Army general (Soviet Union)
- Please see "army general" for other nations which use this rank
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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.
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 equivalent to the UK and US ranks of general; Soviet and current Russian rank systems also have a marshal rank.
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 or chief marshal of the air force, artillery, etc. were used.
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 or chief marshal 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marshals and marshals and admirals of the fleet were in service equivalent to the general of the army, in rank they superseded them until 1974 when the rank general of the army was formally equated with the chief marshals or a troop arm and marshals of a troop arm.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 army general in the Russian Federation.