In many of the world's military establishments, a brevet (/brəˈvɛt/ (About this soundlisten) or /ˈbrɛvɪt/ (About this soundlisten))[1] was a warrant giving a commissioned officer a higher rank title as a reward for gallantry or meritorious conduct but without conferring the authority, precedence, or pay of real rank.[2] An officer so promoted was referred to as being brevetted (for example, "he was brevetted major general"). The promotion would be noted in the officer's title (for example, "Bvt. Maj. Gen. Joshua L. Chamberlain" or "Bvt. Col. Arthur MacArthur").

It is not to be confused with a brevet in Francophone European military circles, where it is an award, nor should it be confused with temporary commissions.

France

In France, a brevet is a very broad-meaning word which includes every document giving a capacity to a person. For instance, the various military speciality courses, such as military parachutism, are ended by the award of a brevet.

The more important brevet in the French military is the one of the École de guerre, the French Staff College. Between 1870 and 1940, an officier breveté was a graduate of the École supérieure de guerre.[3] Nowadays, while many officers still attend the école de guerre, they do not use the term officier breveté.

The French military does not use brevets to give officers a higher standing. It uses instead temporary commissions.[4] As an example, Charles de Gaulle was promoted "provisional brigadier general" (général de brigade à titre provisoire) in 1940 when he was commander of an armoured division.

Germany

In the Prussian and German army and navy, it was possible to bestow a Charakter rank on officers that was in many respects similar to a brevet rank. For example, an Oberst could receive the Charakter als Generalmajor. Very often, German officers would be promoted to the next higher Charakter rank on the day of their retirement.