Major (France)

Major (Major) in France, is a senior superior military rank (French: grade militaire) across various military and security institutions with history dating back well beyond the 18th century.

Army-FRA-OR-09a.svg French Navy-Rama NG-SO5.svg French Air Force-major.svg
French army, navy and air force insignia
Country France
See others
Service branchArmed Forces
Rank groupNon-commissioned officer
NATO rank codeOR-9
Next lower rankAdjudant-chef (army & air force)
Maître principal (navy)

Typically, the contemporary rank of Major is situated differently in the military hierarchy of each country and corresponds in general to the rank of Major, whose French official equivalent is Commandant[a] in the French Army and French Air Force, Chef d'Escadron in the National Gendarmerie and Capitaine de corvette[b] in the French Navy.

The official rank and designation of Major of France (French: Major de France) is unique.

While the rank functions of Major (Major) in France, can be similarly compared to that of a Sergeant Major,[c] it is higher (rank of Major) than a Chief Warrant Officer (Adjudant-Chef), and similar to a Master Chief (depending on the service branch of the respective country); the rank of Major (Major) is still different.

Major was a senior superior Officer rank first, with a history of various military traditions in various corps, then recently in time became attached to the sub-officer (non-commissioned) corps as of 2009.

The rank of Major[d] (Major) of the French Armed Forces can be the closest equivalent in terms of authenticity, and even still different, to the American referral of Mustang officers, since the rank of "Major" was already a superior Officer (Officier Supérieur) (a superior combat military officer rank ascended through the enlisted corps by service or promotions in combat units until 2009)[e] which was part of the "Corps of Majors", situated between the French Officer Corps and the French Non-Commissioned Officer Corps. However, the history rank of the Majors of France (Les Majors de France) is still very different.

In the French Armed Forces, the official rank and referral of Major Major)[f] included the same rank designation across the board, this time however as of 2009, attached to the non-commissioned ranks (sub-officer corps) of the French Army, the ranks of the French Navy, the ranks of the French Air Force and ranks of the National Gendarmerie.

The title is also often associated with another rank, which can be that of the general (général) or a senior warrant officer (Adjudant).


Major GeneralEdit

In many armed forces, the rank of Major General (Major-général) or general-major (général-major) is the second rank of the general officer corps. The rank came from the abbreviation of the rank "Sergeant"-Major General (Sergent-Major Général), the junior lower rank to that of "Lieutenant"-General, the latter referring also to the contemporary rank of Général de division. The rank of Lieutenant-General (Lieutenant-Général) in France has also; similarly to Major, a long history dating back to the Ancien Régime. Lieutenant General of the Armies – Lieutenant General of the Naval Armies (Lieutenant-Général des Armées – Lieutenant-Général des Armées Navales) and Major of France were military rank orders of senior authority of the French Army,[g] including also the French Navy[h] which commanded over on behalf of the King or Governor.

History of the rank in FranceEdit

Officiers Supérieurs, Superior OfficerEdit

In the Armies of France of the Ancien Régime, the Major (Major) was the second of the colonel charged with the administrative works of the regiment, as well as the commandment of a strong influential position after the Governor (Gouverneur) and the Lieutenant of the King (Lieutenant du Roi).

During the Napoleonic Period, the rank of lieutenant-colonel was replaced with the rank of Major (Major). The designation of Major or Medical Major (Médecin-Major), with category rank sub-classes (1st Class Major (Major de première classe), 2nd Class Major (Major de seconde classe), Aide-Major (Aide-Major), Deputy Aide-Major (Sous-Aide-Major)) designated until 1928 a Military Medic.

In the French War Navy (Marine de Guerre Française) of the 18th century, a rank of Major of the Vessel (Major de Vaisseau) existed briefly and was situated between the rank of Ship-of-the-line lieutenant (Lieutenant de Vaisseau) and Ship-of-the-line captain (capitaine de vaisseau). The position rank of Major also designated the general officer (officier general) in charge of maintaining the materials and security of a port or naval base, the position was known as the "Major" General of the Arsenals (Major Général de l'arsenal). In a squadron, the Squadron Major (Major d'Escadre), was a general officer as Ship-of-the-line captain, and upheld the function of the general staff headquarters of the squadron.

The actual organization of the Armies instituted, first in the military hierarchy, a function (not a rank) of Major General for the ensemble of the Armies or each one of the: Major General of the Armies (Major Général des Armées), Major General of the French Army (Major Général de l'Armée de Terre), Major General[i] of the French Air Force (Major Général de l'Armée de l'Air), Major General of the French Navy (Major Général de la Marine) (a Vice-Amiral since 1966, Deputy French Naval Chief), Major General of the National Gendarmerie (Major Général de la Gendarmerie Nationale); these functions are respectively subordinated to the Chief of the General Staff Headquarters of the Armies (Chef d'État-Major des Armées) CEMA, subsequently, passing accordingly to the Chief of Staff of the French Army (Chef d'état-major de l'Armée de terre) CEMAT, the Chief of Staff of the French Navy (Chef d'état-major de la Marine) CEMM, the Chief of Staff of the French Air Force (Chef d'état-major de l'Armée de l'Air) CEMAA, and to the Director General of the National Gendarmerie (Directeur Général de la Gendarmerie Nationale).

Equally, exposed here forth in the Sous-Officiers section, the rank of Major (Major), is heir to the former rank of Major-Adjudant (Adjudant-Major), is the most elevated rank in the non-commissioned officers (Sous-Officiers) of the French Army, the French Air Force, French Navy, and Gendarmerie Nationale. Until 2009, there existed the Corps of Majors (Corps des Majors) which was situated between the French Officers Corps (Corps des Officiers) and the French Non-Commissioned Officer Corps (Sous-Officiers ou Officiers-Mariniers). In the French Navy, this was related to the Corps of Majors of the Equipment of the Fleet (Corps des Majors des Equipages de la Flotte), since the demotion (following a national political policy to reduce the number of corps in the public function...), a Major (Major) in the French Navy is no longer a Major of the Equipment of the Fleet, but became a Major in the Petty Officer Corps of the French Navy (Major du corps des Officiers-Mariniers). However, the insignia of the Major was kept and is represented by 2 crossed anchors, symbols of equipments of the Fleet.

Sous-Officers, Sub-OfficersEdit

The actual designation of "Major" (Major) in the French Armed Forces (l'Armée française) corresponds to a contraction of the composed term "Adjudant-Major": the rank is the most elevated rank in the Sub-officer corps; which existed since 1972. A rank of "Sergeant Major" (Sergent-Major) existed until 1971, under various form designations, and in certain cases, that rank could come close to the actual rank of Major. The first Major of France (Major de France) was Raymond Delaveau and the youngest Major of France would become his son, Thierry Delaveau.

Major of FranceEdit

In 1972, simultaneously at the creation of the rank, was created the Corps of Majors in order to enable non-commissioned officers to occupy the equivalent posts of Officers (Officiers subalterns) (An Officer Corps below the rank of Commandant or equivalent across the member armed forces). This intermediary corps between the officers and that of the non-commissioned officers, actually included only one rank: that rank function was dissolved in 2009.

Since this date, the rank of Major (Major) is the most senior elevated rank, attached this time however to the non-commissioned officer corps of the French Army, the French Air Force, the National Gendarmerie – The Major of the Gendarmerie, is the most elevated rank of Non-Commissioned Officer Corps (Corps d'Officiers Mariniers) of the French Navy.

To ascend to the rank of Major (Major), the Chief warrant officer (Adjudant-Chef) or the Principal Master (Maître principal)[j] must pass a series of professional selection tests dites "de sélection professionnelle", ESP in abbreviation. Based on the rule and regulations of the Armies, it is possible for them to apply for the recruitment dits "au choix" (at choice), on the condition of having sufficient years of senior service in their designated rank.

The rank insignia (le gallon) for the French Army, the National Gendarmerie, the French Air Force feature a red border joined by a braid. For the arms dites à pied (on foot), the rank insignia and braid is yellow (accordingly retaking the insignia of Adjudant-Chef) as portrayed. For the mounted arms, heir to the cavalry corps, they are white. For the French Navy, the rank insignia is that of a Principal Master surmounted by two golden anchors.

Majors of FranceEdit

The Majors of France are officially addressed and designated as follows:

The same official designation applies to the subordinate ranks (except for subordinate ranks of Major in the French Navy) of Major, those of Chief Warrant Officer (Adjudant-chef) (Principal Master in the French Navy) and Warrant Officer (Adjudant), particularly, specialized combatant units of the French Armed Forces and the Legion.

The rank Major (Major) ceased to exist with the Fire services in France (pompiers) since April 20, 2012.

Law enforcementEdit

  • Major of the Penitentiary Administration (Major pénitentiaire) (in the French Penitentiary Administration Directorate)
Fire service

Major in other countriesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ An official French rank designation – equivalent to Major in most English speaking nations. The French rank is also referred to as Chef de bataillon in the infantry, and Chef d'escadrons in the Cavalry Corps.
  2. ^ Lieutenant Commander in the French Navy.
  3. ^ French rank, Sergent-Major, existed until 1971 and could come close to, but is not like the French rank of Major.
  4. ^ not to be confused with the rank of Major in most English speaking nations whose French official equivalent is Commandant.
  5. ^ In the case of French Majors serving in specialized combatants units of the French Armed Forces, Majors of the French Foreign Legion (Les Major de Légion) and Foreign Legion Officers (both French and non-French) (Officiers du Rang de La Légion) seconded from the ranks of the Legionnaires.
  6. ^ pronounced the same way in the French language with different pronunciation accentuation on the letters "a" and "o".
  7. ^ In reference to the Lieutenant-Generals of the Armies of the Ancien Régime (Lieutenant-Général des Armées)
  8. ^ In reference to the Lieutenant-Generals of the Naval Armies of the Ancien Régime (Lieutenant-Général des Armées Navales) in the Levant Fleet and Flotte du Ponant
  9. ^ In the French Armed Forces, Major General (Major General) is not a rank, but a function, occupied by a général de corps d'armée or Squadron vice-admiral (Vice-Amiral d'Escadre), sometimes also occupied by a général d'armée or Admiral. This officer exercises his function at the corps of the Chief of the General Staff Headquarters of the Armies (Chef d'État-Major des Armées) or another general headquarter staff: in occurrence, with the French Army, the French Navy, the French Air Force or the National Gendarmerie. The function is charged with assisting the Armed Forces Chief in exercising his organic attributions and coordinate actions of different divisions of the general staff headquarters where he is assigned.
  10. ^ In the case of the French Navy.
  11. ^ In reference to the French personnel that have served an entire career in the French Army.
  12. ^ In reference to the few foreign (Non-French), eventually probably naturalized, and mainly Frenchmen that served an entire life career exclusively in the French Foreign Legion.


  1. ^ "LOI N° 2005-43 DU 26 JUIN 2006" (PDF). (in French). National Assembly (Benin). 26 June 2006. pp. 19–20, 35–36. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  2. ^ "LOI N° 037-2016/AN PORTANT CONDITIONS D'AVANCEMENT DES PERSONNELS D'ACTIVE DES FORCES ARMEES NATIONALES" (PDF) (in French). 2015. pp. 17–21. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  3. ^ "LOI N° 019-2015/CNT PORTANT STATUT GENERAL DES PERSONNELS DES FORCES ARMEES NATIONALES" (PDF) (in French). 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  4. ^ "GRADES / APPELLATIONS / DISTINCTIONS". (in French). Ministère de la Défense. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  5. ^ "LOI N° 96-029 portant Statut Général des Militaires" (PDF). (in French). Ministry of Defence (Madagascar). 15 November 1996. p. 2. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  6. ^ "2011 - Plaquette sur les insignes et blasons des Forces Armées du Mali" (in French). 23 April 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  7. ^ Bureau international des droits des enfants (December 2012). "État des Lieux: Formation des forces de défense et de sécurité sur les droit de l'enfant au Niger" (PDF) (in French). p. 34. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  8. ^ "Journal officiel de la république togolaise" (PDF) (in French). 5. 12 February 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2021. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)