Decribes the mid-level of Amateur Radio licenses issued in the United States by the Federal Communications Commission. A General Class license allows access to the High Frequency or HF bands, which are capable of worldwide communication directly between radios. The license carries privileges in all 27 amateur radio bands and all modes of communcation. An General Class license requires a Technician class license, passing a 35 question written exam with 26 correct answers, and passing a Morse code receiving examination given at 5 words per minute.

General: The Rank Today

The rank and title of General represents a 4-star general officer in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps. A General has the Pay Grade of O-10 and is equivalent to a Admiral in the United States Navy and Coast Guard. General is the rank following Lieutenant General, but subordinate to the 5-star General (General of the Army, General of the Air Force, or Fleet Admiral). However, a 5-star general is only appointed during times of declared war, so therefore a General is usually the highest rank in the US Armed Forces. While at one time there may be several full Generals in each branch, there is one superior for each branch. The Army Chief of Staff, Air Force Chief of Staff, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps are the highest in their respective branches, although still four star Generals. Their Naval and CG equivalents are the Chief of Naval Operations and Commandant of the Coast Guard. All of these officers are coordinated and subordinate to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is also a 4-star general. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is selected from one of the branches by the President of the United States.


The insignia of a General is four, 5-point, silver stars in a row touching point to point. (An image can be seen at The insignia is worn in different places and manners depending on the uniform. For Army and AF dress uniforms, the silver stars are embroidered on a epaulet (black for Army, dark blue for AF) and worn on the shoulder. On Marine Class B’s, the stars are worn on the collar. For all three, the stars are worn subdued and sewn to the collar of the BDU. A general also has the distinctive uniform insignia of general officers, such as their service cap visor decorations and pant leggings. Generals also have a personal flag, which is solid red for Army and Marine Corps and solid blue for the Air Force, with four, white, five-point stars centered on it. Their vehicles also carry a license plate in the front with the same color/star scheme to identify them while inside the vehicle. (The Chiefs of Staff and Chairman of the JCS have distinctive flag designs.)

History of the Rank

The title of General comes from the Latin generalis which means that which deals with a unit or group as a whole, rather than just a segment. Early history found generals only being appointed by a government or monarch in times of warfare. The term for the office became Colonel General until eventually the Colonel was dropped - although not in all instances (the former Soviet Union and the East German/DDR military used the title Colonel General until the fall of the communist bloc).

The US Continental Congress declared George Washington General and Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in 1775, however he did not adopt any insignia over his 2-star Major Generals until 1798, when he became (America’s first) Lieutenant General and chose 3 stars as his insignia. In 1866, Ulysses S. Grant became the first full 4-star general when he was appointed General of the Army of the United States by Congress. Grant was elected president in 1869, he appointed William T. Sherman as the second General, who oddly enough changed the insignia to 2 stars on either side of a US coat of arms. However, this was only ever used by Sherman and was reverted to four stars after his death.

The next full generals came along with the outbreak of the Great War. Major Generals Tasker H. Blissand and John J. Pershing were temporarily promoted to General so that they would be on equal footing with the commanders they worked with in France. Payton C. March was made a full General following the end of World War I, and Pershing was made General of the Armies of the US (however he chose four, not five stars as his insignia). In 1929, the rank of General was given to the current Chiefs of Staff, and then to more and more officers with World War II.


Now, each branch of the Armed Forces has several Generals. They are referred to as “General” by title and receive all customs, courtesies, and privileges of a general officer. It takes a full military career of 20+ years to even entertain the possibility of becoming a General without some sort of special act of Congress. They also are entitled to the play of the General officer’s march with four ruffles and flourishes wherever they go. Generals are lifers and upon retirement also receive a handsome pension. According to 2002 Commissioned Officer pay scales, a General can expect to make between $10,000 - $12324 per month, base pay while active duty.

    - Airman Magazine, January 2002: Commissioned Officer Pay Scale
    - Naval Historical Center: ( Rank: Officers: General.
    - Personal Knowledge

Gen"er*al (?), a. [F. g'en'eral, fr. L. generalis. See Genus.]


Relating to a genus or kind; pertaining to a whole class or order; as, a general law of animal or vegetable economy.


Comprehending many species or individuals; not special or particular; including all particulars; as, a general inference or conclusion.


Not restrained or limited to a precise import; not specific; vague; indefinite; lax in signification; as, a loose and general expression.


Common to many, or the greatest number; widely spread; prevalent; extensive, though not universal; as, a general opinion; a general custom.

This general applause and cheerful sout Argue your wisdom and your love to Richard. Shak.


Having a relation to all; common to the whole; as, Adam, our general sire.



As a whole; in gross; for the most part.

His general behavior vain, ridiculous. Shak.


Usual; common, on most occasions; as, his general habit or method.

The word general, annexed to a name of office, usually denotes chief or superior; as, attorney-general; adjutant general; commissary general; quartermaster general; vicar-general, etc.

General agent Law, an agent whom a principal employs to transact all his business of a particular kind, or to act in his affairs generally. -- General assembly. See the Note under Assembly. -- General average, General Court. See under Average, Court. -- General court-martial Mil., the highest military and naval judicial tribunal. -- General dealer Com., a shopkeeper who deals in all articles in common use. -- General demurrer Law, a demurrer which objects to a pleading in general terms, as insufficient, without specifying the defects. Abbott. -- General epistle, a canonical epistle. -- General guides Mil., two sergeants (called the right, and the left, general guide) posted opposite the right and left flanks of an infantry battalion, to preserve accuracy in marching. Farrow. -- General hospitals Mil., hospitals established to receive sick and wounded sent from the field hospitals. Farrow. General issue Law, an issue made by a general plea, which traverses the whole declaration or indictment at once, without offering any special matter to evade it. Bouvier. Burrill. -- General lien Law, a right to detain a chattel, etc., until payment is made of any balance due on a general account. -- General officer Mil., any officer having a rank above that of colonel. -- General orders Mil., orders from headquarters published to the whole command. -- General practitioner, in the United States, one who practices medicine in all its branches without confining himself to any specialty; in England, one who practices both as physician and as surgeon. -- General ship, a ship not chartered or let to particular parties. -- General term Logic, a term which is the sign of a general conception or notion. -- General verdict Law, the ordinary comprehensive verdict in civil actions, "for the plaintiff" or "for the defendant". Burrill. -- General warrant Law, a warrant, now illegal, to apprehend suspected persons, without naming individuals.

Syn. General, Common, Universal. Common denotes primarily that in which many share; and hence, that which is often met with. General is stronger, denoting that which pertains to a majority of the individuals which compose a genus, or whole. Universal, that which pertains to all without exception. To be able to read and write is so common an attainment in the United States, that we may pronounce it general, though by no means universal.


© Webster 1913.

Gen"er*al (?), n. [F. g'en'eral. See General., a.]

1. The whole; the total; that which comprehends or relates to all, or the chief part; -- opposed to particular.

In particulars our knowledge begins, and so spreads itself by degrees to generals. Locke.

2. Mil.

One of the chief military officers of a government or country; the commander of an army, of a body of men not less than a brigade. In European armies, the highest military rank next below field marshal.

⇒ In the United States the office of General of the Army has been created by temporary laws, and has been held only by Generals U. S. Grant, W. T. Sherman, and P. H. Sheridan. <-- = 5-star general. Eisenhower? MacArthur? Pershing? -->Popularly, the title General is given to various general officers, as General, Lieutenant general, Major general, Brigadier general, Commissary general, etc. See Brigadier general, Lieutenant general, Major general, in the Vocabulary.

3. Mil.

The roll of the drum which calls the troops together; as, to beat the general.

4. Eccl.

The chief of an order of monks, or of all the houses or congregations under the same rule.


The public; the people; the vulgar.



In general, in the main; for the most part.


© Webster 1913.

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