt
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Director's Advisor for Military Affairs, Office of the Director of National Intelligence Lieutenant General
Jeffrey A. Kruse
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Associate Director for Military Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency Lieutenant General
John D. Caine
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Special activities (international)
Deputy Chair of the NATO Military Committee (DCMC) Lieutenant General
Lance K. Landrum
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
U.S. Military Representative to the NATO Military Committee (USMILREP) Lieutenant General
E. John Deedrick Jr.
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Commander, NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) Lieutenant General
Antonio M. Fletcher
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Chief of Staff for Capability Development, Headquarters Allied Command Transformation (ACT) Lieutenant General
David J. Julazadeh
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Israel
United States Security Coordinator, Israel-Palestinian Authority
Lieutenant General
Michael R. Fenzel
U.S. Army

U.S. Army

Department of the Army

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Office of the Secretary
Director of Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) Lieutenant General
Robert A. Rasch Jr.
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Military Deputy for Budget to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller) Lieutenant General
Paul A. Chamberlain
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Inspector General of the United States Army (IG) Lieutenant General
Donna W. Martin
U.S. Army

U.S. Army

United States Army

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Army Staff
Director of the Army Staff Lieutenant General
Walter E. Piatt
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (G-1) Lieutenant General
Douglas F. Stitt
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (G-2) Lieutenant General
Laura A. Potter
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans, and Training (G-3/5/7) Lieutenant General
Patrick E. Matlock
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (G-4) Lieutenant General
Charles R. Hamilton
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Chief of Staff for Command, Control, Communications, Cyber Operations and Networks (G-6) Lieutenant General
John B. Morrison Jr.
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs (G-8) Lieutenant General
Erik C. Peterson
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Chief of Staff for Installations (G-9) Lieutenant General
Kevin Vereen
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Judge Advocate General's Corps
Judge Advocate General of the United States Army (TJAG) and
Dean, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School
Lieutenant General
Stuart W. Risch
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Army commands (and subordinated units)
Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) Lieutenant General
Paul T. Calvert
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Chief of the United States Army Reserve (CAR) and
Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC)
Lieutenant General
Jody J. Daniels
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Commanding General for Combat Development, U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC) Lieutenant General
Richard R. Coffman
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Commanding General for Acquisition and Systems/Chief Innovation Officer,
U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC)
Lieutenant General
Thomas H. Todd III
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Commanding General for Futures and Concepts, U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC) and
Director, Futures and Concepts Center (FCC)
Lieutenant General
D. Scott McKean
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) Lieutenant General
Christopher O. Mohan
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Commanding General, U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) Lieutenant General
Omar J. Jones IV
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Commanding General and Chief of Staff,
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)
Lieutenant General
Maria R. Gervais
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Commanding General, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (USACAC),
Commandant, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC)
Executive Vice Chancellor, Army University (ArmyU) and
Commanding General, Fort Leavenworth
Lieutenant General
Milford H. Beagle Jr.
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Army service component commands
Commanding General, U.S. Army Central (ARCENT) and
Commanding General, Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC)
Lieutenant General
Patrick D. Frank
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Commanding General, U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER) Lieutenant General
Maria B. Barrett
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF) Lieutenant General
Andrew M. Rohling
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) Lieutenant General
James B. Jarrard
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Commanding General, U.S. Army North (ARNORTH) and
Senior Commander, Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis
Lieutenant General
John R. Evans Jr.
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Commanding General, U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Lieutenant General
Jonathan P. Braga
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Commanding General, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/U.S. Army Forces Strategic Command (USASMDC/ARSTRAT) and
Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense (JFCC IMD)[2]
Lieutenant General
Daniel L. Karbler
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Direct reporting units
Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) and
Director, U.S. Army Acquisition Corps (AAC)
Lieutenant General
Robert L. Marion
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
United States Army Chief of Engineers (COE) and
Commanding General, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
Lieutenant General
Scott A. Spellmon
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Surgeon General of the United States Army (TSG),
Commanding General, U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) and
Chief, Army Medical Department (AMEDD)
Lieutenant General
R. Scott Dingle
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Superintendent of the United States Military Academy (USMA) Lieutenant General
Steven W. Gilland
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Operating forces
Commanding General, First Army Vacant
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Commanding General, Eighth United States Army and
Chief of Staff, ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC)
Lieutenant General
Willard M. Burleson III
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Commanding General, I Corps and
Commanding General, Joint Base Lewis-McChord
Lieutenant General
Xavier T. Brunson
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Commanding General, III Armored Corps and
Commanding General, Fort Hood
Lieutenant General
Sean C. Bernabe
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Commanding General, V Corps Lieutenant General
John S. Kolasheski
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps and
Commanding General, Fort Bragg
Lieutenant General
Christopher T. Donahue
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Army National Guard
Director, Army National Guard (ARNG) Lieutenant General
Jon A. Jensen
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
In transit
Lieutenant General
Antonio A. Aguto Jr.
U.S. Army

U.S. Army

Department of the Navy

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Office of the Secretary
Principal Military Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Vice Admiral
Francis D. Morley
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Naval Inspector General (NAVIG) and
Special Assistant for Inspection Support (N09G)
Vice Admiral
John V. Fuller
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Judge Advocate General of the Navy (JAG),
Special Assistant for Legal Services (N09J) and
Department of Defense Representative for Ocean Policy Affairs (REPOPA)
Vice Admiral
Darse E. Crandall Jr.
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy

United States Marine Corps

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Headquarters Marine Corps
Director of the Marine Corps Staff (DMCS) Lieutenant General
Gregg P. Olson
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs (DC M&RA) Lieutenant General
James F. Glynn
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations (DC, PP&O) Lieutenant General
David J. Furness
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Deputy Commandant for Aviation (DCA) Lieutenant General
Michael S. Cederholm
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Deputy Commandant, Installations and Logistics (DC I&L) Lieutenant General
Edward D. Banta
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration (DC, CD&I) and Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) Lieutenant General
Karsten S. Heckl
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources (DC P&R) Lieutenant General
Christopher J. Mahoney
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Deputy Commandant for Information (DCI) and
Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Strategic Command (MARFORSTRAT)
Lieutenant General
Matthew G. Glavy
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Supporting establishment
Commanding General, U.S. Marine Corps Training and Education Command (TECOM) Lieutenant General
Kevin M. Iiams
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Operating forces
Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command (MARFORCOM),
Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Northern Command (MARFORNORTH) and Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic (FMFLANT)
Lieutenant General
Brian W. Cavanaugh
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) Lieutenant General
David A. Ottignon
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC) and
Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific (FMFPAC)
Lieutenant General
William M. Jurney
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) Lieutenant General
George W. Smith Jr.
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Commanding General, III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) and
Commander, Marine Forces Japan (MARFORJ)
Lieutenant General
James W. Bierman Jr.
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Marine Forces Reserve
Commander, Marine Forces Reserve (MARFORRES) and
Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH)
Lieutenant General
David G. Bellon
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
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training, and Education (N1/NT) and
Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP)
Vice Admiral
Richard J. Cheeseman Jr.
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (N2/N6) and
Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI)
Vice Admiral
Jeffrey E. Trussler
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5) Vice Admiral
Eugene H. Black III
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics (N4) Vice Admiral
Ricky L. Williamson
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Development (N7) Vice Admiral
Jeffrey W. Hughes
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Integration of Capabilities and Resources (N8) Vice Admiral
Randy B. Crites
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities (N9) Vice Admiral
Scott D. Conn
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Chief of Navy Reserve (N095) and
Commander, Navy Reserve Force (CNRF)
Vice Admiral
John B. Mustin
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Type commands
Commander, Naval Air Forces (COMNAVAIRFOR) and
Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMNAVAIRPAC)
Vice Admiral
Kenneth R. Whitesell
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Commander, Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR) Vice Admiral
Kelly A. Aeschbach
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Commander, Submarine Forces (COMSUBFOR),
Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMSUBLANT),
Commander, Allied Submarine Command (ASC),
Commander, Task Force 114 (CTF-114),[3]
Commander, Task Force 88 (CTF-88) and
Commander, Task Force 46 (CTF-46)
Vice Admiral
William J. Houston
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Commander, Naval Surface Forces (COMNAVSURFOR) and
Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMNAVSURFPAC)
Vice Admiral
Roy I. Kitchener
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Operating forces (and subordinated units)
Deputy Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF),
Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Northern Command (NAVNORTH),
Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Strategic Command (NAVSTRAT) and Commander, Task Force 80 (CTF-80)
Vice Admiral
James W. Kilby
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Commander, U.S. Second Fleet (C2F),
Commander, Joint Force Command – Norfolk (JFC-NF) and
Director, Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Center of Excellence (CJOS COE)
Vice Admiral
Daniel W. Dwyer
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet (C6F),
Commander, Task Force Six,
Commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (COMSTRIKFORNATO),
Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (CNE-CNA) and
Joint Force Maritime Component Commander Europe
Vice Admiral
Thomas E. Ishee
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Commander, U.S. Third Fleet (C3F) Vice Admiral
Michael E. Boyle
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet (C7F) Vice Admiral
Karl O. Thomas
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT),
Commander, U.S. Fifth Fleet (C5F) and
Commander, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF)
Vice Admiral
Charles B. Cooper II
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command (FCC),
Commander, U.S. Tenth Fleet (C10F) and
Commander, U.S. Navy Space Command (CNSC)
Vice Admiral
Craig A. Clapperton
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Shore establishment
Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Vice Admiral
William J. Galinis
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Commander, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Vice Admiral
Carl P. Chebi
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) Vice Admiral
Yancy B. Lindsey
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Director for Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) Vice Admiral
Johnny R. Wolfe Jr.
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy (USNA) Vice Admiral
Sean S. Buck
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy

Department of the Air Force

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Office of the Secretary
Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (SAF/AQ) Lieutenant General
Donna D. Shipton
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Inspector General of the Department of the Air Force (DAF/IG) Lieutenant General
Stephen L. Davis
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force

United States Air Force

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Air Staff
Director of Staff of the United States Air Force (AF/DS) Lieutenant General
Kevin B. Schneider
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services (A1) Lieutenant General
Caroline M. Miller
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Cyber Effects Operations (A2/6) Lieutenant General
Leah G. Lauderback
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (A3) Vacant
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection (A4) Lieutenant General
Tom D. Miller
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Chief of Staff for Air Force Futures (A5/7) Lieutenant General
S. Clinton Hinote
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs (A8) Lieutenant General
Richard G. Moore Jr.
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration (A10) Lieutenant General
James C. Dawkins Jr.
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
United States Air Force Judge Advocate General (AF/JA) and
Judge Advocate General of the United States Space Force (SF/JA)
Lieutenant General
Charles L. Plummer
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Surgeon General of the United States Air Force (AF/SG) and
Surgeon General of the United States Space Force (SF/SG)
Lieutenant General (Dr.)
Robert I. Miller
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Direct reporting units
Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) Lieutenant General
Richard M. Clark
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Air Force major commands (and subordinated units)
Deputy Commander, Air Combat Command (ACC) Lieutenant General
Russell L. Mack
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Commander, First Air Force (Air Forces Northern/AFNORTH and Air Forces Space/AFSPACE) (1 AF),
Commander, Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR),
Combined Force Air Component Commander for North American Aerospace Defense Command and
Joint Force Air Component Commander for U.S. Northern Command
Lieutenant General
Kirk S. Pierce
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Commander, Ninth Air Force (9 AF),
Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command (USAFCENT) and
Combined Forces Air Component Commander, U.S. Central Command
Lieutenant General
Alexus G. Grynkewich
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Commander, Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber/AFCYBER) (16 AF) and
Commander, Joint Force Headquarters – Cyber (JFHQ-C)
Lieutenant General
Kevin B. Kennedy Jr.
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Commander, Air Education and Training Command (AETC) Lieutenant General
Brian S. Robinson
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Commander and President, Air University Lieutenant General
Andrea D. Tullos
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) and
Deputy Commander, Air Forces Strategic-Air, U.S. Strategic Command
Lieutenant General
Mark E. Weatherington
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Commander, Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) Lieutenant General
Carl E. Schaefer
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Commander, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) and
Program Executive Officer for the Rapid Sustainment Office
Lieutenant General
Shaun Q. Morris
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Commander, Air Force Sustainment Center (AFSC) Lieutenant General
Stacey T. Hawkins
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Chief of Air Force Reserve (AF/RE) and
Commander, Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC)
Lieutenant General
John P. Healy
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Lieutenant General
James C. Slife
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Commander, Air Mobility Command (AMC) Lieutenant General
Randall Reed
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Commander, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) and
Deputy Theater Air Component Commander to the Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
Lieutenant General
James A. Jacobson
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Commander, Seventh Air Force (Air Forces Korea) (7 AF),
Commander, Air Component Command, United Nations Command (UNC),
Commander, Air Component Command, ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) and Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK)
Lieutenant General
Scott L. Pleus
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Deputy Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) Lieutenant General
John D. Lamontagne
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Air National Guard
Director, Air National Guard (ANG) Lieutenant General
Michael A. Loh
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force

United States Space Force

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Space Staff
Director of Staff of the United States Space Force (SF/DS) Lieutenant General
Nina M. Armagno
U.S. Space Force

U.S. Space Force
Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber, and Nuclear (S3/4/6/7/10) Vacant
U.S. Space Force

U.S. Space Force
Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Strategy, Plans, Programs, Requirements, and Analysis (S5/8) Lieutenant General
Philip A. Garrant
U.S. Space Force

U.S. Space Force
Field commands
Commander, Space Operations Command (SpOC) Lieutenant General
Stephen N. Whiting
U.S. Space Force

U.S. Space Force
Commander, Space Systems Command (SSC) Lieutenant General
Michael A. Guetlein
U.S. Space Force

U.S. Space Force

Department of Homeland Security

United States Coast Guard

Position insignia Position Photo Incumbent Service branch
Headquarters support units
Deputy Commandant for Operations (DCO) Vice Admiral
Peter W. Gautier
U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard
Deputy Commandant for Mission Support (DCMS) Vice Admiral
Paul F. Thomas
U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard
Area commands
Commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area (USCGLANTAREA) and
Director, Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Force – East (JTF-E)
Vice Admiral
Kevin E. Lunday
U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard
Commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area (PACAREA) and
Commander, Defense Force West
Vice Admiral
Andrew J. Tiongson
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 Surgeon General
Surgeon General of the United States (SG) Vice Admiral
Vivek H. Murthy
U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

U.S. Public Health Service

List of pending appointments

Appointments should be listed in order of service branch,[a] and thereafter by the assigned position, identical to the above list. Promotions with no announced position should be listed below those with such positions by qualification of initial or lateral promotion[b] and thereafter by alphabetical order of surname.

Current position Designated position insignia Designated position Photo Name Service branch Status and date
Joint assignments
Deputy Surgeon General of the United States Army (DSG) and
Chief, Medical Corps (MC)
Director, Defense Health Agency (DHA) Major General
Telita Crosland
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Confirmed by the Senate
29 September 2022[4][5]
Date of rank
5 December 2022[6]
Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel (DCNP) and
Commander, Navy Personnel Command (NPC)
Military Deputy Commander, U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Rear Admiral
Alvin Holsey
U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy
Confirmed by the Senate
30 November 2022[7][8]
Scheduled to assume office
January 2023[9]
Director, Communication Directorate, Office of the Deputy Commandant for Information[10] Vice Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Major General
Francis L. Donovan
U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps
Nomination sent to the Senate
6 September 2022[11][12]
In transit Commanding General, Security Assistance Group–Ukraine (SAG–U) Lieutenant General
Antonio A. Aguto Jr.
U.S. Army

U.S. Army
Confirmed by the Senate
30 November 2022[13][14]
United States Air Force
Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (A3) Lieutenant General
James C. Slife
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Confirmed by the Senate
30 November 2022[15][16]
Vice Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Lieutenant General
Tony D. Bauernfeind
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Confirmed by the Senate
1 August 2022[17][18]
Director of Domestic Operations and Force Development (J-3/4/7), National Guard Bureau (NGB) Commander, First Air Force (Air Forces Northern/AFNORTH and Air Forces Space/AFSPACE) (1 AF),
Commander, Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR),
Combined Force Air Component Commander for North American Aerospace Defense Command and
Joint Force Air Component Commander for U.S. Northern Command
Major General
Steven S. Nordhaus
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Nomination sent to the Senate
14 November 2022[19][16]
United States Space Force
Special Assistant to the Vice Chief of Space Operations (VCSO) Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber, and Nuclear (S3/4/6/7/10) Major General
DeAnna M. Burt
U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force
Confirmed by the Senate
30 November 2022[20][21]
United States Public Health Service
Surgeon General of the United States (SG) Surgeon General of the United States (SG) and
U.S. Representative, Executive Board of the World Health Organization (USREPWHO)
Vice Admiral
Vivek H. Murthy
U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

U.S. Public Health Service
Nomination sent to the Senate
11 October 2022[22][23][24]

Statutory limits

Lt. Gen. James M. Rockwell is pinned with his third star during his promotion ceremony at the Pentagon, June 29, 1984.
Lt. Gen. James M. Rockwell is pinned with his third star during his promotion ceremony at the Pentagon, June 29, 1984.

As with four-star officers, the U.S. Code explicitly limits the number of three-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.[25] From December 31, 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.[26] For the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force, no more than about 21%[c] of each service's active-duty general or flag officers may have more than two stars,[27] and statute sets the total number of three-star officers allowed in each service.[27] This is set at 38 three-star Army generals,[27][d] 27 three-star Navy admirals,[27][e] 30 three-star Air Force generals,[27][f] 15 three-star Marine generals[27][g] and 5 three-star Space Force generals.[h]

Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, director of the Joint Staff, updates the media at a briefing on Operation Odyssey Dawn from the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on March 24, 2011.
Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, director of the Joint Staff, updates the media at a briefing on Operation Odyssey Dawn from the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on March 24, 2011.

While a number of these positions are set by statute, most do not have the accompanying statutory three-star grade. By convention, however:

Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting has his third star pinned on by his family during his promotion ceremony at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, October 21, 2020.
Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting has his third star pinned on by his family during his promotion ceremony at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, October 21, 2020.
  • For the Space Force, lieutenant generals constitute the deputy chiefs of staff of the Space Staff and commanders of high-level field commands.
  • For the Coast Guard, vice admirals constitute the deputy commandants for operations and mission support,[47] as well as the operational area commanders of the Atlantic and Pacific region.[47] By statute, there may not be more than five three-star positions in the Coast Guard[48] and, if there are five, one must be the chief of staff of the Coast Guard.[48]
  • For the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the surgeon general of the United States is a three-star vice admiral by statute, equivalent in grade to the surgeon general of the Army.[49]
  • Although the rank of vice admiral exists in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps (NOAA Corps), its use is rare. Only two officers of the NOAA Corps or its ancestor organizations have reached the rank of vice admiral.[50]

The President may also designate positions of importance and responsibility to other agencies in the executive branch aside from the Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to be held by an officer with the grade of vice admiral, with corresponding pay and allowance.[48]

Exceptions

Exceptions exist that allow for the promotion of three-star officers beyond statutory limits. The secretary of defense can designate up to 49[i] three-star officers,[25] who do not count against any service's general- or flag-officer limit,[25] to serve in one of several joint positions.[51] For three-star officers, these include senior positions on the Joint Staff such as the director of the Joint Staff,[52] vice chief of the National Guard Bureau,[53] and deputy commanders of unified combatant commands. Officers serving in certain intelligence positions are not counted against statutory limits, including the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency,[54] associate director for military affairs of the Central Intelligence Agency,[54] and the advisor for military affairs to the director of National Intelligence.[51][54] The President may also add up to 15 three-star slots to one service if they are offset by removing an equivalent number from other services.[27] Finally, all statutory limits may be waived at the President's discretion during time of war or national emergency.[55]

Appointment

Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in Washington D.C. on February 4, 2014.
Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in Washington D.C. on February 4, 2014.

Like four-star ranks, three-star ranks are temporary in nature, being tied to positions where the officeholder is authorized to assume said rank.[56] The officeholder's rank expires with the expiration of their term of office, which is normally set by statute.[56] The president nominates three-star officers from any eligible officers holding one-star grade and above who also meet the other requirements for the position, based on the advice of their respective executive department secretary, service secretary, and if applicable the joint chiefs.[56] The nominee must be confirmed via majority by the Senate before the appointee can take office and thus assume the rank.[56] The Senate (normally in committee[j]) may hold hearings to consider any nominee for appointment to three-star grade,[57] but usually only convene for nominations of selected four-star positions.

While it is rare for three-star or four-star nominations to face even token opposition in the Senate, nominations that do face opposition due to controversy surrounding the nominee in question are typically withdrawn.[58]

Maj. Gen. Scott D. Berrier presents a Buffalo Soldier statue to Lt. Gen. Mary A. Legere, during the Intelligence Senior Leaders Conference (ISLC) at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, December 9, 2015.
Maj. Gen. Scott D. Berrier presents a Buffalo Soldier statue to Lt. Gen. Mary A. Legere, during the Intelligence Senior Leaders Conference (ISLC) at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, December 9, 2015.
  • For example, the nomination of Major General Ryan F. Gonsalves to be commanding general of U.S. Army Europe in 2017 was withdrawn[59] after an investigation was launched into the general's inappropriate comment to a female Congressional staffer.[60]
  • Lieutenant General Mary A. Legere was widely considered a leading candidate to succeed Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, but her name was removed from consideration[67] following House backlash over her involvement in several controversial Army intelligence projects.[68]
  • Major General Raphael J. Hallada was withdrawn from consideration to become commanding general of Fifth Army in 1991,[69][70] relating to his decision to not prosecute two soldiers responsible for an artillery accident at his command of Fort Sill.[71][72]
  • And Rear Admiral Elizabeth A. Hight's nomination to be director of the Defense Information Systems Agency in 2008 was withdrawn[76] due to concerns about a possible conflict of interest with her husband, a retired Air Force general who was employed by a prominent Defense contractor.[77]
Vice Adm. Scott Stearney (left) relieves Vice Adm. John C. Aquilino (right) as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command on May 6, 2018.
Vice Adm. Scott Stearney (left) relieves Vice Adm. John C. Aquilino (right) as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command on May 6, 2018.

Nominations that are not withdrawn are allowed to expire without action at the end of the legislative session, with said nominations being returned to the President.[58][57]

  • The nomination of Rear Admiral Thomas P. Ostebo for promotion to vice admiral and assignment as deputy commandant for mission support of the Coast Guard in 2014[81] was returned to the President,[82] due to a hold from a senator who opposed the closure of two Coast Guard facilities in response to sequestration cuts.[83]

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. Even after the nominee assumes command, various events can occur that alter his or her circumstances in holding the office.

  • Vice Admiral Scott A. Stearney assumed command of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, Fifth Fleet, and Combined Maritime Forces in May 2018.[88] His death in December 2018 resulted in the speedy confirmation[89] of Rear Admiral James J. Malloy in the same month for appointment to three-star rank as his replacement.[90]

Command elevation and reduction

Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Plewes (center), following his promotion ceremony, stands with living former chiefs of the Army Reserve on June 13, 2001.
Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Plewes (center), following his promotion ceremony, stands with living former chiefs of the Army Reserve on June 13, 2001.
Lt. Gen. Kevin M. Iiams stands at attention during the TECOM change of command ceremony on Aug. 2, 2021.
Lt. Gen. Kevin M. Iiams stands at attention during the TECOM change of command ceremony on Aug. 2, 2021.
Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh (left) is relieved as AETC commander by Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson (right) on July 21, 2015.
Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh (left) is relieved as AETC commander by Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson (right) on July 21, 2015.

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.[56] 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.[91] Due to the higher number of three-star appointments available by statute compared to four-star appointments, shuffling of such billets within services and between services occurs at a relatively steady pace, with significant changes on average every two to three years, compared to those at four-star grade which shuffle on average every four to five years.

The existing commander of a lower-level command or office elevated to three-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.

  • For example, Major General Scott C. Black became judge advocate general of the Army in October 2005. With the elevation of the office to three-star rank in 2008, Black was nominated for promotion to lieutenant general,[92] and assumed said rank in December 2008.
  • Vice Admiral Henry H. Mauz Jr., commander of U.S. Seventh Fleet, was dual-hatted as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in August 1990.[93] The incumbent commander, Captain Robert Sutton did not receive appointment to three-star grade and was thus reassigned as commander of the U.S. Naval Logistics Support Force under Mauz's command.[94]

A two-star billet may be elevated to three-star level, in accordance with 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.

A four-star billet may also be reduced to three-star level, usually to compensate for another billet being elevated to four-star level and thus remain within statutory limits. Congressional approval must be obtained if it is determined that a new three-star appointment beyond statutory limits is necessary.

Tour length

Incoming surgeon general Vivek Murthy is pinned with his vice admiral's rank insignia by his sister Rashimi as Vice President Joe Biden looks on at his swearing-in ceremony at Conmy Hall, April 22, 2015.
Incoming surgeon general Vivek Murthy is pinned with his vice admiral's rank insignia by his sister Rashimi as Vice President Joe Biden looks on at his swearing-in ceremony at Conmy Hall, April 22, 2015.

The standard tour length for a three-star officer is three years, specifically a two-year term with a one-year extension. Unlike with grade, many three-star positions do have stipulated term lengths in the U.S. Code, which may not necessarily equate to the standard term length:

  • Deputy commanders of unified combatant commands, as a joint duty assignment, serve for one to two years.
  • Inspectors general of the Army, Navy, and Air Force serve for a nominal four-year term.
  • Judge advocates general of the Army, Navy, and Air Force serve for a nominal four-year term.
  • Three-star chiefs of service reserve components serve for a nominal four-year term in office, but may serve for up to eight years if reappointed to serve for a second term. Typically, a reserve component chief serves for two to three years.
  • Three-star chiefs of Army branches,[q] (except the judge advocate general) serve for a nominal four-year term.[32]
  • Heads of service academies[r] serve for a nominal three-year term, though it is common for them to serve for four to five years.
  • The surgeon general of the United States serves for a nominal four-year term.[110]

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.[111][112] Three-star ranks may also be given by act of Congress but this is extremely rare.

Retirement

Gen. Mark A. Milley, Army chief of staff, presents Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen with a certificate authorizing his presentation of the Army Distinguished Service Medal at Caslen's relinquishment of command ceremony on June 22, 2018.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, Army chief of staff, presents Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen with a certificate authorizing his presentation of the Army Distinguished Service Medal at Caslen's relinquishment of command ceremony on June 22, 2018.
Lt. Gen. Ronald C. Marcotte (right), is presented his formal retirement certificate by Gen. John W. Handy (left), during his retirement ceremony held at Heritage Park on March 8, 2002.
Lt. Gen. Ronald C. Marcotte (right), is presented his formal retirement certificate by Gen. John W. Handy (left), during his retirement ceremony held at Heritage Park on March 8, 2002.

Besides voluntary retirement, statute sets a number of mandates for retirement. A three-star officer may serve for a maximum of 38 years of commissioned service unless reappointed to grade to serve longer or appointed to a higher grade.[115] Three-star officers on reserve active duty must retire after five years in grade or 30 days after completion of 38 years of commissioned service, whichever is later, unless reappointed to grade to serve longer.[116] Three-star reserve officers of the Army and Air Force can have their retirements deferred by their service secretary until the officer's 66th birthday,[117] which the secretary of defense may do for all active-duty officers,[118] and the president can defer it until the officer's 68th birthday.[118] Otherwise all general and flag officers must retire the month after their 64th birthday.[118] Officers that served several years in the enlisted ranks prior to receiving their commission typically don't make it to the 38 years in commission mark, because they are still subject to the age restrictions for retirement. As holders of the second-highest grade, three-star officers rarely receive deferment to serve beyond their 64th birthday, a more common case for officers who are promoted to four-star rank.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark (left), delivers remarks at the retirement ceremony of Vice Adm. Patricia Tracey (center), as she listens in on September 2, 2004.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark (left), delivers remarks at the retirement ceremony of Vice Adm. Patricia Tracey (center), as she listens in on September 2, 2004.

By statute, any three-star officer assigned as superintendent of the United States Military Academy,[119] superintendent of the United States Naval Academy,[120] and superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy[121] must retire upon completion of their assignment,[122][120][123] unless a waiver is granted by the secretary of defense[124][125][126] with the approval of the House and Senate Armed Services committees,[124][125][126] and a written notification of intent from the president to nominate the officer for reassignment.[124][125][126]

  • Lieutenant General Sidney Bryan Berry is the last superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy not subject to the mandates for retirement, serving as commanding general of V Corps from 1977 to 1980 after his tenure as superintendent from 1974 to 1976.[127] His successor, General Andrew J. Goodpaster is the latest retired officer recalled to serve as superintendent, serving from 1977 to 1981.
  • Rear Admiral Thomas C. Lynch is the last superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy not subject to the mandates for retirement, serving as director of the Navy staff from 1994 to 1995 after his tenure as superintendent from 1991 to 1994. His successor, Admiral Charles R. Larson is the last four-star admiral to serve as superintendent, from 1994 to 1998.[128]
  • Major General Robert E. Kelley is the last superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy not subject to the mandates for retirement, serving as the vice commander of Tactical Air Command from 1983 to 1986 after his tenure as superintendent from 1981 to 1983.
Outgoing Coast Guard vice commandant, Vice Adm. John P. Currier is thanked by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson at his retirement ceremony on May 20, 2014.
Outgoing Coast Guard vice commandant, Vice Adm. John P. Currier is thanked by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson at his retirement ceremony on May 20, 2014.

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. The higher number of available three-star slots overall (ranging from around 100 to 200) means that lateral promotion is more likely for officers at grade before they either retire or are appointed to a higher grade.[s] An officer who vacates a position bearing that rank has no more than 60 days to be appointed or reappointed to a position of equal or greater importance, including positions of four-star grade, before involuntary retirement.[56]

  • For example, Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum was appointed as deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command in 2009. The incumbent deputy commander, Lieutenant General William G. Webster Jr., was appointed as commanding general of U.S. Army Central, whose incumbent commanding general, Lieutenant General James J. Lovelace Jr., received no further appointment and retired at the age of 60, with 39 years of service and six years in grade.
  • Rear Admiral Ronald A. Route was promoted to vice admiral and appointed as naval inspector general in 2004. The incumbent inspector general, Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, was appointed as director of the Navy staff, whose incumbent director, Vice Admiral Patricia A. Tracey, received no further appointment and retired at the age of 52, with 34 years of service and six years in grade.
  • Major General William H. Etter was promoted to lieutenant general and appointed as commander of First Air Force in 2013. The incumbent commander, Lieutenant General Stanley E. Clarke III, was appointed as director of the Air National Guard, whose incumbent director, Lieutenant General Harry M. Wyatt III, received no further appointment and retired at the age of 63, with 42 years of service and four years in grade.
  • Rear Admiral Steven D. Poulin was promoted to vice admiral and appointed as commander of the Coast Guard Atlantic Area in 2020. The incumbent commander, Vice Admiral Scott A. Buschman, was appointed as deputy commandant for operations; the incumbent deputy commandant, Vice Admiral Daniel B. Abel, received no further appointment and retired at the age of 59, with 37 years of service and two years in grade.
From left to right: Debbie Paxton; Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn; and the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John M. Paxton Jr., pose for a photo after Flynn's retirement ceremony, May 9, 2013.
From left to right: Debbie Paxton; Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn; and the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John M. Paxton Jr., pose for a photo after Flynn's retirement ceremony, May 9, 2013.

A three-star officer may also be reduced to their permanent rank pending circumstances that delay appointment to another three-star position of importance. Historically, officers leaving three-star or 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, Lieutenant General Timothy J. Kadavy reverted to his permanent rank of major general while awaiting confirmation as vice chief of the National Guard Bureau in 2019,[129] as he had not been assigned to another three-star position within 60 days of his relief as director of the Army National Guard.[t] After his nomination was returned to the president without action,[130] he was certified to retire as a lieutenant general in 2020.[131]
  • Vice Admiral John Poindexter reverted to his permanent rank of rear admiral in 1986, as he was not appointed by the Senate to another three-star post within 90 days after resigning as national security advisor to the President due to controversy surrounding the Iran-Contra scandal,[132] and was reassigned to the Navy staff[133] until retirement in 1987. His request to retire as a vice admiral[134] was deferred by the secretary of the Navy due to expected congressional opposition.[133]
Lt. Gen. Lawson W. Magruder III accepts a shell casing from a U.S. Army military police  honor guard officer at his retirement ceremony, February 27, 2003.
Lt. Gen. Lawson W. Magruder III accepts a shell casing from a U.S. Army military police honor guard officer at his retirement ceremony, February 27, 2003.

To retire at three-star grade, an officer must accumulate at least three years of satisfactory active-duty service in that grade, as determined by the secretary of defense.[135] 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.[135] The secretary of defense may reduce this requirement to two years, but only if the officer is not being investigated for misconduct.[136] The president may also reduce these requirements even further, or waive the requirements altogether, if he so chooses.[135][136] Three-star officers who do not meet the service-in-grade requirement will retire at the last permanent rank satisfactorily held for six months.[135] The retiree may also be subject to congressional approval by the Senate before the retiree can retire in grade.[u] It is extraordinarily rare for a three-star or four-star officer not to be certified to retire in grade or for the Senate to seek final approval.

  • For example, Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft was certified by the Senate in 1975 to retire as a lieutenant general[137] despite holding said rank for only a year as national security advisor to the President. Scowcroft could have been reappointed to grade to serve as national security advisor while on active duty, but instead held the office as a civilian.[138]
  • Lieutenant General Craig A. Franklin retired on April 1, 2014,[139] with two years and two days in grade, in response to charges of partiality in overseeing cases of sexual assault in Third Air Force.[140] Despite not being penalized for misconduct, his retirement before accumulating statutory time in grade resulted in his reduction to major general on the retired list.[141]
  • Lieutenant General Ronald F. Lewis was relieved as senior military assistant to the secretary of defense on November 12, 2015, with approximately four months in grade.[142] He subsequently reverted to his permanent rank of major general[v] pending an investigation by the Department of Defense inspector general[143] for misconduct.[144] His certification of satisfactory service as a major general was revoked,[145] thus reducing his retirement rank to brigadier general.[146]
Gen. Lew Allen, Air Force chief of staff, presents the Defense Distinguished Service Medal to Lt. Gen. Benjamin N. Bellis during his retirement ceremony on July 17, 1981.
Gen. Lew Allen, Air Force chief of staff, presents the Defense Distinguished Service Medal to Lt. Gen. Benjamin N. Bellis during his retirement ceremony on July 17, 1981.

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.[135]

  • For example, Lieutenant General Lee K. Levy II relinquished his three-star command in 2018,[147] but remained on active duty for over a year after his retirement ceremony[148] in his permanent rank of major general[w] pending an investigation by the Air Force inspector general,[149] before being allowed to retire as a major general.[150]

Furthermore, all retired 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.[154]

  • Lieutenant General Philip R. Kensinger Jr., who retired from the Army as a lieutenant general, faced court martial and demotion[155] nearly two years after his retirement date of February 1, 2006,[156] for making false statements regarding the Pat Tillman friendly fire incident.[157] He was allowed to retain his three-star rank[158] after the secretary of the Army opted not to pursue the heavier punishment, instead issuing Kensinger an official reprimand and censure.[158]

Officers holding a temporary three-star or four-star rank 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, Lieutenant General Donald C. Wurster was relieved as commander of Air Force Special Operations Command on June 24, 2011,[159] and held his retirement ceremony the same day, but remained on active duty until his official retirement date on August 1, 2011.

A statutory limit can be waived by the president with the consent of Congress if it serves national interest. However, this is extremely rare. Only two four-star officers have been granted such a waiver in American history: General Lewis B. Hershey, who served as director of the Selective Service System from 1941 to 1970, and Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, who served as director of Naval Reactors from 1949 to 1982.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ First joint assignments, then service assignments ordered identically to the above list.
  2. ^ An officer being reappointed to three-star grade takes precedence over a two-star officer being selected for promotion to three-star grade.
  3. ^ 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%.
  4. ^ The remainder after subtracting the allotted number of 8 four-star generals from the 46 permitted appointment above the grade of major general.
  5. ^ The remainder after subtracting the allotted number of 6 four-star admirals from the 33 permitted appointment above the grade of rear admiral.
  6. ^ The remainder after subtracting the allotted number of 9 four-star generals and 5 three-star Space Force generals from the 44 permitted appointment above the grade of major general.
  7. ^ The remainder after subtracting the allotted number of 2 four-star generals from the 17 permitted appointment above the grade of major general.
  8. ^ Excluding joint duty assignments.
  9. ^ The remainder after subtracting 19 four-star officers from the 68 officers above two-star rank permitted exclusionary joint duty assignments is 49.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Rear Admiral John B. Totushek, chief of Navy Reserve, was promoted to vice admiral in June 2001.[96]
  12. ^ Major General James E. Sherrard III, chief of Air Force Reserve, was promoted to lieutenant general in May 2001.[97]
  13. ^ Major General Thomas J. Plewes, chief of Army Reserve, and Major General Roger C. Schultz, Army National Guard director were promoted to lieutenant general in June 2001.[98]
  14. ^ Major General Dennis M. McCarthy was promoted to lieutenant general on June 1, 2001, one day prior to assuming command of Marine Forces Reserve on June 2.[99]
  15. ^ Lieutenant General Daniel James III became the first three-star Air National Guard director in June 2002.[100]
  16. ^ as Air Training Command, before consolidating with the Air University
  17. ^ Refers to the chief of engineers and surgeon general
  18. ^ Refers to the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, and U.S. Air Force Academy. The superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy is a two-star office.
  19. ^ This is less likely for officers in specialized career paths, as few appointments at that level exist for them to occupy. A majority of these appointments are the singular leadership positions of the career path, such as the Judge Advocate General of the Navy which is the highest position a Navy judge advocate can attain.
  20. ^ Served as a special assistant to the chief of the National Guard Bureau from 2019 to 2020 as a major general.
  21. ^ The U.S. Constitution gives Congress oversight over retirement of military personnel if they so choose.
  22. ^ Served as a special assistant to the vice chief of staff of the Army as a major general from 2015 to his retirement in 2016.
  23. ^ Served as a special assistant to the Air Force vice chief of staff as a major general from 2018 to his retirement in 2019.
  24. ^ Served as a special assistant to the superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy as a rear admiral from 2014 to his retirement in 2015.

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