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General-in-chief has been a military rank or title in various armed forces around the world.
In France, general-in-chief (général en chef) was first an informal title for the lieutenant-general commanding over others lieutenant-generals, or even for some marshals in charge of an army. During the Revolution, it became a title given to officers of général de division rank commanding an army. The généraux en chef wore four stars on their shoulders boards opposed to the three of a mere général de division. The title of général en chef was abolished in 1812, re-established during the Restoration and ultimately abolished in 1848.
In Russia, general-in-chief (Russian: генера́л-анше́ф, probably originating from the French général en chef), was a full general rank in the Russian Imperial army, the second top in Russian military ranks (the 2nd grade of Table of Ranks). It was created in 1698 by Peter the Great. In 1798, the rank was divided into three equivalent ranks of general of the infantry, general of the cavalry and general of the artillery.
In the United States, the term "general in chief" was used to refer to the Commanding General of the United States Army, who was the ground force's senior-most officer. Famous generals in chief were George Washington, Winfield Scott, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. During the American Civil War, General Robert E. Lee was appointed "General in chief of the Armies of the Confederate States" [Approved 6 February 1865]. The position of Commanding General of the United States Army was abolished with the creation of the General Staff in 1903 — the Chief of Staff of the United States Army can perhaps be seen as the modern day equivalent, although the current position is not responsible for commanding military forces in the field, as the generals in chief did in the 19th century.
Since the age of the independence war in Venezuela the most senior officer is designated as general-in-chief (general en jefe). From its creation the rank was represented by three suns (equivalent to three star rank), but with the creation in 2008 of the rank of general major, four suns (equivalent to four star rank) are used.
From the 1940s until 2001 the rank was not used. In 2001 Divisional General Lucas Rincon Romero was promoted to general-in-chief. At the moment there are two commanders in chief: minister of defense Carlos Mata Figueroa, and the chief of CEOFANB (Comando Estrategico Operacional de la FANB; Strategic Commando Operacional of the FANB) Henry Rangel Silva.
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