If you assumed that Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the top man in the U.S. military, you're wrong. If you thought the lead guy was perhaps Army Chief of Staff General George Casey, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead or Marine Commandant General James Conway, think again. I'll explain.
The rank General of the Armies of the United States was first appointed to General John J. Pershing on September 3, 1919. A lifetime appointment, Pershing held the position until his death on July 15, 1948 and remains the only man to hold this rank during his lifetime.
Under Department of the Army Order 31-3, effective July 4, 1976, George Washington was posthumously appointed General of the Armies of the United States under Public Law 94-479, whereby Congress further specified that Washington would be permanently considered the highest ranking officer in the United States armed forces.
Categorized first by rank, then seniority, the men listed below -- which includes three U.S. Presidents -- are, now and always, the senior-most officers in the American military. If a nation with better leaders has ever existed, I have not seen or heard of it. Decades, even centuries, after their respective deaths, these men remain tops among the war dogs and I would gladly put them up against anyone:
1. General of the Armies of the United States George Washington
2. Admiral of the Navy George Dewey
2. General of the Armies of the United States John J. Pershing
3. Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy
3. General of the Army George C. Marshall
3. Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King
3. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur
3. Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
3. General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower
3. General of the Army/General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold
3. Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey
3. General of the Army Omar N. Bradley
4. Admiral David G. Farragut
4. General of the Army Ulysses S. Grant
4. General of the Army William T. Sherman
4. Admiral David D. Porter
4. General of the Army Philip H. Sheridan
Note: Henry Arnold was promoted to General of the Army on December 21, 1944. The Air Force was established in 1947 and Arnold was made the first, and thus far only, General of the Air Force on May 7, 1949.