A Brigadier General is a commissioned military officer who ranks above a Colonel and below a Major General. The rank of Brigadier General is the first of the general ranks, entitling officers with this title to a single star. Brigadier Generals are sometimes referred to as “One Star Generals” in reference to this. This military rank is not available in all militaries around the world, but it is extremely common. The naval equivalent is the title of Rear Admiral (Lower Half).
As the title would seem to suggest, a Brigadier General commands a brigade, a unit of troops within a division. Historically, people of this rank commanded troops in the field, with the assistance of aides who ensured that their work went smoothly. Some Brigadier Generals continue to work in the field today, depending on the nations they serve, while others remain at headquarters or in offices, so that they can see the big picture, rather than just the limited information available in the field.
Officers who hold a commission must generally be given their commission by a representative of the government, classically the head of state, such as the President, King, or Queen. In some regions, appointment of a commissioned officer is contingent on a confirmation hearing, as is the case in the United States, where the Senate confirms military commissions. In order to achieve the rank of Brigadier General, a commissioned officer must generally have given several years, usually decades, of service.
In the United States military, the Brigadier General is at the pay grade of O-8. In the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), where standardized rankings are used in an attempt to make international military ranks equivalent, the Brigadier General is considered an OF-6. The OF ranks in NATO are used to identify officers who hold commissions. Other militaries may refer to this rank as a “Brigade General.”
Becoming a One Star General requires hard work and a dedication to the military. People who achieve this rank are usually career officers, people who have committed to serving in the military for their lifetimes. As high ranking commissioned officers, Brigadier Generals are expected to maintain a very high standard of personal and professional behavior, since their actions reflect directly upon their head of state and nation. Lower ranking members of the military are expected to salute Brigadier Generals when they appear in uniform, addressing them as "Brigadier General" on the first instance and "Ma'am" or "Sir" in future instances.