Please see "Major" for other countries that use this rank
US-O4 insignia

Insignia of the Army and Air Force rank of Major

In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, major is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. It is equivalent to the rank of lieutenant commander in the other uniformed services.

The pay grade for the rank of major is O-4. The insignia for the rank consists of a golden oak leaf, with slight stylized differences between the Army/Air Force version and the Marine Corps version.


A major in the U.S. Army typically serves as a battalion executive officer or as the battalion operations officer (S-3). A major can also serve as a primary staff officer for a brigade or task force in the areas concerning personnel, logistical and operations. In addition, majors command augmented companies in Combat Service and Service Support units. U.S. Army majors also command Special Operations companies, such as U.S. Army Special Forces companies, Civil Affairs companies, Psychological Operations companies, as well as certain types of separate, numbered vice lettered, Military Intelligence companies.

American Civil War (Union)Edit

During the American Civil War the Union forces continued to use the same rank structure previously established for the Army and Marine Corps.

American Civil War (Confederate)Edit

Prior to the American Civil War the rank structure for the military forces of the United States were modeled after the British rank insignia. After the southern states seceded and became the Confederate States of America, the Confederate Army developed their own system of rank identification for its officers.

The new confederate rank of Major was to be indicated on the collar and in rows of gold lace forming an Austrian knot on each sleeve. Previously, the United States military at that time indicated rank by systems using epaulettes, chevrons, or shoulder straps so this new style differed greatly from the system used by Union forces.

Air ForceEdit

A major in the Air Force typically has duties as a senior staff officer at the squadron level. In flying squadrons majors are generally flight commanders or assistant directors of operations. In the mission support and maintenance groups majors may occasionally be squadron commanders. In the medical group a major may be the head of a clinic or flight.

Police officerEdit

The rank is also used in some police departments.