General of the army (USSR)

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Flag of the Soviet Union.svg
General of the army Admiral of the fleet
(1955 - 1991)
Rank insignia Rank insignia
Marshal's Star 1974 – 1991
Rank insignia Soviet Armed Forces
Introduction 1940/44
Rank group General officer
Navy Admiral of the fleet
General of the army

General of the army (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 "general of the army" rank.


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 generals of the army 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 general of the army 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.

General of the army 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

General of the army
(Генерал армии)
Red Army Badge.svg
Marshal of the branch
(Ма́ршал ро́да во́йск)

higher rank:
Chief marshal of the branch

(Главный ма́ршал ро́да во́йск)

Russian armed forces

The contemporary Russian Army retains the rank of general of the army 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 general of the army.

Although chief marshals and marshals and admirals of the fleet were in service equivalent to the general of the army, in rank they superseded them until 1974 when the rank general of the army 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, generals of the army 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 general of the army in the Russian Federation.

See also