The rank is used by the British Army, the Royal Marines, Australian Army, New Zealand Army, Pakistan Army, Indian Army and several others. Although it is not always considered a general officer rank, it is always considered equivalent to the Brigadier General or Brigade General of other countries. In NATO forces, Brigadier is OF-6 on the rank scale.
The title is derived from the equivalent former British rank of Brigadier-General used until 1922, and still used in many countries. "Brigadier" was already in use as a generic term for a commander of a brigade irrespective of their specific rank.
From 1922 to 1928 the British rank title used was that of Colonel-Commandant, which, although reflecting its modern role in the British Army as a senior colonel rather than a junior general, was not well received and was replaced with Brigadier after only six years. Colonel-Commandant was only ever used for officers commanding brigades, depots or training establishments. Officers holding equivalent rank in administrative appointments were known as "Colonels on the Staff", also replaced by Brigadier in 1928. Colonel-Commandants and Colonels on the Staff wore the same rank badge later adopted by Brigadiers.
Until shortly after World War II, Brigadier was only an appointment conferred on Colonels (as Commodore was an appointment conferred on naval Captains) and not a substantive rank.
In Commonwealth and most Arabic-speaking countries (in which the rank is called Amid) the rank insignia comprises a crown (or national/presidential emblem in republics) with three stars (sometimes called "pips"), which are, in the Commonwealth, arranged in a triangle. A Brigadier's uniform may also have red collar flashes. It is otherwise similar to that of a Colonel (Colonels have a crown/emblem with two stars).
Until 1788, a rank of Brigadier des armées ("Brigadier of the Armies") existed in the French Army, which could be described as a senior colonel or junior brigade commander. The normal brigade command rank was Field Marshal (Maréchal de camp) (which elsewhere is a more senior rank). During the French Revolution, the ranks of Brigadier des armées and Maréchal de camp were replaced by Brigade General. In common with many countries, France now uses the officer rank of Brigade General instead of a "brigadier" rank - this was the rank held by Charles de Gaulle.
The rank of a brigadier was established by Felipe V in 1702 as an intermediate rank between colonel and true generals. In some iberoamerican republics (see below) the rank survived after their independence. In Spain, it was not till 1871 when they were considered full generals, and in 1889 they were renamed general de brigada.
The historical rank is not to be confused with the actual NCO rank of brigada, although common translation usage does.
Brigadier (-General) is used in Latin America, in the normal sense of brigade commander rank (e.g. Colombia, Chile), although most Latin American nations instead use the rank of Brigade General. In Mexico, Brigadier General is the rank below Brigade General (both ranks falling between Colonel and Divisional General.)
However, both the Argentine Air Force and Brazilian Air Force use a curious system of variations on Brigadier for all (Argentina) or most (Brazil) general officers. The origin of this system is not entirely clear, but in the case of Argentina may be linked to the fact that previous to the establishment of the Air Force as an independent armed force, it was commanded within the Army by Brigade Generals.
In the Argentine Air Force these ranks are (most senior first):
In the Brazilian Air Force these ranks are (most senior first):
Above these is the highest Brazilian Air force rank of Marshal of the Air, reserved for wartime.
In the French gendamerie, the brigadier ranks are used as in the army, i.e. as junior enlisted ranks (gradés), while the French police use brigadier ranks as their sub-officer (sous-officier) ranks. Since all professional police and gendarmes have sub-officer status in France, the gendarmerie brigadier ranks are rarely used, since they are used only by auxiliaries. On the other hand the police brigadier ranks, used differently to indicate professional ranks, are common.
In the French gendarmerie and in "mounted" arms of the French army the brigadier ranks are:
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