What are flag officers

Flag Officer - Flag officer

Military officer of certain seniority

A Flag officer is a commissioned officer in the armed forces of a nation who is of sufficient rank to be authorized to hoist a flag to mark the position from which the officer exercises command.

The term is used differently in different countries:

  • In many countries, a flag officer is a senior officer in the navy, especially those who hold one of the admiral ranks. The term may or may not include the rank of Commodore.
  • In some countries, such as the United States, India, and Bangladesh, this may apply to all armed forces, not just the navy. This means that generals can also be considered flag officers.
  • In most of the Arab armies it is Liwa (Arabic: لواء), which can be translated as a flag officer, a certain rank that corresponds to a major general. "Ensign", however, is undoubtedly a more accurate translation of the word. Basically, a flag officer commands multiple units called "flags" (or "flags") (ie, brigades).

General use

The generic title of flag officer is used in several modern navies and coast guards to denote those who hold the rank of rear admiral (or equivalent) and above, also called "flag ranks". In some navies this also includes the rank of Commodore. The flag officer corresponds to the general terms general officer (used by land and some air forces to describe all classes of generals) and air officer (used by other air forces to describe all classes of air marshals and air forces).

A flag officer is sometimes a junior officer referred to as a flag lieutenant or flag adjutant and appointed as a personal aide or aide.


In the Canadian Armed Forces, a flag officer (French: officier général "General Officer") is an admiral, vice admiral, rear admiral or commodore, the naval equivalent of a general officer in the army or air force. It's a somewhat catchy use of the term, since only flag officers who command commandos or formations actually have their own flags (technically a Commodore only has a broad pennant, no flag) and Army and Air Force generals have commands or have formations also their own flags, but are not called flag officers. Base commanders, usually full colonels, also have a pennant that flies off the mast or flagpole on the base when they are resident or on vehicles they carry.

The rank of a flag officer is indicated by a wide strip of gold braid on the cuff of the service dress tunic. 03:59 gold maple leaves over a crossed sword and club, all under a royal crown, on epaulettes and shoulder boards; and two rows of golden oak leaves on the tip of the service cap. Since the Canadian Armed Forces were unified in 1968, a flag officer's tunic has had a single wide stripe on the sleeve and epaulets. However, on May 5, 2010, the navy uniform's dark tunic was adapted. The outer epaulettes have been removed and replaced on the sleeve ring and executive curl rank insignia used by most navies. The uniforms of the Commodores have a wide stripe, and each subsequent rank receives an additional sleeve ring. There are no epaulets on the outside of the tunic, but they are still worn on the uniform shirt underneath.


In India it is applied to brigadiers, major generals, lieutenant general and army generals; Commodors, rear admirals, vice admirals, and admirals in the Navy; and Air Commodors, Air Vice Marshals, Air Marshals, and Air Chief Marshals in the Air Force. Each of these flag officers is marked with a specific flag. India's honorary ranks (five-star ranks) are Field Marshal in the Army, Marshal of the Indian Air Force in the Air Force, and Admiral of the Fleet in the Navy. A similar equivalence also applies to senior police officers with the rank of Deputy Inspector General (DIG), an Inspector General (IG), an Additional Director General (ADG) and a Director General (DG).

United Kingdom

In the Royal Navy, a distinction is made between the ranks "flag officer" and "flag officer". In the past, all officers promoted to flag rank were considered "flag officers" and the term is still widely used to refer to officers of flag rank. It is currently used that all rear admirals and above are flag rank officers, but only those flag rank officers authorized to fly a flag are officially referred to as "flag officers" and have different flags for different ranks of admirals. Of the 39 flag-ranked officers in the Royal Navy in 2006, very few were "flag officers" with the right to fly a flag. For example, the Commander in Chief Fleet displays the flag of an admiral on land or on the water and is a "flag officer". The chief of staff (support), a rear admiral, is not allowed to hoist a flag and is more of an "officer of flag rank" than a "flag officer". The list of fleets and main commands of the Royal Navy lists most of the admirals who were "flag officers". A flag officer's junior officer is often referred to as "flags". Flag officers in the Royal Navy are considered rear admirals and above.

Equivalent ranks in the British Army and Royal Marines are referred to as officers general rather than flag officers, and those in the Royal Air Force (as well as the rank of air commodore) are referred to as air officers, although all are entitled to hoist flags of the rank.

United States

Captain was the highest rank in the United States Navy from early 1775 to 1857 when Congress created the temporary rank of flag officer, which made way for Commodore and Rear Admiral in 1862. The rank of "flag officer" was conferred on senior naval captains assigned to command a squadron of ships in addition to commanding their own ship. The 19th century "flag officer" rank was considered strictly temporary and was obsolete with the creation and widespread use of the equivalent naval rank of Commodore. However, the term is still used today and is specifically defined as a U.S. Navy or Coast Guard officer serving or having the class of admiral, vice admiral, rear admiral, or rear admiral (lower half), which is equivalent to the officers general of an army. In 1862, Congress approved the use of the title "Admiral".

Flag of the Chief of Staff of the US Army

In the US Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, the term "flag officer" is generally used to refer to any officer-general authorized to hoist their own command flags - that is, brigadier general or pay grade O-7 and above. However, for legal reasons, Title 10 of the U.S. Code differentiates between officers general and flag officers. Non-naval officers usually fly their flags from their headquarters, ships or vehicles, usually only for the most senior officer present. In the United States, all flag and officers general must be appointed by the President and approved by the Senate. Any subsequent promotion requires renomination and renewed approval. For the Navy, each deployment of a flag officer is typically limited to a maximum of two years, followed by reassignment, reassignment and promotion or retirement.


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