Colonel general

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Colonel general is a three or four-star rank in some armies, usually equivalent to that of a full general in other armies. North Korea and Russia have used the rank in that fashion throughout their histories. The rank is also closely associated with Germany, where Generaloberst has formerly been a higher rank above full General but below Generalfeldmarschall.

Austria

Colonel general (Generaloberst) was the second-highest rank in the Austro-Hungarian Army, introduced following the German model in 1915. The rank was not used after World War I in the Austrian Army of the Republic.

People's Republic of China

The People's Liberation Army had a rank of Da Jiang (Chinese: 大将; literally: "grand general") from 1955 to 1965. Da Jiang corresponded to the Soviet rank of colonel general. The rank system of the People's Liberation Army was abolished in 1965 and restored in 1988. The 1988 system introduced a rank of Yi Ji Shang Jiang (Chinese: 一级上将; literally: "first class senior general"). No one had held such rank and it was abolished in 1994.

Czechoslovakia

CzArmy 2011 OF8-Generalporucik shoulder.svg

The rank of colonel general (generálplukovník) was created in the Czechoslovak army in 1950; it was dropped after the 1993 dissolution of the state.

Egypt

The Egyptian Army uses a rank that translates as "colonel general". It is equal to the rank of 4-star or "full" general. Colonel general is, however, junior to the rank of field marshal and is an honorary distinction usually held only by defense ministers.

France

In the French Army, under the Ancien régime, the officer in nominal command of all the regiments of a particular branch of service (i. e. infantry, cavalry, dragoons, Swiss troops, etc.) was known as the colonel general. This was not a rank, but an office of the Crown.

Georgia

The Republic of Georgia adopted Soviet designations after its independence in 1991 so that the rank of colonel-general (გენერალ-პოლკოვნიკი general-polkovniki) exists, yet it is only used as highest possible rank in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Germany

The equivalent German four-star ranks (OF-9) of the Wehrmacht were as follows:

This is not to be confused with Generaloberst, the three-star rank (OF-8) of the National People's Army until 1990. However, the Bundeswehr (first in West Germany and since 1990 in a unified Germany) does not use the rank.

Rank insignia Generaloberst

Hungary

In Hungary, the rank of colonel general (vezérezredes) was introduced to the Imperial and Royal Army (the common ground force of the Dual Monarchy) in 1915. The rank replaced the ranks of gyalogsági tábornok (general of infantry), lovassági tábornok (general of cavalry), and táborszernagy (general of artillery) in the early 1940s.

The rank title vezérezredes is still in use for the highest ranking (four-star) general officers of the Magyar Honvédség (Hungarian Defence Forces) and foreign four-star general officers' rank titles are usually translated as vezérezredes in Hungarian including Commonwealth air forces' Air Chief Marshals.

Iraq

The equivalent rank for Colonel general in Iraq is called "Ferik Awwal", in Arabic "فريق أول", which is considered the highest rank in Iraqi Army nowadays.

North Korea

NKPA Colonel General rank insignia

The North Korean rank of sangjang translates as "colonel general". Sangjang is senior to that of jungjang (usually translated as "lieutenant general") and junior to that of daejang (usually translated as "general").

This rank is typically held by the commanding officer of units along the Korean DMZ and the North Korean security zone at Panmunjom. It is also the rank held by the KPA Pyongyang Defense Command's commanding general.

Russia

Rank insignias
colonel general
Army
Air Force
comparable to NATO OF-8

The rank of colonel general (Russian: генерал-полковник, translit. general-polkovnik) did not exist in Imperial Russia[citation needed] and was first established in the Red Army on 7 May 1940, as a replacement for the previously existing командарм второго ранга (kommandarm vtorovo ranga, "army commander of the second rank").[1] During World War II, about 199 officers were promoted to colonel general. Before 1943, Soviet colonel generals wore four stars on their collar patches (petlitsy). Since 1943, they have worn three stars on their shoulder straps, so Charles Pettibone compares the rank to the US lieutenant general.[1]

The rank still exists in the contemporary Russian Army and Air Force.[citation needed] Unlike the German Generaloberst (which it most probably calqued), the Soviet and Russian colonel general rank is neither an exceptional nor a rare one, as it is a normal step in the "ladder" between a two-star lieutenant general and a four-star army general.

Other than that, the Soviet and Russian rank systems sometimes cause confusion in regard to equivalence of ranks, because the normal Western title for brigadier or brigadier general ceased to exist for the Russian Army in 1798. The combrig rank that corresponded to one-star general only existed in the Soviet Union during 1935–1940. Positions typically reserved for these ranks, such as brigade commanders, have always been occupied by colonels (polkovnik) or, very rarely, major generals (see History of Russian military ranks).

The rank has usually been given to district, front and army commanders, and also to deputy ministers of defense, deputy heads of the general staff and so on.

In some post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States armies (for example in Belarus), there are no generals of the army or marshals, and so colonel general is the highest rank, usually held by the minister of the defense.

The corresponding naval rank is admiral, which is also denoted by three stars.

Sweden

Colonel general (generalöverste) has also been a senior military rank in Sweden, used principally before the 19th century.

Syria

The Syrian Arab Army uses the rank of colonel general ( "Imad-awwalعماد أول) only for the senior-most rank of the army beneath that of field marshal. Usually, only defence ministers have held this rank – only six officers have held this rank till now – Hafez al-Assad, Mustafa Tlass, Hikmat al-Shihabi, Ali Habib Mahmud, Dawoud Rajiha and Fahd Jassem al-Freij.

United Kingdom

The title of colonel general was used before and during the English Civil War in both Royalist and Parliamentarian armies. In these cases, it often appears to have meant a senior colonel as opposed to a senior general.

United States

In the United States, as commander of an army, the equivalent rank was general (four-star general, grade O-10).

Vietnam

In Vietnam, the rank of colonel general is known as thượng tướng (literally "upper general"), equivalent to a three-star general and admiral. Thượng tướng is senior to trung tướng (usually translated as "lieutenant general") and junior to đại tướng (usually translated as "general"). It is used in the army and the air force. It is the equivalent to đô đốc (admiral) in the Navy.

See also

Notes

References

  1. ^ a b Charles D. Pettibone (2009). Organization and Order of Battle of Militaries in World War II : Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Trafford On Demand Pub. p. 905. ISBN 1-4269-2251-5.
  • Data about Germany and Austria are based, in part, on the German-language Wikipedia article: "generaloberst"

External links

  • Biographies of German army generalobersten
  • Biographies of Luftwaffe generalobersten
  • Biographies of Austro-Hungarian generalobersten of WWI
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