Général

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Képi of a général

Général is the French word for general. There are two main categories of generals  : the general officers (officiers généraux), which are the highest-ranking commanding officers in the armed forces, and the specialist officers with flag rank (officiers des services avec rang d'officer général), which are high-level officers in the other uniformed services.

General officers[edit]

Army[edit]

Ranks as of 2013[edit]

In France, army generals are named after the type of unit they command. In ascending order there are two ranks :

  • Army-FRA-OF-06.svg Général de brigade ("brigade general").
  • Army-FRA-OF-07.svg Général de division ("divisional general").

Officers holding the rank of général de division can receive different positions and styles (rang et appellation)  :

The appointment of maréchal de France, wearing seven stars, is purely honorary.

  • Army-FRA-OF-10.svg Maréchal de France ("Marshal of France").

History[edit]

The French army of the monarchy had several ranks of general officer:

  • Brigadier des armées ("brigadier of the armies"): a rank in a grey area of seniority, conferred on certain colonels who were in command of a brigade. These officers wore a colonel's uniform with a star on the shoulder straps. This rank was abolished in 1788.
  • Maréchal de camp ("field marshal"): the first substantive rank of general. The maréchaux de camp wore a special uniform, blue and red, with a single bar of gold lace, and in the late 18th century also received two stars on the shoulder straps. With the abolition of the rank of brigadier des armées in 1788, it became the lowest general officer rank, but its insignia of two stars remained unchanged. The rank was redesignated brigade general in 1793 which retained the two star insignia. This explains why French generals' insignia starts with two stars.
  • Lieutenant général: the highest military rank. Lieutenants généraux wore the same uniform as the maréchaux de camp, but with two bars of gold lace, and in the late 18th century also received three stars on the shoulder straps.
  • Général: an appointment conferred on a lieutenant général who was commander-in-chief of a campaign.
  • Maréchal de France: not a military rank, but a dignity of the Crown.

During the French Revolution, the ranks of maréchal de camp and lieutenant général were renamed général de brigade and général de division, and the appointment of général was renamed général en chef. In 1793, the dignity of maréchal de France was abolished.

Napoléon Bonaparte reinstated the dignity of maréchal de France, now named maréchal d'empire. In 1814, the ranks of général de brigade and général de division reverted to maréchal de camp and lieutenant général, but were changed back again in 1848.

The Third Republic of the 1880s reorganised the ranks of général:

  • Général de brigade, wearing two stars.
  • Général de division, wearing three stars.
  • Général de division commandant un corps d'armée (divisional general commanding an army corps), an appointment conferred on certain généraux de division, wearing four stars. This appointment became the position and style (rang et appellation) of général de corps d'armée in 1936.
  • Général de division membre du conseil supérieur de la guerre (divisional general - member of the superior council of war, a body of the Ministry of War which had the functions of a general staff), wearing five stars.
  • Général de division commandant la place de Paris (divisional general commanding the sector of Paris), wearing six stars

The experience of the First World War transformed the structure of the French Army. The superior council of war was abolished and an appointment of général de division commandant une armée (divisional general commanding an army) was created. This appointment became the position and style (rang et appellation) of général d'armée in 1936. The dignity of maréchal de France was reinstated and given to the commanders-in-chief of the conflict, such as Joseph Joffre, Ferdinand Foch and Philippe Pétain.

Navy[edit]

In ascending order there are two ranks :

  • French Navy-Rama NG-OF6.svg Contre-amiral (Rear-Admiral).
  • French Navy-Rama NG-OF7.svg Vice-amiral (Vice Admiral).

Officers of the rank of vice-amiral can receive different positions and styles (rang et appellation) :

  • French Navy-Rama NG-OF8.svg Vice-amiral d'escadre (Fleet Vice Admiral)
  • French Navy-Rama NG-OF9.svg Amiral (Admiral)

The appointment of amiral de France, wearing seven stars, is purely honorary.

  • French Navy NG-OF10.svg Amiral de France ("Admiral of France").

Air Force[edit]

In France, Air Force generals are named after the type of unit they command. In ascending order there are two ranks :

  • French Air Force-général de brigade aérienne.svg Général de brigade aérienne ("air brigade general").
  • French Air Force-général de division aérienne.svg Général de division aérienne ("air divisional general").

Officers of the rank of général de division can receive different positions and styles (rang et appellation) :

  • French Air Force-général de corps aérien.svg Général de corps d'armée aérien ("air corps general").
  • French Air Force-général d'armée aérienne.svg Général d'armée aérienne' ("air army general").

Specialist Officers[edit]

Armament[edit]

  • Ingénieur de l'armement de deuxième classe (Armament General Engineer, 2nd Class)
  • Ingénieur de l'armement de première classe' (Armament General Engineer, 1st Class)
  • Ingénieur de l'armement hors classe (Armament General Engineer, Special Class)
  • Ingénieur de l'armement classe exceptionnelle (Armament General Engineer, Outstanding Class)

Maritime Administration[edit]

  • Administrateur général des affaires maritimes de deuxième classe (Maritime General Administrator, 2nd Class)
  • Administrateur général des affaires maritimes de première classe (Maritime General Administrator, 1st Class)

Military Administration[edit]

  • Commissaire général de deuxième classe (General Commissioner, 2nd Class)
  • Commissaire général de première classe (General Commissioner, 1st Class)
  • Commissaire général hors classe (General Commissioner, Special Class)

Military engineering[edit]

  • Ingénieur général militaire d'infrastructure de deuxième classe (Military General Engineer, 2nd Class)
  • Ingénieur général militaire d'infrastructure de première classe (Military General Engineer, 1st Class)
  • Ingénieur général militaire d'infrastructure hors classe (Military General Engineer, Special Class)