Army General (Soviet rank)

Army general (Russian: генерал армии, general armii) was a rank of the Soviet Union which was first established in June 1940 as a high rank for Red Army generals, inferior only to the marshal of the Soviet Union. In the following 51 years the Soviet Union created 133 generals of the army, 32 of whom were later promoted to the rank of marshal of the Soviet Union. It is a direct counterpart of the Russian Federation's "Army general" rank.

Army general
RAF A F9GenArmy 1974-1991
Uniform shoulder strap (1974—1991)
Marshal-Star small
Country Soviet Union
Service branchArmy / Air Force
RankFour-star rank
NATO rankOF-9
FormationJune 1940
AbolishedDecember 1991
Next higher rankMarshal of the Soviet Union
Next lower rankColonel general
Equivalent ranksAdmiral of the fleet

Promotion

The rank was usually given to senior officers of the Ministry of Defence and General Staff, and also to meritorious military district commanders. From the 1970s, it was also frequently given to the heads of the KGB and the Ministry of the Interior.

Soviet army generals include Ivan Chernyakhovsky (the youngest Soviet World War II front commander, killed in East Prussia), Aleksei Antonov (head of the General Staff in the closing stages of World War II, awarded the Order of Victory), Issa Pliyev (an Ossetian-born World War II commander who played a major role in the Cuban Missile Crisis) and Yuri Andropov (who held the rank as head of the KGB).

The Soviet rank of army general is comparable to NATO OF-9 level and equivalent to the UK and US ranks of general; Soviet and current Russian rank systems also have a marshal rank.

The corresponding naval rank is admiral of the fleet, which has been used in both the Soviet and Russian navies, although conferred much more rarely.

Army general was used for the infantry and marines, but in the air force, artillery, armoured troops, engineer troops and signal troops the ranks of marshal of the branch and chief marshal of the branch (also on OF-9 level) were used.

Sequence of ranks
Lower rank:
Colonel general
(Генера́л-полко́вник)
Arma general
(Генера́л а́рмии)
Higher rank:
Marshal of the Soviet Union
(Ма́ршал Сове́тского Сою́за)
Marshal of the branch
(Ма́ршал ро́да войск)
Chief marshal of the branch
(Гла́вный ма́ршал ро́да войск)
Versions of rank insignia Army general in the USSR (OF-9)
Звание Red Army flag.svg
USSR Red Army
Red Army Badge.svg
Soviet Army / Soviet Armed Forces
Gorget
patch

chevron
shoulderboard
Red Army 1935 collar big komandarm 1-go ranga Red Army 1935 collar small komandarm 1-go ranga RKKA 1935 chevron OF9a komandarm 1-go ranga RKKA 1940 collar OF9 general armii CCCP-Army-OF-09 (1943–1955)-Field.svg CCCP-Army-OF-09 (1943–1955).svg RAF A F9GenArmy until 1974.svg RAF A F9GenArmy 1974-1991.png
Komandarm 1st rank
(1935—1940)
gorget patch
everyday
uniform
(1940—1943)
shoulderboard
field uniform
(1943—1955)
... dress
(1943—1955)
... dress
(1955—1974)
... dress
(1974—1991)

Russian armed forces

The contemporary Russian Army retains the rank of army general and it is still frequently used. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union the ranks of marshal of the branch and chief marshal of the branch were abolished, and the most senior officers of these branches now hold the rank of army general.

Although chief marshals and marshals and admirals of the fleet were in service equivalent to the army general, in rank they superseded them until 1974 when the rank army general was formally equated with the chief marshals of a troop arm and marshals of a troop arm. It was at this time that their shoulder straps were changed from a four star to a single, larger star and the army logo (making them visually similar to the marshal shoulder strap). Likewise after 1974 they were permitted to wear the marshal's star necklace.

Before 1943, army generals wore five stars on their collar patches (petlitsy). Since 1943, they have worn four stars on their shoulder straps. From 1974 they wore a single large star with a ground forces emblem. In 1997 their Russian successors returned to the four-star insignia.

In 2013 the single large star returned as the insignia for the rank of army general in the Russian Federation.

See also

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