Senior military officers dating service
Before the five-star ranks were established in 1944, two officers had previously been promoted from their four-star ranks to the superior and unique ranks of Admiral of the Navy and General of the Armies: Admiral George Dewey (appointment 1903 retroactive to 1899, died 1917) and General John J. In 1944 the Navy and Army specified that these officers were considered senior to any officers promoted to the five-star ranks within their services (but it was not clear if they were senior by rank or by seniority due to an earlier date of rank).Five-star ranks were created in the US military during World War II because of the awkward situation created when some American senior commanders were placed in positions commanding allied officers of higher rank.The last appointment was in 1963 to Marian Spychalski.Since 1922 it's not properly a rank but a "military dignity". The rank is that of the most senior operational military commanders, and within NATO's "standard rank scale" it is designated by the code OF-10.Not all armed forces have such a rank, and in those that do the actual insignia of the "five-star ranks" may not contain five stars.
Commands are expected to take administrative and disciplinary action as necessary to correct such inappropriate behavior.In times of peace, it is usually held only as an honorary rank.Traditionally, five-star ranks are granted to distinguished military commanders for notable wartime victories and/or in recognition of a record of achievement during the officer's career, whether in peace or in war.Lord Birdwood, who commanded the Australian Imperial Force in the First World War, was appointed to honorary five-star rank in the Australian Military Forces on his promotion to field marshal in the British Army in 1925.
HM King George VI and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh have held all three Australian five-star ranks in an honorary capacity, and have been the only holders of the Australian ranks of admiral of the fleet and marshal of the RAAF.During World War II and (later) serving NATO, a small number of American five-star commanders have also held the additional title of Supreme Allied Commander, given operational control over all air, land, and sea units led by the four-star commanders of multi-national forces.