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.
Uniform shoulder strap (1974—1991)
|Service branch||Army / Air Force|
|Next higher rank||Marshal of the Soviet Union|
|Next lower rank||Colonel general|
|Equivalent ranks||Admiral of the fleet|
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).
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|
Marshal of the Soviet Union
(Ма́ршал Сове́тского Сою́за)
|Marshal of the branch
(Ма́ршал ро́да войск)
|Chief marshal of the branch|
(Гла́вный ма́ршал ро́да войск)
USSR Red Army
Soviet Army / Soviet Armed Forces
|Komandarm 1st rank
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chief marshals and marshals and admirals of the fleet were in service equivalent to the army general, in rank they superseded them until 1974 when the rank army general was formally equated with the chief marshals of a troop arm and marshals of a troop arm.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.