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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 (called a major-general in the UK and the US) 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 (major-general). 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 highest rank, after the rank of marshal, 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. Later, in 1940, the rank of colonel general was created, which was above a full general and below a marshal.
In the United States, the title "general in-chief" was used to refer to the commanding general of the United States Army, who was the Army's senior-most officer. Famous generals-in-chief were George Washington, Winfield Scott, Robert E. Lee, Henry Halleck, George McClellan, and Ulysses S. Grant (Washington's title was commander-in-chief during the American Revolution, and he was only called the "Senior Officer of the Army" after he was president in the late 1790s). 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 "general-in-chief," not the commanding general of the United States Army, was abolished with the creation of the title of chief of staff in 1903 — the Chief of Staff of the United States Army is 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. The rank of "General of the Armies of the United States" was conferred upon General John J. Pershing in 1919 and to Lieutenant General George Washington (posthumously) in 1975 by acts of Congress. Washington's date of rank was retroactively dated to 1799, so that he will always be the senior ranking general of the United States Army. (American general ranks and titles may be a little confusing; however, as reference is cited the public domain information of the Center for Military History of the United States Army at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. -dhc 09042015 0024 hrs.)
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 major general, 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. He was the first ever active officer to be promoted after six decades.
Today 13 general officers of the army have been promoted:
|General-in-Chief Lucas Rincón Romero||Army||2001|
|General-in-Chief Luis Acevedo Quintero||Air Force||2002||Promoted posthumously as the first and only General in Chief from the Air Force|
|General-in-Chief Jorge Luis García Carneiro||Army||2004|
|General-in-Chief Raul Isaias Baduel||Army||2006|
|General-in-Chief Gustavo Rangel Briceño||Army||2007||First four-sun promotion for the armed forces|
|General-in-Chief Carlos José Mata Figueroa||Army||2009||Second four-sun promotion for the armed forces, also promoted while being the Chief of the Operational Strategic Command|
|General-in-Chief Jesús González González||Army||2009|
|General-in-Chief Almidien Moreno Acosta||Army||2010||Posthumously promoted|
|General-in-Chief Alberto Müller Rojas||Army||2010||Posthumously promoted|
|General-in-Chief Henry Rangel Silva||Army||2010||2nd to be promoted while in capacity as Commander of the OSC|
|General-in-Chief Vladimir Padrino López||Army||2013||First to be promoted to General in Chief while being appointed as Commander of the OSC|
|General-in-Chief Jacinto Pérez Arcay||Army||2014||Oldest living general officer in Venezuelan history to be promoted to the rank|
|General-in-Chief Felix Antonio Velazquez||Army||2016||Promoted posthumously|