List of United States Air Force four-star generals

List of United States Air Force four-star generals

This is a complete list of four-star generals in the United States Air Force. The rank of general (or "full general", or "four-star general") is the highest rank normally achievable in the U.S. Air Force. It ranks above lieutenant general ("three-star general") and below general of the Air Force ("five-star general").

There have been 189 four-star generals in the history of the U.S. Air Force. Of these, 185 achieved that rank while on active duty, 3 were promoted after retirement, and one was promoted posthumously. Generals entered the Air Force via several paths: 60 were commissioned via the U.S. Military Academy (USMA), 49 via the aviation cadet program, 30 via Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) at a civilian university, 26 via the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), 9 via AFROTC at a senior military college, 6 via Air Force Officer Training School (OTS), 4 via the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), 2 via direct commission, one via Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at a civilian university, one via the Army National Guard (ARNG), and one via the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

List of generals

Entries in the following list of four-star generals are indexed by the numerical order in which each officer was promoted to that rank while on active duty, or by an asterisk (*) if the officer did not serve in that rank while on active duty. Each entry lists the general's name, date of rank,Dates of rank are taken, where available, from the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force registers of active and retired commissioned officers, or from the "World Almanac and Book of Facts". The date listed is that of the officer's first promotion to general.] active-duty positions held while serving at four-star rank,Positions listed are those held by the officer when promoted to general. Dates listed are for the officer's full tenure, which may predate promotion to four-star rank or postdate retirement from active duty.] number of years of active-duty service at four-star rank (Yrs),The number of years of active-duty service at four-star rank is approximated by subtracting the year in the "Date of rank" column from the last year in the "Position" column. Time spent between active-duty four-star assignments is not counted, nor is time spent on special duty as an unassigned general of the Army or general of the Air Force.] year commissioned and source of commission,Sources of commission are listed in parentheses after the year of commission and include: the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA); the United States Military Academy (USMA); the United States Naval Academy (USNA); Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at a civilian university; Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) at a civilian university; ROTC or AFROTC at a senior military college such as Texas A&M University (Texas A&M), the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), or Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI); Air Force Officer Training School (OTS); Officer Candidate School (OCS); the aviation cadet program (cadet); the Army National Guard (ARNG); the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF); and direct commission (direct).] number of years in commission when promoted to four-star rank (YC),The number of years in commission before being promoted to four-star rank is approximated by subtracting the year in the "Commission" column from the year in the "Date of rank" column.] and other biographical notes.Notes include years of birth and death; awards of the Medal of Honor, Congressional Gold Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, or honors of similar significance; major government appointments; university presidencies or equivalents; familial relationships with other four-star officers or significant government officials such as U.S. Presidents, cabinet secretaries, U.S. Senators, or state governors; and unusual career events such as premature relief or death in office.]

The list is sortable by last name, date of rank, number of years of active-duty service at four-star rank, year commissioned, and number of years in commission when promoted to four-star rank.


Four-star positions

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1940 - present

The modern rank of general was established by the Officer Personnel Act of 1947, which authorized the President to designate certain positions of importance to carry that rank. Officers appointed to such positions bear temporary four-star rank while so serving, and are allowed to retire at that rank if their performance is judged satisfactory.citation
title = Positions of importance and responsibility: generals and lieutenant generals; admirals and vice admirals
last = 10 USC 601
url =
] The total number of active-duty four-star generals in the Air Force is limited to a fixed percentage of the number of Air Force general officers serving at all ranks.citation
title = Distribution of commissioned officers on active duty in general officer and flag officer grades
last = 10 USC 525
url =

Within the Air Force, the chief of staff (CSAF) and vice chief of staff (VCSAF) are four-star generals by statute. Other four-star generals occupy positions of designated importance; historically, these have included the commanders responsible for strategic bombers and nuclear missiles (SAC/STRATCOM); tactical air combat (TAC/ACC); air transport (MAC/TRANSCOM); North American aerospace defense (NORAD); the Air Force formations in Europe and the Pacific; and other training, readiness, and materiel organizations.

The Air Force also competes with the other services for a number of joint four-star positions, such as the chairman (CJCS) and vice chairman (VCJCS) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Other joint four-star positions have included unified combatant commanders and certain NATO staff positions.

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last = Air Force Association
journal = Air Force Magazine
volume = 89
issue = 5
title = USAF Almanac 2006
url =
date = May 2006
year = 2006

first = Ronald H. | last = Cole
first2 = Walter S. | last2 = Poole
first3 = James F. | last3 = Schnabel
first4 = Robert J. | last4 = Watson
first5 = Willard J. | last5 = Webb
title = The History of the Unified Command Plan, 1946-1993
place = Washington D.C.
publisher = Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
url =
year = 1995

last = North Atlantic Treaty Organization
title = Senior officials in the NATO military structure, from 1949 to 2001
url =

last = United States Air Force
title = Air Force Link - Biographies
url =

last = United States Air Force
title = Air Force Register
place = Washington D.C.
publisher = Department of the Air Force
year = 1951-1970, 1972, 1974, 1979

periodical = World Almanac and Book of Facts
publisher = World Almanac Education Group, Inc.
place = New York
year = 1946-1947, 1977, 1981, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1992, 2004, 2006

ee also

*General (United States)
*List of United States four-star officers
*List of United States Army four-star generals
*List of United States Navy four-star admirals
*List of United States Marine Corps four-star generals
*List of United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps four-star admirals
*List of United States military leaders by rank

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